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NEWS OF RELIGIOUS CONFLICT & INTOLERANCE DURING 2003-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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2003-JUL-10: North Carolina: Mosques, churches, abortion clinics adopt defensive moves: Personnel from Charlotte area police, mosques, churches and women's clinics are coordinating their efforts to protect their facilities from an expected 300 supporters of the Fundamentalist Christian group Operation Save America -- formerly called Operation Rescue. The group will appear on JUL-12 and are planning to hold eight days of prayer services and rallies. On JUL-18, they will hold a demonstration which will include nine caskets -- one for each of the Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court who overturned the Texas' sodomy law.

In May, Operation's leader, Rev. Philip Benham attended Charlotte's annual gay pride festival. He allegedly screamed throughout a mass commitment ceremony that was being held  for about a dozen gay couples. Benham is quoted as saying: "We're going to tell the truth that there's no way that Mohammed is going to save you. There's no way you can practice homosexuality and claim Christianity. If you do that, you're going to split Hell wide open and we don't want that for you."

Leaders of the Islamic Center of Charlotte plan to offer free drinks to the demonstrators. 11

bullet2003-JUL-15: USA: Anti-Muslim incidents up 15% in 2002: The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) issued a report documenting acts of discrimination and violence against Muslims during 2002. They totaled 602 events, an increase over the previous year's total of 525. The report is titled: "The Status of Muslim Civil Rights in the United States - Guilt by Association." A sample is available online. 12
bullet2003-JUL-22: Virginia: Wiccan sues Chesterfield County board: The Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors refused to add Cynthia Simpson, 47, to the list of clergy who are permitted to give invocations at board meetings. She claims that she filed her lawsuit after country officials did not return her phone calls and made public comments ridiculing her religion of Wicca, the largest earth-centered Neopagan religion in the U.S. The board restricts invocations to those which represent "a monotheistic faith consistent with Judeo-Christian tradition." In a court hearing, Simpson's attorney  Rebecca Glenberg of the American Civil Liberties Union, argued that her client's exclusion from the list amounted to a disparagement of her religion. She said: "The policy on its face demonstrates a use of the prayer program that advances certain faiths and disparages others The core fact is Ms. Simpson was denied the opportunity to participate in this forum because of her religion." County lawyer Steven L. Micas disagreed, arguing that a 1983 U.S. Supreme Court ruling gives the government wide latitude in offering legislative invocations that reflect the traditional values of a majority of its citizens. He expressed concern that if the board did not control who could speak then they would have to allow by the white supremacist World Church of the Creator and other fringe groups. Simpson said. "This is my own local government discriminating against me on the basis of my religion. It's not a private club or neighborhood association. We're strong as a nation because of our diversity. There are pagans fighting for you at this moment in Iraq." 13
bullet2003-JUL-24: Maryland: Cross burned at Islamic school: According to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR): "...a cross was burned outside Al-Huda School at about 1:30 a.m. this morning. CAIR's Maryland office has informed the FBI. Last week, two Pakistani students were shot to in the same county. The FBI is looking into that case to determine if bias was a motive. 'This incident clearly demonstrates that the issue of growing anti-Muslim bigotry in the United States must be addressed at the highest levels by religious and political leaders,' said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad." 14
bullet2003-JUL-24: World: Primates and bishops appear ready to split Anglican Communion: Evangelical Anglicans from all over the world met recently in Washington DC for a two day meeting. Seven primates and a number of bishops who represent most of the 75 million members of the Anglican communion subsequently issued a letter demanding that Canon Gene Robinson's election as bishop of New Hampshire be rejected by the Episcopal Church's general convention. This is because Robinson is a gay male in a committed relationship. If his election is confirmed, then this group is "prepared to respond." They threaten to convene an "extraordinary meeting" involving the leaders of most of the Communion's 38 provinces to deal with a "dramatic realignment." 15 More details.
bullet2003-JUL-25: New Mexico: Family sues over funeral eulogy: The family of Ben Martinez, who recently died at the age of 80, is suing Fr. Scott Mansfield and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Santa Fe, NM. The lawsuit claims that Fr. Mansfield said that the former town councilor in Chama, NM had been a lukewarm Catholic who had been living in sin and was going to Hell. The claim lists psychological pain, physical afflictions, anxiety, depression and humiliation allegedly suffered by Martinez's family in the months after the funeral, which occurred over a year ago. More than 150 relatives and townspeople attended. Fr. Mansfield has denied the allegations. The complaint also accused the archdiocese of approving a newsletter that threatened excommunication for anyone who protested the funeral. The archdiocese has denied approving any newsletter. A lawyer for the defendants has asked that the case be shifted from state to federal court because it raises First Amendment questions about freedom of religion and freedom of speech. 16

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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. Christina Breen, "Abortion foes spark anxiety. 8 days of rallies planned at mosques and clinics," The Charlotte Observer, 2003-JUL-10, at: http://www.charlotte.com/
  12. "The Status of Muslim Civil Rights in the United States - Guilt by Association." CAIR, at: http://www.cair-net.org/asp/crr2003.asp
  13. "Witch seeks right to open board meeting with prayer," News-Journal Corp., 2003-JUL-22, at: http://www.news-journalonline.com/ (This is a temporary listing).
  14. "Cross burned at Maryland Islamic school. Muslim civil rights group to hold news conference," CAIR news release, 2003-JUL-24. CAIR's web site is at: http://www.cair-net.org
  15. Jonathan Petre, "American gay bishop 'would shatter Church'," Telegraph.co.uk, 2003-JUL-24, at:  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/
  16. Peter Steinfels, "Suit Over Priest's Funeral Eulogy Could Have Wide-ranging Implications," The Day.com, 2003-JUL-25, at: http://www.theday.com/

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Copyright © 2003 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2003-JUN-12
Latest update: 2003-JUL-26
Author: B.A. Robinson

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