CHANGE, CONFLICT AND/OR INTOLERANCE
News items during 2006-December
This is the time of the year when the "Christmas wars"
heat up. As Chris Ortiz posted to the Chalcedon Blog: "I used to know
Christmas was around the corner when stores put up their holiday decorations.
Now I know it's Christmas when everyone starts fighting about it." 1 See our "
'Tis the season to be' in conflict" section.
||2006-DEC-01: Canada: Software released to combat Internet censorship:
Professor Ronald Deibert, director of the Citizen Lab at the
University of Toronto, announced the availability of new software to
attack Internet censorship. About 40 countries worldwide prevent their
citizens from accessing the Internet freely. Saudi Arabia prevents their
citizens from accessing this web site, for example. The new software is
called Psiphon and is freely available at
person can download the program to their home computer. They then send a
unique web address to anyone suffering from Internet censorship; the latter
can connect to the Psiphon program and surf the net freely via an encrypted
link. Deibert said:
"There’s been an alarming increase in Internet censorship and
surveillance practices worldwide, most of it in secret without any
public accountability or transparency. Psiphon is meant to address that
problem and restore the original promise of the Internet as a forum for
free expression and access to information." 9
||2006-DEC-01: Canada: Same-sex marriage legislation to be
reconsidered: LifeSiteNews reported that the Conservative
Government will introduce a motion to Parliament during the week of DEC-03
to prevent future same-sex couples from marrying in Canada. The wording of
the motion is:|
"That this house call on the government to introduce legislation to
restore the traditional definition of marriage without affecting civil
unions, and while respecting existing same sex marriages." 2
This wording is curious for a couple of reasons:
||To our knowledge, legislation creating civil unions as a state
separate from marriage does not exist in Canada. That is, no Canadian
couples have ever been civil unionized.
||The Federal Marriage Act defines "for civil purposes, ...
the lawful union of two persons to the exclusion of all others"
as the definition of marriage. [Emphasis ours] So a civil union
is marriage for any two persons, whether of the same or opposite sex.
||If the government wished to respect existing same-sex marriages,
then they would allow other loving, committed same-sex couples to marry
in the future. 2
||2006-DEC-02: ND: Native tribe to bar religious group from
interrupting funeral: Members of the Westboro Baptist Church of
Topeka, KS, believe that American soldiers are dying because of a punishment
from God for the tolerance of homosexuals in the U.S. They often attend
soldiers' funerals with virulently anti-gay signs. Tribal leaders passed a
resolution on DEC-01 that prohibits the group from demonstrating on the
reservation during the funeral of Goodiron, 25, of Mandaree, (a.k.a. Young
Eagle) who died in Afghanistan. Marcus Wells Jr., chairman of the Three
Affiliated Tribes issued a statement saying:|
"We recognize and respect the right to free speech and the public's
right to assemble, but we want everyone to know that the Three
Affiliated Tribes, as a sovereign tribal government, has the right to
regulate any person or persons who harass and show disrespectful conduct
towards our members, within our boundaries."
Wells said that the tribal police will prevent the protestors from
entering the reservation. 4
||2006-DEC-06: USA: Thomas Nelson publishing imposing theology test on
authors: Thomas Nelson is consolidating all 21 of its imprints in its
"One Company" initiative. Further, they will require all authors entering
into future contracts to signal their agreement both with the Nicene Creed
and Philippians 4:8:
"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things
are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure,
whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report;
if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these
This "content filter" applies even to non-religious books, like those
dealing with business topics. Benny Hinn, other Charismatic authors, and
Church of Christ authors like Max Lucado who reject creedal formulations
may be left out in the cold. 3
||2006-DEC-06: MI: University student
organization may make history: Young Americans for Freedom (YAF)
may have the honor of becoming the first university-funded group in the U.S.
to be listed as a hate organization by the Intelligence Project
for the Southern Poverty Law Center. The Center also lists some
Christian Identity churches, neo-Nazi organizations, Ku Klux Klan groups,
the Nation of Islam, and Black Panther organizations. The YAF has sponsored
a number of recent minority-bashing events including "Catch an Illegal
Immigrant Day." On NOV-20, they protested a proposed civil rights
ordinance that would protect persons of all sexual orientations
(heterosexuals, homosexuals, bisexuals) and transgender person from
discrimination. They held signs with slogans like "Straight Power" and "End
||2006-DEC-06: USA: The Jewish Conservative tradition Judaism accepts
gays and lesbians: The
25-member Rabbinical Assembly Committee on Jewish Law and Standards issued
a series of advisory reports that both recommended acceptance and
discouraged acceptance of gay and lesbian candidates for ordination as
rabbis. They recommended
that "committed gay relationships" should be recognized, but not
blessed. They retain the interpretation of Leviticus 18:22 that prohibits
anal intercourse between two men. The result is a type of local option for
synagogues and rabbinical schools. Liberals and conservatives in the
movement can each adopt conflicting policies. More
||2006-DEC-07: Canada: Government motion defeated: Same-sex
marriage had been available across Canada, with the exception of Prince
Edward Island, since 2005-JUL-20. That province capitulated later in the
year, but only after the threat of a lawsuit.
