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NEWS OF RELIGIOUS INTOLERANCE AND CONFLICT

2000-AUGUST

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Sponsored link.

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We also have a list of religious tolerance news items for this month.

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2000-AUG-1: Worldwide: The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom July 28 recommended to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright that the State Department designate Laos, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Turkmenistan as "Countries of Particular Concern" under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. The Commission further concluded that Burma, China, Iran, Iraq, Serbia, Sudan, and the Taliban regime in Afghanistan should be kept on the list, which the State Department will release in September. The Commission also recommended that the Department closely monitor religious freedom in India, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam and noted deep concerns about religious violence in Indonesia and Nigeria. 12 

A minority of Commissioners dissented; two recommended that India be included on the list as a country of particular concern for religious freedom.

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2000-AUG-2: Laos: Oppression of Christians: According to ReligionToday: 3
The World Evangelical Fellowship reported that Christians in Laos are being forced to sign an official document in which they renounce their beliefs. Otherwise they are imprisoned for an indeterminate time. Laos is controlled by a Communist government which has declared Christianity to be the "number one enemy of the state." 

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2000-AUG-1: Germany: Lawyers ask that Bible be labeled dangerous: According to EWTN News: 6
Two German lawyers, Christian Sailer and Gert-Joachim Hetzel, asked German Family Minister Christine Bergmann to officially classify the Bible as a dangerous book for children because of its violent and immoral content. They said that the Bible contains descriptions of "a gruesomeness difficult to exceed...It preaches genocide, racism, enmity towards Jews, gruesome executions for adulterers and homosexuals, the murder of one's own children and many other perversities." They asked that the Bible remain listed until its "bloodthirsty and human rights-violating passages" are removed.

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2000-AUG-4: India: 30 people accused of murdering Witches: According to Reuters: 4
In the state of Andhra Pradesh in  southern Indian, police arrested 30 people accused of murdering five people who they believed were evil Witches. "Earlier this week, a mob of about 200 villagers stormed the homes of five suspected sorcerers. The victims were first beaten and tied to a tree before being doused with kerosene and burned alive. The mob violence followed the deaths of two villagers, including a mentally ill woman, over the past week, which had triggered fears of witchcraft in the village. Police officials said that they had appealed to the public not to believe in black magic or sorcery and not to resort to violence if they suspected such activities."

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2000-AUG-5: Florida: Denigration of Native Americans: According to the Florida office of the American Indian Movement (AIM):
After several years of unsuccessful attempts at negotiation, Florida AIM has filed state and federal civil rights complaint against "the Chasco Fiesta of New Port Richey, FL citing the festivals disgraceful, shameful and racist depiction of American Indian culture and spirituality in the festival and in particular in the Pageant in which Indian people are referred to as 'savages' and the spirituality as 'heathen.' "

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2000-AUG-8: Pakistan: Death sentence for religious statements: According to Newsroom: 2
A court in Lahore found Muhammad Yusuf Ali, a 60 year old Muslim spiritual leader, guilty of presenting himself as a prophet of Islam. He was given the death sentence. Section 295 C of Pakistan's penal code says: "Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation, or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad … shall be punished with death and shall also be liable to a fine." In the past, the law had been widely used to persecute Christians and Ahmadias in the country. (Ahmadias are a break-away sect from Islam). The law is rarely used against Muslims in that country.

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2000-AUG-12: Kansas: Anti-Wiccan activity: According to the Salina Journal
"Sarah Leslie...and her husband, William Leslie, found a cross Monday in the yard of a house they're preparing to move into, with a racial slur and a reference to witches. A friend of the Leslies, Candy Ayres, also a pagan, said rumors have circulated through Miltonvale that those who practice paganism will have their houses burned and be run out of town...Cloud County Sheriff Larry Bergstrom said the cross incident is underinvestigation. Viewing the rumors as 'semi-serious,' Ayres said, she has informed both the Federal and Kansas bureaus of investigation.

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2000-AUG-13: Canada: Major churches hit with lawsuit: According to the Toronto Star: 13
Thomson Rogers, a law firm from Toronto has launched a $10 billion dollar class action lawsuit (about 6.5 billion in U.S. funds) on behalf of Canadian aboriginal peoples for their pain and suffering experienced at church-run residential schools. Defendants in the lawsuit are the Government of Canada, and the major Christian denominations in Canada: Anglican, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic and United churches. All are accused of physical, emotional and sexual abuse of their students. These schools were opened in the 1920's and closed in the 1970's. They were operated by the churches under the control of, and with financing from, the federal government. Many Aboriginal children were kidnapped from their homes and held captive in these schools. It was part of a program of cultural genocide against Canada's First Nations intended to integrate future generations of Natives into European culture. [Editor's note: The Anglican residential schools functioned for over 10 decades.]

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2000-AUG-15: Mexico: Religious violence: According to ReligionToday:
Hundreds of conservative Protestants in Chiapas state have been killed in recent decades; over 30,000 have been forced to leave their homes. According to an article in the New York Times, one source of protestant-catholic friction has developed over the catholics' usage of ritual animal sacrifice to cure diseases and their consumption of corn liquor during religious services.

