- Spanish city bans face-covering Islamic veils in public buildings: Lleida, located in north-eastern region of Catalonia, approved legislation in May but procedural issues delayed its implementation. Spain has a population of 47 million, of which around 1 million are Muslim. Most live in Catalonia and the southern region of Andalucia, but burqas are rarely seen in public. Other towns and cities including the Catalan capital, Barcelona, have taken similar steps – but bans are yet to take effect. The Spanish government is considering including the ban in a future law covering a variety of religious issues.
- UK: landmark ruling in Christian’s battle for free speech: The ruling – which ended with West Midlands police ordered to pay more than £4,000 in damages to street preacher Anthony Rollins – appears to set a new landmark in the battle between the gay lobby and Christians who want to say in public that homosexual sex is wrong.
It comes as Christian leaders, notably former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey, have been complaining against the use of equality law to force Christians to act against their consciences.
- Couple caned in Indonesia over kiss: Two people were caned in Indonesia’s staunchly Muslim Aceh province on Friday after being caught having an extramarital kiss, a prosecutor said.
- Outrage as vandals strike at ancient Christian shrine site: Vandals have ravaged one of the most celebrated Christian pilgrimage sites in Britain by chopping the branches off Glastonbury’s Holy Thorn. The 2000-year old gnarled and windblown specimen is one of a handful of Christmas-flowering thorns in the town, which legend says are descended from the tree that sprouted from the staff that Joseph of Arimathea planted on Wearyall Hill. [video]
- Dutch Panel Found 2,000 Church Abuse Claims: The Roman Catholic Church, battered by sexual abuse scandals from the United States to Belgium, is facing a new set of damaging allegations in the Netherlands.
- Pastor and wife sent to prison for tax evasion: A federal judge sentenced Charlotte pastors Anthony and Harriet Jinwright to prison late Thursday, after the couple who led Greater Salem church pleaded for leniency in their punishment for tax evasion. Anthony Jinwright got eight years and nine months in prison, while Harriet Jinwright received six years and eight months. The couple must also pay the Internal Revenue Service more than $1million, plus $213,666 to the state.
- Police see no extortion crimes against televangelist: Bedford police have closed an investigation into an alleged extortion plot against televangelist Marcus Lamb, saying that no laws were broken. Meanwhile Lamb took to television again Thursday to claim that he and his wife were being threatened by three people, who asked to be paid $7.5 million or they would go to the media with news of his extramarital affair.
- Westboro hate groups to Protest Elizabeth Edwards Funeral Note: the Westboro Baptist Church is a hate group masquerading as a Christian church
Analysis, Commentary, Opinion
- Atheists not allowed: Indonesia’s national motto, “unity in diversity”, is no mere slogan to which politicians pay lip service but a living, celebrated sentiment. It is the world’s most populous Muslim state, with nearly 90 per cent of the population following the religion that first came to South East Asia in the 13th century. But confessional freedom is guaranteed in the constitution. With one exception: you cannot officially be an atheist.
- Israel’s religious extremists send the peace process up in smoke: Population changes are transforming the country’s politics for the worse, argues Con Coughlin.
- Christian Right eyes 2012 Candidates: Coalescing behind a single 2012 presidential candidate is going to be tricky for the ever-fractured conservative Christians of the GOP.
- The ‘Real Jew’ Debate: The view that American Jews supportive of Israel but critical of its policies are not “real Jews” is widespread.
- Imam behind NYC mosque plan sees hope after fury: Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf saw his plans for an Islamic center near ground zero derided as a victory mosque for terrorists, exploited as campaign fodder and used as a bargaining chip by a Florida pastor who vowed to burn the Quran. After that summer of mistrust and raw feeling, he’s looking on the bright side. Rauf says he hopes to use the platform he gained through the angry debate to turn his small nonprofit group into a global movement celebrating pluralism.
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