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One News Now: Dozens of churches have been burned in Niger following a depiction of Mohammed in the French satirical publication Charlie Hebdo. Pastors have also lost their homes and Christians have been injured or killed.
Christian News Network: Barack Obama met with the wife of an American pastor imprisoned in Iran on Wednesday after she made the request when she learned that he would be visiting her area to give a speech at a public university.
The Wall Street Journal: The flogging of a writer convicted of insulting Islam has renewed debate over corporal punishment in Saudi Arabia at a time the ultraconservative country is trying to distance itself from extremist movements such as Islamic State.
Huffington Post: Seven religious freedom advocates have offered to personally receive 100 lashes each in the place of Raif Badawi, a liberal Saudi blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison for “insulting Islam through electronic channels.”
The great wall of Saudi Arabia: Royal family constructing 600-mile barrier on Iraqi border to keep ISIS militants out
The Christian Post: In response to the growing threat posed by the Islamic State terrorist group, the royal family of Saudi Arabia is having a 600-mile barrier constructed to completely block the Iraqi portion of the Saudi northern border, hoping to prevent ISIS militants from infiltrating the kingdom.
AL Monitor: The injustices of the Saudi justice system came to the forefront twice in one week. Lashing liberal blogger Raif Badawi and publicly beheading a woman convicted of murdering her stepdaughter were carried out in the name of Islam by a regime that is so desperate to flaunt its Islamic credentials now that there are other emerging so-called Islamic states around the region. The regime has cooperated with the international alliance against the Islamic State (IS), but while adopting IS’ mode of punishment.
The Christian Post: The Islamic State terrorist organization in Iraq has executed 13 teenage boys solely because they were found watching a soccer match, an act that has apparently been deemed punishable by death under ISIS’ sharia law.
The Washington Post: The Court has now three times shown a willingness to read the religious exemption statutes RFRA (the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993) and RLUIPA (the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000) as providing quite broad protection to religious objectors.
The Washington Post: Eric Rassbach from the Becket Fund — the public interest law firm that on Tuesday won the Holt v. Hobbs prisoner rights case — was kind enough to pass along his thoughts on what the case means for religious liberty more generally.
Mirror of Justice: Not too much to add to Rick’s analysis of Holt v. Hobbs. A short and precise opinion from Justice Alito. Here are just a few other questions and comments about the opinion and concurrences.
One News Now: The U.S. Supreme Court has issued a unanimous decision on religious freedom that goes beyond resolving an objection to prison policy by a Muslim inmate and, as described by one legal group, secures “a landmark victory for religious freedom for all faiths.”
Southern Baptist leader Russell Moore praises Supreme Court for defending religious freedom of Muslim inmate
The Christian Post: Holt was represented by The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and the Alliance Defending Freedom. The two groups managed to work together and considered this case a landmark decision. Holt claimed his rights under the 2000 Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act.
Baptist Press: The Obama administration and a diverse group of organizations filed briefs in support of Muhammad. Among these were Prison Fellowship, American Civil Liberties Union, Alliance Defending Freedom, Muslim Public Affairs Council, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, Christian Legal Society and Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty.
National Law Journal (Access via Google): A Muslim prison inmate from Arkansas on Tuesday won a unanimous victory at the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that a prison regulation barring him from wearing a half-inch beard for religious reasons violated federal law.
Law and Religion Australia: The US Supreme Court yesterday issued an interesting religious freedom decision in Holt, AKA Muhammad v Hobbs, Director, Arkansas Dept of Correction (No 13-6827, Jan 20, 2015). (Thanks to Marc DeGirolami at the CLR Forum for the notice.) A Muslim prisoner wanted to grow a 1/2 inch beard for religious reasons.
Christianity Today: Niger, long praised for its secular government and relative tolerance towards Christians (more than 98 percent of its population are Muslim), has seen growing radicalization in recent years.
Christianity Today: The court sided 9-0 with Arkansas prisoner Gregory Holt (also called Abdul Maalik Muhammad), who claimed a right to maintain a half-inch beard as a part of his religious practice as a Muslim. The justices did not find evidence that a beard that short would pose a substantial security threat, as the state’s Department of Corrections argued. Its lack of accommodations was ruled a violation of inmates’ religious freedom.
