Religion News Selection

August 9 – 16, 2020

A selection of religion news stories from Australia

(Research: Greg Spearritt)


Priest, mentor, paedophile (The Australian)
Aug 15 – Father John Denham blighted the lives of the boys in his care – including a protégé who went on to become a high-flying journalist.


ABC Falun Gong story ‘unethical, defamatory’ (The Australian)
Aug 13 – A Chinese language media firm has made a formal complaint to the ABC over what it said was unethical behaviour and defamatory reports over Falun Gong.


After the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse crisis, female theologians are calling for change  (ABC News)
Aug 16 – Sixty per cent of churchgoers in Australia are women, yet in the decision-making ranks of the Catholic Church, female voices are largely absent.

Religious Violence

Afghan council agrees to free 400 Taliban, paving way for peace talks (The Age, Melbourne)
Aug 10 – Kabul: A traditional Afghan council concluded on Sunday with hundreds of delegates agreeing to free 400 Taliban members, paving the way for an early start to negotiations between Afghanistan’s warring sides.

‘Peace where rights aren’t trampled’: Afghan women’s demands ahead of Taliban talks (The Guardian, Australia)
Aug 14 – Farahnaz Forotan was three when the Taliban had arrived in Kabul. It was 1996.

Female Afghan peace negotiator wounded in assassination bid (The Guardian, Australia)
Aug 16 – A female member of Afghanistan’s peace negotiating team has been slightly wounded in an assassination attempt, officials say.


Ertuğrul: how an epic TV series became the ‘Muslim Game of Thrones’ (The Guardian, Australia)
Aug 14 – (Review)  It has all the hallmarks of a blockbuster, but what has turned this Turkish saga into a global phenomenon is its nuanced portrayal of the Islamic world

At 17, I went on one date. The next day, our engagement was announced (Sydney Morning Herald)
Aug 15 – (Opinion: Chani Getter) “I was born and raised in an ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Jewish community in New York.

India’s nomadic camel tribes are risking the wrath of God to save their ancient culture (ABC News)
Aug 16 – Before dawn in the chilly Rajasthani desert, 35-year-old Sumer Bhati is already awake.


Canberra Liberals dump candidate Peter McKay who ‘condemned’ Welcome to Country ceremonies (ABC News)
Aug 11 – The Canberra Liberals have dumped their newest candidate after the ABC reported that he described Indigenous Welcome to Country ceremonies as “animistic practices … to be condemned” and ACT Policing as a force influenced by a homosexual agenda.

Key figure in Victorian Liberals’ religious right faction quits post (The Age, Melbourne)
Aug 11 – A key member of the religious right of the Victorian Liberal Party has resigned from the party’s top decision-making body.


Mining industry opposes new laws for Aboriginal heritage sites despite Juukan Gorge failures (The Guardian, Australia)
Aug 12 – A divide is forming about the way to fix Aboriginal heritage protection in Western Australia, with mining companies saying they can be trusted to negotiate with traditional overs over heritage concerns even though that process failed to protect Juukan Gorge.

Also: Indigenous leaders, investors urge BHP to halt works at sacred sites (Sydney Morning Herald)  
Aug 13 – Australia’s largest miner, BHP, is facing a landmark shareholder push to put a moratorium on all mining activities that threaten to disturb or destroy culturally significant Aboriginal sites.

‘I acted as straight as I could so it would stop’: Gay conversion outlawed (Sydney Morning Herald)
Aug 15 – Queensland has become the first state in Australia to threaten prison time for therapists who try to “cure” homosexuals with exorcisms, hugs and marriage.

Greed, cruelty, consumption: the world is changed yet its worst persists (The Guardian, Australia)
Aug 16 – (Opinion: Omar Sakr ) I have no great hope we will use this chance to transform for the better – but this is an unconvincing darkness, and we do not have to stay in it.