Some interesting law and religion news stories from around the web this week:
- Several Buddhist groups hope the drafters of a new constitution for Thailand will include Buddhism as its official state religion.
- At a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill, representatives pressed the State Department point man on religious liberty questioned why human rights issues were not given more attention in deals such as the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership Asian trade deal.
- Indonesia’s Aceh province has enacted a strict Islamic criminal code, local government officials said late on Friday, criminalizing adultery, homosexuality, and public displays of affection outside of a legally recognized relationship.
- Hundreds of parents marched in Dublin on Sunday to call on the State to end religious discrimination against children over access to primary and secondary schools.
- Pope Francis, after failing to win bishops’ support for change in the church’s approach to divorce and homosexuality, must now consider how to respond in a way that will tamp down the culture wars that threaten to overshadow his papacy.
- The arrest of a member of India’s Sanatan Sanstha sect following the murder of a well-known atheist has prompted renewed calls from some politicians to ban the Hindu group, as concerns grow the country’s tradition of religious tolerance is being eroded.
- In India, dozens of cow protection squads or “beef vigilante” groups patrol the streets for cattle-smugglers by night and work at charitable shelters for elderly cows by day.
- The leader of a Bangladeshi environmental organization has been arrested on charges of insulting Islam following his comments on Facebook criticizing Saudi Arabia’s security arrangements during the Hajj.
- The U.S. Justice Department has filed a lawsuit against Pittsfield Township, Michigan, alleging it unlawfully denied a religious group the right to build an Islamic school on a vacant plot of land.
- The victory of conservative opposition Law and Justice (PiS) party in Sunday’s election will likely advance the role of Roman Catholic values in public life and government.
- In the Netherlands last Wednesday, a Dutch appellate court held that the Church of Scientology has not carried the burden of showing that it qualifies as a tax exempt public benefit organization.
- India’s Supreme Court will examine its Muslim divorce laws and consider shedding provisions that discriminate against women.
In December, Cambridge University Press will release “God and Politics in Esther” (2nd edition) by Yoram Hazony (Herzl Institute, Jerusalem). The publisher’s description follows:
A political crisis erupts when the Persian government falls to fanatics, and a Jewish insider goes rogue, determined to save her people at all costs. God and Politics in Esther explores politics and faith. It is about an era in which the prophets have been silenced and miracles have ceased, and Jewish politics has come to depend not on commands from on high, but on the boldness and belief of each woman and man. Esther takes radical action to win friends and allies, reverse terrifying decrees, and bring God’s justice into the world with her own hands. Hazony’s The Dawn has long been a cult classic, read at Purim each year the world over. Twenty years on, this revised edition brings the book to much wider attention. Three controversial new chapters address the astonishingly radical theology that emerges from amid the political intrigues of the book. Readers will experience the Book of Esther as a dazzling treatise on politics and faith.
In September, Praeger released “Scapegoating Islam: Intolerance, Security, and the American Muslim” by Jeffrey L. Thomas. The publisher’s description follows:
Exploring the experience of Muslims in America following 9/11, this book assesses how anti-Muslim bias within the U.S. government and the larger society undermines American security and democracy.
In the aftermath of the events of September 11, 2001, Muslims in America have experienced discrimination and intolerance from the U.S. government and American citizens alike. From religious and ethnic profiling to hate crimes, intolerance against Muslims is being reinforced on multiple levels, undercutting the Muslim community’s engagement in American society. This text is essential for understanding how the unjust treatment of American Muslims following September 11 has only served to alienate the Muslim community and further divide the United States.
Authored by an expert analyst of policy for 20 years, this book explores the prejudice against Muslims and how the actions of the U.S. government continue to perpetuate fear and stereotypes within U.S. citizens. The author posits that by respecting the civil rights of Muslims, the government will lead by example in the acceptance of American Muslims, improving homeland security along with the lives of Muslims living in the United States.