Discrimination

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The former U.S. religious freedom ambassador told a congressional subcommittee that leaked language of a proposed presidential executive order on religious liberty could cause “constitutional problems.”

“I think it raises very serious equal protection issues,” said Rabbi David Saperstein, who recently ended his tenure at the U.S. State Department.

Bill Tammeus 01-04-2017

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Huston Smith, the man who helped the world understand other faiths, perhaps more than almost anyone else, died on Dec. 30 at age 97.

I first learned of it when my oldest sister, who lives in Berkeley, Calif., not far from Huston and Kendra Smith, sent me a note saying he had breathed his last about 7:30, the morning of Dec. 1, at his Berkeley home.

I was surprised that it took until Jan. 1 for a news story to show up about the death of this remarkable religion scholar.

Image via Bobak Ha'Eri via Wikimedia Commons

Fuller Theological Seminary has joined a growing list of schools where administrators are being pressed by students, alumni, and faculty for designation as a sanctuary campus.

In the aftermath of Donald Trump’s election as president, some campuses are considering the moniker “sanctuary campus,” which generally means that the university will not willingly give the government information about their students, staff, or faculty who are undocumented immigrants.

Image via RNS/Michele Chabin

While some European beaches are banning women dressed in “burkinis” and other modest swimwear, and Americans are challenging women’s-only swimming hours at public pools, this Israeli beach has long been a haven for women whose strict religious beliefs, community norms or fears of sexual harassment, among other reasons, make swimming or sunbathing alongside men undesirable, even impossible.

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Long said that in her own experience, transgender scientists are sometimes called by incorrect gender pronouns and or not allowed to formally change their names in scientific publications.

To Dr. Ramon Barthelemy, a science policy fellow at AAAS, LGBTQ physicist, and co-author of the study, not being able to change a professional publication record is especially problematic in the sciences.

the Web Editors 06-30-2016

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Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced June 30 that the military would no longer disqualify transgender people from serving, effective immediately.

Back in July 2015, the Pentagon began a study to determine what it would take to lift the transgender ban.

Image via REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/RNS

A bill wending its way through the California Legislature would limit religious colleges’ ability to claim an exemption from federal Title IX regulations that bar discrimination against LGBT students and faculty.

Only schools that prepare students for pastoral ministry would be allowed the religious exemption under California Senate Bill 1146 — which passed the state Senate in May and is scheduled for a hearing in the state Assembly on June 30.

Jennifer Bailey 04-22-2016

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His question about God’s love for him caught me by surprise. We never talked about religion. I was, admittedly, the “churchy” one in my group of friends — president of the Junior Usher Board and active in my church youth ministry. Yet even at the age of 17, devoid of theological training, I understood the core inquiry at the root of the question: Could this Christian God that I proclaimed loved us all so much accept Aaron even when so many of this God’s “followers” did not?

the Web Editors 04-13-2016

After significant backlash from both activists and corporations, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) amended a state law that eliminated anti-discrimination protections for gay and transgender rights.

 

the Web Editors 03-29-2016

North Carolina state house. Image via  / Shutterstock.com

Attorney General Roy Cooper said March 29 that he will not defend the new state law that prohibits local governments from approving LGBT protections, reports The New York Times. Lambda Legal and the North Carolina ACLU have filed suit against the state.

2014 Moral March in Raleigh, N.C.

2014 Moral March in Raleigh, N.C. EPG_EuroPhotoGraphics / Shutterstock.com

Meeting for a one-day emergency session last week, North Carolina’s General Assembly passed HB2, which has been widely criticized as the nation’s worst anti-LGBT bill. In supposed defense of the general welfare, conservative lawmakers moved to stop a Charlotte ordinance that would have allowed transgender citizens to use public restrooms of the gender with which they identify. But their call to “protect our women and children” echoes language of the white supremacy campaign that overthrew local governments in this state 120 years ago. Both then and now, the call to defend families against imagined predators is a crude power grab.

Martha DeVries. Screenshot via religionnews1 / Youtube

To protest the anti-Muslim rhetoric of this presidential campaign, high school counselor Martha DeVries decided to wear a hijab in public every Monday. DeVries, 47, attends a Baptist church and identifies as “a follower of Jesus,” but said she felt a responsibility to outwardly display her acceptance of Muslims and refugees.

Most Americans oppose religious exemptions to LGBT non-discrimination laws, according to a new survey. The report comes as a raft of bills before state legislatures would allow people to refuse service or accommodations to gays, lesbians, bisexual, and transgender people based on their religious beliefs.

the Web Editors 01-29-2016

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President Obama signed an executive action Jan. 29 requiring large companies to disclose to the government how much they pay employees, broken down by race, gender, and ethnicity. This executive action, which applies to companies with 100 or more employees, is aimed in part at reducing the gender wage gap in the U.S., which leaves women earning 79 cents for every dollar earned by men.

