NEWS OF RELIGIOUS CONFLICT & INTOLERANCE,
2003-OCT: TX: Nazi flag paraded: Charles Grissom, band
director for Paris High School apologized for a half-time display that
included the anthem "Deutchsland Uber Alles" -- music closely
associated with Adolf Hitler. While the music was playing, a student ran
across the football field carrying a Nazi flag. Anthems and flags from the
other countries involved in World War II were also featured.
2003-OCT-3: NC, DC: Congressman complains about
Muslims: Congressman Cass Ballenger (R-NC) is reported as complaining
about the presence of the Council on American-Islamic Relations
(CAIR). Their head office is across the street from his home in
Washington, DC. He allegedly reported CAIR to the FBI and CIA as a "fund-raising
arm" for terrorist groups. He is reported as saying that their home's
close proximity to the CAIR office after 9-11 "bugged the hell out of
his wife....Diagonally across from my house, up goes a sign -- CAIR...the
fund-raising arm for Hezbollah." he said that his wife became anxious
when she saw people unloading boxes, and women "wearing hoods"
going in and out of the office. (Many observant Muslim women wear hijabs
-- a scarf -- over their hair). He is reported as saying that the CAIR
office is: "...2Ĺ blocks from the
capitol and they could blow it up." In reality, CAIR, monitors attacks
on Muslims' civil rights and sponsors interfaith gatherings. Ibrahim
Hooper, a CAIR spokesperson is reported as saying "This is out-and-out
bigotry...It's unworthy of an elected official at the national
level....You wonder what he's been doing in Congress if this is the kind
of analysis he does: 'You're a Muslim, so you're guilty'." 12
2003-OCT-7: WI: Pastor's harassment
conviction upheld: A Fundamentalist Christian group regularly
frequents the parking lot of the state-run Mazomanie nude beach. Pastor
Ralph Ovadal preached to nudist Nancy J Erikson and to Department of Natural Resources
wardens who insisted that he not use the word
"whore" in his preaching." Ovadal
was later charged with criminal disorderly conduct. In 2002-JUN, he was
convicted and fined $1,000 plus court costs. The state appeals court
upheld Ovadal's conviction in 2003-OCT. He had acknowledged that his
street preaching and sidewalk evangelizing was loud and boisterous. But he
claimed that it was protected by the First Amendment to the U.S.
Constitution. The appeals court decided that resorting to "epithets or
personal abuse" is not protected speech. It ruled that: "Ovadal's
statements had nothing to do with an exposition of ideas. Instead, they
were abusive fighting words and are not protected by the First Amendment."
2003-OCT-8 (approx): USA: Pat Robinson allegedly
promotes terrorism: While interviewing syndicated columnist Joel
Mowbray about the U.S. State Department on his 700 Club program, Pat
Robertson allegedly remarked: "I read your book.¬† When you get through,
you (a reader) say, 'If I
could just get a nuclear device inside Foggy Bottom, I think that's
the answer.'¬† I mean, you get through this, and you say, 'We've got to
blow that thing up."¬† I mean, is it as bad as you say?" "Foggy Bottom"
is a Washington DC neighborhood where the U.S. State Department is
A spokesperson for the State Department said that the
agency considered the remarks "despicable."
Richard Boucher, the agency's media director told
reporters: "I lack sufficient capabilities to express my distain."
An identified department official quoted by Agence Frances
that a protest had been made "at the highest level," and that
Robertson had been made aware that Secretary of State Colin Powell was "outraged"
at the tone and content of the interview. The official said: "That's
not the way one expresses an opinion in Washington." He described
Robertson's on-air behavior as "outrageous."
Robertson allegedly made a similar suggestion in June. He
is quoted as saying, also in an interview with Mowbray: ""Well, it
looks like Congress had
better do something, and maybe we need a very small nuke thrown off on
Foggy Bottom to shake things up." 14
|2003-OCT-14: USA: Supreme Court to hear Pledge of Allegiance case:
Shortly after the end of their Fall recess, the Supreme Court
announced that it will accept the case: Unified School District v. Newdow, 02-1624.
