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RELIGIOUS CHANGE, CONFLICT & INTOLERANCE,

2006-February

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Sponsored link:


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We also have a list of religious tolerance & information news for this month. 
Sad to say, these are usually much shorter lists.

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For some reason, there was an unusually large number of events in Canada this month.

bullet 2006-JAN-23: Canada: New federal government elected: The Canadian public voted the Liberal Party out of office and elected a Conservative Party minority government. The Conservatives are opposed by three liberal-leaning parties: Liberal, Bloc Quebecois (a separationist party) and the New Democratic Party (a socialist party). The conservatives plan to increase military spending, increase the age of consent for sexual activities by two years, terminate the right of same-sex couples to marry, lower income tax rates for the wealthy, increase income tax rates for the poor, and extensively modify Canada's universal health care plan.
bullet2006-FEB-03: AL: Three Baptist churches damaged; two more destroyed: A string of five small Baptist churches in Bibb County, AL, were set on fire apparently by an arsonist during the evening of FEB-02 and/or the morning of FEB-03. Chief Deputy Sheriff Kenneth Weems said the blazes were set "...as fast as they could drive from one location to the next." It seems that race was not a factor as it was in a string of church burnings in 1996 when rural black churches were damaged or destroyed. This series of five churches included four "white" churches and one "black" church. 1 (Many churches in the U.S. are segregated by race.) Four of the churches are affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.
bullet2006-FEB-07: Canada: Vote on SSM delayed: On the first day of the election campaign, Conservative leader Stephen Harper promised to start the process of stripping the right to marry from same-sex couples as the first order of business of the new session of Parliament. On 2006-JAN-27, before he was sworn in as the new Prime Minister of Canada, he reneged on the promise and said : "I've simply said we'll be doing it [sometime] in the life of the Parliament. I would prefer to do it sooner rather than later, but not immediately." Vic Toews, the new Justice minister said on 2006-FEB-07 that he will try to build a consensus on SSM where possible. This appears to be an impossibility because a substantial minority of Canadian adults, and an even larger minority of Members of Parliament oppose SSM. He said that a motion outlawing same-sex marriage in Canada will almost certainly be shelved until 2006-Fall. The defeat of the government and a new federal election is expected before the end of 2008. 2
bullet2006-FEB-07: USA: About the movie Brokeback Mountain: Although this movie is most frequently described as involving the romantic and sexual relationship of two homosexual cowboys, the characters are actually portrayed as bisexuals. They are married with children. Fr. Tom Condon, OP, student master for St. Martin de Porres Province of the Dominicans, a Roman Catholic order, describes the movie as portraying: "Two sheep-tending cowboys in 1960s Wyoming find themselves unexpectedly falling in love and suffering the heartbreaking consequences, keeping their relationship a secret for 20 years." 3 The movie has received eight Academy Award nominations -- more than any other 2005 movie. 4 It has been universally condemned by religious conservatives. More info.
bullet2006-FEB-07: AL: Fires at four additional Baptist churches: Three additional Baptist churches were destroyed and one was damaged in an apparent arson attack. All were "black" congregations. 5 A task force of over 100 local, state and federal investigators has been organized to find the perpetrators. None were Southern Baptist. 6

