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Religious Tolerance logo

Religious/ethical change, conflict and/or intolerance

News items during 2008-January

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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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bullet2008-JAN-17: Canada: Foreign Affairs officers given pamphlet on torture: A Canadian government foreign affairs department training manual titled "Torture Awareness Workshop Reference Materials" includes a legal definition of torture and describes signs of abuse for which officials should be on the lookout. A list of "Possible Torture/Abuse Cases" lists Afghanistan, China, Egypt, Guantanamo Bay, Iran, Israel, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and the United States as pariah nations that engage in torture of prisoners. 1
bullet2008-JAN-21: Russia: Old Believers trying to get access to confiscated church buildings: The Old Believers had their places of worship confiscated during the communist period. In spite of a 2003 decree by the president, they still have not been returned. Forum 18 reports:

"One priest denied access to bring communion to a parishioner in a local prison was allowed in after his complaint was aired on a website in August 2007. Old Believers told Forum 18 that internet coverage saved one of their parishes in Yaroslavl Region from being stripped of legal status. Whether such coverage will help Old Believers in Morshansk in Tambov Region to recover the historical Dormition Church - confiscated again after its brief return in 2002 - remains unclear. The town mayor has prevented the community from holding prayer services outside the church."

"All the communities concerned belong to the Moscow-based Belokrinitsa concord (soglasiye), the largest Old Believer branch in Russia. Formed in the mid-nineteenth century, it has a church hierarchy, unlike some other Old Believer branches." 2

bullet2008-JAN-16: Italy: Pope cancels visit to Rome university: Pope Benedict XVI was scheduled to visit Rome's main university, La Sapienza. However, an unprecedented groundswell of opposition by the faculty and students resulted in his decision to postpone the visit. Sixty faculty members signed a letter asking that the university rescind the Pope's invitation. The letter said that the pope's presence on a university would be "incongruous." They noted that he had made a speech at the university in 1990 when he was a cardinal in which he quoted the opinion of Paul Feyerabend, an Austrian philosopher of science. The latter wrote that the church's treatment of Galileo was "reasonable and fair." The faculty letter said: "These words offend and humiliate us." About 50 students broke into the rector's office on JAN-15, and staged a sit-in. 6
bullet2008-JAN-28: Iraq: Over one million deaths in Iraq: Opinion Research Business, a UK firm, updated an earlier survey of casualties in Iraq by interviewing additional adults in rural communities. Their latest estimate is that 1,033,000 Iraqis have been killed between 2003-MAR and 2007-AUG. The question asked is: "How many members of your household, if any, have died as a result of the conflict in Iraq since 2003 (i.e. as a result of violence rather than a natural death such as old age)? Please note that I mean those who were actually living under your roof?" 4 This number compares to an estimate of the deaths of 180,000 people during Saddam Hussein's earlier genocide against the Kurds. 5
bullet2008-JAN-30: USA: Family Research Council has prepared a voter guide covering presidential candidates' stated views topics of interest to values voters." on stem cell research, Faith Based Initiative, land expropriation, estate tax, border security, ban on assault weapons, and a broad range of topics with sexual content: abortion, sex-ed, marriage equality for all, employment protection for persons of all sexual orientations and sexual identities, hate crimes legislation to protect persons of all sexual orientations and sexual identities, and gays in the military.

Not included were moral questions related to human suffering, such as poverty and health insurance, presumably because they are considered of little interest to values voters.

The wording used in some of the guide's questions are heavily biased. Those dealing with denying same-sex couples the right to marry or to even obtain any benefits are referred to as "promoting stronger marriages." Those dealing with equal rights for persons of all sexual orientations and sexual identities are referred to as "homosexuality and special rights." 3

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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. "Envoys given manual on 'torture awareness," The Toronto Star, 2008-JAN-17, Page A4, at: http://www.thestar.com/
  2. "Russia: Old believers use new media to demand religious freedom," News release, Forum 18 News Service, 2008-JAN-21, at: http://www.forum18.org/
  3. "The 2008 Presidential Voter Guide," at:  http://www.frcaction.org/
  4. "New analysis ‘confirms’ 1 million+ Iraq casualties," Opinion Research Business, 2008-JAN-28, at: http://www.opinion.co.uk/
  5. "Saddam Hussein: Mass murder and genocide," Wikipedia, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/
  6. John Hooper, "Pope pulls out of visit to Rome university after outrage at his views on Galileo and science," The Guardian newspaper, 2008-JAN-16, at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/

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Copyright © 2008 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2008-JAN-17
Latest update: 2008-FEB-24
Author: B.A. Robinson

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