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!!!!!!!! Search error!  If the URL ends something like .htm/  or .htm# delete the character(s) after .htm and hit return.

NEWS OF RELIGIOUS INTOLERANCE AND CONFLICT

2001-JULY

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We also have a list of religious tolerance news for this month. 
Sad to say, these are usually much shorter lists.

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2001-JUL-6: Appeals Court rules against Catholic Charities and for employee choice: California law requires employers to include birth control pills in their employee health plan, if an employee wishes to use them. Catholic Charities initiated a lawsuit in the year 2000, stating that the legislation violated its religious freedom. The Roman Catholic Church opposes artificial birth control. However, birth control usage by its followers is extensive and differs little from that of Protestants. A state appeals court upheld the law. Last year, An attorney for Catholic Charities said, "People of faith should be deeply disturbed."

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2001-JUL-7: USA: Muslim cleric allegedly calls for death sentence for author: The American Jewish Community (AJC) commissioned Muslim writer Khalid Duran to write a book "Children of Abraham," that is an introduction to Islam. Sheik Abdel Moneim Abu Zant wrote an article condemning the book in the weekly Arab newspaper Al_Shahed (The Observer). According to AANEWS:

"The cleric-Sheik,...claims that the work is guilty of 'distorting Islam' because it reportedly dwells on issues such as circumcision, Ramadan rituals, and the relationship in Islamic nations between men and women. The Observer editorial charged that publication of Duran's book was 'evidence of an evil intention to besmear the image of Islam in the United States,' and warned that as a consequence, 'blood will be shed.' David Harris of the AJC told the New York Times, 'In a free society no one should tolerate the threat to kill an author.  All Americans, not least Muslims, should immediately speak out against this outrage and assault on democratic society.' "  

A spokesperson for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said that the editorial appeared "in a party newspaper nobody ever heard of," and that the Islamic cleric was making a "recommendation" to religious authorities, not issuing his own sentence of death.

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2001-JUL-10: USA: Interfaith group urges cleanup of children's Bibles: The American Interfaith Institute (AII) has asked conservative Christian Bible publishers, including  Zondervan, Eerdmans, and Baker Book House, to clean up their children's Bibles.  AII founder, Irvin Borowsky said: "We're concentrating on children's Bibles because most of them are not direct translations of the Bible. They're stories rewritten for children from the Bible." They often carry over anti-Judaic passages from the Bible which state that "the Jews" killed Jesus. This is a belief abandoned by the Roman Catholic and most mainline Protestant churches since a decade after the Nazi Holocaust. According to ReligionToday, Marvin Olasky, an evangelical Christian activist, called the Bible revision effort a misguided attempt at political correctness.

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2001-JUL-1: NY: New York Times article opposing tolerance: Towards Tradition is "a national educational movement of Jews and Christians dedicated to fighting secular institutions that foster anti-religious bigotry, harm families, and jeopardize the future of America." They recently posted a full page advertisement in the New York Times which attacks tolerance. They find that the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Hebrew Scriptures / Old Testament) "isn't particularly 'tolerant.' " They are concerned that it is impossible to believe in absolute truth anymore without being accused of being intolerant. "Toward Traditions calls on all Americans of good will to overturn the idol of 'tolerance' and rally to the defense of our nation's core values: Biblical morality, Constitutional liberty, patriotism, and prosperity." 14

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2001-JUL-9: CA: Westboro Baptists spread hatred against gays: Members of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, KS demonstrated against a memorial for gay veterans at the Desert Memorial Park cemetery in Cathedral City, near Palm Springs, CA. The Westboro Baptists are well known for their www.GodHatesFags.com web site. Some local Christians "wiped away tears of disbelief at signs declaring God’s hatred for homosexuals and churches that tolerate them." Stan Layne, a parishioner of the Church of St. Paul in the Desert said: "It’s so easy to believe there are not people like this on the planet, but then you see them and hear them and it all becomes real." Several members of St. Paul responded to the demonstration by pledging money to civil-rights organizations for every minute the protesters remained outside. 15

bullet2001-JUL-9: France: US congressman condemns new law against sects: Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), chairman of the House sub-committee on international operations and human rights, engaged in what he called contentious, argumentative talks with the bill's co-author Catherine Picard. He believes that its wording is so vague that it could in theory be applied to almost any cult or religion, including the Roman Catholic Church.  He said:

"This (law) is sowing the seeds for profound religious intolerance in France. If and when it is exported, it will spread an anti-religious contagion. ... When I read the plain body of the language, you can take virtually any denomination and in a variety of situations you can dissolve it. You name it, the Catholic Church, you can dissolve it.''