There is speculation that the fires may have been set to cover up burglaries; they may have been motivated by hatred of Baptists, by thrill seeking or by other factors. It might have been the actions of one person, or a group -- perhaps even of two groups, with the second series a form of copycat crime. Individuals posting to some conservative blogs and forums are speculating that liberals, pro-choice advocates, homosexuals, Atheists, disgruntled former Baptists, or Muslims were responsible. On FEB-09, investigators said that they were looking for two White males who were reportedly last spotted in a dark-colored SUV.
bullet2006-FEB-10: Italy: Atheist's petition denied: In Ilaly, there is a law which criminalizes the "abuse of popular belief" -- i.e. fraudulently deceiving people. Another law prohibits "impersonation" or personal gain from attributing a false name to someone. Luigi Cascioli, a 72-year-old retired Atheist, launched a lawsuit against the Rev. Enrico Righi, a Roman Catholic priest. Righi is accused of violating both laws with the assertion that Yeshuah of Nazareth (Jesus Christ) actually existed. The case was dismissed. 7
bullet2006-JAN-10: USA: Clergy Letter Project: This project promotes the teaching of the theory of evolution in American public schools. The Project notes that: "...numerous clergy from most denominations have tremendous respect for evolutionary theory and have embraced it as a core component of human knowledge, fully harmonious with religious faith." It started with an effort in Wisconsin to have Christian clergy sign a pro-evolution statement. It has since gone nation wide, and has as received 10,266 signatures as of JAN-05. 8
bullet2006-FEB-12: World: Anniversary of Darwin's birth; Evolution Sunday observed: Today is the 197th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, the generally acknowledged discoverer of the theory of evolution. Hundreds of Christian, Unitarian Universalist, and a few other churches across the U.S. will celebrate the day as "Evolution Sunday." Additional religious groups in Australia, Canada, Germany and the UK will participate. Pro-evolution sermons, discussion groups, etc will be given. "...participating religious leaders will be making the statement that religion and science are not adversaries.  And, together, they will be elevating the quality of the national debate on this topic." 9
bullet2006-FEB-15: Kosovo: Secret religious law drafted: Forum 18 reports:

"The latest draft Kosovo religion law, secretly drawn up under the auspices of the Austrian Government with the involvement of only three religious communities, is causing great concern. 'It is not right that a closed group should draw up a new law for Kosova outside Kosova, without all Kosovars and the whole Assembly having any opportunity to comment on the proposals,' Pastor Bekim Beka told Forum 18 News Service. The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Mission and some religious leaders did not know about the latest draft or the Austrian discussions. Pastor Dijana Daka of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, who had been closely involved in the previous discussions, told Forum 18 that she had not heard of the latest proposals and had not been consulted." 10

bullet2006-FEB-08: USA: Evangelical leaders disagree about global warming: Eighty-six Evangelical leaders are are backing an initiative to resist global warming. They have issued a statement "Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action." They suggest legislating requiring reductions in the level of carbon dioxide emissions. The "Evangelical Climate Initiative" web site estimates that "millions of people could die in this century because of climate change." Included among the signers of the initiative are Rick Warren, and Duane Litfin. 11 In opposition, another group of 22 evangelical leaders, including Chuck Colson and James Dobson, signed a statement declaring that "global warming is not a consensus issue."

It is difficult to reach a consensus among conservative Christians on the reality of global warming. There does not appear to be to be any mention of it in the Bible. Also, many Fundamentalist and other Evangelicals believe that when Jesus returns in our near future, he will eradicate all pollution and environmental damage instantly.
bullet2006-FEB-14: MA: Pharmacy board orders Wal-Mart to honor Plan B prescriptions: Three women filed complaints with the state pharmacy board against Wal-Mart for failing to stock Plan B medication. It is the only emergency contraceptive approved by the FDA. According to the New Standard:
bulletNone of the company's 44 stores in Massachusetts stocks the medication.
bulletPlan B is only available in Wal-Mart stores in Illinois. This is because of a state law requiring pharmacies to carry EC.
bulletWal-Mart is considering changing their policy across the U.S.
bulletThey claim that they do not stock the pills because consumer demand is too low.

Planned Parenthood, NARAL and two large Wal-Mart watchdog organizations -- Wal-Mart Watch and Wake Up Wal-Mart -- are calling for a national push to change the company's policy. 12 More information on Wal-Mart's refusal and emergency contraception

bullet2006-FEB-17: CT: Comptroller asks Wal-Mart to honor Plan B prescriptions: Apparently triggered by the Massachusetts developments, Nancy Wyman, the state comptroller of Connecticut, has asked Wal-Mart to stock emergency contraceptive in its 20 pharmacies in the state. She wrote: "I believe it is important for women to have a treatment such as Plan B available as an option if they so choose." Wal-Mart spokesperson Dan Fogleman said on FEB-16 that the company is reviewing its national policy on EC. He said: "Women’s health is a priority for Wal-Mart. There’s a lot of broader considerations, but it’s something we’re giving a lot of thought to." 13
bullet2006-FEB-18: USA: Pat Robertson cancelled speech: Pat Robertson, host of the 700 Club TV program, member of the executive of the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB), and perhaps the best know conservative Protestant in the U.S. cancelled his scheduled speech before the NRB's convention in Dallas TX planned for FEB-21. Some NRB leaders expressed concern that his speech might detract from the event.

