Danny NalliahDanny Nalliah “Satan’s strongholds” leaflet: Clearing up 3 misconceptions
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INTRODUCTION

The purpose of this article is to clear up three misconceptions about a controversial leaflet created and distributed by Danny Nalliah of Catch The Fire Ministries. These misconceptions have been busily circulating across the mainstream media, and the web.
In an earlier article I provided the text and some comments about this leaflet.

Here is the portion that’s usually quoted. It appears under the heading, “Prayer Strategies”…

5. Ask the Lord to give you insight. Spot Satan’s strongholds in the area you living in (brothels, gambling places, bottle shops, mosques, temples – Freemason/ Buddhist /Hindu etc. witchcraft)

[ … ]

7. If you are ready to pray against it, do so. If not bring it to your church and ask your intercessors through the pastor to pull these strongholds down.

THREE FAT FALSEHOODS

The three widely circulating errors are:

That this leaflet – or some version of it – was used by Danny Nalliah in 2004 …
… during his campaigning or as part of his campaigning as a candidate for the Family First Party of Australia during the 2004 federal election.
And that this leaflet is – or amounts to – an incitement to violence.
After obtaining a faxed copy of this leaflet, I wrote as follows to Jason Golden at Catch The Fire on Tuesday on Dec 11 2007 …

[ … ]

One claim which has been widely repeated in the media, concerning the TEXT of that fax you sent me is based on an article in The Age by [ … ] Misha Schubert.

His [actually “her”] article is @ http://tinyurl.com/2w6yep

He [”She”] wrote:

————
As a Family First Victorian Senate candidate in the 2004 federal election, a pamphlet written by Pastor Nalliah was condemned by Nationals Senate candidate Barnaby Joyce as evidence the church was part of “the lunatic right”.

“Spot Satan’s strongholds in the areas you are living (brothels, gambling places, bottle shops, mosques, temples – Freemasons/Buddhist/Hindu etc, witchcraft,” the leaflet said.
———

Question:

The fax you sent me was dated 2002, not 2004.

In 2004, when Danny stood as a Family First senate candidate in Victoria [ … ] did he in fact distribute a leaflet which used the SAME text (”Spot Satan’s strongholds etc.”) as the one you sent me, which is dated 2002?

Question:

If he DID distribute such a leaflet in 2004, did he do so in his role as a Family First candidate, or did he do so by way of promoting “Rise Up Australia!”?

Related question: If he DID distribute such a leaflet in 2004, was the leaflet marked as being an authorised “Family First” leaflet? Or was the leaflet clear about NOT being a Family First Party leaflet?

Jason forwarded my questions to Danny Nalliah, who then replied on Wednesday Dec 12 2007:

The answer is a BIG NO. There was nothing in 2004.

They were misquoting.

Cheers/Danny

Danny Nalliah claims that neither the “Satan’s strongholds” leaflet – nor anything else with the same text – was used in in 2004. And certainly not as any part of his election campaigning.

Furthermore, this leaflet was written for a particular target audience: Evangelical Christians.

This is an important point, because its language and terminology – including terms such as “Satan’s strongholds” – is standard “Prayer Warrior” and “Spiritual Warfare” talk. I provide some relevant Biblical references further down.

I phoned Family First Party in order to verify whether or not Danny Nalliah used the “Satan’s strongholds” leaflet during 2004.

I was told by a rather uppity and nervous spokeswoman that Family First “decline to comment”, and that was their official position, after which she abruptly hung up on me.

I phoned her straight back to tell her she’d hung up on me, and she said something to the effect that “I thought we’d finished”. To which I responded that as neither she nor I had said “bye bye”, that hardly seems likely. Bye bye. And Merry Christmas.

More about Family First in just a moment.

THE POLITICIAN

My research indicates that it was National Party member …

 Barnaby Joyce National Party

 

 

 

 

… Barnaby Joyce, who first brought the “Satan’s strongholds” leaflet to the attention of the media in 2004, just before the October 08 2004 Australian Federal election.

