Nowruz Celebration Goes Back 3,000 Years, Vatican: Priests Not to Bless Same-Sex Unions, Equality Act and Religious Liberty, Bahai Children Converted to Islam in Iran

Nowruz Celebration Goes Back 3,000 Years

Nowruz is the Iranian new year, celebrated at the exact moment of the spring equinox. It is a secular festival with roots that go back over 3,000 years, shaped by Zoroastrianism, one of the world’s oldest monotheistic religions. The festival involves jumping over a series of fires – a tradition brought by the Zoroastrians, who worshiped fire as the sign of strength and health.

Vatican: Priests Not to Bless Same-Sex Unions
The Vatican’s orthodoxy office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in responding to questions about gay unions, said: “The blessing of homosexual unions cannot be considered licit,” It also stated: “there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family.” . The two-page statement published in seven languages was approved by Pope Francis.

Equality Act and Religious Liberty
The Equality Act would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects against racial discrimination, to add protected classes of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity,” and according to testimony before the Senate, would forbid the use of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to sue when religious freedoms are violated by sexual and gender issues.

Bahai Children Converted to Islam in Iran

Bahai Temple by Andrés Silvas

Bahai Temple by Andrés Silvas

According to Arab News, Iranian officials have reportedly ordered teachers to identify children belonging to the Baha’i minority in order to convert them to Islam. Leaked documents from the northern city of Sari, in Mazandaran province, show authorities plan to step up “strict controls” of Baha’is, already one of the world’s most persecuted religious minorities, including “rigorously” controlling their “public and private meetings.”