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NEWS OF RELIGIOUS CONFLICT & INTOLERANCE DURING 2002-SEPT.

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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-SEP-1: OK: Rev. Carlton Pearson under attack for beliefs: Rev. Pearson, pastor of Higher Dimensions Family Church in Tulsa OK has been attacked for a religious belief. He has been teaching a gospel of inclusion: that only a few people will be tortured in Hell for all eternity without any hope of mercy or relief. He said: "My posture is that all will be saved, with the exception of a few.  I believe that most people on planet Earth will go to heaven, because of Calvary, because of the unconditional love of God, and the redemptive work of the cross, which is already accomplished."  This includes sincere people who do not directly acknowledge Christ, including Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, etc. He believes that Hell will be reserved for a minority of individuals who "deny in their hearts that there is a creator; who have a disrespect for the deity." He continued: "I don't believe in matching eternities, endless torment for billions of souls. I don't interpret hell that way any more. I believe that view (incorrectly) puts hell on the same level as our (heavenly) eternity." He believes that endless torture is "...inconsistent with the nature of God." Since he expressed these beliefs on the Trinity Broadcasting Network, local pastors have rejected him, four associate pastors have left his church, his congregation has dwindled, Fundamentalist and other Evangelical pastors John Hagee, Marilyn Hickey and Oral Roberts have denounced him, and national conservative Christian publications have criticized him. Even his dry cleaner refuses to do business with him!  11

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2002-SEP-3: NY: Demonstration against sexual abuse by Jehovah's Witnesses: Adults, and their advocates, who claim that they were molested in their childhood by Jehovah's Witnesses held a demonstration at the Watchtower Society's head office in Brooklyn NY. They carried signs and 12 stuffed lambs to deliver as a symbol of innocence lost, and delivered a formal request for a church hearing to investigate possible criminal cover-ups by the  denomination's governing body.  They will hold a news conference and announce a national march for Witness' molestation victims scheduled later in September. They claim that the Watchtower Society has established a child abuse policy that has ignored abuse survivors, protected child molesters and disfellowshipped those who have tried to support them. 12,13

bullet2002-SEP-2: KS: Fred Phelps of GodHatesFags.com fame pickets in St.Joseph KS: Members of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka KS allegedly blocked traffic in St. Joseph. They carried signs that read "God Hates Fags," "God Hates America," and "Thank God for Sept. 11." They were distressed at the decision of the Royal Bank of Canada for closing the bank account of a group which is opposed to bringing the Gay Games to Montreal in 2006. Rather than go all the way to Canada, they went to an investment banker in St. Joseph which is affiliated with the Royal Bank. Joseph Phelps, 13, was one of the picketers. He didn't mind giving up his Labor Day holiday. He said: "I'm with the church. There’s nothing better than telling the truth." Local citizen Joanne Doolan protested the protest. She said "My kids were taught that God loves everyone." Another angry resident, Jason Rhodes, said: "It just makes me sick. Why would people do that? I think it’s stupid.14
bullet2002-SEP-8: Boycott of the Miss World pageant in Nigeria: The reigning Miss France has announced that she will boycott the Miss World pageant in Nigeria. She is protesting the death sentence given to a woman in that country for having sex outside of marriage. Sylvie Tellier told France-Inter radio that she felt a moral responsibility to pull out of the NOV-30 event in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria. She said: "We're in the 21st century...They are condemning a woman under the pretext that she committed adultery and brought a child into the world. I think the world is upside down!" 15
bullet2002-SEP-9: Nigeria, Italy: Woman sentenced to execution for pre-marital sex becomes citizen of Rome: The mayor of Rome, Walter Veltroni said said that he hopes that the city's conferment of honorary citizenship to Safiya Husseini would prompt a worldwide ban on the death penalty. Husseini is a Nigerian single mother sentenced to death by a Muslim Sharia court in Sokoto State, Nigeria, for the crime of apparently having engaged in pre-marital sex. An international outrage helped overturn her conviction on appeal. Amina Lawal has been similarly sentenced to death and is awaiting her appeal. Nigeria's Ambassador to Italy, Chief Etim Jack Okpoyo, told reporters that his country should not be Nigeria subjected to undue international pressure in the Lawal case. He told a press conference: "Let me appeal to the entire community to give us respite on Amina Lawal. We have a process, which we have to go through in Nigeria to keep the peace. Amina has to go through this process, but we hope that in the long run she will also be free like Safiya. So please, don't write so many letters, don't make calls like you have been doing. We appreciate your concern and we say Amina also will be free one of these days by the grace of God." Governor Attahiru Bafarawa of Sokoto State claims that Husseini was kidnapped and taken to Rome. He is concerned that she might be converted to Christianity. 16
bullet2002-SEP-9: CA: Court rules that Burbank city council prayer cannot invoke Jesus: A three-judge panel of the state's Second District Court of Appeal upheld a prior decision of the Los Angeles Superior Court. Both declared that prayers which are given before council meetings are unconstitutional if they promote any one faith or belief over another. The case originated in a 1999 meeting of the Burbank council in which a Christian minister prayed "in the name of Jesus Christ." 17
bullet2002-SEP-14: Angola: "Witch" beaten to death: Jonas Troco, 30, was being cured of an illness in Ekunha village, Angola, when he learned that his uncle, Tonito Muenyo was a witch. Troco beat his uncle to death. Such beatings have become common in this area recently. There is a widespread belief in the country that many evil sorcerers use black magic hurt or kill others. The typical response is to beat them to death. There is no connection between an evil "witch" and a North American "Witch." The latter is often a Wiccan who is prohibited from doing harm by their Wiccan Rede. 18
bullet2002-SEP-14: Episcopal Bishop defrocks Priest: Bishop Charles E. Bennison Jr., of the (Episcopal) Diocese of Pennsylvania, defrocked Rev. David Moyer, who is the North American president of Forward in Faith -- an organization that had proposed Moyer as a special bishop for conservative congregations within the church. The group opposes ordination of women and recognizing same-sex committed unions. Within a matter of hours, the Anglican province of Central Africa had granted Moyer temporary clergy status. Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan and 22 other bishops protested Bishop Bennison's decision, saying he acted against church law and tradition. 19
bullet2002-SEP-16: USA: Roman Catholic review panel to identify non-compliant bishops: Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating heads up the church-appointed National Review Board whose mandate is to review each of the Roman Catholic dioceses in the U.S. to check their compliance with the clerical sex abuse policy established in June by the bishops. Keating indicated that most dioceses are implementing the plan properly. However, the committee will shortly reveal the names of bishops who are failing to comply. According to the victims' advocacy group Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP), 13 of the nation's 195 dioceses have failed to comply with the new policy. 20
bullet2002-SEP-17: NY: Buffalo recognizes transgender persons as a protected class: In a nearly unanimous vote, the Common Council of the City of Buffalo extended protection against discrimination in employment and housing to transgender and intersexual persons. The amendments added protection for "gender identity and expression" to Buffalo's existing anti-discrimination laws. Mayor Anthony Masiello has announced that he will sign the amendments into law.

