August 17, 1915: Leo Max Frank, an American Jew was lynched in Marietta, Georgia. Many historians believe he was innocent of the murder he was lynched for. The lynching was conducted by many influential people including a former governor of Georgia, the son of a Congress member, lawyers, physicians, mayors, sheriffs and others. As a result, about half of Georgia’s Jews migrated from the state.
August 13, 1553: In Geneva, Switzerland John Calvin orders the arrest of Michael Servetus for heresy.
In Courtroom #2 of the Franklin County Courthouse the Investiture of George B. Fearing took place July 1, 2013. George has been a board member of Center for Liberty of Conscience (CLC) but resigned upon his appointment to the bench. He practiced law with the same law firm (Leavy, Schultz, Davis and Fearing, P.S., now Leavy, Schultz, Davis, Clare & Ruff, P. S of Kennewick, WA) for 30 years.
Prior to practicing law, George graduated from Walla Walla University, spent three summers interning for Tom Foley, former Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, one summer interning for Senator Warren Magnuson, and then attended law school at the University of Washington. He is the sixth member of his 1982 law class to be appointed to the bench in Washington State.
During his investiture many judges, colleagues and others paid tribute to George’s hard work ethic, integrity, intelligence, keen abilities as a litigator and his compassion. CLC will miss George’s contributions to CLC and wish him the best as he presides as Judge of the Court of Appeals, Division III in Spokane, Washington.
July 5, 1589: Due to their Catholic faith, George Nichols, Richard Yaxley, Thomas Belson and Humphrey Pritchard were hung in Oxford near New College.
Egypt Aggressively Pursuing Blasphemy Charges under New Regime
– Derek H. Davis, J.D., Ph.D.
The New York Times reported on June 18 that Egypt’s legal system is now flooded with blasphemy complaints. The increase in blasphemy charges is largely a consequence of the regime change experienced by Egypt in February 2011 when Hosni Mubarak lost power and was eventually replaced by U.S.-educated engineer Mohamed Morsi, a long-time member of the conservative Muslim Brotherhood. Morsi, generally considered to be a moderate Muslim, proclaimed himself a leader for all Egyptians, vowing to protect the rights of women, children, and those belonging to non-Muslim religions. Nevertheless, Muslim activists have successfully pushed hard for prosecution of non-Muslims who allegedly blaspheme the Muslim religion.
Blasphemy cases were relatively rare before the new regime took office (although approximately 5 executions took place annually since 2000), but in recent weeks a Christian lawyer was sentenced to a one-year sentence for insulting Islam in a private conversation, a Coptic Christian teacher was fined $14,000 for allegedly insulting the Prophet Muhammad in the classroom, and a writer was sentenced to a five-year prison term for supporting atheism. It total, approximately thirty cases have gone to trial since Morsi took office, with few findings of innocence.
According to the Times report, “blasphemy complaints have been lodged across the society, against poor teachers in villages, a deputy prime minister, Egypt’s richest man, and some of its most prominent writers and journalists. A firebrand Muslim preacher who tore up a Bible at a protest was sentenced to 11 years in prison. His son received eight years on similar charges.” According to Abdel Moneim Abdel Maqsoud, a lawyer for the Muslim Brotherhood, “Contempt of religion, any religion, is a crime, not a form of expression. Is setting fire to the Bible freedom of expression? Is insulting religion freedom of expression?” He claims the increase in cases prosecuted are attributable to abuse of the “unprecedented freedom of expression” since Mubarak’s demise.
Egypt has a considerable Christian population, most of them now nervous about the new crackdowns on non-Muslim religions, especially the aggressive filing of blasphemy cases against them. “Slapping criminal charges with steep fines and, in most cases, prison sentences against people for simply speaking their mind or holding different religious beliefs is simply outrageous,” Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Director, said recently. Fines and torture have been the rule since Morsi took office, but many non-Muslims believe that momentum for eliminating all religions but Islam in Egypt is growing and they fully expect prosecutors to begin pursuing the death penalty with more regularity.
June 19, 1269: In France, Jews found in public without their identifying yellow badge were fined 10 livres of silver on orders from King Louis IX.
While the majority of Spain’s citizens claim to be Roman Catholic, fewer and fewer are regularly attend church and the number of practicing Catholics is declining. Yet the ruling conservative Popular Party is aligning with the Roman Catholic Church and legislating Catholic doctrine in moral issues. Not only pending abortion legislation has the majority of Spain’s inhabitants upset with the government but also the government’s requirement that more religion be taught in public schools and the diversion of public funds to semi-private schools, the majority of which are Roman Catholic. As a result of the government’s actions, support for church-state separation is growing.
. . . their argument simply amounted to this: It is our inalienable right to believe and worship as we choose. It is likewise our inalienable right to compel everybody else to believe and worship as we choose.
But this is no assertion at all of the rights of conscience. The true principle and assertion of the rights of conscience is not our assertion of our right to believe and worship as we choose. This always leaves the way open for the additional assertion of our right to compel others to believe and worship as we choose, should occasion seem to demand; and there are a multitude of circumstances that are ever ready strongly to urge that occasion does demand.
The true principle and the right of assertion of the rights of conscience is our assertion of every other man’s right to believe and worship as he chooses, or not to worship at all if he chooses. This at once sweeps away every excuse and every argument that might ever be offered for the restriction or invasion of the rights of conscience by any person or any power.
– A. T. Jones (his emphasis)
June 11, 1963: Thich Quang Duc, a Buddhist monk, protesting South Vietnamese government discrimination against the Buddhist majority sets himself on fire after being doused in gasoline. His heart remained, even after another cremation.
A Montana law requiring Hutterite construction workers obtain workers’ compensation insurance for any contracts performed outside their colony claim that their religious convictions are violated by purchasing such insurance. While a lower court found in their favour a higher court reversed that decision. A Montana lawmaker confirmed that the law mandating workers’ compensation insurance was enacted to create a ‘fair playing field’ as Hutterites were able to underbid their competitors.