While The Australian manages to find excuses to keep Sheik Hilaly on its pages (even if only by citing Lebanese community leaders, as if the other 59 nationalities of Aussie Muslims are irrelevant), one of the major wedges used by its conservative columnists and the politicians they serve seems to have fallen between the cracks.What made Hilaly’s statements so outrageous were that they compromised an essential Aussie value – gender equality. They also potentially justified violence against women, something hundreds of prominent Australian men campaign to eliminate each year.So what happens when a Christian pastor takes a soft line on domestic violence? Fairfax newspapers have reported on a debate within the Assemblies of God churches to extend the acceptable grounds of divorce “to include cases of serious physical abuse”. And who is opposing it? Who thinks women who get bashed by their husbands shouldn’t be allowed a divorce blessed by the Church? According to Danny Nalliah: “Divorce must be kept in line with scripture and remarriage should only be on the grounds of sexual infidelity, as upheld by Christian leaders for the past 20 centuries.” Will John Howard remind us all of a small minority of Pentecostal Christians needing to learn Australian values like equality for women? Will Kevin Andrews tell Mr Nalliah to consider leaving Australia? Will Kevin Rudd suggest removing Nalliah’s citizenship? It’s OK for Danny Nalliah to behave like a Christian version of Hilaly, effectively telling women in his congregation to “shut up and take it” when their husbands bash them up. He’ll probably still receive a reference from Treasurer Peter Costello for his next court case. No doubt the PM will still send a special Australia Day message to Nalliah’s Catch The Fire Ministries. So as we get ready to pay tribute to the diggers who gave their lives to defend our values, we can feel secure in the knowledge that certain clerics (and their Liberal Party supporters) can continue to preach, rally and protest against these values. Clearly what’s good for Mufti Goose isn’t good for Pastor Gander.
One law for the mufti, another for the pastor
What happens when a Christian pastor takes a soft line on domestic violence?