We provide legal services to those suffering religious discrimination, regardless of your religious belief or affiliation. We especially seek those willing to advance the law by making a long term commitment to engaging in trials and appeals. This is known as “impact litigation” because it helps to change, and hopefully strengthen the law.

We can  also provide referrals. For more information, or to obtain help, click here.

Home » Archives » News Archives » 2011

2011 News Archives

November 9, 2011

Big Day in Voting

Yesterday was an “off year” election, so there was not much going on of interest. However, thanks to my friend and colleague Kevin James, from the Southern Union Conference, for gathering the articles below, highlighting the most significant developments. READ MORE

September 15, 2011

Pakistan escapes list of states violating religious freedom

By Anwar Iqbal | From the Newspaper - WASHINGTON: The US State Department has not included Pakistan in a list of eight “countries of particular concern” whose governments have engaged in or tolerated particularly severe violations of religious freedom. The omission, however, angered another federal government agency, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, which demanded on Wednesday to put Pakistan on the list. READ MORE

September 13, 2011

US sounds alarm on threats to religious freedom in post-revolt Arab nations

By Associated Press, Published: September 13 - WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is warning of growing religious intolerance and violence in Arab nations undergoing popular revolts. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Tuesday that the overthrow of autocratic leaders in the Middle East and North Africa was inspiring but had also exposed religious and ethnic minorities to new dangers that threaten democratic transitions. She urged the people of the region not to “trade one form of repression for another.” READ MORE

September 13, 2011

Arizona church Phoenix Goddess Temple taking religious freedom too far?

A six month investigation resulted in the arrest of 20 women and men who worked there, police say. Is it a church, or a cathouse? Exactly how far should religious protections extend? These questions are being asked in the wake of the raid of the Phoenix Goddess Temple, which we reported on a few days ago. They tried to run the temple under guise of being a church, which makes this case especially unique. READ MORE

September 3, 2011

Theology becomes a hot issue on the campaign trail

Rache Zoll - Associated Press Writer - Politicians are navigating a landscape in which rifts over faith and policy have become chasms. An outlook that appeals to one group enrages another. Campaigns are desperate to find language generic enough for a broad constituency that also conveys an unshakable faith. READ MORE

August 24, 2011

Adventist leaders say 'Religious freedom divide' is troubling, not surprising

24 Aug 2011, Silver Spring, Maryland, United States Bettina Krause/IRLA/ANN – The global religious freedom "forecast" looks grim for the 2.2 billion people around the world who suffer discrimination or persecution because of their faith, according to the results of a recent study by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion and Public Life. READ MORE

August 23, 2011

Clergy Sues To Stop Alabama's Immigration Law

By Debbie Elliott – Alabama's new immigration law gets its first test in federal court Wednesday. The Justice Department and civil rights groups are suing to stop what's considered to be the toughest illegal immigration crackdown coming out of the states. But the law is also being challenged from a Bible Belt institution. 'It Goes Against Tenets Of Our Christian Faith' READ MORE

August 21, 2011

Catholic Church vs. Chicago Over Gay Adoptions

By Baptist Press on Aug 21, 2011 - SPRINGFIELD, IL -- In what could be another example of a same-sex law trumping religious freedom, an Illinois judge has ruled the state can end its adoption and foster care relationship with Catholic Charities, which refuses to place children with gay couples. READ MORE

August 19, 2011

Euro-Africa religious liberty director dies in swimming accident

Karel Nowak, Public Affairs and Religious Liberty director for the Seventh-day Adventist Church's Euro-Africa Division, died while swimming in the ocean off the coast of Australia this morning. Nowak, 60, was snorkeling with colleagues off the coast of Cairn, Queensland. A rescue helicopter brought him to Cairns Base Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, said Corrado Cozzi, Communication director for the Euro-Africa Division, based in Berne, Switzerland. READ MORE

