By Bill Mears, CNN
Washington (CNN) - Few issues divide the Supreme Court - and the country at large - more than church-state matters, and arguments before the Supreme Court on Wednesday involving a workplace discrimination lawsuit against a Lutheran church proved especially touchy.
At issue is whether the Americans with Disabilities Act applies to hiring and firing decisions involving "ministerial employees" like teachers who may have primarily secular job duties.
The justices appeared at odds over whether this is substantive discrimination or simple retaliation against a Michigan teacher, after she complained to government authorities over her treatment on the job.
"You're asking for an exemption (to lawsuits) so these issues can't even be tried" in a government hearing on the merits, said Justice Anthony Kennedy. "She was fired simply for asking for a hearing."
"It's none of the business of the government to decide what the substantial interest of the church is," countered Justice Antonin Scalia. "There, in black and white in the text of the Constitution, are special protections for religion."
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) - Naif Al-Mutawa anticipated a struggle when he launched an Islam-inspired comic book series that he hoped would become a symbol of toleration.
He worried about the comics being banned in Saudi Arabia - which wound up happening, briefly – and he expected to be challenged by conservatives in Islam, since Al-Mutawa wanted to buck the trend of Islamic culture being directly tied to the Koran.
But it wasn’t an Islamic cleric that stalled the series, called “The 99,” after the 99 attributes of Allah, which the superheroes are supposed to embody.
It is the American market, and the voices of Islam’s Western critics, that have caused the most problems for “The 99,” says Al-Mutawa, who is the focus of a PBS documentary airing next week.
An Omaha, Nebraska, sixth-grader was told she could not wear a necklace with a cross to school because the rosary has become an identifying symbol for gangs, CNN affiliate KETV reported.
Elizabeth Carey told KETV that wearing a rosary is an expression of her faith, but Fremont Public Schools says it is a violation of its dress code.
"I'm wearing a cross necklace, a cross T-shirt and a cross bracelet. I'm thinking of how Jesus died on the cross and how he gave up all his sins for us," Elizabeth told KETV.
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.