We also have a list of religious tolerance news
items for this month.
Indonesia: Christians slaughter 118 Muslims: According to the Associated
The Dyaks make up about 40% of the population in the Kalimantan
provinces of Indonesia. They are a Christian group, although many
still hold some Animist beliefs. They feel that they are discriminated
against in education and jobs in this predominately Muslim country.
About 8% of the population are Madurese. They are a strict Muslim
group who began to be relocated to the province in the 1960, in order
to relieve population pressures elsewhere in Indonesia. Many of the
Muslims are troubled by the customs of the Dyaks including the keeping
of dogs as pets and the eating of pork; both are forbidden in
During the latter third of February, inter-faith rioting
resulted in the deaths of at least 428 people. Aid workers estimate that up to
1,000 may have been killed. For many days, about 2,000 Madurese hid in the
jungle; most were without food or water. Roving gangs of Dyaks slaughtered
many of them on sight. The government was able to negotiate with the Dyaks to
allow the Madurese to be evacuated to safety. Having received a government
guarantee of protection, many Madurese came out of the jungle. But the Dyaks
broke their promise and trucked 118 Madurese to a local soccer field. Six were
beheaded. Others, including the elderly, women and babies, had their limbs
chopped off and stomachs slashed open. None survived.
2000-MAR-1: Afghanistan: Religious statues ordered
destroyed: According to Reuters:
The Taliban, a Fundamentalist Muslim group who control most of Afghanistan,
ordered priceless statutes throughout the country to be destroyed. The
office of Afghanistan's supreme leader stated: "In view of the
fatwa [religious edict] of prominent Afghan scholars and the verdict
of the Afghan Supreme Court, it has been decided to break down all
statues/idols present in different parts of the country. This is
because these idols have been gods of the infidels, who worshipped
them, and these are respected even now and perhaps maybe turned into
gods again. The real God is only Allah, and all other false gods
should be removed." The destruction will be
overseen by the Information and Culture Ministry and the Ministry
for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. Most notable are two
immense statues of the Buddha, carved out of a cliff. They are 125 and 174
feet tall (38 m and 53m). They date from the 4th and 5th century CE.
Statues in the country's museums are also to be demolished. The European
Union, Germany, India, Pakistan, Russia, Japan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and
United Nations condemned the acts and appealed to the Taliban to
Egyptian Muslim intellectual Fahmi Howeidy said that the Taliban actions are contrary to the Islamic religion:
"Islam respects other cultures even if they include rituals that are
against Islamic law.'' According to the AP: "Heavily criticized
for its restrictions on women and for its public executions, the Taliban is
recognized by only three nations: Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates and
||2000-MAR-2: Israel: Status of the Western Wall: ReligionToday
reported a story from the Jerusalem Post 15
The Muslim Mufti of Jerusalem, appointed by the Palestinian Authority
issued a religious decree on 2001-FEB-20. He denies that the Western
Wall has any connection to Jewish history and states that it is
Islamic property -- simply the western wall of the Aksa Mosque. He
suggests that it be called the Al-Burak Wall, after the name of
Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, rabbi of the Western Wall, commented:
"The religious ruling of the mufti of Jerusalem is an attempt
to distort history, which hurts attempts to settle the Jewish-Arab
conflict ... The Western Wall is an eternal, ironclad property of the
Jewish people, and no ruling by Moslem authorities can change this."
Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yisrael Lau said, "The Wall, which
is part of the outer wall of the Temple Mount, is a historical fact
which can never be called into question...The dreams, yearnings and
accomplishments of generations will not fail because of the nonsense
of one man." 15
||2001-MAR-7: USA: Muslim group demands apology from Jerry
Falwell: According to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR):
CAIR demanded an apology from Rev. Jerry Falwell, a well known
Fundamentalist Christian TV evangelist. They charged him with "bigotry."
According to CAIR's news release, Falwell was commenting on government
funding of religious groups, saying:
"I think the Moslem faith teaches hate. I think there's clear
evidence that the Islam [sic] religion, wherever it has majority
control -- and I can name a dozen countries -- doesn't even allow
people of other faiths to express themselves or evangelize or to exist
in their presence....I think that when persons are clearly bigoted
towards other persons in the human family, they should be disqualified
from funds. For that reason, Islam should be out the door before they
knock...And whenever Islam, God forbid, ever gets a majority in the
United States--like Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Libya, all the
Moslem countries--free expression will disappear." 16
CAIR Board Chairman Omar Ahmad sent a Fax to Fallwell,
saying in part: "The dissemination of distorted or inaccurate
information has a negative impact on the lives of ordinary American
Muslims and serves to mislead people of other faiths. In fact, these
offensive remarks are symptomatic of the very intolerance that you
claim Islam promotes. No faith would accept being excluded from
productive participation in our society based on such
falsehoods...Your destructive rhetoric could lead to discrimination
and even physical attacks against Muslims in North America."
