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Friday’s religion wrap

The Journey team selects stories that got us talking this week. 

ScoMo’s call for prayer hits the right note at Hillsong

SBS News reports on Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s attendance at Hillsong Conference and his belief that Australia needed more prayer and love. With over 20,000 people in attendance the prime minister used the occasion to encourage people to pray and love as “that’s how things are overcome”. He also sent prayers for veterans, suicidal youth and rain to ease the drought in rural communities.

Morrison also spoke about the recent controversies surrounding freedom of religion in light of the Israel Folau saga: “It’s not the laws that make freedom of religion work, it’s the culture that accepts it. The freedom to believe is so important, that needs to be nourished and that needs to be protected. What this country needs more than that is the love of God.”

He also took the time to thank Christians who prayed for him during the election campaign which famously saw the Coalition pull off a miraculous victory over the ALP.

Combating anti-Christianity? Hunt’s plan to impose ban

The Guardian has news of a report commissioned by the UK government which urges the imposition of sanctions against countries that persecute Christians, as well as adopting a definition of anti-Christian discrimination and persecution and providing religious literacy training to Foreign Office staff. The current Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt stated he would enact all of the report’s recommendations if he became prime minister.

“The sense of misguided political correctness that has stopped us standing up for Christians overseas must end,” said Hunt. “At home we all benefit from living in a tolerant, diverse society and we should not be afraid of promoting those values abroad. It is a sad fact that Christians are the most persecuted religious group in modern times. I am determined to show that we are on their side.”

Open Doors, an organisation monitoring Christian persecution, estimates that “on average each month 345 Christians are killed for faith-related issues”.

Poll finds mild applause for stronger laws

The Conversation reports on the latest poll findings from Essential which suggests that only a minority (38 per cent) of Australians are enthused about stronger laws to tackle the protection of public expression of faith. While 58 per cent believe “employers should not have the right to dictate what their employees say outside work”, 64 per cent of respondents agreed that “people should not be allowed to argue religious freedoms to abuse others”.

When asked about the Israel Folau saga 43 per cent thought the conflict was around Folau’s right to religious expression whereas 49 per cent thought it was around Rugby Australia’s right to dismiss an employee for contractual breaches.

Deeper meaning in pop song? The devil’s in the detail

Canadian pop star Avril Lavigne makes the top posts of The Christian Post with a focus on her new song “I Fell in Love With the Devil” which some are criticising for glorifying evil. With lyrics such as “I fell in love with the devil/And now I’m in trouble/I fell in love with the devil/I’m underneath his spell/Someone send me an angel/To lend me a halo/I fell in love with the devil/Please, save me from this hell” you may be tempted to conclude this is a Satanic ode but Lavigne says the song is really about a “real-life toxic relationship” she was in during her battle with Lyme disease.

“It was fierce and I was really scared,” said Lavigne. “I was still weakened and already so vulnerable and fearful and insecure at the time. Then he came. That was what they call a ‘toxic relationship’, and the only good thing is that it did not take long. I’m out of there fast, literally stormed. And as so often with me, a song evolved from the experience.”

The Canadian singer was raised in a devout Christian household and recently stated that God “kept her afloat” during her struggles with Lyme disease.

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