Victorian member of parliament Fiona Patten is taking on religious privilege in the hiring of chaplains in public schools. Catch up on that and much more in this 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
The Morrison government has amended its list of individuals exempted from the bans on travel to Australia during the pandemic, allowing for people “providing critical skills in religious or theology fields”.
As some states move to introduce mandatory reporting laws that cover religious ministers, the Vatican has told the Australian Church that the seal of confession can never be violated, as the “the confessional provides an opportunity – perhaps the only one – for those who have committed sexual abuse to admit to the fact” (Crux Now).
National Catholic Education Commission executive director and former Labor senator Jacinta Collins has slammed the ABC’s analysis of Catholic school funding as “simplistic, inaccurate” and a “gross misinterpretation” of the way Catholic schools distribute funding (Catholic Weekly).
Around the Country
TAS: Independent MLC Mike Gaffney has rejected claims of an anti-voluntary assisted dying group that is spreading “numerous inaccuracies and misinterpretations” in an advertising campaign aimed at swaying Tasmanian public opinion against the Gaffney’s proposed law (The Advocate).
TAS: An Australian Christian Lobby delegation has urged government ministers and numerous members of the state parliament not to support the proposed voluntary assisted dying until there is adequate palliative care treatment available in Tasmania (ACL).
VIC: The release of figures showing that 124 terminally-ill Victorians have utilised the state’s voluntary assisted dying law in the past 12 months has added momentum to calls for the scrapping of federal restrictions that prevent doctors from providing consultations on the end-of-life option via the phone or teleconference (SMH).
VIC: Catholic media have described the figures on the number of people accessing voluntary assisted dying as representing an “explosion” of “suicide deaths”, with Melbourne’s Archbishop Peter Comensoli adding that the numbers were “heartbreaking” (Catholic Weekly).
QLD: The Noosa Shire Council has confirmed that the planned Satanic Black Mass will go ahead at one of its venues at Halloween, despite a Christian petition of 35,000-plus signatures urging that the event be cancelled (Noosa News).
VIC: Reason Party leader Fiona Patten introduced a bill to prevent religious discrimination in the hiring of chaplains in public school system, with the current practice preventing qualified psychologists and youth workers from being hired if they are not religious: https://bit.ly/3lWvPJm
Watch Fiona’s speech in parliament here.
VIC: The Australian Christian Lobby has labelled Fiona Patten’s proposed legislative amendment as a “brazen attack on Christian chaplains” and discriminatory (ACL).
NSW: Sydney Anglicans and a number of religious schools have declared their support for Mark Latham’s ‘religious freedom’ bill which would make it unlawful for a person to be discriminated against on the basis of their religion and protect statements of belief made outside the workplace (SMH).
WA: Following the action of others states and territories to outlaw gay conversion practices, the Greens and survivor groups are stepping up their calls for Western Australia to do likewise (Out in Perth).
WA: The Australian Christian Lobby has welcomed the commitment of “a number” of Perth mayoral aspirants to “resurrect” the city’s Nativity event (ACL).
ACT: The Australian Christian Lobby has revealed that it orchestrated an email campaign that deluged politicians in the territory with 10,000 emails and 1,000 calls to pressure them from supporting the Barr government’s gay conversion law (ACL).
SA: The Australian Christian Lobby is urging Christians in the state to contact their local MPs to pressure them to allow for silent prayer in proposed exclusion zones around abortion clinics (ACL).
Commentary and Analysis
Independent Launceston MLC Rosemary Armitage writes that terminally-ill patients should have the right to choose their own path, whether through palliative care or voluntary assisted dying (The Examiner).
Victorian medical oncologist Marion Harris argues that Tasmania’s voluntary assisted dying bill is “radical and dangerous”, with eligibility criteria being too broad and safeguards too few (The Advocate).
While the Oxford University's COVID-19 vaccine might be dividing Christians, many people of faith are resisting the 'anti-vaxxer' label, writes Siobhan Hegarty (ABC).
Rita Jabri-Markwell, a lawyer with the Australian Muslim Advocacy Network, writes that the Australian government must consider annti-dscrimination measures to prevent the dehumanisation of Muslims online (ABC).
That's it for another week!
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