Australia Religion & Spirituality
‘We’re not here to preach to you’: Scientology launches 24-hour TV channel
Iran's new avant-garde mosque angers religious hardliners
The day Billy Graham transfixed a massive MCG crowd
Faith no more: parishioners lose trust in church
Military silently starving and abducting Rohingya, Amnesty finds
Inside Australia's stunning 99-domed mosque
Melbourne CBD attack: Alleged driver Saeed Noori rambled about Allah, ASIO
‘We’re not here to preach to you’: Scientology launches 24-hour TV channel
2018-03-13 11:06:20 In the face of documentaries like Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief and more recently the controversial Church of Scientology appears to be trying to take control of its own broadcast narrative with the launch of its own 24-hour TV channel. Scientology TV launched in the US on Monday night with a rare public appearance by controversial leader David Miscavige, a vow that it will be “candid about every aspect of the church and its operations but isn’t seeking to preach or convert”; and a rapid-fire reaction on social media   Read More ...
Sri Lanka declares state of emergency after Buddhist-Muslim clashes
2018-03-06 20:23:35 Sri Lanka's President has declared a state of emergency for 10 days to rein in the spread of communal violence after clashes erupted between majority Buddhists and members of the minority Muslim community. Key points: Buddhist groups accused Muslims of forcing people to convert to Islam and vandalising Buddhist sites Buddhist nationalist have protested against Rohingya Muslim asylum seekers Muslims make up 9 per cent of Sri Lanka's 21 million people Tension has been growing between the two communities in Sri Lanka over the past year, with some hardline Buddhist groups accusing Muslims of forcing people to convert to Islam and vandalising Buddhist archaeological sites   Read More ...
'They changed my life': Hit the streets with two Mormon missionaries
2018-03-04 00:37:56 What's it really like being a Mormon missionary? Sister Wolfgram can only see her family twice a year via Skype: on Mother's Day, and at Christmas. She's allowed to email relatives weekly, but as a Mormon missionary, this is the most contact will she have with her family, during her 18 months of overseas service. "I come from a family of 10, there's four brothers and four sisters, so I miss them a lot," says Sister Wolfgram, who was raised in West Valley City, Utah, a majority Mormon state   Read More ...
Iran's new avant-garde mosque angers religious hardliners
2018-02-25 12:13:56 A newly built avant-garde mosque in the heart of Iran's capital has infuriated hardliners, who see it as part of a creeping secular onslaught on the Islamic republic. Key points: Mosque architects say the design evokes austerity of early Islam Religious hardliners see it as a secular onslaught on the Islamic republic Project took 10 years to complete at a cost of $20 million The architects behind the Vali-e-Asr mosque dispensed with the traditional rounded domes and towering minarets, opting instead for a modern design of undulating waves of grey stone and concrete, which they say complement the surrounding architecture, evoking the austerity of early Islam   Read More ...
The day Billy Graham transfixed a massive MCG crowd
2018-02-22 10:17:12 It was the day the hallowed turf of the Melbourne Cricket Ground was truly sacred. In 1959, evangelical preacher Billy Graham embarked on his month-long "crusade" of Australia. But it was his appearance at the MCG on March 15, 1959, that was one of the true showstoppers, attracting more than 130,000 people. To this day, it is the biggest crowd that has ever been recorded at the ground   Read More ...
China is cracking down on funeral strippers, but it's a decades-old 'religious practice' in Taiwan
2018-02-22 04:07:59 Earlier this week China launched a crackdown on the bizarre practice of families that hire strippers for funerals, reportedly in order to entice more mourners to come and pay their respects. Key points: Funeral stripping is related to a broader Chinese concept know as "renao", meaning "hot and noisy" It's well known in Taiwan, marking the influence the country has on China Researcher says behind the stripping there's actually "a really tight community" But while it is a relatively recent trend and controversial phenomenon in China, it is apparently a decades-old and well-established practice in other places in Asia, like Taiwan   Read More ...
