Weekend Wrap for 24 July 2022

Welcome to the NSL Weekend Wrap for 24 July 2022, where you can catch up on the latest secular-related news from around the country.

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

Former prime minister Scott Morrison has told churchgoers they should put their trust in God — not governments — during a speech focusing on anxiety in Perth. In an address lasting almost 50 minutes, the sitting Cook MP said, "We trust in Him. We don't trust in governments. We don't trust in United Nations, thank goodness." (19 Jul 2022)
Read more at ABC News

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is being lobbied to make changes that will improve access to abortion services in Australian hospitals. On Wednesday the PM said the federal government would not use its powers as a funder of public hospitals to make abortion services accessible, despite a call from Queensland Labor MP Brittany Lauga. “In this country, we don’t control the health system […] states control the health system; they deal with these issues,” the Prime Minister said. (20 Jul 2022)
Read more at The New Daily

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has criticised his predecessor’s use of a "nonsense throwaway conspiracy line" about the United Nations in a church sermon on the weekend, suggesting it was unhelpful as he tries to rebuild Australia’s international standing. (21 Jul 2022)
Read more at The Age

Bill Shorten has intervened to stop a trial of the term “birthing parent” being used on medical forms at several hospitals, amid criticism in News Corp’s Daily Telegraph that the term amounted to “woke erasure”. The term birthing parent was used in a trial at three hospitals on Services Australia digital forms for parents to register their child’s birth with Medicare. Only 1,100 parents had participated in the trial. (21 Jul 2022)
Read more at The Guardian

Medicare item numbers for abortions and pregnancy counselling along with specific funding for reproductive health are needed to create a fairer national abortion system, according to MSI Australia. State and federal women’s safety ministers are meeting on Friday for the first time since the Albanese government was elected. A 10-year plan to end violence against women and children, gender equity issues and the need for a specific plan for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are expected to be discussed. (22 Jul 2022)
Read more at The Guardian

The leader of the Greek Orthodox Church in Australia, Archbishop Makarios Griniezakis, is suing several of his and the church’s critics, including journalists and bloggers, with the help of one of the country’s top defamation lawyers. Griniezakis is targeting articles alleging that the church failed to act on alleged sexual abuse by the clergy, improperly appointed senior clergy in Australia, and a range of other accusations. (22 Jul 2022)
Read more at The Age

Around the Country

TAS: Ahead of a potential ban on conversion 'therapy' in Tasmania, a petition being pushed by the Australian Christian Lobby says the community has been "taken by surprise" by the push to outlaw conversion practices and urges it be reconsidered. Conversion practice, or therapy based on the belief a person's gender identity or sexuality can be changed is still legal in more than half of Australian jurisdictions. (17 Jul 2022)
Read more at ABC News

NSW: A mayor whose council recently replaced Christian prayer recitals with a brief period of reflection at the opening of its meetings would like to see other local, state and federal parliaments follow suit. Mayor Amanda Findley of the Shoalhaven City Council, located on the New South Wales south coast, said the model of opening meetings with a moment of silent reflection promoted inclusion. (18 Jul 2022)
Read more at the RSA

NT: The Northern Territory government has proposed changes to its Anti-Discrimination Act to ban religious institutions from refusing to hire or sacking staff from being LGBTQI. The proposed draft of the changes to the law to protect LGBTQI employees as well as other marginalised groups have been released for public consultation. (19 Jul 2022)
Read more at the Star Observer

WA: The parents and carers behind a push for the religious requirement to be removed from the chaplaincy roles in their public primary school say they just want the "best person for the job". In an interview on ABC Radio Perth, Ashley Greig, the vice-president for the Maylands Peninsula Primary School’s P&C, said the requirement for chaplains to be people "of faith" was "a bit out of place" with the school’s diverse community. (19 Jul 2022)
Read more at the RSA

QLD: Supporters and activists talk about the progress of the bureaucratic scaffolding being erected by government agencies to support the new VAD laws – which they believe are the best in Australia – from next year. (23 Jul 2022)
Read more at the Brisbane Times

Commentary and Analysis

Peter FitzSimonsReason, religion and tax: should churches still be considered charities?: "In the wake of the census revealing Australia’s continuing drift away from religion, Victorian politician Fiona Patten of the Reason Party called for religions to lose their tax-exempt status. I spoke to her on the subject, followed by the Reverend Michael Jensen in Sydney, before calling the relevant federal minister, Andrew Leigh." (17 Jul 2022)
Read more at The Age

