Religion News Australia

January 17 – 24, 2021

Religion news stories from Australia

(Research: Greg Spearritt)



Catholic Church makes record payout in child sex abuse case (
Jan 21 – The Catholic Church has made what is believed to be its highest ever payout to a victim of sexual abuse after church lawyers forced a 52-year-old man to give harrowing evidence in court about his rape by a priest in the 1970s.

Also: Sex abuse victim speaks out after Perth Catholic church consents to pay $2.45m Also: compensation (ABC News)
Jan 24 – A victim who will be awarded $2.45 million in compensation for sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of a Catholic priest has spoken out about the “severe” impact the abuse continues to have on his life.


Vatican cash probe exposes $2m gap (The Australian)
Jan 20 – Prosecutors examining money laundering allegations at Vatican find gap anomaly in legitimate transfers to Australia.

Brisbane Archdiocese mulls future for empty Stock Exchange Hotel (Brisbane Times)
Jan 21 – One of Brisbane’s oldest pubs, which closed its doors unexpectedly late last year, has an uncertain future, as its owners – the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane – mull their next steps.


Catholic schools given free rein to spend $230m taxpayer ‘slush fund’ (Sydney Morning Herald)
Jan 24 – The state’s Catholic school system will have wide discretion over how it spends more than $200 million from a taxpayer “slush fund” after striking a deal with the Commonwealth Government, bolstering fears it could be used to subsidise the fees of already affluent parents at wealthier schools.

Catholic Church

Vatican’s top banker jailed for 9 years (The Australian)
Jan 22 – The former head of the Vatican’s bank now the most senior official to be convicted for financial crimes in the city-state.


French Muslim leaders approve charter outlining ‘enlightened Islam’ (The Age, Melbourne)
Jan 19 – Paris: President Emmanuel Macron has hailed as a major step for “enlightened Islam” in France a charter approved by Muslim leaders that rejects extremism and upholds “Republican principles over religious values”.


Patricia Highsmith: the ‘Jew-hater’ who took Jewish women as lovers (The Guardian, Australia)
Jan 18 – She espoused vile antisemitic views, telling people she was a “Jew hater” and calling the deaths of six million Jews “the semicaust” because she was disappointed more had not been murdered in the camps.

Religious Violence

Afghan Supreme Court judges gunned down in Kabul (ABC News)
Jan 18 – Unidentified gunmen have killed two judges from Afghanistan’s Supreme Court, police say, adding to a wave of assassinations in Kabul and other cities while government and Taliban representatives have been holding peace talks in Qatar.

ANZAC terror plotter released from jail (The Australian)
Jan 19 – A British teen ‘so radicalised as to be chilling’ involved in the 2015 ANZAC parade terror plot is no longer deemed a risk.

Pompeo declares China’s policies on Muslims amount to ‘genocide’ (Sydney Morning Herald)
Jan 20 – Washington: On his way out the door, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lashed out anew at China on Tuesday, local time, by declaring that its policies on Muslims and ethnic minorities in the western Xinjiang region constitute “crimes against humanity” and a “genocide.”

US military announces trial for trio detained at Guantanamo Bay suspected of Indonesia terror attacks (ABC News)
Jan 22 – After an unexplained delay, the US Department of Defense has announced plans to move ahead with a military trial for three men held at a base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, who are suspected of involvement in deadly bombings in Indonesia in 2002 and 2003.

US soldier and alleged Islamic State sympathiser arrested on terrorism charges (ABC News)
Jan 24 – A US Army soldier has been arrested on terrorism charges after he spoke online about plots to blow up New York City’s 9/11 Memorial and attack US soldiers in the Middle East, authorities said on Tuesday.


Sri Lankan holy man’s ‘miracle’ potion for Covid turns sour (The Guardian, Australia)
Jan 20 – A self-styled Sri Lankan holy man’s supposed miracle potion to prevent Covid-19 has turned sour after a minister who publicly drank it was taken to hospital with the virus.