Nationals split over Family First deal
Greg Roberts (The Australian)
October 08, 2004

THE Queensland Nationals have broken ranks with the Coalition over its preferences deal with the Family First Party, with Nationals Queensland Senate candidate Barnaby Joyce describing the Assemblies of God-affiliated party as “the lunatic Right”.

[ … ]

Mr Joyce said he was deeply disturbed by a leaflet published by a Family First Victorian Senate candidate, Danny Nalliah, of the Catch the Fire Ministries.

“Spot Satan’s strongholds in the areas you are living (brothels, gambling places, bottleshops, mosque, temples — Freemasons/Buddhist/Hindu etc, witchcraft,” the leaflet says.

“If you are ready to pray against it, do so. If not, bring it to your church and ask your intercessors, through the pastor, to pull these strongholds down.”

Mr Joyce said he believed no party should be swapping preferences with Family First.

“This is the lunatic Right, this is crazy, ill-informed stuff,” he said.

“They seem to be saying we should be tearing down mosques and tearing down bottleshops.

[ … ]

If Barbaby Joyce, who I believe is a Christian – though not an Evangelical, as far as I know – based his knowledge of this leaflet on seeing an actual physical copy of it, he would have seen that it was about prayer, not physical destruction.

He would also have seen that the leaflet was dated 2002, and was not related to the Family First Party, nor used in 2004 by Danny Nalliah.

But what about Greg Roberts?

ONE OF SEVERAL JOURNALISTS

Isn’t it his job as a journalist and as part of his professional ethical code to:

locate the leaflet?
examine it?
speak to its authors and promoters?
i.e. To investigate the matter?
To check whether it’s true or not?
To check whether it might be merely the ruse of a political opponent?
Did Greg Roberts actually see the leaflet he wrote about?

If Greg Roberts didn’t investigate all of the above – and I haven’t been able to find evidence of any sort of follow-up by him that would indicate he did – he has failed to perform both his professional and moral duties.

If Greg Roberts did see the leaflet, then it’s troubling that he didn’t at least mention it was dated 2002.

Either way, Greg Roberts has contributed to the spread of misconception and to the villification of Danny Nalliah.

No wonder surveys show “the trustworthiness of journalists at about the level of politicians and as only slightly more credible than used-car salesmen”. Thanks Greg.

Source: The above excerpt of Greg Roberts’ article appears to originally come from this now dead link. However, I was able to find a copy of it archived at farzadsf1gallery.com (Oct 09, 2004) in one of its “off-topic” threads.

THE CHAIRMAN

Another individual who must bear significant responsibility for the spread of error and slander against Danny Nalliah is …

Peter Harris 2004

… Peter Harris, who back in 2004 (and at least some of 2005) was Federal Chairman of Family First Party (as well as active in Assemblies of God – a Christian Evangelical group.)

In 2004, Tony Jones of ABC Lateline interviewed Peter Harris.

Here is an excerpt from the interview transcript:

TONY JONES: It may only be getting picked up by the newspapers, but there does seem to be quite a lot of a religious nature, for example, do you stand by the material put out by one of your candidates, Pastor Danny Nalliah in Victoria, who called on his followers to pull down Satan’s strongholds.

They included, along with brothels and gambling places, mosques and temples.

Most Australians would consider that to be an incitement to religious violence.

PETER HARRIS: Oh, absolutely.

And some people would see it that way but we, you know, we last week totally distanced ourself from that situation.

We received a letter from the Islamic Council of Victoria.

We responded to that letter and our position is simply that we totally promote and believe in the freedom of speech, the freedom of religion, the freedom of choice.

And I personally contacted the Islamic Council of Victoria and expressed that view and they reflected a sense of relief that Family First wasn’t about that.

Peter Harris flunks out miserably at every level here. His response is craven and cringing, and hardly “Christ-like”. He sells Danny down the river.

