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RELIGIOUS CHANGE, CONFLICT & INTOLERANCE,

2005-December

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Sponsored link:

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We also have a list of religious tolerance news for this month. 
Sad to say, these are usually much shorter lists.

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bullet2005-DEC-01: Christmas wars restart: The annual conflict over "the reason(s) for the season" has once more surfaced. Some individuals and groups -- mostly conservative Protestants -- are advocating an exclusive, Christian-only, celebration in December. Others, mindful of the growing religious diversity in the U.S. are advocating an inclusive recognition of many religious holy days and annual days of celebration that Christians and others observe at this time of year. The conflict is even seen in Washington DC, where an exclusive Christmas tree has been erected at the White House, and an inclusive holiday tree has been installed in the Congressional foyer. More details.
bullet2005-DEC-01: UT: American Atheists launch lawsuit against Highway Patrol: American Atheists went to federal court to stop the Utah Highway Patrol and the Utah Department of Transportation from erecting large, 12 foot tall, metal Christian crosses on state property to honor state troopers who were killed in the line of duty. They ask that six existing crosses be removed.

The American Atheists' concern appears to be unrelated to the use of a marker as a memorial to recognize the location where a state trooper died. It appears to be the use of a religious symbol -- a Christian cross -- as the marker, and the use of the Utah Highway Patrol logo on the crosses. 1 More info.

bullet2005-DEC-06: KS: University professor hospitalized after assault: Paul Mirecki, a religious studies professor at the University of Kansas, had planned to offer a course in 2006-Spring to be titled "Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design, Creationism and other Religious Mythologies." During the week of NOV-27, he sent an E-mail to a student group in which he referred to conservative Christians as "fundies" and said that the course would be a "nice slap in their big fat face." He later apologized for the Email and requested permission to cancel the course.

Early in the morning of DEC-05, he was driving on a road south of Lawrence, KS, when a car tailgated him. He confronted the men in the car who beat him with their fists and perhaps with a metal object. The men referred to his course while they were beating him. He was hospitalized. Apparently, his apology was insufficient.
bullet2005-DEC-07: US: Some megachurches closing for Christmas: An Associated Press article by Rachel Zoll stated that several megachurches -- including Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, IL, Southland Christian Church in Nicholasville, KY, Fellowship Church in Grapevine, TX, and North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, GA -- will be closed on Christmas day, even though it falls on a Sunday this year. Some of these churches require hundreds of volunteers per service. By shutting down on Christmas, their volunteers will be able to spend the full day with their families. Ms. Zoll writes:

"Critics within the evangelical community, more accustomed to doing battle with department stores and public schools over keeping religion in Christmas, are stunned by the shutdown."

"It is almost unheard of for a Christian church to cancel services on a Sunday, and opponents of the closures are accusing these congregations of bowing to secular culture."

" 'This is a consumer mentality at work: "Let's not impose the church on people. Let's not make church in any way inconvenient'," said David Wells, professor of history and systematic theology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a leading evangelical school in Hamilton, MA. 'I think what this does is feed into the individualism that is found throughout American culture, where everyone does their own thing'."

However, they will have additional services on the days leading up to Christmas. 3

bullet2005-DEC-08: World: 25th anniversary of the assassination of John Lennon: Memorials and remembrances are being held world-wide to commemorate the assassination of John Lennon, the former Beatle.  In his hometown of Liverpool, UK, an official memorial service was held at Our Lady and St. Nicholas, the city's Anglican church. Unfortunately, the church refused to allow one of Lennon's best known anthems to peace to be sung -- even though its message is more important and critical today that it was when he was alive. (Consider the religiously-motivated disturbances, mass murders and genocides since 1980 in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Cyprus, Nigeria, Sudan, Pakistan, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, India, Sri Lanka, Philippines, etc. The church did reach an accommodation with the memorial organizers. They allowed the music but not the words to be performed. I would like to think that the congregation broke into unauthorized song as the music was played.

So we thought that we would print it below as a reminder:

Imagine.

Imagine there's no heaven,
It's easy if you try,
No hell below us,
Above us only sky.
Imagine all the people
Living for today....

Imagine there's no countries,
It isn't hard to do,
Nothing to kill or die for,
And no religion too.
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace....

Imagine no possessions,
I wonder if you can,
No need for greed or hunger,
A brotherhood of man.
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world....

You may say I'm a dreamer,
But I'm not the only one,
I hope someday you'll join us,
And the world will live as one.

