Religion News Australia

March 14 – 21, 2021

Religion news stories from Australia

(Research: Greg Spearritt)



Former soldier turned cult leader arrested over alleged abuse of woman (Sydney Morning Herald)
Mar 16 – Police have established a hotline for other potential victims of a former soldier turned “patriarch” of a cult who allegedly abused a woman, including subjecting her to collars and tattoos.

Wesley College boys accused of ‘disgusting’ misogyny (The Age, Melbourne)
Mar 16 – The school says it is attempting to identify the students, who were overheard by other bus passengers making derogatory comments against women after the Melbourne March 4 Justice event.

Also: Groped, harassed, hounded: Wesley College misogyny crisis widens (ABC News)
Mar 19 – More than a dozen Wesley College students and parents have disclosed instances of alleged sexual assault, harassment and disrespect to girls by male students as the school’s misogyny crisis widened.

Marist Regional College apologises to survivors of historic child sex abuse (ABC News)
Mar 19 – A Catholic college in Tasmania’s north-west, where six convicted child sex offenders committed their crimes, has formally apologised to survivors of abuse at the institution, saying acknowledgement of their failure to keep children safe was “long overdue”.


‘Rape joke chants’: Hale alumni details ‘misogynist’ attitudes of male classmates (
Mar 15 – A graduate of an exclusive private boys’ school in Perth, brought into the national spotlight on the back of historic allegations against Attorney General Christian Porter, says students at the school espoused “alarming” attitudes towards women.

‘Respect, consent not negotiable’: How WA’s elite boys’ schools are tackling toxic masculinity (
Mar 15 – The headmaster of an elite all-boys college in Perth has warned students if they disagree with his stance on respect and consent they are at the wrong school.

Catholic Church

Vatican refuses to bless same-sex unions under Pope Francis, saying God ‘cannot bless sin’  (ABC News)
Mar 14 – The Vatican has announced that priests cannot bless same-sex unions and that such blessings are not valid.


Sri Lanka moves to ban burqas and close more than 1,000 Islamic schools (ABC News)
Mar 14 – Sri Lanka will ban the wearing of the burqa and shut more than 1,000 Islamic schools in the latest actions affecting the country’s minority Muslim population.

Veiled threats: compulsory dress codes in Indonesia condemned (Sydney Morning Herald)
Mar 18 – Singapore: Indonesian girls and women have frequently been ordered to wear Muslim dress regardless of their religion in what has been described as a breach of their human rights.


Nazi-looted Gustav Klimt painting to go to rightful Jewish heirs (Sydney Morning Herald)
Mar 16 – Paris: The French government says it will return a Nazi-looted Gustav Klimt landscape painting to its rightful owners more than 80 years after it was stolen from a Jewish family in Austria in 1938.

Religious Violence

The Christchurch massacre continues to haunt Muslims across the world – online and offline (The Guardian, Australia)
Mar 16 – (Opinion: Kawsar Ali) Two years ago, Brenton Tarrant, an Australian shooter, entered two mosques in New Zealand and killed 51 Muslims and injured 49.


‘Music is my life’: ban on schoolgirls singing in Afghanistan met with protest (The Guardian, Australia)
Mar 16 – Afghanistan’s Ministry of Education appears to be backtracking on a decision to impose a nationwide singing ban on schoolgirls.

Israel bags its Dead Sea Scrolls moment (The Australian)
Mar 18 – Israeli archaeologists have unearths fragments of 2000-year-old biblical scroll from a cave in the Judean desert.


Three arrested in counter-terrorism raids in Melbourne’s north (Sydney Morning Herald)
Mar 17 – Two men and one youth have been arrested by counter-terrorism police in Melbourne’s north after investigators became concerned about a fire and an assault they believe could have been motivated by religious extremism.

Brothers accused of trying to plan a terrorist act front court (The Age, Melbourne)
Mar 18 – Two brothers with no criminal history have fronted a court in Melbourne, charged with attempting to plan a terrorist act.

ASIO needs to counter terrorism with clear language (Sydney Morning Herald)
Mar 21 – ASIO’s Director-General Mike Burgess has announced that ASIO isn’t going to use words connected with Islam when talking about Islamist terrorism nor use the words “right-wing extremist”.


After years of discrimination, many LGBTQ people are ‘terrified’ of going into aged care (ABC News)
Mar 18 – When Geoffrey Ostling first considered going into aged care, Australians were voting on marriage equality.

Scientists create model embryos in lab, raising major ethical questions (Brisbane Times)
Mar 18 – Australian researchers have created “model” human embryos from the skin cells of an adult’s arm, in a world-first scientific breakthrough that raises significant ethical questions.

‘Absolutely astonishing’: spiritual group raises the Porter defence (Sydney Morning Herald)
Mar 19 – Kenja Communications, a spiritual self-help group that stared down numerous allegations against its late founder, has become the only Australian organisation refusing to join the National Redress Scheme for survivors of institutional child sexual abuse.

How the tale of milk and sugar kept my people’s faith alive (Sydney Morning Herald)
Mar 21 – (Opinion: Dilnaz Billimoria) My faith is Zoroastrianism, the oldest monotheistic religion in the world, originating in ancient Persia.

The lost temple, a 20-metre statue and Master Dao’s one-time property millions (Sydney Morning Herald)
Mar 19 – It’s a problem few of us face when taking ownership of a new property: what do you do with a statue nearly 20 metres tall of Kuan Yin, the Buddhist deity of compassion?