He fails to mention that the leaflet was not used by Danny Nalliah during the 2004 campaign.
He fails to mention that the leaflet is actually dated 2002 …
… and is a promotional hand-out for “Rise Up Australia!” – which has nothing to do with the election.
He fails to challenge the suggestion made by the interviewer that the leaflet is or amounts to some sort of “incitement to religious violence” by …
… failing to point out that it is actually about “prayer strategies” – and that the “pulling down of Satan’s strongholds” meant to be done by spiritually, and through God. And, most importantly: It is not about the physical destruction of these “strongholds”.
He fails to say anything about “Prayer Warriors” – who are common amongst Evangelicals of the kind he mixes with – or the terminology of ”spiritual warfare“ – which the leaflet uses.
And how chillingly ironic that Peter Harris is reassuring the Islamic Council of Victoria (ICV) of all people, about how pro free speech Family First really are, when it was the ICV who set out to stifle free speech by taking Danny Nalliah (and Daniel Scot) to court for criticising Islam and Jihad.

The ICV’s complaint against Danny Nalliah, Daniel Scot, and Catch The Fire, was subsequently shredded by the Court of Appeal, which overturned and criticised VCAT’s earlier “guilty” verdict in no uncertain terms.

ANOTHER REPORTER

Misha Schubert is another journalist who needs to re-read her job description and get acquainted with the ethical standards of her discredited profession.

Writing in The Age …

Misha Schubert

PM’s message to controversial sect
Misha Schubert, Political Correspondent Canberra
January 19, 2007

[ … ]

As a Family First Victorian Senate candidate in the 2004 federal election, a pamphlet written by Pastor Nalliah was condemned by Nationals Senate candidate Barnaby Joyce as evidence the church was part of “the lunatic right”.

“Spot Satan’s strongholds in the areas you are living (brothels, gambling places, bottle shops, mosques, temples — Freemasons/Buddhist/Hindu etc, witchcraft,” the leaflet said.

“If you are ready to pray against it, do so. If not, bring it to your church and ask your intercessors, through the pastor, to pull these strongholds down.”

Let’s now have a look at the Spiritual Warfare/Prayer Warrior approach.

BIBLICAL ROOTS

Here are two Biblical quotes which provide Christian theological foundations for this approach.

First …

Corinthians 10:3-5 (King James Version)

3: For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:

4: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)

5: Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

Note the use of the term “strong holds” – a term which is used in the leaflet.

Note also, there is no suggestion whatsoever of physical violence. Indeed, the physical realm is considered inappropriate.

“The weapons of warfare are not carnal” is understood as meaning some thing like:

The weapons we use in our fight are not made by humans. Rather, they are powerful weapons from God. With them we destroy people’s defenses, that is, their arguments

This is about “spiritual warfare”.

As explained at ChristNotes.org regarding Corinthians, Chapter 10 …

… The work of the ministry is a spiritual warfare with spiritual enemies, and for spiritual purposes.

Outward force is not the method of the gospel, but strong persuasions, by the power of truth and the meekness of wisdom.

Conscience is accountable to God only; and people must be persuaded to God and their duty, not driven by force.

Thus the weapons of our warfare are very powerful; the evidence of truth is convincing.

Second …

Ephesians 6:10-18 (King James Version)

10: Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

11: Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

12: For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

13: Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

14: Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

15: And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

16: Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

17: And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

18: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

Note the use of all the ”warrior” words used entirely as metaphors. Not at all used to either describe or advocate any sort of physical violence.

Again, some more exegesis from Christnotes.com …

Spiritual strength and courage are needed for our spiritual warfare and suffering.

Those who would prove themselves to have true grace, must aim at all grace; and put on the whole armour of God, which he prepares and bestows.

The Christian armour is made to be worn; and there is no putting off our armour till we have done our warfare, and finished our course.

The combat is not against human enemies, nor against our own corrupt nature only; we have to do with an enemy who has a thousand ways of beguiling unstable souls.

The devils assault us in the things that belong to our souls, and labour to deface the heavenly image in our hearts.

We must resolve by God’s grace, not to yield to Satan. Resist him, and he will flee. If we give way, he will get ground.

If we distrust either our cause, or our Leader, or our armour, we give him advantage.

