RELIGIOUS CHANGE, CONFLICT & INTOLERANCE,
||2005-DEC-01: Christmas wars restart: The annual conflict over "the
reason(s) for the season" has once more surfaced. Some individuals and
groups -- mostly conservative Protestants -- are advocating an exclusive,
Christian-only, celebration in December. Others, mindful of the growing
religious diversity in the U.S. are advocating an inclusive recognition of
many religious holy days and annual days of celebration that Christians and
others observe at this time of year. The conflict is even seen in Washington
DC, where an exclusive Christmas tree has been erected at the White House,
and an inclusive holiday tree has been installed in the Congressional foyer.
||2005-DEC-01: UT: American Atheists launch lawsuit against Highway
Patrol: American Atheists went to federal
court to stop the Utah
Highway Patrol and the Utah Department of Transportation from erecting
large, 12 foot tall, metal Christian crosses on state property to honor
state troopers who were killed in the line of duty. They ask that six
existing crosses be removed.
The American Atheists' concern appears to be unrelated to the use of a
marker as a memorial to recognize the location where a state trooper died.
It appears to be the use of a religious symbol -- a Christian cross -- as
the marker, and the use of the Utah Highway Patrol logo on the crosses. 1More
||2005-DEC-06: KS: University professor hospitalized after assault:
Paul Mirecki, a religious studies professor at the University of Kansas,
had planned to offer a course in 2006-Spring to be titled "Special Topics
in Religion: Intelligent Design, Creationism and other Religious
Mythologies." During the week of NOV-27, he sent an E-mail to a student
group in which he referred to conservative Christians as "fundies"
and said that the course would be a "nice slap in their big fat face."
He later apologized for the Email and requested permission to cancel the
Early in the morning of DEC-05, he was driving on a road south of Lawrence,
KS, when a car tailgated him. He confronted the men in the car who beat him
with their fists and perhaps with a metal object. The men referred to his
course while they were beating him. He was hospitalized. Apparently, his
apology was insufficient.
||2005-DEC-07: US: Some megachurches closing for Christmas: An
Associated Press article by Rachel Zoll stated that several megachurches --
including Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, IL,
Southland Christian Church in Nicholasville, KY, Fellowship Church in
Grapevine, TX, and North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, GA -- will
be closed on Christmas day, even though it falls on a Sunday this year. Some of
these churches require hundreds of volunteers per service. By shutting down on
Christmas, their volunteers will be able to spend the full day with their
families. Ms. Zoll writes:
"Critics within the evangelical community, more accustomed to doing
battle with department stores and public schools over keeping religion
in Christmas, are stunned by the shutdown."
"It is almost unheard of for a Christian church to cancel services on
a Sunday, and opponents of the closures are accusing these congregations
of bowing to secular culture."
" 'This is a consumer mentality at work: "Let's not impose the church
on people. Let's not make church in any way inconvenient'," said David
Wells, professor of history and systematic theology at Gordon-Conwell
Theological Seminary, a leading evangelical school in Hamilton, MA. 'I
think what this does is feed into the individualism that is found
throughout American culture, where everyone does their own thing'."
However, they will have additional services on the days leading up to
||2005-DEC-08: World: 25th anniversary of the
assassination of John Lennon: Memorials and remembrances are being held
world-wide to commemorate the assassination of John Lennon, the former
Beatle. In his hometown of Liverpool, UK, an official memorial service was
held at Our Lady and St. Nicholas, the city's Anglican church.
Unfortunately, the church refused to allow one of Lennon's best known
anthems to peace to be sung -- even though its message is more important and
critical today that it was when he was alive. (Consider the
religiously-motivated disturbances, mass murders and genocides since 1980 in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Cyprus,
Nigeria, Sudan, Pakistan, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, India, Sri Lanka, Philippines, etc.
The church did reach an accommodation with the memorial organizers. They allowed
the music but not the words to be performed. I would like to think that the
congregation broke into unauthorized song as the music was played.|
So we thought that we would
print it below as a reminder:
Imagine there's no heaven,
It's easy if you try,
No hell below us,
Above us only sky.
Imagine all the people
Living for today....
Imagine there's no countries,
It isn't hard to do,
Nothing to kill or die for,
And no religion too.
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace....
Imagine no possessions,
I wonder if you can,
No need for greed or hunger,
A brotherhood of man.
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world....
You may say I'm a dreamer,
But I'm not the only one,
I hope someday you'll join us,
And the world will live as one.
