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

2008-June


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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:

  • 2008-JUN-01: Turkey: Religious minority attacked at religious tolerance rally: AFP, a French news agency reported:
    "Hundreds of members of a radical Indonesian Islamic group armed with batons have attacked moderate Muslims in the capital, Jakarta, who were holding a rally calling for religious tolerance. Authorities say about 100 members of the National Alliance for Religious and Faith Freedom had gathered in central Jakarta to rally against a possible government ban on the minority Ahmadiyah sect. About 500 members of the hardline Front for the Defenders of Islam infiltrated the protest, attacking demonstrators with batons until about 50 policemen intervened, but no arrests were made. The Ahmadiyah group has about 200,000 followers in Indonesia and believes Mohammad was not the final prophet, contradicting a central tenet of Islam." 1
  • 2008-JUN-11: Canada: Government apologizes for abuse in residential schools: Steven Harper, the Prime Minister of Canada, apologized to the country's Native population for generations of physical, sexual and cultural abuse at residential schools operated by various Christian churches and funded by the federal government. CNEWS comments: "Roughly 150,000 native students were uprooted from their homes and sent to residential schools, where they lost their much of their language and culture and many were sexually, physically or mentally abused." 7 He got off to a bad start; Native leaders were frozen out of the preparations for the apology. While some Natives have welcomed the apology, many remain skeptical that it will not be backed up by action.

  • 2008-JUN-11: Norway: Same-sex marriage legalized in Norway: The Norwegian parliament passed a bill that extended marriage equality to same-sex couples. It will take effect in early 2009. More details.

  • 2008-JUN-12: USA: U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of civil rights for terrorist suspects: The Supreme Court ruled that foreign terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have rights under the U.S. Constitution and may challenge their detention in U.S. civilian courts. Some have been held without trial for over six years. As usual on religious, moral and civil liberties cases, the justices voted 5:4 with Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Alito, Scalia, and Thomas voting as a block of strict constructionist jurists to unsuccessfully deny the suspects' civil rights. This is the third ruling of this type. In the past, the Bush administration and Congress changed laws to effectively nullify the court ruling. 8

  • 2008-JUN-14: USA: Southern Baptist reject resolution to abandon public schools: At their annual conference, messengers debated a resolution to support a group in California that is attempting to ban same-sex marriage through a constitutional change. Ron Wilson, pastor of First Baptist Church of Thousand Oaks, CA, proposed an amendment to a Southern Baptist resolution calling on all Christians in California to remove their children from public schools. It is unclear whether he was referring to Southern Baptist parents, to all evangelical Christian parents, or to all Christian parents. According to OneNewsNow, the amendment "was soundly defeated." The resolution itself, to make marriage once more a special privilege of opposite-sex couples, was passed. 9

  • 2008-JUN-16: CA: Same-sex couples marry in California: The state Supreme Court court decision during May that legalized same-sex marriages became final on 2008-JUN-16 at 5 PM, PT. About 18,000 loving, committed same-sex couples married between mid-JUN and early NOV.  More details

  • 2008-JUN-17: World: Researchers suggest that homosexuals are born gay: Swedish researchers have used neural imaging to show key similarities between the brain functioning in homosexual men and heterosexual women. They have also found key similarities between lesbians and heterosexual mens' brains. Sandra Witelson, a neuroscientist at McMaster University notes that: "There are now about three or four studies on gays that point to a different organization in the brain. And what I think this means ... is that these are differences that can't be explained by any environmental or learning factors." More details

  • 2008-JUN-22: Conservative Anglican leaders hold conference: Over 1,000 conservative leaders of the Anglican Communion attended the GAFCON conference in Jerusalem. They rejected the St Andrews Draft Text of An Anglican Covenant which was produced by the Anglican primates’ at their meeting in Dar es Salaam during 2007 as an attempt to heal the division within the Communion over homosexuality and biblical authority. They found that the covenant was "... both seriously limited and severely flawed." More details.

  • 2008-JUN-26: USA: Supreme Court overturns DC's ban on handguns: The U.S. Supreme Court struck down the District of Columbia's ban on handguns. The vote was 5 to 4 with the strict constructionist Justices Alito, Scalia, Roberts and Thomas voting together as usual. They were joined by Justice Kennedy. .

