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

2009-May

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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-MAY-18: WA: Man given life imprisonment for killing police dog: Ronald Chenette of Clark County, WA, was given a life sentence for killing a dog. He suffers from paranoid schizophrenia. He had a gun and was drinking beer in a wooded area behind a cemetery. SWAT officers were unable to approach him easily because of the nature of the terrain. So they sent in Dakota, a five-year-old police dog. He attacked Chenette. They allegedly struggled for more than a minute. Chenette thought that Dakota was going for his throat; he feared for his life and shot the dog. Killing a police dog is not a felony, but doing it with a gun is. This is Chenette's third felony conviction, and so was given a mandatory life sentence under the "Three Strikes" law. The legislation has no exemption for mentally ill persons. Judge Roger Bennett noted that: "Even a shoving match at a 7-11 over a bottle of beer could have resulted in life in prison." 1
 
bullet2009-MAY-22: DC: Congressional Caucus sends letter to French government: According to the Institute on Religion and Public Policy:

"U.S. Representative Trent Franks (R-AZ) - co-chair of the Congressional International Religious Freedom Caucus - and five other Members of Congress sent a letter to French Ambassador Pierre Vimont opposing France's anti-sect policies."

"Specifically, the Members of Congress opposed the recommendations of the Inter-Ministerial Mission to Fight Against Sectarian Deviations (MIVILUDES) and its president Georges Fenech released in a December report entitled, 'La justice face aux derives sectarires (Justice Facing Sectarian Abuses)'."

"The letter stated, 'Designating specific religious beliefs and communities as sects and restricting an individual's freedom to choose and change his or her belief is inconsistent with international standards on religious freedom.  Such recommendations appear to evidence a clear bias against a large number of religious communities and their adherents and impose arbitrary restrictions on an individual's human rights'." 2

bullet2009-MAY-25: Israel: Bill to prohibit observance of the Nakba: Palestinians, Israeli Arabs and others observe MAY-15 each year as Nakba -- the "Catastrophe." This recalls the fate of approximately 700,000 Palestinians who fled or were forced from their homes during 1948-9 when Israel claimed its independence. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and his far-right party Yisrael Beiteinu, introduced a bill that would make observance of Nakba a criminal offense with the potential for a three year jail sentence. Lieberman said that the bill is "intended to strengthen unity in the state of Israel." The bill has been backed by an Israeli government panel and will be submitted to parliament.

Social Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog said: "The bill could impair freedom of expression and freedom of protest and achieve the opposite goal -- increasing alienation and strengthening extremists." The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, (Acri) said the committee's initial approval of the bill was "a sign of a democracy losing its bearings". Acri president Sammi Michael said: "Marking the Nakba does not threaten the safety of the State of Israel, but is rather a legitimate and fundamental human right of any person, group or people, expressing grief at the face of a disaster they experienced." 3
 
bullet2009-MAY-28: Wikipedia bans edits by the Church of Scientology: Wikipedia has banned the Church of Scientology and its members from editing its website. Normally, essays on Wikipedia are open to be edited by anyone. However they believe that members of the church were editing articles in order to improve the church's coverage.

This is the fourth dispute on Wikipedia in four years that is related to the Church. The Wikipedia arbitration committee voted unanimously to block IP addresses associated with the Church from editing the site.

The decision read, in part:

"The purpose of Wikipedia is to create a high-quality, free-content encyclopedia in an atmosphere of camaraderie and mutual respect among contributors. Use of the encyclopedia to advance personal agendas -- such as advocacy or propaganda and philosophical, ideological or religious dispute -- or to publish or promote original research is prohibited." 4,5

The ban appears to have symbolic value only. It will probably not be successful. All Church members have to do to avoid the ban is to work from home or at a location that has public access to the Internet, like a public library.

References used:

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

  1. Stephanie Rice, "Man gets life term for killing police dog," KATU.COM, 2009-MAY-16, at: http://www.katu.com/
  2. "Institute Applauds Congressional Action Against French Anti-Sect Policies," Earned Media, 2009-MAY-22, at: http://www.earnedmedia.org/
  3. "Anger over Palestinian Nakba ban proposal," BBC News, 2009-MAY-25, at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/
  4. "Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration/Scientology," Wikipedia, 2009-MAY-28, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/
  5. "Wikipedia Bans Scientology From Site," The Huffington Post, 2009-MAY-29, at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/

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Copyright © 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2009-MAY-19
Latest update: 2009-MAY-31
Author: B.A. Robinson

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