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NEWS OF RELIGIOUS INTOLERANCE & CONFLICT

2000-APR

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We also have a list of religious tolerance news items for this month.

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APR-6,7: Indonesia: Muslim - Christian conflict. According to Newsroom: 2 and ReligionToday
"Sectarian tensions in Indonesia's Molucca Islands are escalating according to church leaders who report the details of recent atrocities by radical Muslim groups and Indonesian military troops. About 3,000 people, most of them Christians, have died in the past 14 months in religious violence in the Moluccas, a chain of 17 islands about 250 miles west of New Guinea, news reports say. The islands were once mostly Christian, but the Muslim population has increased in recent years with a "radical minority" causing unrest, news reports said. Clergy in North Maluku province and the island of Buru claim that 'jihad troops' determined to expunge Christians from the areas have slaughtered many believers and burned down churches and homes." 

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2000-APR-9: England: Christian vs Neopagans: According to Independent Digital: 10
Ralph Morse, 44, is a teacher of media studies and drama at Shenfield High School in Essex. In his private life, he is a Wiccan. He was appointed as the first national youth manager by the Pagan Federation. On APR-2 an article about his religious beliefs appeared in the British newspaper, the "Independent on Sunday." The following day, in an amazing demonstration of religious intolerance, he was suspended from the high school. John Fairhurst, the school headteacher released a statement stating that the school was "appalled" to be associated with the Pagan Federation and "wish it to be known that we completely and unequivocally reject their world of witchcraft and magic." He continued: "A teacher's private activities are, of course, his private activities. However, there is no doubt that this man's private interests are impinging upon the school...The member of staff concerned has been suspended pending an investigation into the extent of his activities and the conflicts of interest that arise between his out-of-school activities and his professional role." Mr Fairhurst said the school taught religious education in a way "which we hope and expect would enable our students to reject the dangerous temptations of the occult".

Father Leslie Knight, the local Roman Catholic parish priest, said: "We should be promoting Christianity and not things which go into witchcraft and magic." Doug Harris, spokesman for the Fundamentalist Christian Reach Out Trust, said: "Paganism opens you up to a supernatural power that cannot be controlled. It's dangerous to encourage young people."

Andy Norfolk, the Pagan Federation's spokesman, . "We feel that his suspension is unwarranted because the Pagan Federation is a reasonable organization. We are not involved in anything sinister." Morse is also supported by the National Union of Teachers.

[Author's note: One wonders what would have happened if Morse had become the national youth manager of the Church of England. This incident demonstrates how conflicts can arise when various individuals use different definitions of the term "Witch." -- one from the Middle Ages, and one contemporary.]

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APR-15: Italy - Roman Catholics vs. gays and lesbians: According to AANEWS: 11
World Pride 2000, the first international celebration by gay men and women from around the world. is scheduled to be held in the summer of 2000 in Rome, Italy. President Al Gore  sent a letter of support including his "warmest regards" and adding, "I look forward to strengthening our working relationship throughout the 21st Century."

The Roman Catholic church is holding a Jubilee Year during 2000. Millions of pilgrims are expected to visit Italy this year. "Church house organs and commentators immediately labeled the event an 'anti-Jubilee,' and the Holy See's Secretary of State, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, charged that the
homosexual gathering 'would not do honor to Italy.'
" He suggested that the Italian state ban the World Pride 2000 celebration since it might be a violation of the Lateran agreement which governs relations between the church and state. 

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APR-18: Russia: Conflict within the Russian Orthodox churches. According to Newsroom: 2
"Two American nuns who blocked the transfer of a 'White' Russian Orthodox monastery in Jericho to the Moscow Patriarchy have been replaced by two priests as the standoff enters its fourth month. Although Palestinian authorities promised in February to reach a compromise, no resolution is expected until after Easter at the earliest."

"Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, seeking to
end an 83-year-old schism, appealed for reconciliation with the
Moscow Patriarchy in an historic epistle this month. But the Synod of
Russian Orthodox Bishops Abroad blasted the Moscow Patriarchy for its
ties to what the bishops called a corrupt government that has
'preserved the majority of Bolshevism's atheistic symbols.'
"

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APR-18: USA: Allegations of religious prejudice in Navy. According to Family News in Focus: 12
11 Evangelical Christian chaplains have initiated a lawsuit against the U.S. Navy. Their attorney, Arthur Schulcz, said: "We think that everybody and all denominations and faith groups have a right to be represented. But this [lawsuit] is against a system that's become corrupt." The lawsuit alleges that almost half of Navy personnel are Evangelical Christians, but that the leadership of the Chaplaincy Corps does not reflect this. Schulcz alleges that the Navy preferentially allocates positions of leadership to Roman Catholics and liturgical Christians, at the expense of Evangelicals.  Evangelical Chaplain Greg DeMarco commented: "I would end my prayers 'in Jesus' name.' I was taken aside and into the command chaplain's office and was told that praying in Jesus' name made some folks very uncomfortable and I was not to continue doing that." Chaplain Michael Belt described a similar experience: "I was preaching about how to live your life as a Christian, that you live it not only on Sundays but that you live it all through the week. The chief of staff got up with his family in the middle of my sermon and walked out." Belt was allegedly reprimanded day for offending the officer; he was given a poor fitness report for causing embarrassment. 

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References:

  1. DayWatch is a daily service of Maranatha Christian Journal. It provides "a daily summary of news headlines with a Christian perspective..." The newsletter is free on request. Their web site is at: http://www.mcjonline.com 
  2. Newsroom is a service of Worldwide Newsroom Inc. Their articles are written by "a network of journalists, scholars and other professional contacts in country." You can subscribe to their free service from their website at http://www.newsroom.org/ 
  3. ReligionToday provides free newslatters to which you can subscribe at: http://www.ReligionToday.com. These summaries are part of GOSHEN.net, which also includes LiveIt.net, Devotionals.net, ChristianShareware.net, ChristianClassifieds.net, ChristianMessageBoards.net, BibleStudyTools.net, MediaManagement.net, WorldNewsToday.net, WebCastGuide.net, and ChristianCollegeGuide.net
  4. Reuters is "the world's leading financial information and news group. Their web page is at: http://www.reuters.com/ 
  5. Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR): E-mail: cair1@ix.netcom.com
    URL: http://www.cair-net.org To join CAIR-NET, CAIR's read-only mailing list: Send subscribe cair-net in the body of a message to majordomo@cair-net.org
  6. EWTN News carries Roman Catholic news from Catholic World News, Vatican Information Service, ZENIT, CWNews.com. See: http://www.ewtn.com/news/ 
  7. Ecumenical News International (ENI) in Geneva Switzerland distributes news free religious news highlights to subscribers. They can be contacted at PO Box 2100, CH - 1211, Geneva 2, Switzerland. Telephone: (41-22) 791 6087/6515. Fax: (41-22) 788 7244 Email: eni@eni.ch. Their web site is at http://www.eni.ch 
  8. ZENIT.org is "an International News Agency based in Rome. Our mission is to provide objective and professional coverage of events, documents and issues emanating from or concerning the Catholic Church for a worldwide audience, especially the media." Their web site is at: http://www.zenit.org/english/ 
  9. Anglican Communion News Service provides information from an Anglican perspective. See: http://www.anglicancommunion.org/acns/index.html
  10. Robert Mendick, "Pagan teacher to be disciplined by school," at: http://www.independent.co.uk/advancement/Schools/  
  11. AANEWS is distributed by American Atheists. 
  12. Dave Clark, "Evangelical chaplains sue Navy," at: http://www.family.org/cforum/fnif/news/a0011025.html 

Copyright © 2000
Originally written: 2000-APR-1
Latest update: 2000-APR-18
Author: B.A. Robinson

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