The different parts of the armour of heavy-armed soldiers, who had to sustain the fiercest assaults of the enemy, are here described. There is none for the back; nothing to defend those who turn back in the Christian warfare.

Truth, or sincerity, is the girdle.

This girds on all the other pieces of our armour, and is first mentioned. There can be no religion without sincerity.

The righteousness of Christ, imputed to us, is a breastplate against the arrows of Divine wrath. The righteousness of Christ implanted in us, fortifies the heart against the attacks of Satan.

Resolution must be as greaves, or armour to our legs; and to stand their ground or to march forward in rugged paths, the feet must be shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.

Motives to obedience, amidst trials, must be drawn from a clear knowledge of the gospel. Faith is all in all in an hour of temptation. Faith, as relying on unseen objects, receiving Christ and the benefits of redemption, and so deriving grace from him, is like a shield, a defence every way. The devil is the wicked one.

Violent temptations, by which the soul is set on fire of hell, are darts Satan shoots at us. Also, hard thoughts of God, and as to ourselves. Faith applying the word of God and the grace of Christ, quenches the darts of temptation.

Salvation must be our helmet. A good hope of salvation, a Scriptural expectation of victory, will purify the soul, and keep it from being defiled by Satan.

To the Christian armed for defense in battle, the apostle recommends only one weapon of attack; but it is enough, the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. [ … ]

A single text, well understood, and rightly applied, at once destroys a temptation or an objection, and subdues the most formidable adversary.

Prayer must fasten all the other parts of our Christian armour. [ … ]

By the way, the above excerpts from ChristNotes.org are taken from …

Matthew Henry

… Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, dated 1706.

i.e. It’s nothing new. It’s three hundred years old. That’s at least how long this sort of language and this sort of Spiritual Warfare/Prayer Warrior approach has been around.

Within this tradition, the Danny Nalliah leaflet is quite run-of-the-mill. It is in fact not controversial or novel or in any way extraordinary.

EXAMPLES

Now a few examples of those who have perpetuated the 3 falsehoods …

ReligiousTolerance.org

During 2004-NOV, Nalliah ran for a seat in the Australian Senate as a candidate for the Family First Party. One of his competitors Barnaby Joyce, [from the National Party] attacked Nalliah, quoting from one of Nalliah’s brochures.

According to Wikipedia, they allegedly:

“….asked parishioners to pray to their god in order that he might pull down ‘Satan’s strongholds’, which included brothels, gambling places, bottle shops, mosques and temples (including Freemason, Buddhist and Hindu temples).”

unBelief.org writes:

Spot Satan’s strongholds in the areas you are living (brothels, gambling places, bottle shops, mosques, temples – Freemasons/ Buddhist/Hindu etc., witchcraft) … If you are ready to pray against it, do so. If not, bring it to your church and ask your intercessors, through the pastor, to pull these strongholds down. (Family First Party election leaflet written in 2004 by Nalliah, as quoted in Misha Schubert ‘PM’s message to controversial sect’, Age, 19 Jan. 2007)

Note the explicit, false, claim that the “Satan’s strongholds” leaflet was “written in 2004“.

Commenting in Muslim “libertarian” blog, Austrolabe, “Ted Sprague”, tries to come up with a new and witty, if bigoted, characterization of Danny Nalliah (shortly after I had shown that an earlier derogatory characterization of Danny Nalliah was based on error).

Making quite the grand ass of himself, “Ted Sprague” writes :

What about Danny “Neighbourhood Mosques are Satan’s strongholds” Nalliah?

And then quotes the following:

Spot Satan’s strongholds in the areas you are living (brothels, gambling places, bottle shops, mosques, temples – Freemasons/ Buddhist/Hindu etc., witchcraft) … If you are ready to pray against it, do so. If not, bring it to your church and ask your intercessors, through the pastor, to pull these strongholds down. (Family First Party election leaflet written in 2004 by Nalliah, as quoted in Misha Schubert ‘PM’s message to controversial sect’, Age, 19 Jan. 2007)

It looks like he’s quoting unBelief.org who is in turn quoting and embellishing Misha Schubert.

