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NEWS OF RELIGIOUS CONFLICT & INTOLERANCE

2002-MARCH

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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-MAR-2: USA: Anti-semitic comments by Billy Graham:  After thirty years, tape recordings made in 1972 of conversations between Billy Graham and former president Richard Nixon have been released. "...the nation's best known preacher is heard to agree with a stream of bigoted comments from President Richard Nixon about Jews." 11 At one point in the discussion, Graham commented about Jews : "They swarm around me and are friendly to me. Because they know that I am friendly to Israel and so forth. But they don't know how I really feel about what they're doing to this country, and I have no power and no way to handle them." Replying to one of Nixon's comments, Graham said that their media "stranglehold has got to be broken or the country's going down the drain."

Graham issued an apology on MAR-1, saying: "Although I have no memory of the occasion, I deeply regret comments I apparently made in an Oval Office conversation with President Nixon...some 30 years ago...They do not reflect my views and I sincerely apologize for any offense caused by the remarks."

The Patriot-News of Harrisburg PA sought comments from local clerics:
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Rabbi Peter Kessler of Temple Ohev Sholom said: "I'm really shocked...I would expect that of Pat Robertson, not Billy Graham...My hope is that...there has been a change in his thinking."

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Rev. Joy Kaufmann of the Pennsylvania Council of Churches said: "What he said was unconscionable. He would have to do a whole lot of apologizing in my book...It's my opinion that he said a lot of things in the late '60s and early '70s that he has since modified...I would really like to hear what he would say now."

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Rev. John Kurtz of Shiremanstoen United Methodist Church said that the report must somehow be wrong: "I came to Christ under Billy Graham...I'm a real fan. I can't imagine him having that attitude toward the Jewish people. [If he did] I'd have a real problem with it. I have no room for that in my own theology."

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Rabbi Carl Choper of Temple Beth Shalom in Mechanicsburg said that this "should be a wake-up call to all Christians. There is such a legacy of anti-semitism in Christianity that goes back to its very beginnings."

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2002-MAR-2: TX: Unusual beliefs involved in Andrea Yates' trail: Andrea Yates is being tried for filicide after allegedly having drowned of her five children, aged 7,5,3,2 and 6 months in their bathtub. A defense psychiatrist claims that she had unwavering and delusional beliefs:
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That she was not raising the children properly. They were not "righteous."

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That if they continued to live to adulthood, they would eventually die and would be "doomed to perish in the fires of Hell."

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That she was possessed by Satan who was dwelling within her.

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By taking the lives of the children now, she would prevent them from spending eternity in Hell. 12

According to an ABC TV news report, her husband came under the influence of a pastor who believed that women should use natural childbirth to teach them humility. He also taught that children should be home-schooled. Andrea gave birth without pain medication five times. She suffered from increasingly serious bouts of post-partum depression with each birth.

According to an About.com report, she heard voices, saw visions, and tried to commit suicide twice. She and her husband were warned that there was a 50% chance that her psychosis would return if she had a fifth child. But they proceeded with their fifth pregnancy anyway. Her physician wrote on her chart that: "Apparently patient and husband plan to have as many babies as nature will allow!"

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2002-MAR-3: India: Muslim-Hindu mass murders: During 1992, some Hindus burned down a 16th century mosque in the northern Indian town of Ayodhya. Their plan was to build a Hindu temple on the site, which is sacred to followers of both religions. This action has resulted in the occasional outburst of rioting. In 1993, Hindu-Muslim riots in Mumbai (formerly Bombay) caused the deaths of 800 people. On FEB-26, a group of Muslims attacked a train in the western state of Gujarat. It was filled with Hindu fundamentalists who were returning from a pilgrimage to Ayodhya. Fifty-eight died. This generated retaliation by Hindus: As of MAR-3, 499 people have died -- mostly Muslims. Many have been burned to death. By the middle of March, over 700 people have died.

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2002-MAR-3: USA: Pat Robertson preaches hatred: According to the Boston Globe, Robertson allegedly said on his "700 Club" TV program: "I have taken issue with our esteemed president in regard to his stand in saying Islam is a peaceful religion. It's just not. And the Koran makes it very clear: If you see an infidel, you are to kill him.'' He criticized U.S. immigration policies which he regards as being ''skewed towards the Middle East and away from Europe that have introduced these people into our midst [so that they can] 'control, dominate, and then, if need be, destroy.'' On FEB-24, he allegedly talked on CNN about ''those people in Mecca'' and stated that Osama bin Laden is a true follower of the Prophet Mohammed. Robertson also insisted that Western leaders would benefit from reading the Qur'an just as earlier leaders would have benefited from reading of Hitler's ''Mein Kampf'' during World War II. Referring to Robertson's statements, the Boston Globe commented: "It is that kind of hatred that created the Taliban oppressors in Afghanistan, that ended the life of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, that led to 'ethnic cleansing' in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, that drove the butchers in the Crusades, and that keeps the violence smoldering in the Middle East, Northern Ireland, and in so many other war-ravaged regions. A religion does not create murderers. The twisted human psyche does that when it forgets that the bedrock of all faith is love." 13