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2005-DEC-10: NY: Two Catholic schools cancel yearly prom: Two principals of Long Island Roman Catholic schools have canceled proms for the class of 2006. During March, Brother Hoagland and other administrators of Kellenberg High wrote in a letter to parents saying, in part: "Common parlance tells us that this is a time to lose one's virginity....It is a time of heightened sexuality in a culture of anything goes....The prom has become a sexual focal point. This is supposed to be a dance, not a honeymoon." The administrators were also concerned about the use of alcohol and excessive materialism. In November, Kellenberg High decided to ban their 2006 prom; a month later, Chaminade High School in Mineola, LI, followed suit. Senior student Shane Abrams, 17, said: "It was like a slap in the face. A lot of kids feel like: 'Why us? Why this year?' Why didn't they ban the prom last year, or the year before?" 4

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2005-DEC-15: Holland: Controversy over wearing of the Hijab: A female teacher, Samira Haddad, was fired from the Islamic College in Amsterdam because she refused to wear a hijab (a form of scarf used to hide women's hair from view). The Equality Commission of the Netherlands had previously ruled that the dismissal was unfair. The school rejected this decision, because freedom of religion in the country means that the religious school has the right to enforce its rules even though they are not directly related to teaching. They said that "The profession of the Islamic faith leads to prescribed regulations in relation to clothing." The school also rejected a plea from Ahmed Aboutaleb, an Amsterdam alderman, who argued it is important for Islamic institutions to demonstrate tolerance. 12

bullet

2005-DEC-15: USA: The U.S. Senate rejected reauthorizing parts of the Patriot Act: Apparently because of civil liberties concerns, and the threat of a Democratic filibuster, the Senate did not reauthorization of the Patriot Act unless it has stronger protections for civil liberties. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said in a statement: "We applaud the Senate's decision to reject Everyone wants to increase national security, but that goal need not be achieved by sacrificing constitutional rights."

CAIR said:

"...The two Patriot Act provisions of greatest concern to civil libertarians are Sections 215 and 505:"

"Section 215 allows law enforcement to acquire a search warrant for 'any tangible thing.' It also forbids the warrant's recipient from telling anyone about the warrant. CAIR and other civil liberties groups support a Senate provision that would have required that the government show that a person whose records are sought has some connection to a terror suspect. Currently, law enforcement officials must merely say the records are needed for an ongoing investigation."

"Under Section 505, National Security Letters (NSL) can be authorized by FBI field inspectors. NSLs allow access to such records as financial, business dealings, telephone calls, e-mails, web sites visited, and Internet searches. They do not require a judge's approval and are typically presented to employers or internet service providers who are then prohibited from informing anyone of the request, even their own lawyers. The Washington Post recently reported that a stunning 30,000 such letters are being issued annually." 5

bullet2005-DEC-15: UT: Woman sues Fundamentalist Mormon denomination: A woman, identified only as "M.J." has launched a lawsuit against the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and its leader Warren Jeffs. She alleged that she was married in a nonconsensual spiritual marriage and that the resulting pregnancies have been physically and emotionally devastating to her. Her lawyer, Roger Hoole, said: "More young women are coming forward in an effort to stop these coerced, underage marriages.  I think that things are coming to a head in that community.  People are starting to realize that there's no future living in the fear that Warren Jeffs creates to keep his followers loyal." 6
bullet2005-DEC-16: Report on reliability of prophecies for 2005: Wolfgang Poizer prepared studied the accuracy of various astrologers and clairvoyants in 2005. As in previous years, their predictions were quite unreliable. A variety of "experts" had predicted:
bulletThe death of Prime Minister of Italy Silvio Berlusconi, Doris Day, and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
bulletAn assassination of President George W. Bush.
bulletA serious illness of President Bush.
bulletA love affair between US-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il.
bulletThe capturing of Osama bin Laden.

None of these actually happened. 7

bullet2005-DEC-19: USA: House passes, and NCC condemns 2006 federal budget: Rev. Dr. Bob Edgar, the general secretary National Council of Churches, an umbrella group of mainline and liberal Christian denominations, issued a condemnation of the 2006 federal budget passed by the U.S. House of Representatives. He wrote:

"We are disappointed and dismayed that the House of Representatives voted to pass the 2006 fiscal year budget—a budget that is immoral and hurts those who it should be helping. As members of the House of Representatives go home to celebrate the holidays with their families, they do so having done a great disservice to the millions of families they are supposed to serve. Rather than being fiscally responsible, members of the House have been morally reprehensible by cutting programs that help those most in need while giving tax cuts to the wealthiest among us. Having been born into poverty, I can only imagine that Jesus would be horrified by this budget."

