Religion News Australia

Mar 24 – 31, 2023

Religion news stories from Australia

(Research: Greg Spearritt)



How a doomsday prophet allegedly ‘groomed a girl from prison’ (Sydney Morning Herald)
Mar 25 – Doomsday seer William “Little Pebble” Kamm whispered in code through a crackling prison phone to the most devoted of his “Queens”; he would soon walk out of Long Bay prison, and begin a “new era” for their cult.

Private school peak body that investigated Cranbrook teacher had child sex offender on its board  (ABC News)
Mar 27 – A prominent private school peak body had a convicted child sex offender on its board at the time it recommended a Cranbrook School teacher’s sexually explicit emails to a former student be considered “non-reportable conduct”.

Also: Private school peak body chair John Ralston resigns after revelation  (ABC News)
Mar 27 – The chair of a prominent peak body overseeing independent schools in NSW has resigned effective immediately after the ABC revealed a convicted child sex offender was on its board at the time it investigated a Cranbrook School teacher’s sexually explicit emails.


How many of your favourite songs are about God — one way or another (ABC News)
Mar 30 – It’s Easter weekend, which means many of us will be kicking back with the greatest hits on repeat.

How Dev Patel drew on Hindu mythology – and broke his hand – to make a new kind of action hero (Brisbane Times)
Mar 30 – In his directorial debut, the Lion and Slumdog Millionaire actor wasn’t interested in making a “tourist video”. He had bigger ideas.


Bradley’s school years were the best of his life. For his twin, James, they were ‘hell’ (WA Today)
Mar 25 – Twins Bradley and James Elliot-Watson were model students in high school: good grades, extracurricular activities, popular among their peers. But while Bradley recalls his teenage years at their religious private school as some of the best of his life, James, who is gay, cannot say the same.

I loved working at a Catholic school. But being true to who I was and who I loved took it from me (The Guardian, Australia)
Mar 27 – (Opinion: Anonymous) I loved my job and I was good at it.

‘We expected a brawl’: Newington old boys meet after co-ed decision (Sydney Morning Herald)
Mar 27 – Almost 1000 former Newington College students met in Sydney’s CBD on Wednesday night ahead of the private school’s planned shift to co-education.

Also: Old boys vote ‘no-confidence’ in Newington school leadership (The Australian)
Mar 27 – Old boys of the Sydney school, which is in battle over its governance and move to coeducation, have passed ‘no-confidence’ motions in the school’s headmaster, their own representatives, and the school council.

Also: Newington college alumni chief ousted amid controversy over move to co-education (The Guardian, Australia)
Mar 27 – The president of Newington college’s alumni union has been voted out of his position amid the continuing fracas over the school’s decision to admit girls.

Catholic Church

Pope Francis skips Good Friday event to preserve his health ahead of Easter, Vatican says (ABC News)
Mar 30 – Pope Francis has skipped the traditional Good Friday procession at Rome’s Colosseum to protect his health, making a last-minute decision that added to concerns about his frail condition during a particularly busy period.

Also: Pope presides over Easter Vigil service after pulling out of Good Friday procession  (ABC News)
Mar 31 – Pope Francis has presided over an Easter Vigil service, a day after making the last-minute decision to skip his participation in the Good Friday procession at Rome’s Colosseum to preserve his health.

Religious violence

Why is the Islamic State group ‘fixated’ on Russia and what is ISIS-K? (ABC News)
Mar 25 – A branch of Islamic State, the militant group that once sought control over swathes of Iraq and Syria, has claimed responsibility for a deadly terrorist attack at a Moscow concert hall.

Also: Severely injured terror suspects face Russian court (Sydney Morning Herald)
Mar 25 – Russia has charged four men it accuses of gunning down scores of people in the country’s deadliest attack in decades.

Also: Thought Islamic State had been eradicated? Think again (The Age, Melbourne)
Mar 25 – (Opinion: Rodger Shanahan) Islamic State blazed his way back into world attention over the weekend after claiming responsibility for the horrific attack on a concert hall in Moscow.

Also: Islamic State ‘recruiting from Tajikistan and other central Asian countries’ (The Guardian, Australia)
Mar 25 – Islamic State launched a major recruitment drive last year aimed at militants from Tajikistan and other central Asian countries and specifically targeting experienced members of existing groups with a long history of terrorist attacks, western and other intelligence services have said.

Also: Vladimir Putin admits concert attackers were ‘radical Islamists’ (Sydney Morning Herald)
Mar 26 – Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the gunmen who carried out the concert hall attack that killed over 130 people in a Moscow suburb last week were “radical Islamists”.