On 2006-DEC-07, at 3:21 PM ET, a vote was concluded on a motion by the
ruling Conservative Party which would have reopened same-sex marriage for
debate. The motion was rejected 175 to 123. Various commentators had earlier
predicted a spread of 30 to 40 votes. The actual spread was an impressive
52! Some observers speculate that some Liberals who are religious and/or
social conservatives were expected to vote for the motion, but decided to
vote against it because it respected existing same-sex marriages and
accepted civil unions which would have given some or all of the benefits of
marriage to same-sex couples. Their preference would have been to reduce
same-sex couples, including married couples, to the status of roommates.
The matter is now at least temporarily settled for the over 12,000 same-sex
couples who have married since same-sex marriage became available across the
country. Of course, it may be dusted off by some future government, who may
wish to force same-sex couples to go through the agony of not knowing if one
of their most fundamental rights -- the right to marry the person that they
love and have made a commitment to -- will be again terminated by a extreme
conservative government. More details.
||2006-DEC-11: Iran: Government sponsored conference of Nazi Holocaust
deniers: The Iranian government sponsored a two-day conference "Review
of the Holocaust: Global View." It was attended by 67 assorted Holocaust
deniers, minimalist Holocaust scholars, and white supremacists from a total of
thirty countries. 1
Ironically, the conference was held during International Human Rights Week,
which renews the pledges of the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights.
Rasoul Mousavi, head of the Foreign Ministry’s Institute for Political and
International Studies, gave a welcoming speech. He said that the conference
provided an opportunity to discuss the Holocaust "away from Western taboos
and the restriction imposed on them in Europe." It was intended to include participants who affirmed, denied, and
minimized the reality of the Nazi Holocaust. However, the New York Times reported that:
"... none of
the speeches collected in the ministry’s book or any of the exhibitions spoke of
the reality of the Nazi killing. A CD with the stories of 12 Holocaust survivors
was said to be available."
||2006-DEC-12: MD: Baptist Church fined for picketing: The Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka KS teaches that
U.S. soldiers are dying in Iraq because America is excessively tolerant of gays and lesbians.
They maintain the well known hate website "GodHatesFags."
The Church has been demonstrating at recent funerals of armed forces
personnel. Albert Snyder of York, PA, sued the church because of their
picketing at his son's funeral, Lance Corporal Matthew Snyder, who was
killed in Iraq during 2006-MAR. The lawsuit stated that church members
violated the family's right to privacy, and defamed both the Marine and his
family. The church has been ordered to pay in excess of $3,000. 5|
||2006-DEC-14: FL: Hate web site suspended:
"WrightWingHowler.com" was an anti-Muslim web site whose webmaster lives
in the Tampa, FL area. Some examples:|
||On the topic "Love Your Kids?
Fear For Their Future? Kill All Muslim Kids!!!!," the author wrote:
"Makes sense to me. After all, if Muslims are raising their little
crumb-snatching, curtain climbing, ankle biting rug rats to strap on
bombs in order to kill us, it is logically correct to assume that in
order to stop that from happening we need to kill all Muslim kids.
||The office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Tampa)
"Other entries on the site contain obscene and hate-filled
attacks on Islam and Muslims, as well as support for violent
actions. One entry states: 'It's bad enough some [expletive deleted]
in Minnesota elect a Muslim to Congress but the people in Michigan
might have done them one better. . .Start sticking [sic] up on guns
and ammo. The war will start soon'."
When we checked on the web site, we received a notice from the web
hosting service: "This Account Has Been Suspended." 6
||2006-DEC-14: MN, DC: Representatives-elect swearing-in ceremony:
Members of Congress are initially sworn in as a group who raise their right
hands. Afterwards, some repeat the oath in private. Of these, some place
their hand on a Christian Bible, some on the Torah, and some on no book at
all. The second swearing in has no legal meaning. There is no requirement that a member of Congress use any holy book. Keith Ellison
(D-MN), a Muslim, plans to take the private ceremony while holdin a Qur'an.
Dennis Prager, a columnist and talk radio host from Los Angeles, CA, has
said that Ellison should take the oath on a Bible:
"not because of any American hostility to the Koran, but because
the act undermines American civilization."
He later wrote:
"Keith Ellison's freedom to openly believe and practice Islam and
to run for elective office as a Muslim is a direct result of a
society molded by the Bible and the people who believed in it, a
fact he should be willing to honor as he is sworn in."
Edward Koch is a former Representative, a former mayor of New York
City and a member of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council. He says
that there is no room for a "bigot" on the Council. He plans to ask the
Council's advisory board to remove Prager from its membership.