August 5, 2011

'Jesus loves nukes': US Air Force taught the Christian Just War Theory

To the men and women burdened with the ultimate responsibility of launching America’s nuclear missiles it was known as the “Jesus loves nukes” lesson. For 20 years the course on “Christian Just War Theory” was taught by chaplains at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California to those who would turn the key should World War III break out. The training, which used passages from the Bible and religious imagery to demonstrate the moral justification for atomic warfare, has now been suspended. READ MORE

July 10, 2011

Sudan: The choice for freedom

By William Shaw and Nina Shea: Commissioners on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom —On July 9, the world will witness the birth of a new nation and a triumph for religious freedom and related rights. The people of South Sudan chose independence in a January referendum mandated by a comprehensive peace agreement (CPA), of which the United States was the primary broker. Signed in 2005, the agreement ended Sudan’s 22-year north/south civil war. READ MORE

July 8, 2011

INTERNATIONAL DIGEST: Iran pastor to be executed?

Mark Kelly, Baptist Press—NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--Christians in Iran have challenged news reports that the death penalty for pastor Yousef Nadarkhani has been annulled, saying that in reality the country's supreme court appears to have added a precondition requiring him to renounce his faith or face execution. "There has still been no written confirmation of the court's decision on Pastor Nadarkhani's appeal against a death sentence for apostasy, despite efforts to source this," according to a July 5 statement from Christian Solidarity Worldwide, a human rights organization. READ MORE

July 6, 2011

Same-sex marriage and religious freedom are now joined at the hip

Charles Haynes, Courier Post Online—Winners and losers in the battle over gay marriage in New York can agree on at least one thing: Without robust protections for religious groups, the law legalizing same-sex marriages would not have passed. READ MORE

April 29, 2011

US Commission Cites Egypt for Violating Religious Freedoms

For the first time, an independent U.S. commission is recommending Egypt be added to a list of the world’s worst violators of religious liberty. The recommendation was contained in the Commission on International Religious Freedom's annual report. The bipartisan commission says Egypt’s religious minorities, like Coptic Christians, have faced severe repression before and after the departure of former President Hosni Mubarak. READ MORE

April 26, 2011

Supreme Court: States Not Subject to Monetary Damages When Violating Religious Freedom Law

The Supreme Court has released its decision in Sossamon v. Texas. By a 6-2 vote (Justice Kagan did not participate), the court ruled that the State of Texas is not liable for monetary damages after violating the religious freedom rights of inmates under RLUIPA. At issue was whether states waive their sovereign immunity under that law by accepting federal funds. Writing for the majority, Justice Thomas argued (pdf) that because the law only mentions "appropriate remedies", without being more specific, RLUIPA does not open states to monetary damage claims. READ MORE

April 26, 2011

Hosanna-Tabor case to test our church-state divide

The Supreme Court’s religious-freedom decisions are usually about symbols, speech and spending: war memorial crosses in the desert and Ten Commandments monuments near public buildings, scholarships that allow poor kids to attend parochial schools and funding for “faith-based” social services, Pledge of Allegiance, and so on. READ MORE

April 25, 2011

Throw Out the Money Changers

James 5 and Revelation 18 powerfully proclaim the judgment of God on a greedy and materialistic civilization that oppresses the working classes. Here is a secular voice sounding a prophetic tone. While the Church State Council does not join in his call for civil disobedience, we hear an inspired commentary on the state of our civilization, and one that is consistent with the biblical indictment. READ MORE

April 22, 2011

Inmates lose a remedy for religion-rights violations

WASHINGTON — Prison inmates may be left without an effective remedy for violations of their religious freedom as a result of a Supreme Court ruling yesterday, civil rights advocates say. The Court ruled in Sossamon v. Texas that states may not be sued for money damages under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, a 2000 federal law aimed in part at protecting the First Amendment right of prisoners to practice their religion. READ MORE

