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Ecumenical News: Catholics in Pakistan have reiterated their appeal to the government for heightened security and protection after Islamic extremists carried out a new attack on a minority community last week.
The Malaysian Insider: Muslims in secular Malaysia, who are also subjected to Islamic laws, will be discriminated if a religious council’s proposition to exempt them from enjoying all fundamental rights under the Federal Constitution is allowed, lawyers said.
Breitbart: In the space of just five days, from May 10 to 15, 2015, Hindu Fundamentalist groups have carried out five separate attacks against Christians in their places of worship in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, which is under the authority of the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Christian Today: The Churches Education Commission (CEC), the provider of Bible studies in more than 660 public schools in New Zealand is filing a legal challenge before the High Court to allow religious studies in the classroom following efforts to remove the subject from state schools.
Scottish Legal News: The Christian directors of a bakery “unlawfully discriminated” against a gay man in refusing to accept his order for a “Bert and Ernie” cake bearing a caption supporting same-sex marriage.
Law and Religion UK: Regular readers will no doubt recall that the proprietors of Ashers Bakery refused to bake a cake for Gareth Lee bearing the slogan “Support Gay Marriage” with the Sesame Street puppets Bert and Ernie.
The Guardian: With just five days to go before Ireland’s historic referendum on the legalisation of gay marriage, a bitter row has broken out between supporters and opponents over the funding of their respective campaigns. Supporters of a yes vote have accused opponents of a lack of transparency over finances and of accepting funding from rightwing Christian groups in the US.
Reuters: Its word was once law in Ireland on everything from contraception to divorce. Now, shorn of much of its influence, the Catholic Church has limited campaigning on Friday’s gay marriage referendum to sermons to its remaining flock.
Religion Clause: In Ireland on Friday voters will cast ballots in a referendum to approve same-sex marriage.
The Jerusalem Post: Countries in the Middle East have shot up an annual list of places where vulnerable minorities are most at risk of genocide, political killing and systematic repression, a human rights group said on Wednesday.
Interfax Religion: Members of all State Duma factions have supported a bill allowing only state-run healthcare institutions to perform abortions and cancelling mandatory health insurance coverage for abortions.
Law and Religion Australia: My previous post mentioned that some books used in Special Religious Education (SRE) in NSW had been summarily banned by the Department of Education and Communities, apparently on the grounds that they conveyed classical Christian teaching about sexual morality.
The New York Times: Islamic State fighters used a sandstorm to help seize a critical military advantage in the early hours of the terrorist group’s attack on the provincial Iraqi capital of Ramadi last week, helping to set in motion an assault that forced Iraqi security forces to flee, current and former American officials said Monday.
The New York Times: The Islamic State has revenue and assets that are more than enough to cover its current expenses despite expectations that airstrikes and falling oil prices would hurt the group’s finances, according to analysts at RAND Corporation, a nonprofit that researches public policy.
The Guardian: Tens of thousands of Christian immigrants who have become Irish citizens are being mobilised across the Republic to vote down a historic move to legalise gay marriage in Ireland this week.
The Washington Post: Catholic and deeply conservative, Ireland was long known as one of the toughest places in the Western world to be gay. Homosexuality was decriminalized here only in 1993, after years of pressure from European authorities.
The New York Times: The prime minister of Luxembourg on Friday wed his partner of several years in the first same-sex marriage of a European Union leader.
Christian Concern: A judge sitting at Belfast County Court has ruled today (19th May) that a Christian-run bakery that refused to bake a cake backing same-sex ‘marriage’ was guilty of ‘discrimination’ on the grounds of sexual orientation.
The Wall Street Journal (AP): Thousands of Rohingya Muslims and Bangladeshis abandoned at sea by human traffickers had nowhere to go Thursday, as Malaysia turned away two boats crammed with migrants, and Thailand kept at bay a third boat with hundreds more.
Religion News Service (Reuters): Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny said on Sunday that Ireland must seize its opportunity to become the first country to approve same-sex marriage in a popular vote when it holds a referendum on the issue on Friday.
Human Life International: All of humanity would agree that rape is a horrific crime. Such is the case for the 10-year-old Paraguayan who was raped and impregnated by her stepfather. Regrettably, the international community, including the United Nations, is exploiting the situation, pressuring the fiercely pro-life country to allow for an abortion. Instead of focusing on the rapist who should be severely punished, the focus is to subject cruel and unusual punishment on two innocents: the child and her unborn child.
Townhall: Ahmad is a parliamentarian in a rogue Middle East nation where women 17 and under are the property of their fathers. Each year, thousands of young girls are sold into sex-slavery by age 7.
The New York Times: Hundreds of women and girls captured by Boko Haram have been raped, many repeatedly, in what officials and relief workers describe as a deliberate strategy to dominate rural residents and possibly even create a new generation of Islamist militants in Nigeria.
