Here are some important law-and-religion news stories from around the web:
- In Johnson v. Baker, the Ninth Circuit held that the Nevada prison system violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (“RLUIPA”) when it banned a Muslim inmate from possessing scented oil in his cell for use during religious prayer.
- In Demkovich v. St. Andrew the Apostle Parish, the Seventh Circuit ruled in favor of a Roman Catholic Church that was sued by a former employee. The court held that churches and religious groups have the right to hire and supervise staff according to their beliefs and without government intrusion.
- In Young Israel of Tampa, Inc. v. Hillsborough Regional Transit Authority, a Florida federal district court held that free speech rights of an Orthodox Jewish synagogue were violated when the local transit system refused to accept its display ad promoting its “Chanukah on Ice” event.
- A Tennessee federal district court has set the trial date for Waldrop v. City of Johnson City, Tennessee, a suit on remand from the Sixth Circuit over two street preachers who were removed from a Pride event. The court found a genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether the officers removed Plaintiffs for a content-neutral or content-based reason.
- The EEOC has announced that Tampa Bay Delivery Service, an Amazon delivery provider, has settled a religious discrimination suit brought by the EEOC on behalf of a driver who was fired after refusing Sunday shifts in order to attend church services.
- A former government minister in Finland faces criminal charges under the country’s “war crimes and crimes against humanity” criminal code after tweeting a Bible verse. The former minister has pleaded not guilty to these charges as the trial is set to begin.
Here are some important law-and-religion news stories from around the web:
- The Tenth Circuit, in 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, upheld the application of Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act to a wedding website design company whose owner refused for religious reasons to create websites that celebrate same-sex marriages.
- The Ninth Circuit, in Cedar Park Assembly of God of Kirkland v. Kreidler, reversed a Washington federal district court’s dismissal of a challenge to a Washington statute that requires health insurance plans that cover maternity care to cover abortions as well.
- The Ninth Circuit, in Brach v. Newsom, held that the closure of in-person instruction in private religious schools may have violated parents’ and students’ due process rights.
- Suit was filed in a Michigan federal district court, in Country Mill Farms v. City of East Lansing, challenging a city policy to ban plaintiff from participating in the city’s farmer’s market due to his religious beliefs surrounding marriage.
- A Brooklyn federal court ordered Hobby Lobby to forfeit an ancient tablet bearing a portion of the Epic of Gilgamesh, Hobby Lobby acquired in 2014 for the company’s collections at the Museum of the Bible.
- Three Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia were charged, convicted, and sentenced to prison for “organizing extremist activities.”
- The Luxembourg-based E.U. Court of Justice held that companies in the European Union can ban employees from wearing headscarves in the workplace if the employer wishes to present a neutral image towards customers or prevent social disputes.
Well, this looks depressing. In a new release from Yale University Press, The End of Europe: Dictators, Demagogues, and the Coming Dark Age, author James Kirchik sees a dark time looming ahead for Europe, in which religious bigotry and nationalism will return to poison the good work of the post-war era. Liberalism is under a lot of stress in Europe right now, and liberalism’s inability to resolve religious tensions is one of the main reasons. Still, I don’t think it’s fair to link Brexit, which seemed more about national sovereignty than anything else, with rising anti-Semitism. Readers can judge for themselves. Here’s the description from the Yale website:
Once the world’s bastion of liberal, democratic values, Europe is now having to confront demons it thought it had laid to rest. The old pathologies of anti-Semitism, populist nationalism, and territorial aggression are threatening to tear the European postwar consensus apart. In riveting dispatches from this unfolding tragedy, James Kirchick shows us the shallow disingenuousness of the leaders who pushed for “Brexit;” examines how a vast migrant wave is exacerbating tensions between Europeans and their Muslim minorities; explores the rising anti-Semitism that causes Jewish schools and synagogues in France and Germany to resemble armed bunkers; and describes how Russian imperial ambitions are destabilizing nations from Estonia to Ukraine. With President Trump now threatening to abandon America’s traditional role as upholder of the liberal world order and guarantor of the continent’s security, Europe may be alone in dealing with these unprecedented challenges.
