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!!!!!!!! Search error!  If the URL ends something like .htm/  or .htm# delete the character(s) after .htm and hit return.

YEAR 2001: MAJOR EVENTS WITH AN ETHICAL, or RELIGIOUS COMPONENT

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CONTINUED FROM 2001-JANUARY TO JUNE

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bulletJUL-1: NY: New York Times article opposing tolerance: Towards Tradition is "a national educational movement of Jews and Christians dedicated to fighting secular institutions that foster anti-religious bigotry, harm families, and jeopardize the future of America." They recently posted a full page advertisement in the New York Times which attacks tolerance. It said, in part: "Toward Traditions calls on all Americans of good will to overturn the idol of 'tolerance' and rally to the defense of our nation's core values: Biblical morality, Constitutional liberty, patriotism, and prosperity."
bulletJUL-6: CA: Appeals Court rules against Catholic Charities: California law requires employers to include birth control pills in their employee health plan, if an employee wishes to use them. Catholic Charities initiated a lawsuit in the year 2000, stating that the legislation violated its religious freedom. The Roman Catholic Church opposes artificial birth control. However, birth control usage by its followers is extensive and differs little from that of Protestants. The church lost the case.
bulletJUL-7: USA: Muslim cleric allegedly calls for death sentence for author: The American Jewish Community (AJC) commissioned Muslim writer Khalid Duran to write a book "Children of Abraham," -- an introduction to Islam. Sheik Abdel Moneim Abu Zant wrote an article condemning the book in the weekly Arab newspaper Al_Shahed (The Observer). According to AANEWS, "The cleric-Sheik,...claims that the work is guilty of 'distorting Islam' because it reportedly dwells on issues such as circumcision, Ramadan rituals, and the relationship in Islamic nations between men and women. He called for the shedding of blood.
bulletJUL-9: CA: Westboro Baptists spread hatred against gays: Members of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, KS demonstrated against a memorial for gay veterans at the Desert Memorial Park cemetery in Cathedral City, near Palm Springs, CA. The Westboro Baptists are well known for their www.GodHatesFags.com web site.
bulletJUL-12: USA: The Salvation Army wants discrimination protected: The Salvation Army has long had a policy of excluding gays and lesbian from employment. They have found state and local hiring anti-discrimination laws to be a nuisance. They have lobbied the White House for a federal law that would preserve their right to discriminate anywhere in the U.S. on the basis of sexual orientation.
bulletJUL-12: Congo: More than 800 suspected Witches murdered: A state-run Ugandan newspaper reported that people in northeastern Congo have killed more than 800 suspected witches, during June and July.
bulletJUL-13: NH: Christian group bans Mormons: Dartmouth's Summer Christian Fellowship (SCF) is being investigated for discrimination after it barred Meredith Brooks, a Mormon from a leadership position in the club because of his religion.
bulletJUL-16: UK: Fatwa allegedly calls for death for homosexuals: The British Muslim group Al-Muhajiroun issued a fatwa (religious decree) against a Muslim homosexual rights group Al-Fatiha. They wrote: "The Islamic ruling for such acts is death.
bulletJUL-21: India: Muslims assassinate Hindus: According to the Toronto Star, Islamic militants used hand grenades to attack religious pilgrims on an annual visit to the Amarnath shrine in the Himalayas. 14 Hindus died.
bulletJUL-25: Holocaust scholars suspend investigation: The Vatican established a panel of Jewish and Roman Catholic scholars in 1999 to investigate its own role in the Nazi Holocaust. During World War II, six million Jews, 400,000 Roma (aka Gypsies) and other groups defined as sub-human by the Nazi government were exterminated. Further research was suspended on JUL-25 because the Vatican had refused to grant the researchers access to additional materials.