Justice Minister Marylise Lebranchu said that the lawmakers' intention was to protect the weak and that the law would not limit freedom of conscience or worship. 18

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2001-JUL-12: USA: Salvation Army wants discrimination protected: The Salvation Army has long had a policy of excluding gays and lesbian from employment. They have found state and local hiring anti-discrimination laws to be a nuisance. They have lobbied the White House for a federal law that would preserve their right to discriminate anywhere in the U.S. on the basis of sexual orientation. According to an article in the Washington Post: "A Salvation Army memo reported in the Post said the charity believed it received assurances from the White House that the administration would move forward with the regulation in turn for a public show of support for the faith-based initiative, which would open federal funds to charities run by religious organizations. White House officials said the administration offered no such assurances." 16

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2001-JUL-11: South Africa: Roman Catholic bishops debates condoms: The Roman Catholic Church has long forbidden its members to use condoms. Pope Paul VI reaffirmed this ban in his 1968 encyclical "Humanae Vitae." Abstinence programs in South Africa designed to slow the spread of AIDS have failed. Public health officials are recommending that people use condoms. The topic will be discussed at the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference which includes bishops from South Africa, Botswana and Swaziland. Bishop Kevin Dowling said: "We're looking at condoms, not in the sense of the original papal document - as a contraceptive. Now the issue is the prevention of death on an enormous scale." 20% of adults in South Africa and over 33% of adults in Botswana are currently infected. During 2000-SEP, the Vatican reiterated its prohibition on condoms. 19,27

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2001-JUL-12: Congo: More than 800 suspected Witches murdered: A state-run Ugandan newspaper reported that people in northeastern Congo have killed more than 800 suspected witches, during June and July. Diseases are common in the area; some of the the public accused "witches" of spreading disease. [The term "witch" in Africa normally means a person accused of evil sorcery. The same word in North America normally means a Wiccan or other Neopagan. The two terms are unrelated.]

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2001-JUL-13: USA: Bill introduced in House to allow political preaching: Rep. Waler Jones (R-NC) has introduced a bill that would allow priests, pastors, ministers and other religious leaders to recommend political candidates and parties from the pulpit. IRS regulations for the past 50 years have prohibited such speech if the congregation is to retain its non-profit registration. Jones said: "Everyone in the pulpit should be treated fairly and equally. And they should have the freedom to help voice and educate their congregation, their parishioners as to some of the social ills of this nation and what needs to be done."

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2001-JUL-13: NH: Christian group bans Mormons: Dartmouth's Summer Christian Fellowship (SCF) is being investigated for discrimination after it barred Meredith Brooks, a Mormon from a leadership position in the club because of his religion. Brooks allegedly wrote: "I have no doubt in the wide world that I am indeed a Christian. It's rather bigoted of the SCF to be exclusionary based on their fundamentally wrong and naive categorization of my religion." The SCF is sponsored by the school's Asian Christian Fellowship, Campus Crusade for Christ, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Navigators, and  Provision. It is not funded by the college, but is officially recognized by Dartmouth. The college's spiritual life department has started official investigation. Kari Limmer, SCF spokesperson said "Believing that Jesus is our savior who saved us by grace and believing in the Holy Trinity, by prescribing to those beliefs and holding onto that is not intolerant because that is truth." SCF leader Joel Wickre said: "We're welcoming of all people to be part of our fellowship, but as an organization, we want to be true to the things that we believe and consistent in our theology." 21 Many Fundamentalists and other Evangelical Christians do not view the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) as a Christian denomination.

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2001-JUL-14: Canada: Anglican diocese to declare bankruptcy: According to Religion & Ethics Newsweekly: "The Diocese of Caribou in British Columbia announced this week that in October 2001 it will become the first diocese in the Anglican Church of Canada to go bankrupt as a result of lawsuits filed by indigenous peoples who say that they were abused in church-run residential schools." 17 At the start of the church's General Synod in Waterloo, Ontario, Bishop Jim Cruickshank said "It is our intention that on Oct. 15 our diocese will cease to operate." They are seeking legal advice on whether they will have to sell their assets, including buildings and real estate holdings, if they are forced to go bankrupt. Archbishop Michael Peers asked delegates to consider ways to continue the church's ministries if the national organization also faced bankruptcy by the end of the year.

