Office Chaplains and Burqa Bans: News Roundup

More and more companies around the country are providing their employees with “office chaplains” – spiritual advisors that take an open-minded approach to advising employees, giving not only religious or spiritual advice but also talking to them about everything from health problems, issues at work and financial woes. Calling themselves “humanitarian care-givers,” they work to alleviate stress and make life easier regardless of what an employee might be struggling with or what belief system they follow.

While Bible Belt employers were the first to employ chaplains, they’re now popping up at offices from Vermont to California. As there are more faiths represented at the average American workplace, and more of a desire to be open about one’s faith, chaplains can not only console and support employees, but they can aid managers and HR professionals in navigating any sticky religious issues that might come up at work (Wall Street Journal).
 
Burqa banning made headlines again this week.
 
Spain became the latest country to ban women from wearing the full Islamic veil in public. In a 131 to 129 vote, Spain’s Senate voted to prohibit women from wearing the full Islamic veil in public, saying the country must outlaw “any usage, custom or discriminatory practice that limits the freedom of women” (New York Times). Although the government is supposed to follow the Senate’s motion, it’s possible that the ruling Socialist party will find a way to evade the vote.
 
In August, the Australian Parliament will vote on a burqa banning bill modeled after Belgium’s. The bill says that “any person wearing a face covering while in public would be liable to a $550 fine, while anyone who compelled another person to wear such a covering, such as a woman's husband, father or religious leader, could be fined $1100” (Sydney Morning Herald).
 
The Council of Europe passed a resolution saying that all-out burqa bans deny women a basic human right, but also said Muslims should "abandon any traditional interpretations of Islam which deny gender equality and limit women's rights” (Reuters). Spiegel Online weighs in.
 
The Quebec government will appeal a ruling that said a Catholic private school could teach a mandated religion and ethics course from the Catholic perspective. Montreal’s Loyala High School was teaching the Ethics and Religious Culture course, which covers the full spectrum of belief systems and is mandated for all students grade 1-11, but since it is a private Catholic school Loyala argued it was unfair to ask them to teach the course from a completely neutral perspective. The government disagreed, but lost the case (Montreal Gazette).
 
The Judge wrote, “In these times of respect of fundamental rights, of tolerance, of reasonable accommodations and of multiculturalism, the attitude adopted by the [Education] Department in the current matter is surprising,” and added that forcing the school to teach the course in a secular way, “assumes a totalitarian quality essentially equivalent to the order given to Galileo by the Inquisition to renounce Copernican cosmology” (National Post).
 
And a few more headlines:
 
 
 

See you next week!