dirty rag

US News - Religion in the News - Mister Thorne

Congress Votes to Allow Religious Discrimination!

On 8 May, the House of Representatives passed legislation (reauthorizing the Workforce Investment Act) that would allow religious groups that receive federal funds to practice religious discrimination. That's right! According to Representative John Shadegg (Republican of Arizona), religious groups "have a right to hire people who share their values."

In December, President Bush signed an executive order that would allow Christian groups to obtain contracts with the federal government even if they refused to hire Jews (or Muslims or Hindus or Buddhists)

Arsonists v. Theists
On 6 May, a cinder block was thrown through a window of a Jewish educational center in Encino in California's San Fernando Valley. The next day, someone started a fire by throwing a Molotov cocktail into the Valley Beth Shalom Temple just a few blocks away. It was the fourth fire at a religious site in the area in just over a week. The other sites attacked by what authorities believe is a single arsonist include a Presbyterian church, an Iranian Jewish temple, and a Bahai community center.

On 7 May, 52-year-old Donna Savage was sent to a mental hospital after serving 17 months in jail. Her crime? She set fire to a church in Maine four times in autumn of 2001. Why? Because she believed the pastor of the church was trying to damn her. A psychologist who testified at Savage's sentencing hearing said, "In order to protect herself, she believed she had the right to take certain steps."

Muslim v. Christian
On 8 May, in the city of Basra, Iraq, two Christian shop owners were shot and killed by Muslims. Why? The two Christians sold liquor. Islamic militants had warned them repeatedly to stop selling liquor - a treat forbidden by Islam - or they would be killed. The two Christians refused, and the militants made good their threat.

Witnesses said the two were killed just minutes apart. In both cases, two Muslim men entered the shop, shot the shop owner in the head, and then left by taxi. Michael Faraaj, another Christian shop owner who sells liquor, said Islamic militants had visited him on several occasions and warned him against selling liquor. They said they would bomb his store if he did not stop. "The last time they came, they were threatening me again, but it was very serious. I had no choice but to close. All my life is in that shop," he said.

In Baghdad, Chaldean Christians are feeling the heat. Just across the street from the Church of Mary the Virgin, Muslims have converted a former Baath party office into a mosque. They've mounted loudspeakers outside the building, and they blast their prayers so loudly that Monsignor Ishlemon Warduni can no longer lead his congregation in prayer.

Banners now appear in both Baghdad and Basra warning women to cover themselves, and Christian women report being harassed by Muslims for failing to cover their heads. Shereen Musa, a 22-year-old Christian woman, said she was walking through a market in Basra one day and Muslim men began to taunt her for not having her hair covered. Some members of the 'religion of peace' began throwing vegetables at her. "Everyone was laughing at me, and I was crying," she said. "When I had to walk back through the same place, someone saw a cross on my neck and said, 'Oh, you're a Christian. You'll suffer a terrible fate.'"