Religion News Australia

August 23 – 30, 2020

Religion news stories from Australia

(Research: Greg Spearritt)



Catholic mission faces fight over plan to ‘carve up’ Essendon mansion (The Age, Melbourne)
Aug 25 – A residents’ group is opposing a Catholic mission’s multimillion-dollar plan to sell off its 19th century Essendon mansion and build a home for old priests in the grounds.


Wealth, not faith drives most Australian students to religious schools (The Age, Melbourne)
Aug 27 – Twenty-first century Catholic school graduates are the highest earners, with an average annual household income of $99,722, a landmark survey of post-school outcomes has found.


Iranian artists jailed for defying government restrictions on women singing and dancing (ABC News)
Aug 25 – Composer Mehdi Rajabian has been dragged before an Iranian Revolutionary Court for the third time in his career under an obscure law that forbids “crimes against public moral”.

Religious Violence

Christchurch court hears graphic account of mosque killings  (ABC News)
Aug 24 – A New Zealand court has heard in chilling detail how the Australian terrorist who carried out attacks on two mosques last year deliberately and methodically killed 51 people and injured 40 more because he wanted to reduce the country’s immigration rates.

Mosque shooter spent years preparing for attack: prosecutor (Sydney Morning Herald)
Aug 24 – Wellington: The man who killed 51 people at two mosques in New Zealand in 2019 looked his surviving victims and their families in the eye on Monday as they recounted the horror of a massacre that prosecutors said he planned carefully to cause maximum carnage.

Brenton Tarrant sentenced: Christchurch mosque gunman in court (
Aug 24 – Clad in an olive-grey prison jumpsuit, hands in his lap, Australian mass killer Brenton Tarrant sat emotionless and at times gazed at the ceiling as the details of his massacre were read aloud in the Christchurch High Court on Monday.

Also: Christchurch mosque survivors and families stare down gunman in sentencing hearing (ABC News)
Aug 25 – In a blistering address to the Christchurch High Court, the nephew of a woman killed in the 2019 Al-Noor mosque attacks has spoken of his “utter rage” on learning that the attacker, Australian Brenton Tarrant, was a guest in New Zealand.

Also: ‘You are nothing’: Mosque victim’s daughter tells gunman (Sydney Morning Herald)
Aug 25 – Wellington: The daughter of a woman killed in the New Zealand mosque shootings challenged white supremacist Brenton Tarrant at his sentencing hearing to use his life in prison to consider the beauty of the diversity and freedom he sought to destroy.

Also: Stricken mother of Christchurch massacre victim forgives killer (The Guardian, Australia)
Aug 25 – Her son’s bullet-riddled body was sent home to her on Mother’s Day.

Also: ‘Your actions were inhumane’: Christchurch mosque gunman sentenced to life without  parole (Brisbane Times)
Aug 27 – Christchurch: The gunman who shot and killed 51 people at two mosques in Christchurch on March 15 last year has been jailed for the rest of his natural life.

Also: NZ mosque gunman sentenced to life (The Australian)
Aug 27 – Brenton Tarrant has been slapped with an unprecedented sentence for the massacre of 51 Muslim worshippers.

Also: Christchurch shooting: mosque gunman sentenced to life without parole (The Guardian, Australia)
Aug 27 – The terrorist who killed 51 Muslim worshippers at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, will spend the rest of his life in jail, a judge has ruled. It is the first time under current New Zealand law that a sentence of life without the possibility of parole has been imposed.

Also: ‘Five million brothers and sisters’: relief mixes with joy in Christchurch (The Guardian, Australia)
Aug 27 – Crowds gathered outside Christchurch high court and sang Stand By Me as months of pent-up stress and tension gave way to relief after the sentencing of the mosque gunman to life in prison without parole.

Dear Christchurch, Breivik’s trial showed us extremist ideas struggle in the light (The Guardian, Australia)
Aug 25 – (Opinion: Åsne Seierstad) Terror wouldn’t work if no one wrote about it.

The Christchurch mosque survivors have to find a way to move on – but New Zealand must not (The Guardian, Australia)
Aug 27 – (Opinion: Mohamed Hassan) Grief is a messy and fragile thing.

‘I am worried for my son’s soul’: How the Christchurch massacre changed New Zealand (
Aug 29 – For three days they spoke. Victims, silent no more.

New Zealand’s darkest chapter ends but questions – and grief – endure (The Guardian, Australia)
Aug 29 – Noraini Abbas Milne woke up her son, Sayyad, by tickling his feet, as was his usual request, and gave him a cuddle. It was 15 March 2019.

