Religious Diversity News

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Shootings at a Los Angeles Jewish Center

Source: The San Diego Union-Tribune

On August 14, 1999, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported
that Buford O. Furrow Jr., the man accused of wounding five people at
the North Valley Jewish Community Center in Granada Hills, California
on August 10th, had plans to attack other Los Angeles area Jewish
centers. Police found a map in Furrow’s “ammunition-filled van that
indicated he had scouted the Museum of Tolerance, the Skirball
Cultural Center and the University of Judaism.” An hour after the
attack, Furrow shot and killed a postal worker because he was a
non-white “target of opportunity.” Law enforcement officials say that
Furrow attacked the Jewish center to “send a message” to America that
Jews should be killed. Furrow targeted the center in Granada Hills
because security there was light.

Jade Buddha Temple in Houston Celebrates 20th Anniversary

Source: The Houston Chronicle

On August 14, 1999, The Houston Chronicle published an
article on the 20th anniversary of the Jade Buddha Temple in Houston.
In 1979, the temple began with 10 Chinese Buddhists. Now, the temple
is a 2.5 acre Buddhist campus that supports 1,400 members. Most of
the members are of Chinese descent, but there are also people of
Thai, Vietnamese, Burmese, and other origins. About 5% of the members
are Americans who began in other faith traditions. The temple
features a grand hall for weekly services, a smaller meditation hall,
a youth activity center, library, cafeteria, living quarters for two
priests, and a lotus pond with a statue of the bodhisattva, Kwan-Yin.
Last year, Jade Buddha Temple began the Buddhist College, which
offers a 12-week intensive meditation course twice a year. It has
thus far attracted 60 students per session.

The Dalai Lama Visits Indiana

Source: The Indianapolis Star

On August 14, 1999, The Indianapolis Star reported that
Sister Mary Margaret Funk of Our Lady of Grace Monastery in Beech
Grove, Indiana has organized an interfaith peace vigil for a select
group of 800 men and women on August 23rd at St. Charles Borromeo
Catholic Church in Bloomington. Many will be Buddhist leaders from
Asia, Europe, and North America with representatives also attending
from Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, and Islam.

News Article Generates Controversy in American Muslim Community

Source: Star Tribune

On August 14, 1999, the Star Tribune of Minneapolis published Hooper’s reply to PIpes’ August 1st commentary. Hooper points out that Daniel Pipes has a history of a “troubling bigotry toward
Muslims.” Citing several quotes from the writings of Pipes and
commentaries on his work, Hooper shows that Pipes has a controversial
stance toward Muslims. In 1983, a Washington Post book review
states that Pipes displays, “a disturbing hostility to contemporary
Muslims…he professes respect for Muslims but is frequently
contemptuous of them….[He] is swayed by the writings of
anti-Muslim writers…[the book] is marred by exaggerations,
inconsistencies, and evidence of hostility to the subject.” In 1996,
Pipes gave a favorable review to a notoriously anti-Muslim book
entitled, “Why I Am Not a Muslim.” In a 1990 National Review
article, Pipes stated: “Western European societies are unprepared for
the massive immigration of brown-skinned peoples cooking strange
foods and maintaining different standards of hygiene…All immigrants
bring exotic customs and attitudes, but Muslim customs are more
troublesome than most.”

Shootings at a Los Angeles Jewish Center

Source: The Houston Chronicle

On August 13, 1999, The Houston Chronicle published an
editorial opinion by Donna Ostrower, executive director of the
Houston Chapter of the American Jewish Committee. Ostrower writes
about hate groups such as Christian Identity and World Church of the
Creator, with whom Buford Furrow, Timothy McVeigh, and Benjamin Smith
had connections. With about 90 ministries in 34 states, Christian
Identity is able to promulgate its racist theological message.According to
Ostrower, Christian Identity “distorts Genesis to preach that people of color
are a pre-Adamic creation, like beasts, and that God later created
Adam and Eve, who gave birth to Abel, whose descendants are white,
Nordic, Aryan types, i.e., the “real” chosen people. According to
this racist interpretation of Genesis, Eve was later impregnated by
Satan, producing Cain, and his descendants are the Jews.”

Shootings at a Los Angeles Jewish Center

Source: The Jerusalem Post

On August 13, 1999, The Jerusalem Post reported that
President Clinton was to discuss the Los Angeles Jewish center
shootings with American Jewish leaders at the White House on
Thursday, August 12th. Attorney General Janet Reno addressed the
shootings at her weekly briefing on Wednesday at the Justice
Department: “Hate crimes represent an attack not just on individual
victims, but also on the victims’ communities. They tear at the very
fabric of a people’s life…I believe we must seriously explore the
possibility of requiring the licensing of all handguns.” President
Clinton also addressed the shootings: “I can only hope that this
latest incident will intensify our resolve to make America a safer
place, and a place of healing across the lines that divide us.”

