Religion News Australia

December 22 – 28, 2019

Religion news stories from Australia

(Research: Greg Spearritt)




Albury Anglican priest suggests Church may need to divorce as he pushes for LGBTQI+ equality (ABC News)
Dec 23 – A regional priest has questioned whether it Is time for the Anglican Church to split, as the debate on the Religious Freedom Bill leaves some of his parishioners feeling anxious over the Christmas period.


Kanye West’s Sunday Service Choir: Jesus Is Born review – gospel venture tests the faith (The Guardian, Australia)
Dec 28 – (Review)  As 2 billion Christians the world over commemorated the birth of Jesus Christ on Wednesday, they might have missed a minor miracle – Kanye West met a deadline.


Identity politics ‘narcissistic’: Archbishop (The Australian)
Dec 25 – Anthony Fisher told the congregation of St Mary’s Cathedral that safe spaces and trigger warnings were “coddling our fragile egos”.


Faith shown in Christian schools (The Australian)
Dec 28 – Christian school enrolments have soared over the past five years, surpassing growth in the public and broader independent sectors.

Anglican Church

Brexit discourse contributed to death of Jo Cox, says bishop (The Guardian, Australia)
Dec 25 – The Church of England’s first black female bishop has said the debate around Brexit damaged society and contributed to the death of the MP Jo Cox.

Catholic Church

Church seeks a new wave: Pope (The Australian)
Dec 23 – Pope Francis says the Catholic Church must adopt new approaches to evangelisation in a post-Christian West.

Pope: God loves even those who make ‘a complete mess of things’ (The Guardian, Australia)
Dec 25 – Pope Francis has delivered midnight Mass by saying the celebration of Jesus’s birth reminded humanity how “God continues to love us all, even the worst of us”.

Also: Pope Francis defends migrants, calls for peace in Christmas message (ABC News)
Dec 26 – Pope Francis has urged the world to let the light of Christmas pierce the “darkness in human hearts” that leads to religious persecution, social injustice, armed conflicts and fear of migrants.

Notre Dame cathedral so fragile there is ’50 per cent chance’ Paris landmark will not be entirely saved (ABC News)
Dec 26 – The rector of Notre Dame cathedral says the Paris landmark is still so fragile there is a “50 per cent chance” the structure might not be entirely saved, because scaffolding installed before this year’s fire is threatening the vaults of the Gothic monument.


Left can’t hold candle in war on anti-Semitism (The Australian)
Dec 24 – (Opinion: Ruth R. Wisse) Why Donald Trump’s protection leaves Jews confused. He vigorously opposes anti-Semitism yet gets accused of it himself.

Last Jews of Bukhara fear their community will fade away (The Guardian, Australia)
Dec 24 – On the first night of Hanukah, Benyamin Badalov ascends the platformed bimah in Bukhara’s central synagogue to recite the evening prayer.

‘Contemptible’: outrage as Rudy Giuliani attacks George Soros as ‘hardly a Jew’ (The Guardian, Australia)
Dec 25 – Jewish groups intensified criticism on Tuesday of Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor turned president’s lawyer and freelancing Ukrainian envoy, after he attacked Jewish financier, philanthropist and Holocaust survivor George Soros for being “hardly a Jew” and failing to attend synagogue.

Religious Violence

Taliban kills US Army sergeant in northern Afghanistan (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 24 – Kabul: The Taliban said their fighters killed a US service member in Afghanistan and posted photographs of a blood-soaked backpack and the identity card of an American soldier to prove it.

Secret sharia trials held in UK jails (The Australian)
Dec 24 – A former inmate in a British jail tells how he was groomed by group that pledged allegiance to ISIS.

Unprecedented number of deaths in attack in Burkina Faso (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 25 – Ouagabougou: Jihadists attacked a town in northern Burkina Faso and killed 35 civilians, most of them women, and ensuing clashes with security forces left 80 jihadists dead, the West African nation’s President announced late on Tuesday (Wednesday Australian time).

Taliban ‘abducts’ dozens of peace activists (
Dec 26 – The Taliban ambushed a peace convoy in western Afghanistan and abducted 26 activists, members of a peace movement, a police spokesman said on Wednesday (local time).

Islamist terror our main danger: ASIO (The Australian)
Dec 27 – Right-wing terrorism is a ‘small but significant’ part of our extremist threat, but is dwarfed by that posed by Islamic radicals.

IS claims to be behind execution of 11 Christians in Nigeria (
Dec 28 – Jihadists aligned to the Islamic State group have released a video claiming to show the execution of 11 Christians in restive northeast Nigeria.


