Sacrilege laws and prayers in government meetings – religious privilege is on full display across the country! Those stories and much more in the latest edition of the Weekend Wrap.

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

Newly released figures have revealed that the Morrison government will spend $610 million less than expected on payments to victims of institutional child abuse in the next two years (The Guardian).

Interest groups have raised concerns over the effectiveness of the National Redress Scheme, with some fearful that abuse survivors will not seek compensation unless improvements are made (Catholic Weekly).

The chairman of the Catholic Church agency set up to audit risks of child sex abuse has expressed concerns that the agency will be replaced by a less independent standards body (The Australian, paywalled).

A professor of bioethics has likened the spread of voluntary assisted dying (VAD) laws to a ‘slow moving pandemic’, saying that the uptake of VAD “seems to be infectious – one jurisdiction after another...” (Catholic Weekly).

Humanist of the Year recipient Fiona Patten says religious exemptions in Australian laws and in parliamentary procedures that serve to maintain exclusive privileges for religious people go against humanist ideals.

A recently retired rector has delivered a firm rebuke of Anglican church services, arguing that too many are “just too terrible to be helping the gospel cause” and are unappealing to believers and non-believers (Sydney Anglicans).

A new study by the Pew Center, the Global God Divide, shows that a declining number of Australians believe that they need God to be good (RSA).

The Jesuit Social Services͛ has criticised Australian federal and state governments for failing to take the opportunity to raise the age of legal responsibility from 10 to 14 years (CathNews).

Around the Country

SA: The use of the sacrilege law – carrying a maximum sentence of life in prison – against 19-year-old man who allegedly entered a church and stole items has been slammed as a “throwback to a different time” (ABC).

QLD: The Lord Mayor of Brisbane has rejected a petition to remove Christian prayers from the start of council meetings because prayer is a “long-standing tradition in all levels of government in Australia" (Courier Mail).

NSW: The state government has granted a mosque coronavirus exemption for 400 people to hold a religious celebration (ABC).

VIC: Members of an Orthodox Church have been fined more than $16,000 for breaching stage three coronavirus restrictions (Eternity News).

QLD: Several parishes on Brisbane’s southside were instructed to cancel weekday masses and gatherings after the emergence of new COVID-19 cases in Queensland (Catholic Leader).

QLD: The office of the opposition leader Deb Frecklington has discouraged Liberal-National members of parliament from meeting voluntary assisted dying campaigners ahead of a potential conscience vote (The Guardian).

TAS: Labor member of parliament Joanna Siejka says she will return from maternity leave to support the pending voluntary assisted dying legislation bill (The Advocate).

TAS: Jo Palmer, a Liberal Party candidate in the upper house election for the seat of Rosevears, revealed that she would support voluntary assisted dying legislation if elected to parliament because people "should have a choice" and the community “demanded” it (ABC, from about the 14.40-minute mark).

TAS: Liberal member of parliament Nick Street says he will support voluntary assisted dying (Your Choice Tas).

NSW: Principals are calling for scripture classes to be scrapped from public schools and held after school hours instead of taking up precious class time (Daily Telegraph).

QLD: Students at elite private school Moreton Bay Boys’ College are being taught from a controversial book that suggests God hates homosexuals and that being gay may be a result of poor parenting and childhood sexual abuse (Courier Mail).

WA: LGBTIQ+ advocates are calling on the state government to take action on discriminatory laws that provide exemptions for faith-based schools to refuse enrolment, expel students and fire staff on the basis of sexuality or gender identity (Out in Perth).

VIC: The Australian Christian Lobby has criticised the Andrews government for opening public consultation on a new LGBTIQ+ strategy, which the lobby describes as a “more aggressive rainbow manifesto”, during the pandemic (ACL).

NSW: Catholic Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher has labelled as ‘disgraceful and undemocratic’ the state government’s inaction on countering modern forms of slavery (Catholic Weekly).

NSW: A Catholic priest convicted of sexually abusing two young boys has had his appeal thrown out by the Supreme Court despite arguing he did not receive a fair trial (News).

Commentary and Analysis

That's it for another week!

Until next time, please follow us on Twitter and on Facebook.

Don't forget to add your voice to the #DontDivideUs campaign against the Religious Discrimination Bill.

And if you are able, please consider making a small monthly contribution to the NSL to help us raise the secular profile in Australia. Every dollar helps!