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Religion News Report

Religion News Report - Mar. 6, 2000 (Vol. 4, Issue 175) - 2/2

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Rainbow

« Part 1

=== Mormonism
25. Gay Mormon Kills Self on Church Steps

=== Jehovah's Witnesses
26. Gardai called as parents refuse transfusion for boy
27. State clears way for Englewood heart surgery

=== Wicca / Witchcraft
28. Book raises witchcraft questions
29. Indianapolis Church Challenges the I.R.S. in a Battle Over Payroll Taxes
3. A push becomes a shove (Cults, Sects, Religious Movements on Campus)
31. A glimpse of cyberwarfare (Falun Gong)
32. Breach of Faith (Greater Ministries)
33. Martial-arts school hurt kids, pupils
34. Battle of the lamas
35. Gore Backer Guilty in Fund Raising Case
36. Church Eyes Samba Group for Symbols
37. Woman Barred From Contacting Houston
38. Transcendental Vessels (Transcendental Meditation)

=== Religious Freedom
39. Four sue over right to preach in public
40. Ore. Church Loses Permit Battle
41. Lawsuit Involving Display of Cross Necklace Settled

=== Noted
42. Vatican Outline Issued on Apology for Historical Failings
43. Sharing the secrets of the scrolls

=== Mormonism

25. Gay Mormon Kills Self on Church Steps
Salt Lake Tribune, Mar. 3, 2000
http://www.sltrib.com/2000/mar/03032000/utah/30930.htm
A gay California man's suicide on the steps of a Mormon church has come at
the peak of a raging debate over gay civil rights in the nation's most
populous state.

Police say Stuart Matis, 32, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints in Santa Clara, Calif., shot himself with a handgun on the
steps of a Mormon church in Los Altos in the early hours of Feb. 25.

The suicide occurred less than two weeks before voters will decide on
California's controversial Proposition 22, which states that only
heterosexual marriages can be recognized legally in that state.

Matis' parents say their son's suicide had nothing to do with the fiercely
debated initiative, which is supported by a number of religious
organizations, including the LDS and Catholic Churches.
(...)

Santa Clara police said a suicide note made no reference to either Matis'
Mormon faith or the controversy around Proposition 22, but ''he felt there
was a conflict between Christianity and the gay lifestyle,'' said Santa Clara
Police Sgt. Anton Morec. ''He said he had been in pain for a number of
years.''
(...)

While Matis' parents say there is no connection between their son's death and
Proposition 22, Matis staunchly opposed the initiative, writing recently to a
family member about the pain he suffered because of the LDS Church's support.
California church leaders have embarked on a campaign fund-raising drive, and
letters have been read during Sunday services urging members to vote March 7
in favor of the proposition, also known as the Knight Initiative.
(...)

On Feb. 22, three days before his suicide, Matis wrote a letter to the
student newspaper at Brigham Young University, from which he graduated in
1994, urging students to harbor more tolerance toward gays.

''I am gay. I am also LDS. I realized the significance of my sexuality when I
was around 13, and for the next two decades, I traveled down a tortuous path
of internalized homophobia, immense self-hatred, depression and suicidal
thoughts. Despite the calluses on my knees, frequent trips to the temple,
fasts and devotion to my mission and church callings such as Elders' Quorum
president, I continually failed to attenuate my homosexuality,'' Matis wrote.
'' . . . I read a recent letter to the editor with great regret. The author
compared my friends and me to murderers, satanists, prostitutes and
pedophiles. Imagine having to live with this rhetoric constantly being spewed
at you.''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Jehovah's Witnesses

26. Gardai called as parents refuse transfusion for boy
Irish Times (Ireland), Mar. 3, 2000
http://scripts.ireland.com/search/highlight.plx?TextRes=transfusion
&Path=/newspaper/ireland/2000/0303/hom13.htm
Gardai were called to a Waterford hospital last weekend after the parents of
a two-year-old boy refused to allow him a blood transfusion on religious
grounds.