Spiritual teacher and former Harvard professor Ram Dass dies aged 88 (
Dec 24 – Baba Ram Dass, the 1960s counterculture spiritual leader who experimented with LSD and travelled to India to find enlightenment, returning to share it with Americans, has died.

‘Invisible’ flood damage to St Mark’s Cathedral totals millions (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 25 – Venice: “Every stone is a treasure,” says the technical director of St Mark’s Basilica’s vestry board, indicating the prized gold-leaf mosaics overhead, the inlaid stone pavement and the marble clad walls of the 923-year- old masterpiece.

Why Christianity has been struggling with sex ever since the Nativity (The Guardian, Australia)
Dec 25 – (Opinion: Diarmaid MacCulloch) At Christmastide you can’t escape from the fact that Christianity centres on the birth of a child, and glories in it.

The Guardian view on the rise of Christian-nativist populists: a troubling sign of things to come (The Guardian, Australia)
Dec 26 – (Opinion: Editorial) “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” These words, written by Saint Paul 2,000 years ago, are central to the Christian faith.

Battle for souls in biblical heartland (The Australian)
Dec 28 – The parishioners of St Addai’s church in northern Iraq were few but they could have no complaints about the grandeur of their surroundings.

Australian on mission to photograph every parish church in England (The Guardian, Australia)
Dec 28 – Many would consider it a niche hobby; others might reach for the word “obsessive”.


Barnaby Joyce suggests God is the solution to climate change in Christmas video (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 25 – Labor frontbencher Joel Fitzgibbon says Barnaby Joyce’s Christmas video – in which he urges Australians to respect God’s plan for climate change – shows Mr Joyce is feeling “contrite” about years of government inaction.

Merry Christmas, ‘not happy holidays’: how our leaders spent Christmas (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 26 – Prime Minister Scott Morrison enjoyed a quiet Christmas Day with family, which he began by attending his Pentecostal church in southern Sydney.

New religion bill deeply flawed: Law Council (The Australian)
Dec 26 – The nation’s peak legal body has condemned the government’s revised religious discrimination bill, declaring it ‘a deeply flawed piece of legislation’.

Examining the second draft of religion bill (The Saturday Paper)
Dec 28 – (Opinion: Kieran Pender) The second draft of the government’s religious discrimination bill, released last week, was intended to appease critics of the contentious legislation.


Church leaders use Christmas message to call for climate action (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 24 – Church leaders are using their annual Christmas messages and sermons to intensify pressure on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to take greater action on climate change, backing striking school students and fire-affected citizens in calling for increased efforts to tackle global warming.

If women wrote the Christmas story: Three wise females and a not-so-silent night? (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 24 – (Opinion: Julia Baird) What would the Christmas story be like if only women had ever told it?

Christmas ham ban opens discrimination can of worms (
Dec 24 – (Opinion: Matt Holden) If the middle of a bushfire emergency isn’t the time to talk about global heating and climate disruption, perhaps Christmas isn’t the moment to bring up the federal government’s proposed religious discrimination laws – especially as a Melbourne newspaper reports that a Muslim Uber driver refused to give a war veteran and his wife a ride home from the local RSL because they were carrying a Christmas ham.

Climate change is putting us off having babies, but Christmas is a reminder of hope in birth (ABC News)
Dec 25 – (Opinion: Justine Toh) Christmas is often scorching in Australia, but summer has never left such an acrid sting of smoke in my throat.

Churchgoers celebrate Christmas (Courier-Mail, Brisbane)
Dec 25 – XMAS Hundreds of people packed the Cathedral of St Stephen in central Brisbane for Christmas Mass this morning.

There’s nothing new about virgin births (just ask Plato) (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 26 – Thoughts turned to a famous baby on Wednesday.

‘Watching Love, Actually’: Church leaders honour Christmas traditions (The Age, Melbourne)
Dec 26 – Melbourne’s Christian leaders have celebrated Christmas by paying tribute to the right of protest and personal expression, and to those – such as Australia’s firefighters – unable to enjoy their usual festive routine.

‘Act of God’: How did He make it into millions of contracts? (The Age, Melbourne)
Dec 26 – (Opinion: David Lazarus) Los Angeles: Lee Brubaker believes in a higher power.

Gay, Christian and a former preacher, I’m coming out to help anyone hurt by Folau (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 28 – (Opinion: Andre Afamasaga) Being a gay Christian of a Pacific Island ethnicity was never easy.