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JTA: Jews are overwhelmingly supportive of same-sex marriage, according to a new survey by the Public Religion Research Institute.
The Guardian: China’s top official in Tibet vowed on Wednesday to evaluate Buddhist monks and nuns for their “patriotism” and install national flags in monasteries to strengthen ideological control in the region.
Religion Clause: BBC News reported yesterday that a court in Myanmar has found the manager of the upscale VGastro Bar in Yangon (a New Zealander), along with the bar’s owner and a colleague (both Burmese), guilty of intentionally plotting to insult religious belief by uploading to Facebook an ad that depicted a psychedelic mock-up of the Buddha wearing DJ headphones.
BBC: A New Zealander and two Burmese men have been found guilty of insulting religion in Myanmar over a poster promoting a drinks event depicting Buddha with headphones.
The Washington Post: A powerful group of Buddhist nationalist lobbyists [The Association for the Protection of Race and Religion, locally referred to as Ma Ba Tha] has planned nationwide rallies in support of a controversial bill that some say would effectively outlaw interfaith marriage in Burma….
Religion Clause: “Courthouse News Service yesterday reported on a Title VII religious discrimination lawsuit filed in Texas federal district court by the former director of marketing communications for a wireless network services company.”
Religion Clause: “The ACLU announced on Friday the entry of a consent decree (full text) in Lane v. Sabine Parish School Board, (WD LA, March 14, 2014), enjoining the blatant promotion of Christianity (and harassment of a Buddhist student) that had been taking place in the Negreet, Louisiana schools.”
The Times-Picayune: “Jindal executive counsel Thomas Enright issued this statement on the lawsuit Tuesday (Feb. 18): ‘Religious freedom is foundational to liberty in America. In this case, the plaintiffs are alleging violations of the establishment clause not the free exercise clause. We don’t want to comment on this particular case before hearing the defendant’s side of the story, but as a general rule, government needs to be very careful before making decisions that restrict any American’s religious freedoms.’”
The Asahi Shimbun: “A senior Chinese official called for stricter management of religious activities, state media said on Jan. 27, following explosions in China’s western region of Xinjiang which authorities say were masterminded by a religious militant.”
KSLA: “Superintendent Sara Ebarb was unavailable Wednesday for comment, but on a statement released by the board on Thursday reads, ‘The Sabine Parish School Board has only recently been made aware of the lawsuit filed by the ACLU. A lawsuit only represents one side’s allegations, and the board is disappointed that the ACLU chose to file suit without even contacting it regarding the facts.’”
ArkLaTex: “The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Louisiana filed a federal lawsuit today against the Sabine Parish School Board, alleging that officials at one school harassed and proselytized a sixth-grader because of his Buddhist faith. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of two parents, Scott and Sharon Lane, and three of their children, including their son, ‘C.C.,’ who is a lifelong Buddhist of Thai descent.”
Wall Street Journal: “A Myanmar politician said this week that he was preparing to seek legal limits on interfaith and interethnic marriage, specifically targeting Chinese and Muslim minority groups and underscoring how ethnic and religious tensions still run deep in the Southeast Asian country.”
AP: Terrified Muslim families hid in forests in western Myanmar on Wednesday, a day after fleeing new sectarian violence that erupted even as the president toured the divided region.
AP: President Thein Sein toured Myanmar’s conflict-torn west on Tuesday as sectarian violence once again gripped the state of Rakhine, with Buddhist mobs killing a 94-year-old Muslim woman and torching more than 70 homes, officials and panicked residents said.
AP: The Rohingyas are a minority Muslim group that has suffered badly in sectarian clashes over the past year with majority Buddhists. Oftentimes, security forces have stood by.
Catholic Culture: Led by a Buddhist monk, a group of radical Sinhalese Buddhists attacked a Protestant church in Sri Lanka during a prayer service, according to media reports. The pastor and his mother were injured in the attack.
Fuelled by a dangerous brew of faith, ethnicity and politics, a tit-for-tat conflict is escalating between two of Asia’s biggest religions
Economist: Fuelled by a dangerous brew of faith, ethnicity and politics, a tit-for-tat conflict is escalating between two of Asia’s biggest religions
AP: A radical Buddhist monk blamed Muslim extremists Monday for a small bomb that detonated in Myanmar just a few meters (yards) from where he was delivering a sermon, though police said it was too early to speculate.
National Post: A crack has appeared in China’s decades-old campaign against the Dalai Lama, with some monasteries reporting that they are no longer being forced to denounce the Tibetan religious leader.
AP: Myanmar says a tense calm has returned to western Rakhine state after rioters set four houses ablaze, the latest violence between Buddhists and minority Muslims.
