Human Rights

States Pass 'Religious Liberty' Laws in Lead Up to SCOTUS Ruling

Image via lev radin/shutterstock.com
Image via lev radin/shutterstock.com

By the end of June — and as early as next week — the Supreme Court is expected to rule on the legality of gay marriage nationwide. In a pre-emptive move to refocus narrative and legislative control at the state level, two states this week enacted laws designed to protect religious objection to same-sex couples. Here's how.

Strange Bedfellows: Franklin Graham and the Problem with Boycotts

Image via Lichtmeister/shutterstock.com
Image via Lichtmeister/shutterstock.com

This is awkward.

In a June 5 Facebook post, Franklin Graham suggested that it’s time to “fight the tide of moral decay that is being crammed down our throats by big business, the media, and the gay & lesbian community. ...This is one way we as Christians can speak out — we have the power of choice. ...Let’s just stop doing business with those who promote sin and stand against Almighty God’s laws and His standards," Franklin wrote on Facebook.

But Franklin’s popular autobiography, Rebel With a Cause, was published by Thomas Nelson, a Christian publishing company. Thomas Nelson’s publicity is handled by a company called Rogers & Cowan. One of the largest public relations firms in the world, Rogers & Cowan also is the publicist for ...

... Caitlyn Jenner.

Whoops.

Why Tony Campolo 'Came Out' for Marriage Equality

Image via Tashatuvango/shutterstock.com
Image via Tashatuvango/shutterstock.com

After decades of “bridge building” between the LGBTQ community and those who identify as evangelicals in opposition to full LGBTQ inclusion, Tony Campolo spoke out in favor of both full inclusion of same-sex couples in the church, as well as for marriage equality.

“It has taken countless hours of prayer, study, conversation and emotional turmoil to bring me to the place where I am finally ready to call for the full acceptance of Christian gay couples into the Church,” he wrote on his blog on June 8.

Ugandan Priest: LGBT People Are Fleeing for Kenya to Avoid Rampant Discrimination

Photo courtesy of HBO / RNS
A still from “Vice” episode, “A Prayer for Uganda.” Photo courtesy of HBO / RNS

A growing number of LGBT Ugandans are fleeing to neighboring Kenya to escape violence and persecution, a Ugandan Catholic priest says.

People are beaten, raped, evicted, and dismissed from their jobs because of their sexual identity or orientation, the Rev. Anthony Musaala said during a talk at All Saints Catholic Church as part of a monthlong visit to the United States and Canada.

Even associating with or advocating for LGBT people may spur discrimination, he said.

Australians Push for Vatican Cardinal to Testify on Abuse

Photo via REUTERS / Tony Gentile / RNS
Australian Cardinal George Pell arrives for a meeting in the Vatican on March 6, 2013. Photo via REUTERS / Tony Gentile / RNS

More than 55,000 people have signed a petition calling for Cardinal George Pell to return to his native Australia and face a government commission on child sex abuse, after allegations that he tried to bribe the victim of a pedophile priest.

Addressed to Pope Francis, the Change.org petition calls for Pell — the Vatican’s financial chief and former archbishop of Sydney — to answer questions from Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Who Are the Rohingyas and Why Are They Fleeing Myanmar?

Photo via REUTERS / Beawiharta / RNS
A Rohingya migrant woman inside a compound for refugees in Indonesia’s Aceh Province. Photo via REUTERS / Beawiharta / RNS

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims live in squalor in Myanmar’s western Rakhine State. That number has been falling fast as thousands flee by land and sea in search of better lives and basic survival. Here’s a look at who the Rohingyas are and why they’re leaving Myanmar in droves.

From the Archives: June 1990

I WAS just 15, and as the eldest I had to do something to help my family. When the captain of our local army squadron introduced a recruiter to my parents, I was ready to go anywhere. He made it sound so nice! I would go to Japan and work in a famous hotel as a professional dancer. It would mean lots of money to send home to my poor family in the Philippines. Of course, I would have to go to Manila first to be trained, and I would have to change my name to fit my new life.

So I became Mami! My recruiter was from a Philippine entertainment production group. They “train” their girls mainly in the clubs and bars on Mabini Street in Manila. My recruiter wanted me to go to Japan as a prostitute, but I demanded to go as an entertainer. ... I was told that if I learned Japanese songs and took dancing lessons I could get an entry visa for show business—in six months. He let me work in his bar while I was waiting, but after two months I asked him to get me a fake passport and visa as I was worried about my family. Later on I learned that all these kindnesses were deducted from my earnings in Japan. By the way, the Aquino government claims it prohibits its people from being engaged in “shameful work,” but while I was in Manila, my Japanese recruiter alone interviewed 20 new girls like me—every day! n

Naoko Iyori, MMB, worked with the Japanese Catholic Council for Justice and Peace in Tokyo when this article, a composite of the actual experiences of several women from the Philippines, appeared.

Image: Girl at a window,  / Shutterstock 

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5 Takeaways from the New Report by U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom

Photo via Nestor Aziagbia / RNS
A man in the Central African Republic shows a bandaged arm after an attack in the violence. Photo via Nestor Aziagbia / RNS

Despite much gloom and doom, there were a few silver linings in the report. Religious freedom and harmony have improved in Cyprus, resulting in greater access to houses of worship across the Green Line separating north from south. Nigeria witnessed its first peaceful democratic transfer of power earlier this year when Muslim northerner Muhammadu Buhari ousted Christian southerner Jonathan Goodluck at the polls. And Sri Lanka’s new government has taken positive steps to promote religious freedom and unity in the face of violent Buddhist nationalism.

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