Religion News Australia

January 3 – 10, 2021

Religion news stories from Australia

(Research: Greg Spearritt)



The director who dared to suggest Jewish men don’t need rescuing by blond women (The Guardian, Australia)
Jan 8 – The director Joan Micklin Silver, who died last week, was – to use the kind of cliche she abhorred – a pioneer.

How Saint George inspired a spiritual movement (The Australian)
Jan 9 – This image is not just a street mural depicting British pop icon George Michael … it’s a battleground for love and hate and a story of finding a second life on stage.


AUSTRAC reviewing data on Vatican money transfers (The Age, Melbourne)
Jan 8 – Rome: The Australian government’s financial intelligence agency is reviewing its data after questions were raised about its report that $US1.8 billion ($2.3 billion) were transferred from the Vatican to Australia over six years.

Catholic Church

Vatican debunks $2.3bn allegation (The Australian)
Jan 6 – Vatican investigators have established that Austrac’s report of $2.3bn transferred from the Vatican City to Australia in the past six years is ‘significantly’ over-­estimated.

Pope Francis ‘astonished’ by assault on US Capitol (Sydney Morning Herald)
Jan 10 – Vatican: Pope Francis said on Saturday he was “astonished” by the attack on the US Capitol earlier this week by supporters of President Donald Trump, and denounced the violence as an assault on democracy.


Australian Zara Kay, campaigner for ex-Muslim women, left ‘traumatised’ by arrest in Tanzania  (ABC News)
Jan 4 – Zara Kay has been left shaken and traumatised after she was arrested and charged in Tanzania allegedly for a satirical social media post, her friend has said.

Religious Violence

Indonesia to release suspected Bali bombings mastermind Abu Bakar Bashir (ABC News)
Jan 4 – Indonesia will release radical cleric and alleged mastermind of the 2002 Bali bombings Abu Bakar Bashir from prison later this week upon completion of his jail term.

Also: Indonesia is releasing alleged Bali bombing mastermind Abu Bakar Bashir (ABC News)
Jan 8 – Notorious Islamic extremist Abu Bakar Bashir, who has been accused of masterminding the Bali bombings, is set to be released from an Indonesian prison today.

Also: Young extremists will still seek Abu Bakar Bashir’s blessing (Sydney Morning Herald)
Jan 8 – (Opinion: Nava Nuraniyah and Jordan Newton) Today, Indonesian firebrand cleric Abu Bakar Bashir will walk free from prison. The 82-year-old, who earned infamy in Australia for his role in the 2002 Bali bombings, has served as a bellwether for the Indonesian extremist community: never far from centre frame of its terrifying successes or its abject failures.


Greek Orthodox church to defy lockdown by opening for Epiphany (The Guardian, Australia)
Jan 4 – The Greek Orthodox church has announced it will defy government lockdown orders aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus and open places of worship to mark Epiphany this Wednesday.

Food for thought? French bean plants show signs of intent, say scientists (The Guardian, Australia)
Jan 9 – Many botanists dispute idea of plant sentience, but study of climbing beans sows seed of doubt


Strangers organise funeral for Arpad Kiss, 82, who died alone on the streets of Darwin (ABC News)
Jan 4 – The 82-year-old man’s funeral service was small and simple, attended by about a dozen people who were both strangers and the last people he encountered.

Church, charity and ‘cult’ refuse to join national child sex abuse redress (Sydney Morning Herald)
Jan 4 – A former child migration society, a Christian denomination and a communications training group more often described as a “cult” have emerged as the only institutions that have elected not to join the National Redress Scheme for victims of child sexual abuse, despite having a combined 77 claims against them.

Hillsong founder Bobbie Houston’s sex life tips (
Jan 6 – The founder of one of Australia’s largest evangelical churches has urged wives to be better at sex so they can proudly say they “have a great marriage;” instructed them to not get “sloppy” with pelvic floor exercises or their orgasm will suffer, not to get so fat “you need a hydraulic crane to turn over in bed,” and to get their teeth done so their “mouth is desirable” to their husbands.

After unorthodox year, family celebrate traditional Christmas together (The Age, Melbourne)
Jan 7 – Early January is when many of us pack away the Christmas tree, tinsel and lights till next festive season, but for Eastern Orthodox Christians like Luba Cowall, festivities are in full swing.