NEWS OF RELIGIOUS INTOLERANCE & CONFLICT
We also have a list of religious tolerance news items for this month.
APR-6,7: Indonesia: Muslim - Christian conflict.
According to Newsroom: 2 and ReligionToday 3
"Sectarian tensions in Indonesia's Molucca Islands are escalating
according to church leaders who report the details of recent
atrocities by radical Muslim groups and Indonesian military troops.
About 3,000 people, most of them Christians, have died in the past 14
months in religious violence in the Moluccas, a chain of 17 islands
about 250 miles west of New Guinea, news reports say. The islands were
once mostly Christian, but the Muslim population has increased in
recent years with a "radical minority" causing unrest, news
Clergy in North Maluku province and the island of Buru claim that 'jihad
troops' determined to expunge Christians from the areas have
slaughtered many believers and burned down churches and
2000-APR-9: England: Christian vs Neopagans:
According to Independent Digital: 10
Ralph Morse, 44, is a teacher of media studies and drama at
Shenfield High School in Essex. In his private life, he is a Wiccan.
He was appointed as the first national youth manager by the Pagan
Federation. On APR-2 an article about his religious beliefs appeared
in the British newspaper, the "Independent on Sunday."
The following day, in an amazing demonstration of religious
intolerance, he was suspended from the high school. John Fairhurst,
the school headteacher released a statement stating that the school
was "appalled" to be associated with the Pagan
Federation and "wish it to be known that we completely and
unequivocally reject their world of witchcraft and magic." He
continued: "A teacher's private activities are, of course, his
private activities. However, there is no doubt that this man's private
interests are impinging upon the school...The member of staff
concerned has been suspended pending an investigation into the extent
of his activities and the conflicts of interest that arise between his
out-of-school activities and his professional role." Mr
Fairhurst said the school taught religious education in a way "which
we hope and expect would enable our students to reject the dangerous
temptations of the occult".
Father Leslie Knight, the local Roman Catholic parish priest, said:
"We should be promoting Christianity and not things which go
into witchcraft and magic." Doug Harris, spokesman for the
Fundamentalist Christian Reach Out Trust, said: "Paganism
opens you up to a supernatural power that cannot be controlled. It's
dangerous to encourage young people."
Andy Norfolk, the Pagan Federation's spokesman, . "We feel
that his suspension is unwarranted because the Pagan Federation is a
reasonable organization. We are not involved in anything sinister."
Morse is also supported by the National Union of Teachers.
[Author's note: One wonders what would have
happened if Morse had become the national youth manager of the
Church of England. This incident demonstrates how
conflicts can arise when various individuals use different
definitions of the term "Witch." -- one from the Middle
Ages, and one contemporary.]
APR-15: Italy - Roman Catholics vs. gays and lesbians:
According to AANEWS: 11
World Pride 2000, the first international celebration by gay men and
women from around the world. is scheduled to be held in the summer of
2000 in Rome, Italy. President Al Gore sent a letter of support
including his "warmest regards" and adding, "I
look forward to strengthening our working relationship throughout the
The Roman Catholic church is holding a Jubilee Year during 2000.
Millions of pilgrims are expected to visit Italy this year. "Church
house organs and commentators immediately labeled the event an
'anti-Jubilee,' and the Holy See's Secretary of State, Cardinal Angelo
Sodano, charged that the
homosexual gathering 'would not do honor to Italy.' " He
suggested that the Italian state ban the World Pride 2000 celebration
since it might be a violation of the Lateran agreement which governs
relations between the church and state.
APR-18: Russia: Conflict within the Russian
Orthodox churches. According to Newsroom: 2
"Two American nuns who blocked the transfer of a 'White'
Russian Orthodox monastery in Jericho to the Moscow Patriarchy have
been replaced by two priests as the standoff enters its fourth month.
Although Palestinian authorities promised in February to reach a
compromise, no resolution is expected until after Easter at the
"Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia,
end an 83-year-old schism, appealed for reconciliation with the
Moscow Patriarchy in an historic epistle this month. But the Synod of
Russian Orthodox Bishops Abroad blasted the Moscow Patriarchy for its
ties to what the bishops called a corrupt government that has
'preserved the majority of Bolshevism's atheistic symbols.' "
APR-18: USA: Allegations of religious prejudice in
Navy. According to Family News in Focus: 12
11 Evangelical Christian chaplains have initiated a lawsuit against
the U.S. Navy. Their attorney, Arthur Schulcz, said: "We think
that everybody and all denominations and faith groups have a right to
be represented. But this [lawsuit] is against a system that's become
corrupt." The lawsuit alleges that almost half of Navy
personnel are Evangelical Christians, but that the leadership of the
Chaplaincy Corps does not reflect this. Schulcz alleges that the Navy
preferentially allocates positions of leadership to Roman Catholics
and liturgical Christians, at the expense of Evangelicals.
Evangelical Chaplain Greg DeMarco commented: "I would end my
prayers 'in Jesus' name.' I was taken aside and into the command
chaplain's office and was told that praying in Jesus' name made some
folks very uncomfortable and I was not to continue doing that."
Chaplain Michael Belt described a similar experience: "I was
preaching about how to live your life as a Christian, that you live it
not only on Sundays but that you live it all through the week. The
chief of staff got up with his family in the middle of my sermon and
walked out." Belt was allegedly reprimanded day for offending
the officer; he was given a poor fitness report for causing
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- Robert Mendick, "Pagan teacher to be disciplined by school,"
- AANEWS is distributed by American Atheists.
- Dave Clark, "Evangelical chaplains sue Navy," at: http://www.family.org/cforum/fnif/news/a0011025.html
Copyright © 2000
Originally written: 2000-APR-1
Latest update: 2000-APR-18
Author: B.A. Robinson