bulletJUL-27:USA: Fundamentalist Christian group asks for firing of CDC director: Dr. James C. Dobson, founder and president of Focus on the Family, called for the ouster of Jeffrey P. Koplan, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The reason is that Dr. Koplan recommends condom use to reduce unwanted pregnancy and reduce the STD transmission rate.
bulletJUL-28: China: Stories of torture and execution: Many accounts of detentions, arrests, beatings, torture, execution and other numerous crimes against humanity continue to flow out of China. The Falun Dafa authorities say that torture of their followers is common. 250 have been killed. The state is currently executing about 50 of Falun Dafa members at per month.
bulletAUG-1: Sri Lanka: Buddhist clergy call for ban to Christian conversions: Influential Buddhist clergy have adopted an 11 point plan to combat proselytizers and have called on the government to pass laws to prevent future conversions. The clergy estimate that about 23,000 conversions are happening per year.
bulletAUG: Ireland: Program promoting religious tolerance: Children's Friendship Project arranges for about 200 Roman Catholic and Protestant teenagers from Northern Ireland to come to the United States each summer, and stay with American families who support religious cooperation.
bulletAUG-16: World: Religious web sites converted to porn: A number of disused web site URLs have been rented by groups and redirected to porn web sites. Gary Bauer, a conservative Christian and former presidential candidate, abandoned his web site as required under law after the election. The URL 15 was rented by someone in Armenia who redirected it to The Adult Movie Network, a pornographic web site. The same person scooped up an old, little used Web address owned by the American Center for Law and Justice. Other cases have involved the Christian and Missionary Alliance, and a New England church.
bulletAUG-28: Kenya: Religious groups refuses vaccinations: About 300 members of the banned 'Dini ya Musambwa' ('Religion of Tradition') faith group have refused to allow their children under five years of age to be vaccinated against polio. They believe that vaccinations are "ungodly." They prefer to use traditional healing techniques. 
bulletAUG-30: KY: Two agencies discontinue prayers: For years, two government agency, the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights, and the Louisville and Jefferson County Human Relations Commission had started their meetings with what one lawyer said were a "very, very Christian prayer'' The ACLU negotiated an end to the practice.
bulletSEP-11: USA: On this date occurred the greatest outpouring of religious intolerance and hatred in America, since the government wars of extermination of Native Americans in the 19th century. A gang of 19 extremist, radical, fundamentalist Muslims piloted four kamikaze jet liners towards the twin towers of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and (probably) the Capitol Building. The latter flight crashed in Pennsylvania; the others hit their targets, killing over 3,000 people, and injuring a similar number. Following this terrorist attack there were hundreds of incidences of harassment and assaults on innocent Muslims, Arabs -- and people who look like Muslims -- in both the U.S. and Canada. Three conservative Christian leaders joined in by attacking Pagans and other minorities in the country.
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SEP-20: USA: Antidote to homophobic hatred: The webmasters at Straight Dope have decided to counter hate speech by Rev. Fred Phelps of Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, KS. He is responsible for the "GodHatesFags" web site. Straight Dope is collecting pledges, so that every time that Phelps updates his web site with more hatred against gays and lesbians, they will donate money to promote equal rights to gays and lesbians, and to AIDS research. 13