The amendment's sponsor, Councilman Antoine Thompson, said "It's another step to break from Buffalo's past and encourage tolerance and diversity." The change was supported by the Men of Color Health Awareness Project (MOCHA), New York State Transgender Coalition, Stonewall Democrats, and Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG).

Camille Hopkins, a transsexual, testified before City Council that she had lost her apartment because her landlord did not like transgender persons. She said: "I just want to live an ordinary life, without fear of reprisal from those who want me to disappear." 21

Editor's note: We predict that the transgender issue will become the next new point of conflict over human rights in North America, much like homosexuality emerged as a rights issue in 1969 after the Stonewall riot.
bullet2002-SEP-19: New York: Harry Potter author and publisher win lawsuit: Scholastic Corp. and author J.K. Rowling won a trademark lawsuit in which Nancy Stouffer claimed that Rowling had stolen various character names and the term "muggles" from her writing. Acording to Bloomberg, a financial news network, "U.S. District Judge Allen G. Schwartz fined Stouffer $50,000, ruling she 'perpetrated a fraud on the court' by altering documents after release of the first Harry Potter books." Ms. Stouffer's lawyer, Thomas McNamara, said that his client was "surprised and disappointed'' by the court ruling, and will consider an appeal. He wrote: "We were particularly troubled by the Court's finding that Ms. Stouffer submitted falsified evidence...Ms. Stouffer adamantly denies having submitted any falsified evidence in this case.'' 22
bullet2002-SEP-19: VA: Victory for racism, anti-semitism, homophobia and free speech: Chesterfield County in Virginia approved the use of the Chester Library on SEP-21 for a meeting of the World Church of the Creator, a white supremacist, anti-Jewish and homophobic group centered in Illinois. In response to efforts to cancel the rental, Kent Willis, executive director of ACLU of Virginia wrote: "The First Amendment prohibits public libraries from excluding any organization from their facilities based on the organization's beliefs." The Rev. Harold Braxton, president of a Matoaca-based civic organization that grants scholarships to Virginia State University students, opposes the library decision. He said "Racists think ours is an ideal county. That saddens me. It bothers me that they think our residents would welcome this kind of thing...This group is un-American. It runs afoul of all we are trying to do to be united." Chesterfield Administrator Lane B. Ramsey said: "This group and what they represent is appalling to the staff and our elected officials...The staff has reacted to the...right given to every American and every group to equal treatment. All of the attention given to this issue by the media and those that show up feed into what this organization is looking for, to create controversy and gain publicity."

The county decided to honor 2000-APR as Confederate History and Heritage month. This prompted a visit from David Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan leader.

The Chesterfield County Democratic Committee is calling on people to unite outside the library at 4:45 PM for a peaceful protest. 23
bullet2002-SEP-22: Israel/Palestine: Latest death toll: "During two years of violence, more than 250 Israelis have been killed in more than 70 Palestinian suicide bombing attacks. In all, 1,876 people have been killed on the Palestinian side and 618 on the Israeli side since the fighting began." The ratio of 3 dead Palestinians to 1 dead Israeli has remained more or less constant since the Infitada II began in the fall of 2000. The total number of deaths is approximately equal to the number of victims of the 9-11 attack on New York City. 24
bullet2002-SEP-23: Europe: Anti-Asatru hatred in song lyrics: A Christian band, Jesus Skins, allegedly released a song with the following lyrics which threaten violence against followers of Asatru --Norse Neopaganism. Translated from German into English, it says: "Thor was a criminal, and Odin was a fool // And those who believe in this s--t, we will get them // Because we are skins and Christians '// Praise God the Lord // Beat Heathens to a pulp // And this we will do gladly" 25
bullet2002-SEP-24: India: Terrorists attack the Swaminarayan temple: This Hindu temple is located on a 23 acre complex in Gandhinagar, the state capital of the Indian state of Gujarat. This temple is particularly popular to Hindus, Muslims, Jews and Christians alike, because it houses scriptures of all of the major world religions in its Hall of Harmony. It is a well-known cultural center visited by over two million people each year. By selecting this temple for attack, among all of the Hindu temples in India, the radical Muslim terrorists might have been aiming a blow against the concept of religious tolerance, rather than simply hoping to kill Hindus at prayer. Two extremists invaded the temple and murdered people indiscriminately. The total death toll was about 30, including the two terrorists, one Indian commando who died in the counterattack, and four chldren. Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, his deputy Lal Krishnan Advani and opposition leader Sonia Gandhi quickly visited the temple together stressing the need for religious harmony and the avoidance of revenge attacks against Indian Muslims. The Hindu fundamentalist World Hindu Council has called for a state-wide strike. 26
bullet2002-SEP-30: Islamic mosques attacked: The Council on American-Islamic Relations reported that vandals attacked a mosque in Boise Idaho following a
series of threatening phone calls to that religious institution, including a threat to burn the mosque down. Vandals used a rock and a cinder block to break four windows in the center and to damage a computer printer. CAIR reports that in the previous two months, mosques in Virginia, Ohio and Florida have been vandalized. Florida law enforcement uncovered a plot to blow up about 50 Islamic institutions in the state. CAIR Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper concludes: "As with past incidents of this type, we firmly believe they are triggered by the rising tide of anti-Muslim rhetoric coming from right wing, pro-Israel and evangelical commentators. We once again call on mainstream religious and political leaders to challenge Islamophobic hate speech. Bigots see silence as a tacit endorsement of their views." 27

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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. Bill Sherman, "Pearson faces theological controversy," TulsaWorld.com, at: http://www.tulsaworld.com/
  12. "New Support Group Seeks Investigation of Church Hierarchy," Silentlambs news release, 2002-SEP-3.
  13. Silentlambs web site is at: http://www.silentlambs.org/
  14. Alonzo Weston, "Anti-gay protesters appear on Belt," St. Jopseph News-Press Online, 2002-SEP-3, at:  http://www.stjoenews-press.com/
  15. "Miss World boycott over Nigerian stoning," CNN.com World, at: http://www.cnn.com/2002/WORLD/
  16. Nduka Uzuakpundu, "Honour On Safiya May Prompt Death Penalty Ban Worldwide, Says Mayor of Rome," AllAfrica.com, at: http://allafrica.com/stories/200209100689.html

  17. Dan Witcomb, "California gets tough with Jesus," 2002-SEP-9, at: http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?

  18. "Nephew Beats Uncle to Death Over Witchcraft," AllAfrica.com, 2002-SEP-12, at: http://allafrica.com/stories/printable/200209120214.html

  19. "Ousting of Priest Sparks Rift in Episcopal Church," LATimes, 2002-SEP-14, at: http://www.latimes.com/features/religion/

  20. "Panel to identify noncompliant bishops," Associated Press, 2002-SEP-16, at: http://www.newsok.com/cgi-bin/

  21. "Buffalo extends equal rights to transgenders, intersexed," News release, The National Transgender Advocacy Coalition (NTAC), 2002-SEP-18. Their web site is at: http://www.ntac.org

  22. Susan Decker, "Scholastic, Harry Potter Author Win 'Muggles' Suit ," 2002-SEP-18, at: http://quote.bloomberg.com/
  23. Meredith Fischer, " 'Racist' church's meeting adds foes," Richmond (VA) Times Dispatch, 2002-SEP-18, at: http://www.timesdispatch.com/news/
  24. "Palestinian girl receives Jewish bomb victim's kidney," CNN.com, at: http://europe.cnn.com/2002/WORLD/
  25. Contributed by a visitor to this site via E-mail.
  26. Sanjeev Srivastava, "Eyewitness: Gujarat's nightmare," 2002-SEP-26, at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/
  27. "Vandals attack Idaho mosque: Islamic center had been receiving threatening calls," Islam-Infonet, 2002-SEP-30 news release. You can subscribe from http://cair.biglist.com/islam-infonet/

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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-SEP-1
Latest update: 2002-SEP-26
Author: B.A. Robinson

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