As part of his 66/40 Bible Teaching Program on the Vision Radio Network, Dr Chuck Missler was not very complimentary about the Catholic Church.
One listener didn’t like what they heard on his program and complained to the ACMA about the references in Missler’s lecture.
The ACMA concluded that the program did not breach clause 1.3 of the Codes, about perpetuating hatred or vilification.
But it did find that the station did not handle the complaint well. ACMA found that the licensee breached clauses 2.4 and 2.5 of the Codes about acknowledging and responding to written complaints.
The Codes require that written complaints be acknowledged in writing within 15 days from the receipt of the complaint and that a substantive response be provided within 30 days. Here, Vision Christian Radio conceded that it failed to respond to a complaint within the time set out in the Codes due to a fault in the complaints form on its website.
The Codes also require that complainants be advised that, where they are not satisfied with the response to a written complaint, they are entitled to refer the matter to the ACMA. Here, the licensee’s substantive response did not include this advice.
Comments complained about included:
‘… many prophecy buffs that write books are insensitive to the fact that the Pope is not the Antichrist. The Vatican rides the beast, it isn’t the beast and so, but there is a clear linkage to the Vatican. That doesn’t mean it is limited to the Vatican but the Vatican certainly qualifies
‘The history of the Roman Catholic Church is part of what you need to acquaint yourself with if you’re going to understand your bible. There is no organisation on the planet earth that has murdered more Christians than the Roman Catholic Church. One Pope, one afternoon, murdered more Christians than all the Roman Emperors put together, and you need to understand that.’
The complainant said the program contained strongly anti Catholic content.
The program discussed the ‘Harlot’ and the ‘Beast’, which are figures of evil described in Chapter 17 of the Book of Revelation. The program said “here it’s presented as a scarlet-coloured beast. That’s a very interesting colour. That’s the colour that’s been adopted by the Vatican as its primary thematic colour” and (in relation to the ‘harlot’) “Scarlet is the colour that’s been adopted by Roman Catholicism.”
The complainant submitted that “there was a real possibility that an ordinary reasonable listener would have understood the program to be speaking evil of members of the Roman Catholic Church on the basis of their religion. The program expressly associated the Church of which Catholics are members with biblical figures of evil.”
In reply to the complaint, the Vision Network said, “it is a very long bow to suggest Dr Missler’s comments were a vilifying attack on the Catholic Church, rather they were a small part of a very objective commentary about the church through the ages in relation to biblical prophecy… Dr Missler’s conclusion was based on documented history including the persecution of large numbers of Protestant Christians in Medieval Europe at the hand of several successive Catholic Popes.”
The network acknowledged that the complainant “has taken personal offense to the material broadcast, which is regrettable,” but contended that the complainant’s views did not represent those of an ordinary reasonable listener.
Vision Christian Radio has now taken a number of steps to ensure it meets its complaints-handling obligations in the future, including fixing technical issues on the website, undertaking to include the relevant advice in future responses and conducting Codes training with staff.