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

2008-March

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Sponsored link:


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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:

bullet2008-MAR-02: OR: Toddler dies because of lack of medical care: A 15-months-old girl, Ana Worthington, died bacterial bronchial pneumonia and a blood infection. Both would have been easily treated by a doctor. However, her parents are members of Followers of Christ in Oregon City -- a group that promotes faith healing and rejects medical treatments. 7
bullet2008-MAR-10: Russia: Methodist congregation dissolved: Forum18 reports:

A regional court in Russia has dissolved a functioning Methodist congregation because it did not file a report about its annual activities on time, Forum 18 News Service has learnt. Deprived of legal personality status, the church may now only gather for worship at premises provided by its existing members and give them religious instruction. Methodist Pastor Vladimir Pakhomov told Forum 18 News Service that the Belgorod branch of the Federal Registration Service "even told me there was no point in attending court, as the church would be closed in any case." The court did not - contrary to a Constitutional Court decision - attempt to find out whether the church operates or not. "They could close us and others down in
exactly the same way - many registered communities don't submit this information in time as they see it as a formality," a local Baptist pastor commented. The Methodists did not submit their report on time due to the near impossibility of Protestants finding a suitable legal address in Belgorod Region. "We sent them letters, two official warnings," a local official told Forum 18. "When we got no response we had no choice but to take them to court."

bullet2008-MAR-22: IN: Second Muslim elected to Congress: Andre Carson, grandson of the late Democrat Rep. Julia Carson, was elected to serve the balance of her term in the U.S. House of Representatives in a special election. He is the second Muslim representative in the history of the U.S. Religion did not surface as an issue in the election. The first Congressional Representative is Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota. Both are Democrats. 8
bullet2008-MAR-11: World: International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) announces awards: The IGLHRC has announced two human rights awards:
bulletTo Archbishop Tutu. Paula Ettelbrick, IGLHRC's Executive Director, stated:

"There is really only one name in the world that immediately conjures up moral leadership in pursuit of dignity for all people on earth, and that is Desmond Tutu. Archbishop Tutu's vision of a world in which human rights are respected has always explicitly included LGBT people, despite the fierce opposition he has faced from his peers and colleagues. He has challenged political apartheid in South Africa and continues to challenge spiritual apartheid within his religious community. ..."

"Archbishop Tutu has vocally challenged discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. In a 2004 article in The Times (London), he condemned persecution on the basis of sexual orientation, comparing it to apartheid. 'We struggled against apartheid in South Africa, supported by people the world over, because black people were being blamed and made to suffer for something we could do nothing about-our very skins,' he wrote. 'It is the same with sexual orientation. It is a given. I could not have fought against the discrimination of apartheid and not also fight against the discrimination that homosexuals endure, even in our churches and faith groups'."

bulletTo Congressman Tom Lantos who died on 2008-FEB-11. Their news release stated:
"Congressman Lantos, the only Holocaust survivor to serve in the United States Congress, was a life-long champion of human rights and a steadfast voice against injustices committed against LGBTI people not only in the United States, but abroad." 2
bullet2008-MAR-17: USA: Supreme court to review naughty words: It seems that singers Bono and Cher "exuberantly uttered" "undeleted expletives" over live TV earlier this decade.
bulletIn Cher's case, it happened during the 2002 Billboard Music Awards. Cher received an artist achievement award, and stated: "I've also had critics for the past 40 years saying that I was on my way out every year. Right. So f--k `em. I still have a job and they don't."
bulletIn Bono's case, it happened during a 2003-JAN live broadcast of the Golden Globe Awards on NBC-TV. His Irish rock group U2 won the Best Original Song award. In accepting the award, he said: "This is f--ing brilliant. Really, really great."

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulators initially decided that the "F word" was not indecent because both performers used the word briefly while in conveying enthusiasm. However, the FCC administrators, appointed by the Bush Administration, overruled the regulators, by determining that the "core meaning" of the "F word" related to sexual intercourse. That made it offensive even if only used briefly.

CBS, ABC/Disney, Fox, and NBC launched a lawsuit against the FCC.

The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals found in favor of the First Amendment. They concluded that the FCC censorship "arbitrary and capricious" and that regulators lacked "any evidence that a fleeting expletive is harmful (or) serious enough to warrant government regulation." The FCC appealed the case to the U.S. Supreme Court who chose on MAR-17 to hear the case.

bulletSolicitor General Paul Clement argued in a legal brief:  "A particularly graphic utterance can serve as a first blow that can cause immediate damage"  to innocent ears.
bulletFCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin wrote that: "The Commission, Congress and, most importantly, parents understand that protecting our children is our greatest responsibility. We have an obligation, then, to enforce laws restricting indecent language on television and radio when children are in the audience."
bulletNBC attorney Miguel Estrada argued: "No viewer of the 2002 Billboard Awards could reasonably believe that Cher was exhorting her audience to have sex with her critics, or that she was otherwise depicting or describing sexual activity." 3,4
bullet2008-MAR-23: DC: Demonstration against pope's visit: Creciendo en Gracia, Inc. has announced "Megamanifestation" -- a massive demonstration to be held in Washington, DC on April-14, just before the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the USA . They anticipate that "Thousands of men and women will take the streets waving posters of disturbing statistics that expose the Vatican’s gruesome history of mass crimes throughout time. The well-coordinated event is to take place simultaneously in 26 countries, where those who can not travel to the United States will gather at the U.S. Embassy or City Hall of their corresponding nation." 5
bullet2008-MAR-23: WI: Eleven-year-old girl dies needlessly: Madeline Neumann of Weston, WI died from diabetic ketoacidosis, an easily treatable disorder. She appeared abnormally thin. The medical examiner said that her body was wasting away. Her parents had decided to pray for her instead of seeking medical attention. They attribute her death to a lack of faith on their part. 6
bullet2008-MAR-24: Russia: Methodist church closed down: Forum 18 News Service reports:

