Religion News Selection

December 4 – 18, 2022

A selection of religion news stories from Australia

(Research: Greg Spearritt)



Students expelled after parents refuse to keep quiet on child sex abuse claims (The Age, Melbourne)
Dec 7 – Several siblings have been expelled from a faith-based school in St Kilda because their parents refused to sign a memorandum of understanding that limited who they could talk to about the alleged sexual abuse of their children.

Houston Trial

Police knew of allegations against Hillsong founder Brian Houston’s father, court told (Brisbane Times)
Dec 5 – The number of people with knowledge of child sexual abuse committed in the 1970s by Pentecostal pastor Frank Houston, the father of Hillsong founder Brian Houston, was in the “tens of thousands” before Frank’s death in 2004, a Sydney court has been told.

Hillsong’s Brian Houston allegedly told victim who had been raped by his father ‘it’s your fault’ (The Guardian, Australia)
Dec 5 – Hillsong church founder Pastor Brian Houston allegedly told a man who had been repeatedly raped as a child by Houston’s father “you know this is all your fault, you tempted my father,” Sydney’s Downing Centre local court heard on Monday.

Brian Houston’s father continued to preach after admitting to child sexual abuse, court hears (ABC News)
Dec 7 – Frank Houston continued preaching sermons for months after admitting he had sexually abused a seven-year-old boy, a Sydney court has heard.

The trial of Hillsong founder Brian Houston (The Saturday Paper)
Dec 10 – As Brian Houston faces charges of concealing his father’s sexual abuse of a young boy, a witness claims the Hillsong founder told her he’d been advised Frank Houston ‘would surely be incarcerated for the crime’ if the case went to court.

Frank Houston continued to lead sermons after being stripped of credentials for child sexual abuse (The Guardian, Australia)
Dec 16 – Paedophile pastor Frank Houston continued leading church sermons until weeks before his death, despite being stripped of his credentials to minister after his son learned that he sexually abused children, a New South Wales court has heard.


Six private school boys expelled over violent hazing (The Australian)
Dec 7 – Six Sydney private school students have been expelled over claims from parents their Year 7 sons were beaten and degraded in hazing rituals.

Catholic Church

Pope Francis to return Vatican Parthenon Marbles to Greece (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 18 – Pope Francis has announced he will return to Greece three fragments of the Parthenon Marbles that have been held in the Vatican for centuries.

Religious Violence

Iran morality police status unclear after ‘closure’ comment (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 5 – Dubai: Protesters in Iran have called for a three-day strike this week, stepping up pressure on authorities after the public prosecutor said the morality police, whose detention of a young woman triggered months of protests, had been shut down.

Bali bombmaker Umar Patek apologises to Australians for his role in 2002 attacks (ABC News)
Dec 14 – An Indonesian militant who was paroled last week after serving about half of his original 20-year prison sentence for making the explosives used in the 2002 Bali bombings has apologised to victims’ families.

Iranian government accused of ‘sham trials’ and ‘torture’ as protestors face executions (ABC News)
Dec 17 – Before Mohsen Shekari was hanged in a Tehran prison, he reportedly cried out, “janam fadaye Iran”, meaning, “I sacrifice my life for Iran”.


Forty years of anti-Semitism didn’t prepare me for Kanye West (Brisbane Times)
Dec 13 – (Opinion: Samantha Selinger-Morris) I’d always been scared to respond to anti-Semitism.


Leader of religious group accused of Elizabeth Struhs’ murder, committed to stand trial  (ABC News)
Dec 7 – The leader of a religious group charged with the murder of an eight-year-old girl this year has been ordered to stand trial over a separate incident that nearly killed her three years ago.

US religious conspiracist linked to Queensland police killers Gareth and Stacey Train (The Guardian, Australia)
Dec 18 – In the hours after Gareth Train and his wife, Stacey, murdered two police officers and wounded a third during a chilling, premeditated attack on their remote Queensland property this week, they posted a haunting video to YouTube.

Growing up in a cult: ‘We kept our pain silent’ (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 18 – From the end of the spanking line, I could see the paddle in Uncle Zephaniah’s hand.

The Christmas gift Santa Claus can’t keep from us (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 18 – (Opinion: Barney Zwartz) In an age when marketing and brands have never been so important, perhaps the most successful and influential is two millennia old: the Christian cross.