Some interesting law & religion stories from around the web this week:
- The Geneva-based World Council of Churches urged its Protestant, Orthodox, and Anglican member churches to lobby their congregations and national governments to support a political solution to the war in Syria
- Al-Qaeda-linked Syrian rebels continue to haunt the predominantly Christian town of Maaoula as regime fighters struggle to regain power
- In an extended interview, Pope Francis articulated his vision for the Roman Catholic Church and signalled a shift in priorities, stating that the Church has become “obsessed” with abortion, gay marriage, and contraception
- On Wednesday, a Tennessee judge reversed a ruling ordering a mother to change her 8-month-old’s name from “Messiah.” He said the lower court violated the Establishment clause, and that the court’s purpose was to determine the last name of the child, not his first name
- In the United Kingdom, the debate over the niqab was reignited after Birmingham Metropolitan College decided to drop the ban on full-face veils, amid public protest. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg admitted he has concerns about Muslim women who wear the full-face veil in classrooms or going through airport security.
- Judge Peter Murphy, sitting at London’s Blackfriars Crown Court, said a Muslim woman standing trial is free to wear the niqab during the trial except when giving evidence
- The Parti Quebecois says it is willing to change its controversial charter, which would forbid public employees from wearing visible religious symbols
- The “Freethought Equality Fund,” a political action committee (PAC) specifically geared towards supporting atheists and agnostics, was launched on Wednesday. The PAC already supports five congressional candidates.
- High schools and colleges across the country will now offer “Secular Safe Zones” for non-believing students. The purpose of the safe zones is to provide those students with a place to freely discuss their thoughts on religion without the threat of being bullied.