Religious News From Around the Web September 21, 2020
Religious Freedom Rule Finalized, Chic-fil-A Says “Forget It” to San Antonio Airport, Church Refuses to Install Government Surveillance Cameras, Religious Attacks Harm Elections, New Law Bans Forced Church Closures, County Threatens to Police High Holiday Gatherings
Education Department Finalizes Religious Freedom Rule
Public Universities will be required to uphold freedom of speech and academic freedom under a final version of the “Improving Free Inquiry, Transparency, and Accountability at Colleges and Universities” rule. The rule also prohibits institutions from denying faith-based student groups any rights or privileges enjoyed by other student groups, and codifies how educational institutions can prove exemption as religious institutions from Title IX sex discrimination rules.
Chic-fil-A Says “Forget It” to San Antonio Airport
Several San Antonio city councilpersons objected to Chic-fil-A’s Christian heritage and supposed anti-LGBT bias and blocked the restaurant’s application to site a restaurant at the San Antonio Airport. The restaurant won after a year of wrangling in court. However, the company has now rescinded its application to build at the airport.
Church Refuses Surveillance Cameras, Communists Shut It Down
China continues its suppression of Christian churches, tearing down 1,500 crosses, confiscating Bibles and arresting pastors. A mega-church was shut down after its pastor refused to install government surveillance cameras inside. A pastor whose church was demolished last year is facing persecution for homeschooling his children rather than sending them to a government school. Nevertheless, Christianity is booming in China, according to The Economist, and there are more Christians in China than in France or Germany.
Jewish Congregations Plan High Holy Days
Jewish High Holy Days began this year on Sept. 18, with Rosh Hashanah, and because of the pandemic, changes have been necessary in the rituals which stretch back several thousand years. The Israeli government, facing a resurgence of COVID-19, locked down the country a second time on the eve of the start of the High Holidays, and Orthodox Jews who do not use technology on the sabbath or holidays are meeting with precautions.
Religious Attacks Harm Elections
Teddy Roosevelt warned against using religion in elections, but that hasn’t put a damper on attacks based on a candidate’s faith. In recent years, John F. Kennedy’s Catholicism was a huge issue, and some of that has spilled over onto Joe Biden’s candidacy, a Catholic who supports a woman’s right to choose and who is endorsed by Planned Parenthood. Meanwhile President Trump has been courting the Evangelical vote. Roosevelt’s greatest fear was that this cycle of attack would poison civic life, according to The Telegraph. Once attacks on a candidate’s beliefs became a normal part of campaigning, he warned, “there is absolutely no limit at which you can legitimately stop.”
New Ohio Law Bans Forced Church Closures
Ohio has banned closure of houses of worship by state or local officials, and has also banned changing the dates of elections. The Legislature is also attempting to reverse the state’s mandatory mask order among other measures. Ohio Sen. Terry Johnson said in a release that other states’ orders disregarded the First Amendment “by forcing the closure of places of worship and religious institutions.”
Los Angeles County Threatens to Police High Holiday Gatherings
And in the latest threat to religious liberty, Los Angeles County officials have instituted a policy barring Jewish residents from observing the High Holidays with other families inside private homes. While some congregations are meeting online, Orthodox congregations do not use technology on the sabbath or holidays and would be barred from meeting. The First Liberty Institute has protested what is says are threats of criminal penalties for High Holiday meetings.