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NEWS OF RELIGIOUS CONFLICT & INTOLERANCE,

2004-NOVEMBER

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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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bullet2004-NOV-02: Netherlands: Dutch filmmaker assassinated: Theo van Gogh, 47, was murdered outside a city government office in Amsterdam. He was shot and stabbed multiple times. A bystander, police officer, and a suspect suffered minor injuries. Van Gogh had reportedly received death threats following the airing of a film "Submission" on Dutch television in 2004-AUG. The film had enraged the Muslim community in the Netherlands. It describes composite stories of four Muslim women: one was forced to marry a man she hates, one was raped and made pregnant by her uncle, one was whipped after she had sexual relations with her boyfriend, and one is repeatedly beaten by her husband. 12 The movie is available online at the geneog.nu ("Enough now") web site. The movie shows some partial nudity.
bullet2004-NOV-03: Sri Lanka: Forcible religious conversion alleged: Clerics of a Sufi faith group within Islam claim that six hundred of their followers in Kattankudy were forcibly converted to orthodox Islam under threat of death. An orthodox cleric denied the accusation, saying that the Sufis voluntarily converted. Photos on the TamilNet.com web site allegedly show extensive damage to a Sufi mosque. 13
bullet2004-NOV-03: India: "Witch" assassinated: Nagasia, aged 70, died in hospital after having been beaten by two youths from her village in the Jalpaiguri district of India. They believed that she practiced "witchcraft". She is the 93rd person to be killed on suspicion of witchcraft during the past five years in this district. 14
bullet2004-NOV-03: USA: President George W Bush re-elected: The massive religious divide within the U.S. was evidenced by the vote for president. An Associated Press poll of 13,531 voters indicated that their largest single concern were "moral values:" -- reduction of access to abortion, prevention of equal rights for gay and lesbian couples, prohibition of research into medical cures and treatment using embryonic stem cells, not extending hate-crime protection to gays and lesbians, etc. The five highest priorities found were:
bullet22% moral values,
bullet20% economy,
bullet19% terrorism,
bullet15% the war in Iraq. 15
bullet2004-NOV-08: Netherlands: Attacks on Muslim facilities: In an apparent retaliation for the assassination of a Dutch filmmaker, an Islamic school in Eindhoven was bombed, five mosques were set on fire and one mosque was daubed with offensive slogans and pig heads. They mayor of Eindhoven, Alexander Sakkers, appealed for calm.  Amsterdam's council of churches placed an ad in the local daily newspaper expressing its solidarity with the Muslim community. 16
bullet2004-NOV-08: USA: Alarming increase in child mortality: An annual survey of health in America has shown impressive reductions in deaths due to infectious diseases, car accidents, and violent crime. But recent gains are small, perhaps because of the near-doubling of national obesity rates since 1990. Reed Tuckson is vice president of the United Health Foundation, one of three groups releasing the study. He said that experts are startled that infant mortality has started to increase for the first time in 40 years. Seven out of every 1,000 infants born in the U.S. die before their first birthday. The U.S. is ranked 27th in the world on infant mortality.  Rising poverty levels, less access to health insurance, and stagnant smoking rates appear to be playing a role, according to the report. More than 17% of American children now live in poverty. This is an increase of 8% from last year.

