Religious Freedom USA
by Diana Weber
Compromise boosts Specter-Wolf prospects
Legislators appear to have reached a compromise that will facilitate the passage of the Freedom from Persecution Act (the Specter-Wolf bill) designed to protect believers who suffer for their faith in countries such as China and the Sudan.
The compromise involves granting the President the power to waive automatic sanctions against offending governments and moving the proposed position of religious freedom "czar" from the White House to the State Department.
FBI reports 9,000 hate crimes
Local law enforcement agencies listed 8,759 hate crimes during 1996, the FBI reported. According to the FBI figures, 5,396 incidents were motivated by racial bias, 1,401 by religious bias, 1,016 by sexual-orientation, 940 by ethnicity/national origin bias and six by multiple biases.
Judge can display 10 Commandments in court
The Alabama Supreme Court has rejected on technical grounds a religious-freedom lawsuit brought against Circuit Court Judge Roy Moore for praying before opening his court and for displaying the Ten Commandments on his courtroom wall.
However, parties who object to the prayers and the display are still free to sue on grounds they violate the separation of church and state.
US religious leaders check on China's religious liberty
Three US religious leaders are visiting China this month to investigate allegations of religious persecution against Christians, Tibetan Buddhists and others.
Roman Catholic Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick of Newark, N.J.; the Rev. Don Argue, president of the National Association of Evangelicals; and Rabbi Arthur Schneier, president of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation met with President Clinton before leaving on a three-week fact-finding tour.
Court bans DC vote on school prayer
A District of Columbia appellate court has ruled unconstitutional a proposed ballot amendment that would have required all Washington public schools to authorize "student-initiated" prayer at school events.
Saying 'No' to City of Brotherly Sex
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia took an official stand against three city ordinances that would extend health and pension benefits to the same-sex partners of all city employees. Cardinal Anthony Bevilaqua called the legislation "destructive to our city's moral and social structure."