Weekend Wrap for 7 July 2024

Welcome to the NSL Weekend Wrap for 7 July 2024, where you can catch up on the latest secular-related news from around the country.

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At the National Level

In response to questions asked about the dominance of Christian-only religious elements in the Australian War Memorial's Anzac Day ceremony, the head of the AWM has said that they aim to deliver a commemorative event that was “relevant and meaningful to veterans and their families and attendees” and that "traditions move slowly." (30 Jun 2024)
Read more at the Rationalist Society of Australia

Labor Senator Fatima Payman is expected to make a major announcement about her political future today as her caucus colleagues expressed concern about her claims she was being guided by "God". On Monday, the West Australian senator said she had been "exiled" by her colleagues and would reflect on "the best way to represent the people of Western Australia", opening the door to a party exit. Senator Payman said the suggestion she was "being guided by god" in her decision-making and would campaign on other "Islamic propositions" was an insult. (4 Jul 2024)
Read more at ABC News

An unlikely alliance of faith groups, equality advocates, the Coalition and the Greens are ­demanding Anthony Albanese ­either intervene to save his long-promised religious discrimination bill or tell them the reforms are dead in this term of parliament. The Anglican Church, Christian schools, the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils and Equality Australia joined the political parties in urging the Prime Minister to make clear the status of the reforms, which they say are crucial to the Australians they represent and should be pursued. There has been no progress on Labor’s draft religious discrimination laws since late May when talks between Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus and opposition legal affairs spokeswoman ­Michaelia Cash broke down and Mr Albanese said he wouldn’t pursue the changes without bipartisan support. (4 Jul 2024)
Read more at The Australian

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says faith-based political parties would undermine social cohesion in Australia, after revelations this week that The Muslim Vote movement was planning to target federal seats at the next election, including in western Sydney. Political parties including the Australian Christians have long-existed, but Mr Albanese's comments came after the Muslim movement told the ABC it wanted to empower Muslim Australians to win seats from Labor following community anger the government had not been tougher on Israel throughout the war in Gaza. "I don't think and don't want Australia to go down the road of faith-based political parties because what that will do is undermine social cohesion," Mr Albanese said at a press conference on Friday. (5 Jul 2024)
Read more at ABC News

Around the Country

NSW: The convenor of a "teal-style" Muslim Vote movement targeting federal Labor seats says he plans to announce the first candidates for two Western Sydney seats next week. The safe Labor seats, held by Education Minister Jason Clare and Employment Minister Tony Burke, also have the largest Muslim constituencies in the country. The Muslim Vote campaign, whose website said it was "empowering Australian Muslims in the electoral process", began last year in the aftermath of the October 7 attack on Israel. (4 Jul 2024)
Read more at ABC News

QLD: The Miles government is continuing to ignore the demands of Labor voters, Labor MPs and public education sector stakeholders by not committing to reform the Religious Instruction (RI) program. In responses to inquiries this year, the Queensland government has reiterated that it has no plans to reform RI by requiring the classes be held outside normal learning hours. Calls have been mounting for reform of the RI program following ongoing controversy over how missionaries are using their access to schools to target children for religious conversions and how declining participation in RI is interrupting normal learning time for many. (4 Jul 2024)
Read more at the Rationalist Society of Australia

VIC: The National Secular Lobby, Humanists Victoria, Rationalist Society of Australia, Humanists Australia, and Atheist Foundation of Australia have jointly submitted a letter to Victorian MPs to urge them to support replacing daily Christian prayers with a practice that is secular and better reflective of the diversity of the Victorian community. (5 Jul 2024)
Read the letter on Facebook

