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

2009-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:

bullet2009-APR: This month, there has been a phenomenal flow of news reports covering homosexual and bisexual topics like same-sex marriage in California, Iowa, New Hampshire, New York, Sweden Vermont, and federal legislation concerning hate crimes. We covered them in detail elsewhere, so we will not repeat them here.
 
bullet2009-APR-14: DC: The case of the missing monogram: When President Obama gave a speech on economics in Gaston Hall at Georgetown University, the IHS monogram on the wooden archway above the dais was covered up, apparently by a black cloth. "IHS" represents the first three letters in Iesus' name. Iesus is the Greek translation of the Hebrew name Yeshua, which was the name of Yeshua of Nazareth (a.k.a. Jesus Christ). Many religious and social conservative news sources went ballistic; they considered this an direct attack on Christianity.

Julie Bataille of the university's press office has indicated that the White House had asked that all university signage and symbols behind the stage in Gaston Hall be covered. She wrote:

"The White House wanted a simple backdrop of flags and pipe and drape for the speech, consistent with what they've done for other policy speeches. Frankly, the pipe and drape wasn't high enough by itself to fully cover the IHS and cross above the GU seal and it seemed most respectful to have them covered so as not to be seen out of context."

Rev. Thomas Reese, a senior fellow at the Woodstock Institute at Georgetown University suggested:

"It is more for camera quality than anything else. They don't want distractions that would make the eye wander. I don't think this is motivated by theology, but by communications strategy." 1,2

bullet2009-APR-14: World: James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) awards Pigasus Award: JREF issues an award each year: "To the scientist or academic who said or did the silliest thing related to the supernatural, paranormal or occult." This year's award was given to Dr. Colin A Ross. He was a major promoters of Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD), later called Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). He remains a leader in this field, even after a near consensus of therapists and researchers concluded that MPD and DID were iatrogenic (therapist induced) disorder not found in nature.

He won the award for claiming the ability to focus his personal electromagnetic field to send a beam of energy from his eyes and trigger external equipment. He has applied for the One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge administered by the JREF. The prize is awarded to anyone who can prove a supernatural or paranormal power. Many have applied for the prize; none have succeeded in proving their powers.

Dr. Ross said: "I am not the first unconventional thinker who has had to endure the snickering of cynics and skeptics, so I happily accept this recognition. Every significant scientific advance faces resistance, but it is time that the JREF stop ridiculing me and tests the protocol." 3
 
bullet2009-APR-22: USA: Food and Drug Administration (FDA) relaxes EC rules: In response to a court order, the FDA has announced that it will lower the age at which young women can obtain emergency contraception without a prescription from 18 to 17. More details.
 
bullet2009-APR-26: Presbyteries of the Presbyterian Church (USA) preserve clergy discrimination: During the summer of 2008, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) voted to remove a constitutional requirement that ministers, deacons and elders must live in "fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness." This would allow gay, lesbian and bisexual candidates for these positions to live in a loving committed same-sex relationship.

The decision had to be ratified by a majority vote of the denomination's 173 presbyteries. By 2009-APR-26, the voting results were 88 presbyteries opposed and 68 in favor. This means that, whatever the final results, the discriminatory clause will be retained in the denomination's constitution; a majority has voted to retain the status quo. However, it appears that the margin is significantly smaller than in previous years.

Both sides expect the issue to be addressed again in the near future. With the gradual increase in the acceptance of homosexuality and bisexuality nationwide, it appears inevitable that the constitutional requirement will eventually be dropped. 4
 

bullet2009-APR-27: FL: Muslim group asks that head of Florida House Republicans resign: The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) asked that Representative Adam Hasner (R) resign from his post as head of the Republicans in the Florida House for a number of reasons, including:
bulletHe left the floor of the legislature just before an Islamic prayer opened the session, and returned just after the prayer ended.
bulletHe co-hosted a "Free Speech Summit" in Delray Beach, FL when a Dutch politician Geert Wilders said: "Islam is not a religion. Islam is a totalitarian political ideologue. Islam [sic] heart lies at the Quran, and the Quran is a book that calls for hatred, that calls for violence, for murder, for terrorism, for war, and submission?We should also stop pretending that Islam is a religion...the right to religious freedom should not apply to Islam." 5,6

References used:

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

  1. Julia Duin, "Obama at Georgetown: The mystery of the missing sign," The Washington Times, 2009-APR-15, at: http://washingtontimes.com/
  2. Edwin Mora, "White House, Georgetown Say Covering Over Name of Jesus Was Unintended Consequence of Desire to Have Backdrop for Flags," CNS News, 2009-APR-16, at: http://www.cnsnews.com/
  3. "Dr. Colin Ross Expects to Have the Last Laugh, Accepts Tongue-in-Cheek 'Award' from James Randi Educational Foundation," DPK Public Relations, 2009-APR-14, at: http://www.dpkpr.com/
  4. "Presbyterian Church gay clergy bid gains, but is voted down again," Associated Press, 2009-APR-26, at: http://www.latimes.com/
  5. Michael C. Bender, "Imam leads House prayer," Palm Beach Post, 2009-APR-27, at: http://www.postonpolitics.com/
  6. "Fla. House GOP Leader Hosts Event Denying Religious Freedom," CAIR, 2009-APR-27, at: http://www.cair.com/

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Copyright © 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2009-APR-20
Latest update: 2009-APR-27
Author: B.A. Robinson

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