Two pastors in Australia have been convicted of "racial vilification of Muslims" for presenting a seminar on the teachings of Islam. The Australian Christian Channel web site states that "The case against both pastors is one of the first to be tested" under Victoria State's new Racial and Religious Vilification laws.
In the seminar, Pastors Danny Nilliah and Daniel Scot presented facts about Muslim jihad, goals of the Muslims in the west, and treatment of non-Muslims under Islam. Three Muslims who attended the seminar were "horrified" and reported to a state Muslim organization, The Islamic Council of Victoria (ICV). The ICV then filed a complaint with the court where the pastors were recently convicted. Sentencing is scheduled for early next year.
A number of nations have recently passed laws that cross the line between hate crimes and "hate speech." In the past, property damage or injury was prosecuted under the normal laws against criminal acts. Damage to one's reputation was tried under libel and slander statutes.
Now, the "vilification" laws attempt a higher level of control against speech considered insulting or demeaning to a growing number of social categories. It began with laws forbidding discrimination against people for their race, religion, ethnicity, nationality, sex, etc. More recently, sexual orientation and perceived gender have been added.
In the last year or so, several countries have begun to define certain speech as a form of discrimination, using terms like "vilification." Canada, Sweden and Hong Kong were among the first. Australia and Great Britain followed. Test cases have led to mixed results.
In Sweden, public outcry led to the acquittal of a pastor for preaching a sermon against homosexuality. Many have been watching this case in Australia to see if the law would hold up.
Pastor Nalliah stated, "This legal action has had a significant influence in awakening of the sleeping giant - God's people in the churches throughout Australia."
Hopefully, it will include more than the Australian Christians. In the U.S., two states, Pennsylvania and California have such laws on the books. In Pennsylvania, 11 Christians were arrested last year while presenting the gospel at a homosexual parade. They were ultimately acquitted.
The California law has not yet been tested in the courts. But between the militant homosexuals and the Muslims, it is getting more hazardous for Bible believers to preach the truth about sin. In Canada, several Christians have paid hefty fines under their hate speech and discrimination laws. American evangelists have had their TV and radio programs censored when they attempted to air them in Canada. Even certain Bible passages were not allowed to be read on the air.
Bible believers who dare to speak the whole truth in God's Word, are increasingly labeled fringe fanatics. In Australia, the Muslim case in court was supported with testimony by Anglican priests, Roman Catholic archbishops, and a prominent ecumenical denomination called The Uniting Church. All claimed that the seminar had crossed the line by contrasting the doctrines of Islam with Biblical truth.
Intolerance and discrimination are the buzz words used by those who would silence the Gospel. Satan's forces are jockeying to turn freedom of religion to "freedom from religion." He has succeeded quite well in much of the world. But America is at the center of his target. For two centuries, hundreds of thousands of missionaries have launched from America's shores, converting millions to Christ. Satan's goal is to stop that flow.
As preachers of the Gospel we must continue to call sin - sin. As citizens, we must take a more active role in standing against any laws that would silence us.