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We also have a list of religious tolerance & information news for this month. 
Sad to say, these are usually much shorter lists.

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bullet2006-MAR-03: Conservative Jewish committee to vote on homosexuality: The Committee on Jewish Law and Standards consists of 25 U.S. rabbis and lay leaders from the Conservative tradition of Judaism. The three largest traditions are Reform, Conservative and Orthodox; the conservative wing is comparable to mainline denominations in Christianity. They have been under pressure from the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, from some rabbis and from rabbinical students to revisit their 1992 anti-homosexual decision, discussed above. During the spring of 2005, the committee received nine separate suggestions on a new position on homosexuality. These were whittled down to four options:
bulletTwo options continue the status quo -- prohibiting homosexual sex, same-sex relationships, and ordination of gays and lesbians.
bulletOne reinterprets Leviticus 18:22 narrowly as a prohibition only of gay anal sex. Homosexual affections, same-sex relationships in general, same-sex unions and ordinations of gays and lesbians would be permitted.
bulletThe final decision would follow the lead of the Jewish Reform tradition, by overturning all historical prohibitions related to homosexual orientation.

Multiple affirmations by the committee are possible, and even probably in this case. Such a result would probably trigger debates within various seminaries about which option to follow. The committee is scheduled to convene in Maryland during the week of 2006-MAR-05. 1 They decided to defer any action until a meeting in 2006-DEC. More information.

bullet2006-MAR-09: USA: Poll shows increasingly unfavorable views of Islam: A Washington Post - ABC News Poll released on MAR-09 revealed that a growing minority of Americans are expressing unfavorable views about Islam. A negative view of Islam has increased from 39% shortly after the attacks on 2001-SEP-11 to 46% now. The percentage of American adults who believe that Islam helps to stoke violence against non-Muslims has increased from 14% in 2002-JAN to 33% now. About 25% admitted to being prejudiced against Muslims; the same number admitted to prejudice against Arabs. This is in spite of the fact that most Muslims are not Arabs. Some commentators have speculated that these beliefs are partly fueled by media accounts and political statements that focus on Muslim extremists. One thousand American adults were interviewed between MAR 02 and 05. The margin of error is 3.2 percentage points. More info.
bullet2006-MAR-12: Australia: TV ad campaign restricted: "This is True" reported that Tourism Australia created a new ad campaign which features the tag line: "Where the bloody hell are you?" "This is True" wrote:

Minister for Tourism Fran Bailey, who called the slogan "plain speaking and friendly," says the ad was briefly banned in the U.K. because of the word 'bloody'. Now, it's banned in Canada for an entirely different reason: the line 'I've bought you a beer.' Bailey says the 'Canadian regulator says that this implies consumption of unbranded alcohol,' which is 'some sort of quirky Canadian regulation.' She says the line will be changed for Canuck audiences, and she'll invite the Canadian regulator to 'come out here and I'll buy him a beer.' 9

bullet2006-MAR-14: North America: Isaac Hayes quits role in South Park: Isaac Hayes, 63, has supplied the voice of the school cook in the animated TV comedy South Park since 1997. He is an outspoken Scientologist and quit the program over his religious objections. He said:

"There is a place in this world for satire, but there is a time when satire ends and intolerance and bigotry towards religious beliefs of others begins. Religious beliefs are sacred to people, and at all times should be respected and honored. As a civil rights activist of the past 40 years, I cannot support a show that disrespects those beliefs and practices."

Matt Stone, co-creator of "South Park, responded:

"This is 100 percent having to do with his faith of Scientology... He has no problem - and he's cashed plenty of checks - with our show making fun of Christians." He added that he and co-creator Trey Parker "never heard a peep out of Isaac in any way until we did Scientology. He wants a different standard for religions other than his own, and to me, that is where intolerance and bigotry begin."

A South Park episode in 2005-NOV featured sarcastic attacks on well known Scientology members Tom Cruise, John Travolta and others. 3

bullet2006-MAR-17: IA: "This is True" comments on religious prohibition: This is True is maintains a web site and a newsletter containing stories of unusual events. Their newsletter of 2006-MAR-17, contained the following item:

"Scott Smith, 36, of Davis City, Iowa, was a leader of the Brotherhood of Christ religious community when he was convicted of sexual abuse and indecent contact with two teenaged girls. The Brotherhood is against modern conveniences, including anything electrical. Smith was ordered to wear an electronic monitor as part of his probation, but that violates his faith, he says, and would set a bad example for his children. The sect's current leader, Ron Livingston, says the ban on electricity is absolute, because it can cause people to 'disobey God and religion.' The judge in the case is reconsidering the monitor requirement. (Des Moines Register)" 4,5

bullet2006-MAR-20: Afghanistan: Christian being tried on a capital charge: Abdul Rahman was born a Muslim but converted to Christianity about 16 years ago. He is now on trial for the crime of leaving Islam for another religion. This carries the death penalty in Afghanistan and a number of other predominately Muslim countries. The prosecutor offered Rahman his freedom if he would only renounce Christianity and return to Islam, but he has refused. 6
bullet 2006-MAR-24: World: Global Love Day: We received an Email from The Love Foundation concerning Global Love Day that they sponsor every year. They are a:

 "...nonprofit corporation based in Tampa, FL with the mission of 'inspiring people to love unconditionally.' Their purpose and vision is to further the understanding and application of unconditional love through education, research and charitable programs.