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SEP-28: USA: National Council of Churches to meet with Muslim leaders:  The National Council of Churches in Christ in the USA (NCCCUSA), has announced an agreement to meet with Muslim leaders in America on a regular basis in the wake of the September 11th, terrorist attack. The first meeting was held on SEP-26. General Secretary Bob Edgar said: "Never has interfaith understanding and cooperation been more important than it is today. The peace of our neighborhoods, and the true security of nations around the world may well turn on our capacity to build communities of respect and to bear witness together for justice and peace."

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OCT-1: UK: Church of England in decline: Crosswalk/Religion Today reported on a University of Sheffield project which found that only 21% of infants born during 1999 were baptized into the Church. This compares to 75% in 1933. With the church on the way to minority status, it may eventually be disestablished. This happened to the Church of Ireland and the Church of Wales in the past when they were found to be serving only a minority of the population.

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OCT-1: Republic of Georgia: Defrocked Orthodox priest attacks Protestants:  Crosswalk/Religion Today published a report by Keston News Service about an alleged attack by defrocked Orthodox priest, Basil Mkalavishvili, and 25 of his supporters. They are reported to have burst into a Georgian Evangelical church in Tbilisi on SEP-23, wielding truncheons, and beating choir members. About 100 local residents observed the attack but refused to join in.

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OCT-8: USA: National Scarves for Solidarity Campaign: Women, across the United States, regardless of their faith, wore a scarf or hat covering their hair. Like friends who shave their heads in solidarity with cancer patients, women wore the Muslim head covernig -- the hijab (scarf). Many Muslim women had been afraid to leave their houses because of ignorance and religious hatred.

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OCT-12: Nigeria: Muslim-Christian riots kill at least 100: After Friday prayers by Muslims, a quiet demonstration against the U.S. action in Afghanistan turned violent. 100 to 200 are believed to have been killed; many hundreds were injured; four churches and four mosques were gutted; 16,000 have been made homeless. In 2000-FEB, 2000-MAY, and 2001-SEP, a total of 1,700 people were killed during riots that were sparked by the decision in Northern Nigeria to implement full Islamic Shari'ah law in this country which has a large Christian minority.

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OCT-15: UK: Britain introduces bill against inciting religious hatred: The British government is proposing a series of bills to help combat terrorism. One would make inciting religious hatred a crime. "Civil liberties groups fear the plan to expand existing incitement to racial hatred laws to include religion could dampen free speech and even shield extremists from criticism." It would carry a maximum penalty of seven years.

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OCT-24 (approx): DC: Muslim opens senate with prayer: For just the second time in the history of the U.S. Senate, a Muslim offered that body's opening prayer. The prayer was offered by Imam Yusuf Saleem, National Educational Director for the Muslim American Society of Imam W. Deen Mohammed. Imam Yusuf is also associated with Masjid Muhammad in Washington, D.C. (A masjid is a mosque). The House followed suit on NOV-15.

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NOV-1: MA: Salem witches exonerated: Five people who had been convicted of Witchcraft  and hanged in 1692-3 were exonerated when Governor Jane Swift signed a new bill into law. There were a total of 24 men and women who were hanged, crushed to death or died in prison.

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NOV-2: VA: Virginia Supreme Court allows cross-burning: A divided court voted 4 to 3 to declare a Virginian law unconstitutional. It prohibits cross burning. The Court decided that the U.S. Constitution protects free speech, no matter how offensive it might be. The majority opinion said: "Under our system of government, people have the right to use symbols to communicate. They may patriotically wave the flag or burn it in protest; they may reverently worship the cross or burn it as an expression of bigotry."

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NOV-5: CA: Division of The Salvation Army offers Domestic Partner Benefits, then is overruled: The Salvation Army's Western Corporation decided to extend health-care benefits to domestic partners of its employees. Col. Phillip Needham, chief secretary of the Western Corporation said: "This decision reflects our concern for the health of our employees and those closest to them, and is made on the basis of strong ethical and moral reasoning that reflects the dramatic changes in family structure in recent years. The Salvation Army forced the Western Corporation to reverse its decision.

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NOV-16: USA: Religious hate-speech by Franklin Graham:  MSNBC reported that Franklin Graham, the son of arguably the best know Evangelical Christian preacher Billy Graham, called the entire Islamic religion "wicked, violent and not of the same God." [He presumably meant that the God of Christianity is different from the God if Islam.] He continued: "I don’t believe this is a wonderful, peaceful religion. When you read the Koran and you read the verses from the Koran, it instructs the killing of the infidel, for those that are non-Muslim." When asked by NBC News to clarify his statement, Graham repeated his charge that Islam, as a whole, is an evil. "It wasn’t Methodists flying into those buildings, it wasn’t Lutherans. It was an attack on this country by people of the Islamic faith.