Betsy Shirley 01-11-2016
Gay Christian Network founder Justin Lee

Gay Christian Network founder Justin Lee.

Less than 10 weeks after Houston voters — many persuaded by local Christian pastors — repealed a city ordinance that would have protected Houstonians from discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity (as well as race, religion, and other traits), 1,450 people gathered in the city for the Gay Christian Network conference, the world’s largest annual event for LGBT Christians and their allies.

12-28-2015

Since the Dec. 2 attacks in San Bernardino, Calif., the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee has received more than a dozen phone calls from Muslim Americans locally reporting a variety of workplace discrimination and harassment complaints. Of those calls, one has triggered a lawsuit, and two similar workplace suits are in the works, said Fatina Abdrabboh, executive director of the Michigan office, who hopes the litigation sends a message to employers.

“We’re watching. This stuff can’t go unchecked … and if you think of putting someone in the back room or letting them go because of the headscarf, you can’t do it,” said Abdrabboh, who urges the public and employers not to “feed into this rhetoric against us.”

the Web Editors 11-19-2015

Indiana State Capitol. Image via Jimmy Emerson, DVM / flickr.com

In the legislation, the state’s schools and businesses would be allowed to write their own policies on the use of bathrooms or showers based on sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity. They also could decide for themselves what dress code to impose on students and workers.

Under the bill, those rules wouldn’t count as discriminatory.

House and Senate Democrats have called for simpler solution, saying a fix could be had by adding four words and a comma: “sexual orientation, gender identity” to the Indiana’s civil rights law.

Jim Wallis 11-12-2015

Jesse Hall, University of Missouri, Columbia. Adapated image via Adam Procter/Flickr

We have witnessed a remarkable series of events on the Columbia, Mo., campus of the University of Missouri this week. The university president and the chancellor of the Columbia campus resigned Nov. 9 in response to protests claiming that university leadership had failed to appropriately address and respond to a toxic racial climate on campus.

The recent racist incidents, which many students and faculty felt the administration had failed to confront, reveal a stunning lack of empathy for students of color at the university. They include: racial slurs hurled at a black student body president and a black student organization, and a swastika painted in human feces on the wall of a residence hall.

But these specific incidents merely allowed a long-simmering stew of disrespect, verbal attacks, and marginalization of students of color to come boiling to the surface.

The Columbia campus of the University of Missouri is only a two-hour drive from Ferguson, Mo. When Michael Brown was shot in August 2014, protesters took to the streets of Ferguson every night, and student activists from Mizzou were among them. They saw what standing up to entrenched institutional racism looked like, and they saw that victories could be won with non-violent protest.

09-17-2015
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Pope Francis leads the Easter vigil mass in Saint Peter's Basilica on Holy Saturday. Vatican City, 19 April 2014. Photo via giulio napolitano / Shutterstock.com

Yes, popes have been visiting the U.S. since Paul VI spent a day in New York in 1965, and each of the following eight papal trips — seven by John Paul II and one by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI — has been widely anticipated, and enormously successful.

Is it far-fetched to think this could be any different this time — that images of a beaming Roman pontiff taking in the local flavor would not lead to a surge of warm feelings toward a Catholic Church otherwise regarded as beleaguered and out-of-touch?

Yet at a moment of such excitement and goodwill, it is important to remember how unusual this trip is in the context of American history: The idea that a pope could arrive in the United States to fanfare and adulation, especially from leading American politicians, was once unthinkable.

Consider the case of Archbishop Gaetano Bedini, a representative of Pope Pius IX whose 1853 U.S. tour wrought an assassination plot and sparked violence in Cincinnati streets that led to one protester’s death and forced Bedini to flee the country under cover of night. Such extreme reactions grew from Bedini’s close association with his imperious boss, the pope, who denounced democratic government, religious liberty and all of “modern civilization.”

09-08-2015

Charee Stanley. Image via CAIR-Michigan/USA Today/RNS

A Muslim flight attendant said the Atlanta-based airline ExpressJet suspended her for refusing to serve alcohol, a practice that is against her religious beliefs.

Charee Stanley filed a discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission last week, saying she wants to do her job without serving alcohol, as she was doing before her suspension, her lawyer said.

Lena Masri, an attorney with the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said no one “should have to choose between their career and religion.”

Employers, she told CNN, must “provide a safe environment where employees can feel they can practice their religion freely.”

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