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February 26, 2003
[Glenn Summerford] Former Snakehandling Preacher Escapes Prison
Summerford, 58, was convicted of attempted murder in 1992 after his
wife, Darlene, testified that he grabbed her by the hair and forced
her to put her hand in a cage of rattlesnakes after hitting it with a
pipe to make the snakes mad. She was bitten twice but survived.
Summerford at the time handled snakes as pastor of the Church of Jesus
With Signs Following near Scottsboro.
[Spiritism] Famed spiritualist testifies in estate trial
A Dorset woman who bills herself as “The Voice of the Spirit World”
was either a spiritualist helping an older woman with cancer or an
opportunistic pretender seeking the woman’s 580-acre property.
Those were the two pictures presented of Rosemary Altea — a medium,
spiritualist and best-selling author — Tuesday in Rutland Superior
Court. A jury will decide.
At stake is the estate of the late Llewella Day, valued at $720,000
with most of it consisting of an expansive hilltop tract in Ira. Altea
is appealing a decision that removed her as Day’s sole beneficiary.
[Islam] Spiritual warrior for Islam
"Let it be known, there's thousands of Osama bin Ladens here and if
they ever find Osama bin Laden, another thousand will pop up," says
Khalid, who is not alone as an Aboriginal convert to Islam who admires
the terrorist leader.
[Jehovah's Witnesses] Judge: Sisters may pursue church case
Two sisters can pursue their claims that elders from their Jehovah’s
Witness congregation in Wilton ignored their mother’s complaints of
sexual abuse, a judge has ruled.
The sisters say that church elders failed to report their father’s
abuse or do anything to stop it. They also claim that church policy
and practices shield abusers from prosecution.
[Christianity] Lord Have Mercy On the Church in Zimbabwe
If Zimbabwe suffers from pathetic political leadership under President
Mugabe, the religious establishment is not much better. At a time of
crisis, one would have hoped for bold moral leadership from the
The image of Jesus that we are sold by the religious establishment is
of a wimp best known for avoiding confrontation and turning the other
cheek, volunteering for more abuse. We like this conception of Jesus
because it gives us an excuse to wallow in our fear of the abusive
While Jesus may have been meek and mild when the occasion required it,
he did not hesitate to "raise hell" and kick butt when necessary, and
damn the consequences!
He didn't cozy up to the politicians and the powerful, nor seek
shallow popularity by only telling people what they wanted to hear. He
was not compromised by the promise of material comforts, he defended
the oppressed and marginalised. No wonder the real Jesus makes us so
[Offbeat News] Ky. Man Caught at Christian Bookstore
"Thou shalt not use a stolen credit card" isn't one of the Ten
Commandments. But it seems like wise advice, especially after a man
accused of stealing from several churches was tracked down through a
purchase at a Christian bookstore.
"He bought 10 copies of a Bible study called 'Making Peace With Your
Past' and a follow-up study called 'Moving Beyond Your Past,'"
bookstore manager Jonathan Gallegly said.
[Mariology] Mary's tears not an official miracle, church rules
A church investigation in Perth has ruled that a supposed "weeping
statue" of the Virgin Mary is not a proven miracle.
The Catholic Church called the inquiry after thousands of people
flocked to Rockingham Parish to view the statue.
It found the substance the statue produced was vegetable oil mixed
with another substance that might have accounted for its rose perfume.
[Human Rights Violations, USA] U.S. Justices Reopen Door a Bit for
State Inmates' Appeals
The Supreme Court ordered a new hearing for a Texas death row inmate
today in a surprisingly broad 8-to-1 decision that warned the federal
courts of appeals against shutting the door prematurely on state
inmates who seek to present constitutional challenges to their
convictions or sentences.
[Catholic Church] Grand Jurors Interrogate Cardinal Law
Cardinal Bernard F. Law, who resigned as archbishop of Boston last
December, was questioned today by a criminal grand jury that is trying
to decide whether to indict him or other Boston church officials for
their handling of clergy members accused of sexual abuse.
[Raelians] "Babytron" Artificial Womb Is the Next Raelian Project
"His Holiness Rael, founder and spiritual leader of the Raelian
Movement, has just asked Dr. Brigitte Boisselier, who is in charge of
the Clonaid project and who has announced the birth of the first five
cloned babies, to create a new company involved in the development of
'artificial wombs,'" reads a Raelian press release.
