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WORLDWIDE NEWS OF RELIGIOUS TOLERANCE FOR 2001-FEB

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We also have a list of religious intolerance news for this month. 
Sad to say, these are usually much longer lists.

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bullet2001-FEB-4: Mass. Response to anti-gay vandalism at church: According to the Boston Globe for FEB-5, nearly 1,000 people gathered at the First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church for a candlelight vigil to protest recent antigay vandalism of church signs. On JAN-27 "someone twice drew swastikas over two rainbow triangles that symbolize the church's openness to gays and lesbians. After members of the Unitarian Universalist church cleaned off the graffiti, vandals drew new swastikas over the triangles and stole a rainbow flag later that evening. The Rev. Katie Lee Crane of First Parish said people came from all over the state to show their solidarity with the church." 11
bullet2001-FEB-4: World: World Council of Churches launches Decade to Overcome Violence: According to According to ACNS 8
The World Council of Churches launched the Decade to Overcome Violence: Churches seeking reconciliation and peace (DOV) -- a ten year program to reduce the violence in the world. "Beginning with a service of worship in [Berlin, Germany, at] the bomb-scarred Gedächtniskirche (Memorial Church) and climaxing with a candle-lit march from the Berlin House of World Cultures to the Brandenburg Gate, the Central Committee pledged 'to work together to end violence and build lasting peace with justice' ". Dr Konrad Raiser, the WCC's general secretary said to the crowd: "This gate has already witnessed many processions of protest with torches and candles. The Brandenburg Gate itself is a symbol that stands for many things - lust for power and violent division, reunification and reconciliation...For us, the Decade journey must start with repentance for the violence that Christians and churches have tolerated or even justified. We are not yet the credible messengers of non-violence that the gospel calls us to be." [In other statements, the WCC has acknowledged that Christian groups have not only tolerated and justified violence in the past, but actually helped initiate it.]
bullet2001-FEB-5: Georgia: Association maintains link to gay-positive churches: On rare occasions, individual Southern Baptist congregations will conduct deep studies of homosexuality. Often, they determine that the homophobic policies of their association are not justified in light of either the Bible or human sexuality research. Virginia-Highland and Oakhurst churches in Georgia were two such congregations. They stress the sexual orientation of homosexuals, rather than their behavior. They openly accept homosexuals as deacons and Sunday school teachers. They perform same-sex unions for committed couples. In response, the Georgia Baptist Convention expelled the two congregations in 1999 for "affirming, approving and endorsing homosexual behavior." This decision was the first dismissal by the Convention of a congregation in its 177 year history. violated centuries of Baptist belief and practice; Baptists have traditionally recognized local church autonomy in matters of belief and practice. On JAN-30, the Atlanta Baptist Association decided to maintain the membership and affiliation with the two expelled churches. The results of the secret ballot were 253 to 164. James Merritt, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, commented: "They have failed to do their spiritual and moral duty." 12
bullet2001-FEB-7: Israel/Palestine: Canadian religious leaders appeal for a just peace: According to ACNS 8
Leaders from nine Canadian churches have called for a settlement in the Middle East that would guarantee "peaceful existence within secure borders" for both Israelis and Palestinians. "Palestinians have the right to exist in peace and freedom in an internationally recognized homeland and state...Both Israelis and Palestinians are entitled to security, and to the right to determine their own future as a people, while respecting the rights of the other." They called for continued dialogue "to keep Jerusalem open and accessible to the three faiths that hold it sacred, and to all residents of the region who see it as the centre for their livelihood and identity."
bullet2001-FEB-9: Britain: Prince Charles calls for religious tolerance: According to EWTN: 
Speaking at a Muslim gathering, Prince Charles called for greater tolerance and understanding of non-Christian faiths. He said that cultural diversity was important to British unity. He said, "What I always try to say is about the importance of our different faith communities in this country. I think we are enormously fortunate to have such a rich and diverse mix. I feel we have a great deal of unity through that diversity."
bullet2001-FEB-11: Ohio: Interfaith Council overcomes religious intolerance: 
The Akron Area Interfaith Council had to relocate their annual award dinner from Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church to St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, at the last minute. Rev. Jerry Hall, the pastor at Annunciation refused to allow the Council to have their dinner at Annunciation if a musical group from the Church of Spiral Oak (a Pagan group) was allowed to perform. Rev. Hall wrote: "We have regulations that limit our participation with groups that would be involved with things like Paganism. If we allowed this event at our church, with their [Pagan] participation, it would send a message to the community of our acceptance. As Orthodox Christians, we cannot accept their [Pagan] tenets and we cannot send a message that it [Paganism] is OK. Well, it's not OK. And we had to take a stand.'' Rev. Jon Dainty, a member of the Council and executive director of the Association of Churches, said the mission of the council is to promote freedom of religion, equality and tolerance, and "for us to do anything but what we did would have gone against everything we stand for.'' Joe Jerek, the Pagan representative to the Council said: "Part of (the Pagan) tradition is finding balance. So, I said to the group, 'It's probably easiest to ask us not to perform. But it's probably better to change venues.' I was so impressed and gratified with their decision. It showed that they don't just profess their mission, they actually live it." Crow Welch, a Witch, said: "...we are still struggling against misperceptions. And we expect that, but when it comes from religious leaders, it is very painful.'' 13

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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. ENI (Ecumenical News International) provides free bulletins and subscriptions to full text articles. Their home page is at: http://www.eni.ch Its postal address is: PO Box 2100, CH - 1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland
  3. Newsroom is a service of Worldwide Newsroom Inc. Their articles are written by "a network of journalists, scholars and other professional contacts in country." You can subscribe to their free service from their website at http://www.newsroom.org/ 
  4. 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
  5. Reuters is "the world's leading financial information and news group. Their web page is at: http://www.reuters.com/ 
  6. CitizenLink is a service of Focus on the Family. They send regular Emails containing news items interpreted from a Fundamentalist Christian perspective. Signup is at: http://www.family.org/cforum/clinksignup.cfm 
  7. Earth Religions Legal Assistance Network is a leading anti-defamation group which fights discrimination against Neopagans. See:  http://www.conjure.com/ERAL/eral.html 
  8. Anglican Communion News Service (ACNS) maintains a free mailing list. Go to http://www.anglicancommunion.org/acns/ to subscribe.
  9. EWTN is a news service of the Roman Catholic Church. It posts news items from Newsline, Newslink, and The World Over on its Internet site at: http://www.ewtn.com/news/index.htm
  10. Alternative Religions Educational Network (AREN) is an information organization located in Philadelphia. It has monitored discrimination against Wiccans throughout North America for three decades. Their web page is at: http://aren.org
  11. "Vigil protests antigay vandalism," the Boston Globe, 2001-FEB-5, Page B02, at: http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/036/metro/
  12. Todd Starnes, "Atlanta Baptist Association affirms homosexual-friendly churches," Baptist News, at: http://news.crosswalk.com/religion/item/0,1875,320421,00.htm
  13. Colette M. Jenkins, "Pagans are grateful for understanding," 2001-FEB-10, the Akron Beacon Journal.

Copyright © 2001 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2001-FEB-5 
Latest update: 2001-FEB-15 
Compiler: B.A. Robinson

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