Weekend Wrap for 7 May 2023

Welcome to the NSL Weekend Wrap for 7 May 2023, where you can catch up on the latest secular-related news from around the country.

This week saw the coronation of King Charles III. As one of our commentary stories states, "Packed with religious symbolism and imagery, [coronations] exude mystery, bind together church and state through the person of the monarch, and clearly proclaim the derivation of all power and authority from God and the Christian basis on which government is exercised and justice administered."

The English monarch -- the Australian head of state -- holds the title, "Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England", and while the King does not have a role in the day-to-day running of Australia, Republicans argue that Australian dominion will not be free of religious influence nor its people free from religious division until we have separated ourselves from the monarchy.

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At the National Level

Leaders of the Australian push to ditch the monarchy want the prime minister to remain silent when guests at King Charles’ coronation are invited to pledge allegiance to the new monarch. For the first time, Australians and citizens of other Commonwealth nations will be invited to swear allegiance to the King and raise “a chorus of millions of voices” supporting “their undoubted King, defender of all”. (1 May 2023)
Read more at The Age

Health Professionals Say No! – a vocal anti-voluntary assisted dying (VAD) lobby group – has been accused of overstating its support, with doctors claiming their names had been added without their consent. The group, which purports to represent 1000 health professionals, says its members are opposed to VAD. Most recently it lobbied against any move to allow the use of telehealth in VAD discussions in a full-page ad and open letter in The Weekend Australian. However, a number of health professionals listed on the group's website said they had not given permission for their names to be used. Many had never heard of the group. More extraordinary – some of those listed said they were actually in strong support of VAD and the use of telehealth in VAD discussions. Several were active VAD providers. (2 May 2023)
Read more at Go Gentle Australia

Survivors of child sexual abuse are being promised an easier and less traumatic route to getting compensation, while some people currently in jail will soon be allowed access to financial support. The federal government has released its response to a review of the National Redress Scheme for people who experienced institutional child sexual abuse, wholly or partially supporting 34 of 38 recommendations to improve the way it operates. (3 May 2023)
Read more at ABC News

A Catholic order has lost its latest attempt to use the death of a known paedophile clergy member to shield itself from allegations of child sexual abuse after a judge found that allowing such a course would “bring the administration of justice into disrepute”. In recent months, the Guardian has revealed how the Catholic church, in particular its Marist Brothers and Christian Brothers orders, is increasingly using the deaths of clergy members to argue for permanent stays of cases brought by abuse survivors in the civil courts. (5 May 2023)
Read more at The Guardian

The Catholic Church’s insurer is considering winding down its ­operations unless another substantial bailout is made by dioceses and religious orders to plug the hole caused by sex abuse cases. Catholic Church Insurance is discussing closing its new and renewal general insurance business amid a continuing surge in abuse claims as well as the liability ­impacts of factors such as Australia’s erratic weather. The church has assured that sex abuse payments will not be ­affected by the insurer’s challenges. (5 May 2023)
Read more at The Australian

Around the Country

NSW/VIC: A vitriolic campaign against gay and trans people is spilling onto the streets of Sydney and Melbourne, as Christian groups target LGBT participation and content in schools, councils, and even churches. (1 May 2023)
View this story on the ABC's 7:30 Twitter feed

NSW: Sydney MP Alex Greenwich has launched an extraordinary three-pronged legal attack on One Nation’s Mark Latham after the political firebrand refused to apologise for a series of homophobic and sexualised slurs. Greenwich has made a formal complaint to NSW Police and Anti-Discrimination NSW on the grounds of homosexual vilification and has also initiated defamation proceedings. Greenwich’s legal assault could have a significant impact on Latham’s ability to remain in parliament if he is charged with “using a carriage service to menace, harass or cause offence”, the criminal offence cited by Greenwich in his formal complaint to Police Commissioner Karen Webb. (1 May 2023)
Read more at the Sydney Morning Herald

NSW: The NSW Liberal leader Mark Speakman has vowed to work with Mark Latham in the new parliament and not block the One Nation MP from securing any extra powers despite widespread condemnation of the political firebrand’s homophobic slurs. NSW Police confirmed on Monday that they have launched an investigation into online harassment after Latham tweeted a highly graphic and offensive homophobic comment aimed at Sydney MP Alex Greenwich, who is gay. As well as his police statement, Greenwich has lodged a complaint of homosexual vilification with Anti-Discrimination NSW and his lawyers have told Latham that defamation proceedings will begin if he does not apologise for his comments by May 5. (2 May 2023)
Read more at The Age

