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What is the religious freedom debate about, and why are we having it?; an Anglican minister discusses the conflict between sex education and religion; Christian families in New South Wales resort to home schooling due to anti-religious sentiment

September 12 2018

Why the debate about religious freedom?


In 2017, Malcolm Turnbull commissioned a review of religious freedom in Australia. At the time, one of the loudest voices calling for better protection of religious freedoms was then-treasurer Scott Morrison.

The review was completed in May, and it now falls to Mr Morrison and his attorney-general, Christian Porter, to respond to the review's recommendations.

But what exactly is religious freedom, and why are we having this debate now, asks Michael Kozoil in The Age.


Young people want sex education and religion shouldn’t get in the way


Prime Minister Scott Morrison told 2GB recently he sent his two daughters to private school because “I don’t want the values of others being imposed on my children”.

He added that the Victorian program Building Respectful Relationships, aimed at reducing gender-based violence, made his “skin curl”.

But do such views conflict with the student’s right to information about sexual health, asks Anglican minister and academic Gary Bouma.


Bullying forces religious families to home schooling in NSW


Families with deeply religious values are resorting to home schooling their children more frequently, as schools report an increase in religious bullying.

Disgruntled parents cited incidents in which their children were taunted and targeted for opposing same-sex marriage.

New figures reveal the number of pupils being educated by their parents has soared 50 per cent in just four years to 4,479, The Saturday Telegraph reports.


Church of England numbers at record lows

Fears have been raised over the future of the Church of England as fewer people than ever identify as Anglican, according to a new survey.

Just 14 per cent of people – one in seven – identify themselves as Anglican, according to data from the British Social Attitudes Survey.

The study reveals that in 1983, 40 per cent of Britons said they ‘belonged’ to the Anglican faith. That figure fell to 31 per cent by 2002 and now stands at 14 per cent.


Religious communities enjoying revival in the UK


In the popular imagination, monks and nuns probably belong in the medieval period. 

But the Archbishop of Canterbury says religious communities are enjoying an unexpected revival, with young Christians increasingly joining for a year or juggling a religious order with a full-time job.

Religious communities offer an "ancient and powerful answer" to loneliness and isolation, he argues. 



Justin Welby proposes controversial tax reforms


The Archbishop of Canterbury has launched a radical set of proposals to reform the UK economy, and not everyone is happy.

A proposal to tax capital gains and income at the same rate is one of the 70-plus recommendations in the Prosperity and Justice report, many of which pertain to a “more active and purposeful state”.

The report’s premise is that wealthy individuals and corporations must contribute more to ensure a just society.



Uniting Church split by same-sex marriage ruling

The Uniting Church’s decision to permit same-sex marriage has led its biggest church in Queensland to take “Uniting” off its signboard.

Uphappy evangelicals within the Uniting Church, meanwhile, are seeking to form networks or “presbyteries” of like-minded churches that aren’t limited by location.


Donald Trump is no John McCain, funeral service told

The National Cathedral funeral service for John McCain was marked by many comparisons between the late senator and US President Donald Trump.

The character comparison was choreographed into the service by McCain himself, and was led off dramatically by his daughter Meghan’s first tribute. Former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush also weighed in.


Wentworth’s byelection bellwether

The federal electorate of Wentworth will be the focus of intense scrutiny over the coming weeks, as voters respond to the loss of their long-standing member, Malcolm Turnbull.

A by-election looms, and it looks like anything but a sure thing, reports the Catholic online journal Eureka Street.



China bans one of largest Beijing churches

Beijing city authorities have banned one of the largest unofficial Protestant churches in the city and confiscated “illegal promotional materials” amid a deepening crackdown on China’s “underground” churches.

The Zion church had for years operated with relative freedom, hosting hundreds of worshippers every weekend in an expansive specially renovated hall in north Beijing.

But since April, after they rejected requests from authorities to install closed-circuit television cameras in the building, the church has faced growing pressure from the authorities and has been threatened with eviction.