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

2010-March

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Events:

  • 2010-MAR-02: MD: Three members of 1 Mind Ministries convicted: Three members of the religious group were convicted of first degree child abuse and second degree murder for causing the death of a 16-month-old boy because he refused to say "amen" before meals. He was denied food and starved to death painfully and slowly over days. The child's mother, Ria Reshma-Ramkissoon, still expects that her son will come back to life if she has sufficient faith. The group's leader, Queen Antionette, allegedly controlled the group members by using their fear of eternal damnation. She claimed that God spoke to her directly, and that she was carrying out his rules. Members were required to abstain from medical care. Women in the group were expected to give birth without medical attention. 1,2

  • 2010-MAR-06: Nigeria: Massacres continue: Over 500 Christian villagers, many of whom were women, elderly men and children, were hacked to death with machettes by an attacking Muslim group. The massacre involved three areas in an around Jos in the center of the country. It was apparently in retaliation for a similar mass murder in January in which Christians attacked and killed about 200 Muslims. 3

  • 2010-MAR-08: MD: Conflict over religous hate speech: Rev. Fred Phelps and members of his Topeka, KS Westboro Baptist Church frequently hold protest demonstrations at the funerals of military personnel. They typically holding signs like: "Thank God for 9/11" "America is Doomed" "Thank God for Dead Troops." . Their belief is that God is intentionally causing the death of soldiers in Iraq and elsewhere, as well as earthquakes, tsunamis, Hurricane Katrina and the 2006 Amish school shooting as punishment for the country's' tolerance of homosexuality. A number of states have passed laws criminalizing this form of hate speech.

    In 2006, he and his group picketed the funeral of a Marine who died in Iraq. Albert Snyder of York PA, the Marine's father, sued in Maryland federal court, claiming that the demonstration causes an invasion of his family's privacy and emotional distress. He said: "It’s freedom of speech to some. To me it’s not what my son fought for. They’re kicking people in the face when they’re already down on the ground. All I was trying to do was bury my son." He won a judgement of $5 million dollars. This was reversed at the appeals level that ruled that the protests were protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. constitution. They also assigned court costs of $16 to Snyder. The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case. 10

  • 2010-MAR-11: Vatican: Chief exorcist claims Satan active in the Vatican: Father Gabriele Amorth, 85,stated that he has dealt with 70,000 cases of demonic possession in his 25 years service as the Vatican's chief exorcist. He said that there are power struggles in the Vatican as well as "cardinals who do not believe in Jesus and bishops who are linked to the Demon." He claimed that another example of satanic behavior was the Vatican cover-up of the deaths in 1999 of Alois Estermann -- then the commander of the Swiss Guard -- his wife and Corporal Cedric Tornay, a Swiss Guard. All were found shot dead. He said: "They covered up everything immediately. Here one sees the rot". He also cites the widespread sexual abuse of children, the attempted murder of Pope John Paul II in 1981 and the attack by a mentally ill woman of Pope Benedict XVI at 2009 Christmas time as satanically inspired events. 4

  • 2010-MAR-16: Assisted suicide bill introduced in Canadian Parliament: Member of Parliament Francine Lalonde introduced a private member's bill to legalize assisted suicide in Canada. She said: "Helping someone to die gently and without pain... can we call this murder? Many would say 'no." And that's what I say." Her bill has no chance of succeeding.

  • 2010-MAR-17: PepsiCo eliminates sales of high sugar soda in schools worldwide: The makers of Pepsi Cola has announced that it will terminate sale of high sugar content drinks in schools in 200 countries. This is the first such move by a major soft drink producer. The decision followed discussions with the World Heart Federation in Geneva, Switzerland.

  • 2010-MAR-28: MI: FBI raids fundamentalist Christian militia: The FBI allegedly conducted raids over the previous two days in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio against a fundamentalist Christian militia group, the Hutaree. Their web site describes their group as "... preparing for the end time battles to keep the testimony of Jesus Christ alive." Their logo is a cross with the initials CCR, which stand for Colonial Christian Republic. Their web site states that: "Jesus wanted us to be ready to defend ourselves using the sword and stay alive using equipment. ... The Hutaree will one day see its enemy and meet him on the battlefield if so God wills it. We will reach out to those who are yet blind in the last days of the kingdoms of men and bring them to life in Christ."

