A well-known charismatic pastor in Australia, Danny Nalliah, who is originally from Sri Lanka, has had his church’s charitable status revoked in light of his outspoken political dealings in the last several years. The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission took issue with Catch the Fire Ministries when Nalliah asked his congregants to make political donations and volunteer time to the political party he started–Rise Up Australia.
When he’s not pastoring Catch the Fire Ministries, Nalliah has spent his time campaigning for Rise Up Australia against gay marriage and radical Islam. Nalliah claims the Commission told him they were especially offended by the articles on the Rise Up Australia website which highlight crimes committed by Muslims. He feels the Commission is targeting and discriminating against his right to political speech. Catch the Fire Ministries has 60 days to appeal the decision that could leave them with a hefty financial burden of backtaxes to pay.
The church has many programs to help the community including a pregnancy center where pregnant women considering abortion can get ultrasound images of their unborn baby and other information on pregnancies. They also support two Sri Lankan orphanages and help 100 financially-challenged families with their meals every week. Nalliah says he and his wife do not get a salary from any of the donated funds so that all of the money can go to help others.
Although I don’t agree with some of Mr. Nalliah’s charismatic pentecostal doctrines, I believe he has the right to express them openly. What his ministry is facing is unjust in my opinion and highlights the abuse of power any government can impose on religious organizations when they set up laws to dictate when and if they consider an organization to be legitimately charitable. It places genuine churches under the subjective morality of government agents. It paves the way for government to become god by telling someone, “Your message and methods cannot be considered from God unless you agree with our human understandings. If you don’t agree with our views on how religions should behave, we’ll make you pay.” Literally.
Source: Aisha Dow, Pastor Danny Nalliah’s church faces tax bill after charity status revoked, TheAge.com.au, January 17, 2017.