Can religious organizations discriminate? News Roundup

This week three stories made headlines that beg the question: where do we draw the line when it comes to religious freedom? Read on to learn about the university religious group that claims it has the First Amendment right to discriminate against nonbelievers; Sarkozy’s decision to submit legislation to outlaw the burqa in public; and the legality of the Day of Prayer.

First, the Christian student group. This week the Supreme Court is deciding whether a Christian student group at a public university has the right to decide who is allowed in their group based on religious beliefs and other preferences.
The Supreme Court heard oral arguments for the case that involves the Hastings College of Law and the student group Christian Legal Society (CLS). Hastings requires all official student agree to refrain from discriminating in accepting voting members and choosing officers. CLS claims that despite this discrimination policy it has a First Amendment Right to “exclude non-Christians and gays as voting members, because such individuals do not adhere to the viewpoint that the Society is trying to promote.” Hastings withdrew CLS’s official status and claims they haven’t violated anyone’s religious freedoms because they’re free to hold their meetings elsewhere.
The federal district court and appeals courts ruled in favor of Hastings, but now the case has moved onto the Supreme Court. Why does this case matter? Because disputes like this are being “replicated across the country as cities and states enforce nondiscrimination policies against religious organizations.”
The major news outlets and blogosphere have had plenty to say about the matter.
An editorial in the New York Times sides with Hastings in A Case of Discrimination, as does an op-ed in USA Today in Our view on campus clubs: Religious freedom? Yes. But don't fund discrimination.
The Washington Post’s On Faith blog gives a fair assessment of both sides of the case.
The Mormon Times compiles some different opinions and explores the implications of the ruling.
The burqa is back! (Though is there ever really a week where it’s not in the news?) French President Nicolas Sarkozy ordered legislation on Wednesday that would ban burqas in all public places. In the past he’s talked about his animosity toward the burqa more generally, but made headlines this week when he asked his cabinet to put forward a bill to Parliament that if passed, could be in place by summer. Belgium and Quebec were in the news earlier in the month for their burqa-banning effortsAP reports on the burqa issue across Europe.
And, lastly an update on the Day of Prayer, which Michelle wrote about earlier this week. The White House is planning to appeal the Wisconsin judge’s ruling, and we’ll keep you posted on what happens. Here’s some more reporting on the topic:
Have a great weekend!