Rael has asked Boisselier to launch a project called Surrogaid
(Website coming soon) aimed at developing an artificial womb to allow
people to clone babies without using a surrogate mother.
[Unification Church] Commentary: War, Peace & Rev. Moon
All of my bosses spoke at the conference -- John O'Sullivan, editor in
chief of UPI; Larry Moffitt, UPI vice president of operations; and Dr.
Chung Hwan Kwak, president of UPI and chairman of News World
Communications, which publishes The Washington Times.
Despite working at UPI, I had never been entirely clear on exactly
what the Unification Church stands for or why it was so intent on
acquiring media organizations. But over this three-day period it
became fairly apparent that the church and its leaders believe that
eventually, by moral persuasion, they'll be able to transform the
media in a number of ways that will contribute to some sort of, well,
unification of the world.
Even more important, though, was a strange announcement that came --
according to the church -- from a dead man. OK, bear with me on this.
Dr. Sang Hun Lee, a South Korean critic of Marxism-Leninism during the
Cold War era and a member of the Unification Church, died in 1997. But
he has recently been speaking to a spiritual medium named Mrs. Young
Soon Kim. And Dr. Lee's report through her is this: On December 25,
2001, at high noon, a meeting was held in heaven between Jesus,
Confucius, Buddha, Mohammad and Shankara (founder of the Advaita
Vedanta in Hinduism). Sitting with them were 600 representatives of
the five leading religions -- 120 for each leader. And together they
adopted a resolution that says God is the "parent" of all humankind,
and the Reverend Moon is the "Savior, Messiah, Second Coming and True
Parent of all humanity."
OK. As you might imagine, there was a divergence of opinion as to how
to receive this information. To those journalists who belong to the
church, it was basically "Isn't this amazing stuff?" To those who
don't, it was, "Have these people lost their minds?"
So I'm in the middle here. As a journalist, I don't particularly like
reporting on something that ultimately can't be verified independently
(to say the least). As a UPI reporter, I find myself working at one
remove from an organization that says it wants this information not
only reported, but disseminated widely.
[Hoaxes : Bible Code] Bible code: ‘Snake oil’ soothsaying
On Sept. 11, 2001, Drosnin’s computer found “twin,” “towers,”
“airplane” and “it knocked down” hidden in the Bible, and “sin, crime
of bin Laden” with “city and tower.”
But skeptics say Drosnin’s World Trade Center code words also occur in
the Hebrew translation of Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” and that his new
book has this encoded warning: “The Bible Code is a silly, dumb, fake,
false, evil, nasty, dismal fraud and snake-oil hoax.”
[Vampirism] Romanian church leaders say Dracula theme park hurts
The park was planned for the country's Transylvania region, but
Romanian officials announced in early February that the park would be
built at a lakeside resort north of Bucharest, near the burial site of
Vlad the Impaler, the real-life Romanian prince who inspired the
Interesting side note: Cult apologists J. Gordon Melton and Massimo
Introvigne operate, respectively, the American and Italian chapters of
The Transylvanian Society of Dracula:
ApologeticsIndex.org / ReligionNewsBlog.com
February 28, 2003
[House of Prayer] Church members face new legal bind
Arrest warrants have been issued for the pastor of the House of Prayer
and two members of his congregation, their attorney said Thursday.
Probation officers allege that the Rev. Arthur Allen Jr. and church
members David and Sharon Duncan violated terms of their probation,
lawyer Manny Arora said.
[Branch Davidians] Pain still fresh for survivors of Branch Davidian
Some of the Branch Davidians imprisoned on siege-related charges
continue the movement from behind bars, backed by free-world Web
pages, Goins said.
"Livingstone Fagan has been writing along the lines of what David was
about from a higher religious perspective. Renos Avraam, another
survivor out of the fire, believes that he has been anointed or has a
calling. He's written extensively and he has a minor following,
probably bigger than our following," Goins said.
Collectively, the survivors' fragmented efforts have given the sect an
"Internet afterlife," according to religious scholars.
[Raelians] Cult of freedom
"After the worst coverage of us, the most garbage-filled, there are
still people who say, 'hold on,' and buy the book and join us," says
the sect's founder, Raël, a former auto racing journalist and
chansonnier once known as Claude Vorilhon.
