Weekend Wrap for 10 April 2022

Welcome to the NSL Weekend Wrap for 10 April 2022, where you can catch up on the latest secular-related news from around the country.

Do you have any news items, campaigns, petitions, webinars or other event notices that could be added to our weekly Wrap? Let us know at wrap@nsl.org.au.

At the National Level

The Mormon Church has been accused of engaging in significant tax evasion in Australia, allowing its adherents to collect hundreds of millions of dollars in tax exemptions that are not lawfully available to followers of other religions. Some of its tax activities are run through a shell company, with no paid employees, that could be in breach of Australian tax laws, an investigation by The Sunday Age and The Sun-Herald has found. (3 Apr 2022)
Read more at the Sydney Morning Herald

Australia is unusual among English-speaking countries in that it does not allow tax deductions for tithing or church donations. Instead, it allows generous deductibility for charitable giving. The [Mormon] church appears to have structured itself to maximise that tax benefit through payments of $70 million a year through a charity with no paid staff. (3 Apr 2022)
Read more at the Sydney Morning Herald

The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) has announced it will target moderate Liberals who crossed the floor and voted against the Morrison Government’s Religious Discrimination Bill. ACL Managing Director Martyn Iles said that while the lobby group’s campaign may drive votes towards parties that even less aligned with his organisation’s values, it was part of a long term strategy to encourage the Liberal party to back candidates who are from the conservative side of politics. (6 Apr 2022)
Read more at Out in Perth

Australia’s second biggest schools chaplaincy provider imposes a code that discriminates against staff based on relationship status and sexual conduct, a whistleblower has alleged. Caragh Larsen, a former Schools Ministry Group chaplain at two Adelaide public primary schools, said the code banning “cohabitation” and “sexually intrusive” behaviour left unmarried and LGBTQ+ staff vulnerable. (9 Apr 2022)
Read more at The Guardian

A surprising proportion of Jewish voters are backing Allegra Spender in Wentworth, says Australian Jewish Association president David Adler, who gave the independent candidate his tick of approval. This follows several stories in News Corp papers about individuals linked to climate independents who had been critical of Israel or expressed support for boycotting Israeli products and services. (9 Apr 2022)
Read more at The Age

Around the Country

QLD: Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate's spiritual adviser told a religious service in November that a "demonic stronghold" had been established at the Home of the Arts (HOTA) and that a "spiritual battle" had begun. (6 Apr 2022)
Read more at ABC News

TAS: Retiring Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein has been praised for his support for LGBTIQA+ communities during his two decades of public service. Rodney Croome on behalf of Equality Tasmania said Gutwein had a long history of supporting inclusion and equity. (6 Apr 2022)
Read more at Out in Perth

NSW: A vote on Independent MLA Alex Greenwich’s Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill will likely take place on 11 May, with 33 MLCs out of a possible 41 having given their Second Reading speeches. Twenty-two MLCs have spoken in favour of the bill, with only 11 speaking against. Eight possible speakers remain. (7 Apr 2022)
Read more at The Catholic Weekly

WA: A parliamentary investigation will be held into allegations of sexual and psychological abuse at a faith-based women's rehab centre in Perth, as the state government confirms its agencies sent multiple young women to live there. Communities Minister Simone McGurk said allegations include criminal complaints of sexual abuse, as well as residents being denied food, banned from contacting friends and family, illegal restraints, and Aboriginal residents being told that using their language was akin to being possessed by the devil. (7 Apr 2022)
Read more at ABC News

QLD: Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate says "I don't recall" when asked if he offered support for the controversial Seven Mountains Mandate 11 years ago. The mandate seeks to assert evangelical influence over public institutions including government and education. (9 Apr 2022)
Read more at ABC News

NSW: After crossing the floor to vote against discrimination during the debate on the Religious Discrimination Bill, Inner west Sydney Liberal MP Fiona Martin says she is being targeted by conservatives within her own party who are bitter about her stance on progressive issues. (9 Apr 2022)
Read more at The Age