Billy Graham, evangelical preacher dubbed 'America's Pastor', dies aged 99
2018-02-21 20:12:20 Billy Graham, the magnetic, movie-star-handsome preacher who became a singular force in postwar American religious life and was a confidant of presidents, has died at the age of 99. "America's Pastor" had suffered from cancer, pneumonia and other ailments and died at his home in Montreat, North Carolina. More than anyone else, Reverend Graham built evangelicalism into a force that rivalled liberal Protestantism and Roman Catholicism in the US   Read More ...
Billy Graham, preacher to millions and adviser to presidents, dies at 99
2018-02-21 18:15:16 United States evangelist Billy Graham, who counselled presidents and preached to millions across the world, from his native North Carolina to communist North Korea, during his 70 years on the pulpit, has died at the age of 99. Graham died on Wednesday morning, local time, at his home in Montreat, North Carolina, according to Jeremy Blume, a spokesman for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association   Read More ...
Inside the home of Khaled Sharrouf, Australia's most notorious Islamic State jihadist
2018-02-18 22:10:53 I entered the house through a hole blown in the wall. It was cold and dusty, the chill of Raqqa's winter hanging in the air. It has been years since Australia's most notorious jihadist, Khaled Sharrouf, lived here but the place was haunted by his presence. His neighbour, Abdel Aziz Bin Khalafa, offered an unprecedented, independent account of Sharrouf's life here   Read More ...
Aung San Suu Kyi 'complicit' in Rohingya slaughter: UN investigator
2018-02-17 03:09:01 Bangkok: The United Nations investigator of human rights in Myanmar has accused Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi of “complicity” in the slaughter of Rohingya Muslims, an event which has the “hallmarks of genocide”. Yanghee Lee, a leading child rights expert appointed to the UN post in 2014, said it is possible that Myanmar’s defacto leader could eventually face charges relating to genocide or crimes against humanity in an international tribunal   Read More ...
Opening Lent, pope urges people to slow down, rediscover silence
2018-02-16 14:18:25 Rome: Pope Francis, leading Catholics into the season of Lent, urged people on Wednesday to slow down amid the noise, haste and desire for instant gratification in a high-tech world to rediscover the power of silence. On Ash Wednesday devout Christians in churches around the world have ashes rubbed onto their heads in a ritual reminding them of their mortality as a priest recites the biblically inspired phrase, "Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return   Read More ...
The archbishop, the mansion and the beach house
2018-02-12 14:53:50 At the same time the Catholic Church was fighting a family who refused to accept $55,000 compensation for each of their abused daughters, it purchased a Kew mansion for Archbishop Denis Hart now valued at $2.25 million. Three years later, the church also spent $872,000 on a beach house with bay views in Dromana for Archbishop Hart, which he now personally owns after buying it off the Archdiocese for $1   Read More ...
Man with knife injures four in attack on Indonesian church
2018-02-12 02:07:49 Jakarta. A knife-wielding attacker has wounded four churchgoers in the Indonesian city of Yogyakarta before being shot and wounded by police. Police are as yet unsure if it was a terrorism-related incident. Police said they were investigating possible motives for the attack by the suspect, believed to be a university student, at a Catholic church service in Yogyakarta, widely known as the cultural centre of Indonesia's main island of Java   Read More ...
Myanmar police and soldiers to face action over killing of 10 Rohingya Muslims, government says
2018-02-11 14:11:40 Action will be taken against 10 members of Myanmar's security forces in connection with the killing of captured Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state, a government spokesman has said, adding it was not related to a Reuters. report on the incident. Key points: Buddhist villagers attacked some with swords and soldiers shot the others dead Action will be taken against seven soldiers, three members of police and six villagers Buddhist villagers reported no attack by a large number of insurgents on security forces in Inn Din Reuters on Friday published a report laying out events that led up to the killing of 10 Rohingya men in the northern Rakhine village of Inn Din who were buried in a mass grave after being hacked to death or shot by Buddhist neighbours and soldiers   Read More ...
Several churchgoers and priest injured in machete attack on Catholic Church in Yogyakarta, Indonesia
2018-02-11 06:06:31 A priest and several churchgoers have been injured during a machete attack on a church in the Indonesian city of Yogyakarta. A 22-year-old man armed with a sword or machete attacked members of the congregation at St Lidwina Church. The priest was struck in the back of the head and several others were injured before the man started hacking at a statue of Jesus and Mary   Read More ...
