Archive for Religious Tolerance

Charles L. Worley, North Carolina Pastor: Put Gays And Lesbians In Electrified Pen To Kill Them Off

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 23, 2012 by loonwatch

This is just plain craziness. All fundamentalists, of one stripe or another are terrified by the personal lives of homosexuals:

Charles L. Worley, North Carolina Pastor: Put Gays And Lesbians In Electrified Pen To Kill Them Off


The barrage of anti-gay sermons delivered by North Carolina-based pastors to hit the blogosphere continues with yet another disturbing rant caught on tape.

The pastor, identified on YouTube as Charles L. Worley of Providence Road Baptist Church in Maiden, N.C., condemns President Obama’s much-publicized endorsement of same-sex marriage while calling for gays and lesbians to be put in an electrified pen and ultimately killed off.

“Build a great, big, large fence — 150 or 100 mile long — put all the lesbians in there,” Worley suggests in the clip, reportedly filmed on May 13.

He continues: “Do the same thing for the queers and the homosexuals and have that fence electrified so they can’t get out…and you know what, in a few years, they’ll die out…do you know why? They can’t reproduce!”

He also said that if he’s asked who he’ll vote for, he’ll reply, “I’m not going to vote for a baby killer and a homosexual lover!” Many of the congregants cheer and reply, “Amen.”

Worley added, “It makes me pukin’ sick to think about — I don’t even whether or not to say this in the pulpit — can you imagine kissing some man?”

The pastor’s comments seem in line with statements made by Ron Baity, founding pastor of Berean Baptist Church in Winston-Salem and head of the anti-marriage equality organization Return America, who told his own congregation that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people should be prosecuted as they were historically, and Pastor Sean Harris of the Berean Baptist Church in Fayetteville who advocated parents “punch” their male child if he is effeminate and “crack that wrist” if he is limp-wristed.

Similarly, Tim Rabon, pastor at Raleigh’s Beacon Baptist Church, condemned states such as Massachusetts, Connecticut and Maryland which have already “re-defined” marriage to include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) couples before asking his congregants, “What is stopping them from refining marriage from a person and a beast? We’re not far from that.”

Sonny Singh: We Are All Muslims: A Sikh Response to Islamophobia in the NYPD and Beyond

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 13, 2012 by loonwatch

Sonny Singh: We Are All Muslims: A Sikh Response to Islamophobia in the NYPD and Beyond

As a brown-skinned Sikh with a turban on my head and a long beard on my chin, I deal with my fair share of racist and xenophobic harassment regularly, including in my home of New York City, the most diverse city on the planet. It usually takes the form of someone yelling or perhaps mumbling at me: Osama bin Laden/terrorist/al Qaeda/he’s going to blow up the /go back to your country/etc. Less often, someone might threaten me, get in my face, or in one case, pull off my turban on the subway.

My experience is not terribly unique for a turban-wearing Sikh in the United States. Especially since 9/11, we Sikhs have become all too familiar with racial epithets, bullying and violence. Just last month, a gurdwara in Michigan was vandalized with hostile anti-Muslim graffiti. Last year, in what we can assume was a hate attack, two elderly Sikh men were shot and killed while taking an evening walk in a quiet neighborhood in Elk Grove, Calif.

Many talk about the prevalence of anti-Sikh attacks as a case of “mistaken identity.” Sikhs mistaken for Muslims. Indeed, we are by and large attacked because of anti-Muslim bigotry. The Michigan gurdwara was targeted for that reason, and most of us who experience racist harassment as Sikhs in the U.S. experience it through the vilification of Muslims and/or Arabs.

Ironically, many Sikhs themselves vilify Muslims or at least distance themselves from the Muslim community at every possible opportunity. I remember in the days, weeks and months after 9/11, the first thing out of the mouths of many Sikhs when talking to the press, to politicians or even to their neighbors was, “We are not Muslims.” While this is of course a fact, the implication of the statement if it stops there is: You’re attacking the wrong community. Don’t come after us, go after the Muslims! Sikhs believe in equality and freedom and love our country and our government. But Muslims? We don’t like them either.

The roots of anti-Muslim sentiment in the Sikh community run deep in South Asia, from the days of the tyranny of Mughal emperors such as Aurangzeb in the 17th century to the bloodshed in 1947 when our homeland of Punjab was sliced into two separate nation-states. Despite these historical realities, Sikhism has always been clear that neither Muslims as a people nor Islam as a religion were ever the enemy. Tyranny was the enemy. Oppression was the enemy. Sectarianism was the enemy. In fact, the Guru Granth Sahib, our scriptures that are the center of Sikh philosophy and devotion, contains the writings of Muslim (Sufi) saints alongside those of our own Sikh Gurus. Nevertheless, historical memory breeds misguided hostility and mistrust of Muslims, especially in the contemporary global context of ever-increasing, mainstream Islamophobia.

