Siobhain Ryan – October 23, 2007
THE controversial leader of the evangelical Catch The Fire Ministries, Daniel Nalliah, yesterday attacked Islam, multiculturalism and gay rights, and applauded the Coalition’s “black and white stance” on moral issues.

Mr Nalliah led more than 500 people in a two-hour singing, dancing service to pray for rain and for moral government, in the same hall in Parliament House where the party leaders held their debate the night before.The hard-line pastor called on Kevin Rudd to prove his faith as a Christian by publicly recognising Christ as the son of God, and bringing the secular Left of his party to heel.

The Labor leader’s “ambivalent” responses to moral issues, and support in the ALP for issues such as gay rights and multiculturalism left “question marks in the minds of many Christians”, Mr Nalliah said.

“I would like him to be fair dinkum and be black-and-white in his statements.”

Mr Nalliah, who fell foul of Victoria’s laws against religious vilification, has backed Coalition policy on issues such as citizenship requirements, becoming more vocal in his support after meeting John Howard and Peter Costello earlier this year.

The pastor said the Prime Minister and his heir-apparent, the Treasurer, who supported Mr Nalliah in his successful appeal against the vilification charges, “don’t flip-flop” on moral issues.

The Catch The Fire pastor, who has links with a network of evangelical churches across the nation, restated his contentious views outside the prayer meeting.

He said homosexuality was “an abomination”, multiculturalism had caused the downfall of European nations, and the separation of church and state undermined Australia’s stance on moral issues. But the prayer session was focused on a different cause: drought-breaking rain.

The session was organised in response to Mr Howard’s latest call on Australians to pray for rain to break the drought. The Prime Minister did not attend the service but was there in spirit, with a written message supporting the faithful’s call for the heavens to open and end the drought. “It is my hope that our farmers and rural and regional communities draw strength from the prayers and practical help of their fellow Australians and remain optimistic that they will see their way through to prosperous times once again,” Mr Howard’s message said yesterday.

While one of the church speakers thanked God for the Government’s drought-relief package, some attendees were less forgiving. Farmers who were holding a separate protest against the Government’s plans for the beleaguered Murray-Darling Basin outside Parliament House joined in the Catch The Fire Ministries’ prayer for rain, but delivered a different political message outside the meeting.

Vince Cirillo, a table grape irrigator from Mildura, said farmers were hurting because of the slashing of water allocations by the Howard Government.

“I’ve had to abandon 20 per cent of my property,” Mr Cirillo said, blaming the cuts. “A lot of people are just annoyed. The majority are Coalition supporters and you wouldn’t have expected a Coalition Government to do what they are doing.”


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