An Australian news roundup

A Greenie archbishop with a remarkably non-Christian agenda

The Easter sermon of His Grace, as reported below, shows no awareness that the man he claims to follow declared: "My kingdom is not of this world" (John 18:36)

The Anglican primate, Brisbane archbishop Phillip Aspinall, said the significance of Jesus rising from the dead had been reduced to "an other-worldly concern to do with going to heaven when you die". He told the congregation at Brisbane's St John's Cathedral the resurrection was instead a call to be involved in "the re-creation of the Earth, and human society being put to rights".

Archbishop Aspinall said among issues modern society should address were acid rain, global warming, salination, water conservation, poverty, personal, corporate and sexual ethics, and the obsession with affluence. "What we do to support the people of Innisfail in the wake of Cyclone Larry matters," he said. "Making peace in our world matters. The Christian view doesn't see this life as something to escape from, that the material world is bad, that real existence is a spiritual one divorced from this world. That kind of thinking leads to abandoning the Earth to its dismal fate because the material world, in the end, doesn't matter. "The New Testament pictures the end not as us going up to heaven, but a new Jerusalem coming out of heaven because the home of God is among mortals."

So, according to the Church of England, you no longer go to Heaven when you die. Remarkable! I think most of his flock would be surprised. But I guess they weren't listening.

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Sanitised Big Brother? True!

The producers of Big Brother 2006 have promised to curtail last year's headline-making acts involving exposure, nudity and bullying - but they won't rule out they won't happen. "Things happen in the Big Brother house that cause a lot of publicity but we never plan them," said Kris Noble, executive producer of the Channel 10 reality series that returns for a new season on April 23 at 7.30pm. "We never set out to be controversial and we don't want to break the rules but we want to be entertaining. "We have to pop our heads out the window and see what the temperature is. We have very healthy debates on what we can and can't show. But you put a bunch of people in the house and after that it is a matter of chemistry."

Mr Noble said the show wanted to abide by the rules set down by the Australian Media and Communications Authority. "We have given people in the control room extra training on public opinions on sexual harassment and bullying and just what can and cannot be allowed to be shown," he said. "We have also briefed the housemates and told them they just can't do what they like."

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Police whistleblowers 'targeted'

NSW police who complain about corruption within the force are being subjected to campaigns of harassment by senior police, a confidential report claims. Internal whistleblowers have been attacked, stood over and subjected to psychological intimidation by their superiors, says the report by social researchers Urbis Keys Young. The report, prepared for the NSW Police and published in The Daily Telegraph, shows officers who complain about corruption are being denied promotional opportunities, transferred against their wishes and given menial jobs. More than half the 89 police surveyed said they had been subjected to psychological harassment for "rocking the boat", the paper reported. Twenty-seven per cent of whistleblowers said they had been the target of a "payback" complaint against them, while 10 per cent reported physical harassment and intimidation. One policewoman who complained about corruption said senior police had got back at her by booking her husband for traffic infringements.


Sikhs set for fun and games

More than 1000 Sikhs are using the Easter long weekend to compete in a variety of sports at the 19th Australian Sikh Games in Sydney. The games began in Concord in Sydney's west yesterday and run until tomorrow afternoon and feature competitors from Australia, the US, Malaysia, New Zealand, the UK and Singapore. They will compete in athletics, cricket, soccer and netball as well as the unique sport of Kabaddi, a cross between wrestling and rugby.

"NSW welcomes this colourful cultural sporting event being held this weekend, bringing international competitors," New South Wales Tourism and Sport Minister Sandra Nori said. "The Sydney Sport and Cultural Sikh Association has done a great job in coordinating this event and I encourage the community to get out and support this cultural celebration." This is the fourth time the games have been held in Sydney, including the inaugural staging of the event in 1990.

Sikhism is based on the belief of one god, with Sikhs following the teachings of ten north Indian gurus who lived during the 16th and 17th centuries.


Christianity on the retreat in Queensland

Any belief system could soon be taught in Queensland state schools following changes to the laws governing religious education. The changes will allow any group - religious or not - to offer spiritual instruction to children, provided their parents agree. The Beattie Government has pressed ahead with the changes despite the protests of Christian churches worried about marginalising religion in schools. They are included in the recent overhaul of the Education Act, which will herald a new era for Queensland's 470,000 state school children.

Currently, state school students as young as five take part in religious education classes unless parents formally write to the school allowing them to "opt out" of the lessons. Under section 75 of the Education (General Provisions) Bill 2006, due to be enacted this year, no student will attend religious education lessons unless their parents write to the school requiring them to do so. And in line with anti-discrimination laws, religious education classes will no longer be taught solely by church representatives. Groups with a non-religious system of beliefs - providing they are apolitical - will also be allowed to teach religious education classes.

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