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Religious Liberty Reader


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Religious Liberty Reader

There is another thread on this Forum dedicated to Relgious Liberty. This thread should be viewed a complementary to that one.

View this Religious Liberty Reader as a news journal on the topic.

1. Some features of Religious Liberty focus on the rights of churches to promote their message.

2. Others focus on the rights of individuals to follow their own religious path, and,

3. A uniquely United States concern is the freedom not to have religions coerce government policy and practice.

4. Since the 1880's Adventist interest has intertwined with those of Freedom of Religion; perhaps even earlier.

It is my hope that we gain a fuller grasp of this cherished freedom as we examine the stories about it.

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2013, Hotel settles Seventh-day Adventist’s religious discrimination suit

Quote:
July 24, 2013

The owners of a hotel that allegedly refused to permit a Seventh-day Adventist to have a day off on her Sabbath and fired her has agreed to pay $45,000 to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said Tuesday that Comfort Inn Oceanfront South in Nags Head, N.C., which is operated by Virginia Beach, Va.-based Landmark Hotel Group L.L.C., refused to accommodate Claudia Neal’s request to not work on her Sabbath, which is from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.

The EEOC said Ms. Neal began working at the hotel in May 2009 and her request to have the Sabbath off was honored initially. However, management changed in October 2010. In November 2010, the hotel group refused to provide her with a religious accommodation and fired her.

The EEOC said in addition to paying Ms. Neal the $45,000, the hotel group will implement policies designed to prevent religious discrimination and conduct training on antidiscrimination and antiretaliation laws, among other measures.

“Employers need to understand their obligation to balance the conduct of their business with employees’ needs and rights to practice their religion,” Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC's Charlotte district office, said in a statement. “Where there is minimal impact on the business, those religious needs must be accommodated. No person should ever be forced to choose between her religion and her job.”

A company spokesman had no comment.

http://www.businessinsurance.com/article/20130724/NEWS07/130729922?tags=|70|75|305|303

Observations:

1. The duty of an employer to accommodate an employee up to, but not including, undue hardship seems to be a well-established principle in both the USA and Canada.

2. Legal reports tell the story and often explain the law:

Employers Must Accommodate the Sincerely Held Religious Beliefs of an Employee

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

http://employmentlawweekly.com/index.php...n-employee.html

3. Independent Adventist Spectrum Magazine reports:

Nags Head Hotel to Pay $45,000 after Firing Sabbathkeeper

23 July 2012

http://spectrummagazine.org/blog/2013/07/23/nags-head-hotel-pay-45000-after-firing-sabbathkeeper

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VIEW: Blasphemy: a ‘user-friendly tool’ —Dilnawaz Qamar

(The author provides a broad scope of freedom of religion from a Pakistan view point. The trigger to this op-ed is the sentencing of Adventist Sajjad Masih for "blasphemy." I have highlighted some points of interest.)

Daily Times, Pakistan

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

I have seen pictures where the cross (the sign of Ibn-e-Maryam, Rasul Allah, Abdullah and Masih in the words of the Quran) was thrown on the ground and desecrated. Isn’t that blasphemous?

Since 1947 there has been a series of wounds to the ‘Land of the Pure’. History is long and there is hardly any person who is unaware of it. To make the long history short, 2012 ended after driving some Hindus out of Pakistan. And 2013 started with brutal killings of our Shia brethren. The wound was not yet healed when Badami Bagh Christians were victimised in another act of sheer brutality in the name of religion. The issue popped up, tension was built between the two communities, protests occurred, political parties played their role, keeping into account the forthcoming elections, and then the story came to an end. Recently, Sajjad Masih, a 29-year-old Christian (Seventh-day Adventist) has been sentenced to life in prison over blasphemy accusations without any potential evidence. Masih was first blamed for stealing his ex-fiancé’s mobile phone and prosecutors initially claimed that he was to be punished under the Telegraph Act Section 25 B. It seems that this did not suffice. He was to be charged with blasphemy, the ‘user-friendly, commonly used tool’. The prosecutors eventually accused him of blasphemy.

Many such stories have been buried alive without any head or tail. To date, over 1,274 people have been the victim of this user-friendly tool. Whether it be case of (1) Sajjad Masih, (2) the Gojra incident or (3) blaming Rimsha Masih for blasphemy, (4) the persecution of minorities through killings or (5) the assassination of Salmaan Taseer, (6) burning houses of Christians or (7) raping women of other religions, (8) destroying properties of harmless communities or (9) forcing them to accept Islam, I always wonder why we want to become gods and not let God be God. Those believing in the oneness of God cannot even see how the Creator tolerates human beings. God bestows His blessings on everyone without any discrimination. Not to speak of those who believe in Him, rather He also blesses those who do not believe in Him. I have seen businesses of atheists flourishing, enjoying their lives on this earth while negating His existence. God does not kill those who have blasphemous thoughts. He lets those live who negate His existence. But when it comes to human beings, we want to have all the authority and we want to do all the works that God has not assigned us to do. It seems as if the ones who want to take control of everything have an eager desire to be omnipotent. Instead of leaving matters in His hands, we become the sole proprietors of religion.