2005-DEC-10: NY: Two Catholic
schools cancel yearly prom: Two principals of Long Island Roman Catholic
schools have canceled proms for the class of 2006. During March, Brother Hoagland and other administrators of Kellenberg High wrote in
a letter to parents saying, in part: "Common parlance tells us that this
is a time to lose one's virginity....It is a time of heightened sexuality in
a culture of anything goes....The prom has become a sexual focal point. This
is supposed to be a dance, not a honeymoon."
The administrators were also concerned about the use of alcohol and
excessive materialism. In November, Kellenberg High decided to ban their
2006 prom; a month later, Chaminade High School in Mineola, LI,
followed suit. Senior student Shane Abrams, 17, said: "It was like a slap
in the face. A lot of kids feel like: 'Why us? Why this year?' Why didn't
they ban the prom last year, or the year before?" 4
2005-DEC-15: Holland: Controversy over wearing of the Hijab:
A female teacher, Samira Haddad, was fired from the Islamic College
in Amsterdam because she refused to wear a hijab (a form of scarf used to hide
women's hair from view). The Equality Commission of the Netherlands had
previously ruled that the dismissal was unfair. The school rejected this
decision, because freedom of religion in the country means that the religious
school has the right to enforce its rules even though they are not directly
related to teaching. They said that "The profession of
the Islamic faith leads to prescribed regulations in relation to clothing."
The school also rejected a plea from Ahmed Aboutaleb, an Amsterdam alderman, who
argued it is important for Islamic institutions to demonstrate tolerance. 12
2005-DEC-15: USA: The U.S. Senate rejected reauthorizing parts of the Patriot Act: Apparently
because of civil liberties concerns, and the threat of a Democratic
filibuster, the Senate did not reauthorization of the Patriot Act unless it
has stronger protections for civil liberties. The Council on
American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said in a statement: "We applaud
the Senate's decision to reject Everyone wants to increase national
security, but that goal need not be achieved by sacrificing constitutional
"...The two Patriot Act provisions of greatest concern to
civil libertarians are Sections 215 and 505:"
"Section 215 allows law enforcement to acquire a search
warrant for 'any tangible thing.' It also forbids the warrant's
recipient from telling anyone about the warrant. CAIR and other civil
liberties groups support a Senate provision that would have required
that the government show that a person whose records are sought has some
connection to a terror suspect. Currently, law enforcement officials
must merely say the records are needed for an ongoing investigation."
"Under Section 505, National Security Letters (NSL) can be authorized by
FBI field inspectors. NSLs allow access to such records as financial,
business dealings, telephone calls, e-mails, web sites visited, and
Internet searches. They do not require a judge's approval and are
typically presented to employers or internet service providers who are
then prohibited from informing anyone of the request, even their own
lawyers. The Washington Post recently reported that a stunning 30,000
such letters are being issued annually."
||2005-DEC-15: UT: Woman sues Fundamentalist Mormon denomination: A
woman, identified only as "M.J." has launched a lawsuit against the
Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and its leader
Warren Jeffs. She alleged that she was married in a nonconsensual spiritual
marriage and that the resulting pregnancies have been physically and
emotionally devastating to her. Her lawyer, Roger Hoole, said: "More
young women are coming forward in an effort to stop these coerced, underage
marriages. I think that things are coming to a head in that community.
People are starting to realize that there's no future living in the fear
that Warren Jeffs creates to keep his followers loyal."
||2005-DEC-16: Report on reliability of prophecies for 2005:
Poizer prepared studied the accuracy of various astrologers and clairvoyants
in 2005. As in previous years, their predictions were quite unreliable. A
variety of "experts" had predicted:|
||The death of Prime Minister of Italy
Silvio Berlusconi, Doris Day, and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
||An assassination of President George W.
||A serious illness of President Bush.
||A love affair between US-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the North
Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il.
||The capturing of Osama bin Laden.
None of these actually happened. 7
||2005-DEC-19: USA: House passes, and NCC condemns 2006 federal budget:
Rev. Dr. Bob Edgar, the general secretary National Council of
Churches, an umbrella group of mainline and liberal Christian
denominations, issued a condemnation of the 2006 federal budget passed by
the U.S. House of Representatives. He wrote:|
"We are disappointed and dismayed that the House of Representatives
voted to pass the 2006 fiscal year budget—a budget that is immoral and
hurts those who it should be helping. As members of the House of
Representatives go home to celebrate the holidays with their families,
they do so having done a great disservice to the millions of families
they are supposed to serve. Rather than being fiscally responsible,
members of the House have been morally reprehensible by cutting programs
that help those most in need while giving tax cuts to the wealthiest
among us. Having been born into poverty, I can only imagine that Jesus
would be horrified by this budget."
"The story of Jesus’ birth recounts the treasured gifts that the wise
men brought to Mary and Joseph—gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Today, by passing this abysmal budget, the House has delivered hunger,
hardship and suffering to millions of American families. The Book of
James addresses this issue of favoring the rich over the poor: 'But you
have dishonored the poor…You do well if you really fulfill the royal law
according to the scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
But if you show partiality (to the rich), you commit sin and are
convicted by the law as transgressors.' (James 2:6a; 8-9)"
"We will continue to pray that the Senate will respond differently—that
they will have the courage to make a difference in the lives of
children, the elderly, veterans, and low-income families by voting
against this budget that will undoubtedly have a devastating impact on
their lives." 8
||2005-DEC-20: PA: Federal judge rules
against ID: In a 139 page ruling, the federal judge ruled that
Intelligent Design was simply another form of Creationism, and thus cannot
be taught in the Dover high school's science classes. He questioned the motives of the deeply
religious supporters of ID, suggesting that they had intentionally lied to the court.
Dover, PA will now be stuck paying for about one million dollars in legal
fees. More details.
||2005-DEC-22: USA: Illegal federal monitoring of Muslims: U.S.
News and World Report revealed in an exclusive report that the federal
government has been running "a far-reaching, top secret program to
monitor radiation levels at over a hundred Muslim sites in the Washington DC
area, including mosques, homes, businesses, and warehouses.....Some
participants were threatened with loss of their jobs when they questioned
the legality of the operation..." In addition there were similar sites
being monitored in at least five other cities. No search warrants or court
orders were ever obtained. The FBI, Energy Department, Justice Department,
and National Security Council declined to comment.
||2005-DEC-29: USA: Episode of South Park
will not be rebroadcast: The final episode of South Park, called "Bloody
Mary" was broadcast on Comedy Central on DEC-07. It was to be
rebroadcast on DEC-28, but was cancelled at the request of
Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. According to Eonline,
they were concerned at:
"the satirical portrayal of the Virgin Mary and the pope and by the
fact that the episode aired on the day before the Catholic Church
celebrated its Feast of the Immaculate Conception. The conservative
group demanded an apology from Viacom, Comedy Central's parent company,
to Roman Catholics everywhere and "a pledge that this episode be
permanently retired and not be made available on DVD."
||2005-DEC-29: CA: Expelled students sue
private Christian school: Two 16-year-old female students were expelled
from California Lutheran High School because the administration
suspects that they are lesbians. Their attorney,
Kirk D. Hanson, said that the expulsion traumatized
and humiliated them: "Their entire support network was pulled out from
under them because of suspicions about their sexual orientation." They
have launched a lawsuit in Riverside County Superior Court, asking
for unspecified damages and an injunction to prevent the school from
excluding students with a homosexual orientation. According to the
Associated Press, principal Gregory Bork allegedly "...grilled them on
their sexual orientation and 'coerced' one girl into saying she loved the
other." In a letter to the parents, Bork allegedly admitted that
officials had seen no physical contact between the students. However he
allegedly said that their relationship was "uncharacteristic of normal
girl relationships and more characteristic of a lesbian one." 11
Links to religious news sources:
||Lists of general religious, conservative Christian, other Christian, and
non-Christian news sources is available elsewhere on
this web site.
|How you got here:
"Atheists file suit to stop Utah Christian roadside memorials,"
AANews #1191, American Atheists, 2005-DEC-03
"Professor treated for roadside beating," Associated Press,
Rachel Zoll, "Some Megachurches Closing for Christmas," Associated Press,
Paul Vitello, "Hold the Limo: The Prom's Canceled as Decadent," New York
Times, 2005-DEC-10, at:
"CAIR applauds Senate defeat of Patriot Act Extension," Islam-Infonet,
"Woman sues polygamist sect," Associated Press, 2005-DEC-15, at:
Wolfgang Polzer, "ASTROLOGERS MISSED THE MARK IN 2005. No Love Affair
Between Condoleezza Rice and Dictator Kim Jong-Il," ASSIST News Service,
Rev. Dr. Bob Edgar, "NCC General Secretary expresses dismay
at House passage of 2006 federal budget," National Council of Churches,
David E. Kaplan, "Nuclear Monitoring of Muslims Done Without Search
Warrants," U.S. News & World Report, 2005-DEC-22, at:
Sarah Hill, " 'South Park' parked by complaints." Eonline,
"Suspected Lesbian Students Sue Christian School For Expulsion,"
Associated Press, 2005-DEC-29, at:
"Islamic school ignores headscarf ruling," Science Daily,
Copyright © 2005 & 2006 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2005-DEC-04
Latest update: 2006-MAR-07
Author: B.A. Robinson