Religious News from Around the Web, Feb 3rd 2020

Iran vs. Religion, Mass Wedding, Same-Sex Adoption, Religious School Funding, Christians Released, Should Churches Report Child Abuse? William Barr Warns of Militant Secularism, Catholic Schools in Trouble

80 Couples Marry in Mass Hindu Wedding

Indian Hindu Wedding, photo by By Will - Flickr Wikimedia Commons
Indian Hindu Wedding,
photo by By Will –
Flickr Wikimedia Commons
Eighty couples were married recently in a mass wedding ceremony in Karachi, Pakistan, organized by the Pakistan Hindu Council. Mass weddings help couples with wedding expenses, and participants receive financial support so the couples can start their married lives “with honor and dignity.” The ceremonies also draw Muslim and other religious members to observe as an interfaith event.

Tennessee Same-Sex Couples Can Be Excluded from Adoption
Adoption agencies can refuse to place children with same-sex parents under a bill signed by Tenn. Gov. Bill Lee. The bill, which protects adoption agencies from placement decisions based on moral or religious principles, was attacked by gay rights advocates.

Religious Persecution in Iran
Iran's President Hassan_RouhaniIran has a new national identity card required for everything from public-sector jobs, to university enrollment, cashing a check, obtaining a driver’s license, buying property, etc. The card application has only four religious options: Islam, Christianity, Zoroastrianism and Judaism. Bahá’ís are excluded, and have been arrested and their property confiscated for following a “perverse ideology.” Also an Iranian court recently sentenced a convert to Christianity to three years in prison for “insulting Islamic sacred beliefs.”

More on Supreme Court Religious School Case
Espinoza vs. Montana Dept. of Revenue is on the Supreme Court’s docket to answer the question: “Does it violate the Religion Clauses or Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution to invalidate a generally available and religiously neutral student- aid program simply because the program affords students the choice of attending religious schools?” Critics charge that allowing scholarship tax credits to religious schools would violate the separation of church and state, while proponents say the original law barring public money for religious schools was the result of anti-Catholic bigotry and should be struck down. How the question is answered could change the financial landscape for religious schools.

Pakistan Releases Christians Accused of Terrorism
Pakistan released 42 Christians accused of participating in 2015 riots after two churches were bombed and 11 Christians and four Muslims died. After the bombing two Muslim men suspected of doing the bombing were lynched. The Christians were released after a settlement was reached with the two men’s families.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr Warns of Militant Secularists
U.S. Attorney General William_BarrAttorney General William Barr said that religion is not being forced on society, but instead “There’s an organized militant secular effort to drive religion out of our lives.” The CBN news item has links to other articles that the publication says proves Barr’s point.

Should Churches Report Child Abuse?
Should churches report instances of child abuse divulged in confidential confessionals? While such information is privileged, child abuse is something that has sometimes gone unreported, the perpetrators left to continue their harm. Required reporting of confidential confessionals however, could drive abuse underground, as wrongdoers would simply not confess it. But a recent survey found that the vast majority of religious people back such a reporting requirement.

Humanists Testify Against Blasphemy Laws
In some places in the world, expressing objection to religious dogma can earn one imprisonment or a death sentence. The American Humanist Association (AHA) has sought to persuade the government to work to throw out anti-blasphemy laws in countries that have them, and to urge countries to release prisoners convicted of blasphemy offenses. A Bangladeshi-American blogger and her husband, for example, were attacked by Islamic extremists at a book fair in Bangladesh in 2015. She was gravely injured and her husband was killed. An AHA policy manager recently presented the blogger’s story before a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee.

Catholic Schools Losing Students
According to the National Catholic Educational Association, wealthy donors are taking over 51 percent of Chicago’s Catholic schools. The Big Shoulders Fund will donate nearly $50 million to the schools over the next 10 years. Catholic schools nationally are in trouble, with some 1,267 schools reported closed or consolidated since the 2009 school year, and only 258 schools opened. The number of students declined by 403,168, or 18.4 percent.