Religion News Australia

September 12 – 19, 2021

Religion news stories from Australia

(Research: Greg Spearritt)



Inside the brutal world of the Jehovah’s Witnesses (ABC News)
Sept 13 – Since the royal commission exposed the cruel treatment of victims of child abuse within the Jehovah’s Witnesses, little has changed.

Malka Leifer’s second accuser giving evidence in sex abuse case (The Age, Melbourne)
Sept 14 – The second of three sisters who allege they were sexually abused as children by Malka Leifer is giving evidence in the court hearing that will determine whether the former school principal stands trial.

Cleaner saw Malka Leifer at school with girls on Sundays, court hears (The Guardian, Australia)
Sept 16 – A cleaner at the Melbourne Jewish school where Malka Leifer was the principal has told a court he saw Leifer at the school on Sundays with as many as three girls.

New Norcia child abuse victims call for their damages claims to be fast-tracked (ABC News)
Sept 19 – Survivors of child sexual abuse at Australia’s only monastic town — New Norcia, about 125 kilometres north of Perth — are calling for their compensation cases to be fast-tracked, fearing they will die waiting for an outcome.


How a religious edict sparked the internet craze for ‘ugly Renaissance babies’ (Brisbane Times)
Sept 17 – Ten years ago in Munich, in an exhibition of German Renaissance portraiture, I came across a startling image from 1550 of Duke Wilhelm IV of Bavaria on his deathbed.

‘She got a lot of trouble for it’: how Tammy Faye Bakker went from televangelist to gay icon (The Guardian, Australia)
Sept 18 – Thirty-six years have passed but, at a cinema in New York this week, the memories came flooding back for Steve Pieters.


Tasmanian Catholic group says Archbishop’s position on unvaccinated priests contrary to Pope (ABC News)
Sept 13 – A Catholic advocacy group says Hobart Archbishop Julian Porteous should be reassuring priests who have reservations about COVID-19 vaccines that they can be vaccinated in good conscience, rather than asking they be exempted from vaccination rules.


Melbourne’s Jewish schools urged to merge as high fees push families away (The Age, Melbourne)
Sept 14 – Sharon Milner’s father, a Holocaust survivor, toiled so that his daughter could be educated at Mount Scopus Memorial College, one of Melbourne’s most esteemed Jewish schools.

Religious schools in Victoria will lose right to sack workers based on sexuality in law change (The Guardian, Australia)
Sept 16 – Religious schools in Victoria will be banned from discriminating against staff on the basis of their sexuality, gender identity or marital status, under legislation to be introduced by the state government later this year.


Hezbollah convoy brings fuel from Iran (The Australian)
Sept 18 – The shipment’s arrival in Lebanon is a propaganda coup for the Shia Muslim group and its backers in Tehran.

Taliban ban girls from secondary education in Afghanistan (The Guardian, Australia)
Sept 18 – The Taliban have effectively banned girls from secondary education in Afghanistan, by ordering high schools to re-open only for boys.

Taliban begin to reopen Afghan schools with older girls so far excluded from study (ABC News)
Sept 19 – Some Afghan girls have returned to primary schools with gender-segregated classes, but older girls face an anxious wait with no clarity over if and when they can resume secondary school studies.

Religious Violence

French forces have killed IS Sahel jihadist leader wanted by US, Emmanuel Macron announces (ABC News)
Sept 16 – The head of Islamic State in the Greater Sahara, who was wanted for deadly attacks on US soldiers and foreign aid workers, has been killed in an operation by French troops.

Grief runs deep in Musa Qala as Taliban victory brings weary relief (The Guardian, Australia)
Sept 18 – A parade of white Taliban flags lines Musa Qala bazaar right up to the central monument where two kidnappers were hanged in a public execution earlier this year.

The Hazara house (ABC News)
Sept 19 – The residents of the Islamabad lodging house didn’t know each other before they arrived on its doorstep, breathless and terrified.

Taliban replace ministry for women with one restricting them (Sydney Morning Herald)
Sept 19 – Kabul: Afghanistan’s new Taliban rulers set up a ministry for the “propagation of virtue and the prevention of vice” in the building that once housed the Women’s Affairs Ministry, escorting out World Bank staffers on Saturday as part of the forced move.

Indonesia’s most wanted militant killed in jungle shootout (Brisbane Times)
Sept 19 – Palu: Indonesia’s most wanted militant, who had ties to the Islamic State group, has been killed in a jungle shootout with security forces.

‘We don’t want people to be in a panic,’ says chief of Taliban morality police (The Guardian, Australia)
Sept 19 – Mawlawi Mohammad Shebani is officially in charge of policing morals throughout Kandahar, the Taliban heartland of southern Afghanistan.


Jewish community faces ‘wave of hatred’ after illegal gatherings (The Age, Melbourne)
Sept 14 – Melbourne’s Jewish community has been subjected to a wave of anti-Semitic abuse via social media, graffiti attacks and verbal threats following recent breaches of public health orders by a small number of ultra-Orthodox worshippers.


John Howard reflects on 9/11 response: “I didn’t make any anti-Islamic comments” (ABC News)
Sept 14 – Former Prime Minister John Howard has denied making anti-Islamic comments during his time in office in the years that followed 9/11, as the world marks 20 years since the terrorist attacks.

Faith-based hospitals, aged care homes could ban euthanasia under proposal (Brisbane Times)
Sept 14 – Faith-based hospitals and aged care facilities would be allowed to ban euthanasia on their premises under proposed amendments to Queensland’s historic voluntary assisted dying laws.

Opposition promised churches it would amend gay conversion laws if elected (The Age, Melbourne)
Sept 18 – The Victorian opposition quietly promised the Australian Christian Lobby and other faith groups that it would amend new laws banning gay conversion therapy if it won next year’s state election.


Fifteen men charged over religious brawl involving swords, bats (Brisbane Times)
Sept 16 – Fifteen men have been charged after a brawl involving at least 50 people erupted in the southern Brisbane suburb of Runcorn on Monday night.

Pentecostal church given $660,000 in jobkeeper, then returns 3,620% increase in profit (The Guardian, Australia)
Sept 16 – A wealthy Pentecostal church was handed $660,000 in jobkeeper payments and later posted a 3,620% increase in profit and a $1.2m increase in revenue.

Brian Houston quits Hillsong boards, will remain ‘global pastor’ ahead of court hearing (The Age, Melbourne)
Sept 18 – Brian Houston has stepped aside from all of Hillsong Church’s boards but will remain a global senior pastor.

Also: Hillsong founder Brian Houston steps down from board as court date looms (
Sept 18 – Brian Houston, the founder of scandal-plagued Hillsong Church, has stepped down from almost all of his positions at the Australia-based megachurch ahead of a looming court date next month.

The word from a vaccinated preacher: we don’t urge law-breaking, but we cherish religious freedom (Sydney Morning Herald)
Sept 19 – (Opinion: Phil Colgan) Every Sunday morning before I go to church (at present to preach to a camera in an empty building) I have a ritual of reading the newspaper over breakfast to see if there is anything of note.