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2002-MAR-3: Saudi Arabia: Editor of the National Review suggests "Nuking Mecca:" National Review editor Ron Dreher posted a comment on "The Corner," which forms part of the National Review online. His posting was titled "RETALIATION."  He wrote: "It seems to me, Rich, that if an American city is nuked by terrorists, we have no choice but to respond in kind -- or we invite more of the same. But any response is fraught with crippling complications. I'd say Baghdad, Tehran and Riyadh should make the list, tout ensemble, and maybe even Damascus. As for Mecca, well, it would feel good, but we'd have every Muslim on the planet enraged unto ages of ages, and Rome would be the next target on the terrorist nuke list (ironically, Jerusalem probably has the best chance of surviving because it is sacred to all three monotheistic faiths). It occurs to me that it is insane that we're even having this conversation. It occurs to me that given the events of 9/11, and the determination and capabilities of our enemies, it is even more insane not to. God help us all." The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) issued a news release on MAR-12, demanding an apology. They quoted Dreher's posting, but left out his first two sentences -- thus  (in our opinion) changing the nature of Dreher's posting considerably.

CAIR also commented that "In a September column published on National Review, Ann Coulter wrote: '...We should invade their [Muslim] countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.' " 14

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2002-MAR-13 (approx): USA, Vietnam: Memo from Billy Graham to President Nixon resurfaces: Alexander Cockburn wrote an editorial concerning a memo sent by Evangelist Billy Graham to President Nixon on 1969-APR-15, during the war in Vietnam. Shortly before, Graham had met with Christian missionaries from Vietnam. They had recommended that if the Paris peace talks failed, that the U.S. should escalate the war and bomb the dikes in North Vietnam. Graham recommended this course of action, and said that this "could overnight destroy the economy of North Vietnam." Nixon estimated that such an action could have killed a million people. Cockburn drew a parallel between Graham's recommendation and the actions of the German High Commissioner Seyss-Inquart. He was tried as a war criminal and sentenced to death at Nuremberg for breaching dikes and other crimes in Holland during World War II. 15

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2002-MAR-14: FL: "ATHEIST" license plate considered objectionable: Steven Miles, 55, vice president of Atheists of Florida, and an Electrical Engineer, has paid a bit extra each year to obtain a customized license plate for his car. It reads "ATHEIST." He regards it as a form of self-expression, because that is his deeply held religious/philosophical belief system. Over the past 16 years, some people have attacked his car, destroyed the tag, and left notes or religious tracts on his car. Recently, ten people signed a complaint with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. The Department has decided that the tag is "obscene or objectionable." They have asked asked that he mail the tag back to him. Presumably, the DMV would consider a "CHRISTIAN" tag to be quite acceptable. Miles is not returning the tag. He is in touch with the American Civil Liberties Union.

Christos Tzanetakos, founder of Atheists of Florida, wrote the department a highly critical letter about its decison. He said that the DMV seems to be succumbing to the "religious hysteria that prevails after SEP 11. For the department to claim or state that the word 'Atheist' is offense or objectionable is something to be upset about." 17

