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Religious Tolerance logo

Religious change, conflict and/or intolerance

News items during 2007-June

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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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2007-MAY-26: IA: Students prohibited from singing religious song at graduation: High school students in Cedar Falls, IA were not allowed to sing "Joyful, Joyful" -- a Christian religious song -- at graduation. The Alliance Defense Fund, a fundamentalist Christian legal rights group, sent a letter to the school district informing them of the students' right to free religious expression. The school district did not respond. Graduating senior Andrew Clopton said:

"I know our commencement is over, but for future classes and schools around I think it's important someone takes a stand against this censorship, and content and viewpoint discrimination."

Clopton and the Alliance Defense Fund are considering legal action.


2007-JUN-01: MI: Dr. Jack Kevorkian released on parole: "Doctor Death," who claims to have assisted in the suicides of 130 people, was convicted of second-degree murder in 1998 and received a sentence of 10 to 25 years. He was granted parole for two years in 2006-DEC after having promised to not assist in any more suicides. He is also prohibited from caring for anyone who is disabled or over the age of 62. He is not allowed to be present when a person commits suicide or is euthanized and cannot counsel people on how to commit suicide.

bullet2007-JUN-05: CA: Bill AB 43 passes the California State Assembly: The "Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act" was introduced by Assemblymember Mark Leno on 2006-DEC-04. It passed the Assembly Judiciary Committee on 2007-APR-10 and was approved by the California State Assembly by a vote of 42 to 34 on JUN-05. If passed, it would change the marriage law in the state so that any loving committed couple -- opposite-sex or same-sex -- could marry. The bill will now proceed to the Senate. If passed, it would undoubtedly be vetoed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R). More information.
bullet2007-JUN-08: Canada: Most terminal cancer patients favor access to PAS: 379 palliative care cancer patients from St. Johns, Quebec City, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Edmonton, Kelowna and Vancouver in Canada were individually interviewed between 2001 and 2003. The study was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and published in the Health Psychology journal. Results were:
bullet63% said that physician assisted suicide (PAS) should be legalized in Canada.
bullet40% said that they would consider making a request for PAS if their health condition degenerated into the "worse case scenario." Their typical concern was "uncontrollable pain." Many mentioned that they would feel more comfortable if they were able to know that the PAS option was available.
bullet10% said that if PAS were available, they would have already requested it -- again because of uncontrollable pain. However, when their pain was brought under control, many changed their mind.
bullet5.8% said that if they could have access to PAS, "they would definitely initiate a request to end their lives right away in their current circumstances." 3 Info on PAS in Canada
bullet2007-JUN-09: Canada: Mother fights expulsion from the country: Oumou Toure, 24, is a citizen of Guinea who is attempting to register as a refugee in Canada. She is with her daughter, 30 months, who is a Canadian citizen. If her refugee status is rejected, she will be faced with two alternatives: to leave her daughter behind, or to return with her to Guinea where the daughter would be at high risk for female genital mutilation -- a common cultural custom in that country. She won her case and is now applying for residency in Canada.
bullet2007-JUN-14: Mexico: Mexico City considers legalizing prostitution: Having already legalized same-sex unions and abortion access, the Democratic Revolution Party has turned its sights on prostitution. Legislator Juan Bustos said that this is necessary in order to prevent prostitutes from physical abuse, to regulate the sex industry, and to reduce police corruption. 5
bullet2007-JUN-14: USA: Barna Group removes violent image: Barna is a leading U.S. polling agency devoted to the current status and trends of religion and faith groups. On JUN-11, they added a new essay to their web site titled "Atheists and Agnostics Take Aim at Christians." At the top of the essay is a photograph of a very peaceful rural church. When initially posted, a set of red crosshairs filled almost the entire photograph and was superimposed on the church image. Some visitors might conclude that Agnostics and Atheists are planning belief-based violent attacks on Christian churches, similar to past assassinations of abortion providers and firebombing of women's clinics, etc. by anti-abortionists. Curiously, the cross hairs were removed by the morning on JUN-14. 6 We have requested an explanation by fax. Based on prior experience with religious and social conservative web sites, we did not expect a response. We were surprised to receive a reply from Terry Gorka, the person responsible for posting the image.  He said that he "meant no harm" and that he had removed the image "because it was the right thing to do."
bullet 2007-JUN-14: MA: Same-sex marriage: By an overwhelming vote of 151 to 45, lawmakers in a joint session of the  Massachusetts legislature defeated the proposed constitutional amendment to deny same-sex couples the right to marry. Only 50 votes (25% of the legislators) had been needed to place it on the 2008 ballot. Supporters of restricting marriage to opposite-sex couples believed that they had 57 votes against marriage equality. House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi, Senate President Therese Murray, and Governor Deval Patrick -- along with gay rights activists -- intensely lobbied about a dozen representatives and senators who had previously supported the amendment but who indicated that they were open to changing their positions. The next ballot opportunity for religious and social conservatives to defeat marriage equality in the state will not be until 2012. More info.
bullet2007-JUN-19: Creation museum under attack by fellow creationists: According to Knight Ridder Tribune Business News, only three days after the Answers in Genesis AiG) new Creation Museum was opened in Northern Kentucky, they were hit by a lawsuit. Creation Ministries International (CMI) sued them in the Supreme Court of Queensland, Australia. The suit allegedly claims that Answers in Genesis stole subscribers for its magazine by claiming that the Australian group's creation magazine was "no longer available."

Ken Ham, the president of Answers in Genesis, said:

"All I'll tell you is those allegations are totally preposterous and untrue. The Bible tells you not to have a lawsuit against your brother, so you can see who's obeying the Bible and who's not."