The transfusion went ahead after the boy, from a family of Jehovah's
Witnesses
in Clonmel, Co Tipperary, was taken into the care of the South
Eastern Health Board.

He is now back in the custody of his family and was last night recovering at
Cork University Hospital from injuries received when a wall at his home fell
on him after a car reversed into it.
(...)

The family was informed by a Garda sergeant that the boy was being taken into
the health board's care under Section 12 of the Child Care Act. The parents,
it is understood, accepted the matter was then out of their hands.
(...)

Mr Tony Murphy, the chairman of the Jehovah's Witnesses' Hospital Liaison
Committee in Waterford, said it was the first time, as far as he was aware,
that the Child Care Act had been invoked in such circumstances.

Mr Murphy was present at the hospital on Friday and said there was ''no
confrontation''. ''We just accepted that that was the law of the land and
whether we liked it or not we would abide by it,'' he said.
(...)

His committee had had discussions with Waterford Regional Hospital for
several years to make sure the hospital had as much information as possible
on ''non-blood medical management . .. We try to get staff to see things the
way we see them,'' he said.

There was a good relationship between the parties. ''They understand our
viewpoint and we understand the challenge that's facing them,'' he said.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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27. State clears way for Englewood heart surgery
Bergen Record, mar. 3, 2000
http://www.bergen.com/bcoast/enghospbg200003031.htm
Englewood Hospital and Medical Center was chosen Thursday to take part in a
special statewide study of bloodless surgery. Englewood's selection will
allow the hospital to finally start the cardiac surgery program it sought
unsuccessfully for more than two decades.
(...)

Englewood began a bloodless surgery program in 1994 to accommodate Jehovah's
Witness
patients who reject transfusions on religious grounds. The hospital
has since allowed other patients to participate in its New Jersey Institute
for the Advancement of Bloodless Medicine and Surgery. Bloodless surgery uses
pre- and post-operative care and special techniques during surgery to
minimize blood loss.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Wicca / Witchcraft

28. Book raises witchcraft questions
The Herald-Palladium, Mar. 3, 2000
http://www.heraldpalladium.com/archives/index.inn?loc=detail
&doc=/2000/March/3-557-news3
The publicity this week about last month's three-day suspension of a Ring
Lardner Middle School teacher for allegedly giving students a book about
witchcraft has raised questions about the practice of Wicca and whether or
not it is satanic.

Scott Cunningham, the author of ''Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary
Practitioner,'' which eighth-grade science teacher Cheryl Malinowski
allegedly gave to at least three students, wrote that Wicca is ''a book of
life and how to live magically, spiritually and wholly attuned with nature.''

The book contains three major sections covering theory, practice and ''The
Standing Stones Book of Shadows.'' The theory section includes chapters on
Wicca and shamanism, magic, tools, ritual, the magic circle and the altar,
the spiral of rebirth, and initiation. The practice section has chapters for
exercises and magical techniques, self-dedication and ritual design.

''The Standing Stones Book of Shadows'' section includes chapters on the
seasonal festivals, rituals, recipes, Wiccan crystal magic, symbols and
signs, and spells and magic.

Gerina Dunwich, the author of ''The Wicca Source Book: A Complete Guide for
the Modern Witch,'' wrote about Wicca similarly. ''Wicca, which is an Old
English word meaning 'wise', is a positive, Earth-oriented, nature religion
with ancient roots that are pre-Christian,'' she wrote.

''It gloriously celebrates the life force, encourages spiritual growth, and
includes seasonal rites to attune oneself to the beauty, magic, and love of
Mother Nature and Goddess Earth. ... As more people become educated and
enlightened to the ways of Wicca, the negative stereotypes and misconceptions
associated with modern Witches and Pagans are gradually being shed,'' Dunwich
wrote.

Andrews University religion professor Jon Dybdahl agrees at least in part
with that perspective about Wicca, but also thinks that witchcraft isn't a
subject to which children and teen-agers should be exposed.