But the media circus surrounding the cult's cloning claims has focused
on the freakish nature of Raëlianism and overshadowed the fact that it
is an intriguing, nascent religion.
Susan Palmer, who teaches religion at Concordia University and Dawson
College in Montreal, defines a cult as "a baby religion that is just
not toilet-trained, that is still throwing up on people's carpets" and
adds, "Anyone who knows anything about religion knows they all started
out as cults."
[Falun Gong] Falun Gong internees get student help
[Polygamy] Utah House Ups Underage Polygamy Penalty
The Utah Legislature is debating whether to increase the penalties for
married men who wed underage girls, an attempt to protect teens from
being married into polygamist relationships.
A bill overwhelmingly approved by the House on Tuesday makes marrying
a second wife who is under the age of 18 a second-degree felony,
punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
[Polygamy] Young Brides Stir New Outcry on Utah Polygamy
Polygamists and their supporters are opposing the proposal as
religious persecution and are arguing that the problem is being
overblown. Rod Parker, a Salt Lake City lawyer who represents the
Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the
adjoining towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., said
stories of young teenagers being forced into marriage were
[Islamism] 5 Tied to Islamic Charity Indicted in N.Y., Idaho
[Islamism] Musicians bewail religious crackdown
Traditional Pashtun musicians like Gul are feeling increasingly
unwelcome in this Pakistani frontier town since a coalition of
Taliban-like religious groups won control of the provincial government
late last year, promising to impose Islamic law and crack down on
[Religious Intolerance] Cambodia bans Christian proselytizing
"Christians are not allowed to proselytize (at) citizens' houses by
knocking on doors or waiting for them, saying 'the Lord is coming,'
which is an interruption of daily life or may intrude on privacy in
the community," it added.
[Islamism] Lying about Islam
Americans have a lot to learn about Islam - even in the aftermath of
the horrors of 9/11. While the atrocities of that day provided a
wake-up call about terrorism, our political and media elites continue
to show us that they haven't done their homework on the religious
background of al Qaeda - and are likely not to.
An exceptionally irritating example of this came to light when a USA
Today "Q&A on Islam and Arab Americans" appeared as a mass mailing
around the country. Although the flier bore the USA Today logo, a call
to the newspaper elicited the claim that the logo was used without its
permission, even though the content of the flyer appeared on the
paper's Web site.
But the leaflet was sent out by the "International Institute of
Islamic Thought" (IIIT) in Herndon, Va., one of a group of Muslim
organizations raided by federal authorities in an antiterrorism
investigation last year.
IIIT advocates for the Wahhabi sect of Islam, the most extreme,
separatist and violent trend in the faith of Mohammed. Wahhabism is
the official religion in Saudi Arabia. Saudi oil royalties are spent
to spread Wahhabism throughout the world - including right here in
[Human Rights Violations, USA] Group Asks Vatican to Condemn
A U.S. group that seeks to halt the death penalty and life sentences
for juveniles took its cause to Pope John Paul II on Wednesday,
seeking a Vatican declaration that condemns the prosecution of
children as adults.
[Rowan Williams] Anglicans enthrone controversial new leader
[Soka Gakkai] Soka's start hasn't been textbook
One quarter of Soka University's original 20 faculty members have left
or will leave by June as the university founded by a Buddhist sect
struggles to balance its religious legacy with a mission to provide an
open, nonsectarian environment.
The 103-acre campus opened in August 2001 and was touted as an
innovative liberal-arts university where peace and human rights would
be emphasized and professors and students would participate in course
development, hiring and budgets.
But those promises haven't been kept, several professors and students
said. Instead, they said, most decisions are made by an administration
composed entirely of Soka Gakkai Buddhists. And some non-Soka Gakkai
professors and students said they are uncomfortable questioning those
[Hate Groups] Convict charged with plotting to kill judge
A man in prison for a 1994 El Paso murder is scheduled to stand trial
Tuesday for allegedly plotting to kill the federal judge who presided
over the Oklahoma City bombing trials.
[Samaritan Foundation] Williams arrested as accessory to filmmaker's
Police arrested a woman Thursday and charged her with being an
accessory to the murder of filmmaker Allen Ross in 1995.
Ross had been missing since November 1995, seven months after he moved
to Cheyenne with Williams and his common-law wife, Linda Greene, from
Guthrie, Okla. The three and others belonged to a religious sect
called the Samaritan Foundation.
