Religious News Worth Reading, week ending Oct 12th 2019

Democratic Candidates Vow to Reverse Religious Protections

Beto O'Rourke by Erik Drost
Beto O’Rourke by Erik Drost
Presidential candidates Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren announced similar plans to enhance LGBTQ protections including reversing the Trump Administrations religious exemption policies, under which LGBTQ rights do not invalidate the rights of religious persons to follow the beliefs of their faith regarding such issues as same-sex marriage. And Beto O’Rourke said that religious institutions such as colleges, churches and charities should lose their tax-exempt status if they oppose same-sex marriage.

Taoist Statue Turned into Billboard

The Chinese government is cracking down on outdoor religious statues, and a statue of the Jade Emperor, one of the most important gods in Chinese Taoism, has been turned into a billboard by Chongqing municipality in Southwest China. According to Bitter Winter, the 108-ft. -tall statue has been covered over and now advertises the Heavenly Mountain Scenic Area.

U. S. Supreme Court to Look at Public Funding of Religious Schooling

The U. S. Supreme Court will take up a case Espinoza vs. the Montana Department of Revenue, in which a Montana Supreme Court decision bared religious schools from the state’s 2015 tax credit scholarship program. According to the Supreme Court Blog, the Case will decide “whether it violates the religion clauses or the equal protection clause of the United States Constitution to invalidate a generally available and religiously neutral student-aid program simply because the program affords students the choice of attending religious schools.” The Montana decision was based on the Blaine Amendment to the Montana Constitution which according to one source was implemented as an anti-Catholic measure in the 19th Century when the King James Bible was read in public schools, and Catholics began establishing their own schools in protest.

Arizona Supreme Court Rules in Same-Sex Discrimination Case

The Arizona Supreme Court decided that two Christian owners of a calligraphy business do have the right to decline to create same-sex wedding invitations. According to the Baptist Press, the owners have clients sign a contract that they will not do work “that communicates ideas or messages … that contradict Biblical truth, demean others, endorse racism, incite violence, or promote any marriage besides marriage between one man and one woman, such as same-sex marriage.” The 5-3 decision strikes down a Phoenix city ordinance which carried fines and jail time for discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Amazon Meeting Addresses Celibacy for Priests

Pope Francis opened a three-week meeting of bishops Oct. 6th, to examine, among other questions, loosening the Catholic Church’s 1,000-year old requirement of celibacy for priests, to allow married men to be ordained in some circumstances. Some 85 percent of villages in the Amazon, for example, are unable to celebrate mass because of a shortage of priests, according to the BBC. According to the National Catholic Reporter, removing the celibacy requirement for priests serving in the Amazon is fairly straightforward, since celibacy is “a church practice, not church dogma.”

Latter-day Saints Leader Calls for Kindness to LGBTQ

Dallin H. Oaks, a member of the Latter-day Saints governing board, reaffirmed the Church’s objection to same-sex marriage, saying that God’s laws prohibit gay marriage and that those in such relationships will not achieve salvation. Nevertheless, he said, people should love everyone no matter their difference. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Oaks also cautioned about premature labeling of children who are uncertain of their sexual orientation, since uncertainly will decrease over time.

Bahá’ís Celebrate Birth of the Bab

This month is the 200th anniversary of the birth of the forerunner and herald of the Bahá’í Faith, the Bab according to Bahá’ís of the United States, whose dramatic ministry paved the way for the appearance of Baha’u’llah. On 29 and 30 October, Bahá’ís, together with their neighbors, families, and friends, will commemorate the births of these two Luminaries.

Building a Nuclear Bomb Forbidden by Islam Says Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

“Building and stockpiling nuclear bombs is wrong and using it is haram (religiously forbidden) … Although we have nuclear technology, Iran has firmly avoided it,” said Iran’s highest political authority as quoted by Reuters from Iran State TV.