Faith no more: parishioners lose trust in church
2018-02-10 15:12:21 Half the active parishioners of the Catholic Church say their opinion of bishops and other senior religious leaders has been damaged by the scandalous revelations aired at the recent child abuse royal commission. The figures, obtained exclusively by Fairfax Media, show the “bond of trust between the laity and their bishops has been severely impaired,” says Professor Neil Ormerod of the Australian Catholic University   Read More ...
Military silently starving and abducting Rohingya, Amnesty finds
2018-02-08 12:52:41 Bangkok: Myanmar’s military is forcing thousands of Rohingya Muslims remaining in violence-wracked Rakhine State to flee through starvation, abductions and looting, according to testimonies of refugees reaching Bangladesh. Instead of terrorising Rohingya through mass killings, rapes and burnings as they did last year, the military has embarked on a more subtle campaign to squeeze them out by “making life so intolerable that they have little option other than to leave,” Amnesty International says in a new report   Read More ...
Church-goer survives 100-metre crash down embankment, thanks to 'God's protection'
2018-02-05 03:09:25 A man who crashed 100 metres down an embankment while driving home from church survived thanks to "God's protection", a local pastor says. The man's Toyota Corolla careered off Flaxton Drive in the Sunshine Coast hinterland on Sunday and crashed through dense bushland, before coming to a stop on its roof close to another steep drop. The 35-year-old Mapleton man managed to crawl from the wreckage and drag himself about 20 metres back up the embankment before collapsing   Read More ...
Australian professor startled by outcry, debate in Elgin U46 over his 'worship the same God' essay
2018-02-03 23:03:40 The college professor whose work became the center of a Facebook-fueled controversy in Elgin-area School District U46 said he was startled by the reaction some had after it was used in a classroom. Philip Almond is Emeritus Professor in the History of Religious Thought at the University of Queensland in Australia. A 600-word conversation piece he wrote, "Despite differences, Jews, Christians and Muslims worship the same God," was used in December as a reading comprehension assignment in a 6th grade English Language Arts class   Read More ...
Australia Day honor for former Sydney Adventist hospital nurse
2018-02-03 12:15:19 A former nurse unit manager at Sydney Adventist Hospital was posthumously recognized in this year’s Australia Day honors, which were announced last Friday. Glenys Chapman was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for her service to nursing and international outreach programs. Ms. Chapman passed away on May 17, 2017 after a lifetime dedicated to caring for others both locally and overseas   Read More ...
Australian children write letters to mission story heroes
2018-02-01 12:17:52 A group of children in Australia celebrated three months of weekly mission stories from India by coloring Indian flags, preparing Indian cuisine, and writing letters to people featured in the stories. The division’s communication director, G. Nageshwar Rao, subsequently forwarded the letters to local church leaders to distribute to the intended recipients — children and adults featured in the Children’s Mission magazine in third quarter 2017   Read More ...
Oxford Islamic academic in custody in France on rape accusations
2018-02-01 07:08:44 Paris: Prominent Swiss academic Tariq Ramadan, a professor of Islamic studies at the University of Oxford, has been taken into custody by French police following accusations of rape, a judicial source said on Wednesday. The source said a preliminary investigation was opened after two complaints were filed against Ramadan, a well-known figure in the Middle East. He is the grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood movement in Egypt, Hassan al-Banna   Read More ...
Australia Catholic bishops criticise 'foreign influence' laws
2018-01-30 09:05:34 Catholic bishops have raised concerns that new laws in Australia could force Church members to register as agents of a foreign power. The government said the changes, still to be formally debated, will protect transparency and Australia's interests. But Catholic officials have said the laws are too broad and could prevent churchgoers' advocacy and charity work. "Catholics are followers of Jesus Christ - we are not agents of a foreign government," said Bishop Robert McGuckin, from Toowoomba in Queensland   Read More ...
Chinese police dynamite Christian megachurch
2018-01-14 00:08:57 Hong Kong: Chinese police officers have demolished one of the country's largest evangelical churches this week, using heavy machinery and dynamite to raze the building where more than 50,000 Christians worshipped. The Golden Lampstand Church in Shanxi province in mainland China was one of at least two Christian churches demolished by authorities in recent weeks, part of what critics describe as a national effort to regulate spiritual life in China   Read More ...
