Religion News Australia

Dec 3 – 10, 2023

Religion news stories from Australia

(Research: Greg Spearritt)



Victim-survivor Josh Byrnes joins Your Reference Ain’t Relevant ACT campaign (
Dec 4 – When the Catholic priest who groomed – and then sexually abused – Josh Byrnes was taken to court, he was not allowed to call on character references to minimise his sentence.


Boy admits school shooting at Atlantis Beach Baptist College in Perth (ABC News)
Dec 4 – A Perth teenager who sparked fears of an American-style school shooting has pleaded guilty to endangering the lives of staff and students at a northern suburbs college by firing gunshots at buildings.

Catholic Education Tasmania head takes issue with mandatory consent education (ABC News)
Dec 4 – The head of Catholic education in Tasmania has criticised consent education as stipulated in the national curriculum, saying it includes “highly sensitive, amoral and potentially harmful information”.

Toowoomba Christian College pleads guilty to workplace death of groundsman James Norton (ABC News)
Dec 6 – A Toowoomba school has been fined $200,000 over the death of one its workers in 2022.


New Orleans archdiocese ignored woman’s claims before priest’s abrupt dismissal (The Guardian, Australia)
Dec 8 – A Louisiana Catholic priest’s sudden dismissal from the church where he had been a popular pastor for the last several years has set off a fresh scandal in the embattled New Orleans archdiocese, the second-oldest in the US.


‘How dare we?’ Australian woman says gender part of reason why Qatar Airways won’t apologise (Brisbane Times)
Dec 6 – One of the women forcibly strip-searched at Doha Airport says she believes gender is partly behind Qatar Airways’ refusal to apologise for forcing her to undergo invasive examinations on the tarmac.

Taliban causing ‘irreversible damage’ to whole education system in Afghanistan (The Guardian, Australia)
Dec 6 – The Taliban is causing “irreversible damage” to Afghanistan’s education system through the reintroduction of corporal punishment, curriculum changes and the use of unqualified teachers to replace women, most of whom have been barred from schools, Human Rights Watch has warned.


‘The mood is subdued’: Hanukkah is marked by mourning for Jews across UK (The Guardian, Australia)
Dec 10 – On Thursday evening, the small progressive Jewish community in York will gather at Jewbury, the city’s medieval Jewish cemetery, to light memorial candles and say prayers for 150 people who died in a 12th-century pogrom at Clifford’s Tower.

Religious Violence

Three commercial vessels attacked in Red Sea by Houthi rebels, says US (The Guardian, Australia)
Dec 4 – Three commercial vessels came under attack in international waters in the southern Red Sea, the US military said on Sunday, as Yemen’s Houthi group claimed drone and missile attacks on two Israeli vessels in the area.

Palestinian man killed in West Bank in Israeli settler raid (The Guardian, Australia)
Dec 4 – Israeli settlers attacked two Palestinian villages in the occupied West Bank late on Saturday, killing one man and torching a car, Palestinian authorities said.

Nova festival: Israel ‘withheld warnings’ about Hamas massacre (The Australian)
Dec 7 – Domestic intelligence agency Shin Bet allegedly knew of threat but did not inform festival organisers.

Inside the god-fearing and conspiratorial worldviews of Donald Day Jr (ABC News)
Dec 8 – To many of his neighbours in Heber-Overgaard, a rural community of around 3,000 people in Arizona’s Navajo County, Donald Day Jr was a peculiar recluse who advertised rotary phones and used goods on Facebook Marketplace.

Israeli activists try to storm al-Aqsa mosque (The Australian)
Dec 8 – Police authorised the march in Jerusalem by right-wing Jews, which many fear will inflame tensions in the Arab world.


Faiths gather at Federation Square to celebrate Hanukkah (The Age, Melbourne)
Dec 7 – Amid tight security and ragged nerves, Melbourne Jews gathered in the city – for the first time since the atrocities of October 7 that sparked the Israel-Hamas war – to mark the start of Hanukkah.


Jewish, political leaders slam hate speech law (The Australian)
Dec 7 – Jewish and political leaders have questioned the NSW government’s ‘strict hate speech laws’ as clerics who broadcast calls to ‘kill Jews’ were cleared of any criminality.


Statue of patron saint of miners returned to Kalgoorlie CBD, but location debate rages on (ABC News)
Dec 4 – A bronze statue depicting the patron saint of miners in Australia’s gold mining capital of Kalgoorlie-Boulder has been returned to its original home of St Barbara’s Square amid heated community debate and the completion of a $16-million revamp of the CBD.

‘Despicable’: police response to neo-Nazi rally slammed (The Australian)
Dec 4 – A neo-Nazi rally in Ballarat has sparked outrage as members of Victoria’s Jewish Community question why the masked men weren’t stopped by police.

How do we bring about peace in a world of war and chaos? Quakers like me might have the answer (The Guardian, Australia)
Dec 4 – (Opinion: Alan Clayton) Every day we are confronted with images of the horrors of war – the ongoing conflict in Gaza and Israel and the devastation in Ukraine. Then there are the myriad other conflicts around the world, including in Myanmar, Afghanistan, Yemen and Syria.

Man arrested over religiously motivated terror attack at Wieambilla sent ‘end of days’ messages (ABC News)
Dec 6 – A man arrested in the US state of Arizona in connection with the religiously-motivated terrorist attack in Wieambilla last year sent the shooters “Christian end-of-days” ideological messages in the months leading up to it, police have revealed.

Also: The terrorists next door (ABC News)
Dec 10 – The crime shocked the nation – two young police officers and a good Samaritan neighbour ambushed and murdered.

As homelessness surges, could churches be used as crisis accommodation? (ABC News)
Dec 6 – In a small community in north-west Tasmania, a network of religious ministers has an idea to address growing rates of homelessness.