PASTOR Daniel Nalliah, president of the fringe political party Rise Up Australia, has what you might politely describe as some fairly interesting views on matters of science, the climate, abortion and religious tolerance.
In the pulpit-driven eyes of Melbourne's Pastor Nalliah, humans didn't appear on Earth until 6000 years ago, when his god put us there. That same god was also behind Australia's most devastating bushfires, but only because laws are in place to allow abortion.
Pastor Danny, as he is known, doesn't like Islam much either. He'd also like to see school principals given the power to hit pupils with bits of wood (but only with parental consent).
But more of all this later, because Pastor Danny has announced the name of the man to give the keynote speech at the official launch of his Rise Up Australia political party.
Step forward Lord Christopher Monckton - climate science mangler extraordinaire, Tea Party favourite, birther and head of the Scotland branch of the UK's new “third force” in politics, the UK Independence Party.
Lord Monckton's three-month-long speaking tour of Australia starts at the end of this month. The country is currently experiencing its worst heatwave in recorded history with high temperature records tumbling and homes and property burning from bushfires.
Bureau of Meteorology climate expert David Jones told the Sydney Morning Herald the unprecedented heatwave was on the back of a long-term warming trend and climate change would serve up more extremes in the future.
So just who are Rise Up Australia? The party has booked a room at the National Press Club in Canberra for the “launch”, yet papers filed at the Australian Electoral Commission show the party was registered almost a year ago, in February 2012. Pastor Nalliah also “launched” the party way back in May 2011 and posted a clip on YouTube.
With a certain nationalistic fervour, Nalliah launched the party again a few weeks later on the steps of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Rights Tribunal.
So why Lord Monckton? Well, he and Pastor Danny are old friends. In January 2012, Nalliah and his Christian evangelical Catch the Fire Ministry hosted Lord Monckton for a lecture as part of his nationwide speaking tour that year - one which was prefaced by a scandal surrounding Monckton's use of Nazi swastikas.
But before introducing Lord Monckton, Pastor Danny took the time to warn the congregation against multiculturalism. “If you embrace multiculturalism then you are compelled to embrace Islamic sharia law,” he said. “That's how they got into Britain and Europe and that's what they want in Australia.”
While Nalliah's party manifesto claims to advocate freedom of religion, this obviously doesn't extend to Islam. Nalliah is currently fighting plans to build a mosque on the same street in Melbourne where his Catch the Fire Ministry is building a new HQ.
He told one reporter:
“We don't approve of Islam as a religion but we love Muslim people. Islam teaches that those who follow other religions are infidels. It is a religion that doesn't value freedom of religion. Having those same teachings right under our noses is counter-productive to our church.”
Back in 2004, when Nalliah was campaigning for a seat in Australia's senate for the family First Party, he reportedly published a “call to prayer” leaflet which encouraged followers to pull down “Satan's strongholds” which the leaflet said included mosques and other religious temples.
The RUA party's manifesto also says Australian laws should be governed by Judeo-Christian values, that “socialism should be avoided” and that the “free enterprise system is best”. Nalliah also wants to bring back the “disciplinary” beating of children in schools with wooden sticks.
If all this doesn't sound incendiary enough, then Pastor Nalliah's views on the cause of deadly bushfires are among his most offensive views. During the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria, when 173 people were killed and hundreds were injured, Nalliah claimed the devastation was all down to God, who had removed his “conditional protection” of Victoria because of the state's abortion laws.
Recounting a dream some months before, Nalliah wrote:
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.
Nalliah also runs a “Pregnancy Counseling Ministry” which, according to the counseling service, “began after God placed in Pastor Daniel Nalliah’s heart the desire to do something about the millions of babies being aborted around the world each year.”
Lord Monckton has also recently voiced his own virulent anti-abortion stance. In an interview posted on YouTube in November last year, the Viscount suggested that the UK Prime Minister David Cameron should repeal the country's “unspeakable” abortion laws which, he claimed, allowed for the “torture and murder of little children in the womb”. He described hospital staff who performed abortions as “butchers”.
When it comes to matters of science and evolution, Pastor Nalliah is firmly of the Creationist bent. In an ABC radio interview in July 2011, the Pastor said:
“The human race has lived on Earth for 6000 years. If you believe in evolution, then you will disapprove of what I'm saying. We know the world existed possibly for millions of years but the fact is that humankind was created 6000 years ago and that is what the the Bible in Genesis Chapter 1 says.”
And what of climate change, the rising trend in global temperatures and emissions of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels and other human activities? This is all conveniently immaterial because, as Pastor Nalliah went on to explain: “The fact is God is in charge of climate for 6000 years… we cannot change the climate.”
Lord Monckton returns to Australia in a month's time for his third national speaking tour. Previous tours have been supported by one of the world's richest women, coal and iron ore mining magnate Gina Rinehart, and also by a mining industry association.
Organisers have included another fringe Australian political group, the Climate Sceptics Party. For his 2013 trip, another minority political party - the Democractic Labor Party - is reportedly helping organise the trip, alongside Lord Monckton's very own foundation, which is being run by Chris Dawson, a Climate Sceptics Party senate candidate.
And of course, there's Lord Monckton's friendship with Rise Up Australia and Pastor Danny. A match made in a faith-based Heaven, or a match made on the very outer fringes of who knows where?
Pic: Lord Monckton and Pastor Nalliah, Catch the Fire Ministry