Religion News Australia

Nov 17 – 24, 2019

Religion news stories from Australia

(Research: Greg Spearritt)




Ben-Hur at 60: why the biblical blockbuster doesn’t hold up (The Guardian, Australia)
Nov 19 – (Review)  “The entertainment experience of a lifetime,” trumpeted the poster for Ben-Hur upon its release in 1959.

Christos Tsiolkas on Jesus, sex and the power of doubt: ‘I get shivers when I think about it’ (The Guardian, Australia)
Nov 23 – Christos Tsiolkas has never been one for fire and brimstone.


In Peak Hill, praying for rain is all many have left (Sydney Morning Herald)
Nov 23 – The dusty scarlet sun pokes through the yellow and blue stained-glass windows of St James’ Catholic Church, in the NSW’s central west town of Peak Hill, as the dull sound of eight oscillating fans drones in near 40-degree heat.


Private schools have widened the education divide (The Age, Melbourne)
Nov 17 – (Opinion: Dr Ian Hansen) In the mid-1960s I conducted the first major academic study of non-government schools in Australia.

Anglican Church

Church of England says Christians must repent for past antisemitism (The Guardian, Australia)
Nov 21 – Christians must repent for centuries of antisemitism which ultimately led to the Holocaust, the Church of England has said in a document that seeks to promote a new Christian-Jewish relationship.

Catholic Church

Why Pope Francis’s visit to Japan is so important for Catholic atomic bomb survivors  (ABC News)
Nov 24 – (Opinion: Dr Gwyn McClelland) Today is a big day for Japan’s Catholics — Pope Francis will arrive in Nagasaki, the second Pope to ever visit Japan, after John Paul II in 1981.

Religious Violence

‘Organised cruelty’: who are the Uighurs and why does China want to ’round them up’? (Sydney Morning Herald)
Nov 18 – China’s government launched a “smashing, obliterating offensive” in its western province of Xinjiang.

Also: Claims Chinese leaked documents on Uyghur detention camps in Xinjiang are ‘fake news’ (ABC News)
Nov 19 – A New York Times report that included 400 pages of leaked Chinese Government documents on the internment of Uyghur Muslims was “fabricated” and prompted by “hostile foreign forces”, the government of the far western region of Xinjiang said.

‘Overjoyed’: Australian Timothy Weeks released after years in Taliban captivity (Brisbane Times)
Nov 21 – The family of Australian man Timothy Weeks say they are “overjoyed” that he and his American colleague, detained by the Taliban since 2016, have been freed in a prisoner swap and handed over to US authorities.

Britain starts bringing back Islamic State children (Sydney Morning Herald)
Nov 22 – Beirut: Orphaned British children of Islamic State fighters have been taken out of Syria, in the first removal by the UK Government of nationals stranded in the war-torn country after the fall of the “caliphate”.

Pro-government crowd attacks church parishioners in Nicaragua (Brisbane Times)
Nov 23 – Managua: Political violence broke out at a Roman Catholic church in the Nicaraguan city of Masaya on Thursday (Friday AEDT) as government sympathisers attacked parishioners with clubs, machetes and metal bars.


John Safran on the occult, obstacles and ‘bad faith’ criticisms: ‘It’s a bit rich’ (The Guardian, Australia)
Nov 17 – His new podcast treads safer territory than past shows, which saw him crucified, exorcised and disguised in blackface.

French nun misses out on retirement home place over veil ban (The Guardian, Australia)
Nov 21 – A French nun was forced to turn down a place in a state retirement home because she was told she would have to stop wearing her religious habit and headscarf.


Islamophobic abuse mostly directed at women wearing headscarves while shopping, study finds (ABC News)
Nov 17 – Nadia Saeed was on the phone to the Queensland Premier’s office when a stranger confronted her in the street.

Also: ‘Bad culture growing’: Report finds Islamophobic incidents becoming more brazen (Sydney Morning Herald)
Nov 18 – Incidents of Islamophobia remain a troubling presence in the lives of Australian Muslims, with perpetrators becoming more severe and brazen in their attacks, which are most often aimed at women, a report has found.

ISIS traitors must never return (The Australian)
Nov 17 – (Opinion: Jason Thomas) We need to make it a one-way journey for those who went to fight Australian values.

SA police seek to control movement and social media of former Islamic State suspect  (ABC News)
Nov 20 – A woman once suspected of being a member of the Islamic State terrorist group was communicating with the sons of infamous Adelaide fugitive Rodney Clavell while she was in jail, the Federal Court has heard.

