It was one of those weeks. Lots of interesting headlines, but no sweeping themes or trends. So, here’s a bit of all that.
As usual Islam is in the headlines:
- Malaysia is making headlines for its harsh verdicts for Muslim citizens under Islamic law. This week, an Islamic court in Malaysia ordered an unmarried couple to be caned for trying to have sex in their car. Additionally, a man was ordered to be caned and jailed for drinking alcohol and a woman was sentenced to caning for the same offense. Islamic laws apply to Muslims only, who make up about 60 percent of the 28 million population, in all personal matters. Non-Muslims — Chinese, Indians and other minorities — are not subject to the laws (AP reports). Though the verdicts are inviting criticism from around the world, the conservative Muslim majority in Malaysia stands by the punishments (Reuters reports).
- A Muslim high school student is accusing clothing company Abercrombie & Fitch of discrimination, saying she was denied a job because of her hijab. 17-year-old Samantha Elauf said she applied for a sales position at an Abercrombie in Tulsa, Oklahoma and was told her hijab did not fit in with the store’s “look policy.” The EEOC has filed suit citing the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
And it wouldn’t be a news roundup without the latest studies:
- A new study in Reproductive Health claims that teenage birth rates are higher in states with greater levels of religious beliefs, possibly due to a disapproval of contraception. The study’s author, Joseph Strayhorn, said “The magnitude of the correlation between religiosity and teen birth rate astonished us. Teen birth is more highly correlated with some of the religiosity items on the Religious Landscapes Survey than some of those items are correlated with each other” (US News & World Report reports). Yikes. Lisa Belkin of the New York Times weighs in.
- A poll was released by the Bliss Institute of Applied Politics, comparing conservative and progressive religious activists. Most of the results were unsurprising. Conservative activists are almost exclusively Christian while progressive activists are more diverse. In terms of issue positions, conservative religious activists gave priority to abortion and same-sex marriage, while progressives prioritized many different issues including the environment, economic justice and peace. Reuters reports and Religion Dispatches weighs in.
President Obama’s aides met with the Dalai Lama on Tuesday, and China was not pleased. The government in Beijing views the Dalai Lama as a separatist leader who wants to divide the country, and criticizes any states who meet with him. Therefore, Obama has agreed to put off his visit with the Tibetan leader until after his trip to China in November.
In other news, Religion reporting is losing its prominence in American newspapers, Baha’is face discrimination in both Egypt and Iran, and atheists put their faith in twitter.
To those who are celebrating, Shana Tova and Eid Mubarak! To the rest of you, have a fabulous weekend.