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NEWS OF RELIGIOUS INTOLERANCE AND CONFLICT DURING 2001-OCT

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Sponsored link.

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We also have a list of religious tolerance news for this month. 
Sad to say, these are usually much shorter lists.

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2001-OCT-1: UK: Church of England in decline: Crosswalk/Religion Today reported on a University of Sheffield project which found that only 21% of infants born during 1999 were baptized into the Church. This compares to 75% in 1933. With the church on the way to minority status, it may eventually be disestablished. This happened to the Church of Ireland and the Church of Wales in the past when they were found to be serving only a minority of the population. A Church of England spokesman said that "Baptism introduces people into the Christian family and not into any particular denomination, and so it is difficult to calculate how many end up as Anglicans ... We may be less than half the population, but we are still the largest religious group in the country."

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2001-OCT-1: Indonesia: Muslim militants attacked Christians:  Crosswalk/Religion Today reported that churches and homes were attacked on 2001-SEP-17 in Klaksanaan village. Two church buildings, 23 Christian houses were burned. Fifty-eight Christian families are homeless. "No one was killed or seriously injured in the attack, according to The Voice of the Martyrs (Canada). But Muslim militants in Indonesia have killed 10,000 Christians in just the past two years, according to reports by The Persecution & Prayer Alert service of VOM."

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2001-OCT-1: Republic of Georgia: Defrocked Orthodox priest attacks Protestants:  Crosswalk/Religion Today published a report by Keston News Service about an alleged attack by defrocked Orthodox priest, Basil Mkalavishvili, and 25 of his supporters. They are reported to have burst into a Georgian Evangelical church in Tbilisi on SEP-23, wielding truncheons, and beating choir members. About 100 local residents observed the attack but refused to join in. The ex-priest allegedly shouted that the Protestants were Satanists and that he and his followers would drive them out of the Republic of Georgia. Baptist, Pentecostal and in particular Jehovah's Witnesses have been the victims of a high levels of violence in recent years in Georgia.

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2001-OCT-3: Republic of Georgia: Three mob assaults during the previous week: Human Rights Watch reports a rapidly degenerating situation in the Republic of Georgia. "On September 28, Georgian police reportedly stood aside to allow a mob of 100, armed with clubs and stones, to erect a roadblock on a highway leading out of the capital, Tbilisi. The mob stopped buses and cars transporting some 100 Jehovah's Witnesses to a religious convention, dragged them out, kicked and beat them. They injured up to forty people, nearly a dozen of them seriously. The mob then attacked the convention site in the town of Marneuli, ransacking and burning property, injuring more people, and firing shots into the air. Police not only failed to intervene to stop the assaults, but allegedly confiscated film and a video camera from Jehovah's Witnesses, and verbally derided them." On September 30, a group of approximately fourteen men reportedly attacked a Jehovah's Witness prayer meeting in the town of Rustavi.

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2001-OCT-5: USA: The American Civil Liberties Union ask for sign removal: The ACLU asked that a "God Bless America" sign be removed from a marquee in front of the Breen Elementary School in Rocklin, CA. They feel that it is "a hurtful, divisive message ... that is a clear violation of the California and U.S. constitutions,  as well as the California Education Code." 250 people, parents, students and administrators, held a rally at the school. Attorney Phillip Trujillo, said the words don't violate laws on the separation of church and state.  "It's simply not a religious expression...It is, instead, a patriotic expression."

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2001-OCT-15: USA: U.S. Supreme Court to decide case on religious canvassing: An ordinance passed in Stratton, OH in 1998 prohibits canvassing by religious groups unless they first obtain a permit. They must divulge their names, current address, past addresses over five years, and the name and addresses of the group with which they are affiliated. The Jehovah's Witnesses feel that the ordinance was intended to target them. The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear their case. Lawyers for the Jehovah's Witnesses asked the Supreme Court: ''Are religious ministers engaged in a scripturally based centuries-old practice of communicating their religious beliefs from door to door constitutionally equivalent to peddlers of merchandise?" Lawyers representing Stratton said that the permits are free and that nobody has been denied one. They feel that the ordinance is reasonable ''weighing the First Amendment rights of canvassers against the right of homeowners to security, privacy and peacefulness in their homes.''

