Thomas Jefferson’s Quran on Display at Dubai World’s Fair; Rundown of Supreme Court’s Faith Related Cases; Scientology Rights Affirmed in European Court; Chinese Government Mandates Chinese Language for Tibet’s Monks; Mississippi Abortion Case Could Challenge Rove v Wade
Thomas Jefferson’s Quran on Display at Dubai World’s Fair
A copy of the Quran once owned by former U.S. President Thomas Jefferson will be displayed in the Unites States’ pavilion at the Dubai Expo 2020, the world’s fair currently underway in the United Arab Emirates after being delayed by the coronavirus pandemic. The historic English-language Quran, translated with a preface by George Sale, has never traveled outside the United States since it arrived in what was then colonial America. The two-volume set was printed in London in 1764. The Smithsonian explains Jefferson’s interest in the Holy Book and how Islam became part of Colonial America.
Review of Supreme Court’s Faith-Related Cases
The new Supreme Court term will confront such contentious issues as abortion, gun control and religious liberty. At least four cases this term could change the religious landscape:
Ramirez v. Collier: This case grew out of a death row inmate’s quest to have his pastor with him just before he was put to death by the state of Texas. Under the state’s current policy, religious advisers do not have access to inmates in their final moments. Last month, the Supreme Court put John Ramirez’s execution on hold in order to weigh his religious freedom concerns. The justices will hear oral arguments in this case on Nov. 1.
Federal Bureau of Investigation v. Fazaga: In the wake of 9/11, Muslim Americans faced intrusive and often unjustified surveillance. However, the people affected generally struggled to challenge the government’s practices in court, in part because officials could claim “state secrets privileges” and refuse to turn over significant evidence. The Supreme Court will examine the limits of these privileges and determine whether the government has been given too much leeway. Oral arguments will take place on Nov. 8.
Carson v. Makin: This case centers on a tuition assistance program in Maine that’s currently unavailable to students at some private, religious schools. The justices will consider whether it’s unlawful to use public money to fund faith-based education, as state officials believe it is. Oral arguments are scheduled for Dec. 8.
Shurtleff v. City of Boston: Can faith-related flags fly on public flagpoles? That’s one of the key questions in this clash between Boston officials and a Christian group. The group alleged religious discrimination after the city turned down its request to use a city hall flagpole that had been shared with a variety of other organizations. The Supreme Court will have to decide if Boston officials were right to worry that flying the flag would represent unlawful religious expression. Oral arguments have not yet been scheduled in this case.
Scientology Rights Affirmed in European Court
The European Court of Human Rights ruled unanimously in favor of two Scientology religious groups in Russia, finding that they have the right to be registered as religious organizations under Russian law. This decision determines that members of the Church of Scientology of Surgut and the Church of Scientology of Nizhnekamsk have the right to religious freedom and freedom of association pursuant to Articles 9 and 11 of the European Human Rights Convention The Church’s human rights counsel, Bill Walsh, stated: “The judgment of the European Court of Human Rights today is a great victory for religious freedom in Russia and in all 47 member countries of the Council of Europe.
Chinese Government Mandates Chinese Language for Tibet’s Monks
Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and study centers must begin to translate classroom texts from Tibetan into Mandarin Chinese, China’s “common language,” according to instructions given at a conference held last month in Qinghai, Tibetan sources said. Monks and nuns must also learn and speak to each other in Chinese instead of their native language, government authorities said at the three-day conference launched on Sept. 27 at the Tso-Ngon Buddhist University in Qinghai’s capital city Xining.
Mississippi Abortion Case Could Challenge Rove v Wade
As the battle over Texas’ law that effectively bans abortions six weeks into pregnancy plays out in the courts, advocates on both sides are closely watching a highly anticipated Mississippi case heading to the U.S. Supreme Court. Abortion opponents see an opportunity for the conservative-leaning High Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, allowing Texas to end the practice outright. But reproductive rights groups are holding out hope that the court affirms abortion rights in a way that overrides elements of Texas’ new law.