Europe Restricts Stem-Cell Research, Egyptian Military Bans Religious Discrimination, and More
Europe restricts stem-cell research
LUXEMBOURG The European Court of Justice barred patents on medical processes that destroy human embryos. Europe's top court ruled against Oliver Bruestle, a German researcher who invented a mechanism to convert stem cells into nerve cells. Bruestle protested that European researchers would still use embryonic stem cells and that their discoveries would be patented by scientists abroad. Roman Catholic bishops and the European Center for Law and Justice supported the court's decision.
Military bans religious discrimination
EGYPT Military rulers prohibited all religious discrimination in Egypt after 25 people were killed and 200 injured when soldiers disrupted a Coptic protest march. The measure, demanded by protesters incensed over a string of church burnings, holds a maximum penalty of nearly $17,000. The Egyptian government also promised to form a commission to examine religious violence, church building permits, and sanctions against demonstrating outside worship buildings. Egyptian human rights organizations estimate that 100,000 Coptic Christians have fled the country since March because of sectarian attacks.
Bible translators adopt new standards
SIL International and Wycliffe Bible Translators released new guidelines that affirm literal renderings of "Son of God" in the majority of cases in Muslim-culture translations. But in places where the phrase may imply that God had sexual relations with Mary, alternative translations that maintain the concept of "sonship" can be used. In June, the Presbyterian Church in America declared that alternative translations for sonship were unfaithful to the biblical text.
Court upholds sanctity of life provisions
MEXICO The Supreme Court upheld two state provisions that say life begins at conception. The provisions in San Luis Potosi and Baja California are 2 of 17 similar state provisions enacted after a 2007 Mexico City law legalized some abortions. Seven of eleven judges ruled the Baja measure unconstitutional, but eight votes were needed to overturn it. President Felipe Calderon said in a statement that Mexico is committed to the right to life. Mexico's governing parties have strong ties to the Roman Catholic Church; members of both the National Action Party and the historically secular Institutional Revolutionary Party have visited the Vatican.
Candy cane case continues
The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed that public school students have the right to "private, non-disruptive, student-to-student speech," even if it's religious. But it also granted immunity to two Plano, Texas, principals who told students they couldn't distribute religious-themed candy canes and pencils. The ban was unconstitutional, the court said, but the rules were unclear: "The general state of the law in this area is abstruse, complicated, and subject to great debate." Several other parts of the same long-running lawsuit await rulings.
Longstanding missions groups merge
Two flagship evangelical organizations have merged to create a new, 35,000-missionary body reaching every country in the world. The Mission Exchange (formerly the EFMA) and CrossGlobal Link (formerly the IFMA) merged to cut down on competition and overlap between their programs, said Marv Newell, CrossGlobal Link's executive director. Last year, Pioneers-USA merged with Arab World Ministries to combine strengths to better plant churches in Muslim-majority countries.
Homeless shelter can require religious activity
The Boise Rescue Mission can require clients to take part in religious services and classes, and even require them to convert, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled. People seeking services at the mission don't have protected rights to its programs, the court said. Janene Cowles and Richard Chinn had sued, saying they were coerced into religious activities. The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development had already rejected the discrimination complaint on the grounds that the rescue mission fell under a religious exemption.