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2000-AUG-10 (approx): Alabama: Christian hatred of Neopagans: According to Associated Press:
About 30 Christians in Pell City, AL, demonstrated outside a house where members of the Covenant of the Sacred Circle meet.  One sign said: "Get the devil worshippers out of the community."  They demanded that the Wiccan group leave town. Wade Brasher, spokesperson for Set Free Ministries, commented: "It is a Satanic worship disguised as nature worship ..., but it all originates from Satan. My problem is they want to come into the schools and neighborhoods and expose people to their Satanic religions." Spokesperson for the Wiccan coven, Robert Hamilton  said that his group sponsors regular public educational meetings at a local Books-A-Million store to explain their religion. But their religious services are for members only. He commented: "I'm taken aback. The people standing in my front yard with picket signs call themselves Christians. This is not Christ-like. From what I understand Christ to be, I think it's kind of hypocritical." On AUG-15, police surrounded the house on all sides and blocked off access streets so that the Wiccans were able to celebrate the full moon without disturbance. One woman shouted: "I don't know about y'all. But I'm going to fast - and I'm going to pray this thing down." [Author's note: The demonstrators appear to be confusing "Gothic Satanism" with Wicca. Although they are unrelated religions, both have been referred to by the term "Witchcraft." Wiccans do not believe in any all-evil deity like Satan, so they can hardly worship a devil.]

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2000-AUG-24 Kashmir: Muslim - Hindu clash: According to Newsroom 2
"Cease-fire's demise dims hope for Kashmir peace Guerrilla attacks that have killed more than 120 civilians in India's Jammu-Kashmir state in the past month have overshadowed recent attempts to diffuse tensions between India and Pakistan. About a dozen separatist groups are resisting Indian rule in the Kashmir Valley in a war that has taken more than 25,000 lives since 1989."

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2000-AUG-24: China: Oppression of Christian group: According to Newsroom 2
"Chinese police detained 130 members of a Protestant house church
movement in central Henan province on Wednesday. Three American
citizens were among those arrested. The Chinese church members are
part of the Fancheng Church founded by Zhang Rongliang, who was
released from labor camp in February
."

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2000-AUG-13: Illinois: Inter-religious hatred: According to This is True: 14 
450 Muslim families in Palos Heights IL agreed to purchase an unused church for $2.1 million dollars and convert it to a mosque so that they would have a place to worship. Some of the Christians in the city were distressed; one suggested to the City Council that the Muslims should convert to Christianity or "go back to [their] own countries." City Council voted to bribe the group with $200,000 if they would cancel their plans. "Mayor Dean Koldenhoven called the action embarrassing, fiscally irresponsible and an insult to Muslims, and vetoed it.

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References:

  1. DayWatch is a daily service of Maranatha Christian Journal. It provides "a daily summary of news headlines with a Christian perspective..." The newsletter is free on request. Their web site is at: http://www.mcjonline.com 
  2. Newsroom is a service of Worldwide Newsroom Inc. Their articles are written by "a network of journalists, scholars and other professional contacts in country." You can subscribe to their free service from their website at http://www.newsroom.org/ 
  3. ReligionToday provides free newsletters to which you can subscribe at: http://www.ReligionToday.com. These summaries are part of GOSHEN.net, which also includes LiveIt.net, Devotionals.net, ChristianShareware.net, ChristianClassifieds.net, ChristianMessageBoards.net, BibleStudyTools.net, MediaManagement.net, WorldNewsToday.net, WebCastGuide.net, and ChristianCollegeGuide.net
  4. Reuters is "the world's leading financial information and news group. Their web page is at: http://www.reuters.com/ 
  5. Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR): E-mail: cair1@ix.netcom.com
    URL: http://www.cair-net.org To join CAIR-NET, CAIR's read-only mailing list: Send subscribe cair-net in the body of a message to majordomo@cair-net.org
  6. EWTN News carries Roman Catholic news from Catholic World News, Vatican Information Service, ZENIT, CWNews.com. See: http://www.ewtn.com/news/ 
  7. Ecumenical News International (ENI) in Geneva Switzerland distributes news free religious news highlights to subscribers. They can be contacted at PO Box 2100, CH - 1211, Geneva 2, Switzerland. Telephone: (41-22) 791 6087/6515. Fax: (41-22) 788 7244 Email: eni@eni.ch. Their web site is at http://www.eni.ch 
  8. ZENIT.org is "an International News Agency based in Rome. Our mission is to provide objective and professional coverage of events, documents and issues emanating from or concerning the Catholic Church for a worldwide audience, especially the media." Their web site is at: http://www.zenit.org/english/ 
  9. Anglican Communion News Service provides information from an Anglican perspective. See: http://www.anglicancommunion.org/acns/index.html
  10. Robert Mendick, "Pagan teacher to be disciplined by school," at: http://www.independent.co.uk/advancement/Schools/  
  11. AANEWS is distributed by American Atheists.
  12. "Religious Freedom Commission lists 'Countries of particular Concern'," International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State, 2000-JUL-31. http://usinfo.state.gov/cgi-bin/washfile/ 
  13. D.J. MacKinnon, "Church warned of rough road," Toronto Star, Toronto, ON, Canada. 2000-AUG-13, Page A4 
  14. "THIS is TRUE," 2000-AUG-13 at: http://www.thisistrue.com         

Copyright © 2000 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2000-AUG-1
Latest update: 2000-AUG-24
Author: B.A. Robinson

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