Category : Law & Legal Issues

(CT) Blasphemy Blocks Re-Election of Indonesia’s Only Christian Governor

The blasphemy charges that cost Indonesia’s top Christian politician his re-election race won’t send him to jail.

Just a day after Basuki Purnama—popularly known as Ahok—conceded the runoff for governor of Jakarta, prosecutors recommended a light sentence of two years probation instead of the maximum penalty of five years in prison.

Ahok, a double minority in the archipelago as a Christian and as an Indonesian citizen who is ethnically Chinese, secured approval ratings as high as 70 percent in the capital region during his campaign. But when the anti-corruption crusader was accused of distorting a Qur‘an teaching to convince the nation’s overwhelming Muslim majority to vote for a Christian, public opinion shifted dramatically.

Ahok repeatedly denied the claims as a translation error, and accused Indonesia’s hardline Muslim groups of coordinating an attack against him. He ultimately conceded Wednesday’s election, trailing in the polls by less than 10 percentage points.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Indonesia, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(Christian Post) Student Sues School District for Allowing Girl to Undress in Boys’ Locker Room

A lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for Pennsylvania’s Eastern District…[in late mid-May] against the Boyertown Area School District by a student referred to by the pseudonym “Joel Doe” on the grounds that the district intentionally violated his right to bodily privacy.

The lawsuit explains that Doe was changing in the gym locker room last October before his physical education class when he saw a female student wearing a bra also in the locker room. The school district’s policy allows for the transgender student, who recently began the process of transitioning from female to male, to access locker rooms and bathrooms consistent with the student’s chosen gender identity.

“This policy needlessly subjects Doe to the risk that his partially unclothed body will be exposed to the opposite sex and that he will be exposed to a partially clothed person of the opposite-sex, as actually occurred when the policy was first implemented,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit alleges that the school district “secretly authorized a student of the opposite sex to have unrestricted access to enter and use boys’ private facilities” without informing other students and parents.

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Sexuality

(AP) Parents’ lawsuit says son was baptized against their wishes

The parents of a developmentally disabled boy in Ohio have sued his former court-appointed guardian, a minister and the child’s mentor claiming he was baptized at an evangelical church last year against the couple’s wishes.

A Geauga (jee-AH’-guh) County judge on Wednesday said the family’s court involvement ended 14 months before the baptism, something the lawsuit failed to note.

The lawsuit was filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Cleveland by April and Gregg DeFibaugh, of Chardon. The lawsuit claims the couple’s rights of religious freedom were violated by individuals “acting under the color of state law.” Chardon is 30 miles (48 kilometers) east of downtown Cleveland.

The lawsuit said a man from a local Big Brothers Big Sisters group took the boy without his parents to a Morning Star Friends Church picnic last August and threatened to stop taking him to minor league baseball games unless he agreed to be baptized.

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Posted in Children, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture

(Daily Beast) Want to Raise Kids with Your BFF? Move to Canada

Can you legally parent with a close friend? In Canada it is possible.
Natasha Bakht and Lynda Collins are making history. They have become the first women in a non-romantic relationship to legally co-parent a child.
Collins decided to help Bakht when her son, Elaan, was diagnosed with spastic quadriplegia. Elaan appeared healthy at birth, but doctors quickly found parts of his brain were dead.
After the diagnosis, it was clear Bakht was going to need more help than she had originally planned. “So I had the appetite to help and she had the need and so I was over here a lot, day in, day out. What we found is that we’re really happy parenting together,” Collins tells BBC News.

After a two-year long legal battle, Bakht and Collins became “co-mommas” in November and could not be more thrilled.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in Canada, Children, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Men, Psychology, Women

(CT Gleanings) This Unpaid Pensions Case Could Crush Christian Hospitals

Today the US Supreme Court heard a trio of lawsuits on pension plans at Christian hospital systems. So far, the panel of justices seems torn over whether religiously affiliated employers fall under federal requirements for pension benefits.

Churches are exempt from the US Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), but the current cases challenge whether such standards apply to employers that are affiliated with churches: hospitals, schools, and daycares, for example. Employees who filed the suits argue that the hospitals should comply and, in some cases, pay billions to make up for benefits their workers have missed out on.