Catholic Culture (Catholic World News): Christians in Iraq are “on the edge of a terrible catastrophe,” an Iraqi nun said in May 13 testimony before the foreign-affairs committee of the US House of Representatives.
Religion News Service: Amid killings, rapes and abductions, the international evangelical humanitarian agency World Vision indefinitely suspended its operations in South Sudan’s Unity State over the escalating conflict.
Religious Freedom Coalition: Throughout February, members of the largest Christian minority in the Middle East, the Copts, were slaughtered. The Islamic State released a video in mid-February depicting 21 poverty-stricken Coptic Christians being decapitated in Libya, where these men had gone to find work.
Religious Freedom Coalition: Gunmen killed a church pastor and more than 70 other Christians in Plateau state in the past month, sources said.
National Review: A stunning 60 percent of responding physicians said they have killed patients under the Netherlands’ euthanasia law. And think about this: Eighteen percent of responding doctors could conceive of euthanizing an elderly person “tired of living with no medical ground for suffering.”
First Things: During World War II, German doctors euthanized disabled babies and adults. As Robert Jay Lifton reported in The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide, no one forced these doctors to kill.
USA Today: The Chinese government had a problem. Faced with rising discontent over its repressive rule in the largely Muslim province of Xinjiang, the government wanted to find a way to weaken Islam in the region. But how does a government weaken a religion?
The Blaze: On May 13 the House Foreign Affairs Committee will hear testimony about how Islamic State is purging religious minorities.
Christian Today: Christian leaders in Pakistan have received death threats for their involvement in church planting, leading a country expert to warn that religious minorities are facing worse conditions day by day.
Evangelical Focus: One week ago, David Cameron won UK’s election after securing a majority in Parliament. The unexpected result, has led to different types of reactions. Evangelical Christians, which were very active in the campaign, also analysed the outcome.
Christian Concern: In an impassioned plea to the Council of Europe, the European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ) has highlighted the plight of babies who survive late term abortions. Nearly 190,000 people have signed a petition led by the ECLJ and other NGOs to end neonatal infanticide in Europe.
The Christian Institute: A judge in the Netherlands has allowed an 80-year-old woman to be euthanised, despite objections from the medical staff looking after her.
The Christian Institute: Today MSPs are debating a Bill to tackle human trafficking which does not criminalise the purchase of sex, despite calls from churches, faith groups and other organisations.
The Christian Institute: The president of a secular disability rights group has warned that legalising assisted suicide would lead to disabled people being coerced and abused.
The Christian Institute: Young men are becoming increasingly addicted to pornography leading to an improper view of real relationships, a leading psychologist has said.
The Christian Institute: The new Government Minister for Equalities now says she supports same-sex marriage, despite voting against the redefinition in 2013.
Trove (Toronto Star): Much has been written — and shouted — about an updated sex education curriculum that leaves many Ontarians all hot and bothered.
Religion News Service: A teenage blogger from Singapore has been found guilty of insulting Christians and of distributing an obscene image of the country’s founding father, Lee Kuan Yew, and former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
Aleteia: If you’re a Catholic who’s been involved in one way or another in the act of abortion—undergoing the procedure or performing one or encouraging someone to get one—and you happened to pick up the New York Post last week, you might have discovered some surprising ideas.
Aleteia: Sunday, May 10th, marked the 5th annual March for Life in Rome. Thousands of marchers gathered on the Via della Conciliazione in front of St. Peter’s Square to bear witness to the sanctity and inviolability of human life from conception until natural death.
Breitbart: Our freedoms of conscience and association have taken a bit of a beating over the last few years, on both sides of the Atlantic. From florists to bakers, B&B owners, pizza parlours, more bakers, even whole states, the redefinition of civil marriage laws to include the recognition of same-sex couples has led to those who dissent from this change, and ethically object to supporting same-sex relationships, being falling afoul of ‘equality’ legislation and secularist intolerance.
Religion News Service (Reuters): A blogger was hacked to death by machete-wielding attackers in Bangladesh on Tuesday (May 12), the third killing of a critic of religious extremism in the Muslim-majority nation in less than three months.
Christian Today: China has long been considered one of the worst countries for religious liberty. Designated a country of particular concern by the US since 1999, the latest report from the Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) found an “alarming increase in systematic, egregious, and ongoing abuses” in 2014.
‘We are going through a terrible moment’: 242 Syrian Christians remain hostage after ransom offer rejected
WorldWatch Monitor: Danger levels rose sharply in late April for northeast Syria’s isolated Assyrian Christians, caught for nearly three months now between Kurdish militias and Syrian army forces battling with militants of the self-proclaimed Islamic State for control of Hassaka province.
ACLJ: According to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom’s (USCIRF) newly released 2015 Annual Report, “Pakistan represents one of the worst situations in the world for religious freedom for countries not currently designated by the U.S. Government as ‘countries of particular concern.’”