Riots erupt in Sweden after far-right activists burn Koran (ABC News)
Aug 30 – Far-right activists have burned a Koran in the southern Swedish city of Malmo, leading to riots as more than 300 people gathered to protest, according to police.


Brazilian evangelical politician accused of masterminding husband’s ‘barbaric’ murder (The Guardian, Australia)
Aug 25 – A gospel-singing Brazilian congresswoman has been accused of masterminding the “barbaric” murder of her preacher husband after at least six failed or aborted attempts to kill him with poison or in staged robberies.

Jerry Falwell’s position unclear following claims evangelical leader and wife were in love triangle (ABC News)
Aug 25 – The leader of one of the largest Christian universities in the United States, whose endorsement helped power Donald Trump to the presidency, has denied reports he has resigned amid personal scandals.

Also: ‘He enjoyed watching’: Ultraconservative evangelical leader in sex scandal (
Aug 25 – An influential head of an ultraconservative US evangelical college has reportedly resigned amid incredible allegations about his sex life.

Also: Jerry Falwell quits Liberty University following claims  (ABC News)
Aug 26 – The leader of one of the largest Christian universities in the United States, whose endorsement helped power Donald Trump to the US presidency, has announced his resignation after a provocative photo and revelations of his wife’s extramarital affair roiled the evangelical school founded by his father.

Also: Jerry Falwell Jr: The pool boy at the heart of evangelical sex scandal (
Aug 27 – A former pool boy has revealed even more bizarre details about a sex scandal involving one of America’s most influential religious families.

Also: Jerry Falwell Jr ‘enjoyed watching’ his wife have sex, alleged lover says (The Guardian, Australia)
Aug 28 – Giancarlo Granda, the man at the center of a sex scandal involving Jerry Falwell Jr, detailed on Friday how the evangelical leader and outspoken ally of Donald Trump “enjoyed watching” his wife and Granda having sex.


Victorian Liberal powerbroker resigns from party following branch stacking allegations (ABC News)
Aug 23 – Victorian Liberal powerbroker and former vice-president Marcus Bastiaan has resigned from the party following Channel Nine reports about alleged branch stacking.

NZ Deputy PM demands Australia take Christchurch terrorist back (The Age, Melbourne)
Aug 27 – New Zealand’s Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters has demanded Australia take back the Christchurch mosque gunman and that he serve out his life sentence on home soil.


Oxford University coronavirus vaccine has ‘ethical concerns’, Sydney Archbishops warn followers (ABC News)
Aug 24 – The Federal Government has reassured religious communities there are no “ethical concerns” surrounding the coronavirus vaccine it has struck a deal to purchase 25 million doses of.

Also: Religious leaders’ ethical concerns of vaccine misplaced, expert says (Sydney Morning Herald)
Aug 24 – Three of Australia’s leading religious voices have written to the Prime Minister with their concerns that the COVID-19 vaccine will be “ethically tainted” by aborted fetal cells.

Also: Archbishop Anthony Fisher condemns Oxford vaccine (
Aug 24 – Australia’s most powerful Catholic Archbishop Anthony Fisher has sparked outrage after suggesting the COVID-19 vaccine could create an “ethical dilemma” for Catholics who may refuse to take it because it uses a cell line from an aborted foetus in the 1970s.

Also: Religious leaders question ethics of coronavirus vaccine using cell lines from aborted foetus (ABC News)
Aug 25 – One of Australia’s most senior religious leaders says he would likely boycott the COVID-19 vaccine being developed by Oxford University, on ethical grounds.

Also: Why are Australian church leaders opposing the Oxford coronavirus vaccine? (The Guardian, Australia)
Aug 26 – Australian church leaders have raised objections to a potential Covid-19 vaccine under development at the University of Oxford over concerns it contains cell lines “from an electively aborted human foetus.”

First Indigenous woman prison chaplain in NSW, dies aged 78 (ABC News)
Aug 26 – She was a woman of firsts — the first ordained Aboriginal woman in the Uniting Church in Australia and the first Aboriginal woman chaplain in the NSW prison system.

From Nicki Minaj to FrankenMary, the Virgin Mary keeps on appearing in pop culture. This is why (ABC News)
Aug 30 – When a hyper-sexualised rap artist channels the most holy “Mother of God”, is it blasphemy or art?

I forgive you: Why victims’ empathy was kryptonite to the Christchurch killer (Sydney Morning Herald)
Aug 30 – (Opinion: Jacqueline Maley) Now is not a good time to start reading Crime and Punishment by Dostoyevsky.