Friday, November 25, 2005


The following is taken from various sections of “Racism and Xenophobia in the EU Member States trends, developments and good practice Annual Report 2005” produced by the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC). To view the full report go to

Racist activity and the influence of the far right

The RAXEN reports reflect a growing concern over racist activity, influenced by
the far right. This activity appears to focus predominantly on three groups, namely
Jews, Muslims and the collective group of ‘Roma, Sinti, Gypsies and Travellers’.
For example, NGOs in Ireland reported an apparent increase in racist incidents
around the same time as the country’s citizenship referendum.75 In Hungary a
Budapest Court banned the Blood and Honour Cultural Organisation, a well-known
and active neo-Nazi organisation, on the basis of a petition by the National Security
Service that the organisation was pursuing anti-constitutional aims.76 In Belgium
there was legal action concerning the issue of Holocaust denial, where three rightwing organisations had cases taken against them.77 For the first time a Belgian
Court used art.8 of the anti-discrimination law in relation to race hate crimes, in a
case involving an attack and wounding of a Belgian national of Indian origin. In
France the Cour de cassation78 held for the first time that the use of racist insults
provided grounds for the dismissal of a worker.79 In Germany, for the first time, an
extreme right-wing music group was convicted of forming a criminal association.
In Greece there have been criminal proceedings related to antisemitic and racist
texts.80 The Estonian NFP also reports that the Estonian security police monitored
the activities of a Russian ultra-nationalist group, Russian National Unity (RNE),
and that Tallinn City Court, in 2002, charged members of this group with
incitement to national and political hatred.81

71 Finland /Helsingin käräjäoikeus (24.11.2003), 03/11651.
72 TGI de Paris 17e chambre correctionnelle 16 janvier 2004, Fatimata N’Diaye c/ Odette X
(source : Le Parisien « La propriétaire condamnée pour discrimination » 17/01/2004).
73 CEPS-INSTEAD, National Report Luxembourg, 2004, p.41.
74 Ordinansa del Tribunale di Genova, 19 luglio 2004, available at: http://www.diarioprevenzione.
75 NCCRI Press Release, Interim figures reveals upward rise in racist incidents May-August 2004,
available at:
76 CMRS, National Report Hungary, 2004, p.54.
77 CEOOR, National Report Belgium, 2004, p.19
78 The highest court in the French judicial system.
79 Cour de Cassation Chambre sociale 02/06/2004 Ste Pavillon Montsouris c/X no 02-44904 et X c/
Ste Spot image no 02-45269 (PUBFR 1974)
80 Sitaropoulos N. (2003), Executive summary on race equality directive. State of play in Greece
81 LICHR, National Report Estonia, 2004, reference to report at:


Racism and discrimination in the employment sector and initiatives on how to prevent it

The employment sections of the 25 national reports for 2004 on which this chapter
is based demonstrate clearly the continued presence of widespread racist and
xenophobic discrimination in European labour markets. The chapter sets out how
discriminatory acts and contexts of disadvantage are measured, presents some
examples of the specific forms of employment discrimination that are experienced,
describes the social groups most vulnerable to racism and discrimination in
Europe’s labour markets, and finally gives examples of some of the positive ways
in which governments, social partners and voluntary organisations are attempting
to combat such discrimination.

Europe’s vulnerable groups

The map of Europe’s vulnerable minorities varies slightly from one country to
another. Yet there is a consistency about the national and ethnic origins of those
who experience the most discrimination. Far ahead in their structurally reinforced
exclusion are the Roma and Travellers. For them labour market exclusion is the
norm, and in some of the new Member States where there are relatively few non-
nationals or other national minority groups present, the discrimination against them
is virtually the only form of racist treatment that is reported.

The national reports of 2004 confirm a dramatic picture of marginalisation of the
Roma from labour markets in the new Member States of the 2004 enlargement. In
the Czech Republic, it was mostly Roma who became unemployed at the start of
the transition process since they were the least educated and in the most basic jobs
that tended to disappear first. Unemployment among the Czech Roma is estimated
at around 70-80 per cent.145 In early 2004 Slovakia’s liberal tax and social reforms,
which severely reduced social benefits, sparked serious social unrest and outbreaks
of violence among the Roma population.146 In Poland it is reported there are whole
regions where the unemployment rate of the Roma population nears 100 per cent,
and only occasional Roma individuals have work.147 In Hungary, data from a 2003
representative survey show the same labour market participation rate for Roma in
2003 as in 1993, at just 21 per cent for both men and women (compared to 50 per
cent for the whole population). It is not surprising to find then, that more than 80
per cent of Hungary’s Roma households are located in the lowest two income
deciles.148 The picture is in general one of little or no work, with heavy
discrimination in recruitment, and where jobs do exist they are very low paid.
In the rest of Europe, while the specificities vary according to the detailed
historical trajectory of migration, there is a broad pattern. The least level of
integration into normal national labour markets tends to be experienced by those of
Arab nationality or appearance, those with the darkest skins, and by recent
migrants from Eastern Europe, followed by those from the Indian sub-continent
and parts of Asia. Some of the national reports provide specific rankings. For
Germany, the national report reveals a hierarchy of unemployment levels, with the
highest level amongst those from Turkey, followed by those from Italy and
Greece.149 In Sweden the two highest rates of unemployment are experienced by
those from Iraq and Africa,150 and in Italy it is reported that most industrial injuries are experienced by those from Morocco, Albania and Tunisia.151

141 De Volkskrant (21.05.2004), p. 8
142 DACORD, National Report Denmark, 2004, p.10.
143 2000/43/EC, (29.06.2000), Council Directive
144 Jasinskaja-Lahti. I., Liebkind, K. & Vesala, T. (2002), Rasismi ja syrjintä Suomessa.
Maahanmuuttajien kokemuksia. [Racism and Discrimination in Finland. Experiences of
Immigrants]. Helsinki: Gaudeamus.
European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia – Annual Report – 2005 – Part II

145 See report „Great Britain and the CR: a twinning project support for racial ethnic equality“,
available at (12.11.2004)
146 NFP Slovakia, National Report Slovakia, 2004, p.1.
147 HFHR, National Report Poland, 2004, p.10.
148 Janky, B (2004), “A cigányok jövedelmi helyzete”, in: Kolosi,T - Toth I. Gy - Vukovics,Gy (eds)
Társadalmi Riport, Budapest: TÁRKI
149 Vgl. Statistisches Bundesamt 2004a (text part / chapter 7)
150 Sweden, Statistics Sweden (2003), Labour Force Surveys (AKU), statistics from the second half
year 2003.
151 INAIL (2004), Dati provvisori aggiornamento febbraio 2004.

