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News of religious change, conflict and/or intolerance

During 2005-MAY

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Sponsored link:

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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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bullet2005-MAY-03: USA: Eerdmans publishes positive book on Mormonism: A Mormon scholar, professor Robert Millet has written a book "A Different Jesus?" which explains beliefs taught by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 12 The foreword is by Richard Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary.

It has been severely criticized by some Evangelical Protestants. "Back2TheRoots," a pastor from San Antonio and author of the Staying Current! blog is troubled by the book. He writes that "Mormonism is not a God honoring religion" and that the book "...perpetuates the trend of tolerance and 'unity' (disregarding purity) in a postmodern 'church' culture." He is concerned that Evangelicals will see the book in their local conservative Christian bookstore and might be swayed by its contents. 13

The book has also been well received by others. It is endorsed by David Neff, editor of "Christianity Today" and by academics from a variety of conservative Christian institutions. The Amazon.com review states: "A leading Mormon scholar who has spent much of his career in conversation with traditional Christians and their writings, Millet discusses what constitutes Christianity and examines how the Latter-day Saints fit or do not fit within that rubric. Intended to inform rather than to convince or persuade, A Different Jesus? clears away misconceptions and doctrinal distortions that characterize more polemical works about Mormonism. Millet points out the many beliefs that Latter-day Saints hold in common with traditional Christians, yet he also emphasizes differences where they exist." 12
bullet2005-MAY-06: Vatican: Editor fired, allegedly for discussing both sides of issues: The Rev. Thomas J. Reese, a widely respected expert on the Catholic Church and the Vatican has allegedly been forced to leave as editor of the Jesuit weekly "America," after having served in that position for seven years. He will be replaced by his deputy, the Rev. Drew Cristiansen. Unidentified Jesuits in Rome and the U.S. said that American bishops were disturbed about articles on controversial issues such as same-sex marriage and stem cell research. Those articles had explained all sides to the issues. 14
bullet2005-MAY-07: NC: Church allegedly terminates Democrats' memberships: Approximately twenty members of the 400-member East Waynesville Baptist Church in Waynesville, NC, reportedly revoked the membership of nine fellow members. This was done at a recent deacon meeting which changed into a business meeting -- apparently in violation of the church's constitution. Forty other members left in protest. Selma Morris, a member of the church for three decades said that their pastor, Chan Chandler, had been exhorting his congregation since 2004-OCT to either support his political views or leave the congregation. She said: "He preached a sermon on abortion and homosexuality, then said if anyone there was planning on voting for John Kerry, they should leave. That’s the first time I’ve ever heard something like that. Ministers are supposed to bring people in."

Dr. George Bullard, associate executive director-treasurer for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, said that many churches' bylaws allow pastors to terminate individual memberships.  He said: "Membership is a local church issue. It is not something the state convention would enter into."

Doris Wilson, a neighbor of Pastor Chandler and a member of another Baptist church said, "I hate to see the church suffer like that. God doesn’t care whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat. It just hurts to see that going on."

Pastor Robert Prince III of First Baptist Church of Waynesville said he was appalled to hear about the developments. He said that many Southern Baptist ministers endorsed President Bush in the 2004-NOV election. "One rule has been to speak to issues but not to endorse particular candidates. It’s a disturbing development that Baptist pastors are crossing this line and are endorsing specific candidates." 15

On MAY-10, Chan Chadler resigned from the East Waynesbille Baptist Church. His
lawyer, John Pavey, reportedly said: "He feels like in light of everything that has taken place, instead of continuing to fight with the various factions, he feels it’s in the best interest of everyone concerned that he resign." 17
bullet2005-MAY-02: Quebec: Christian religion classes to be eliminated from schools: Until the 1960s, public schools in Quebec were controlled by the Roman Catholic Church and by Protestant denominations. Most schools are now controlled by the government. Classes currently include Christian instruction. But in three years, a new course in ethics and religion will have been developed by Quebec's Education Department to replace the teaching of Christianity. Education Minister Jean-Marc Fournier said that Catholicism "...will be strongly represented and will still be important" in the new curriculum. But the courses will also "include larger perspectives and will be more open to cultural diversity." Monsignor Pierre Morissette of the Assembly of Quebec Catholic Bishops is disappointed. But he hopes that the Catholic church will have some input to the curriculum. He said: "Quebecers will still have to confront questions of religion. A large majority of parents, even in Quebec where most people don't regularly attend church, want their children to be in contact with the tradition. That's clear." 16
bullet2005-MAY-12: NB: Nebraska DOMA law was declared unconstitutional: U.S. District Judge Joseph Bataillon declared the state DOMA law to be unconstitutional because it denies equal protection under law to same sex couples. Referring to Section 29 in the state Bill of Rights which prevents gays and lesbians from trying to effect legislative change, he wrote:

"The court finds Section 29 is a denial of access to one of our most fundamental sources of protection, the government. Such broad exclusion from 'an almost limitless number of transactions and endeavors that constitute ordinary civil life in a free society' is 'itself a denial of equal protections in the literal sense'."

