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CHANGE, CONFLICT AND/OR INTOLERANCE

News items during 2007-February

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

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Events:

bullet2007-FEB-01: ON: School board pulls novel from library shelves: The Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board received a complaint from a parent that David Gutterson's award winning novel "Snow Falling on Cedars" was unsuitable for students because it contains two descriptions of sexual activity. Without reviewing the book, they pulled it from their library shelves. The action triggered negative reaction. Some typical responses:
bulletShirley Turchet of Unionville wrote: "I thought that Canadians, living in a 21st century democracy so precious in today's retrograde world, would be beyond book banning."
bulletGinetter Marino of Toronto wrote: "One parent's sensitivity will prevent other high school students from enjoying an award winning novel. ... The school board has an obligation to the development of its students, not to a lone objector who wishes to parent the entire student body by proxy."
bulletBill Petterson of Brampton wrote: "There are many, many sexual references in the Bible, including incest. Perhaps the board would pull that book." 1
bullet2007-FEB-01: Iran: Young woman on death row released on bail: Nazanin Fatehi, 19, was released from prison after having been sentenced to death and incarcerated for two years. She had been convicted of murder after she stabbed, in self-defense, one of three men who attempted to rape her and her 15-year old niece in a park in a suburb of Tehran during 2005-MAR. During a second trial, the court determined that there were inconsistencies in the testimonies of the male witnesses. They unanimously overturned the charge of premeditated murder. However, the court ruled that she had used excessive force to fend off her rapists. They asked her to pay "diyeh" (blood money) to the family of the deceased as compensation.

Her $50,000 bail was mainly raised by HelpNazanin.com, a website created by Afshin-Jam, an Iranian born pop singer and human rights advocate. She raised a petition signed by 345,000 people. She noted that 23 other juveniles are currently remain on death row in Iran.
bullet2007-FEB-01: BC: Two of the sextuplets died; one is holding its own; two get tranfusions. British Columbia social workers were granted control of the three remaining infants, born in January to Jehovah's Witnesses parents. They were in declining healthand their parents refused to allow them to be given blood transfusions on religious grounds. This was done by a provincial court without giving the parents a hearing. An earlier ruling by the Supreme Court grants parents the a right to a fair hearing. Doctors were able to give the three blood transfusions before their Jehovah' Witnesses parents could challenge the move in court. According to the family's lawyer, the parents are upset.

Children and Family Minister, Tom Christensen, said:

"We don't take any such action without a great deal of forethought, recognizing that it' a significant step for the state to interfere in a family. ... Our obligation to protect children is paramount."

Control was handed back to the parents on 2007-JAN-31 after the blood transfusions were performed, when the parents challenged the seizure in court. 3

bullet2007-FEB-02: U.S.: Results of a survey of Conservative Jews on homosexuality released: A survey was E-mailed mailed to 18,676 Conservative rabbis, cantors, seminary students, and lay and professional leadership. 4,861 responded. An additional 722 responded via a web site.

The survey showed that about two-thirds of Conservative rabbis and cantors believe that the Jewish Theological Seminary should admit gay and lesbian students for rabbinical study. Results were slightly higher among lay and professional leadership, and slightly lower among student rabbis and cantors. Similar results were obtained on the question of rabbis officiating at same-sex commitment ceremonies. 4 The Conservative tradition within American Judaism is the second largest, following Reform Judaism who already treat persons and couples of all sexual orientations equally. More details

bullet2007-FEB-19: Bana Research rates religious leaders: On FEB-19, Barna Research released a report on eleven religious leaders. Pat Robinson and Billy Graham are the only religious leaders out of a list of eleven who were recognized by most American adults. Charles Colson is unknown to 85% of Americans. Corresponding values for Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, and Andy Stanley are 83%, 96% and 95%.