Racism and discrimination in the housing sector and initiatives on how to prevent it

This chapter looks first at the type of data and information available on
discrimination in housing, and then looks at evidence of direct and indirect
discrimination and the ways that these are manifested. It considers problems of
access to housing, inappropriate housing and segregation, and finally sets out
examples of good practice and preventive initiatives against discrimination.

Social groups most vulnerable to racism and discrimination IN HOUSING

Across the 25 EU Member States, minority groups, migrants, refugees and asylum
seekers are the groups most likely to be affected by discrimination in the sector of
housing. The Roma can be identified as the most vulnerable ethnic minority group
in many states of the EU. Generally, the housing situation of the Roma appears
acutely problematic in access to housing, and regarding housing conditions and
segregation. Roma are mentioned as the group most likely to suffer from
discrimination in the Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland,
Slovenia, Slovakia and Finland, and to a smaller extent in Greece, Spain,
Cyprus, Portugal and Sweden. In Ireland the Traveller community is exposed to
discrimination in the housing sector, and in some states, such as Finland and
Poland, citizens from the former Soviet Union and Russian speaking minorities
can suffer disparities in housing conditions. In Cyprus, the Turkish-Cypriot
minority is reported to be in a less favorable position.263
With regard to migrants, in Belgium it is Moroccans, Turks and people from sub-
Saharan Africa who are more likely to be exposed to discrimination, whilst in
Germany, it is asylum seekers, “Spätaussiedler”264 and Turkish people. As for
Greece, regular immigrants in theory enjoy equal treatment with Greek citizens as
far as their formal access to social security rights, goes. However, immigrants of
Greek ethnic origin, the “repatriated” immigrants from ex-USSR countries, enjoy
preferential treatment in comparison to other immigrant social groups with regard
to low- or free-interest loans, or special housing programmes. (However, there is
an exception within this category, between the “repatriated” and those from
Albania, as the latter are not entitled to the favourable provisions and special
policies.) In Spain, Maghrebians, Asians and black migrants are the most
vulnerable groups. In Ireland asylum seekers are reported as facing discrimination
and in Luxembourg black people represent the most vulnerable group. As for
Austria, migrants from sub-Saharan Africa (especially Nigerians), from Eastern
Europe, former Yugoslavia and Turkey are reported as most vulnerable to

Particularly worthy of attention in this context are the so-called “erased” in
Slovenia. The “erased” is a popular name for a group of over 18,000 persons,
registered as citizens of one of the other former-Yugoslav republics, whose data
were erased from the register of permanent residents in 1992 without the required
administrative procedure. As a result, they lost their permanent residence permits
and associated rights and benefits, and were consequently denied the right to buy
the apartments in which they were living,265 and to buy and sell property in general.

258 Lombardia / Regional Regulations no.0001, (03.02.2004), Annex no. 1, p.11; COSPE, National
Report Italy, 2004, p.36.
259 Andersson, R and I. Molina (2003) “Racialization and Migration in Urban Segregation
Processes. Key issues for critical geographers” in Öhman, Jan & Simonsen, Kirsten (eds.) Voices
from the North - New Trends in Nordic Human Geography, Ashgate.
260 Weijers, Y.M.R. et al. (2002) De kleur van beleid, De invloed van het grotestedenbeleid op de
sociaal-economische postie en de leefomgeving van etnische minderheden, Rotterdam: Institute
for Sociological-Economic Research (ISEO), p.6.
261 Chignier Riboulon F. dir, Belmessous F. et H., Chebbah-Malicet L., Les discriminations quant à
l’accès au logement locatif privé des catégories sociales étrangères ou perçues comme
étrangères: une étude à partir des quartiers Lyonnais et Parisiens, Laboratoire de recherche
CERAMAC Université Blaise Pascal de Clermont Ferrand, 2003, p.155.
262 Ausländer in Deutschland (AiD)/Integration in Deutschland, Aktueller Informationsdienst zu
Fragen der Migration und Integrationsarbeit, Saarbrücken: Isoplan, Vol. 19, No. 2003/2.

Racism and discrimination in the education sector and
initiatives on how to prevent it

This chapter examines the indicators for, and the available information on, racism
and discrimination in the education sphere, and the social groups most affected. It
selects several themes of particular interest, including the issue of segregation,
especially regarding the Roma, the issues of religious symbols and faith schools,
and examples of good practice against discrimination and segregation, along with
positive initiatives for awareness-raising.

Vulnerable social groups in education

As in previous years, data on the educational attainment of migrants and ethnic
minorities indicates an overrepresentation of several ethnic minority groups in
schools with lower academic demands and lower school leaving credentials. In
many EU Member States, the Roma/Sinti/Gypsies/Travellers group constitutes the
most vulnerable group in education. The national reports show the Roma’s general
low educational attainment, high levels of illiteracy, school segregation, and
exclusion from education. Reports on non-migrant minority groups in the EU
Member States highlight a disadvantaged situation and underachievement in
education for other groups, such as Travellers in Ireland or the Muslim minority in
Greece. Since the Baltic States restored their statehood after the collapse of the
Soviet Union in 1991, policy changes in education have produced a more difficult
situation for the Russian minority in Estonia and Latvia.

Children of migrants, such as those from the former Yugoslavia (e.g. Austria,
Germany, Luxembourg), and Turkey (e.g. Austria, Germany), but also migrants of
EU Member States (e.g. Italians in Germany, or Portuguese in Luxembourg), are
less likely to reach higher educational levels in these respective countries. The
same applies to pupils of mixed White and Black-Caribbean heritage and
Bangladeshi and Pakistani pupils in the United Kingdom. The disadvantaged
position in education of pupils with a migrant background can also be seen in the
results of the OECD PISA study 2003,309 published in December 2004. In general,
this holds true even for those students whose parents are foreign born but who
themselves have grown up in the reception country and have spent their entire
school career there. Furthermore, in many countries, asylum seekers, refugees, and
undocumented immigrants are affected by discrimination and disadvantages in

306 Braiden, G. (2004) Rise in racist incidents at city schools. The eveningtimesonline, available at (12.10.2004).
307 This is Plymouth (25.08.2004) School Race Incident Rate, available at
command=displayContent&sourceNode=133158&contentPK=10829300 (12.10.2004).
308 Education Commission, London Development Agency (2004) The educational experiences and
achievements of Black boys in London schools 2000 – 2003, p. 7 London: Education
Commission, available at, (12.10.2004).
309 (20.2.2005).

