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Satanists say devil's in the detail of nation's new religious laws

Politics

“A nonsense” is how leaders of the Noosa Temple of Satan have described the Federal Government’s proposed Religious Discrimination Bill, which is set to go before Parliament by the end of the year.

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And the Satanists say they are shocked that more smaller religions have not joined them in protesting the proposed new law.

The Noosa Temple of Satan founder, Robin Bristow, aka Brother Samuel Eemo-Gorgon and lawyer, Trevor Bell, this week met with Senator Amanda Stoker, the Assistant Minister to the Attorney-General, to voice their objection to the law.

Bell said the meeting was the result of many months of seeking to have their say and to articulate their view, that the bill in its current form would allow large religious groups to practice discrimination.

“This bill enables large religious groups to discriminate. It is a protection clause that says, don’t discriminate against people because of their religion, unless you happen to be a large religious group,” claims Bell.

“It is just a nonsense. You can’t say something is a bad idea and then say it’s okay if a religious group wants to do it.”

The proposed bill – which says individuals cannot be discriminated against on the basis of religious belief or activity – has already garnered controversy within Government ranks about its breadth and scope.

The Noosa Satanists are well known in their home region. Several years ago, according to Bristow, a church was handing out water in the trendy beachside Hastings Street. The Satanists decided to ask for a permit to do the same.

“The council decided to stop issuing permits to groups handing out water and put in a water fountain instead,’ Bristow says.

More recently the group took the State Education Department to the Supreme Court, seeking the right to teach religious instruction in state schools, like other religions.

The Judge has reserved his decision on that case.

So what do the Noosa Satanists believe in and are they actually followers of Satan?

Bell says while there are small pockets of satanism generally which believe in Satan as a deity, these are secretive.

The Noosa Satanists welcome everybody.

“We say we are happy to have believers and non-believers,” Bell says.

He adds that in order for the group to be recognised as a religion in Australia there must be believers. So there are.

“It doesn’t matter whether Robin and I believe in Satan.”

Senator Stoker told InQueensland she was happy to talk to different groups about the new bill.

“I’m always happy to talk to people about the Government’s commitment to protect religious freedom,” Stoker said.

“There are a range of views across religious groups, just as there are a range of views across the community. But it’s no surprise that a group who profess to worship Satan are out on one extreme.”

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