NEWS OF RELIGIOUS CONFLICT & INTOLERANCE DURING
2002-OCT-4: VA: Wiccan rejected: Cyndi Simpson is a
Wiccan priestess, who lives in
Chesterfield County, VA. In her area of the country, Wicca and other
Neopagan religions are highly misunderstood.
She asked Chesterfield County to add her name to the list of ministers and
priests who give invocations at county meetings. Her hope was that if she
gave an invocation, she would help rid the community of misconceptions of
Witches and Wiccans. She got several responses:
Steven L. Micas, the county's attorney, wrote back that: "Based
upon our review of Wicca, it is neo-pagan and invokes polytheistic,
pre-Christian deities...Accordingly, we cannot honor your request."
Simpson said: "I believe that this shows bias not only against my faith
but against Islam, Hindu, Buddhism, Native Americans and any faith outside
the Judeo-Christian religion. In a public area, government sponsored, we
should all be welcome....I am a proud citizen of Chesterfield County. I
think these kinds of public practices should reflect the true religious
diversity of Chesterfield County, and I am part of that. I would welcome a
phone call from any of the county officials."
Supervisor Renny B. Humphrey, from the rural, heavily
Baptist Matoaca District, said "I hope she's a good witch like Glinda."
Glinda is the Good Witch of the North in the movie "The Wizard of Oz."
Board Chairman Kelly E. Miller said: "It [Wicca] is a
mockery. It is not any religion I would subscribe to. There are certain
places we ought not to go, and this is one of them."
On a positive note, Supervisor Edward B. Barber said: "How
do you justify drawing a line to say this religious practice is acceptable
to begin a board meeting but this one is not?"
Kent Willis, spokesperson for the Virginia branch of the
American Civil Liberties Union, said "They are dead wrong. Wicca
is a highly recognized religion. The military manual for chaplains
includes instructions for people who are Wiccans...Their reasoning is
highly suspect." 11
|2002-OCT-4: STOPP International criticizes contraceptives
funding: Stop Planned Parenthood (STOPP) is a conservative
Christian agency -- a division of American Life League -- located in
Stafford, VA. STOPP issued a news release critical of the U.S.
federal administration's decision to approve a Medicaid waiver for the state
of New York. It allows the state to expand its coverage of condoms and other
contraceptives to low-income persons. It makes free contraceptives available
via Medicaid to individuals whose income us up to twice the federal poverty
level. STOPP's national director, Ed Szymkowiak, wrote: "Once again the
Bush administration has betrayed its professed pro-life credentials. Bowing to
pressure from Planned Parenthood and pro-abortion New Yorkers such as Gov.
George Pataki and Sens. Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer, the Bush
administration approved a waiver which allows New York to expand its coverage
of condoms and sometimes-abortifacient contraceptive drugs and devices....This
is a major defeat for the pro-life movement. Other states will likely follow
suit. President Bush should be ashamed of himself....Taxpayers will now be
forced to subsidize even more intrinsically-evil contraception than we were
2002-OCT-6: Jerry Falwell accused of hate speech:
The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) issued a statement on
OCT-14 asking that President Bush distance himself from statements by
three Fundamentalist Christian leaders: "Jerry Fallwell, Pat Robertson,
and Franklin Graham BY NAME." The statement reads in part: "Jerry
Fallwell called the founder and revered prophet of Islam, Muhammed, a
'terrorist' on CBS's '60 Minutes' on Sunday, October 6. In so doing,
Fallwell set off a firestorm in the American Muslim community to which
MPAC responded. Fallwell's comments came on the heals of a slew of other
viscous attacks lodged by the radical sector of the Evangelical Christian
denomination...The Reverend Franklin Graham called Islam a 'very evil and
wicked religion' and said the Qur'an, Islam's revealed text, 'preaches
violence.' Pat Robertson said Islam is a 'monumental scam' and claimed the
prophet Muhammad was 'an absolute wild-eyed fanatic...a robber and
brigand...a killer.' Robertson's 700-Club regularly features highly
inflammatory programming that promotes bigotry against Muslims." MPAC
repeatedly challenged Rev. Falwell to a public debate but, as of OCT-14,
had not received any response. MPAC urges that Americans write the
2002-OCT-12: USA: Book on massacre causes controversy:
A book: "Blood of the Prophets: Brigham Young and the Massacre at Mountain Meadows
" is generating considerable controversy. It concerns a 1857 massacre of
men, women and children among a group of pioneers passing from Arkansas,
through Utah, on their way to California. The perpetrators were Mormons
with the assistance of Natives. Debate about the book does not center on
the actual terrorists who did the killing. Although the Church initially
tried a cover-up, the details are now known. The controversy over the book
is whether the massacre was ordered by the church's prophet and president,
Brigham Young, or whether it was perpetrated by an isolated community of
Mormons acting independently. 13,14
2002-OCT-17: North America: Josh McDowell attacks religious tolerance:
Josh McDowell will be the featured speaker on the Focus on the
Family radio program for OCT-17 and 18. He will describe how religious tolerance
is undermining the spread of the Christian gospel message.
