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Religious Tolerance logo

NEWS OF RELIGIOUS CONFLICT & INTOLERANCE DURING 2003-JAN.

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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-JAN-13: NJ: Appeals court rules that religious jurors can be barred: In most jury trials, both the prosecution and the defense can veto a limited number of jurors during the jury selection process. In the case of Lloyd Fuller, who was charged with using a water pistol to rob a Chinese restaurant, the prosecution barred two jurors because they were overtly religious. The prosecutor told the judge that "people who tend to be demonstrative about their religions tend to favor defendants to a greater extent than do persons who are, shall we say, not as religious." One rejected juror had said that he was a missionary; the other wore a long black garment and a skull cap. The prosecution suspected that if allowed to serve, they might be too sympathetic to the accused. Fuller was later convicted and received a ten year sentence. He appealed, claiming that removal of the two jurors violated his 14th amendment right to equal protection. In a 2-1 split, the state appeals court ruled that he was not deprived of a fair trial. The court found that individuals perceived as devout do not comprise a specific group. The law in New Jersey only forbids a prosecutor to excuse jurors "who are members of a cognizable group on the basis of their presumed group bias." Appellate Judge Joseph F. Lisa, wrote, "Individuals who are demonstrative about their religion do not share the same values, tenets or practices, and thus do not represent a cross-section of society." John W. Whitehead, president of the Rutherford Institute, a Fundamentalist Christian legal-rights group said: "Clearly, you have a class of people that's being discriminated against...It seems to say that religious people would not be able to serve on juries unless they hide their views." 12
bullet  2003-JAN-16: FL: Conflict over church marquee: The First Conservative Baptist Church of Jacksonville, FL, placed the following message on their road-side display: "Jesus Forbade Murder, Matthew 26 52, Muhammad Approved Murder, Surah 8 65." The latter is a quotation from the Qur'an, which Muslims believe is God's word, dictated to Muhammad by the archangel Gabriel. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-FL) called on religious leaders in that state to repudiate the sign. CAIR-FL Executive Director Altaf Ali said: "All Americans must band together to condemn hate speech designed to divide our nation along religious and ethnic lines. Any attempt to marginalize or vilify one religious community is an attack on all people of faith." The CAIR news release mentioned that: "...CAIR-FL sought dialogue with the church about the display, but that attempt at outreach was rebuffed with belligerent language." Imam Zaid Malik, spiritual leader of Jacksonville's Islamic Center of Northeast Florida added, "Misinformation must be rejected by all people of conscience."

