Religion News Selection

August 23 – 30, 2020

A selection of religion news stories from Australia

(Research: Greg Spearritt)



Wealth, not faith drives most Australian students to religious schools (The Age, Melbourne)
Aug 27 – Twenty-first century Catholic school graduates are the highest earners, with an average annual household income of $99,722, a landmark survey of post-school outcomes has found.


Iranian artists jailed for defying government restrictions on women singing and dancing (ABC News)
Aug 25 – Composer Mehdi Rajabian has been dragged before an Iranian Revolutionary Court for the third time in his career under an obscure law that forbids “crimes against public moral”.

Religious Violence

Brenton Tarrant sentenced: Christchurch mosque gunman in court (
Aug 24 – Clad in an olive-grey prison jumpsuit, hands in his lap, Australian mass killer Brenton Tarrant sat emotionless and at times gazed at the ceiling as the details of his massacre were read aloud in the Christchurch High Court on Monday.

Also: Christchurch mosque survivors and families stare down gunman in sentencing hearing (ABC News)
Aug 25 – In a blistering address to the Christchurch High Court, the nephew of a woman killed in the 2019 Al-Noor mosque attacks has spoken of his “utter rage” on learning that the attacker, Australian Brenton Tarrant, was a guest in New Zealand.

Also: ‘You are nothing’: Mosque victim’s daughter tells gunman (Sydney Morning Herald)
Aug 25 – Wellington: The daughter of a woman killed in the New Zealand mosque shootings challenged white supremacist Brenton Tarrant at his sentencing hearing to use his life in prison to consider the beauty of the diversity and freedom he sought to destroy.

Also: Stricken mother of Christchurch massacre victim forgives killer (The Guardian, Australia)
Aug 25 – Her son’s bullet-riddled body was sent home to her on Mother’s Day.

Also: ‘Your actions were inhumane’: Christchurch mosque gunman sentenced to life without  parole (Brisbane Times)
Aug 27 – Christchurch: The gunman who shot and killed 51 people at two mosques in Christchurch on March 15 last year has been jailed for the rest of his natural life.

Dear Christchurch, Breivik’s trial showed us extremist ideas struggle in the light (The Guardian, Australia)
Aug 25 – (Opinion: Åsne Seierstad) Terror wouldn’t work if no one wrote about it.

The Christchurch mosque survivors have to find a way to move on – but New Zealand must not (The Guardian, Australia)
Aug 27 – (Opinion: Mohamed Hassan) Grief is a messy and fragile thing.

Riots erupt in Sweden after far-right activists burn Koran (ABC News)
Aug 30 – Far-right activists have burned a Koran in the southern Swedish city of Malmo, leading to riots as more than 300 people gathered to protest, according to police.


Brazilian evangelical politician accused of masterminding husband’s ‘barbaric’ murder (The Guardian, Australia)
Aug 25 – A gospel-singing Brazilian congresswoman has been accused of masterminding the “barbaric” murder of her preacher husband after at least six failed or aborted attempts to kill him with poison or in staged robberies.

Jerry Falwell’s position unclear following claims evangelical leader and wife were in love triangle (ABC News)
Aug 25 – The leader of one of the largest Christian universities in the United States, whose endorsement helped power Donald Trump to the presidency, has denied reports he has resigned amid personal scandals.

Also: Jerry Falwell quits Liberty University following claims (ABC News)
Aug 26 – The leader of one of the largest Christian universities in the United States, whose endorsement helped power Donald Trump to the US presidency, has announced his resignation after a provocative photo and revelations of his wife’s extramarital affair roiled the evangelical school founded by his father.


Oxford University coronavirus vaccine has ‘ethical concerns’, Sydney Archbishops warn followers (ABC News)
Aug 24 – The Federal Government has reassured religious communities there are no “ethical concerns” surrounding the coronavirus vaccine it has struck a deal to purchase 25 million doses of.

Also: Religious leaders’ ethical concerns of vaccine misplaced, expert says (Sydney Morning Herald)
Aug 24 – Three of Australia’s leading religious voices have written to the Prime Minister with their concerns that the COVID-19 vaccine will be “ethically tainted” by aborted fetal cells.

Also: Why are Australian church leaders opposing the Oxford coronavirus vaccine? (The Guardian, Australia)
Aug 26 – Australian church leaders have raised objections to a potential Covid-19 vaccine under development at the University of Oxford over concerns it contains cell lines “from an electively aborted human foetus.”

From Nicki Minaj to FrankenMary, the Virgin Mary keeps on appearing in pop culture. This is why (ABC News)
Aug 30 – When a hyper-sexualised rap artist channels the most holy “Mother of God”, is it blasphemy or art?

I forgive you: Why victims’ empathy was kryptonite to the Christchurch killer (Sydney Morning Herald)
Aug 30 – (Opinion: Jacqueline Maley) Now is not a good time to start reading Crime and Punishment by Dostoyevsky.