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Weekend Wrap for 26 October 2019

Division over the ‘religious freedom’ bill and ongoing controversy over the Prime Minister's connection to a Hillsong pastor continue to dog the government. In this Weekend Wrap, we bring you news and opinion pieces from the past week across a range of issues facing secular Australians.

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

Ethnic religious groups have called for more consultations with Attorney-General Christian Porter so to avoid potential “unintended consequences” from any new ‘religious freedom’ laws (The Australian).

An independent inquiry into the impact of anti-discrimination laws on faith-based schools and organisations has been “paused” after the Morrison government changed the scope of the Australian Law Reform Commission’s work (News).

Attorney-General Christian Porter has dismissed the concerns of businesses about the Religious Discrimination Bill and flagged changes to enable institutions such as hospitals and aged-care homes to discriminate on religious grounds (AFR).

Former MP Philip Ruddock has reiterated that his inquiry into religious freedom found “very little concrete evidence” of any threat to religious freedom in Australia (ABC).

The Prime Minister has urged more institutions to join the National Redress Scheme to support survivors of institutional child sexual abuse, saying their refusal to do so was "doubling down on the crimes” (News).

The man who was raped as a child by Frank Houston, the father of Hillsong founder Brian, has criticised the Prime Minister for his ongoing support of a church that has yet to sign up for the redress scheme (The New Daily).

A recording of evangelist Frank Houston preaching appears to challenge Brian Houston's evidence to the child abuse royal commission that his father had been "stood down instantly" after admitting child sex offences (Newcastle Herald).

Hillsong’s Brian Houston has said he “genuinely didn’t know” if the Prime Minister wanted him to attend a White House dinner (The Guardian).

Australia’s richest private schools – most of which are religious – can now access cash assistance from a $1.2 billion taxpayer slush fund (The New Daily).

Around the Country

NSW: Sydney’s Anglican Diocese has introduced a new transgender policy to shield itself from possible discrimination claims and has urged transgender parishioners to "honour and preserve the maleness or femaleness of the body God has given you" (BuzzFeed).

WA: The state government has hinted it would consider amendments to the voluntary assisted dying laws and discuss them with interested members, as debate continued in the upper house (WA Today).

WA: Opponents of voluntary assisted dying failed in their bid to have a final vote on the bill postponed (ABC).

QLD: Independent MP Sandy Bolton is calling on the Palaszczuk government to vote on voluntary assisted dying before the state election (Courier Mail).

QLD: Robin Bristow, the organiser of a satanist rally, is encouraging people who are concerned about the Religious Discrimination Bill to join “one hell of a Halloween” protest (The Iron Fist and the Velvet Glove podcast).

VIC: LGBTIQ+ campaigners are protesting in Melbourne today against the proposed ‘religious freedom’ laws (Star Observer).

VIC: Parish priests are relinquishing their power over schools, with the Archbishop of Melbourne taking control as part of the Catholic Church’s response to a royal commission recommendation (The Age).

Commentary and Analysis

Australians simply don’t know how extreme the Prime Minister’s religious beliefs are and the extent to which they shape his decision making, writes Michael Pascoe (The New Daily).

The Attorney-General has opted for a “deeply flawed” approach to law reform consultation, with his exposure draft taking a presumption position in a highly contested area, writes Professor Simon Rice (The Conversation).

So “unacceptable” is the Religious Discrimination Bill that opponents within the government are confident it will die in the Senate and never be spoken of again, writes Katrina Grace Kelly (The Australian).

Martine Delaney, who made the discrimination complaint against Tasmania’s Catholic Archbishop Julian Porteous, explains why government ministers are lying by using that case as a justification for ‘religious freedom’ laws (New Matilda).

Pushing for ‘religious freedom’ laws may consume the Prime Minister as the legislative process promises to be divisive, writes former Liberal leader John Hewson in this piece about our ‘leadership drought’ (SMH).

As an abuse victim challenges the Hillsong narrative and as the Prime Minister refuses to answer questions, Australians have a right to know more about the White House dinner list, writes Joanne McCarthy (Newcastle Herald).

The divergence of Sydney Anglicans from the ‘big tent’ approach of the Archbishop of Canterbury is cause for concern among Anglicans worldwide, says Andrew McGowan, Dean of the Berkeley Divinity School (ABC Radio).

Julia Baird praises the pockets of resistance who are pushing for change from within the concervative Sydney Anglicans (SMH).

The Sydney Anglican Diocese is taking a “deeply divisive” approach in stepping up its intolerance of gay and lesbians and in supporting schisms within the church elsewhere, writes Reverend Canon Professor Dorothy Lee (ABC).

While the doctrines of the emerging Pastafarian movement may appear comical, they highlight the inconsistency of the way in which states treat religions, writes Tony Meacham (The Conversation).

LGBTIQ+ advocate Rodney Croome argues that the ‘religious freedom’ movement is merely about giving power and privilege to those who already have them at the expense of others (Online Opinion).

That's it for another week!

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