An Australian Baptist church that works in government schools has come under fire after its pastor made incendiary statements about Islam, calling it a 'a cancer we must destroy'.
Liberty Baptist Church, based in Cherrybrook, Sydney is a state-approved provider of scripture, known officially as special religious education (SRE). SRE is required of any government school that has access to a provider; the program amounts to at least 30 minutes a week of teaching about religion per week.
The church has now been referred to the New South Wales (NSW) Department of Education, because of the teachings of its founding pastor Keith Piper, according to The Guardian.
In a video on his Youtube channel last year, Piper called the Islamic Qur'an 'a virus infecting the brains [of Muslims]', and said 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 in April. '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.'
Critics have warned that Piper's positions were a threat to the multicultural commitments of the government's education policy.
'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.
Currently, SRE is 'self-regulated', 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.
'The scope of these curriculums is available online and they don't deal with the issues you are concerned with,' he said. 'Liberty Baptist Church, as a special religious education provider, is committed to providing a safe and happy environment in every SRE class taught by our dedicated volunteers.
'They have undertaken Working With Children screening and have received their ... clearance authorisation. They have been formally trained to teach SRE in public schools and are committed to ongoing training.'
However, Piper made clear his view that 'The teachings of the Qu'ran and Islamism are indeed dangerous. I advocate against the Safe Schools program in schools, the content of which promotes the homosexual lifestyle.
'I have love for Muslim people who are victims of the ideology of Islam and I am committed to telling them the good news of Jesus Christ.'
Morgan said that Piper needed to ensure his church's SRE lined up with 'NSW's 21st century multicultural society'. Piper has previously said that multiculturalism would lead to 'people becoming Muslim through breeding and proselytising', and said he supports a ban on Muslim immigration.
Parents can have their children opt out of SRE if they wish.