Friday News Roundup: Pushing Past the Headlines

istock_000003001750xsmallThe headline-dominator this week is, of course, President Obama’s speech in Cairo Thursday morning.

So what’s falling through the news cracks?  Some takes on Obama later but first, a slew of workplace discrimination news – lawsuits settled, new suits levied, new study findings released, new legislation passed, new complications to the AIG bailout.  Links below the jump.

The most unexpected first:  A Michigan judge is allowing a lawsuit claiming that AIG is violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment by accepting federal bailout money, because of its involvement with Sharia-compliant funds (that is, finance in compliance with Islamic law – check out a comprehensive guide here).  The suit claims that AIG is:

“using tax dollars to promote Islamic Sharia law and charities that may be funneling money to terrorist organizations.”

This doesn’t mean that the judge ruled this to be true, just that he’s allowing the case to move forward.  Read more at the Washington Post.

In workplace discrimination news, one case is settling while another gets going:

  • ConocoPhillips settled a case with an employee who was required to use vacation time to attend religious services on Sunday rather than being able to alter his work schedule.  The company is making a payout, granting the employee more vacation days, revising their policies and procedure and making a donation to a local food bank.  (Forbes)

“Chief of Custody Gerard Sheridan said the sheriff’s office was complying with workplace health laws governing face masks authorized for use in jail emergencies.

Fazlovic alleges he sought a special accommodation for which he was denied and told he would need to change jobs in order to wear a beard.”  (

The Oregon Statement-Journal and Portland Business Journal reports that the Oregon House of Representatives passed the Workplace Religious Freedom Act, which will require accommodation of religious needs as long as no undue hardship is placed on the employer.

“The bill addresses such activities as the wearing of religious accouterments and the need for some to take religious holiday leaves. [Representative] Hunt modeled it after current laws demanding that workplaces accommodate those with physical disabilities in the workplace.” (Portland Biz Journal)

It awaits the governor’s signature.

Finally, a poll of British church-goers conducted by The Sunday Telegraph found that 20% of them felt they had “faced opposition at work because of their religious” beliefs, while half thought they had “suffered some form of persecution for being a Christian.”  A majority also felt there was less religious freedom in the UK today than 20 years ago, and 20% thought Christian persecution was worse in the UK than the rest of Europe.  Read the article for more stats and analysis.

And or course, there was Obama.  Here are just a smattering of the articles on this speech.  We don’t endorse him, his politics or his policies, but the structure and messaging of the speech were intriguing for anyone involved in interfaith or interreligious work.

Your thoughts (on any of the above)?