"Because a United Methodist congregation in the western city of Smolensk has a Sunday school, which is attended by four children, the Regional Court dissolved the Church on 24 March, the church's pastor Aleksandr Vtorov told Forum 18 News Service. The court agreed with the Regional Organized Crime Police that the Methodists were breaking the law by conducting 'educational activity in a Sunday school without a corresponding license.' Investigation into the congregation began after a complaint from local Russian Orthodox bishop Ignati. 9

bullet2008-MAR-24: NE: Bill to end executions in Nebraska: Legislators are scheduled to start debate on Bill 1063 which would replace the death penalty with life imprisonment without parole. In 2007, a similar bill fell one vote short of advancing. A subsequent bill fell two votes short. Also in 2007, the state Supreme Court banned the use of the electric chair in the state. So Nebraska currently has no legal method of killing prisoners.

Amy Miller, a American Civil Liberties Union-Nebraska attorney and president of the board of Nebraskans Against the Death Penalty, said: "We're fighting a proactive battle because we want to eliminate the death penalty. But people who want to keep the death penalty have to come up with a new recipe for death. We need to just say we're done and walk away from it." Attorney General Jon Bruning said a bill to authorize lethal injection will be introduced during or before 2009. 10
bullet2008-MAR-25: World: Web site suspended for religious hate language: Network Solutions has suspended http://www.fitnathemovie.com/, the web site of Geert Wilders, a conservative Dutch politician. He allegedly wanted to post an anti-Qur'an video that may have violated the host's hate language policies. Network Solution does not allow content "...that is obscene, defamatory, libelous, unlawful, harassing, abusive, threatening, harmful, vulgar, constitutes an illegal threat, violates export control laws, hate propaganda, fraudulent material or fraudulent activity, invasive of privacy or publicity rights, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable material of any kind or nature." Network Solutions has stated that their requests to Wilders concerning the video have gone unanswered. 11
bullet2008-MAR-26: NE: Bill defeated: After 4 1/2 hours of often emotional debate, state senators voted 28-20 against Legislative Bill 1063.
bullet2008-MAR-31: Australia: Prime Minister's inflammatory statement still circulating via Email: John Howard has been widely reported as making an inflammatory statement during 2007-JUL when he was Prime Minister. It concerns non-Christians in his country, and has been quoted in almost 400 places on the Internet. All web sites posting it appear to be blogs; none appear to be large news organizations. The legitimacy of the quotation is thus questionable. He allegedly said, in part:

“Most Australians believe in God. This is not some Christian, right wing, political push, but a fact, because Christian men and women, on Christian principles, founded this nation, and this is clearly documented. It is certainly appropriate to display it on the walls of our schools. If God offends you, then I suggest you consider another part of the world as your new home, because God is part of our culture”.

“We will accept your beliefs, and will not question why. All we ask is that you accept ours, and live in harmony and peaceful enjoyment with us”.

“This is OUR COUNTRY, OUR LAND, and OUR LIFESTYLE, and we will allow you every opportunity to enjoy all this. But once you are done complaining, whining, and griping about Our Flag, Our Pledge, Our Christian beliefs, or Our Way of Life, I highly encourage you take advantage of one other great Australian freedom,

‘THE RIGHT TO LEAVE’.”

“If you aren’t happy here then LEAVE. We didn’t force you to come here. You asked to be here. So accept the country YOU accepted”.

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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. "Russia: Methodist church dissolved for minor bureaucratic slip," Forum18, 2008-MAR-10. Online at: http://www.forum18.org/
  2. IGLHRC press release, dated 2008-MAR-11, from http://www.iglhrc.org.
  3. Michael Doyle, "Supreme Court takes on fleeting obscenities' on TV," McClatchy Tribune Business News, 2008-MAR-17, at: http://www.romingerlegal.com/
  4. by Jennifer Mesko, "Supreme Court Will Decide Broadcast Decency Case," Citizen Link, 2008-MAR-17, at: http://www.citizenlink.org/
  5. "Usurper," at" http://www.theworstterrorist.com/
  6. "Untreated diabetes kills girl," Wausau Daily Herald, 2008-MAR-26, at: http://www.wausaudailyherald.com/
  7. "Prayers and not much else: If Oregon chooses to prosecute," The Oregonian, 2008-MAR-25, at: http://www.oregonlive.com/
  8. Judith Cebula, "Second Muslim elected to Congress," Reuters, 2008-MAR-11, at: http://www.reuters.com/
  9. "Russia: Methodist church dissolved for having Sunday school," Forum 18 News Service, 2008-MAR-24, at: http://www.forum18.org/
  10. Leslie Reed, "No urgency this time on executions," McClatchy Tribune Business News, 2008-MAR-24, at: http://www.romingerlegal.com/
  11. Linda Rosencrance, "Network Solutions suspends anti-Islamist film Web site. The hosting company wants to determine whether the site violates its acceptable use policy," ComputerWorld, 2008-MAR-25. at: http://www.computerworld.com/

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Copyright © 2008 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2008-MAR-10
Latest update: 2008-APR-04
Author: B.A. Robinson

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