MichiganGalen Holley 5/14/09
Court sides with union in religious rights case
n DETROIT – A federal appeals court has ruled in favor of the United Auto Workers in a dispute over dues and the religious objections of a Roman Catholic at an Indiana factory.
In a 2-1 decision, the court rejected Jeffrey Reed’s claim of faith-based discrimination in the amount of money that must go to charity in lieu of paying dues to the UAW.
Jeffrey Reed, who works at AM General, a Hummer factory in Mishawaka, Ind., has been forced to pay the equivalent of full dues to a nonprofit group. He said that’s unfair, especially when someone who supports the UAW but not its political activities can pay less.
Reed accused the UAW of failing to reasonably accommodate his religious objections to assisting the union. But Judge Alice Batchelder said the lawsuit fails because the union has done nothing to harm his job.
EU says religious dialogue important
n BRUSSELS – The European Union is criticizing the decision of some Jewish leaders to boycott an EU meeting of religious officials, over the inclusion of Muslim participants whom they consider objectionable. The World Jewish Congress says that some of the Muslim attendees have made anti-Jewish statements and some of its members don’t want to sit with them around the same table. This week’s meeting was the fifth such annual gathering, but it was the first time that any Jewish representatives had pulled out. Professor Tariq Ramadan — the president of the European Muslim Network — says “targeting people for their religion is unacceptable.”
Bishop to help bring
gay marriage to vote
n PORTLAND – The spiritual leader of Maine’s 200,000 Roman Catholics has pledged his diocese’s help in bringing the state’s gay marriage law to a vote in November.
Bishop Richard Malone also called the law “a dangerous sociological experiment” that will have negative consequences for society. Malone said marriage as it’s been known for millennia “has served as the cornerstone of society.” In a statement, Malone also expresses concern over the law’s effect on teachings about same-sex marriage in schools.
Gov. John Baldacci signed the same-sex marriage bill last week. Opponents quickly filed a challenge through Maine’s people’s veto process.
Malone said the Catholic Diocese will work closely with a number of partners to bring the issue to Maine voters.
School to offer Arabic and French classes
n COPPELL – A proposed charter school in suburban Dallas will be among the few in Texas providing Arabic and French classes to elementary students, according to school organizers.
Leaders of Manara Academy — which is scheduled to open in August in Coppell — say it’s important to emphasize Arabic, especially when government officials are seeking more Arabic speakers. Though leaders from the Islamic Center of Irving mosque have promoted the school, board members say it’s open to everyone, not just Muslim students. Several Arabic and Hebrew-focused charter schools have popped up across the country in recent years. Charles Haynes, a senior scholar at the nonpartisan First Amendment Center, said that with such schools, leaders must be vigilant and careful not to choose language texts that promote any sort of religion.
The Associated Press