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Also, did the person who made the request mention the FOI Act at the time? It seems an odd thing to bring up otherwise. I'm inclined to wonder what specific information they asked their lawyers to advise upon, given the general slant of the legal advice quoted in the letter. O_o
I'm no expert in these things, but it just seems odd that there would be no law preventing MM from destroying its records, particularly given the nature of its operations.
I'm inclined to wonder whether Hillsong is just protecting its image after realising that it had backed the wrong horse, or if there where things even it didn't know were going on. :-\
With regard to free speech, even in jurisdictions which do have an express right to free speech, limitations are placed on that right. In Australia, we legally only have a limited right to free speech with respect to political issues. That right to can be overridden by other considerations.
In any case, I don't think that the right to free speech should include the right to make false claims, particularly with regard to medical advice.
But then what would you expect from an essentially anarchist movement which developed out of 4chan?
Just out of curiosity, how on earth do these people manage to reconcile being an atheist with wicca? In my understanding wicca is a duotheistic/pantheistic religion whose followers generally believe in both a god and a goddess. I know that there is a good deal of diversity amongst wiccans but I thought that theism was pretty much a defining feature. O_o
"Since I've always been a science geek, (yes, I bit the heads off spherical chickens for my PhD thesis defense)..."
I've encountered a number of atheists who are surprisingly close-minded. In my experience, it usually doesn't manifest as an uncritical acceptance of what is commonly termed "the paranormal". It's often about philosophical, ethical or scientific issues. For example some of them will vitriolically reject the existence of anything that might be termed a god, but nonetheless uncritically accept traditional Christian or other values. For example, I recall having a particularly heated argument with one individual who was adamant that suicide is morally wrong, but couldn't offer any rational explanation as to why.
Then there are the atheists who give other atheists a bad name: The ones who uncritically accept the non-existence of god/the supernatural. It's one thing to take the view that since there is currently insufficient evidence to support the existence of "god", one should proceed on the assumption that no such thing exists. It is another to close one's mind to the possibility that things might exist that cannot be proven to exist or explained by the current body of scientific knowledge.
I guess it all comes back to the idea that atheism is a term which only refers to a single aspect of a person's world view.