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


The United American Indians of New England web reminds us, “Since 1970, Native Americans have gathered at noon on Cole's Hill in Plymouth to commemorate a National Day of Mourning on the US thanksgiving holiday. Many Native Americans do not celebrate the arrival of the Pilgrims and other European settlers. Thanksgiving day is a reminder of the genocide of millions of Native people, the theft of Native lands, and the relentless assault on Native culture. Participants in National Day of Mourning honor Native ancestors and the struggles of Native peoples to survive today. It is a day of remembrance and spiritual connection as well as a protest of the racism and oppression which Native Americans continue to experience.”

Below you will find some comments relating to the true story of “Thanksgiving”.

Thanksgiving Day Celebrates A Massacre
Research compiled, October 19, 1990
by Johyn Westcott and Paul Apidaca
Copyright © 1990 Westcott/Apidaca
All Rights Reserved

William B. Newell, a Penobscot Indian and former chairman of the Anthropology department at the University of Connecticut, says that the first official Thanksgiving Day celebrated the massacre of 700 Indian men, women and children during one of their religious ceremonies. "Thanksgiving Day" was first proclaimed by the Governor of the then Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1637 to commemorate the massacre of 700 men, women and children who were celebrating their annual Green Corn Dance...Thanksgiving Day to the, "in their own house", Newell stated.

"Gathered in this place of meeting, they were attacked by mercenaries and English and Dutch. The Indians were ordered from the building and as they came forth were shot down, The rest were burned alive in the building-----The very next day the governor declared a Thanksgiving Day.....For the next 100 years, every Thanksgiving Day ordained by a Governor was in honor of the bloody victory, thinking God that the battle had been won."

In June 1637 John Underhill slaughtered a pequot village in just the manner described above. Narranganset Indians were used as the mercenaries. Governor John Endicott of the Massachusetts Bay Colony proclaimed the pequot war. A pequot chief of sachem named sassacus warred against the Dutch in 1633 over the death of his father. The pequot made no distinction between the Dutch and the English. The Underhill massacre was witnessed and documented by William Branford and an engraving was made illustration the massacre.

The Jamestown Colony may be the source for the tradition of Indians under the leadership of Powhaton joining with early settlers for a dinner and helping those settlers through the winter. There were no pilgrims of puritans at Jamestown, however. The present Thanksgiving may therefore be a mixture of the tradition of the Jamestown dinner and the commemoration of the Pequot massacre.

The celebration of Thanksgiving as an official holiday possibly roots in the Pequot massacre, while the imagery is of Jamestown with pilgrims, images misused.

Source:André Cramblit, Operations Director, (NCIDC)
The Northern California Indian Development Council is a
non-profit organization that helps meet the social, educational,
and economic development needs of American Indian communities.

The Story of "Thanksgiving"
From chapter 17 of the book Where White Men Fear to Tread, by Russell Means

When we met with the Wampanoag people, they told us that in researching the history of Thanksgiving, they had confirmed the oral history passed down through their generations. Most Americans know that Massasoit, chief of the Wampanoag had welcomed the so-called Pilgrim Fathers - and the seldom mentioned Pilgrim Mothers - to the shores where his people had lived for millennia. The Wampanoag taught the European colonists how to live in our hemisphere by showing them what wild foods they could gather, how, where, and what crops to plant, and how to harvest, dry, and preserve them.

The Wampanoag now wanted to remind white America of what had happened after Massasoit's death. He was succeeded by his son, Metacomet, whom the colonist called "King" Philip. In 1617-1676, to show "gratitude" for what Massasoit's people had done for their fathers and grandfathers, the Pilgrims manufactured an incident as a pretext to justify disarming the Wampanoags. The whites went after the Wampanoag with guns, swords, cannons, and torches. Most, including Metacomet, were butchered. His wife and son were sold into slavery in the West Indies. His body was hideously drawn and quartered. For twenty-five years afterward Matacomet's skull was displayed on a pike above the whites' village. The real legacy of the Pilgrim Fathers is treachery.

Americans today believe that Thanksgiving celebrates a bountiful harvest, but that is not so. By 1970, the Wampanoag had turned up a copy of a Thanksgiving proclamation made by the governor to the colony. The text revealed the ugly truth: After a colonial militia had returned from murdering the men, women, and children of an Indian village, the governor proclaimed a holiday and feast to give thanks for the massacre. He also encouraged other colonies to do likewise - in other words, every autumn after the crops are in, go kill Indians and celebrate your murders with a feast.

In November 1970, their decendants returned to Plymouth to publisize the true story of Thanksgiving and, along with about two hundred other Indians from around the country, to observe a national day of Indian mourning."

No Thanks to Thanksgiving
By Robert Jensen, AlterNet
Posted on November 23, 2005, Printed on November 23, 2005

One indication of moral progress in the United States would be the replacement of Thanksgiving Day and its self-indulgent family feasting with a National Day of Atonement accompanied by a self-reflective collective fasting.
In fact, indigenous people have offered such a model; since 1970 they have marked the fourth Thursday of November as a Day of Mourning in a spiritual/political ceremony on Coles Hill overlooking Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts, one of the early sites of the European invasion of the Americas.

Not only is the thought of such a change in this white-supremacist holiday impossible to imagine, but the very mention of the idea sends most Americans into apoplectic fits -- which speaks volumes about our historical hypocrisy and its relation to the contemporary politics of empire in the United States.

That the world's great powers achieved "greatness" through criminal brutality on a grand scale is not news, of course. That those same societies are reluctant to highlight this history of barbarism also is predictable.

But in the United States, this reluctance to acknowledge our original sin -- the genocide of indigenous people -- is of special importance today. It's now routine -- even among conservative commentators -- to describe the United States as an empire, so long as everyone understands we are an inherently benevolent one. Because all our history contradicts that claim, history must be twisted and tortured to serve the purposes of the powerful.

One vehicle for taming history is various patriotic holidays, with Thanksgiving at the heart of U.S. myth-building. From an early age, we Americans hear a story about the hearty Pilgrims, whose search for freedom took them from England to Massachusetts. There, aided by the friendly Wampanoag Indians, they survived in a new and harsh environment, leading to a harvest feast in 1621 following the Pilgrims first winter.