What is it going to take for Sikhs and Muslims to join together in solidarity against the common enemies of racist harassment and violence, racial and religious profiling, and Islamophobic bigotry? Perhaps the recently exposed NYPD spying program (along with the “education” officers have received about Islam) will serve as a wake up call to my community (and other communities for that matter) about how bad things have really gotten. While we Sikhs confront bigotry on a daily basis from our neighbors, classmates, co-workers, employers and strangers on the street, our Muslim American counterparts are systematically targeted by our own government. (I should note that, of course, Sikhs too are profiled by law enforcement in less repressive, though still troubling, ways, especially at airport security).

Sikhism was born hundreds of years ago in part to stand up for the most oppressed and fight for the freedom and liberation of all people. If this isn’t reason enough for us to make the cause of rooting out Islamophobia from the NYPD and other law enforcement and government agencies our own, we only have to return to the bleak reality we Sikhs in the U.S. still face right now in 2012. A time when gurdwaras are still vandalized with anti-Muslim statements, Sikh kids are still being bullied and tormented at school every day, and I am called Osama bin Laden while walking down a Manhattan street for the 258th time (no I’m not counting).

“We are not Muslims” hasn’t been so effective for our community, has it? Even if we do so in a positive way that does not condone attacks on Muslims, simply educating the public about the fact that we are a distinct community and that we in fact “are not Muslim” will not get to the root of the problem. As long as we live in a country (and world) where an entire community (in this case, Muslims) is targeted, spied on and vilified, we will not be safe, we will not be free.

As Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote in his letter from a Birmingham jail in 1963, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.”

I hope the NYPD’s blatant assault on the civil rights of our Muslim sisters and brothers propels us Sikhs as well as all people of conscience to action. Perhaps “We are not Muslims” will become “We are all Muslims,” as we come together to eradicate Islamophobic bigotry in all its forms.

Engy Abdelkader: Islamophobic Bullying in Our Schools

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 25, 2011 by loonwatch

Is this innocent fun? Or does it cross the line into hateful bullying?

Islamophobic Bullying in Our Schools

by Engy Abdelkader

“You boys were so much fun on the 8th grade trip! Thanks for not bombing anything while we were there!” read the yearbook inscription penned by the middle school teacher.

The eighth grade yearbook was littered with similar remarks by classmates linking Omar to a “bomb.”

“To my bomb man!” read one note. “Come wire my bomb,” read another.

“What is this?” asked Omar’s mother incredulously. He had handed the yearbook over to her moments earlier when he arrived home that afternoon.

Omar answered quietly, “I know, Mom, I know.” He stared down at the kitchen floor. His eyes could not meet his mother’s but he began to tell her what had happened just one month earlier.

In May 2009, Omar joined his classmates on a school trip to Washington, D.C. As they toured the Washington Monument, visited area museums and passed by the White House, the kids repeatedly told Omar they hoped he wouldn’t “bomb” any of the sites. A teacher chaperoned the children, heard the comments and responded by doing… well, nothing, except leave a denigrating remark in Omar’s yearbook a month later.

It was clear to Omar’s mother that her American born and raised son was harassed because of his Muslim faith and Arab ancestry.

Unfortunately, this was not the first bias-based bullying incident involving Omar that school year. Only several months earlier a peer was intimidating Omar, calling him a “terrorist,” during an elective trade course. Omar finally told his mother about the bullying when his report card indicated that he was failing that same class, while acing the others where he was not subjected to such humiliating treatment.

Omar’s mother had addressed the bullying with the school Vice-Principal immediately afterwards.

But, when she spoke to her son’s school Principal regarding the D.C. trip and subsequent offensive yearbook comments (by a school teacher), the Principal was shocked to learn that Omar had been a prior victim of bullying earlier in the academic year. He had no knowledge of that incident in his school.

While the Principal assured her that he would take proper action against the offending teacher, nothing actually happened. The teacher denied hearing the bomb-related comments during the field trip to D.C. and excused her yearbook note as a “joke.”

Omar’s incensed mother took her case to the school Superintendent who in turn suggested scheduling a cultural sensitivity training about Arabs and Muslims for faculty.

That never came to pass, however.

