Weekend Wrap for 25 October 2020

There has been plenty of pushback by religious groups on COVID-19 restrictions across the country and on voluntary assisted dying. Keep informed of secular issues making news in the past week with the latest Weekend Wrap.

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

Newly released documents from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse show that Anglican and Catholic churches knew of allegations against notorious paedophile priests and missed crucial opportunities to stop them abusing other children (The Guardian).

The Australian Bureau of Statistics' deputy statistician has revealed that she takes a keen interest in the religion question on the census, citing the emergence of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and Jedi as a reflection of a changing society (ABC).

AFP Deputy Commissioner Ian McCartney has said young Australians are being "aggressively radicalised" through right-wing extremism, but Islamic-inspired terrorism remained the biggest threat (SBS).

Pope Francis’ backing of same-sex civil unions in his most explicit statement on the issue is set to enrage his conservative opponents within the Catholic Church (The Guardian).

In the wake of Pope Francis’ endorsement of same-sex civil unions and LGBTIQ inclusion, LGBTIQ advocacy organisation just.equal has called on Australia’s Catholic bishops to repudiate LGBTIQ conversion practices and embrace discrimination protections for LGBTIQ people (Out in Perth).

Coalition senators Matt Canavan and Eric Abetz are among many conservatives in the ‘Christian soldiers’ faction who have thrown their support behind David van Gend, who believes homosexuality is treatable, for preselection for the safe Liberal-National Party federal seat of Groom (The Guardian).

Financial crimes regulator AUSTRAC has passed information to police about allegations of money being transferred from the Vatican to Australia n relation to the trial of Cardinal George Pell following speculation that money was used to secure evidence against Pell (ABC).

Around the Country

QLD: Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has denied picking a fight with the churches on the issue of voluntary assisted dying after announcing that a re-elected Labor government would bring forward legislation in February (The Australian).

QLD: Opposition leader Deb Frecklington has refused to outline her stance on voluntary assisted dying (Brisbane Times).

QLD: Catholic Archbishop Mark Coleridge has questioned the Labor government's decision to "rush" voluntary assisted dying legislation, arguing that the government had now made the issue "intensely political"(The Australian).

QLD: Townsville Bishop Harris labelled the Palaszczuk government’s pledge to bring forward voluntary assisted dying laws if re-elected a "clear election stunt" (Catholic Leader).

QLD: By putting voluntary assisted dying on centre stage, the Labor government had made the election a "life-or-death election" said the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL).

QLD: The leader of Katter’s Australian Party has warned that the party would be unlikely to support any other party pushing for voluntary assisted dying laws (Courier Mail).

QLD: Senator Pauline Hanson branded the state government’s move to put voluntary assisted dying legislation on the agenda for the election campaign as a ‘red herring’ (Sky News).

TAS: The Legislative Council could resolve voluntary assisted dying legislation by the end of this coming week, with the bill then to be presented to the House of Assembly for concurrence (The Examiner).

TAS: In this radio interview, Independent MLC Mike Gaffney encouraged members of the lower house to “do all they can to vote and debate” on his voluntary assisted dying bill this year (ABC, from 14.10 minute mark).

QLD: Brisbane City Council is expected to retain its traditional Christian prayer to open council chamber meetings (Brisbane Times).

NSW: In speaking on the religious freedom bill before the state parliament, the leader of a major church group said it was disingenuous to portray Australian Christians as victims of persecution (SMH).

NSW: Australian Lawyers for Human Rights has described the ‘religious freedom’ bill put forward by One Nation’s state leader Mark Latham as deeply flawed, saying it would “privilege and protect religiously-based discrimination by organisations over the rights of individuals to be free from discrimination” (Out in Perth).

VIC: Catholic Archbishop Peter Comensoli has again hit out at the Victorian government’s treatment of religious communities, arguing that he was “deeply shocked and disappointed at the disparity” imposed in the state’s ongoing COVID-19 restrictions (Catholic Leader).

VIC: As churches in regional Victoria remained limited to 20 people for outside services while pubs were allowed 70 outside and 40 inside, religious figures accused the government of failing to produce scientific backing for the disparity (Herald Sun).

VIC: The Islamic community are fearful of a “fresh wave of hatred” after the infection of a student with COVID-19 at an Islamic school sparked fears of a new outbreak in Melbourne’s north-west (The Guardian).

NSW: The state government has announced changes to coronavirus restrictions for religious gatherings after lobbying by church leaders, with congregations of up to 300 now allowed to attend services (The New Daily).

NSW: Hillsong founder Brian Houston pressed the state government to lift restrictions on churches, arguing that Christians were being discriminated against (SBS).

WA: The Australian Christian Lobby has branded new rules on COVID-19 restrictions in the state as “unfair” on religious communities (ACL).

QLD: Education Minister Grace Grace criticised the Noosa Temple of Satan’s efforts to introduce Satanic religious instruction into public schools, labeling the temple’s handing out of fliers at a school in her electorate as “a political stunt” and suggesting police action in response (Courier Mail).

QLD: The Noosa Temple of Satan called on the Prime Minister to protect their religious freedom in response after Education Minister Grace Grace “unfairly threatened police action” against it.

QLD: The Noosa Temple of Satan flew a sky banner over the Sunshine Coast advocating for the group’s religious freedoms (Noosa News).

QLD: The Jewish community welcomed commitments of funding from all levels of government for the development of a Holocaust Museum and Education Centre, with a total of $7.5 million promised across local, state and federal governments (J-Wire).

NSW: The state’s annual Police Remembrance Service was held in a synagogue, with senior policy and members of parliament in attendance and reciting prayers (Australian Jewish News).

Commentary and Analysis

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