Weekend Wrap for 19 October 2019

With prayer seemingly now a national policy, let’s bow our heads and...ponder where everything is heading for secular Australia! Check out our latest edition of the Weekend Wrap for some of the news and views in the secular space from the past week.

Don’t forget that the Weekend Wrap, which aims to help secular-minded Australians keep abreast of news, is also published on our Facebook page!

The National View

Attorney-General Christian Porter remains confident about the "achievability" of passing a religious discrimination bill, despite widespread criticism and increasing doubt that a vote will take place by Christmas (SMH).

Amendments to the Religious Discrimination Bill would address concerns about the functioning of religious aged-care providers without making “massive or substantial” changes to the rest of the bill, the Attorney-General has said (ABC Radio).

The nation’s peak legal body, the Law Council of Australia, has warned that provisions in the draft ‘religious freedom’ bill are contrary to domestic and international law in prioritising religious expression over other rights (QNews).

State and territory anti-discrimination commissions have revolted against the privileging of religious rights over other rights in the draft ‘religious freedom’ bill and accused the Morrison government of a “extraordinary incursion” into the states’ domain of healthcare (The Guardian).

An LGBTIQ+ advocacy group is calling on Labor leader Anthony Albanese to break his silence on the Religious Discrimination Bill (Star Observer).

Conservative government senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells is calling for stronger protections for people who want to state their belief that marriage is between a man and a woman (Illawarra Mercury).

Israel Folau has told a conference hosted by the Australian Christian Lobby today that he knew his social media post was going to be “offensive” (SMH).

Progressive Anglican church leaders around Australia have rejected the plea of Sydney Archbishop Glenn Davies for same-sex marriage supporters to “please leave” the church (The Guardian).

A network of LGBTIQ+ Christians is calling for an end to discrimination by governments and churches, citing the comments of Sydney Archbishop Glenn Davies as an example of the “ugly face” of religiously based exclusion and harm toward their community (Out In Perth).

Prime Minister Morrison has refused to answer questions in parliament as to whether he sought to have his Hillsong Pastor Brian Houston join him at a White House dinner (The Guardian).

At a prayer breakfast at parliament, Prime Minister Morrison called for more prayer to tackle drought and natural disasters, and to encourage non-partisan unity (The New Daily).

Around the Country

TAS: The state’s upper house voted in support of a motion rejecting the federal government’s draft religious discrimination legislation (Star Observer).

TAS: Twelve community groups joined forces to pressure parliamentarians to reject attempts to water down the state’s strong anti-discrimination laws (The Examiner).

NSW: Greens MP David Shoebridge has called for a lifting of the “veil of secrecy” over the $600 million of public money given to the Catholic education system annually after a freedom of information request unearthed merely a one-page document (SMH).

WA: To win the support of key upper house members, the government has pledged to employ navigators to assist Aboriginal people in dealing with any new voluntary assisted dying laws (West Australian).

WA: Prominent epidemiologist Fiona Stanley has labelled doctors opposed to voluntary assisted dying as hypocrites, arguing that many of them would have previously hastened the deaths of patients (WA Today).

WA: Former Labor MP Tim Hammond features in a new campaign calling for the state’s upper house members to rethink the draft voluntary assisted dying legislation (WA Today).

VIC: The Andrews government is worried that its plan to ban the practice of gay conversion therapy will be hampered by new federal ‘religious freedom’ laws (The Guardian).

VIC: The governing body of Melbourne’s Anglican church has formally voted to record its “sorrow” over the decision of a regional diocese to bless same-sex marriages (The Guardian).

VIC: The Institute of Public Affairs has labelled the Melbourne City Council’s move to erect warning signs outside law-breaking churches as an “attack by left-wing elites on people of faith” (The Australian).

Commentary and Analysis

An analysis by The Guardian finds that the Morrison government’s talking points on the Religious Discrimination Bill, which were accidentally shared with the media, do not stack up.

Having the nation’s leaders praying together and stating publicly that Christian faith matters in our society made the National Prayer Breakfast a significant gathering, writes Karl Faase (Eternity News).

The problem of defining religion in the Religious Discrimination Bill could seriously impact religious minorities, writes Erin Wilson (The Conversation).

With the split in the Anglican church over same-sex marriage highlighting the diversity of views within one religious community, David Crowe questions whether church leaders really want a court to rule on their tenets and doctrines under proposed ‘religious freedom’ laws (The Age).

While Sydney Archbishop Glenn Davies is fighting hard for laws to protect religious freedom, he is trying to prevent people within his own church from expressing their beliefs, notes this editorial (SMH).

Under proposed ‘religious freedom’ laws, disabled people will no longer be protected from humiliating, intimidating, insulting and ridiculing language in the name of religion, writes disability rights advocate Fiona Strahan (New Matilda).

That's it for another week!

For ongoing news and updates, please follow us on Twitter and on Facebook. And if you are able, please consider making a small monthly contribution to the NSL to help us raise the secular profile in Australia. Every dollar helps!