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

2008-September


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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-SEP-02: Court upholds same-sex marriage (SSM) in New York State: The fundamentalist Christian legal group, Alliance Defense Fund, challenged the governor's decision to have the state recognize legal out-of-state same-sex marriages. They had the support of several state senators -- all Republicans. State Supreme Court Judge Lucy Billings issued a statement on SEP-02 rejecting the suit. She wrote that a decision by homosexual couples to wed represents:

    "... a personal expression of emotional devotion, support and interdependence and a public commitment. With that validity, they expect equal treatment with other married couples."
    She referred to the policy of recognizing SSM as a:
    "... permissible, if not mandated, step toward the objective of equality for a group for whom legal as well as practical barriers to equality persist."

    In addition, she wrote that not recognizing SSMs legally performed elsewhere is "antithetical to family stability." 1 More details

  • 2008-SEP-07: USA: Unvaccinated people and the spread of disease: According to a poll by Scripps Howard News Service, 56 percent of U.S. adults think parents should be able to exempt their children from vaccinations for "philosophical reasons."

    A Centers for Disease Control report states that the greatest surge in measles in more than ten years occurred in July. 131 persons were infected in 15 states. 112 of the 131 had not been vaccinated. Of the 95 eligible for vaccination by age and medical status, 63 had not received shots because of religious or philosophical beliefs. Only 17 picked up the disease outside of the country.

    Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Disease said: Measles is imported into this country all the time, but this year, we've seen it spread to much larger groups of unvaccinated people — as many as 30 in one group of home-schooled children in Illinois — than we've had in recent years."

    Future surveys will ask parents about their attitudes and beliefs toward vaccines and other factors that might cause them to delay or defer childhood vaccinations." 2

  • 2008-SEP-19: USA: Lifeway Book Stores pulled magazine from displays: Lifeway stores, a division of the Southern Baptist Conference, has decided to not display the latest issue of Gospel Today magazine. The latter is the largest and most widely distributed urban conservative Christian publication in the U.S. with a circulation of a quarter million. Although the edition will not be on display, anyone can go to the cash register and request a copy.

    Teresa Hairston, the magazine's publisher, said:
    "They basically treated it like pornography and put it behind the counter. Unless a person goes into the store and asks for it, they won't see it displayed."

    The reason why this edition was found so offensive is that its cover featured five clergypersons who are all women. Inside was an article about the trend towards gender equality among Christian clergy.

    Chris Turner, a spokesman for Lifeway Resources, said:

    "The buyers said the statements that were in it took positions that were contrary to what we would say. It wasn't so much that there were women on the cover."

    Pastor Tamara Bennett, pastor of This Is Pentecost Ministries in Sacramento, CA was one of the women on the cover. She said:

    "It's a story that needs to be told. Sometimes we forget that ministry is God's business. It's not a man's business. God gives gifts to whomever he sees fit." 3,4
    The Southern Baptists disagree. They feel that the ministry is very much the business of males only. On 2000-JUN-14 their annual meeting approved a statement saying that: "... the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture." More details
  • 2008-SEP-20: AR: Evangelist Tony Alamo arrested: Alamo, 74, was arrested and charged with transporting under-aged girls across state lines for sexual activities in violation of the Mann Act. There were several women travelling with Alamo when he was arrested outside of a mountainside resort near Flagstaff AZ. None of them were minors. According to the Associated Press:
    "The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, describes the ministry as a cult. ... Alamo's church rails against homosexuals, Roman Catholics and the government. He was convicted of tax-related charges in 1994 and served four years in prison after the IRS said he owed the government $7.9 million. Prosecutors in that case argued that Alamo was a flight risk and a polygamist who preyed on married women and girls in his congregation." 5
  • 2008-SEP-27: Morocco: Religious schools and website shut down: Sheik Mohammed Ben Abderahman al-Maghraoui of Morocco issued a fatwa -- a religious ruling -- on his website. He said that it was lawful for a Muslim man to marry a 9-year-old girl. He based this decision on the actions of Muhammad who had himself married a girl of that age.  The government has closed down his web site and dozens of his schools. In Morocco a female has to be 18 years-of-age or older to marry.
  • 2008-SEP-28: CA: Congregations considering abandoning the Presbyterian Church(USA): The First Presbyterian Church of Fresno is one of at least three in the Presbytery of San Joaquin that is seriously considering leaving the PC(USA). Their reason is that the denomination's General Assembly had approved the amendment to section G-6.0106b from the denomination's Book of Order. This has gone to the denomination's 173 presbyteries for final approval. If the deletion is approved, it would allow candidates of all sexual orientations to be equally considered for ordination.

    If the congregation(s) decide to abandon their denomination, they could probably find a suitable home in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). That group was formed in the early 1970s when a group of conservative congregations left the PCUSA because of a dispute over the inerrancy of the Bible and the ordination of women.

    The Associated Press reports that: "The Reverend Jamie Evans of Fresno's First Presbyterian said he is concerned that the denomination is moving away from beliefs decreed by the Bible." 6 More info.

  • 2008-SEP-26: USA: Financial rescue plan: The Federal government is attempting to organize a rescue plan for failing financial companies: Bloomberg reports that:

    • Stanley O'Neal of Merril Lynch & Co. was paid a total of $172 million over the past four years; John Thain received $86 million since 2007-DEC.
    • Henry Paulson, former CEO of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. received about $111 million between 2003 and 2006.
    • Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman made $57.6 million in 2007.
    • Gary Cohn and Jon Winkelried, co-presidents of Goldman each got $56 million.
    • "Wall Street firms have shared profits liberally with employees. The five biggest -- Goldman, Morgan Stanley, Merrill, Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and Bear Stearns -- paid their 185,687 employees $66 billion in 2007, as problems with subprime mortgages mounted, including about $39 billion in bonuses. That amounts to average pay of $353,089 per employee, including an average bonus of $211,849. The five firms had combined net income of $93 billion during the five years through 2007."
    Built into the proposed bailout plan is some mechanism to limit outrageously high salaries. 7

References used:

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

  1. Jennifer Peltz, "NY judge rejects bid to halt same-sex marriage recognition," One News Now, 2008-SEP-03, at: http://www.onenewsnow.com/
  2. Lee Bowman, "135,000 school kids lack protection from disease, surveys say. Health officials fear outbreaks," Scripps Howard News Service, 2008-SEP-07, at:  http://www.venturacountystar.com/
  3. "Magazine Featuring Female Pastors Pulled From Shelves, 'Treated Like Pornography'," Associated Press, 2009-SEP-19, at: http://www.foxnews.com/
  4. "Gospel Today, Southern Baptists, and theology in the pew," Women of Faith in Culture, 2008-SEP-20, at: http://flashpointfiles.blogspot.com/
  5. Jon Gambrell, "Evangelist Alamo faces charges in child sex probe," Associated Press, 2008-SEP-26, at: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/
  6. Congregations consider leaving Presbyterian Church USA," Associated Press, 2008-SEP-27, at: http://www.onenewsnow.com/
  7. Tom Randall & Jamie McGee, "Wall Street Executives Made $3 Billion Before Crisis," Bloomberg, 2008-SEP-28, at: http://www.bloomberg.com/  

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

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