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Religious Tolerance logo

Religious change, conflict and/or intolerance

News items during 2007-March

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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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bullet2007-FEB-08: Humbolt SK, Canada: Catholic Church not allowed to run hospital: There have been many instances in North America where the Roman Catholic Church has taken over the operation of hospitals. When this happens, they typically shut down family planning clinics and ban operations like tubal ligations and vasectomies which are intended to terminate people's fertility. This is consistent with the Church's teaching that every act of sexual intercourse must be open to conception. This means that any artificial means of contraception, such as the use of "the pill" or condoms are profoundly sinful, as are operations to prevent future conceptions. It also means that physicians and the hospital administration involved in these operations for the purpose of contraception would also be performing sinful acts.

During 2006-JUL, St. Elizabeth's hospital banned all future tubal ligations. During 2006-DEC, its policies were updated. They now state that "sterilization may be permitted when the primary purpose is to benefit the total health of the person." However, the preamble to the policy states that sterilization would not be permitted for the sole purpose of contraception. Presumably this would cover vasectomies as well. Dr. Jackie Bourgeois, and Dr. Carrie Levick resigned from the hospital because they felt that the could no longer provide proper care to their patients.

A major controversy surfaced. Humboldt and surrounding communities had previously agreed to contribute $13 million for the new Humbolt Uniplex that is to replace the 85 year old St. Elizabeth's hospital. They decided to withdraw their support, if the new hospital is run by a Catholic board. The Saskatchewan Health Region decided that Uniplex the will be run as a public institution rather than by Saskatchewan Catholic Health Corporation. Presumably, tubal ligations and vasectomies will once more become available to adults in their catchment area. 1,2

bullet2007-MAR-06: U.S. State Department releases annual human rights report: The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor of the U.S. Department of State released its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2006. Sadly, although the report catalogs human rights abuses and victories in over 175 countries, it neglects the U.S. itself. See: http://www.state.gov/
bullet2007-MAR-27: Lawsuit charging FAIR with being unfair was dismissed: Jerald and Sandra Tanner are founders of Utah Lighthouse Ministry -- an anti-Mormon Evangelical Christian group. They charged The Foundation for Apologetic Information & Research (FAIR) with trademark infringement and unfair competition. FAIR is a pro-Mormon group that had set up ten domain names, including utahlighthouse.com and htalightouse.org that led to a single web site which closely resembles the Lighthouse site, and is a parody of it. The domain names have since been transferred to Lighthouse. 3
bullet2007-MAR-27: Israeli Conservative Jewish seminary remains closed: Rabbi Einat Ramon, dean of the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary in Jerusalem announced that her seminary would remain closed to gay and lesbian students. She said:

"This is a final decision. In Israel, the [Conservative] movement has to be consistently halachic [true to rabbinic and biblical law] otherwise it will unite with the Reform Movement."

She stated that she believes that homosexuality is a chosen behavior, not a fixed sexual orientation. 6 More info.

bullet2007-MAR-28: Debate about religion held in London, UK: Professor and well-known Atheist Richard Dawkins, Professor A.C. Grayling of the University of London, and columnist Christopher Hitchens debated Rabbi Julia Newberger, philosopher Roger Scruton and archeologist Nigel Spivey on the topic "We'd be better off without religion?" Dawkins suggested that religion is like "... a child with a dummy in its mouth. I do not think it a very dignified or respect-worthy posture for an adult to go around sucking a dummy for comfort." A dummy is a British term for a infant pacifier. He said that giving children a religious education was comparable to "... erecting a firewall in their minds" against scientific truth. His opponents argued that "the religious gene" is present in all of us and that part of being human was a desire to search for religious meaning. Dawkins responded: "Speak for yourself. It is not a part of me. It is not a part of the great majority of my friends in universities in England and the US and elsewhere." A poll taken before the debate showed that 826 favored the motion, 681 were against and 364 didn't know. After the debate the vote was 1,205 for the motion, 778 opposed and 100 didn't know. 4,5
bullet2007-MAR-29: U.S. Conservative Jewish seminary open to gay students: The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) in New York City -- described as "the flagship seminary of Conservative Judaism," announced that it would accept openly gay and lesbian students. A vote by the JTS faculty produced results similar to a larger opinion survey conducted among North American Conservative Jews: most professors favored an inclusive admissions policy. 6  More info.

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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. Lana Haight, "Rally hears of woman's tubal ligation fight. Debate over hospital includes fear-mongering, doctor tells crowd," The StarPhoenix, 2007-MAR-01, at: http://www.canada.com/
  2. "Catholics won't be allowed to run hospital," The Toronto Star, 2007-MAR-08, Page A8.
  3. Pamela Manson, "Judge tosses cybersquatting suit against pro-Mormon group," Salt Lake Tribune, 2007-MAR-26, at: http://www.sltrib.com/
  4. "Dawkins says religion is 'like sucking a dummy'," Times Online, 2007-MAR-29, at: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/ Podcast available at: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/
  5. Ruth Gledhill, "We'd be better off without religion," Articles of Faith blog, Times, 2007-MAR-28, at: http://timescolumns.typepad.com/
  6. Rebecca Spence, "Conservative Judaismís Flagship Seminary Opens Door to Gays and Lesbians," Forward, 2007-MAR-30, at: http://www.forward.com/

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Copyright © 2007 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2007-MAR-08
Latest update: 2007-MAR-29
Author: B.A. Robinson

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