In a landmark ruling for religious freedom in the United States, a federal district court for the District of Columbia ruled Monday that the United States Army must allow a Sikh college student to his college's ROTC unit without having to cut his hair, shave his beard or take off his turban. It marks the first time that a federal court has ruled that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), passed in 1993, applies to the United States military and the personnel serving therein.
This is a victory for the student, Iknoor Singh, as well as all those currently serving, whether they be Sikh, Muslim, Christian, Jewish or any other profession of belief, as it shows that they do not have to leave their human rights behind when they put on their uniform.
The 49-page ruling says, quite plainly, that "RFRA's strict scrutiny applies to the Army." What this ruling means is that where the law says that the government "shall not substantially burden a person's exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability" the military must also use the RFRA's framework in deciding upon whether or not someone's expression of religion can be burdened based on sincerity of belief and if the burden is "in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest" and "the least restrictive means" of forwarding that interest. more >>
In his remarks regarding Wednesday night's massacre inside the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, President Barack Obama outlined how the congregation has a 200-year history of dealing with persecution brought on by racism and hatred.
After a white gunmen, identified as 21-year-old Dylann Roof, shot and killed a pastor and eight other worshipers attending a Bible study at Emanuel AME Church, Obama issued a spoken statement on Thursday condemning the attack and added that he was personally angered by it.
"Any death of this sort is a tragedy," Obama stated. "There is something particularly heartbreaking about the death happening in a place in which we seek solace and we seek peace, in a place of worship." more >>
A Florida sheriff who recently received a complaint from an atheist group for delivering a sermon while in his uniform finds their objections "humorous and entertaining."
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd preached a sermon back in April at a Florida church wherein he wore his uniform and spoke of God ordaining his profession.
In response, the Wisconsin-based group Freedom From Religion Foundation sent him a letter of complaint on Monday. more >>
In a passionate speech presenting the historic sacrifice made by Iraqi Christians on Wednesday, Chaldean Catholic Bishop Mar Sarhad Yawsip Jammo said that although Iraqi Christians have been slaughtered in masses by ISIS, Iraqi Christians have been proudly losing their lives in the name of Jesus since before Islam existed.
Speaking at Skyline Wesleyan Church's Future Conference in San Diego, Jammo, who's a native of Baghdad with ancestral ties to the Nineveh Plains and serves as bishop of a Chaldean Catholic Diocese that spans throughout the Western U.S., explained that the Chaldean Christian community's experience of being forced to choose between paying a tax for their faith or being killed predates ISIS' brutal demand.
In fact, Jammo explained that Chaldean Christians were first asked to pay taxes in order to celebrate their faith in the year 339 under the rule of King Shapur II, when he told Christians that they must pay double taxes if they wish to continue worshiping Jesus without being killed. more >>
As Pakistani lawmakers consider legislation to reform the nation's corrupt blasphemy laws, Islamic clerics are bashing the government for even considering such an option, and are calling for the release of the murderer of the Punjab governor who advocated for blasphemy reform in 2011.
Asia News reports that 10 Muslim scholars and a former Pakistani judge gathered recently at a "seminar for protection of the prophet's dignity" and expressed their concern over the proposed legislation that is attempting to add the word "intention" to the nation's blasphemy law.
Speaking at the seminar was former Pakistani justice Mian Nazir Akhtar, who represents Mumtaz Qadri, the bodyguard who killed Punjab Governor Salman Taseer for referring to Pakistan's blasphemy law as a "black law." Akhtar bashed the proposed legislation and asserted that those who insult the Muslim prophet Muhammad deserve to be killed and "sent to hell." more >>
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Southern Baptists will not bow and they will not be silent on same-sex marriage, Southern Baptist Convention president Ronnie Floyd told the annual gathering of Southern Baptists in Columbus, Ohio, June 16.
Floyd, pastor of Cross Church in Springdale, Ark., and now re-elected to a second term as president of the 15.5 million-member denomination, said it is time for Christians in general, and Southern Baptists in particular, to "stand believing that marriage is the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime."
"We have believed this and do believe this, and I believe will continue to believe this as a convention of churches. We stand for biblical and traditional marriage. As Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy said, 'This definition (of traditional marriage) has been with us for millennia. And it's very difficult for the court to say, 'Oh well, we know better.'" more >>