Lowy Institute paper reveals the true traits of Australian Islamic State fighters and jihadis (ABC News)
Nov 21 – The Australians who joined ISIS and al Qaeda are frighteningly ordinary: typically young men from the suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne, from stable homes, married and with good jobs and no criminal record.

Also: Australian jihadis: motivated by status and show no contrition for crimes (The Guardian, Australia)
Nov 21 – The archetypal Australian jihadist has no apparent mental health issues, does not have a refugee background, and is more likely to have gone to a state school than a private Islamic one, according to one of the world’s largest databases of alleged and convicted terrorists.

Federal Court imposes interim control order on former Islamic State suspect (ABC News)
Nov 22 – An interim control order has been imposed on an Adelaide woman acquitted of being a member of the Islamic State terrorist group.

Pregnant Muslim woman ‘fears for the world’ after suspected racially motivated assault in café (ABC News)
Nov 23 – A heavily pregnant Muslim woman who was repeatedly punched and stomped on during a suspected racially motivated attack in a western Sydney cafe says she “fears for the world our children will grow up in”.

We need to talk about jihadi brides (The Australian)
Nov 24 – (Opinion: Angela Shanahan) These young women would once have been treated as child trafficking victims. What’s changed?


‘Very disturbing’: People dressed in Nazi uniforms confront shoppers at supermarket (The Age, Melbourne)
Nov 24 – Shoppers at a Victorian supermarket were stunned when four people dressed in Nazi uniforms entered the store – an incident that highlights the increasing use of Nazi symbols in Australia, according to Jewish community leaders.


‘Fraught issue’: Religious nursing homes, hospitals to be able to discriminate on staffing (Sydney Morning Herald)
Nov 20 – Religious hospitals and aged care providers will be able to refuse to employ people on the basis of their religion, under a change to the Morrison government’s proposed religious discrimination bill.

Bill goes beyond matters of religion (The Australian)
Nov 24 – (Opinion: Mark Fowler) It surely is not for judges to decide if people interpret their faith mistakenly.


Israel Folau links bushfire crisis to same-sex marriage and abortion (Sydney Morning Herald)
Nov 17 – Sacked rugby union star Israel Folau has linked the NSW bushfire crisis and drought to legalising same-sex marriage and abortion, warning the disasters are a “little taste of God’s judgment”.

Also: Fiery reaction after Israel Folau links Australian bushfires to same sex marriage (
Nov 17 – Sacked Wallabies star Israel Folau’s claim the bushfires that have devastated Australia and left six dead are God’s punishment for legalising abortion and same-sex marriage has sparked a furious reaction.

Also: Jones tells Folau: button up (The Australian)
Nov 17 – Alan Jones reacts to Israel Folau’s suggestion bushfires are God’s punishment for same-sex marriage, abortion laws.

Also: ‘Nobody knows God’s mind’: Christian group won’t condemn Folau (Sydney Morning Herald)
Nov 18 – Former Wallaby Israel Folau may have lost some high-profile supporters following his latest controversial statement, but the nation’s most powerful Christian group has refused to condemn him.

Also: Prime Minister joins Alan Jones in criticising Folau’s bushfire comments (The Age, Melbourne)
Nov 18 – Broadcaster Alan Jones has joined a chorus of criticism, including from the Prime Minister, levelled at sacked Wallabies player Israel Folau over comments he made linking bushfires to same-sex marriage and abortion.

Also: Folau sermon ‘insensitive’: PM (The Australian)
Nov 19 – Scott Morrison has blasted Israel Folau’s ‘appallingly insensitive’ comments about the bushfire crisis.

Retired reverend’s car stolen in carjacking as he left golf club (The Age, Melbourne)
Nov 19 – A retired minister has told how he struggled with a carjacker who pointed a fake gun at his head and drove off in his Subaru in Parkville on Monday morning.

Manchester museum returns stolen sacred artefacts to Indigenous Australians (The Guardian, Australia)
Nov 21 – Sacred artefacts stolen from Indigenous Australians nearly a century ago have been handed back to their descendants in a ceremony in Manchester, paving the way for the return of tens of thousands of items from institutions across the UK.

Margaret Court expecting imminent decision from Tennis Australia  (ABC News)
Nov 24 – Australian tennis legend Margaret Court is expecting an announcement from Tennis Australia in the coming days on how it will honour the 50th anniversary of her Grand Slam year.


From the Archive…

Religion News Australia 2019 (Nov 10 – 17)

Religion News Australia 2019 (Nov 3 – 10)

Religion News Australia 2019 (Oct 30 – Nov 3)

Religion News Australia 2019 (May 12 – 19)

Religion News Australia 2019 (May 5 – 12)

Religion News Australia 2019 (Apr 28 – May 5)