David Dockery, president of Union University and chairman of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities said:

"He is in a very visible leadership position and comments such as recent ones related to Mr. Sharon and so many others are misinformed and presumptuous and border on arrogance....It puts the evangelical movement in a bad light when that happens because people make broad generalizations, rightly or wrongly, all the time."

Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's ethics and religious liberty commission, has said he was "stunned and appalled that Pat Robertson would claim to know the mind of God concerning whether particular tragic events ... were the judgments of God."

Barry Hankins, professor of history and church-state studies at Baylor University He said that Robertson "...puts the most fantastic spin on things to have a gripping quality about them to keep the ground troops alert/"

Brian Britt, director of the Religious Studies Program at Virginia Tech, said that Robertson's comments aren't just "off-the-wall, crazy uncle stuff." Rather, it is a part of a strategy to gain headlines. When he is attacked, he gets sympathy as an underdog. Britt said that Robertson's comments reinforce: "...an image of Christianity as a persecuted religion, a religion that is being hounded by the secularists out of the public square, rather than a dominant and hegemonic force."

2006-FEB-21: Poland: University terminates display of T-shirts: The Maria Curie-Sklodowska University (UMCS) in Lublin Poland banned a display of T-shirts worn by Polish personalities. Some slogans on the shirts were : "I didn't cry when the Pope died."  "I've got Aids", "I am gay", "I'm Jewish", "I'm Arab", "I masturbate" and "I have my period." Some slogans were particularly offensive to many Catholics in the country. The display was to have been coupled with a film festival organized by the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights.

bulletWieslaw Kaminsk, president of UMCS said: "The texts printed on the T-shirts could have offended the feelings and beliefs of many people."
bulletRoman Catholic Bishop Jozef Zycinski said: "To write 'I've got Aids' or 'I've had an abortion' on a T-shirt, you would have to be devoid of all human feelings."
bulletMarek Antoni Nowicki who heads the Federation said: "The aim of the exhibition was to try to provoke a debate on freedom of speech in Poland. The decision of the president of the university to cancel the show must be seen as unacceptable meddling."

The film festival was cancelled by its sponsor in protest after the banning of the T-shirt display. 15

bullet2006-FEB-27: Canada: Father launches wrongful death lawsuit: Lawrence Hughes, father of the late Bethany Hughes, was given permission by a court to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the Watchtower Society. Bethany refused blood transfusions which she said violated her religious beliefs as a Jehovah's Witness. She died of leukemia on 2002-SEP-05. 16 Her father said:

"This is a great day for justice. This is a great day for children...The court is saying that a religious sect or cult can be held responsible for the injury they inflict on others, whether it relates to deliberately giving out misleading medical information or using institutional coercion which results in the death of a child." 17

bullet2006-FEB-26: Canada: Priests issue letter against Catholic teaching: Nineteen priests from the dioceses of Montreal, Saint-Jean-Longueuil, Gatineau and Gaspe in Quebec, Canada, issued a letter denouncing the Roman Catholic Church's teaching on rejecting men with a homosexual orientation for seminary training, and opposing same-sex marriage. It was published in the French language newspaper La Press with the headline "Enough is enough." The letter criticizes the Church teaching that homosexual orientation is disordered; it suggests that this leads to homophobia and is grossly outdated.

LifeSiteNews, a Roman Catholic pro-life group that opposes equality in marriage, reported that:

"Canon Lawyer Peter Vere told LifeSiteNews.com that the situation is now beyond local bishops and that the faithful should contact the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to express their concerns.  Noting that the story on the dissent has made international news, Vere said, 'It's no longer just a scandal for a particular diocese.  It is a scandal for lay people who are legitimately confused by the antics of these priests, who will likely mistake silence (on the part of the bishops) for consent.' 'At this point I would encourage people to write the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) because it no longer concerns priests or bishops but concerns a direct attack on the faith and morals of the Catholic Church,' Vere added." 18
bullet2006-FEB-27: Scotland: Roman Catholic bishop condemns gay adoption proposal: Rev Joseph Devine, Bishop of Motherwell, sent a letter to Jack McConnell, the First Minister of Scotland, condemning the proposal that all couples be allowed to apply to adopt children -- both same-sex and opposite-sex. A similar law was passed in the rest of the UK in 2005-DEC. He described the measure as "...yet another violation of family life." The Herald newspaper reported that Bishop Devine wrote:
"No doubt for refusing to pander to the idea that homosexual and lesbian relationships are equal to heterosexual partnerships, particularly those blessed in the sight of God, I shall be termed a bigot by the politically correct hardcore in the Scottish Parliament,"