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2001-OCT-19: CO: Church organizes Hell House for Halloween: The Abundant Life Christian Center will sponsor its  7th annual Halloween Hell House this year. It will feature four scenes which the church feels are consequences of sinful behavior: abortion, a rave party, gay marriage and teen suicide. Cost will be $7.00 per person. The church is considering a $12.00 admission to an "express line" and a $20.00 personal seasonal pass. Liberty for Women, a pro-choice organization, will be holding seven silent protests nearby, in opposition to the Hell House. They will show the names of abortion providers who have been killed by anti-abortion individuals and groups. They will also display drawings of fetuses aborted illegally in the 1970s. Executive director Peggy Loonan commented: "It's graphic, yes, but we want to be in their faces." She feels that church members will be "stunned to have their tactics used against them." Associate pastor Keenan Roberts said: "We're just showing the truth. Nobody is going to change what we say or how we say it."

bullet2001-OCT-12: USA: "Operation Potomac" launched: Jeffrey Ziegler, president of the National Reform Association (NRA) announced formation of a Christian Reconstructionist political action committee and public policy organization. NRA members have met with several House and Senate Republicans over the last 14 months. House Whip Tom DeLay (R-TX) is allegedly helping the NRA to organize a "biblical worldview" conference in Washington DC during 2002. President Bush is allegedly considering J. Robert Brame III, board member of Reconstructionist group American Vision as a member of the National Labor Relations Board.

Feminist Majority Foundation Online reports that "Believing that the Bible should be the basis of government, education, and law, Reconstructionists envision an extremist society in which public schools, most social service programs, and welfare would be obliterated. According to Reconstructionist belief, the Bible allows liberal application of the death penalty for crimes including homosexuality, abortion, adultery, child disobedience, and witchcraft." Execution of the criminals would be by burning alive, stoning and hanging. The Feminist Majority did not mention additional grounds: blasphemy and prostitution. Slavery would once more be made legal. 12

bullet2001-OCT-12: Nigeria: Muslim-Christian riots kill at least 100: After Friday prayers by Muslims, a quiet demonstration against the U.S. action in Afghanistan turned violent. 100 to 200 are believed to have been killed; many hundreds were injured; four churches and four mosques were gutted; 16,000 have been made homeless. In 2000-FEB, 2000-MAY, and 2001-SEP, a total of 1,700 people were killed during riots that were sparked by the decision in Northern Nigeria to implement full Islamic Shari'ah law in this country which has a large Christian minority.
bullet2001-OCT-15: UK: Britain introduces bill against inciting religious hatred: The British government is proposing a series of bills to help combat terrorism. One would make inciting religious hatred a crime. "Civil liberties groups fear the plan to expand existing incitement to racial hatred laws to include religion could dampen free speech and even shield extremists from criticism." It would carry a maximum penalty of seven years. Andrew Puddephatt, executive director of Article 19, a free speech group said: "Because of the nature of religious belief, it can be so intense, it's hard to imagine laws coming into existence without people seeking to use them to prohibit legitimate opinion...If there's one thing about this (international) conflict, it's very clear to us it can only be solved by a vigorous and broad expression of views on all sides. That's one of the strengths we've got in Europe and the United States ... and it's something we should hang onto.'' 14
bullet2001-OCT-18: Philippines: Priest kidnapped: An Italian priest was kidnapped, presumably by radical extremist Fundamentalist Muslim rebels, while celebrating mass in a church in the southern Philippines. Muslims have been involved in a low-level war in the south of the Philippines with the mostly Christian government forces for centuries.
bullet2001-OCT-19: KY: Hell House returns for fourth year: Victory Hill Ministries of Scottsville, KY, will be holding Hell House for the fourth consecutive year. It will feature scenes illustrating homosexuality and suicide, a terrorist attack, domestic violence, abortion, and date rape, Heaven and Hell. In the past, critics have referred to what they call the Hell House's rhetoric of hate. However, Senior Pastor Nathan Oakes said the church message is really one of love. "Sometimes it takes greater love to tell the truth than to accept a lie. I’m willing to risk being hated to tell people that God loves them."
bullet2001-OCT-25: UK: Allegations of sexual apartheid in Church of England: According to The Guardian:
Women clergy yesterday accused the Church of England of discrimination and prejudice against them nine years after the church voted in favour of female ordination.

