Weekend Wrap for 9 October 2022

Welcome to the NSL Weekend Wrap for 9 October 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 wrap@nsl.org.au.

At the National Level

A Sydney Anglican bishop has called on the Albanese government to implement a proposed religious discrimination bill following the resignation of Essendon Football Club's new CEO after his links to a controversial church surfaced. The Bombers accepted Andrew Thorburn's resignation on Tuesday amid backlash over his role as chairman of the Melbourne-based City on a Hill church. (5 Oct 2022)
Read more at SBS News

In a speech to the Senate on the Restoring Territory Rights Bill 2022 last month, Senator Catryna Bilyk, from Tasmania, rejected the use of the word ‘suicide’ to describe the end-of-life option. Having previously opposed VAD – and also originally stood with conservative Labor elements in opposition to same-sex marriage – Senator Bilyk said her “views have changed” and that she would support the territories’ right to legislate for VAD. (5 Oct 2022)
Read more at the RSA

Upper House MP, Dr Brian Walker, says the recommendations from WA Law Reform Commission to update the state’s Equal Opportunity Act don’t go far enough. The East Metropolitan GP, elected for the Legalise Cannabis Party in 2021, insists that the need for reform to LGBTIQA+ legislation should be as much about improving mental health as it is about simple amendments to the state’s anti-discrimination law. (6 Oct 2022)
Read more at Out in Perth

The church at the centre of Andrew Thorburn’s short-lived stint as boss of the Essendon Football Club apologised over comments likening abortion to concentration camps. The apology from the church comes after prominent Christian and gambling reform campaigner Reverend Tim Costello said the fierce debate over Thorburn’s resignation highlighted the need for a bill of rights. Meanwhile, Premier Daniel Andrews responded to criticism from Melbourne Catholic Archbishop Peter Comensoli over his commentary on the issue. (6 Oct 2022)
Read more at The Age

The pastor whose controversial sermon led to Andrew Thorburn’s abrupt resignation as Essendon CEO has repeated his apology for the words he used, while a religious discrimination law expert laid out a dual path for possible legal action against the Bombers. Thorburn, a former National Australia Bank boss, was appointed Essendon’s CEO on Monday but resigned on Tuesday after criticism of his role as chair of the conservative City on a Hill church, which is part of the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne. (7 Oct 2022)
Read more at The Age

Former Liberal party candidate Katherine Deves has labelled the gay rights movement a Godless Neo-religion. Deves, who is also the head of Save Women’s Sport Australasia – a body that campaigns against transgender people participating in sport against cis-gender people – made the comment while appearing on The World According to Rowan Dean on Sky News. (7 Oct 2022)
Read more at Out in Perth

NSW Labor Senator Deborah O’Neill has reaffirmed the Albanese government’s commitment to introducing new laws in the current parliament, allowing for religious schools to preference people of that same faith in their selection of staff. Senator O’Neill was speaking in a panel discussion, “Religious Freedom in the New Parliament” at Catholic Schools’ NSW 2022 Education Law Symposium on 29 September which brought together teachers, principals and other educational leaders from Catholic schools across the state. (8 Oct 2022)
Read more at The Catholic Weekly

One Nation’s spokesperson James Ashby, who serves as Pauline Hanson’s Chief of Staff, says the Pride flag represents more than gay rights, labeling it the symbol of promiscuous sex, drug use, HIV and monkeypox. Ashby made the statement while appearing on a panel of the Sky News program Paul Murray Live. The guests were debating the emerges of Pride rounds in national sporting codes, when Ashby said that although being "the only gay bloke on the panel", he personally did not identify with the Pride flag. (8 Oct 2022)
Read more at Out in Perth

Around the Country

TAS: A woman hoping to be the next lord mayor of Hobart says she recalls being "very frustrated" when she sent an email to a non-binary councillor and candidate, in which she claimed to "identify as a frog". The person it was addressed to says the moniker was hurtful and shows a lack of understanding of gender issues. (2 Oct 2022)
Read more at ABC News

