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News of religious/ethical change, conflict and/or intolerance

2008-April

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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.

Events:

bullet2008-APR-02: USA: Leader of Reform Judaism calls John Hagee an extremist: Rabbi Eric Yoffie is president of the liberal Union for Reform Judaism, the largest tradition of Judaism in the U.S. He said that Reform synagogues should not work with the Rev. John Hagee, a Christian Zionist. Yoffie referred to Hagee as an extremist on Israeli policy who disparages other faiths. He noted that Hagee and his group, Christians United for Israel, reject any Israeli land concessions in order to achieve peace with the Palestinians. 1
 
bullet2008-APR-03: Wales: Anglican province rejects concept of female bishops: The Church in Wales considered but rejected the consecration of female priests as bishops. As in most Anglican provinces, the bishops, priests and laity must independently agree to major changes by a two-thirds majority. In the case of the Church in Wales, on 2008-APR-02, the bishops voted unanimously in favor, the House of Laity backed the bill 52 to 19, but the House of Clergy voted only 27 to 18 in favor -- 60%. The clergy vote was three short for the measure to become canon law.

The Archbishop of Wales, Barry Morgan issued a statement saying:

"Like this bill, the bill to ordain women to the priesthood (in Wales) was initially defeated but it came back to the governing body, and was passed 11 years ago. This is not the end for this bill either. It will not go away and it will not be ignored; it is something the Church in Wales will have to grapple with. But it saddens me that we will have to go through the whole process and all the work involved again." 2

Out of the 38 Anglican provinces worldwide, only Canada, Ireland, Scotland, New Zealand, and the United States have authorized the consecration of female bishops. More information.
 

bullet

2008-APR-03: KS: Westboro Baptist Church picketed: The Associated Press reported that about 400 people picketed the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, KS. The church is well known for its "God Hates Fags" website and the picketing of funerals of U.S. troops. Gay, straight and transgender demonstrators hugged, danced and cheered. Hope Prescott of Topeka waved a rainbow banner and said: "It's about time we did something like this again. We feel somewhat responsible for ... Westboro Baptist Church. It's about time we show our support for gays rights and all rights." 3
 

bullet2008-APR-03: TX: Fundamentalist Mormon compound raided: Acting on the complaint of a 16-year-old girl who said that she had been sexually and physically abused, police raided the temple of The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on the YFZ (Yearning for Zion) ranch in El Dorado, TX. By APR-05, 183 people had been removed from the ranch, including about 97 girls and 40 boys. Darrell Azar, spokesperson for state Child Protective Services said that 18 girls, who the state believes "had been abused or were at immediate risk of future abuse," were taken into state custody. 4 By mid-month, the number of children removed had increased to 416. More details.
 
bullet2008-APR-04: Russia: End of the world group abandons beliefs: Pyotr Kuznetsov is the leader of a Russian doomsday sect called the True Orthodox Church. They reject processed food and regard bar codes as Satanic symbols. He predicted that the world would end in 2008-MAY. During 2007-NOV, thirty-five of his followers barricaded themselves in a cave near the village of Kikolskoye, 435 miles (725 km) southeast of Moscow. They threatened to blow up gas cylinders if officials tried to force them to leave. Twenty-four left when spring floods caused part of the cave to collapse; only a few adults remain. Meanwhile, Kuznetsov is believed to have become depressed at the failure of his prophecies and has tried to commit suicide by hitting himself on the head with a log. 5
 
bullet2008-APR-06: UT: LDS Church issues news release concerning polygamy: The church issued the following message: "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reiterated Sunday that it has no affiliation whatever with a polygamous sect in Texas that has been subject to investigation by state law enforcement officers and child protective services. The Church discontinued polygamy officially in 1890, but more than a century later some news and Internet reports fail to draw clear distinctions between the Church and practicing polygamous sects." 6
 
bullet2008-APR-28: KS: Atheist sues U.S. Army: Army Spc. Jeremy Hall from Junction City, KS, is suing the Army for religious harassment. He began questioning the validity of his religion when he entered the Army. In 2007, he was a gunner in a Humvee whose protective shield stopped several bullets. When his commander asked him whether he believes in God, Hall answered "No, but I believe in Plexiglas." He claims that a superior officer threatened to bring charges against him when he tried to hold a meeting of fellow Atheists in Iraq; the officer has denied that this happened. After the lawsuit was filed, Hall began to fear for his safety. Other soldiers accused him of being immoral, a devil worshiper and a homosexual. For his own safety, he has been transferred to Fort Riley as a team leader. He said: "I will take care of my soldiers. Nowhere does it say I have to pray with my soldiers, but I do have to make sure my soldiers' religious needs are met. ... Religion brings comfort to a lot of people. Personally, I don't want it or need it. But I'm not going to get down on anyone else for it." 7
bullet2008-APR-29: USA: Southern Baptists report a decline in baptisms: Unlike many mainline and liberal Christian denominations, the Southern Baptists do not baptize infants. For Southern Baptists, baptism then becomes a matter of choice for their membership later in life. The number of baptisms thus becomes a crude indicator of future growth. The Annual Church Profile (ACP) created by LifeWay Christian Resources (LCR) shows that baptisms in 2007 within the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) dropped to 345,941 from 364,826 the previous year, a decline of nearly 5.5%.

LCR's president and CEO, Dr. Thom Rainer, said that the decline is part of a 50 year trend. He said:

"The reality is this: In 1950, Southern Baptists had six million members and we were baptizing 400,000 [annually]. Today we have 16.2 million and we're baptizing 345,000. So no matter how you slice and dice the statistics, it is not a good situation, and it is not a promising report."

References used:

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

  1. "Jewish Leader Calls Hagee 'Extremist'," Associated Press, 2008-APR-02, at: http://wwrn.org/
  2. "Church in Wales says 'no' to women bishops," Ecumenical News International, 2008-APR-03, at: http://www.anglicanjournal.com/
  3. "400 picket Westboro Baptist Church," Associated Press, 2008-APR-03, at: http://www.kfor.com/.
  4. Police storm temple at polygamist ranch," CNN, 2008-APR-06, at: http://edition.cnn.com/
  5. Tony Halpin, "Cult leader Pyotr Kuznetsov tries suicide after realising he was wrong about doomsday," The Times, 2008-APR-04, at: http://wwrn.org/
  6. "Polygamy investigation," LDS Church 2008-APE-06, at: http://newsroom.lds.org/
  7. John Milburn, "Atheist soldier's lawsuit cites harassment in Army," Associated Press, 2008-APR-28.
  8. "Southern Baptists report decline in baptisms," One News Now, 2008-APR-29, at: http://www.onenewsnow.com/

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Copyright © 2008 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2008-APR-04
Latest update: 2008-APR-28
Author: B.A. Robinson

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