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Home » Archives » News Archives » 2009

2009 News Archives

December 28, 2009

In God, North Carolina politician doesn't trust

RALEIGH, N.C. - -- Asheville City Councilman Cecil Bothwell believes in ending the death penalty, conserving water and reforming government -- but he doesn't believe in God. His opponents say that's a sin that makes him unworthy of serving in office, and they have the North Carolina Constitution on their side. Bothwell's detractors are threatening to take the city to court for swearing him in, even though the state's requirement that officeholders believe in God is unenforceable because it violates the U.S. Constitution. READ MORE

December 14, 2009

Top U.S. court to hear religious freedom case

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal that sets anti-discrimination principles against religious freedom. The case is part of a continuing battle by a student group, the Christian Legal Society (CLS), to defend its rights of religious liberty and freedom of association. However, the University of California's Hastings College of the Law refuses to recognize the CLS because of what it calls the group's discriminatory membership requirements. READ MORE

December 13, 2009

Official Chinese Newspaper Publishes Call to Change Religion Policy

A leading Chinese religious scholar called the country ready for "an institutional guarantee for the legality and quality of all religions," according to a December article in China Daily, the official government English language newspaper. Religious freedom experts say they are cautiously optimistic about the public pronouncement. READ MORE

December 9, 2009

Christian Legal Society v. Martinez (UC Hastings)

The Christian Legal Society (CLS) chapter at the University of California - Hastings College of the Law filed a lawsuit on October 22, 2004, against school officials who denied recognition to the group because the chapter requires its officers and voting members to adhere to the CLS Statement of Faith. The CLS chapter asked school officials in early September 2004 to exempt the group and other religious student organizations from the religion and sexual orientation portions of the university's nondiscrimination policy. READ MORE

December 9, 2009

Germany’s Highest Court Rules Against Sunday Shopping

Constitutional provisions that declare Sunday a day of rest mean German merchants will have to significantly rein in the number of days they are open for business, Germany’s highest court ruled December 1. The ruling was prompted by protests from Catholic and Protestant churches in Berlin over laws enacted in 2006 that gave German states greater freedoms in determining store opening hours. The Berlin city-state was one of the most enthusiastic adopters of the policy, allowing stores to operate for 10 Sundays a year, including the four Sundays of Advent leading up to the Christmas holiday. Other states had opted for fewer shopping Sundays; heavily Catholic Bavaria had opted for none. READ MORE

December 3, 2009

The Problem of Islamic Religious Persecution

America, like so many countries in the West, laments its strained relations with the Islamic world. In June, Pres. Barack Obama traveled to Cairo to speak against the “fear and mistrust” that exist between the West and Islam. Yet Muslim governments demand respect for Islam while refusing to offer similar respect for religious minorities within their own borders. The recent Swiss vote to ban the construction of minarets in that European nation has become the latest controversy to generate Muslim protests worldwide. However, Islamic governments are in no position to complain about Western intolerance and “Islamophobia.” READ MORE

December 3, 2009

Sikh-Americans and Religious Liberty

With their distinctive appearance and religious practices, Sikh-Americans often find themselves at the center of workplace discrimination cases and other controversies involving their religious rights. And while Sikh groups have worked to carve out legal protections for the community's religious practices, their efforts have not always met with success. In California, for example, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger recently vetoed a bill that would have required police in the state to receive training about the Sikh religion - including the faith's requirement that believers carry a small sword known as a kirpan. The bill, which Schwarzenegger called unnecessary, will likely be reintroduced in the state's next legislative session. READ MORE

December 3, 2009

EU accused of meddling as Equality Bill debated

An amendment to the Equality Bill to protect the religious liberty of churches was voted down in the House of Commons last night amid accusations of EU interference. The proposed amendment, tabled by Labor MP David Drew, would have safeguarded the right of religious organizations to restrict their posts to people whose conduct is consistent with the Bible’s teachings. It was defeated by 314 to 170 votes. READ MORE

December 3, 2009

District approves same-sex marriage

The D.C. Council voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to legalize same-sex marriage in the District, a key step in a process that could enable gay couples to marry in the nation's capital by the spring. READ MORE

December 1, 2009

Viewpoints: Much gray in debate of faith vs. medicine

If a parent refuses to inoculate his or her child against swine flu and the child contracts swine flu and dies, should the parent be prosecuted? Most of us would say no. Parents do what they think is best for their children. If they decide against inoculation, even against the best medical advice, it's their decision. And the loss of the child would be worse than any sentence exacted by any government authority. But if a couple chooses to follow their religious beliefs by fighting sickness with the power of prayer rather than medicine and their child dies, should the parents be charged with a crime? READ MORE

November 22, 2009

New Turn in Debate Over Law on Marriage

WASHINGTON — The fight over a proposed same-sex marriage law here heated up this week as the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington said that if the law passed, the church would cut its social service programs that help residents with adoption, homelessness and health care. READ MORE

