Religion News Selection

August 6 – 20, 2023

A selection of religion news stories from Australia

(Research: Greg Spearritt)



The letter that helped seal the fate of dozens of children (Sydney Morning Herald)
August 7 – In 1977, the then Sydney-based provincial of the Catholic brotherhood St John of God, Brother Brian O’Donnell, received an anonymous letter bearing disturbing news.

Catholic church seeks to stop family’s lawsuit over George Pell child abuse allegations (The Guardian, Australia)
August 8 – The Catholic church is seeking to challenge a legal ruling in Victoria that would allow the father of a choirboy to sue for damages over allegations of child sexual abuse by Cardinal George Pell.

Man abused by Frank Houston says he’s been given a ‘life sentence’ (ABC News)
August 18 – Standing outside Sydney’s Downing Centre courthouse on Thursday, a survivor of child sexual abuse reflected on a pain he has felt for 45 years.


Sydney Anglicans say same-sex desire ‘an inclination toward evil’ (Sydney Morning Herald)
August 18 – The Sydney Anglican Diocese has produced a new doctrinal statement on homosexuality that says the mere desire for same-sex sexual intimacy is contrary to God’s will, “an inclination toward evil” and something from which Christians seek to be liberated.

‘Intolerable corruption’: Anglicans warn euthanasia may force exit from aged care (Sydney Morning Herald)
August 18 – The Anglican Church has advised its aged care homes to discourage residents from using voluntary assisted dying when NSW’s laws take effect this year, and has warned the practice could become so morally corrupting for church-run facilities that it may have to exit the industry.

Catholic Church

Catholicism held my family in its sway for decades – but it hid from me a vital truth (The Guardian, Australia)
August 15 – (Opinion: Georgina Lawton) In the wake of the Pope’s recent visit to Lisbon, where I live, I’ve been thinking a lot about my relationship with Catholicism – largely because I don’t really identify as one any more, after years of being brought up in the faith.


‘Hedonism and perversion’: Coldplay gets cold shoulder of Malaysia’s Muslim party (Sydney Morning Herald)
August 7 – Penang: When Coldplay announced in May that it would be performing its first-ever concert in Malaysia, it was met with much hype and fans rushed to snap up tickets.

‘Dehumanising’: Australian actor heartbroken over trans ban for Talk To Me (Sydney Morning Herald)
August 7 – Australian actor Zoe Terakes has described as dehumanising and heartbreaking Kuwait’s decision to ban the horror film Talk To Me solely because it features a trans actor in the cast rather than anything on screen.


‘Stumbling stones’ acknowledge genocide and commemorate Jewish lives in a small but powerful way (ABC News)
August 19 – On a bright, warm afternoon in the fashionable German spa town of Baden-Baden, I stumbled upon a black and white photograph, fixed to a stand in an open-air car park.

Bradley Cooper has been accused of ‘Jewface’ but Hollywood’s history with fake noses runs deeper (ABC News)
August 20 – Bradley Cooper has faced an onslaught of criticism for wearing a prosthetic nose to play the late conductor and composer Leonard Bernstein, in his latest film Maestro.

Religious Violence

Owners of ‘LGBT’ Swatch watches could be jailed for three years in Malaysia (The Guardian, Australia)
August 11 – Owners or sellers of rainbow-coloured timepieces made by the Swiss watchmaker Swatch face three years in prison in Malaysia, the interior ministry has said, as the Muslim-majority country rails against LGBTQ+ symbols it says could “harm morals”.

When the music stops: how the Taliban’s fear of art is killing Afghan culture (The Guardian, Australia)
August 15 – (Opinion: Ruchi Kumar) When the Taliban moved closer to Kabul in the early days of August 2021, a series of unusual advertisements flooded the shopping pages on Afghan social media. Musicians were putting their instruments and equipment – the tools of their trade – up for sale.

Mob vandalises churches, torches homes in Pakistan after blasphemy accusation (ABC News)
August 17 – A Muslim crowd has attacked a Christian community in eastern Pakistan, vandalising several churches and setting scores of houses on fire after accusing two of its members of desecrating the Koran, police and community leaders said.


New research shows widespread antisemitism in universities and online  (ABC News)
August 14 – Zac Morris was sitting in a tutorial a few weeks into his first semester at university, about to suggest what to do next, when a classmate interrupted.


Gay conversion law would ban suppression of gender identity (Sydney Morning Herald)
August 11 – The NSW government’s plans to ban gay conversion therapy will be expanded to include making it illegal to change or suppress a person identifying as trans or gender diverse.


Devotees of Holy Tantra Esoteric Buddhism claim leader is ‘living Buddha’, but concerns (ABC News)
August 10 – Camille Kwan is on the phone to a man venerated by his followers as a living Buddha.

Jeremy was 16 and depressed. A psychiatrist offered therapy to suppress his attraction to boys (Sydney Morning Herald)
August 20 – Jeremy Smith remembers being taken to a child psychiatrist on the north shore when he was 16 and dealing with depression and difficult events in his life.

Wellbeing of non-religious ADF personnel at risk, former recruiter warns (The Guardian, Australia)
August 20 – Defence must recruit secular alternatives to religious chaplains or face increasing risks to its members’ health and wellbeing, according to a former top military recruiter.