on the Catch the Fire Supreme Court Judgement

I wanted to blog on this last December when the issue was current, but didn’t have access to this article in Now I have it. It is a brief news report by Peter Faris QC on the decision to send the case back to VCAT for re-judgment, but it included these comments:

One of the remarkable features of the judgement is the personal and religious criticisms made of Pastor Scot by the presiding judge, Nettle JA. In the context of a case involving religious vilification, the comments were alarming.

The complaint against Pastor Scot arose from a presentation he made at a church seminar which was tape-recorded by agents of the Islamic Council.

Nettle JA listened to the tape. He said the following of Pastor Scot:

“I dare say, for example, that there would be a large number of people who would despise Pastor Scot’s perception of Christianity and yet not dream of hating him or be inclined to any of the other stipulated emotions” [33]

“I have listened to the tape recording of [Scot’s] Seminar, although I confess that I lacked the endurance to do it more than once” [63]

“I dare say too that there may well be people who, although not Muslims, would think it a far better thing if people like Pastor Scot kept his ideas about the Koran and Islam, and for that matter Judaism and Christianity, to himself and left others to do likewise. It is at least arguable that the world would be a happier place if he were bound to do so. But that is not the law.” [80]

These are “interesting” comments about a Christian Pastor and his right to practice his religion.

Nettle JA also makes this interesting finding, this time about the law: “it is conceivable that a statement made about religious beliefs in the course of a talkback radio broadcast could run foul of s.8 of the Act while the same thing said as part of intellectual discourse within a seminary or faculty of theology would not have that effect.” [17]

The consequences of the decision to the media in Victoria could be significant.

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