April 22, 2011

Senate confirms religious-freedom ambassador

WASHINGTON (ABP) – It took 10 months, but on April 14 the U.S. Senate approved President Obama’s nomination of a new ambassador at large for international religious freedom. Obama originally nominated Suzan Johnson Cook, an American Baptist pastor, Christian author and motivational speaker, last June. The Senate let the nomination expire, amid questions about her lack of experience with foreign policy. The president resubmitted the nomination Feb. 7, and the Congressional Record reported Senate approval on April 14. READ MORE

April 20, 2011

School wars over religion heating up (again)

Just when First Amendment principles seem to be working in public education, new fights over student religious speech threaten to reignite culture-war battles in schools across the country. It’s little known that many public schools made significant progress toward getting religion right over the past decade. Thanks to consensus guidelines supported by advocacy groups from left to right, I have found that constitutionally protected student religious expression is way up in schools — and unconstitutional school promotion of religion is way down. READ MORE

April 20, 2011

High court won't hear appeal from Ky. Baptist Homes

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Supreme Court has refused to hear a long-running dispute over public funding of a faith-based organization in Kentucky. Lawyers for the former Kentucky Baptist Homes for Children had appealed to the high court after the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in 2009 that the lawsuit could proceed. The suit was filed in 2000 by three taxpayers and Alicia Pedreira, a lesbian who claimed religious discrimination in her firing from the center. READ MORE

April 20, 2011

Dangerous trends in religious freedom

PROVO — People across the world are suffering from persecution. "And why are they suffering?" John Graz said. "Are they dangerous for their country? Are they bad people? No, most of the time they are good people. But they are suffering, they are discriminated against, they are excluded only because of their religion." READ MORE

April 20, 2011

An Improbable Alliance

he most recent meeting of Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT) witnessed not just another theological discus-sion, but the birth of an alliance that only two decades ago would have seemed improbable. Here were Catholic and evangelical theologians seeking common ground on religious liberty, an issue that has caused frequent strife between the two groups. READ MORE

April 7, 2011

Coalition Files Second Lawsuit Against California Prison System

The Sikh Coalition has filed a lawsuit against the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) on behalf of Sukhjinder Singh Basra, a Sikh detainee, who suffered repeated disciplinary sanctions for keeping his religiously-mandated beard uncut. The lawsuit was filed in partnership with the American Civil Liberties Union READ MORE

April 7, 2011

Rights group slams Vietnam on religious freedom

HANOI, Vietnam —A human rights group is urging Washington to put Vietnam back on a list of the world's worst abusers of religious freedoms for allegedly clamping down on minority Christian groups and forcing them to renounce their faith. READ MORE

April 1, 2011

European Court OKs display of crucifixes in Italian classrooms

A March 18 decision by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg has affirmed the right of Italy's public schools to display crucifixes in classrooms, overturning a 2009 ruling calling for their removal. Sole Lautsi, an Italian atheist, first brought the case in a local Italian court in 2005. Dora Bognandi Pellegrini, religious liberty director for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Italy, said the ruling was an unfortunate "end to the story of an icon that for years caused much opposition." READ MORE

April 1, 2011

Prospects Dim for Religious Freedom in Nepal

KATHMANDU, Nepal, March 29 (CDN) — A new constitution that Nepal’s parliament is scheduled to put into effect before May 28 may not include the right to propagate one’s faith. The draft constitution, aimed at completing the .... READ MORE

April 1, 2011

Lift High the Cross? Religion In Public Spaces

The European Court of Human Rights has just upheld Italy's policy of displaying crucifixes in its public school classrooms. In Lautsi v. Italy, an atheistic mother of two public school children challenged this policy, in place since 1924. After losing in the Italian courts, she appealed to the European Court of Human Rights, arguing that the presence of these crucifixes in public schools violated her and her children's rights to religious freedom and to a secular education guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights. On Nov. 3, 2009, an unanimous seven-judge chamber of the European Court held for Ms. Lautsi. On March 18, the Grand Chamber READ MORE

