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

2009-December

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Events:

bullet2009-DEC-03: Turkey: Raelian leader in Iran applies for political asylum: Negar Azizmoradi leads the Raelian movement in Iran. She has been detained in Turkey because she was not carrying a valid passport. If sent back to Iran, she could face execution because she was once a Muslim. In some predominately Muslim countries, including Iran and Afghanistan, religious converts to Islam are welcome while conversion from Islam to another religion is a capital offence. Raelians do not believe in the existence of God and believe that the first humans were generated by extraterrestrials via cloning. 1
 
bullet2009-DEC-09: USA: Glenn Beck insults India and Hinduism: Glen Beck on Fox News' "The One Thing" program refered to the Ganges River in India which is considered sacred to almost one billion Hindus worldwide. He said: "One big river they have there, that sounds like a disease. Come on it does. I mean if somebody said, I am sorry, you have a really bad case of Ganges." Hindu priest Rajan Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism commented: "... such remarks were very hurtful to the devotees. Besides apparently denigrating the religion, it was belittling the entire community." He asked News Corporation Chairman Rupert Murdoch, Fox Chairman Roger Ailes, and Glenn Beck to issue a statement on this matter.
 
bullet2009-DEC-13: NC: Threatened lawsuit against a Councilman for being an Atheist: Opposition is being stirred up against Cecil Bothwell, 59, because he is an Atheist. He was elected a Councilman in Asheville City, NC in 2009-NOV . Some political foes are threatening to file a lawsuit to challenge Bothwell's status as councilman. The constitutions of both Carolinas require persons in office to believe in deity. Although such religious restrictions have repeatedly been declared unconstitutional, the threat remains. So much for religious freedom and the U.S. Constitution! More info.

bullet2009-DEC-15: CA: Pentecostal evangelist Oral Roberts died: Roberts suffered a fall on DEC-12, developed pneumonia, and died on DEC-15 at the age of 91. The was one of the pioneer TV evangelist during the 1950s, built a multi-million dollar ministry, and founded Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, OK.

Justin Juozapavicius of Associated Press wrote:

"Roberts rose from humble tent revivals to become one of the nation's most famous and influential preachers. Along with Billy Graham, he pioneered religious TV, and he played a major role in bringing American Pentecostalism into the mainstream."

"He also laid the foundation for the 'prosperity gospel,' the doctrine that has come to dominate televangelism. It holds that God rewards the faithful with material success. Its critics say it is used by preachers to enrich themselves at the expense of their followers. ..."

"The generation of 'prosperity preachers' who followed Roberts point to their own luxury homes and private jets as evidence of God's favor. In 2007 ... Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa (R) launched an investigation of six prosperity preachers, including three who sat on the Oral Roberts University board of regents at the time. The inquiry is still under way. ..."

"Roberts' ministry hit rocky times in the 1980s. There was controversy over his City of Faith medical center, a $250 million investment that eventually folded. And Roberts was widely ridiculed when he retreated to his prayer tower and proclaimed that God would 'call me home' if he failed to meet a fundraising goal of $8 million.

Grant Wacker, a professor at Duke University's divinity school said: "In conservative Protestant culture, he's second only to Billy Graham. Jerry Falwell is important, too, but I think in the long run we'll see that Oral Roberts had more impact."

Grant Wacker, also a professor at Duke University's divinity school, said: "Oral was a pioneer in opening this whole message up to the mainstream churches and leading a generation of Pentecostals into easier connection with the evangelical world. They had been completely estranged prior to that." 3

bullet2009-DEC-17: Zambia" Archbishop defrocked: The Vatican first excommunicated Emmanuel Milingo, 79, the former Archbishop of the diocese of Lusaka, Zambia, and has now removed him from the clerical state. His acts of disobedience included attempting to marry a woman, performing exorcisms at large outdoor rallies, and consecrating four married bishops who had not been approved by the Vatican. The latter came from the Old Catholic Church -- a religious group that had broken communion with the Roman Catholic Church in the 1870's. 4
 
bullet2009-DEC-18: DC: SSM legalized in Washington DC: Mayor Adrian M, Fenty (D) signed a SSM bill that had been passed by the City Council into law. This legalizes same-sex marriage in the District of Columbia. The final steps to allow SSM for loving, committed DC same-sex couples to marry as soon as 2010-MAR are for the law to dodge two bullets:
bulletA potential veto by Congress, and
bulletA potential court-ordered plebiscite that is being promoted by religious conservatives. More info.
 
bullet2009-DEC-21: Mexico: Mexico city legalized same-sex marriage: By a vote of 39 to 20, with five abstentions, Mexico City legislative assembly revised the civil code to define marriage as "the free uniting of two people." Previously, loving, committed same-sex couples were only able to obtain civil unions in the city. The marriage law will enable them to apply for bank loans, inherit, be included in each other's insurance plans, etc. Victor Romo of the Democratic Revolution party said: "For centuries, unjust laws banned marriage between blacks and whites or Indians and Europeans. Today, all barriers have disappeared."  Others were not impressed. Armando Martinez, president of the College of Catholic Attorneys, said that city legislators had "given Mexicans the most bitter Christmas. They are permitting adoption [by same-sex couples], and in one stroke of the pen have erased the terms mother and father." The conservative National Action party plans to mount a court challenge against the law. 5
 
bullet2009-DEC-26: USA: Amazon.com lists the best books for 2009:  As in 2008, their "Best of 2009" book list did not have a category for religion and/or spirituality. They did include a Spirituality and Religion category in 2007 and prior years. Dropping this category may be motivated by financial concerns. During the first 10 months of 2009, religious book sales dropped by 10.7%, even as total book sales increased by about the same amount. 6,7
 
bullet2009-DEC-28: Argentina: Jose Maria Di Bello (L) and his partner Alex Freyre were married at a government registry office in Ushuaia, the southern-most city in the world. It is located in Tierra del Fuego province at the southern tip of Argentina. They became the first same-sex couple in Latin America to marry. Their marriage was first accepted and then denied in Buenos Aires. Then it was first denied and then accepted in Ushuaia. Di Bello, 41, is an executive at the Argentine Red Cross. Freyre, 39, is the executive director of the Buenos Aries AIDS Foundation. Both of them are HIV positive. More info.
 
bullet2009-DEC-31: Canada: Biggest news stories of the year: Ipsos News found that "Canadians Choose U.S. President Obama's Inauguration (31%), H1N1 Flu (26%), and the Economic Recession (22%) as the biggest Canadian news stories of 2009. We find it curious that Canadians would choose a political story in another country as the most important. It shows the close integration of the U.S. and Canadian cultures.

References used:

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

  1. "Iranian sect head seeks asylum in Turkey:" Associated Press, 2009-DEC-02, at: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/
  2. Rajan Zed, "Hindus upset over Fox News remarks that holy river Ganges 'sounds like a disease'," News release, 2009-DEC-12
  3. Justin Juozapavicius, "Evangelist Oral Roberts dies in Calif. at age 91," Associated Press, 2009-DEC-15, at: http://news.yahoo.com/
  4. Hilary White, "Vatican Defrocks Rogue Archbishop for Ordaining Married Bishops," LifeSiteNews, 2009-DEC-18, at: http://www.lifesitenews.com/
  5. "Mexico City legalises same-sex marriage," Associated Press, 2009-DEC-22, at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/
  6. "Religious book sales slide again," Christian Retailing, 2009-DEC-17, at: http://www.christianretailing.com/
  7. "Best of 2009," Amazon.com, at: http://www.amazon.com/

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Copyright © 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2009-DEC-04
Latest update: 2009-DEC-26
Author: B.A. Robinson

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