Myanmar leader says army admission on Rohingya killings a 'positive step'
2018-01-13 07:16:48 Tokyo: Myanmar's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi says it is "positive" that the country's military was taking responsibility for the actions of troops, after the army said soldiers were involved in killing 10 captured Rohingya Muslims. The military said in a statement on Wednesday that soldiers and Buddhist villagers had murdered 10 Muslim "terrorists" at a village in northern Rakhine State at the beginning of September and that action would be taken against those responsible   Read More ...
Chinese police dynamite Christian megachurch
2018-01-13 05:38:34 Hong Kong: Chinese police officers have demolished one of the country's largest evangelical churches this week, using heavy machinery and dynamite to raze the building where more than 50,000 Christians worshipped. The Golden Lampstand Church in Shanxi province in mainland China was one of at least two Christian churches demolished by authorities in recent weeks, part of what critics describe as a national effort to regulate spiritual life in China   Read More ...
Myanmar's military admits to role in killing of 10 Rohingya Muslims found in mass grave
2018-01-10 22:13:29 Myanmar's military has acknowledged that its security forces and Buddhist villagers killed 10 Rohingya Muslims whose bodies were found in a mass grave in a village in troubled Rakhine state. Key points: The 10 Rohingya bodies were found in December in a mass grave in Inn Din village Military said the Rohingya had threatened Buddhist villagers and were killed in retaliation More than 650,000 Rohingya have had to flee into Bangladesh since August last year The public admission of wrongdoing is the military's first since it launched "clearance operations" against ethnic Rohingya in August, prompting more than 650,000 to flee into neighbouring Bangladesh in what the United Nations has called "ethnic cleansing   Read More ...
Handshake banned in Northern Ireland churches over ‘Aussie flu’
2018-01-06 09:09:52 A Catholic diocese in Northern Ireland has suspended the ‘sign of peace’ handshake in its masses due to the risk of infection from a strain of a flu first discovered in Australia, a media report said on Saturday. At least 170,000 cases were confirmed at the end of the Australian winter, more than twice as many as in 2016. According to health officials, there 72 flu-related deaths, the Guardian report said   Read More ...
Gunmen kill several at Nigeria church service
2018-01-02 18:13:46 Lagos: A Nigerian official says gunmen have shot dead at least 17 worshippers who were attending a church service to usher in the new year. The chairman of a local community group, Osi Olisa, said on Tuesday that the gunmen also shot people on the road before escaping. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack in River State, though suspicion has fallen on an armed group believed to be behind kidnappings and killings in the area   Read More ...
Inside Australia's stunning 99-domed mosque
2018-01-01 04:05:44 A new 99-domed mosque in Australia is attracting attention for its bold, brutalist design. But the architect behind the project, Angelo Candalepas, is hoping that his creation can do more than win plaudits -- he's wants it to help improve interfaith relations in the Sydney suburb of Punchbowl. Scheduled to open in time for Ramadan this May, the mosque has been designed to feel welcoming to the whole community, regardless of religion   Read More ...
Is the commercialisation of yoga and meditation all that bad?
2018-01-01 02:04:29 Yoga, mindfulness and meditation: Is the commercialisation of spirituality all that bad? Rochelle Livingstone was eight when a "hippie" school teacher introduced her to yoga. Eastern spiritual practices were scant in her suburb of Highbury, north London. But by her mid-teens, Ms Livingstone had joined up with "old ladies in a village hall" to perform sun salutes. Then, in her 20s, she moved to Sydney, fell in love with the eastern suburbs, and found a yoga studio in which to develop her practice   Read More ...
Egypt attack: At least 10 dead in attack on Coptic church south of Cairo
2017-12-29 14:15:00 Ten people have been killed in an attack outside a Coptic Christian church in southern Cairo, including a gunman, Egypt's Health Ministry spokesman says. The two attackers opened fire at the entrance to the church of Mar Mina in Helwan district, which was being guarded by police in the run-up to Orthodox Christmas celebrations next week, security sources said. Officials said one gunman was shot dead shortly after the attack   Read More ...