Some aspects of the conventional story are true enough. But it's also true that by 1637 Massachusetts Gov. John Winthrop was proclaiming a thanksgiving for the successful massacre of hundreds of Pequot Indian men, women and children, part of the long and bloody process of opening up additional land to the English invaders.

The pattern would repeat itself across the continent until between 95 and 99 percent of American Indians had been exterminated and the rest were left to assimilate into white society or die off on reservations, out of the view of polite society.

Simply put: Thanksgiving is the day when the dominant white culture (and, sadly, most of the rest of the non-white but non-indigenous population) celebrates the beginning of a genocide that was, in fact, blessed by the men we hold up as our heroic founding fathers.

The first president, George Washington, in 1783 said he preferred buying Indians' land rather than driving them off it because that was like driving "wild beasts" from the forest. He compared Indians to wolves, "both being beasts of prey, tho' they differ in shape."

Thomas Jefferson -- president #3 and author of the Declaration of Independence, which refers to Indians as the "merciless Indian Savages" -- was known to romanticize Indians and their culture, but that didn't stop him in 1807 from writing to his secretary of war that in a coming conflict with certain tribes, "[W]e shall destroy all of them."

As the genocide was winding down in the early 20th century, Theodore Roosevelt (president #26) defended the expansion of whites across the continent as an inevitable process "due solely to the power of the mighty civilized races which have not lost the fighting instinct, and which by their expansion are gradually bringing peace into the red wastes where the barbarian peoples of the world hold sway."

Roosevelt also once said, "I don't go so far as to think that the only good Indians are dead Indians, but I believe nine out of ten are, and I shouldn't like to inquire too closely into the case of the tenth."

How does a country deal with the fact that some of its most revered historical figures had certain moral values and political views virtually identical to Nazis?

Here's how "respectable" politicians, pundits, and professors play the game: When invoking a grand and glorious aspect of our past, then history is all-important. We are told how crucial it is for people to know history, and there is much hand wringing about the younger generations' lack of knowledge about, and respect for, that history.

In the United States, we hear constantly about the deep wisdom of the founding fathers, the adventurous spirit of the early explorers, the gritty determination of those who "settled" the country -- and about how crucial it is for children to learn these things.

But when one brings into historical discussions any facts and interpretations that contest the celebratory story and make people uncomfortable -- such as the genocide of indigenous people as the foundational act in the creation of the United States -- suddenly the value of history drops precipitously and one is asked, "Why do you insist on dwelling on the past?"

This is the mark of a well-disciplined intellectual class -- one that can extol the importance of knowing history for contemporary citizenship and, at the same time, argue that we shouldn't spend too much time thinking about history.

This off-and-on engagement with history isn't of mere academic interest; as the dominant imperial power of the moment, U.S. elites have a clear stake in the contemporary propaganda value of that history. Obscuring bitter truths about historical crimes helps perpetuate the fantasy of American benevolence, which makes it easier to sell contemporary imperial adventures -- such as the invasion and occupation of Iraq -- as another benevolent action.

Any attempt to complicate this story guarantees hostility from mainstream culture.

After raising the barbarism of America's much-revered founding fathers in a lecture, I was once accused of trying to "humble our proud nation" and "undermine young people's faith in our country."

Yes, of course -- that is exactly what I would hope to achieve. We should practice the virtue of humility and avoid the excessive pride that can, when combined with great power, lead to great abuses of power.

History does matter, which is why people in power put so much energy into controlling it. The United States is hardly the only society that has created such mythology. While some historians in Great Britain continue to talk about the benefits that the empire brought to India, political movements in India want to make the mythology of Hindutva into historical fact.

Abuses of history go on in the former empire and the former colony. History can be one of the many ways we create and impose hierarchy, or it can be part of a process of liberation. The truth won't set us free, but the telling of truth at least opens the possibility of freedom.

As Americans sit down on Thanksgiving Day to gorge themselves on the bounty of empire, many will worry about the expansive effects of overeating on their waistlines. We would be better to think about the constricting effects of the day's mythology on our minds.

Robert Jensen is a journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin, and the author of, most recently, The Heart of Whiteness: Confronting Race, Racism and White Privilege (City Lights, 2005).
© 2005 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at:

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


At the University of Kansas creationism and intelligent design will be taught in a university class next summer. This would be alarming, but for the fact the class will teach the two as mythology, not science.

Paul Mirecki, chairman of KU’s religious studies department says he plans to teach the course “Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design, Creationism and other Religious Mythologies” next semester.”

He’s doing so because he says the KU faculty has “had enough.”

Remember Kansas is the home of six state board of education commissioners who think intelligent design is science and who have mandated that it be taught in the state’s schools as an alternative to Darwin and the Theory of Evolution.

It is likely that students will line up to take the class which will be capped at 120 students, to explore intelligent design as a modern American mythology.

The Lawrence Journal World reports the course also will cover the origins of creationism, why it’s an American phenomenon, and why Americans have allowed it to pervade politics and education. Mirecki said several KU faculty have volunteered to be guest lecturers.

“Creationism is mythology,” Mirecki said. “Intelligent design is mythology. It’s not science. They try to make it sound like science. It clearly is not.”

Of course, the proponents of intelligent design are bent all out of shape by the plans.

“I would predict that (Mirecki’s) effort will go down in history as one of the laughingstocks of the century,” said John Calvert, an attorney and managing director of the Intelligent Design Network in Johnson County, Kansas.

Calvert and his supporters say the class is meant to demean them (which wouldn’t be hard).

“To equate intelligent design to mythology is really an absurdity, and it’s just another example of labeling anybody who proposes (intelligent design) to be simply a religious nut,” Calvert said.

I say if the shoe fits wear it.

Calvert questioned Mirecki’s expertise and said he wasn't qualifited to teach a course dealing with intelligent design.

Mirecki, we will again note, is the Chair of KU’s Department of Religion. He holds a Doctorate of Theology (Th.D.) from Harvard University. Professor Mirecki is an active member of several international scholarly societies, has convened several international academic conferences, and regularly searches European and American museum collections for unstudied ancient manuscripts which he prepares for publication. He has published five books, seventeen journal and book chapters, twenty-six book reviews and minor articles, and had forty papers presented at scholarly societies and universities.

