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This web site has over 6,000 essays! You can use the navigation bar to the left << or try the search box above. ^^

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A fresh news item impacting religion.

This column is updated more or less weekly... actually less weekly now due to tax season.

Past news items can be seen elsewhere in this web site.

sad face 2014-APR: Are there limits on how a state can define marriage?

Everyone agrees that it is up to the individual states to define who can marry and who can't. The U.S. Constitution's 10th Amendment clearly states this. But there is disagreement about:
  • Whether the individual states have complete freedom to define marriage in any way that the voters or lawmakers want, or

  • Whether a state's marriage laws and Constitution must first meet the requirements of the U.S. Constitution.

In other words: is the U.S. a simple democracy or a constitutional democracy. Or: who is the ultimate authority -- the people in a state or the U.S. Constitution?

Utah is one of many states where the question is being actively debated:

  • The government of Utah believes that states have the right to define marriage eligibility in any way that its voters wish. The voters amended Utah's constitution in 2004 to ban same-sex marriage, and any other recognition of same-sex relationships. The state considers the 1,300 same-sex marriages solemnized in late 2013-DEC-20 and early 2014-JAN-06 as invalid. These couples will continue to be considered "legal strangers" to each other. Their relationships will be ignored, They and their children will be without elementary state benefits and protections.

  • Federal District Court Judge Robert Shelby in Utah determined that the Amendment 3 to the state constitution violates both the equal access and the equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Thus he considers the amendment as unconstitutional and regards the 1.300 same-sex marriages which were solemnized to be valid and to remain valid today.

Both sides in the conflict are absolutely confident that their interpretation is correct and that the other side is in error. The matter has been appealed to the Tenth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. They will probably rule sometime in 2014 and might offer some clarification.

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Current high profile topics in the U.S. -- with a religious component:

Of the hundreds of religious topics saturating the news, the following appear to have the highest profile right now. It is interesting that 5 of the 7 topics are related to human sexuality and/or gender. The following seem to be the most important current topics of concern to many faith groups:

bullet Same-sex marriage: What rights and protections should same-sex couples and their children have? Should they be allowed to marry, or be only registered in civil unions, or be allowed only to enter domestic partnerships, or be legally considered "legal strangers" -- merely as roommates? In mid-2013, the U.S. Supreme Court essentially overturned Proposition 8: a California referendum in 2008 that banned same-sex marriages in the state. Marriages are now available to same-sex couples in that state, in 12 other states and in the District of Columbia.
bullet Abortion access: In what situations should informed women be free to choose to have an abortion: all, none, or some? What are the best ways to reduce abortions: by restricting access or by making childbirth more feasible, or by increasing contraceptive usage. Would educating sexually active youth in how to prevent pregnancy and STIs help or hinder?

bullet Islamophobia: This involves fear, anger, hatred, discomfort, and/or discrimination directed against Muslims. Some target the 19 perpetrators of 9/11; some a group of violent radicals within Islam; some against all of the world's 1.2 billion Muslims.

bullet Religious freedom:  This term has two very different meanings. In the past it referred to people being free to believe as they wish, assemble with others of the same religious tradition, engage in different religious practices, proselytize freely, etc. However, it is now often used to mean something very different: to use religious freedom to oppress, denigrate, and attack women and minorities -- particularly sexual minorities.

bullet The fight against the HHS birth control mandate: A recent Health and Human Services mandate requires most employee health insurance policies -- including those used by Catholic hospitals, universities, agencies, etc. -- to offer free access to birth control to the employees.  The church feels that it is their religious right to fight its employees' access to contraception. Many of their Catholic and non-Catholic employees beg to differ. Numerous court cases are being fought. If the mandate survives, then there is likely to be a drastic reduction in unexpected, unwanted pregnancies, and thus a massive drop in the number of abortions.


"Federal Defense of Marriage act (DOMA):" This law originally prevented legally married same-sex couples and their children from obtaining any of the approximately 1,138 federal benefits, protections, and rights that were automatically given as special privileges only to opposite-sex married couples. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on 2013-JUN-26 that Section 3 of the law was unconstitutional. Same-sex married couples now have the same rights as opposite-married couples subject to some limitations. This ruling is expected to have a major long term impact on LGBT equality because of the majority opinion written by Justice Anthony Kennedy.


"Boy Scouts of America" (BSA): The BSA prohibited LGBT youth and adults from joining, and expeled any such persons when they were discovered within the organization. Delegates to their annual meeting voted to allow LGBT youths to join, but to expell them at age 18. Conservative religious denominations and parachurch groups are outraged that LGBT youths are allowed to join; some are organizing groups in competition to the BSA.

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This web's most popular sections:

Over a third of a million unique visitors come to this web site each week. However, about 97% of our visitors bypass this home page entirely and go to sections dealing with specific topics.

Recently, the most popular section is World religions' beliefs & practices, followed by Buddhism, Islam, Wicca, a neopagan religion, Hinduism, Homosexuality in the Bible, Human embryo & fetal development, Same-sex marriage, Christianity, Sharia law, Data about world religions, The Amish, TaoismOur group's statement of beliefs, Naturist info., and Homosexual orientation/LGBT topics.

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Information for these essays was extracted from reliable sources, and believed to be accurate and reasonably unbiased. Where possible, they have been reviewed by a group (typically of 3 or more persons) who follow the belief before the material is placed online. However, the entire field of religion is very subjective. Multiple, conflicting, and often mutually exclusive opinions abound. Before accepting anything on this web site that may have a direct impact on your own or somebody else's life, we recommend that you check out its validity with other information sources.

If you find any errors here, please report them so that we can list them on our errata page and correct our essays. A Contact Us link is at the bottom of almost every page in our web site.

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  1. The six religions on these navigation bars include the three largest faiths in North America and the three most visited faiths on our web site.

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