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NEWS OF RELIGIOUS CONFLICT & INTOLERANCE,

2003-OCTOBER

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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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2003-OCT: TX: Nazi flag paraded: Charles Grissom, band director for Paris High School apologized for a half-time display that included the anthem "Deutchsland Uber Alles" -- music closely associated with Adolf Hitler. While the music was playing, a student ran across the football field carrying a Nazi flag. Anthems and flags from the other countries involved in World War II were also featured.

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2003-OCT-3: NC, DC: Congressman complains about Muslims: Congressman Cass Ballenger (R-NC) is reported as complaining about the presence of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Their head office is across the street from his home in Washington, DC. He allegedly reported CAIR to the FBI and CIA as a "fund-raising arm" for terrorist groups. He is reported as saying that their home's close proximity to the CAIR office after 9-11 "bugged the hell out of his wife....Diagonally across from my house, up goes a sign -- CAIR...the fund-raising arm for Hezbollah." he said that his wife became anxious when she saw people unloading boxes, and women "wearing hoods" going in and out of the office. (Many observant Muslim women wear hijabs -- a scarf -- over their hair). He is reported as saying that the CAIR office is: "...2½ blocks from the capitol and they could blow it up." In reality, CAIR, monitors attacks on Muslims' civil rights and sponsors interfaith gatherings. Ibrahim Hooper, a CAIR spokesperson is reported as saying "This is out-and-out bigotry...It's unworthy of an elected official at the national level....You wonder what he's been doing in Congress if this is the kind of analysis he does: 'You're a Muslim, so you're guilty'." 12

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2003-OCT-7: WI: Pastor's harassment conviction upheld: A Fundamentalist Christian group regularly frequents the parking lot of the state-run Mazomanie nude beach. Pastor Ralph Ovadal preached to nudist Nancy J Erikson and to Department of Natural Resources wardens who insisted that he not use the word "whore" in his preaching." Ovadal was later charged with criminal disorderly conduct. In 2002-JUN, he was convicted and fined $1,000 plus court costs. The state appeals court upheld Ovadal's conviction in 2003-OCT. He had acknowledged that his street preaching and sidewalk evangelizing was loud and boisterous. But he claimed that it was protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The appeals court decided that resorting to "epithets or personal abuse" is not protected speech. It ruled that: "Ovadal's statements had nothing to do with an exposition of ideas. Instead, they were abusive fighting words and are not protected by the First Amendment." 13

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2003-OCT-8 (approx): USA: Pat Robinson allegedly promotes terrorism: While interviewing syndicated columnist Joel Mowbray about the U.S. State Department on his 700 Club program, Pat Robertson allegedly remarked: "I read your book.  When you get through, you (a reader) say, 'If I
could just get a nuclear device inside Foggy Bottom, I think that's
the answer.'  I mean, you get through this, and you say, 'We've got to
blow that thing up."  I mean, is it as bad as you say?
" "Foggy Bottom" is a Washington DC neighborhood where the U.S. State Department is located.
bullet

A spokesperson for the State Department said that the agency considered the remarks "despicable."

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Richard Boucher, the agency's media director told reporters: "I lack sufficient capabilities to express my distain."

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An identified department official quoted by Agence Frances Presse said
that a protest had been made "at the highest level," and that Robertson had been made aware that Secretary of State Colin Powell was "outraged" at the tone and content of the interview. The official said: "That's not the way one expresses an opinion in Washington." He described Robertson's on-air behavior as "outrageous."

Robertson allegedly made a similar suggestion in June. He is quoted as saying, also in an interview with Mowbray: ""Well, it looks like Congress had
better do something, and maybe we need a very small nuke thrown off on
Foggy Bottom to shake things up.
" 14

bullet2003-OCT-14: USA: Supreme Court to hear Pledge of Allegiance case: Shortly after the end of their Fall recess, the Supreme Court announced that it will accept the case: Unified School District v. Newdow, 02-1624. The dispute is whether the "under God" phrase which was added to the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954 is unconstitutional because it blends church and state. The case is widely and incorrectly portrayed as an attempt to prevent students from reciting the entire pledge in public schools. The case deals only with the one phrase "under God."

