Weekend Wrap for 26 January 2020

Concerns about the implications of the draft Religious Discrimination Bill are being raised at the local level across the country. This is the new edition of the Weekend Wrap, bringing you news and views from the secular space for 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!

The National View

A Satanist group has pledged to make full use of any new privileges forthcoming if a Religious Discrimination Act were to pass the federal parliament, outlining in its submission to the draft bill its demands for equal treatment (Daily Mail).

Amnesty International has launched a petition calling for the Morrison government to scrap the draft Religious Discrimination Bill and, instead, introduce a Human Rights Act to defend all rights, not just some (Amnesty).

A Buddhist LGBTIQ group that will join an upcoming protest in Sydney against the Religious Discrimination Bill says the proposed legislation is set to severely impact human rights and make targets of vulnerable communities (Star Observer).

Conservative senator Cory Bernardi, who in his maiden speech pledged to be “guided by God”, has officially resigned from politics after a 13-year career (ABC).

Former prime minister Tony Abbott has likened the public discussion linking extreme weather events with climate change to having “almost a religious aspect to it” (The Age).

Around the Country

SA: A group identifying as ‘Christian Radicals’ have compared members of the LGBTIQ community with Nazis in a religious pamphlet distributed to letterboxes in an Adelaide suburb, prompting concerns about ‘grey areas’ between state and federal anti-discrimination legislation (InDaily).

TAS: A new group, Devils In The Detail, concerned that new laws could empower religious preaching in public areas of Hobart, has formed to counter the Religious Discrimination Bill (Bent Air radio).

VIC: Councillors at Yarra City have pushed back against the evangelical church Hillsong’s attempts to infiltrate public schools, saying young LGBTIQ people did not need to be exposed to the church’s teachings (Herald Sun: paywall).

VIC: A group of medical ethicists have warned that a provision in the state’s assisted dying laws that prevents doctors from instigating conversations about the end-of-life option was operating as a “gag clause” and undermining their ethical obligations to patients (The Age).

QLD: The Australian Association of Social Workers is calling on the state government to further restrict the practice of conversion therapy by extending it to cover non-regulated professionals (Star Observer).

ACT: People wearing religious headwear while cycling will no longer face fines in the territory for not wearing helmets (SBS).

NSW: The Catholic church is attempting to stop one of its own priests from suing it for the alleged child abuse that took place when he was an altar bar (The Guardian).

WA: The Christian Brothers have admitted that several brothers sexually abused a man when he was a child at boys’ homes in Perth, but have suggested he deserved less in compensation because his poor upbringing meant he had a low earning capacity (ABC).

WA: A group of Aboriginal elders have asked the state’s discrimination watchdog if they could ban Christian missionaries from coming to their region (MSN).

WA: Survivors of abuse at the hands of Catholic Benedictine monks in New Norcia, which was identified by the royal commission as the site of some of the nation’s worst offending, believe not enough is being done to acknowledge the history of abuse (The New Daily).

Commentary and Analysis

The infiltration of the federal Liberal Party by religious fundamentalists is directly shaping policy across a range of issues such as climate change, disability funding and social welfare, writes ‘John Wren’ (Independent Australia).

In taking a look at Scott Morrison’s Pentecostalism, James Joyce writes that the Prime Minister’s beliefs are “contrary to the teachings of mainstream Protestant denominations and the Catholic Church” (The Monthly).

While some are calling for Victoria’s assisted dying laws to be amended to allow doctors to instigate conversation about the end-of-life option, The Age, in this editorial, argues it would be unwise to begin unpicking the carefully designed laws.

'Strewth' columnist Alice Workman takes a look at the Satanists of Noosa, who are eagerly awaiting the gates of Hell opening upon the introduction of a Religious Discrimination Act (The Australian).

That's it for another week!

Until next time, please follow us on Twitter and on Facebook.

Whatever you do, don't miss our summer BBQ Stoppers series on the Religious Discrimination Bill!

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!