[Branch Davidians] Survivors mark 10-year anniversary of raid on
A decade later, among the survivors' lingering questions is why the
ATF raided the compound instead of arresting Koresh during his jogs or
trips into town. And why couldn't the ATF, with an undercover agent
inside the compound until shortly before the raid, have planned better
to prevent such an outcome?
Because of pending lawsuits, the ATF won't comment on the raid and the
standoff's fiery end, said agency spokesman Andrew Lluberes.
February 27, 2003
[Branch Davidians] Ten years later, Davidian raid has taught lessons
"I don't think it should be forgotten," said Mr. Doyle, one of the
last of the Branch Davidians. Like many involved in the standoff –
including law officers – he says it serves as a warning about the
dangers of a faceless government.
Paying greater heed to local law officers and building bonds with
members of fringe groups are key to avoiding another tragedy, they
Because of the lessons of Waco, "going against Americans with guns is
the final resort," says retired FBI behavioral expert and Waco
negotiator Clint Van Zandt.
[Deepak Chopra] Guru would join Pope in front of bombs
Deepak Chopra, the doctor who is bringing his brand of East-meets-West
philosophy to Memphis, proposed Wednesday that the Pope, the Dalai
Lama and himself serve as human shields to avoid bombing in Iraq and
to rid the world of Saddam Hussein.
The human shield movement is a growing phenomenon with Iraq welcoming
volunteers and putting them up in a dormlike facility in a Baghdad
hotel. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has warned that those serving
as human shields in Iraq will be treated as war criminals. As of last
week, more than 130 volunteers, including about 18 Americans, had
arrived in Baghdad to act as shields - some at specific sites such as
the Baghdad South Power Plant.
[Witchcraft] Soaring Teenage Fascination with Witchcraft is Rooted in
Glamour and Girl Power
The first issue of Sabrina’s Secrets, a magazine spin-off from popular
TV programme Sabrina the Teenage Witch has just hit the UK high
street, confirming after 2,000 years of bad publicity, witches have
been transformed into alluring symbols of female power. A recent study
by Rachel Moseley, researcher at the University of Warwick, reveals
that witches are no longer seen by young girls as dark-arts-practicing
evil crones best drowned or burnt, but magical sorcerers with more
glamour and girl power than Miss Dynamite.
[Witchcraft] TV witchcraft casting a spell on teenage girls
February 26, 2003 (Continued)
[AUM Shinrikyo] Trial of Aum founder Asahara heading for end
Prosecutors may present the closing statement in late April in the
trial of Aum Shinrikyo founder Shoko Asahara for murder and other
charges including those related to the 1995 Tokyo subway sarin gas
attack, legal sources said Wednesday.
ApologeticsIndex.org / ReligionNewsBlog.com
March 1, 2003
[Yellow Journalism : NBC] NBC targets Southern Baptist pastor about
2002 remarks on Islam's Muhammad
Vines also stated, "It is my understanding that good journalism seeks
to be fair and balanced. NBC Nightly News was neither. The story was
so poorly done, I am embarrassed for them."
No one supportive of Vines appeared on the NBC segment, while six
critics of Vines were quoted, including Greg Warner, executive editor
of Associated Baptist Press, a part of a breakaway movement opposed to
the conservative resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention.
[Yellow Journalism : NBC] Reaction mounts to NBC News over segment on
pastor's view of Muhammad
Two key leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention have added their
concerns about NBC News/Tom Brokaw's depiction of a former SBC
president as "Preaching hate."
SBC President Jack Graham and SBC Executive Committee President Morris
H. Chapman issued statements Feb. 27 concerning an "NBC Nightly News"
segment targeting Florida pastor Jerry Vines, a former SBC president
who described Islam's prophet Muhammad as a pedophile in a widely
publicized sermon last summer.
The statements by Graham and Chapman joined concerns voiced by Richard
Land, president of the SBC Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, and
R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological
Seminary in Louisville, Ky., voicing an array of concerns about the
[Jehovah's Witnesses] Longo Trial: Potential Jurors Asked About
The Jehovah's Witness church in 2000 shunned Longo, who will stand
trial for the deaths of his two oldest children, after he was
convicted of writing $30,000 in bad checks.
