Religion News Australia

July 26 – August 2, 2020

Religion news stories from Australia

(Research: Greg Spearritt)



Latest Malka Leifer appeal in Israel heard in secret (The Age, Melbourne)
July 30 – Accused paedophile Malka Leifer’s appeal against an order for her to stand trial for extradition to Australia has been heard behind closed doors in Israel.


Church v state in battle over 60-year-old will (Brisbane Times)
July 27 – A legal battle between church and state more than 60 years in the making, over a gift in a prominent Brisbane businessman’s will, has been won by the church, a Queensland court has ruled.


The Secret: Dare to Dream review – hokey wish-fulfillment soap (The Guardian, Australia)
Aug 2 – (Review)  The key tenet of Rhonda Byrne’s mystical self-help blockbuster The Secret is that if one desires and then really thinks about something hard enough then it will ultimately appear.


Theology pays its way (The Australian)
July 27 – (Opinion: Paul Oslington) Religion and theology degrees give the community a high rate of return for their cost of provision.

Parklands Christian College to close (ABC News)
July 29 – A private school in Logan, south of Brisbane, has been temporarily closed after an employee tested positive for COVID-19.

Catholic Church

Chinese hackers suspected of hitting Vatican computers before talks (Sydney Morning Herald)
July 29 – Washington: Chinese hackers infiltrated the Vatican’s computer networks in the past three months, a private monitoring group has concluded, in an apparent espionage effort before the beginning of sensitive negotiations with Beijing.

Also: Cardinal sin: Beijing hacks the Vatican (The Australian)
July 30 – Agents working for the Chinese government have hacked into Vatican computers, American cybersecurity company reports.


Hagia Sophia’s conversion into a museum – archive, 1935 (The Guardian, Australia)
July 29 – Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia museum recently turned back into a mosque. See how the Guardian reported the secularising of the building, 85 years ago.

Annual Islamic hajj pilgrimage scaled back due to COVID-19 concerns (ABC News)
July 30 – Pilgrims wearing face masks and moving in small groups after days in isolation have began arriving at Islam’s holiest site in Mecca for the start of a historically unique and scaled-down hajj experience reshaped by the coronavirus pandemic.

Animal stunning slowly being accepted by Turkey’s halal butchers, say activists (The Guardian, Australia)
July 31 – As Turkey gears up for Eid al-Adha, or Qurban Bayram, the Muslim festival of sacrifice, animal rights campaigners are celebrating progress in their efforts to convince religious leaders, butchers and slaughterhouses of the merits of stunning animals before ritual slaughter.


Seth Rogen: ‘I was fed a huge amount of lies about Israel’ (The Guardian, Australia)
July 30 – Seth Rogen has said he was “fed a huge amount of lies about Israel” as a young Jewish person, stoking controversy around the country’s sometimes fraught relationship with many North American Jews.

Thessaloniki’s Jews: ‘We can’t let this be forgotten; if it’s forgotten, it will die’ (The Guardian, Australia)
July 30 – Five centuries after they were expelled from Spain and eight decades after they were almost annihilated in the Holocaust, the small community of Sephardic Jews that lives on in the Greek city of Thessaloniki is looking to its past to help safeguard its future.

Religious Violence

Pakistani man accused of insulting Islam killed in court (ABC News)
July 30 – A young Pakistani man has walked into a courtroom in the north-western city of Peshawar and shot and killed a fellow Muslim who was on trial for blasphemy, a police officer has said.

Kabul releases 500 Taliban (The Australian)
Aug 1 – Afghan President Ashraf Ghani orders the release of 500 Taliban as part of a new ceasefire that could lead into peace talks.


Ted Yoho: Christian group obtains resignation over Ocasio-Cortez attack (The Guardian, Australia)
July 27 – A nonpartisan Christian organisation that seeks to end hunger says it has asked for and received the resignation of Republican congressman Ted Yoho from its board of directors, following what it called his “verbal attack” on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Egyptian social media influencers jailed for promoting immorality and human trafficking (ABC News)
July 27 – An Egyptian court has sentenced two social media influencers and three other women to two years each in prison after finding them guilty of promoting immorality and human trafficking by encouraging women to make money building social media followings.

