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

2010-January

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Events:

bullet2010-JAN-01: CA: Display defaced: An interfaith holiday display was vandalized in Mission Viejo, CA. The texts on the four sides of a vertical Islamic monument were spray painted in red, and a curious sign was attached to one surface. It reads: "No Islamic Lighthouses in the U.S.A." We are not entirely certain what an "Islamic Lighthouse" is. However, lighthouses are generally considered sources of light and guidance.

The display included a verse from the Qur'an, 49:13: "O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise each other). Verily, the most honored of you in the sight of God is (he who is) the most righteous of you."

Next to the monument is a manger scene provided by the South Coast Christian Assembly. It was not defaced.

On the same day, a burned copy of the Qur'an was found at the back entrance of the Islamic Education Center of Orange County in Costa Mesa, CA.

bullet2010-JAN-02: Montana becomes third state to legalize PAS: On 2009-DEC-31, the Supreme Court handed down its ruling on Physician Assisted Suicide (PAS). They ruled that neither state law or public policy prevents physicians from prescribing lethal drugs to terminally-ill patients who want to end their suffering and their lives. More details
 
bullet2010-JAN-04: Muslim group creates PSA: The New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY) has created a public service announcement that it is presenting on the CBS Super Screen in New York City's Time Square. It features ordinary Muslims "dedicated to building community and serving country." It is part of CAIR's campaign to "encure that a balanced and accurate portrayal of Islam and Muslims is presented to the American public through different levels of media engagement." 2
 
bullet2010-JAN-08: NV: "Personhood" change to the Nevada Constitution fails: PersonhoodUSA is attempting to restrict or eliminate abortion access by overturning Roe v. Wade through a novel technique. It is promoting "personhood" amendments to various state constitutions including that of Nevada.

If it was allowed to be on the ballot and if it was supported by 50% of the voters (plus one) it would have altered the Nevada constitution so that human personhood would be defined as starting during the process of conception. Defining a pre-embryo, embryo and fetus as human persons would mean that each abortion would be a homicide, or at least a manslaughter -- no matter at what stage in gestation it was performed. The PersonhoodUSA strategy appears to be to have each state constitution modified with the same definition of personhood in the hopes that the U.S. Supreme Court would follow suit on some future abortion ruling.

On JAN-08, District Judge James Russell ruled in favor of Planned Parenthood & the American Civil Liberties Union, and against Personhood Nevada Ballot in the lawsuit Bristol v. Personhood Nevada. The judge ruled that the language of the ballot question was so vague that the average person would be unable to understand it. Also, the petition violates a state law which states that such ballots can only deal with a single subject.

Personhood Nevada plans to appeal the decision to the Nevada Supreme Court. 5,6

bullet2010-JAN-08: OnlineChristianColleges rate top religious blogs and websites: Online Christian Colleges state:

"Whether you live in a large city or small town, chances are there are others around you who do not share your religious or non-theistic beliefs. If unfamiliar with their beliefs, even everyday conversations can be a difficulty and rife with the possibility of misunderstandings."

"The best way to avoid this sort of social land mine is to educate yourself. The best way to educate yourself from your computer is by giving these top 25 comparative religion blogs and websites a visit. They can help you with everything from the major religions, to the lesser religions, to the atheistic belief system."

They list the top 4 or 5 websites in each of categories:
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Comparative religion blogs

bullet

Christian Comparative Religion Blogs

bullet

Islamic Comparative Religion Blogs

bullet

Atheistic Comparative Religion Boogs

bullet

Alternative Comparative Religion Blogs

bullet

Comparative Religion Websites

Our site was listed under the last category. 3

bullet2010-JAN-10: TX: Free speech ends for high school students: The Waxahachie Independent School District in Dallas TX prohibits their students from wearing clothes that promote a political positin. Paul Palmer was forbidden from wearing a political T-shirt that showed the then-presidential candidate John Edwards. He sued the school board. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the school dress code, and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case. Kelly Shackelford, chief counsel for Liberty Legal Institute, said the rulings are a "punch in the gut to freedom." By their lack of interest, the Supreme Court has thrown free speech in schools into an indeterminate position. 4

bullet2010-JAN-18: USA: Christianized weapons being manufactured: ABC broke the news that the serial numbers on gunsights manufactured by Trijicon in Wixom, MI contain an encoded biblical reference. An example shown has a number AC064X32JN8:12. The final six characters refer to John 8:12: "Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."