As the Biden era begins, QAnon believers grapple with doubt and spin new theories (The Age, Melbourne)
Jan 22 – Washington: Followers of the extremist ideology QAnon saw their hopes once again dashed as President Donald Trump left Washington on the final day of his presidency, without any of the climactic scenes of violence and salvation that the sprawling set of conspiracy theories had preached for years would come.

Also: QAnon’s ‘Great Awakening’ failed to materialize. What’s next could be worse (The Guardian, Australia)
Jan 22 – Believers who were stymied by Trump’s exit could turn to white nationalism and other extremist beliefs, experts say.

Also: Will deplatforming make QAnon and the far-right fade away or radicalise further? (ABC News)
Jan 22 – As President Joe Biden was sworn in this week, QAnon forums descended into despair, confusion and wounded anger.

‘I only know one god – and that’s me’: non-believers on the meaning of life (The Guardian, Australia)
Jan 22 – Religion may once have been the opium of the people, but in large swaths of the world the masses have kicked the habit.


Uyghur Muslims call on Australia to join United States in accusing China of genocide in Xinjiang (ABC News)
Jan 20 – Uyghurs in Australia have said they are elated and relieved after the United States released an official statement accusing China of committing genocide against the Muslim group and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang.


Anti-Semitic scandal sparks DFAT probe (The Australian)
Jan 19 – DFAT is investigating revelations the UN’s top Palestinian aid agency has been publishing violent, anti-Semitic materials in Gaza Strip and West Bank classrooms.


Daniel Andrews, Mark McGowan oppose Australia Day honour for tennis legend Margaret Court  (ABC News)
Jan 22 – Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and WA Premier Mark McGowan say they do not support former tennis great Margaret Court being recognised with an Australia Day honour.

Also: ‘Nothing to do with tennis’: Margaret Court’s Australia Day honour criticised (Sydney Morning Herald)
Jan 22 – The decision to recognise all-time tennis great Margaret Court – who has been a controversial figure in recent years because of her religious views – in the Australia Day honours list has been criticised as being “nothing to do with tennis”.

Also: Margaret Court responds to backlash over Australia Day honour (
Jan 22 – Reports that controversial tennis legend Margaret Court will be recognised with the nation’s highest honour on Australia Day has sparked a wave of furious backlash.

Also: Backlash over Court Aus Day honour (The Australian)
Jan 22 – (Opinion: Adeshola Ore, Tessa Akerman) PM says he has ‘no official knowledge’ of Australia Day honours process, as Andrews slams Court honour decision.

Also: Why Court really does deserve to be honoured (The Australian)
Jan 22 – (Opinion: Wally Mason) Margaret Court’s views aren’t shared by many of us, but, purely as a tennis player, she is among the most deserving recipients ever of Australia’s highest honour.

Also: Margaret Court to be honoured on Australia Day, sparking a furious backlash (The Guardian, Australia)
Jan 22 – Margaret Court, the former Australian tennis player who has sparked controversy in recent years because of her views on LGBTQ+ issues, will be recognised with Australia’s highest honour.

Also: Canberra doctor returns OAM in protest against Margaret Court 2021 Australia Day honour (ABC News)
Jan 24 – A Canberra doctor has handed back her Order of Australia Medal in protest against the awarding of the nation’s highest honour to tennis great Margaret Court.

Also: Why I handed back my Order of Australia, and why Margaret Court should be stripped of hers (Sydney Morning Herald)
Jan 24 – (Opinion: Clara Tuck Meng Soo) I was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 2016 for services to the Canberra community as a medical practitioner.

Hindu traditions set in stone as Ganesha temple in Melbourne’s east re-opens after renovations (ABC News)
Jan 24 – Priests are chanting, a pony is being blessed while surrounded by dozens of worshippers and a man has just hurled a coconut into the ground, smashing it to pieces.

In honouring those who are prejudiced, the Australia Day awards perpetuate bigotry (The Guardian, Australia)
Jan 24 – (Opinion: Ghassan Hage) The leaking of the news that Margaret Court is receiving a Companion of the Order of Australia has generated the controversy the leak aimed to provoke.