Religion News Australia

January 31 – February 6, 2022

Religion news stories from Australia

(Research: Greg Spearritt)



Australia’s singing nun, Sister Janet Mead, never wanted ‘Lord’s Prayer’ stardom (Sydney Morning Herald)
Feb 5 – Sister Janet Mead, an Australian nun whose crystalline voice carried her to the upper reaches of the charts in the 1970s with a pop-rock version of The Lord’s Prayer, died on January 26 in Adelaide, Australia.

‘Brilliant’: the Bible, reimagined (The Australian)
Feb 5 – A bold literary project to reimagine the great Bible stories has ended with a death of an extraordinary man with a remarkable mind.


School rules: Brisbane college expects students to denounce homosexuality (Brisbane Times)
Jan 31 – A Brisbane college missive insisting students denounce homosexuality and asking them to agree to specific gender roles has earned a rebuke from the state Human Rights Commission, saying it would likely amount to unlawful discrimination.

Also: College defends demanding parents sign contract on student gender identity, homosexuality (ABC News)
Jan 31 – A parent and teacher at a Brisbane Christian college that is demanding parents sign a contract affirming students identify as their birth gender and that homosexuality is “sinful”, says she is looking for another school for her child to attend.

Also: Lord mayor to raise ‘concerns’ with Christian college over contracts (Brisbane Times)
Jan 31 – Brisbane’s lord mayor says he will raise concerns with the principal of his former school, who issued a contract insisting students denounce homosexuality and asked them to agree to specific gender roles.

Also: Citipointe Christian College teacher Helen Clapham Burns quits over LGBT controversy (
Jan 31 – A teacher at Citipointe Christian College has quit her job over the school’s recent enrolment contract controversy.

Also: ‘Unlawful discrimination’: Queensland rights commissioner says schools can’t use student contracts to avoid laws (The Guardian, Australia)
Jan 31 – Queensland’s human rights commissioner says schools cannot use contracts to avoid their responsibilities under anti-discrimination law, after one of the state’s largest religious schools sent families enrolment agreements that imply transgender students will only be recognised by their “biological sex”.

Also: ‘Religion used as a mask’: College could lose funding over controversial contract (Brisbane Times)
Feb 1 – A Christian college that provoked public uproar for its controversial contract forcing children to accept gender roles could lose funding and be subject to anti-discrimination action within days.

Also: Brisbane’s Citipointe Christian College gives parents two-week extension to sign enrolment contract (ABC News)
Feb 2 – The principal of Brisbane’s Citipointe Christian College released a video message to parents late yesterday giving them a two-week extension to sign an enrolment contract that demands families denounce homosexuality and subscribe to traditional gender roles.

Also: Why we cannot sign a school contract that condemns gay or transgender students (Sydney Morning Herald)
Feb 2 – (Opinion)  As parents with children at Citipointe Christian College in Brisbane, we reject the school’s amended enrolment contract that demands all students identify with their birth gender, and that all parents accept its condemnation of homosexuality as a sin.

Also: Brisbane’s Citipointe Christian College withdraws sexuality contract after backlash (ABC News)
Feb 3 – A Brisbane religious school has withdrawn a controversial enrolment contract sent to parents last week, after a backlash from parents and the broader community.

Also: Gender offender: Students shun religious school as protest planned (Brisbane Times)
Feb 3 – Protesters will rally against the Religious Discrimination Bill on Friday, as several students have reportedly left or planned to tear up their enrolment at the embattled Citipointe Christian College.

Also: Brisbane’s Citipointe Christian College withdraws anti-gay contract but defends ‘statement of faith’ (The Guardian, Australia)
Feb 3 – A Brisbane Christian school says it will withdraw its demand that families sign anti-gay and anti-trans enrolment contracts prior to the new school year.

Frontline faith: College principal railed against gay rights for 25 years (Sydney Morning Herald)
Feb 4 – Citipointe Christian College principal Brian Mulheran sparked uproar this week after issuing a controversial enrolment contract asking students to agree to the gender role of their biological sex, and denounce homosexuality.

What it’s like to grow up gay in a school that wishes you weren’t (Sydney Morning Herald)
Feb 4 – (Opinion: Gary Nunn) I know exactly what it’s like to attend a school where homosexuality is frowned upon, and in which petrified, vulnerable, secretly gay students – as I was – are viewed as shameful and sinful. And I know the lifelong effects of indoctrinating such prejudice into children’s minds.

Also: Citipointe Christian College principal Brian Mulheran to ‘stand aside’ after anti-gay contracts (The Guardian, Australia)
Feb 5 – The principal of a Brisbane Christian school that issued student enrolment contracts including gender and sexuality clauses before withdrawing them has stepped aside.

Also: ‘Good Godly Leadership’: Citipointe Christian College’s extensive links to Queensland’s LNP (The Guardian, Australia)
Feb 5 – Before the end of the last school year, the principal of Brisbane’s Citipointe Christian College, Brian Mulheran, brought his teaching staff together and asked them to pray.

Also: Private school head stands down over ‘birth gender’ row (The Australian)
Feb 5 – Principal of private school that branded LGBTI+ students ‘sinful’ stands aside following backlash over enrolment contracts.

Also: Religion’s right to offend? ‘Hate has no place in schools’ (The Australian)
Feb 5 – When trans student Emmey Leo asked to wear an evening gown instead of a suit to a school formal last year, the request lit a fuse that’s blown up debate over the religious discrimination bill.


