Weekend Wrap for 17 August 2019

In your weekly catch-up on news and analysis in the secular space, a big focus is on the rise in tension between the state and church in Victoria over the introduction of mandatory reporting legislation.

Don’t forget that the Weekend Wrap, which aims to help secular-minded Australians keep abreast of news, is also published on our Facebook page!

The National View

Christian lobbyists want the government to include in its religious anti-discrimination legislation specific protections for institutions and protections to ensure employment contracts cannot impinge on the religious expression of employees (The Guardian).

Father Rod Bower has rejected the argument that Christians are being persecuted, saying that the religious freedom debate is being “commandeered” by vocal religious lobbyists who are unrepresentative of the wider Christian community (The Big Smoke).

Dates have been set for Israel’s Folau’s case in the Federal Court, with a mediation hearing scheduled for 13 December and, failing an outcome there, a trial period for early February next year (ABC).

Around the Country

VIC: Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne Peter Comensoli says he is prepared to go to jail rather than break the seal of confession (ABC).

VIC: Daniel Andrews has rejected Archbishop Comensoli’s claim that the Church had not been consulted on the government’s mandatory reporting legislation, with the premier saying he met in person with the archbishop (The Age).

VIC: Anti-abuse advocate Chrissie Foster, whose daughters were abused by a priest, has welcomed the state government’s legislation to extend mandatory reporting to religious ministers, arguing that “the bodies and lives of children are sacrosanct”, not confession (ABC).

NSW: With the abortion decriminalisation bill set to proceed to the upper house, moderate members of the Liberal Party are jumping to the defence of Premier Gladys Berejiklian, who is facing a backlash from right-wing conservatives (SMH).

NSW: Various religious leaders have condemned the abortion legislation, telling a parliamentary inquiry it had been rushed and would trivialise the sanctity of human life (The Australian).

NSW: Premier Berejiklian has made it clear she has no appetite for a new debate on voluntary assisted dying in her state, claiming there is no public mood for it (SMH).

NSW: Former National Party leader John Anderson has claimed that grassroots supporters are turning away from the party over concerns it is becoming progressive on social issues, such as abortion (Sky News).

NSW: Motions of no confidence directed at the leadership in Fred Nile’s Christian Democratic Party were voted down at a crisis meeting of the party’s State Council (Eternity News).

Commentary and Analysis

Archbishop Peter Comensoli writes that breaking the seal of confession would be a betrayal of trust (The Age).

Constitutional expert Luke Beck, an Ambassador for the National Secular Lobby, makes the case for why forcing priests to break the seal of confession in child protection matters is necessary (The Age).

Instead of opposing mandatory reporting laws to protect children from abuse, the Catholic Church should use the opportunity to repair its own tainted reputation, writes James Norman (10 Daily).

Jacqueline Maley explores the rise of US-style religious politics in Australia, evident in an obsession about people’s sex lives and the carbon-copy tastics on issues such as abortion (SMH).

Author and commentator Niki Savva says the Liberal Party is no longer a “broad church”, with deeply conservatives now actively driving out moderates from the party (ABC).

Peter FitzSimons argues that voluntary assisted dying legislation should be the next legislative goal of progressives politics in New South Wales (SMH).

Anne Davies argues that the right-wing revolt against New South Wales Premeir Gladys Berejiklian is better understood as a campaign by a few conservative commentators who are “looking for a new war to prosecute” (The Guardian).

‘John Wren’ (a pseudonym) writes that two situations from the past week – the Catholic Church’s response to mandatory reporting and Christian lobbyists’ demands for special protections in employment contracts – highlight the dangers of giving extra legal protection to religious practices (Independent Australia).

Arguing that the West is in decline because of belief in Christianity is also on the wane, Greg Sheridan, Foreign Editor at The Australian, writes a rallying cry for Christians to speak out and to get energised (The Spectator).

That's it for another week!

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