Religion News Australia

January 24 – 31, 2021

Religion news stories from Australia

(Research: Greg Spearritt)



Malka Leifer extradited to Australia to face child sexual abuse charges (ABC News)
Jan 25 – Former Melbourne school principal Malka Leifer has been extradited from Israel to face sexual abuse charges in Australia.

Also: Alleged paedophile Malka Leifer boards flight to Australia (Sydney Morning Herald)
Jan 25 – Accused paedophile Malka Leifer has boarded a plane for Australia just hours before Israeli airports were to close due to coronavirus restrictions.

Also: Malka Leifer departs Israel for Australia to face 74 counts of child sexual abuse in Victoria (The Guardian, Australia)
Jan 25 – Alleged child sex abuser Malka Leifer has been rushed out of Israel and is en route to Australia after years of extradition hearings.

Also: Alleged paedophile Malka Leifer set to face court on Thursday (Brisbane Times)
Jan 27 – Accused paedophile Malka Leifer is expected to face a Melbourne court on Thursday after her extradition from Israel.

Also: Malka Leifer has returned to Australia to face child sex abuse charges. Here’s what will happen next (ABC News)
Jan 28 – More than a decade after leaving Melbourne for Israel, former school principal Malka Leifer has arrived back in Australia to face child sexual abuse charges.

Also: Government-funded chaplaincy organisation will offer services to Malka Leifer (The Age, Melbourne)
Jan 28 – A Jewish charity will offer chaplaincy services to alleged paedophile Malka Leifer when she returns to Australia, a decision that has angered some members of the religious community.

Also: Malka Leifer’s journey from gated community to a Melbourne court (The Age, Melbourne)
Jan 29 – Wearing a white head wrap, accused child abuser Malka Leifer sat in silence before a Melbourne court via video link on Thursday, stooped over and hiding her face with her arms crossed.

Also: Malka Leifer: how a long-running child sexual abuse case tested Australia’s relationship with Israel (The Guardian, Australia)
Jan 30 – When the accused child sex offender Malka Leifer was extradited from Israel to face a Melbourne court this week it was the result of a years-long campaign spearheaded by three of the former principal’s accusers.

TV Pentecostal pastor John McMartin pleads not guilty to indecent assault of teenager (ABC News)
Jan 27 – A Pentecostal TV pastor has denied indecently assaulting a teenage parishioner at his home in Sydney’s south-west eight years ago.


Article not aimed at encouraging readers to search about Pell, trial told (The Age, Melbourne)
Jan 29 – The editor who published The Age’s initial article about George Pell’s conviction on child sex abuse charges has rejected a suggestion it was aimed at motivating readers to search online for more information about the case.

Also: Pell contempt case: journalists under scrutiny after 27 charged over verdict’s coverage (The Guardian, Australia)
Jan 30 – It did not take long for word to reach Australian newsrooms: at 3.44pm on 11 December 2018, a jury found George Pell guilty of child sexual abuse.


UN labels Sri Lanka cremation of COVID-19 dead, including Muslims, a human rights violation (ABC News)
Jan 26 – The United Nations has condemned the Sri Lankan Government’s policy of forced cremation of deceased COVID-19 patients, especially in the case of Muslims and other minorities in the country, as it goes against their religious beliefs.

Religious Violence

Singapore detains teen over alleged Christchurch-inspired plans to attack mosques (Sydney Morning Herald)
Jan 28 – Singapore: Authorities in Singapore say they have detained without trial a 16-year-old student who made detailed plans and preparations to launch “terrorist attacks” on two mosques with a machete.

Men caned 77 times in Indonesia after ‘being caught having sex’ (The Guardian, Australia)
Jan 29 – Two men in Indonesia’s Aceh province have been publicly caned 77 times each after they were reported to police by vigilantes who claimed they had witnessed the men having sex.

UN condemns Iran execution spree, expresses particular concern for minorities (ABC News)
Jan 30 – The United Nations human rights office has condemned an alleged spree of 28 executions in Iran, including several prisoners from minority groups, and called on Tehran to halt the hanging of an ethnic Baluchi man.


Fabled ark could be among ancient treasures in danger in Ethiopia’s deadly war (The Guardian, Australia)
Jan 25 – It has been hidden from view for thousands of years, and its whereabouts never proved.

Remnants of mosque from earliest decades of Islam found in Israel (The Guardian, Australia)
Jan 29 – Archaeologists in Israel say they have discovered the remnants of an early mosque believed to date to the earliest decades of Islam during an excavation in the northern city of Tiberias.

‘We had no paper, but we had our bodies’: the sacred and symbolic in Polynesian tattoos (The Guardian, Australia)
Jan 30 – The New Zealand foreign minister’s moko has become international news, but beyond an identifier, our tatau are a link to ancestors, a vessel for our cultures’ stories, and a tribute to those who have gone before


Antisemitism and Holocaust denial on the rise in Australia, Josh Frydenberg warns (The Guardian, Australia)
Jan 27 – Josh Frydenberg has warned antisemitism is on the rise in Australia and the treasurer says there is an obligation on all good people to “take on hate wherever we see it”.


Zak Kirkup blocks candidate from speaking about pastor husband’s homophobic comments (Brisbane Times)
Jan 29 – West Australian Opposition Leader Zak Kirkup stepped in front of a candidate and refused to let her answer questions about her husband’s views on homosexuality during a car-crash press conference on Friday morning.


Religious freedom: devil’s in the detail (The Australian)
Jan 25 – (Opinion: Alice Workman ) Noosa Temple of Satan manages to get the pentagram added to the religious symbols displayed at hospital’s multi-faith centre.

Presence of far-right Proud Boys symbol at Melbourne marches ‘frightening for us all’ (ABC News)
Jan 27 – Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says the presence of the far-right Proud Boys symbol at marches in Melbourne on Tuesday is “frightening for us all”, as the Government unveils plans for a new Holocaust museum in Canberra.

‘Bad theology kills’: Senior cleric returns honour over Margaret Court decision (The Age, Melbourne)
Jan 27 – A church leader says Margaret Court’s “bad theology” is his reason for joining the growing list of Order of Australia members who are returning their awards in protest against her elevation to the country’s highest civilian honour.