Weekend Wrap for 16 May 2021
Debate has begun in the South Australian lower house on voluntary assisted dying, while the push for it in Queensland has edged closer. Catch up on those stories and more in the latest Weekend Wrap.
Don’t forget that the Weekend Wrap, which aims to help secular-minded Australians keep abreast of the latest news on current issues, is also published on our Facebook page!
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The Census question on religion is loaded but the Australian Bureau of Statistics has rejected our arguments that this is so. "What is the person's religion?" implicitly assumes that everyone has a religion, and skews responses so that an artificially high level of religious adherence is recorded, 'justifying' the over-funding and over-privileging of religious interests.
We want to gather evidence that this is the case via national, independent polling which asks two different questions -- the ABS's question and a non-leading alternative. We are confident of finding a statistically significant bias, but we need proof.
This evidence will be critical in convincing the ABS to change their loaded question, and will add enormously to combined campaigning being carried out by pro-secular groups in the lead-up to the Census on 10th August.
Please, if you can, help us fund this exercise and dig deep on this occasion.
the National Secular Lobby.
At the National Level
A journalist has uncovered the role that the Australian Christian Lobby played in putting pressure on the Morrison government to change materials previously used as part of respectful relationships education (7am Podcast).
Catholic healthcare has welcomed the federal government’s “once-in-a-generation” $17.7 billion spend on the aged care sector in the Budget (Catholic Leader).
The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils has condemned Israel and warned of a large-scale intifada in the Middle East, saying the recent conflict had “lifted the mask from the ugly face of apartheid Israel” (AFIC).
Retiring Nationals MP George Christensen has told Christian bloggers that having his Human Rights (Children Born Alive Protection) Bill 2021 debated and enacted into law would be his ideal “parting shot” from an 11-year parliamentary career (RSA).
Catholic-run hospitals are worried that proposed new government changes to the Prostheses List will result in them losing as much as $80 million if private health insurers no longer have to pay (The Australian, paywalled).
Around the Country
SA: Labor MP Susan Close introduced the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2021 into the lower house as a private member’s bill on Wednesday.
SA: Conservative religious elements within the Liberal Party successfully forced Premier Steven Marshall to back down from his pledge to allow government time to be used for debate to begin on the voluntary assisted dying bill (In Daily).
SA: In announcing his support for the assisted dying bill, Opposition Leader and Catholic Peter Malinauskis said he was not concerned about being at odds with the official position of the Catholic Church (CathNews).
QLD: The Queensland Law Reform Commission has handed the state government its final report on voluntary assisted dying and a draft bill (Brisbane Times).
NSW: At a time of significant division in the broader Anglican church over the blessing of same-sex couples, the newly elected Archbishop of Sydney, Kanishka Raffel, has outlined his support for the traditional view of marriage, saying “there isn’t really a question about what the Christian approach to marriage is” (The Age).
QLD: The Presbyterian Church of Queensland has described its decision to place its legal entity into receivership as regrettable but necessary to ensure that it can continue providing important services to the community in the long term (The Australian, paywalled).
Commentary and Analysis
Cristina Rocha writes that the idea of Australia being secular is more of a historically produced ideal rather than a reality (The Conversation).
With extreme religious views lying at the heart of Senator Amanda Stoker’s belief system, Tarla Lambert questions how we expect the Minister for Women to champion policies that will benefit the majority of Australian women in an unbiased way (Women’s Agenda).
It is wrong to argue Christianity is insignificant and that it has no role to play in the nation’s political and legal systems, writes Kevin Donnelley (Conservative Woman).
Commentators who have discounted the political significance of Scott Morrison’s faith have been shown that the man himself does not do the same, writes James Boyce (The Saturday Paper).
In an assessment of the Prime Minister’s carefully crafted image-building efforts on social media, Christopher Warren points out how Scott Morrison is “unafraid to use religious iconography to convey depth and empathy” (Crikey).
If Christians don’t speak up in defence of Prime Minister Scott Morrison for expressing his faith, then they will share at least some of the blame when no person of serious faith is willing to put their name on the ballot, writes Monica Doumit (Catholic Weekly).
Reverend Michael Jensen writes on how the lack of media interest in the appointment of Kanishka Raffel as the Archbishop of the Sydney Anglican Church points to the cultural changes sweeping Australia (ABC).
Christopher Brohier, of the Australian Christian Lobby, writes that the South Australian government is taking the state “down a dark road of supporting death” on voluntary assisted dying.
Kathy Marks writes of how the political tide has turned on voluntary assisted dying and how advocates are continuing the fight in the states and territories yet to see it legalised (The Australian, paywalled).
That's it for another week!
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