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NEWS OF RELIGIOUS CONFLICT & INTOLERANCE DURING 2002-AUG.

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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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2002-AUG-2: Australia: Roman Catholic confusion or religious intolerance: The information service "This is True" posted the following information about Wicca and Roman Catholicism in Australia: "The fastest-growing religion in Australia is Witchcraft, census officials say, and the state of Victoria is   considering repealing a 1966 law banning the practice of it and similar   religions, such as Paganism. Census figures indicate that in the last six years, the number of witches has more than quadrupled to 9,000, and the number of pagans has more than doubled to 10,632, while most Christian denominations have seen decreases in followers. 'I'd be appalled if [repealing the law] implies some sort of approval,' says Monsignor Peter J. Elliot of the local Catholic Archdiocese. 'I think it reflects the collapse of values and sanity in our society that this mishmash of superstition and fraud is to be recognized.' (Melbourne Herald Sun) ...Funny, that's just what the witches say about Catholicism." 11 The state of Victoria, the census office, and the church appear to be using the same word, "witchcraft" to refer to three very different activities: The state of Victoria is apparently referring to a law prohibiting fortune telling. The census office is referring to Wicca, a religion which prohibits its followers from harming others. The Monsignor is apparently referring to two practices often translated as "witchcraft" in the Bible: women issuing spoken curses to harm others and murderers who use poison. Needless to say, the three activities are unrelated.

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2002-AUG-1: NC: Conflict over required reading for university class: Three anonymous students and two taxpayers had sued the University of North Carolina because it requires new students to read a book on Islam: "Approaching the Qur'an: The Early Years." The suit was filed in July by a Fundamentalist Christian organization, the American Family Association Center for Law and Policy. They argued that the reading requirement violated the student's First Amendment rights. On AUG-1, the university asked the judge to dismiss the suit. They argued that the two taxpayers, James Yacovelli and Terry Moffitt should be removed from the suit because they cannot prove any injury as a result of the required reading. Also, the cannot prove that they will benefit if the requirement is lifted. The university also asked that the students not remain anonymous, because they cannot prove that they have any reason to suspect that they will be harmed if their identities become known. 12 On AUG-9, the Family Research Council reported that a legislative committee voted 64 to 10 to ban the use of public funds for the UNC class. Rep. Wayne Sexton of Rockingham said, "If you stop and think about what [September 11] meant to this country's homeland security, guards everywhere, just think what it costs to protect ourselves from this faction, and here we are promoting it." Sexton seems to hold all of Islam responsible for the acts of a small minority: a radical, violent Fundamentalist wing. The committee seems to believe that if we keep university students ignorant of Islam, they will be able to deal more effectively with the religion. 19

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2002-AUG-2: Ontario: Rural Pagan gathering concerns conservative Christians: A gathering of Witches, Druids and members of other Earth-centered religions attended the Kaleidoscope Pagan Gathering at Whispering Pines Campground east of Ottawa ON on the long weekend (in Canada) starting AUG-2. Some local conservative Christians in this rural area have expressed anger at the Gathering. They accuse the campers of flouting biblical teachings by promoting witchcraft, nudity and ritualized sex. The term "witchcraft" has about 18 unrelated meanings. Here, it probably relates to witchcraft as mentioned in the Bible which is unrelated to Wicca, the most common form of witchcraft in North America. The reference to ritualized sex may be to the "Great Rite" which is performed by some Wiccans. However, it is restricted to committed couples and is done in private.

Four hundred people have signed a petition started by the Rockland Church of God in Clarence ON. The owners of the campsite claim that local residents have threatened to boycott their facilities unless they cancel the Gathering. The owners have received angry phone calls and anonymous letters promising that their campground will be forever cursed.  Rev. Peter Jamieson said: "This area is already thick with witches' covens and we don't need to encourage it. As a Christian minister I believe I have an obligation to stand up for what is right. This is witchcraft no matter how they try and color it....We've let our opinion be known and that is as far as we will go at this point, except to pray and let God do what he may" One of the organizers, Pamela Fletcher, said "There is nothing illegal or immoral going on here. I people want to go swimming naked or take their top off around the fire, that's fine. As long as it is not sexual, and if it gets that way, we kindly ask people to go back to their tent." 13

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2002-AUG-4: India: Five "witches" murdered: Five women were hacked to death because they were believed to have been practicing "witchcraft." The murders took place in the tea belt area of Jalpaiguri state of India. Ten laborers in the Kilkote tea estate have been arrested. In the past decade, 79 women have been murdered in this area on suspicion of witchcraft. "Witchcraft" in this case relates to evil sorcery or black magic. It is completely unrelated to what is commonly called "white Witchcraft" in North America and Europe which is connected to healing rituals and the religion of Wicca. 14