SCOTUS Blog: The Court easily agreed with inmate Gregory Holt that the Arkansas policy prevents him from exercising his religion. Put simply, the prison will not allow him to follow the tenets of his religion and grow a beard. And it didn’t matter, the Court explained, that he could practice his religion in other ways, such as by observing Muslim holidays and having a prayer rug.
The Becket Fund: In a unanimous 9-0 decision, the Supreme Court ruled today that prison officials cannot arbitrarily ban peaceful religious practices, securing a landmark victory for religious freedom for all faiths.
USA Today: The court came down decisively on the side of a Muslim prisoner whose beard had been deemed potentially dangerous by the Arkansas Department of Correction. Growing a beard, the justices said, was a Muslim man’s religious right.
Acton Institute: Can prison bureaucrats arbitrarily ban peaceful religious practices? Whether they should, they certainly have done so. As The Becket Fund points out, many prisons have barred Jewish inmates from wearing yarmulkes, denied Catholics access to the sacraments of communion and confession, and shut down Evangelical Bible studies. Prisons have frequently even banned religious objects, such as rosaries, prayer shawls, and yarmulkes.
Christian nurse suspended for praying for sick Muslim co-worker in UK; Rejects ‘religious nutcase’ treatment with suit against health agency
The Christian Post: A Christian nurse says the U.K.’s National Health Service suspended her for “harassment and bullying” because she prayed a short prayer for her Muslim colleague who was going through heath and personal problems. The nurse is filing a legal challenge against the NHS.
Christianity Today: Duke University’s reversal of today’s plan to broadcast the Muslim call to prayer from its historic chapel tower has reinvigorated a debate over shared worship space.
WorldWatch Monitor: At least five churches in southeastern Niger were ransacked and burned down Friday by hundreds of Islamist demonstrators angered by a cartoon published by the French magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Christian News Network: Officials at Duke University have made changes to their original announcement that the Muslim call to prayer would be broadcast over the chapel’s bell tower each week, and has instead moved the call outside following national outcry.
Time: Duke University Thursday has reversed its decision to allow Muslim students to broadcast a call-to-prayer from the school’s chapel bell tower starting this Friday.
The Economist (Subscription Required): In her article, Ms Shea cites the case of an unnamed church in Britain which faced an attempt from its Muslim neighbours to prevent it from singing hymns, and had to turn to an American lobby group, the Alliance Defending Freedom, for legal help. Whatever the horrors unfolding in Europe, the said Alliance also proclaims on its website that “the church is being silenced across America.”
Ecumenical News: Police in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia have arrested a human rights lawyer who drew public ire when he said a government agency handling Islamic affairs spreads extremism.
Fox News: While ISIS and Al Qaeda are widely known for their terror operations, Nigerian-based Boko Haram is reaching a new level in building its extremist base and control in West Africa.
Christianity Today: Fleeing violence, nearly 1.3 million Syrians and Iraqis are now living in Jordan. How local and global leaders are meeting their needs.
The Guardian: France spent the weekend coming to terms with last week’s terror attacks in Paristhat left 17 dead. The country mourned, and global leaders joined an estimated 3.7 million people on its streets to march in a show of unity.
Public Discourse: In the wake of Islamist attacks, non-Muslims express concern and confusion not because they are indifferent, but because they are afraid. They want to understand. Muslims have an opportunity to embrace this opportunity for understanding.
Pakistani Muslim beats Christian mother with bat after she prevented man from abducting, raping daughter
The Christian Post: Two Christian women were aggressively beaten by a Pakistani Muslim man in the country’s capital of Lahore after the women prevented the attacker from abducting the daughter of one of the women.
Christian News Network: The Supreme Court of Pakistan has ordered the arrest of two Muslim clerics for inciting a mob who killed a couple last month after being falsely accused of desecrating the Koran. Five police officials who failed to protect the couple have also been required to face disciplinary action.