bullet2002-MAR-17: Pakistan: Gunman attacked Christians at prayer: One, perhaps two, gunmen throwing grenades killed five Christians at the Protestant International Church in Islamabad in Pakistan. Two Americans, one Pakistani, one Afghan and one unidentified male were among the dead. No group has claimed responsibility, but extremist, radical Islamic Fundamentalists are assumed to be the perpetrators. 16 The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) issued a statement on MAR-17: "We condemn this attack in the strongest terms possible and call for the apprehension of the perpetrators. It is not only an act of terrorism against innocent civilians, but is also an assault on the sanctity of a house of worship. No political or religious cause could justify such horrifying violence." Forty-five people were injured, including ten Americans and three Canadians.
bullet2002-MAR-17: Saudi Arabia: Allegations against religious police: The religious police, who are part of the Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, allegedly prevented school girls from escaping their school which was on fire at the time. Fourteen students died in the blaze at the 31st Girls Middle School in Mecca. The religious police allegedly did not permit them to leave the burning building because they were not properly dressed to be be seen in public. Either they were not wearing a abaya (long robe), or they lacked a hair covering.  The deaths have led to a heated debate within Saudi Arabia and a demand by Amnesty International for a public investigation. 18
bullet2002-MAR: USA: Sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests: A massive number of allegations of child sexual abuse has emerged across the U.S. and Canada. Thousands of legal claims have been filed. An increasing number of Catholic dioceses are turning over their abuse records to the police.
bullet2002-MAR-18: Israel, Palestine: Reporter recommends Israel adopt Nazi solution: Vox Day, a WorldNetDaily commentator recommends that Israel adopt the same policy as the Nazis did in some occupied countries during World War II: For every Nazi soldier killed, about 10 civilians were rounded up and shot. Day writes: "I believe that the only way to force Arafat to end his war is to force him to choose between surrender and merciless brutality. The Israeli government must announce to the world a unilateral ceasefire, balanced by the deadly promise that for every Israeli soldier killed, 25 Palestinian police will die. For every civilian, 100 non-combatant Palestinian adults will be slain, and for every child, 1000. Furthermore, if another Jewish child is murdered, Mr. Arafat will be the first to pay the price. Only Palestinian children will be considered off-limits for these terrible reprisals. Whereas the historic 10-to-1 fatality ratio maintained a cold peace, the current 3-to-1 ratio foments a hot war. A 1,000-to-1 ratio will bring a permanent peace, one way or another." 19
bullet2002-MAR-18: Nigeria: Woman appeals death sentence for adultery: Safiya Hussaini, 33, was conviced of adultery. She was sentenced to be buried up to her neck in sand and to be stoned to death. However, her sentence has been deferred until her 13-month-old daughter has finished nursing. She has appealed her conviction. She claimed that Sharia law requires four witnesses to have seen the adultery before she could be convicted. The prosecution argued that witnesses were not required; adultery had obviously taken place because the woman became pregnant. Her defence team argued that, under Islamic law, the interval between conception and birth can be up to seven years! Seven years previous to the birth of her daughter, she was married to her husband. The lawyers argued that her husband could have been the father. The appeals court will hand down its decision on MAR-25. There is strong international interest in her case. 20
bullet2002-MAR-25: FL: Christian attacks mosque: Charles D. Franklin, 51, of Tallahassee, FL, allegedly drove this pick-up truck into the front of the Islamic Center of Tallahassee. The incident is being treated as a hate crime because of statement that Franklin gave after the attack. He said that he had tried to join the military so that he could "kill Muslims." He allegedly had a Bible wrapped in a blue cloth in the front seat of his truck. Fire-fighters allegedly found a bottle of liquid in his truck which was labeled "holy water." The driver was the only person injured. The Center sustained about $3,000 damage. 21
bullet2002-MAR-27: ID: Jewish-Roman Catholic dispute over pro-life exhibit: Rabbi Daniel Fink of Congregation Ahavath Beth Israel in Boise, ID, has asked Bishop Michael Driscoll to withdraw his church's co-sponsorship of an anti-abortion exhibit. It has been organized by the St. Paul's Catholic Student Group, Campus Crusade for Christ, Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, and Baptist Campus Ministries. Called "Generation Life — Right, Wrong or Justified," it features a dozen eight-feet wide panels containing photos of corpses in Nazi death camps, of African-American lynching victims, and images of aborted fetuses. Rabbi Fink wrote: "Even if one is strongly anti-abortion, the notion that a woman who chooses to abort an 8-week-old fetus (or a doctor who performs such an abortion) is in any way analogous to Nazis or white supremacist lynch mobs is abhorrent. This demonizes women and doctors, creating the kind of environment that makes for clinic bombings and terror....The Nazis systematically destroyed Jewish individuals, communities and cultures. Southern white supremacists did the same to black southerners. To say that abortion is no different is to trivialize the suffering of blacks and Jews."

Bishop Driscoll replied, in part: "I think reference to the Holocaust was meant to address those who deny that the Holocaust happened. We, of course, know that the Holocaust happened. At the very least, there are thousands of pictures and accounts proving this fact. I think the point being made....is that aborted fetuses happen and, depending on the method used, some are gruesome....With that in mind, I do not see a need to ask the St. Paul's Catholic Community, serving BSU, to withdraw its sponsorship with the other Christian organizations." 22

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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. Mary Warner, "Graham shocks clerics: Midstate [PA] Jews, Christians react to '72 comments," The Patriot-News, Harrisburg PA, 2002-MAR-2, Front page.
  12. "New witness challenges Yates' sanity: Psychiatrist says mother faced 'horrible dilemma'," Houston Chronicle, 2002-MAR-2, at:
    http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/
  13. Anon, "Faith in Hate," Boston Globe, 2002-MAR-3, Page D-6. See: http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2
  14. Ron Dreher, "RETALIATION," National Review online, 2002-MAR-3, at: http://www.nationalreview.com/thecorner/
  15. Alexander Cockburn, "Billy Graham: War Criminal," New York Press, undated, at:  http://www.nypress.com/15/11/
  16. "Fury as 5 die in church raid," Associated Press/Canadian Press, 2002-MAR-17.
  17. Kathryn Wexler, " 'ATHEIST' plate raises a holy ruckus: After getting complaints, the state decides a Florida man's license plate is objectionable and yanks it."
  18. "Religious Police kept rescuers from girls," Associated Press, 2002-MAR-17.
  19. Vox Day, "1,000 eyes for an eye," WorldNetDaily, at: http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=26870
  20. Glen McKenzie, "Islamic court debates appeal in stoning case: Nigernian woman sentenced to die for adultery," Associated Press, The Toronto Star, 2002-MAR-19, Page A14
  21. "Man drives truck into Florida mosque," CNN.com, at: http://www.cnn.com/2002/US/03/26/
  22. "Boise rabbi, bishop clash over graphic anti-abortion exhibit: Display features 12 photographic murals at BSU," Idaho Statesman, at: http://204.228.236.37/story.asp?ID=6168

Copyright © 2002 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2002-MAR-3
Latest update: 2002-MAR-28
Author: B.A. Robinson

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