Liberty University’s decision to make Glenn Beck a commencement speaker for its graduating class this year has caused a controversy — not because of Beck’s incendiary politics, but because of his Mormon faith. According to a blogger from Voice of Truth, “Alliances such as these are not glorifying to God, in that what association has God with false religions?” Nevertheless, the university maintains that Beck will “continue Liberty’s long tradition of Commencement speakers who are making a positive impact on society in all walks of life.”
While Liberty lauds Beck for his “positive impact,” a group of religious right activists are holding a “May Day” rally on the National Mall Saturday, billed as an attempt to end “the curse” on America for having “made the choice of death” in electing President Obama.
The Supreme Court’s decision to allowing the cross erected in the Mojave National Preserve to stand provoked a range of responses from groups watching the case. The ACLU and Americans United for Separation of Church and State called the decision a disappointment while the Alliance Defense Fund and American Center for Law and Justice applauded the decision, the latter calling it “a victory against anti-religious hysteria.” People for the American Way called the decision “misguided and shortsighted,” adding that its “creation of a loophole allowing for a religious display in a federally owned park was a clear violation of the spirit of the Establishment Clause, and an insult to citizens of all faiths.”
Eric Lee Garner was sentenced to 17 months in prison after threatening a Muslim woman and her child with a knife, saying of her head scarf, “You Muslim people scare people when you wear things like that.” A German Muslim group supported the display of crucifixes in public schools. “Religion needs to be visible in public space. That applies to all religions,” said a spokesman. A high school band director in Alabama has been accused of coercing students to attend a concert at a Baptist church and routinely leading a class in prayer. School officials deny the claim.
The Associated Press reports Pope Benedict XVI will likely apologize “for the church’s handling of clerical sexual abuse cases when he attends a meeting of the world’s clergy in June.” In Britain, a Foreign Office memo was leaked mocking the Pope’s visit in September, suggesting “Britain should mark the visit by asking the Pope to open an abortion clinic, bless a gay marriage and launch a range of Benedict-branded condoms.” Meanwhile, the New Humanist looked at the (UK) Christian Party’s platform, noting that “If elected, the Christian Party would increase the motorway speed limit to 90mph. It’s what Jesus would have wanted.”
An openly gay legislator in Illinois announced her engagement to her partner of six years, provoking a negative Republican response. Washington state petitioners responsible for a failed anti-gay referendum are trying to keep their names a secret in a Supreme Court case. Despite the plaintiffs’ strong conservative backing from groups like Focus on the Family, conservative justices appear to be the least convinced by their arguments. Justice Antonin Scalia “noted openness is a component of democracy.”
A whodunit practically wrote itself Wednesday when five Torah scrolls went missing from a synagogue in Brooklyn. “We’re unsure if it was someone within the congregation, but quite a number of people knew the combination to the safe and many people have keys,” said a community leader.
The creator of Everybody Draw Muhammad Day hopes to wash her hands of the campaign, saying it “isn’t really my thing.” Syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker applauded the idea, claiming “the nation is illuminated by a bright idea,” and calling “irreverence” the national religion.