Secular activists worked together to reveal a video of the Prime Minister using his office to hold a private prayer session. This story kicks off our new edition of the Weekend Wrap, bringing to you plenty of secular news and views from across 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!
News Related to the coronavirus
A video of the Prime Minister Scott Morrison leading a private prayer session with controversial preacher Margaret Court and extreme groups such as the Canberra Declaration went viral after being posted online by pro-secular activists (10 Daily).
In the leaked prayer video, the Prime Minister compared himself to Moses in leading Australia through the pandemic crisis (Daily Mail).
In response to the video, The Guardian only managed to interview representatives of Christian organisations who assured readers that the display of the Prime Minister’s faith was “refreshing” to see and a sign of “good leadership”.
The Morrison government has granted churches the status of ‘workplaces’ to provide them with flexibility from strict social distancing rules so that more people can participate in Easter services (10 Daily).
Anonymous sources have claimed that the in-laws of Hillsong member and government minister Alex Hawke were among other passengers and Hillsong members released from the cruise ship Ruby Princess which as the centre of an spike of coronavirus cases (The Medium).
Hillsong has slammed social media “innuendo” claiming that a conferences it hosted was linked to many coronavirus cases (Daily Telegraph, paywalled).
In a special message for the Jewish community, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said this year’s Passover festival would have a “poignancy” while family members are unable to be with each other (J-Wire).
Catholics will be able to watch Easter services live on national television after Channel 7 announced it would be streaming The Lord’s Passion on Good Friday and Easter Sunday Mass (Catholic Weekly).
Catholic hospitals will become part of the national response to the pandemic after the Morrison government announced a new funding deal to cover services at private hospitals and to provide a $1.3 billion “viability guarantee” to offset lost revenue (Catholic Weekly).
News Relating to Other Issues
The High Court will this week hand down its decision on Cardinal George Pell's final bid for freedom (ABC).
The documentary ‘Revelations’ unearthed new accusations of alleged sexual abuse of children by George Pell in the 1970s (ABC).
Rugby Australia is in a perilous financial state partly as a result of its multi-million-dollar settlement with Israel Folau after he was sacked for breaching his contract by expressing his religious beliefs in social media posts (Nine).
In Queensland, a parliamentary committee has recommended that voluntary assisted dying be legalised for adults with advanced terminal medical conditions, although Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has not made any commitment to introduce legislation before the October state election: (Brisbane Times).
In a post on her social media, newly retired Liberal MP Jann Stuckey urged her former colleagues to “listen to those they represent” on the issue of voluntary assisted dying and said it was “time for compassion”.
Faith leaders have condemned the proposal for voluntary assisted dying in Queensland, with Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge saying there was a “dark irony” that the recommendation came during a pandemic (Catholic Leader).
The Australian Lawyers Alliance has welcomed the recommendation for voluntary assisted dying laws to be introduced in Queensland, saying the issue should be made a “legislative priority” (Mirage News).
Commentary and Analysis
Scott Morrison has a right to freedom of belief in a secular society but his beliefs are fair game for public debate because of the position he holds, writes Dr Meredith Doig, President of the Rationalist Society of Australia (The Big Smoke).
As Australians turn more to government instead of churches in times of crisis, the Prime Minister needs to be acting in the overall interests of the Australian population, not just favoured sections of it, writes Crispin Hull (Canberra Times).
Julia Baird, in defence of the Prime Minister, questions whether people should “so instinctively shame” praying and argues that the act of praying can focus one’s mind on the task at hand (SMH).
That's it for another week!
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