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2002-AUG-5: MN: Governor signs proclamation in error: Governor Jesse Ventura had long honored the U.S. Constitution's separation of church and state. In past years, he had refused to sign proclamations recognizing religious topics. He turned down the opportunity to recognize the National Day of Prayer in his state earlier this year. But this year, he accidentally signed a proclamation declaring October 13 to 19 as Christian Heritage Week. According to Tom Pritchard, head of the Minnesota Family Council: "They tried to rescind it, but the (Minnesota) secretary of state said, 'Well, once it's been filed and stamped, its official. So you can't rescind it.' " David Barton of WallBuilders, a Fundamentalist Christian group, saw God's hand in the error. He said: "I think a lot of people are kind of chuckling under their breath and saying, 'You know, he didn't intend to do this, but God pulled if off anyway,' So, you could certainly class it in that providential kind of category." 15

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2002-AUG-5: U.S., Germany, Austria: Seven women Catholic priests excommunicated: Seven Roman Catholic women from Austria, Germany and the U.S. were ordained as priests/priestesses in 2002-JUN by an Argentine cleric Romulo Antonio Braschi, who is from a breakaway church. The Vatican's Congregation for the Faith were given until JUL-22 to repent of their offence and renounce their ordination. They didn't.  One of the priests, Christine Mayr-Lumetzberger, said they planned to appeal against the order. 16

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2002-AUG-5: Pakistan: Terrorist kill six at Christian school: Terrorists, presumably a from rebel extremist Fundamentalist Islamic group, attacked the Murree Christian School in Murree, some 36 miles/60 km northeast of the capital Islamabad. Six Pakistanis were killed, including two security guards, a receptionist, cook, carpenter and male bystander. Three were wounded. The approximately 32 staff and 146 children were unharmed. A note was left on the scene which expressed "resentment against world powers" and "unjust killings of Muslim, Palestinians and Kashmir fighters." 17

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2002-AUG-7: Belarus: Church bulldozed to the ground: The Belarus government has refused to register the Belarusian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (BAPTs) which has a membership of 10,000 in the country. As a result, the building of a church by the denomination is illegal. The government bulldozed a brand-new church in the village of Pahranichny. Fexlix Corley of The Keston Institute commented: "Father Yan [Spasyuk] would not be in a position to apply for permission to build a religious building because his church has been denied registration. You cannot build a religious building unless you are a religious organization which has registration. So it's a vicious circle. They won't give him registration, and he can't build a church because he doesn't have registration." A new and even more restrictive law is scheduled to be in place this Autumn. Corley stated that "Only groups which have an administration or headquarters registered in the country will be allowed to teach religion, publish literature, and that kind of thing, and only groups which had registered congregations back in 1982 will be able to form headquarter organizations. So many of the newer Protestant denominations especially will be very severely impacted by this new law..." Alyaksandr Antonyuk is chairman of the Hrodna branch of the Belarusian Helsinki Commission -- an agency that monitors human rights. He said that the problem mainly originates in the Russian Orthodox church which is recognized by the government. "The Belarusian Autocephalous Orthodox Church conducts its religious ceremonies according to Orthodox tenets. They have the same canons as the Russian Orthodox Church. The only difference is that the service is conducted in the Belarusian language. Of course, if the autocephalous church -- even just one religious community -- was registered, it would start mushrooming." 18

