Sikh U.S. Army captain wearing a camouflage turban

U.S. Army to Permit Religious Turbans, Beards, and Hijabs

January 15, 2017

The United States Army will now allow soldiers to wear turbans, hijabs, and other religious markers, according to a new policy issued last week.

The new uniform regulations come after years of petitions from Sikhs, whose religious beliefs mandate them to grow their hair long and keep their heads covered with a turban. Army grooming standards compelling men to be clean-shaven particularly restricted Sikh men from enlisting, because to do so would require them violate the precepts of their faith.

Little girl in swim cap leans on edge of pool

Swiss Court Rules Against Coed Swim Exemption for Muslim Girls

January 12, 2017

On Tuesday, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that Switzerland’s public schools can enforce mandatory mixed-sex swim classes, even if parents object on religious grounds.

The ruling was the final step in a years-long legal battle waged by Turkish-Swiss couple Aziz Osmanoglu and Sehabat Kocabas. In 2008, when Osmanoglu and Kocabas’s daughters were 9 and 7, the couple refused to send them to mandatory school swim lessons.

White congressman gesticulating

New Congress 91 Percent Christian Despite Shifts in American Religious Makeup

January 6, 2017

The United States Congress is about as Christian but more Catholic than it was 50 years ago, according to a recent Pew Research Center study.

In their “Faith on the Hill” report released Tuesday, Pew delves into the religious makeup of the 115th Congress, which took office the same day. Of the 535 members of Congress, 485—or 91 percent—self-identify as Christian. This percentage has barely shifted since 1961, when 95 percent of Congress identified as Christian.

Mary and Jesus in light of drone

“Alternative” Christmas Cards Highlight Realities of Middle East

December 23, 2016

This December, a British humanitarian organization released a special collection of Christmas cards aiming to unsettle traditional depictions of the Nativity.

The UK branch of Médecins du Monde, or Doctors of the World, is an association of medics, midwives, and psychologists providing healthcare to displaced persons in the Middle East. The organization reports that it provided services to over 580,000 people in Syria, Yemen, Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraq last year.

Young girl holds American flag at pro-immigration rally

Post-Election, Churches Across Nation Declare Sanctuary Status

December 12, 2016

In the month since Donald Trump was elected president of the United States, churches across the nation have joined an ecumenical movement to provide safe haven to immigrants.

The “sanctuary” movement is a wide-sweeping effort among universities, religious communities, and other sites that serve the public to provide refuge to those under threat of deportation. “Sanctuary” can take a variety of forms, from serving as a symbol of the congregation’s support of immigrants to offering physical shelter in cases of crisis.

Pope Francis addresses bishops in South Korea

Pope Francis Extends Priests’ Power to Forgive Abortions

November 30, 2016

Last week, Pope Francis announced that he will indefinitely extend the power of Catholic priests to forgive abortions.

The extension follows the Church’s Jubilee Year of Mercy—a practice rooted in the Old Testament of the Christian Bible. Originally occurring every 50 years, the jubilee was a yearlong reminder of God’s mercy, during which time debts were absolved and relationships were restored. In the Roman Catholic Church, the pope can call an extraordinary year of jubilee at his discretion.