Re: That Old-Time Religious Persecution

Authorities in Pakistan have arrested an 11-year old Christian girl on blasphemy charges. She apparently was carrying a waste bag which contained some pages from a Quran. According to the BBC, police were reluctant to arrest the girl, who has a learning disability and seems unlikely to have destroyed a Quran on purpose, but “an angry mob demanded her arrest and threatened to burn down Christian homes outside the capital city of Islamabad.”

O’Donnell on Religion and Capital Punishment

I enjoy looking through Patrick O’Donnell’s bibliographies on various subjects, and this post — with some thoughts (generally negative) about the relationship between capital punishment and certain religious ideas — as well as the link to an instructive list of references, is both interesting and useful.

“Common Sense, Not Discrimination”

That’s the verdict of the Student Judiciary at the State University of New York at Buffalo, which has reinstated the local chapter of Intervarsity Christian Fellowship as a campus student organization. Earlier this year, the Student Senate had revoked recognition because of Intervarsity’s requirement that leaders in the organization affirm traditional Christian beliefs, including beliefs about homosexuality. Last December, the chapter’s  treasurer, who is gay, told the university’s student newspaper that he had been pressured to resign because he would not sign a statement affirming the truth of Biblical passages, including passages condemning homosexual conduct. The Senate believed this episode showed that Intervarsity violated the university’s non-discrimination policy, but the Judiciary disagreed, arguing that one must distinguish between membership and leadership in a student organization. Intervarsity was open to all SUNY-Buffalo students, including gay students, the Judiciary explained; but  “it is common sense, not discrimination, for a religious group to want its leaders to agree with its core beliefs.” Similar disputes about the religious freedom of student groups have occurred recently at other American universities, including Vanderbilt, and of course, UC-Hastings Law School, the subject of the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in CLS v. MartinezMartinez held that an “all-comers” policy requiring student religious organizations to open their leadership to all students regardless of belief is constitutionally permissible. That’s not to say an all-comers policy is constitutionally required, however.