Forget Putin, it’s meddling by America’s evangelical enforcer that should scare us (The Guardian, Australia)
July 27 – (Opinion: Simon Tisdall) US sheriff Mike Pompeo rode into town last week, telling whoppers as is his wont.

My rabbi was super cool about it: why I had a gender-neutral b’nai mitzvah (The Guardian, Australia)
July 27 – There was never any question that Ruby Marx, a 13-year-old from Massachusetts, would have a Jewish coming-of-age ceremony.

Ramy Youssef: ‘Ricky Gervais talks about God so much, he might be Muslim!’ (The Guardian, Australia)
July 29 – The US comic on his acclaimed series Ramy, why fiction is the best place to explore sin and his encounter with comedy’s most famous atheist at the Golden Globes

America’s ‘untouchables’: the silent power of the caste system (The Guardian, Australia)
July 29 – (Opinion: Isabel Wilkerson) In the winter of 1959, after leading the Montgomery bus boycott that arose from the arrest of Rosa Parks and before the trials and triumphs to come, Martin Luther King Jr and his wife, Coretta, landed in India, in the city then known as Bombay, to visit the land of Mahatma Gandhi, the father of nonviolent protest.

Gisèle Halimi, trailblazing French feminist MP and lawyer, dies aged 93 (The Guardian, Australia)
July 29 – The Tunisian-born French feminist MP and lawyer Gisèle Halimi, described as a “trailblazer” and a “rebel”, has died one day after her 93rd birthday.

South Korean sect leader arrested for obstructing Covid-19 investigation (The Guardian, Australia)
Aug 1 – South Korean authorities have arrested the founder of a secretive Christian sect at the centre of the country’s largest outbreak of Covid-19 infections for allegedly hiding crucial information from contact-tracers and other offences.


Terrorist prisoner Abdul Nacer Benbrika could be kept in detention after sentence expires (ABC News)
July 27 – One of Australia’s most notorious terrorist prisoners could be held in detention even after he finishes his prison sentence later this year.

Australian Muslims will celebrate ‘festival of sacrifice’ Eid al-Adha in isolation amid pandemic (ABC News)
July 30 – Eid al-Adha, also known as the ‘festival of sacrifice’, is usually a busy time for many Islamic community centres around the country, as large groups of people gather for morning prayer, followed by sharing foods and sweets.

Auburn Gallipoli Mosque granted coronavirus exemption for 400 people to celebrate Eid-al-Adha (ABC News)
July 31 – Hundreds of Muslim worshippers are expected to mark one of Islam’s holiest days at a Sydney mosque after the NSW Government granted it a temporary exemption from COVID-19 restrictions.


Queensland LNP MPs discouraged from meeting euthanasia campaigners ahead of conscience vote (The Guardian, Australia)
July 27 – Queensland Liberal National MPs have been actively discouraged from engaging with voluntary assisted dying campaigners or holding community forums on proposed new laws, prompting concerns the party could shelve reform efforts if it wins government.


Fight over sacred trees on Western Highway cost $60m, watchdog says (The Age, Melbourne)
July 30 – Taxpayers have paid up to $60 million in delay fees on the contentious Western Highway duplication project brought to a halt by traditional owners who are fighting to save sacred trees.

Adelaide man charged with sacrilege, a crime described as a ‘throwback to a different time’ (ABC News)
July 31 – An Adelaide man has appeared in court charged with sacrilege, raising questions about whether such a crime deserves to still be on the books.

Yazidi community in Mount Gambier unites to remember Islamic State genocide (ABC News)
Aug 2 – Mount Gambier’s tight-knit Yazidi community will unite in grief tomorrow to commemorate the date when Islamic State militants unleashed brutality on their homeland.