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NEWS OF RELIGIOUS CONFLICT & INTOLERANCE DURING 2003-FEB.

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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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bullet2003-FEB-7: ND: Anti- abortion bill not supported by Catholic church: On 2003-JAN-10, Representative Sally Sandvig (D) and Senator Russell Thane (R), introduced House Bill 1242. It would find any person "...guilty of a class AA felony if the person intentionally destroys or terminates the life of a pre-born child." A pre-born child is defined in the bill as "a human being from the moment of fertilization until the moment of birth." The bill has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee. Christopher Dodson, Executive Director of the North Dakota Catholic Conference, stated that the bill was unacceptable because it holds a woman culpable if she obtains an an abortion. He said that "[C]riminalizing the woman serves no legitimate purpose..." In addition, the bill lacks "a realistic possibility of withstanding constitutional scrutiny." Since the U.S. Supreme Court decided thirty years ago in Roe v. Wade that a state cannot restrict early abortions, then a state law criminalizing abortion would be obviously unconstitutional. In fact, a Representative or Senator who voted in favor of such a bill would violate their oath of office, which requires them to support the constitution. On 2003-JAN-20, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Bismarck, Paul A. Zipfel, stated: "I am in total agreement that this bill serves no legitimate purpose and can even be counterproductive to the goals of the Gospel of Life." The other bishop in the state, Samuel J. Aquila agreed.

A committee hearing is scheduled for FEB-8. 11,12
bullet2003-FEB-7: U.S.: News reporting of terror alert being raised to orange: The terror alert status was raised on FEB-7 to orange. This is one level removed from red -- the highest alert level. The Associated Press reported that Attorney General Ashcroft "told a Justice Department news conference the decision was based on an increase in intelligence pointing to a possible attack by Osama bin Laden's organization timed to coincide with the hajj, the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, Islam's holiest site. The holy period begins Saturday [FEB-8] and ends mid-February." The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) commented that: "Unfortunately, due to the media's ignorance on the Hajj, certain pundits and newscasters have been making a causal connection between the fact that it is time for hajj and an increased threat of terrorism.  To make this connection is irresponsible and extremely offensive.  The media really must be careful not to twist the words of the Attorney General or Tom Ridge, Director of Homeland Security." 

"Hajj is a peaceful time of year, in which pilgrims to Mecca are required to purify themselves of all vice.  The time is so peaceful, in fact, that Muslims are encouraged not to cut their hair, clip their fingernails or hurt a flea during this period." 13
bullet2003-FEB-14: Sudan: Genocide continues: The slaughter of Christians and Animists by Muslim forces continues in Sudan. Dennis Bennett, spokesperson for the conservative Christian group Servant's Heart reported on a mass murder by the Sudan army. They believe that between one-third and one-half of the 6,000 people who lived in the villages of Liang, Dengaji, Kawaji and Yawaji in Upper Nile Province were killed. Bennett said: "It was a completely unarmed region of more than 6,000 unarmed civilians. No rebel soldier was in the area and none had ever been there." 14
bullet2003-FEB-13: TN: Harassment and beating of Neopagan student in Tennessee middle school: India Tracy, 14, a well behaved, straight-A student in the Horace Maynard Middle School of the Union County Tennessee school system has been harassed by the administration and beaten by apparently Christian fellow students for the "crime" of being an non-Christian. She was been sent to the principal's office when her parents did not give permission for her to attend a three-day fundamentalist Christian tent revival during school hours. She was also sent when she declined the offer to portray the Virgin Mary in a Christmas play. School sponsorship of the revival is, of course, illegal. Another revival is planned for 2003-APR. Her parents have filed a lawsuit against the school. It claims that:
bulletIndia was repeatedly called "Satan worshipper," "witch" and other  names.
bulletShe was accused of eating babies and of being a lesbian because she wasn't a Christian.
bulletThat India was forced to attend regular Bible study classes during the school day, and urged to lead the school and her class in illegal prayer.
bulletDerogatory names were written on her locker in permanent ink and the school refused to paint over the graffiti or move her locker.
bulletIndia was repeatedly attacked as she knelt in front of her bottom-row locker. Her head was bashed at least 10 times, cutting her lip, above her eyes and bloodying her nose.
bulletA teacher told India to "keep quiet because you'll get in trouble" after she wrote a paper about religious freedom.
bulletA bus driver regularly asked India in front of other students if she had gone to church yet and if she'd like to come to church. 19
bullet2003-FEB-16: Europe: Pope asks for mention of God in Constitution: A panel charged with the writing of a constitution for the European Union (EU) has issued the first drafts of its articles on values, objectives, powers and fundamental rights of citizens. So far, it is a secular document with no mention of God or Christianity. Pope John Paul II asked that the constitution be modified to include a reference to God and to the Christian heritage of Europe. He said that such mention would not diminish the secular nature of the Union: "On the contrary, it will help guard the continent against the double risk of ideological secularism, on the one hand, and sectarian integralism on the other." 15
bullet2003-FEB-18: UT, AZ: Jilted husband's lawsuit fails: Jason Miles Williams sued the estate of Rulon Jeffs, the recently deceased leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS). Williams alleged that his former wife was counseled by Jeffs and other elders of the church to divorce him and to become the second wife of another church member. U.S. District Court Judge Dale Kimball agreed with the Utah Court of Appeals which had "found that Williams' emotional distress cause of action, claiming that he suffered the loss of his wife's love and affection as well as future of his family, did not rise to the level of outrageousness necessary for the claim to be actionable." The FLDS is a small, Fundamentalist denomination that split from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). The LDS suspended plural marriages in 1890, but the FLDS has stuck with the teachings of the founder Joseph Smith; they still encourage polygyny. 16
bullet2003-FEB-19: Rwanda: Seventh-day Adventist sentenced for committing genocide: The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) sentenced a former senior Seventh-day Adventist administrator, Elizaphan Ntakirutimana, 78, to 10 years in prison for aiding and abetting in genocide during 1994 the mass murders. He was president of the church's South Rwanda Field. His son, Gérard Ntakirutimana, 45, a medical doctor practicing at the Mugonero Adventist Hospital was convicted of genocide and of crimes against humanity. He received a 25 year sentence. Ray Dabrowski, Communication Director at the Seventh-day Adventist Church world headquarters issued a news release which said in part: "The Rwandan tragedy the senseless loss of thousands of lives cannot be forgotten. Christians should reject violence as a means of conflict resolution. The heart of the Christian message is reconciliation, compassion and love, which transcend any differences of language, race or nationality." Missing from the message was mention of the Christian message transcending differences of gender and sexual orientation. 17
bullet2003-FEB-20: IL: United Methodist bishop cleared of heresy charge: Rev. Thomas Lambrecht and 27 other United Methodist clergy and laity initiated a complaint in 2002-DEC, charging Bishop C. Joseph Sprague with violating his clerical vows "to guard, transmit, teach and proclaim corporately and individually the apostolic faith." He allegedly doubts Jesus' virgin birth, his divinity and bodily resurrection. Further, he allegedly believes that non-Christians can be saved. A panel of bishops for the North Central Jurisdiction of the church dismissed the charge. In a statement, Bishop Sprague said: "I affirm the historic doctrines of our Church." He added that they nevertheless "require constant, informed, and Spirit-led exegesis, exposition, integration, and interpretation." During a lecture in 2002-JAN, he had allegedly said that: "The myth of the virgin birth was not intended as historical fact." Apparently in reference to the Gospel of Mark, he said that "Jesus was not born the Christ, rather by the confluence of grace with faith he became the Christ." The panel ruled that: "The theological and doctrinal issues raised in the complaint are already a matter of considerable public debate." They described the case as "a potential watershed moment in our denomination."