Based on extensive firsthand reporting, this book is a provocative, disturbing look at a continent in unexpected crisis.
In June, Hart Publishing will release “Religion, Equality and Employment in Europe: The Case for Reasonable Accommodation,” by Katayoun Alidadi (Bryant University). The publisher’s description follows:
The management of religious and ideological diversity remains a key challenge of our time, deeply entangled with debates about the nature of liberal democracy, equality, social cohesion, minorities and nationalism, foreign policy and even terrorism. This book explores this challenge at the level of the workplace in Europe. People do not surrender their religion of belief at the gates of the workplace, nor should they be required to do so. But what are the limits of accommodating religious belief in the work place, particularly when it clashes with other fundamental rights and freedoms? Using a comparative and socio-legal approach that emphasises the practical role of human rights, anti-discrimination and employment protection, this book argues for an enforceable right to reasonable accommodation on the grounds of religion or belief in the workplaces in Europe. In so doing, it draws on the case law of Europe’s two supranational courts, three country studies–Belgium, the Netherlands and the UK–as well as developments in the US and Canada. By offering the first book-length treatment of the issue, it will be of significant interest to academics, policy-makers and students interested in a deeper understanding of European and Western inclusion, freedom and equality in a multicultural context.
In May, Routledge will release “Family Rights and Religion,” by John Eekelaar (Pembroke College, Oxford University). The publisher’s description follows:
The interaction between individual rights, which are often seen in secular terms, and religion is becoming an important and complex topic not only for academic study but for practical policy. This volume collects a range of writings from journals, edited collections and individual books which deal with different aspects of the interaction within the context of family life, and which appear with their original pagination. These studies have been selected because they throw a sharp light on central elements of the role of religion in determining the structure of the rights of family members in relation to one another, both from an historical and contemporary perspective. While many of the writings are focused on US and European systems, selected writings covering other systems illustrate the universal nature of the topic. The studies are accompanied by a reflective commentary from the editor which sets the writings in a broad context of social, constitutional and philosophical thought, with the aim of stimulating critical thought and discussion.
In June, Central European University Press will release Muslim Land, Christian Labor: Transforming Ottoman Imperial Subjects into Bulgarian National Citizens c. 1878-1939 by Anna M. Mirkova (Old Dominion University). The publisher’s description follows:
Focusing upon a region in Southern Bulgaria, a region that has been the crossroads between Europe and Asia for many centuries, this book describes how former Ottoman Empire Muslims were transformed into citizens of Balkan nation-states. This is a region marked by shifting borders, competing Turkish and Bulgarian sovereignties, rival nationalisms, and migration. Problems such as these were ultimately responsible for the disintegration of the dynastic empires into nation-states.
Land that had traditionally belonged to Muslims—individually or communally—became a symbolic and material resource for Bulgarian state building and was the terrain upon which rival Bulgarian and Turkish nationalisms developed in the wake of the dissolution of the late Ottoman Empire and the birth of early republican Turkey and the introduction of capitalism.
By the outbreak of World War II, Turkish Muslims had become a polarized national minority. Their conflicting efforts to adapt to post-Ottoman Bulgaria brought attention to the increasingly limited availability of citizenship rights, not only to Turkish Muslims, but to Bulgarian Christians as well.
In June, Columbia University Press will release Armenia Christiana: Armenian Religious Identity and the Churches of Constantinople and Rome (4th – 15th century) by Krzysztof Stopka (Jagiellonian University). The publisher’s description follows;
This book presents the dramatic and complex story of Armenia’s ecclesiastical relations with Byzantine and subsequently Roman Christendom in the Middle Ages. It is built on a broad foundation of sources – Armenian, Greek, Latin, and Syrian chronicles and documents, especially the abundant correspondence between the Holy See and the Armenian Church. Krzysztof Stopka examines problems straddling the disciplines of history and theology and pertinent to a critical, though not widely known, episode in the story of the struggle for Christian unity.