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Australian Court Rules Pastor and Speaker 'Vilified' Muslims

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In a landmark ruling, The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal in Melbourne, Australia, has ruled that Catch the Fire Ministries violated the state's recent Racial and Religious Tolerance Act.

While the law allows "genuine academic, artistic, religious or scientific" discussion of religious beliefs, Judge Michael Higgins ruled that pastor Danny Nalliah and speaker Daniel Scot's post-9/11 messages on Islam went beyond such discussion.

"Pastor Scot, throughout the seminar, made fun of Muslim beliefs and conduct," Higgins wrote. "It was done not in the context of a serious discussion of Muslims' religious beliefs; it was presented in a way which is essentially hostile, demeaning and derogatory of all Muslim people, their god, Allah, the prophet Mohammed, and in general Muslim beliefs and practices."

The problem, Higgins said, was that Scot argued that Wahhabist Islam is the true Islam, and that more moderate, Western forms are compromises of what the Qur'an really teaches.

"I find that Pastor Scot failed to differentiate between Muslims throughout the world, that he preached a literal translation of the Qur'an and of Muslims' religious practices which was not mainstream but was more representative of a small group in the Gulf states."

Higgins also noted that Scot's credibility was severely undermined by his misrepresentation of how many books he has published.

Still, evangelicals and Pentecostals have decried the trial as a violation of free speech. Catholics and mainline churches have supported the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act and the criminal charges against Nalliah and Scot.

Since this is one of the first cases of a Western, non-Islamic government essentially banning statements against Islam and Mohammed, it's well ...

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Launched in 1999, Christianity Today’s Weblog was not just one of the first religion-oriented weblogs, but one of the first published by a media organization. (Hence its rather bland title.) Mostly compiled by then-online editor Ted Olsen, Weblog rounded up religion news and opinion pieces from publications around the world. As Christianity Today’s website grew, it launched other blogs. Olsen took on management responsibilities, and the Weblog feature as such was mothballed. But CT’s efforts to round up important news and opinion from around the web continues, especially on our Gleanings feature.
Ted Olsen
Ted Olsen is Christianity Today's managing editor for news and online journalism. He wrote the magazine's Weblog—a collection of news and opinion articles from mainstream news sources around the world—from 1999 to 2006. In 2004, the magazine launched Weblog in Print, which looks for unexpected connections and trends in articles appearing in the mainstream press. The column was later renamed "Tidings" and ran until 2007.
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