Religion News Australia

December 19 – 26, 2021

Religion news stories from Australia

(Research: Greg Spearritt)



Cult survivors seeking proceeds from Olinda house sale (Brisbane Times)
Dec 21 – Survivors of the cult The Family are seeking proceeds from the sale of a property in the Dandenong Ranges that was once home to the group’s leader, Anne Hamilton-Byrne.


Catholic schools ‘open’ to fast-tracking protections for gay students (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 21 – The Catholic education sector is open to fast-tracking protections for LGBTQI+ students as the Federal Parliament considers proposed religious discrimination laws, but it warns that this must be done carefully to avoid unintended consequences.


Ex-priest in Timor-Leste found guilty of sex abuse, sentenced to 12 years in prison (ABC News)
Dec 21 – A defrocked American priest in Timor-Leste has been sentenced to 12 years in prison after being found guilty of sexually abusing orphaned and disadvantaged young girls under his care.

Also: ‘Horrendous crimes’: East Timor priest jailed for 12 years for child sex abuse (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 21 – Singapore: Richard Daschbach, the defrocked American priest whose child sex abuse trial has shaken deeply Catholic East Timor, has been found guilty and sentenced to 12 years in prison.


Taliban government scrap Afghan election commission (ABC News)
Dec 26 – The Taliban have dissolved Afghanistan’s election commission, a panel that supervised polls during the previous Western-backed administration, according to a spokesman for the Islamist government.

Religious Violence

Central Africa: fighting kills six soldiers and 22 jihadists in Lake Chad region (The Guardian, Australia)
Dec 25 – Six soldiers and at least 22 jihadists have died in fighting in the Lake Chad region of central Africa, a joint force deployed to the area said on Friday.


Boy whose case inspired The Exorcist is named by US magazine (The Guardian, Australia)
Dec 21 – The boy whose case inspired the portrayal of a demon-possessed child in the 1973 horror movie classic The Exorcist has been named.

Getting Covid booster follows ‘teaching of Jesus Christ’, says Boris Johnson (The Guardian, Australia)
Dec 24 – Boris Johnson has invoked the teaching of Jesus Christ to urge the public to get a Covid booster jab, in a message issued to mark a Christmas he said would be “significantly better” than last year’s.

Afghans push through snowy Alps toward new lives in Europe after Taliban takeover of Kabul (ABC News)
Dec 25 – When suicide attackers and gunmen massacred crowds flocking to Kabul’s airport, they also severed the escape route that Ali Rezaie hoped would take him to a new life abroad, far from the Taliban and their suspicions of well-educated, middle-class people who worked with foreigners in Afghanistan.


Sutherland man arrested over alleged ISIS propaganda on Christmas Eve (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 24 – Counter-terror police say that alleged aspiring jihadist Daniel Greenfield was allegedly well into planning a terror attack when they arrested him in Sutherland on Christmas Eve.


Grants help fortify Jewish schools, community sites amid attack fears (Brisbane Times)
Dec 22 – Millions of dollars in federal government funding is being used by Jewish schools and community groups to fortify buildings, including the installation of blast-resistant walls, air-lock entrances, security cameras and safe rooms.


‘Constantly on watch’: Inquiry hears about toll of online abuse (The Age, Melbourne)
Dec 22 – Lawyer and human rights advocate Nyadol Nyuon no longer shares pictures of her children online, fearing for their safety as a result of the sustained abuse she has experienced on social media.

Spiritual journey grounded in optimism (The Australian)
Dec 22 – (Opinion: Luke Slattery ) The Old Testament’s bearded authority figure with a bad temper has never been a more difficult sell.


This prison chaplain is making Christmas meaningful inside a women’s correctional centre (ABC News)
Dec 24 – While people across the country are getting ready for Christmas festivities with their family and friends tomorrow, some Australians have a tough day ahead.

The Christmas story evokes a warm-heartedness the world needs (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 24 – (Opinion: Philip Huggins) Last week I listened to the Dalai Lama talking about what is most needed now. Embodying universal wisdom he said,“warm-heartedness”.

The scientific reason why believing in Santa is good for children (Brisbane Times)
Dec 24 – (Opinion: Stuart Layt) Believing in Santa is not only harmless fun, it can actually help children as their brains develop, experts say.

The 160 pages that may just change your life (The Australian)
Dec 24 – (Opinion: Greg Sheridan) Chances are this Christmas, you’ll do some reading. I want to suggest 160 pages.

Christians around Australia gather for church services on second pandemic Christmas (ABC News)
Dec 25 – Socially distanced seating in pews and sermons delivered through face masks have marked another Christmas, with thousands flocking to church services around the country despite surging COVID-19 cases.

Pastor David Shrimpton is flying out this Christmas to reconnect and listen (ABC News)
Dec 25 – During the Australian outback summer, Christmas spirit does not travel by sleigh — it wings in on a single-engine Cessna 182.

No visitors, no religious services: Christmas Day behind bars in NSW (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 25 – The state’s 13,000 inmates, including disgraced former MP Eddie Obeid, will not receive visitors on December 25.

Santa Claus never came to our house, but that doesn’t make me a bad parent (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 25 – (Opinion: Di Dennis) Recently, the Bishop of Noto in Sicily had to apologise to outraged parents and perplexed children for letting slip that Santa per se, did not exist, but that the celebration of St Nicholas was legit.

Remember at Christmas that Jesus’s radical message was to embrace the excluded (The Guardian, Australia)
Dec 25 – (Opinion: Brad Chilcott) Whether you celebrate it religiously or socially, it’s hard to be distant from loved ones at Christmas.

Each Christmas I find myself haunted by ghosts of presents past (The Guardian, Australia)
Dec 25 – (Opinion: Justine Toh) When you’re a kid, Christmas is about the presents.