Statements of belief


The Australian Government’s religious discrimination bills were in the news again this week:

Concerns were raised when the third version was released:

Uniting Church minister Elenie Poulos submitted:

Religious freedom and freedom of speech should be protected in Australian Commonwealth law under a comprehensive human rights charter that would give effect to Australia’s obligations to protect people’s human rights. In the absence of any political will to enact such a charter, religious freedom and the right to be free from discrimination on the basis of religion, should be protected in terms consistent with current anti-discrimination laws. This Bill should not be passed in its current form.

She also wrote:

Other commentary:

Attorney-General’s Department:

Top religion stories predicted for 2022


RNA board member and treasurer Ken Chitwood, new editor of Religion Link, presents seven religion stories to cover (including resources and potential sources) in 2022.

  • Democracy, autocracy and … aliens
  • Major SCOTUS decisions
  • Endemic religion
  • Religious communities and climate change
  • The continuing rise of “spirit tech”
  • Religious economies
  • International sporting events and human rights

Meanwhile, the Religion Media Centre’s Ruth Peacock reports that census, conflict, confusion, Covid, crisis, change and closure are the predicted themes of stories about religion that will hit the headlines in 2022.

(Image credit: CCLicense2.0)

Disenchantment and dogma

Salmangundi cover 3

William Deresiewicz, writing for Salmagundi 212 - 213, Fall 2021 - Winter 2022, says:

As a replacement for religion, humanism has not fulfilled the hopes that people had for it, and neither has secularism in any of its other manifestations. They never can, and they never will. And so modernity is fated to be raked by periodic gusts of religious enthusiasm—Romanticism, communism, spiritualism, even the 60s itself, with its social crusades, its shamanistic drugs, its rock and roll revival meetings. Like all millenarian movements, each enthusiasm thinks that it’s the final one, the end of history and the transfiguration of the species, and each one falls in turn. I have no doubt that, whatever their social residues, both woke-ism and the cult of Trump will go the same way.

But if the substitute religions of modernity have not fulfilled the hopes that people had for them, then neither has religion ...

An attempt to topple those pesky experts


I was sent a copy of Greg Sheridan’s Christians: The Urgent Case for Jesus in Our World (Allen & Unwin $32.95) but have been reluctant to review it because I’m not the type of reader who is comfortable with this sort of case-making.

However, I did learn something about The Lord of the Rings in the chapter on "Smuggling Christ into popular culture".

Here is Sheridan with a plug for the book on ABC TV’s The Drum (near the end), including a discussion of Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his faith (15 pages in Christians), Marc Fennell on Pentecostal churches and Maha Abdo on her faith.

And here are some reviews, glowing and critical:

Football is more than a religion to the English

English football religion

Dominic Green, writing a neat historical reflection on football’s place in English society for the Spectator following England’s loss in the final of the European Championship, says:

Football is more than a religion to the English. People drop in and out of religion, and faith comes and goes. But football is a constant, furious passion at the heart of English life — the only activity apart from tea-drinking that unites everyone, regardless of class, race or ethnicity …

If soccer is the reality, and politics the shadow play we conduct while waiting for Saturday afternoon, then this European Championship suggests that English soccer is again in sync with what the unromantic and unsporting call ‘real life’.

See also Green’s The Religious Revolution: The Birth of Modern Spirituality, 1848-1898.

News organisations launch new Religion Hub

RNS Religion Hub
The Religion News Service (RNS) has announced the launch of Religion Hub, a new feature that highlights the religion journalism of RNS, The Associated Press and The Conversation/US.

The Initiative seeks to:

  • improve understanding of the world of faith
  • increase the volume and reach of high-quality news stories about religious faith and practice and the impact of religion in the US and around the world
  • provide balanced and nuanced coverage of major world religions, with an emphasis on explaining the religious practices and principles behind current events and cultural movements.

Liverpool, football and faith

Josh Sexton struggles with typical religious questions:

Like, if there is a god that is as great and powerful as the one you know and love, how does a global pandemic happen? How are the awful things happening every single day on this earth allowed to happen, for that matter?

But he can:

Relate to the idea that no matter how bad things get you know there are brighter days to come. Or that you’ll have bad days where things are weighing on you but you have something/someone to share that with.


I have witnessed divine intervention. I am a part of something that is bigger than me. I am a part of *something*. I go to a place of worship, with the same smiling faces, to make the same idle small talk with other believers. Something which is our combined thing. The faith.

That thing, that something, that faith, is Liverpool Football Club.

So, as he tells the readers of The Anfield Wrap:

We should remember that brighter days are coming. I can’t tell you when, I just know they are.

Australian Women in Religion Project

Women in religion
The 1000 Women in Religion Project, a major initiative of the American Academy of Religion/Society of Biblical Literature’s Women’s Caucus, is working to add biographies to Wikipedia, where over 80% of biographical entries are currently about men.

The University of Divinity is taking a lead role in coordinating an Australian contribution. The goal is to create 100 new Wikipedia entries for Australian women in religion in 2020, in addition to updating and improving already-published articles.