TAS: LGBTQIA+ advocacy group Equality Tasmania and mental health advocates Working It Out have applauded the State Government’s announcement of several important LGBTIQ+ mental health initiatives. Premier and Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing, Jeremy Rockliff, this week released the 2022-23 implementation plan for the state’s mental health strategy. The strategy identifies LGBTIQ+ Tasmanians as one of three priority groups due to the much higher levels of mental health risk for this community, resulting primarily from discrimination and stigma. (4 Oct 2022)
Read more at Out in Perth

VIC: Essendon’s decision to hire Andrew Thorburn as the club’s chief executive despite his role with a controversial church made the founder of the Bombers’ LGBTQI supporter group “sick to the stomach”. Thorburn’s appointment at the end of a tumultuous season for the club has generated unwanted headlines, primarily because he is also chairman of the City on a Hill church movement. (4 Oct 2022)
Read more at The Age

VIC: At first glance, City on a Hill religious services could be mistaken for those of a Hillsong-style, modern Pentecostal church. The preachers and worshippers wear jeans and T-shirts; the bands play contemporary-style music. But the youthful, self-described “movement” is actually part of the Anglican Church. It’s a relatively low-key branch, but City on a Hill was thrown into the spotlight when it emerged Andrew Thorburn, appointed on Monday as Essendon Football Club’s new chief executive, was the church’s chairman. (5 Oct 2022)
Read more at The Age

NSW: One of Sydney's oldest private religious schools, The King's School, is under investigation by the NSW Department of Education. There are allegations of possible misuse of taxpayers' funds over building and other plans. (7 Oct 2022)
Read more at ABC News

TAS: A Tasmanian mayor who removed prayer rituals from the official proceedings of her council’s meetings has faced a tirade from a fellow councillor who warned that she would “be judged”. Late last month, retiring Central Coast Council mayor Jan Bonde dropped the Christian prayer from the opening of meetings, deciding instead to begin proceedings with an Acknowledgement of Country. (7 Oct 2022)
Read more at the RSA

TAS: With local government elections approaching, Equality Tasmania has invited candidates to share their views on a range of issues relevant to the local LGBTIQA+ communities. They’ve just released the preliminary results the candidate survey and they indicate the overwhelming majority of candidates who participated consider themselves to be allies to the LGBTIQA+ community. (7 Oct 2022)
Read more at Out in Perth

Commentary and Analysis

Michelle GrattanWithout those ‘lefties’ the Liberals can’t regain government.
"Federal Liberal vice-president, Teena McQueen, at the weekend told the Conservative Political Action Conference Australia: “The good thing about the last federal election is a lot of those lefties are gone. We should rejoice in that. People I’ve been trying to get rid of for a decade have gone, we need to renew with good conservative candidates.” ... Those from the uncompromising right (some of them, installed via branch stacking, coming from religious groups) appear to have a strong grip in a party that is hollowed out at rank and file level. ... Preselection plebiscites, desirable in theory, can have undesirable outcomes when a party is dominated by factions and fanatics. Top-down preselections can be as bad – think Scott Morrison’s captain’s pick of Katherine Deves for the seat of Warringah." (4 Oct 2022)
Read more at The Conversation

Neil FosterFootball CEO dismissed for religious beliefs.
"The recently appointed new CEO of the Essendon Football Club in Victoria, Andrew Thorburn, has been pushed out of his job on account of views expressed by the church he belongs to and on whose board of management he sits. Those views, which even the club itself accepts were not stated personally by Mr Thorburn and which had to be found by scouring a database of sermons back to 2013, represent views on moral issues that have been shared by Christians, Muslims, Jews and many other religious believers for a long time. They are not “radical” or “hateful” or “bigoted”. It is arguable that the Club has breached Victorian anti-discrimination law." (5 Oct 2022)
Read more at Law and Religion Australia

Lucy Hamilton – Why we must not tolerate intolerance.
"The “conservative” punditry do not need any excuse to work themselves into a frothing frenzy. Given Essendon’s mission statement about its own inclusive nature as an organisation, it is surprising that the club would contemplate appointing anyone reflecting a conservative religious outlook to the position. The fact that they were willing to continue the contract with Thorburn as a member of the controversial church, just not as its chairman, suggests a greater openness to faith commitments than the enflamed commentators would like to admit." (6 Oct 2022)
Read more at The AIMN

