Nalliah – Catching the Fires of Bigotry
Early last year, the president of Catch The Fire Ministries, Pastor Danny Nalliah (formerly a member of the ultra-conservative party Family First) announced the formation of his new political party, “Rise Up Australia”, whose political agendas include a vigorous stance against multiculturalism and in particular the limiting of Muslims from entering Australia. The catch cry of RUA is “Keep Australia Australian.” This week he announced, as part of the party platform, that he would like to limit the number of Muslims entering Australia. Not just immigrants, specifically Muslims. The politics, from this base standpoint get complicated.
His claim is that Muslims are a threat to the Australian way of life, but there is much more to the picture than this simple nationalistic slogan. Nalliah is a Sri Lankan born minister, and his church has been known for a long time as holders of some very controversial standpoints, mainly with a xenophobic slant toward Islamic immigrants.
One might think I would be in favour of a measure like limiting Muslim numbers entering Australia; I am in no way in favour of Islam, any more than I am in favour of any religion. In this case however, the use of a religion (not logic, facts or actual reason) against another religion on the grounds that their book is the true word, or the use of “divine intervention”, “words from God”, or “prophecy” as the excuse to promote bigotry is intolerable. I see all religions as equally false, but hate is hate, and if it’s coming from one religion to attack another, I will side against the attacker.
Nalliah’s definition of “multiculturalism”, which he defies, is actually the way multiculturalism is enacted in Australia; You are welcome to be here, and with your culture, but you must to it the way we do it here. This is one reason I think “multiculturalism” doesn’t work, but that its close cousin, “cultural diversity” should be our aim. In my view, multiculturalism fails because we demand that those who move here become Australian, in deed and in thought, and scream “boat-people” when people choose to live inside pockets of their own cultures. In many ways, we cause this to happen by alienating new immigrants, either by they hysterical nature of our politics and media, or by forcing large sectors of immigrants into virtual ghettos, the only place many new arrivals can afford to live. What’s interesting here is that, what Nallian is actually opposing is every culture or religion which differs from his own (or in this case, everything but Christianity, as he seems to equate his religion with his culture.)
At his website he makes his view quite plain:
In related news, Nalliah has shown his support for controversial Netherlander Geert Wilders, who has also shown his disdain for Islamic immigration.
Nalliah’s extremist views don’t end there. He is also a strong opponent of climate change claims, is anti-abortion, and stands for an apparent upholding of “Australia’s Christian heritage”. (This “Christian heritage” is barely 200 years old.) He uses his interpretation of biblical texts as a standpoint for his political agendas, and uses them as an excuse to wield his sexist, racist and xenophobic attitudes. His party is supported by the notorious climate change skeptic Lord Monckton, a throwback from the British aristocracy. Nalliah does indeed choose strangely extreme bedfellows.
He claims he is consistently in contact with god via dreams, and is known for blaming the 2009 Victorian bush fires on a change in the state’s abortion laws. On February 10 2009, Nalliah posted this article to the Catch The Fire Ministry, where he claims his dream foretold of the fires.
“In my dream I saw fire everywhere with flames burning very high and uncontrollably. With this I woke up from my dream with the interpretation as the following words came to me in a flash from the Spirit of God.
“That His conditional protection has been removed from the nation of Australia, in particular Victoria, for approving the slaughter of innocent children in the womb.”
The Herald Sun reported on February 11:
It is from this standpoint that we start to get a feel for what Nalliah is all about. Much like Calvin E Beisner from The Cornwall Alliance, Nalliah speaks from a place of authority, apparently bestowed upon him by his constant contact with God. He uses scripture as a basis for his bigotry, and now he’s going into politics.
With the federal election date announced earlier this year, it seems the nutters are coming out of the woodwork. The media are increasingly telling us that neither of the two major parties are attractive to most voters, and if this is the case, then the extremist views of the likes of Nalliah (and Bob Katter, but that’s a different story) become much more interesting. In times of uncertainty, extreme voices sought by many who feel “let down” by the powers that be. Whether Nalliah’s views are those of only a small minority of Australians, the fact that these attitudes are becoming more common is a direct result of a failure of the wishes of people to integrate, where we should be celebrating cultural diversity, and of media and political infatuation with the “big-sell” item of “stopping the boats”. Religion is only a part of any culture, and to single out Islam, whether it is truly at odds with freedom as Wilders and Nalliah claim, it should not be sole grounds for any kind of discrimination.
The worst part of the whole campaign is that one of the key policies of the Rise Up Australia party is “freedom of religion“. Freedom, that is, unless that religion happens to be Islam. One must not mistake my support for Islamic people in this situation for a support of Islam. I, unlike Nalliah, have neither a God to fight for, nor do I see religion as sole grounds for discrimination.