Obama at the U.N.- A New Religious Doctrine: News Roundup

In the news this week: Obama challenges assumptions about free speech and religion, Egypt and Yemen presidents issue rebuttals against Obama's speech, religious groups denounce anti-Muslim subway ads, and other stories. 

President Obama on Tuesday (Sept. 25) gave a forceful speech at the United Nations, in which he challenged much of the world’s assumptions about free speech and religion.

Here are five points from his address, which together, add up to as close to an Obama Doctrine on Religion as we’ve seen:

1. Blasphemy must be tolerated, however intolerable

2. Religious respect is a two way street

3. Turn the other cheek

4. One Nation under God

5. The Danger of Extremism

The Washington Post

The new presidents of Egypt and Yemen — both of whom were swept to power by uprisings demanding democratic rights — issued clear rebuttals on Wednesday to President Obama’s ardent defense of Western values at the United Nations, arguing that cultural limits on rights like freedom of speech had to be respected.

President Mohamed Morsi of Egypt, who billed his 40-minute speech to world leaders as the first by a democratically elected leader of his country, condemned the violence stemming from a short online video that insulted the Prophet Muhammad and led to numerous deaths, including that of the American ambassador to Libya and three of his staff members.

But Mr. Morsi rejected Mr. Obama’s broad defense of free speech a day earlier at the United Nations, saying “Egypt respects freedom of expression, freedom of expression that is not used to incite hatred against anyone.” The New York Times

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad talks to CNN's Piers Morgan about people of different ethnic backgrounds and religion. CNN

Religious leaders are rallying against controversial ads placed in 10 New York City subway stations that insinuate that Muslims are savages.

The ads, purchased by the American Freedom Defense Initiative say, “In any war between civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.”

New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority initially rejected the ads, citing a policy against demeaning language. However, after AFDI filed suit, a federal court upheld the ads. The Washington Post

Law enforcement is increasingly teaming up with faith groups to combat sex trafficking around the country. Some are calling the faith-based push against human trafficking the newest “Christian abolitionist movement.”

In California, an Underground Church Network has formed to help U.S. trafficking victims. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has developed a human trafficking curriculum. And the National Association of Evangelicals’ humanitarian arm, World Relief, told CNN in February that its North Carolina offices had seen a 700 percent rise in reports of human trafficking last year.

Religious groups have also rallied against Backpage.com, which is owned by Village Voice Media, which they say is a haven for pimps and traffickers. The issue drew the attention of President Obama at former President Bill Clinton's Clinton Global Initiative on Tuesday (Sept. 25), where Obama said the estimated 20 million victims of human trafficking would become a major focus of his Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Religion News Service

Bangor Township man who assaulted two men because he thought they were Muslims and was then ordered to write a report on the cultural contributions of Islam has a new assignment before him — to write a report on the history of Hinduism.

The judge rephrased his statement to say that Bell had been convicted of attacking two men he wrongly assumed were Muslims. He added that the victims in the case were actually Hindus, a religion that, rather ironically, differs vastly from Islam in its beliefs.

When Bell entered his plea, Bay County Circuit Judge Joseph K. Sheeran, ordered him to write a 10-page report on “the greatest accomplishments of Muslims.” mlive.com