Date published: January 25, 2011
* The UN General Assembly, as expected, passed a resolution in December on "combating defamation of religions," drawing criticism from human rights organizations and U.S. officials who say support for the measure continues to decline. The resolution sponsored by Islamic countries passed 79 to 67, with 40 abstentions, on December 21. Critics say it does more harm than good by limiting speech rather than protecting religious rights. The group Human Rights First, which has monitored the issue, called the vote the "slimmest margin of support since the resolution was first introduced a decade ago." In 2009, it received 80 votes in favor. 61 against and 42 abstentions. "While we are pleased to see continued declining support for these resolutions, we are certainly disappointed to see them continue to pass as a result of too many countries choosing to abstain rather than vote their conscience," said Paula Schriefer, director of advocacy for Freedom House, another human rights organization. Commented Derek Araujo, vice president and general counsel of the Center for Inquiry: "Rather than protecting freedom of conscience and expression, the resolution provides cover to those who would restrict them."
* As a reported 27,000 young Christians assembled in a four-day, year-end IHOP gathering in Kansas City. Missouri, it was learned that the International House of Pancakes has dropped its trademarkinfringement lawsuit against the evangelistic International House of Prayer. The restaurant chain, long known by the acronym IHOP, agreed to resolve its dispute with the ministry and dropped its case, according to documents filed December 21 in federal court in Los Angeles. The Kansas City-based church, which has several ministries in California, never filed a response in court to suits filed in September, reported the Los Angeles Times. A spokesperson with DineEquity, Inc., parent company of IHOP restaurants, said the company "agreed with the House of Prayer not to publicly discuss the case."