The ruling would impact dozens of similar cases, as well as the budgets of a significant slice of America’s healthcare system. (For example, the American Civil Liberties Union found that last year, Catholic hospitals alone provided 1 in 6 patient beds available.)

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

(NBC) Powerful+Heartwarming-A Marine Who Lost His Legs In Afghanistan Graduates from Police Acadmy

Posted in Marriage & Family, Military / Armed Forces, Police/Fire, War in Afghanistan

(CT) Missionaries Dreamed Of This Muslim Moment. Will Trump’s Travel Ban End It?

“It has to do with the fact that the evangelical church is in touch with Christian churches in the Muslim world. More than any other religious group, they’re hearing the horror stories,” said Cashin, the CIU professor, who has seen three of his friends and colleagues martyred as they attempted to bring the gospel to Muslim-majority nations. “For that reason, they tend to respond more negatively to the faith of Islam.”

Many associate the violent acts of ISIS extremists, who target Christians and other religious minorities, with Islam itself. In a LifeWay Research survey, slightly more than half of evangelical pastors saw ISIS as a true indication of what Islamic society looks like. They also disagreed with the notion that “true Islam creates a peaceful society.”

Warren Larson, former director of the Zwemer Center for Muslim Studies, called such beliefs “very damaging for ministry and mission among Muslims.” The survey statistics indicating Christians’ negative attitudes towards Muslims have played out in his experience among believers.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Immigration, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Missions, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(WSJ) Nathan Diament–What Neil Gorsuch Sees That Antonin Scalia Didn’t

What comes through in these opinions is a recognition that seems to have eluded Scalia in 1990: The law is meant to be a bulwark against the infringement—whether by government or other powerful entities—upon a person’s religious conscience and practices. It is not enough to allow Americans to believe as they wish; they must also be able, generally, to act in conformity with their beliefs.

Accommodations for religious observance are welcome from the legislative or executive branches, but the Framers put freedom of religion in the Bill of Rights to guarantee it. The First Amendment applies to people of all faiths, and shouldn’t depend on political power. What is required is enforcement by jurists sensitive to the needs of religious minorities.

Whether Judge Gorsuch will be confirmed to the Supreme Court remains to be seen. But his record suggests that those who care about religious liberty may want to pray that he gets the chance to rule on it.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Supreme Court

(NPR) With Both Communities Concerned, Latino Muslims Learn About Their Rights

The group goes by the name La Asociación Latino Musulmana de América and supports a growing number of Hispanic converts to Islam in Southern California. This gathering reflects the merging of cultures in a part of the country where neighbors are often from different parts of the world.

Like many Latinas, Guadalupe Fernandez grew up Catholic. Then around a decade ago, she moved from Mexico to the U.S. and met a guy in English class.

“In the beginning, we were just friends because I was afraid of the fact that he was Muslim,” she says, as translated from Spanish.

But the pair began to date and Fernandez became more interested in her partner Hamada Abdallah’s religion. Eventually, she converted.

Read it all.

Posted in Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

(Economist Erasmus Blog) European Court of Justice rules Employers may sometimes ban staff from wearing headscarves

The ECJ judges were looking into the cases of a Belgian woman who was fired from her job as a receptionist at a security company after she started wearing a headscarf, and of a French IT consultant who was told to remove her scarf after a client complained, and then dismissed when she declined.

In both cases, the ECJ suggested that national courts needed to investigate further to establish whether the women had been discriminated against. In the Belgian case, the court recommended working out if there might have been a simpler solution such as transferring the employee to a role where she was not in contact with the public. Regarding the French consultant, it considered it necessary to establish whether the disciplinary action was purely a response to the client’s whim (which appeared to be the case and would be insufficient grounds for a dismissal) or a legitimate consequence of a broader policy. Taken as a whole, today’s decision upheld the right of employers to enforce ideological neutrality in the workplace as long as it was done fairly and consistently.

This marks a contrast with the thinking of America’s Supreme Court, which in 2015 vindicated a Muslim woman who had been turned down for a job by the clothing chain Abercrombie and Fitch on the grounds that her headscarf was out of step with the look the company was promoting. Since 1964, American civil-rights legislation has told employers to provide “reasonable accommodation” of their workers’ religious needs, unless it would be unbearably burdensome to do so. Today’s decision also reflected a more secularist spirit than did one by the European Court of Human Rights in 2013, which upheld the right of a Christian woman to wear a discreet cross with her British Airways uniform.