Calvert is a lawyer and a Managing Director of Intelligent Design Network, Inc. He was engaged in corporate finance and business litigation with Lathrop Gage L.C., of Kansas City for 32 years. For the past four years his legal practice has focused on constitutional requirements for teaching origins science in public schools. He received an undergraduate degree in Geology from somewhere and has practiced geology in a number of legal engagements involving mining and the oil and gas industry.

Uh, am I missing something here?

Mirecki told the Journal World intelligent design proponents liked to view themselves as the victims, but that’s not the case.

“The educational system of Kansas is under attack,” Mirecki said. “All they are is oppressors. They’re not martyrs and victims ... I’m expecting insecure, threatened people to start being more and more vocal. They don’t want their beliefs to be analyzed rationally. That’s what this class is devised to do.”

Nicole Okazaki, Weber State University (Utah) zoology professor who teaches human biology courses at WSU(a hot bed of leftwing thought) notes that Calvert’s group declares, “certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause rather than an undirected process such as natural selection.”

Okazaki points out the intelligent designer is subject to interpretation, which ranges from God to aliens to a flying spaghetti monster.

“Intelligent design is not scientific, it’s not supported, it shouldn’t be taught, it should not be there. Period,” Okazaki said. “There’s no scientific reason to put it there, there’s no legal reason to put it there.”

But intelligent design could fit in a philosophy or literature or religion course, she said.

Meanwhile the Vatican’s chief astronomer (who knew they had one) has just weighed in on the controversy surrounding the teaching of intelligent design again.

Rev. George Coyne, the Jesuit director of the Vatican Observatory, said placing intelligent design theory alongside that of evolution in school programs is “wrong” and is akin to mixing apples with oranges.

“Intelligent design isn't science even though it pretends to be,” the ANSA news agency quoted Father Coyne as saying. “If you want to teach it in schools, intelligent design should be taught when religion or cultural history is taught, not science.”

Earlier in a June article in the British Catholic magazine The Tablet, Father Coyne reaffirmed God's role in creation but said science explains the history of the universe.

“If they respect the results of modern science, and indeed the best of modern biblical research, religious believers must move away from the notion of a dictator God or a designer God, a Newtonian God who made the universe as a watch that ticks along regularly.”

Rather, he argued, God should be seen more as an encouraging parent.

“God in his infinite freedom continuously creates a world that reflects that freedom at all levels of the evolutionary process to greater and greater complexity,” he wrote. “He is not continually intervening, but rather allows, participates, loves.”

A columnist for Boston’s MetroWest by the name of Glenn Ickler may have hit the nail on the head. He wrote that one of the most decisive arguments against the theory of intelligent design is in fact President Bush. As he put it, “Whoever designed Doubleya's brain left a vacancy in the area that normally stores and disgorges common sense. “ Sources: Lawrence Journal World, Professor Paul Mirecki Web Site, Intelligent Design Network, Globe and Mail (Canada), Weber State University Signpost, MetroWest Daily (Boston)

Monday, November 21, 2005


Residents of three Native villages met with law enforcement officials last week to discuss a series of suspicious deaths and disappearances dating back decades. The cases involved mostly Native men who died or went missing while visiting the city of Nome. They went unnoticed or unsolved until the recent murder of a young Native woman who had moved to Nome from a nearby village. A police officer is on trial for her death.

According to the website Indianz, residents of the villages said some of the cases may be linked to police brutality. Some said they didn't report the cases out of fear. Others said they received little or no help from the police in Nome.

The Anchorage Daily News reported Sunday that victims are mostly Native men who traveled to Nome, the Seward Peninsula's commercial hub, from surrounding villages. Many of those communities are Inupiat and Siberian Yupik. The newspaper said 10 cases of death or disappearance have been reported since 1990 alone. A list of 20 suspicious cases, along with reward offers, was released last week by a Native organization in Nome.

Villagers in the Bering Strait region have long worried that danger, hostility and police indifference await those who travel to Nome. But no official investigation into deaths or disappearances had been launched until earlier this year, when the region's Native community was galvanized by the murder trial of a Nome police officer accused of killing a 19-year-old woman from Unalakleet who came to Nome for work.

By February of this year, villagers trembling with emotion were stepping forward in meetings to tell stories of missing family members. The U.S. attorney for Alaska and the commissioner of the state Department of Public Safety flew to Nome with FBI officials in June.

The cases, long a concern in the villages, then finally caught the official attention of Native organizations and state and federal law enforcement authorities.

Last spring, the Norton Sound Health Corp. board passed a resolution seeking a federal civil rights investigation of the "extraordinarily high" number of missing and dead Natives, citing complaints of inadequate investigations and "discriminatory harassment and excessive force" by Nome police. Other groups expressed similar feelings.

Kawerak Inc., a Native nonprofit agency that has pushed the cases into the open, says it is not trying to point fingers at past problems with police.

"Our attempt is to come to some resolution of these cases and to work with our Police Department to make Nome a safer place," said Kawerak executive vice president Melanie Edwards.

"We want people to feel someone took a good hard look into their family member's case -- whether they were drinking or not, whether they were from a village or a city, whether they were from a wealthy family or a poor family. Justice should be served."

Most of the cases remain under Nome Police Chief Craig Moates jurisdiction.
In a recent tour of area towns and villages, Moates heard some pointed questions and comments that revealed a deep-rooted mistrust of Nome police. But he also was thanked repeatedly for reaching out to the villages, and a number of people opened up.

A not untypical story came from Joseph Akeya, a forty year old Indian.

"He choked me, kicked me," said Akeya, at one of the meetings, speaking softly with a toddler on his lap. It was 1988 when, as he recalled, an officer barged into the room at the Polaris Hotel in Nome where he was sleeping off a few drinks. The officer beat him up, he said, calling him a "drunk Eskimo."

"He threw me down, handcuffed, stepped on my neck real hard on his hard boots, brought me downstairs from the hotel. I was choking and couldn't breathe. On the way down, he opened the door and banged my face on the door. And my mom saw that because she was working for that hotel."

Akeya said he fought back.

The meetings, organized by Kawerak Inc, were polite. Villagers wanted to know if police had installed audio or video recording devices in their cruisers (the answer: no), if they patrolled alone in their vehicles (sometimes, with the force short-handed), and how far back their records go.