Nevena SpirovskaThe cost of adverse LGBTIQ+ mental health: "The LGBTIQ+ community itself understands the cost of poor mental health outcomes, but a new, first-of-its-kind report commissioned by LGBTIQ+ community-controlled organisation and healthcare service provider Thorne Harbor Health has not only put a dollar figure on it, but has also revealed that the rate of lifetime mental health for LGBTIQ+ Victorians is 73 per cent, significantly higher than the general population’s 46 per cent." (18 Jul 2022)
Read more at Pro Bono Australia

Jenna PriceMorrison’s right: We don’t trust in governments, especially his: "...in a world of Boris Johnson and Donald Trump, where it looked like our international siblings had it much worse, our distrust of government plunged at a greater rate than it did in either Britain or the US. This is what Morrison’s behaviour as PM and as leader of the government did to our valuable attitudes of trust in those who run our country. His sermon on Sunday is near clinically cynical and he’s clearly more at home in front of a Pentacostal congregation, unquestioning and faithful, than he was in front of the Australian population." (19 Jul 2022)
Read more at The Age

Michael Pascoe‘God’s plan’ – blaming God for human failures is a bit rich: "Whether you are a believer or not, such fatalism might be a cuddly security blanket, but it is not a healthy thing to look for in people in positions of responsibility. ... "It's all God's plan" is a seductive little belief, not as perverse as the Hillsong "God wants you to be rich" prosperity theology, but appealing in its echo of the sort of thinking that gave us the divine right of kings. It makes a strong argument for the separation of church and state, for reaffirming that government needs to be secular." (20 Jul 2022)
Read more at The New Daily

Michelle PiniMorrison Courts Pentecostal world domination: "Scott Morrison is continuing the Pentecostal agenda in Opposition, undermining the system of government he is still paid to uphold. IA managing editor Michelle Pini takes a look at the former PM's aggressively expanding cult." (21 Jul 2022)
Read more at Independent Australia

Monica DoumitContext to the latest Pell case: "The civil proceedings against Cardinal Pell are for the same allegations of which he was acquitted by the High Court. Of the two former choirboys who were the alleged victims in the criminal proceedings, one tragically died in 2014 having never made a complaint against the Cardinal. His father is suing the Cardinal and the Archdiocese of Melbourne for “damages for nervous shock”. (22 Jul 2022)
Read more at The Catholic Weekly

Greg SheridanLost in the secular desert: Christianity under siege: "Christianity’s enemies in Australia stand poised to prosecute a bewildering range of legal attacks against Christians and their institutions, designed mainly to prevent them speaking in the public square. The NSW euthanasia law obliges Christian retirement homes to welcome kill teams into their homes. Legislation in some states, especially Victoria, makes it extremely difficult for Christian schools to hire Christian teachers other than for the principal, chaplain and perhaps religious knowledge teachers." (23 Jul 2022)
Read more at The Australian

Events and Campaigns

The RSA is hosting a webinar featuring Jack Galvin Waight, Regional Organiser for the New South Wales Teachers Federation, on 27th July. Galvin Waight will speak about the continuing influence of and interference by religious interests in the public education system, especially regarding Special Religious Education (SRE) in New South Wales. Register here.

There is a parliamentary petition asking the Tasmanian government to "Pass Laws to Prohibit LGBTIQA+ Conversion Practices". View the petition here. Closes 18 August.

A new petition from the RSA is aiming to build enough momentum before the federal parliament resumes to put the issue of Christian prayer rituals on the agenda of newly elected representatives heading to Canberra. Sign the petition here.

A petition currently running on change.org calls for private schools to pay back their unnecessary Jobkeeper payments. View the petition 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.

Minister for Human Rights, Tara Cheyne, is running a petition calling on the Australian government to restore the right of Territories to pass laws on VAD. She also recommends people email the Commonwealth Attorney-General with their views, at attorney@ag.gov.au.

Dying With Dignity NSW has a tool that makes it easy for people to contact their federal MPs and senators to request help in repealing the "Andrews Bill", the 1997 legislation which denies the Territories the right to pass legislation on Voluntary Assisted Dying.

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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