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This Week in World Religion 2018–09–30


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Medium (Humanist Voices)

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2018/09/30

“The annual International Blasphemy Day will be marked on Sunday as multiple countries continue to treat this as a criminal offense and dole out convictions.

The date marks a controversial anniversary, stemming from the publication of the 12 cartoons of the Islamic prophet Mohammed in Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in 2005, which sparked riots in Muslim communities around the world. The incident sparked a wider debate about censorship, criticism of Islam — a religion which strictly prohibits depictions of its most sacred religious figures, let alone ridicule — and about criticism of religion generally.

Now, 13 years later, the offence of blasphemy continues to be criminal not only in some Muslim-majority countries but many others, as it remains an “astonishingly widespread” practice, according to a report published last year by United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). The report lists 71 countries that punish acts of blasphemy, with the sentences ranging from a mere fine to corporal and even capital punishment.”


“Religious liberty has become a particularly politicized topic in recent years, and recent months were no different. In a long-awaited June decision, the Supreme Court decided in favor of a Christian baker who refused to make a custom wedding cake for a gay couple. In July, Attorney General Jeff Sessions introduced a “religious liberty task force” that critics saw as a mere cover for anti-gay discrimination. And Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s record has been scoured for evidence of what his appointment to the Supreme Court would mean for future decisions in which Christian beliefs clash with law and policy.

But when it comes to religious liberty for Americans, there’s a disturbing trend that has drawn much less attention. In recent years, state lawmakers, lawyers and influential social commentators have been making the case that Muslims are not protected by the First Amendment.

Why? Because, they argue, Islam is not a religion.”


“SINGAPORE: The fault lines that have been the most worrisome in Singapore since the nation’s independence are, after 53 years, no longer so in the eyes of its people.

Instead of race and religion, what worries Singaporeans more is the class divide.

That is the finding of the latest, and one of the largest, surveys on this topic, which Dr Janil Puthucheary, the chairman of — the national body promoting harmony — worked with Channel NewsAsia to commission.

Almost half of the 1,036 citizen respondents felt that income inequality is the likeliest to cause a social divide here.”


“How to handle religion in the workplace is a contentious and litigious issue that many business leaders struggle with. The subject is so third-rail hot that even Harvard Business School has devoted relatively few courses and case studies to it.

“Religion and business is considered one of the last taboos,” says Senior Lecturer Derek van Bever. “Our students have been asking for it because they see very clearly that they will be in positions of global leadership where they will have to deal with it.”

To fill that need, van Bever wrote the case study Managing Religion in the Workplace, using two high-profile cases of religious discrimination that were argued before the US Supreme Court in recent years: one about a young Muslim woman who battled Abercrombie & Fitch for rejecting her job application because she wore a hijab for religious reasons; and the second about a baker whose religious beliefs compelled him to refuse to design a cake for a gay couple’s wedding reception.”


“While men tend to be less religious than women, nearly 70 percent of Black men said they are religious — compared to 65 percent of Hispanic women and 55 percent of White woman — the Pew Research Center reported on Wednesday.

Black women are the most religious demographic in the nation at 80 percent, the analysis of 2014 data from more than 35,000 Americans across the county found.

Pew determined levels of religious belief based on answers to four questions: frequency of prayer, belief in God, attendance at religious services and importance of religion in their lives.”



In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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