''I don't think it's a good thing to be discussed in a school system,'' he
said. ''There shouldn't be proselytizing. To integrate witchcraft into a
school system is just as objectionable as teaching any religion.''
(...)

''The first caution is that no one should be propagating witchcraft to
children in a school system,'' Dybdahl said. ''Most who practice it do use
some of the occult with crystals and spells ... Adults should be able to talk
about it, but kids don't understand about witches. I really think that
parents have a right to be upset. It's a matter both of confusing kids and
proselytizing.''

Dybdahl thinks people are wrong in assuming that all the people involved in
witchcraft are satanic or demonic. ''It's a communication problem,'' he said.
''Wicca is a religion that is involved in respecting nature and emphasizes
the feminine with the worship of the goddess.

''Some of those involved in witchcraft are not necessarily involved in the
demonic,'' Dybdahl said. ''There is a dark side, however, with some probably
involved with the demonic. But to paint all those involved in witchcraft with
a broad brush and call them Satanists is not fair or correct. ... You have to
be careful with labels, they're not Satanists. It would be like calling a
Catholic a Mormon.''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Other News

29. Indianapolis Church Challenges the I.R.S. in a Battle Over Payroll Taxes
New York Times, Mar. 3, 2000
http://www.nytimes.com/yr/mo/day/news/national/irs-church.html
The Internal Revenue Service is on a collision course with an Indianapolis
church, one of a small but growing number of New Testament churches that say
they are not subject to federal tax laws requiring employers to withhold
income, Social Security and Medicare taxes from workers.

The confrontation comes at a time when the I.R.S. has been reluctant to seize
property to collect back taxes. The church, however, is eager to establish
what it believes are its rights by forcing the I.R.S. to act.

Eventually, the I.R.S. must foreclose on the Indianapolis Baptist Temple or
find a way to avoid enforcing a federal judge's ruling last July that the
church owes $5.9 million in taxes, penalties and interest for 1988 to 1992.
(...)

The case has caught the attention of conservative radio talk shows and
right-wing paramilitary organizations, including the Michigan Militia, whose
commander, Norman E. Olson, has pledged to help the church resist
foreclosure.

Mr. Dixon, 67, said the people who worked at the church were not employees
and called the money they received ''love gifts'' on which the church could
not withhold taxes. Most of the workers, about 60 people, had their tax
returns audited, he said, but none had a significant adjustment to their tax
bills. He said that they had paid the taxes on their own, but that the
I.R.S. refunded the half of their Social Security and Medicare taxes
normally paid by an employer, telling them it should have been paid by the
church.
(...)

In her ruling last July, Judge Sarah Evans Barker of Federal District Court
said that requiring a church to withhold taxes on money paid to its pastor,
teachers, secretaries, janitors and others did not interfere with free
exercise of religion.

Unfortunately for the church, Judge Barker wrote, ''the Supreme Court does
not share its creative interpretations of the First Amendment, making
resolution of this issue straightforward.''

The church, in its newsletter The Trumpet, said Judge Barker ''has literally
declared war on Christ and his church.''
(...)

The church's lawyer, Albert R. Cunningham, who is also a pastor in Redding,
Calif., said he represented about 200 New Testament congregations, which
believe that the separation of church and state is absolute.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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30. A push becomes a shove
US News & World Report, Mar. 13, 2000
http://www.usnews.com/usnews/issue/000313/college.htm
Stroll across almost any college campus, and it's likely you'll spot a flurry
of religious recruiting: colorful fliers touting Bible study and Sabbath
dinners; tables staffed by bright-eyed young people offering pamphlets on
everything from the Sikh faith to paganism.
(...)

But variety can bring controversy, especially when it comes to organizations
that seem less like sects than like cults. For schools, this means a tough
balancing act-weighing freedom of speech and religion against protecting
students from harm.
(...)

