Religion News Australia

August 9 – 16, 2020

Religion news stories from Australia

(Research: Greg Spearritt)



Priest, mentor, paedophile (The Australian)
Aug 15 – Father John Denham blighted the lives of the boys in his care – including a protégé who went on to become a high-flying journalist.


ABC Falun Gong story ‘unethical, defamatory’ (The Australian)
Aug 13 – A Chinese language media firm has made a formal complaint to the ABC over what it said was unethical behaviour and defamatory reports over Falun Gong.


After the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse crisis, female theologians are calling for change  (ABC News)
Aug 16 – Sixty per cent of churchgoers in Australia are women, yet in the decision-making ranks of the Catholic Church, female voices are largely absent.


Catholic study centre closed after NSW Covid cluster grows at Tangara School for Girls (The Guardian, Australia)
Aug 12 – A Catholic Opus Dei study centre in Sydney’s north has been closed for cleaning, after the growing cluster of Covid-19 cases at the Tangara School for Girls was linked to an extracurricular religious study camp.

Religious Violence

Gunmen kill six French aid workers, their driver and guide in giraffe reserve (Sydney Morning Herald)
Aug 10 – NIAMEY: Gunmen on motorcycles have killed six French aid workers, a Nigerien guide and a driver in a wildlife park in Niger, officials said.

Afghan council agrees to free 400 Taliban, paving way for peace talks (The Age, Melbourne)
Aug 10 – Kabul: A traditional Afghan council concluded on Sunday with hundreds of delegates agreeing to free 400 Taliban members, paving the way for an early start to negotiations between Afghanistan’s warring sides.

Afghan president signs decree freeing man who killed Australian soldiers (Sydney Morning Herald)
Aug 11 – A rogue Afghan soldier who shot dead three Australians is one step closer to being released after Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani on Monday issued a decree on the final batch of prisoners to be released under a peace agreement with the Taliban.

Also: Afghan fighter who killed Australian soldier set to walk free despite President’s promise of execution  (ABC News)
Aug 12 – The President of Afghanistan promised Kelly Walton that the man who killed her husband, an Australian soldier, would be executed but now as part of a prisoner release negotiated between the Taliban and the US Government, he is expected to be set free.

Taliban to talk as fighters released (The Australian)
Aug 11 – The Taliban says they are ready for peace talks with Kabul, as authorities announced the release of hundreds of militants.

Christchurch attacks: dozens of victims arrive in New Zealand for gunman’s sentencing (The Guardian, Australia)
Aug 13 – Dozens of people affected by the Christchurch mosque shootings have returned to New Zealand ahead of this month’s sentencing.

‘Peace where rights aren’t trampled’: Afghan women’s demands ahead of Taliban talks (The Guardian, Australia)
Aug 14 – Farahnaz Forotan was three when the Taliban had arrived in Kabul. It was 1996.

Female Afghan peace negotiator wounded in assassination bid (The Guardian, Australia)
Aug 16 – A female member of Afghanistan’s peace negotiating team has been slightly wounded in an assassination attempt, officials say.


Naked tourist caught on video climbing onto Buddhist shrine in Thailand (
Aug 13 – A drunk tourist sparked outrage after stripping off and climbing onto a Buddhist shrine in Thailand.

‘Archbishop’ of Florida church selling bleach ‘miracle cure’ arrested with son (The Guardian, Australia)
Aug 13 – The self-styled “archbishop” of a purported church in Florida that sells industrial bleach as a “miracle cure” for Covid-19 has been arrested with his son in Colombia and faces extradition to the US.

Coronavirus update (ABC News)
Aug 14 – Rio de Janeiro’s iconic Christ the Redeemer statue has been thoroughly cleaned in preparation for its reopening to the public on Saturday, while Brazil’s Health Minister says more talks and information are required before they commit to buying Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine.

Ertuğrul: how an epic TV series became the ‘Muslim Game of Thrones’ (The Guardian, Australia)
Aug 14 – (Review)  It has all the hallmarks of a blockbuster, but what has turned this Turkish saga into a global phenomenon is its nuanced portrayal of the Islamic world

At 17, I went on one date. The next day, our engagement was announced (Sydney Morning Herald)
Aug 15 – (Opinion: Chani Getter) “I was born and raised in an ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Jewish community in New York.

India’s nomadic camel tribes are risking the wrath of God to save their ancient culture (ABC News)
Aug 16 – Before dawn in the chilly Rajasthani desert, 35-year-old Sumer Bhati is already awake.


Anne Aly: ‘God, how the f— did I get here?’ (
Aug 10 – Each week, Benjamin Law asks public figures to discuss the subjects we’re told to keep private by getting them to roll a die.

Canberra Liberals dump candidate Peter McKay who ‘condemned’ Welcome to Country ceremonies (ABC News)
Aug 11 – The Canberra Liberals have dumped their newest candidate after the ABC reported that he described Indigenous Welcome to Country ceremonies as “animistic practices … to be condemned” and ACT Policing as a force influenced by a homosexual agenda.

Key figure in Victorian Liberals’ religious right faction quits post (The Age, Melbourne)
Aug 11 – A key member of the religious right of the Victorian Liberal Party has resigned from the party’s top decision-making body.


Mining industry opposes new laws for Aboriginal heritage sites despite Juukan Gorge failures (The Guardian, Australia)
Aug 12 – A divide is forming about the way to fix Aboriginal heritage protection in Western Australia, with mining companies saying they can be trusted to negotiate with traditional overs over heritage concerns even though that process failed to protect Juukan Gorge.

Also: Indigenous leaders, investors urge BHP to halt works at sacred sites (Sydney Morning Herald)  
Aug 13 – Australia’s largest miner, BHP, is facing a landmark shareholder push to put a moratorium on all mining activities that threaten to disturb or destroy culturally significant Aboriginal sites.

Nick Cave: ‘cancel culture is bad religion run amuck’ (The Guardian, Australia)
Aug 13 – Political correctness has an “asphyxiating effect on the creative soul of a society”, according to Nick Cave, who has criticised “cancel culture” in his latest newsletter where he calls it “bad religion run amuck”.

‘I acted as straight as I could so it would stop’: Gay conversion outlawed (Sydney Morning Herald)
Aug 15 – Queensland has become the first state in Australia to threaten prison time for therapists who try to “cure” homosexuals with exorcisms, hugs and marriage.

Tea for two has kept our marriage strong for 40 years (Sydney Morning Herald)
Aug 16 – (Opinion: Clare Boyd-Macrae) Earlier this year, my beloved and I celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary, and if anyone were to ask for the secret of our longevity, I reckon we’d say “tea”.

Greed, cruelty, consumption: the world is changed yet its worst persists (The Guardian, Australia)
Aug 16 – (Opinion: Omar Sakr ) I have no great hope we will use this chance to transform for the better – but this is an unconvincing darkness, and we do not have to stay in it