Church & State / Religious Freedom
Why (some) states use religion to justify violence - The Washington Post
When states enforce a particular interpretation of religious law, citizens are forced to abide by it rather than their own conscience. And when states retain the ability to hire and train clerical staff, manage the construction of religious buildings and even approve sermons, they hinder the ability of individuals and groups to function as independent social actors. Through policy mechanisms, religion becomes a tool of the state, ready to be wielded to advance its interests. That tool can even be used to justify acts of physical coercion and even violence
God, Gays and the Atlanta Fire Department - The New York Times
It should not matter that the investigation found no evidence that Mr. Cochran had mistreated gays or lesbians. His position as a high-level public servant makes his remarks especially problematic, and requires that he be held to a different standard.
Watchdog: Tax breaks for churches: Favoring believers over nonbelievers? - The Orange County Register
"Most people have no idea how the religious exemptions work, or what they’re worth. No one had really tried to calculate it.Just putting it on the radar is worth doing, even if it’s not going to change policies in the short run. In the long run, I think it will.” said Ryan T. Cragun, principal author of “How Secular Humanists (and Everyone Else) Subsidize Religion in the United States.” Why? Because fewer and fewer people align themselves with organized religions, and they may be less and less willing to give believers tax breaks.
Ky. rejects $18M in tax incentives for Noah's Ark park
A proposed Noah's Ark theme park in northern Kentucky has been turned down for around $18 million in state tax incentives amid concerns that it will promote religion and violate the separation of church and state. Answers in Genesis — says it is considering legal action in federal court.
North Korea and Christianity - uneasy bedfellows - BBC News
The unapproved Christian groups seem to be at their strongest in the north of the country near the border with China, because missionaries from there can get in and out more easily (though China is uneasy about them too). One Westerner who had lived in Pyongyang for several years told the BBC that he thought the official Christians he had met didn't seem to have a strong faith. He was continually amazed by how superstitious the people were in all kinds of non-Christian ways and they had no fear of talking.
Quiet fade-out for Obama’s faith council
Three years into his presidency, Obama’s marquee council of faith advisers has gone dark — a little-noticed postscript for a panel that he rolled out with fanfare and high expectations during his first weeks in office but ended up playing only a limited role in West Wing deliberations. (Politico)
Opinion: Faith-based farce
It seems George W. Bush’s “armies of compassion” have become Barack Obama’s armies of contraception. (Jim Towey, The Hill)
Religion and speech: Free to appal | The Economist
THIS has been a mixed week for freedom of speech in Britain. On one hand, a sharp-tongued street preacher has been found guilty and punished, albeit quite mildly, under a piece of legislation which many regard as dangerously illiberal. On the other, gay-rights campaigners and opponents of religous power have made a robust, Voltaire-like response...by defending the preacher's right to say things which they consider bigoted, appalling and offensive.
A More Secular Europe, Divided by the Cross
A commemorative euro coin with Christian imagery became the latest source of discord between the profoundly religious and those who prize a more rigid church-state divide. (The New York Times)
Texas a battleground for church and state issues
National advocacy groups have focused much of their efforts in Texas, most recently over Hays County commissioners opening their meetings with prayer, the Cedar Park Police Department putting a cross on its chaplain’s seal and Kountze High School cheerleaders carrying Christian signs at football games (Austin American-Statesman)
Christians Claim Workplace Discrimination in Landmark Case
Four Christians went to the European Human Rights Court this week to complain that their faith was under fire in the workplace. Do believers have an absolute right to religious expression at work, or do the requirements of employers and the rights of other members of society come first? (International Herald Tribune)