Take the International Churches of Christ. A fast-growing Christian
organization known for aggressive proselytizing to college students, the
ICOC-which some ex-members and experts on mind-control assert is a cult-is
one of the most controversial religious groups on campus. At least 39
institutions, including Harvard and Georgia State, have outlawed the
organization at one time or another for violating rules against door-to-door
recruiting, say, or harassment. ''I'm banning destructive behaviors, not
religion,'' says the Rev. Robert Watts Thornburg, dean of the chapel at Boston
University, which barred the ICOC from campus after members posted signs
saying their meeting was mandatory.
(...)

A zealous group, to be sure, but is it a cult? ''We're no more a cult than
Jesus was a cult,'' says Al Baird, spokesperson for the ICOC, which, he
insists, does not condone harassment and is merely an evangelical church out
to ''share Jesus with everybody.'' University of Virginia sociology Prof.
Jeffrey Hadden, who has studied religious movements for over 30 years,
agrees.
(...)

Still, experts say the label has nothing to do with radical beliefs and
everything to do with behavior. Each of the estimated 3,000 cults in this
country has a unique ideology, but they all share certain worrisome traits
(box). Students are particularly easy prey. ''They are in transition from the
culture of their parents, which leaves them somewhat uncertain and anxious,''
explains Marc Galanter, a professor of psychiatry and the author of Cults:
Faith, Healing, and Coercion
Off-site Link. ''Cults provide answers.''
(...)

Last year, the Maryland state legislature convened a hotly contested task
force to study the effects of ''dangerous groups'' at its public institutions,
partly in response to complaints from parents who say their daughter-a
student at the College Park campus-went to a dorm adviser for advice and got
recruited into a cult instead. Earlier this month, the State University of
New York's Purchase College settled a court case surrounding a 1998 incident,
in which one local ICOC member was suspended for allegedly ''intimidating . .
harassing . . . and detaining'' a fellow student, and the church was banned
from holding services on campus; as of now, the student has been reinstated,
and the group is allowed to use school facilities again.

Private universities have more leeway in determining who's on campus. Last
month, Matthew Hale, a white supremacist and self-proclaimed pastor of the
World Church of the Creator, visited Northwestern University in an attempt to
establish a chapter. School officials don't know if they'll consent to the
admittedly racist, antisemitic organization, even if Hale obtains the 15
required signatures to form a student group.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top

* Jeffrey K. Hadden is a cult apologist.

On the International Churches of Christ, sociologically a cult due to its
practices, and theologically a cult of Christianity due to its faulty
theology.

31. A glimpse of cyberwarfare
US News & World Report, Mar. 13, 2000
http://www.usnews.com/usnews/issue/000313/cyberwar.htm
At first, the urgent phone call from the U.S. Transportation Department
confounded Cheng Wang, a Long Island-based webmaster for Falun Gong, the
spiritual movement that has unnerved Chinese authorities. Why did the
department think his computers were attacking theirs? The answer turned out
to be startling. The electronic blitz hadn't come, as it seemed, from various
Falun Gong Internet sites. Rather, someone had lifted their electronic
identities. Computer sleuths followed a trail back to the XinAn Information
Service Center in Beijing-where an operator identified it as part of the
Ministry of Public Security, China's secret police.

Web hacking, it seems, isn't just for amateurs anymore. While the recent rash
of cybervandalism against some of E-commerce's biggest names has garnered
headlines, that's only part of the story. From Beijing to Baku, governments
and their surrogates are using the Internet to harrass political opponents
and unfriendly neighbors, to go after trade secrets, and to prepare for
outright warfare.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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32. Breach of Faith
CNN/Time, Mar. 5, 2000
http://cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0003/05/impc.00.html
(...) JEFF GREENFIELD, CO-HOST: Good evening, and welcome to CNN & TIME.

It was sold as a financial deal straight from heaven, a promise from the
pulpit to feed the soul and fill the wallet.

BERNARD SHAW, CO-HOST: But for the thousands of people across this nation who
bought into the double-your-money offer from Greater Ministries
International, the dividends were anything but divine.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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33. Martial-arts school hurt kids, pupils
Denver Post, Feb. 29, 2000
http://www.denverpost.com/news/news0229e.htm
In a promotional brochure, Tiger Kim's Academy promises to build
self-confidence and respect. Former students say they instead learned fear
and humiliation, suffered physical and sexual abuse and watched helplessly as
children were physically punished.

