Religious groups take on gun lobby at Capitol Hill: News Roundup

In the news this week, religious coalitions take on gun lobby, Hindus enter world's largest religious festival, anti-semitism threatens Jewish presence in France, and other stories. 

Dozens of the nation’s faith leaders said Tuesday (Jan. 15) that they’re ready to take on the gun lobby and demanded that politicians take quick and concrete steps to stem gun violence.

At a Capitol Hill press conference and in a letter to Congress, more than 45 clergy and heads of religious groups — representing the spectrum of American religious life — petitioned lawmakers to reinstitute a ban on assault weapons, require background checks on all gun buyers, and make gun trafficking a federal crime. Religion News Service

Once every 12 years, tens of millions of pilgrims stream to the small northern city of Allahabad from across India for the Maha Kumbh Mela, or Grand Pitcher Festival, at the point where the Ganges and Yamuna rivers meet with a third, mythical river.

Officials believe that over the next two months as many as 100 million people will pass through the temporary city that covers an area larger than Athens on a wide sandy river bank. That would make it larger even than previous festivals. After a slow start, police chief Alok Sharma said 1.5 million people had gathered by 8 a.m. (0230 GMT) on Monday, with more on their way. The Huffington Post

Anti-Semitism could destroy the history of French Jewry, the leader of France's Jewish communities said. “Not long ago, the notion that resurgent anti-Semitism could endanger the presence of Jews in France would have been considered absurd,” Dr. Richard Prasquier, president of the Jewish CRIF umbrella group, said Sunday in Paris at the organization's annual national conference. 

“This has changed” due to “parties and groups which are at times explicitly racist, and at other times ultra-secular [and in opposition to] ritual slaughter and circumcision," he said. "There is new anti-Semitism, and it complements the old.”

Planned as French Jewry's main event of the year, the conference was devoted to combating anti-Semitism and drew a predominantly Jewish crowd of approximately 1,000 people. CRIF's first annual event was held last year under the banner "Tomorrow, the Jews of France.” The Global News Service of the Jewish People

NPR published a story about making marriage work when only one spouse believes in God. Bixby and Peyer have known each other since they were young, but got married only a few years ago. Bixby and Peyer live in Longview, Wash. They have been married for two and half years but have known each other since 1981. Peyer is a church-attending Lutheran, and Bixby is an atheist. 

Europe's top human rights court ruled on Tuesday that equality laws and safety concerns trumped religious freedom in three cases where British Christians were sacked or sanctioned for expressing their beliefs at work.

The European Court of Human Rights ECHR.L ruled employers did not violate the religious rights of a registrar who refused to officiate for civil partnerships of same-sex couples and a counsellor deemed unwilling to offer sex therapy for gays.

It also turned down an appeal by a nurse whose hospital barred her from wearing a cross around her neck. In the fourth case in the verdict, a British Airways clerk suspended for wearing a cross won her appeal and was awarded damages. Reuters