Regent U. Struggles to Stay Afloat (*Updated), Court Rules that Feeding Poor Is Not Religious, and Other News
Quebec court rejects "totalitarian" course
CANADA Loyola High School in Montreal does not want to teach the same secular ethics and religious culture class that Quebec mandates in its public schools, and the province's Superior Court said it does not have to. Justice Gérard Dugré ruled that the government's 2008 decision requiring the multi-faith course at the Catholic school had a "totalitarian quality" that was out of place in a multicultural society. The government plans to appeal.
Lutheran college turning out the lights
Dana College, an Evangelical Lutheran Church in America school in Blair, Nebraska, closed its doors in July after an accreditation board spiked a final attempt to save the school. The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools said that it would not transfer Dana's accreditation if the 126-year-old school were sold to a for-profit corporation. Arrangements are being made for Dana's 500 students.
Beliefnet buyers have evangelical connections
Rupert Murdoch's News Corp sold the multi-faith website Beliefnet in June to the small firm BN Media. Two other BN properties, Affinity4 and Cross Bridge, have a pair of noted evangelicals as key advisers: Jay Sekulow, of the American Center for Law and Justice, and T. D. Jakes, pastor of the Potter's House in Dallas. The new owner says Beliefnet's editors will maintain editorial control.
Counseling programs dismiss Christian students
A counseling student sued Augusta State University in July, alleging she was told she must change her Christian beliefs about homosexuality in order to graduate. The school asked Jennifer Keeton to complete "diversity sensitivity training" and "increase exposure and interactions with gay populations" or face expulsion. Keeton said she was given "a choice of standing by the Bible or by the [American Counseling Association] Code of Ethics." Days later, a Michigan federal district court ruled that Eastern Michigan University was justified to dismiss a Christian graduate student from its counseling program in 2009 under similar circumstances. The court said the university has "a rational basis for requiring its students to counsel clients without imposing their personal values."
Sweden demands educational uniformity
SWEDEN Swedish lawmakers enacted a 1,500-page education bill this summer that restricts homeschooling to exceptional circumstances and requires religious "confessional schools" to teach the same curriculum as other schools. The confessional schools (mostly Lutheran) must also make religious activities optional. Opponents say the new law conflicts with the European Convention, which guarantees families the right to education based on their convictions.
Court: Feeding the poor is not religious act
The First Vagabonds Church of God in Orlando, which meets in a city park, must seek a permit to feed the homeless in city parks during its services. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in July that feeding the poor does not qualify as a symbolic expression of the free exercise of religion. Orlando law requires permits for groups wanting to work in the parks, limiting everyone to two permits per 12 months. The National Coalition for the Homeless recently labeled laws of this type "part of a broader trend toward criminalizing homelessness."