NEWS OF RELIGIOUS CONFLICT & INTOLERANCE DURING
|2003-JAN-13: NJ: Appeals court rules that religious jurors can be
barred: In most jury trials, both the prosecution and the defense can
veto a limited number of jurors during the jury selection process. In the
case of Lloyd Fuller, who was charged with using a water pistol to rob a
Chinese restaurant, the prosecution barred two jurors because they were
overtly religious. The prosecutor told the judge that "people who tend
to be demonstrative about their religions tend to favor defendants to a
greater extent than do persons who are, shall we say, not as religious."
One rejected juror had said that he was a missionary; the other wore a
long black garment and a skull cap. The prosecution suspected that if
allowed to serve, they might be too sympathetic to the accused. Fuller was
later convicted and received a ten year sentence. He appealed, claiming
that removal of the two jurors violated his 14th amendment right to equal
protection. In a 2-1 split, the state appeals court ruled that he was not
deprived of a fair trial. The court found that individuals perceived as
devout do not comprise a specific group. The law in New Jersey only
forbids a prosecutor to excuse jurors "who are members of a cognizable
group on the basis of their presumed group bias." Appellate Judge
Joseph F. Lisa, wrote, "Individuals who are demonstrative about their
religion do not share the same values, tenets or practices, and thus do
not represent a cross-section of society." John W. Whitehead,
president of the Rutherford Institute, a Fundamentalist Christian
legal-rights group said: "Clearly, you have a class of people that's
being discriminated against...It seems to say that religious people would
not be able to serve on juries unless they hide their views."
| 2003-JAN-16: FL: Conflict over church marquee:
Conservative Baptist Church of Jacksonville, FL, placed the following
message on their road-side display: "Jesus Forbade Murder, Matthew 26
52, Muhammad Approved Murder, Surah 8 65." The latter is a quotation
from the Qur'an, which Muslims believe is God's word, dictated to Muhammad by the
archangel Gabriel. The Council on
American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-FL) called on religious leaders in
that state to repudiate the sign.
CAIR-FL Executive Director Altaf Ali said:
"All Americans must band together to condemn hate speech designed to
our nation along religious and ethnic lines. Any attempt to marginalize or
vilify one religious community is an attack on all people of faith."
The CAIR news release mentioned that: "...CAIR-FL sought
dialogue with the church about the display, but that attempt at outreach
was rebuffed with belligerent language."
Imam Zaid Malik, spiritual leader of Jacksonville's Islamic Center of
Northeast Florida added, "Misinformation must be rejected by all people of
Matthew 26:52 says: "Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword
into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the
sword." In isolation, it might be considered a political statement
both against the looming Iraqi war or against the use of the death penalty
in the state. Surah 8:65 in the Qur'an says: "O Prophet! Inspire the believers to conquer
fear of death when fighting, [so that] if there be twenty of you who are
patient in adversity, they might overcome two hundred; and if there be one
hundred of you, they might overcome one thousand of those who are bent on
denying the truth, because they are people who cannot grasp it."
CAIR comments that: "The verse indicates that those who believe and are steadfast in battle
overcome much larger armies. It is not an endorsement of murder." In
fact, the verse speaks of overcoming, not murdering. The Prophet Muhammad condemned murder;
he was quoted as saying: "The greatest sins are to
join others as partners in worship with God [idolatry], to murder a human
being, to be undutiful to one's parents, and to bear false witness." (Sahih
Al-Bukhari, Vol. 9, Hadith 10).
The Qur'an itself states: "...whoever murders a person...it will be as if
had killed all mankind, and whoever will save a life, shall be regarded as
if he saved all mankind." (Surah 5:32) 13
|2003-JAN-18: KY: Bible College unhappy with phone number:
Kentucky Mountain Bible College in Vancleve, KY, has been trying for
six months to have their telephone number changed. They have a "666"
prefix, a number that is mentioned in the book of Revelation as appearing
on the hands or foreheads of individuals marked for eternal damnation
during the end times. Staff member Carlene
Light said: "People say, 'You're a Bible college and you have 666 in
your phone number?' It's the connotation. No one wants to be part of the
mark of the beast." The local telephone company, Access Point,
has recently opened the 693 exchange in the area. The college has been
trying to have their number converted to the new prefix. Vice president
Rob Roy MacGregor said: "In the secular world, 666 is not a problem. It
is for us." 14|
|2003-JAN-18: CT: Woman protesting in attempt to get exorcism:
Ms. "B," 51, who is a Roman Catholic and a former school teacher, believes
that she has been possessed by 19 demons. Her symptoms started in 1993.
She has spoken in "a tongue in which she is not familiar." For six
years, she has unsuccessfully tried to obtain an exorcism from the Church.
She now plans to demonstrate in front of the Norwich Diocese in
East Connecticut. The Norwich Bulletin quotes her as saying: "I'll
be carrying a sign and have my head covered in a hood. I want public
exposure for the unpardonable neglect of people who are possessed by a
demon....I heard hateful voices, I had an involuntary blurb here or there.
