Anti-Discrimination Law Comes for Religious Colleges

Aug. 24 2021

In April, a group of students and alumni of Yeshiva University (YU) filed a lawsuit after the school refused to recognize a gay and lesbian student club. If YU loses the suit, it could face a dilemma about how to continue to function simultaneously as an American university and an Orthodox yeshiva. Kelsey Dallas describes the similar situations that America’s myriad Christian colleges are confronting. At stake is the federal and state funding these institutions receive, which could be withdrawn if they are found to be violating ever-evolving nondiscrimination law.

Today, there are . . . hundreds of religious colleges and universities in the United States, but most are quite small. However, when it comes to responding to the needs of underserved communities, the schools punch above their weight.

Students [at these schools] must often agree to abide by a moral code, which typically includes prohibitions on drinking, smoking, and premarital sex. In recent years, these codes of conduct and related policies on sexuality and marriage have landed many schools in hot water. Former students, accrediting bodies, and policymakers, among others, have [averred that] faith-based schools are using religion as an excuse to be cruel.

Under federal law, faith-based colleges can request a religious exemption to nondiscrimination rules. If granted, they can sidestep certain legal protections for LGBTQ [individuals] and others and continue enforcing their most controversial policies, like bans on same-sex marriage. If successful, the current lawsuit brought by former students at religious schools would force the Department of Education to stop offering these exemptions. Faith-based colleges are also facing pressure from Democrats in Congress, many of whom believe LGBTQ-rights protections outweigh religious-freedom law.

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Read more at Deseret News

More about: American law, American Religion, Discrimination, Homosexuality, University, Yeshiva University

Why Is Iran Acquiring Property in Venezuela?

In June Tehran and Caracas concluded a major twenty-year cooperation treaty. One of its many provisions—kept secret until recently—was the transfer of 4,000 square miles of Venezuelan land to Iranian control. Although the territory is ostensibly for agricultural use, Lawrence Franklin suspects the Islamic Republic might have other plans:

Hizballah already runs paramilitary training centers in restricted sections of Venezuela’s Margarita Island, a tourist area northeast of the country’s mainland. The terrorist group has considerable support from some of Venezuela’s prominent Lebanese clans such as the Nasr al-Din family, who reportedly facilitated Iran’s penetration of Margarita Island. . . . The Maduro regime has apparently been so welcoming to Iranian intelligence agents that some of Hizballah’s long-established Latin American network at the tri-border nexus of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay has been overtaken by Hizballah activities on Venezuela’s Margarita Island.

Iran’s alliance with Venezuela most importantly provides Tehran with opportunities to target U.S. interests in Latin America and potentially the southern United States. Iran, along with the Chinese Communist Party, is in the process of strengthening Venezuela’s military against the U.S., for instance by deliveries of military drones, which are also considered a threat by Colombia.

While air and seaborne arms deliveries are high-profile evidence of Iran’s ties with Venezuela, Tehran’s cooperation with Venezuelan intelligence agencies, although less visible, is also intense. The Islamic Republic’s support for Hizballah terrorist operations is pervasive throughout Latin America. Hizballah recruits from Venezuela’s ten-million-strong Lebanese diaspora. Iran and Hizballah cooperate in training of intelligence agents and in developing sources who reside in Venezuela and Colombia, as well as in the tri-border region of Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina.

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Read more at Gatestone

More about: Iran, Latin America, Venezuela