November 19, 2009

CCR Files Opening Brief in First Supreme Court Case to Challenge Patriot Act

WASHINGTON - November 17 - Yesterday, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) filed the first brief in Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, the first case to challenge a portion of the Patriot Act before the Supreme Court. The case, originally brought in 1998 on behalf of a human rights group, a retired federal administrative judge, a doctor, and several nonprofit groups, challenges the constitutionality of the law that makes it a crime to provide "material support" to groups the administration has designated as "terrorist." In particular, the plaintiffs charge that the law goes too far in making speech advocating lawful, nonviolent activity a crime. The lower courts have unanimously declared several provisions of the law - including one added by the Patriot Act - unconstitutionally vague because they encompass speech and force citizens to guess as to their meaning. READ MORE

November 15, 2009

U.S. judge bans 'I Believe' license plates

WASHINGTON — A US federal judge has ordered South Carolina not to issue cross-adorned "I Believe" license plates, ruling it violates the constitutional separation of church and state. US District Judge Cameron Currie ruled Tuesday that the state legislature, which in 2008 voted unanimously to approve the license plates that also include a cross in front of a stained glass window, had thus clearly given favored government treatment to a single faith in violation of the Constitution. READ MORE

November 15, 2009

Ireland's 'blasphemy law' worries religious liberty proponents

A proposed law criminalizing the criticism of religion in Ireland may defy international standards of freedom of speech and indicate a troubling trend toward more state control over religious matters, religious liberty experts say. READ MORE

November 8, 2009

House Committee Considers PATRIOT Reform (UPDATED)

The mark-up got off to a somewhat worrisome start when Chairman Conyers introduced a "manager's amendment" making numerous changes to the bill to address concerns raised by the Obama Administration about some of the bill's reforms. We have a copy of the amendment and a description of the changes it makes to the bill. Based on a very quick review, most of the changes seem relatively minor, but they are definitely not an improvement from a civil liberties perspective. So, once again, the Obama Administration is quietly working to stop reforms to the PATRIOT Act even though Senator Obama was one of the PATRIOT Act's staunchest critics. READ MORE

November 8, 2009

The U.S. State Department has released the 2009 Report on International Religious Freedom

The U.S. State Department has released the 2009 Report on International Religious Freedom -- the world's most comprehensive survey of religious liberty. The report examines how governments in one-hundred ninety-eight countries and territories are protecting or failing to protect religious freedom. It shines a spotlight, said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on abuses by states and societies, and it draws attention to positive steps by many countries and organizations to promote freedom and interreligious harmony. READ MORE

November 8, 2009

Clinic forbids Dallas doctor's Islamic head scarf

DALLAS — A physician searching for her first job after finishing her residency at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center was told by officials of the CareNow clinics that she would not be allowed to wear her head scarf on the job. Dr. Hena Zaki of Plano said Friday that officials of Coppell-based CareNow, which operates 22 clinics in the Metroplex, told in her person and later by e-mail that a company no-hat policy extended to her hijab. READ MORE

November 8, 2009

Italy unites to condemn crucifix ruling

ITALIAN political leaders of left and right were united with the Vatican today in condemning a European court ruling that crucifixes displayed in schools are a breach of human rights. The reactions came quickly after the European Court of Human Rights ruling in response to a case brought by an Italian mother opposed to the hanging of crucifixes on classroom walls. READ MORE

November 8, 2009

Pork byproduct in swine flu vaccine

FOX 35 has discovered that the H1N1, swine flu vaccine contains an ingredient that raises questions whether its use is permissible under certain religious, dietary laws. The Jewish, Muslim and Seventh-Day Adventist faiths all forbid members from consuming pork. The ban is based on scripture. READ MORE

November 4, 2009

Were These People Attacked for Their Positions on Marriage Equality?

A Massachusetts man says that he lost his retail job for simply stating his religious views on same-sex marriage, while an anti-gay group supporting the repeal of marriage equality in Maine says that a man who works in Maine’s school system has come under attack because of his religious beliefs regarding gay and lesbian families. READ MORE

November 4, 2009

U.S. courts weigh challenges to wording of pledge of allegiance

Michael Newdow, a California doctor, is fighting to declare the pledge unconstitutional. In October, a federal judge in New Hampshire dismissed the legal suit, saying the pledge is voluntary and not a prayer, so it did not violate the Constitution. Dr. Newdow is appealing that decision. READ MORE

November 4, 2009

Archdiocese opposes legalizing gay marriage in District of Columbia

The Washington Archdiocese said in written testimony Oct. 26 that it opposes legislation to allow same-sex marriages to be performed in the District of Columbia and is concerned the bill "would restrict the free exercise of religious beliefs if it is passed as drafted." READ MORE

November 4, 2009

Land, other religious leaders: Sanctions needed on Iran

The president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission collaborated with Paul de Vries, president of the New York Divinity School and leader of the New York Evangelicals, and Joseph Potasnik, executive vice president of the New York Board of Rabbis, in issuing a statement Nov. 2 urging all governments to apply sanctions in order to produce effective diplomacy and encourage the human rights efforts of Iranians living under a militant Islamic regime. READ MORE

