Religion News Australia

February 9 – 16, 2020

Religion news stories from Australia

(Research: Greg Spearritt)



Judge frustrated at ‘shadow boxing’ in Pell contempt of court case (Brisbane Times)
Feb 13  – More than half of the charges against journalists and media organisations related to reports following Cardinal George Pell’s conviction on child sex offences have been dropped by the Victorian Director of Public Prosecutions.

George Pell High Court appeal hearing date set for March (ABC News)
Feb 14 – The High Court has set a date to hear Cardinal George Pell’s appeal against his convictions for abusing two choirboys in 1996 while he was Catholic archbishop of Melbourne.

‘Jesus is coming to get you’: Brother’s threat to boy he abused (The Age, Melbourne)
Feb 15  – “Jesus is coming to get you.”


St Mary’s Catholic Church engulfed by fire, taking 70 years of Queensland history with it (ABC News)
Feb 12  – “Pop, crack” is how neighbours described the sound alerting them to a fierce blaze that destroyed a well-loved church in Bundaberg overnight.

Catholic Church

Pope Francis upholds celibacy by refusing to allow married men to become priests (ABC News)
Feb 15  – Pope Francis has refused to approve the ordination of married men to address an acute shortage of priests in the Amazon, reaffirming the Roman Catholic Church’s centuries-old commitment to celibacy among priests.


The female sharia law judge who decides if men can take a second wife (ABC News)
Feb 13  – Nenney Shushaidah is the female face of Islamic law in Malaysia.

What it’s like to be in a polygamous marriage? Muslim Malaysians share their stories (ABC News)
Feb 15  – Qobin has climbed the highest mountain on every continent on Earth.

Religious Violence

Indonesia locks out legion of former ISIS fighters (ABC News)
Feb 12  – Indonesia has sealed the fate of hundreds of its citizens and former nationals drawn to fight for the Islamic State group, in a Presidential decision blocking a return to their homeland.


Cops’ legal battle to keep terrorists locked up (The Australian)
Feb 12  – Counter-terror police are preparing to use controversial new powers as they brace for the release of a record number of convicted terrorists into the community.

Q Society deregisters, fearing lawsuits under religious freedom legislation (Brisbane Times)
Feb 13  – The right-wing anti-Islam organisation Q Society of Australia has announced it will deregister itself because religious freedom legislation will make it “an easy target for hostile legislation” and put its board members at risk of being sued.


Bipartisan call to extradite Malka Leifer (Brisbane Times)
Feb 9  – Federal MPs from both major parties have united to call on the Israel government to immediately extradite alleged child abuser Malka Leifer to Australia.

‘Flawed’: Liberal senator wants religious discrimination bill scrapped (Sydney Morning Herald)
Feb 12 – A senior Coalition backbencher has called for the controversial religious discrimination bill to be scrapped because it is too “flawed”, saying it should be replaced with a new, single framework for all anti-discrimination laws.

Also: ‘Risky’, ‘unrealistic’: MPs hit back at call to ditch religious discrimination bill (Sydney Morning Herald)
Feb 13 – Coalition MPs and church leaders have dismissed a call for the government’s religious discrimination bill to be scrapped, with the chair of the committee set to review it warning “we should not let perfect be the enemy of the good”.

Also: MPs and churches reject Fierravanti-Wells’ call to scrap ‘flawed’ religious discrimination bill (The Guardian, Australia)
Feb 13  – Coalition MPs and conservative religious leaders have rejected a call by senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells to scrap the government’s religious discrimination bill and aim instead for a consolidation of all discrimination laws.

Also: The religious freedom bill has nothing to do with religion – it excludes and it traumatises (The Guardian, Australia)
Feb 13 – (Opinion: Van Badham) Surprise! The government of Australia is pushing a so-called religious discrimination bill that has nothing to do with religion.

Also: Coalition shouts the religious lobby a round or two (Brisbane Times)
Feb 15 – (Opinion: Julie Szego) A priest, a rabbi and an imam walk into a bar.


Jinn, golems, and pretas: What supernatural beings in religion can teach us about ourselves (ABC News)
Feb 15  – Elemental spirit beings known as jinn are said to hide in abandoned places, reclaimed by nature.

Israel Folau stars in Catalans Dragons debut but Super League still uneasy with Australian’s signing (ABC News)
Feb 15  – The Catalans Dragons fans came to support Israel Folau with open arms, and he didn’t disappoint.

Also: Investigation underway as rainbow flags cause controversy during Israel Folau’s rugby league return (
Feb 15 – Super League is investigating after spectators claimed they were told to remove rainbow flags while watching Israel Folau in his return to rugby league.

Open and Schutt: Australian fast bowler stays strong in face of homophobic abuse (The Age, Melbourne)
Feb 15  – Each day, Megan Schutt collected the flyers from her letterbox and set them on fire.

White self-hatred is rotting our society (The Courier-Mail, Brisbane)
Feb 16 – (Opinion: Andrew Bolt) Whether it’s a ridiculous cupcake ban or Christianity being dubbed “deeply institutionally racist”, self-hatred is now preached by privileged and “cosmopolitan” whites at our very highest cultural institutions.