Christian News Network: Three Iranian pastors who were sentenced to six years in prison for committing “action against national security” and “creating a network to overthrow the system”—charges believed to be used as a catchall against anyone deemed a threat to the government —have now been acquitted of their crimes.
ISIS executes 150 women and girls, some pregnant, for refusing to become sex slaves and marry jihadists
The Christian Post: Terror group ISIS has reportedly killed over 150 women and girls, some of them believed to be pregnant, for refusing to become sex slaves and marry jihadists.
Pakistan Supreme Court orders arrest of Muslim clerics who incited mob to kill Christian couple with pregnant wife
The Christian Post: Pakistan’s Supreme Court has ordered the arrest of two Muslim clerics for inciting a violent mob of hundreds of Muslims to brutally beat, torture, burn and murder a married Christian couple in the Punjab Province in early November.
One News Now: An international ministry says it has been quite a year across Africa, most infamously when the Muslim terrorist group Boko Haram kidnapped more than 270 girls, most of them Christians.
Christian News Network: Members of the Pakistani Islamic Taliban opened fire on a military school on Tuesday, killing over 140 people—mostly children.
The Christian Post: About 100 Syrian soldiers and at least 80 Islamic militant fighters lost their lives in a major battle over the past two days, resulting in the insurgents capturing the Wadi al-Deif military base.
Christian News Network: Recent reports state that officials in the Islamic country of Saudi Arabia have passed a law that may impose the death penalty on Bible smugglers and any others distributing religious materials that are not of the Muslim religion.
First Things: The Egyptian university, Al-Azhar, the world’s oldest and most prestigious seat of Sunni Muslim scholarship, refused to brand the militant ISIS as infidel, affirming that “we cannot infidelize a Muslim regardless of his sins.”
The New York Times: In many parts of Europe, he would now be in jail. But here in Denmark’s second biggest city, the young man, a 21-year-old of Turkish descent who spent 13 months in Syria fighting in the name of Islam, passes his days playing soccer, working out at the gym and waiting anxiously to see if he has secured a place to study engineering at a well-regarded local university.
The Christian Institute: Large numbers of Muslim women are in polygamous relationships that deny them basic legal rights, according to an alarming new report.
Christian News Network (Morning Star News): For Jummai Sunday, 63, Thursday (Dec. 11) began like any other for the Christian widow. After a morning devotional, she visited sick or bereaved families, and then returned home to gather items for sale at her market spot near the bus terminal area in Jos, Nigeria.
Christian News Network: Three more cases of blasphemy accusations have emerged in Pakistan, even after a Christian couple’s beating to death and burning in a brick kiln after allegations of blasphemy horrified the world, including the metropolitan elite in the country.
Fox News: Four Christian children were beheaded by ISIS militants in Iraq for refusing to denounce Jesus and convert to Islam, according to the leader of the Anglican church in Baghdad.
Reuters: The capital of China’s far western Xinjiang has banned the wearing of Islamic veils in public, the regional government said on Thursday, in a move experts worry could spark more unrest in the troubled region.
The Christian Post: The Christian convert who made history by becoming the first person in Egypt’s history to attempt to legally change his religious affiliation on his government identification from Islam to Christianity, has “vowed to starve himself to death” in response to his “illegal” imprisonment, his attorney said.
The Christian Post: The Assyrian Democratic Movement has announced the formation of the Nineveh Plain Protection Units, a militia largely comprised of Christian volunteers created to defend civilians from ISIS. The NPU also hopes to recapture land that was taken over by the terrorist organization.
The Christian Post: Terror group ISIS reportedly killed at least 30 soldiers on Friday on its way to capture the last remaining military air base in Syria. The major battle took place at al-Jafra village near the military airport, where 37 ISIS fighters were also killed.
Aleteia: Iraqi Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, while appearing at the Chamber of Deputies, expressed his intention to establish a “liberation process for Nineveh” to expel ISIS groups from its stronghold in Mosul and other regions that it currently occupies.
Aleteia: For years, Christians in Iraq have had the words of that old Clash song in the back of their minds. And this year, as the Islamic State moved into the historic Assyrian Christian lands in northern Iraq, the lyrics have gone from the back to the front of the minds of many.
