Nigeria’s Presidential Election: News Roundup

This week in the news: presidential voting in Nigeria included violence, but also rays of hope, a Jehovah’s witness challenges Kentucky on being denied a bloodless transfusion, and an Alaskan business owner is fined for religious discrimination

Nigeria Elections

This week marked the Presidential elections in Nigeria, a country infamous for its ballot stuffing and violent protests during elections. Contributing to the tensions is corruption around oil revenue and the deep divide between the Muslim northern and Christian southern regions of the country. 
Results were reported early in the day with incumbent Goodluck Jonathan running away with the victory. Initially, the atmosphere after the announced results was as peaceful as anyone could have hoped for, but that night saw extensive rioting and violence between Muslims and Christians. (Mobs leave charred corpses, fear in north Nigeria, Metronews)
Before the election, Jonathan’s main competitor, Muhammadu Buhari, announced he would not challenge the election results, but he has changed gears after discovering evidence that “results were rigged by electoral commission computers.” (Presidential Rival Challenging Nigerian Election Results, Voice of America)
Despite the intended Buhari challenge and significant violence, the international community and local leaders are focusing on the positives. So far, there is less violence than what has been witnessed in previous elections and the international community recognizes that this election seems to be the most credible since the end of military rule in 1999. (Presidency – Jonathan's Mandate Cuts Across Religion, Ethnicity,

Jehovah's witness fights for bloodless transplant

A 64 year old woman in need of a liver transplant is suing the Kansas Health Policy Authority. A transfusion-less procedure is available in Nebraska, but approval was denied based on the cost of the Nebraska procedure.  Medicaid would cover the procedure at the University of Kansas Hospital, but that procedure requires a transfusion.

The constitutional implications of this case are difficult to discern because it falls in the shadow of two U.S. Supreme Court decisions 30 years apart that take different positions.
In the more recent case from 1990, the high court decided that the government could adopt laws that might burden someone’s religion as long as the law was neutral and didn’t target a specific faith.
But Stinemetz’s legal team cites a 1963 Supreme Court case in which the justices ruled that government needed a compelling state interest to justify infringing on someone’s right to freely exercise their religion. (Jehovah’s Witness sues Kansas for bloodless transplant, The Kansas City Star)
This story adds to the discussion about religious rights and their impact on society. In this case, Kansas is denying the request because of the cost to a taxpayer funded system. Should the patient be eligible to receive the transfusion-less procedure at the expense of Medicaid?

Employee experiences religious discrimination

A Goldstream, AK, storeowner has been fined for creating a hostile work environment. The store manager, Lynn Dowler, and three other employees left their jobs after being informed that the owner, Paul Kopf, would continue to openly express his beliefs despite objections from his staff.
During a hearing in Anchorage last year, Kopf did not contest he talked with Dowler about religion daily. He denied allegations he told her that Catholics would go to hell and are the “root of all evil.”
The tensions concerning religion and other issues apparently lasted for about six months, according to the human rights commission case. Dowler worked for the store as a clerk and then a manager for 27 years. Kopf purchased the business in July 2008 and immediately began talking about religion with Dowler.

One exhibit used in the case was the memo that inspired the employees to quit. In it, Kopf wrote: “The OWNER of this BUSINESS is a very active CHRISTIAN who by nature of personality strives with lifetime goals to the befit of humanity. The OWNER is by nature prone to religious and philosophic conversations.” (Goldstream Valley Store owner fined $76000 in religious discrimination case, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner)

Beyond the $76,000 fine, Kopf has been ordered to attend a training about the laws that prevent discrimination.
In other interesting news this week: