Religion News Australia

December 18 – 25, 2022

Religion news stories from Australia

(Research: Greg Spearritt)



Hillsong founder Brian Houston tells court his father was a ‘serial paedophile’ (ABC News)
Dec 19 – Hillsong founder Brian Houston has told a Sydney court he believes his father was a “serial paedophile”, and the responses to abuse allegations when they first came to light were not “all they should have been”.

Brian Houston denies downplaying father’s abuse in Hillsong sermon (ABC News)
Dec 21 – Hillsong founder Brian Houston has told a court he was not trying to “fool” the congregation by referring to his father’s sexual abuse of a child as only a “very serious moral accusation”.

Brian Houston maintains it was the ‘right thing’ not to report father’s abuse (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 21 – Hillsong founder Brian Houston believes he did the “right thing” not going to police after his father told him he had molested an underage boy three decades earlier.


Religious schools ready to fight over gay teachers (The Australian)
Dec 19 – Religious schools are gearing up for a fight with the Palaszczuk government over proposed reforms which will make it harder for them to sack LGBTQ+ teachers.

Catholic Church

‘Persistent disobedience’: Anti-abortion priest defrocked by Vatican for blasphemous posts (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 19 – Vatican City: The Vatican has defrocked an anti-abortion US priest, Frank Pavone, for what it said were “blasphemous communications on social media” as well as “persistent disobedience” of his bishop.

Pope Francis orders Parthenon marbles held by Vatican be returned to Greece (The Guardian, Australia)
Dec 19 – Pope Francis has decided to return to Greece three 2,500-year-old pieces of the Parthenon that have been in the papal collections of the Vatican Museums for two centuries.

Remember the war-weary and the poor, Pope Francis urges on Christmas Eve (ABC News)
Dec 25 – Pope Francis has urged the world’s Catholics to remember the poor and war-weary, saying in an apparent reference to the war in Ukraine and other conflicts that the level of greed and hunger for power was such that some wanted to “consume even their neighbours”.

Pope on Christmas: Jesus was poor, so don’t be power-hungry (The Age, Melbourne)
Dec 25 – Vatican City: Recalling Jesus’ birth in a stable, Pope Francis rebuked those “ravenous” for wealth and power at the expense of the vulnerable, including children, in a Christmas Eve homily decrying war, poverty and greedy consumerism.


Rights groups fear more women will be forced to marry their rapists to escape prosecution (ABC News)
Dec 25 – Multiple women’s rights groups say Indonesia’s controversial new criminal code will make it even easier and more common for sexual assault victims to be forced into marrying their own rapists.

Religious Violence

Nazi secretary, 97, convicted of role in 10,000 murders at death camp (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 21 – Washington: A 97-year-old former secretary at a Nazi concentration camp has been convicted by a German court for her role as an accessory to more than 10,000 murders during the Holocaust, concluding what could be one of the last trials of its kind.

Taliban orders NGOs to ban female employees from coming to work (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 25 – Kabul: Afghanistan’s Taliban-run administration has ordered all local and foreign non-governmental organisations to stop female employees from coming to work, according to an economy ministry letter, in the latest crackdown on women’s freedoms.


‘Another night together’: Pelé ‘fights with faith’ in hospital as family gather (The Guardian, Australia)
Dec 25 – The family of Brazilian soccer legend Pelé have gathered at a São Paulo hospital, prompting concerns about the deteriorating health of the 82-year-old.

‘You see trees on sale’: the easing of Saudi Arabia’s Christmas taboo (The Guardian, Australia)
Dec 25 – In previous years during the run-up to Christmas, Alia Obaidi would go to the local market in Riyadh, summon an Indian merchant and whisper her order.


Anti-Semitism is breaking into the mainstream (The Australian)
Dec 19 – (Opinion: Colin Rubenstein ) This hatred is on the rise around the world, and it is being normalised by celebrities and in popular culture.


Essendon Football Club apologises to Andrew Thorburn over handling of his short stint as CEO (ABC News)
Dec 21 – The Essendon Football Club has apologised to former CEO Andrew Thorburn over the way it handled the events leading to his departure after just one day in the role.

‘The great Brethren migration’: Church in mass exodus from Windsor (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 21 – The fundamentalist Exclusive Brethren church is renowned for its strict doctrine of isolation from the modern world.

Devout Christians awarded damages after their application to become foster parents was rejected (ABC News)
Dec 24 – A Western Australian tribunal has found a Christian couple were discriminated against when their application to foster a child was rejected over their view that homosexuality is a sin.

George McArdle quit Little River Band at its peak to become a painter’s assistant and study the Bible (ABC News)
Dec 25 – He provided the basslines to Little River Band’s most famous songs, including Reminiscing and Help Is On Its Way, but George McArdle gave it all away after being awoken in the middle of the night 44 years ago.


Christianity’s weird success (The Australian)
Dec 24 – (Opinion: Greg Sheridan ) As in pagan times, our hedonistic world is ready to heed the religion’s compelling lesson.

The case for giving God a go (The Australian)
Dec 24 – (Opinion: Antonella Gambotto-Burke) Faith or delusion? This is your invitation to explore the intriguing possibility that faith may be involuntary, an instinct rather than a conceit.

Looking for God in all the rock places: Are Australians craving spiritual connection? (ABC News)
Dec 25 – (Opinion: Stan Grant) I saw Nick Cave perform at the Sydney Opera House.

Religious leaders share messages of hope (ABC News)
Dec 25 – Words of hope, love and the Uluru Statement of the Heart have dominated the Christmas messages released by the nation’s religious leaders today.

‘Hope is named Christmas’: Church messages after challenging year (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 25 – The devastation from the floods, the war in Ukraine and the pressure on the purse strings of Australians have dominated this year’s Christmas messages from Christian church leaders.

If you no longer pray, spare a thought today for persecuted Christians (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 25 – (Opinion: George Brandis) For most of us, Christmas is a holiday: a time to celebrate the end of the year among family and friends and take a well-earned rest.

Christmas reminds us that what makes life worth living cannot be measured (The Guardian, Australia)
Dec 25 – (Opinion: Max Jeganathan) When we think about “successful” societies, we assume four objectives: financial, education, health and employment outcomes – but what if these measures of success are incomplete?

Forget the metaverse, the Nativity tells us who we really are (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 25 – (Opinion: Simon Smart) A few years ago our family spent Christmas in a ski resort in Canada.