Man appeals after church ban for 'brainwashing' accusations

A ROCKHAMPTON man who was banned from attending his local church after he handed out pamphlets claiming parishioners were being brainwashed has taken his fight to be allowed back into the congregation to the state's highest court.

Ronald James Gallagher found himself in the middle of an unholy stoush in September last year after the Wesleyan Methodist Church at Yeppoon took exception to him handing out flyers on church grounds condemning the direction he believed the church was heading.

He claimed the church's Pastor Ron McClintock was "brainwashing" the congregation during his sermons with his American-style of Christianity.

Mr Gallagher, despite continued warnings to cease distributing his "warning pamphlets" after Sunday services, continued to do so.

The church's board subsequently informed him he was not longer welcome on church grounds.

He defied the request resulting in the church contacting police to have him removed for trespassing.

Mr Gallagher took his fight to the Rockhampton Supreme Court in October last year in a bid to have the church's decision overturned.

Justice Duncan McMeekin dismissed his application and said given that he does not accept the preaching of Pastor McClintock he might well find the approach of the several other Christian churches in the area more congenial.

Not happy with the decision Mr Gallagher took his fight to the state's highest court.

Mr Gallagher, representing himself at a hearing in the Queensland Court of Appeal on Tuesday, said the church had no right under 300-year-old Imperial legislation to stifle free speech or the written word.

"The reason why I was excommunicated, or expelled, was because I was raising serious questions about the direction the church was taking," he said.

"The Church has violated Queensland law in an attempt to silence me.

"The type of brainwashing that is occurring at the church is similar to the techniques used by Vladimir Lenin.

"It is a very dangerous situation."

Mr Gallagher told the court he had been a parishioner at the church for seven years without incident.

He claimed the centuries old Bill of Rights, which is still used throughout the legal system, offered him protection to express his views.

"Sir Johannes Bjelke-Petersen, God rest his soul, ensured all Queenslanders had the right to free speech when he was alive," he said.

"He would be rolling in his grave if he knew what was happening to me."

Defence solicitor Brett Carter said the Bill of Rights did not allow Mr Gallagher to enter church property despite the way he had interpreted the wording.

"Mr Gallagher believes the Bill of Rights somehow allows him certain rights," he said.

"Unfortunately the courts do not see it that way.

"It is our submission the appeal is completely without merit."

The Queensland Court of Appeal reserved its decision.

- APN Newsdesk.

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