Activists ask 2012 candidates to sign religious freedom pledge

An advocacy organization for persecuted Christians has asked the 2012 presidential candidates to sign a pledge stating they would make religious freedom a priority in the United States and overseas if they win the White House.
Open Doors USA joined with religious freedom activist Tom Farr of Georgetown University to draft the pledge, which was unveiled Monday (Nov. 28). As of Wednesday, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., was the sole signatory among the candidates.
“The right of religious freedom must be applied equally to all religious communities in America, including Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and others,” reads the pledge.
“At the same time, religious freedom does not mandate belief, but protects the right not to believe.”
The pledge calls for the candidate, should he or she become president, to nominate federal judges who support religious liberty. It also asks candidates to make religious freedom promotion a foreign policy priority and urges the appointment of a religious freedom ambassador “who is a person of stature, experienced in matters of religious freedom and diplomacy.”

Gay, Muslim groups relieved by changes to bullying bill

Gay and Muslim groups say they are relieved after a Michigan lawmaker agreed to drop a provision in an anti-bullying bill that would have carved out an exemption for religious or moral beliefs.

State Sen. Rick Jones, a Republican, inserted a carve-out for a “sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction” in the Senate version of the bill. The state House of Representatives’ version of the bill did not include the provision.

Jones on Monday (Nov. 14) said he would drop his amendment and vote for the House version after critics said the language could allow gay, Muslim or other minority students to face harassment.

Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, agreed that enumerations would strengthen the bill but said Muslims were still “relieved” that the Senate bill is likely dead.