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)
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.
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.'"