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FOR 2000-JUN

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We also have a list of religious tolerance news items for this month.

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JUN-2: Wisconsin USA: Library religiously intolerant. According to Family News in Focus: 12
Chris Pfeifer was turned down when he asked to rent a public meeting room in the West Allis, WI public library. He wanted to give a workshop on creation science. That library traditionally has refused permission to anyone wishing to use a room for religious discussions.  No Christian group had ever challenged the policy before. 

Focus on the Family writes: "Liberty Counsel attorney Mat Staver, who represented Pfeifer, checked out a stack of creation books from the library shelves and dropped them in front of the top official. The librarian agreed anyone was free to read those books in the library. 'I then asked him, could (I) take those same books and go across the hall to the Constitution Room and tell someone else about the subject matter, and he said "No, because that would involve religious instruction," ' " Staver said. The case went to court. The library lost.

[Webmaster's note: Various courts have consistently ruled that if a government agency, including a library, rents facilities to some community groups, it cannot refuse to rent those facilities to faith groups. It is surprising that the library was not aware of this. It is even more surprising that no local religious group had ever challenged the case. But it was mind-boggling to learn that the case actually went to court. The library had not the slightest chance of winning the case.]


JUN-4: Israel: Parliament bans female prayer: According to AP-Reuters: 
In 2000-MAY, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that women are allowed to recite from the Torah and to wear prayer shawls at the Western Wall. The wall is regarded as the most sacred location on earth by Jews. It was once part of the Second Temple, destroyed in 70 CE. Ultra-orthodox political parties in the Knesset responded to the court ruling. They initiated a bill which would prohibit women from praying out loud or wearing a shawl at the Wall. The penalty for infraction would be a jail sentence of up to seven years. One woman interviewed on television indicated: if a man were to assault her at the wall, he might get a one year jail sentence; a rape might get him five years. But if she wore a prayer shawl, she could be locked up for seven years. The bill was passed, but must go through six additional steps before it is made into law. Later at the wall, four men were detained by the police. They had some eggs that they allegedly planned to throw at the women.


JUN-5: Japan: Japanese prime minister makes unpopular remark: According to the Guardian newspaper:
Yoshiro Mori, the prime minister of Japan has suffered a loss in approval rate from the public from 40% to 12% over the previous two months. 

"At a gathering of lawmakers promoting the indigenous Shinto religion, Mr Mori said that Japan was a 'country of gods with the emperor at its core.' Critics say those words...are a throwback to the pre-war era of religious nationalism, when Shinto taught that the emperor was a god and Japan a divine nation."

A poll taken by the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper indicated that the percentage of adults in Japan who believe in any form of religion is currently 20% -- a drastic drop from 60% in 1950. 1

bullet JUN-9: Russia: Government attempts to dissolve Pentecostal churches: According to Newsroom: 2
Russian law allows the government to dissolve religious institutions which represent a threat to "the morality or health of citizens, including the use in connection with their religious activities of narcotic or psychoactive substances, hypnosis, the performing of depraved or other disorderly actions." In 1999, the pastor of the Word of Life Pentecostal church in Magadan was charged under the law because he allegedly hypnotized members to extort donations. The pastor won that case. Now, the Kostroma regional department of justice has charged Kostroma Christian Center and Grace Church of Evangelical Christians because a video tape allegedly showed the results of hypnosis during their services. The pastor claims that the tape merely shows the "anointing of the Holy Spirit."
bullet 2000-JUN-14: USA: Southern Baptists ban female pastors: The Baptist Faith and Message Study Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), issued a statement on 2000-MAY-18 recommending that no female pastors be ordained in the future. This was approved at their annual meeting on JUN-14. The SBC is the largest Protestant denomination in the U.S. This is the first Christian denomination in the U.S. to ban female pastors after having earlier permitted them. It is only the second known denomination in the world to have done this. More details.
bullet 2000-JUN-15: France: Attack on new religious movements: According to ReligionToday: 3
The federal government has approved a law which national Senate which allows individuals to sue "marginal religious groups" who practice "mental manipulation." The law appears to be targeting Jehovah's Witnesses, Scientologists, and other small new religious movements. The law has the potential to impoverish religious groups by endlessly tying them up in litigation -- at least until a court decides that the law is unconstitutional.
bullet 2000-JUN-15: Poland: Christian crosses at Nazi death camp: According to Associated Press: 14 Kazimierz Switon, a radical Roman Catholic leader, had his six-month suspended sentence reduced to a fine of about $313 in U.S. dollars. His conviction of slandering the Polish Parliament and of inciting hatred of Jews was confirmed. In 1998, he had urged his followers to erect Christian crosses outside the Auschwitz death camp. His leaflets said that "the time has come for us Poles to wage merciless war on Jewish-communist-masonry, the biggest enemies of the Polish state." The leaflets also referred to Israel and Germany as "satanic -pagan forces aiming at extermination of the Polish nation." He called Polish Parliament members "traitors." The Polish army removed all but one cross.
bullet 2000-JUN-24: USA: Presbyterian Church speaker blasts tolerance, According to PCUSA News: 15
Former U.S. Secretary of Education William J. Bennett, author of the bestseller "The Book of Virtues," gave a speech on the opening day of the 212th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA). It was at an event sponsored by the Presbyterian Lay Committee, an independent conservative group within the church. According to PCUSA News, "He challenged his audience to resist attempts by promoters of tolerance and pluralism to downplay Christian faith and 'to put religion back in the closet.' " [Compiler's note: Religious tolerance means to allow other people to follow different religions. It is religious intolerance that would  "put religion back in the closet" and suppress the rights of people to talk about their religion. Religious pluralism is the state in which many different faiths are represented in a country. It is people who hate pluralism who would try to end pluralism by denying individuals the right to hold different religious beliefs.]
bullet 2000-JUN-27: India: Woman suspected of Witchcraft lynched: According to The Times of India: 16
"A 20 year-old married woman was stripped, paraded and lynched (to death) by a superstitious mob who suspected her of practising witchcraft. The gory incident took place in the Vijay Nagar slums on the eastern outskirts of the city.