A retired judge in Australia who investigated the conflict issued a 40 page report that blamed Answers in Genesis for the dispute. 7

bullet2007-JUN-20: MA: Wal-Mart pays heavily for sexist policy: Cynthia Haddad was employed by Wal-Mart in Pittsfield, MA. In 2005, after working there for more than ten years, she asked to be paid the same as her male counterparts. The store fired her two weeks later. She sued and won nearly 1 million dollars in compensatory damages and 1 million in punitive damages. Her lawyer, David Belfort, said: "It sends a message that you can't treat people poorly because of who they are." Wal-Mart claimed that she was fired because she left the pharmacy unattended and allowed a technician to use her computer password to issue prescriptions during her absence. 8
bullet2007-JUN-22: Australia: Christian-Muslim conflict resolved by mediation: The Voice of the Martyrs reported:

"The five-year vilification case between Pastors Daniel Nalliah and Daniel Scot of Catch The Fire Ministry and the Islamic Council of Victoria [ICV] was settled in seven hours of mediation between the two parties in the Victorian Civil Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) on June 22. Some of the terms of the agreement are confidential but both parties agreed to make a joint statement... The case was the first to be heard by the VCAT under Victoria's 2001 Racial and Religious Tolerance Act." 9

VCAT issued a media release stating that the ICV and Catch the Fire Ministry affirm and recognize the following:

  1. The dignity and worth of every human being, irrespective of their religious faith, or the absence of religious faith;
  2. The rights of each other, their communities, and all persons, to adhere to and express their own religious beliefs and to conduct their lives consistently with those beliefs;
  3. The rights of each other, their communities and all persons, within the limits provided for by law, to robustly debate religion, including the right to criticise the religious belief of another, in a free, open and democratic society;
  4. The value of friendship, respect and co-operation between Christians, Muslims and all people of other faiths; and
  5. The Racial and Religious Tolerance. Act forms part of the law of Victoria to which the rights referred in paragraph 3 above are subject. 10
bullet2007-JUN-23: Canada: Anglican Church debates blessing same-sex relationships: Considerable anxiety is being expressed within the worldwide Anglican Communion over a decision by one diocese of the Anglican Church of Canada to allow clergy to bless committed same-sex relationships in some of its parishes. On JUN-21, at the church's General Synod, an amendment to a resolution was defeated; it would have required a moratorium on blessing such relationships. On JUN-23, a motion to require 60% approval by delegates on matters relating to the blessing of same-sex relationships was defeated. Only a simple majority is now needed. A motion to refer the matter for more study was defeated. Debate was halted late on JUN-23; a motion to continue debate was defeated. Discussion will resume on JUN-24.

Even if the blessing of same-sex relationships is permitted by this Synod, same-sex couples will not be able to be married in the church as opposite-sex couples are. More details.
bullet2007-JUN-23: UK: Student banned for wearing a sexual abstinence ring: Lydia Playfoot, 16, has decided to be sexually inactive until she is married. She wears a silver "purity ring" engraved with "1 Thes 434" which apparently refers to two Bible verses at 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4:

"For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour."

She claims that her school, Millais School in Horsham, West Sussex, is violating her human rights by prohibiting the wearing of the ring, while they allow Muslims students to wear headscarves and Sikh students to wear Kara bracelets. The school denies this, saying that the ring is not an integral part of the Christian faith. Also, it violates its uniform policy. 11

bullet2007-JUN-24: Canada: Bishops of the Anglican Church veto blessing bill: The church door was slammed in the face of same-sex couples when a key resolution was approved by comfortable margins by both lay and clergy delegates but rejected by the bishops. Clergy voted 63 to 53 in favor; lay delegates voted 78 to 59 in favor. But the House of Bishops voted narrowly against the motion: 21 to 19. Since motions require approval by each of the three orders, it did not pass.

The resolution read:

"That this General Synod affirm the authority and jurisdiction of any diocesan synod,
   1. with the concurrence of the diocesan bishop, and
   2. in a manner which respects the conscience of the incumbent and the
will of the parish,
to authorize the blessing of committed same-sex unions."

Loving, committed same-sex couples will continue to have their relationship unrecognized by the Church until at least the next General Synod in 2010. 12 More details

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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. "Students silenced at Cedar Falls graduation," Iowa Family Policy Center news release, 2007-MAY-31.
  2. " 'Dr. Death' set to walk free on Friday," CitizenLink, 2007-MAY-31.
  3. Anne-Marie Tobin, "Terminal patients favour ending life," The Toronto Star, 2007-JUN-08, Page L7.
  4. "Mother fights expulsion, fearing girl's mutilation," The Toronto Star, 2007-JUN-08, Page A15.
  5. "Capital to consider legalizing prostitution," The Toronto Star, 2007-JUN-14, Page AA5.
  6. "Atheists and Agnostics Take Aim at Christians," Barna Group, 2007-JUN, at: http://www.barna.org/
  7. Andy Mead, "Creation Museum sued by fellow creationists," Knight Ridder Tribune Business News, 2007-JUN-19, at: http://www.romingerlegal.com/
  8. "Fired pharmacist wins pay lawsuit," Associated Press, published in the Toronto Star, 2007-JUN-21,2007-JUN-21, Page B8
  9. "Vilification Case Settled in Australia," The Voice of the Martyrs persecution & prayer alert, 2007-JUN-27.
  10. VCAT Media Release," Victor9ian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, 2007-JUN-22, at: http://www.persecution.net/
  11. "Teen Girl Banned From School for Chastity Ring Heads to Court," Fox News, 2007-JUN-23, at: http://www.foxnews.com/
  12. "Blessing of same-sex unions defeated," ACC Web News, 2007-JUN-24.

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Copyright © 2007 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2007-JUN-02
Latest update: 2007-JUN-25
Author: B.A. Robinson

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