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Posted in Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

(AP) Pakistan asks Facebook and Twitter to help identify blasphemers

Pakistan said Thursday it has asked Facebook and Twitter to help it identify Pakistanis suspected of blasphemy so that it can prosecute them or pursue their extradition.

Under Pakistan’s strict blasphemy laws, anyone found to have insulted Islam or the Prophet Muhammad can be sentenced to death.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said an official in Pakistan’s Washington embassy has approached the two social media companies in an effort to identify Pakistanis, either within the country or abroad, who recently shared material deemed offensive to Islam.

Read it all. Also, WWM has a look at Pakistan’s blasphemy laws there.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Pakistan, Religion & Culture

(NYT Op-ed) David Brooks on Rod Dreher’s new Book–The Benedict Option

Rod is pretty conservative. “There can be no peace between Christianity and the sexual revolution, because they are radically opposed,” he writes.

Specifically, “L.G.B.T. activism is the tip of the spear at our throats in the culture war. The struggle over gay rights is what is threatening religious liberty, putting Christian merchants out of business, threatening the tax-exempt status and accreditation of Christian schools and colleges.”

Rod shares the fears that are now common in Orthodox Christian circles, that because of their views on L.G.B.T. issues, Orthodox Christians and Jews will soon be banned from many professions and corporations. “Blacklisting will be real,” he says. We are entering a new Dark Age. “There are people alive today who may live to see the effective death of Christianity within our civilization….”

Maybe if I shared Rod’s views on L.G.B.T. issues, I would see the level of threat and darkness he does. But I don’t see it. Over the course of history, American culture has tolerated slavery, sexual brutalism and the genocide of the Native Americans, and now we’re supposed to see 2017 as the year the Dark Ages descended?

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Books, Evangelicals, History, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

A C of E Response to the ECJ Ruling on Headscarves

In response to the ruling of the European Court of Justice on the wearing of headscarves a Church of England spokesman said:

“This ruling raises significant questions about freedom of religion and its free expression. Whether it be Sikhism and the wearing of turbans and kara through to the wearing of a cross.

“In preferencing ‘freedom to conduct a business” above the free expression of faith the ruling potentially places corporate interest above those of the individual.

Equally troubling is the assumption of “neutrality” within the ruling. The imposition of blanket bans – whilst often seeking honourable outcomes – may represent a worldview based on dogmatic or ideological assumptions which may unjustly limit individual rights.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

NYT: Ban on Head Scarves at Work Is Legal, E.U. Court Rules

The European Union’s highest court waded into the politically explosive issue of public expressions of Muslim identity on Tuesday, finding that private employers can ban female workers from wearing head scarves on the job.

The ruling comes as Europe is beginning a critical election season, with races in the Netherlands, France and Germany, and with anti-immigrant, anti-Islam populism rising in many countries. Dutch voters go to the polls on Wednesday, and the far-right party of the anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders is expected to fare well.

In its ruling, the European Court of Justice found that company regulations banning “the visible wearing of any political, philosophical or religious sign” did not constitute direct discrimination — so long as such prohibitions applied to religious garb from all faiths, a requirement that legal experts say could also encompass a Sikh turban and a Jewish skullcap, among other religious symbols.

you may find a PR from the Court on the ruling here.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(Church Times) Lambeth Palace letter suggests ‘indistinguishable’ blessing after same-sex marriage

A letter from Lambeth Palace has said that a church service after a same-sex marriage can be “almost indistinguishable from a wedding”.

The letter was written to Dr Richard and Matthew Edwards, who married last year in Birmingham Register Office. Both are members of the PCC at St Paul’s, Birmingham. Dr Edwards is the treasurer, and Matthew Edwards the vice-chair and a churchwarden. They have been together for five years, and got engaged in 2015. Before they married, they wrote to the Archbishop of Canterbury for guidance.

The letter they received in response, written by the Archbishop’s correspondence secretary, Andrew Nunn, demonstrates the Church of England’s ambivalence on the question of same-sex marriage. He states: “marriage in an Anglican church is not an option for you.” On the other hand, he describes the practice of having a blessing in church after a civil ceremony. “The church ceremony can be arranged so as to be almost indistinguishable from a wedding, but without the legalities.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality