Religion

Funniest Paragraph of the Day, Courtesy of the NY Times

Featured image The New York Times has a longish story today about an internal fight going on at the Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, CA, where Unitarian Universalists apparently go for advanced theological instruction.  Yes, that would seem like a short curriculum to me, too; either that or it’s one of those mail order diploma mills where you send in 25 cents and two cereal boxtops, and you’ll be »

National Cathedral to host Islamists [With Irate Comments by John]

Featured image The Washington Post reports that the Washington National Cathedral will host a Muslim prayer service this Friday. The cathedral, part of the Episcopal Church, has long been the site of important services, including memorial services for presidents, some of whom are buried there. But the Cathedral has never before been used for Muslim services. The Post reports this as a feel-good story. It quotes a local Muslim spokesperson who says: »

Gay marriage vs. religious freedom, the latest installment

Featured image Two ordained ministers, a husband and wife, who perform marriage ceremonies but oppose gay marriage reportedly face a 180-day jail term and a $1,000 fine for each day they decline to celebrate a same-sex wedding. The ministers operate a chapel in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. The city has an ordinance that prohibits discrimination, including on the basis of sexual orientation, in public accommodations. Recently, the ministers turned down a gay couple’s »

How to win the “war of ideas” with ISIS? By winning militarily

Featured image Bill Gertz’s article “Surrender in the War of Ideas” suggests to me that confusion exists on all sides of the spectrum when it comes to the fight against ISIS. President Obama views “ideas” as central in the struggle against ISIS but, as Gertz points out, wants to farm the ideological battle out to foreign states and Muslim communities that often share some of the same goals as the groups the »

The left’s latest joke: First Amendment is a barrier to countering Islamist ideology

Featured image Bill Gertz has a lengthy and fascinating piece in the Washington Free Beacon about what he calls the Obama administration’s failure “to wage ideological war against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) terrorists.” Gertz attributes the failure to “fears that attacking [ISIS's] religious philosophy will violate the constitutional divide between church and state.” It seems difficult to believe that the First Amendment explains Obama’s unwillingness to »

Strangest Story of the Week

Featured image We all know that the Christian faith is slowly dying out in most of Europe, but did you happen to catch the Wall Street Journal story last Tuesday about how Germany taxes churchgoers, and how a proposed hike in the tax on churchgoers is expected to reduce church attendance even further? Here’s the lede: FRANKFURT—In Germany, being an official church member usually means paying an extra tax. But a change »

Cheap Grace, Expensive Suits

Featured image There are certain TV preachers who shall go unnamed who peddle an updated version of the “prosperity gospel” in which faith leads to riches and happiness—just like that! To be fair, there’s a secular version of this coming from the academic pulpit as well, in the guise of “happiness research.” But in both cases, I wonder why the preachers need such expensive suits to promote what Bonhoeffer rightly called “cheap »

Legislation trumps administrative regulation, left irate

Featured image Lost in the sound and fury coming from the left in reaction to the Supreme Court’s decision in Hobby Lobby is this point, made in a letter to the San Francisco Chronicle by Emmett C. Stanton: People choose to forget that when Obamacare passed so narrowly, it was in large part because the administration misled pro-life Democrats about its abortion and abortifacient coverage. The legislation never would have passed if »

An islamist critique of soccer

Featured image Conservative pundits aren’t the only activists with ideological objections to soccer. Salafi clerics in Saudi Arabia and Egypt issued fatwas against viewing the World Cup before the tournament began. Their beef is that watching the World Cup will cause Muslims to neglect their religious duties and expose themselves to negative influences. Saudi cleric Sheikh Abd al-Rahman al-Barrak put it this way: There is no doubt that football, played according to »

Hobby Lobby and the shape of things to come

Featured image What are the implications of today’s Hobby Lobby decision for challenges by non-profit religious institutions, such as the Little Sisters of the Poor, to Obamacare’s mandate that they facilitate the free distribution of contraceptives and abortifacients to any of their employees who desire them? Professor Mark Rienzi, who together with the Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty has been litigating these sorts of religious liberty cases against the Justice Department, offers »

Supreme misery for the left [or not]

Featured image The Supreme Court today issued its final two decisions of the term. One of them constitutes a clear defeat for the left. The other looks like a minor defeat. In the Hobby Lobby case, the Court held that closely held corporations cannot be required to provide contraceptive coverage to their employees. The five center-right Justices formed the majority for that proposition. In Harris v. Quinn, the Court, again with the »

Charles Does Indeed Blow

Featured image Outside of universities, the other notable place with a shocking lack of ideological and cultural diversity is major media newsrooms.  While most newsrooms have the requisite numbers of women, minorities, and gays (nearly all of them liberal conformists), you will seldom find an evangelical Christian or an orthodox Jew. Hence you find New York Times columnist Charles Blow reflecting today that not only are lots of Americans Christians, but they »

The Obama administration — more solicitous of dreadlocks than of religion

Featured image The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is charged with combatting certain forms of employment discrimination. Unfortunately, it long ago became, instead, a special pleader for certain minority groups. As such, it is dedicated to arguing for pretty much whatever certain minority groups want in the workplace. For example, some blacks like to wear dreadlocks. Thus, the EEOC claims that grooming codes, applicable to all employees, that include a prohibition »

Why dropping health insurance is no solution for Hobby Lobby

Featured image Long-time Power Line reader Michael McConnell, a (if not the) leading scholar of the Constitution’s Religion Clauses, analyzes the four serious legal issues presented in the Hobby Lobby case. The issues are: (1) Could Hobby Lobby avoid a substantial burden on its religious exercise by dropping health insurance and paying fines of $2,000 per employee? (2) Does the government have a compelling interest in protecting the statutory rights of Hobby »

Brewer vetoes S.B. 1062

Featured image Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has vetoed Arizona S.B. 1062, legislation that I wrote about here and here. Brewer claimed that S.B. 1062 “does not address a specific or present concern related to religious liberty in Arizona” and that it was “broadly worded and could result in unintended and negative consequences.” Her first claim makes little sense. Arizona already has a Religious Freedom Restoration Act. S.B. 1062 amends the Act to »

No, this is not Jim Crow for gays, Part Two

Featured image As I explained here, Arizona S.B. 1062 would not subject gays to a regime of discrimination. The bill is simply an attempt (successful in my view) to balance the right to religious freedom and the right of non-discrimination. Eleven leading religious-liberty scholars have written to Arizona Governor Jan Brewer to provide her with a sorely needed rational analysis of S.B. 1062 as she considers whether to sign it. The professors »

No, this is not Jim Crow for gays — understanding Arizona S.B. 1062

Featured image The Arizona legislature has passed S.B. 1066. It amends a 1999 Arizona law called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). It does so in an attempt to strengthen the ability of vendors to follow their religious conscience by, for example, declining to provide services at gay weddings. The text of the legislation can be found here. The legislation has generated much criticism. The two most recent Republican presidential candidates have »