Michael "Mikey" Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, an group promoting the separation of church and state in the military said: "It's wrong, it violates the Constitution, it violates a number of federal laws. ... It allows the Mujahedeen, the Taliban, al Qaeda and the insurrectionists and jihadists to claim they're being shot by Jesus rifles. ... This is probably the best example of violation of the separation of church and state in this country. It's literally pushing fundamentalist Christianity at the point of a gun against the people that we're fighting. We're emboldening an enemy." 7

bullet 2010-JAN-19: Kenneth Copeland accused of humanitarian aid fraud: Rich Vermillion of KennethCopelandBlog.com has accused popular teleminister Kenneth Copeland of fraud by not creating a humanitarian relief ministry called Angel Flight 44 that he promised. The Christian News Wire reports:
"Rich also contends that money given by donors towards the formation of the new ministry has never been accounted for. 'There has never been an open accounting or explanation given regarding the AF44-earmarked funds given to date.' He does acknowledge that KCM formed a Disaster Relief Fund, but then he adds, 'A generic relief fund is a far cry from a fully operational disaster-relief aviation ministry.' Shortly later Rich writes, '...my experience with Kenneth Copeland, his family, and his ministry, has given me the regrettable opinion that they may be nothing more than religious frauds.' He then concludes, '...that is why we are calling on them to simply repent'."

"Kenneth Copeland Ministries is one of six televangelist ministries being investigated by the Senate Finance Committee for possible tax law fraud, and has not cooperated with the investigation. KCM is not certified by any independent financial group, such as the Evangelical Counsel for Financial Accountability; Wall Watchers' MinistryWatch.com has given them a financial transparency grade of 'F'." 8 A member of Copeland's team, Rich Vermillion, maintains a blog that delivers a "loving rebuke" to Copeland. 9

bulletWeek of 2010-JAN-24: CA: Mayor of Lancaster claims city for Christianity: Lancaster is the eighth-largest city in Los Angeles County, and one of the fastest growing cities in the United States. Its Mayor, R. Rex Parris (R), delivered a state of the city address, telling a group of 160 people:

"We�re growing a Christian community, and don�t let anybody shy away from that. ... I need (Lancaster community) standing up and saying we�re a Christian community, and we�re proud of that."

He also asked voters to support a ballot measure endorsing Christian prayers at city meetings. That measure is an apparent response to a letter to the city from the American Civil Liberties Association (ACLU) which allegedly said that sectarian prayers at government meetings are divisive and unconstitutional.

Mayor Parris later said that a Christian city has a better sense of community than an "atheistic city."

Hussam Ayloush, Executive Director of the Los Angeles branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said in response:

"The mayor's remarks promoting a particular faith in his official capacity at an official city event seem to violate the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Elected officials should not use public positions to impose their religious beliefs on others. We also call on California's religious and political leaders to repudiate the mayor's remarks because they could serve to marginalize people of other faiths and Christians who value the separation of church and state."

Earlier, Lancaster Council member Sherry Marquez (R) had posted the following comment in Facebook concerning a murder trial in New York City involving a Muslim defendant:

"This is what the Muslim religion is all about -- the beheadings, honor killings are just the beginning of what is to come in the USA. We are told this is a small majority [sic] of Muslim's [sic] in America, but it is truly what they are all about...You disrespect/dishonor them or their religion and you should die (they don't even blink at killing their own wives/daughters, because they are justified by their religion)."

