Check out the latest edition of our Weekend Wrap of news and views across a wide range of issues of concern to secular-minded Australians!
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!
At the National Level
The #DontDivideUs campaign against the Religious Discrimination Bill has warned that the Australian Christian Lobby is preparing to open a new Folau-style religious battleground by using a suspended doctor as its new “poster boy”.
The Australian Christian Lobby has vowed to support and bankroll a doctor who targeted women and gay people in online rants, committing to “give him all the support that he needs” (Herald Sun).
Lobby group Just Equal has warned that Poland, where an anti-LGBTIQ campaign has been backed by the Catholic Church, serves as a taste of what is to come under the Morrison government’s religious freedom agenda (Star Observer).
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has told a press conference that he “can't necessarily...see large services” happening in churches anytime soon.
Brisbane Archbishop and president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference Mark Coleridge wants to see churches re-opened for public worship “as soon as reasonably possible” (Catholic Leader).
The federal government is offering financial rewards to Catholic and private schools to entice them to restart classroom teaching within four weeks, in defiance of some states' directives on re-opening to students (SMH).
Queensland’s education minister Grace Grace has labelled the Morrison government’s decision to award funding to private schools to reopen as "reeking of desperation" (Brisbane Times).
A national chaplaincy program for sports bodies and clubs has described the coronavirus pandemic as “a miracle”, viewing it as an opportunity to evangelise while sports struggle through the crisis (Eternity News).
A group of Catholic leaders have made a public plea for the Morrison government to release asylum seekers from detention during the coronavirus pandemic (Catholic Weekly).
Director of the Gonski Institute for Education and former New South Wales education minister Adrian Piccoli has backed claims by former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull that the Catholic church is duplicitous and unaccountable in distributing taxpayer money within its school system (New Daily).
Redacted sections of royal commission documents about Cardinal George Pell's knowledge and handling of historical child sexual abuse complaints are likely to be released within weeks (The Australian).
Labor has urged the Morrison government to make early payments to sick and elderly survivors of child sexual abuse who have unresolved claims, fearful they could die before being compensated through the National Redress Scheme (The Age).
A Jewish lobby has called on the Australian government to reconsider its stance on Hezbollah, wanting the government to proscribe the entirety of the group as a terrorist organisation (J-Wire).
Anti-semitism campaigners are warning of a rise in online posts and comments blaming Jews for the spread of COVID-19 (Australian Jewish News).
The Australian Christian Lobby’s Martyn Iles has blamed Raelene Castle’s downfall as Rugby Australia chief on her “political crusade” in the religious freedom saga with Israel Folau and has revealed a “nasty shadowy campaign” tried to prevent him from speaking up for the sacked footballer (ACL; watch from 10.19).
The Australian Christian Lobby has attacked federal health minister Greg Hunt for refusing to conduct a national inquiry into gender dysphoria and medicine on the advice of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (Star Observer).
Jewish groups have lined up to thank retiring Labor MP Mike Kelly for being “one of the staunchest supporters of Israel and the Jewish community” during his time in the federal parliament (Australian Jewish News).
A new Anzac Day resource pack is using the story of the Anzacs to teach children to be “diggers for Jesus” (Eternity News).
Around the Country
NSW: Amendments to the state’s Anti-Discrimination Board that are being proposed by One Nation’s Mark Latham to protect religious free speech could be debated in parliament as early as June (Catholic Weekly).
SA: The Australians Christian Lobby is claiming success for a letter campaign that urged authorities to reject telehealth consultations for women seeking medical abortions during the pandemic crisis (ACL).
SA: An alliance of medical, legal and social justice professionals who have been lobbying the government over abortion access since the pandemic began are “baffled” that the state’s policy has not changed (BuzzFeed).
VIC: Arguably Australia's most prolific paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale has admitted in court to sexually abusing more children in the 1970s (The Age).
NSW: Asked about his belief in God in a Q&A, Liberal member and transport minister Andrew Constance said it was not “my place in political life to bring religion into everyday politics” (The Age).
Commentary and Analysis
In preparing for the possibility of new federal religious discrimination laws, lawyer David Ford writes that faith-based schools ought to be thinking carefully about their enrolment conditions (Mondaq).
Following the acquittal of George Pell, compassion must be the main way forward instead of continuance of the culture war, writes John Sandeman (Eternity News).
Rumours on social media linking Hillsong to coronavirus outbreaks across Australia are untrue, writes Kylie Beach (Eternity News).
In exploring the religious nature of Anzac memorials and commemorations, Elizabeth Raine sees the ‘’sacredness” of Anzac Day as providing “a bridge into the secular community” (Insights Magazine).
That's it for another week!
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