Some interesting law & religion stories from around the web this week:
- Patriarchs of the world’s 250 million Orthodox Christians ended a rare summit in Istanbul on Sunday calling for a peaceful end to the crisis in Ukraine and denouncing violence driving Christians out of the Middle East
- Crimean Tatars fear a war in Ukraine that would leave their relatively small population subject to ethnic backlash and repression
- On the 160-year Christian history behind the events in Ukraine
- Lawmakers are urging the Pentagon to lift a de facto ban on Sikhs serving in the U.S. armed forces by easing the military-uniform policy to enable Sikhs to wear beards, long hair, and turbans
- A family in Lake Elsinore California was ordered by city functionaries to remove a cross commemorating the death of their son in a car accident, after the American Humanist Association complained that the cross’s location on public land violates “the separation of church and state”
- On Wednesday, New Hampshire’s House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to repeal the death penalty. The fate of the bill in the Senate is less certain
- The House has passed legislation that would expand an exemption under Obamacare for people who do not want health insurance for religious reasons. The bill, along with two others, was passed with broad bipartisan support. The fate of the bill in the Senate is less certain
- The Supreme Court will not hear an appeal in a dispute over ownership of the Falls Church in Virginia. The case involves a conflict over the ownership of church property
- Censors for Qatar, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates have officially confirmed that the Hollywood film “Noah” will not be released in their countries because the representation of holy figures in art is forbidden in Islam
- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ruled out any deal with the Palestinians unless they recognize Israel as the Jewish state and give up their refugees’ right of return
- The Revolutionary Council of the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas unanimously endorsed his rejection of demands to recognize Israel as a Jewish state
- Israel’s Parliament has approved legislation that will eventually eliminate exemptions from compulsory military service for many Haredi Jews
- There are fewer than 1,000 Muslims left in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic
This month, the Cato Institute will publish Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby: Corporate Rights and Religious Liberties by Eugene Volokh (UCLA School of Law). The publisher’s description follows.
Later this month, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case- Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby- that has arisen as society tries to reconcile corporate rights with religious liberty.
Since Hobby Lobby’s founding, the Green family has managed their company in accordance with their Christian principles. Among the religious tenets guiding them is their moral opposition to contraceptives. However, within the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) thousands of pages is a requirement that corporations with more than 50 employees must provide coverage in their group health plans for certain medical services (contraceptives being one) or face severe penalties, which forces the Greens to choose between their religious principles or their business. The Greens sued to protect the right to exercise their religion, and now the case will be heard, front and center, in the Supreme Court.
Eugene Volokh, one of the nation’s foremost First Amendment scholars and founder of the renowned Volokh Conspiracy blog has been following and writing about these issues and this case and has braided all of his efforts together into this specially created ebook. Merging work he had previously published with new content and analysis, he offers an exceptionally clear, understandable, and compelling view of what can too often be a convoluted and highly complex area. The result is not only an ebook that analyzes a key case that will be decided by Supreme Court but a solid work that provides readers with a comprehensive primer on religious accommodation in the context of the ACA’s contraceptive mandate. In addition, the ebook begins with a comprehensive foreword by Ilya Shapiro, Senior Fellow in Constitutional Studies at the Cato Institute, which maps out the historical, legal, and current policy framework of the case.
Here is a fun quiz from the Christian Science Monitor that purports to identify one’s socioeconomic status. The questions are about psychology, tastes, and personality traits, not salary. For example, a few test how well one identifies emotions. Our readers should pay particular attention to the religious identity question (number 19) and the diagnostic explanation at the end of the quiz. Do you know which religious group in America is the wealthiest and best educated?
For what it’s worth, my own socioeconomic status, according to the test, is “Middling.” Hey, it’s better than “Upper Class”:
MIDDLING: Your habits and perspectives most resemble those of middle-class Americans. Members of this group tend to be gentle and engaging parents, and if they’re native English speakers they probably use some regional idioms and inflections. Your people are mostly college-educated, and you’re about equally likely to beg children not to shout “so loudly” as you are to ask them to “read slow” during story time. You’re probably a decent judge of others’ emotions, and either a non-evangelical Christian, an atheist, or an agnostic. A typical member of this group breastfeeds for three months or less, drinks diet soda, and visits the dentist regularly. If you’re a member of this group, there’s a good chance that you roll with the flow of technological progress and hate heavy metal music.
H/T: Rod Dreher.