Weekend Wrap for 21 December 2019

Our final Weekend Wrap for 2019 features links to plenty of analysis and opinion pieces focused on the divisive Religious Discrimination Bill.

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!

The National View

The Morrison government has handed $110,000 of taxpayers’ money to the Pentecostal megachurch Hillsong to “protect children who are at risk of attack, harassment or violence stemming from racial or religious intolerance” (Pedestrian TV).

A Melbourne mother’s campaign to ban Hillsong Church from proselytising in public schools has attracted thousands of signatures in a matter of days (SBS).

Three school chaplains who are funded under the federal government's National School Chaplaincy Program featured in testimonials on Hillsong’s website promoting the church’s School Tour program (7 News).

Patients are reporting that GPs are already displaying signs in their practices to say certain reproductive healthcare will be refused, further raising concern about conscientious objection provisions in the proposed religious discrimination bill (BuzzFeed).

An Equality Australia campaign headed by retired athletes Ian Thorpe and Lauren Jackson encourages people to write to their members of parliament to tell them why they oppose the proposed religious discrimination bill (Star Observer).

The Seventh-day Adventist Church has welcomed the amended draft bill and thanked the government for its “willingness...to take the time to listen to our concerns (Adventist Review).

A lawyer in the aged-care sector has argued that aged-care providers should select staff based on their qualifications, experience and character rather than their religion (Australian Ageing Agenda).

An LGBTQ lobby has labelled the updated draft of the religious discrimination bill as a “slap in the face” to marginalised communities and an affront to Australia’s anti-discrimination laws (Star Observer).

Australian Catholic leaders have welcomed the Pope’s move to abolish secrecy around child sexual abuse cases and have rejected accusations that they had hid behind the “pontifical secret” to protect abusers (Canberra Times).

In response to criticism, Archbishop Anthony Fisher affirmed his position that child sexual assault is both a crime and a sin. Meanwhile, the Catholic Church released details of the work it has done in response to the royal commission’s recommendations (Catholic Weekly).

Around the Country

Commentary and Analysis

Michael Bradley writes that only two groups have an interest in seeing the religious discrimination proposals of the government become law – religious institutions and the Christian wing of the Liberal party (Crikey).

Australia is set to change for the worse if the religious discrimination bill becomes law, dividing into two classes of people – the superior religious folk and then the rest of us, writes Dr Stuart Edser (Medium).

An Islamic group is among those worried that the “right to be a bigot” in the religious discrimination bill will make minorities more of a target for hate, writes Kieran Pender (The Saturday Paper).

In devoting most of its provisions to what is permitted instead of what is prohibited, the draft religious discrimination bill is not so much about freedom from discrimination but freedom to discriminate, argues David Solomon (John Menadue blog).

Angela Shanahan argues that religious people and institutions need protection as they fear “the aggressive secularism that wants to expunge religion from the public square” (The Australian).

Sam Langford examines what your doctor will be able to say to you under the proposed religious discrimination laws (SBS).

Carrick Ryan argues that Australians need to “do everything we can” to stop the parliament passing legislation that will create a two-class society (The Big Smoke).

In empowering people to engage in religious discrimination under the guise of ‘protecting’ those people from religious discrimination, the proposed bill is “utterly illogical and self-contradictory”, writes Crispin Hull (Canberra Times).

Rationalist Society of Australia president Meredith Doig puts forward some recommendations for how the government can fix its religious discrimination bill (The Big Smoke).

Ben Wilkie traces the development of mandatory reporting laws affecting religious institutions across Australia (America Magazine).

Twenty-five years since the Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT) agreement emerged in the United States, David Furse-Roberts writes that the shared agenda of Christians has impacted on Australian society and politics as it has elsewhere (ABC).

Unless the Catholic leadership in Australia can find a way of stopping people dying, the rate of practising Catholics in Australia will continue in freefall, writes Philippa Martyr (Catholic Weekly).

In a promotion segment about his book ‘God is good for you’, journalist and Catholic Greg Sheridan says the west “will not really survive as the west” if it abandons its belief in God (Sky).

That's it for another week!

We hope you have a great Christmas break. The Weekend Wrap will return in the new year. In the meantime, please follow us on Twitter and on Facebook. Whatever you do, don't miss our summer BBQ Stoppers series! 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!