November 3, 2009

Defeat in Maine a harsh blow to gay-marriage drive

In an election that had been billed for weeks as too close to call, Maine's often unpredictable voters repealed a state law Tuesday that would have allowed same-sex couples to wed. Gay marriage has now lost in all 31 states in which it has been put to a popular vote - a trend that the gay-rights movement had believed it could end in Maine. READ MORE

November 2, 2009

Fla. man says Home Depot fired him over God button

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – A former cashier for The Home Depot who has been wearing a "One nation under God" button on his work apron for more than a year has been fired, he says because of the religious reference. The company claims that expressing such personal beliefs is simply not allowed. "I've worn it for well over a year and I support my country and God," Trevor Keezor said Tuesday. "I was just doing what I think every American should do, just love my country." The American flag button Keezer wore in the Florida store since March 2008 says "One nation under God, indivisible." READ MORE

October 26, 2009

Benedict's Gambit with Anglican Split

The Church of England has survived the Spanish Armada, the English Civil War and Elton John performing “Candle in the Wind” at Princess Diana’s Westminster Abbey funeral. So it will probably survive the note the Vatican issued last week, inviting disaffected Anglicans to head Romeward, and offering them an Anglo-Catholic mansion within the walls of the Roman Catholic faith. READ MORE

October 14, 2009

Clinton urged to discuss religious rights with Iran

WASHINGTON — A religious freedom watchdog Wednesday urged US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to discuss repression in Iran during upcoming talks on its controversial nuclear program. READ MORE

September 2, 2009

How the ELCA Left the Great Tradition for Liberal Protestantism

During last week's biennial Church Wide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the church affirmed major policy recommendations to allow for the blessing of same-sex unions (which practice will soon inflate to same-sex marriage) and the rostering of gay and lesbian pastors in partnered relationships. READ MORE

August 18, 2009

Fiji Church Rules No Pants on Sunday

The strict observance of Sunday worship has resulted in men on a Bua island not being allowed to wear pants on Sunday. The Sunday ban also forbids travel and the hanging of clothes on lines. READ MORE

August 13, 2009

Oregon and Tennessee Enact Religious Freedom Acts

Oregon Governor, Ted Kulongoski, quietly signed Senate Bill 786, the Oregon Workplace Religious Freedom Act on Thursday, July 16, 2009. The bill establishes protections for employees needing “holy day” and “religious apparel” accommodations in the workplace. READ MORE

June 1, 2009

Nevada Legislature Overrides Governor's Veto of Domestic Partnerships

The Nevada Legislature overrode Governor Jim Gibbons’ veto of a bill recognizing the legal rights and benefits of domestic partnerships. READ MORE

June 1, 2009

San Diego County Issues Citation Ordering Home Bible Study to Cease

Across the nation a news frenzy has erupted over the story of a home bible study being required to stop meeting unless it obtains a Major Use Permit, costing thousands of dollars. READ MORE

June 1, 2009

AJR 19 Introduced to the California Assembly

Assembly Joint Resolution 19 was introduced into the California Assembly on May 18 and was assigned to the Judiciary Committee on May 26, 2009. READ MORE

June 1, 2009

"Social and Moral Nonsense?"

The L.A. Times commentator criticized the California Supreme Court’s decision upholding Proposition 8 as “social and moral nonsense.” READ MORE

June 1, 2009

Oregon Passes the Workplace Religious Freedom Act

On May 29th, the Oregon legislature enacted a bill to protect religious accommodation in the workplace, a dream come true for the bill sponsor, Greg Hamilton, President of the Northwest Religious Liberty Association, a ministry of the North Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. READ MORE

May 5, 2009

US Commission on International Religious Freedom indentifies 13 countries on its “countries of particular concern” list

A U.S. government panel listed 13 countries Friday as "egregious" violators of religious freedom. READ MORE

May 5, 2009

Seventh-day Adventist Appointed as Religious Liaison for Obama Administration

A Seventh-day Adventist will help United States President Barack Obama's administration consider the concerns of faith communities as it makes policy decisions, the White House announced recently. READ MORE

May 5, 2009

The Pendulum Pauses: California Supreme Court Declines to Hear Lutheran High School Case

The gay rights community has been pressing the case of two female students who were expelled from the California Lutheran High School for their public expressions of romantic affection for one another. The school insisted that it has the right to enforce standards of student conduct rooted in its religious valu READ MORE

May 4, 2009

The Pendulum Pauses: California Supreme Court Declines to Hear Lutheran High School Case

The gay rights community has been pressing the case of two female students who were expelled from the California Lutheran High School for their public expressions of romantic affection for one another. The school insisted that it has the right to enforce standards of student conduct rooted in its religious values. READ MORE

January 12, 2009

Proposition 8 Challenged in California Supreme Court

The California Supreme Court has agreed to review the constitutionality of the ballot initiative to amend the constitution to retain the historic definition of marriage. READ MORE

January 1, 2009

Proposition 8 Challenged in California Supreme Court

The California Supreme Court has agreed to review the constitutionality of the ballot initiative to amend the constitution to retain the historic definition of marriage. READ MORE