Weekend Wrap for 20 November 2022

Welcome to the NSL Weekend Wrap for 20 November 2022, where you can catch up on the latest secular-related news from around the country.

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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 Catholic church has adopted an increasingly aggressive approach to alleged victims of now-dead paedophile priests, using recent rulings to pressure survivors to accept “paltry amounts” or risk having their claims permanently blocked, lawyers say. Arnold Thomas & Becker, which is pursuing claims on behalf of more than 700 abuse victims, said defendants – particularly the church – were now frequently threatening to seek stays in such cases. (15 Nov 2022)
Read more at The Guardian

On the fifth anniversary of the results of the Marriage Postal Survey results being announced, Liberal senator Dean Smith has questioned if the process used to bring marriage equality to Australia was a good choice. "When we reflect on how uncontroversial it’s been since, was the pain that people were put under necessary?" (15 Nov 2022)
Read more at Out in Perth

Around the Country

SA: South Australian One Nation MLC Sarah Game has complained that her daughter’s school was teaching children about gay marriages. Game, a former veterinarian and mother of three, was elected to the South Australian Parliament in 2022. Game said that “such concepts” should be left to the parents to discuss with their children and schools should not teach them. (14 Nov 2022)
Read more at the Star Observer

VIC: Anti-transgender organisation Binary has denied its flyers, distributed in Victoria ahead of the state election, are misleading. On Friday the ABC and RMIT Fact Lab published a report analysing the group’s claim that the Andrews government has a policy that allows children to transition gender without parental consent. The ABC said that the was incorrect to claim that it was a “Victorian government policy to allow school children access to gender-affirming medical treatment without parental consent.” (15 Nov 2022)
Read more at Out in Perth

WA: Conservative Christian group Family Voice is upset over plans by a retail mall chain to celebrate LGBTQI-themed Christmas events at its shopping centres across Western Australia. Family Voice has accused Westfield of attempting to “homosexualise Christmas” and exposing children to what it called “the queer agenda”. (16 Nov 2022)
Read more at the Star Observer

NT: Bishop Charles Gauci of Darwin has said he will “seriously consider” closing the NT’s Catholic schools if the Territory’s Labor government presses ahead with proposed changes to anti-discrimination laws that would strip schools of the right to hire employees based on faith. Labor’s amendments to the NT’s Anti-Discrimination Act 1992 would repeal section 37A, which currently allows faith schools to discriminate on the grounds of religious belief or activity, or sexuality, and is in good faith to avoid “offending the religious sensibilities of people of the particular religion”. (17 Nov 2022)
Read more at the Catholic Weekly

NT: NSW politician the Reverend Fred Nile has delivered his final speech in the state’s parliament yesterday, vowing that his successors would continue his quest to “restore public decency, build our values and repair our broken society.” Reverend Nile said he hoped his supporters would install his wife Silvana as his successor at the next state election. (17 Nov 2022)
Read more at Out in Perth

TAS: Jade Darko was recently elected to the Clarence City Council becoming the first transgender woman elected to public office in the state. Darko is currently the only out trans person occupying public office in Australia. (18 Nov 2022)
Read more at the Star Observer

QLD: The Rationalist Society of Australia is seeking answers from the Queensland government about the admission by the state’s largest provider of chaplains for public schools that it has been operating in breach of anti-discrimination laws. Earlier this year, Scripture Union told the government review into the state’s Anti-Discrimination Act that “it must have the ability to recruit Christian employees” in order to deliver the services of school chaplains, but that, under the Act, it was unable to do so. In recruiting chaplains for the taxpayer-funded National School Chaplaincy Program, however, Scripture Union has required that people appointed to the roles be Christian – seemingly in breach of the Act. (18 Nov 2022)
Read more at the Rationalist Society of Australia

VIC: The Victorian Liberal Party has distanced itself from one of its top upper-house candidates over her links to a conservative church, saying she will not sit with the party after the election. Renee Heath, the candidate for Eastern Victoria, is a senior member of the conservative City Builders Church. (19 Nov 2022)
Read more at ABC News

VIC: Victorian Liberal candidate Renee Heath is a lifelong senior member of an ultra-conservative church that has been secretly directed by its global leader to infiltrate Coalition politics, is opposed to gay, trans and reproductive rights and has left some former members traumatised. An investigation by The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and 60 Minutes has unearthed fresh evidence of disturbing conduct within City Builders and closely affiliated churches in Victoria that are part of a global network of Pentecostal churches. (19 Nov 2022)
Read more at The Age

VIC: Victorian Opposition Leader Matthew Guy says Liberal candidate Renee Heath – a lifelong member of an ultra-conservative church opposed to gay, transgender and reproductive rights – will not sit in the Liberal party room if she is elected on November 26. (19 Nov 2022)
Read more at The Age

Commentary and Analysis

Peter Hartcher and James MassolaThe Deves factor was meant to be a campaign masterstroke. It was a disaster.
"Another case in point? Morrison’s decision to abandon the government’s last chance to legislate an anti-corruption commission. Why? So, in the dying days of the 46th parliament, it could try to get a religious discrimination bill passed instead. It was another disastrous exercise in deliberate “values communication”. To be fair, both were election promises. But, faced with a choice of trying to gratify a small section of the “base” or win an election, Morrison chose the base." (16 Nov 2022)
Read more at The Age

Alastair LawrieSydney may be hosting WorldPride but the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act is a source of shame.
"NSW is the only jurisdiction in Australia that fails to protect bisexual people against discrimination. It will soon also be the only state or territory that explicitly allows religious schools to discriminate against LGBTQ+ students, with Western Australia preparing to modernise its law in response to a WA Law Reform Commission review. The aborted efforts of Brisbane’s Citipointe Christian College to adopt enrolment contracts discriminating against LGBTQ students this year remains entirely lawful if done south of the Tweed." (18 Nov 2022)
Read more at The Guardian

ABC Religion & Ethics – Is there a role for religion in the classroom?
"Private religious schools are growing in number — but it's in secular public schools that the debate about the role of religion is fierce. Some say public school is no place for private religion. Others say it's important for kids to learn about religion. And still others say there's a place for education on various worldviews. On God Forbid, James Carleton and the panel look at religious educations in schools." (19 Nov 2022)
Listen at ABC Religion & Ethics

Amy FallonHow religion dominates the ADF.
"[Collin] Acton’s career of more than three decades with the Australian Defence Force earned him a medal for deployment in the Middle East and a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM), among other distinctions. But in August, he was “kicked in the guts” and claims he was forced to quit the military, after an “ugly” four-year battle with a “handsomely taxpayer-funded religious lobby group” that had the ear of senior Defence Force figures and religious chaplains." (19 Nov 2022)
Read more at The Saturday Paper

Events and Campaigns

There's currently an e-petition addressed to the Tasmanian House of Assembly calling upon them to pass paws to prohibit LGBTIQA+ conversion practices. Read and sign here.

Catch up on the latest RSA webinar on prayers in parliament and councils.

Have you faced discrimination at a religious school or organisation? Equality Australia wants to know!

The Bill to overturn the ban on NT/ACT's ability to pass VAD laws is still being debated. Ask your state Senators to support territory rights!

Humanists Australia have launched a Change.org petition calling for full separation of church and state in Australia. View and sign 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.

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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