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NEWS OF RELIGIOUS INTOLERANCE AND CONFLICT

2001-JUNE

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

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2001-JUN-11: USA: Execution of Timothy McVeigh: He was executed for the terrorist bombing which killed 168 people at the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City, OK on 1995-APR-19. Some thoughts on the execution:
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President George W. Bush announced: "This morning, the United States of America carried out the severest sentence for the gravest of crimes. The victims of the Oklahoma City bombing have been given not vengeance but justice. And one young man met the fate he chose for himself six years ago...Today, every living person who was hurt by the evil done in Oklahoma City can rest in the knowledge that there has been a reckoning."

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Amnesty International said that the U.S. government has allowed vengeance to triumph over justice and distanced itself yet further from the aspirations of the international community. "President George W. Bush's record on the death penalty is well-known across the world...By refusing to step in and impose a moratorium on federal executions, he has further damaged his and his country's reputation." During his five-years as Governor of Texas, he permitted 152 state executions. Many were in violation of international standards. At least one involved a foreigner who was not allowed to contact their embassy after being arrested. Some executions were of criminals who were children at the time of their offense. Others were of severely mentally handicapped adults.

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Some voices of individuals:
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"Timothy McVeigh was a cold-blooded murderer. He will be missed. But the way he died was sad, pathetic and wrong."

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"A rite of national purification."

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"Before Tim McVeigh was executed, there were 168 deaths associated with the bombing. Now, there are 169 deaths, and the creation of one martyr. Further, his siblings and parents must morn the state murder of a member of their family. Snuffing out one life is too great a price to pay so that some victims and families of victims may feel a sense of vengeance or closure. If we want to prevent future terrorist acts, we won't have Timothy around to analyze."

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"Judgment day."

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"He didn't suffer at all. The man just went to sleep, or as I said, the monster did. I think they should have done the same thing to him as he did in Oklahoma."

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"McVeigh is a coward and a low-down bastard. Somebody tried to take my life, they deserve to burn in hell."

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"We feel at peace now."

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"I won't have closure. My pain won't go away."

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2001-JUN-12: France: Anti-cult bill awaits president's signature: Although the anti-cult movement has been largely discredited in North America, it is quite powerful in France. According to the Globe and Mail: "France is moving forward with Europe's severest legislation against minority religious groups, igniting fears among civil-liberties organizations that it could invite similar measures by other governments. Ignoring criticism from mainstream church leaders and foreign governments, especially Washington, France's National Assembly has passed a law 'to reinforce the prevention and repression of groups of a sect-like character.' " Joseph Grieboski, president of the Washington-based Institute on Religion and Public Policy, said: "This law makes the practice of one's religion into a criminal offence." The daily French newspaper, Le Figaro, mentioned that the lifestyle of a Carmelite nun could fall afoul of the legislation.

The bill will create a new type crime covering the abuse of a person "in a state of psychological or physical dependence caused by the exertion of heavy or repeated pressure or techniques liable to alter his judgment."  The bill also empowers courts to dissolve religious groups if two leading members are convicted of crimes such as fraud and child abuse.

Depending on how this clause is interpreted, it could criminalize catechism classes run by established religions. It could also threaten the existence of faith groups -- large and small.

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2001-JUN-16: USA: Southern Baptists concerned about discrimination against military chaplains: At their annual convention, the Southern Baptists passed a resolution noting a series of lawsuits alleging discrimination against military chaplains in the Navy. These cases claim that the Navy discriminates against evangelicals while giving advantage to liturgical denominations. The resolution renounced "any unconstitutional treatment of Southern Baptist chaplains" and called for policies to "insure free religious practice for all military personnel."

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2001-JUN-11 (approx) Sudan Peace Act passes House: According to ReligionToday: The U.S. House of Representatives approved H.R. 2052, the Sudan Peace Act, by a vote of 422-2. The bill condemns human rights abuses in Sudan, and the use of food as a weapon while encouraging
support for viable civil authorities and institutions in non-government-controlled areas. Additionally, the measure condemns slavery and the use of enslaving parties as a means of ethnic cleansing.

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2001-JUN-17: Country of Georgia: Jehovah's Witnesses attacked: According to the Irish Times: "A group of Jehovah's Witnesses holding a prayer session in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi were savagely beaten today by a group of unidentified intruders who burst into their hall, police said. A dozen men and women physically assaulted the group - whose number was not given - and vandalised the locale, breaking furniture and windows and setting fire to religious objects before fleeing. Two of the victims were seriously injured in the attack, police said, adding that an investigation had been launched."

The Jehovah's Witnesses were banned in the country by the Georgian Supreme Court in 2001-FEB.

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2001-JUN-25: Archdiocese Pulls Funds over gay group: According to Religion Today: "The Colorado Council of Churches will lose more than $13,000 annually from the Denver Catholic Archdiocese because the council admitted a predominantly gay denomination into the organization. According to spokesman Greg Kail, Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput said that continued financial support from the archdiocese would  'have a misleading effect on the church's teachings about marriage and family life.' ... The Catholic Church teaches that practicing homosexuality is a sin."

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2001-JUN-25: Christian Coalition accused of racial discrimination: The Christian Coalition was founded by Pat Robertson in 1989 in order to encourage more conservative Christians to become active politically. It has suffered major economic setbacks in recent years. According to Christine Hall, Staff Writer of CNSNews, their fundraising has dropped from 15.8 million in 1997 to 2.9 million recently. They are now being sued by 13 current and former employees in federal court. The Coalition is accused treating black clerical workers in a racist manner:
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Requiring them to enter the office through a back door.

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Having them eat in a racially segregated lunch area.

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Excluding them from inaugural celebration.

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Excluding them from the group Christmas party.

A white employee alleges that he was fired when he refused a management request to spy on the black workers. Jon S. Nicholas, of the Washington law firm Dilworth Paxson, represents the plaintiffs. He tried to engage Coalition officials in mediation talks. "I met them and initially thought we should be able to go in there and talk to them and get everything resolved. It just hasn't worked out that way. We contacted their attorneys privately. Very shortly afterwards, our clients were told to stay home from work."

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2001-JUN-27: Ireland: Serious Protestant-Catholic rioting: According to ReligionToday: " More than 100 people threw stones and bottles at each other Monday night in a confrontation in northern Belfast where Protestant and Catholic neighborhoods meet. An earlier stoning incident involving up to 50 people was reported along a West Belfast division between Catholic and Protestant enclaves. No injuries were reported."

"Last week, Belfast suffered its worst riots in three years, when hundreds of men and teenagers threw stones and bottles at each other and at police in the Ardoyne district, a Catholic enclave surrounded by similarly hardline Protestant neighborhoods. The attackers were from both sides of the divide. Police returned fire with plastic bullets. Thirty-nine police were injured."

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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 newsletters 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 A companion Episcopal News Service is at: http://www.ecusa.anglican.org/ens/ 
  10. AANEWS is distributed by American Atheists.
  11. "Rebellion against liberal theology growing in Presbyterian Church (USA)," Religion Today, 2001-MAY-8, at: http://news.crosswalk.com/religion/item/0,,343084,00.htm 
  12. "Legislator calls Buddhism 'cult': Lindner decries appearance by Dalai Lama at Capitol,"  2001-MAY-1, Pioneer Planet, at: http://www.pioneerplanet.com/seven-days/tue/ 
  13. CNSNews.com -- Cybercast News Service -- is a conservative news source. Their home page is at: http://www.cnsnews.com

Copyright © 2001 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2001-JUN-3
Latest update: 2001-JUN-27
Author: B.A. Robinson

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