Religion News Australia

October 25 – Nov 1, 2020

Religion news stories from Australia

(Research: Greg Spearritt)


Catholic Church

Pope Francis: ‘People are taking risks on my behalf’ to fight corruption (Sydney Morning Herald)
Oct 31 – Rome: The Catholic Church has had a problem with corruption for centuries, Pope Francis said in a Friday interview, adding that he faces obstacles and resistance as he tries to tackle this.


Turkish President says French President needs mental ‘treatment’ over response to beheading (ABC News)
Oct 27 – France and Turkey are in an escalating diplomatic tussle after Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said French President Emmanuel Macron had “lost his way” over his attitude towards Muslims.

Also: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan calls for boycott on French goods to protest prophet caricatures (ABC News)
Oct 27 – Protesters in predominantly Muslim nations have made calls to boycott French products as a clash over depictions of the Prophet Muhammad and the limits of free speech intensified.

Also: Anger towards Emmanuel Macron grows in Muslim world (The Guardian, Australia)
Oct 28 – On the front page of a hardline Iranian newspaper, he was the “Demon of Paris”.

Religious Violence

Fatal knife attack in French city of Nice described as terrorism (Sydney Morning Herald)
Oct 29 – Paris: An attacker with a knife killed three people and injured several more at a church in the French city of Nice on Thursday, police said, in an incident the city’s mayor described as terrorism.

Also: French police arrest second man in relation to Nice attack, attacker’s family under investigation  (ABC News)
Oct 29 – Family members of 21-year-old Brahim Aouissaoui, who is alleged to have killed three people in a terror attack on the Notre Dame church in the southern French city of Nice, are now under investigation themselves.

Also: Malaysia’s former PM says Muslims can kill French, causing Twitter to delete his post (
Oct 29 – Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad said Muslims had a right “to kill millions of French people” after a deadly attack in Nice, sparking widespread anger and prompting Twitter to delete his post.

Also: Mahathir stands by ‘kill millions’ comments, says were taken out of context (Brisbane Times)
Nov 1 – Kuala Lumpur: Former Malaysian leader Mahathir Mohamad stood by his widely condemned comments on attacks by Muslim extremists in France, saying Friday that they were taken out of context and criticising Twitter and Facebook for removing his posts.

Also: Nice terror suspect phoned his family hours before attack (The Guardian, Australia)
Oct 29 – The 21-year-old Tunisian man who is accused of using a kitchen knife to kill three people in a church in Nice spoke to his family 12 hours before the attack, giving no indication he was contemplating violence.

Also: Terrorist Brahim Aouissaoui’s telling phone call before attack revealed (
Oct 31 – Hours before the sickening terror attack at a church in Nice, knifeman Brahim Aouissaoui made an ominous call outside the building at the very scene of the tragedy.

Also: France told to brace for more ‘terrible attacks’ as attacker connections arrested (Sydney Morning Herald)
Oct 31 – London: France has been told to brace for more beheadings and stabbings, as police swoop on a man who may have been in contact with a 21-year-old terrorist the night before his gruesome rampage inside a Nice cathedral.

Anti-France protests draw tens of thousands across Muslim world (The Guardian, Australia)
Oct 29 – Tens of thousands of Muslims in Pakistan, Lebanon, the Palestinian territories and elsewhere joined protests on Friday over the French president Emmanuel Macron’s vow to protect the right to caricature the prophet Muhammad.

Also: Macron’s clash with Islam sends jolt through France’s long debate about secularism (The Guardian, Australia)
Oct 28 – On 6 October, when Samuel Paty, a popular history and geography teacher at a school in a quiet Paris suburb, presented a copy of the cartoons of the prophet Muhammad that provoked the attack on Charlie Hebdo magazine five years ago, he self-evidently had no idea of the tragic consequence for his own life, French society or France’s relations with the Islamic world.

Also: How cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed placed France in the firing line of radical Islam (ABC News)
Oct 31 – In the wake of two terrorist attacks, anti-French protests have erupted across the Muslim world in an escalating backlash against the European nation’s strict form of secularism that upholds blasphemy and satire as freedom of speech.

Priests, bishops murdered during Duterte’s drug war (Sydney Morning Herald)
Oct 29 – Bishops, priests, ministers, pastors and lay members of Christian churches in the Philippines have been murdered, intimidated and harassed for speaking out against extra-judicial killings and President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

Gunman flees after Greek Orthodox priest shot with hunting rifle in French city of Lyon (ABC News)
Nov 1 – A Greek Orthodox priest has been shot and badly wounded at a church in the French city of Lyon by an assailant who then fled, police and witnesses say.


Sex cult NXIVM head Keith Raniere sentenced to 120 years in prison (ABC News)
Oct 28 – Keith Raniere, the founder of the cult-like group NXIVM where women were kept on starvation diets, branded with his initials, and ordered to have sex with him, has been jailed for 120 years for sex trafficking and other crimes.

In the Bible Belt it’s love thy neighbour, not thy politics (Brisbane Times)
Oct 28 – (Opinion: Monique McCullough) Since Jesus was a boy, politics and religion have never made good bedfellows.

Donald Trump’s border wall is ‘desecrating’ sacred Indigenous sites, tribal leaders say.  (ABC News)
Oct 29 – Depending on who you ask, the border that separates the US and Mexico is a symbol of defence or distress.

China’s treatment of Uighurs ‘biggest threat to religious freedom’: Pompeo (Sydney Morning Herald)
Oct 29 – The Chinese Communist Party is the greatest threat to religious freedom in the world today, according to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Sacha Baron Cohen donates $100k to church of woman featured in Borat film (The Guardian, Australia)
Nov 1 – Sacha Baron Cohen, who stars in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, has donated $100,000 (£77,000) to the church of a woman who was featured in his comedy film believing it was a real documentary.

The evangelical vote is more diverse than you think. Meet the evangelicals who aren’t for Trump (ABC News)
Nov 1 – Jerushah Duford is the granddaughter of Billy Graham, a prominent evangelical icon who preached the gospel to millions of people in packed stadiums around the world — and a man whose name has become synonymous with conservative politics.

‘I became convinced I was channelling powers’: my life as a teenage witch (The Guardian, Australia)
Nov 1 – (Opinion: Joe Stone) I don’t trust anyone who didn’t have a teenage Wiccan phase.


How community leaders in Melbourne’s north helped drive down coronavirus outbreaks (ABC News)
Oct 29 – When imam Abu Hamzah saw a group of young men protesting against the lockdown near his Broadmeadows mosque, he called them in for pizza and a chat.


NSW Jewish Board of Deputies chief executive Vic Alhadeff resigns (Sydney Morning Herald)
Oct 28 – NSW Jewish Board of Deputies chief executive Vic Alhadeff has resigned from his position after a marathon stint leading the community organisation.


Gary Ablett turned on the TV one night and his life changed forever (
Oct 31 – He’s won two grand finals, two Brownlow Medals and a host of other accolades on the biggest stages but the most important day of Gary Ablett’s life happened in a share house in Torquay when he was just 21.

The destruction of a fiddleback in Victoria sparks a common conundrum for Aboriginal Australians (ABC News)
Oct 31 – It’s not often the felling of a tree makes international headlines, but the destruction of a mighty fiddleback in Western Victoria this week did exactly that — and there’s a lot to learn from how it’s all played out.

Also: What do these sacred trees tell us about Aboriginal heritage in Australia? (The Age, Melbourne)
Nov 1 – The shadow is gone – the roots, the bark, almost nothing is left of a tree that had given shade for hundreds of years to generations of local Djab Wurrung people in western Victoria.