2002-OCT-18 (approx): ON: Anti-gay material removed
from Muslim display: Musa Raza coordinated an Exhibition of Islamic
Art and Science -- at the Scarborough Civic Center in
Scarborough, ON Canada. One of the panels contained a collage of various
images of gays and lesbians, along with quotations from the Qur'an and the
Bible which suggested that homosexual
behavior is sinful and that gays and lesbians would be punished after
death for their activities. Rita Davies, managing director of the city's
cultural division said that her staff asked that Raza provide photographs
of the exhibits in advance, but he had failed to do so. Raza says that he
does not hate gays and lesbians, but objected to the city obeying the "gay
and lesbian command" to remove the panel. He said: "I don't know
why this (gay and lesbian) lobby is going too strong and nobody is paying
attention about our religion, about our society, about the values of the
family." It apparently took a full week after the first complaint was
received before the city staff was able to conclude that the display
violated the city's human rights policy. Councilor Kyle Rae said: "I'm
very disappointed that city staff have allowed...offensive attacks upon
gay men and lesbians to be displayed at one of our civic centers."
This essay continues below
2002-OCT-28: US: Discovery Channel introduces new
program: "Critical Eye" is a new series on the Discovery
Channel which is produced in cooperation with Skeptical Inquirer
magazine. The smoking man from the X-files, William B. Davis, will
be the host. The program will examine critically the science (and lack of
science) behind the paranormal, new age philosophies, and the unexplained.
Unfortunately, the series will not initially be shown on the Canadian
Discovery Channel. Pity.
2002-OCT-29: North America: Focus on the Family defends spanking of
children: The Focus on the Family radio program will feature Dr. Bill
Maier and Dr. James Dobson who will talk about corporal punishment of
children, refuting the claim that spanking causes
delinquent and anti-social behavior.
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- "Chesterfield Gives Witch the Broom," Richmond
Times-Dispatch, 2002-OCT-7, at:
- "Keep Contacting President Bush Regarding Fallwell's Bigotry,"
Muslim Public Affairs Council, Action Alert issued 2002-OCT-14.
- C.G. Wallace, "New history book prompts Mormon debate:
Controversy centers on Brigham Young's role in 1857 massacre,"
Associated Press, 2002-OCT-12, at:
- Will Bagley, "Blood of the Prophets:
Brigham Young and the Massacre at Mountain Meadows," University of
Oklahoma Press, (2002). Read
reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store
- Bruce Demara, "Exhibit's anti-gay material removed," Toronto Star,
Toronto ON, 2002-OCT-25.
- "Bush OK's NY Medicaid plan for contraceptives," STOPP
International, 2002-OCT-4, at:
Copyright © 2002 to 2006 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2002-OCT-7
Latest update: 2006-MAY-04
Author: B.A. Robinson