Current-Events

Woman Told to Renounce Christianity or Die

Sudan's government is not based on the principle of church-state separation. Conversion from Islam is a crime. Meriam Ibrahim, married to a Christian and mother of a toddler, is pregnant and claims she was raised Christian by her Ethiopian Orthodox mother after her Sudanese Muslim father left the family when she was a small child. However, because her father is Muslim the court recognizes her as Muslim. The court ordered her to either renounce her Christianity or face execution. In addition to her conviction for apostasy, she was also convicted of adultery. As the court regarded her as a Muslim, her marriage to a Christian is rendered void. Her lawyer has appealed the lower court's findings. 

Read Full Story where you can also find a link to a petition at Christian Solidarity Worldwide on behalf of Meriam.

Orthodox New Jersey Jews Kidnapped for Refusing Divorce

Orthodox Jewish women cannot obtain divorces unless their husbands grant them a 'get'. Often, husbands refuse to grant their unhappy wives a 'get' making divorce for Orthodox Jewish wives impossible. Some rabbis In New Jersey found a solution to this problem. Four Jewish rabbis were arrested for kidnapping and torturing husbands until they consented to granting their wives a 'get'.

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CLC Board Member Appointed to Washington State Court of Appeals

In Courtroom #2 of the Franklin County Courthouse the Investiture of George B. Fearing took place July 1, 2013. George has been a board member of Center for Liberty of Conscience (CLC) but resigned upon his appointment to the bench. He practiced law with the same law firm (Leavy, Schultz, Davis and Fearing, P.S., now Leavy, Schultz, Davis, Clare & Ruff, P. S of Kennewick, WA) for 30 years. Prior to practicing law, George graduated from Walla Walla University, spent three summers interning for Tom Foley, former Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, one summer interning for Senator Warren Magnuson, and then attended law school at the University of Washington. He is the sixth member of his 1982 law class to be appointed to the bench in Washington State. During his investiture many judges, colleagues and others paid tribute to George’s hard work ethic, integrity, intelligence, keen abilities as a litigator and his compassion. CLC will miss George’s contributions to CLC and wish him the best as he presides as Judge of the Court of Appeals, Division III in Spokane, Washington.

Spain's Government Seeks Prominent Role for Roman Catholic Church

While the majority of Spain's citizens claim to be Roman Catholic, fewer and fewer are regularly attend church and the number of practicing Catholics is declining. Yet the ruling conservative Popular Party is aligning with the Roman Catholic Church and legislating Catholic doctrine in moral issues. Not only pending abortion legislation has the majority of Spain's inhabitants upset with the government but also the government's requirement that more religion be taught in public schools and the diversion of public funds to semi-private schools, the majority of which are Roman Catholic. As a result of the government's actions, support for church-state separation is growing.

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Montana Hutterite Colony Appeals to US Supreme Court

A Montana law requiring Hutterite construction workers obtain workers' compensation insurance for any contracts performed outside their colony claim that their religious convictions are violated by purchasing such insurance. While a lower court found in their favour a higher court reversed that decision. A Montana lawmaker confirmed that the law mandating workers' compensation insurance was enacted to create a 'fair playing field' as Hutterites were able to underbid their competitors.

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Religious Fanaticism Sways Pakistani Courts

In 2010 the world watched as Pakistani lawyers risked their lives to uphold the independence of the judiciary. However, since that time, many of those same lawyers have formed groups which now threaten judges unless the judge finds in favour of the lawyers' client. Two minutes after granting bail to those accused of blasphemy, a judge changed his opinion after a near riot in his courtroom by lawyers opposed to his decision. This is but one example of judges' loss of independence and lawyers using tactics similar to the Taliban.

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Evangelical Teens Leaving Church Over Climate Change

Evangelical teens comprise only 13% of the church, another 4% decline, while young agnostics and atheists increased 4%, totalling 35%. Evangelicals' failure to recognize climate change as a threat is one of the problems. Recognizing climate change and supporting change to prevent it is not only Biblical, but one way to engage and retain Evangelical youth, says Deborah Fikes, Executive Advisor for the World Evangelical Alliance.

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Ohio Teacher Wins Discrimination Case Against Archdiocese

Christa Dias, a teacher in two Roman Catholic schools, was fired for breach of contract after giving birth via artificial insemination. A jury found that the church discriminated against her. She testified that she did not know that artificial insemination violated Catholic teaching. Dias, who is not a Roman Catholic, believed that her contractual terms required only that she live in accordance with her Christian beliefs and understanding of the Bible. An appeal by the church is anticipated. It is expected that the church will argue that the 'ministerial exemption' applies to Dias. The trial court ruled that that issue could not be raised at trial as Dias was not a ministerial employee. However, legal experts state that the U. S. Supreme Court has left vague what the qualifications are for a ministerial employee.

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Anti-blasphemy Law Pending in Russia

An anti-blasphemy law is awaiting third reading before it can become law in Russia. Critics of the Right to Exercise Religious Liberty bill claim that it is vague and over-broad resulting in not only those of minority faiths and atheists who express contrary religious views violating the bill but also majority believers who express contrary religious opinions. Those supporting the bill disagree claiming that only those who intentionally perform public acts insulting religion violate the bill. Supporters also state that the bill was drafted to include offending the religious sensibilities not only of the Russian Orthodox faith but all major religions found in Russia.