April 1, 2011

Supreme Court Grants Review In "Ministerial Exception" Case

The U.S. Supreme Court today granted certiorari in a case involving the scope of the "ministerial exception" to federal anti-discrimination laws. The case is Hosanna- Tabor Church v. EEOC, (Docket No. 10-553, cert. granted 3/28/2011). (Order List.) In the case, the 6th Circuit held that parochial school teachers who teach primarily secular subjects are covered by the Americans With Disabilities Act and are not "ministerial employees" who are excepted from coverage. READ MORE

March 30, 2011

Court: Eagle feathers only for American Indians

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Restricting use of eagle parts and feathers to members of federally recognized American Indian tribes for religious purposes does not violate the religious freedoms of non-Indians seeking the same right, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday. The Denver-based U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals found that such a prohibition, under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, does not violate the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Tuesday's ruling comes after several cases in which non-Indians, and one man from a tribe that is no longer recognized by the federal government, sought the right to use feathers in their religious practices. READ MORE

March 29, 2011

New U.N. Resolution on Religious Freedom Drops 'Defamation' Concept

Last Thursday the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a new resolution on worldwide religious intolerance while taking a significant step away from the controversial, restrictive "Defamation of Religions" resolution. The new resolution refers to the Charter of the United Nations, reiterating the right to freedom of religion or belief. The resolution also reaffirms the positive role that the exercise of the right to freedom of opinion and expression has, while expressing concern about incidents of intolerance, discrimination and violence against persons based on their religion or belief in all regions of the world. Additionally, the resolution strongly deplores all acts of violence against persons on the basis of their religion or belief, as well as any such acts directed against their homes, businesses, properties, schools, cultural centers or places of worship. It recognizes that open public debate of ideas can be the best protection against religious intolerance. READ MORE

March 28, 2011

Confining Manning and Falling Into the Outer Darkness

For a brief moment, December’s WikiLeaks scandal caused us to remember the forgotten Private Bradley Manning who was arrested in June 2010 and to this very day languishes in a perpetually lit white box, forbidden virtually all sentient stimulation or social contact. In February, Manning’s lawyer announced that his client’s condition was “deteriorating” and this past weekend a few small groups gathered to protest the conditions of his confinement. Although the foreign press has reported on Manning’s isolation, the U.S. press has by and large ignored the matter except to report on the firing of State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley who had dared to remark to a small academic audience that Manning’s confinement was “counter-productive and stupid.” READ MORE

March 24, 2011

Federal religious freedom statute applies to county courthouse holding facilities

Detainees at a county courthouse holding facility are covered by a federal law prohibiting the government from imposing a substantial burden on the religious exercise of such individuals, the 9th Circuit has ruled. The case involved a Muslim woman who was ordered to remove her “hijab,” or headscarf, while she was detained. After she was so ordered while being held in an Orange County courthouse facility in Santa Ana, Calif., Souhair Khatib filed suit claiming her religious rights had been violated. READ MORE

March 23, 2011

Jailers erred in removal of Muslim's scarf

SAN FRANCISCO -- A federal appeals court says Southern California jailers violated the religious freedom of a Muslim woman who was ordered to take off her headscarf in a courthouse holding cell. An 11-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously reinstated a civil rights lawsuit Tuesday filed by Souhair Khatib in 2007 against Orange County. READ MORE

March 23, 2011

Violation of religious freedom

KUCHING: The Kuching Pastors Federation (KPF) has described the impounding of the 30,000 Bibles on Jan 12 by the Home Ministry as an infringement of Sarawakians’ right to religious freedom. READ MORE

February 23, 2011

Suit Claiming Health Care Mandates Violate Religious Freedom Tossed

WASHINGTON (February 23, 2011)--A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit that claims a requirement of President Barack Obama's health care law that all Americans have health insurance violates the religious freedom of those who rely on God to protect them. Three of the plaintiffs were Christians who said they believed God would heal their afflictions, and that being forced to buy insurance would conflict with their faith. READ MORE

