Religion News Roundup, March 5, 2011

    Religion News

  • Pastor pleads not guilty to stabbing another preacher: Rev. Edward Fairley, a northern New Jersey pastor accused of stabbing another preacher, has pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder and unlawful possession of a weapon.
  • Pagans may have day in court over religious tax exemption: If the town of Catskill, NY wanted a war, they got one. Thanks to a recent ruling by Greene County Court Judge George J. Pulver, Jr. a small pagan sect in Palenville may be going to trial with the town over a religious property tax exemption.
  • Australia: State probe after cult case rejected: The Coroner’s Court Act is to be reviewed after a failed bid to re-open the verdict of suicide on Cypra Helmer, a woman connected to The Family.
  • Humanist census posters banned from railway stations: The posters, which encourage people to tick the ‘no religion’ box if they do not believe in God, were judged too likely to offend
  • Muslims step up activism ahead of radicalization hearings:A week before the first in what House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King says will be a series of hearings on American Muslim radicalization that may stretch out for more than a year, Muslims in America are deeply nervous at the specter of being demonized from such a high-visibility platform as Capitol Hill. But King’s hearings have also galvanized American Muslims, perhaps as never before, in an attempt to counter what they call a rising tide of Islamophobia, to lobby Washington about their concerns and to help shape the national narrative about their community. The efforts come a little more than six months after many Muslims were blindsided by a wave of national opposition to a proposed Islamic cultural center near New York’s ground zero last summer.
    Hate Groups

  • Turning a blind eye to the blood-thirsty clerics: Pakistan is being swamped by a rising tide of religious hatred, while its political leaders remain silent, writes Praveen Swami.
  • Coverage of  Interfaith Strife Leaves Victims In the Cold: Experts: The debate in Indonesia’s national media on the recent spate of religious violence has only widened the interfaith gap by focusing more on lofty theological questions than the human aspect of the tragedies, an expert says. Ihsan Ali Fauzi, an Islamic scholar from Paramadina University, said on Thursday that talk shows and news analysis of the events tended to gloss over the injustice suffered by the victims.
  • Why the Westboro Baptist Church remains tax-exempt: Because they avoid direct advocacy. Nonprofits are allowed to hold opinions on public issues, of course. Only overtly political activities (electioneering, for example) are forbidden. The WBC is also careful to eschew pronouncements on specific legislation. They stick to “we hate homos” as opposed to “we support Prop 8.” Moreover, because calls to vote a certain way are subject to IRS scrutiny, the Church’s statements are almost always declarative (“AIDS cures fags”), not coercive or persuasive (“AIDS cures fags; elect John Smith”). [Research resources on the Westboro Baptist Church]
    Analysis, Commentary, Opinion

  • Division at software company over Scientology apparent before 2009 shooting: Fowler Software Design ran smoothly and profitably for years, even as the staff was divided between Scientologists and nonmembers of the controversial group. But a full-blown schism developed after employees learned that the company’s founder — 59-year-old William Rex Fowler — gave as much as $250,000 of the firm’s money to the Church of Scientology, according to witness statements given to investigators. Those conflicts were readily apparent after 42-year-old Thomas Ciancio, a non-Scientologist, was shot and killed by Fowler on Dec. 30, 2009. Fowler was convicted in Adams County district court Feb. 25 and sentenced to life in prison. The witness statements were released Friday after an open-records request.

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This post was last updated: Aug. 27, 2013