CAIR sent Marquez a letter asking her to meet with members of the Muslim and interfaith communities to discuss the impact of her posting. 10,11,12

bullet2010-JAN-27: Movement on military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy: At his state of the union address, President Obama indicated that repeal of this policy which prohibits gays and lesbians from openly serving in the military would be a priority -- the right thing to do. At a Senate committee hearing, the Armed Forces will present a plan to modify the policy. More details.

bullet2010-JAN-29: Science vs. religion in legislation: A news release from the Office of Public Policy of the Center for Inquiry -- a secular Humanist group -- discussed their role in the success of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 which was signed into law by President Obama one year earlier. They wrote:

"The act restores the right of workers to file pay discrimination claims as long as they are still receiving discriminatory paychecks. The Center for Inquiry/Office of Public Policy played an integral role in that hard-fought victory. ..."

"While the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act represents a great victory for reason and equality, there are still many fights left in the seemingly never-ending battle to bring science, reason, and the values of freethought and secularism back to government. We have seen it in the debate over health care, with interest groups (and even some members of Congress) inserting language into the health insurance bills that would elevate so-called 'spiritual health care' and alternative medical treatments, such as therapeutic touch, to the level of real medicine. We have seen it in the fight over energy legislation, where deniers of the science behind global warming and climate change continue to use every ounce of their political capital to try to forestall or even kill a responsible energy bill. And we have seen it in civil rights issues where, despite advances, the government still follows a narrow religious ideology and treats some individuals like second-class citizens based on their sexual orientation."

bullet2010-JAN-31: Haiti: Ten American Baptists arrested for child trafficking: In what appears to be a massive misunderstanding and lack of cultural sensitivity, a group of Baptists from Iowa, Kansas and Texas planned to scoop up 100 children in Haiti, buss them across the border into the Dominican Republic and house them in a 45 room hotel at Cabarete, a beach resort, that they were converting into an orphanage. They were apparently unaware that the Haitian government has been concerned about the potential for child trafficking and has suspended the removal of all orphans from the country. They require that the departure of any child be personally authorized by the Prime Minister. The Baptist group arrived at the border without any documentation on the children and were arrested. 13

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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. Hussam Ayloush, "Islamic Section of Interfaith Holiday Display Vandalized in Mission Viejo," 2010-JAN-01, Hussam Ayloush Official Website, at: http://hussamayloush.blogspot.com. See also: http://hussamayloush.blogspot.com/
  2. "I am Muslim, I am American," CAIR, at: http://www.cair.com/ny/ This is a temporary listing.
  3. "Top 25 Comparative Religion Blogs and Websites," Online Christian Colleges, 2010-JAN, at: http://onlinechristiancolleges.net/
  4. "Free Speech Not So Big in Texas," CitizenLink, 2010-JAN-10, at: http://www.citizenlink.org/
  5. "Nevada Court rejects proposed personhood amendment," Religion Clause blog, 2010-JAN-12, at: http://religionclause.blogspot.com/
  6. "Personhood comes to Nevada," PersonhoodNV, 2010-JAN-08, at: http://www.personhoodnevada.com/ This is a temporary listing.
  7. Joseph Rhee, et al., "U.S. Military Weapons Inscribed With Secret 'Jesus' Bible Codes Pentagon Supplier for Rifle Sights Says It Has 'Always' Added New Testament References," ABC News, 2010-JAN-18, at: http://abcnews.go.com
  8. "Kenneth Copeland accused of humanitarian aid fraud," ChristianNewsWire, 2010-JAN-19, at: http://christiannewswire.com/
  9. Kenneth Copeland Blog is at: http://kennethcopelandblog.com
  10. Gerry Price, "Parris touts city as a 'Christian community'," Valley Press, 2010-JAN-28, at: http://www.avpress.com/
  11. Sherry Marquez' comments on Facebook can be seen at: http://www.cair.com/
  12. "Calif. Mayor Says He is 'Growing a Christian Community'," Council on American-Islamic Relations mailing, 2010-JAN-29.
  13. Frank Bajak, "U.S. Baptists arrested in Haitian orphan incident," Associated Press, 2010-JAN-31, at: http://www.onenewsnow.com/

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Copyright © 2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2010-JAN-02
Latest update: 2010-JAN-31
Author: B.A. Robinson

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