They are celebrating their third Global Love Day on MAY-01, and ask that everyone be a part of it and to spread the word. We have chosen to include this notice in a list of religious conflicts because so many people teach hatred of others on the basis of gender, race, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, etc. So, unconditional love is a highly controversial topic. 7

bullet2006-MAR-24: TX: Baylor University denies tenure to professor: "Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas and affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas, Baylor is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state and the largest Baptist university in the world." 11 It has an enrollment of almost 14,000 students at its campus in Waco, TX. One of their leading professors, Francis Beckwith, holds Ph.D. and M.A. degrees in philosophy from Fordham University and a master of Juridical Studies degree from the Washington University School of Law. He is an associate professor of church-state studies, the associate director of the J.M. Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies, associate editor of the Journal of Church & State, president-elect of the 4,000-member Evangelical Theological Society, and the author of many books, including one about to be published by Oxford University Press. He was denied tenure. This decision has generated a firestorm of opposition among many conservative Christians who attribute the decision to the university's embarrassment at Beckwith's pro-life beliefs and his support for Intelligent Design. 12
bullet2006-MAR-27: USA: United Church of Christ's TV ad censored by networks: The United Church has prepared a new, rather humorous, television commercial that features people that some denominations consider to be undesirables (a single mother, a gay couple, a disabled woman, a homeless youth). These are literally ejected from the pews. ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, and WB networks have all refused to carry the ads. It can only be shown on cable TV. To view the ad, and perhaps send an Email to NBC, go to: http://www.accessibleairwaves.org/ The UCC has prepared the following graphic:

Mainline churches should be silent while Religious Right political leaders get to speak their mind?

Do you care?
bullet2006-MAR-30: Netherlands: Working replica of Noah's Ark being built: Johan Huibers is building a 1/5 model of Noah's Ark north of Amsterdam, Holland. He hopes to load it with far animals and sail it through Netherland's interior waters. It is intended to be an educational exhibit to counteract what school children are taught about evolution. He says that God instructed him to build the ark in a dream. He had a vision of a flood covering all of the Netherlands at some time in the future. If it is successful, he hopes to eventually build a full-size replica of Noah's Ark. 7
bullet2006-MAR24: CA: Conservative Christian youth rally gets cold shoulder: FRANCISCO Twenty five thousand youths attended an evangelical Christian youth rally in San Francisco. It was organized by Teen Mania, and called "Battle Cry for a Generation" and a "reverse rebellion tour." San Francisco Assemblyman Mark Leno, apparently unhappy with the anti-gay beliefs of the group, said, "... they're loud, they're obnoxious, they're disgusting, and they should get out of San Francisco."
bullet2006-MAR-29: Nigeria: Government holds campaign concerning eclipse: The government of Nigeria mounted a campaign to educate its citizens about the eclipses of the sun which occurred on this day. In 2001, many Muslims rioted because they interpreted the eclipse as a sign that God was angry with them for their sinful activities. Government ads say there is no religious significance to the eclipse; they are merely natural phemomena. Darkness fell in 14 of the country's 36 states between 0915-0945 local time. The eclipse was also be visible from much of Asia, Libia, Turkey, and Brazil. 10

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Links to religious news sources:

bulletLinks to general religious, conservative Christian, other Christian, and non-Christian news sources is available elsewhere on this web site.

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References used:

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

  1. Jennifer Siegel, "Conservative Rabbis To Vote On Gay Issues," The Forward weekly publication, 2006-MAR-03, at: http://www.forward.com/
  2. Claudia Deane and Darryl Fears, "Negative Perception Of Islam Increasing" Washington Post.
  3. Erin Carlson, "Isaac Hayes Quits 'South Park'," Associated Press, 2006-MAR-14, at: http://my.earthlink.net/
  4. Randy Cassingham, "This is True" newsletter #613, 2006-MAR-17.
  5. The "This is True" web site, from which you can subscribe to the newsletter is at: http://www.thisistrue.com/  It is well worth the visit.
  6. "Christian convert could be executed," Toronto Star, 2006-MAR-21.
  7. "The Ark of Johan," Visie, 2006-JAN-05, at: http://www.eo.nl This is an interview in Dutch, with photographs of the partially assembled ark.
  8. "Christian Youth Rally," San Francisco Chronicle, 2006-MAR-24.
  9. "This is True #615," 2006-MAR-31. Their home page is at: http://www.thisistrue.com They distribute one version of their newsletter for free.
  10. "Nigeria religious eclipse warning," IRPP, 2006-APR-29.
  11. "Excellence in Christian Higher Education," Baylor University, at: http://www.baylor.edu/about/
  12. Erin Roach, "Baylor denies tenure to highly regarded Beckwith," Baptist Press, 2006-MAR-31, at: http://www.baptistpress.com/

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Copyright 2006 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2006-MAR-03
Latest update: 2006-APR-09
Author: B.A. Robinson

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