"I have a question. Do your records go back as far as the '40s and '50s?" asked a woman in Brevig holding a toddler. She pointed to an elder sitting nearby. "Her brother was missing the late '40s and another from Teller was missing in the '50s."

The police chief said his department's records probably don't go back much further than the mid-1970s.

Although Native people in the area had long feared even making public their concerns about the police, stories of alleged police misconduct came pouring out after a Nome officer, Matthew Owens, was charged in 2003 with murder in the death of a 19-year-old Unalakleet woman who had moved to Nome. His high-profile trial in Nome earlier this year ended in a hung jury. A second trial of Owens is now under way in Kotzebue.

Among the complaints was that police took nearly a month to follow up on reports from Native witnesses linking the victim's disappearance to a police car. State troopers eventually took over the investigation. Nome's former police chief resigned after the arrest.

Moates, who had worked his way up through the ranks to become deputy chief of the 100-member Franklin, Tenn., police department, answered an ad on the Internet and arrived in Nome 18 months ago. He has made repairing relations with the Native community a top priority.

Moates said he has investigated all complaints he's heard of past police misconduct, but could not substantiate any. "If it's something that happened 15 years ago, it's going to be pretty difficult to do," he said.

The chief said he hasn't received any recent complaints about the eight patrol officers currently serving on the force. Any such complaints would be thoroughly investigated and misconduct will not be tolerated, he said.

"If there are issues that have taken place many, many years ago, if there is something we can do to resolve that, I would like to," Moates said. "We have a reputation to uphold."

FBI experts in serial homicide have now made the series of unresolved cases in Nome a top priority according to the Juneau Empire and FBI spokesman Eric Gonzalez. The FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit in Quantico, Va., has agreed to profile each case in a search for possible links.

Case files on the mysterious deaths and disappearances have been forwarded to the FBI by Nome police and the Alaska State Troopers. The FBI was given details of 24 cases

The dead and missing all appear to be Natives.. Seventeen of the 20 were men. Eight of the 20 disappeared and were never found, officials said. The others died under suspicious circumstances -- for instance, people with no known suicidal tendencies who drowned off the jetty.

Myra Henry of Koyuk has organized two Missing People marches in recent years down Front Street to call attention to the problem. She got involved after her brother-in-law, Archie Henry Jr., disappeared on a 1998 shopping trip to Nome. For a year, she called the Nome police daily, turning up several potential witnesses herself. But the case never went anywhere.

"The seven years has been very difficult for us, not knowing what happened," she said.

She also lost a cousin, Ernest "Sonnyboy" Saccheus of Elim. He disappeared in Nome in 1987, on a stopover coming home from Anchorage, after leaving his hotel to get a few drinks.

Delbert Pungowiyi, a tribal council member from Savoonga who has been pushing for an investigation since 1998, believes more than one person is preying on Natives in Nome.

"People disappear over there and where are the bodies going? Where are the remains going?" Pungowiyi said. He called Nome "a boneyard for the region because there are so many remains there that have never been found. We're in 2004, 2005 -- and it's still happening."

The cases never would have lingered had the victims been Nome residents instead of villagers, Pungowiyi said.

"Can you imagine the outcry they would be having, demanding that these be solved?" he said. "It should have been given attention years ago. I'm just really glad it's finally happening. ... The region is just overwhelmed with this. They're tired of this. They're tired of living with these big gaping holes and no closure." Sources: Juneau Empire, Anchorage Daily News, Indianz


Activists marched outside a European Union (EU) trade and foreign ministers meeting Monday in Brussels, calling for negotiators to put people ahead of business at world trade talks next month.

Many demonstrators wore white plastic wristbands as a symbol of their support for a trade deal that is fair to poor countries. Demonstrators built a papier-mâché effigy of EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson, fastened to a leash and kneeling before two bowler-hatted activists representing Big Business

"This (trade deal) is economic rape of the developing world," said Sylvia Borren from the Global Call to Action against Poverty. More free trade would not help developing countries move out of poverty, she said. Rich countries had more to gain from liberalization because they had time to build up and secure their industry and trade but were not allowing others do the same, she said. "Free liberalization does not mean that the developing countries will be free. We want the European Union to be more responsible and let the developing world decide for themselves," she said.

Her words were echoed by a report released in Brussels on Monday by the Seattle to Brussels Network, an umbrella group for anti-globalization environmental and development groups. "The overall objective of EU trade policy is to open up markets and secure property rights for transnational corporations," said report author Christina Deckwirth.

She said Brussels was awash in business lobbyists who had managed to push their goals to the top of the political agenda. Her report calls for stricter rules to regulate the estimated 15,000 lobbyists in Brussels and more open decision-making.

Forbes admits a deal such as that demanded by the protesters appeared unlikely as global trade negotiations entered the final stretch ahead of the mid-December talks in Hong Kong.

The Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP) and the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) have played significant roles in the opposition to "trade liberalization." They are demanding:

•Respect poor countries’ right to decide on trade policies that will help them end poverty, respect worker’s rights and protect their environment.

•Stop pushing developing countries to open up their economies to free trade

•Allow developing countries and poor people to protect their public services

•End dumping of rich country products in poor country markets

In other words they say, “the European Union must deliver Trade Justice not Free Trade.” Sources: EUpolitic, European Trade Union Confederation, Forbes


Dozens of protesters marched through Puerto Rico's capital Saturday to press authorities to finish an investigation into the death of a fugitive pro-independence activist Filiberto Ojeda Rios during a shootout with the FBI.

Ojeda Rios was the Commander of the Boricua Popular Army, better known as Los Macheteros and had been living clandestinely since 1990.

On Friday September 23rd, a historic day for Puerto Rican “Independentists” and
nationalists known as El Grito de Lares, the FBI assaulted the home of Ojeda Rios, shooting hundreds of rounds which he answered with ten rounds. After three volleys of shots, an FBI sharpshooter apparently shot and wounded Ojeda Rios. FBI officials refused to enter the house and refused entry to supporters, family, lawyers and local government prosecutors. They allowed Ojeda Rios, 72 years old with a pacemaker for his weakened heart, to bleed to death from his wound, causing widespread indignation all over Puerto Rico.

The protesters Saturday walked from a plaza in San Juan to a federal courthouse, chanting slogans and accusing the government of "dragging its feet" on the investigation of the shooting.

Hector Pesquera, a pro-independence activist who led the march accused the government of failing to demand information from the FBI.