Prager replied: "The centrality of the Bible as the repository of our
values is the main issue." 7 More info on the oath and controversy
||2006-DEC-14: NJ: New Jersey legislature approves bill to create civil
unions: In an unprecedented move, the seven justices of the state
supreme court had voted unanimously in 2006-OCT that equal rights must be granted to
same-sex couples. By a 7 to 0 vote, the court determined that
the state constitution's equal treatment clause requires that all citizens have the right to
access the protections of marriage regardless of sex,
and that their children must enjoy equal rights whether their parents are of
the same or opposite sexes. They left the decision whether to create
same-sex marriage or same-sex unions up to the legislature. 7
On 2006-DEC-14, both chambers of the New Jersey legislature passed a bill to
legalize civil unions for same-sex couples. More details.
||2006-DEC-17: VA: Eight Anglican churches vote to leave the Episcopal
Diocese of Virginia: Concerned about the Episcopal Church, USA's
policies on sexual orientation, eight congregations in northern Virginia
voted to leave the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia. In the 275 year old Falls
Church, the vote was 1,228 to 127 to leave the diocese, and 1,279 to 77 to
try to keep control of the congregation's property. The Rev, John Yates
"God is going to lead this church forward in ministry. This whole
situation isn't about us. It's about the next generation and the next
and the next ... For the sake of the children, we must be faithful to
Kim Cooke, a former vestry member, said:
"I wasn't at all surprised. This church has always made a point of
being faithful to the Scriptures and God. When faced with a choice
between man and God, it was an easy choice."
The Washington Times reports:
"Most of the departing churches will affiliate with the
Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), a Fairfax-based
organization under the Anglican Diocese of Nigeria, headed up by
Archbishop Peter J. Akinola. Martyn Minns, the rector at Truro Church in
Fairfax, was appointed its bishop and will head its approximately 25
Tom Wilson, senior warden at the Falls Church said of Mr. Yates and
"This was the fruit of those two rectors tending their vineyards. By
standing in their pulpits for many years, teaching the Bible to their
congregants, when it came to this crisis, their congregants responded
with an overwhelming vote." 10
||2006-DEC-19: USA: The lucrative business of keeping Christ in
Christmas: Daniel Burke of the Religious News Service wrote an
article about the financial benefits to conservative Christian groups who
are fighting the Christmas War. He wrote:
"The Mississippi-based American Family Association
(AFA) says it has sold more than 500,000 buttons and 125,000 bumper
stickers bearing the slogan 'Merry Christmas: It's Worth Saying'."
"The Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal aid
group that boasts a network of some 900 lawyers standing ready to
'defend Christmas,' says it has moved about 20,000 'Christmas packs.'
The packs, available for a suggested $29 donation, include a three-page
legal memo and two lapel pins."
"And Liberty Counsel, a conservative law firm affiliated
with the Rev. Jerry Falwell, says it has distributed for free 16,000
legal memos on celebrating Christmas."
"Leaders say demand for the goods—which are pitched
online and through e-mail to supporters—is driven by what they view as a
coordinated effort to secularize Christmas."
The AFA found the Christmas outreach so successful that they
plan to make Easter buttons available this spring. 11
||2006-DEC-29: Iraq: Saddam
Hussein executed: Saddam Hussein, the former
dictator of Iraq was executed by hanging just before 6 AM local time on
Saturday, DEC-30 (10 PM Friday DEC-29 ET). Details
about world reaction to his execution.
Links to religious news sources:
||Links to general religious, conservative Christian, other Christian, and non-Christian news sources is available
elsewhere on this web site.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
Chris Ortiz, "Grow Up, America!," Chalcedon Blog,
John-Henry Westen, "BREAKING - Conservative Party Marriage Motion Wording
Revealed," LifeSiteNews.com, 2006-DEC-01, at:
- Jana Riess, "Nelson Tightens Editorial Standards for Authors,"
Religion BookLine, 2006-DEC-06.
James McPherson, "N.D. tribe barring church protestors," Associated Press,
"Hate Groups: Westboro Baptist Church To Pay Marine Funeral Costs,"
Associated Press, 2006-DEC-12, at:
- "FL web host asked to drop 'Kill all Muslim kids' site, CAIR, 2006-DEC-14.
Jacqueline Trescott. "Ed Koch Calls For Ouster Of 'Bigot' On Holocaust
Board," Washington Post, 2006-DEC-14, at:
Todd Heywood, "MSU student group likely to get ‘hate group’ status," City
Pulse, Lansing, MI, 2006-DEC-06, at:
W.D. Lighthall, "U of T tool circumvents Internet censorship. Software allow
citizens to access information currently blocked by their governments,"
Julia Duin, "8 Virginia flocks break away," The Washington Times,
- Daniel Burke, "Christmas Wars Prove Lucrative
Fundraising Opportunity for Advocacy Groups,"
posted on 2006-DEC-19 to:
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Copyright © 2006 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2006-DEC-02
Latest update: 2007-JAN-06
Author: B.A. Robinson
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