Bishop Sprague's beliefs are shared by many of his colleagues. A poll of 7,441 Methodist clergy in 1998 showed that 60% did not believe in the virgin birth. The number has probably risen since. 18
bullet2003-FEB-22: Pakistan: Intra-Islamic violence: Pakistan has suffered much religious violence recently, primarily perpetrated by two banned Sunni Muslim extremist groups: Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. They have victimized minority Shi'ites. In the latest attack on a mosque, at least three gunmen on motorcycles stormed a Shi'ite mosque and opened fire. At least nine Shi'ites were murdered, including a 7-year-old boy; nine were injured.
bullet2003-FEB-24: USA: Moody magazine ceases publication: The Moody Bible Institute (MBI) was founded by evangelist Dwight Lyman Moody in 1886. They announced that their Moody magazine will cease publication within six months. It was first published as The Institute Tie in1981. The name was changed many times and later became Moody Monthly in 1938. The present name was adopted in 1990. It currently has over 200,000 readers. They also decided to reconfigure and relocate Moody Aviation, and will sell Moody Bookstores. Their devotional guide Today in the Word, schools, Moody Broadcasting Network and distance learning center will continue. 19,20

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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. 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
  3. Reuters is "the world's leading financial information and news group. Their web page is at: http://www.reuters.com/ 
  4. 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
  5. EWTN News carries Roman Catholic news from Catholic World News, Vatican Information Service, ZENIT, CWNews.com. See: http://www.ewtn.com/news/ 
  6. 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 
  7. 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/ 
  8. 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/ 
  9. AANEWS is distributed by American Atheists.
  10. CNSNews.com -- Cybercast News Service -- is a conservative news source. Their home page is at: http://www.cnsnews.com
  11. "New Catholic Scandal: North Dakota Bishops Oppose Bill to Outlaw Abortion," Good Morals News Service, at: http://www.goodmorals.org/hb1242/
  12. "Preborn Child Protection Act: North Dakota House Bill 1242." Text of the bill is online at: http://www.goodmorals.org/
  13. "Media Asked Not to Associate Hajj with Terrorism Threat," MPAC News, 2003-FEB-7.
  14. Art Moore, "Islamists leave 'killing field' of civilians; Team finds remains of unarmed villagers in southern Sudan," WorldNetDaily, 2003-FEB-14, at: http://wnd.com/news/
  15. "Pope Asks EU to Cite Christian Heritage," Associated Press, 2003-FEB-16, at: http://www.newsday.com/news/
  16. "Ex-Husband Fails in Suit Against Polygamists," Salt Lake Tribune, 2003-FEB-18, at: http://infobrix.yellowbrix.com/pages
  17. "Rwanda Pastor Found Guilty By U.N. Tribunal," Seventh-day Adventist Church, 2003-FEB-19, at: http://www.adventist.org/
  18. Larry Witham, "Dismissal of heresy charge called 'dysfunction'," Washington Times, 2003-FEB-20, at: http://www.washtimes.com
  19. "MOODY MAGAZINE CEASES PUBLICATION," Moody Bible Institute, at: http://www.moody.edu/pr/
  20. "MBI Announces Strategic Decisions for the Future: News Release - February 24, 2003," Moody Bible Institute, at: http://www.moody.edu/pr/

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How you got here: Home page > Intolerance news >  here

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Copyright © 2003 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2003-FEB-7
Latest update: 2003-FEB-22
Author: B.A. Robinson

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