Religious News From Around the Web March 29, 2021
Equality Act Moves to Senate, Choosing a Successor to the Dalai Lama, Masterpiece Cakeshop Back in Court, Virginia Bans Death Penalty, China Disputes Uighur Claims, Oral Roberts’ Basketball Success Unveils Anti-Religious Bigotry, Transgender Speech Cases
Equality Act Moves to Senate
The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Equality Act and it now moves to the Senate. The Act, would substitute “sex (including sexual orientation and gender identity).” For “sex” in extant civil rights laws. Opponents of the bill argue that the proposed law could infringe on religious liberty by, for example, forcing church halls to rent space for LGBTQ ceremonies and more.
Choosing the Dalai Lama’s Successor
The Chinese Communist government, which invaded Tibet and forced the Dalai Lama to flee to India, is determined to derail the succession of the next leader of Tibet’s Buddhist religion. The Chinese government has already made the chosen Panchen Lama disappear and forwarded a government substitute.
Masterpiece Cakeshop Again in Court
Colorado cake decorator Jack Phillips is again defending his freedom to practice his Christian faith in a case that is part of the ongoing legal faceoff between religious liberty and LGBTQ interests. Phillips – who won a significant, though limited, victory at the U.S. Supreme Court in 2018 – appeared as the defendant in a state-court trial that began March 22 as a result of a discrimination lawsuit filed for his refusal to provide a cake celebrating a gender transition. Autumn Scardina, who reportedly began identifying as a woman in 2010, contends that Phillips violated the Colorado Anti-discrimination Act after Phillips declined to make a pink birthday cake with blue frosting to commemorate the gender transition.
Virginia Bans Death Penalty
Religious leaders, who have been protesting death penalty measures in Virginia and elsewhere, celebrated as Gov. Ralph Northam signed a bill banning the death penalty on March 24. The Rev. LaKeisha Cook, a lead organizer at the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy celebrated the activism of some 430 faith leaders who signed a letter opposing the death penalty.
China Disputes Uighur Claims
China claims that charges their government suppresses Uighur Muslims are lies, and have imposed sanctions on five British MPs who raised the issue. China has detained Uighurs at camps in the north-west region of Xinjiang, where allegations of torture, forced labor and sexual abuse have emerged, but the government claims the camps are for “re-education” to prevent terrorism.
Oral Roberts’ Basketball Success Unveils Anti-Religious Bigotry
Oral Roberts, a Christian university located in Tulsa, not only made its way into the NCAA basketball tournament, but it then defeated Ohio State and the University of Florida to advance to the Sweet Sixteen. That in and of itself is big news in the realm of sports and for the small Christian University. But now objections to the University’s traditional views of marriage and sex are threatening Oral Roberts and other Christian colleges.
Transgender Speech Cases
In two different cases, educators have been under attack for adhering to their Christian principles and refusing to address trans students by their chosen pronouns. One professor was accused therefore of creating a hostile environment, even though he agreed to simply call the student by the student’s last name. But a federal appeals court ruled he could sue the university for violation of his rights of free speech. And in Virginia a high school French teacher was fired after refusing to address a transgender student with masculine pronouns.