The dispute is whether the "under God" phrase which was
added to the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954 is unconstitutional because it
blends church and state. The case is widely and incorrectly portrayed as an
attempt to prevent students from reciting the entire pledge in public
schools. The case deals only with the one phrase "under God."|
Although the federal government, plaintiff Michael Newdow, and his daughter's
asked the Supreme Court to rule on the case, the court agreed only to hear the appeal from the school
district. The court also said it will evaluate whether Newdow
had the proper legal footing to bring the case. Dr. Newdow plans to argue
his case in person before the Supreme Court. More
|Weekend of 2003-OCT-4?: UT: Desecration of a religious symbol:
Many religious groups wear special clothing: some male Jews wear
yarmulkes; many Muslim women wear a head scarf called a hijab; some male
Sikhs wear a turban, etc. About six men, allegedly Baptist pastors,
shouted rude comments to Mormons as they exited a meeting in Salt Lake
City. One took sacred garments that many Mormons wear under their
clothing, and allegedly treated it like toilet paper, pretending to wipe
his backside. He then wrapped it around his neck and pretended to sneeze
into it, multiple times. In two separate incidences, worshippers attempted
to grab the garment. Both were arrested by police. 16|
|2003-OCT-24: USA: Lt. General's apologizes for statements about
Islam: Lt. General William G. Boykin, deputy undersecretary of defense
for intelligence and war-fighting support, gave a series of speeches
during October at a number of conservative Protestant churches. He
described the battle with Islamic radicals as a clash with "Satan."
He said that their aim was to destroy America "because we're a
Christian nation." He also said that the enemy in the fight against
terrorism was Satan, and that God had put Bush in the White House. He
repeated what he said to a Muslim Somali warlord: "You underestimated
our God." |
National security adviser to the President, Condoleeza Rice, was asked on
ABC TV what President Bush's comments would be on these statements. She
said: "The president's views on this are absolutely clear....This is
not a war between religions. No one should describe it as such." Bush
later told reporters: "...he didn't reflect my opinion. Look, it just
doesn't reflect what the government thinks."
In a statement issued by the Pentagon on OCT-24, Boykin apologized to
anyone offended by his remarks. However the did not retract them. He
wrote: "I am neither a zealot nor an extremist. Only a soldier who has
an abiding faith. I do believe that radical extremists have tried to use
Islam as a cause for attacks on America. As I have stated before, they are
not true followers of Islam. In my view they are simply terrorists, much
like the so-called Christians of the white supremacy groups, or extremist
(sic) of any faith. For those who have been offended by my statements, I
offer a sincere apology." 19
|2003-OCT-29: Central Asia: Muslim group advocates banning of most
religions: Forum 18 reports on the intentions of Hizb-ut-Tahir, a Muslim group which is
widespread in Central Asia. They allegedly plan to create "...a
worldwide Caliphate and ban all faiths apart from Islam, Judaism and
Christianity" -- i.e. all faiths not mentioned in the Qur'an. This
would ban thousands of faith groups, ranging from Asatru to
Zoroastrianism, including Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Wicca. They would
also ban groups that they consider sects within Islam: Ahmadiyya,
Bahai'ism and Ismailism. In total. the religions followed by about 47% of the human
race would be banned. The Caliphate would regulate all religious practice.
"...All non-Muslim states [would be given] a choice between either
joining the Caliphate under Sharia law, or paying a tax to the Caliphate.
Failure to pay the tax would be punished by military attacks."
|2003-OCT-31: Disney movie "Brother Bear" criticized: Claudia
Puig of USA Today gave this "G" rated movie three stars out of four. She
wrote: "A sweet celebration of brotherhood in its many forms, Brother
Bear gently encourages human communion with animals, nature and our
fellow man....Through the inexplicable magic of the Northern Lights, the
Great Spirits transform Kenai into a bear to teach him a lesson.
Brother Bear's message of tolerance and respect for nature rings loud
and clear. 18 It was severely criticized on several
conservative Christian and counter-cult mailing lists because it included:|
|A ritual in which a young boy receives his "totem" from a "wise and
wizened" female shaman. A totem is a spirit animal guide and protector.|
|A reference to the plural "Great Spirits" instead of the single God.|
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news source. Their home page is at:
- "Band director sorry for parading Nazi flag," The Toronto Star,
2003-OCT-5, Page F2.
- Tim Funk, "Ballenger grouses about Muslims, lobbyist limits. Says
both contributed to breakup of marriage," The Charlotte
- "Ovadal's beach rant ruled unconstitutional," Associated
Press, 2003-OCT-7, at:
- "Pat shoots from the hip again, says 'blow up' State Department!,"
Anne Gearan, "Supreme Court to Decide Pledge Case,"
Associated Press, 2003-OCT-14, at:
"Where's the ACLU on this one?," American Civil
Liberties Union, Online Forum, at:
Forum 18 News Service, F18News, 2003-OCT-29.
Claudia Puig, "Reel roundup: Brother Bear,"
2003-OCT-30, USA Today at:
Bill Koenig, "Major News in Review," 2003-NOV-10.
How you got here:
Copyright © 2003 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2003-OCT-5
Latest update: 2003-NOV-11
Author: B.A. Robinson