Self-styled Baptist pastor to be deported after ‘harassing’ worshippers
A self-styled Christian Baptist pastor from New Zealand accused of harassing worshippers at two Brisbane mosques earlier this week has had his visa cancelled and is facing deportation.
New Zealand national Logan Robertson, 31, and two others were charged on Friday after allegedly abusing community members at the Kuraby and Darra mosques on Wednesday and Thursday .
Mr Robertson is the self-proclaimed pastor of the Pillar Baptist Church which originated in New Zealand.
On Wednesday a group of up to six men including Mr Robertson were accused of entering the Kuraby mosque and harassing worshippers, including teenage boys, in the lead-up to 1:00pm prayers.
A teenage boy was allegedly verbally abused and called a terrorist.
The following day, there were heated scenes outside the Darra mosque, when activists from the Pillar Baptist Church confronted Islamic leaders.
When the activists were denied access into the mosque, a heated argument broke out between Mr Robertson and Ali Kadri from the Islamic Council of Queensland.
Mr Kadri asked: "I'm trying to talk to you in a nice manner, why are you responding in such an aggressive manner?"
Mr Robertson replied: "Because I hate the religion of Islam. I don't hate Muslims, I hate the religion."
Police intervened and forced the group to leave the property.
The Immigration Department reviewed Mr Robertson's case and the Australian Border Force cancelled his visa overnight and placed him into detention.
Minister for Home Affairs and Immigration Peter Dutton said he was "disturbed" by the allegations.
"I'm completely against people being vilified because of their religious belief," he said.
"I want to make it very clear to people who come to our country, that our country obviously embraces free speech but we don't tolerate hate speech and we don't tolerate people who are going to harass those people going about their business at a place of worship."
Pastor 'counselled' by authorities about behaviour prior to visit
Mr Dutton said Mr Robertson had been counselled about his behaviour prior to entering Australia.
"He was warned before he came into the country that he needed to abide by his conditions of the visa and that if he conducted himself outside of the conditions of the visa then he would be subject to cancellation," he said.
"It's unacceptable to anybody to act outside of the conditions of your visa particularly where people are given warnings or counselled before they come into our country," he said.
All three men were expected to face court next month on charges of public nuisance, entering a premises with intent and trespass.
Police said on Friday investigations into the two incidents were continuing and it was possible more charges could be laid.
Mr Kadri said he was glad the government acted "swiftly".
"The most important thing is that such kind of hatred is not in our community whether it's through the criminal justice system or through deportation that's number one," he said.
Mr Kadri said there was still panic within the Muslim community and that extra security measures would still be put in place.
"The last thing we want is somebody coming into a mosque and harming somebody or provoking someone … We are worried and will take measures to ensure all mosques are safe and secure," he said.
Mr Kadri said it was "good and bad" the Immigration Department was aware of Mr Robertson's history.
"I was surprised authorities were aware of extremists like him in our community and nothing was done until he actually came in and did this in a mosque," he said.
"[It's] a good thing because I'm sure they must have kept an eye on his activities but a bad thing because he's been preaching for a long period of time."
What is the Pillar Baptist Church?
The Pillar Baptist Church opened at Goodna, west of Brisbane, within the past 12 months.
It is not affiliated with the mainstream Baptist denomination, including the Queensland Baptists or Australian Baptist Ministries.
The church has declared it is anti-abortion, anti-gay and anti-Islam.
Mr Robertson posts sermons on social media and has also released a "documentary" critical of the Mormon faith.
On the church's website, Mr Robertson describes his church as a New Testament Independent Fundamental Baptist Church.
"Our church is a friendly group of believers who have a strong desire for truthful biblical preaching, that isn't watered down or compromised," the website says.
In New Zealand, Mr Robertson sparked controversy by saying people in gay marriages should be shot, and that New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern should "get in the kitchen where women belong".
He was rebuked by Baptist Churches of New Zealand in 2014, who said he had never been affiliated with their denomination.
"The NZ Baptist churches have been demeaned by his vitriol, leaving many of our Baptist church members and pastors wrongly implicated by Robertson's actions," the church said.
New Zealand police reportedly launched an investigation into Mr Robertson but dropped the case on the basis there was no evidence to suggest he had committed any crimes.