Religion News Australia

January 26 – February 2, 2020

Religion news stories from Australia

(Research: Greg Spearritt)



SA Catholic Brother Joseph Weygood acquitted of indecently assaulting student (ABC News)
Jan 24 – A South Australian Catholic Brother who was accused of sexually abusing a student in the late 1960s has been acquitted by the state’s Supreme Court, which found their relationship “unusual, if not suspicious”, but not criminal.

Xavier College grapples with historical sex abuse claims (The Age, Melbourne)
Jan 27 – Xavier College is grappling with the challenge of marking the death of a former principal who died suddenly in December after being named in relation to child sex abuse allegations on a controversial website run by old boys.

Trinity Grammar settles sexual abuse case for $1 million (The Age, Melbourne)
Feb 2  – Prestigious Melbourne school Trinity Grammar has paid out more than $1 million to a former student for the historical sexual abuse he suffered.


Anglican Bishop calls for ‘confession, repentance’ on Australia Day (Canberra Times)
Feb 2  – The Anglican Bishop of Tasmania Richard Condie is exhorting Christians to mark Australia Day with lamentation and mourning, describing the dispossession of Aboriginal people as a “festering wound in our nation”.


Red Mass for judges, lawyers defended amid protests at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne (ABC News)
Feb 2  – A leading lawyer has defended the Catholic Church’s right to hold a traditional mass for judges and lawyers in Melbourne, despite protesters saying it should be scrapped.

Anglican Church

Church of England bishops break ranks over sex guidance (The Guardian, Australia)
Jan 28 – A number of Church of England bishops have broken ranks to distance themselves from guidance issued last week which said only married heterosexual people may have sex and those in civil partnerships should be celibate.

Also: Church of England apologises for saying sex is only for married heterosexuals (ABC News)
Feb 1 – The top archbishops and bishops of the Church of England have issued an apology for a statement released last week which declared only married heterosexuals should have sex.


‘Take that, Mr Hitler’: the Jewish roots of superheroes (The Guardian, Australia)
Jan 30 – It was February 1940 when two American friends dreamt up how Superman would stop the second world war.

Religious Violence

UN slams trials of IS ‘members’ who sold vegetables to fighters (Brisbane Times)
Jan 29 – Geneva: The United Nations raised “serious concerns” on Tuesday about the trials of hundreds of alleged Islamic State members in Iraq, some of whom merely prepared meals, offered medical services or even acted as human shields for the jihadist group.

Dozens believed dead after attack by Islamic militants in Burkina Faso (The Guardian, Australia)
Jan 29 – Dozens of people are feared dead following an attack by Islamic militants on a village in Burkina Faso, the latest bloody incident in an unprecedented surge of violence across the restive Sahel region.


‘Satanic wombs’: the outlandish world of Trump’s spiritual adviser (The Guardian, Australia)
Jan 28 – This weekend, a video of Trump’s spiritual adviser, Paula White, surfaced showing her preaching some potentially ungodly words.

Asia Bibi: Pakistani woman jailed for blasphemy releases photos in exile (The Guardian, Australia)
Jan 29 – Asia Bibi, the Christian woman who spent eight years on death row in Pakistan for blasphemy, has released two photographs taken in exile, as she prepares for the launch of her autobiography on Wednesday.

Peru: why a fundamentalist sect became an unexpected winner in elections (The Guardian, Australia)
Feb 1 – In a country that takes pride in its colourful folklore, Los Israelitas – a religious sect whose members dress in flowing biblical robes – were regarded as just one more strand in Peru’s cultural tapestry.

Andrei Davydov knew the risks of painting Jesus in the USSR. He did it anyway (ABC News)
Feb 2  – “We had a choice — to be afraid of everything and do nothing, or to be careful and put the fear away, continuing to do what you believe in.”


‘They’re dangerous’: Auschwitz survivor urges action on racists (Sydney Morning Herald)
Jan 27 – The word “liberation” sounds so positive, like a celebration.


