Human Rights

Abercrombie & Fitch to Change ‘Look Policy,’ Allow Hijabs

Abercrombie & Fitch Logo. Via RNS/courtesy Jaime Berrezueta [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Abercrombie & Fitch will change its “look policy” and allow employees to wear hijabs after a three-year legal battle with two Muslim women was settled out of court.

The settlement requires Abercrombie to report religious accommodation requests and discrimination complaints to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for three years, and includes $71,000 in compensation for the two women. The settlement also averts a Sept. 30 trial.

Abercrombie fired Umme-Hani Khan, a stockroom worker in its San Mateo, Calif., store, in 2010 for refusing to work without her religious headscarf. Khan, who had worked at the store for four months without incident, filed a religious discrimination complaint with the EEOC, which sued the retailer in 2011.

In Baby Veronica Case, Some Evangelicals Side With Adoptive Parents

Veronica with her father Dusten Brown. Photo courtesy RNS/Keep Veronica Home web

Veronica with her father Dusten Brown. Photo courtesy RNS/Keep Veronica Home website

The Baby Veronica case, named for the girl at the center of a contentious child custody dispute, has stirred powerful emotional responses from many groups, including some Christian evangelicals.

Motivated by their faith in God and a distrust of federal Indian policies, a few evangelical organizations are campaigning to abolish the federal Indian Child Welfare Act at the heart of the dispute.

Congress enacted the law in 1978 to address the abuses that separated Indian children from their families through adoption or foster care. The law gives related tribes a preference in custody proceedings involving Indian children.

Richard Dawkins Under Fire for ‘Mild Pedophilia’ Remarks

Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly

Richard Dawkins, seen here at a book signing. Religion News Service file photo courtesy of Religion and Ethics Newsweekly

Richard Dawkins, one of the world’s best-known and outspoken atheists, has provoked outrage among child protection agencies and experts after suggesting that recent child abuse scandals have been overblown.

In an interview in The Times magazine on Saturday, Dawkins, 72, he said he was unable to condemn what he called “the mild pedophilia” he experienced at an English school when he was a child in the 1950s.

Referring to his early days at a boarding school in Salisbury, he recalled how one of the (unnamed) masters “pulled me on his knee and put his hand inside my shorts.”

He said other children in his school peer group had been molested by the same teacher but concluded: “I don’t think he did any of us lasting harm.”

Change is Still Going to Come

March on Washington, 1963. Photo courtesy mikek7890/flickr.com

March on Washington, 1963. Photo courtesy mikek7890/flickr.com

Looking back over five decades, the evidence is clear that everything has changed. We elected black mayors in the South and fought to end apartheid in South Africa. Nelson Mandela walked out of prison after 27 years and became president of South Africa. Segregation was outlawed and black people began to enjoy better lives.

But new challenges, including HIV/AIDS, drugs and gun violence, undermine our progress. We’ve come a long, long way, but we still have a long, long way to go. For too many young people, the “movement” is distant history. But we see a new birth of energy around the criminal justice system and voting rights. We take great pride in the fact that black youth overwhelmingly helped elect the first black president. We have come to the end of our tolerance of the killing and demonization of young black men — it is the most pernicious holdover from an ugly past.

Global Churches Alliance for Bangladesh Garment Workers

Mary Priniski wrote in the August 2013 Sojourners magazine about churches responding in solidarity with garment workers, disproportionately women, after the terrible fires in Bangladesh’s garment factories. Now, a global church alliance has been established. Ekklesia reports:

[The alliance] provides an action plan for grassroots campaigning, and a letter for consumers to send to their retailers demanding improvements to the pay and working conditions of garment workers. Real-life stories from garment workers in Bangladesh also highlight the oppression they face and the struggle to survive.

 

Conversion Therapy Ban in N.J. Prompts Suit Vow From Conservatives

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Photo courtesy RNS.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Photo courtesy RNS.

Licensed therapists are banned from using conversion therapy to try to change a child’s sexual orientation from gay to straight under a bill Gov. Chris Christie signed Monday, making New Jersey the second state to prohibit the practice.

But a national Christian legal group that blocked an identical law from taking effect in California earlier this year vowed to sue New Jersey, saying the legislation violates the First Amendment rights of parents and therapists.

The new law prevents any licensed therapist, psychologist, social worker or counselors related to these professions from using sexual orientation change efforts with a children under age 18.

Support Grows for Fired Gay Catholic Schoolteacher

Nicholas Coppola (left) with his husband David Crespo at home. Photo via RNS/Nic

Nicholas Coppola (left) with his husband David Crespo at home. Photo via RNS/Nicholas Coppola

Support for a Roman Catholic high school teacher fired for marrying his same-sex partner continued to grow Monday as the number of people signing an online petition topped 58,000 people.

Ken Bencomo taught English at St. Lucy’s Priory High School in the Los Angeles suburb of Glendora for 17 years. He was fired last month after an article in the Southern California newspaper Inland Valley Daily Bulletin published a story and video about his wedding.

Bencomo, 45, and his husband, Christopher Persky, 32, were one of the first gay couples to marry on July 1, after a U.S. Supreme Court decision cleared the way for same-sex marriages to resume in California.

Writer Sees Growing Gay Acceptance Among Mormons

Jerry Argetsinger gives a talk at the University of Missouri. Photo via RNS.

Jerry Argetsinger gives a talk at the University of Missouri. Photo via RNS.

Jerry Argetsinger never felt a twinge of tension between being gay and being Mormon.

Nobody talked about homosexuality in his Oregon congregation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when he was growing up in the 1960s. Nobody asked him about his attractions. Nobody made cruel or even not-so-subtle comments about him. Nobody made him feel guilty.

It came as a bit of a shock, then, when Argetsinger was beginning his sophomore year at LDS church-owned Brigham Young University in 1965 and heard university President Ernest L. Wilkinson say that the school didn’t want any gays on campus.

Hip-Hip-Hooray for Belgium!

Puzzle of human skeleton with missing portion of hip. Photo courtesy Lightspring

Puzzle of human skeleton with missing portion of hip. Photo courtesy Lightspring/shutterstock.com

Opponents of Obamacare like to talk about how long it takes to get a hip replacement in, say, Canada —even though the Affordable Care Act is nothing like the Canadian health plan. Let's put this in perspective. How about a system that charges so much that some middle-class insured people can't afford a hip replacement at all?

... Unless they fly to a Western European country with "socialized" medicine and pay out-of-pocket?

Check out this story about Michael Shopenn, a man whose artificial hip was manufactured in Warsaw, Indiana, a "global center of joint manufacturing." Shopenn, who had health insurance, could not get coverage for a hip operation because his insurer deemed it a pre-existing condition (note: that should no longer be a problem under the ACA). So he ended up flying to Belgium.

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