Just months after the New York town of Greece won a Supreme Court ruling permitting it to open its community meetings with sectarian prayer, an atheist is set to lead the invocation on Tuesday night.
Dan Courtney, whom the Associated Press identifies as a mechanical engineer and a member of the Atheist Community of Rochester, made his request to Greece leaders following the Supreme Court decision in May.
In Town of Greece v. Galloway, the highest court ruled 5 to 4 that Greece could select Christian ministers to offer explicitely Christian prayers before their town meetings. more >>
The Obama administration has brought an accused Libyan terrorist named Ahmed Abu Khattala to Washington for trial. His saga reveals how the government views the Islamist threat, and it's discouraging. Fortunately, a much better alternative exists.
Abu Khattala stands accused of taking part in the murder of an ambassador and three other Americans in Benghazi in September 2012. After an achingly slow investigation, during which time the suspect lived in the open and defiantly gave media interviews, the American military seized him on June 15. After being transported by sea and air to Washington, D.C., Abu Khattala was jailed, provided with a defense attorney, Michelle Peterson, indicted, arraigned, and, after listening to an Arabic translation of the proceedings, pleaded not guilty to a single charge of conspiracy and requested a halal diet. He potentially faces life in prison.
This scenario presents two problems. First, Abu Khattala enjoys the full panoply of protections offered by the U.S. legal system (he actually was read his Miranda rights, meaning his right to stay silent and to consult with a lawyer), making conviction uncertain. As The New York Times explains, proving the charges against him will be "particularly challenging" because of the circumstances of the attacks, which took place in the midst of a civil war and in a country brimming with hostility to the United States, where concerns about security meant that U.S. law investigators had to wait for weeks to go to the crime scenes to collect evidence, and the prosecution depends on testimony from Libyan witnesses brought over to the United States who may well falter under cross-examination. more >>
A California school district has refused to apologize to one of its students for previously banning him from mentioning God in his graduation speech, saying instead that it has an "obligation" to prevent "prayers and other sectarian, proselytizing content" from being a part of the speech.
Brooks Hamby, the salutatorian of Brawley Union High School in Brawley, California, made national headlines back in June when he ignored his school's attempts at censoring God from his graduation speech, instead giving an inspirational, Christian-oriented speech on the importance of standing up for one's beliefs.
Now, one month after the controversial speech went viral online, lawyers for the Brawley Union High School District say they will not apologize to Hamby for censoring religious references from his graduation speech, instead saying that the school has an "obligation" to remain secular during school functions. more >>
Western Christians fail to fully grasp the suffering of Palestinians, including its Christian population, Bethlehem Bible College professor and Palestinian Christian told The Christian Post on Monday.
"The Christians in the west, most of them, they don't know the realities here. They don't know who is occupying who, who is oppressing who, who is confiscating whose land, who is building walls to try and separate people from one another," Alex Awad, who also pastors East Jerusalem Church, told The Christian Post.
"In the United States and much of Europe people — they just don't understand the realities on the ground," he added. more >>
Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai has vowed to continue fighting for the safe release of the 219 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram in April.
While visiting Nigeria this past Saturday on her 17th birthday, Yousafzai told parents of the kidnapped schoolgirls that her one birthday wish for this year is to see the kidnapped girls freed and reunited with their parents.
"I can see those girls as my sisters … and I'm going to speak up for them until they are released," the education activist said while speaking to parents of the girls on Saturday. "I can feel … the circumstances under which you are suffering. It's quite difficult for a parent to know that their daughter is in great danger." more >>
For Egypt's Copts, the military's removal of President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood from power was nothing short of a miracle. After two and a half years in which Islamists dominated every electoral contest they faced, there was little if any hope on the horizon. Since the 25th of January revolution, Coptic despair manifested itself in an unprecedented wave of emigration from Egypt, which intensified during the Brotherhood's year in power. Following the massive demonstrations against the Brotherhood's rule and the military coup of July 3rd 2013, Copts were in a frenzied mood celebrating their deliverance; a deliverance that would prove short lived, however.
The Copts represent the Middle East's largest Christian population, and were once one of the pillars of early Christianity, with some of its early saints framing what it meant to be Christian. However, centuries of persecution and struggles for survival have left Copts a small minority in their homeland. Modernity brought new challenges to the community, though it removed the legal second-class status in which Copts lived in the Middle Ages. In recent years Copts have come under increasing pressure due to the discriminatory policies of successive governments, as well as violent attacks by their fellow citizens.
During President Morsi's rule, previous patterns of religious discrimination were reinforced and more alarming ones emerged. At the national level, Coptic representation in decision making bodies – from the Cabinet to the upper echelons of the bureaucracy – dwindled to the point of non-existence. Islamists dominated the drafting of the constitution and its articles were a clear setback to religious freedom and equality. Prominent Islamist leaders painted Copts as responsible for Egypt's ills and disasters, creating an incubating environment for violence. On a local level, violent attacks on Copts increased and in April 2013 they even reached the Coptic Cathedral in Cairo – the residence of the Pope. In the absence of the rule of law, forced evictions were imposed by local 'reconciliation' sessions. Blasphemy charges brought against Copts accused of insulting Islam were often accompanied by violent attacks on Copts in the area. more >>