Welcome to the NSL Weekend Wrap for 8 August 2021, where you can catch up on the latest secular-related news from around 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!
At the National Level
Questions are asked about what the religion question in the census is really measuring, with evidence indicating that some respond based on cultural identity or family upbringing rather than their current belief and practices. (SMH)
An investigation by the ABC has found that dozens of Australia's biggest churches and other religious institutions pocketed millions of dollars in JobKeeper payments while remaining in the black during 2020. (ABC News)
Around the Country
VIC: Following an attempt by Reason party leader Fiona Patten to remove the Lord's Prayer from state parliament, Labor has vowed to axe the century-old tradition if re-elected, after striking an 11th-hour deal with a crossbench MP to put off a vote on the contentious matter. (SMH)
NT: Country Liberal senator Sam McMahon on Wednesday introduced her Bill to give the NT the power to decide its own euthanasia laws, nearly 25 years after it was denied such a right by the Howard government in 1997. (The Australian)
NT/ACT: Senator Sam McMahon has admitted she feels sorry for Canberrans, as her bill to restore the rights of the NT - but not the ACT - to legislate on voluntary euthanasia was introduced to Federal Parliament. (Canberra Times)
VIC: A leading Buddhist has thrown her support behind Victorian upper house MP Fiona Patten’s push to have a Christian prayer replaced with something more inclusive at the opening of each parliamentary sitting day. (RSA)
NSW: A number of prominent New South Wales community organisations have written an open letter to NSW Attorney General Mark Speakman, calling on him to commission an independent review of the state’s Anti-Discrimination Act. (The Guardian)
QLD: The Noosa Temple of Satan has declared they will be holding their Black Mass in the public streets (COVID lockdown permitting) after they were denied the right to book a public facility to host it following threats from Christian antagonists. (NTS)
NSW: Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP has launched a scathing attack on proposed euthanasia laws in NSW, warning there are inadequate safeguards in them to prevent people with mental illness from qualifying for euthanasia and to protect Catholic aged care homes from having to carry out euthanasia on their premises. (Catholic Weekly)
Commentary and Analysis
Monica Doumit writes on the census campaigns which "pop up every five years – at their proselytising best – to encourage Christians and Catholics in particular to make the jump to the ‘no religion’ box in the census". (Catholic Weekly)
Archbishop Anthony Fisher states that the census question on religion does not capture all the "senses of practising a religion", and that this should not be the benchmark for deciding on a response. (The Australian)
Dr Mark Stephens from the Centre for Public Christianity ponders what it means that the percentage of Australians identifying as Christian will drop below 50% for the first time ever after this census. (SMH)
Events and Advisories
Sign up to the Census21 - Not Religious? Mark 'No Religion' campaign (in which the NSL is involved) to learn more about the census's role in inflating the religiosity figure in Australia.
The Rationalist Society of Australia is calling on West Australians to contact their local members of the Legislative Council to urge them to replace the daily prayer ritual with something more inclusive.
The Noosa Temple of Satan is currently running a federal parliamentary petition to remove Christian prayers from parliament. The practice of reciting an exclusively Christian prayer discriminates against non-Christians. Petition closes 12 August. Related article
Dying With Dignity NSW has a tool that makes it easy for people to contact their federal MPs and senators to request help in repealing the "Andrews Bill", the 1997 legislation which denies the Territories the right to pass legislation on Voluntary Assisted Dying.