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CHANGE, CONFLICT AND/OR INTOLERANCE

News items during 2006-September

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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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Events:

bullet2006-SEP-03: 112 states: AZ to DC: A group called "Crosswalk America" started walking at Phoenix, AZ on APR-16, and ended in Washington DC on SEP-03. They are progressive Christians who were publicizing what they refer to as the 'Phoenix Affirmations:'
bulletChristians must have an openness to other faiths
bulletChristians must care for the earth and its ecosystem.
bulletChristians must value artistic expression in all its forms.
bulletChristians must welcome and include all persons.
bulletChristians must oppose the co-mingling of Church and State.
bulletChristians must seek peace and end systemic poverty.
bulletChristian must promote the values of rest and recreation, prayer and reflection.
bulletChristians must embrace both faith and science
In the words of Episcopal Bishop J.S. Spong:
"Their desire was to turn the present course of Christianity in America away from its divisive pro-war, anti-female, anti-gay public face, where those who disagree are relegated to an emotional status somewhere between being excommunicated and burned at the stake, to a religion identified with the words 'love' and 'inclusion.' In every community entered across this nation, these walkers went to the local churches, identified themselves and shared their message. They worshiped in all kinds of settings, deliberately including the most fundamentalist. One was called 'The Jesus Baptist Church' in Springerville, Texas, that stated publicly their belief in the inerrancy of the Bible and the sinfulness of homosexuality, but they also worshiped in a Metropolitan Community Church in New Mexico, that was organized just for homosexual people who had been forced out of their churches by religious and biblical prejudice." 3
bullet2006-SEP-06: DC: Intolerance by Protestant chaplains at Jesuit university: According to LifeSite News:

"University campuses are increasingly becoming the flashpoints of the battle over freedom of religious expression. The latest battle is at Washington’s prestigious Georgetown University, a Jesuit school with a long list of illustrious alumni, where the campus protestant chaplains have ousted a group of 'conservative' Christian organizations with no explanation." More information

bullet2006-SEP-13: USA: Navy chaplain convicted of saying prayer: Navy chaplain Lt. Gordon James Klingenschmitt was convicted of a misdemeanor because he wore his uniform while delivering a prayer "in Jesus' name" at a gathering in front of the White House. It was held on 2006-MAR-30 to protest a new Navy policy that allows sectarian prayers to be given by chaplains only during worship services. So, for example, they could conclude a prayer at a Christian service with the phrase "in Jesus' name." However, chaplains are restricted to non-sectarian prayers outside of worship services in order to avoid offending non-Christians in the audience. Klingenschmitt had previously obtained written permission to wear his uniform at religious services. But the court appears to have considered the gathering to be other than a worship service.

He said:

"I do respect the verdict of my peers. I am a humble man and respect the authority of the jury. I do not respect the authority of the military judge who declared worshipping in public is not the same as public worship." 2

