Religion News Australia

October 4 – 17, 2021

Religion news stories from Australia

(Research: Greg Spearritt)



Hillsong founder Brian Houston to plead not guilty to concealing sexual abuse charge (The Guardian, Australia)
Oct 5 – The Hillsong founder Brian Houston will plead not guilty to charges alleging he concealed child sexual abuse by his late father in the 1970s.


How Leonard Cohen mined sacred texts for lyrics to his songs (The Guardian, Australia)
Oct 17 – (Review) “She tied you to a kitchen chair, she broke your throne and she cut your hair, and from your lips she drew the Hallelujah…”


JobKeeper payments made to school linked to ‘extremist cult’ (Sydney Morning Herald)
Oct 17 – A private school linked to the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church, a group once described as an “extremist cult” by former prime minister Kevin Rudd, has received an estimated $9 million in JobKeeper payments.


Report finds 216,000 children have been sexually abused by French Catholic clergy since 1950 (ABC News)
Oct 5 – An investigation into sexual abuse in the French Catholic Church has found an estimated 216,000 children have been victims of abuse by the clergy since 1950.

Also: French Catholic Church braces for sex abuse report ‘bombshell’ (Sydney Morning Herald)
Oct 5 – Charleville-Mézières: On a stage in north-eastern France, a lone actor, Laurent Martinez, told the story of how, as a child in a Catholic school near Lyon, he had been raped by a priest.


Inside an Afghan madrassa as the economy withers under Taliban rule (ABC News)
Oct 5 – In a school in a remote corner of the Afghan capital, a cacophony of children’s voices recite Islam’s holiest book.

Religious Violence

Bow and arrow attack in Norway that killed five was an act of terrorism, says security agency (ABC News)
Oct 14 – Norway’s domestic security agency says a bow and arrow attack that killed five people and wounded two others appears to have been an act of terrorism.

Suspect accused of killing British MP named as Ali Harbi Ali (Sydney Morning Herald)
Oct 17 – London: The man arrested on suspicion of fatally stabbing a long-serving British MP has been identified as Ali Harbi Ali, according to several British media outlets.


How Australia’s Muslim community is battling COVID vaccine myths (ABC News)
Oct 13 – Ella Zain marked her birthday this week, but it was a sombre occasion — for the first time, she was unable to celebrate with her father by her side.


Eddie Jaku, holocaust survivor who called himself ‘the happiest man on Earth’ dies aged 101 (ABC News)
Oct 12 – Holocaust survivor Eddie Jaku, who described himself as “the happiest man on Earth”, has died, aged 101.

Australia to back international definition of anti-Semitism (Sydney Morning Herald)
Oct 17 – Prime Minister Scott Morrison has promised an international forum on anti-Semitism that the Australian government will formally endorse an international working definition of discrimination against Jews as a religious or racial group.


‘Not some fringe religion’: Gonski, Piccoli defend Catholic Perrottet (Sydney Morning Herald)
Oct 5 – David Gonski, the businessman and university chancellor who designed Australia’s school funding equity framework, has defended incoming Premier Dominic Perrottet against accusations he is too religiously conservative for the top job.

What is the PARED Catholic school where the Premier was educated? (Sydney Morning Herald)
Oct 5 – When a teenage Dominic Perrottet gave his valedictorian speech as school captain at the end of year 12, he credited his school, Redfield College, with shaping his future path.

Women’s groups call on Dominic Perrottet to put aside religious beliefs on reproductive rights (Sydney Morning Herald)
Oct 6 – Women’s groups have welcomed Dominic Perrottet’s pledge to be the “family Premier” but’ some are calling for a guarantee that he will not use his religious beliefs to restrict women’s reproductive choices and access to abortions.

Liberals fear influence of right-wing church ahead of preselection (The Age, Melbourne)
Oct 7 – Fears are growing within parts of the Liberal Party that members of a radical church accused of historic links with gay conversion therapies are making a bid to enter Victorian politics.

Labor elder John Watkins urges MPs to oppose assisted dying bill (Sydney Morning Herald)
Oct 14 – Australia’s largest Catholic health and aged care organisation is lobbying NSW MPs to oppose voluntary assisted dying, with a concerted push to stop NSW becoming the final state in the country to legalise euthanasia.


Boy who downloaded Christchurch massacre extremist material has ‘avid interest’ in history, court told (ABC News)
Oct 5 – A 16-year-old boy has pleaded guilty to terror-related offences, after police found him in possession of videos and images that “promoted and glorified” Christchurch shooter Brenton Tarrant.

Time may not exist, yet it is the most precious thing we possess (Sydney Morning Herald)
Oct 10 – (Opinion: Barney Zwartz) Time is impossible – it can’t exist. Fourth-century theologian Augustine “proved” this in his greatest book, The Confessions.

Churches and mosques in Sydney delay reopening to avoid having to turn away the unvaccinated (ABC News)
Oct 13 – Mosques, churches and temples in NSW are allowed to open once again but some religious leaders are keeping their doors closed, fearing a backlash from unvaccinated people.

Coronavirus pandemic is masking other deadly health and social issues, Albury priest warns (ABC News)
Oct 17 – The lush gardens of St Matthew’s Church in southern New South Wales might be in full bloom but are off-limits as the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage.