Weekend Wrap for 3 July 2022

Welcome to the NSL Weekend Wrap for 3 July 2022, where you can catch up on the latest secular-related news from around the country.

Big news this week with the release of the first tranche of 2021 census data, and some dramatic changes recorded in religiosity in Australia. The 'No religion' result is up from 30.1% in 2016 to 38.9% in 2021, while the figure for Christianity experienced an almost directly corresponding fall from 52.1% in 2016 to 43.9% in 2021. The broadening diversity in religious belief, as well as  the general decrease in religiosity overall, underline the need for secularism in our government and social policy.

Do you have any news items, campaigns, petitions, webinars or other event notices that could be added to our weekly Wrap? Let us know at wrap@nsl.org.au.

At the National Level

Australian politicians respond to US supreme court’s decision on abortion rights. Some say the decision in Roe v Wade will 'save lives' but prime minister Anthony Albanese emphasises 'in Australia, this is not a matter for partisan political debate'. (27 Jun 2022)
Read more at The Guardian

Australia has become strikingly more godless over the past decade, with the latest census data showing the proportion of self-identified Christians dropping below 50 per cent for the first time and a soaring number of people describing themselves as “non-religious”. (28 Jun 2022)
Read more at the Sydney Morning Herald

The federal government will quickly move to give Australian territories the right to set their own voluntary assisted dying laws the new minister for territories, Kristy McBain says, with a bill to be presented to parliament within weeks. (30 Jun 2022)
Read more at The Guardian

The surge in people identifying as having no religion in the national census should lead to public resources being more equitably allocated between non-religious and religious Australians, says the Rationalist Society of Australia. (1 Jul 2022)
Read more at the RSA

Thousands have rallied across Australia in a show of solidarity with abortion rights protesters in the US following the overturning of Roe v Wade. As well as responding to the limiting of abortion access in the US, the gatherings across cities including Melbourne, Sydney and Hobart were organised to draw attention to how expensive and difficult abortions can be within Australia. (3 Jul 2022)
Read more at ABC News

Around the Country

VIC: Harriet Shing and Steve Dimopoulos were children when homosexuality was decriminalised in Victoria, but they've now made history by becoming Victoria’s first openly gay frontbenchers, having been sworn in as cabinet ministers on Monday at Government House. (27 Jun 2022)
Read more at The Age

WA: A Perth couple have shared their frustration that their child’s school is refusing their request to accept their new non-binary gender name. The religious-based school is insisting on continuing to use the student's former name, citing a school policy introduced late last year that rules out recognising non-binary or transgender students. (27 Jun 2022)
Read more at Out in Perth

VIC: Brighton Secondary College principal Richard Minack has again apologised in the Federal Court, this time to former students Matt and Joel Kaplan, who cited “anti-Semitism” as the reason they left the school. (29 Jun 2022)
Read more at the Sydney Morning Herald

SA: South Australian politicians from across the aisle will attend a pro-life event on Saturday that is aimed at encouraging young people to "fight for the human rights of the unborn", just days before the state's laws decriminalising abortion come into effect. (1 Jul 2022)
Read more at ABC News

NSW: Unions NSW filed pleadings in the high court on Thursday, targeting so-called “acting-in-concert” laws that ban unions and other third-party organisations such as religious and community groups from pooling resources during election campaigns. (1 Jul 2022)
Read more at The Guardian

NSW: Churches are turning into religious versions of political parties, in which adherents must toe the party line and publicly attest to views with which they privately disagree in order to remain a member, a dissident Anglican rector has warned. (1 Jul 2022)
Read more at the Sydney Morning Herald

WA: WA's voluntary assisted dying laws have been in place for a year. Have they served their purpose? Based on the most recent data, 682 people took the first step in the initial 12 months of WA's voluntary assisted dying (VAD) laws, with about a quarter ultimately using the scheme to end their lives. That is between three and four times greater than what was expected. (1 Jul 2022)
Read more at ABC News

TAS: Equality advocates have welcomed a statement from the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute (TLRI) addressing an alleged misinformation campaign by the Catholic Church about its report on banning LGBTIQA+ conversion practices. (1 Jul 2022)
Read more at Out in Perth

Commentary and Analysis

Neil FosterACT Discrimination Law 'Reforms' Narrow Religious Freedom: "The Australian Capital Territory government has released an Exposure Draft of a Bill to amend that jurisdiction’s Discrimination Act 1991. They have invited public comment by 1 July 2022. As key protections for religious freedom in Australia are often found in 'balancing clauses' in discrimination legislation, it is always worth keeping an eye on reforms to these laws. Sadly, these proposed reforms will significantly narrow religious freedom protections in the ACT." (26 Jun 2022)
Read more at Law and Religion Australia

Matthew Knott and Angus ThomsonAbandoning God: Christianity plummets as ‘non-religious’ surges in census: "In the mid-1960s, less than 1 per cent of people in Australia identified as having no religion. Based on current trends, non-believers could overtake Christians as the biggest religious bloc in Australia by the time the next census is conducted in 2026." (28 Jun 2022)
Read more at the Sydney Morning Herald

Allan DaleShifting from chaplains to secular student welfare officers can be divisive. Here’s how schools can manage the risks: "The new federal Labor government is ending the compulsory religious aspect of the A$60 million-a-year National School Chaplaincy Program. The change comes as newly released census data show only 44% of Australians now identify as Christian. The new rules will give Australian schools a fresh choice between a chaplain or a secular student welfare officer, but this change creates a potential for conflict within school communities." (28 Jun 2022)
Read more at The Conversation

Heidi NichollCensus results mean religions should stop getting special treatment: "The non-religious basic principle of fairness should prompt us to look again at how much public funding religious bodies enjoy, and I believe that those almost 10 million non-religious Australians have some reasonable questions about how religious organisations can be automatically classed as charities and granted tax-exempt status for many of their activities." (28 Jun 2022)
Read more at the Sydney Morning Herald

Renae Barker'No religion' is Australia’s second-largest religious group – and it’s having a profound effect on our laws: "Australia is often described as a secular country and this ongoing movement from religion to “no religion” is one way this manifests. The numbers are interesting but, as a legal academic, I am more interested in what they mean in practice and how this ongoing shift in Australia’s religious demographics plays out in our laws." (28 Jun 2022)
Read more at The Conversation

Michael EassonThe 'Jewish vote' and the 2022 federal election: "There is a widespread conceit that, because Australian Jewry is largely economically successful, the Australian Labor Party (ALP) can write them off as unlikely supporters of progressive candidates in elections. This is egregious nonsense — for at least four reasons." (29 Jun 2022)
Read more at ABC Religion & Ethics

David SmithMost Australians don’t identify as Christians — why, and what does this mean for our politics?: "If the political causes of declining Christian identification are unclear, the political consequences are more obvious. In nine years of Coalition government, bookended by two of the most devoutly Christian Prime Ministers in Australian history, Australia’s laws around marriage, abortion, and euthanasia all moved further away from traditional Christian positions." (30 Jun 2022)
Read more at ABC Religion & Ethics

Ben BolandHow and why chaplains came to share the love of Jesus: "The recent debate about chaplaincy in schools between feminist author and commentator Jane Caro and biblical scholar and author John Dickson has brought to the fore the question of ‘What is a chaplain?’. I am certainly not a neutral party, having worked as an aged-care chaplain for the past 13 years, but perhaps a practitioner’s perspective could be helpful?" (30 Jun 2022)
Read more at Eternity News

Chris Kenny‘No religion’ census push the ‘product of a political campaign’: "Sky News host Chris Kenny says the data from the 2021 census show there are fewer Australians who are religious than ever but this is the 'product of a political campaign'." (30 Jun 2022)
Watch at Sky News

Danielle KutchelWhat Australia thinks about Roe v Wade: "Advocates in Australia have called on governments to do more to ensure abortion is not only legal, but accessible. Here, we share some of the responses to the Supreme Court’s shock decision." (1 Jul 2022)
Read more at Pro Bono Australia

Jordan BakerPrivate school funding exposes the nation’s lack of heart: "Sydney’s wealthiest schools continue to spend ever more money on unnecessary facilities as millions of taxpayer dollars flow into their bank accounts. The chasm between the social justice of the schools’ religious faith and the opulence of their facilities grows ever wider, while political leaders are too worried about a backlash to act on the obvious moral travesty." (2 Jul 2022)
Read more at the Sydney Morning Herald

Events and Campaigns

A petition currently running on change.org calls for private schools to pay back their unnecessary Jobkeeper payments. View the petition here.

Sally Goldner is running a petition on an open letter to three key people in the new Labor government calling for speedy action on federal LGBTIQA+ reforms. View the petition here.

The Australian Education Union is running a campaign calling for “every school, every child” to receive fair education funding. Support the campaign here.

Funding for public schools has been cut in the latest budget but funding for school chaplains has been assured. A change.org petition is currently calling on the federal government to fund youth workers rather faith-based chaplains in our public schools.

Minister for Human Rights, Tara Cheyne, is running a petition calling on the Australian government to restore the right of Territories to pass laws on VAD. She also recommends people email the Commonwealth Attorney-General with their views, at attorney@ag.gov.au.

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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