A Look at the Hindu Maha Shivaratri Festival

Religious News From Around the Web April 26, 2021

Connecticut May Cancel School Religious Vaccination Exemption, China Denies Suppression of Religion, Photos of 10 Indian World Heritage Sites, States Writing Religious Freedom Bills, Biden Seeks to Block Trans Surgery Exemption, Worst Religious Freedom Violators, Texas Ends Clergy Death Chamber Ban

Connecticut May Cancel School Religious Vaccination Exemption
New York Ends Measles Religious Exemption VaccineConnecticut’s religious exemption from school immunizations would be cancelled under a bill now under consideration in the state Senate. The bill passed in the Democratic-controlled House. Republican opponents called the bill a “government overreach and a restriction of religious liberty” while Democratic proponents said it was necessary to prevent disease outbreaks.

China Denies Suppression of Religion

China Continues the Crackdown on Christianity
Kremlin.ru [CC BY 4.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons
China’s government last week rejected accusations of abuses in the Xinjiang region after Human Rights Watch appealed for a U.N. investigation into possible crimes against humanity. Accusations of forced labor or detentions are “lies and false information concocted by anti-China forces,” said a government spokesman. Human Rights Watch wants the UN to investigate reports of mass detention of Muslims in camps, suppression of religious practices and other “crimes against humanity.” The government says the camps are for job training to support economic development and combat Islamic radicalism. China has denied United Nations unfettered access to the region.

Photos of 10 Indian World Heritage Sites
A Look at the Hindu Maha Shivaratri FestivalThe Nalanda Mahavihara site is the longest-serving monastic and scholastic institution in India. Mahabalipuram has monuments with thousands of sculptures dedicated to Shiva. Madhya Pradesh monuments belong to both Jainism and Hinduism. The Ellora caves extends over 2 km with 34 Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism monasteries and temples dating from A.D. 600 to 1000.

States Writing Religious Freedom Bills
A Montana bill now codifies the right of people to challenge government regulations that interfere with their religious beliefs. Such laws have reportedly been used to defend a Native American charged with illegally possessing eagle feathers for religious purposes, and to uphold a student’s right to mention faith in God during a graduation speech. Opponents fear the law will allow businesses to local ordinances prohibiting discrimination in housing or employment based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Biden Administration Seeks to Block Religious Exemption for Trans Surgery

100 Ohio Pastors Urge Schools to Ignore Transgender Bathroom Mandate
By sarahmirk [CC BY-SA 4.0 ], from Wikimedia Commons
The so-called “transgender mandate” in the Affordable Care Act – which opponents say forces doctors and hospitals to perform gender-transition procedures against their moral conscience and professional medical judgment – was blocked by a court, but the blockage is now being appealed by the Biden Administration. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA, “bars the U.S. government from forcing Catholic health care providers to perform gender-transition related procedures and from forcing employers to provide insurance to pay for them,” the District Court said.

Report Released on Religious Freedom Violators
The Latest Religious Freedom Report Provides Dire ReviewThe 2021 Annual Report of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom Named the following countries as “of particular concern”: Burma, China, Eritrea, India, Iran, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Vietnam. “Watch List Countries” include: Afghanistan, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Cuba, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Nicaragua, Turkey and Uzbekistan

Texas Ends Clergy Ban in Death Chamber
Death-PenaltyTexas prisons have resumed allowing clergy as well as spiritual advisers in the death chamber, reversing a two-year ban created after the U.S. Supreme Court halted the execution of an inmate who had argued his religious freedom was being violated because his Buddhist spiritual adviser wasn’t allowed to accompany him.