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News of religious/ethical change, conflict and/or intolerance


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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.


  • 2008-AUG-01: USA: Paranormal powers to be evaluated: Colin A Ross, MD, a psychiatrist from Dallas TX, claims that he has a superpower. He believes that he can send a beam of energy from his eyes that will generate a tone in an audio system. 1 He has applied to win a the James Randi Educational Foundation  prize of $1 million for anyone who can prove a paranormal power. The first step is for Dr. Ross and the Foundation personnel to jointly develop a test protocol to prove or disprove his ability.

    The Wall Street Journal states:
    "Dr. Ross, founder of the Colin A. Ross Institute, is the author of over 135 scientific papers and 18 books, many of them dealing with psychological trauma and multiple personality disorder. He has spoken to mental health professionals throughout North America, as well as in Europe, China, Australia and New Zealand, including several conference presentations on energy fields. In a forthcoming book entitled Human Energy Fields, Dr. Ross explains a new science and medicine of human energy fields in detail."
    " 'Once this energy is identified and captured, as I have done, then it can be studied and used for many applications in medicine and other fields,  said Dr. Ross."
    "Dr. Ross plans to use the $1 Million to develop scanning equipment for medical use and to carry out research on therapeutic uses of human energy fields." 2
    There have been many attempts in the past, ranging from therapeutic touch practitioner who vlsimrf that they can feel bodily energy, to a European who claimed that he could see objects even though blindfolded.
  • 2008-AUG-03: India: 145 people died during stampede in Indian Hindu temple: Thousands of pilgrims stampeded at the Naina Devi temple in northern India after rumors of a landslide that never happened. They had gone their to celebrate Shravan Navratas, a nine-day festival that honors the Hindu Goddess Shakrti, the divine mother. Pilgrims descending the mountain path collided with others ascending. 145 died after being trampled to death or being pushed over the side of the mountain. Another 37 were injured. 3
  • 2008-AUG-08: Kashmir: Inter-religious conflict over shelter for religious pilgrims: Hundreds of thousands of Hindu pilgrims travel each year to the Amarnath Shrine -- a cave that contains a large icicle in the form of a penis that is revered by Hindus as an incarnation of Lord Shiva -- the Hindu God of destruction and regeneration. The Kashmiri government had planned to transfer control of about 100 acres of land to the shrine so that shelters and bathrooms could be constructed for temporary use by the pilgrims. But some Muslims were concerned that the arrangement might be a plan to establish a Hindu settlement in the region and change the delicate demographic balance between Hindus and Muslims in Kashmir.  Riots since JUN-23 have claimed 12 deaths. 4
  • 2008-AUG-09: Malaysia: Protestors successfully halt legal conference: The police ordered the Bar Council, a professional legal association, to terminate its conference on religious conversion. More than 300 demonstrators had gathered outside the association's headquarters, and there was a significant chance that violence might break out. The conference had included legal experts from a variety of religions including Islam. Their goal was to discuss how to resolve family problems brought about by religious conversions. For example, a prominent case during 2007 involved a previously Hindu family in which the husband converted to Islam, and the wife remained Hindu. She asked the court to stop her husband from changing their child's religion to Islam.

    The Associated Press reported that some Muslims are concerned about religious minorities -- primarily Buddhists, Christians and Hindus -- seeking religious equality in this predominately Muslim country. Protestors held signs stating: "Don't challenge Islam" and "Crush the Bar Council." Muslim activist Azmi Abdul Hamid wrote in a statement: "The issue of Islamic affairs is a very sensitive issue for Muslims. We remind the Bar Council not to play with fire." 5
  • 2008-AUG-13: IL: Catholic clergy abuse settlement: The Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago agreed to pay more than $12.6 million to 16 persons who accused priests of sexual abuse. Cardinal Francis George apologized for the abuse and said in a statement:
    "My hope is that these settlements will help the survivors and their families begin to heal and move forward. ... We must continue to do everything in our power to ensure the safety of the children in our care."
  • In an unprecedented attempt at openness, the archdiocese is making George's deposition public.