They accused bishops of bending over backwards to accommodate the few parishes which still refused to accept women priests and they said sexual apartheid persisted.

A report by the female pressure group GRAS - the group for the rescinding of the act of synod - said: "There are a number of reasons - fear of conflict, misogyny, the bishops' wish to present a united front to the world, a devotion to the old boy network or, in some cases, to a closeted gay network, laziness, indifference, an excessive concern about what Rome thinks and a habitual stance of not taking women seriously."

A fifth of the ordained clergy in the Church of England - 2,000 - are women but some claim they are accused to their faces of being witches. Some male clergy decline to be touched by female priests during ordination, claiming they are tainted. 15

bullet2001-OCT-25: UK: Christian radio station warned: Premier Christian Radio, based in London, England was given a "yellow card" by the Radio Authority (RA) for a number of breaches of programming rules. The RA recognized that seven complaints against the radio station had merit. They warned of "substantial sanctions" if more occur. In one program, the holy books of Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism were described as "full of superstition and absurdities." In another case, a speaker said that it was a "crazy idea" that a homosexual could be a good Christian. The station justified such statements saying that its conservative Christian audience would not have been offended by such comments. The RA said that "The authority will be keeping matters under review." 17
bullet2001-OCT-27: USA: U.S. Report on religious freedom criticized: Human Rights Watch (HRW) criticized the U.S. State Department's annual report on international religious freedom. None of the countries involved in the anti-terrorism effort have been criticized for human rights violations in the report. Tom Malinowski, Washington Advocacy Director for HRW said: "Clearly, the Administration doesn't want to offend key allies in the coalition through excessive truth-telling. The irony is that getting too close to countries that crush religious freedom may be more dangerous for America right now than keeping its distance-particularly when the religion being crushed is Islam." According to HRW:
bulletUzbekistan: Several thousand non-violent Muslims have been arrested on religious reasons in the last three years. Torture of prisoners is routine.
bulletSaudi Arabia: There is essentially no religious freedom in this country. "In few countries in the world is the denial of religious freedom so integral to the self-conception and ethos of the government."
bulletTurkmenistan: All forms of religious practice other than state-sanctioned Islam and Russian Orthodoxy are suppressed. Authorities have confiscated and destroyed Seventh Day Adventist churches, Hare Krishna temples, and Muslim mosques. 16
bullet2001-OCT-29: Chicago, IL: WLS-AM canceled Wiccan commercials: According to Telepathic Media Inc.: "WLS-AM Newstalk 890 Chicago, a Disney owned radio station, canceled commercials aired on the Art Bell show for WitchSchool.com, an online Wiccan educational site. It should be noted, the Art Bell show is known for discussing topics such as ghosts, paranormal, and having major Wiccan personalities as guests. These twice-nightly commercials have been running since October 11th in the timeslot of 12 AM – 4 AM. The commercials were canceled on Monday, October 29, the beginning of the Halloween week which is amongst the most sacred of times for Wiccans.

WLS spokesperson, Susan Hallinan, informed WitchSchool.com that the "commercials were canceled because of the number of strongly worded emails that had been received, along with the controversy from 9-11. The management of the radio station decided it was best to pull the ads immediately."

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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. CNSNews.com -- Cybercast News Service -- is a conservative news source. Their home page is at: http://www.cnsnews.com
  12. "Christian Reconstructionists launch 'Operation Potomac'," Feminist Majority,  at: http://www.feminist.org/news/
  13. Jason Dooley, "Controversial ‘Hell House’ open again: Victory Hill Ministries’ graphic event defended as one born of pure motives," Daily News, Bowling Green, KY, at: http://www.bgdailynews.com/
  14. "Britain Takes On Religious Hatred," Guardian Unlimited, at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest [May be a temporary listing]
  15. Stephen Bates, "Church persists with sexual apartheid, say women priests," The Guardian, at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/
  16. "U.S. Report on Religious Freedom is Flawed," Human Rights Watch news release, 2001-OCT-27.
  17. "Christian radio station warned over content," MediaGuardian, at: http://media.guardian.co.uk/broadcast/
     

Copyright © 2001 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2001-OCT-2
Latest update: 2001-OCT-30
Author: B.A. Robinson

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