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Israelis Support Arab Teacher

An Arab teacher at a Jewish school was attacked with stones and racist obscenities when she and a Jewish fellow teacher exited a car. The car's windshield was broken. About 40 people gathered at the Muslim teacher's home in solidarity with her and to apologize for the attack. Teenagers from the a yeshiva high school in the area have since been arrested.

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Saudi Education Ministry: Islam Allows Girls to Participate in Sports

Although there are many clerics opposed to girls' participation in sports, the spokesman for the Saudi Education Ministry stated that Islam allows girls to participate provided they abide by Islamic law. This has been interpreted to mean that girls must dress appropriately, cannot participate with boys nor be seen by males when participating in sporting events. (The first two Saudi female Olympic athletes were not shown competing during the London 2012 Olympics broadcast in Saudi Arabia.) Because powerful clerics state protecting women from harassment means they cannot compete in sports and must avoid public roles, sports will be available only to those girls attending private schools.

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Alleged Discrimination Against Minority Faiths by Canadian Federal Prisons

Some inmates in British Columbia federal prisons are suing the Canadian government for discriminating against their religious beliefs by failing to renew part-time chaplain contracts. Jews, Sikhs, Muslims, Wiccans and Buddhists claim that since the federal government refused to renew these contracts chaplains of their faith traditions are not allowed the same access to prisons and many have not obtained the spiritual mentoring needed in their rehabilitation. The federal government claims that it is not discriminating as the decision not to renew part-time chaplain contracts affected 31 Christian chaplains and only 18 non-Christian chaplains. It is unknown if the 31 Christian chaplains were members of minority faiths within Christianity.

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Ukrainian Christian Honored for Saving Synagogue

While Christians, Jews, Sikhs, Muslims and Buddhists gathered in Kiev to honor a Ukrainian Christian who protected a 500-year old rural synagogue, some Orthodox Christians picketed the ceremony claiming that it is heresy to 'make common council with Muslims and Jews.' Boris Slobodnyuk single-handedly prevented the community from tearing down the synagogue, one of the largest in Ukraine.

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Council of Europe Adopts New Resolution on Religious Freedom

Noting the increasing violence worldwide against those espousing minority religious beliefs and practices, the Parliamentary Assembly voted that member states are to recognize and take measures to protect religious minorities in the countries they deal with, ensuring that democratic principles of religious freedom are included in any agreements between member countries and third countries.

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Four Stabbed in Albuquerque Catholic Church

A twenty-four year old man rushed and stabbed the choir director near the end of Mass at a Catholic Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The assailant thought the choir director was a Mason. Three others also received stabbing injuries attempting to stop the assailant. Some of the parishioners, remembering St. Catherine of Siena, expressed forgiveness for the assailant and were praying for him and his family.

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Washington State Bill Amending Non-Discriminaton Law Introduced

Arlene's Flowers of Richland, Washington refused to provide flowers for a same-sex marriage stating that doing so violated their conscience. Now a bill has been introduced into the state legislature amending Washington's law forbidding discrimination. If the bill passes, businesses and individuals can deny their services when doing so conflicts with their religious beliefs.

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Jehovah's Witness Teen Must Receive Blood Transfusion

A 17-year old Australian was ordered to receive a blood transfusion to save his life. The teen threatened to 'rip out' the needle because he is a devout Jehovah's Witness, stating that blood products violated his religious beliefs and would interfere with his relationship with God. However, the judge ruled that the sanctity of life outweighs human dignity. The judge recognized that his order may extend the teen's life only 10 months because the teen was free to refuse transfusions upon reaching adulthood.

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Clergy-Penitent Privilege Not Restricted to Formally Ordained Ministers

A Kansas federal district court ruled that the clergy-penitent privilege is not limited to only those formally ordained as ministers. The government argued that the privilege did not apply to communications between Angel Dillard and the inmates she ministered to in a Kansas county jail. The court ruling in her favour stated that many programs in today's modern society are operated by the volunteer services of lay ministers and would not be able to carry on if the privilege applied only to formally ordained ministers.

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Christian Bishops Kidnapped and Freed in Syria

A Syriac Orthodox and Greek Orthodox bishop were kidnapped in Syria while doing humanitarian work. Both are archbishops of their respective churches. Muslim church leaders have also been kidnapped in Syria but these are the highest ranking church leaders kidnapped to date. This incident adds to the fear of religious minorities that they have no future in Syria if the rebels overthrow the Assad government. Rebels and the government each blame the other for the kidnapping.

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'Eye-for-an Eye' Justice

There is no church-state separation in Saudi Arabia. There is no criminal code or precedent. Rather the law is administered according to the individual judge's interpretation of the Quran and Prophet Muhammad's teachings. 'Eye-for-an-eye' justice is common unless the accused pays an agreed upon sum to the victim. This results in unequal justice as the rich have no problem paying but the poor often are unable to raise the necessary money. Ali al-Khawabar finds himself in this position. A poor man, he should have been released from prison in 2010 after serving his six-year prison sentence. However, he and his family have been unable to raise the money to pay his victim. The person assaulted by Ali al-Khawabar was paralyzed as a result of Ali's actions. While the Saudi government states that Ali al-Khawabar will not suffer severance of his spinal cord it has made no move to release him from prison even though he has served more than his six-year sentence.

Ali al-Khawabar is not the first to face eye-for-an-eye justice or indefinite detention.

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