Weekend Wrap for 28 September 2019

There’s plenty happening in the secular space around Australia. Here’s your chance to catch up on some of the latest news and viewpoints of the past week in this Weekend Wrap.

Don’t forget that the Weekend Wrap, which aims to help secular-minded Australians keep abreast of news, is also published on our Facebook page!

The National View

The Jewish community’s peak body is calling on the Morrison government to reconsider the 'Folau clause' in its proposed religious discrimination legislation, arguing that it is unfair and unclear (SMH).

Court documents filed by Rugby Australia suggest that Israel Folau had, at a tribunal hearing, conceded to having breached his Rugby Australia contract and offered to issue an apology (The Guardian).

The religious freedom and discrimination debate is taking a heavy toll on the LGBTIQ+ community, with a new survey showing that 80 per cent of people feel worse now compared to during the marriage plebiscite (OutInPerth).

Prime Minister Morrison has sought to avoid questions from the media about the claim that he lobbied for Hillsong preacher Brian Houston to be invited to a White House dinner, describing the reports as “gossip” (The Guardian).

Police have confirmed that Hillsong preacher Brian Houston remains under police investigation for allegedly failing to report his father’s sexual abuse of children (The New Daily).

In a "strongly-worded statement" to media outlets, Hillsong has threatened possible defamation lawsuits relating to reports about the church’s preacher Brian Houston (The New Daily).

Catholic leaders are considering scrapping the seminary system for training priests, as more evidence comes to light of how seminaries were breeding grounds for peadophiles (The Age).

And from New Zealand: The sharp increase in the number of non-religious people in New Zealand, with them now far out-numbering religious people, has sparked calls for an end to entrenched religious privilege (Newshub).

Around the Country

VIC: The Catholic Church is set to make a multi-million-dollar pay-out to a man who was abused as a boy in the confessional, with this settlement likely to have a massive impact on hundreds of other lawsuits (SMH).

VIC: The Catholic Church has been swamped by legal actions for child sex abuse cases following the government’s decision to abolish the so-called ‘Ellis defence’, with the surge in cases sugggesting that abuse survivors are abandoning the federal government’s National Redress Scheme (The Age).

WA: Attention now turns to the upper house of parliament where 18 votes are needed to pass laws allowing voluntary assisted dying in the state, after the lower house voted overwhelmingly in favour of it (ABC).

TAS: The state’s parliament will vote next year on whether to make voluntary assisted dying available to Tasmanisans, with legislation currently being drafted by independent MP Mike Gaffney (Examiner).

VIC: Terminally ill people are being thwarted from accessing voluntary assisted dying because they don’t have key identification documents, including one woman who was born in the United Kingdom but has lived as a permanent resident in Australia for almost 60 years and cannot find her visa documentation (SMH).

NSW: Last-minute changes to the abortion decriminalisation bills, which passed the parliament this week, were "unnecessary" but are manageable, according to medical experts (The Guardian).

TAS: Tasmanians will be rallying today in Hobart against the federal government’s proposed religious discrimination bills that would override of the state’s stronger protections for the LGBTIQ+ community (Star Observer).

NSW: Inspired by the case of Israel Folau, One Nation MP Mark Latham is putting forward a private member’s bill to protect people from being fired for their religious beliefs (The Australian).

Commentary and Analysis

No longer in control of marriages and births, religious authoritarians will now fight hard against voluntary assisted dying to control the way we die, writes Jane Caro, who is an Ambassador for the National Secular Lobby (10Daily).

Anna Halafoff and Gary Bouma make the case for why religious instruction in state schools needs to be replaced with worldviews education (ABC).

Equality activist Rodney Croome writes that he is hopeful that the current 'religious privilege challenge' will galvanise the LGBTIQ+ community and summon forth new leaders to defend the gains of past campaigns (OutInPerth).

Cait Kelly takes a closer look at the background of Hillsong preacher Brian Houston and the damage left behind by his father (The New Daily).

The cultural shift in Australian society, brought about by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses into Child Sexual Abuse, empowered Ben Giggins to break his silence and take on his abuser, Anglican dean Graeme Lawrence: (7am Podcast).

Men’s behaviour counsellor Suresh Ruberan explores how the culture of the Catholic Church facilitates child abuse (Independent Australia).

Voluntary assisted dying campaigner Tanya Battel shares her battle with terminal cancer and her efforts to put the issue on the Queensland government’s agenda (Go Gentle Australia).

The decline in religious belief in Australia is among the many possible factors driving down enrolment numbers at Catholic schools, writes Zoran Endekov (The Conversation).


The NSL's ambassador, Fiona Patten MP, will be going head-to-head against the Australian Christian Lobby's MD Martyn Iles in a debate on the proposed "religious freedom" legislation on 9th October 2019 at the National Press Club, Canberra, televised on ABC TV. More information and ticket sales here.

That's it for another week!

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