Michelle PiniAndrew Thorburn, Matthew Guy and the politics of prosperity and hate.
"This week, following his short-lived appointment as CEO of the Essendon Football Club, former NAB boss and City on a Hill megachurch chairman Andrew Thorburn – along with the aptly described “appalling” views of his cult – are in the spotlight. As the depth of absurdity that characterised Morrison’s dictatorial reign is slowly uncovered – much, if not all, of which may be linked back to his self-professed devotion to the Pentecostal megachurch – more and more developments in evangelistic super-cults are emerging from the shadows to confront and challenge insouciant Australia." (6 Oct 2022)
Read more at Independent Australia

Bishop Richard Condie – The resignation of Andrew Thorburn signals a troubling turn for Australian secularism.
"On Monday, 3 October, it was announced that [Thorburn] had been appointed the new CEO of his beloved Essendon Football Club, which he described as “one of the proudest days of his life”. The appointment proved to be short-lived, however. For it also became known that Thorburn acts as the Chair of the Board of City on a Hill, a large Anglican church with seven congregations across Melbourne, Geelong, Brisbane, the Gold Coast, and Wollongong." (6 Oct 2022)
Read more at ABC Religion & Ethics

Paul O'Halloran – Thorburn case shows vulnerability of human rights protections at work.
"People hold different views about different topics in the workplace. Acceptance of those views, provided that they are not unlawful or injurious to others, is what genuine inclusion and diversity means. Freedom of religion is protected by Victoria’s Equal Opportunity Act 2010. The legal protection means that a person cannot be treated unfavourably because they hold, or do not hold, a lawful religious belief or view." (6 Oct 2022)
Read more at The Age

Lucy HamiltonLiberal candidate supports US-style abortion ban ahead of state poll.
"The parties of the right in Australia are changing faster than their voters might recognise. It is increasingly the case that a vote for the 'conservatives' is a vote for the radical or religious right. No doubt the leaders of the Liberal Party of Victoria are disturbed by the fact that Moira Deeming, their candidate for Western Metropolitan Region seat is associated with an anti-choice rally planned for this weekend, six weeks before the state goes to the polls." (7 Oct 2022)
Read more at Pearls and irritations

Anthony SegaertI’ve lost faith that Australia knows how to discuss religion.
Debates about theological interpretations of sexual ethics and abortion have plastered our newspapers for days. And we’re terribly lacking in the armour needed for a proper discussion. Never before have Australians known so little about the foundational text of Australia’s biggest religion – and even less about the Koran – and never before, it seems, have we had such strong opinions on its utter irrelevance to life and society. (7 Oct 2022)
Read more at The Age

RMIT ABC Fact CheckOne Nation's Mark Latham said just 0.17 per cent of Australians are transgender. Here's what we found.
"This week, CheckMate tests Mark Latham's maths on the number of transgender people in Australia. Posting to Facebook late last month, One Nation's Mark Latham posed a question: How many transgender people were there in Australia? The former Labor leader then provided an answer..." (7 Oct 2022)
Read more at ABC News

George MegalogenisYe of little faith, how well do you know your country?
"The argument between the Victorian Premier, and devout Catholic, Daniel Andrews and the Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne, Peter Comensoli, over the treatment of the club’s CEO Andrew Thorburn would have been inconceivable in the days of the Victorian Football League. Andrews and Comensoli would simply not have been welcome at Windy Hill. Thorburn, on the other hand, would have kept his high-flying appointment at the club. He would not have been asked to choose between running the Bombers and his volunteer position as chair of the City on a Hill Anglican church because, back then, his faith and that of the club were aligned." (8 Oct 2022)
Read more at The Age

Events and Campaigns

The Bill to overturn the ban on NT/ACT's ability to pass VAD laws is still being debated. Ask your state Senators to support territory rights!

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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