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God is punishing Australia with devastating floods because Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd spoke against Israel, according to a controversial Christian minister.

Australia’s floods in Queensland, a northeastern state, cover an area larger than the size of France and Germany combined.

The floods have left the nation’s third largest city, Brisbane, “looking like a war zone in need of years of reconstruction,” said Reuters.

Reuters reported that at least 19 people have died and 61 are missing. Some 12,000 homes were flooded in Brisbane.

BBC News reported that 2,500 businesses were flooded and 14,700 homes were “partially submerged.”

Daniel Nalliah, president of Catch the Fire Ministries, said Jan. 8 that he was led by “a strong prompting by the Holy Spirit to repent on behalf of Australia.” He said he was reminded “that every time America went against Israel, there was disaster in the land and this has been documented over the years.”

Nalliah, a Pentecostal, said: “Then at once I was reminded of Kevin Rudd speaking against Israel in Israel on 14th December 2010. It is very interesting that Kevin Rudd is from QLD [Queensland]. Is God trying to get our attention? Yes, I believe so.”

Rudd had urged Israel to allow the International Atomic Energy Agency to inspect its nuclear facility and to stop new settlement construction in the West Bank.

On Jan. 12, Nalliah said that the Brisbane River did not reach its peak because “Bible-believing God-fearing Christians around the nation” prayed and stood “in the gap for our nation.”

Australian Baptist leader Rod Benson told EthicsDaily.com he had prepared a one-minute social commentary, “Danny Nalliah Strikes Again,” on Nalliah’s statement. Sydney radio will broadcast the statement Sunday, Jan. 16.

“Mr. Nalliah’s God is a capricious caricature of the Christian God, a malevolent dictator bound by the foreign policy of the Bush administration, who is appeased by groveling,” Benson writes in his commentary.

Benson is an ethicist and public theologian at the Tinsley Institute (Morling College), a Baptist college in Sydney.

“Mr. Nalliah may be a sincere believer, but he shows the marks of a false prophet and an opportunist,” Benson’s statement continues. “In 2008 he claimed the Victorian bushfires were God’s answer to that state’s abortion laws; and in August last year he was caught out claiming that ‘godless’ Julia Gillard [Australia’s current prime minister] would lose the federal election.”

“Mr. Nalliah, your careless words bring disrepute on all Christians, and secular Australia shakes its head in disbelief,” Benson says. “When will you learn that with religious leadership comes civic responsibility?”

Benson is an occasional EthicsDaily.com columnist (view his columns here).

Brian Winslade, national director of Australian Baptist Ministries, called on Baptist pastors and church leaders to pray for “those affected by these devastating deluges” and those in leadership of relief and recovery programs.

“For some reason beyond our human understanding, God has allowed Queensland to experience unprecedented rainfall and flooding,” said Winslade. “Yet in God’s goodness and faithfulness, we affirm our trust, and in the power of the Holy Spirit seek to care for our brothers and sisters in whatever way we can.”

Australian Baptist Ministries is channeling contributions through its national disaster and relief fund to Baptist churches in Queensland.

The National Council of Churches in Australia is also accepting funds to be channeled through its member churches and organizations.

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