Catholic Bishops Avoid Direct Rebuff of Biden over Abortion; Forty-One Countries Ban Religion-Related Groups; Christian Florist Settles Suit with Same-Sex Couple; Congress Issues Resolution Condemning Iran for Persecution of Bahai; Can Public Money go to Religious Schools?

Catholic Bishops Avoid Direct Rebuff of Biden over Abortion Issue

Survey Offers a Look into How Democrats from Different Religions View Their Presidential Candidates

Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

U.S. Catholic bishops overwhelmingly approved a long-anticipated document on Communion last week that stops short of calling for withholding the sacrament from politicians such as President Joe Biden who support abortion rights but offers plenty of tacit justification for individual bishops to do so. The document does not identify Biden or other politicians by name, though it says at one point, “Lay people who exercise some form of public authority have a special responsibility to embody Church teaching.”

Forty-One Countries Ban Religion-Related Groups

Forty-one countries – or around a fifth (21 percent) of those evaluated – banned at least one religion-related group in 2019, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of laws and policies in effect in 198 countries in 2019, the most recent year for which comprehensive data is available. Jehovah’s Witnesses and Baha’is were among the most frequently banned groups. In related news, U.S. Secretary of State Blinken said that he was designating Russia, as well as China and eight other countries “as Countries of Particular Concern for having engaged in or tolerated ‘systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom.'” The other countries still on the US list for “religious freedom violations” are Myanmar, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. Algeria, Comoros, Cuba and Nicaragua were placed on a watch list.

Christian Florist Settles Suit with Same-Sex Couple
Sympathy FlowersA Christian florist paid $5,000 and retired to settle an 8-year lawsuit brought by a same-sex couple after declining to provide flowers for their wedding. “I wish the culmination of all that I’ve been through could result in a new respect, culturally and legally, for freedom of conscience in our country,” she said. “From the beginning, I have asked no more than the freedom to act in accordance with my religious beliefs and personal convictions. I have treated those who persecuted me with respect, and with the assurance that I want for them the same freedom that I ask for myself.”

Congress Issues Resolution Condemning Iran for Persecution of Bahai

Bahai Temple by Andrés Silvas

Bahai Temple by Andrés Silvas

The US House of Representatives is preparing to vote on a draft resolution condemning the state-sponsored persecution of the Baha’i community of Iran in a bipartisan move. Voices are mounting in Congress criticizing these violations against the Baha’i community. The Iranian regime and its affiliated militias, like the Houthis in Yemen, are accused of persecuting the Baha’is.

Can Public Money go to Religious Schools? Supreme Court to Weigh Issue

By Patriarca12 via Wikimedia Commons

By Patriarca12 via Wikimedia Commons

The latest case to come before the U.S. Supreme Court on religious rights and school choice has been nearly 150 years in the making. The justices on Dec. 8 will consider the state of Maine’s exclusion of “sectarian” religious schools from its distinctive “tuitioning” program that first took hold in the 1870s, in which towns without their own high schools pay the tuition for students to attend public schools in other communities or private schools. The consequences for private school choice and government aid to religion will likely be felt well beyond that state.