Nepalese ban on religious conversions criticised
CHRISTIAN Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has criticised legislation by the parliament of Nepal which would prohibit converting to another religion or “hurting of religious sentiment”. If the Bill is signed by the country’s President, it would become a criminal offence to insult another person’s faith or even to speak about one’s own, CSW has warned. Similar laws in countries such as Pakistan and Myanmar had been misused to settle scores with religious minorities and to restrict the legitimate activity of religious charities, a CSW spokesman said; and the law would also conflict with the country’s international obligations to uphold freedom of religion.
Convention stays in Texas after transgender vote
THE next Episcopalian General Convention in the United States will go ahead in Austin, Texas, as planned, after proposed state legislation to require transgender people to use public lavatories designated for the sex they were born into was defeated. The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Most Revd Michael Curry, had previously said that if the law was passed the Convention might move to another city, as happened in 1955 over racial segregation. Bishop Curry said that he remained concerned about another Texas law that is due to come into effect on 1 September, to prevent local authorities’ defying a federal immigration crackdown.
Don’t Westernise aboriginal people, Australians told
THE Canadian National Indigenous Anglican Bishop, the Rt Revd Mark McDonald, has urged Australians not to fall into the trap of believing indigenous communities are a primitive group who need to be civilised. During a visit to Australia, which included a retreat for aboriginal church leaders, Bishop McDonald suggested that Australian Anglicans could, like Canadians, have much to learn by encountering indigenous peoples not as dehumanised savages, but a “distinct and worthwhile culture” with “gifts and talents and ideas”.
Pakistani judge: punish false blasphemy charges
THE High Court in Islamabad has issued a judgment that proposes tougher punishments for those who make false allegations under Pakistan’s blasphemy law, which can lead to lynchings, if not prosecution and the death penalty. The judgment, which also concerned a petition concerning blasphemy on Facebook, was welcomed by the director of an advocacy group for Christians, the Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement, Nasir Saeed. Although it would be better to abolish the blasphemy law, the judgment should provide an opportunity to debate and amend the law, he said. Marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of Pakistan, 24 British MPs and peers have signed an open letter calling for repeal of the country’s blasphemy laws.
Romanian bishop resigns in sex scandal
THE Romanian Orthodox Bishop of Husi, the Rt Revd Corneliu Barladeanu, has resigned after a video was circulated locally which is said to show him having sex with a 17-year-old male student from his seminary. According to the news agency AFP, the Bishop resign after a two-day Holy Synod was called to discuss the matter, although he denies that he had sex with the student. He said in a statement that he wanted to avoid a lengthy disciplinary procedure that would distract the Church. He will remain a monk, although unable to preside at the liturgy.