"The story of Jesus’ birth recounts the treasured gifts that the wise men brought to Mary and Joseph—gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Today, by passing this abysmal budget, the House has delivered hunger, hardship and suffering to millions of American families. The Book of James addresses this issue of favoring the rich over the poor: 'But you have dishonored the poor…You do well if you really fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." But if you show partiality (to the rich), you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.' (James 2:6a; 8-9)"

"We will continue to pray that the Senate will respond differently—that they will have the courage to make a difference in the lives of children, the elderly, veterans, and low-income families by voting against this budget that will undoubtedly have a devastating impact on their lives." 8

bullet2005-DEC-20: PA: Federal judge rules against ID: In a 139 page ruling, the federal judge ruled that Intelligent Design was simply another form of Creationism, and thus cannot be taught in the Dover high school's science classes. He questioned the motives of the deeply religious supporters of ID, suggesting that they had intentionally lied to the court. Dover, PA will now be stuck paying for about one million dollars in legal fees. More details.
bullet2005-DEC-22: USA: Illegal federal monitoring of Muslims: U.S. News and World Report revealed in an exclusive report that the federal government has been running "a far-reaching, top secret program to monitor radiation levels at over a hundred Muslim sites in the Washington DC area, including mosques, homes, businesses, and warehouses.....Some participants were threatened with loss of their jobs when they questioned the legality of the operation..." In addition there were similar sites being monitored in at least five other cities. No search warrants or court orders were ever obtained. The FBI, Energy Department, Justice Department, and National Security Council declined to comment. 9
bullet2005-DEC-29: USA: Episode of South Park will not be rebroadcast: The final episode of South Park, called "Bloody Mary" was broadcast on Comedy Central on DEC-07. It was to be rebroadcast on DEC-28, but was cancelled at the request of Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. According to Eonline, they were concerned at:

"the satirical portrayal of the Virgin Mary and the pope and by the fact that the episode aired on the day before the Catholic Church celebrated its Feast of the Immaculate Conception. The conservative group demanded an apology from Viacom, Comedy Central's parent company, to Roman Catholics everywhere and "a pledge that this episode be permanently retired and not be made available on DVD." 10

bullet2005-DEC-29: CA: Expelled students sue private Christian school: Two 16-year-old female students were expelled from California Lutheran High School because the administration suspects that they are lesbians. Their attorney, Kirk D. Hanson, said that the expulsion traumatized and humiliated them: "Their entire support network was pulled out from under them because of suspicions about their sexual orientation." They have launched a lawsuit in Riverside County Superior Court, asking for unspecified damages and an injunction to prevent the school from excluding students with a homosexual orientation. According to the Associated Press, principal Gregory Bork allegedly "...grilled them on their sexual orientation and 'coerced' one girl into saying she loved the other." In a letter to the parents, Bork allegedly admitted that officials had seen no physical contact between the students. However he allegedly said that their relationship was "uncharacteristic of normal girl relationships and more characteristic of a lesbian one." 11

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Links to religious news sources:

bulletLists of general religious, conservative Christian, other Christian, and non-Christian news sources is available elsewhere on this web site.

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References used:

  1. "Atheists file suit to stop Utah Christian roadside memorials," AANews #1191, American Atheists, 2005-DEC-03
  2. "Professor treated for roadside beating," Associated Press, 2005-DEC-06, at: http://www.cnn.com/
  3. Rachel Zoll, "Some Megachurches Closing for Christmas," Associated Press, 2005-DEC-06, at: http://news.yahoo.com/
  4. Paul Vitello, "Hold the Limo: The Prom's Canceled as Decadent," New York Times, 2005-DEC-10, at: http://www.nytimes.com/
  5. "CAIR applauds Senate defeat of Patriot Act Extension," Islam-Infonet, CAIR, 2005-DEC-16.
  6. "Woman sues polygamist sect," Associated Press, 2005-DEC-15, at: http://www.cnn.com/
  7. Wolfgang Polzer, "ASTROLOGERS MISSED THE MARK IN 2005. No Love Affair Between Condoleezza Rice and Dictator Kim Jong-Il," ASSIST News Service, 2005-DEC-16, at: http://www.assistnews.net/
  8. Rev. Dr. Bob Edgar, "NCC General Secretary expresses dismay
    at House passage of 2006 federal budget
    ," National Council of Churches, 2005-DEC-19, at: http://www.ncccusa.org/
  9. David E. Kaplan, "Nuclear Monitoring of Muslims Done Without Search Warrants," U.S. News & World Report, 2005-DEC-22, at: http://www.usnews.com/
  10. Sarah Hill, " 'South Park' parked by complaints." Eonline, 2005-DEC-29, at: http://news.yahoo.com/
  11. "Suspected Lesbian Students Sue Christian School For Expulsion," Associated Press, 2005-DEC-29, at: http://www.foxnews.com/
  12. "Islamic school ignores headscarf ruling," Science Daily, 2005-DEC-15, at: http://www.sciencedaily.com/

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Copyright © 2005 & 2006 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2005-DEC-04
Latest update: 2006-MAR-07
Author: B.A. Robinson

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