A legal bid for Satanism lessons to be taught in some Queensland schools has been dismissed as “nothing more glorified than a grassroots political stunt”.
But a Brisbane Supreme Court judge has also ordered the founder of the Noosa Temple of Satan to explain why he should not be prosecuted.
The temple challenged the state government over a refusal to let the group offer religious instruction at four public schools.
Judge Martin Burns dismissed the Noosa Temple of Satan’s claim on Friday after a hearing in August.
But he also led temple founder Robin Bristow to court later this month.
Mr. Bristow is required to justify why documents such as affidavits and a transcript of his testimony should not be provided to the Director of Public Prosecutions or the police to determine whether criminal action should be pursued.
Judge Burns said he had no doubt that parts of Mr Bristow’s affidavit were false.
“It will be for others to consider whether his assertion of these parties was deliberate and material to the outcome of this request,” he added.
Temple leader Trevor Bell launched the action by asking the court to overturn the government’s ruling that the temple, established in 2019, was not a religious denomination or society.
The temple previously notified four schools — Centenary and Sunshine Beach Public High Schools and Tewantin and Wilston Public Schools — of its intention to provide religious instruction.
The group claimed it aimed to “provide students with information about the religion of Satanism, including belief in Satan as a supernatural being, canons of conduct and principles” and “to help students analyze information and to critically evaluate the religion of Satanism,” according to court documents.
But Judge Burns found the temple had no real connection to anything religious.
“There is certainly no evidence of a shared belief in any supernatural being, thing or principle, much less canons of conduct to give effect to such a belief,” he added.
“The Temple was not formed (nor was it run) as a religious denomination or society; the sole reason for its existence was (and remains) to push a political breach.”
Mr Justice Martin said Mr Bristow’s attempt to gain permission to provide religious instruction in schools was ‘nothing more glorified than a grassroots political stunt’.
“His persistence in this attempt through this proceeding has resulted in a deplorable waste of state resources that had to be expended to oppose the relief sought and the unnecessary allocation of judicial time and resources to do so. face,” he added.
Mr Bristow wrote an affidavit to be delivered to the court under the name Brother Samael Demo-Gorgon which he chose after searching the internet for the most demonic name he could find, the hearing heard.
He accepted, after being questioned by Solicitor General Sandy Thompson QC, that he had started soliciting “to try to persuade” parents to seek religious education through the temple in schools.
Mr Bristow agreed he handed out leaflets outside a Queensland school while wearing a balaclava and cape – ‘very similar to yours’, he told Mr Thompson – and wearing a plastic skull he had bought at Woolworths.
But Judge Burns found that critical parts of Mr Bristow’s affidavit had been shown on cross-examination in court to be “entirely untrue”.
Mr Bristow had also agreed that the temple was started in response to a religious discrimination bill introduced in federal Parliament.
It was his view and that of the temple that no religion be allowed in public schools.
Australian Associated Press