Colleges Deemed Not Religious Enough, Refugees Improperly Quizzed on Religion, and More News
Colleges deemed not religious enough
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decided in May that Chicago's St. Xavier's University cannot prevent its adjunct faculty from unionizing. Federal law allows religious schools to prohibit collective bargaining if it might interfere with their first responsibility to a religious mission. But the NLRB found that the Catholic school is not a "church-operated institution" and lacks a "substantial religious character." The NLRB issued a similar ruling against Manhattan College in January. Both schools argue their inclusion of non-Catholic faculty and students is evidence of church teaching, not secularism.
Court: Explain wave of Christian complaints
UNITED KINGDOM The European Court of Human Rights asked the government in June to state formally whether it believes four British Christians have had their religious rights violated. Two of the four faced discipline at work for wearing cross necklaces; the other two received sanctions for refusing services to homosexual couples. British courts have repeatedly dismissed their complaints. Trevor Phillips, chairman of the UK's Equality and Human Rights Commission, told The Telegraph that Christians do face discrimination but that politically motivated faith groups often blow it out of proportion. The Evangelical Alliance UK disputed Phillips's remarks.
Trial suspended for massacre suspects
PAKISTAN Nearly 70 suspects in the massacre of Christians in Gojra have a year of freedom on bail after the Anti-Terrorism Court suspended the trial because a key witness fled the country. The August 2009 attack, triggered by rumors that Gojra Christians had desecrated the Qur'an, left ten Christians dead and almost 100 homes burned. Witnesses have reported facing intimidation, and several have already fled the country.
Refugees improperly quizzed on religion
CANADA Refugee advocates are criticizing immigration officials after details emerged about a Chinese Christian's 2007 hearing. The refugee board denied the man's religious refugee status because, it said, he could not describe what Jesus was "like as a person" beyond creedal statements. Canada's Federal Court upheld the refugee board's decision this year, but admitted that the questions were "somewhat awkward." The court also recently ruled that an Egypt-based visa officer had made bad decisions when interviewing four Eritrean nationals, such as asking two professing Pentecostals to name the "seven gifts of the Holy Spirit."
Lawmakers mull limiting abortion
RUSSIA Parliamentarians are considering legislation that would outlaw free abortions at state facilities and require a prescription for the morning-after pill. While abortion was common during the Soviet era, a pro-life movement has recently materialized, spurred by a resurgent Russian Orthodox Church and concerns over Russia's dangerously low birthrate. The United Nations says Russia has the highest abortion rate in the world, and the country's abortions significantly outnumber births.
Denominational funds eliminated
The Christian-focused investment firm FaithShares liquidated four of its five exchange-traded funds on July 15. Due to lack of investor interest, the firm said it shut down funds supporting the denominational values of Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans, and Catholics. A general Christian Values Fund remains active.
College drops national anthem
Indiana's Goshen College decided in June to drop its brief experiment with playing the national anthem before athletic events. The 117-year-old Mennonite school has in the past rejected "The Star-Spangled Banner" as too entwined with military imagery and nationalism, which pacifist Mennonites traditionally reject. In February 2010, Goshen started playing an instrumental version of the song; now, after a year of debate, the school is looking for an alternative that honors both American and Mennonite traditions.