News Stand

09 - 15 September

West Sydney covid positive doctor visits, Mandatory vaccination questioned by religious leaders, Bishop John Shelby Spong LGBQT supporter dies, Life as a Muslim before 9/11, Former US presidents, religious leaders launch organization to aid Afghan evacuees, Faith and feminism and much more

September 15 2021


Newmarch Home in Sydney's west on high alert after COVID-positive doctor's visits

The aged care home at the centre of a COVID-19 outbreak in Sydney last year, Newmarch House, is again on edge after a positive case visited the site. A spokesperson for Anglicare, which runs Newmarch House, said the home was placed into precautionary lockdown, with residents isolating in their rooms.


Religious leaders take on NSW Government over mandatory vaccination

Religious leaders are calling for the NSW Government to reverse its decision to ban unvaccinated churchgoers from attending their local service. Under the roadmap out of lockdown announced last week, places of worship can reopen to double jabbed people once 70 per cent of adults are fully vaccinated. Watch Sydney Archbishop Kanishka Raffel’s remarks on Channel 7’s Sunrise program.


Ultra-Orthodox leaders plead for prayer gatherings over Yom Kippur

Leaders of Melbourne’s ultra-Orthodox community are pleading with the state government to let them gather in small prayer groups during Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year, which begins on Wednesday evening.


Bishop John Shelby Spong, firebrand who championed LGBTQ inclusion, has died

US Bishop John Shelby Spong, a best-selling author and cleric known for his progressive theology and his support of LGBTQ clergy in the Episcopal Church, has died. He was 90. Spong’s liberal views on theology were met with anger and dismissal by critics, who saw him as preaching something different from Christianity — which was seen as a betrayal of his role as a bishop charged with defending the faith. He was part of a movement of writers who felt the Christian faith needed to adapt to a changing world in order to have a viable future and who often rejected miracles or other spiritual parts of the Bible.


C of E review proposes new body to take over (almost) every central church function

A radical shake-up of the Church of England’s central governance has been proposed by an official review group. The Governance Review Group’s proposals include scaling back the powers of the House of Bishops to set national policy, and placing most of the activities currently overseen by the Church Commissioners and bodies such as the Archbishops’ Council under the auspices of a single charitable body called the Church of England National Services. The report says that the “complexity” of the current governance structure “encourages confusion, duplication, and accountability gaps”, and “is not sustainable or suitable for the Church’s future mission”.


Sometimes it’s hard to remember what life as a Muslim was like before 9/11

“We used to have a multidimensional identity based on a rich cultural history,” writes Guardian columnist Nesrine Malik. “Now we’re just seen as good or bad Muslims … When I try to remember what it was like before, what I am really doing is attempting to piece together when Islam went from being a multidimensional, personal identity to a flat, political one, and 9/11 feels like the day it happened.”


Review recommends Bishop step back in ‘dysfunctional’ Scottish diocese

Bishop Anne Dyer of Aberdeen & Orkney, accused of bullying by multiple people, should step back permanently from the diocese, concludes a review that warns of “systemic dysfunction” in the diocese. The review, conducted by Professor Iain Torrance, Pro-Chancellor of the University of Aberdeen and a former Moderator of the General Assembly of the (Presbyterian) Church of Scotland, cites concerns about bullying, “strikingly increased centralisation” and the Bishop’s interactions with St Andrew’s Aberdeen, formerly the Cathedral church.


Former US presidents, religious leaders launch organization to aid Afghan evacuees

Three former presidents and first ladies have joined with religious leaders, faith-based refugee resettlement agencies and others to support a new national organization with the goal of making it easier to help Afghan evacuees arriving in the United States. Welcome.US launched Tuesday (Sept 14) to provide a single point of entry for Americans to donate to frontline organizations, host arriving families through Airbnb and find other ways to help Afghans as they rebuild their lives in the U.S. after fleeing the Taliban.


Faith and feminism — can they be reconciled?

If religion and feminism were people, we might imagine them as a long-bickering couple at marriage counselling. Sitting on the therapist’s couch, they have a long history of distrust, seemingly different life goals, and hurting each other. They often view each other with contempt. On the surface, it would indeed seem that these two warring parties have little, if anything, to offer each other. But a good marriage counsellor could dig beneath the seemingly insurmountable differences and excavate a history where they worked well together, and offer not merely hope for reconciliation, but potential for mutual benefit and a common goal.


Things I’m asked: What historical evidence is there for Jesus?

Christianity is not a culturally derived religious philosophy that gradually evolved over the years. Christianity is based on the historical reality of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. This claim is hugely significant, for if it can be shown that the New Testament accounts of Jesus are nothing but myths and exaggerations formed incrementally over the years by overzealous adherents, Christianity disappears in a puff of smoke leaving nothing behind but moralism.