Fred Nile confesses: I’m sorry I prayed for rain on the Mardi Gras parade

RFN: Yes. I was very ‘freelance’ in my teens, before I became a Christian. But I helped the SP bookmakers at Kings Cross, and even later, when my father bought a grocery store at Mascot, we also collected bets there.

FITZ: The mind bewilders. Have you ever been kicked in the back by the legendary Kings Cross brass “Bumper” Farrell?

RFN: No no. He never caught up with me!

FITZ: So what caused your conversion to Christianity?

RFN: Well, I had decided not to be a religious person. But God had other plans. I started going to the local church in Revesby, but I just sat all the way in the back because I didn’t want to be involved. But I felt God speaking to me and challenging me and saying, “Now you’ve come this far, Fred, you have to go all the way”. And it got to the point where I was forced by God’s Holy Spirit to actually get up and walk forward. And that was a transformation of me from a secular person to a committed Christian.

FITZ: So dedicated that you quickly rose in the ranks to become Assistant Director of the 1968 Billy Graham Crusade at Sydney Showgrounds. Was that iconic American preacher the inspiration for your later career?

RFN: He was a wonderful caring person and I loved being with him. And organizing his crusades made me realize that I was good at it and I thought I could use my skills to do something like him here.

A crowd of 65,000 attended the evangelist Billy Graham’s crusade at the Sydney Showground in 1959.Credit:Alan Kemp

FITZ: So did you start your own crusade? I remember your Festival of Light was a pretty big deal in the ’70s.

RFN: Yes, in some ways that was like Billy Graham’s crusade – I used the same technique.

FITZ: What goes from city to city and is on a fruit box and gives “the word of the Lord”?

RFN: Yes. But in the malls. And we got a lot of response. I then gained a lot of experience and built on that.

FITZ: An unannounced question: What do you think of Hillsong Church? Have you ever been to one of their services?

RFN: Yes I have. And I wasn’t very impressed. Their approach – an extreme Pentecostal service – appeals to some people, but not too many others.

FITZ: Do you see them as? arrive starters?

RFN: To a certain extent. I’ve never really had an attraction to them. They did weird things. They spent a lot of money and a lot of time talking about fundraising and were very, very focused in that direction, which I’ve never done before. And I was a little disappointed.

FITZ: As times change, I think most of us look back at positions we’ve held before, even public ones, and realized we were wrong. Does that describe you at all? Are there important things that you changed your mind about?

RFN: No, to be honest, I can’t think of a single belief or activity where I felt I was wrong. I pray a lot and I believe I am getting God’s guidance over my life, so it has kept me on track.

FITZ: But let’s go through it. You were one of the big opponents of same-sex marriage. Now that we’ve had it for five years, we can’t agree, Rev. Nile, that same-sex marriage isn’t a big deal, that love is love, life goes the way it always did, and the world isn’t basically going to go to hell. hell going in a pushcart, as you and your Christian lobby warned?

RFN: That was my belief and I am not afraid of it. I believed it was right then, but people have their own free society, people make their own choices, do what they want to do, and… I accept that.

FITZ: But we know you’ve had two loving relationships, first with your late wife Elaine and now with Silvana. So, after having two very loving relationships, don’t you think they’re just like you when you see happy gay couples?

At the Gay and Lesbian Mardis Gras of 1989, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence prepare to march with their papier-mâché Fred Nile head on a platter. Credit:Palani Mohan

RFN: To some extent…but I still think that as a Christian I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. That’s what marriage is, but I have no hatred or revenge against those who are in a same-sex relationship.

Related Post

FITZ: But I used to remember many news stories where you and your fellow Christians would pray for rain to wash away the Sydney Mardi Gras.

RFN: And sometimes God sent it. Sometimes even hail.

FITZ: But looking back, in the spirit of reconciliation, in the spirit of mellowing as you get older… Can you tell me maybe that was a little mean?

RFN: Yes, probably was, and upset their lives.

FITZ: Can you say sorry? Come on!

RFN: My apologies.

FITZ: Good on you for your grace, seriously. You are also against the availability of halal food products in Australian stores. Looking back, isn’t that so ridiculous when Muslim-Australians say, “Listen, Fred, we don’t want stores that sell Vegemite?”

