Weekend Wrap for 14 August 2022

Welcome to the NSL Weekend Wrap for 14 August 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

A whistleblower suing Hillsong in the Federal Court has alleged the megachurch moved millions of dollars in payments through overseas entities to avoid scrutiny by the Australian charities regulator. The documents allege dubious financial record-keeping, the misappropriation of church finances, and claim Hillsong leaders used tax-free money for "large cash gifts" to Hillsong founder Brian Houston and his family. (12 Aug 2022)
Read more at ABC News

Around the Country

NSW: Kevin Farmer is a veteran primary school ethics teacher who for years held weekly classes at Crown Street Public. But when the chance to run an after-school ethics club at Inner Sydney High appeared, he leapt at it. “In high school classes the philosophical questions and conversations are much deeper, we talk about human rights, marriage equality, peer pressure and friendship,” said Farmer, who is one of about 2000 volunteer ethics teachers in NSW. “I get fewer numbers in the high school, but they are there because they want to be. They are so engaged.” (7 Aug 2022)
Read more at the Sydney Morning Herald

NSW: "Wagga City Council has moved to replace the traditional prayer said at the start of each ordinary meeting with a "reflection" that does not mention God or religion. Councillors will vote on Monday night on the adoption of an updated code of meeting practice, which includes swapping out the "exclusive" religious opening." (7 Aug 2022)
Read more at The Daily Advertiser

TAS: Tasmanian Jessica Hoyle has started a fundraising campaign to launch a High Court challenge to Tasmania’s anti-discrimination laws. Launceston based Hoyle wanted to run a series of events for lesbians including drag king shows, drag king bingo and karaoke nights, but wanted to stipulate that any who born male was excluded from attending. (9 Aug 2022)
Read more at Out in Perth

NSW: Devout residents across Wagga are "very disappointed" with the local council's decision to replace the prayer recited at the start of each meeting. They believe removing the prayer does not reflect the desires of the community, while some have accused the council of trying to sneak through the change without people realising. (9 Aug 2022)
Read more at The Daily Advertiser

NSW: After much deliberation, Wagga City Council voted in favour of reciting a 'reflection' instead of the traditional prayer to be more inclusive of the wider community. Councillor Dan Hayes said Wagga was a diverse community of many different faiths and cultural backgrounds and a growing population of atheists and non-practising believers. (10 Aug 2022)
Read more at Region Riverina

TAS: Forty Tasmanian doctors have signed an open letter to Tasmania’s politicians in support of the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute’s recommendation for a ban on LGBTIQA+ conversion practices. The open letter was organised by GPs, Dr Miranda Hann and Dr Shannon Lovell-Greene. Dr Hann said conversion therapy and toehr change and suppression techniques can cause significant mental harm to people. (10 Aug 2022)
Read more at Out in Perth

NSW: Knowingly displaying Nazi flags or memorabilia bearing swastikas has been outlawed in New South Wales, with offenders facing up to a year's jail time or a possible fine of over $100,000. A section in the bill allows for the swastika symbol to be used in academic, historical or educational settings where it is in the public interest. The section paves the way for its display by Hindus, Buddhists and Jains in which it holds religious significance. (11 Aug 2022)
Read more at ABC News

Commentary and Analysis

Jenna PriceWhy do we still recite the Lord's Prayer in Australian Parliament?: "The President of the Senate Sue Lines said last week she did not want to start the day with the Lord's Prayer. Summary? We are too diverse for that stuff. Others on the Labor side, including senators Katy Gallagher and Penny Wong, said the Senate will continue to recite the Lord's Prayer at the start of the day's work. That's not the only tradition out of step with Australia." (5 Aug 2022)
Read more at Area News

Rick MortonPrivate schools win millions in disability funding: "Disabled students in Australian private schools will receive millions of dollars more in specialist support from governments over the next few years while their peers in the public system are denied $600 million due to a cruel quirk baked into education funding agreements. The funding arrangements are an amalgam of Julia Gillard’s Gonski reforms, a Labor promise that no school would “lose a dollar” and Coalition amendments and policy bolt-ons designed to placate an increasingly hostile Catholic and independent schools sector." (6 Aug 2022)
Read more at The Saturday Paper

Jon FaineCan it get any worse for the Victorian Liberals? Yes, it can: "Senior moderate Liberals concede the religious takeover they have been resisting for 10 years is succeeding. Some speculate on abandoning their party to the insurgents and starting again. Will the Liberal Party survive, or are we watching it collapse?" (7 Aug 2022)
Read more at the Sydney Morning Herald

Antoun IssaMelbourne’s western suburbs need real solutions, not an anti-trans culture war: "The preselection of religious conservative Moira Deeming shows the Victorian Liberals are out of touch with Melbourne’s west. Opposition leader, Matthew Guy, has defended the choice of Deeming, a Melton councillor and devout Presbyterian who has called abortion a 'terrible evil', opposes trans rights (describing it as her 'number one issue'), and was deemed too extreme even for Scott Morrison." (8 Aug 2022)
Read more at The Guardian

Anna Kelsey-Sugg and Catherine ZengererAli Millar's upbringing in the Jehovah's Witnesses was traumatic. Now she's speaking out: "London-based, former Jehovah's Witness Ali Millar, interviewed on ABC RN's Late Night Live, speaks out about her experience with the religion, describing it as a 'deeply coercive and manipulative organisation'." (9 Aug 2022)
Read more at ABC News

Dawn PenneySchool chaplains are needed now more than ever: "From aged care and youth support settings, to hospitals and correctional facilities, and in sports, law enforcement, armed forces, and of course, school settings, chaplains have served Australian communities for many generations. As ongoing pandemic-related challenges combine with cost-of-living pressures, chaplains are needed more than ever." (11 Aug 2022)
Read more at Eternity News

Kieran PenderAustralia’s frayed anti-discrimination laws: "The new Labor government has promised a range of reforms. Full implementation of the Respect @ Work recommendations around workplace sexual harassment are imminent; a religious discrimination law and strengthened protection for LGBTQIA+ students have also been promised. But these issues are just the tip of the iceberg." (13 Aug 2022)
Read more at The Saturday Paper

Events and Campaigns

Victorians, Fiona Patten's Reason party is calling for you to support the idea that no publicly funded hospital should refuse the right to contraception or abortion. They are hosting a tool which makes it easy for you to email your MPs here. Fiona will be introducing a bill on this topic shortly.

A new petition from the RSA is aiming to build enough momentum before the federal parliament resumes to put the issue of Christian prayer rituals on the agenda of newly elected representatives heading to Canberra. Sign the petition here.

A petition currently running on change.org calls for private schools to pay back their unnecessary Jobkeeper payments. View the petition here.

The Australian Education Union is running a campaign calling for “every school, every child” to receive fair education funding. Support the campaign here.

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.

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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