Weekend Wrap for 26 September 2021
Welcome to the NSL Weekend Wrap for 26 September 2021, where you can catch up on the latest secular-related news from around the country.
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
Two online petitions opposing COVID-19 rules on religious grounds have garnered signatures from more than a thousand religious leaders from Hillsong, Baptist, Lutheran and other churches, as well as contributions from right-wing politicians such as George Christensen and Mark Latham. (The Guardian)
Could there be a religious exemption for the COVID-19 vaccine? (ABC News)
Regional Australians will have better access to voluntary euthanasia under a Queensland-led push to overhaul commonwealth law that bans doctors from “inciting or counselling” suicide over the phone or internet. (The Australian; Paywalled)
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has indicated in a letter to the Rationalist Society of Australia that his proposed Religious Discrimination Bill would seek to provide the same protections for religious belief and activity as other attributes, such as race, age and sex. (RSA)
A poll commissioned by the Australian Christian Lobby has found a good level of support for religious protections. (CathNews)
Cardinal George Pell has spent the past several months in Sydney, as the Catholic Church prepares for its first reform conference in more than 80 years. (The Saturday Paper)
Around the Country
NSW: The NSW Supreme Court has rejected an attempt by the Catholic church to stop a sexual abuse survivor suing it over the childhood abuse she suffered at the hands of a parish priest, despite its own records showing it knew the man was a paedophile but did nothing other than move him from parish to parish. (The Guardian)
WA: The former Anglican Archbishop of Perth Roger Herft elected not to appear in front of a church standards board which could defrock the priest over findings from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse. (WA Today)
NSW: Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP is calling on Catholics in NSW to fight the push for assisted suicide laws in the state after Queensland lost its own battle last week. (The Catholic Weekly)
VIC: The Melbourne diocese of the Anglican church received almost $16m in jobkeeper subsidies in 2020, enough to clear its estimated sexual abuse compensation bill of $14.3m, accounts filed with the charities regulator show. (The Guardian)
NSW: A cross-party group of New South Wales MPs have called on the state Education Minister to reject anti-transgender education legislation from One Nation’s Mark Latham. (Q News)
NSW: A series of meetings has begun to help rectors and churchwardens grapple with COVID health measures as Freedom Day approaches in New South Wales in October. (Sydney Anglicans)
VIC: More on Victorian Liberal leader Matthew Guy's supposed promise to roll back the state’s "world-leading" law banning harmful conversion practices. (Star Observer)
NSW: Greens MP for Newtown Jenny Leong has spoken out about how bullying and toxic politics were used to suppress democratic outcomes in the ongoing NSW Religious Freedom debate. (Green Left)
QLD: Queensland's members of parliament voted emphatically to legalise euthanasia last week, reflecting public opinion, but "without heeding Church, medical and ethical advice that it signals a life-or-death societal shift". (The Catholic Leader)
QLD: The Rationalist Society of Australia is seeking ministerial support from within the Queensland government to see that religious-based discrimination is finally removed from the chaplaincy program in the public school system. (RSA)
Commentary and Analysis
Paul Gregoire writes on the amendments to the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 being introduced in NSW, so that religion will be an attribute protected against discriminatory behaviour -- and the fact that these laws are being modelled upon a piece of legislation drafted by One Nation Party NSW leader Mark Latham. (Sydney Criminal Lawyers)
Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott writes that "Catholic social teaching has an important role to shape our thinking and our characters but not to direct our policies." (The Australian)
Events and Advisories
Sign up to the #DontDivideUs campaign, currently being run by a group of pro-secular groups including the NSL, to act against the proposed Religious Discrimination Bill.
DwD NSW are petitioning the NSW Parliament to work together to deliver voluntary assisted dying laws in 2021.
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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