Keith Piper, the pastor of Liberty Baptist Church, based in the Sydney suburb of Cherrybrook, uploaded a video of one of his sermons on his YouTube channel last year. The video has recently resurfaced in the Australian media, prompting calls for an investigation.
In the video, Piper described the Koran as “a virus infecting the brains [of Muslims]” and he said Islam is “culturally incompatible with western Christian values.”
He also said that Australian schools were rejecting western values and teaching “sodomy.”
“Ungodly, leftist western leaders are afraid to teach the Bible, salvation and Christian values in state schools,” he said. “Instead they teach sodomy and how to become a weirdo.
“Islam and Qur’an-practising Muslims are culturally incompatible with western and Christian values ... Islamism is a cancer [and] we must destroy that cancer.”
The divisive statements soon proved to be inflammatory on social media, with some reactions supporting the pastor’s point of view, but many others reacting with outrage and even calling the pastor “no better than ISIS [Islamic State].”
In Australia all government schools must provide special religious education (SRE) if an approved provider is available.
The education must be provided for at least 30 minutes a week during school time. Parents can opt out of their children attending, but children are not allowed to receive any formal lessons during the SRE period. In some schools volunteers provide non-religious ethics classes as an alternative.
Liberty Baptist Church has been a state-approved provider of SRE since 1998. However, it has now been referred to the New South Wales Department of Education by anti-scripture group Fairness in Religion in Schools (FIRIS).
“We are concerned that the current provisions for SRE ... greatly increase this risk by enabling organisations such as Liberty Baptist Church to authorise their own curricula over which your office has no control or authority,” wrote Darrin Morgan, the NSW director of Fairness in Religion in Schools, in a letter to Education Minister Rob Stokes, The Guardian reports.
SRE is self-regulated by individual schools and the education department has minimal control over it. Piper told The Guardian that the school's SRE work used only externally approved materials and did not cover issues of Islam or homosexuality.