Also: Inside Islamic State’s transformation, from life support to ‘slaughtering with gusto’ (ABC News)
Mar 29 – The Islamic State group’s group chats were going crazy in the days after the Crocus City Hall attack.

French PM backs school head who faced death threats after Muslim veil row (The Guardian, Australia)
Mar 27 – The French prime minister, Gabriel Attal, has defended French secularism following the resignation of a Paris school principal who received death threats after asking a student to remove her Muslim veil on the premises.

Sister of beheaded teacher accuses France of failing to protect school staff (The Guardian, Australia)
Mar 30 – The sister of Samuel Paty, the French teacher beheaded by an Islamist terrorist in 2020, has accused the authorities of failing to appreciate or act on the continuing threat extremists pose to school staff.

Women kidnapped, Australian’s family abandoned (The Saturday Paper)
Mar 31 – In interviews with The Saturday Paper, Afghan women describe their fears of retribution and torture by the Taliban, while others in Pakistan hope to be granted asylum by the Australian government.


India celebrates Holi, the Hindu festival of colours marking the return of spring (ABC News)
Mar 26 – Millions of Indians have celebrated the Holi festival, dancing to festive music, exchanging food and drink and smearing each other with red, green, blue and pink powder that has turned the air into a joyful kaleidoscope of colour.

How has Good Friday been marked across the globe? (ABC News)
Mar 30 – Good Friday is one of the holiest days on the Christian calendar, marking the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on the cross.

Trump selling Bibles may be desperation – but that shouldn’t cheer anyone up (The Guardian, Australia)
Mar 31 – (Opinion: Arwa Mahdawi) In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth and, of course, Donald John Trump.


As I celebrate Ramadan reunited with my family, I’m reminded that the holy month has lessons for us  (The Guardian, Australia)
Mar 25 – (Opinion: Shadi Khan Saif) The excitement was building long before the moon was sighted and the long marathon of spiritual deeds began.


Jewish Australians lodge vilification complaints against ‘anti-Semitic’ Islamic preachers (
Mar 25 – The peak body for Jewish Australians has lodged vilification complaints against two Sydney Islamic preachers over sermons that described Jewish people as “monsters”, “vile”, and “bloodthirsty”.


Faith groups reject hard-line stance on discrimination law (Sydney Morning Herald)
Mar 26 – Key faith leaders back a compromise in the debate as Prime Minister Anthony Albanese hints at a deal with the Greens to break the impasse on protections for LGBTQ children.

Also: PM’s concession on religious discrimination reforms (The Australian)
Mar 26 – Anthony Albanese has changed his position on the passage of religious discrimination reforms and is now leaving open the option of negotiating an outcome with the Greens instead of the Coalition.

Religious school reform a deadly test for Labor (The Australian)
Mar 27 – (Opinion: Paul Kelly) In a document integral to the role of religious schools in Australia, the report says virtually nothing about the contribution made to the nation by strong faith-based schooling.

‘Threat to existence’: Inside Labor’s religious discrimination reforms (The Saturday Paper)
Mar 31 – (Opinion: Mike Seccombe ) Anthony Albanese’s suggestion he would work with the Greens on religious discrimination reforms is being seen as a wedge to make churches pressure the Coalition back into negotiations.


Faith group charged over girl’s death faces lengthy trial (Brisbane Times)
Mar 27 – A group of 14 people charged with killing an eight-year-old girl by denying her medical care could face a seven-week trial involving hours of recorded phone calls.

RAAF chaplaincy culture a ‘wolf pack’, says whistleblower who fought for years to clear his name (The Guardian, Australia)
Mar 27 – A former air force chaplain who fought for a decade to clear his name after being obstructed and smeared for trying to report serious allegations about a colleague’s behaviour has spoken out about his treatment for the first time, describing the chaplaincy culture as a “wolf pack”.

Drugs were once a ‘life jacket’ for Macalie but this Easter she’s found a new sermon (ABC News)
Mar 30 – The meaning of Easter has changed drastically for Macalie Adamson.

Good Friday marked across Australia with church services, Easter egg hunts, and seafood spreads (ABC News)
Mar 30 – Locals have gathered across the country to mark Good Friday this Easter long weekend.

‘Blue-chip acreages’: Brethren dynasty’s luxury property portfolio (The Age, Melbourne)
Mar 30 – The family of Exclusive Brethren world leader Bruce D. Hales has amassed one of Australia’s most impressive property portfolios.

These houses of worship attract huge followings, as Victorians turn their back on the church (The Age, Melbourne)
Mar 30 – In the suburbs, Sikhism, Hinduism and Buddhism are flourishing as Christianity plummets, with more atheists than ever.