Christian lobby joins pokies row

THE conservative Australian Christian Lobby has urged Opposition Leader Tony Abbott to rethink his opposition to mandatory pre-commitment on poker machines.

The lobby's managing director, Jim Wallace, yesterday urged the opposition to at least consider a trial of the system.

The government has been working with ClubsACT to hold a six-month trial across the territory's 55 pokie venues. The trial has the backing of the pokies industry.

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Father Bob could be set for third coming

SOUTH Melbourne's Catholics have been given new hope their high-profile priest Father Bob Maguire might be allowed to stay on after he met Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart yesterday.

The parish and Father Maguire's supporters were upset the archdiocese secretly invited the Capuchin religious order to take over running the parish upon Father Maguire's agreed retirement date of February 1.

South Melbourne Parish Council chairman Tony Long said yesterday he understood that if the parish and Capuchins could agree on a delayed transition, that might be acceptable to Archbishop Hart.

Gutnick knew of child sex claims, says bodyguard

JEWISH community leader Joseph Gutnick's personal bodyguard has told a Melbourne court his employer was aware of child sex allegations against Yeshivah College security guard David Cyprys in 2003.

Mr Gutnick's bodyguard, Adam Wright, was giving evidence in a hearing to determine whether Cyprys, 43, who has been charged with 29 child sex offences relating to students from Yeshivah, should have his bail revoked.

He said Mr Gutnick had knowledge as early as 2003 of alleged misconduct by Cyprus.

TV ads aim to portray Islam values

AN ISLAMIC lobby group will begin a national TV campaign today aimed at improving understanding of their religion and tackling the ''image problem'' of Australian Muslims.

MyPeace (, attracted some criticism this year when it put up posters with slogans about Islam, including one saying ''Jesus: a prophet of Islam''. But the organisers say it would be impossible to be offended by the TV ads.

Melbourne Anglicans reject multi-faith religious education in schools.

MELBOURNE Anglicans have rejected a call to introduce a multi-faith general religious education into all Victorian state schools, in a move described as a return to sectarianism.

Melbourne historian Peter Sherlock, who seconded the proposal, said Friday night's vote at the Melbourne synod was ''a stunning reversal of 140 years of campaigning for religious education in schools'' and a return to 19th century sectarianism.

Witches, God, climate change ... it's a matter of belief

People are inclined to believe what they want, with or without evidence. It makes the likelihood of a fruitful scientific debate on climate change seem remote, reports Michael Bachelard.

Muslim academic condemns silence over wife beating

AUSTRALIA'S Muslim leaders must admit there is a domestic violence problem in their communities and argue against the supposed justification for wife-beating from the Koran, a leading Muslim academic said yesterday.

"Many Muslims are not prepared to discuss this, as though it did not exist," said Professor Abdullah Saeed, head of the National Centre for Excellence in Islamic Studies. "The reality is, it exists in Muslim societies, and religious and community leaders have to say there is a problem here."

No U-turn on abortion: Abbott

TONY Abbott says he will not wind back the clock on abortion law should he become prime minister, and argues his personal evolution has been in a ''reassuring'' direction for progressives.

AD/BC rock solid in curriculum

THE time-honoured terms BC and AD are safe from the clutches of political correctness in classrooms.

The agency responsible for the national school curriculum yesterday denied it ever intended to remove the terms from history classrooms.

Newspaper reports last month suggested BC and AD would be replaced by the academic terms BCE (Before Common Era), CE (Common Era) and BP (Before Present).

The man and the Mufti

Egyptian-born Ibrahim Abu Mohamed is the new Mufti of Australia. A political moderate, though religiously orthodox, he faces formidable challenges within and outside of the Islamic community, writes Barney Zwartz.

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