UN faces renewed calls for blasphemy ban
Some Christian leaders have joined Muslim counterparts in calling on the United Nations to ban certain types of speech. In September, the YouTube film Innocence of Muslims, which targeted the Prophet Muhammad, led to Muslim protests that killed scores of people in 10 countries. The crude video, linked to Coptic activists in the United States, prompted the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation to revive its demand for a UN ban on the defamation of religion (after dropping its decade-long effort last year). Anglican bishops in the Middle East also called for a similar ban. President Barack Obama, addressing the UN, countered that "the strongest weapon against hateful speech is not repression, it is more speech."
Legal fight over contraception mandate grows
Religious institutions received more time to implement the Department of Health and Human Services' controversial contraception mandate after its "safe harbor" provisions were expanded. The last-minute rewrite prompted a federal judge in September to dismiss challenges by Wheaton College and Belmont Abbey, but the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to consider the cases. Lawsuits by 30 other Christian colleges and businesses, including Biola University and Grace College, remained pending. Meanwhile, Hobby Lobby and Tyndale House Publishers joined Catholic-owned businesses in filing suit. A federal judge in Colorado granted one business a temporary injunction against the mandate, but a federal court in Missouri dismissed a similar challenge.
Good news for persecuted Christians
IRAN/PAKISTAN Religious freedom advocates were encouraged by developments in the cases of two high-profile persecuted Christians. In Iran, pastor Youcef ...