Religion News Selection

December 18 – 25, 2022

A selection of religion news stories from Australia

(Research: Greg Spearritt)



Hillsong founder Brian Houston tells court his father was a ‘serial paedophile’ (ABC News)
Dec 19 – Hillsong founder Brian Houston has told a Sydney court he believes his father was a “serial paedophile”, and the responses to abuse allegations when they first came to light were not “all they should have been”.

Brian Houston maintains it was the ‘right thing’ not to report father’s abuse (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 21 – Hillsong founder Brian Houston believes he did the “right thing” not going to police after his father told him he had molested an underage boy three decades earlier.


Religious schools ready to fight over gay teachers (The Australian)
Dec 19 – Religious schools are gearing up for a fight with the Palaszczuk government over proposed reforms which will make it harder for them to sack LGBTQ+ teachers.

Catholic Church

‘Persistent disobedience’: Anti-abortion priest defrocked by Vatican for blasphemous posts (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 19 – Vatican City: The Vatican has defrocked an anti-abortion US priest, Frank Pavone, for what it said were “blasphemous communications on social media” as well as “persistent disobedience” of his bishop.

Pope Francis orders Parthenon marbles held by Vatican be returned to Greece (The Guardian, Australia)
Dec 19 – Pope Francis has decided to return to Greece three 2,500-year-old pieces of the Parthenon that have been in the papal collections of the Vatican Museums for two centuries.

Pope on Christmas: Jesus was poor, so don’t be power-hungry (The Age, Melbourne)
Dec 25 – Vatican City: Recalling Jesus’ birth in a stable, Pope Francis rebuked those “ravenous” for wealth and power at the expense of the vulnerable, including children, in a Christmas Eve homily decrying war, poverty and greedy consumerism.


Rights groups fear more women will be forced to marry their rapists to escape prosecution (ABC News)
Dec 25 – Multiple women’s rights groups say Indonesia’s controversial new criminal code will make it even easier and more common for sexual assault victims to be forced into marrying their own rapists.

Religious Violence

Taliban orders NGOs to ban female employees from coming to work (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 25 – Kabul: Afghanistan’s Taliban-run administration has ordered all local and foreign non-governmental organisations to stop female employees from coming to work, according to an economy ministry letter, in the latest crackdown on women’s freedoms.


‘You see trees on sale’: the easing of Saudi Arabia’s Christmas taboo (The Guardian, Australia)
Dec 25 – In previous years during the run-up to Christmas, Alia Obaidi would go to the local market in Riyadh, summon an Indian merchant and whisper her order.


‘The great Brethren migration’: Church in mass exodus from Windsor (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 21 – The fundamentalist Exclusive Brethren church is renowned for its strict doctrine of isolation from the modern world.

Devout Christians awarded damages after their application to become foster parents was rejected (ABC News)
Dec 24 – A Western Australian tribunal has found a Christian couple were discriminated against when their application to foster a child was rejected over their view that homosexuality is a sin.


The case for giving God a go (The Australian)
Dec 24 – (Opinion: Antonella Gambotto-Burke) Faith or delusion? This is your invitation to explore the intriguing possibility that faith may be involuntary, an instinct rather than a conceit.

Looking for God in all the rock places: Are Australians craving spiritual connection? (ABC News)
Dec 25 – (Opinion: Stan Grant) I saw Nick Cave perform at the Sydney Opera House.

Christmas reminds us that what makes life worth living cannot be measured (The Guardian, Australia)
Dec 25 – (Opinion: Max Jeganathan) When we think about “successful” societies, we assume four objectives: financial, education, health and employment outcomes – but what if these measures of success are incomplete?