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NEWS OF RELIGIOUS INTOLERANCE & CONFLICT

2000-JUL

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

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2000-JUL-3: Washington State: Proposal to terminate native American sovereignty: According to Spokane.net: 
The Washington state Republican Party called for the abolition of tribal governments. The resolution asks the federal government to "immediately take whatever steps necessary to terminate all such non-republican forms of government on Indian reservations." John Fleming, the Skagit County delegate who was a main author of the resolution explained: "We do not recognize them as sovereign nations, as governments...We think it can be done peacefully." However, if the tribes resist, then Fleming suggests that, "the U.S. Army and the Air Force and the Marines and the National Guard are going to have to battle back.

Ron Allen, chairman of the Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe, vice president of the National Congress of American Indians, and a Republican responded: "It's absolutely the reverse of what Republican principles stand for -- to protect all rights and to uphold the integrity and honor of this nation and all of the commitments it makes...The Republican Party nationally has been making some effort to improve its image with regards to its relationship with the Indian nations. This is polarizing. It's the opposite of what they should be doing."

The native government resolution was only one of 29 resolutions which the Republican committee discussed and voted on during a two hour period. Out of 250 delegates, only two voted against the resolution. 

The Northwest Coalition for Human Dignity declared that efforts to abolish tribal government are racist. Coalition researcher Robert Crawford
called the GOP resolution "disturbing...I wouldn't say it's a majority view. It's in line with the hard core of anti-Indian folks within the party such as (Sen.) Slade Gorton and (Rep.) Jack Metcalf," he said. 12

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JUL-8: Virginia: School principle allegedly violates free speech rights of students. According to the Roanoke Times:
Richlands High School is located in southwest Virginia. Student Christopher Henkel (17) alleges that that the school principal, George Brown, threatened him and some of his friends with suspension if they wore T-shirts bearing a pentagram and the word "Equality" to school. Although the pentagram and pentacle are symbols of the Wiccan faith, Henkel states that he is not a Wiccan. With the support of the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, he will plead his right of freedom of speech at Tazewell County School Board meeting on JUL-10. Henkel also alleges that two months ago, he and Helenia Mitchell were instructed to attend a meeting in the principal's office, where they met with Brown, an assistant principal and two uniformed police officers. Henkel said that Brown accused the students of putting up posters promoting Wicca without permission. The students denied posting the literature and said that they were not Wiccans. They referred to two posters that had promoted a local Christian meeting, were also posted without permission, and which were allowed to stay up for weeks. The principal allegedly defended the Christian posters because, in his opinion, they were unlikely to cause disruption in school. 13

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2000-JUL-9: Maryland: Hoax about municipality fining Witches: According to USA Today:
The town council of Burkittsville, MD has been bothered by excessive attention recently. The Blair Witch movies were filmed in and near the town. They are being overrun by movie fans and curiosity seekers, some of whom have engaged in vandalism. USA Today reported that the town council is considering the imposition of a $100 to $200 fine for anyone "caught practicing witchcraft" in the town. It was revealed a week later that the whole story is a hoax, perhaps a publicity stunt for a sequel to the Blair Witch. An aside: The main group practicing witchcraft in the U.S. are Wiccans, the followers of a Neopagan religion. The U.S. Constitution guarantees them freedom of religion. 14 On the other hand, the town council is considering an ordinance prohibiting palm reading and fortune telling -- also clearly unconstitutional.

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2000-JUL-9: India: Christians rally against religious violence: 
According to Reuters, 100,000 Christians rallied in Andhra Pradesh state to protest a  church bombing in nearby Karnataka state. The bombing could have killed hundreds of people if it had gone off an hour earlier. It is the sixth bombing of a Christian church in India within a month. Christian groups claim that there have been over 100 attacks on Christians since a Hindu nationalist party came to power federally in early 1999. 4

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2000-JUL-12: Kansas: Creationism - Evolution Drama: According to People for the American Way
The John Scopes trial was reenacted in a University of Kansas theatre. It was created and sponsored by PFAW at a time when many states are passing laws restricting the teaching of evolution. "The long-simmering debate over evolution vs. creation now at a full boil in Kansas has also been on the front burner recently with similar efforts in Alabama, Arizona, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Texas. In Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Washington, and West Virginia legislators introduced anti-evolution bills, while Alabama mandated evolution disclaimers for biology textbooks and Louisiana tried but failed to do the same.More details.

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2000-JUL-17: Maldives: Islands declared Islam-only zone: According to Newsroom: 2
The president of the Maldives has declared that the island nation has no room for any religion other than Islam, and has accused foreigners of seeking to destroy the religious unity of the people by introducing other faiths. The Maldives is a chain of 1,200 coral islands, and a former British protectorate in the Indian Ocean.

According to a 1999 United States State Department report, freedom of religion is restricted significantly. "The government (imposes) a requirement that citizens be Muslims," the report says. "The practice of any religion other than Islam is prohibited by law." Non-Muslims are forbidden from proselytizing and conducting public worship. Any Muslim who converts to another faith is breaking the Sharia (Islamic law) and can lose his or her citizenship.

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Related essays on this web site:

bulletNative American spirituality.
bulletWearing of religious and ethnic jewelry in U.S. Public Schools
bulletThe evolution/creation science debate

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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. Julie Titone, "Resolution would end tribal sovereignty: If Indians don't like it, send in troops, GOP delegate says," at: http://www.spokane.net/news-story.asp?
  13. Cody Lowe, "Richlands High School Principal George Brown charged ACLU with using 'Gestapo tactics.' Students fight School Board over [Wiccan] religious expression ban," Roanoke Times, Roanoke VA.
  14. Article in the USA Today weekend supplement, Page 13.

Copyright © 2000 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2000-JUL-3
Latest update: 2000-JUl-13
Author: B.A. Robinson

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