Religion News Selection

December 28, 2019 – January 5, 2020

A selection of religion news stories from Australia

(Research: Greg Spearritt)



Loud Fence ribbons in show of solidarity for sexual abuse survivors in Ballarat cut down (ABC News)
Dec 28 – Hundreds of colourful ribbons tied to the fence of St Alipius Catholic Church represent a show of solidarity for survivors of childhood sexual abuse.

Australian Jewish community slams Israel’s ‘deplorable’ appointment (The Age, Melbourne)
Dec 30 – The man accused of pressuring government psychiatrists to alter their reports and prevent on mental health grounds the extradition of an alleged paedophile to Australia has been promoted to Health Minister of Israel.

Catholic Church

Pope Francis apologises for ‘bad example’ of slapping arm of pilgrim who tugged him (ABC News)
Jan 2 – Pope Francis has apologised for angrily slapping a woman’s arm when she grabbed hold of his hand and yanked him towards her, saying he had lost his patience and set a “bad example”.


Despite tensions with Donald Trump, Western-influenced subcultures continue to thrive in Iran (ABC News)
Dec 29 – In the 2004 bestselling graphic novel Persepolis, 10-year-old Marji comes of age embracing punk rock and counterculture ideologies as she explores her identity in post-1979 Iran.


The Trump era has magnified the faultlines in America’s Jewish communities (The Guardian, Australia)
Jan 1 – (Opinion: Lloyd Green) The tectonic plates opened by Donald Trump’s presidency continue to clang, New York City’s ethnic tensions have resurfaced, and sectarian differences are hardening.

US Jews learn to shoot guns as anti-Semitic violence continues to rise (ABC News)
Jan 5 – Gripping a .44 Magnum inside a small New York State synagogue, 65-year-old Fay Ziegler wants to know if she’d be able to pull the trigger.


‘At a moral crossroads’: How Trump is dividing evangelical America (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 30 – Washington: After evangelical publication Christianity Today published a blistering editorial on what it called Donald Trump’s “grossly immoral character”, some church leaders and the US President himself denounced the criticism as elitist and out-of-touch.

Methodist church announces plan to split into pro- and anti-gay branches (The Guardian, Australia)
Jan 4 – Leaders of the United Methodist church – America’s second-largest Protestant denomination – have announced plans to split the church in two after years of division over same-sex marriage.

‘He was sent to us’: at church rally, evangelicals worship God and Trump (The Guardian, Australia)
Jan 5 – They came to pray with their president, though in truth many came just to worship him.


Can Christian faith be independent of politics? (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 28 – (Opinion: Tim Costello) A quiet yet seismic event occurred just before Christmas: America’s leading evangelical publication, Christianity Today, called for the impeachment of the “grossly immoral” President Trump.

Margaret Court condemns trans athletes as Tennis Australia recognition looms (The Age, Melbourne)
Dec 31 – Margaret Court has doubled down on her controversial views in a fiery sermon at her Perth church, condemning trans athletes in the wake of her hard-fought battle to be celebrated by Tennis Australia for the 50th anniversary of her grand slam year next month.

Also: ACL gathers donations for Court ad blitz (The Australian)
Dec 31 – The Australian Christian Lobby is rallying its followers ahead of Margaret Court’s Australian Open appearance after a controversial sermon.

Also: Navratilova attacks ‘pathetic’ Court and accuses her of ‘hiding behind her Bible’ (Sydney Morning Herald)
Jan 1 – Tennis great Martina Navratilova has accused Margaret Court of “hiding behind her Bible” and decried her recent controversial sermon attacking transgender children and women as “pathetic … in every way”.