Religion

Jim Urquhart / AP Photo

Native American tribes, clans and leaders from seven states and Canada say the U.S. government's recent decision to lift protections for grizzly bears in the Yellowstone National Park area violates their religious freedom.

They are suing to block the government from removing Yellowstone grizzlies from the endangered and threatened species list, which would allow Montana, Wyoming and Idaho to hold grizzly bear hunts.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter says he chose the wrong word in his recent remarks acknowledging his preference that Christian refugees should be treated as a priority.

Otter, speaking at an Idaho Press Club event Tuesday, said he believes in religious preference, not religious discrimination. When pressed on the difference between the two, Otter said the United States has an obligation to protect groups being targeted for discrimination.

 

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

The woman known as Mother Teresa was recognized as a saint by the Catholic Church on Sunday. More than 100,000 people filled St. Peter's Square for the ceremony honoring a person who'd spent much of her life in India, helping the poor, the sick and the dying.

A Boise man who met Mother Teresa and spent time in her ministry says he knew this day would come. Rick Harvey is a local jeweler who also serves as an Archdeacon in the Episcopal Diocese.

Josh / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho parents are shielded from prosecution if they refuse modern medical care for their children because they believe in faith healing. The laws allowing this exemption date back to 1972. 

Thursday morning, a bipartisan group of lawmakers will hear from people who want these laws changed. Rep. John Gannon (D-Boise) is on the working group, and says the issue is about child protection … and that religion should not be used to shield parents. 
 

Some states are trying to pass religious freedom laws. Utah's legislature has protected religious groups and advocates for same-sex marriage. Steve Inskeep talks to state Senator Stuart Adams.

The Hitching Post / Facebook

A northern Idaho city has settled a lawsuit brought by wedding chapel owners who oppose same-sex marriage.

The Coeur d'Alene Press reports that Coeur d'Alene agreed Friday to pay the Hitching Post $1,000 but not to change its non-discrimination ordinance. The city attorney says the city hopes the settlement will save taxpayers' money.

The city's ordinance makes it illegal to discriminate because of sexual orientation but includes an exception for religious organizations.

dion gillard / Flickr Creative Commons

Twenty-year-old Boise resident Mariah Walton told the Guardian U.S. she wants to see her parents prosecuted.

“They deserve it. And it might stop others,” Walton said.

The news site owned by British Guardian Media posted a story Wednesday about Idaho’s faith healing law and the untold number of child deaths it has contributed to.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Sunday started as a cold and icy morning. As the fog began lifting in Boise, Sunday morning radio programing was interrupted as President Obama stepped up to the podium at the White House.

“Pastor Saeed Abedini is coming home," Obama said. "Held for three-and-a-half years, his unyielding faith has inspired people around the world in the global fight to uphold freedom of religion. Now Pastor Abedini will return to his church and community in Idaho.”

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

A Christian advocacy group is arguing that a federal judge should not dismiss their lawsuit against a northern Idaho city, challenging that the city's anti-discrimination ordinance violates the wedding chapel owners' religious rights.

Attorneys on both sides of the issue presented their arguments in U.S. District Court on Monday. U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald Bush is expected to issue a decision in the next few weeks.

The Alliance Defending Freedom contends that the Coeur d'Alene ordinance compels Hitching Post owners Don and Lynn Knapp to perform same-sex marriages.

NNU Facebook page

This week's resignation of Northwest Nazarene University (NNU) President David Alexander has largely been blamed on backlash for firing a particular professor. When tenured theology professor Thomas Oord was fired, administrators said it was part of a budgetary shift at the private, religious university in Nampa. Another faculty member and four staff members were also laid off.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Said Ahmed-Zaid is an engineering professor at Boise State University. He's lived in Boise for 18 years, and is also a spokesperson for the city's Islamic Center. He's held that position since 9/11, representing his minority religion's members in a majority Christian state.

Some of Idaho's conservative Republicans have raised concerns this year about local Muslim populations and the potential influence of Sharia law in the state.

Those fears prompted local GOP events and a special lawmaker luncheon, while culminating in the decision by some lawmakers to kill a child support enforcement bill. That threatened the state's ability to enforce more than 150,000 child support payments.

Historians say this isn't the first time Idaho's government has focused concern on a specific religious group.

Mormon church, temple square, salt lake city
Doug Kerr / Flickr Creative Commons

New figures from the Mormon church show that a record increase in missionaries didn't lead to an equally dramatic spike in converts.

Statistics released by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints show there were nearly 300,000 converts last year. The figure marked a 9 percent increase from two years ago, even though the number of missionaries increased by 44 percent.

Mormon church spokesman Eric Hawkins said a number of factors may contribute to fewer baptisms per missionary, including a world that is increasingly secular.

Idaho Legislature

Three lawmakers refused to attend the Idaho Senate's daily invocation after objecting to the offering of a Hindu prayer.

Rajan Zed, guest chaplain, gave a lengthy prayer in both English and Sanskrit on Tuesday that focused on selflessness and peace. Senators from both sides of the aisle shook his hand and thanked him for coming.

However three lawmakers, all Republican, only came back onto the floor once the prayer was over: Sens. Steve Vick, Sheryl Nuxoll and Lori Den Hartog.

This post was updated Feb. 25

A Kootenai County Republican Central Committee resolution that would declare Idaho a Christian state was rejected Tuesday night.

The Spokesman-Review reports at least two-thirds of members supported a move not to vote on the resolution, tabling the idea.

The original post was created Feb. 24

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