VIC: Victoria’s peak body representing local governments will this month deliberate on whether to support a call for all councils across the state to remove prayer rituals from their formal meetings. The City of Yarra council has submitted a motion to the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) asking that the MAV agree to take action on the prayer issue when the body holds its upcoming State Council on 19 May. The State Council – the governing body of the MAV comprising delegates from each member local council – will vote on the following motion: That the Municipal Association of Victoria write to member Councils advising that the MAV supports the removal of prayer from Council meetings, on the grounds that a Council prayer no longer reflects community expectations, is not inclusive and may be unlawful. (3 May 2023)
Read more at the Rationalist Society of Australia

NSW: NSW’s long-time Christian crusader Fred Nile has offered an impassioned defence of Alex Greenwich, insisting he wants the openly gay Sydney MP to know he is loved and does not deserve to be subjected to personal attacks based on his sexuality. Nile, who has been highly critical of LGBTQ policies over many decades, including same-sex marriage, contacted Greenwich this week to offer his full support after Mark Latham’s homophobic slurs against the independent MP. (4 May 2023)
Read more at The Age

VIC: A second Anglican Church investigation into former governor-general Peter Hollingworth's handling of child abuse during his tenure as Archbishop of Brisbane in the 1990s, has been held in secret. Last week, the church's professional standards board found Dr Hollingworth had engaged in misconduct. Despite the damning findings, the church's tribunal found that Dr Hollingworth was still fit to hold holy orders as long as he apologised to the complainants. But a second, clandestine inquiry could threaten Dr Hollingworth's holy orders. Premier Daniel Andrews said Dr Hollingworth's fitness to retain his holy orders was a matter for the Anglican Church. "The key point here is that we should have zero tolerance for this sort of conduct." (4 May 2023)
Read more at ABC News

NSW: The NSW and federal education ministers today signed a pledge to commit to funding public schools to meet the minimum funding required for the educational needs of students per the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS). State Minister Prue Car and federal counterpart Jason Clare signed the oversized “deed of trust” during at the NSW Teachers Federation’s annual Principals' Conference, where the MPs addressed attendees from across the state. The SRS – a funding benchmark to meet students’ needs – was recommended in the Gonski Inquiry report back in 2011. (5 May 2023)
Read more at the NSW Teachers Federation

VIC: LGBTQ+ advocates are urging the Victorian government to do more to protect the queer community after threats from far-right groups led to five Melbourne drag events being cancelled in the past six months. They say that while cancellations may protect people at an individual event, calling them off may embolden anti-LGBTQ+ groups to target other events. Monash council announced Thursday it was cancelling an upcoming drag storytime event at Oakleigh Library in Melbourne after threats of violence and intimidation against councillors, families booked to attend the event, the performer and council staff. (6 May 2023)
Read more at The Guardian

VIC: Five Liberal MPs, including former leader Matthew Guy, have put their names to a bid to oust controversial MP Moira Deeming next week from the parliamentary team, after she backed away on Saturday from a threat to take legal action against her party and leader John Pesutto. Deeming is expected to be expelled from the Liberal party room on Friday for “bringing discredit” on the parliamentary team. The crisis, which began more than seven weeks ago when Deeming attended an anti-trans protest, has sent shockwaves through the party and exposed deep internal fractures. (6 May 2023)
Read more at The Age

Commentary and Analysis

Ian Bradley: “God save the king”: The religious significance of the coronation and its symbolism.
"Coronations point to the sacred nature of the United Kingdom monarchy. Packed with religious symbolism and imagery, they exude mystery, bind together church and state through the person of the monarch, and clearly proclaim the derivation of all power and authority from God and the Christian basis on which government is exercised and justice administered. ... Coronations are religious services rather than constitutional ceremonies. The coronation on 6 May does not make Charles III king. That happened on the death of his mother on 8 September 2022 and his reign was formally inaugurated at the Accession Council held two days later. At his coronation, he will be anointed, consecrated and blessed, as well as crowned." (30 Apr 2023)
Read more at ABC Religion & Ethics

