Some interesting law and religion news stories from around the web this week:
- Houston Mayor Annise Parker said the city is withdrawing the subpoenas it had issued to local pastors who had spoken out against an ordinance that contains provisions concerning the LGBT community.
- The Vatican confirmed that Pope Francis will make an ecumenical trip to Turkey from November 28 to 30, and there is speculation as to whether he will press President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to combat the anti-Christian hostility in the country.
- Schools in China’s mainly Muslim Xinjiang region, where a series of attacks has killed hundreds in recent months, said they would actively discourage religious practice at home. The city blames the attacks on religious extremism.
- On Thursday, Israel ordered the first full closure of the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City in 14 years in response to Jewish groups’ plans to march on Al-Aqsa after two attack on Jews in the city in just over a week.
- An American woman is claiming that she should be permitted to possess the drug meth, because of her religious beliefs as a Wiccan.
- A Nebraska inmate requested “accommodated status” for his church, a status that would allow him to “order and wear religious clothing and pendants” and “meet for weekly worship services and classes.” He identifies himself as a “member of the Church of the “Flying Spaghetti Monster” and the religious clothing he seeks to wear is “full Pirate regalia.”
- Opinion: After a secular party’s win against the Islamist Ennahda Party in the Tunisian election, observers should applaud Tunisia for successfully holding another election, and resist the simplistic tendency to frame Tunisia’s transition as a conflict between enlightened “democratic” secularists and backwards Islamists.
- Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill met with the Pope of the Coptic Church and discussed the situation in Ukraine, drawing parallels between the events in Ukraine and the Arab Spring.
- Report: In 2014, sixty people have been executed in Saudi Arabia, where religion-related crimes are among those that carry the death penalty.
This September, Reaktion Books published “The Papacy in the Modern World: A Political History” by Frank J. Coppa (St. John’s). The publisher’s description follows:
For some two millennia the papacy has presided over the governance of the Roman Catholic Church and played a fundamentally important role in European and world affairs. Its impact has long transcended the religious realm and has influenced ideological, philosophic, national, social and political developments as well as international relations. This book considers the broad role of the papacy from the end of the eighteenth century to the present and the reaction and response it has evoked over the years, and explores its confrontation with and accommodation to the modern world.
Frank J. Coppa describes the triumphs, controversies and failures of a series of popes from Pius VI to Benedict XVI, including Pius IX, who was criticized for his ‘syllabus of Errors’ of 1864, his campaign against Italian unification and his proclamation of papal infallibility. Pius XII, on the other hand, was denounced for what he did not say – mainly his silence during the Holocaust and his impartiality during the Second World War. Pope John XXIII, by contrast, has been praised for his aggiornamento, or call for the updating of the Church, and for convoking the Second Vatican Council. This original history sheds new light on the papacy by examining sources only recently made available by the Vatican archives, offering valuable insights into events previously shrouded in mystery.
This September, Gilgamesh Publishing released “The Copts: An Investigation Into The Rift Between Muslims And Copts In Egypt” by Abdel Latif El-Menawy. The publisher’s description follows:
Abdel Latif Al Menawy met and interviewed late Pope Shnouda, the third Patriarch of Egypt many times during his rule. Throughout his career in journalism he was constantly in touch with leaders of the Coptic Society in Egypt. He had unparalleled access to developments of the various crises unravelling in the streets of Egypt as a result to confrontation between religion and politics.
The Copts explains how Christianity became so deeply rooted in Egypt that Islam was never able to overcome it, leading to an uneasy relationship between the two faiths. It will give accounts, never published before, of direct confrontations between the Late Pope Shnouda and both Presidents Late Anwar Sadat and former President Hosni Mubarak. Abdel Latif also reveals the role the Coptic Church has played in the recent uprising in Egypt.