The Islamic Council of Victoria want the offending pastors to acknowledge a finding that their comments incited hatred and severe ridicule of Muslims.
But the pastors’ ministry, Catch the Fire, rejects the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal finding. They are appealing to the Supreme Court on the basis that VCAT deputy president Michael Higgins was biased against the evangelical group.
David Perkins, for Catch the Fire Ministries, yesterday submitted to Judge Higgins that he had “ridiculed” pastor Daniel Scot’s religious beliefs.
“We have a pending action in the Supreme Court to which your Honour is a party,” he told the judge. Judge Higgins replied that he regarded his being made a party as “inappropriate.”
Mr Scot told the Herald Sun yesterday he could not and would not give any acknowledgment or apology that his conscience would not allow, and was prepared for jail.
He said his nephew was killed in Pakistan by Islamic extremists. “This is what Muslims do when they follow their religion,” he said, before suggesting he was the subject of Christian victimisation.
Brind Woinarski, QC, for the Islamic Council, sought an order from VCAT that Catch the Fire publish an acknowledgment of the finding of religious discrimination.
He said he wanted Mr Scot and fellow pastor Danny Nalliah to publish a statement in newspapers and in the ministry’s newsletter and website, and to put an internet link to the Islamic Council.
The statement would include the findings that the pastors were hostile, demeaning and derogatory of all Muslims, their god and their practices; that both were not credible witnesses; and that they failed to distinguish between mainstream and extremist Muslims.
The basis of the action was a speech by Mr Scot at a 2002 Christian seminar that Muslims were training to take over Australia, encouraged domestic violence, and that Islam was an inherently violent religion.
Judge Higgins will decide any penalty on a date to be fixed.
May 4, 2005
Liam Houlihan, religious affairs reporter