In a written complaint Omar’s mother filed with a state government agency (with jurisdiction over such bias-based bullying incidents as the one involving her son) she observed:

“[O]ne day, there will be a child who is pushed beyond their limits, as we have seen in tragic events throughout the country, like Columbine and suicides of children being picked on for no other reason than being “different.”
What will we do then?
Must we wait for tragedy to create a safer and more open society for our community?”

By now Omar was a freshman in the public high school where the bullying continued, unabated.

In school, Omar was frequently referred to as “faggot.”

Omar never told his parents.

The verbal harassment culminated into physical “touching.”

A male student rubbed Omar’s shoulder while calling him “faggot.”

Still, Omar said and did nothing seeming paralyzed by his fear and shame.

Then, during a fire drill at school a group of boys yelled out to Omar, “Call off your tribe so we can go back into school!”

That was it.

Omar told his parents what was happening. He explained to his mother that he tried to keep the bullying a secret because he did not want to “hurt or upset” them.

Omar’s mother complained to the Principal, Superintendent and state agency… again.

This time, the high school held a cultural sensitivity training focusing on American Arabs and Muslims and geared towards faculty members, only.

Some mistakenly believe that bullying is a rite of passage which children must endure. It is worth noting the American Medical Association, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identify school bullying as a “public health problem.”

In fact, bullying has been recognized as a form of child abuse when perpetrated by other children. Studies have shown that victims of bullying may suffer school phobia, increased truancy and reduced concentration and classroom achievement. Bullying victims may also suffer sleep disturbances, bedwetting, abdominal pain, high levels of anxiety and depression, loneliness, low self-esteem and heightened fear for personal safety.

While anti-bullying legislation plays a critical role in protecting bullying victims, proper implementation and enforcement of those laws is key. Case in point: over 45 states have such legislation in effect (including Omar’s home state) yet bullying — and bias-based bullying — persists in epidemic proportions.

And, what happens when a disappointing report card or offensive inscriptions in a child’s yearbook does not tip off a parent that his or her child is a target of such bullying conduct? Many children refrain from sharing such details with family members sometimes out of a sense of shame and embarrassment but often because they are attempting to shield parents from being hurt or upset, as we saw in Omar’s case above.

Preventative measures geared at faculty, students and administrators are necessary to stop bullying from occurring in the first instance. Indeed, evidence suggests that bullying behavior can be significantly reduced through prevention curricula.

According to a new report published by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU) titled, “Global Battleground or School Playground: The Bullying of America’s Muslim Children,” bias-based bullying against American Muslim children (or those perceived to be Muslim) is on the rise and such school bullying is largely attributed to cultural and religious misunderstanding.

The report finds that a primary factor underlying the persistent harassment, ridicule and discrimination against American Muslim children is the American mainstream’s general misperception of Islam and Muslims.

The ISPU paper calls for intensive and pervasive efforts to educate American society about Islam and Muslims. It suggests that such cultural information should be provided to libraries, knowledge bases, teachers and school administrators.

Such facts and figures about Muslims and Islam — compiled with the assistance of diverse community groups and advocates — should also be featured in educational materials and resources, school curricula, popular Internet sites, television and films.

Not surprisingly the report identifies the media as a problem source for stereotyped images of Muslims as terrorists and the outside group in the “us” versus “them” dichotomy.

Perhaps it is time for “Hollywood” to consider positive associations for the Muslims it portrays on the big screen and in our family rooms. American Muslims are doctors, lawyers, engineers, make-up artists, photographers, engineers, information technology specialists, law enforcement agents, teachers, professors, bankers, community advocates, humanitarians, etc. — isn’t it time we portray them that way?

Children’s programming can also play a critical role in addressing this issue.

Note the influence of Sesame Street, for instance: a 1996 survey found that 95 percent of all American preschoolers had watched Sesame Street by the time they were three. More recently, in 2008, an estimated 77 million Americans had watched the program as kids.

In my view, Sesame Street should feature more American Muslim, Arab American and South Asian celebrities, children and characters in its regular programing.

The children’s show has made great strides in promoting diversity and multiculturalism and recently introduced its first South Asian character to the regular cast. To further promote increased diversity, it could throw a party with authentic Middle Eastern food and music for its American viewing audience, for example.

Musicians could play the tabla — an Arabic percussion instrument which produces a great beat — while guests enjoy pita chips and hummus. Mangos, a popular fruit in the Arab and Muslim world, could also make an appearance where celebrating children learn how to count all the mangos.

And, during ‘The Word on the Street’ segment, Murray could imaginably interview a young Sikh man with a turban or a young American Muslim girl or woman who wears a hijab or headscarf. This may help address the growing phenomenon of “hijabophobia.”

