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NEWS OF RELIGIOUS CONFLICT & INTOLERANCE DURING 2003-APR.

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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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bullet2003-APR-13: USA: Pentagon invites Franklin Graham to prayer service: According to the Muslim Public Affairs Council, a "progressive voice for American Muslims," the Pentagon arranged to sponsor Franklin Graham at a Good Friday prayer service on APR-18. Members of the Pentagon's chaplain group issued a letter stating that: "...we are deeply dismayed and disappointed that the Pentagon Chaplain's Office has invited Mr. Franklin Graham, an extremely controversial and divisive figure, to perform the Good Friday Services at the Pentagon on April 18, 2003. Mr. Graham has made recent public statements that are not only insulting and offensive to Muslims but also to those who espouse ecumenism among the faith groups. Mr. Graham's negative statements concerning Islam and Muslims, which he has never recanted, fly in the face of what we stand for as Americans. By sponsoring and promoting a visit to the Pentagon by an extreme fundamentalist like Mr. Graham, the Pentagon Chaplain's Office is sending a message that it and the Department of Defense condone public displays of attitudes and thoughts that contradict not only Department of Defense regulations but also the American ideal of religious tolerance. We hope and pray that the Pentagon Chaplain's Office will reconsider its invitation to Mr. Graham and instead invite a more inclusive and honorable Christian clergyman to perform the Good Friday Services." 11 More information on Graham's anti-Islam statements.
bullet2003-APR-13: Indiana: National Day of Prayer Divides Faiths: The National Day of Prayer (NDP) was created by Congress so that Americans of all religions who believe in one or more Gods and/or Goddesses can pray together in fellowship. At first, organizers in Muncie, IN tried to arrange an multi-faith event. But the efforts did not succeed. A conflict emerged.  Pastor William Keller, president of the Delaware County Evangelistic Association, and others, conceived of the event as exclusively conservative Christian. Thomas Perchlik, a Unitarian Universalist minister, and others promoted a multi-faith meeting involving individuals and prayers from many Christian denominations -- conservative, mainline and liberal -- and from many other religions. Perchlik said "We had five meetings with Mr. Keller and it wasn't until late that we realized" that the minister did not want to include non-Christian prayers in the program. Perchlik continued: "We said we wanted Jews and Muslims to participate and share their prayers. It wasn't until we brought a Jewish man to the meeting when [Keller] started to protest that he wouldn't allow Jewish prayer....Mr. Keller said, 'My people wouldn't come to a meeting that is an inter-faith event'...He has a vision of the purpose of the National Day of Prayer. He's always willing to say Jews and Muslims are welcome, but when it got down to the details of how that would work, it wouldn't fit his vision."

Pastor William Keller said: "We're praying in the name of the Father Creator, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. They have other gods to pray to." He described his event, to be held at city Hall at noon on MAY-1, as a: "...Christian gathering. We do not limit this meeting only to Christians. It's open to anyone who wants to come along. It's the presentations they wanted to have a part in. We were not comfortable with that - praying to Allah at the same time we're praying to Jesus - and they understood that. We couldn't see how we could diversify that. And for me, I had no expertise in providing that kind of service. We're not excluding anybody, if they want to come our way." Keller continued: "I'm glad they're planning their service. I wouldn't know how to provide leadership for that, but I do know how to vocalize the Christian prayer. We said, 'You can have your interfaith, but let us have our Christian service,'  We're not trying to hurt anybody and don't want anybody to hurt us."

Perchlik said: "We're all part of this country and this city, and all of us are unified in our desire for this country and city to be blessed....We decided to create a second, equal event." Congregations from the Unitarian Universalist Church, Temple Beth-El, the Muncie Islamic Center, Lutheran, Quaker and Baptist churches will participate in the second inter-faith service, to be held at the same location at 5 PM. Mayor Dan Canan will speak at both events; he said "I respect the fact there will be two separate events. It would have been nice if there had been a way to combine the two, but I don't think there's any harm done in having two separate events. I will participate in both events." 12
bullet 2003-APR-15: KY, MN, NE, OH: Anti-anti-Christian ads in campus newspapers: The Alliance Defense Fund, a fundamentalist Christian legal defense organization, has placed advertisements in four publicly funded state universities: the University of Kentucky, University of Minnesota, Ohio State University, and the University of Nebraska. On MAY-16, the ad will also appear in the University of Alabama paper. Chief counsel Benjamin W. Bull of the Fund said: "In recent years, extremist voices of the academic far left have sought to enforce a monopoly of thought and speech intended to crush dissenting views, especially traditional Christian views on many social and moral issues...Our goal is to level the playing field by ending discrimination against the expression of traditional values, make the campus a true marketplace of ideas, and end the intimidation of the political left." The ads cite some examples of what they consider to be unfair treatment: forcing religious groups on campus to allow persons of all religions to run for their leadership positions; suppressing homophobic or sexist speech; mandating diversity training to reduce students' racist, sexist, and homophobic attitudes, or discriminating against religious groups in funding, advertising, access to facilities, etc. 13
bullet2003-APR-18: Malaysia: Bible translation banned: The Government of Malaysia has banned 12 Christian and 23 non-Christian books which it considers to be "detrimental to public peace". Included is a translation of the Bible into the language spoken by the Iban people. English translations of the Bible are not affected by the ban. WorldNetDaily reports that: "The Sarawak Tribune News said the ethnic Scripture translation, published by the Bible Society of Malaysia, has been banned because it allegedly contains several words that could be confused with others." The other banned Christian books are in the national language, Bahasa Malaysia. They include titles by well-known conservative Christian authors J.I. Packer and John R.W. Stott. 14
bullet2003-APR-23: PA: Teacher suspended for wearing Christian symbol: Under the principle of separation of church and state, which the U.S. Supreme Court has found implicit in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, public school teachers are not allowed to promote one religion over another, or religion over a secular lifestyle. The Pennsylvania Public School code codifies this principle by prohibiting teachers wearing religious garb. This includes a necklace containing a cross, crucifix, Star of David, Wiccan Pentacle, etc, if the symbol is visible. They can wear a necklace, but the symbol has to be tucked behind clothing out of sight. Brenda Nichol, 43, has been aware of the regulation since 1997, and has been threatened with suspension twice for violating the code. On APR-8, she was refused to either remove the necklace or tuck in the cross. She was suspended for a year from her post as a public-school teacher's aide. She said: "I could not follow that code in my heart. I could not deny Christ." She is being defended by the Fundamentalist Christian American Center for Law and Justice. 15

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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. "Pentagon Sponsors Franklin Graham," 2003-APR-12, MPAC, 2003-APR-12, at: http://www.mpac.org/
  12. Kieth Roysdon, "Day of prayer divides faiths," The Star Press, 2003-APR-13, at: http://www.thestarpress.com/
  13. Art Moore, "Ads target campus 'anti-Christian bigotry'; Legal group seeks to 'end the intimidation of the political left'," World Net Daily, 2003-APR-15, at: http://worldnetdaily.com/news/
  14. "Faith under Fire: Christians perplexed over Bible ban; Scriptures in native tongue considered 'detrimental to public peace'," WorldNetDaily, 2003-APR-18, at: http://wnd.com/news/article.asp?
  15. "Cross-wearing woman fights suspension: Teacher's aide relieved of duty for 1 year due to symbol on necklace," WorldNetDaily, 2003-APR-23, at: http://wnd.com/news/

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

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Copyright © 2003 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2003-APR-13
Latest update: 2003-APR-24
Author: B.A. Robinson

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