RFN: Yes I understand. That might have been a bit extreme, but I felt at the time that we were trying to keep Australia as a Christian country and not promote Islam in Australia. But I love our Muslim brothers and sisters and I meet them regularly and many of them support me in my meetings.

FITZ: That’s fantastic. Can you give me a cup? I have the typesetter ready to use: Reverend Fred Nile: “I was wrong about halal food! And I love my Muslim brothers and sisters.” Can you throw that at me?

RFN: Yes. And I apologize. And since then I have worked very closely with the Muslim community to support many of the things they do.

FITZ: We’re on track! Another thing that pleasantly surprises me is that, as my colleague Alexandra Smith pointed out this week, “Despite his outspoken opposition to many progressive issues, Nile has been working with First Nations people for decades, and especially since 1983 when he took over the Aboriginal Land. Supported. Rights Act passed by Parliament”. If so many of your other views were that of, with respect, a conservative mutt, can you tell us what put you on that side of the debate?

RFN: Worshiping God taught me from the very beginning to love our Aboriginal brothers and sisters as God’s children, and as founders of Australia, the foundation of our Australian society.

fitz: Do you support the Voice?

RFN: Of course I support the indigenous vote in Parliament and will vote yes in the next referendum. My sincere prayer is that the majority of Australians will do the same.

FITZ: And Alexandra Smith also notes that your latest major push into parliament is forming an unlikely alliance with Alex Greenwich, the NSW Parliament’s most effective gay marriage advocate, to pass legislation that will help protect Indigenous culture and heritage and promote. You and Greenwich don’t strike me as a match made in heaven.

The unlikely combination of Reverend Fred Nile and Independent MP Alex Greenwhich.Credit:Oscar Colman

RFN: I think God made that match. I get on very well with him and I am happy to work with him and others like him. The bill that we have introduced recognizes their cultural rights, their religious rights and so on, and that bill will be passed. I have no hatred whatsoever against people who disagree with me, or have other beliefs, whether they are Muslim or Hindu or whatever. I love them as people and work with them. Many of them have become my good friends.

FITZ: By March next year you will be out of the NSW Parliament. When you’re gone, I’ll carry a chisel to your political tombstone, and I’ll personally carve on your epitaph: “Here lies Reverend Fred Nile. He was in this parliament for 41 years and he…’ What? What do you want me to chisel?

RFN: “Provided with love and acceptance for all people.”

FITZ: Not quite… But I’ll tell you something, you’ve certainly come a long way in your old age, the very Reverend Fred!

RFN: That is good. Thank you. That’s a lot of credit from you.

Quote of the week

“Truss has become a meaningless prime minister – an empty vessel with no policy or power.” –The Sunday Times in an editorial.

Tweet of the week

joke of the week

A woman storms out of an examination room screaming blue murder, and in her highly agitated state, nearly knocks over the clinic’s director, who stops her and asks her what the hell the problem is. After telling him what just happened, the man sets her down in a private room to relax, as he marches down the hallway to confront the woman’s young doctor. “What’s wrong with you?” he argues. “Mrs. Miller is 60 years old, has six grown children and nine grandchildren, and you tell her she is” pregnant?” The young doctor continues to write and, without looking up at his superior, casually says: “Yes, I told her that. And now you tell me… does she still have the chronic hiccups?”

The opinion newsletter is a weekly summary of opinions that will challenge, defend and inform your own opinions. Register here.


Recent Posts

Michael Douglas becomes Benjamin Franklin with wild locks while he films biopics

Michael Douglas was the spitting image of Benjamin Franklin as he filmed scenes for the…

8 mins ago

MAUREEN CALAHAN: Harry & Meghan are winning the PR war…but they’ll lose it

A full-blown royal war has broken out on American soil. And it's spectacular.As William and…

15 mins ago

Costa Rica’s goal causes chaos in Group E

Costa Rica took the lead against Germany in a stunning second half that briefly put…

17 mins ago

Sharon Stone shows off her impressive talent in a stunning ruffled pink gown during screening

Sharon Stone stood out from the crowd on Thursday as she led the stars at…

22 mins ago

Israel’s Netanyahu reaches coalition deal with pro-settler party

The Religious Zionist Party will be given powers to monitor illegal settlements in the occupied…

26 mins ago

DR Congo army accuses the M23 rebels killing 50 civilians

The armed forces say the rebel group also violated a five-day-old ceasefire in the east…

38 mins ago