The healthiest state in the nation is Minnesota, whose rank is 25% above the average. This is followed by New Hampshire, Vermont, and Hawaii. The unhealthiest state is Louisiana with a rank 21.3% below normal. Slightly better are Mississippi, Tennessee and South Carolina. We include this news item in a list normally reserved for religious items, because infant mortality, in particular, is a moral issue. 17
bullet USA: Image said to be of Virgin Mary pulled from eBay auction: Diana Duyser, 52, cooked a piece of white bread with American cheese a decade ago. When she took a bite of it, she saw a face staring back at her. She stored it for ten years in a clear plastic box. During that time, it never developed mold. This may be magical, or may be evidence that the white bread and American cheese contains so many additives that neither can support life. She believes that it is the image of the Virgin Mary. She put it up for sale on eBay and obtained quotes as high as $22,000 before the company pulled the item. The company has a policy which does not allow listings that are intended as jokes. The item received nearly 100,000 views before being taken down. After being convinced of Ms. Duyser's sincerity, eBay reinstated the ad. The sandwich sold for 24,000 to a casino. 18
bullet2004-NOV-16: Canada: Conflict between gay human rights and freedom of religion: A meeting was held at the Market Lane Public School in downtown Toronto, ON. There were 150 parents present -- mostly Muslims who wanted their children excluded from classes that discuss families headed by same-sex parents in what the school board calls "anti-homophobia education." Of the 560 students at the school, about 10 to 15% are Muslim, mostly originally from North Africa. The board has a policy of accommodating parents' religious rights. However, Patricia Hayes, a human rights expert with the school board, said: "Religious beliefs do not trump human rights." She also said that if Muslim children were to get up and leave the room when the film was going to be shown, "we would be creating a very toxic learning environment for those other children." At the meeting, a National Film Board Production called "Sticks and Stones" was played. The film is also shown in class. It shows a number of interviews with children of same-sex parents. One child in the film said: "The worst thing about having gay dads is people make fun of you." One of the Muslim parents leaving the meeting was concerned that their religious rights to reject same-sex parenting had received less respect than same-sex parents' rights had received. Mohamed Yassin said: "They showed a gay lifestyle to the kids without the knowledge of the parents. [The school board is]....willing to help gay students with support. Gay people have their rights. I have my rights." Michelle Flecker, a second equity worker, said: "There is sometimes the misunderstanding that anti-homophobia education is sex education. It does not involve the explicit description of sexual activity. It discusses families." She discusses the Toronto board's equity policy as "one of the most inclusive in North America. Anti-homophobia education does not teach children that their family's religion is wrong. It does not influence children's sexual orientation." The board accommodates parents who want their children to have no exposure to sex education. A lesbian introduced her same-sex partner at the meeting and was applauded. She said: "We're not talking about us having sex; we're talking about my daughter receiving respect." Alimamy Bangura, a member of the Campaign for Public Education and a founder of the Muslim Education Network said: "The Muslim community has been well received by the board. In every school where accommodation has been requested by the Muslim community, the board has responded very generously." 19 More details on this story.
bullet2004-NOV-25: WA: Spokane diocese plans to file for bankruptcy: Earlier in November, the Spokane Diocese announced that it plans to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Bishop William Skylstad said that the Roman Catholic diocese was facing a number of pending and potential lawsuits that would cost more than it could afford. Five insurance companies filed a lawsuit on NOV-23 saying that they should not have to pay the diocese because copies of some insurance policies could not be found and because church officials had been aware of warnings against the abusive priests but didn't stop them. The lawsuit said that: "The diocese made conscious decisions not to protect children." It alleges that "O'Donnell's continuing abuse of children and their injury were natural consequences of the Diocese's conscious and intentional decision to leave O'Donnell in a position with unrestricted access to, and contact with, children." It focused mainly on Rev. Patrick O'Donnell, who served as a priest in Spokane from the early 1970s to the mid-1980s. He has allegedly admitted in a deposition that he abused 30 or more boys while a priest. 20
bullet2004-NOV-16: USA: Pentagon to warn military bases to withhold sponsorship of BSA: The Pentagon has agreed to warn its bases that they cannot directly sponsor Boy Scout troops because of the BSA's discrimination against non-theists. According to the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, the U.S. military has sponsored hundreds of BSA troops. ACLU lawyer Adam Schwartz said: "If our Constitution's promise of religious liberty is to be a reality, the government should not be administering religious oaths or discriminating based on religious beliefs." However, individual military personnel will still be able to lead Scout troops on their own time. Troops will be able to have meetings on army bases if civilian organizations are allowed to hold events. Rev. Barry Lynn, director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, described the Pentagon's warnings to its bases as "very wise advice....It's important that the federal government — including the military — not sponsor any organization that discriminates on the basis of religion. In the long run, this change will be a good protection for religious freedom and diversity." The Pentagon's action was motivated by a lawsuit that the ACLU initiated against the City of Chicago, the Department of Defense and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The city of Chicago had already settled by agreeing to not sponsor BSA activities. 21

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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. "Ex-Muslim turns her lens on a taboo," ReligionNewsBlog, 2004-SEP-27, at: http://www.religionnewsblog.com/
  12. Dutch director Theo van Gogh murdered in Amsterdam," ReligionNewsBlog, 2004-NOV-02, at: http://www.religionnewsblog.com/
  13. "Sufis allege forced conversion in Muslim town," TamilNet, 2004-NOV-03, at: http://www.tamilnet.com/
  14. "Woman killed on suspicion of being witch," NewKerala.com, 2004-NOV-3, at: http://news.newkerala.com/
  15. Haroon Siddiqui, "Kerry lost by running as Bush Lite," Toronto Star, 2004-NOV-04.
  16. "Dutch Muslim community targeted after murder of filmmaker," Religion News Blog, 2004-NOV-08, at: http://www.religionnewsblog.com/
  17. Todd Zwillich, "Minnesota Tops List of Healthiest States. Obesity, Infant Mortality Cut Gains in Nation's Overall Health," WebMDHealth, 20004-NOV-08, at: http://webcenter.health.webmd.netscape.com/
  18. "eBay pulls 'Virgin Mary sandwich'," CNN.com, 2004-NOV-16, at: http://edition.cnn.com/
  19. Tess Kalinowski, "Muslim students can't skip gay ed. Matter of respect, public board says. 150 parents debate issue at meeting," The Toronto Star, 2004-NOV-17, Page A1 and A22.
  20. Janet Tu, "5 insurers sue Spokane diocese over settlements," The Seattle Times, 2004-NOV-25.
  21. Mike Robinson, "Pentagon to warn bases on Scouts," Associated Press, 2004-NOV-16, at: http://washingtontimes.com/

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Copyright © 2004 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2004-NOV-03
Latest update: 2004-NOV-26
Author: B.A. Robinson

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