Religion Clause Blog: The New York Times yesterday explored the rise of anti-Muslim extremism among Buddhists in Myanmar. The article focuses on Buddhist monk Ashin Wirathu who is described as having “a rock-star following.”
AP: Hundreds of Buddhist men on motorcycles, screaming and waving iron rods and sticks, roamed the streets. A crowd threw rocks at buildings. A movie theater reportedly burned.
AP: New sectarian violence has flared in northeastern Myanmar, with a mob burning some shops after unconfirmed rumors spread that a Muslim man had set fire to a Buddhist woman.
AP: A Myanmar court sentenced seven Muslims to prison Tuesday – one of them to a life term – in the killing of a Buddhist monk amid deadly sectarian violence that was overwhelmingly directed against minority Muslims but has not led to any criminal trials against members of the country’s Buddhist majority.
Big News Network: Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama has decried Buddhist monks’ attacks on Muslims in Myanmar, saying that killing in the name of religion was “unthinkable”.
AP: Wirathu has become the figurehead of a virulent strain of religious nationalism being spread by some of the most venerated members of Burmese society: Buddhist monks. Their core message is that Buddhists must unite against a growing Muslim threat.
AP: State-controlled media Thursday night broke their silence on the violence in Meikhtila with government television announcing that five people had been killed and 39 injured in rioting that was triggered by an argument between a Muslim gold shop owner and his Buddhist customers.
AP: Chinese courts convicted eight Tibetans over accusations they incited others to self-immolate in the first such prosecutions to become publicly known . . .
AP: The surge in self-immolations, along with an increase in large demonstrations, mark a new phase in the Tibetan protests.
Huffington Post: Tuesday’s elections brought two historic firsts for religion in American politics: A Buddhist senator and a Hindu representative — both from Hawaii — will join Congress. Democrat Mazie Hirono beat former Gov. Linda Lingle (R), making Hirono the first Buddhist in the Senate.
Washington Post: Victims of Myanmar’s latest explosion of Muslim-Buddhist violence fled to already packed displacement camps along the country’s western coast Sunday, with a top U.N. official saying the unrest has forced more than 22,000 people from their homes.
AP: Survivors of ethnic clashes in western Myanmar lashed out at the government Monday for failing to prevent violence between Muslims and Buddhists that has displaced more than 28,000 people over the last week.
TheStar.com: At least 56 people were killed and nearly 2,000 homes destroyed in the latest outbreak of ethnic violence in western Burma, a government official said Thursday. The 25 men and 31 women were reported dead in four Rakhine state townships in violence between the Buddhist Rakhine and Muslim Rohingya communities that re-erupted Sunday, local government spokesman Win Myaing said.
Religion Clause Blog: AP reported yesterday on the action of the Election Commission in the small, largely Buddhist nation of Bhutan banning public religious events from Jan. 1, 2013 until Parliamentary elections (expected to be held in June 2013) are completed.
Yahoo News: Thousands of Buddhist monks marched in Myanmar’s two biggest cities on Monday to protest against efforts by the world’s biggest Islamic body to help Rohingya Muslims involved in deadly communal clashes four months ago.
AP: Bangladesh’s High Court asked the government on Wednesday to explain why local officials failed to provide security to minority Buddhists whose homes, temples and businesses were attacked over a picture of a burned Quran posted on Facebook.
Wall Street Journal (via Google): Thousands of Bangladeshi Muslims angry over an alleged derogatory photo of the Islamic holy book Quran on Facebook set fires in at least 10 Buddhist temples and 40 homes near the southern border with Myanmar, authorities said Sunday.
Barnabas Fund: On 9 August, a senior pastor and his wife were set upon by a mob of around 40 men, accompanied by five Buddhist monks and the assistant secretary of the local government authority.
AP: The conflict pitting ethnic Rakhine Buddhists against stateless Rohingya Muslims in coastal Rakhine state marks some of the worst sectarian unrest recorded in Myanmar in years.
Religion Clause Blog: Reuters reports today on Buddhist-Muslim violence that broke out over the weekend in the state ofRakhine in Myanmar (Burma). At least 8 people have been killed as rival Buddhist and Muslim mobs torch large numbers of houses.
AP: China criticized British Prime Minister David Cameron on Tuesday for meeting with the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, saying it amounts to support for Tibet’s independence from Chinese rule.
Religion Clause: Over the last ten days, the press in India has been filled with commentary on the Indian government’s December 22 decision (CNN) to create a 4.5% sub-quota for economically and socially disadvantaged non-Hindu minorities– Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Zoroastrians– within the existing 27% Other Backward Classes (OBC) quota.
