Religion News Australia

December 28, 2019 – January 5, 2020

Religion news stories from Australia

(Research: Greg Spearritt)



Loud Fence ribbons in show of solidarity for sexual abuse survivors in Ballarat cut down (ABC News)
Dec 28 – Hundreds of colourful ribbons tied to the fence of St Alipius Catholic Church represent a show of solidarity for survivors of childhood sexual abuse.

Australian Jewish community slams Israel’s ‘deplorable’ appointment (The Age, Melbourne)
Dec 30 – The man accused of pressuring government psychiatrists to alter their reports and prevent on mental health grounds the extradition of an alleged paedophile to Australia has been promoted to Health Minister of Israel.

Also: Aussie Jews slam Israeli appointment (The Australian)
Dec 31 – A controversial new political appointment in Israel has raised fears efforts to extradite alleged child abuser Malka Leifer could be delayed.

‘Errors’ led to Pell convictions (The Australian)
Jan 4 – George Pell’s final submissions to have child sex convictions overturned have been filed with the High Court.

Catholic Church

Pope Francis apologises for ‘bad example’ of slapping arm of pilgrim who tugged him (ABC News)
Jan 2 – Pope Francis has apologised for angrily slapping a woman’s arm when she grabbed hold of his hand and yanked him towards her, saying he had lost his patience and set a “bad example”.


Despite tensions with Donald Trump, Western-influenced subcultures continue to thrive in Iran (ABC News)
Dec 29 – In the 2004 bestselling graphic novel Persepolis, 10-year-old Marji comes of age embracing punk rock and counterculture ideologies as she explores her identity in post-1979 Iran.


Jewish groups push back against police surge in wake of antisemitic attacks (The Guardian, Australia)
Dec 31 – New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s decision to up the police presence in multi-ethnic neighborhoods to combat a rise in antisemitic hate crimes has received push-back from liberal Jewish groups that contend the measures will further divide communities.

The Trump era has magnified the faultlines in America’s Jewish communities (The Guardian, Australia)
Jan 1 – (Opinion: Lloyd Green) The tectonic plates opened by Donald Trump’s presidency continue to clang, New York City’s ethnic tensions have resurfaced, and sectarian differences are hardening.

US Jews learn to shoot guns as anti-Semitic violence continues to rise (ABC News)
Jan 5 – Gripping a .44 Magnum inside a small New York State synagogue, 65-year-old Fay Ziegler wants to know if she’d be able to pull the trigger.

Religious Violence

Trump’s America ushers in a ‘new age of pogroms’ (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 30 – Seven nights of Hanukkah and no fewer than 10 separate attacks on orthodox Jews in New York City culminated with a knife-wielding man bursting into a rabbi’s home on Saturday night, shouting, “I will get you” before stabbing five people, two critically.

Church parishioners shoot man who opened fire, killing two at Texas church (The Age, Melbourne)
Dec 30 – White Settlement: A man pulled out a shotgun at a Texas church service and killed two people before he was fatally shot by congregants who quickly returned fire, police say.

Taliban rejects ceasefire claims (The Australian)
Dec 31 – The Taliban has rejected reports that it has agreed to a temporary ceasefire in Afghanistan.


‘At a moral crossroads’: How Trump is dividing evangelical America (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 30 – Washington: After evangelical publication Christianity Today published a blistering editorial on what it called Donald Trump’s “grossly immoral character”, some church leaders and the US President himself denounced the criticism as elitist and out-of-touch.

Trump’s church rally won’t endanger immigrant parishioners, pastor says (The Guardian, Australia)
Dec 31 – The pastor of a Miami megachurch that will host Donald Trump at a rally this week is guaranteeing that parishioners who entered the US illegally won’t be at risk of deportation if they attend.

Methodist church announces plan to split into pro- and anti-gay branches (The Guardian, Australia)
Jan 4 – Leaders of the United Methodist church – America’s second-largest Protestant denomination – have announced plans to split the church in two after years of division over same-sex marriage.

‘He was sent to us’: at church rally, evangelicals worship God and Trump (The Guardian, Australia)
Jan 5 – They came to pray with their president, though in truth many came just to worship him.


The ‘wellness’ crystals people buy for supposed healing properties could be sourced unethically (ABC News)
Dec 28 – Inside an independent gemstone store in Sydney’s inner-west, customers politely edged around each other while fingering the glittering rocks on display.

Can Christian faith be independent of politics? (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 28 – (Opinion: Tim Costello) A quiet yet seismic event occurred just before Christmas: America’s leading evangelical publication, Christianity Today, called for the impeachment of the “grossly immoral” President Trump.

You got the job done. So just cheer the f— up (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 29 – (Opinion: Clare Boyd-Macrae) I watch a lot of TV and my vote for the best series this year goes to Unbelievable.

Margaret Court condemns trans athletes as Tennis Australia recognition looms (The Age, Melbourne)
Dec 31 – Margaret Court has doubled down on her controversial views in a fiery sermon at her Perth church, condemning trans athletes in the wake of her hard-fought battle to be celebrated by Tennis Australia for the 50th anniversary of her grand slam year next month.

Also: ACL gathers donations for Court ad blitz (The Australian)
Dec 31 – The Australian Christian Lobby is rallying its followers ahead of Margaret Court’s Australian Open appearance after a controversial sermon.

Also: Navratilova attacks ‘pathetic’ Court and accuses her of ‘hiding behind her Bible’ (Sydney Morning Herald)
Jan 1 – Tennis great Martina Navratilova has accused Margaret Court of “hiding behind her Bible” and decried her recent controversial sermon attacking transgender children and women as “pathetic … in every way”.

Also: World reacts to new Margaret Court controversy (
Jan 1 – Margaret Court’s latest public controversy made headlines everywhere from India to Turkey to South Africa — and has divided commentators.

Coptic Orthodox church in Taree is thriving and drawing Christians to the area (ABC News)
Jan 5 – Nermin and Marc Kamel used to travel more than four hours to attend a Coptic Orthodox church in Sydney.