    According to Eugene Robinson of Freep.com:
  • "The practical benefits of effective gun control are obvious: If there are fewer guns there are fewer shootings, and fewer funerals. As everyone knows, in the District of Columbia -- and in just about every city in the nation, big or small -- there are far too many funerals. The handgun is the weapon of choice in keeping the U.S. homicide rate at a level that the rest of the civilized world finds incomprehensible and appalling." 5
    According to plaintiff Shelly Parker:
    The criminals have the guns. If you are a law-abiding citizen, the law in this city says you do not have a gun." 6
    ABC News comments:
    "There has been a deep split on the issue in lower courts. While a majority of courts have said that the right to bear arms refers in connection to service in a state militia, two federal courts have said the amendment protects an individual's right to keep a gun.  6
  • 2008-JUN-26: USA: 32 mayors sign resolution against Iran war: AlterNet.org reported that Mayor Bob Kiss's office in Burlington Vermont has called on fellow mayors to sign a resolution to avoid military action with Iran. He wrote:
    "In these times, when the Iraq war has sapped so many of our financial resources and cost the lives of our brave soldiers, I hope you will join me in voicing the determination of mayors across this country to stop a war with Iran before it begins."
    The "National Mayors Resolution for Diplomacy with Iran" has 32 signatures. 10
  • 2008-JUN-27: ON, Canada: This is True news source reported that: Colleen Leduc, 38, of Barrie, Ont., Canada, has an 11 year old autistic child. Colleen was informed that a special education aide at her child's school had  consulted a psychic, who said that a girl whose name started with "V" is being sexually abused. The school principal told Colleen that on that "evidence," the school had already filed a sexual abuse report with the Children's Aid Society. Once the local CAS office realized the case was based on a psychic reading, they immediately closed it. The Child Welfare League of Canada acknowledges that there is a "zero tolerance" policy in place regarding child abuse, but says "there is still room for common sense under zero tolerance." Leduc said the school has not apologized for the outrageously false report.


  • 2008-JUN-27: USA: Presbyterian Church (USA) revises ordination standards: The denomination's General Assembly has approved three liberal changes to ordination standards. They added an authoritative interpretation of the constitution that will allow sessions and presbyteries to ordain candidates who do not meet their historic criteria for ordination. They removed an existing authoritative interpretation that prohibits church officers from being involved in committed same-sex relationships. They have approve an amendment to be sent to the presbyteries for authorization. It would delete the requirement of "Fidelity and Chastity" that restricts sexual behavior to opposite-sex married couples. The amendment also establishes as the standard for ordination a sincere effort to follow one's personal interpretation of scripture.

    Presbyterians for Renewal, an anti-gay conservative reform organization, stated that: "Having lost sight of her clear, Christ-centered identity, the PC(USA) has continued to embrace our culture's beliefs and morals."
    4 More info.

  • 2008-JUN-30: Afghanistan: Student sentenced to death for criticizing Islam: Sayed Pervez Kambakhsh is a 23-year-old journalism student at Balkh University and reporter for the local daily newspaper Jahan-e-Naw ("The New World"). The Afghan government has sentenced him to be executed for insulting Islam. He allegedly downloaded and distributed material from a Farsi website which suggested that the Qur'an and Prophet Muhammad legitimized the oppression of women. He was brought before a Islamic court, without a lawyer or public oversight. Accused of un-Islamic speech and activity, socialism, rebelliousness, and improper instigation of religious debate, he was convicted of blasphemy by the court and sentenced to death. The Afghan senate has confirmed the sentence.

    Article 34 of Afghanistan's constitution states that "Freedom of expression shall be inviolable. Every Afghan shall have the right to express thoughts through speech, writing, illustrations as well as other means in accordance with provisions of this constitution."

    Article 7 of the constitution commits the state to the United Nations charter and the
    Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 18 of the UDHR states:
    "Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance."
    Article 19 of the UDHR states:
    "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."
    So much for the rule of law.

    The Center for Inquiry is circulating a petition in support of Kambakhsh.

References used:

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

  1. "Islamic group attacks religious tolerance rally," AFP, 2008-JUN-01, at: http://www.abc.net.au/
  2. Joseph Hall, "Gayness linked to brain: Study finds similarities in MRI scans of gay men and straight women; lesbians and straight men," Toronto Star, 2008-JUN-17, at: http://www.thestar.com/
  3. "Visionary," This is True, 2008-JUN-28. You can subscribe at: http://www.thisistrue.com They also have "Get Out of Hell Free" cards for sale.
  4. &"Re-shaping the PC(USA): PFR's response to the General Assembly," Presbyterians for Renewal, 2008-JUN-28.
  5. Eugene Robinson, "Ruling could be deadly, but it's constitutionally right," Freep.com, 2008-JUN-29, at: http://www.freep.com/
  6. "CFI-UN Hamid Karzai Letter," Center for Inquiry Enews, 2008-JUN-30.
  7. "Harper: Native apology sign of unity, strength on Canada Day," Canadian Press, 2008-JUL-01, at: http://cnews.canoe.ca/
  8. Mark Sherman, "Supreme Court decision favors terror suspects," Associated Press, 2008-JUN-12, at:  http://www.onenewsnow.com/
  9. Allie Martin, "Southern Baptists continue to resist public school concerns," OneNewsNow, 2008-JUN-14, at: http://www.onenewsnow.com/
  10. "US mayors mobilize against Iran war," PressTV, 2008-JUN-26, at: http://www.presstv.ir/

How you got here:

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Copyright © 2008 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2008-JUN-06
Latest update and review: 2008-NOV-08
Author: B.A. Robinson

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