bullet2002-AUG: Country of Georgia: Greek Orthodox members attack Jehovah's Witnesses: A mob interrupted a planned revival meeting by Jehovah's Witnesses in Kaspi, Georgia. Two dozen men, identified as Greek Orthodox members by their jewelry, ransacked the home of the host, Ushangi Bunturi. They burned Bibles, religious pamphlets and Bunturi's possession. They poured diesel fuel into the baptismal pool. Police were present during the violence, but it is not clear whether they took part in the destruction or simply observed it. Bunturi commented: "You can see what freedom of faith, what freedom of assembly we have. They say we have these [religious] rights, but they do not act on them." Gennadi Gudadze, the director of the Union of Jehovah's Witnesses, said that this is the latest in at least a  dozen attacks on Witnesses in the year 2002. 20
bullet2002-AUG-23: FL: Doctor allegedly planning to attack local mosques: Dr. Robert J. Goldstein, a Jewish podiatrist, was arrested after police found more than 30 home-made explosive devices (including hand grenades and a five gallon gasoline bomb), very high powered weapons, and a detailed plan to blow up a Muslim education center. Officials said that if one of his bombs went off, it would have leveled his 200 unit townhouse; if they all went off, the would have leveled his townhouse complex. It took police 30 minutes to coax Goldstein out of his home. The house was rigged with trip wires and surveillance cameras. The document that police found stated that the objective was to "Kill all 'rags' at this Islamic Education Center -- ZERO residual presence -- maximum effect." It said: "Set timers for approximately 15-20 minutes to allow for enough time to get out of area, but to confirm explosions has [sic] been successful. "The amount of explosives should be ample to take down the building (s)." The 30 or more weapons that police also recovered included semi-automatic weapons and a .50-caliber sniper rifle. The police were originally called to his house by his mother who was concerned about the safety of his wife, Kristi. According to an affidavit, his mother reported that Kristi said that her husband was threatening to kill her.  21 The Council on American-Islamic Relations reported that Police also discovered a list of some 50 Florida mosques in the doctor's possession. The Houston Chronicle published an essay by Arsalan Tariq Iftikhar, who is communications director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations. He commented that: "...in news coverage from The Associated Press to CNN, there was not one mention of the word 'terrorist.' However, if we change one facet of this scenario, we would have a completely different ballgame. Instead of Goldstein, let's say his name was Dr. Muhammad. Assume the same bomb materials were found in the same Florida home. Instead of blueprints of Islamic centers and mosques, his house was littered with floor plans of more than 50 synagogues and Jewish day schools. In addition to the blueprints and the arsenal, there were scattered pages of his manifesto that claimed to eliminate all traces of Judaism from America. Surely, one would be hard pressed to find one person alive who would not consider the hypothetical man above a 'terrorist.' " 22
bullet2002-AUG-30: VA: Satanist fugitive suspected of child abuse:  Russell J. Smith, 37, a.k.a. Reverend Sorath, was a correctional officer in Prince William County, VA. Allegations have surfaced that he had repeatedly molested two girls. He is charged with rape and forcible sodomy of a child and was last seen with his 12-year-old daughter in Redwood City, CA. Smith founded a Satanic group, the Order of Perdition, which has about 100 members. Satanists number a few thousand in North America. What makes this story unusual is that Satanists very rarely get in serious trouble with the law. However, a study in England revealed that three abusive pedophiles in that country independently used Satanic symbols, clothes and rituals to control children that they abused. They were not actual Satanists. Smith appears to be an exception; he seems to be heavily involved in the religion. The group's web site states that "We are Proud to note The Council of Infernus & The Order of Perdition DO NOT promote or have anything to do with Child Abuse, Animal Abuse or Animal Sacrifice, Illegal Substances, or ANY Criminal Activities what so ever." The Order of Perdition is part of the Satanic Council which supports Darkness Against Child Abuse (D.A.C.A.).

A sociology professor at the University of Nevada at Reno, Jim Richardson, said that the occult is sometimes an attention-getting hobby but is rarely connected to crime. 23,24,25

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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. 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
  3. Reuters is "the world's leading financial information and news group. Their web page is at: http://www.reuters.com/ 
  4. 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
  5. EWTN News carries Roman Catholic news from Catholic World News, Vatican Information Service, ZENIT, CWNews.com. See: http://www.ewtn.com/news/ 
  6. 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 
  7. 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/ 
  8. 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/ 
  9. AANEWS is distributed by American Atheists.
  10. CNSNews.com -- Cybercast News Service -- is a conservative news source. Their home page is at: http://www.cnsnews.com
  11. "This is True" mailing for 2002-AUG-3.
  12. "University asks judge to dismiss five from suit over Islamic book," Associated Press, 2002-AUG-2.
  13. Patti Edgar, "We don't do sacrifices: Pagan gathering concerns Christians," The Ottawa Citizen, 2002-AUG-2, Pages F1 and F8.
  14. "Killing for ‘witchcraft’ on the rise in tea garden areas," Hoover's Online, at: http://hoovnews.hoovers.com/fp.asp?
  15. "Ventura mistakenly declares 'Christian Heritage Week'," Citizen Link, 2002-AUG-5.
  16. "Church kicks out women 'priests'," BBC - Europe, 2002-AUG-5, at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/2173868.stm
  17. "Six die in school shootout," Associated Press - Reuters, 2002-AUG-5, Toronto Star.
  18. Kathleen Knox, "Belarus: church destruction sparks outrage," Radio Free Europe, at: http://www.rferl.org/nca/features/
  19. Ken Connor, "Will UNC reverse 'course' on Islam?," Washington Update, Family Research Council, 2002-AUG-9
  20. Steven Lee Myers, "Attacks on Minority Faiths Rise in Post-Soviet Georgia," New York Times, 2002-AUG-17, at: http://www.nytimes.com/2002/08/17/
  21. "Florida man plotted mosque attacks, feds say," CNN, 20-02-AUG-23, at: http://www.cnn.com/2002/US/08/23/
  22. Arsalan Tariq Iftikhar, "Doctor arrested in Florida is a 'terrorist,' too," Houston Chronicle, 2002-AUG-28, at: http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/story.hts/
  23. Paul Glader, "Fugitive Touted Satanism's Indulgences on Web. Officials Searching for Child-Abuse Suspect Traveling With Daughter," Washington Post, at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/
  24. The Order of Perdition's web site is at: http://www.theorderofperdition.com/
  25. D.A.C.A.'s web site is at: http://www.magickalshadow.com/daca/daca.html

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How you got here: Home page > Intolerance news >  here

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Copyright © 2002 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2002-AUG-3
Latest update: 2002-AUG-30
Author: B.A. Robinson

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