According to his widow who managed to escape the shooing, the FBI fired first.

On Friday night nearly 600 people gathered in New York to give tribute to the slain revolutionary leader.

The culminating moment of the evening was the message by Don Rafael Cancel Miranda, pro-independence leader who spent over two decades in U.S. prisons for attacking the U.S. Congress in 1954. Don Rafael spoke of his personal experiences with Filiberto. He spoke about the ideas, dreams and belief in the methods of struggle that they always shared. By killing Filiberto Don Rafael “the FBI attempted to kill us all, to kill our struggle. But they were mistaken. Filiberto lives! And he lives because the main inspiration of Filiberto was love, the love of the homeland and the love for all of us.” Sources: Reader submission, Prolibertad, Newsday, WFSB (Connecticut)


Christmas under attack: A manufactured crisis
Bill Berkowitz
November 20, 2005
From Media Transparency

Conservatives launch annual campaign accusing liberals of declaring war on Christmas; the Rev. Jerry Falwell says it's time to 'draw a line in the sand' and 'resist' the secularist Christmas bashers

Conservative Christian fundamentalists, right wing Christian legal groups, and most of the Fox News Channel's prime time crew are echoing variations on the same theme: liberals are once again out to destroy Christmas. Instead of the ancient cry that "Jews killed Christ," fundamentalist Christians and their conservative allies are accusing liberals -- which in those circles is often read, Jews -- for trying to remove Christmas from the public square.

Last year the Rev. Jerry Falwell claimed "secularists" "hate Christ" and want to "steal Christmas from America." This holiday season, Falwell's Lynchburg, VA.-based Thomas Road Baptist Church has joined forces with a Christian legal outfit, Liberty Counsel, for its "Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign."

Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly -- under fire for recent explosive comments seemingly condoning the destruction of Coit Tower, San Francisco's monument to heroic firefighters, argued on his program that viewers should shun stores that are "anti-Christmas."

William Donahue's New York-based Catholic League for Religious and Civic Rights launched a fevered, and short-lived, boycott of Wal-Mart when the stores' website recognized the terms Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, yet turned the words Christmas season into holiday season. Wal-Mart apologized for the mishap.

The Scottsdale, Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), a Christian legal group, announced that 800 attorneys agreed to voluntarily handle without fee complaints about "improper attempts to censor the celebration of Christmas in schools and on public property," the Seattle Post-Intelligencer recently reported. "In 2004, the second year of its 'Christmas Project,' affiliated attorneys sent a detailed memo on ADF's view of Christmas and constitutional law to 7,000 school districts," the newspaper pointed out.

John Gibson, the host of Fox News Channel's "The Big Story," has penned a new book called The War on Christmas (Sentinel, October 2005), which is devoted to the controversy.

Falwell's Christmas play

To paraphrase essayist Jon Mooallen, "The most demoralizing form of violence that could visit a Christian right leader such as the Rev. Jerry Falwell is the violence of not being noticed." While nowhere near being the preeminent fundamentalist figure he was during the halcyon days of the Moral Majority more than a decade ago, nevertheless, Falwell can still command media attention. Moreover, unlike the Rev. Pat Robertson, whose awkward commentaries have become so common that they have become boring, Falwell picks his targets a bit more carefully.

These days he has latched onto a doozy of a controversy: In a recent edition of Falwell Confidential, the online "insider weekly newsletter to The Moral Majority and The Liberty Alliance," he maintained that Christmas is under attack. Christians, Falwell advised, should, "draw a line in the sand and resist bullying tactics by the American Civil Liberties Union, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, the American Atheists and other leftist organizations that intimidate school and government officials by spreading misinformation about Christmas."

"Celebrating Christmas," Falwell declared, "is constitutional!"

(Coincidentally, the organizations Falwell points out as responsible for attacking Christmas are several of the same groups he blamed for the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He later issued a rather understated apology.)

Targeting left-wing Grinches trying to drive Christmas out of the public square, Falwell wrote, "In many public venues, and in our schools and workplaces, many Americans have discovered that they are not permitted to erect Christmas decorations, exchange Christmas cards or sing Christmas carols."

To combat the Christmas bashers, Falwell's Thomas Road Baptist Church -- the church he has pastured for almost 50 years -- is sponsoring local newspaper ads promoting its save Christmas campaign. The genesis of the campaign is rooted in last year's effort that included a pro-Christmas advertising campaign organized by Dr. Jerry Prevo, pastor of the Anchorage Baptist Temple, Alaska's largest church. Dr. Prevo, chairman of Falwell's Liberty University Board of Trustees, "thought the ads were necessary in this age of political correctness that has convinced many of our fellow Americans that Christmas is a dirty word," Falwell wrote.

Dr. Prevo worked closely with the Orlando-based Liberty Counsel to formulate the language of the ads, which are part of Liberty Counsel's "Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign". Liberty Counsel describes itself as "a nonprofit litigation, education and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of human life and the traditional family." The "Friend or Foe..." campaign aims to prevent blatant religious discrimination during the Christmas holidays.

In 2003, the Liberty Counsel organized a campaign called "Don't Let The 'Grinch' [read: liberals] Steal This Christmas." Mathew D. Staver, Liberty Counsel's President and General Counsel, laid out his rationale for that campaign:

Our country was founded on Judeo-Christian principles. If we separate these fundamental principles from our civic life, we destroy our government in the process. Our Founding Fathers believed that religion and morality were necessary to our success as a nation. President Washington once said that anyone who would attempt to remove religion and morality from our country cannot be considered a true patriot. He also predicted a rising national immorality if we exclude religious principles.

In mid-December 2004 on Fox News, the Liberty Counsel's Staver claimed that a former Florida mayor was hostile to Christianity because he was "apparently Jewish."

Fox on board

On the Fox News Channel, ranting about liberals out to destroy Christmas is as ubiquitous and inaccurate as the station's "fair and balanced" credo. Last year, according to Media Matters for America, "In a 'Talking Points Memo' devoted to "[h]ow Martin Luther King would view things today,'" O'Reilly said that King "would be appalled by the secular culture" and by "the attacks on Christmas, the demonizing of Christianity."

