Thursday, January 18, 2007

Strange but True Religious Liberty Stories

Lately, I have been picking up a few rather weird stories from a religious liberty perspective:

Democratic State Sen. Lowen Kruse has introduced a bill that would eliminate two provisions to Nebraska's underage drinking law which allow minors to drink alcohol in their own homes or at places of worship during religious ceremonies. I wonder if it ever dawned on him that Catholics and some Protestant denominations use wine in their communion services? What is the world is he trying to control?

The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, which has the ultimate say in all legal, civil and governance matters in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, recently issued a fatwa, or religious edict, against the letter "X." It came in response to a Ministry of Trade query about whether a Saudi businessman could be granted trademark protection for a new service with the English name "Explorer." What, you may ask, does this group of clerics have against this poor little letter? It's similarity to a banned religious symbol - the cross.

Speaking of Saudi Arabia, Irish delegates on a recent 5-day trade mission to the Middle East were advised to cover up any crosses that they might wear. I understand the need to be respectful in business, but shouldn't respect flow both ways?

The Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CAN), Muslim Association of Canada (MAC), Windsor Islamic Association, Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), and Al Hijra Mosque and School, are asking the police to investigate a lecture series sponsored by Windsor, Ontario's Campbell Baptist Church, "The Deadly Threat of Islam," as a possible forum for hate speech. Good grief! Donald McKay, senior pastor at the church, told the Windsor Star that the event was organized simply to propagate what the church believes to be "absolute truth."

A Catholic diocese in Nigeria has instructed parishioners to show they have registered to vote in April's elections or forsake the right to take communion. Seems like a bit of an extreme way of getting people involved in the electoral process, don't you think? I agree that Nigeria's Christians have often needed to get more involved in their political process. Nigeria's politics are so dirty that Christians have often felt that to get involved would, of necessity, require a compromise of the faith. I think that this diocese, however, may be going a little too far in the other direction.

Love to hear any comments you might have about these or any other strange but true stories you may have read recently.


terri said...

Saudi Arabia must be one of the scariest places in which to live. A country ruled by clerics, so steeped in hatred that they must regulate it in minute detail, must fill the common people with deep despair.

Junius said...


I've read this a few times and still come up against a solid wall - what is religious liberty? Is it scriptural or something man-made?

Glenn Penner said...

I really believe that religious freedom (or religious liberty) is a God-given right. I deal with this in depth in my book, "In the Shadow of the Cross" and it would take some time; more that can be exmplained here. But that is the simple answer. My basis is the fact that we are created in the image of God and therefore created to worship and be in fellowship with our creator. No one has the right to interfere with that.

In my opinion, the human rights movement was originally based on Christian principles but has been highjacked by humanists and secularists