We also have a list of religious tolerance news
items for this month.
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.
A minority of Commissioners dissented; two recommended that India
be included on the list as a country of particular concern for religious
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."
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.
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
2000-AUG-5: Florida: Denigration of Native
Americans: According to the Florida office of the American Indian
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.'
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.
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
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.]
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.
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.]
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."
2000-AUG-24: China: Oppression of Christian
group: According to Newsroom 2
"Chinese police detained 130 members of a Protestant
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."
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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- Anglican Communion News Service provides information from an
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- Robert Mendick, "Pagan teacher to be disciplined by school,"
- AANEWS is distributed by American Atheists.
- "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/
- D.J. MacKinnon, "Church warned of rough road,"
Toronto Star, Toronto, ON, Canada. 2000-AUG-13, Page A4
- "THIS is TRUE," 2000-AUG-13 at: http://www.thisistrue.com
Copyright © 2000 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2000-AUG-1
Latest update: 2000-AUG-24
Author: B.A. Robinson