bullet2006-SEP-16: Portugal: Referendum on abortion likely: Eight years ago, adults in this predominately Roman Catholic country very narrowly voted to continue to criminalize abortion. The vote was 50.07% in favor. The ruling Socialist party and the opposition Social Democrates have tentatively decided to hold another referendum in 2007-JAN. The final decision will be made by the president. Alberto Martins, spokesperson for the Socialists said that his party would "really fight for the right to abortion, to end legislation it considers socially unjust and which it sees as a disgrace for Portugal in terms of a modern European country". Nuno Melo, spokesperson for the Christian Democrats said: "We are opposed to a liberalisation of abortion as a matter of principle. Proposals like this are not going to make us shift our position. Do not expect a change of heart from the Christian Democrats in parliament on this."4
bullet2006-SEP-21: Ireland: Court orders blood transfusion against woman's will: Ms. K, an African woman aged 23, from the Congo gave birth at the Coombe women's hospital in Dublin. The baby is doing fine, but the mother started to hemorrhage very badly. She allegedly lost 80% of her blood. She is a Jehovah's Witness and refused a blood translation. The hospital applied to a the High Court of Ireland which ordered that a transfusion be given. More info.
bullet2006-SEP-24: Conservative Christian leaders meet to discuss election strategy: The Family Research Council held a "Values Voters Summit" in Washington.
bulletJames C. Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, referring to Fundamentalist and other Evangelical Christians said: "There is disillusionment out there with Republicans...That worries me greatly."
bulletRepresentative Mike Pence, (R-IN) speculated that: "maybe losing the Republican majority would teach us a lesson and get our movement back on track."
bulletPaul Weyrich of the Free Congress Foundation said: "At the grass roots, among ordinary people, the enthusiasm is not there, and unless that changes in the next five or six weeks, the Republicans aren’t going to make it." i.e. the Republicans will not retain control of Congress.
bulletConnie Marshner distributed a guide during a workshop. It suggested obtaining church directories, phoning up members, and posing as a nonpartisan pollster. Some attendees, including Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council and The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a liberal group, objected to such deceptive tactics.
bullet A common theme at the meeting is that legal recognition of SSM could limit the ability of religious group to proclaim SSM as a sin. It is not clear how this could limit freedom of expression which is guaranteed by the First Amendment. Rev. Donald Wildmon, founder of the American Family Association suggested that same-sex marriage (SSM) is: "... an issue that wasn’t around two years ago and one that is absolutely moving to the very forefront." Perkins of the Family Research Council showed a commercial to be shown in October on Christian networks. He urges that religious conservatives: "Get involved as the Lord leads before religious liberty is lost forever."
bulletThe Rev. Jerry Falwell, founder of the Moral Majority, speculated that Senator Hillary Clinton might become the Democratic presidential candidate in 2008. He said that her nomination would arouse even more evangelical opposition than Lucifer's nomination would. The audience laughed. 5
bullet2006-SEP-27: Germany: Opera cancelled for security reasons: Kirsten Harms, director of Berlin's Deutsche Oper, announced "with great regret" that the production of Mozart's "Idomeneo" opera will be terminated after a three year run. State security officials had stated that one scene in the opera could provoke a violent reaction from some Muslims. She said that her decision involved weighing " ... artistic freedom and freedom of a theater ... against the question of security for people's lives." The scene was added by producer Hans Neuenfels. It shows King Idomeneo presenting the severed heads of Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea, Mohammed, Jesus and Buddha. Neuenfels said that the scene is a protext against "any form of organized religion or its founders." He refused to modify the scene. Reaction varied:
bulletSome politicians regarded the decision as "crazy" or as "a fatal signal" of caving into extremism.
bulletSome in the German Islamic community praised the decision; others suggested that Muslims should accept the concept of freedom of speech in art.
bulletKenan Kolat, leader of the Turkish community in Germany said: "This is about art, not about politics. We should not make art dependent on religion -- then we are back in the Middle Ages."
bulletKlaus Wowereit, mayor of Berlin, said: "Our ideas about openness, tolerance and freedom must be lived on the offensive. Voluntary self-limitation gives those who fight against our values a confirmation in advance that we will not stand behind them."
bulletBernd Neumann, the federal government's top cultural official, said that "problems cannot be solved by keeping silent. ... When the concern over possible protests leads to self-censorship, then the democratic culture of free speech becomes endangered." 6

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Links to religious news sources:

bulletLinks to 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. Hilary White, " 'Tolerant' Georgetown University Ousts Conservative Christian Groups," LIfeSiteNews.com, 2006-SEP-06.
  2. "Chaplain convicted of saying prayers 'in Jesus' name;' Klingenschmitt jury to resume work in morning on punishment," WorldNetDaily, 2006-SEP-13, at: http://www.wnd.com/
  3. J.S. Spong, "Crosswalk America Arrives in Washington, DC," A New Christianity for a New World newsletter, 2006-SEP-13.
  4. "Abortion referendum likely in Portugal," EuorNews, 2006-SEP-18, at: http://euronews.net/
  5. David Kirkpatrick, "Christian Conservatives Look to Re-energize Base," New York Times, 2006-SEP-25, at: http://www.nytimes.com/
  6. "Muslim anger fear halts opera," Associated Press, 2006-SEP-27, at: http://www.cnn.com/

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Copyright © 2006 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2006-SEP-05
Latest update: 2006-SEP-25
Author: B.A. Robinson

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