Further, The Daily Show‘s Asif Mandvi, who happens to be an Indian-American Muslim in addition to being funny, could make a cameo appearance to help define and explain a new word (e.g. the word jocular) to the young viewing audience. I am willing to offer my consulting services free of charge to help realize progress in this way.

The answer does not lie with Sesame Street alone, however. Countless other children’s programming could help as well and impact continued positive change. For instance, in addition to Dora, Diego and Ni Hao, Kai-lan, perhaps Nickelodeon could consider adding similar programming with Arab, Muslim and South Asian heroes and heroines.

You may be wondering about Omar and his family. His mother organized and conducted cultural competency training on American Muslims and Arab Americans for her son’s school district. It was well-received.

As for Omar — with the help of his family he has a great new attitude towards bullying which prompts him to stick up for other children targeted in the way he was.

Please note that names have been changed to protect the child’s identity according to his parent’s wishes.

Combating Religious Intolerance When Freedom of Speech Enables Hate Speech

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , on July 7, 2011 by loonwatch

We have been discussing this topic for a while now. We also addressed, Pamela Geller’s hate rallycancellation.

What must be affirmed is that freedom of speech and freedom of religion are compatible, and neither will be sacrificed to the bigots.

Combating Religious Intolerance When Freedom of Speech Enables Hate Speech

(Huffington Post) by John L. Esposito and Sheila B. Lalwani

Religious pluralism, versus the defamation of religion and freedom of speech have become an increasing source of conflict in international politics and interreligious relations. Preachers of hate and activists in America, Europe, and many Muslim countries are engaged in a culture war. Far right anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim political leaders and parties warn of the Islamization of America and Europe to garner votes. The acquittal on June 22, 2011 of Dutch politician Geert Wilders on charges of “inciting hatred and discrimination against Muslims,” is a political victory for Wilders but also a sign of the times, growing normalization of anti-Islam bashing in the West.

The OIC (Organization of the Islamic Conference which represents some 57 countries) lobbied the United Nations for more than a decade to address this issue. Initially targeting Islamophobia, it broadened its request to a resolution on “defamation of religions” that would criminalize words and actions perceived as attacks against religion.

Opponents, in particular the U.S. and E.U., maintained that the resolution could also be used to restrict religious freedom and free speech, and foster religious intolerance and violence against religious minorities. Indeed, in recent years attacks against Christians and other religious minorities have risen in Egypt, Malaysia, Sudan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Pakistan. These conflicts have varied from acts of discrimination to the bombing and burning of churches and murder.

Pakistan’s blasphemy law exemplifies the issue. In 2009 Asia Bibi, a Christian and 45-year-old mother of four was sentenced to death on charges of insulting Islam, a charge she strongly denied. The case sparked international outrage that was heightened in 2011 by the brutal assassination of Salman Taseer — the governor of Punjab and an outspoken critic of the blasphemy law, and the assassination of Pakistani Chief Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, a Christian and outspoken opponent of Pakistan’s blasphemy law.

The United Nations Human Rights Council recently ostensibly resolved the conflict over “Defamation of Religions.” After close discussions with the U.S. and E.U., Pakistan introduced a compromise resolution on behalf of the OIC, which addressed the concerns of both the OIC and those of member states and human rights organizations, including the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

The “Combating Discrimination and Violence” compromise resolution affirms individual rights, including the freedoms of expression and religion that are part-and-parcel of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. At the same time, the 47-member state body also called for strengthened international efforts to foster a global dialogue and the promotion of a culture of human rights, tolerance and mutual respect.

But will this U.N. resolution prove to be an effective tool in combating the rise of Islamophobia? A clear sign of the limits of the resolution can be seen in the stunning verdict in Geert Wilder’s acquittal. Wilders’ track record includes the charges that “Islam is a fascist ideology,” “Mohammed was a pedophile,” and “Islam and freedom, Islam and democracy are not compatible” and warnings of a “tsunami” of Muslim immigrants. Wilders’ “missionary” efforts have extended other parts of Europe to the US where his admirers refer to him as a “freedom fighter.” Plaintiffs had charged that Mr Wilders’ comments had incited hatred and led to a rise in discrimination and violence against Muslims. But Judge van Oosten ruled that although he found Wilders remarks “gross and denigrating”, they had not given rise to hatred. Spiegel Online’s headline of the acquittal read “Wilder’s Acquittal a ‘Slap in the Face for Muslims.’”

