The Catch the Fire Ministries are well known for their colourful exorcisms of the deeply evil, ‘feral’ parliament. For the last two years they have perched on top of Canberra’s Mt Ainslie and faced the sweeping vistas of the federal Parliament and the blustery August winds. Surrounded by irate gays, lesbians, sundry heathens and atheist academics, Pastor Danny Nulliah dons the white polyester suit and black string tie (much favoured by mid west Baptists and chicken kings). He speaks in tongues to the forces of light, who he hopes will descend on Aldo Giurgola's folly and make it all new again.
If you’ve ever heard people speaking in tongues en masse, it actually sounds more like speaking in 'gums' with bad braces and a bit of old chewy. Whatever, it’s about as close to organised madness as you're ever likely to see and the next showdown should be a corker with the threat of thousands of 'firies' being bussed in from all over the nation. It promises to be the biggest direct confrontation of religious hardliners and unbelievers ever seen in Australia - complete with mock crucifictions, lesbian bondage queens and political lobbyists.
Anyway, apropos of the heathen thing, Pastor Danny recently issued a media release condemning our first openly atheist PM - the jezebel, Julia. He smote her for not praying to stop the floods in Queensland and for relying on ridiculous things like weather forecasts and flood levies to try and turn it all around. As if to rub salt from the shaker into her wounds, he hailed that great Methodist missionary of yesteryear, John Howard, as the patron saint of parliamentary prayer. I actually thought Peter Costello was more likely to win that accolade. His special election video about Australia’s deep links to Christianity, made specially for Pastor Danny before the 2007 federal election, was Halleleuja-rated. But maybe they see Pete as one of the money-changers in the temple now, while St John the Methodist appears to live the simple life in cardigan and slippers.
Whatever, as soon as I was alerted to Danny's powerful missive I immediately dialed up his website and scrolled down on his homepage expecting to find a photo of him on his knees in supplication. Instead I found the leetle girl on her knees with Pastor Danny’s hand firmly on her head. Quell horreur! And alongside the travesty, a banner headline shouting: "Demons scream, Praying in tongues - Holy Spirit fire falls in Brisbane."
I read on - stunned and amazed. "Even before the Word of God was preached, demons started screaming and a young lady was set free from a demonic presence in her life”, he said.
But seriously ladies and gentlemen of the jury, what was he thinking? After all the lurid headlines of the past decade about child sex abuse and church clergy, after the scandals here and abroad which have left many churches bankrupt, almost deserted and so desperate for new priests that they’re now trucking black African clergy from Botswanna, why go and publish a photo that looks like the exorcised girl could be giving Danny a blowjob as part of her conversion? Clearly she is not but I mean why would you allow her face to be so close to your crotch in a religious observance anyway, let alone allow someone to photograph it and put it up on your website?
Nine people replied to the photo post and not one of them even mentioned the fact that the photo might look a little inappropriate or that it had the potential to at least set Danny up for a fall. But no. “Please pray for Pr Daniel as he will be having meetings this week with some of the most influential politicians in Federal Parliament in Canberra”, said his official secretary. “I will pray right now for those meetings with pollys (sic) in the ACT”, commented Pastor Pete. “Halleluliah! Glory to God! Thanks for your encouragement to stand, even when all around is going the way of the seeker friendly crowd.”, said Celia.
There’s not even the slightest sense of how sexual innuendo and sexual humour operates here. And it’s a problem for many of Australia’s churches. It’s indicative of a mindset that excludes sex as part of it’s own internal socialization and only relates to it as something to attack or rail against. If ‘big religion’ in Australia is ever to recover from the PR disaster of having hundreds of paedophile priests brought before the courts, they need to immerse themselves in everyday sexuality and know its effects.
Story on their site at: http://catchthefire.com.au/blog/2011/02/22/demons-scream-depression-broken-praying-in-tongues-holy-spirit-fire-falls-in-brisbane/