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2001-JUL-15: KS: Circumcision argument lands in court: A couple has separated as a result of a dispute over whether to have their newborn son circumcised. The wife, Sheila Grisham, is apparently either Jewish or Muslim; circumcision is important to her religious beliefs. The father, Rodney Grisham, views the procedure as a sexual assault, and has filed a protection-from-abuse order in court.

bullet2001-JUL-16: UK: Fatwa allegedly calls for death for homosexuals: According to RainbowNetwork.com, the British Muslim group Al-Muhajiroun issued a fatwa (religious decree) against a Muslim homosexual rights group Al-Fatiha.
The alleged fatwa said:

"The very existence of Al-Fatiha is illegitimate and the members of this organisation are apostates. Never will such an organisation be tolerated in Islam and never will the disease that it calls for be affiliated with a true Islamic society or individual. The Islamic ruling for such acts is death. It is a duty of the Muslims to prevent such evil conceptions being voiced in the public or private arena."

A spokesperson for Al-Fatiha said:

bullet"Al-Fatiha has concluded that the statement from Al-Muhajiroun is only an alleged fatwa. We believe that it was only sent to press in the United Kingdom in reaction to the Al-Fatiha conference that was held in San Francisco, and Al-Fatiha’s participation in the San Francisco LGBT Pride Parade. But whether it is an official fatwa or not, the rhetoric used in the statement was extreme, and cause for concern." 20
bullet2001-JUL-16: USA: Networks refuse to handle religious commercials: The United Methodist Church has rented premium airtime on the CBS television network for its four year national "Igniting Ministry" ad campaign, staring SEP-4. They were surprised to learn that ABC, FOX and NBC do not accept religious advertising for nationwide broadcast. The campaign will stress that the denomination embraces diversity of race, culture and theological beliefs. It it doubtful that the ads will mention that their diversity does not extend to sexual orientation. Sexually active gays and lesbians cannot be ordained, and  UMC ministers are prohibited from conducting "ceremonies that celebrate homosexual union" within the denomination.
bullet2001-JUL-19: India: Hindu group targets Christian leaders: The HinduUnity.org Web site allegedly contains a banner of dripping blood, hangman's noose, and a "hit list" of those "guilty of leading efforts against  our movement [who] will pay for their crimes!" Included is the pope, Osama Bin Laden, Benny Hinn and Pat Robertson. Robertson is allegedly accused of calling Hinduism "a Satanic religion." The web site appears to be off line as of JUL-19. The  site is apparently having difficulty finding an ISP that will tolerate their content.
bullet2001-JUL-21: India: Muslims assassinate Hindus: According to the Toronto Star, Islamic militants used hand grenades to attack religious pilgrims on an annual visit to the Amarnath shrine in the Himalayas. 14 Hindus died.
bullet2001-JUL-21: Australia: Anglican Primate concerned about division and drop in church attendance:  Archbishop Peter Carnley AO, the Primate of Australia, delivered his Charge to the twelfth General Synod of the Anglican Church of Australia. He expressed concern over female ordination and equal rights for gays and lesbians:

"difficult and potentially divisive issues. These include the admission of women to the episcopate; complex questions related to human sexuality, and the idea allowing lay people to celebrate the Eucharist."

A news report stated:

"The Primate pointed out that to deny the importance of unity, to cause division in the Church, or to turn one's back on the communion of the Church, would not just be a sign of human failure.  'It is a form of infidelity- a deliberate turning away from the communion of
God,' he said."

"In the same address, the Primate also underlined the fact that Church
attendance had declined in the last period for which statistics were
available [1991-1996]. 'While there are some encouraging signs of success dotted across the nation, the Church's performance is patchy...No diocese is getting it all wrong, but no diocese is getting it all right. We have a huge job still to do. We certainly have to work at bridging the gap between the current interest in Australia in spirituality and the flagging interest in so-called organised religion.' " 22

bullet2001-JUL-25: Armed raid in Canadian prayer room angers Muslims: News surfaced that in June, a police tactical squad raided an apartment in Ottawa, ON, Canada. The space is used as an Islamic prayer room five times a day. Worshipers were frisked; one of the raiders tossed a Qur'an on the floor. They were apparently seeking a wanted refugee. The Council on American-Islamic Relations has asked for an investigation, written apologies, police sensitivity training, and a police liaison officer to improve relations with the Muslim community. Citizenship and Immigration Canada is conducting an internal investigation of the event.
bullet2001-JUL-25: Holocaust scholars suspend investigation: The Vatican established a panel of Jewish and Roman Catholic scholars in 1999 to investigate its own role in the Nazi Holocaust. During World War II, six million Jews, 400,000 Roma (aka Gypsies) and other groups defined as sub-human by the Nazi government were exterminated. Further research was suspended on JUL-25 because the Vatican had refused to grant the researchers access to additional materials. Dr. Efraim Zuroff, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem said: "We're very disappointed ... but I can't say I'm surprised. There is no transparency in the Vatican and as a result we don't know the answers to a lot of serious questions. [What the Vatican knew and when they knew it is]  one of the most important outstanding questions that has not been clarified by historians."

Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League released a statement saying: "By frustrating the scholars' work, the truth is put in jeopardy. How can the truth be told if scholars working under the aegis of the Vatican Commission are prevented access to the very records that document the Church's actions and activities during the Holocaust?"

In a preliminary report issued in 2000-FALL, the committee wrote that Pope Pius XII had been determined to pursue useless diplomacy paths, even though he had been aware of major atrocities. This conclusion is based on their analysis to date of 11 volumes of information. They are seeking the answers to 47 additional questions that they believe will only be found if the Vatican grants access to additional archived material. "They want access to the Holy See's correspondence because many of the pope's responses to reports of atrocities were missing from the sources they examined." Cardinal Walter Kasper stated that post-1923 Vatican archives were not available for "technical reasons." One panel coordinator said that boxes of documents dated after that time have not been catalogued and compiled for release. Some feel that the decision to keep the archives secret is related to the Vatican's decision to recommended Pope Pius XII for beatification. This is a step that generally leads to sainthood.  23
bullet2001-JUL-27:USA: Fundamentalist Christian group asks for firing of CDC director: Dr. James C. Dobson, founder and president of Focus on the Family, called for the ouster of Jeffrey P. Koplan, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The reason is that Dr. Koplan recommends condom use to reduce unwanted pregnancy and reduce the STD transmission rate.    Dr. Dobson has joined physicians who earlier this
week called upon Dr. Koplan to resign. Congressman Dave Weldon (R-FL), former Congressman Tom Coburn (R-OK), and John Diggs (all physicians) gave a press conference. They referred to a study from the National Institutes of Health which shows that condoms do not give perfect protection from STDs. 
bullet2001-JUL-27: UK: Anglican priest banned from the pulpit: Derek Stanesby, was expelled from the pulpit at Uppingham, Rutland, UK for being too liberal. His "crime" was that he preached a sermon in which he said that "People talk about the Bible as the word of God. That can be so misleading. In fact, the elevation of the Bible to close on divine status had done more damage to the Christian message than all the slings and arrows of the skeptics. The Bible helps to point to the word of God, but it is not the word of God." His sermon has been published in the current bulletin of the Society of Ordained Scientists. Rev Stephen Evans, the rector of Uppingham, an Anglo-Catholic, expelled Stanesby, saying: "When sermons are preached which cause offence to large numbers within a parish congregation and which explicitly deny that the Bible is the word of God, then I am under obligation to withdraw the privilege of preaching." Stanesby is still welcome to attend as a member of the congregation. The Bishop of Peterborough, the Right Rev Ian Cundy said the Recor had acted "entirely reasonably." Part of Church law, the Declaration of Assent, is a legal undertaking given by clergy not to teach anything against church doctrine.
bullet2001-JUL-27: OR: Anti-Catholic billboard: Larry Weathers of Talent, OR, is a member of the Rogue Valley Historical Seventh-day Adventists, which is not part of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination. Weathers has purchased space on a very visible billboard owned by Outdoor Media Dimensions. It proclaims that "The Pope is the Anti-Christ." Underneath is a suggestion that viewers visit the http://www.anti-christ666.com web site. Needless to say, area Roman Catholics and the Archdiocese of Portland, are furious. They have demanded that the billboard message be removed. Rev.  Liam Cary of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Medford declared: "It's a deliberately and gratuitously offensive statement that singles out Catholics for contempt. It's not in someone's back yard.  It's right there, in your face, on a public road."
bullet2001-JUL-28: Stories of torture and execution in China: Many accounts of detentions, arrests, beatings, torture, execution and other numerous crimes against humanity continue to flow out of China. The Falun Gong authorities say that torture of their followers is common. 250 have been killed. The state is currently executing about 50 of its members at per month. Because of the nature of the dictatorship, these accounts are impossible to verify. However, one Falun Dafa follower, has made it to the U.S. Tan Yongjie had started to practice Falun Dafa in mid-1998. He was detained several times for 15 day intervals, but refused to renounce his practices. Tan was arrested on APR-26 for distributing pamphlets calling for government persecution to end. He was beaten and sent to a labor camp. After many brutal tortures, he was tied to a post and a red-hot rod was used to burn his legs, in a fruitless effort to force him to give up Falun Dafa. He escaped from Hong Kong by stowing away on a cargo ship. On JUL-13, he was admitted to a hospital in Houston TX. Jack Xiong, a member of the local Falun Gong community, said: "He's had extensive skin graft surgery on his legs." Doctors expect Tan to make a full recovery. 26
bullet2001-JUL-31: DC: Injunction issued against Christian Coalition: Federal district court judge Ricardo M. Urbina issued a preliminary injunction which orders the Christian Coalition (CC) to stop retaliating against four black employees who filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the organization in February. That lawsuit alleged that the CC office was racially segregated: African-American employees were barred from entering the office by the front door, and could not use the whites-only employee lunch room. The judge ruled that the workers had made a clear case that Roberta Combs, a CC leader, may have broken the law by barring them from working past 12:30 PM each day. They had charged that the CC had retaliated against them by transferring most of their former workload to a private contractor or to other coalition employees who worked overtime. Michael D. Rothberg, a CC attorney said that the CC "strongly disagrees with the court's ruling" He intends to appeal the decision. 24
bullet2001-JUL-31: CO: Scientist appeals for volunteer willing to undergo crucifixion: John Jackson, a physicist from Colorado Springs, CO, has appealed for a male volunteer who is willing to undergo a crucifixion. He wants to prove the legitimacy of the Shroud of Turin by showing how a human image could be transferred to a burial shroud, and by disproving the 1988 radiocarbon dating tests. Jackson is seeking a man whose weight and height match those of Jesus Christ. The news report did not mention whether his height should be 6'1" tall (the height of the image on the Shroud of Turin), or about 5'1" tall, the typical height of a man in Palestine during the 1st century CE. He promises to use ropes, not nails. 25