Law and Religion UK: Civil Society News reports that the Charity Commission is investigating allegations that members of the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church provided campaigning and leafleting support for Conservative candidates and held prayer services for a Conservative victory at the General Election.
Religion Clause: According to Sputnik News, this week the Norwegian Parliament officially repealed the country’s blasphemy law.
Reuters: Germany’s Roman Catholic Church, an influential voice for reforms prompted by Pope Francis, has decided lay employees who divorce and remarry or form gay civil unions should no longer automatically lose their jobs.
Egyptian Christian teenagers face blasphemy charges for video mocking ISIS, which included some fake prayers
The Washington Post: Apparently four Coptic Christian teenagers, on a trip with their teacher, decided to make a joke video about ISIS (a group likely on the minds of many Copts, given the ISIS beheadings of 21 Coptic Christians in Libya earlier this year).
The Daily Signal: Natalie Bennett, the leader of the Green Party of England, recently suggested that her party is “open” to granting legal status to marriages or civil unions involving more than two people.
Aleteia: In the Indian magazine Outlook, Tony Joseph recently sought to find Why Christianity Failed In India. That is a deeply troubling question for Christians anywhere, and all the more so given India’s vast importance in the world.
Institute for Religious Freedom: “Our people survived [deportation by] Stalin,” commented a manager of ATR, which, until April 1, was the only Crimean Tatar television station left. “Will they not survive these current problems?” Russian authorities had just shut it down—along with other media outlets—by refusing to register it under Moscow’s complex religion laws.
Breitbart: For the first time in history, Pakistani history books for middle and high school students will describe the role that Christians, Hindus and Sikhs have had in building the country after independence.
The Conversation: All Australian anti-discrimination laws provide for some exemptions. Among the most controversial are those granted to religious schools.
The Salt-Lake Tribune (AP): A Chinese province where authorities have forcibly removed hundreds of rooftop crosses from Protestant and Catholic churches has proposed a ban on any further placement of the religious symbol atop sanctuaries.
Christian Examiner: Communist officials in Vietnam are for the first time seeking the input of the country’s Catholic leaders on proposed legislation addressing faith and religion, but many bishops there believe the effort at transparency is only an attempt to “appear democratic,” AsiaNews reported May 4.
Aleteia: In this exclusive interview, Aleteia asks Rabir Sinjari about the rescue of young girls held captive by ISIS in Iraq.
DNA India: Around 214 women freed from the Islamist Boko Haram militants are pregnant, Chief of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) was cited as saying by the local Nigerian media.
The Washington Post: Men in Iran wanting to get a spiky haircut, a tattoo or a good ol’ eyebrow plucking from barbers are out of luck. Officials have banned such styles, describing them as “devil-worshipping” and “homosexual.”
Religion News Service: USCIRF, an independent watchdog panel created by Congress to monitor religious freedom conditions worldwide, issued its 16th annual report last week.
Acton Institute: Many Muslims believe the use of tobacco products is forbidden (haram) because “tobacco is unwholesome, and God says in the Qur’an that the Prophet, peace be upon him, ‘enjoins upon them that which is good and pure, and forbids them that which is unwholesome’.” Similarly, the Quran prohibits the use of intoxicants, such as alcohol, and considers such use to be sinful. For these reasons, many Muslim shopkeepers consider it against their religious beliefs to sell alcohol and cigarettes.
Aleteia: The Iraqi Interior Ministry has announced the creation of a joint task force to start military operations aimed at freeing Mosul and Nineveh province, currently in the hands of the Islamic State group, according to Fides news agency.
Public Discourse: The European Convention on Human Rights does not require European nations to redefine marriage to include same-sex relationships. However, the European Court of Human Rights may rule in the future that member states must recognize same-sex civil unions.
Christianity Today: Maili Tamang clapped and sang along as the remnants of her husband’s Kathmandu church gathered for a noon prayer one week after a massive earthquake collapsed the “roof of the world.”
Religion News Service: In the weeks leading up to Easter, Archbishop Jean-Clement Jeanbart of Aleppo was starting to sense, finally, that the war that had ravaged Syria since 2011 was finally beginning to ease.
Deseret News: Beheadings, enslavement, kidnappings and rape plague minority religious communities across the Middle East, and it’s time for President Obama to fill a job created to address their plight, a group of prominent evangelicals, scholars and other religious leaders told the White House.
Religion News Service: When a 7.8-magnitude earthquake roared through this Himalayan nation last Saturday (April 25), leaving an estimated 5,500 dead and more than 11,000 injured, shrines and temples were sent crashing to the ground, many of them centuries old and irreplaceable cultural treasures.
The Jerusalem Post: Christians are currently experiencing record numbers of abuse and persecution due to a state-sponsored crackdown on dissent.
The Telegraph: Across the world, two thirds of citizens believe they are a religious person but the UK is one of the least religious countries in the world, according to a new study.