Commentary and Analysis

Adam Wesselinoff with comments from WA Right to Life President Steve Klomp: "A person is dying every two days from euthanasia in Western Australia only eight months after the introduction of “voluntary assisted dying” in the state, according to figures released last week by the WA Health Minister, with numbers set to rise rapidly." (2 Apr 2022)
Read more at The Catholic Weekly

Neil Foster -- Blessing same sex marriages in the Anglican Church in Australia: "The question as to whether same sex marriages entered into under Australian civil law can be blessed in an Anglican Church service is one that has generated much disagreement within the church." (5 Apr 2022)
Read more at Law and Religion Australia

Tom Tanuki: "Little has been mentioned in the mainstream media about the United Australia Party's ties to antisemitism. For years, the UAP has been hovering in an awkward space that exists between overt antisemitism and the “globalist/central banker” dogwhistling discourse popular among politicians in recent years." (6 Apr 2022)
Read more at Independent Australia

Daniel Fleming -- Why doesn’t everyone think “Voluntary Assisted Dying” is a good idea?: "How might we understand the ethical issues at play here?" (7 Apr 2022)
Read more at the ABC

David Hardaker continues Crikey's special investigation into the Esther Foundation, a Pentecostal-linked rehab facility, following claims of alleged serious abuse. Scott Morrison visited the facility in 2019 and awarded them a $4m grant, saying “I don’t invest in things that don’t work.” (7 Apr 2022)
Read more at Crikey

Shibu Thomas on Penny Wong and, amongst other things, the Religious Discrimination Bill: "During the vote on the Bill in Parliament, some community advocates questioned Labor for not taking a clear and equivocal stand against the proposed legislation. Wong, however, explained that Labor had a clear plan to stand up against discrimination... That is why Labor moved amendments to the flawed bill – and we were able to insert an amendment prohibiting discrimination against school children before Mr Morrison walked away from the whole bill." (7 Apr 2022)
Read more at the Star Observer

Anna Brown from Equality Australia: "Equality Australia’s community election survey received nearly 8000 responses, giving us an incredible picture of what matters to LGBTIQ+ people in Australia." (7 Apr 2022)
Read more at the Star Observer

Kerry Cue writes on God in the Constitution and religiosity in Australia: "According to a 2016 National Church Life Survey (NCLS), 7% of us go to church in an average week. What sort of religious folk are we? Obviously, some of us don't mind being Christians as long as we don't have to get up for church every Sunday morning." (7 Apr 2022)
Read more at Independent Australia

Anthony Klan: "The Anglican Church Sydney has blamed a lack of government funding for delivering poor quality aged care. It’s actually awash with billions of assets and earned enough in “revaluations” on just one of its properties - in one year - to extinguish all its child rape liabilities. That is, if it hadn’t already secretively shifted them onto its financially “dire” aged care arm." (8 Apr 2022)
Read more at The Klaxon

Anthony Klan: "The Uniting Church – like the Anglican Church – has been using its taxpayer-funded aged care arm to pay out millions of dollars to its victims of child sexual abuse. UnitingCare Queensland, the State’s biggest aged care provider, has siphoned $7.6 million to church child rape victims in just the past three years." (9 Apr 2022)
Read more at Independent Australia

Events and Campaigns

Funding for public schools has been cut in the latest budget but funding for school chaplains has been assured. A change.org petition is currently calling on the federal government to fund youth workers rather faith-based chaplains in our public schools.

Minister for Human Rights, Tara Cheyne, is running a petition calling on the Australian government to restore the right of Territories to pass laws on VAD. She also recommends people email the Commonwealth Attorney-General with their views, at attorney@ag.gov.au.

Dying With Dignity NSW has a tool that makes it easy for people to contact their federal MPs and senators to request help in repealing the "Andrews Bill", the 1997 legislation which denies the Territories the right to pass legislation on Voluntary Assisted Dying.

The Human Rights for NSW alliance has launched a campaign calling for NSW to pass a Human Rights Act.

That's it for another week!

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