One of the largest martial arts studios in Denver, Tiger Kim's Academy is
more of a cult than a school, former students said, claiming they were forced
to fall to their knees and call the owner ''Hananim,'' Korean for God.

''I am so tired of watching kids cry, looking at that fear in their eyes,''
said former employee and student Janet Roach, her voice choked by sobs.
''It's pretty pathetic that they have to run a school based on intimidation
and abuse.'' The owners of Tiger Kim's Academy have not commented on the
allegations, instead referring all questions to current student Mark
Sutherland. He said the accusations are all false.

''Nothing like that has ever gone on to my knowledge, and I've been a student
for 20 years,'' Sutherland said. ''I wouldn't let my children go to school
here if I had seen anything like that.'' Since Roach, a former secretary and
student, and a few other former students came forward last week with
allegations of physical abuse and sexual harassment, several more have come
forward with similar stories.
(...)

''They scare the hell out of kids. They pee their pants because they're
afraid to ask if they can go the bathroom,'' said Teresa Hamilton, who
attended the school with her son over four months in 1998. ''I don't like to
hear my child scream.'' Roach and Hamilton said they now live in fear and
have been harassed by the Kims since going public with their charges. They
said they've been followed and someone broke into their house last week.
Several other students did not want their names used for fear of retaliation.

The students joined Tiger Kim's for a number of reasons: self-defense,
exercise and to build self-esteem. The Kims, they said, told students the
academy was ''one big happy family'' and demanded absolute loyalty.

''It was a system of manipulation and worship. I would call it a cult,'' said
one former student.

Denver police say they are investigating the matter, particularly allegations
by the mother of a 5year-old boy. She told police the boy was physically
abused and was forced to hold a concrete block over his head as punishment.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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34. Battle of the lamas
The Telegraph (England), Mar. 4, 2000
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/et?ac=001941282744302
rtmo=pbNhsl1e
atmo=lllllljx&pg=/et/00/3/4/tllama04.html
A 14-year-old is head of one of Tibet's most important Buddhist sects. Two
months ago he risked his life to flee 900 miles to India. But while his
escape has been celebrated by Buddhists worldwide it has also inflamed a
dispute which has seen armed battles between rival monks and one eminent lama
dying in a mysterious car crash. Astonishing in a religion so strongly
identified with peace and serenity, it is a story of medieval intrigue and
rivalry, of faith, lies and politics.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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35. Gore Backer Guilty in Fund Raising Case
AOL/Reuters, Mar. 2, 2000
http://my.aol.com/news/story.tmpl?table=n
cat=01&id=2000030206212729
A key figure in the Democratic fund-raising scandal who arranged Vice
President Al Gore's visit to a 1996 Buddhist temple campaign event was
convicted on Thursday for hiding $109,000 in illegal contributions.

Maria Hsia, a longtime Gore supporter, was found guilty on all five counts of
causing false statements to be filed with federal regulators about money she
raised from the California temple and others for Democratic candidates.
(...)

The visit, widely depicted in photographs showing the vice president among
monks and nuns in saffron-colored robes, has come to epitomize the 1996
fund-raising scandal that still dogs Gore's presidential campaign.

The event at the largest Buddhist temple in the United States raised $65,000
in illegal contributions, according to the indictment. The checks were made
out by individual nuns and monks, but the temple reimbursed them for their
contributions.

Gore has never been charged with any wrongdoing in connection with the
Buddhist temple event. A videotape of his appearance was introduced as
evidence at the trial. Hsia served as his interpreter at the event.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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36. Church Eyes Samba Group for Symbols
Star Tribune/AP, Mar. 4, 2000
http://www2.startribune.com/stOnLine/cgi-bin/
article?thisStory=81440056
Working feverishly to get ready for carnival, members of the popular samba
group Unidos da Tijuca were surprised this week by a visit from lawyers for
Rio' s Roman Catholic archdiocese -- and police.

After inspecting the group' s parade floats, police seized an iron cross and
a panel depicting Our Lady of Good Hope. Directors of the group were charged
with mocking religious symbols, a crime punishable by up to one year in
prison.

The group went to court to overturn the order, and eventually the objects
were returned and the charges dropped. But the run-in heightened the uneasy
relations between Catholicism and carnival -- two defining forces in
Brazilian society.
(...)

Church officials say sacred symbols and dissolute partying should not mix.
(...)

But this year' s theme has left carnival participants wondering: How to
depict the colonization of the world' s largest Roman Catholic country
without mentioning the church?
(...)

The church and carnival have clashed before. In 1989, Rio' s Cardinal Eugenio
Sales went to court to ban a model of Rio' s famous Christ statue from a
carnival float. With carnivalistic ingenuity, the group that had designed the
float ended up parading with the statue wrapped in black plastic and a sign:
'' Even though you are banned, watch over us.''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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37. Woman Barred From Contacting Houston
AOL/AP, Mar. 3, 2000
http://my.aol.com/news/story.tmpl?table=n
cat=01id=2000030302102748
A New York City woman who wrote that Whitney Houston is her ''supernatural
reincarnated mother'' and has sent her a four-tiered cake, underwear and
other gifts has been barred from contacting the singer.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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38. Transcendental Vessels
ABC News, Mar. 2, 2000
http://abcnews.go.com/sections/living/DailyNews/meditation000302.html
Relaxing and reducing stress through transcendental meditation may reduce
artery blockage and the risk of heart attack and stroke, according to the
results of a study released in the current issue of the American Heart
Association's journal Stroke.
(...)

The study found, through the use of an ultrasound, that the meditation group
had a significant reduction in the thickness of the arterial wall compared to
group who only underwent education.
(...)

Researchers enrolled African Americans in the study, which was published in a
peer-reviewed journal, because they are at the greatest risk for
cardiovascular disease. ''Based on our positive findings in this high-risk
group, we can assume that a group at less risk can also benefit from it,''
says Dr. Amparo Castillo-Richmond, lead author of the study and assistant
professor of Medicine at Maharishi University of Medicine College of Vedic
Medicine in Fairfield, Iowa.
(...)

''We expect to use this treatment as an adjunct to current pharmacological
therapies,'' says Dr. Castillo-Richmond. ''We don't want the patient to think
they can replace current medical therapies with this type of meditation.''

''I think as long as people continue to take their medications,
Transcendental Meditation can only help,'' says Patrick Lyden, M.D., Chief of
Neurology, Director of the Stroke Center, at the Veterans Administration
Medical Center in San Diego.

While most doctors agree that this type of alternative therapy provides
another tool against cardiovascular disease, some warn that it might not be
ideal for everyone.

''I think the only problem is compliance. It is hard for patients to stick
with this type of time consuming program,'' says Jay Kaplan, professor of
pathology and anthropology at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in
Winston-Salem, N.C.

But the results of this study may be encouraging to patients who might want
additional help with their condition. The federal National Heart, Lung and
Blood Institute, which is part of the National Institutes of Health, is
funding larger scale studies based on the Maharishi University findings.

''The distinct state of 'restful alertness' gained during the transcendental
meditation technique may be triggering self-repair homeostatic mechanisms in
the body, which lead to the regression of atherosclerosis,'' says Robert
Schneider, M.D., second author of the study and director of the Maharishi
Center for Natural Medicine and Prevention.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Religious Freedom

39. Four sue over right to preach in public
The Oregonian, Mar. 3, 2000
http://www.oregonlive.com/news/00/03/st030304.html
Four self-described street preachers say Portland police and the city have
continually violated their constitutional rights to free speech and religion,
according to a lawsuit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Portland.

Daniel Lee, Michael Carr, Edward Gathright and Jeremy Sonnier are evangelical
Christians who preach publicly as a central practice of their faith.
(...)

The suit is the latest volley in a simmering legal battle between the city
and evangelical public speakers. In two cases, city ordinances have been
struck down.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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40. Ore. Church Loses Permit Battle
Yahoo/AP, Mar. 3, 2000
http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/ap/20000303/us/church_dispute_2.html
The Jacksonville city council has voted to uphold a decision denying a
Presbyterian church a building permit for a sanctuary in another clash
between church and state.

The decision came a night after the Portland City Council overturned an
attendance cap and preserved a meals program for the homeless and poor at a
Methodist church.

Land use controls collided with religion in the cases that arose separately
over the past two months. The result was an outcry from clergy, some state
politicians and others who have said local officials have no constitutional
right to meddle in church affairs.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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41. Lawsuit Involving Display of Cross Necklace Settled
Salt Lake Tribune/Religion News Service, Mar. 4, 2000
http://www.sltrib.com/2000/mar/03042000/religion/31094.htm
An Alabama school board has settled a lawsuit filed by a student who was
prevented from displaying a cross necklace.

The American Center for Law and Justice, a conservative law firm founded by
religious broadcaster Pat Robertson, filed suit in October on behalf of
Kandice Smith, a sixth-grader at Curry Middle School in Jasper, Ala.

This week, a settlement agreement was reached that permits Kandice to wear
her cross outside her clothing and requires the Walker County Public Schools
to revise their dress code policy ''to mandate religious accommodations in
accordance with the Alabama Religious Freedom Amendment.'' The ACLJ also will
receive $30,000 as part of the settlement.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Noted

42. Vatican Outline Issued on Apology for Historical Failings
New York Times, Mar. 2, 2000
http://www.nytimes.com/library/world/global/030200pope-apologize.html
A Vatican document was released today outlining the conditions and limits to
a sweeping apology Pope John Paul II plans to deliver later this month for
the Roman Catholic Church's historical failings.

Among the errors listed in the document are divisions within Christianity,
forced conversions, the use of violence and anti-Jewish prejudice. However,
the document, entitled ''Memory and Reconciliation: The Church and the
Mistakes of the Past,'' also stresses that many acts of earlier centuries
cannot be judged solely by contemporary standards.

It draws a sharp line between sins committed by the church's ''sons and
daughters'' and the church itself, which is ''holy and immaculate.'' Citing
past writings by John Paul II and his predecessors, the document explains
that ''the purification of memory'' that the pope seeks to conduct ''can
never mean that'' the church ''gives up proclaiming the revealed truth
entrusted to her.''
(...)

But today's document seems aimed more at reassuring Catholics and church
leaders who fear that the Vatican has gone too far in apologizing for past
sins. The document, which sets out a theological framework for repentance by
the church, notes that some Catholics expressed ''reservations'' about a
process of admitting responsibility that could seem a concession to ''those
who are hostile'' to the church.

Father Cottier said that the document sought to put the pope's call for a
''purification'' of the church within its proper theological and historical
context. Father Cottier said that it would be ''absurd'' to take
responsibility for all past mistakes, and that apologies worked best in an
ecumenical sphere, where divided branches of Christianity could seek mutual
pardon and reconciliation.

''It cannot be done with the Muslims, because Islam does not recognize the
Christian notion of pardon,'' Father Cottier said. ''In places where
Christians and Christian missionaries are in a minority, it would be taken as
a sign of weakness. We couldn't write it down that way, but that was the
thought.''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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43. Sharing the secrets of the scrolls
Chicago Sun-Times, Mar. 5, 2000
http://www.suntimes.com/output/news/sea05.html
For 50 years, scholars have sweated to solve the jigsaw puzzle of the Dead
Sea Scrolls--to piece together the ancient world of the scrolls and to
clarify the trail they mark to the present day.

Starting Friday, visitors to the Field Museum will be able to get a grasp of
the challenge and the mystery posed by the 2,000-year-old manuscripts that
are believed to include the oldest copies of parts of the Old Testament.
[...more...]