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NEWS OF RELIGIOUS INTOLERANCE AND CONFLICT

2000-SEP

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

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bullet2000-SEP-5: Statement on the status of non-Catholic religions by the Vatican: According to The Times News Service, London UK: 12,13
The Vatican published a declaration Dominus Iesus on SEP-5. It was written by Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, with the approval of the pope. It was ratified and confirmed by the pope "with sure knowledge and by his apostolic authority." 

The statement says, in part, that "Churches such as the Church of England, where the apostolic succession of bishops from the time of St. Peter is disputed by Rome, and churches without bishops, are not considered 'proper' churches." They suffer from "defects." Religions other than Christianity are considered to be "gravely deficient." Their rituals constitute "an obstacle to salvation" for their followers.

bullet

2000-SEP-12: China: Crackdown on religious groups: According to Newsroom: 2
Recent reports indicate China has continued a crackdown on unregistered religious groups on the eve of United States Senate debate on trade status with the world's largest country.

In the past several weeks, more arrests have been made on members of the Falun Gong spiritual movement, Protestant and Catholic house churches, and a Buddhist sect. Last week it was reported that three Falun Gong practitioners died recently while in police custody.

bullet 2000-SEP-19: Canada: Racist comments about Roma: Journeywoman ™ is an online travel resource for women. They provide, among other features on their web site, tips for women who are traveling for business or pleasure. They have two citations that are insulting to Roma, an oppressed group often referred to by the negative term "gypsy."  

Their Sample Newsletter page has a tip called "Watch your wallet in Rome." It warns against "gypsy" women who beg for money while hiding a child underneath their skirt; the child allegedly will pick the tourist's pocket. 

Their International Travel Tip Bazaar has a tip "Beware of Women carrying Babies in Italy" which warns about "women who are lingering by souvenir stands holding babies. These may be gypsies getting ready to rob you. Their babies are not real babies -- they're dolls which the women will throw to you. You, of course, will want to stop the (fake) baby from falling and as you reach out to catch it, the gypsy women will snatch your purse.

[Editor's notes: 
bulletIf you don't think that these citations are racist or religiously intolerant, try substituting "Roman Catholic" or "American" for "gypsy," and re-reading the text.
bulletIt seems to me that the women with the dolls would not make a lot of profit. Every time that she grabs at a purse and steals a few dollars, she loses a life-size baby doll.]

bullet2000-SEP-5: Vietnam: Lack of religious freedom: According to Maranatha Christian Journal:
In its year 2000 report, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom criticized the government of Vietnam for its religious oppression. "The Government continued to restrict significantly those organized activities of religious groups that it declared to be at variance with state laws and policies "[and] uses regulations to control religious hierarchies and organized religious activities closely, in part because the Communist Party fears that organized religion may weaken its authority and influence by serving as a political, social, and spiritual alternative to the authority of the central Government." Vietnamese government spokesperson, Le Dung, rejected the report as an improper intrusion into their internal affairs:  "The fact that the United States gives itself the right to judge the religious situation around the world is contrary to the fundamental principles of international law and is interference in other countries' internal affairs.''
bullet2000-SEP-13: China: Lack of religious freedom:  According to CWNews.com
In its year 2000 report, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom also criticized the government of China for its religious oppression. It said that China was brutally repressing the Falun Gong spiritual movement, Tibetan Buddhists, Roman Catholics and other groups. An unidentified spokesperson for the Chinese government denied the validity of the report. He responded: "Relying solely on rumors and lies to accuse other governments and interfere in internal affairs of other countries is a mistake repeatedly made by the U.S. State Department report. This bad habit should be addressed." 14

According to the Associated Press:
China published new regulations on SEP-15 which will prevent exercise groups like the Falun Dafa from discussing religion. It also severely limits their size and range of activities. Their teachers must register and be certified by sports officials. Activities with more than 200 participants need the prior permission of police. They will not be allowed to organize in state-run companies, government offices, schools, army bases, etc. 

bullet2000-SEP-25: Vatican: Roman Catholic - Jewish Ceremony postponed: According to CWNews: 15
The Vatican indefinitely postponed a ceremony emphasizing Christian-Jewish dialogue. It was scheduled to be held on OCT-3 as part of the Vatican's year 2000 Jubilee celebration. The reason for the suspension was that Elio Toaff, Rome's chief rabbi, had revealed that he would not be attending. There is speculation that Rabbi Toaff was distressed at recent Vatican moves, including:
bulletThe beautification of Pope Pius IX -- regarded by many as a notorious antisemite.
bulletThe recently released church document Dominus Iesus which stated that religions other than Christianity are considered to be "gravely deficient." 13 Their rituals constitute "an obstacle to salvation" for their followers. This presumably included Judaism. More details.
bullet2000-SEP-25: USA: Religious intolerance by Christian group: According to Maranatha Christian Journal: 16
A Hindu priest, Venkatachalapathi Samuldrala of Shiva Vishnu Hindu Temple in Parma, OH, opened a session of the U.S. House of Representatives on SEP-14 with a prayer. He was the first Hindu to do so.  An "Q&A article" on the web site of the Family Research Council, (FRC) a Fundamentalist Christian agency, severely criticized this action. It said, in part,: "Our founders expected that Christianity -- and no other religion -- would receive support from the government as long as that support did not violate people's consciences and their right to worship. They would have found utterly incredible the idea that all religions, including paganism, be treated with equal deference." A spokesperson for the FRC stated that the article "failed to go though [sic] our full editing process which would have removed any statements inconsistant [sic] with FRC's position." 20 FRC's Executive Vice President Chuck Donovan removed the article and posted a correction which said, in part: "It is the position of the Family Research Council that governments must respect freedom of conscience for all people in religious matters ... We affirm the truth of Christianity, but it is not our position that American's Constitution forbids representatives of religions other than Christianity from praying before Congress." 17  Complete story
bullet2000-SEP-28: Republic of Georgia: Religious oppression: According to the Jehovah's Witnesses' public affairs office:
On SEP-8, a convention of Jehovah's Witnesses in Zugdili "was violently broken up by masked police...the U.S. and British embassies issued a joint news release stating that they were 'greatly disturbed' by the violent attacks on Jehovah's Witnesses and other minority religions and calling upon the government of Georgia to investigate the incidents.

On SEP-16, "Police joined with [Russian] Orthodox extremists in attacking unarmed men, women and children as they attempted to return home. Police also joined in looting the property and demolishing the convention site. Eyewitnesses report that police beat at least two male Jehovah's Witnesses." 19

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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. "Other churches have defects, Catholics say." The Times News Service, London. 2000-SEP-5
  13. The text of the declaration: "Dominus Iesus on the unicity and salvific universality of Jesus Christ and the church," Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is at: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/ 
  14. Catholic World News article, 2000-SEP-13 at http://www.cwnews.com 
  15. Catholic World News is at http://www.cwnews.com
  16. "Family issues group clarifies stance on Hindu prayer," Maranatha Christian News Service, at: http://www.mcjonline.com/news/00b/20000925d.htm 
  17. "Family Research Council issues clarification of article on prayer before Congress," FRC, at: http://www.frc.org/press/index.cfm?get=recent&id=P00I14 
  18. "Brown welcomes Northeast Ohio Hindu priest as guest chaplain in House," http://www.house.gov/sherrodbrown/india914.html
  19. The Public Affairs office of Jehovah's Witnesses has a web site at: http://www.jw-media.org/ 
  20. Personal FAX from FRC Legal Studies department, 2000-SEP-26.  

Copyright © 2000 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2000-SEP-1
Latest update: 2000-SEP-26
Author: B.A. Robinson

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