Religion News Australia

May 8 – 15, 2022

Religion news stories from Australia

(Research: Greg Spearritt)



Tip-off from former cult member leads to arrest of woman over alleged 1987 murder of two-year-old  (ABC News)
May 12 – A woman extradited from New Zealand over the alleged murder of a two-year-old girl more than three decades ago was part of a cult that believed in child beatings, NSW police say.

Also: ‘Dark secret’: Former cult member charged with murder of daughter Tillie (Sydney Morning Herald)
May 12 – For 32 years, the violent death of two-year-old Tillie at the headquarters of a cult in regional NSW went almost unnoticed.

Marist Brothers appointed known child abuser as principal of Melbourne school in 1980, court told (The Guardian, Australia)
May 15 – A Catholic order made the “unthinkable” decision to appoint a known child abuser as the principal of one of its Melbourne schools, allowing him to molest boys in his office unchecked on a “regular basis”, a court has heard.


Mark Wahlberg’s strangest role yet? Father Stu is a fascinating oddity (Sydney Morning Herald)
May 12 – (Review) Conservatives in the US habitually view Hollywood as the enemy, and they’re not altogether wrong.

Also: Father Stu review – renegade-turned-priest Mark Wahlberg blesses Catholic drama (The Guardian, Australia)
May 12 – In this de facto, if far from de jure, latest iteration of the Ted franchise, Mark Wahlberg once again forms a strange, almost inexplicable bond with a supernatural creature who tests him in a number of painful, problematic ways.


‘Fundamentally awry’: bishops block move to reject same-sex marriage (Sydney Morning Herald)
May 11 – Australia’s Anglican bishops have thwarted an attempt by the powerful, conservative Sydney diocese to have the national church affirm that marriage is only between a man and a woman, prompting dire warnings from Sydney’s archbishop that the unity of the Australian church is in peril.

Also: Gay marriage vote divides Anglican Church (The Australian)
May 12 – Church leaders have rejected a bid to restrict marriage to the union of a man and woman in a boilover at the General Synod.

Also: Anglican disunity on same-sex marriage in Australia threatens to tear the church apart (The Guardian, Australia)
May 12 – The powerful Sydney diocese this week moved to impose its anti same-sex marriage agenda nationally, but it was thwarted by bishops


‘Goes against our beliefs’: Parents and church clash over school values (Sydney Morning Herald)
May 13 – Last weekend, St Catherine’s – Australia’s oldest private girls’ school – held its biennial magnolia fundraising fair, featuring a petting zoo, glitter face painting, and a LEGO-building expo.

Religious Violence

Thailand corpse-worshipping jungle cult leader arrested as police find dead bodies of followers (ABC News)
May 10 – Police in north-eastern Thailand have arrested a forest-dwelling self-proclaimed holy man whose followers allegedly worshipped corpses and consumed bodily fluids as a cure for sickness.

Ukrainian priests pursue unholy row in burned-out Borodyanka (The Guardian, Australia)
May 11 – The bitter feud would almost be comical were it not being waged in the devastated Ukrainian town of Borodyanka, north of Kyiv, among hollowed out buildings, burned armoured vehicles and freshly dug graves.

Female student in Nigeria beaten to death over ‘blasphemy’ (The Guardian, Australia)
May 13 – A female student in Nigeria was beaten to death and set on fire by fellow students who accused her of posting “blasphemous” statements in a WhatsApp group, two witnesses have said.

Also: Protests in Nigeria after arrests for ‘blasphemy’ killing of female student (The Guardian, Australia)
May 15 – Hundreds of people in Nigeria’s north-western city of Sokoto demonstrated on Saturday over the arrest of two students after the murder of a Christian student accused of blasphemy, residents said.


HK police arrest Cardinal over ‘foreign collusion’ (The Australian)
May 12 – Joseph Zen, an outspoken opponent of secretive China-Vatican deal believed to give CCP control over appointment of Bishops, is arrested.

New Zealand’s presbyterian church will offer future land sales to Māori iwi first (The Guardian, Australia)
May 13 – New Zealand’s presbyterian church will offer any future land sales to Māori iwi first, as the institution reckons with its role in colonisation and land confiscations in Aotearoa.

What the funeral rituals of Tana Toraja and Trunyan in Indonesia can teach us  (ABC News)
May 14 – Wayan Juli likes to invite tourists to visit the dead.


Labor commits to religious freedom and LGBTQ protections but no timeline (Sydney Morning Herald)
May 10 – Labor will seek to legislate a religious discrimination act and scrap the ability of schools to expel gay and transgender students at the same time should it win government, but won’t give a timeline for pursuing the issue in the next parliament.

MP Rebekha Sharkie threatens legal action against Australian Christian Lobby over election flyers (The Guardian, Australia)
May 13 – Federal MP Rebekha Sharkie has threatened the Australian Christian Lobby with legal action after the group distributed flyers featuring her driving a wrecking ball through religious schools.

‘Idiotic’: Holocaust museum photo op boils over in Goldstein campaign (The Age, Melbourne)
May 15 – The fight for Melbourne’s bayside electorate of Goldstein has boiled over as a key Jewish volunteer for independent candidate Zoe Daniel called a photo opportunity for incumbent Tim Wilson at the Holocaust Museum “all bullshit”.


Sacred sites being put at risk due to native title law, Queensland review told (The Guardian, Australia)
May 12 – Thirty years after the landmark Mabo decision relegated terra nullius to legal fiction, a number of Indigenous Queenslanders say the resulting native title laws can be used to “box tick” approvals for the destruction of sacred sites.

Australian gas project threatens ancient carvings – and emissions blowout (The Guardian, Australia)
May 12 – As the last of the sun’s rays curl away from the coast in Australia’s remote north-west, Josie Alec opens her arms and sings in traditional language to a mass of ochre-coloured rocks along Hearson’s Cove. But her voice competes with the low rumble of a

Was this ancient vessel a hand grenade? If so, it backs up a long-debated theory about the Crusades (ABC News)
May 15 – Much is known about life in the Middle East at the time of the Crusades, but one type of vessel still presents something of a mystery.