Shootings at a Los Angeles Jewish Center

Source: The San Francisco Chronicle

On August 12, 1999, The San Francisco Chronicle reported
that Bay Area Jewish day camps increased security after the shootings
at the North Valley Jewish Community Center. More security guards and
heightened police surveillance were just some of the measures taken
by the area Jewish centers. Jewish Community Services of Oakland
covered their agency’s name on three youth vans, so that those vans
carrying children would not be targeted. At the Contra Costa center
in Walnut Creek, CA, staff members were posted at each entrance,
along with increased police patrols. The measures have come in
response to a “steady stream of calls from parents who expressed
concern about the safety of their children.” Elaine Morinelli,
executive director of Jewish Community Services in Oakland, stated:
“When people call and say, ‘I’m not going to send my kids to camp,’
I say we have to. We can’t hide.” Most of the Bay Area centers
brought in therapists to talk to parents and none of the camp
officials noted a significant drop in attendance. On the night of
August 11th, 350 people attended a candlelight vigil at the Jewish
Community Center of San Francisco for victims of the shootings in Granada Hills.
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Religion and the Internet

Source: The Boston Globe

On August 11, 1999, The Boston Globe reported that Lycos
Inc., a major Internet search engine, will discontinue an
advertisement placed by Jews for Jesus after many complaints from
members of the Jewish community. Jews for Jesus paid $1700 to Lycos
for a banner to appear at the top of computer screens for the first
40,000 people who typed in the word “Jewish” as a search term. The
advertisements began to run on July 6th, but complaints were not
received by Lycos until July 29th. On July 30th, Lycos pulled the
advertisement, saying that it appeared to endorse Jews for Jesus.
Lycos reinstated the ad one week later; it plans to carry out the
contract signed with Jews for Jesus, but will not renew it. Diane
Kolb, associate director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Boston
office, urged Lycos to discontinue the ad because it is misleading:
“It’s very seductive material for a lot of Jews…If I’m a Jew
struggling with my identity living in this Christian society, I could
believe in Jesus, then I could have Christmas and I wouldn’t have to
be different from everyone else…That’s kind of cozy, but it’s
offering people an option that isn’t available, and that’s what we
have a problem with.” Susan Perlman, spokeswoman for Jews for Jesus,
stated: “It’s a shame that there are people who want to block our
message and prevent people from thinking for themselves…The Web is
supposed to be a marketplace for all kinds of ideas, and people can
click on them or pass them by.”

Fort Bragg Wiccans Seek Worship Space on North Carolina Base

Source: The Herald-Sun

On August 8, 1999 The Associated Press reported that “Soldiers who believe in the Wiccan religion want Fort Bragg to allow their worship services and study groups on the post.
The Wiccans say they are good soldiers and patriotic Americans.
‘But we change ‘God bless America’ to ‘goddess bless America,’ said Laurie MacNeill, a former Army sergeant and the high priestess in the Coven of the Dragon Warriors.
There are about 10,000 pagans in the military and an estimated 200 to 400 at Fort Bragg, according to the Military Pagan Network, an international support group for military pagans that is based in Columbia, Md.
Members of the Coven of the Dragon Warriors, which named itself after the 18th Airborne Corps symbol, the dragon, say they have no place to worship off post. The 10-member coven has outgrown its high priestess’ small Spring Lake apartment where members meet for lessons, worship and fellowship.
The Wiccans, also known as witches, practice Wicca, a pagan religion whose practitioners say is older than Christianity and which is often referred to as witchcraft. They say they have just as much right to worship on the 42,000-soldier post as do Christians, Jews and Muslims.
Members of the coven, formed in January, said they sent a memorandum in April requesting to be sanctioned on Fort Bragg. Post officials said they did not receive the letter.
The Wiccans said they will resubmit their request…
‘We respect the right of military members to practice their faith consistent with the requirements of good order and discipline, and health and safety standards,’ said Maj. Scott Ross, a Fort Bragg spokesman. ‘The military services do not show preference for religious groups or particular religious beliefs.’
Although Wicca is a religion recognized by federal courts, as well as by the military, Fort Bragg’s Wiccans say many worship in hiding, fearing persecution from others and reprimands from their superiors.
‘We want to be allowed to worship like anyone else,’ MacNeill said. ‘But a lot of people don’t want to listen to us.’
The coven is asking for a room to hold classes and a place outside for its ceremonies, which include full-moon festivals and rituals to mark the changing of the seasons.
John Machate, coordinator for the Military Pagan Network, said 11 installations and one Navy ship already allow pagan worship.”

Native American and Black Connection Honored

Source: The Boston Globe

On August 8, 1999, The Boston Globe reported that 200
people attended a powwow on August 7th in Canton, Massachusetts. The powwow, held on
the lawn of the Trinity Episcopal Church, honored the connection
many African Americans have with Native Americans. Rev. Vernon
Carter, a Black man with Wampanoag roots, organized the event to
heighten the awareness of the “duality that goes unrecognized in the
black community.” Carter billed the event as the first powwow in New
England of Blacks who have Indian heritage. William L. Katz, author
of Black Indians: A Hidden Heritage, wrote that because many Indian
tribes took in large numbers of escaped African slaves to protect
them from bounty hunters, “almost every African-American family has
an Indian branch in its family tree.” The history of the connection
between the two peoples has been nearly impossible to track down
because written records were not kept on the births of Native
American children until 1934.