Religious News From Around the Web March 1, 2021
Equality Act Passes House – Will Religious Liberty Lose? Abortion Rules Head to Supreme Court, Canada Accuses China of Genocide, Becerra Bullying Nuns? Simulation Theory – a New Religion? Methodists Postpone Split Meeting Again
Equality Act Passes House – Will Religious Liberty Lose?
The Equality Act passed the House of Representatives Feb. 25, and will next be considered in the Senate. If it passes and is signed into law, it would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to explicitly include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected characteristics. The bill could harm women’s rights to their own sports and their own single-sex spaces such as prisons, locker rooms and shelters. The U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in a release called for opposition to the bill: “Instead of respecting differences in beliefs about marriage and sexuality, the Equality Act would discriminate against people of faith. The Equality Act would: punish faith-based organizations, such as charities and schools who serve everyone in their communities…”
Abortion Rules Head to Supreme Court
The U.S. Supreme Court said it will hear a set of cases involving a Trump-era rule on abortion. Twenty-one states challenged the 2019 regulation issued by HHS that barred health clinics from receiving federal family planning funds if they provided referrals for abortions. Federal district courts ruled against the rule, declaring that it interfered with provisions of the Affordable Care Act that bar interference with communications between doctors and patients regarding a full range of treatment options.
Canada Accuses China of Genocide
China’s treatment of its Uighur Muslim and other religious minorities has spurred condemnation from many nations, but Canada raised the stakes Feb. 22nd by passing a non-binding motion calling it “genocide.” The move elicited a strong rebuke from China.
Becerra Bullying Nuns?
Xavier Becerra, President Biden’s pick for HHS Secretary, has been accused of bullying nuns. After seven years of legal conflict the Supreme Court ruled in May of 2020 in favor of the Little Sisters of the Poor , a Catholic social service agency, allowing them to continue serving the elderly poor and dying without threat of millions of dollars in fines for refusing to provide birth control for employees. The High Court ruled in their favor back in 2013, but individual states – including California under Attorney General Becerra – continued with lawsuits to compel compliance with the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate.
Simulation Theory – a New Religion?
Science has long refused to even consider the existence of a non-material spirit or soul, and now some have hypothesized something called “simulation theory” as an attempt to define life as a series of computer games. “Consciousness,” goes the theory “is simply a property of certain systems that process large amounts of information … it could be neurons or transistors, or transistors believing they are neurons.” The theory posits that we are computer simulations of an advanced race of beings, and according to one story, Elon Musk, the CEO of both SpaceX and Tesla is a believer. But the biggest strike against the theory are scientists who dismiss the theory as “just another religion.”
Methodists Postpone Split Meeting Again
The United Methodist Church has once again postponed its quadrennial meeting due to the COVID-19 pandemic, delaying further a widely anticipated vote by delegates from across the globe on a proposal to split the denomination over the inclusion of LGBT members.