News Stand

29 August - 4 September

Wangaratta synod approves blessings for same-sex marriage; PM asked to show "Christian leadership" in Biloela family case; what the new religious freedom laws are actually about; number of religious funerals on the decline; and more

September 4 2019


Same-sex marriage blessing approved by synod in country Victoria

The Synod of the Diocese of Wangaratta has passed a regulation to enable the blessing of same-sex marriages. The regulation, which has already come into force, does not specifically refer to same-sex marriages. Instead, it provides for “persons married according to the Marriage Act 1961”, the Commonwealth Marriage Act amended in 2017 to allow same-sex marriages.


Opposition urges PM to show ‘Christian leadership’ in Tamil family debate

The Federal Opposition has invoked Scott Morrison's religious faith in the national debate over a Tamil family facing deportation to Sri Lanka. It's urging the Prime Minister to “show Christian leadership” and allow the family to remain in Australia.


What are the new religious discrimination laws about?

Judith Ireland from The Sydney Morning Herald explores the Federal Government’s draft religious discrimination laws, announced last week – what they contain, what they would mean in the Israel Folau case, how they would affect religious schools and health professionals and what happens to the bill now.


New Bathurst Bishop elected

Bathurst has looked to Noosa for its next bishop. The Revd Mark Norman Calder of the Anglican Parish of Noosa is to be consecrated a bishop at St Andrew’s Cathedral Sydney on 21 November and installed as Bishop of Bathurst two days later at All Saints Cathedral, Bathurst. He succeeds Bishop Ian Palmer, who retired in April after a six-year episcopate in which the diocese faced a threat to its very existence.


‘Ground-breaking’ winner at NSW Premier’s History Awards

A book exploring The Bible's complex influence on Australia's political and pop culture landscape, from colonisation to the Bra Boys, is among the major winners of this year's NSW Premier's History Awards.


Leading New Testament scholar Bishop Tom Wright named research fellow at his alma mater, Wycliffe Hall Oxford

N.T. Wright, a former Bishop of Durham who has been Research Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at St Mary's College at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, is to take up a new appointment at his alma mater in Oxford, which describes itself as “The Evangelical College in the Heart of Oxford”. Read Wycliffe Hall’s announcement here.


Archbishop of Canterbury says he may chair Brexit citizens’ forum

Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury has agreed in principle to chair a citizens’ assembly on Brexit but has provoked outrage from Eurosceptics for considering the idea. He said he would only take part if the exercise were not aimed at thwarting Brexit and suggested it could be conducted after the UK left the European Union, due to occur on 31 October, as a way of overcoming divisions.


80 per cent decline in religious funerals as mourners opt for golf courses and zoos over churches

The religious funeral is dying a death in Britain, Gabriella Swerling reports in The Telegraph. Eight years ago 67 per cent of people requested traditional religious services and just 12 per cent were non-religious. But by 2018, only 13 per cent wanted a religious funeral. Undertakers have reported a “staggering shift” towards unique, secular ceremonies. Among the more niche requests, there have been milk floats, canal boats, converted steam trains and quad bikes being turned into hearses. 


Former South Korean PM a passionate feminist and ecumenist

The Revd Professor Sang Chang’s tenure as first female Prime Minister of South Korea lasted only a month in 2002. But the World Council of Churches Asia President, a Presbyterian minister, learned much from it and in this piece from the WCC, discusses the lessons she drew from losing office, meeting Kim Jong-un’s father, the prospects for reunification on the Korean peninsula, feminism and ecumenism.


The Old Man and the voice of God: The untold story of the Wave Hill walk-off

Justine Toh, from the Centre for Public Christianity, explores the faith story of Vincent Liangari, who 53 years ago led 200 Gurundji people in a walk-off from the Wave Hill cattle station in protest against atrocious housing and working conditions, meagre provisions and unequal pay. The campaign to reclaim the traditional lands of the Gurundji people has been immortalised in the photo of Prime Minister Gough Whitlam pouring red dirt into Lingiari’s hands in 1975 to symbolise the Gurundji triumph.