    This brings the total payments to $65 million to settle about 250 claims in the Archdiocese over the past three decades. Mediation continues in about two dozen other cases. 6 More information on clergy abuse settlements.

  • 2008-AUG-20: Mexico: Priest condemns women in miniskirts: As part of the preparation for a forum on family values in Mexico City during 2009, the Reverend Sergio Roman criticized women in miniskirts. He wrote on an official church website: "When we show our body without prudence, without modesty, we are prostituting ourselves,"

    Women's groups in Mexico accused the church of providing a cover for sexual violence and abuse. Guadalupe Loaeza, a well-known social commentator, said:

    "It gives rapists permission to say, 'Well she had on a miniskirt'. What the church says has credibility - that's why this type of statement is so dangerous."
    Fr. Roman's archdiocese defended him, saying that his words were taken out of context and misinterpreted. It said the article was only intended to give "moral guidance for the Catholic community." 7
  • 2008-AUG-21: USA: Petition to call on Sen. McCain to renounce torture: In 2005, Senator McCain -- himself a victim of torture -- was one of the leaders in the struggle against torture. He sponsored a bill to ban U.S. military personnel from using torture as an interrogation method. By 2008, he had abandoned this position and voted against the very same torture ban.

    TrueMajorityAction.org, has released an online video by Father Roy Bourgeois and has an online petition to Senator John McCain. See: http://act.truemajorityaction.org/
  • 2008-AUG-28: USA: Chick Publications publishes new religious tract: Chick Publications is selling a new tract titled "First Bite." It equates three unrelated groups: blood-drinking vampires with Wiccans and religious Satanists. It describes an encounter between Igor, the leader of the local "coven" of vampires, and Faith -- an Evangelical Christian. Igor tries to bite Faith on her neck with his sharp fangs. Faith gets him to trust Jesus as Lord and Savior. The coven never recovered. We expect that, because of the numerous untruths expressed in the "First Bite," the individual who circulates the track -- and by extension conservative Protestants generally -- will tend to be associated with religious hatred, intolerance, and disinformation. The tracts may well prove to be counterproductive. 8
  • 2008-AUG-31" Iceland: Hindu leader refused permission to deliver prayer: Rajan Zed's request to deliver an opening prayer at the start of the next session of the Iceland Parliament was rejected. Deputy Secretary General of Althingi (Icelandic Parliament) Thorsteinn Magnússon wrote: "There is a long tradition for conducting a Lutheran mass at the opening of the parliament and there are no plans to change this tradition." Apparently, there is no process by which this can be changed. 9

References used:

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

  1. The home page of the James Randi Educational Foundation is at http://www.randi.org .
  2. "Dallas Psychiatrist's Paranormal Abilities to Be Tested by Noted Debunker James Randi Dr. Colin Ross Can Send a Beam of Energy From His Eyes; Aims for $1 Million Prize," Wall Street Journal, 2008-JUL-30, at: http://www.marketwatch.com/
  3. Gavin Rabinowitz, "145 dead in Hindu Temple stampede in India," Associated Press. 2008-AUG-03, at: http://www.onenewsnow.com/
  4. "Shrine clash threatens to tear Kashmir from India," Associated Press, 2008-AUG-08, at: http://wwrn.org/
  5. Sean Yoong, "Muslim Protest Halts Forum on Religion in Malaysia," Associated Press Writer, 2008-AUG-10, at: http://www.christianpost.com/
  6. "Settlements reached in Chicago clergy abuse cases ," Associated Press, 2008-AUG-13, at: http://asia.news.yahoo.com/
  7. "Women in minis 'prostituting selves'," The Telegraph (UK), 2008-AUG-20, at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/
  8. "First Bite," Chick Publications, 2008, at: http://www.chick.com/
  9. Press release by Rajan Zed, 2008-AUG-31,

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Copyright © 2008 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2008-AUG-06
Latest update: 2008-AUG-31
Author: B.A. Robinson

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