SCOTUS allows prayers at town meetings: Top 5 news stories

Prayer case divides Supreme Court justices along religious lines • Rialto school officials apologize for Holocaust assignment • 20 Are Held and Curfew Is Imposed After Attacks on Muslims in India • Report: Anti-Semitism heard at major Islamic conference in France • Muslim wrestler goes to the mat for his religious beliefs

Last week’s top news, from our perspective:

Supreme Court US 2010Prayer case divides Supreme Court justices along religious lines

The Supreme Court’s decision Monday to allow Christian prayers at city council and other public meetings divided justices not only ideologically, but along religious lines as well.

The five justices in majority are Catholics, and they agreed that an opening prayer at a public government meeting, delivered by a Christian pastor, brings the town together.

Joining Kennedy were Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr.

Rialto school officials apologize for Holocaust assignment

What started as an eighth-grade critical-thinking writing assignment has become a source of relentless controversy for Rialto school officials, who apologized profusely and publicly this week for asking that students consider whether the Holocaust was created for political gain or didn’t happen at all.

The assignment, developed by a group of teachers and the district’s educational services division, prompted widespread outcry and criticism from such groups as the Anti-Defamation League and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which called it “grotesque.”

The district said the assignment was meant to satisfy Common Core standards for critical thinking, but quickly pulled it and promised revisions. A spokeswoman called it a “bad mark” on the district’s record.

20 Are Held and Curfew Is Imposed After Attacks on Muslims in India

The police said Saturday that they had arrested 20 people suspected of being associated with attacks that left at least 29 Muslims dead in western villages in the northeastern Indian state of Assam, where tensions between members of the Bodo tribal group and non-Bodo residents, including Muslims, have been simmering for years.

The army has imposed an indefinite curfew in the parts of western Assam where the attacks took place Thursday and Friday.

The attacks, according to the police, were carried out in three villages by militants with the National Democratic Front of Bodoland, an armed insurgent group that has been agitating for a separate state for decades.

Report: Anti-Semitism heard at major Islamic conference in France

A major conference on Islam in Paris featured anti-Semitic speeches, according to a sociologist who listened to the lectures.

The speeches were given “a place of honor” at Wednesday’s 31st congress of the Union of Islamic Organizations in France, or UOIF, sociologist Michele Tribalat wrote in the Le Figaro daily Thursday. He singled out a speech by Hasni Ramadan, a prominent Muslim leader from Geneva who spoke before thousands of congress participants.

According to the news site www.europe-israel.org, Ramadan said during his address: “All the evil in the world originates from the Jews and the Zionist barbarism.”

Muslim wrestler goes to the mat for his religious beliefs

Muhamed McBryde has loved wrestling ever since he can remember, but when he had to choose between shaving his beard and competing for the University at Buffalo, the decision was easy.

McBryde and his father, Mustafa – with assistance from a national Muslim civil rights group – pressed the university to request a rules waiver from the NCAA.

Their persistence paid off in April, when the NCAA Wrestling Rules Committee granted a waiver, allowing McBryde to compete with a beard during the 2014-15 season, as long as he wears a face mask and chin strap to cover it. The university will have to make an additional request for a waiver for any other seasons in which McBryde competes.