1. Hartford Manor Primary School, a non-religious community school in a village in Chesire,cancelled the musical Darwin Rocks and replace it with a less divisive show following objections from parents. Several families threatened to withdraw their children from the play as they felt one of the scenes "mocked" a bishop involved in a historic debate on evolution. The decision to cancel the play has provoked anger from another group of parents who argue that is it "unacceptable" that their children have been denied a valuable learning opportunity.
2. Liam Holmes, a 10-year-old, kneeled during his Cub Scout troops recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. He said he kneeled "against racial discrimination, which is basically when people are mean to other people of different colors." It was his decision alone. Mayor Steve Schewel politely thanked him for his peaceful protest. A lifelong scout and veteran, Brandon LaRoque, said, "It just blew my mind that this was Cub Scouts and politics."
3. During China's lunar new year holiday, Chinese authorities have reportedly forced Muslims in the Xinjiang region to eat pork and drink alcohol amid an alleged crackdown on Islam. People living in the Ili Kazakh autonomous prefecture were invited to events marking the celebration and told they could be taken to re-education camps if they refused. A report claimed that officials have delivered pork directly to Muslim households and insisted that traditional Chinese new year decorations are displayed outside.
4. Pope Francis admitted that clerics have sexually abused nuns, and in one case they were kept as sex slaves. He added that the Church was attempting to address the problem but said it was "still going on" and that a number of clerics had been suspended. Under Pope Benedict, an entire congregation of nuns who were being abused by priests was shut down.
5. Al-Hijrah school in Birmingham, a Muslim school, will not allow girls to eat lunch until after boys have finished. Despite a Court of Appeal ruling in 2017 that found it was unlawful, the school is still segregating boys and girls. Luke Tryl, director of corporate strategy at Ofsted, said: "The Court of Appeal rightly said that schools needed a transition period where they were segregating and yet still we have not just Al-Hijrah but we have countless other schools, mixed schools which are segregating on the basis of sex."
6. Timothy and Tina Hauschultz, legal guardians of a 7-year-old boy, allegedly buried Ethan Hauschultz in a "little coffin of snow" because he failed to memorise 13 biblical verses. He was abused badly in the weeks up to his death, including being made to hold a 44lb log for two hours daily for a week. Ethan died of hypothermia and blunt force trauma across his body in Wisconsin in April last year. The accused face court February 4 this year.
7. The bodies of Mangri Munda and her children were found in a well near their home because of being accused as "witches". A group of men broke into their home late at night when she and her 2 sons and 2 daughters were asleep. They attacked them with wooden sticks and an axe before dumping their bodies inside the well. The main accused who has been arrested, claimed to be a "witch doctor". Six people have been arrested in the eastern state of Orissa but police believe more people were involved in the crime. Branding women as witches is particularly prevalent among tribal communities in the state.
8. In Indonesia's Aceh province, a young couple were whipped after they were caught cuddling in public - a crime under the conservative region's Islamic law. Hundreds of spectators watched the flogging of the 18-year-old couple. A 35-year-old man was also whipped with a rattan cane for being intimate with a woman, aged 40, in a local grocery store. All four had served several months in prison before the punishment. Banda Aceh deputy mayor Zainal Arifin said, “People outside of Aceh who think Islamic sharia (law) is cruel can now see that it is actually very tolerant and humane.”
9. Swaminarayan Temple, a Hindu temple in Kentucky was vandalized with painted crosses and Christian hate speech targeting Hindus. A knife had been stabbed into a chair and several doors were broken down. A 17-year-old white male is under arrest and was charged with first-degree criminal mischief and third-degree burglary. Hundreds of people from all religious backgrounds showed up to clean up the Hindu temple.
10. An unidentified man was executed after he was found guilty of raping two 15-year-old males, as well as kidnapping charges. He was hanged in the southwestern city of Kazeroon onJanuary 10. Iran charged the man with laws covering homosexuality, not pedophilia. Human rights advocates have suggested that, with this instance, the government may have executed him before questions could be asked about the case. Mehri Jafari, Iranian human rights lawyer said: ‘The gay community needs to react and clarify this is not a gay case. In Iran, it’s so important to clarify this because there’s so much pre-judgment. The danger is very real. ’