Friday News Roundup: A bit of all that

NEWSReligious diversity-wise, this was not the year’s most exciting week. We’ll get to Fort Hood later – there’s no escaping that – but until then, here’s what else has been going on in the world…

Massachusetts lawmakers are reviewing a bill that mandates public schools give students a forum for talking about their religious views at school events and in assignments. Sponsors of the bill say that it will simply “ensure the existing free speech rights of religious students that are sometimes neglected at schools around the country,” but opponents argue students already have plenty of opportunities to express their religious views, and that the bill could open the door for teaching about creationism in science classes. Americans United weighs in.

Mexico’s Roman Catholic clergy are meeting this week to address violence inflicted by the nation’s drug cartels. Drug lords have increasingly dragged church members into the conflict, shooting priests and seminary students and then coming to confession to repent for their sins. The clergy is asking for international support and demanding government officials take action.

A federal judge ruled that South Carolina can’t issue license plates that say, “I believe” and have an image of a cross in front of a stained glass window. The judge said the license plates were unconstitutional because they violated the First Amendment’s ban on the establishment of religion. The Associated Press, The State and The Charlotte Observer report. Unreasonable Faith and the New York Times weigh in.

The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington said that the Catholic Church will no longer be able to continue providing $10 million in social services to the city if it doesn’t change a potential same-sex marriage law. The D.C. council is fighting back.

Orthodox Jews are “flocking” to South Dakota to see Sholom Rubashkin, a former manager of an Iowa slaughterhouse who was accused of defrauding a St. Louis bank and is now on trial, but who also happens to be a well-respected teacher in the Orthodox Jewish Community.

Melting ice caps on Kenya’s second highest mountain are causing crises of faith for those who believe a deity resides on the mountaintop.

For the first time, the Mormon church is backing gay rights legislation. In Salt Lake City, the church is supporting an ordinance that would prevent discrimination against gays in housing and employment. Salt Lake City is the first city in Utah to offer such protections.

We couldn’t do a roundup this week without mentioning the heartrending events at Fort Hood. Here are some takes on the situation: