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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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bullet2004-AUG-10: USA: IRS audit of religious groups: The U.S. Internal Revenue Service announced that it is examining the financial records of about 2,000 U.S. charities to see if their executives are receiving excessive compensation. IRS Commissioner Mark Everson said: "We are concerned that some charities and private foundations are abusing their tax-exempt status by paying exorbitant compensation to their officers and others." They will also study indirect compensation such as low interest loans, leasing of homes, etc. In the past, some non-government investigators have criticized a few para-church organizations for paying their tele-ministers many hundreds of thousands of dollars a year from donations received. 11
bullet2004-AUG-1: Turkmenistan: Government oppression of Christians: "Just three days after a Baptist home service was raided in Abadan, across the country in Turkmenabad (formerly Charjou) police raided an Adventist home on 7 August. The family's children and guests were watching a video of Finding Nemo, but police confiscated all the literature they could find, confiscated the owners' identity documents and pressured the husband to sign a statement that an 'illegal' religious service was underway. The Adventist pastor in the capital Ashgabad has complained that his congregation cannot hold public worship as it cannot rent premises for worship, despite having state registration. 'All hall managers turn us down as soon as they learn that we are looking for premises for a Church,' Pastor Pavel Fedotov told Forum 18 News Service. 'Even though we have registration we can't do anything'. 12
bullet2004-AUG-17: WI: Autistic boy dies during religious exorcism: Ray Hemphill, a church elder, was give a 30 month sentence for, according to the Associated Press, the: "physical abuse of a child recklessly causing great bodily harm." Prosecutors say that Hemphill lay on Terrance Cottrell Jr.'s chest for at least an hour while trying to release "demons" from his body. The boy died. A few deaths each year result from exorcisms gone wrong in the U.S. There is a consensus among medical professionals that autism is caused by a brain disorder, not by indwelling demons. 13
bullet2004-AUG-17: USA: Google deletes ads from fundamentalist group: Google™ provides both the world's most popular search engine, and text advertisements called "AdWords." They deleted ads from Stand to Reason, a Fundamentalist Christian apologetics organization which led viewers to a Q&A about same-sex marriage. In the judgment of Google, that section of their web site contains hate material. Google's policies do not allow ads that promote hatred or discrimination against people based on certain criteria. One criteria is sexual orientation. The policy protects heterosexuals, homosexuals and bisexuals from hate and harassing material on web sites. Stand to Reason's ads on evolution, Christian apologetics and abortion are still online. The CovenantNews.com's article on this item was given the title: "Biggest Internet Advertiser is a Pro-Sodomite, Anti-Christian Bigot?" 19
bullet2004-AUG-20: NC: University withdraws recognition of fraternity: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) has withdrawn recognition of Alpha Iota Omega (AIO), a fraternity that only accepts members who are Christians. This means that the AIO cannot use campus facilities and receives no funding from the university. The group is not banned, as was implied in a Focus on the Family article. 14 They have merely been denied special University privileges which are reserved for groups which do not discriminate. David French, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) commented that it is well within the rights of a private fraternity to exclude members on the basis of religion. He said: "For years and years and years, the Supreme Court has said, 'If you're going to form a private organization you can dictate your membership, your leadership and how your group is going to be governed to get out its message'." Congressman Walter Jones, (R-NC), has filed a civil rights complaint against UNC. He said that the university has shown a pattern of hostility against Christianity: "If the environment is one of intimidation, even perceived intimidation then that is not religious freedom, and that's not academic freedom as well." 14 According to UNC, there are 595 recognized student organizations on campus including 42 religious groups. All have agreed to allow persons of other religions, national origins, races etc to join. The UNC claims that "At one point, [the AIO]...signed the recognition application agreeing to abide by the nondiscrimination policy, but told us that, although thy had signed the application, they would not follow the nondiscrimination policy." 15,16
bullet2004-AUG-22: CA: Murder of two Evangelicals a hate crime? Two Evangelical Christians, Lindsay Cutshall, 23, and Jason Allen, 26, were murdered as they slept together on a beach near the town of Jenner in Sonoma County, CA. They were engaged to be married and had planned to open a Christian camp of their own.There were no indications that suicide, theft, or sexual assault was the motive, or that they were murdered by enemies. Police are considering the possibility that the perpetrator was motivated by a hatred of Evangelical Christians. 17
bullet2004-AUG-24: CA: Bible verses etc. removed from employee's cubicle: The California Department of Social Services removed personal items from the cubicle of Enoch Lawrence, an employee who evaluated disability cases. The items removed apparently included Bible verses, a bumper sticker that read "Marriage: One Man One Woman," a sign that said "Jesus Spoken Here,": and two published articles on current political issues. The department's policy states that "Each employee must exercise his or her own good judgement [sic] to avoid engaging in conduct that may be perceived by others as harassment and/or unprofessional, inappropriate behavior." The materials removed were apparently regarded as constituting harassment, probably of gays and lesbians in the workplace. Lawrence has filed a lawsuit. Joshua Carden, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, believes that the department policy is unconstitutional because restricts employees right of free speech. Carden said: "The department cannot censor Mr. Lawrence's speech because someone might 'perceive' it to be harassment. Furthermore, the policy provides virtually no guidelines for its enforcement. Officials have singled Mr. Lawrence out for discriminatory treatment by removing items from his cubicle that are clearly not disrupting the workplace." 18
bullet2004-AUG-24: USA: Military uses education to combat religious hatred: While some military servicemen and women serving in Iraq were worshiping, other army personnel pelted them with bottles and rocks. The victims were Wiccans conducting a ritual in a sacred circle. It is unclear what the religious affiliation of the perpetrators were. The Pentagon turned to Patrick McCollum of Moraga, CA to explain the Wiccan religion to the troops. He said: "Education is the single most powerful tool," in dealing with misunderstandings in the military. There are currently 1,552 enlisted Air Force personnel who identify themselves as Wiccans. The Marines have 68. The Navy and Army do not list Wiccans. The Department of Veterans Affairs refuses to allow a Wiccan symbol to be placed on the headstones or markers of deceased soldiers. 20 On OCT-12, we received an Email from the author of this story who reported that "The Times has been unable to substantiate the claim of rock and bottle throwing. Sources say the incident probably never occurred."
bullet2004-AUG-30: Massive claims for sexual abuse may exceed 1.5 billion: More than 500 claims have been brought against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles. An attorney for the plaintiffs, Raymond P. Boucher, suggested that the total claim could exceed  1.5 billion dollars. Another 60 claims have bee lodged against the Diocese of Orange, which covers Orange County. An archdiocese attorney, Donald F. Woods Jr., said that the estimate ''seems way too high.'' 21

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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. "IRS to scrutinize pay of charities' execs," UPI Washington Times, at: http://www.washtimes.com/
  12. "Turkmenistan: Finding Nemo, hunting Adventists," Forum 18 News Service, at: http://www.forum18.org/
  13. "Man sentenced in case of Milwaukee boy who died at prayer service," San Francisco Chronicle, 2004-AUG-17, at: http://www.sfgate.com/
  14. Terry Phillips, "N.C. University Bans Christian Fraternity," Focus on the Family, 2004-AUG-20, at: http://www.family.org/
  15. Letter from the UNC to FIRE, 2004-AUG-12, at: http://www.thefire.org/
  16. Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has a web site at: http://www.thefire.org/
  17. "Campers murdered due to Christianity? Police say hate crime among possibilities in shooting deaths of young evangelicals," WorldNetDaily™, 2004-AUG-22, at: http://www.worldnetdaily.com/
  18. "Christian stripped of workplace signs. State agency sued after officials remove Bible verses, bumper sticker," WorldNetDaily™, 2004-AUG-24, at: http://www.worldnetdaily.com/
  19. Ron Strom, "Google bans Christian ad, Anti-homosexual remarks considered 'hate' content," WorldNetDaily™, 2004-AUG-17, at: http://worldnetdaily.com/
  20. Randy Myers, "Wiccans in the military seek more understanding, tolerance," SunHerald.com (Mississippi), 2004-AUG-18, at: http://www.sunherald.com/
  21. "Attorneys say priest abuse claims may cost L.A. Archdiocese $1.5 bil," Chicago Sun-Times, 2004-AUG-30, at: http://www.suntimes.com/

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Copyright © 2004 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2004-AUG-11
Latest update: 2004-AUG-31.
Author: B.A. Robinson

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