February 15, 2011

Organizations to Hold Prayer Vigil in Front of White House

Faith organizations plan to hold a prayer vigil in front of the White House in support of persecuted Christians and religious freedom for all in Iraq. The groups will be joined by staff from the Embassy of Iraq and Christians in Iraq via a conference call. READ MORE

February 15, 2011

Appeal to Indonesia to protect religious freedom

On Tuesday, three churches in Temanggung, Central Java, were attacked by a mob of extremist Islamists after a court judge sentenced a Christian man, Antonius Bawengan, to five years in prison for blaspheming against Islam. The extremists were angry that the sentence was too lenient and went on the rampage, burning two churches and damaging a third, attacking the police outside the courthouse, vandalizing cars, and demanding the death penalty for blasphemy charges READ MORE

February 15, 2011

Discrimination charges soar in down economy

Six Hawaii inmates in private prisons in Arizona are suing the state of Hawaii and the prison operator for allegedly violating their constitutional rights by denying them free exercise of their native Hawaiian religious practices. Inmates Richard Kapela Davis, Michael Hughes, Damien Kaahu, Robert A. Holbron, James Kane III and Ellington Keawe say the staffs at Saguaro and Red Rock correctional centers, both in Eloy, Ariz., have consistently denied written requests to practice their religion, to establish a sacred place in the prison yard and to have access to a spiritual adviser and sacred items. READ MORE

February 15, 2011

Church taps Leslie as Adventist point person in Washington, D.C.

9 Feb 2011, Silver Spring, Maryland, United States Bettina Krause/PARL/ANN staff Veteran attorney and business leader Dwayne Leslie will serve as the Seventh-day Adventist Church's voice in Washington, D.C., following a vote taken yesterday by the world church's Executive Committee. As associate director for the world church's department of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty (PARL) and director of Legislative Affairs, Leslie will represent the world church and its concerns on Capitol Hill, at the White House, and among Washington's diplomatic community. Leslie replaces attorney James Standish, who served in the department for eight years. One of his first goals, Leslie said, is to "expand the relationships that James has established, and to build on the great job he's done in representing the church." During a career spanning both the corporate and legal worlds, Leslie has focused on legislative and healthcare issues and has represented a diverse range of clients, from biotechnology companies to media organizations. Leslie said he will draw inspiration in his new role from the activism of the early Adventist Church which, despite its small size, frequently spoke publically on issues of temperance, freedom of conscience and human rights. "Today, we still have so much to contribute to the public discourse -- on health, education, and issues of justice and conscience," Leslie said. "But how can we speak if we don't have a seat at the table?" "The story of Adventism will be told -- but the question is: Will we choose to tell it ourselves? Or will we allow others to define our church and its agenda for us?" he said. Leslie brings a broad range of experience and abilities to his new role, said John Graz, PARL director. "But more than this, he brings a strong desire to serve his church and advocate on its behalf," Graz said. After studying economics and political science at Andrews University, Leslie went on to earn a law degree from the University of California at Berkeley. He began his legal career at the international law firm of Jones Day before moving to Mintz Levin, where his practice focused on healthcare, pharmaceutical and biotechnology clients. Most recently, he served as CEO of Phase V Pharmaceuticals. When asked what prompted him to accept the position, Leslie said he believes the Adventist Church has a unique mission "to defend religious freedom, to be an advocate for justice, to be a voice for the voiceless." Delbert Baker, a general vice president of the world church and advisor to PARL, called Leslie's appointment a "decisive step" toward strengthening the church's presence and impact in the public sphere. "This is a key position," Baker said. "Mr. Leslie will have the opportunity to amplify the church's voice on issues that are central to our mission." For more information about the Public Affairs and Religious Liberty department of the Adventist Church, visit and READ MORE