Matthew 26:52 says: "Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword." In isolation, it might be considered a political statement both against the looming Iraqi war or against the use of the death penalty in the state. Surah 8:65 in the Qur'an says: "O Prophet! Inspire the believers to conquer all fear of death when fighting, [so that] if there be twenty of you who are patient in adversity, they might overcome two hundred; and if there be one hundred of you, they might overcome one thousand of those who are bent on denying the truth, because they are people who cannot grasp it." CAIR comments that: "The verse indicates that those who believe and are steadfast in battle will overcome much larger armies. It is not an endorsement of murder." In fact, the verse speaks of overcoming, not murdering. The Prophet Muhammad condemned murder; he was quoted as saying: "The greatest sins are to join others as partners in worship with God [idolatry], to murder a human being, to be undutiful to one's parents, and to bear false witness." (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Vol. 9, Hadith 10). The Qur'an itself states: "...whoever murders a person...it will be as if he had killed all mankind, and whoever will save a life, shall be regarded as if he saved all mankind." (Surah 5:32) 13
bullet2003-JAN-18: KY: Bible College unhappy with phone number: Kentucky Mountain Bible College in Vancleve, KY, has been trying for six months to have their telephone number changed. They have a "666" prefix, a number that is mentioned in the book of Revelation as appearing on the hands or foreheads of individuals marked for eternal damnation during the end times. Staff member Carlene Light said: "People say, 'You're a Bible college and you have 666 in your phone number?' It's the connotation. No one wants to be part of the mark of the beast." The local telephone company, Access Point, has recently opened the 693 exchange in the area. The college has been trying to have their number converted to the new prefix. Vice president Rob Roy MacGregor said: "In the secular world, 666 is not a problem. It is for us." 14
bullet2003-JAN-18: CT: Woman protesting in attempt to get exorcism: Ms. "B," 51, who is a Roman Catholic and a former school teacher, believes that she has been possessed by 19 demons. Her symptoms started in 1993. She has spoken in "a tongue in which she is not familiar." For six years, she has unsuccessfully tried to obtain an exorcism from the Church. She now plans to demonstrate in front of the Norwich Diocese in East Connecticut. The Norwich Bulletin quotes her as saying: "I'll be carrying a sign and have my head covered in a hood. I want public exposure for the unpardonable neglect of people who are possessed by a demon....I heard hateful voices, I had an involuntary blurb here or there. I had involuntary motions. For example, if I had been cutting a vegetable, the knife would move. My eyes would move without my permission." 15
bullet2003-JAN-18: World: Southern Baptist missionaries plead for an end to attacks on Islam: A group of over two dozen Southern Baptist missionaries who are attempting to spread conservative Christianity in countries with a large Muslim majority in the Middle East, North Africa, East Africa and South Asia have issued a letter asking their fellow Baptists in America to refrain from attacking Islam and the Prophet Muhammad. This is in apparent response to vicious attacks by former Southern Baptist Convention president Jerry Vines, evangelists Franklin Graham and Jerry Falwell, and other conservative Christians. It said, in part: "Comments by Christians in the West about Islam and Muhammad can and do receive much attention in our cities and communities on local radio, television and print sources....These types of comments...can further the already heightened animosity toward Christians, more so toward evangelicals, and even more so toward Baptists. We have found it more beneficial with our Muslim friends to concentrate on sharing Christ in love and concentrating on the message of the gospel, instead of speaking in a degrading manner about their religion or prophet." The letter was brought from the Middle East to the U.S. by a professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC. The Biblical Recorder, a news journal for North Carolina Baptists, first published it. 16
bullet2003-JAN-18: USA: United Pentecostal Church suspends senior official: Rev. Ronald Oree Nation, a top official of the United Pentecostal Church, has been suspended without pay. He had been charged  with misdemeanor sexual misconduct because he allegedly engaged in consensual sexual activity with another man in a public place. A spokesperson for the denomination is reported as saying that Nation old not return to a staff position, even if Nation is found not guilty. 17
bullet2003-JAN-23: USA: Camping recommends that people desert churches: Harold Camping, 81, a civil engineer, a co-founder of Family Radio and an influential radio host, is telling his listeners that the church age has ended, that Satan has taken over all church organizations, and that God wants people to worship privately in their homes. He said: "The Bible says God is not saving people any longer in the churches. They're being saved outside the churches." His network is broadcast or relayed on more than 150 Christian radio stations in the U.S. His prediction of the end of the world in 1994-SEP did not materialize. He still thinks that the end is in the near future. He has said that "Most of the people living in the world today will be here when Christ comes." However, he isn't predicting firm dates. 18
bullet2003-JAN-29: Ireland: Landmark settlement against Roman Catholic Church: The High Court in Ireland ordered the Archdiocese of Dublin to pay €300,000 (about $ in U.S. funds) to Mervyn Rundle a victim of clergy sexual abuse. In another case, an Irish businessman, who claims that he was physically and sexually abused in school, is launching a similar lawsuit. He said: "The Mervyn Rundle settlement has given us added impetus. There is a danger that the Church could move assets abroad like they tried to do in Canada and Boston. We don't want that to happen." He made reference to another 150 cases that are currently being pursued in Dublin, and to thousands more nationwide.

Survivors of Child Abuse (SOCA) has called for the government to revoke the charitable status of the Church. Spokesperson John Kelly said freezing the Church's assets and revoking charitable status would compel the hierarchy to co-operate more fully with abuse cases. Kelly said: "Despite all that's gone on, the Church is still in denial; either Ireland rules or Rome rules."

In 2002-JUN, the government of Ireland reached an agreement with 18 religious orders. It is called the Residential Institutions Redress Board and involved the payment of €128 million in cash and property by the orders to the State. In return, the religious groups received blanket indemnity from any further legal action against them. There is some agitation to have the deal renegotiated because the estimated cost of compensating these victims had rocketed to over €1 billion. 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. 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. "Government says 38 arrested in crackdown on outlawed religious sect," Associated Press, 2003-JAN-6, at: http://yellowbrix.com/pages/newsreal/
  12. "N.J. appeals court: Overtly religious people can be barred from juries," Associated Press, 2003-JAN-13, at: http://www.freedomforum.org/
  13. "FL religious leaders asked to repudiate anti-Muslim church sign," CAIR, 2003-JAN-16, Islam-Infonet news release.
  14. Roger Alford, "Ky. Bible college shuns 666 phone number," Associated Press, 2003-JAN-18, at: http://www.newsday.com/news/
  15. "Woman tormented by demons plans protest," Ananova, at: http://www.ananova.com/news/
  16. "Baptist Group Urges Respect for Islam," Washington Post, 2003-JAN-18, at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/
  17. Patricia Rice, "United Pentecostal Church suspends Nation without pay," St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 2003-JAN-18, at: http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/
  18. "Christian radio host tells listeners to abandon church," Associated Press, 2003-JAN-23, at: http://www.montereyherald.com
  19. Dan Buckley & Mary Dundon, "Businessman bids to freeze Church assets. A BUSINESSMAN who claims he was sexually abused by a cleric is seeking a High Court injunction to freeze the assets of the Church." Irish Examiner.com, 2003-JAN-30, at: http://www.examiner.ie/pport/

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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-JAN-7
Latest update: 2003-FEB-14
Author: B.A. Robinson

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