Religion Clause

From: Ruthe
Sent on: Friday, April 16, 2010 11:37 AM

Rights Group Charges Exploitation of Beggar Children By Senegal's Quranic Teachers
Today, April 16, 2010, 3 hours ago | [address removed] (Howard Friedman)Go to full article

Human Rights Watch yesterday issued a 114-page report titled Off the Backs of the Children: Forced Begging and Other Abuses against Talib?s in Senegal. [Links to full text and summary.] It charges that in the African nation of Senegal, over 50,000 boys, many under the age of 12, are forced to beg on the streets every day by brutal religious teachers, known as marabouts. According to an HRW press release:

In Senegal's predominantly Muslim society, where religious leaders wield immense social and political power, children have long been entrusted to marabouts who educate them in these residential Quranic schools, called daaras. Many marabouts, who serve as de facto guardians, conscientiously carry out the important tradition of providing young boys with a religious and moral education.

But research by Human Rights Watch shows that in many urban residential daaras today, other marabouts are using education as a cover for economic exploitation of the children in their charge. Many marabouts in urban daaras demand a daily quota from the children's begging and inflict severe physical and psychological abuse on those who fail to meet it.

A New York Times article also focuses on the HRW report.

Father's Religious Freedom Trumped By State's Interest In Protection of His Children
Today, April 16, 2010, 4 hours ago | [address removed] (Howard Friedman)Go to full article

In Thorne v. Arkansas Department of Human Services, (AR Ct. App., April 14, 2010), an Arkansas appellate court upheld the November 2008 removal of three children from the Tony Alamo Ministry compound in Fouke, Arkansas. The trial court had conditioned the return of the children to their father on his obtaining both housing and employment separate and apart from the Tony Alamo Ministries. The father argued that this condition violates his religious freedom by forcing him to choose between his religion and his children. The court disagreed, saying that the state's interest in preventing potential harm to the children outweighs their father's "conscientious choice to live on ministry property, work for the ministry, and depend on the ministry for his family’s every need." (See prior related posting.)

Foster Care Agency Charged With Religious Discrimination
Today, April 16, 2010, 4 hours ago | [address removed] (Howard Friedman)Go to full article

A Muslim woman, with the help of the ACLU of Maryland, has filed a complaint with the Baltimore City Community Relations Commission charging that a state-licensed agency refused her application to house foster children because she will not serve pork products in her home. According to an ACLU press release, Contemporary Family Services, an organization that places foster children, denied Tashima Crudup's application for a foster care license on the ground that exclusion of pork products from her home could create a discrepancy between her expectations and the needs and personal views of a foster child. Cudrup had finished a mandatory 50 hours of training for foster parents. She and her husband agreed that they would accept children of other religious faiths, would not impose their own religious faith on them and would make arrangements for the child to attend the church of his or her choice. ACLU says that the foster care agency has discriminated against Cudrup because of her religious beliefs, in violation of a Baltimore City Code, Chap. 4, Sec. 3-4.

NASA Employee Sues For Religious Discrimination After Demotion For Pushing Intelligent Design
Today, April 16, 2010, 4 hours ago | [address removed] (Howard Friedman)Go to full article

According to a release issued yesterday by the Discovery Institute, an employee at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) has filed suit in a California state court claiming religious discrimination, harassment and retaliation; wrongful demotion; and infringement of free speech rights. In the lawsuit, information technology specialist David Coppedge alleges that he was demoted for "pushing religion" after he loaned co-workers DVDs that support the theory of intelligent design. The suit was brought against JPL and California Institute of Technology which manages the NASA Laboratory. The Discovery Institute, which takes the position that Intelligent Design is not religion, argues that it is nevertheless illegal for an employer to discriminate against an employee based on what the employer believes to be a religion.

Presidential Memo Expands Non-Family Members' Visitation and Surrogate Health Care Rights
Today, April 16, 2010, 4 hours ago | [address removed] (Howard Friedman)Go to full article

The President yesterday issued a Memorandum (full text) to the Secretary of Health and Human Services aimed at assuring that hospital patients have the right to designate visitors and surrogate decision-makers other than immediate relatives. While the action is aimed primarily at problems faced by gays and lesbians, the President framed the issue in broader terms:

Often, a widow or widower with no children is denied the support and comfort of a good friend. Members of religious orders are sometimes unable to choose someone other than an immediate family member to visit them and make medical decisions on their behalf. Also uniquely affected are gay and lesbian Americans who are often barred from the bedsides of the partners with whom they may have spent decades of their lives -- unable to be there for the person they love, and unable to act as a legal surrogate if their partner is incapacitated.

The Memorandum calls both for new rule making and for enforcement of current protections. New rules must also bar hospitals participating in Medicare and Medicaid from denying visitation privileges on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. The Memorandum gives HHS six months to develop further recommendations on health care issues that affect LGBT patients and their families. The Washington Post reported on the President's action.

Court Says Muslim Did Not Prove Employment Discrimination, But Can Proceed on Other Claims
Today, April 16, 2010, 4 hours ago | [address removed] (Howard Friedman)Go to full article

In Awad v. National City Bank, (ND OH, April 15, 2010), an Ohio federal district court dismissed claims of religious, racial and national origin discrimination brought by Muslim, Arabic, Palestinian bank employee who was eventually fired. The court concluded that the bank had non-discriminatory reasons for the actions it took. However the court allowed plaintiff to pursue his claims of retaliatory discharge, and his claims of a hostile work environment caused by comments from fellow employees critical of Palestinians and Arabs. A press release yesterday from CAIR discusses the court's decision.

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