February 2, 2011

GOP senators: We will not support gay marriage

« Garagiola: Increase gas tax by eight to 10 cents | Main | Kittleman will support gay marriage bill » February 1, 2011 GOP senators: We will not support gay marriage The Senate's GOP caucus leaders sent out a less-than-resounding resolution opposing gay marriage this afternoon. The caucus -- 11 of the 12 members attended this morning -- voted to oppose the Religious Freedom & Civil Marriage Protection Act, which allows same-sex couples to receive marriage licenses. READ MORE

February 2, 2011

LAUSD allows Christian 5th-grade student in talent show same day ADF files for temporary restraining order

ADF attorneys move forward with lawsuit to make sure district doesn’t exclude, censor religious content in future school-related student activities. LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Unified School District officials announced Tuesday that they will no longer prohibit a 5th-grade student from performing to a Christian song at a Feb. 4 elementary school talent show. Alliance Defense Fund attorneys had filed a request for a temporary restraining order earlier in the day against the district, following their filing of a lawsuit against district officials on Friday. The principal of Superior Street Elementary School had told the student’s mother that the song “We Shine” was “offensive,” allegedly violated the so-called “separation of church and state,” and suggested that her child pick a song that “does not say ‘Jesus’ so many times.” The Christian song discussed themes similar to other accepted songs, some of which contained mature content. Case Name: B.H. v. Garcia READ MORE

February 2, 2011

Balancing Security With Religious Freedom: Sikh Men Denied Entry to National Assembly

On January 18th of this year, Quebec’s National Assembly refused entry to four Sikh men, ironically coming to appear at a conference on reasonable accommodations, when they refused to remove their Kirpans (A Kirpan is a religious object shaped as a knife). Keeping the Kirpan is to many devout Sikhs a religious obligation in the same way that wearing a yarmulke is for many Jewish people. To quote Dr. Sukhdev Kooner, president of the Sikh Cultural Society of Metropolitan Windsor, “We are supposed to wear this all the time, even when we are sleeping, taking showers, cutting the grass… ” While the Supreme Court has held that the position of religious authorities on the matter is not determinative (see Amselem, infra) . . . READ MORE

February 2, 2011

Gov. Quinn signs civil union bill into law

“Here we are in 2011 on the eve of Abraham Lincoln’s 202nd birthday and I think this is very special,” Quinn said as 20 politicians joined him on stage and hundreds of supporters packed a hall in the Chicago Cultural Center. “We believe in civil rights and we believe in civil unions.” With the move, Illinois joins five other states and the District of Columbia in establishing statewide laws to provide the equivalent of state-level spousal rights to same sex couples. READ MORE

February 2, 2011

Va. House passes constitutional amendment on school prayer

The House of Delegates passed an amendment to the state Constitution on Tuesday aimed at ensuring the right to pray on public property, including public schools.Opponents of the measure warned that it might violate the federal Constitution. The amendment, HJ593, sponsored by Del. Bill Carrico, R-Grayson County, adds a paragraph to the religious freedom section of the state Constitution saying that “the people's right to pray and to recognize their religious beliefs, heritage, and traditions on public property, including public schools, shall not be infringed; however, the Commonwealth and its political subdivisions, including public school divisions, shall not compose school prayers, nor require any person to join in prayer or other religious activity.” READ MORE

February 1, 2011

The Quietly Crumbling Wall of Separation

In his recent RD piece, law professor Bruce Ledewitz does a good job telling the story of the trend toward diminished protections for the free exercise of religion over the past couple of decades of federal jurisprudence. But it’s not the whole story. He is correct in asserting that the courts have—due in large part to Justice Antonin Scalia’s opinion for the majority in 1990’s Employment Division v. Smith decision—increasingly come to treat the free exercise of religion as just another right, due no more heightened level of protection from government encroachment than any other civil right. READ MORE