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NOV-22: ID: Fundamentalist pastor erects offensive sign: Pastor Jeff Cole of the Crossroads Assembly of God Church in Wilder, ID put up a sign in front of his church which said: "The spirit of Islam is the spirit of the antichrist." Cole said that the message reflects the Gospel, not religious hatred. He based the sign on 1 John, 4:2-3

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DEC-8: WI: Politicians attack Wiccan chaplain: Rev. Jamyi Witch, 43, a Wiccan priestess, started work as a chaplain at the Waupun Correctional Institution in early December.  She has impressive qualifications, being a mother, a Girl Scout leader, school volunteer, hospice counselor, crisis counselor. She also volunteered in the prisons for two years and has helped train Corrections Department employees about alternative religions. Reaction to her hiring was swift, particularly among Republican state legislators. They are exploring methods of getting her fired or of terminating funding for the entire prison chaplain program.

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DEC-12: USA: Alleged religious-based terrorist attack on Muslims: Several news agencies reported stories of a plot to bomb the King Fahd Mosque in Culver City, CA, the offices of Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA) -- a an Arab-American Christian -- and the Muslim Public Affairs Council. Irv Rubin, 56, chairperson of the Jewish Defense League (JDL) and Earl Krugell, 59, a member of the JDL have allegedly been arrested by the FBI after the last pipe bomb-making component - 2.2 kg (4.8 lbs) of explosive powder --  was delivered to Krugell's home.

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DEC-12: DC: Southern Baptist Convention threatens to sever support of state body: The SBC has threatened to terminate its 124 year relationship with the D.C. Baptist Convention. The SBC's main concern is the D.C. Convention's involvement with the annual interfaith service honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. It is supported by the Convention, and includes non-Christian groups.

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DEC-17: Kosovo: British Soldier Killed While Protecting Church: According to ReligionToday: Private James Carl Rogers, 17, a British soldier with the NATO peacekeeping force in Kosovo (K-FOR) died while guarding a Serbian Orthodox Church in Pristina.

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DEC-20: Texas: Judge decides Ethical Culture is a religion: The Ethical Society of Austin applied for and received a tax exempt status from the state in 1997-JUN. Former Comptroller John Sharp cancelled their status one day later. He cited a long-standing principle that groups who do not require their members to believe in a supreme being are not religions and thus are not allowed to have tax exempt status. The Society sued and won.

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DEC-23: China: Small scale genocide continues: According to the Falun Dafa Information Center, the Chinese government has detained over 100,000 persons for the "crime" of practicing Falun Dafa -- a spiritually-based exercise and belief system. Over 20,000 have been sent to labor camps without trial. "Chinese President Jiang Zemin has called this the 'golden age of human rights' in China, but this 'golden age' has resulted in the deaths of over 1,600 innocent citizens who practice falun Gong...millions have been devastated by this persecution. This is state terrorism."

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DEC-30: China: Religious leader to be executed: In defiance of Chinese law, Gong Shengliang organized the South China Church, a fundamentalist denomination. The government banned the church as a "cult." He was convicted on charges including "using a cult to undermine the enforcement of the law," and was sentenced to death. A second church leader, Li Ying, a niece of Shengliang was given a death sentence suspended for two years. Such sentences are usually commuted to life in prison.

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2001-DEC-: USA: Beliefnet.com selects winner: For their Most Inspiring Person of the Year Award, Beliefnet selected the passengers and crew of Flight 93. They wrote: "It would have been easier for the passengers of Flight 93 to do nothing but cower and pray in the back until the plane plowed levelly into the White House and their lives ended painlessly in a millisecond. Instead they chose the hard, awful way because that is what morality demanded."

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Related essays on this web site:

bulletA more detailed description of the year's religiously intolerant news items.
bulletA more detailed description of the year's religiously tolerant news items.

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References

Copyright © 2002 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2002-JAN-2
Latest update: 2002-JAN-4
Author: B.A. Robinson

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