He noted that Section 29 "imposes significant burdens on both the expressive and intimate associational rights [of gays and lesbians] and creates a significant barrier to the plaintiffs' right to petition or to participate in the political process....[the ban] goes far beyond merely defining marriage as between a man and a woman....[the] broad proscriptions could also interfere with or prevent arrangements between potential adoptive or foster parents and children, related persons living together, and people sharing custody of children as well as gay individuals." 18 More information

bullet2005-MAY-13: CO: Allegations of religious intolerance at Air Force Academy: Reacting to over 50 allegations of religious intolerance at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO, a Pentagon task force has been interviewing Academy personnel. Associated Press reported that its No. 2 chaplain, Captain Melinda Morton, said that she was fired for speaking up about religious intolerance among cadets and staff. She alleged that Evangelical Christians wield too much influence at the Academy. Major General Charles Baldwin, the Air Force's chief chaplain said that she wasn't fired, only reassigned to Japan. 19
bullet2005-MAY-15: Mexico: Intolerance of Evangelical congregation: Although the constitution of Mexico guarantees religious freedom, members of an Evangelical congregation have been jailed and fined for their beliefs. The vast majority of residents in Cuateceometl, Hidalgo, Mexico are Roman Catholics. They decided at a local town meeting to "eradicate" all non-Catholic Christians in the area. The meeting imposed a fine of 1,000 pesos on every member of The Fountain of Heaven Church and told them that they must renounce their Evangelical faith. If they do not comply by the end of the month, their homes and chapel will be destroyed. 21
bullet2005-MAY-26: IN: Divorced parents prohibited from religious expression: When Tammie Bristol and Thomas Jones Jr. applied for a divorce in 2004-fall, Judge Cale J. Bradford of the Marion Superior Court added an unusual -- perhaps unique -- provision to their divorce. They could not no longer expose their 9-year-old son to their Wiccan religious beliefs. The Domestic Relations Counseling Bureau, interviewed the couple and sent their recommendations about custody and visitation rights to the court. The Bureau detected what they judged to be a problem: the son attends a local Catholic parochial school and the parents follow a non-Catholic, non-Christian religion. The Bureau's report stated that: "There is a discrepancy between Ms. Jones and Mr. Jones' lifestyle and the belief system adhered to by the parochial school....Ms. Jones and Mr. Jones display little insight into the confusion these divergent belief systems will have upon (the boy) as he ages." The Bureau appears to regard the religion of Wicca as a "lifestyle" and Roman Catholicism as a "belief system." The judge prohibited both parents from exposing their son to "non-mainstream religious beliefs and rituals." He did not define what a "mainstream" religion is. Both parents were outraged by this ruling and, with the support of the Indiana Civil Liberties Union, have filed a request with the appeals court to have the restrictive clause deleted. The father said: "This was done without either of us requesting it and at the judge's whim. It is upsetting to our son that he cannot celebrate holidays with us, including Yule, which is winter solstice, and Ostara, which is the spring equinox." It is likely that the judge is unaware of the nature of Wicca. A great deal of misinformation and disinformation is still being circulated about it. The judge is probably unaware that many adults regard themselves as both Wiccans and Christians. 22
bullet2005-MAY-29: NJ: Move to change the name of a hockey franchise: State Assemblyman and Baptist deacon, Craig Stanley, wants to change the name of the New Jersey Devils. He said:  "This is an age where symbolism is very important. I've always cringed when people say they're going to see the Devils. The merchandise, the paraphernalia is based on the actual demonic devil. Personally, it causes a little bit of an issue with me." He will introduce a resolution in the state Assembly during June which would have a new name chosen by the public. Team CEO, Lou Lamoriello, responded: "I can assure you the Devils name will never change, and I think there are more important things to be thinking about than something that will never happen. It's who we are and what we want to be." Apparently, the Jersey Devil is unrelated to the Christian, Jewish and Muslim concept of Satan. Rather, it refers to a mythical beast unique to the New Jersey area with wings like a bat, a forked tail and large claws.  It was born human but changed into an animal resembling a dinosaur. 20
bullet2005-MAY-31: USA: Hollywood & ABC TV criticized for portrayal of Christians: Citizen Link, a service of the Fundamentalist Christian group Focus on the Family has criticized ABC's  "Welcome to the Neighborhood" program -- a summer reality show  which features seven families bidding to buy a new house in a suburban cul-de-sac. The neighbors select the winning family. Ted Baehr of Movie Guide wrote that the Christian contestants will be the ones people love to hate.  He wrote: "ABC is really making a tremendous mistake in terms of audience. The audience out there wants positive portrayals." Pat Trueman of the Family Research Council  criticized Hollywood movies for their portrayal of Christian characters. He said: "Anyone who is portrayed as a minister of the Gospel is treated as someone who is backward, a redneck, prejudiced, uncouth." Don Feder, president of Jews Against Anti-Christian Defamation, said "Christians, especially evangelical Christians are being attacked because they're standing up for the right values." Tim Wildmon, president of the American Family Association suggests that religious conservatives complain to the advertisers of TV programs. He said: "Find out who the advertisers are and contact the advertisers. That's the best way to impact a television program or series." However he cautions conservatives to be careful that when contacting ABC or the shows' sponsors that they don't become the stereotype that they are protesting. 23
bullet2005-MAY-31: Ministry Watch recommends against donations to Benny Hinn: Ministry Watch monitors Christian ministries and rates them according to their financial transparency. After a study of Benny Hinn Ministries/World Outreach Church, they decided to advise donors "...to find other ministries to support while questions of finances, unfounded claims of healings, nontransparency and other issues [are] addressed."  Wall Watchers’ CEO Rusty Leonard explained, "Recent facts and allegations aired on NBC DATELINE – coupled with MinistryWatch.com’s previous concerns about the selfserving 'prosperity theology' taught by Benny Hinn – has caused MinistryWatch.com to recommend that donors prayerfully consider redirecting their gifts to one of the many biblically-based ministries that are not only more transparent in their dealings with the public but also treat donor’s funds as a sacred trust dedicated exclusively for the Lord’s work." 24