Another example of distorting the distortions from Austrolabe:

Another prescient example of this is Danny Nalliah, pastor of the fringe church “Catch the Fire Ministries“. Nalliah has previously been alleged to have expressed the desire for God to burn down mosques.

From UK publication, The Guardian:

Danny Nalliah, a Family First candidate on the party’s Victorian senate ticket, has been accused of vilifying Muslims by the Islamic Council of Victoria, and put out a pre-election leaflet in which he urged followers to “pull down Satan’s strongholds”.

“Spot Satan’s strongholds in the areas you are living (brothels, gambling places, bottleshops, mosque[sic], temples – Freemasons/Buddhist/Hindu etc, witchcraft,” the leaflet read.

NSW Greens candidate, Lee Rhiannon in her speech to The Humanist Society in 2004:

Family First are the political voice of some ugly policies that we have not heard of in this country since the dark days of sectarian divisions in the first half of last century.

A Family First candidate in Victoria, Pastor Danny Nalliah, called on his followers to pull down Satan’s strongholds, which he named as brothels, gambling places, mosques and temples.

Former Howard Government senior advisor, Greg Barns:

… Such as, for example, the well-publicised conduct of a 2004 Senate candidate for the Family First Party, Danny Nalliah.

Nalliah, a pastor with the Catch the Fire Ministries, distributed a brochure in 2003 which stated, “Spot Satan’s strongholds in the areas you are living (brothels, gambling places, bottleshops, mosque, temples – Freemasons/Buddhist/Hindu etc, witchcraft)”.

Greg Barns rests his case on the fact that the untruths about Danny Nalliah are “well publicised”. And his claim that the leaflet/brochure was distributed in 2003 is of course wrong. But at least it’s original!

SocialistWorker.org.au …

In 2004, as a candidate for Family First, Pastor Nalliah issued pamphlets asking parishioners to “spot Satan’s strongholds in the areas [where] you are living”, which included “brothels, gambling places, bottle shops, mosques, [and] temples”.

Renowned slag-rag, Crikey.com.au …

Catch the Fire head honcho Danny Nalliah has released a pamphlet, according to The Australian, calling on his followers to “Spot Satan’s strongholds in the areas you are living (brothels, gambling places, bottle shops, mosque, temples – Freemasons/Buddhist/Hindu etc …) bring it to your church and ask your intercessors, through the pastor, to pull these strongholds down.”

In the wise words of Barnaby Joyce, “This is the lunatic Right, this is crazy, ill-informed stuff”.

Again from Crikey.com.au, this time by mega-twit Jeff Sparrow …

Jeff Sparrow

Pastor Nalliah, you will recall, distinguished himself in 2004 by distributing a leaflet for the Senate election describing brothels, gambling places, bottle shops, mosques and temples as “Satan’s strongholds”.

Rick Wallace in The Australian …

Queensland Nationals senator Barnaby Joyce condemned his party for striking a deal with Family First, for whom Mr Nalliah was a federal candidate in 2004.

“This is the lunatic Right, this is crazy, ill-informed stuff,” he said. “They seem to be saying we should be tearing down mosques and tearing down bottle shops.

“These are not the sort of people you do preference deals with.”

His comments followed the release of a brochure from Mr Nalliah advocating the destruction of places of worship belonging to other religions.

“Spot Satan’s strongholds in the areas you are living (brothels, gambling places, bottle shops, mosque, temples — Freemasons/Buddhist/Hindu etc, witchcraft,” the leaflet says.

CONCLUSION

The common “method” used by everyone who has participated – either intentionally, or through neglect or laziness, or truly innocently – in perpetuating the falsehoods discussed in this article has been that of: OMISSION. i.e. Leaving out relevant information. In nearly all cases, the information that was left out was, given a moderate effort, readily available.

Peter Harris (Family First), Barnaby Joyce (National Party), and the various journalists who have allowed this to happen are a disgrace to their professions and should be held accountable.
This entry was posted on PRODOS on Wednesday, December 19th, 2007.


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