We begin with a duo of stories from New Jersey. Born and raised on the other side of the Hudson, I can at least admit that Jersey can deliver some interesting religion news.
NJ rejects atheist license plate
Shannon Morgan, who lives in southern New Jersey, wants “8THEIST” on her license plate. But the state’s Motor Vehicle Commission allegedly said “no.” Her lawsuit accuses N.J. of favoring religion over non-religion.
She notes that although the MVC, through its website, allegedly rejected “8THEIST” as objectionable, it had no problem when Morgan typed in “BAPTIST.”
Humanists sue NJ school district
A central New Jersey family doesn’t like the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. The American Humanist Association, which filed suit on behalf of the family, asserts the mandatory recitation of the pledge discriminates against nonbelievers and violates the state constitution’s protection against religious discrimination. This is a different strategy from similar previous cases, which held the pledge violates the U.S. Constitution’s ban on the establishment of religion, our own Kimberly Winston points out.
Intellectuals to UK PM: stop calling Britain ‘Christian’
A group of prominent British scientists, writers and academics have had it with Prime Minister David Cameron, who has several times called the nation he leads “Christian” and talked about how proud he is to have his children in church schools. In a letter to Cameron Monday, the group said they respect his religious beliefs but called his “Christian” references divisive, noting that about 40 percent of British people do not consider themselves Christian.
Boy Scouts oust church for allowing gay scoutleader
The Boy Scouts of America has revoked the BSA charter of Seattle’s Rainier Beach United Methodist Church because it won’t fire its gay scoutmaster. The BSA last year opened its packs to openly gay scouts, but not leaders, and reiterated its policy to the church in a letter:
As you are aware the policy of the Boy Scouts of America does not allow open or avowed homosexuals to serve as volunteer adult leaders.
Indian Muslims worry about leading Hindu candidate
India is currently holding the largest democratic election in the history of the world. But the leading prime ministerial candidate of the Hindu nationalist party, Narendra Modi, makes Muslims uneasy. Modi has tried to distance himself lately from the anti-Muslim rhetoric of his political friends. But the Imam of New Delhi’s Grand Mosque has urged Muslims to vote for the Congress Party, which now rules India.
The lead singer is out of the closet, and Mormon
Tyler Glenn fronts the Neon Trees, Utah’s most prominent band. But now the country knows Glenn, thanks to the cover of the April 10 issue of Rolling Stone magazine, which reads: “Gay, Mormon & Finally Out.”
Car plows through Easter church service, injuring 21
It was an Easter disaster in Fort Myers, Fla., where a driver lost control of the Lexus she was driving and plowed through the wall of the Second Haitian Baptist Church, where 200 people were celebrating. When you look at the pictures, the “glass half full” types will call this an Easter miracle, in that nobody died. When police arrived, churchgoers were using car jacks to try to lift the Lexus off fellow churchgoers.
Supremes take ‘Born in Jerusalem’ case
The Supreme Court will hear the case of a Jewish American boy, born in Jerusalem, whose passport reads “Jerusalem” for his birthplace, though his parents want it to read “Israel.” Usually, the U.S. puts the country of birth in that space, but types in “Jerusalem” for all Americans born there, since the status of the city is disputed between Israelis and Palestinians. At issue: the president’s right to recognize foreign governments. Both President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush have clashed with members of Congress over the case, which will be heard in the fall.
Louisiana lawmaker pulls Bible bill
As it was headed to the Louisiana House floor for a vote Monday, Rep. Thomas Carmody, R-Shreveport, scrapped his bill to make the Holy Bible the official state book. Carmody said the proposal had become a distraction. The bill received national attention, worrying some who felt Louisiana was trying meld church and state, and others who said it would trivialize the Bible.
The AP counted: 12 states still have anti-sodomy laws a decade after the Supreme Court said these laws are unconstitutional: Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Utah.
Our own Cathy Lynn Grossman reports that most people don’t mind a prayer to open a public meeting — if the prayer giver leaves Jesus out of it.
Jeffrey Weiss finds the one positive note in the news that leaflets in Ukraine last week asked Jews to register at a government office. But in The Forward, Russian expert David Fishman says the discussion about the flyers has missed the forest for the trees, and that the forest is Russia “playing the Jewish card.”
- Lauren Markoe
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