Spiritual Women Win Nobel Peace Prize: News Roundup

In the news this week: the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to three spiritual women, anti-Semitic incidents in the US rise, the Supreme Court hears a case about religious exception in matters of discrimination, and other stories.

By honoring three brave, determined women – Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee, and Tawakul Karman, the Nobel Peace Committee shines light on true heroines of our time. This prize of prizes points to two realities that politicians, academics, and media have long downplayed. Women and those they care for suffer disproportionately in war and conflict. But they are also at the forefront of work for peace. Women tend to be shoved to the sidelines when it comes to negotiations and treaties, barely visible in photos of the peace tables across the world. But where it really matters you find women at work. The Nobel trio honors hundreds of thousands of unsung heroines in far flung, often dark corners of the world.
But there's a special dimension that gets precious little attention: religion as an inspiration for women's work for peace, and the support they get from their faith communities. Huffington Post
The number of anti-Semitic incidents in the United States increased for the first time since 2004, according to the Anti-Defamation League’s annual audit.
The ADL Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents released Tuesday showed that there were 1,239 incidents in 2010, up slightly from the 1,211 reported the previous year. The audit tracks assaults, vandalism and harassment reported during the calendar year in 45 states and the District of Columbia. The numbers reached a record high in 2004, with 1,821 incidents reported. Jewish Daily Forward
The Ashland man who allegedly plotted to fly explosive-laden, remote-controlled airplanes into federal buildings in Washington, D.C., was asked to leave a Roxbury mosque last year because of his radical Islamic views and suspected support of Al Qaeda, a mosque official said yesterday. Boston Globe
Desmond Tutu and José Ramos-Horta wrote an open letter to the international academic community about the lack of freedom of education in Iran. They call to their colleagues to come to the aid of Baha’is whose lives are being subjected to oppressive laws. Huffington Post
The United States Supreme Court hears arguments Wednesday in a major case testing the rights of teachers in religious schools. At rock bottom, the issue is who is a minister and when, if ever, that individual is exempt from the nation's civil rights laws.
Civil rights statutes do provide some exceptions for religious institutions. The laws allow religious organizations to prefer their own believers in hiring, for instance, and they allow churches and other religious organizations to require their employees to adhere to certain religious tenets. But what happens when a parochial school fires a teacher because she invokes her rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the law that bars discriminating against the disabled? The answer to that question could have huge implications. NPR
California's governor has signed a bill that that will prevent local governments from banning male circumcision. Gov. Jerry Brown's office announced that the Democrat signed AB768, a bill written in response to a ballot measure proposed in San Francisco. Huffington Post