Although the federal government, plaintiff Michael Newdow, and his daughter's school all asked the Supreme Court to rule on the case, the court agreed only to hear the appeal from the school district. The court also said it will evaluate whether Newdow had the proper legal footing to bring the case. Dr. Newdow plans to argue his case in person before the Supreme Court. More details. 15

bulletWeekend of 2003-OCT-4?: UT: Desecration of a religious symbol: Many religious groups wear special clothing: some male Jews wear yarmulkes; many Muslim women wear a head scarf called a hijab; some male Sikhs wear a turban, etc. About six men, allegedly Baptist pastors, shouted rude comments to Mormons as they exited a meeting in Salt Lake City. One took sacred garments that many Mormons wear under their clothing, and allegedly treated it like toilet paper, pretending to wipe his backside. He then wrapped it around his neck and pretended to sneeze into it, multiple times. In two separate incidences, worshippers attempted to grab the garment. Both were arrested by police. 16
bullet2003-OCT-24: USA: Lt. General's apologizes for statements about Islam: Lt. General William G. Boykin, deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence and war-fighting support, gave a series of speeches during October at a number of conservative Protestant churches. He described the battle with Islamic radicals as a clash with "Satan." He said that their aim was to destroy America "because we're a Christian nation." He also said that the enemy in the fight against terrorism was Satan, and that God had put Bush in the White House. He repeated what he said to a Muslim Somali warlord: "You underestimated our God."

National security adviser to the President, Condoleeza Rice, was asked on ABC TV what President Bush's comments would be on these statements. She said: "The president's views on this are absolutely clear....This is not a war between religions. No one should describe it as such." Bush later told reporters: "...he didn't reflect my opinion. Look, it just doesn't reflect what the government thinks."

In a statement issued by the Pentagon on OCT-24, Boykin apologized to anyone offended by his remarks. However the did not retract them. He wrote: "I am neither a zealot nor an extremist. Only a soldier who has an abiding faith. I do believe that radical extremists have tried to use Islam as a cause for attacks on America. As I have stated before, they are not true followers of Islam. In my view they are simply terrorists, much like the so-called Christians of the white supremacy groups, or extremist (sic) of any faith. For those who have been offended by my statements, I offer a sincere apology." 19
bullet2003-OCT-29: Central Asia: Muslim group advocates banning of most religions: Forum 18 reports on the intentions of Hizb-ut-Tahir, a Muslim group which is widespread in Central Asia. They allegedly plan to create "...a worldwide Caliphate and ban all faiths apart from Islam, Judaism and Christianity" -- i.e. all faiths not mentioned in the Qur'an. This would ban thousands of faith groups, ranging from Asatru to Zoroastrianism, including Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Wicca. They would also ban groups that they consider sects within Islam: Ahmadiyya, Bahai'ism and Ismailism. In total. the religions followed by about 47% of the human race would be banned. The Caliphate would regulate all religious practice. "...All non-Muslim states [would be given] a choice between either joining the Caliphate under Sharia law, or paying a tax to the Caliphate. Failure to pay the tax would be punished by military attacks." 17
bullet2003-OCT-31: Disney movie "Brother Bear" criticized: Claudia Puig of USA Today gave this "G" rated movie three stars out of four. She wrote: "A sweet celebration of brotherhood in its many forms, Brother Bear gently encourages human communion with animals, nature and our fellow man....Through the inexplicable magic of the Northern Lights, the Great Spirits transform Kenai into a bear to teach him a lesson. Brother Bear's message of tolerance and respect for nature rings loud and clear. 18 It was severely criticized on several conservative Christian and counter-cult mailing lists because it included:
bulletA ritual in which a young boy receives his "totem" from a "wise and wizened" female shaman. A totem is a spirit animal guide and protector.
bulletA reference to the plural "Great Spirits" instead of the single God.

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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. "Band director sorry for parading Nazi flag," The Toronto Star, 2003-OCT-5, Page F2.
  12. Tim Funk, "Ballenger grouses about Muslims, lobbyist limits. Says both contributed to breakup of marriage," The Charlotte Observer,2003-SEP-4, at: http://www.charlotte.com/
  13. "Ovadal's beach rant ruled unconstitutional," Associated Press, 2003-OCT-7, at: http://www.madison.com/captimes/news/stories/58320.php
  14. "Pat shoots from the hip again, says 'blow up' State Department!," AANews, 2003-OCT-12.
  15. Anne Gearan, "Supreme Court to Decide Pledge Case," Associated Press, 2003-OCT-14, at: http://story.news.yahoo.com/

  16. "Where's the ACLU on this one?," American Civil Liberties Union, Online Forum, at: http://forums.aclu.org/

  17. Forum 18 News Service, F18News, 2003-OCT-29.

  18. Claudia Puig, "Reel roundup: Brother Bear," 2003-OCT-30, USA Today at: http://www.usatoday.com/

  19. Bill Koenig, "Major News in Review," 2003-NOV-10.

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Copyright © 2003 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2003-OCT-5
Latest update: 2003-NOV-11
Author: B.A. Robinson

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