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We also have a list of religious tolerance news for this month. 
Sad to say, these are usually much shorter lists.

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2003-DEC-2: Information group expresses concern about new European Union states:  Forum 18 News Service reported that Arie de Pater, director of Jubilee Campaign NL, is concerned that the European Union (EU) has given insufficient notice to the lack of religious freedom in six states: Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia. They, along with Cyprus, Estonia, Malta, and Poland, are expected to join the EU in 2004-MAY. He questions why the European Commission's 2003 Comprehensive Regular Report makes no criticism of Bulgaria's new religious denominations act, which has been sharply criticized in Bulgaria and abroad. Four additional states which hope to join in 2007 also present religious freedom problems:  Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania & Turkey. 11


2003-DEC-2: Muslim groups in U.S. announces lawsuit against congressperson: The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) announced that they had filed a lawsuit against Representative Cass Ballenger (R-NC). He was reported in the media as claiming that the stress of living near CAIR in Washington, D.C., caused the breakup of his marriage. He is reported as saying that that his home's proximity to CAIR "bugged the hell" out of his wife who allegedly objected to women "wearing hoods" entering and leaving the CAIR building. The latter is an apparent reference to the wearing of a hijab by some observant Muslim women. He allegedly claimed that CAIR raised funds for terrorists. The lawsuit claims that this alleged accusation was made "with actual malice, wrongful and willful intent to injure, and with reckless disregard for its truth or falsity."
Arsalan Iftikhar, CAIR's director of legal affairs, said: "With this lawsuit, we are sending a clear message to all those who make malicious and defamatory statements against American Muslims or their institutions that they will be held accountable in a court of law." 12

bullet2003-DEC-11: Italy: Strict IVF bill passed: The Italian Senate approved a bill which controls the creation and use of human embryos. The bill bans many practices that are commonly followed in other countries. These include: donor insemination, access to reproductive techniques for single women, freezing of embryos, and preimplantation genetic diagnosis for preventing genetically transmitted diseases. Only three embryos may now be fertilized at a time, and all three must be transferred into the woman's womb at the same time. Elsewhere in the world, about twenty are fertilized, and three or so of the healthiest are placed in the woman's womb. Once a couple agrees to the procedure, they will not be allowed to change their mind.

The bill has been judged "unacceptable and immoral" by some of Italy's leading scientists. Geneticist Alberto Piazza, fertility expert Carlo Flamigni, Nobel Laureate Rita Levi-Montalcini, and others released a statement which said, in part: "Some of these bans, such as that of the preimplantation diagnosis with the obligations of transferring all the formed embryos in the womb, are astonishing from a scientific point of view and disgusting from a moral point of view." Montalcini is reported as saying that the new law "doesn't have any scientific justification" and represents "a step backwards of a century." Nino Guglielmino, head of the Hera Medical Centre, who specializes in preimplantation genetic diagnosis, said: "Under this insane law, we will be obliged to implant a defective embryo in the womb." Arne Sunde, chairman of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology is reported as saying that the bill "...will be disastrous for Italian research and clinical practice in the field of reproductive medicine. Italy hosts many good research centers which will have to move their projects outside Italy. Clinical practice in Italy will become less efficient and will have an increased frequency of negative side effects, such as multiple pregnancies, compared to other European countries." 13
bullet2003-DEC-21: WA: Official status denied to pro-life university group: Gonzaga University is a 116-year-old Jesuit school in Spokane, WA; it is one of the Northwest's leading Catholic institutions. Two second year law students at Gonzaga, Horne and Katie Hauck, founded a Pro-Life Law Caucus club to promote an anti-abortion agenda and assist a local crisis-pregnancy center. The group's bylaws require that all club officers -- the president, vice president, secretary and treasurer -- must be Christians. They then applied to Gonzaga's Student Bar Association (SBA) to be recognized as a university-sponsored group. This would give them access to money from student fees and advertisement on the university's Web page and student handbook. They were refused because they discriminate against non-Christian in their leadership positions. It is unclear was meaning the group assigns to the term "Christian;" many conservative Christians do not consider mainline and liberal Christians to be part of their faith. SBA President Albert Guadagno said that the issue is not the group's stance on abortion; it's about discrimination. Leadership positions, he said, should be open to all students. University administration spokesperson, Peter Tormey, said that: "Any club seeking funds must not discriminate. This club has that discriminatory clause." Co-founder Horne Hauck said: "It's surprising that a religious school would not [recognize] a Christian group." Greg Lukianoff, spokesman for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), said: "We live in a strange age, indeed, when a Catholic, Jesuit university would deny a Christian pro-life group recognition because its religious nature is considered discriminatory." 14

This essay continues below.

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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: http://www.mcjonline.com 
  2. ReligionToday™ provides free newsletters to which you can subscribe at: http://www.ReligionToday.com. These summaries are part of GOSHEN.net, which also includes LiveIt.net, Devotionals.net, ChristianShareware.net, ChristianClassifieds.net, ChristianMessageBoards.net, BibleStudyTools.net, MediaManagement.net, WorldNewsToday.net, WebCastGuide.net, and ChristianCollegeGuide.net
  3. Reuters is "the world's leading financial information and news group. Their web page is at: http://www.reuters.com/ 
  4. Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR): E-mail: cair1@ix.netcom.com
    URL: http://www.cair-net.org To join CAIR-NET, CAIR's read-only mailing list: Send subscribe cair-net in the body of a message to majordomo@cair-net.org
  5. EWTN News carries Roman Catholic news from Catholic World News, Vatican Information Service, ZENIT, CWNews.com. See: http://www.ewtn.com/news/ 
  6. 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: eni@eni.ch. Their web site is at http://www.eni.ch 
  7. ZENIT.org 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: http://www.zenit.org/english/ 
  8. Anglican Communion News Service provides information from an Anglican perspective. See: http://www.anglicancommunion.org/acns/index.html A companion Episcopal News Service is at: http://www.ecusa.anglican.org/ens/ 
  9. AANEWS is distributed by American Atheists.
  10. CNSNews.com -- Cybercast News Service -- is a conservative news source. Their home page is at: http://www.cnsnews.com
  11. "EU accession countries: What about religious freedom?," Forum 18, F18News, 2003-DEC-2.
  12. "Muslim Group Sues Congressman for Defamation," CAIR newsletter, 2003-DEC-3.
  13. Rossella Lorenzi, "Italy approves embryo lawStrict rules will mean a disaster for Italian research, say scientists," The Scientist, 2003-DEC-12, at: http://www.biomedcentral.com/
  14. Tan Vinh, "Gonzaga denies official status to abortion foes," Seattle Times, WA, 2003-DEC-21, at: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/

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Copyright © 2003 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2003-DEC-2
Latest update: 2003-DEC-24
Author: B.A. Robinson

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