In addition to plugging Gibson's book, Fox's Bill O'Reilly recently ranted about the anti-Christmas practices of two major retailers, Sears/K-Mart and Kohl's. On his November 9 2005 broadcast, O'Reilly told his audience:

Here's what we found out: Sears/Kmart would not answer our questions. Spokesman Chris Braithwaite simply ducked the issue. Their website banners: "Wish Book Holiday 2005." They were the worst we had to deal with. OK? Sears/Kmart. JCPenney says its catalog is always called "Christmas catalog." Federated Department Stores -- Macy's, Bloomingdale's, Burdines -- says the words "Merry Christmas" will be used in most advertising. Same thing at May, Filene's, Lord & Taylor, and Marshall Field's. But Kohl's refused to define how the company will deal with Christmas. Dillard's, however, will use the slogan "Discover Christmas, Discover Dillard's." So there you go. Shop where you like the atmosphere. Just remember, Kohl's and Sears/Kmart, basically, not all right.

John Gibson, who claims he is a "non-practicing Christian," recently said that, "his Jewish son researched the book," the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported. Gibson maintained that those leading the fight against Christmas are primarily "secularists, so-called humanists, trial lawyers, cultural relativists and liberal, guilt-wracked Christians."

And Sean Hannity, co-host of Fox's "Hannity and Colmes" program weaved the Christmas controversy into a recent segment discussing the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. According to the News Hounds website -- "We watch FOX so you don't have to" -- Hannity introduced the segment on Alito by saying that his "most controversial decision may have [involved] ... the defense of Christmas." Hannity pointed out that Judge Alito "appl[ied] the law" and upheld "common sense" by allowing Jersey City, New Jersey to put up a Christmas display.

The "liberals are messing with Christmas" mantra was the focus of last year's winter fundraising drive by The group sent out an "e-alert" that contained a laundry list of examples of how Christmas had been attacked during 2004. is a group headed by the relatively unknown William Greene, who Campaign & Elections magazine called one of its "Rising Stars of Politics" in 2002, and the Rev. Sun Myung Moon-owned Washington Times dubbed a "conservative Internet guru."

Greene, who earned his chops while working with the king of direct mail, Richard Viguerie, was aiming "to STOP groups like the ACLU from removing all mentions of Christmas from the public square!"

The centerpiece of the RightMarch campaign was a radio ad that claimed had aired on more than 200 radio stations around the country and reached over two million people. The message was a simple "stand up and DEFEND Christmas." In addition to the radio spots, placed full-page newspaper ads in several national publications and organized an extensive Internet ad campaign.

This year, Falwell's Thomas Road Baptist Church advertisements provide information about "free legal assistance by Liberty Counsel to individuals facing persecution for celebrating Christmas." Liberty Counsel is also providing participants with a free "educational legal memo", containing "a pledge to be a 'Friend' to those entities which do not discriminate against Christmas and a 'Foe' to those that do."

A fundraising scheme?

Over the years, the American Civil Liberties Union has fought religious-themed displays on public property. According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, "an official ACLU bulletin says the Constitution forbids school observances 'that promote or emphasize the religious significance' of Christmas, but not aspects 'that have become part of our country's secular culture.'"

The ACLU and Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and evangelical groups have agreed "on minimal rules about school religious issues." On holidays, the accord says schools may celebrate secular aspects and "objectively teach about their religious aspects" but not observe them as religious events.

Americans United believes "public schools aren't the appropriate place to celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday. That's a job for the home and the church," Americans United's spokesperson Rob Boston told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. The Supreme Court's ruling that towns' Nativity displays must add secular symbols proves that if people "want a truly religious experience, city hall is not the place," Boston added.

Michael Johnson of Shreveport, La., an ADF staff lawyer, told the newspaper that his organization wants to "defend the rights of the 96 percent of Americans who celebrate Christmas." He believes the ACLU's goal is "ultimately to silence people of faith, and in many cases people of the Christian faith."

While it is impossible to get a handle on how much money these holiday season campaigns raise, it sure beats the heck out of your annual run-of-the-mill end-of-year fundraising appeal.

"About 95 percent of the whining from the far right" has more to do with fundraising than Christmas, Boston pointed out. "They're trying to get people worked up so they will think Christmas is being removed from public life. There isn't any evidence that's happening."

Sunday, November 20, 2005


The leader of the largest branch of American Judaism blasted conservative religious activists in a speech Saturday, calling them "zealots" who claim a "monopoly on God" while promoting anti-gay policies akin to Adolf Hitler's.

Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the liberal Union for Reform Judaism, said "religious right" leaders believe "unless you attend my church, accept my God and study my sacred text you cannot be a moral person."

"What could be more bigoted than to claim that you have a monopoly on God?" Yoffie told a friendly audience of about 5,000 in his keynote address during the movement's national assembly in Houston, which runs through Sunday.

Yoffie used particularly strong language to condemn conservative attitudes toward homosexuals. He said he understood that traditionalists have concluded gay marriage violates Scripture, but he said that did not justify denying legal protections to same-sex partners and their children.

"We cannot forget that when Hitler came to power in 1933 one of the first things that he did was ban gay organizations," Yoffie said. "Yes, we can disagree about gay marriage. But there is no excuse for hateful rhetoric that fuels the hellfires of anti-gay bigotry."

The Union for Reform Judaism represents about 900 synagogues in North America with an estimated membership of 1.5 million people. Of the three major streams of U.S. Judaism — Orthodox and Conservative are the others — it is the only one that sanctions gay ordination and supports civil marriage for same-gender couples.

Yoffie's lengthy speech first addressed several other issues, and his criticism of conservative religious activists came in the middle. The audience was largely sedate until Yoffie reached that topic and responded with repeated, enthusiastic applause.

Yoffie did not mention evangelical Christians directly in his speech, using the term "religious right" instead. In a separate interview, he said the phrase encompassed conservative activists of all faiths, including within the Jewish community.

Yoffie said the activists have little understanding of the liberal religious community, which he insisted also grounds its beliefs in biblical teaching. "We study religious texts day and night, but we have no direct lines to heaven and we aren't always sure that we know God's will," he said. "We bring a measure of humility to our religious belief."

Yoffie said liberals and conservatives share some concerns, such as the potential damage to children from violent or highly sexual TV shows and other popular media. But he said, overall, conservatives too narrowly define family values, making a "frozen embryo in a fertility clinic" more important than a child, and ignoring poverty and other social ills.

"When they cloak themselves in religion and forget mercy, it strikes us as blasphemy," Yoffie said, urging a renewal of religious tolerance in the United States. "We need beware the zealots who want to make their religion the religion of everyone else." Source: AP, Rubus Rhetoric