February 1, 2011

Group sues to block prayer event at AF Academy

DENVER (AP) — Five faculty members at the Air Force Academy and a religious watchdog group are filing a civil rights suit against the academy, saying it is violating the constitutional separation of church and state by sponsoring a National Day of Prayer event and inviting a fundamentalist Christian to speak. READ MORE

January 25, 2011

Another California school steps on religious freedom

THe Palm Desert High School PTO in California ran a fundraiser in the form of selling inscribed brick paver's for a sidewalk. Now, two Christian women who had purchased brick paver's with religious content have been told that their paver's would not be included in the sidewalk. This, even though the fund raiser was approved by the school principal, the board, and Superintendent of the Palm Desert Unified School District. The paver's that the two women purchased would have been placed along side other paver's with similar inscribed content. READ MORE

January 25, 2011

So. Baptist Withdraws from Interfaith Coalition on Mosques

Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, made the announcement Friday after fellow Southern Baptists had expressed concerns with his involvement in the Interfaith Coalition on Mosques, established by the Anti-Defamation League. "While many Southern Baptists share my deep commitment to religious freedom and the right of Muslims to have places of worship, they also feel that a Southern Baptist denominational leader filing suit to allow individual mosques to be built is ‘a bridge too far," READ MORE

January 25, 2011

'HORRIFIC ATROCITIES': Egypt, Iraq 'failed' to protect Christians, religious communities

WASHINGTON (BP)--The governments of Iraq and Egypt have failed to protect the freedoms of religious minorities, resulting in "horrific atrocities" against historic Christian communities, a religious freedom advocate testified Jan. 20. Nina Shea, a member of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, appeared before Congress' Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission less than a week after an Egyptian court handed down a death sentence to a man convicted in a January 2010 attack in which six Christians and a Muslim guard were killed in the city of Nag Hamadi. READ MORE

January 21, 2011

Muslim Countries Cited On Religious Freedom

WASHINGTON (RNS) The New Year's Day massacre at a Coptic church in Egypt. Christian converts facing the death penalty in Afghanistan. Swastikas painted on a Jewish synagogue in Venezuela. As the headlines deliver fresh stories of the persecution of the faithful, two recent reports by watchdog groups and a new book take a fresh look at the persistence of religious intolerance worldwide, with Muslim-majority nations facing particular criticism. READ MORE

January 21, 2011

Ashton: freedom of religion or belief top of EU’s agenda

“I am fully committed to keeping freedom of religion or belief at the top of the EU’s agenda,” said the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, commenting on the situation of Christians in the context of religious freedom at the European Parliament in Strasbourg. Ashton expressed her concern about the recent violence against persons belonging to religious minorities, stressing that “the EU condemns all forms of intolerance and violence against persons because of their religion or belief, wherever it takes place” READ MORE

January 21, 2011

Long Island eruv battle rages on

A long-simmering controversy over whether Orthodox Jews can place a religious symbol on utility poles in a Hamptons community on eastern Long Island appears headed to court. READ MORE

January 18, 2011

Embattled Iraqi Christians Need Protection Now

"The U.S. government needs to strongly encourage and work with the Iraqi government to protect Christians and other religious minorities before they are all driven out of Iraq," said Open Doors USA President/CEO Dr. Carl Moeller. "History continues to demonstrate that where religious freedom flourishes, stable democracies, strong economies and healthy societies develop. Considering the immense financial commitment the United States has made in Iraq and the tragic loss of American and Iraqi lives, it is imperative that we hold both the United States and Iraqi governments accountable to ensure religious freedom for all people in Iraq." READ MORE

January 18, 2011

Campaign regards students' religious rights

Two Christian organizations are teaming up to help provide information regarding religious freedom in schools for parents and students. The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) has joined with Gateways to Better Education (GTBE) ) in the "National Free to Speak Campaign" to encourage students about their rights to express their religion. READ MORE

