Welcome to the NSL Weekend Wrap for 4 September 2022, where you can catch up on the latest secular-related news from around the country.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
At the National Level
Faith-based health, aged and community care providers, including the Catholic sector, should continue with their mission-based work in the face of a growing secularisation and attacks on the Church, according to former Prime Minister John Howard. “The fact that there may be declines in nominal commitments to different denominations in the Christian religion does not alter the fact that the work that your organisations do is driven by your Christian values. The more you do that – the more impressive the contribution.” (25 Aug 2022)
Read more at the Catholic Leader
Around the Country
WA: Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) has welcomed the West Australian Attorney-General John Quigley’s announcement that the state’s anti-discrimination laws will be modernised to provide stronger protections for women and LGBTIQA+ communities. The reforms will implement most recommendations made by the Law Reform Commission of Western Australia (the Commission) in its review of the state’s Equal Opportunity Act 1984 which made 163 Recommendations based on 995 submissions. (29 Aug 2022)
Read more at ALHR
QLD: A Brisbane mother whose unborn child was killed in the course of a car accident is fighting for the law to recognise unborn baby deaths in car accidents as human deaths. Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman said the government was yet to determine a position on changing the laws in this regard. "We want to make sure there are no unintended consequences. We do not want any of these changes to impact a women's right to choose. We decriminalised abortion in this state, and this is something the government is proud of." (30 Aug 2022)
Read more at ABC News
VIC: The findings of an inquiry into the re-emergence of far-right extremism in Victoria have been released, highlighting issues such as decreasing public trust in mainstream media and government and young people engaging with extremism. "What the research has told us is those young people have little real or deep knowledge of the religious or political doctrines that they are supporting," said Soo-Lin Quek from the Centre for Multicultural Youth. (30 Aug 2022)
Read more at ABC News
VIC: The Victorian Liberal Party is facing claims of branch stacking following supposed 'infiltration' by the Pentecostal church. Three days after Pentecostal pastor Brian Heath joined the Victorian Liberal Party in August 2019, he invited an international guest to address his congregation. Malaysian pastor Jonathan David – the founder of an international apostolic network that encourages churches to "penetrate" and "conquer" the nation around them in preparation for the second coming – came with a message: "The next three terms of election in this nation are very crucial because it's going to chart the course for the end time." (1 Sep 2022)
Read more at ABC News
QLD: The Queensland government is being urged to overhaul the state's 30-year-old anti-discrimination laws and start afresh, in a review tabled in parliament on Thursday. The review comes after Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman last year asked the Queensland Human Rights Commission (QHRC) to consider whether the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 needed an update. (1 Sep 2022)
Read more at ABC News
QLD: A controversial clause used by religious bodies to justify discrimination against transgender, gay and unmarried people should be abolished, a 14-month review into Queensland’s discrimination laws has found. The state’s human rights commissioner, Scott McDougall, said the Queensland Anti-Discrimination Act currently allows for faith-based schools to discriminate against teachers on the basis of their sexuality, pregnancy, relationship status and gender identity. (1 Sep 2022)
Read more at The Guardian
Commentary and Analysis
Denis O'Hara – What relationship with society do Christians want?: "The recent census data recording the decline in Australians identifying as Christians raises a multitude of thoughts and questions. Why, for example, are countries that have inherited the institutions and values of Western civilisation seemingly rejecting their Christian roots? Why is Christianity thriving in other parts of the world but declining here? More curiously, ‘What do we mean by Christianity?’" (25 Aug 2022)
Read more at Eternity News
Neil Foster – First volume of Australian Journal of Law and Religion published: "Great to see that the first volume of the Australian Journal of Law and Religion has been published: see here. All articles are free to download. Congratulations to editors Alex Deagon and Jeremy Patrick on this new venture! I am honoured to have an article in this first issue on 'Religious Freedom, Section 109 of the Constitution, and Anti-discrimination Laws'." (29 Aug 2022)
Read more at Law and Religion Australia
Mark Jennings – The Anglican split: why has sexuality become so important to conservative Christians?: "The newly formed “Diocese of the Southern Cross” has broken away from the Anglican Church of Australia to form a denomination committed to a highly conservative position on sexuality and marriage equality. One question Australians, the majority of whom support marriage equality, may ask is – why is sexuality such a significant issue for the Christians who have left to form this group, and many conservative Christians generally?" (29 Aug 2022)
Read more at The Conversation
Anna Halafoff – Countering religious bullying with better religious education: "Research has demonstrated that increasing religious literacy plays a significant role in reducing negative stereotypes of religious minorities. As a result, there have been many calls by academics, secular parent groups, and faith leaders, for Australian schools to offer more programs on General Religious Education (GRE) — or what we now call Worldviews Education — taught by teachers and including non-religious, religious and spiritual worldviews." (30 Aug 2022)
Read more at ABC Religion & Ethics
Adam Wesselinoff – Religious bullying rife in government schools: "Around a quarter of all religious students in government schools suffer verbal and physical bullying for their faith, with principals, parents and teachers in denial, according to a ten-year study on Special Religious Education (SRE) in schools. Professors Zehavit Gross and Suzanne Rutland published their decade-long study on SRE in the major faiths in Australia in 2021, which with data from McCrindle research formed the basis of the Better Balanced Future report launched on 29 August." (1 Sep 2022)
Read more at the Catholic Weekly
Alastair Lawrie – Where’s Our LGBTIQA+ Commissioner?: "This week saw the 100-day milestone for the new Albanese Labor Government, with lots of attention on issues like climate change, a federal Independent Commission Against Corruption, a referendum to create a constitutionally-enshrined Voice to Parliament, and of course the Jobs and Skills Summit. One issue that has received comparatively little focus, but which will be considered by the Senate next week (beginning 5 September), is the possible creation of a Commissioner for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer and Asexual (LGBTIQA+) issues within the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHCR)." (3 Sep 2022)
Read more at alastairlawrie.net
Events and Campaigns
The Bill to overturn the ban on NT/ACT's ability to pass VAD laws will be introduced in the Senate this Monday but a date for a final vote hasn’t been confirmed. Ask your state Senators to support territory rights!
The Department of Education is conducting an independent evaluation of the National School Chaplaincy Program for the years 2019 to 2022. The independent evaluation will assess the program’s effectiveness in supporting the wellbeing of school students and the broader school community. Get more details and make a submission here. Submissions close 13th September.
Just.Equal Australia has launched a new petition calling for an LGBTIQA+ Human Rights Commissioner. The Senate will debate the issue when it returns in September. View and sign here.
Humanists Australia have launched a Change.org petition calling for full separation of church and state in Australia. View and sign here.
A new petition from the RSA is aiming to build enough momentum before the federal parliament resumes to put the issue of Christian prayer rituals on the agenda of newly elected representatives heading to Canberra. Sign the petition here.
A petition currently running on change.org calls for private schools to pay back their unnecessary Jobkeeper payments. 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.