The easiest way to maltreat minorities is simply to point a finger at a person with the accusation of ‘blasphemy’. A so-called jihad begins this way and then in the wink of an eye, everyone gets license to act brutally. This is how we please our Creator in Pakistan.

The owners of religion do not know that when they are involved in such outrageous acts they are actually withdrawing from religion. Faith in Islam is not complete without the belief in previous Messengers. Muslims believe that Jesus was one of the mightiest Messengers of God. Christ is spoken of as the ‘Word of God’, ‘Spirit of God’ and as a ‘Sign of God’. But ironically when someone is charged with blasphemy, I have seen pictures where the cross (the sign of Ibn-e-Maryam, Rasul Allah, Abdullah and Masih in the words of the Quran) was thrown on the ground and desecrated. Isn’t that blasphemous? Not to speak of Christianity, it is against Islam to blaspheme a Messenger who has a high status in the Quran. Why does religion become a tool of massive destruction? When Christians are persecuted the way they are, the blasphemers blaspheme a Messenger who is known as the Spirit of God.

As said before, the case of Sajjad Masih will be buried in a few days. Religious leaders will deliver emotional speeches, enthusiastic talk shows will have debates on different channels, but nothing will happen. Why don’t religious leaders, intellectuals and scholars engage themselves in improving the conditions when there is calm and peace? Why do leaders show their faces only when there are such incidents? This is the time when religious leaders from different ethical groups should step forward and propose solutions for the increasing extremism and intolerance in religion.

The writer can be reached at dilnawazqamar@fccollege.edu.pk

Source:

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2013%5C07%5C31%5Cstory_31-7-2013_pg3_6

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Islamists Demand Death Penalty for Seventh-day Adventist's 'Blasphemous' Text Message

July 30, 2013, Pakiistan

Quote:

Tensions are high in the Punjabi city of Gojra after a court sentenced a Christian man, Sajjad Masih, to life imprisonment for blasphemy, only weeks before the fourth anniversary of an outbreak of extreme violence against Christians in the same city...

Analysts say lower court judges, who are provided little security in Pakistan, often concede to pressure from religious groups in blasphemy cases and convict the accused even if little evidence is available...

Pakistani minorities and international bodies have long demanded an amendment or repeal of the blasphemy laws to avoid their misuse.

Source:

http://www.charismanews.com/world/40429-...us-text-message

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In Pakistan, Adventist sentenced to life imprisonment for alleged blasphemy

Adventist News Network, July 30, 2013

Quote:

... Sajjad Masih, 29, was convicted of sending blasphemous text messages to a member of a religious extremist group in 2011, despite his accuser’s subsequent retraction and prosecutors’ failure to produce any evidence of his involvement. Javed Sahotra, Masih’s defense attorney and fellow Adventist Church member, said the judge buckled under pressure from extremists who dominate the local religious and political landscape...

http://news.adventist.org/archive/articl...t-for-blasphemy

Observations:

1. This news item seems quite thorough and carefully worded by Elizabeth Lechleitner. Perhaps we should profile ANN's journalists. What drives them philosophically?

2. Some news articles by Elizabeth Lechleitner: http://record.net.au/authors/elizabeth-lechleitner-ann

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Saumur v. City of Quebec (Canada, 1953), Jehovah's Witnesses. literature distribution

Wikipedia: "Saumur v. The City of Quebec [1953] 2 S.C.R. 299 is a famous constitutional decision of the Supreme Court of Canada which struck down a municipal by-law prohibiting the distribution of literature to the public."

For Adventists, it helped provide a legal basis for colporteurs to do their work.

Saumur v. City of Quebec

This link provides the text of the judgement for the case:

http://scc.lexum.org/decisia-scc-csc/scc...1bXVyAAAAAAAAAQ

Clifford H. Peet. "Freedom of the Press." Liberty Magazine. April, 1957, pp. 13-15.

http://docs.adventistarchives.org/docs/LibM/LibM19570201-V52-02__C.pdf#view=fit

The author reports on two court cases involving Adventists Hilda Skoretz and Mable Werner. They worked as student colporteurs in the town of Shellbrook, Saskatchewan in 1956. The Saumur case played an important role in their acquittal.

Observations:

1. I wonder how many court cases have been influenced by Jehovah's Witnesses.

2. Do we, as Adventists, respect others breaking legal ground?

3. The judge in the Saskatchewan cases read the children's books, probably Arthur Maxwell's Bible Story, and was quite impressed.

4. The Saskatchewan cases came just before the Canadian Bill of Rights was enacted.

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