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Friday’s religion wrap

In our final entry for 2016, the Journey team selects the stories that got us talking this week. We will be back in early 2017 but in the meantime please let us know in the comments below what were some of your favourite headlines from previous wraps. For our cross-platform editor Ben Rogers it was definitely “Indiana zone and the cross crusade”

Big Bash on Christmas Day? That’s just not cricket 

The Advertiser reports on Adelaide church leaders’ dissatisfaction with the idea of Big Bash cricket being played on 25 December. The Anglican Diocese of Adelaide Bishop Tim Harris says Christmas Day did not need “such an intrusive venture that is essentially a business opportunity.”

What do you think of the idea of having major sporting events on Christmas? Sacrilegious or a bit of fun after morning services and unwrapping presents? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Festive church bunch lifts spirits with lunch 

The Wimmera Mail-Times focuses on Horsham Uniting Church and their Christmas lunch initiative for travellers, individuals or couples living alone or single parents without family support. The church has been hosting the lunch for over 10 years to foster a friendly and welcoming atmosphere for those who may be struggling over the Christmas period.  

Last year almost 100 people gathered for the festivities which included a visit from Santa.

Further tensions over comfort women statue

ABC News covers the latest developments surrounding a memorial statue commemorating World War II sex slaves on display at the Ashfield Uniting Church in Sydney. The Japanese community have now lodged a complaint with the Human Rights Commission accusing the Uniting Church, its president Stuart McMillan and Rev Bill Crews of “offending, insulting, humiliating and intimidating” the applicants because of their “race, nationality and ethnic origin”.

Rev Crews remains defiant insisting he will keep the statue despite the legal threat: “I just find it outrageous … bring it on.”

Pastor’s banter ruins kids’ Santa 

The Huffington Post reports on a Texan evangelical pastor who went to a shopping mall to tell children waiting in line that “Christmas is about Jesus Christ” and that Santa Claus wasn’t real. His antics drew the ire of some parents accompanying their children who felt it was not his place to shatter the illusion of Saint Nicholas.

How did your parents manage the Santa Claus myth? Let us know in the comments below.

Wenger explores the genesis of his Champs League fortunes

The Guardian reports on Arsenal football club manager Arsene Wenger and his biblical analogy to explain his team’s consistent inability to progress past the last 16 of the Champions League.

“Look, the last six years we have not come past the last 16. They said that God made the world in seven days and this is the seventh day for us! So we have to get a special day.”

This isn’t the first time Wenger has discussed religion in the context of football management.

Virgin statue faces trouble but avoids the rubble 

The Guardian investigates the remarkable discovery of a 14th-century Virgin and Child statue that has somehow managed to escape destruction during the Protestant Reformation and later, when it was sent to Belgium, the French Revolution.

Much of the original colour and gilding remains intact although the faces of mother and child have been worn away by devotional kissing.

Viewers unlikely to be bill-bored with that message 

Eternity reports on a provocative Adelaide church billboard which has divided the community over its focus on the scandalous elements of the Christmas story. The billboard reads, “You’re engaged, your fiancée is pregnant and you’re not the father: What a Christmas!” and was designed to grab attention. Mission accomplished!

Dutton loses cool over carols in school

The Daily Mail reports on Immigration Minister Peter Dutton‘s opposition to Kedron State High School’s decision to not include Christmas carols but instead choose more secular songs. Dutton said his “blood was boiling” over the matter and that it was “political correctness gone mad”. 

Lyrics for “We Wish you A Merry Christmas” were replaced with “we wish you a happy holiday” but for Dutton, “Many of the people, regardless of their religious belief, would be there happy to sing Christmas carols, happy to enjoy the fact that we celebrate Christmas as a Christian society.” 

Treasurer Scott Morrison has also been keen to dismiss political correctness around Christmas and recently told radio host Ray Hadley, “Have a great Christmas and enjoy the birth of our Lord.” 

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