Largely illiterate Chhatisghari tribals live in the densely-populated slum. A resident Yogesh Thakur, whose two-and-half-year-old daughter Manisha died on Saturday afternoon after some illness, held his neighbour Tikambai Sahu responsible for it. He consulted a tantrik from another slum who alleged that Tikambai was a witch and had cast a fatal spell on little Manisha.

By evening a panchayat was summoned and it was decided to 'punish'' Tikambai for practising 'sorcery.' She was dragged out of her house, stripped, and mercilessly beaten for hours. Even while being paraded through the narrow bylanes of the slums, she was beaten with sticks and stones. Her head was finally slammed on stones."

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  1. DayWatch is a daily service of Maranatha Christian Journal. It provides "a daily summary of news headlines with a Christian perspective..." The newsletter is free on request. Their web site is at: 
  2. Newsroom is a service of Worldwide Newsroom Inc. Their articles are written by "a network of journalists, scholars and other professional contacts in country." You can subscribe to their free service from their website at 
  3. ReligionToday provides free newsletters to which you can subscribe at: These summaries are part of, which also includes,,,,,,,,, and
  4. Reuters is "the world's leading financial information and news group. Their web page is at: 
  5. Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR): E-mail:
    URL: To join CAIR-NET, CAIR's read-only mailing list: Send subscribe cair-net in the body of a message to
  6. EWTN News carries Roman Catholic news from Catholic World News, Vatican Information Service, ZENIT, See: 
  7. Ecumenical News International (ENI) in Geneva Switzerland distributes news free religious news highlights to subscribers. They can be contacted at PO Box 2100, CH - 1211, Geneva 2, Switzerland. Telephone: (41-22) 791 6087/6515. Fax: (41-22) 788 7244 Email: Their web site is at 
  8. is "an International News Agency based in Rome. Our mission is to provide objective and professional coverage of events, documents and issues emanating from or concerning the Catholic Church for a worldwide audience, especially the media." Their web site is at: 
  9. Anglican Communion News Service provides information from an Anglican perspective. See:
  10. Robert Mendick, "Pagan teacher to be disciplined by school," at:  
  11. AANEWS is distributed by American Atheists.
  12. Stuart Shepard, "Judge: Library can't bar creationism," Focus on the Family at:
  13. Joathan Watts, "Religious gaffe may cost Japanese PM his job," The Guardian, at: 
  14. "Polish court cuts sentence of organizer of Auschwitz crosses," Associated Press, 2000-JUN-15.
  15. Eva Stimson, "Resist attempts 'to put religion back in the closet'," 2000-JUN-24, PCUSA NEWS, GA00012 
  16. Ramu Bhagwat, "Woman stripped, lynched in Nagpur," at: 

Copyright 2000
Originally written: 2000-JUN-1
Latest update: 2000-JUN-24
Author: B.A. Robinson

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