Weekend Wrap for 21 September 2019

We hope this Weekend Wrap can help you catch up on some of the main issues and viewpoints at the intersection of government and religion, especially in regards to the Religious Discrimination Bill, across Australia from the past seven days.

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

A teacher who alleges she was forced to resign from a Christian school in Ballarat because of her support for same-sex marriage has lodged a complaint with the Victorian Civil and Administrative Appeals Tribunal (Star Observer).

Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher is warning of the “threat to faith-based education” by legal cases such as the one brought by a teacher who claims to have been forced out of her job because of her support for same-sex marriage (The Australia).

The White House declined Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s request for Hillsong Church pastor Brian Houston to be a guest at a state dinner (The Guardian).

Labor Senator Pat Dodson has slammed the “act of bastardry” of Christian missionaries in outback Australia who are urging their followers to destroy local customs and artifacts (ABC).

Leading gynaecologist Paddy Moore has sought to correct a number of common misunderstandings about abortions, including the claim that law reform resulted in more later gestational-age abortions being performed (SMH).

The Australian Christian Lobby’s Martyn Iles has criticised efforts to outlaw religious counselling activities such as gay conversation therapy, arguing that doing so was “actually criminalising a significant part of the Christian faith” (News).

An investigation by The Age has revealed for the first time that many priests involved in historical sexual abuse of children formed paedophile rings throughout Victoria -- links not closely examined by the Royal Commission.

Around the Country

TAS: State politicians and equality campaigners are urging the government to project Tasmania’s anti-discrimination laws and reject the federal government’s religious discrimination legislation (Examiner): https://bit.ly/2kVn6fL

VIC: An investigation by The Age has found that many priests colluded as part of paedophile rings in the Catholic Church.

NSW: Premier Gladys Berejiklian has claimed “everybody has already moved on" after some anti-abortion MPs in her party agitated for a leadership spill and threatened to leave if they could not secure amendments to the decriminalisation bill (ABC).

NSW: Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott was scathing of the Berejiklian government at an anti-abrtion rally in Sydney and described the proposed bill as "effectively infanticide on demand" (ABC).

NSW: A secular parents group calling for changes to Special Religious Education (SRE) have said that parents at one school where the attendance rate for SRE class is 99 per cent are being led to believe that religious education is part of the curriculum (SMH).

WA: Voluntary assisted dying advocate Dr Philip Nitschke has predicted that the government would quickly come under pressure to relax new legislation, arguing that, in its current form, the bill was too conservative (WA Today).

WA: Family members of David Goodall, who became a face of the euthanasia campaign when he went to Switzerland last year to die, say they are supportive of any new legislation that promotes choice for end-of-life services (ABC).

Commentary and Analysis

Russell Mark examines the religious motivations driving MP Tanya Davies in her anti-abortion campaign and her threats to destabilise the New South Wales government (The Saturday Paper).

Dr Meredith Burgmann argues that reform of abortion laws in New South Wales has been frustrated over the years due to the comparatively higher level of religious affiliation in the state and because of the influence of religion in parliament (SMH).

This editorial by The Age calls for constant pressure on churches and other institutions to protect children from predators.

Alastair Lawrie outlines a growing list of problems in regard to the religious discrimination bills.

By providing a federal defence when discrimination claims arise mostly in state tribunals, the ensuing procedural mess will fatally undermine the government’s aim of protecting statements of religious belief, writes human rights barrister Simeon Beckett (SMH).

Academic Sarah Moulds suggests the Morrison government could try ‘splitting’ the controversial religious discrimination bill so to improve the chances of parliament passing the elements that draw broad support (InDaily).

Alastair Lawrie examines how religious discrimination legislation, if enacted, could make “potentially endless” the amount of everday situations where people become subjected to unprovoked ‘judgements’ by religious people (OutInPerth).

All states and territories should be alert and alarmed at the federal government’s “unwanted and unwarranted intrusion” with its overreach in the religious discrimination bills, writes Alastair Lawrie.

Dr Luke Beck, an Ambassador for the National Secular Lobby, discusses in this podcast whether witchcraft laws breach freedom of religion (Just Cases).

That's it for another week!

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