Weekend Wrap for 26 April 2020

A lot of issues of concern to secular-minded Aussies are playing out across the states – from abortion to voluntary assisted dying and institutional sexual abuse. Stay up to date with the latest Weekend Wrap of news and views from the past week!

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

The Inner West Council in New South Wales has voted in favour of a motion that rejected the Morrison government’s proposed Religious Discrimination Bill and called for fair laws to unite the community instead of dividing it (Star Observer).

Catholic and Independent schools have asked federal Education Minister Dan Tehan for emergency funds to help them maintain staff and to minimise the financial impacts of the coronavirus pandemic (The Age).

The Pope has warned of the dangers of Catholics not being able to attend mass in person during the coronavirus pandemic (Catholic Weekly).

Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has revealed in his memoir that he “may never have got into parliament, let alone become prime minister” if it wasn’t for the support of the Jewish community (Australian Jewish News).

Turnbull also revealed that a “powerful constituency in the party and in the churches” worked to hold up the passage of same-sex marriage laws, such as by seeking protections to religious freedom (Q News).

An operative of the Liberal Party's conservative right faction who previously jumped ship to the Family First party 10 years ago is now leading the push for Turnbull to be expelled from the party (9 News).

The Australian War Memorial has not responded to a request from Noosa’s Temple of Satan, headed by activist Robin Bristow, for Satanists to be given equal opportunity to be included in Anzac Day if the ceremonies could not be made secular (The Australian).

Around the Country

NSW: Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher has written to Premier Gladys Berejiklian to request that quarantine and social distancing measures be lifted to allow churches to be opened for private prayer and confessions (Catholic Weekly).

NSW: The head of Catholic Education in the Parramatta Diocese has rejected Premier Berejiklian’s advice for a staggered return to schools for students, saying Catholic schools would not be bound by state directives (Daily Telegraph).

SA: The state’s Department for Education has been urged to apologise to a Muslim family and change school attendance policies after a school raised concerns about the absence of children who were attending Friday prayers at a mosque (ABC).

SA: The Australian Christian Lobby has called on the Premier and cabinet to prevent “agents” within the government from “highjacking” abortion policy during the pandemic emergency (ACL).

SA: Pro-life activists are writing to the state’s police commissioner about the danger of unsupervised medical abortions and are urging him to reject emergency measures to allow women to access to telehealth consultations (Catholic Weekly).

QLD: In an answer to a question from MP Sally Bolton, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has committed to informing the public by the next parliamentary sitting day what the government’s intention will be regarding voluntary assisted dying.

TAS: Independent MP Mike Gaffney remains optimistic that his proposed legislation to make voluntary assisted dying legal in the state could pass both houses of parliament, despite fears about delays due to the coronavirus pandemic (ABC).

WA: A McGowan government minister has publicly criticised the Christian Brothers for a lack of care towards the victims of child sexual abuse and has urged the Catholic Church to close the organisation down (6PR).

VIC: The state’s authorities are deciding whether redacted commentary about Cardinal George Pell from the child sexual abuse royal commission could be publicly released while police continue to investigate new complaints (The Australian).

NSW: A Labor MP who is deputy chair of the Parliamentary Friends of Israel is calling on Premier Gladys Berejiklian to ban the public display of the Nazi flag in the state following an incident in Newtown (Australian Jewish News).

Commentary and Analysis

While Richard Quadrio, a chaplain in the Royal Australian Navy and a Presbyterian minister, notes that some Anzac Day ceremonies remain “thoroughly Christian”, he writes that he expects ceremonies will become increasingly secular and multi-faith in the coming decades (Eternity News).

The rise of Damien Tudehope, an ultra-conservative Catholic, in the New South Wales’ Liberal Party will cast a shadow over Premier Berejiklian’s government, writes Nsalex Mitchell (John Menadue blog).

Mungo MacCallum writes on the lengths that the “faithful choristers” of The Australian have gone in explaining how it was really their man George Pell who was the victim of relentless persecution (John Menadue blog).

James Macpherson writes that having a Prime Minister who expresses his Christianity in public should give us cause for hope and not fear, arguing that the lesson of the 20th century was that godless regimes were “more oppressive than religious ones” (Caldron Pool).

And one that we missed from earlier this month: Journalist Jacqueline Maley and Professor Cristina Rocha discuss the Prime Minister’s Pentecostalism (The Age).

That's it for another week!

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