Religion News Australia

August 8 – 15, 2021

Religion news stories from Australia

(Research: Greg Spearritt)



Journalist fleshes out White House state dinner scoop involving Scott Morrison and Brian Houston (ABC News)
Aug 10 – The US journalist who broke the story of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s involvement in trying to secure an invitation to a 2019 White House dinner for Hillsong founder Brian Houston says sources described a “sphere of bad news” and “scandal” surrounding the controversial pastor.

‘Horny old man’: Sydney teacher avoids jail over sexts with police posing as child (Sydney Morning Herald)
Aug 13 – A teacher at Sydney private boys’ school Trinity Grammar called himself a “horny old man” and sent a photograph of his penis to police posing online as a 13-year-old girl, as he repeatedly asked her for images of her breasts in text conversations spanning several days.

Teacher charged with rape accused of coercing alleged victim to change statement (The Age, Melbourne)
Aug 13 – A former Christian college teacher charged with 70 sexual assault offences including the alleged rape of a former student has been remanded in custody after facing a fresh charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice.


Steph Lentz was sacked this year for being gay. It was perfectly legal (Sydney Morning Herald)
Aug 9 – Steph Lentz won’t be going to heaven.

Also: I lost my job for coming out as gay. This needs to change (Sydney Morning Herald)
Aug 12 – (Opinion: Steph Lentz) On a sunny morning in January, in a meeting that lasted little more than 10 minutes, I was fired from my job as an English teacher.

Devil in the detail as satanists’ fight with Education Dept hits Supreme Court (Brisbane Times)
Aug 12 – A group of self-described satanists enlisted the Devil himself as a “political tool” and held a Black Mass in their fight against the might of Queensland’s Education Department, which reached the Supreme Court on Thursday.

Religious knives known as kirpans to be allowed in NSW schools after ban reversed (ABC News)
Aug 13 – Students in NSW will no longer be banned from bringing knives to schools on religious grounds, after a snap decision by the Department of Education was reversed.

Religious Violence

As the US withdraws, China pins regional stability hopes on the Afghan Taliban (ABC News)
Aug 9 – Last month, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi welcomed a high-profile delegation of Taliban officials to meet in the Chinese city of Tianjin.

As cities fall in Afghanistan, the propaganda war grows (Sydney Morning Herald)
Aug 9 – Kabul, Afghanistan: First, a remote provincial capital in Afghanistan’s south-west fell.

Taliban seizes key cities within hours (The Australian)
Aug 9 – Hours after taking the strategic hub of Kunduz, the Taliban captured two other capitals, all but eliminating government presence in Afghanistan’s north.

Eight-year-old becomes youngest person charged with blasphemy in Pakistan (The Guardian, Australia)
Aug 9 – An eight-year-old Hindu boy is being held in protective police custody in east Pakistan after becoming the youngest person ever to be charged with blasphemy in the country.

Major coup for Taliban as fighters take Afghan city of Kunduz (The Guardian, Australia)
Aug 9 – The Taliban have claimed a huge symbolic victory after their fighters seized a large city for the first time in northern Afghanistan as part of a seemingly unstoppable offensive in which they have captured five provincial capitals in just three days.

UN condemns Zimbabwe child marriages after 14-year-old girl forced to wed dies after giving birth (ABC News)
Aug 9 – The United Nations has condemned the practice of child marriage in Zimbabwe following the death of a 14-year-old girl after she gave birth at a church shrine, an incident that caused outrage among citizens and rights activists.

Taliban take strategic Ghazni city as Afghan army chief is replaced (The Guardian, Australia)
Aug 12 – The Taliban have captured the strategic city of Ghazni, 95 miles (150km) south of Kabul, as they continued to tighten their grip on the Afghan capital and the country’s president replaced his army chief.

Taliban could take over ‘in weeks’ (The Australian)
Aug 12 – The Taliban is now within striking distance of Kabul, as Afghan government forces flee or surrender in their thousands to join the insurgents.

Taliban takes Kandahar and Lashkar Gah as US, UK, Canada send rescue convoy (Sydney Morning Herald)
Aug 13 – Washington: The Taliban have captured three large Afghan cities in one day, as military and government officials evacuated from Lashkar Gah in the south, shortly after the nation’s two second largest cities, Herat and Kandahar, fell to the insurgents.

Afghanistan likened to fall of Saigon as officials confirm Taliban take Kandahar (The Guardian, Australia)
Aug 13 – Mitch McConnell has warned that America’s retreat from Afghanistan risks a replay of the nation’s humiliating withdrawal from Saigon at the end of the Vietnam conflict in 1975.

‘For as long as we can’: reporting as an Afghan woman as the Taliban advance (The Guardian, Australia)
Aug 13 – A collective of female journalists are battling to make women’s voices heard as the Islamist militants tighten their grip on the country


US ‘archbishop’ touts bleach as Covid ‘miracle cure’ from Colombia jail cell (The Guardian, Australia)
Aug 11 – The head of a phoney church who is in jail in Colombia awaiting extradition to the US to face trial for selling bleach fluids as a “miracle cure” for Covid-19 is continuing to tout the potentially fatal products from his prison cell through social media and text messages.

Brazil: evangelical superstar expelled from congress over alleged role in husband’s murder (The Guardian, Australia)
Aug 12 – Brazilian lawmakers have voted to expel the gospel star turned congresswoman Flordelis over her alleged involvement in the murder of the husband with whom she had raised more than 50 children.


Clear definition of anti-Semitism aims to stop its rise (The Australian)
Aug 12 – (Opinion: Jeremy Leibler ) The scourge of anti-Semitism is again on the rise, including on our campuses.


Uniting Church leader targets vaccine hesitancy and climate change (Sydney Morning Herald)
Aug 11 – The Uniting Church has elected a woman from Tonga, whose priorities include COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in the Pacific Island community, climate change and rising domestic violence, as its next leader in NSW and the ACT.

Pet carers can leave lockdown to do their job, but not a priest to tend his flock (Sydney Morning Herald)
Aug 13 – (Opinion: Ann-Marie Boumerhe) [A]s a devout Maronite Catholic, I can’t help but notice that people of faith aren’t getting the spiritual support they need to get through this.