He added that he is

"...not prepared to stand by and watch the destruction of Christian values and truth....What started as a tolerance and compassion for gays had developed into the suppression of the majority heterosexual lifestyle. Traditional family values are in the dock and the judge and jury are composed of politically correct extremists."

Bishop Devine continue that he has watched:

"with mounting disquiet the forces of political correctness corrupt our moral, political and social order...Now their insidious influence threatens our innocent and vulnerable children."

In 2006-JAN, Cardinal Keith O’Brien asked that the government introduce a "conscience clause" so that Catholic adoption agencies would be allowed to deny same-sex couples consideration as potential adoptive parents. The government refused the request. 19

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Links to religious news sources:

bulletLists of general religious, conservative Christian, other Christian, and non-Christian news sources is available elsewhere on this web site.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "FBI joins Alabama church fires investigation. Churches had both black and white congregations," Associated Press, 2006-FEB-06, at: http://msnbc.msn.com/
  2. Sean Gordon: "Toews pledges speedy gun-crime clampdown," Toronto Star, 2006-FEB-08, Pages A1 & A6.
  3. Tom Condon, "Brokeback Mountain," Faith and Film, at: http://www.domlife.org/
  4. "Nominees: Brokeback Mountain," Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, at: http://www.oscar.com/
  5. Verna Gates, "More Alabama churches set on fire," Reuters, 2006-FEB-07, at: http://msnbc.msn.com/
  6. Clint Van Zandt, "Alabama churches torched, arsonists at large. Arson task force working swiftly to find answers," MSNBC, 2006-FEB-06, at: http://msnbc.msn.com/
  7. "Did Jesus exist? Case dismissed," CNN.com, 2006-FEB-10, at: http://www.cnn.com/
  8. "Welcome to the Clergy Letter Project," at: http://www.uwosh.edu/

  9. "The Clergy Letter Project presents Evolution Sunday," at: http://www.uwosh.edu/

  10. "Kosovo: Secrecy surrounds latest religion law's drafting," Forum 18, 2006-FEB-15. See F18News at: http://www.forum18.org/

  11. "Evangelical Climate Initiative," is at: http://www.christiansandclimate.org/

  12. Brendan Coyne, "Activists Push Wal-Mart over 'Morning After Pill'," The New Standard, 2006-FEB-17, at: http://newstandardnews.net/
  13. "Comptroller wants retailer to stock 'morning-after' pill," Associated Press, 2006-FEB-17, at: http://www.record-journal.com/
  14. Sonja Barisic, "Pat Robertson accused of damaging movement," Associated Press, 2006-FEB-18, at: http://my.earthlink.net/
  15. "Varsity bans T-shirt show," News24.com, 2006-FEB-21, at: http://www.news24.com/
  16. "Bethany Hughes: Dad given OK to sue over death," Calgary Sun, 2006-FEB-27.
  17. "Dad fights Jehovah's Witness over daughter's death," Associated Press,  2006-MAR-01, at: http://edition.cnn.com/
  18. John-Henry Westen, "Quebec Priests Bash Church on Homosexuality - Real Problem is the Bishops, LifeSiteNews Publishes All Names of Rebellious Priests," LifeSiteNews, 2006-FEB-27.
  19. Terry Vanderheyden, "Scotland Bishop Blasts Parliament Decision to Allow Gay Adoption. Says tolerance for gays has 'developed into suppression of majority heterosexual lifestyle'," LifeSiteNews.com, 2006-FEB-27.

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Copyright © 2006 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2006-FEB-08
Latest update: 2006-MAR-03
Author: B.A. Robinson

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