I had involuntary motions. For example, if I had been cutting a vegetable,
the knife would move. My eyes would move without my permission."
|2003-JAN-18: World: Southern Baptist missionaries plead for an end
to attacks on Islam: A group of over two dozen Southern Baptist
missionaries who are attempting to spread conservative Christianity in
countries with a large Muslim majority in the Middle East, North Africa,
East Africa and South Asia have issued a letter asking their fellow
Baptists in America to refrain from attacking Islam and the Prophet
Muhammad. This is in apparent response to vicious
attacks by former Southern Baptist Convention president Jerry
Vines, evangelists Franklin Graham and Jerry Falwell, and other
conservative Christians. It said, in part: "Comments by Christians
in the West about Islam and Muhammad can and do receive much attention in
our cities and communities on local radio, television and print
sources....These types of comments...can further the already heightened
animosity toward Christians, more so toward evangelicals, and even more so
toward Baptists. We have found it more beneficial with our Muslim friends
to concentrate on sharing Christ in love and concentrating on the message
of the gospel, instead of speaking in a degrading manner about their
religion or prophet." The letter was brought from the Middle East to
the U.S. by a professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
in Wake Forest, NC. The Biblical Recorder, a news journal for North
Carolina Baptists, first published it. 16|
|2003-JAN-18: USA: United Pentecostal Church suspends senior
official: Rev. Ronald Oree Nation, a
top official of the United Pentecostal Church, has been suspended
without pay. He had been charged with misdemeanor sexual misconduct
because he allegedly engaged in consensual sexual activity with another
man in a public place. A spokesperson for the denomination is reported as
saying that Nation old not return to a staff position, even if Nation is
found not guilty. 17|
|2003-JAN-23: USA: Camping recommends that people desert
churches: Harold Camping, 81, a civil engineer, a co-founder of Family
Radio and an influential radio host, is telling his listeners that the
church age has ended, that Satan has taken over all church organizations,
and that God wants people to worship privately in their homes. He said:
"The Bible says God is not saving people any
longer in the churches. They're being saved outside the churches." His
network is broadcast or relayed on more than 150 Christian radio stations
in the U.S. His prediction of the end of the world in 1994-SEP did not
materialize. He still thinks that the end is in the near future. He has
said that "Most of the people living in the world today will be here when
Christ comes." However, he isn't predicting firm dates.
|2003-JAN-29: Ireland: Landmark settlement against Roman Catholic
Church: The High Court in Ireland ordered the Archdiocese of Dublin to
pay €300,000 (about $ in U.S. funds) to Mervyn Rundle a victim of clergy
sexual abuse. In another case, an Irish businessman, who claims that he
was physically and sexually abused in school, is launching a similar
lawsuit. He said: "The Mervyn Rundle settlement has given us added
impetus. There is a danger that the Church could move assets abroad like
they tried to do in Canada and Boston. We don't want that to happen."
He made reference to another 150 cases that are currently being pursued in
Dublin, and to thousands more nationwide.
Survivors of Child Abuse (SOCA) has called for
the government to revoke the charitable status of the Church. Spokesperson John Kelly said freezing the Church's assets and
revoking charitable status would compel the hierarchy to co-operate more
fully with abuse cases. Kelly said: "Despite all that's gone on, the Church is still in
denial; either Ireland rules or Rome rules."
In 2002-JUN, the government of Ireland reached an agreement with 18
religious orders. It is called the Residential Institutions Redress
Board and involved the payment of €128 million in cash and property by
the orders to the State. In return, the religious groups received blanket
indemnity from any further legal action against them. There is some
agitation to have the deal renegotiated because the estimated cost of
compensating these victims had rocketed to over €1 billion.
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- "Government says 38 arrested in crackdown on outlawed religious
sect," Associated Press, 2003-JAN-6, at:
- "N.J. appeals court: Overtly religious people can be barred from
juries," Associated Press, 2003-JAN-13, at:
- "FL religious leaders asked to repudiate anti-Muslim church sign,"
CAIR, 2003-JAN-16, Islam-Infonet news release.
- Roger Alford, "Ky. Bible college shuns 666 phone number,"
Associated Press, 2003-JAN-18, at:
- "Woman tormented by demons plans protest," Ananova™,
- "Baptist Group Urges Respect for Islam," Washington Post,
- Patricia Rice, "United Pentecostal
Church suspends Nation without pay," St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
- "Christian radio host tells listeners to
abandon church," Associated Press, 2003-JAN-23, at:
- Dan Buckley & Mary Dundon, "Businessman bids to freeze Church
assets. A BUSINESSMAN who claims he was sexually abused by a cleric is
seeking a High Court injunction to freeze the assets of the Church."
Irish Examiner.com, 2003-JAN-30, at:
Copyright © 2003 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2003-JAN-7
Latest update: 2003-FEB-14
Author: B.A. Robinson