Lib MP and gay rights backer says Margaret Court’s name should stay on arena (The Age, Melbourne)
Jan 29 – Prominent Liberal MP and gay marriage advocate Tim Wilson is opposed to the proposed removal of tennis great Margaret Court’s name from the stadium at Melbourne Park, calling such a step “too 1984” for his liking.

Religious discrimination bill gives Australians ‘right to be a bigot’ (The Age, Melbourne)
Jan 30 – Proposed religious discrimination laws could make it legal for a boss to tell a gay worker “being gay is a form of brokenness”, or a childcare provider to tell a single mother “God will judge you harshly for taking away the child’s right to have a father”.

Religious discrimination bill could put business in ‘perilous’ and ‘very expensive’ position: ACCI (Sydney Morning Herald)
Feb 1 – Proposed religious discrimination laws could put businesses in a “perilous” and “very expensive” position as they try to balance the rights of religious and non-religious employees.

Also: Religious discrimination bill will harm patients and discriminate against doctors, AMA warns (The Guardian, Australia)
Feb 1 – The religious discrimination bill would harm patients’ rights to access healthcare and allow religious hospitals to discriminate against doctors, the Australian Medical Association has warned.

Religious freedom bill’s latest draft ‘unacceptable and does not protect human rights’ (The Guardian, Australia)
Feb 1 – The Australian Human Rights Commission asks itself one question when evaluating government bills: is this an acceptable way to apply international human rights law?


John McEnroe slams Tennis Australia over Margaret Court recognition plans (ABC News)
Jan 27 – Tennis legend John McEnroe has labelled fellow tennis star Margaret Court Australia’s “crazy aunt” and urged Serena Williams to “do me a favour” and win two more Grand Slams this year so “we can leave Margaret Court and her offensive views in the past where they both belong”.

Also: Martina Navratilova and John McEnroe call for Margaret Court Arena to be renamed  (ABC News)
Jan 29 – Tennis greats Martina Navratilova and John McEnroe have earned a rebuke from Tennis Australia (TA) for an on-court protest at the Australian Open calling for Margaret Court Arena to be renamed after Evonne Goolagong Cawley.

Also: Controversial tennis great Margaret Court presented with trophy at Australian Open (ABC News)
Feb 2 – Australian tennis great Margaret Court has been acknowledged for her on-court achievements, despite what a fellow tennis legend calls her “offensive views”.

Another year of getting and spending – but why do we bother? (Sydney Morning Herald)
Jan 27 – (Opinion: Ross Gittins) In the Aussie calendar, tomorrow – the day after the Australia Day holiday – is the unofficial start to the working year.

Queensland religious groups fight move to make gay conversion therapy a crime (The Guardian, Australia)
Jan 28 – Religious schools and organisations are fighting a move by the Queensland government to make LGBT-related conversion therapy a crime in the state.

Israel Folau: shock and outrage greets Catalans Dragons’ signing (The Guardian, Australia)
Jan 28 – There is anger and frustration across rugby league after the sport’s governing body, the Rugby Football League, sanctioned Catalans Dragons’ move for the controversial Australian Israel Folau on a one-year deal.

Australian missionary fights to free her husband from Cambodian prison over charity dispute (ABC News)
Jan 31 – An Australian Christian missionary is being held in a Cambodian prison over a legal dispute involving a charity-run school project he volunteered for, and a local construction company.

We’re being sold a convenient lie in the religious discrimination debate (The Guardian, Australia)
Feb 1 – (Opinion: Lydia Shelly) The Christchurch mosque terrorist attack allegedly carried out by a self-declared violent, rightwing extremist changed the Muslim communities in Australia in ways that are hard to articulate.

Millions come together to celebrate the Lunar New Year — the year of the rat (ABC News)
Feb 2  – At a barber shop in Melbourne’s CBD, lines are flowing out of the door.