HIGHER GROUND: Atheist to give invocation before N.Y. town’s meeting

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Last month, the town of Greece, N.Y., won its fight to offer a prayer before its government board meetings, but with that victory came the stipulation that anyone was free to say one.

Next month, the town is making good on its word, and welcoming Dan Courtney, a member of the Atheist Community of Rochester, as he gives the invocation.

Mr. Courtney told the Religion News Service that his speech will “focus on inclusion.”

“For too long the invocations at these meetings were invitation only affairs, as if the public space was a private club. The result was over a decade of solely Christian prayer,” Mr. Courtney posted on his Facebook page. “The Court may have ruled in favor of the Town of Greece, but the real legal victory” is ensuring that “the party is no longer private. And the festivities have just begun.”

Mr. Courtney is scheduled to give the invocation at the town’s board meeting July 15.

Freedom Flip Flop

A Sudanese mother who was freed from a death sentence and arrested again in less than a day has been released from police custody.

A lawyer for Meriam Ibrahim told the Associated Press on Thursday that the 27-year-old Christian woman had been released from custody after she and her family were detained at Khartoum’s airport.

Reuters reported earlier in the week that Sudanese authorities had summoned the American and South Sudanese ambassadors. The AP reported her release came after pressure from foreign diplomats.

Ms. Ibrahim had been imprisoned in Sudan after a court sentenced her to death last month for apostasy, ruling that because her father was Muslim, she was a Muslim despite her having been raised solely by her Orthodox Christian mother. She was given a chance to embrace Islam, but refused.

Ms. Ibrahim’s husband, Daniel Wani, is an American citizen whom she married in 2011. They have an 18-month-old son, Martin, and Ms. Ibrahim also gave birth to a daughter while behind bars. The Sudanese court that ruled she was a Muslim said, accordingly, that the marriage was invalid and thus she was an adulterer. Sudan enforces Sharia law, which prohibits Muslim women from marrying non-Muslim men, requires women to follow their father’s religion, and makes both adultery and apostasy criminal offenses.

No-fly no-no

A federal judge in Oregon this week ordered the government to come up with a new way to allow passengers on the “no-fly list” to challenge their status.

U.S. District Judge Anna Brown ruled the current method was infringing on the due process rights of the 13 American Muslims who brought the lawsuit against the government.

In her written opinion, Judge Brown labeled the process “ineffective,” and that the plaintiffs “have constitutionally-protected liberty interests in traveling internationally by air, which are significantly affected by being placed on the No-Fly List.”

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