He asked Falwell to apologize for his offensive remarks and to open a
dialogue with Muslim representatives to gain accurate information
||2001-MAR-10: USA: MTV spreads religious misinformation: In the
"Fear" program section of their website, MTV states: "This
is the cabin where cult members convene in dark robes, chant in
strange tongues and drink the blood of their sacrifices--sometimes
animal, sometimes human. A common icon in many cult religions,
particularly satanic sects, is the pentagram. A pentagram is an
inverted, five-pointed star surrounded by two circles. It is to
satanic cults what the crucifix is to Christians. A local man gave
testimony to witnessing a cult ritual near Pawnee Cabin in which a man
dressed as a Catholic priest wrote the number "666" on a
naked woman's breasts in blood while she was lying in a coffin. He
then called on Satan to appear upon the lake of fire." All of
this is weird fantasy unrelated to reality. Much of it can be traced
to the "Burning Times" centuries
ago in Europe when hundreds of thousands of heretics were accused of Witchcraft
and burned at the stake. Unfortunately, some youth may well believe
that this type of fantasy is happening today and that Satanic
Ritual Abuse is real. This type of material raises groundless
fears against all new religious movements -- here called "cults"
here -- including the vast majority which are benign. It is also
liable to confuse the Wiccan upright pentacle
with its copy, the Satanic inverted pentacle.
||2001-MAR-11: Florida: Christian theme park criticized for
religious intolerance: According to Strang Publications:
In North America, there are laws at the state, provincial and federal
levels which prevent discrimination in employment, on the basis of
gender, race, religion, etc. But religious groups are generally given
an exemption from these laws; they can discriminate against any group
on any basis. According to "The Orlando Sentinel" The
Holy Land Experience (HLE) in Orlando, FL requires prospective
employees to sign a Christian "doctrinal statement" of
belief. Not only does this discriminate against non-Christians, it
also appears to exclude Charismatic, Pentecostal and liberal
Christians from applying for employment to work at the $16 million,
15-acre "living biblical museum." Founder Marvin
Rosenthal, and Independent Baptist pastor, is quoted as saying: "We
are not charismatics. We love them. We
appreciate them. But we would not offer them a job." 17
||2001-MAR-11: Afghanistan: Buddhas of Bamiyn being destroyed: According to
the Toronto Star:
Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil, the Foreign Minister of Afghanistan, said that
it is the sacred duty of Muslims in his country to smash stone "idols."
He said: "Statues and things that represent living things,
they are surely forbidden in Islam and they will be destroyed...The
destruction has already been started." He also said that
virtually all moveable Buddhas had been smashed. He noted that not a
single fatwa (religious decree) had been issued by any Muslim
authority against the destruction of the statues. Pakistan sent a
cabinet delegation to ask the Taleban to cancel the decree; they made
no progress. The Supreme Leader Mullah Mohammed Omar said" "All
we are breaking are stones. Only Allah, the Almighty, deserves to be
worshipped, not anyone or anything else." In Toronto, Canada,
120 Buddhists assembled in the city square to protest the destruction.
They carried banners reading: "Tolerance is a virtue,"
and "Save the venerated 160-foot Buddha statues." It
is interesting to note that one of the Judeo-Christian Ten
Commandments also forbids the creation of statues which depict
humans or gods.
||2001-MAR-12: USA: Faith-based initiative program delayed:
According to The Washington Post: Don Eberly, deputy director of the
recently created White House Office of Faith-Based and Community
Initiatives has decided to delay sending a bill to Congress that
would authorize large-scale routing of government funds to religious
institutions. They had expected opposition from groups that promote
the separation of church and state, but they "didnít expect
a chorus of doubts from religious conservatives such as Pat Robertson,
Jerry Falwell, Richard Land, Michael Horowitz and even Marvin Olasky,
one of the programís early architects. They worry that churches
would be corrupted by government regulations or that objectionable
sects would be rewarded." 18Background
material on charitable choice, faith-based initiatives.
||2001-MAR-17: Nevada: Two Muslim men attacked: According to
the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), in an
apparent religious hate crime, two youths -- one carrying a baseball
bat -- attacked two Muslims who were standing outside a mosque after
evening prayers. One had his arm broken. The other, a Physician, is in
critical condition after undergoing three operations.
||2001-MAR-24: World: Jerry Falwell attacks Pagans and Heathens: While discussing the movie Gladiator with Jonathan V.
