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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-OCT-02: USA: Tenth anniversary of the crucifixion of Matthew Shepard: The assassination of Matthew Shepard had some of the same effects on the gay rights movement as the assassination of four girls about 35 years earlier at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL on 1963-SEP-15 by a white supremacist bomber. Both were acts of such viciousness that they galvanized public support in favor of equality for minorities. None of the five died in vain. In the years since Shepard's assassination, his parents had founded the Matthew Shepard Foundation and had many achievements "at the forefront of the fight to replace hate with understanding, compassion and acceptance." See:  http://www.matthewshepard.org/

  • 2008-OCT-10: CT: Court introduces SSM in Connecticut: The state Supreme Court ruled that the state's provision for civil unions did not give same-sex couples rights equal to opposite-sex married couples. Since the state constitution requires all citizens to be given equal protection under law, the majority of judges voted in favor of same-sex marriage. All loving, committed couples in Connecticut will be able to obtain marriage licenses as of 2008-OCT-28. 1 More details

    A newspaper online poll shows over 70% support among their readers for SSM. 2
  • 2008-OCT-20: Afghanistan: Taliban assassinate UK aid worker: Two members of the Taliban assassinated Gayle Williams, 34, an aid worker in Kabul. She volunteered for SERVE, a non-governmental Christian agency that promotes community development, education and vocational training for Afghans with disability. They also promote public health and nutrition education. 3 The Taliban leadership accused her of spreading Christianity and ordered her assassination. From the SERVE web site:
    "Reports say that two men on a motorcycle shot her and then fled the scene. She died almost immediately. She was a person who always loved the Afghans and was dedicated to serving those who are disabled. Needless to say we are all in shock." 4
  • 2008-OCT-23: Afghanistan: Journalism student's death sentence commuted: Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh was arrested on 2007-OCT-27  . He was charged with blasphemy because he had raised "... questions in a university class about Islamic attitudes toward women's rights." 5 He also allegedly distributed an Internet article that asks why Islam isn't modernized to ensure equality of the sexes. He was tortured in prison -- a routine procedure by the National Directorate of Security. His hand was broken. He was given a five minute trial without benefit of legal representation or the presence of journalists. He was immediately sentenced to death. There is speculation that the sentence was in response to activities by Perwiz's brother -- Sayed Yaqub Ibrahimi Kambakhsh. Yaqub is also a journalist and had published articles about how the people of Afghanistan are the victims of warlordism and extremism. On appeal, one of the witnesses admitted lying in an affidavit about having knowledge of crimes allegedly committed by Perwiz. His conviction was upheld, but Perwiz's sentence has been commuted to 20 years in prison. He is now appealing to  the Supreme Court. His lawyer, Mohammad Afzal Nooristani, said:
    "You know, our judicial system is very difficult to predict. Most of the judiciary is governed by fundamentalists or they are under pressure from [tribal] groups. It makes me feel not very optimistic about this. But of course no one should lose hope. I will try my best." 6
An editorial in the Toronto Star said:
"This looks more like the Taliban than any court Canadians would recognize as such. Canada's troops are not fighting and dying in Afghanistan to make the place safe for religious zealots who hold human life in low regard." 5
  • 2008-OCT-25: USA: Bob Larson to star in "reality" show: Bob Larson, 63, has circled the world holding Spiritual Freedom Seminars. He teaches that demonic oppression and possession are real, and that exorcism works. He will appear in his own program, The Real Exorcist on the Sci-Fi Channel with a four-hour special "reality" show on OCT-30 -- one day before Halloween. He believes that there are many people who are suffering from demonic influence. He said:
    "I'm going to be in the bars and hotel rooms and bedrooms of America, where I could never get otherwise, with the people who need it the most: [People] who are tormented and who are afraid to talk about it. Who do you tell about these strange things that are happening? ... They don't have to go to church to get the help. Let's face it, a lot of people just don't like the church. They don't like religious institutions. So I'm able to connect directly with them and help them." 7

Rev. Larson is creating a website that has 21 questions that people can take and determine whether they have a low, moderate or high probability of demon possession. 8

References used:

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

  1. Mark Spencer, et al., "High court grants marriage rights for same-sex couples," Hartford Courant, 2008-OCT-10, at: http://www.courant.com/
  2. "Same-sex Marriage in Connecticut?," Hartford Courant, 2008-OCT-13, at: http://www.courant.com/
  3. "Who we are," SERVE Afghanistan, at: http://www.serveafghanistan.org/
  4. "Tragic News," SERVE Afghanistan. at: http://www.serveafghanistan.org/
  5. "Rank Afghan injustice," Editorial, Toronto Star, 2008-OCT-24, Page AA4.
  6. Jessica Leeder, "Journalist sentenced to die in Kabul lives to tell his tale," Globe and Mail, Toronto, 2008-OCT-23, at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/
  7. David Yonke, "Exorcist to star in reality show: Larson challenges Satan, casts out demons in new television series," Toledo Blade, 2008-OCT-25, at: http://toledoblade.com/
  8. Rev. Larson's Web site is at http://demontest.com .

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Copyright © 2008 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2008-OCT-02
Latest update: 2008-OCT-24
Author: B.A. Robinson

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