Whoopi Goldberg suspended from The View for saying Holocaust ‘was not about race’ (ABC News)
Feb 2 – Whoopi Goldberg has been suspended from ABC America’s The View talk show for two weeks following her controversial comments over the Holocaust.

Also: It’s not just Whoopi Goldberg: Americans are deeply misinformed about the Holocaust (The Guardian, Australia)
Feb 3 – (Opinion: Cas Mudde) On Tuesday, Whoopi Goldberg was suspended from The View for stating, with striking confidence, that the Holocaust was “not about race”.

Religious Violence

Northern Ireland marks 50 years since Bloody Sunday massacre by British soldiers (ABC News)
Jan 31 – Hundreds of people have gathered in Northern Ireland to mark 50 years since Bloody Sunday — one of the deadliest days in the conflict known as the Troubles.

Revealed: how fake passports allow IS members to enter Europe and US (The Guardian, Australia)
Jan 31 – A booming online industry specialising in fake passports with official visas and travel stamps is offering people with links to Islamic State the opportunity to leave Syria and travel onwards to the UK, EU, Canada and the US, a Guardian investigation has found.

Afghan women say they wouldn’t be afforded the same rights as a pregnant NZ journalist  (ABC News)
Feb 3 – Afghan women are accusing the Taliban of using a pregnant New Zealand journalist as a publicity tool to show the world they can offer women rights.

‘We are still shocked’: the Syrians who discovered Islamic State’s leader was their neighbour (The Guardian, Australia)
Feb 5 – For many months, the man on the motorbike would come and go from the house and a mechanic’s workshop in the Syrian border town of Atme.


Ken Follett – killing time, I found the inspiration for my most successful novel (The Guardian, Australia)
Feb 2 – I was brought up in a puritanical religious sect but a chance visit to Peterborough cathedral began a lifelong interest in these wonderful buildings

Jimmy Carr condemned for ‘abhorrent’ Holocaust joke about Roma people (The Guardian, Australia)
Feb 5 – Anti-hate groups including the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, the Auschwitz Memorial and Hope Not Hate have condemned Jimmy Carr for his comments about the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community in his Netflix special.

Tennessee pastor leads burning of Harry Potter and Twilight novels (The Guardian, Australia)
Feb 5 – A controversial Tennessee pastor led a book burning on Wednesday night to fight “demonic influences”, with a crowd incinerating copies of books including Harry Potter and Twilight.

Why a growing number of Americans are choosing to worship in virtual reality (ABC News)
Feb 1 – Under quarantine for COVID-19 exposure, Garret Bernal and his family missed a recent Sunday church service.


Moderate Liberals to push protections for gay students after Queensland case (Sydney Morning Herald)
Feb 1 – Federal moderate Liberal MPs will renew their push for fast-tracked protections for LGBTQ school students when Parliament returns next week, as Prime Minister Scott Morrison aims to deliver on his election promise to legislate to protect religious freedom.

‘Unacceptable’: Education Minister promises action over Christian college contracts (Brisbane Times)
Feb 2 – Queensland’s Education Minister, Grace Grace, has promised a swift response to complaints about Citipointe Christian College requiring students to agree to specific gender roles and denounce homosexuality – a move she described as “unacceptable”.

Church schools will lose right to expel gay students as PM deals with moderate Liberals (Sydney Morning Herald)
Feb 3 – The right of church schools to expel LGBTIQ students will be scrapped as part of the government’s push to legislate religious freedom laws, as Prime Minister Scott Morrison tries to lock in the support of moderate Liberal MPs ahead of a potential vote on the bill in the next sitting fortnight.

Christian lobby groups attack PM for vowing students won’t be expelled  (The Guardian, Australia)
Feb 3 – Christian groups have accused Scott Morrison of “betraying” the intent of the Coalition’s religious discrimination bill by announcing an amendment that would prevent students being expelled for their sexuality or gender.

Majority of voters reject Coalition’s proposal to allow discriminatory religious statements, poll suggests (The Guardian, Australia)
Feb 3 – A majority of voters oppose a key plank of the Coalition’s religious discrimination bill that would allow discriminatory speech and say they want greater protections for LGBTQ+ students and teachers, a new poll suggests.

Labor offers conditional backing to Coalition’s religious discrimination bill (The Guardian, Australia)
Feb 5 – The Morrison government’s hopes of passing its contentious religious discrimination legislation before the election have been boosted with Labor MPs and Senators offering conditional support.


Australia’s own Celtic stone circle alive with ‘energy’ and mystique after 30 years (ABC News)
Jan 31 – Just as mystery shrouds the origins of some of the world’s most famous standing stones, like Stonehenge in England, there are hopes a similar mystique might one day surround the Celtic monument in the northern NSW town of Glen Innes.

‘Un-Christian activity’: Police sergeant in the gun for online criticism of equality push (The Age, Melbourne)
Feb 3 – A veteran police officer could lose his job or face other penalties because of online comments he made allegedly criticising Victoria Police’s campaign to promote workplace equality for LGBTIQ members.

Lonely and living under minimum wage, but Lila’s life as a nun is worth it (Sydney Morning Herald)
Feb 6 – When it comes to faith, research has found that more than two in three people follow a religion or a set of spiritual beliefs.

Why American ’80s televangelist Tammy Faye is admired by queer Australians today (ABC News)
Feb 6 – In 1985, American televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker had a man called Steve Pieters on her show.

The Afghan women taking on the Taliban, one stitch at a time (The Age, Melbourne)
Feb 6 – When the Taliban took over Afghanistan in August last year, Afghan-Australian designer Lida Mangal thought it might spell the end for her nascent clothing label Ghan Fashion.