A battle has broken out over the tradition of reciting Christian prayers at the Mornington Shire council. Catch up on that story and more in the new Weekend Wrap of secular news 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
Attorney-General Christian Porter expects to meet with Prime Minister Scott Morrison soon to discuss the timing for the Religious Discrimination Bill’s introduction to parliament in the new year (The West, paywalled).
Three Aboriginal men who were sexually assaulted as young boys by a paedophile priest are seeking to hold the world’s most senior Catholic personally responsible, with Pope Francis being named as a defendant in a Victorian Supreme Court damages case (SMH).
Jewish groups have welcomed a statement from shadow minister for foreign affairs Senator Penny Wong reaffirming Labor’s commitment to Israel’s security and the fight against antisemitism (Australian Jewish News).
Anglicare was among the welfare groups that warned a Senate committee that the Morrison government’s plans to cut the level of coronavirus-related welfare support from January were “cruel and damaging” (CathNews).
Catholic Social Services Australia is among a coalition of more than 200 groups and individuals calling on parliamentarians to block proposed changes to responsible lending laws, warning that easing lending obligations will inflict long-term damage on the community (CathNews).
People who attend a church are among the least likely to agree with the strategy of testing illicit drugs at festivals, according to new analysis based on data from the 2019 Australian Election Study (SMH).
Lyle Shelton, the former director of the Australian Christian Lobby who headed the failed 'no' campaign against marriage equality, has blamed “fear of being labeled a bigot” as the reason for driving a majority of Australians to vote 'yes' (Out in Perth).
Around the Country
VIC: Actor, dancer and now councillor Paul Mercurio told a Mornington Shire council meeting that he did not “really wish to sit on a council” that recited prayer as part of formal proceedings, as efforts to bring on an urgency motion on the issue failed (Herald Sun).
VIC: In bringing on the motion of ‘urgency’ to discuss the prayer issue, newly elected Mornington Shire councillor Anthony Marsh told colleagues that saying a Christian prayer at the start of council meetings was not in the “interests of inclusivity” (Mornington Peninsula News).
VIC: LGBTIQ advocates have welcomed the proposed Victorian legislation to outlaw conversion practices, saying the bill sends “a powerful message” and establishes strong mechanisms for dealing with harmful conversions practices (Out in Perth).
VIC: The Australian Christian Lobby has warned that the proposed law on banning gay conversion practices “may crush Christian expressions of gender and sexuality" and criminalise private discussions among family members and at churches (ACL).
QLD: In officially opening parliament and delivering a speech on behalf of Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, Governor Paul de Jersey spoke of the Labor government’s promise to legalise voluntary assisted dying (The Australian, paywalled).
QLD: Newly appointed opposition leader David Crisafulli has pledged to grant his Liberal and National colleagues a conscience vote when voluntary assisted dying laws are introduced into the state parliament next year (Courier Mail, paywalled).
TAS: One parliamentarian has told the Australian Christian Lobby that they hoped the group’s recent letterbox campaign against Mike Gaffney’s voluntary assisted dying bill would be effective in bringing about an inquiry (ACL).
WA: Zak Kirkup, a first-time parliamentarian and moderate who voted for voluntary assisted dying last year, is among the favourites to take over the state’s Liberal Party leadership following the stepping down of Liza Harvey (ABC).
QLD: The Noosa Temple of Satan has formally asked the Brisbane City Council to remove Christian prayers from the opening of council meetings and has threatened to make a complaint to the Queensland Human Rights Commission if the council continues to impose the recital of prayer.
SA: The Australian Christian Lobby is urging Christians to voice their objection to a “Liberal attack” on their beliefs, as the Marshall government considers legislation to narrow exemptions afforded religious bodies (ACL).
NSW: Ahead of a street rally to protest Mark Latham’s proposed Education Legislation Amendment (Parental Rights) Bill, the Community Action For Rainbow Rights group said it was important to keep up the fight as Latham continued “liaising behind the scenes with hard-right conservative and religious groups” (Star Observer).
VIC: A Jewish school has launched a wellbeing policy for its LGBTQI students to ensure a safe and inclusive community for all students and staff members, identifying homophobic, biphobic or transphobic language as discrimination (Star Observer).
NSW: The Anglican Church has asked the state’s health minister to further ease COVID-19 restrictions that will limit the number of singers in Christmas choirs, arguing that inconsistency remains between the treatment of Christian worship and concert performances (SMH).
WA: The City of Perth's administration is now scrambling to prepare to hold a Christmas nativity play at short notice and with limited resources after the newly-elected council voted to reinstate the event (SMH).
WA: The Australian Christian Lobby has commended new Perth mayor Basil Zempilas for honouring his election commitment to attempt to bring back the Christmas nativity event (ACL).
VIC: Five former Trinity College students who were sexually abused by their teacher at a regional Catholic school have launched legal action against the Christian Brothers, accusing the religious order of breaching the duty of care it owed them (The Age).
NSW: A man who made a court appearance wearing a colander on his head and claiming to be a member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster now claims to be too mentally unwell to face the judge who labelled his attire as “absurd and ridiculous behaviour” (The New Daily).
Commentary and Analysis
The Australian Christian Lobby’s Martyn Iles writes that new laws to ban gay conversion practices “are a ruse being used to restrict” Christian freedoms and represent an “anti-Christian dog whistle” (ACL).
In previewing the forthcoming four years for the returned Palaszczuk government, Matt Wordsworth writes that legislating for voluntary assisted dying will prove a difficult conscious vote for many (ABC).