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References:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  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. World Faith News "is a data base of full text official news releases and other documents, including policy statements, from the news offices of national and world faith groups." See: http://www.wfn.org/
  12. Robert Millet, "A different Jesus: The Christ of the Latter-day Saints," Eerdmans, (2005). Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store
  13. Back2TheRoots, "Eerdmans embraces Mormonism," Staying Current@ blog, 2005-MAY-02, at: http://stayingcurrent.blogspot.com/
  14. "Controversial editor replaced at magazine," The Toronto Star, 2005-MAY-07, Page A12.
  15. Andre A. Rodriguez, "Members say church ousts Kerry supporters," Citizen Times, Asheville, NC, 2005-MAY-07, at: http://www.citizen-times.com/
  16. "No more Christian instruction in Quebec after 2008," Today's Family News, Focus on the Family, 2005-MAY-11.
  17. Andre A. Rodriguez, "East Waynesville pastor resigns in wake of controversy,"  Citizen Times, Asheville, NC, 2005-MAY-11, at: http://www.citizen-times.com/
  18. Kevin O'Hanlon, "U.S. Judge Rejects Neb. Gay-Marriage Ban," Associated Press, 2005-MAY-13, at: http://www.newsday.com/
  19. "Chaplain says she was fired. Claim comes amid inquiry into alleged intolerance at AFA," Associated Press, 2005-MAY-13, at: http://www.rockymountainnews.com/
  20. "Devils Steaming Over Criticism of Name," Associated Press, 2005-MAY-29, at: http://start.earthlink.net/
  21. "Evangelicals jailed, fined for their faith," Compass Direct, 2005-MAY-19, at: http://www.compassdirect.org/
  22. Kevin Corcoran, "Judge: Parents can't teach pagan beliefs," Indianapolis Star, 2005-MAY-26, at: http://www.indystar.com/
  23. Steve Jordahl, "Summer reality show stereotypes Christians," CitizenLink, 2005-MAY-31.
  24. "MinistryWatch.com Issues Donor Alert for Benny Hinn. Donors advised to find other ministries to support while questions of finances, unfounded claims of healings, nontransparency and other issues addressed," MinistryWatch, 2005-MAY-31, at: http://www.ministrywatch.com/ This is a PDF file. You may require software to read it. Software can be obtained free from: 

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Copyright © 2005 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2005-MAY-03
Latest update: 2005-MAY-08
Author: B.A. Robinson

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