Indian parliament votes to outlaw Islamic 'triple talaq' divorces
2017-12-29 04:07:11 India's lower house of parliament has approved a bill making the Muslim practice of instant divorce, known as "triple talaq", illegal and punishable with up to three years imprisonment. tKey points: Talaq is the arabic word for divorce Saying Talaq three times at any time and via any medium, including text message or social media post would mean instant divorce The bill must be approved by the upper house before becoming law There are 170 million Muslims in India MPs voted a few months after India's Supreme Court struck down the practice as unconstitutional   Read More ...
Marion Mosque community receives public support after worshipper punched
2017-12-26 02:06:08 The Muslim congregation at a suburban Adelaide mosque where a worshipper was attacked last week has been overwhelmed by a show of public support in the wake of the incident. After evening prayer on Friday, the worshipper was punched in the face at Marion Mosque at Park Holme by a member of the public. The victim was struck after refusing to answer questions about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, stating that he did not have the necessary insight   Read More ...
Parts of Australia set to sizzle on Christmas, Church leaders reflect and tweet
2017-12-24 22:07:09 Parts of Australia set to sizzle on Christmas, Church leaders reflect and As people in some parts of Australia get ready to celebrate Christmas in sizzling heat, the nation's Church leaders have offered messages of hope, love and generosity, with one even condensing his spiritual remarks into a single. People in Queensland are set to flock to the beach for Christmas, with temperatures tipped to soar above 40 degrees Celsius in some areas and severe thunderstorms expected to hit in the afternoon   Read More ...
Melbourne CBD attack: Alleged driver Saeed Noori rambled about Allah, ASIO
2017-12-22 18:04:49 Alleged Melbourne attack driver Saeed Noori rambled about Allah, Australia's spy agency ASIO and the mistreatment of Muslims in the hours after the attack, police say. Police revealed more on Friday afternoon about what the 32-year-old drug addict told them as investigators continue to search for a motive behind the rampage. It comes as Noori was discharged from hospital and into police custody, where he was set to spend the night before being formally interviewed by homicide detectives on Saturday   Read More ...
What history really tells us about Jesus' birth
2017-12-21 22:12:20 I might be about to ruin your Christmas. Sorry. But the reality is those nativity plays in which your adorable children wear tinsel and angel wings bear little resemblance to what actually happened. Neither does your average Christmas card featuring a peaceful nativity scene. These are traditions, compilations of different accounts that reflect a later Christian piety. So what really happened at that so-called "first Christmas"? Firstly, the actual birth day of Jesus was not December 25   Read More ...
In Rohingya crisis, doing nothing could be a crime
2017-12-19 08:10:17 Bangkok: The United Nations human rights chief has raised the possibility of Myanmar's civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi being charged over atrocities against Rohingya Muslims. Zeid Raad al-Hussein said whether genocide has been committed would need to be decided by an international court but judges could consider the "crime of omission". "That if it came to your knowledge that this was being committed, and you did nothing to stop it, then you could be capable as well for that," Prince Zeid told the BBC, referring to the Nobel laureate who was swept into power in 2015   Read More ...
Rohingya threats ahead of expected forced returns
2017-12-18 08:14:55 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh camps have threatened to take their own lives should they be forced back to Myanmar, according to a report Oxfam released on Monday. The aid group has water and sanitation projects and is distributing food and supplies in the camps near Cox's Bazaar. It interviewed 208 refugees for the report. More than 647,000-odd Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar for Bangladesh since a military crackdown on their villages in Rakhine state in late August   Read More ...
Myanmar: Aung San Suu Kyi may face genocide charges over Rohingya crisis, UN official says
2017-12-18 08:14:35 The United Nations' top human rights official has raised the prospect of Myanmar's defacto leader Aung San Suu Kyi facing charges over the deaths and expulsion of thousands of Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state. Key points: A UN official has not ruled out charging military and government leaders of genocide He says he personally warned Aung San Suu Kyi to stop the killings Myanmar denies committing atrocities against the Rohingya Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, the UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights, says he would not be surprised if a future court found the military campaign against the Rohingya people amounted to genocide   Read More ...