Commentary and Analysis

Jane Caro: Class Warfare
"Almost alone among the still functioning democracies, the Australian community has long had to fight to protect public education. No other nation funds education the way we do, yet most Australians remain blissfully ignorant of just what an outlier we are. New arrivals to this country, especially if they come from one of the previously mentioned democracies, often express astonishment at our lavish public funding of private schools, especially those that like to refer to themselves as elite. Not only do we generously fund private schools, we ask little in return. They can be private when it comes to where they will open schools, who they will enrol and employ, and what fees they will charge, but public when it comes to the handing out of taxpayer’s money. No other schooling system anywhere enjoys such largesse for so little reciprocal cost. It’s a bit like the free ride we give the fossil fuel industry." (1 Jul 2024)
Read more at The Monthly

Sheila Ngọc Phạm: How my daughter has taught me the importance of public education for non-religious and religious children alike
"There’s a good deal of tension Australian public life at present, due in part to the increasing segregation of different groups in our society. Because of this, the fact that only 64 per cent of Australian children attend a public school should be a cause for concern — not only because of what that entails for widening inequality, but also because it signifies the erosion of a common life, as people retreat from opportunities to peacefully co-exist with others from different class, cultural, and religious backgrounds. ... One thing I have changed my mind about is the vital importance of religious education (RE) in public schools. I know that RE has long been a contentious aspect of Australian public schooling, and that public opposition is one of the main reasons why programs like Primary Ethics were developed as an alternative. But have we fully reckoned with the effect that the reduced participation in RE is having on our society’s capacity to sustain its commitment to multiculturalism and pluralism?" (2 Jul 2024)
Read more at ABC Religion & Ethics

Andrew West / ABC Radio National: Live event — Educating for a diverse Australia
"Earlier this year, a figure leapt out at us: 4 in 10 students who attend Catholic high schools in fact, aren’t Catholic. And it got us thinking – the place where we learn to get along is the classroom. So how do parents of different faiths, or no faith, decide which school to send their children to? And how do different schools treat religious diversity in their classrooms? In today's episode, we're out of the studio and in Sydney's culturally diverse west, in the City of Parramatta." (3 Jul 2024)
Listen to this episode at ABC Religion & Ethics

John Warhurst: Is another Catholic school shutdown on the horizon?
"Anthony Fisher, Archbishop of Sydney, in a recent speech on religious freedom to the Sydney Catholic Business Network, provocatively claimed that, ‘Some have suggested we should “do another Goulburn” and close our ministries in protest against cultural, legal and governmental interference’. It is not clear exactly who has made such a suggestion. The speech was entitled ‘Religious Freedom in a Secular World: Doomed or Doable?’ As such it was a pointed contribution to the church’s campaign for the freedom of religion legislation promised by the Albanese government after the failures of the Morrison government in this regard, but currently stalled in the thickets of Australian federal politics." (3 Jul 2024)
Read more at Eureka Street

Lucy Hamilton: Classical Christian Education: the culture wars go to school
"The corporate world is afraid of youth demanding change, particularly as rapacious business practices look set to drive us over the climate cliff into a frightening future. One solution the Right has implemented is the Christian Classical Education movement. It is an ultraconservative educational fashion from the US. Michigan’s Hillsdale College is its lodestar, celebrated by American Trumpists. Tony Abbott delivered an awkward speech at the National Symposium for Classical Education in Arizona in January. ... There are several CCE schools in Australia currently. They are also fostered by the Christopher Dawson Centre for Cultural Studies, a Catholic “intellectual society” in Hobart. David Daintree, its director, organises anti-trans activities and shares climate denial material with his mailing list." (6 Jul 2024)
Read more at the AIMN

Events and Campaigns

Griffith University researchers are exploring Registered Nurses’ and Nurse Practitioners’ willingness to participate in Voluntary Assisted Dying (VAD).
Read more at The Lamp

The Australia Institute are calling on federal parliament to pass truth in political advertising laws that are nationally consistent, constitutional and uphold freedom of speech. View the petition at The Australia Institute

The Human Rights Law Centre are running a website for those who want to support an Australian Charter of Human Rights & Freedoms.
Visit the Charter of Rights website here

A change.org petition has been started, calling for churches to lose their tax-free status and for "the religious influence of churches in Australian politics and society" to be limited. It's currently up to 30,000 signatures. View the petition at change.org

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

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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