Last week's top stories from our perspective:
Margaret Doughty, an atheist and legal resident whose application for U.S. citizenship was nearly rejected this month over her non-religious opposition to war, will become a naturalized citizen next week, the blog Divided Under God first reported on Thursday.
According to Divided Under God, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services decided to retract a demand that Doughty show proof "on official church stationery" that her stated conscientious objector status was a function of her being a "member in good standing" of a pacifist religious group. Huffington Post
Egypt’s prosecutors have been flooded with blasphemy complaints since 2011 as Islamists exercising their new societal clout have pushed for prosecutions and courts have handed down steep fines and prison terms for insulting religion.
This month alone, a Christian teacher in Luxor was fined $14,000 for insulting the Prophet Muhammad in class, a writer was given five years in prison for promoting atheism and a Christian lawyer was sentenced to one year for insulting Islam — in a private conversation.
Blasphemy cases were once rare in Egypt, and their frequency has increased sharply since the revolution. More than two dozen cases have gone to trial, and nearly all defendants have been found guilty. At least 13 have received prison sentences. New York Times
The New York Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against the New York Police Department over its surveillance of Muslim communities, accusing the police of trampling on religious freedoms and constitutional guarantees of equality.
The surveillance by the NYPD's intelligence division has extended beyond New York City's five boroughs into neighboring New Jersey and other nearby states. The police department says that surveillance of Muslims is legal under an earlier federal court order.
The lawsuit is the latest skirmish in an ongoing battle between the NYPD and civil liberties advocates over the department's aggressive policing tactics – including its stop-and-frisk practices, which are the subject of a separate federal lawsuit. Yahoo News
Abercrombie & Fitch is having a hard time proving in court that the Muslim headscarf worn by an employee who was fired in 2010 hurt the clothing company's sales, Law360 reports.
On Tuesday, when a federal judge in California pressed attorney Mark Knueve, who is representing Abercrombie, if he or any of his witnesses had financial records to show the woman's hijab hurt sales, Knueve said he didn't.
"A defendant says we're harmed but provides no real evidence?" Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers retorted, according to the report. "And you want me to grant summary judgment [in your favor]?" Huffington Post
Surrounded by sleigh bell-ringing Santa Claus impersonators, Gov. Rick Perry on Thursday signed a law protecting Christmas and other holiday celebrations in Texas public schools from legal challenges — but also stressed that freedom of religion is not the same thing as freedom from religion.
It was a serious tone for an otherwise fun bill-signing and should bolster the governor’s Christian conservative credentials before he travels to Washington for the Faith & Freedom Coalition’s “Road to Majority” conference with the likes of tea party darlings and U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Kentucky’s Rand Paul and fellow Texan Ted Cruz.
Dubbed the “Merry Christmas bill,” the bipartisan measure sailed through the state House and Senate to reach Perry’s desk. Washington Post