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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 A companion Episcopal News Service is at: http://www.ecusa.anglican.org/ens/ 
  10. AANEWS is distributed by American Atheists.
  11. "Rebellion against liberal theology growing in Presbyterian Church (USA)," Religion Today, 2001-MAY-8, at: http://news.crosswalk.com/religion/item/0,,343084,00.htm 
  12. "Legislator calls Buddhism 'cult': Lindner decries appearance by Dalai Lama at Capitol,"  2001-MAY-1, Pioneer Planet, at: http://www.pioneerplanet.com/seven-days/tue/ 
  13. CNSNews.com -- Cybercast News Service -- is a conservative news source. Their home page is at: http://www.cnsnews.com
  14. Toward Tradition's ad is at: http://www.towardtradition.org/newsletter This is an Acrobat PDF file. You can obtain a free software to read these files from Adobe Acrobat.
  15. Kimberly Trone, "Group protests gay lifestyle at valley churches," http://www.thedesertsun.com/news/stories/
  16. "Rove looked into Salvation Army proposal," Virtual New York, at: http://www.vny.com/cf/news/upidetail.cfm?QID=202101
  17. "Religion & Ethics Archives," at: http://www.thirteen.org/religionandethics/  (A temporary posting)
  18. Paul Holmes, "Congressman assails French law on sects," Reuters, 2001-JUL-9.
  19. Ravi Nessman, "SAfrican Bishops consider condom use," Associated Press, 2001-JUL-11, at: http://news.excite.com/news/ap/
  20. "Gay Muslims denounce fatwa," 2001-JUL-16, at: http://www.rainbownetwork.com/content/
  21. Ithan Peltan, "Club faces intolerance charge," The Dartmouth Online, at: http://thedartmouth.com/article.php?aid=200107130102
  22. "Primate challenges Anglican Church to maintain unity," ACNSlist, #2539, 2001-JUL-23
  23. Julie Stahl, "Scholars suspend research into Vatican's Holocaust role," CNS News, 2001-JUL-25, at: http://news.crosswalk.com/partner/Article
  24. George Archibald, "Christian Coalition ordered to end retaliatory shift cuts," Washington Times, 2001-JUL-31. See: http://www.washingtontimes.com/national/
  25. "US scientists appeals for crucifixion volunteer," Ananova, 2001-JUL-29 at: http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_362592.html
  26. "Tortured member of banned Chinese sect recovering in Houston," Fox News, at: http://www.foxnews.com/story/ 
  27. Pope Paul VI, "Humanae Vitae. Encyclical of Pope Paul VI on the regulation of birth," 1968-JUL-25, at: http://www.vatican.va/

Copyright © 2001 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2001-JUL-8
Latest update: 2005-APR-14
Author: B.A. Robinson

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