    The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) speculates that the FBI raid is motivated by "... possible threats of violence against American Muslims." They report that at least seven militia have been arrested in FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force raids. There are allegedly reports in the media that members of the Hutaree militia made threats of violence against Islamic organization. CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said:
    "Given the recent sharp spike CAIR offices nationwide have observed in anti-Islam rhetoric, it would not be surprising that an extremist group would seek to turn that bigoted rhetoric into violent actions. At this stage, we are seeking more information about possible threats to American Muslim organizations and are urging the offices of CAIR and other Islamic institutions nationwide to take appropriate security precautions.”

    Last week, CAIR called on Republican leaders to repudiate racist taunts by tea party opponents of health care reform targeting a Muslim congressman and another African-American lawmaker on Capitol Hill.

    They do not mention also having called on Republican leaders to repudiate homophobic taunts by the same people against gay members of Congress. 5,6,7 " Nihad Awad, CAIR national executive director in Washington. issued a statement on MAR-28 writing that:

    "
    Given the recent sharp spike CAIR offices nationwide have observed in anti-Islam rhetoric, it would not be surprising that an extremist group would seek to turn that bigoted rhetoric into violent actions."

    According to the Detroit Press, eight male and one female militia members were charged with conspiracy to kill police officers sometime in April, and then to attack the funeral procession that would likely include hundreds of officers from around the U.S. Each of the accused faces three to five charges, including sedition, attempts to use weapons of mass destruction, teaching/demonstrating use of explosive materials and two counts of carrying weapons in relation to a crime of violence. The indictment states that group had identified a police officer in Michigan for the initial assassination.

    Their aim was to "intimidate and demoralize law enforcement, diminishing their ranks and rendering them ineffective." They then intended to use the incident to trigger a "war" against law enforcement, using bombs, ambushes and prepared fighting positions. They hoped that this would cause a general uprising against the Federal Government among disgruntled Americans.

    Andrew Arena, FBI special agent in charge said:
    "This is an example of radical and extremist fringe groups which can be found throughout our society. The FBI takes such extremist groups seriously, especially those who would target innocent citizens and the law enforcement officers who protect the citizens of the United States." 9
  • 2010-MAR-29: Atrocity in the Democratic Republic of Congo: The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) killed at least 321 people and abducted hundreds in an attack in the Makombo area of northeast Uganda in December. Some of the abducted victims had their lips and ears sliced off and were returned as a warning to others. The LRA's leader is Joseph Kony who teaches a fundamentalist version of Christianity mixed with some traditional African beliefs. His goal is to gain power in Uganda and replace the existing laws with the Ten Commandments. Peace talks began two years ago but ended after Kony executed any of his commanders who tried to reach a settlement. 8

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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. "Jury convicts 1 Mind Ministries cult members in boy's starvation death," Religion News Blog, 2010-MAR-03, at: http://www.religionnewsblog.com/
  2. Clarencia Cynree, "1 Mind Ministries," Celebgalz, 2008-AUG-12, at: http://celebgalz.com/
  3. Nigeria ethnic violence 'leaves hundreds dead'," BBC News, 2010-MAR-08, at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/
  4. Richard Owen, "Chief exorcist Father Gabriele Amorth says Devil is in the Vatican," Times Online, 2010-MAR-11, at: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/
  5. Niraj Warikoo, "Fed raids in Michigan may be tied to Hutaree, a Christian-militia group," Free Press, 2010-MAR-28, at: http://www.freep.com/
  6. The Hutaree website is at: http://www.hutaree.com/
  7. "CAIR Seeks Info on Militia Threats to Muslim Groups. FBI reportedly raids militia after threats of violence against Islamic organizations," CAIR, 2010-MAR-28, at: http://campaign.constantcontact.com/
  8. Johnathan Abuja, "Lord’s Resistance Army killed 321 people in Democratic Republic of Congo," Times Online, 2010-MAR-29, at: http://www.timesonline.co.uk
  9. Paul Egan & Mike Wiklinson, "Indictment: Hutaree militia planned to kill law officer, attack the funeral procession," Detroit News, at: http://www.detnews.com/
  10. David Klepper, "Justices to hear case involving Fred Phelps' protests at military funerals," Kansas City Star, 2010-MAR-08, at: http://www.kansascity.com/

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Copyright © 2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2010-MAR-03
Latest update: 2010-MAR-31
Author: B.A. Robinson

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