News from The Associated Press: Hundreds of Buddhists demonstrated in Nepal’s capital to protest the appointment of Maoist party chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal to head a project to develop the area where Buddha was believed born in southern Nepal.
News from The Associated Press: A Tibetan rights group has released graphic video of what it says is a Buddhist nun engulfed in flames on a city street in one of several apparent self-immolation protests against Chinese rule.
The Washington Post: Nepalese police detained more than 100 Tibetan exiles on Tuesday who had gathered to pray for nine Tibetans who set themselves on fire to protest against Chinese rule.
The Guardian: The Chinese foreign ministry has accused the Dalai Lama of “terrorism in disguise” for supporting Tibetans who have set themselves on fire in protest against Beijing’s rule.
Two monks immolate themselves in protest of China; Beijing to decide the next incranation of the Dalai Lama
News from The Associated Press: Also on Monday, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said that it has never been up to the Dalai Lama to pick his own successor and that Beijing will identify who is the next incarnation of the Tibetan spiritual leader.
San Gabriel Valley Tribune: “A judge has given permission for the U.S. Justice Department to go forward with a discrimination lawsuit against Walnut . . . The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division sued Walnut in September, accusing the city of discriminating against the Chung Tai Zen Center group when city officials denied its request to build a Buddhist worship center in January 2008.” | United States v. City of Walnut, California, (CD CA, Jan. 13, 2011) | Via Religion Clause.
Compass Direct: “For the first time in Bhutan’s history, the Buddhist nation’s government seems ready to grant much-awaited official recognition and accompanying rights to a miniscule Christian population that has remained largely underground.”
TibetCustom: “The heads of the schools of Tibetan Buddhism and the Central Tibetan Administration’s Department of Religion and Culture today strongly repudiated a regulation imposed by the Chinese government aimed at undermining Tibet’s traditional Buddhist culture.”
Jakarta Globe: “Buddhists are the latest minority religious group to feel the heat, being at the center of a festering row over a large Buddha statue on the roof of a temple in the North Sumatran city of Tanjung Balai. City council chief Surya Dharma said on Friday the governor and the foundation in charge of the temple had agreed to remove the statue after complaints from an Islamic group.”
Christian Today: “A court in predominantly Buddhist Bhutan has sentenced a Christian to three years in prison for ‘attempting to promote civil unrest’ by screening films on Christianity.”
The Enterprise: “A Buddhist temple to be built in Raynham may end up as one of the world’s largest and will be home to about 16 Thai monks. The 50-acre South Street East property will include a meditation center, dormitory, temple, museum and gardens . . . Proponents for the project are seeking a variance on the town’s 40-foot height bylaws. The soaring steeple complies with local and FAA regulations, said Been Wang, of Architectural Resources Cambridge.”
Boston.com (AP): “The U.S. Justice Department has filed a religious discrimination lawsuit against the Southern California city of Walnut, claiming it unfairly denied a permit to a group seeking to build and run a Buddhist center.”
Christian Post: “Christians in this Himalayan nation who are still longing to openly practice their faith were disheartened this month when the government proposed the kind of ‘anti-conversion’ law that other nations have used as a pretext for falsely accusing Christians of ‘coercion.’ The amendment bill would punish ‘proselytizing’ that ‘uses coercion or other forms of inducement’ – vaguely enough worded, Christians fear, that vigilantes could use it to jail them for following the commands of Christ to feed, clothe and otherwise care for the poor.”
Daily Mirror: “Prime Minister D.M. Jayarathna said a General Fund would be established for the development of Buddhist temples and other religious places throughout the Island.”
Christian Today: “Compass Direct News is reporting that four Christian families in southeastern Bangladesh left their village on Sunday, under mounting pressure by Buddhist extremists to give up their faith in Christ.”
Al Jazeera: “An Indonesian court has ruled to uphold a 1965 blasphemy law that allows for criminal penalties and bans on people or groups that ‘distort’ the central tenets of six officially recognised religions . . . The law carries a maximum punishment of five years for beliefs that deviate from the orthodox versions of six sanctioned faiths – Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Catholicism, Protestantism and Confucianism.”
Seoul Times: “Therefore, you have two important dimensions in southern Thailand. One, and of course the most important component at the moment, is the ongoing anti-Buddhist campaign whereby Islamists desire a pure Islamic state. The other important component is that if the Thai military loses control and if Buddhists continue to flee southern parts of Thailand, then the Islamic internationalization of southern Thailand will become a regional issue and this notably applies to Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines.”
Christian Post: “Thrust from their homes in Bhutan after Buddhist rulers embarked on an ethnic and religious purge, Christian refugees in Nepal face hostilities from Hindus and others.”