Outrage grows on ritual killing

THE head of the meat industry has joined animal welfare groups in opposing the religious slaughter of sheep while they are conscious, amid calls to ban the ''unnecessary and unconscionable'' practice in Australia.

At least 15 Australian abattoirs - including four in Victoria - have government approval to slit sheep's throats without stunning them for local and international halal (Muslim) and kosher (Jewish) markets.

A leading Jewish identity told The Sunday Age that about 500 sheep are killed by the kosher method in Victoria each week.

Doctors, church want rights charter extended to unborn

VICTORIA'S charter of human rights should be overhauled to protect the rights of unborn children and the rights of health professionals to object to abortions, according to doctors and the Catholic Church.

Three years after abortion was decriminalised in Victoria, the contentious right-to-life debate reignited last week when several doctors, nurses and Catholic bishops urged a state parliamentary committee to change the human rights charter, which is under review.

The God complexity: a faith war in our schools

IT'S on for just 30 minutes a week and it's taught in fewer than half of all public primary schools in Victoria, but religious education has the power to stir mighty emotions.

Steve Bracks and his education minister Lynne Kosky tasted its power in 2005 and 2006 as they overhauled education laws, and considered changing the rules governing ''special religious instruction'' - religion taught by church volunteers and decried by opponents as indoctrination.

This unleashed a relentless campaign by the religious lobby to defend their patch.

Workers to strike in battle with Salvation Army

IT DOES not, at first glance, appear to be the type of workplace likely to be stricken with industrial upheaval. But about 100 workers at the Salvation Army Westcare will strike for eight hours today in protest at what they say are poor wages and conditions at their Sunshine workplace.

Phyllis Downward, who has worked at Westcare for 11 years, said the workers had become frustrated at the army's failure to negotiate a first collective deal with them. "We've been fighting this for three-and-a-half years to get an agreement and to get a pay rise," she said.

Priests 'can't hide abuse'

CATHOLIC priests would be forced to report all admissions of child abuse during confession under a plan from the independent senator Nick Xenophon to make reporting child abuse mandatory.

Senator Xenophon's call was inspired by Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny, who launched an unprecedented attack on the Vatican this week for its failure to tackle child abuse in the church, accusing it of ''dysfunction, disconnection and elitism''.

Senator Xenophon attempted a similar move in 2003 when he was in the South Australian Parliament and has written to Mr Kenny congratulating him.

Unease as Sydney Opera House is used in jihad site

THE Sydney Opera House has appeared in an online al-Qaeda magazine on terrorism and bomb-making, prompting the federal government to try to prevent the magazine's spread to the Australian web.

The photo is included in the latest issue of Inspire, an online English-language magazine published by associates of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the most active and dangerous of the organisation's international branches.

Problems at the end of the rainbow

ELIZABETH Stuart first became suspicious when her five-year-old daughter Isabel pensively asked her on the way home from school if she believed God had made the plants and trees and rainbows.

Although Ms Stuart and her husband had indicated they wished to opt their daughter out of Christian religious education at Ringwood Heights Primary School, a clerical error meant Isabel had been attending the lessons.

The remarks appeared to breach guidelines that ban chaplains and volunteers who teach special religious instruction in Victorian government schools from proselytising.

Christian group cleared of urging students to conver

A FEDERAL investigation into the Christian group that provides religious education in Victorian schools has found no evidence that its chaplains tried to convert students in breach of government guidelines.

The federal and Victorian governments ordered inquiries after a recording emerged of Access Ministries' chief executive Evonne Paddison telling a 2008 conference: ''We need to go and make disciples.''

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/christian-group-cleared-of-urging-stud...

Baillieu “weak” on voluntary euthanasia

Deborah Gough July 17, 2011

A FORMER Northern Territory chief minister has described Premier Ted Baillieu's political stance on voluntary euthanasia as ''weak'' and unconstitutional.

Marshall Perron, who sponsored the short-lived voluntary euthanasia laws in the Northern Territory, criticised Mr Baillieu for rejecting a call for a report on voluntary euthanasia laws for Victoria, despite personally supporting the issue.

Melbourne lawyer Alan Rosendorff, who is dying of cancer, wrote to Mr Baillieu earlier this month calling for a Victorian Law Reform Commission report on the issue.

Access Ministries to extend its “mission”.

Jewel Topsfield July 18, 2011

THE Christian group that teaches the controversial religious education program in Victorian government schools has announced a five-year ''mission'' to extend its reach into independent schools.

Access Ministries chief executive Evonne Paddison said more and more parents were choosing to send their children to independent schools.

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