The exploitation of freedom of speech to promote religious intolerance emerged only days after the Wilders’ decision. Stop Islamisation of Europe (SIOE) and Stop Islamization of America (SIOA), a coalition of far right anti-Muslim European and American groups billing themselves as human rights organizations, had scheduled “United We Stand: First Transatlantic Anti-Islamization” in Strasbourg, France on July 2. On June 28, French and EU authorities’ cancelled the conference. In response, the Islamophobic cottage industry and their websites’ headlines blared: “Free in speech rally cancelled in Strasbourg over Muslim violence threats” and “Democracy Collapses in Europe: EU Cancels SIOA/SIOE Free Speech Rally.”

Freedom of speech is a precious right that must be guarded carefully. But what happens when that right is used to incite hatred and to feed religious intolerance, such as Islamophobia, that is spreading like a cancer across the United States and Europe? While some statements may not immediately be the direct cause of a specific act of violence, they spread seeds of intolerance and anger that lead to legitimizing and accepting acts of bigotry and hate, like the “Burn a Quran day” that took place in Florida, the desecration of mosques, physical attacks against Muslims including women and children. As a result, the public slowly becomes inured to Islamophobic actions and statements. At the same time, this ideology of hatred has a very real effect on the everyday life of Muslims and Arabs: issuing in verbal attacks from their community members, Islamophobic statements by political candidates, or law-enforcement policies that target Muslims and Arabs.

The issue of freedom of speech and the rights of hate groups is not new in American history. Even today, the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic organizations are allowed to express their disdain for certain ethnic and religious groups, regardless of how distasteful their ideologies may be. However, their power to attack has greatly diminished and their words have become a social taboo in the public square because our country has created a social environment where racism and anti-Semitism are loudly condemned and discredited in public life and in media. Muslim Americans and Europeans are entitled to the same treatment, rights and protections.

Islamophobia and its impact, like racism and anti-Semitism, must be countered by creating a climate in which hate speech and discrimination in the public square are not tolerated even when bigots exploit freedom of speech. Today, one can engage in anti-Islam and anti-Muslim hate speech and threats in print, media, and protest rallies that promote a popular culture that paints the religion of Islam, not just terrorists, as a threat to America. These preachers of hate and Islamophobia must be rejected and marginalized. Their mission to polarize our society must not be allowed to threaten our belief that religious tolerance and free speech are indeed compatible.

Jewish Leader Condemns Pat Robertson’s anti-Muslim Remarks

Posted in Loon Pastors with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 19, 2009 by loonwatch

Jewish Leader Condemns Pat Robertson’s Anti-Muslim Rhetoric

Mark Pelavin
Mark Pelavin

Jewish leader Marke Pelavin comes out against Pat Robertson’s anti-Muslim remarks. He should be commended for commenting on this issue and condemning Robertson. We wish Governor-elect of Virginia Bob McDonnell, who receives monetary support from Robertson, could be as principled.

Mark Pelavin calls on Pat Robertson to Honor the Spirit of Religious Tolerance

Pelavin: Rev. Robertson’s opposition to the President’s message is more than a simple “disagreement.” Religious tolerance and diversity are central to the character of our nation.

WASHINGTON, November 15, 2002 – In response to Reverend Pat Robertson’s rejection of President Bush’s call for greater religious tolerance, Mark Pelavin, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and Director of the Commission on Interreligious Affairs of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:

Rev. Robertson’s opposition to the President’s message is more than a simple “disagreement.” Religious tolerance and diversity are central to the character of our nation.

Immediately following the President’s recent denunciation of intolerant remarks about Islam, in a November 14th interview on The 700 Club (Christian Broadcasting Network), Rev. Pat Robertson once again voiced shrill, bigoted remarks, as he called on “Jewish friends in America …[to] read the Koran, and see what it says…and when you get through, do us a favor, and don’t criticize your friends, but see who your real enemies are.”

Rev. Robertson’s askew and narrow-minded interpretation of Islam is offensive, not only to the majority of peace-loving Muslims worldwide, but to all who cherish the fabric of cultural and religious diversity that defines our nation. In the current climate of xenophobia, responsible religious and political leaders must denounce such bigotry. There is a palpable need for the kind of interfaith dialogue that fosters tolerance and understanding across cultural differences, and, yes, which allows us to ardently challenge each other when we think a partner is wrong and has failed to squelch religious bigotry and intolerance.

In this spirit, we welcome President Bush’s recent remarks. Rev. Robertson’s opposition to the President’s message is more than a simple “disagreement.” Religious tolerance and diversity are central to the character of our nation. We call on Rev. Robertson – and all religious leaders who have engaged in similar hateful speech – to honor the words of President Bush with an immediate apology, for the sake of religious decency.