Religion News Selection

Nov 17 – 24, 2019

A selection of 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.


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.


‘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.

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.

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”.


‘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.


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: ‘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.

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.


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)