Among American adults, 33% had a positive impression of Pat Robertson; 25% a negative imprint. The negative rating was the highest among the 11 religious leaders tested. 5

bullet2007-FEB-19: USA: Pentecostal chaplain converts to Wicca and is fired: Don Larsen had a religious conversion while on duty as a Pentecostal chaplain at Camp Anaconda, the largest U.S. support base in Iraq. He converted to Wicca, an Earth-base, environmentally conscious, non-sexist, non-homophobic, tolerant religion. On 2006-JUL-06, he applied to become the first Wiccan chaplain in the U.S. Armed Forces. By the end of the year, in spite of an unblemished service record, his request was denied, he was withdrawn from Iraq, and he was removed from the chaplain service. 6 More details
bullet2007-FEB-23: MA: Teaching about same-sex marriage to continue: Two families sued the Lexington school district in an attempt to stop them discussing same-sex marriage in class. Lexington is about 12 miles (20 km) west of Boston, MA. Massachusetts is one of only two states -- the other being Rhode Island -- that recognize same-sex marriage. The parents asserted that the school violated their religious rights by reading a gay-themed book in class and allowing students to borrow books that discussed homosexuality. The accused the school as having:

"... begun a process of intentionally indoctrinating very young children to affirm the notion that homosexuality is right and normal in direct denigration of the plaintiffs' deeply held faith."

The book that triggered the suit is "King & King." It describes a crown prince who rejects a series of princesses until finally falling in love with another prince. They marry, kiss, and live happily ever after.

Federal Judge Mark Wolf rejected their case, and ruled that public schools are:

"entitled to teach anything that is reasonably related to the goals of preparing students to become engaged and productive citizens in our democracy. ... Diversity is a hallmark of our nation. It is increasingly evident that our diversity includes differences in sexual orientation."

The judge had no choice in the case, because of previous rulings in similar cases. Also, if he had ruled for the plaintiffs, chaos would result. Religious liberals would probably sue the school board, complaining that by suppressing information about the existence of same-sex marriage, the school board would be violating their liberal beliefs.

A lawyer for the two families said that they will appeal. 7

bullet2007-FEB-27: USA: Gallup poll on the Iraqi war: Data collected from the beginning of 2005 to 2007-FEB in 13 surveys indicates a significant correlation between religious belief and support for the war:
Group Consider war a mistake Consider war not a mistake
All adults 52% 46
Protestants 48 49
   Black Protestants 78 18
   Non-black Protestants 43% 55
Roman Catholics 53 46
Jews 77 21
Mormons 27 72
No religious affiliation 66 33

Black Protestants oppose the war by more than 4 to 1. Jews oppose the Iraqi war by almost 4 to 1. Those with no religious affiliation oppose it 2 to 1. Mormons favor the war by almost 3 to 1. N = 12,061 8

bullet2007-FEB-28: Focus on the Family meeting discusses dangers of tolerance: Tom Minnery, senior vice president of government and public policy for Focus on the Family Action, addressed a meeting of social and religious conservatives during the last week in February. His topic was the need to fight tolerance toward minorities in the U.S. To make his point visually, held up his favorite rugby shirt which had been stained with spaghetti. He had cleaned the stain with a bleach. But the bleach had weakened the fabric to the point where three large holes appeared later in the fabric. Wendy Cloyt wrote on the Focus on the Family web site:

"He said, in a corresponding fashion, there's a lesson to be learned from nations that have seen a moral decline rooted in the country's drift toward multiculturalism and tolerance. Social battles of the '70s, '80s and early '90s were lost, because they were fought feebly." 9

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Links to religious news sources:

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

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Letters to the Editor, the Toronto Star, 2007-FEB-02.
  2. "Canadian-led campaign wins Iran teen's freedom," Toronto Star, 2007-FEB-01, Page A3.
  3. "BC seized three ailing sextuplets," Toronto Star, 2007-FEB-01, Page A1 & A12
  4. Ben Harris, "Most survey respondents vote in favor of gay Conservative rabbis," Jewish News Weekly of Northern California, 2007-FEB-2, at: http://www.jewishsf.com/
  5. "Billy Graham Tops Religious Leaders," Barna Research, 2007-FEB-9, at: http://www.barna.org/
  6. Alan Cooperman, "For Gods and Country: The Army Chaplain Who Wanted to Switch to Wicca? Transfer Denied," Washington Post, 2007-FEB-19, at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/
  7. "U.S. court upholds same-sex teaching to children," Reuters, 2007-FEB-24, at: http://news.yahoo.com/
  8. "Mistake for the U.S. to send troops to Iraw," We Hold These Truths, 2007-FEB-27, at: http://whtt.org/
  9. Wendy Cloyd, "Principles protect the fabric of society." CitizenLink.com, 2007-FEB-28, at: http://www.citizenlink.org/

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Copyright 2007 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2007-FEB-02
Latest update: 2007-MAR-01
Author: B.A. Robinson

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