Last of Beliefnet, Jerry Falwell attacked Pagans and Heathens. He
said: "younger people think of the present, the right now,
whether theyíre spiritual or not spiritual. And it is normal after
one reaches 50, 60, 70 years of age, he is thinking quite seriously
about eternity, making decisions in that light. That is not new to any
group, only pagans and heathens disregard the possibility of eternity
and, as a result, make very little contribution to the world they live
||2001-MAR-21: World: Accusations of sexual abuse by Roman
Catholic priests: According to the Globe and Mail: "The
National Catholic Reporter claimed...that a series of reports written
by senior members of women's religious orders and by an American
priest indicated that a pattern of sexual abuse of nuns by priests,
including rape, prescribing of the birth control pill and coerced
abortions, exists in as many as 23 countries. The publication cites
cases in countries as far-flung as the United States, Brazil, the
Philippines, India, Ireland and Italy - but claims that the abuse is
particularly prevalent in the developing world.
"I don't believe these are simply exceptional cases,"
Benedictine Father Nokter Wolf, abbot primate of the Benedictine
order, told NCR. "I think the abuse described is happening.
How much it happens, what the numbers are, I have no way of knowing.
But it is a serious matter, and we need to discuss it." 20
||2001-MAR-26: Saudi Arabia: Pokemon games and cards banned: The
highest religious authority in Saudi Arabia, the Higher Committee
for Scientific Research and Islamic Law has issued a fatwa
(religious decree) banning Pokemon. They say that the video game and
cards have symbols which include "the Star of David, which
everyone knows is connected to international Zionism and is Israel's
national emblem as well as being the first symbol of the Freemasons"
They also referred to Christian crosses and Japanese Shinto symbols in
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Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR): E-mail: [email protected]
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 [email protected]
EWTN News carries Roman Catholic news from Catholic World
News, Vatican Information Service, ZENIT, CWNews.com. See: http://www.ewtn.com/news/
Ecumenical News International (ENI) in Geneva Switzerland
distributes news free religious news highlights to subscribers. They
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Telephone: (41-22) 791 6087/6515. Fax: (41-22) 788 7244 Email: [email protected].
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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/
Anglican Communion News Service provides information from an
Anglican perspective. See: http://www.anglicancommunion.org/acns/index.html
AANEWS is distributed by American Atheists.
China Crisis News Bulletin #60, 2000-SEP-25, Falun Dafa
Information Center. They publish regular information on the Falun Gong
via fax. Their Email is [email protected].
Their web site is at http://www.faluninfo.net
Covenant News disseminates "Today's news for today's
[Christian] church." See: http://www.CovenantNews.com/index.html
U.S. Newswire is "the leading national wire service for
distribution of full text news." They have a web site at: http://www.usnewswire.com/
Keston Institute monitors freedom of religion in communist
and formerly communist countries. See: http://www.keston.org/
Etgar Lefkovits, "Mufti again denies wall's Jewish link,"
The Jerusalem Post, 2001-FEB-21. See: http://www.bridgesforpeace.com/publications/
Jerry Falwell's comments are contained in an interview by Deborah
Caldwell on Beliefnet.org. See: http://www.beliefnet.com/story/70/story_7040_1.html
"Theme park's anti-Charismatic stand criticized,"
CharismaNews.com. See: http://www.mcjonline.com/news/01a/20010309a.shtml
Dana Milbank & Thomas B. Edsall, "Faith initiative may be
revised," The Washington Post, 2001-MAR-11.
J.V. Last, "Pious Pagans," BeliefNet, at: http://beliefnet.com/frameset.asp?pageLoc
Oliver Moore, "Vatican confirms damning sex report," The
Globe and Mail, Toronto, 2001-MAR-21.
Copyright © 2001 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2001-MAR-2
Latest update: 2001-MAR-27
Author: B.A. Robinson