• Home Page Banner

    Welcome to the website
    of Australia's foremost
    Religion Journalist
    Rachael Kohn

    Welcome to the website of Australia's foremost Religion Journalist Rachael Kohn

    Read more

About Rachael

Biography

Biography

Rachael Kohn AO, FRSN is an award-winning producer and broadcaster. Born in Canada, Rachael earned an Hon. BA, MA and PhD in religious studies, and taught religious studies and Semitic studies at universities in Australia, England and Canada before joining the ABC in 1992. In 2005 Rachael was awarded a Doctor of Letters honoris causa by the University of New South Wales.

Rachael was presenter and executive producer of The Spirit of Things (1997-2018) and The Ark (2001-2006) on ABC Radio National. She won many awards for her documentaries on Radio National, including two World Gold Medals from the New York Festivals.

In 2013 she co-founded the International Association of Religion Journalists, for which she served as vice president, promoting excellence in the coverage of religion and spirituality. Rachael is on the editorial board of The Bonhoeffer Legacy: Australasian Journal of Bonhoeffer Studies.

She was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) and Fellow of the Royal Society of NSW in 2019.

Books

Curious Obsessions: In the History of Science and Spirituality
The New Believers: Re-Imagining God
Encountering God: Face-To-Face with the Divine
Preachers, Prophets & Heretics: Anglican Women's Ministry

Latest News & Blog

Abraham Conference: At the Front Line

The much talked about 'silver lining' of the pandemic is not 'front of mind' to the people at the front line in the health care industry.  That's mostly for people with a lot of time on their hands.

Doctors, nurses and social workers are in a daily race to respond to the fear, sickness and loss, as well as the isolation and economic hardship that the pandemic has wrought in the lives of countless Australians.  As professionals they require acute sensitivity and well honed expertise in performing their duties, without losing hope that we will beat this virus.

For hospitalist, Haroon Kasim, the lesson of empathy and compassion was learned the hard way, but he never forgot its impact, not only on him but on the young patient whose life was slipping away.  As a Muslim, who knows that his faith is often viewed harshly, with hijabed women often taking the brunt of bigotry, he learned first hand the power of compassion to heal desperation and despair.  

For social worker, Renata Ieremias, the often hidden work of Jewish Care's more than 300 workers, is bringing support to many people affected by Covid19 in their homes.  Age and various kinds of infirmity have intensified the impact of the virus, and social workers are called upon to provide a quick and discreet reading of their needs and the means to nurture their natural strengths in a range of settings, from complex family situations to profound isolation.  

For ethicist, Daniel Fleming, who leads ethics formation for staff at St Vincent's Health Australia, the supportive Catholic-Christian environment ensures a profound commitment to providing the most human centred approach to care.  Yet, the largest not-for-profit health care system in the country was faced with the ethical challenge, in the early stages of the pandemic, of how to allocate limited resources.  

Haroon, Renata and Daniel bring a wealth of experience and insight into how the Coronavirus pandemic challenged them, their organisations and most of all the people they served and brought to the fore their foundational values, derived from their faiths.

And yes, it seems there is a 'silver lining' to this pandemic, which is in the realisation that whether Jewish, Christian or Muslim, as individuals and a society, we have the same fundamental needs of compassion and understanding and oftentimes the comfort of the faith traditions and communities we hold dear.

Join them and me for a unique opportunity to hear the best practice from three distinguished professionals who are at the front lines--or just behind them!

Sunday 15 November 2:00-3:30  Register for the free Zoom link:

Events.humanitix.com/Abraham-conference-2020-interfaith-on-the-frontlines

Read more

Does Violence Emerge from our Beastly Selves or from a Lack of Love?

Does Violence Emerge from our Beastly Selves or from a Lack of Love?

Do you remember when you first experienced real harm at the hands of someone?  Most of us do remember the painful experiences of our childhood, when ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’ was a common method of raising the young. 

In contrast, how well do you remember when you first hit or screamed abuse at someone, perhaps a sibling or a spouse, with a force that you later regretted?  Maybe it was someone you barely knew. 

Do we choose to ‘forget’ the instances we have caused harm, because it violates our self-image?

Whether you are a victim or a perpetrator, or both, may be a fairly insignificant question in your life, because your experiences fall within ‘the norm’.  But extreme violence is a big part of our world, our society, and sometimes ourselves.   Without understanding how it originates and grows, we may be condemned to live with ever escalating violence.

Paul Valent, a psychiatrist and a specialist in trauma, has spent a good deal of his professional life treating people who have suffered some kind of traumatic violence. It all stems from being a child survivor of the Holocaust.  Not only was he overwhelmed by the sheer irrationality of Europe’s murder of 6 million of its Jewish civilians, but he has also been deeply disturbed by the more recent state-directed genocides, such as in Rwanda and Cambodia.

Read more

Cancel Culture:   Muslim Style

Cancel Culture: Muslim Style

The Muslim practice of taking over churches and either eliminating their Christian features, or letting them go to ruin, is a particularly cynical practice, which is not only an act of religious triumphalism, but it has robbed the world of some of the most beautiful works of art.   

A major act of cancel culture is happening right now and most of the people involved in the movement that is toppling statues across America and Britain and defacing them in Australia have not noticed or cared.  And those that have are probably cheering from the side lines, since it strikes a blow against Christianity.

Hagia Sophia, built in the 6th Century as the Cathedral of Constantinople, which stood as the world’s largest cathedral for a thousand years, is about to be ‘cancelled’ yet again by the Muslim powers that converted it into a mosque in the 15th Century.  At that time, its extensive and beautiful mosaics depicting the Christian holy family and the saints were plastered over when they were not entirely destroyed, and the iconostasis, the altar and bells were removed.  Islamic features such as the minarets were added and large black rondelles with verses from the Koran were hung from upper beams and cornices into the space.

In the early 20thC when Kamal Ataturk led the country in a secularising revolution, which demoted the theocratic rulers and separated church and state, Hagia Sophia re-emerged from neglect and the space was turned into a museum, a tourist attraction for Christian and Muslim visitors alike, and everyone else with an interest in history, religion and art.  By decree, it would no longer serve as a sanctuary for Muslim prayer, which allowed some of the mosaics to be uncovered. Ataturk was hailed in the Western world as a man who acted with the wisdom of Solomon, or more accurately, Sophia, the Greek word for wisdom, after which the Church was named.

Read more