Normally an annual gathering of British eccentrics marking the midsummer at one of the world’s most ancient sites, police descended on Stonehenge Monday morning to break up a meeting that contravened the government’s coronavirus lockdown regulations.
Police officers physically removed celebrants as they dispersed a crowd at the world-famous Stonehenge site, a Bronze Age UNESCO World Heritage Site formed of circles of enormous standing stones. Thought to be at least 4,000 years old, the stones are so arranged as to align with the rising sun on the morning of Summer Solstice — today.
The stones have major significance for British people generally, for world history, but also for British counter-cultural groups including Pagans and Druids, who celebrate simulacrums of pre-Christian festivals at Stonehenge annually.
The moment that local governments in the Western world began to issue guidance or full-on mandates for religious gatherings in the early days of the pandemic, many were concerned that society had stepped onto a slippery slope.
Fast-forward 15 months later, and we’re seeing pastors arrested in front of their children after their “underground” church services were discovered by a police helicopter.
This is the stuff of tyranny and totalitarianism, not Western-style democracy. Yet here we are.
This week, Pastor Tim Stephens of Fairview Baptist Church was arrested outside his home as his distressed children cried, all for holding a church service discovered the day before by a police helicopter.
A Colorado judge has stunningly ruled that an artist’s creations are not speech at all and the state is allowed to force a baker to violate his own religious beliefs in order to submit to the demands of a transgender activist.
The ruling from A. Bruce Jones, a judge in the state’s Second Judicial District, came in a lawsuit brought by Autumn Scardina, a lawyer who was born a man and now lives as a woman.
He demanded a cake from Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop in the Denver suburban area. He wanted it pink and blue to mark his “transition” to a woman.
Phillips is the baker who earlier was attacked under Colorado’s anti-discrimination law for declining to provide a wedding cake for a same-sex duo. A state commission publicly excoriated him for his faith and likened him to Nazis, an act that ultimately brought a rebuke from the U.S. Supreme Court for being hostile to faith. The court decided that case in Phillips’ favor. 7-2.
Critical to that decision was the fact that evidence revealed that when homosexual bakers in Colorado were asked to create a cake condemning homosexuality, they refused on the grounds it was a message they couldn’t support. The state supported their refusal yet required Phillips to undergo re-indoctrination because he wanted the same control over his messages.
Jones’ opinion was that the Colorado law – and its demands on an artist’s speech – “does not infringe on defendants’ religious exercise.”
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents raided a temple in New Jersey Tuesday after allegations that a Hindu sect lured hundreds of low-caste men from India to work on the building’s construction for about $1 per hour under grueling conditions, numerous sources reported.
At least 200 low-caste men are involved in a lawsuit that accused Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha, a Hindu sect known as BAPS, of exploiting the men at the Robbinesville site, according to CBS.
Lawyers representing the men said they worked nearly 13 hours per day and did intense manual labor like building roads and digging ditches for roughly $450 per month, according to The New York Times. They were allegedly forbidden from speaking to visitors and religious volunteers and were given foods with insignificant nutritional value, like lentils and potatoes. The men also reportedly faced having their pays reduced if they committed minor violations, like not wearing a helmet.
The lawsuit says the men were promised standard work hours and time off, the Times reported. They lived in trailers on the property and allegedly were not allowed to leave, CBS reported.
“They thought they would have a good job and see America. They didn’t think they would be treated like animals, or like machines that aren’t going to get sick,” Swati Sawant, an immigration lawyer who arranged legal teams to represent the temple workers, according to the Times.
Most of the men are Dalit, which is the lowest caste in India’s caste system, accoring to the Times. After one man died from an apparent illness in the fall, workers reached out for legal assistance.