Barry Bowen: Church Defense Strategy: Hillsong Responds to Allegations and Government Investigation.
"Australian megachurch Hillsong, facing leadership scandals and allegations of financial misdeeds, has embraced a defense strategy remarkably like American televangelists facing investigations and court challenges." (1 May 2023)
Read more at the Trinity Foundation

Troy Bramston: Coronation pageantry should stir republican fervour.
"All of this should make us want to be a republic without delay. While one can respect tradition, conventions and institutions, and even personally admire Charles and Elizabeth II (as I do), this is not how a modern head of state with parliamentary and executive functions and duties to perform should be inaugurated. The monarchy is a profoundly anti-democratic institution. It cannot be defended by anyone who believes in freedom or equality, or the right to choose our own head of state. It is utterly illogical that the firstborn person into one family and the head of the Church of England should inherit a throne and reign over the UK and 14 other Commonwealth realms, including Australia." (2 May 2023)
Read more at The Australian

Andrew West: How will the 'powerfully Christian' coronation of King Charles be viewed by modern Britain?
"But will this ceremony reflect a Britain that is more multi-faith and multi-ethnic than in 1953, when the late Queen Elizabeth II was crowned? The anointing, oath, and crowning are shrouded in Christian prayers, Bible readings, and religious music. "It all adds up to a pretty religious ceremony," Pepinster says. But King Charles wants Britain's diverse religions represented and over the past month there have been discussions, reportedly tense at times, with Church of England officials to ensure more pluralism. In a key change, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, and Sikh members of the House of Lords will carry the robe, glove, ring, and ornamental bracelet — essential elements for the coronation — into Westminster Abbey." (4 May 2023)
Read more at ABC News

Lucy Hamilton: Are Nazis running Victoria?
"The attack on trans existence is America is very clearly the first wave of a campaign on LGBTQI+ existence. Acceptance of LGBTQI+ rights and existence is repeatedly targeted in the bills being introduced. There is talk of the death penalty for being gay. The same nonsense talking point that led to so much violence in the past is being indiscriminately applied to LGBQTI+ people again now: they are wrongly accused of being a paedophile threat. One of the more unpleasant drongos attached to Australia’s conspiracy-right movement labelled Andrews a “groomer” as a result of his condemnation of the fascist threats to councillors. The campaign coincides with attacks on women’s rights and on people of colour. So Melbourne’s Neo Nazis are threatening the lives of people associated with LGBTQI+ events now. What will be the next form of event that these men – or their conspiracist associates – decide is intolerable?" (5 May 2023)
Read more at the AIMN

Helen Trinca: Israel Folau never wanted you to see this documentary film.
"...what do we do when individual religious freedom clashes with the rights of all of us to be protected from discrimination? 'We have rights under anti-discrimination laws that protect your religious affiliation. We also have rights that protect against discrimination on the basis of sexuality, gender, race and so on... But we don’t have a clear answer to the question what happens when there is a contest between religious expression which is bigoted and the rights of the gay community, in this case, to live free of vilification.'"
Read more at The Australian

Stan Grant: When the Queen died, I felt betrayed by a nation. For King Charles' coronation, I feel something quite different.
"To take this coronation seriously would be to try to make sense of an Australian prime minister pledging his allegiance to a Crown that tried to exterminate my people. As a Christian, how do I take this seriously? Holy oil? Consecration? Does God bless empire? There is more God in a ghost gum, in a riverbed, in the birdsong of my country. But this is monarchy that has always fashioned God in its image. That believed in the divine right of King; the doctrine of discovery that meant a land not occupied by a "Christian" monarch was free for the taking." (6 May 2023)
Read more at ABC News

Events and Campaigns

Just.Equal has created a tool to enable people to email Tasmanian MPs to urge them to support the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute's proposal to prohibit conversion practices.
View the tool at Just.Equal

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.
View the petition at change.org

News Corp have begun a new podcast series, "Faith on Trial", investigating various stories relating to Hillsong, including alleged exploitation of staff, questionable treatment of Hillsong college students, and the trial of Brian Houston.
Listen to the podcast here

Reason Australia have started a new petition to remove prayers from Victorian state parliament.
Read and sign the petition at the Reason Australia website

Have you faced discrimination at a religious school or organisation? Equality Australia wants to know!

Humanists Australia have launched a Change.org petition calling for full separation of church and state in Australia. View and sign 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.

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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