The New York Times: The Somali militants methodically separated the Christian workers from the Muslims and took the Christians to the side of a hill, near a gravel pit. Then they ordered the disbelievers to lie face down.
Aleteia: The relics of St. Thomas the Apostle were spirited away before ISIS jihadists could grab them, but ancient Christian churches and paintings in northern Iraq were ransacked, according to two speakers.
Public Discourse: The Abrahamic religions provide a radical interpretation of the importance of speech: it is the primary way in which God reveals himself. Because persons of faith believe that God has spoken, they are called to develop and deepen their capacities for listening. This aspect of free speech is often overlooked when concentrating on laws about what can or cannot be said.
Religion News Service: Nigerian religious leaders united to condemn a coordinated terrorist attack on a mosque in the city of Kano Friday (Nov. 28), which left over 120 people dead.
Pakistani Christian woman suffers miscarriage after being beaten following argument with Muslim women
The Christian Post: A pregnant Christian women living in Pakistan is no longer expecting her baby after suffering a miscarriage that resulted from being stripped naked and beaten by two Muslim men earlier in November.
USA Today (AP): Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan vowed to track down the perpetrators of the bomb blasts that killed more than 100 people at the central mosque in the city of Kano.
NBC News: Seven months ago, Mercy Paul was one of the more than 200 girls kidnapped by Islamic terrorists, Boko Haram. Today she’s free and living in Oregon.
Aleteia: Asia Bibi, the Christian woman who has received the death penalty for being accused of blasphemy made an appeal to the Supreme Court of Justice in her country to change her sentence. Her sentence is considered “unfair” and excessive in light of the insufficient evidence and weakness of the testimonies against her.
The Christian Post: The Christian Defense Coalition and Church on the Hill have announced that they’ll be setting up a Thanksgiving place for American pastor Saeed Abedini in front of the White House on Thanksgiving morning, reminding President Barack Obama about the imprisoned husband and father.
The Christian Institute: The Law Society has withdrawn controversial guidance on Sharia-compliant wills, in response to concerns that they discriminate against women.
The Christian Post: A United Nations terrorism expert said on Monday that the Islamic State terrorist group has made between $35 million and $45 million off of ransom payments in the past year alone, the Associated Press reports.
ABC News (AP): Two teenage female suicide bombers blew themselves up Tuesday in a crowded market in Nigeria’s northeastern city of Maiduguri, killing at least 30 people, according to witnesses and a security official.
The Guardian (Agence France-Presse): A Pakistani Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy has filed an appeal in the country’s top court , her final legal recourse after being found guilty of insulting the prophet Muhammad four years ago.
Public Discourse: In his new book on Syria, Christian Sahner explores the rise of Islam, the place of Christianity, the emergence of sectarian politics, the autocratic state, and the Lebanese paradigm.
Ecumenical News: Public schools in Montgomery, Alabama have decided to remove Christmas, Easter, and other religious holidays from their published school calendars.
Christian professor arrested for blasphemy in Pakistan, charged with same offense as mother-of-five Asia Bibi
The Christian Post: A 40-year-old Christian man was arrested for blasphemy in Lahore, Pakistan, and has been charged with insulting the Prophet Mohammad, the same offense that Christian mother-of-five Asia Bibi is facing the death penalty for.
Religion News Service: At least four worshipers, three of them U.S.-born, were killed in an attack on a west Jerusalem synagogue Tuesday (Nov. 18) by two Palestinians wielding a gun, an ax and a meat cleaver, police said.
Get Religion: The information that made it into the story was solid, although at several points I wanted to know more – such as the actual doctrinal content of the sermon scholar Ebrahim Rasool, South Africa’s U.S. ambassador. In each case, I found myself wondering if these vague spots were the result of editing or the values of editors in the newsroom.
Christian News Network: The Islamic terrorist group ISIS, also identifying themselves as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, has beheaded an American aid worker, according to a new video released by the barbaric Muslim faction and confirmed to be authentic by the Obama administration.