January 18, 2011

DeMint Stymies Obama’s Religious Diplomacy Nominee

[L]ast month, the arc of Ms. Cook’s career drastically plunged. The woman who had thrived against basketball elbows, macho newsrooms and sexist churchmen ran into the strange ways of the United States Congress. Without public debate or a formal vote, her nomination to be the Obama administration’s special ambassador for international religious liberty quietly and cryptically died. READ MORE

January 18, 2011

Who Fights for Religious Freedom? Obama's Ambassador Position Still Vacant

No one leads the U.S. Office of International Religious Freedom (IRF) after two years of Barack Obama’s presidency. The IRF vacancy demonstrates the low priority currently placed on religious freedom even though there is nearly unanimous, bipartisan support for international religious freedom in Congress. READ MORE

January 18, 2011

Judge rules against Christians in B&B case, but allows appeal

The Christian owners of a guesthouse who restrict double rooms to married couples have been ordered to pay £3,600 in damages to a homosexual couple, but leave to appeal has been granted. READ MORE

January 14, 2011

Apple Rejects Christian App as Promoting ‘Hate and Homophobia’

To expand the Declaration’s reach, an Apple i-Phone and i-Pad application was created and submitted to the Apple apps store, and it was initially accepted with no problem. However, back in early December, Apple notified Chuck Colson that the application was being rejected. As Mr. Colson wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle, READ MORE

January 14, 2011

Religious legal group challenges ‘driveway tax’

Mission’s so called “driveway tax” is coming under legal assault from an Arizona legal group that advocates religious freedom. Two local local churches, represented by the Alliance Defense Fund, have sued the city of Mission over a new fee intended to help pay for street improvements. READ MORE

January 14, 2011

Christian religious freedom under threat across EU: UN security organization

VIENNA, December 22, 2010 ( – The religious freedom of Christians in Europe is under threat from “equalities” and anti-discrimination laws around the EU, said The Organisation for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE) at a conference earlier this month in Vienna. READ MORE

January 13, 2011

Religious Freedom Project Will Address Democracy, Extremism

A project that explores religious liberty and its relationship to democracy and the struggle against extremism has been created at Georgetown, thanks to a $2 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation. The grant went to the university’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, where the three-year project will be led by Berkley Center senior fellow Thomas Farr. Farr served as the first director of the U.S. State Department's Office of International Religious Freedom from 1999 to 2003. READ MORE

January 13, 2011

Germany, Italy issue joint appeal for religious freedom

Berlin - Germany and Italy on Wednesday urged the European Union to step up efforts to safeguard religious freedom and protect religious minorities targeted by recent attacks in predominantly Muslim countries. 'Italy and Germany believe that freedom of faith and the rights of religious minorities are a fundamental part of the international human rights catalogue and of the universal system of values,' German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and his Italian counterpart, Franco Frattini, said in a statement issued after a meeting in Berlin. READ MORE

January 11, 2011

Adventist religious liberty advocate recognized with First Freedom Award

A Seventh-day Adventist religious liberty advocate is among this year's recipients of the First Freedom Award for contributions in advancing freedom of belief in the United States and worldwide. John Graz, who directs the Adventist world church's department of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty (PARL), will receive the National First Freedom Award at a January 13 gala sponsored by the Virginia-based First Freedom Center. READ MORE

January 6, 2011

Montana Valedictorian Wins Religious Free Speech Case

Montana's Supreme Court has ruled 5-to-1 in favor of a high school valedictorian who claimed her free speech and religious rights were violated. In 2008, Butte High School officials required Renee Griffith and other outstanding students to turn in their speeches for review prior to graduation. . . . According to the U.S. Dept. of Education document, "Religious Expression in Public Schools,", teachers and school administrators are "prohibited from discouraging activity because of its religious content, and from soliciting or encouraging antireligious activity. READ MORE