Potential jurors are now being questioned on their knowledge and
understanding of the practice.
[Branch Davidians] Survivors, relatives mark anniversary of raid on
[Hate Groups] Winrod property, church to be sold to pay court award
The Rev. Gordon Winrod's church and Ozarks farm will be sold in March
to pay a $26 million jury award for abducting his grandchildren and
indoctrinating them in his anti-Semitic beliefs.
Jurors returned the award last May in a civil lawsuit accusing Winrod
of using mind-altering techniques, such as keeping the children in
isolation and whipping them, to meld the children's attitudes. His son
Stephen and daughter Carol, along with Our Savior's Church, also were
defendants in the lawsuit.
[AUM Shinrikyo] Asahara trial nears sentencing as defense questioning
If Asahara does not cooperate at the next hearing, three attempts will
be made to question him. If those attempts fail, prosecutors will
present their case for Asahara's sentencing on April 24, and defense
lawyers will give their closing arguments in autumn. The ruling on
Asahara would then likely be handed down next spring, eight years
since the beginning of the trial.
[House of Prayer] Families' suit charges state with child abuse
A blistering federal lawsuit filed Friday on behalf of 46 children
from the House of Prayer charges that when the state took them into
protective custody, it sent them to places far more abusive than their
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Atlanta, alleges that
children were forced to wear the same underwear for weeks, lived with
rats and roaches, were punched, slapped and burned and went to bed
hungry, all while in the state's foster care system.
House of Prayer families are seeking $100 million in punitive damages
from the city of Atlanta, Atlanta police, the Division of Family and
Children Services, foster parents and others in the 43-page lawsuit.
[Offbeat News] Bible College Gets 666 Prefix Removed
[Atheism] Pledge Battle Could Head To High Court
A federal appeals court Friday rejected the Bush administration's
request to reconsider its decision that the Pledge of Allegiance is
unconstitutional because of the phrase "under God."
This now means the case almost certainly will go to the U.S. Supreme
Court, says CBSNews.com legal analyst Andrew Cohen, where at least one
justice, Antonin Scalia, said in January that judges who declared the
pledge unconstitutional had some "plausible support" to reach their
conclusion. Most legal experts, however, think the high court will
overturn that conclusion and uphold the pledge as is.
February 28, 2003 (Continued)
[Ritual Killing] Kanu appeal in torso case
The Arsenal footballer Nwankwo Kanu has appealed for information to
help solve the murder of a young Nigerian boy whose mutilated body was
found in the River Thames.
[World Ministries Church / Stan Adair Bennett] Wife prayed 3 weeks
with dead man in home
A woman remained in her Tucson home for up to three weeks with her
dead husband as his corpse decomposed and friends and a religious
leader prayed for his resurrection, police said.
"Chris said that James became involved in a 'cult,' " Doggett wrote,
adding, "Chris also said that James told him that he was going to be
resurrected by the 'cult' leader, Stan Adair Bennett."
A friend of James Killeen told Doggett that "Stan told his 'followers'
that he could resurrect people from the dead," Doggett wrote.
Bennett, identified in police reports as the minister of the World
Ministries Church, did not return phone calls from the Tucson Citizen
and could not be reached for comment.
[Media] What we don't know can hurt us
Last year WORLD examined the treatment of Christian conservatives in
the press. This year, with the war in Iraq, the slant of stories about
Saddam Hussein and the effort to stop him is significant. But it's
even more important over the long run that our press educators alert
us to the warlike propensities of a large chunk of Islam, not just an
This essay examines U.S. newspaper coverage of the three powerful
non-Christian religions in the world: Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism.
Related articles bring out some press tendencies concerning Judaism
and Christianity. Drawing from an examination of several thousand
newspaper articles from January 2000 to January 2003, what follows
provides examples of two press tendencies—superficiality and
syncretism—and raises questions about what we're missing. But we'll
begin with what readers in the United States are learning about Iraq.
[Branch Davidians] Lawman kept Koresh on the line
[Patriot/Militia Groups] Patriot games: 10 years after Waco, players
are harder to find
But where are they now almost 10 years after the Waco inferno that so
incited them to action?
“Reality is you never hear about Waco anymore,” said Mr. Potok, who
routinely monitors Patriot propaganda. “I haven’t seen a poster, heard
a speech or read an article about Waco in probably two years.”
Authorities believe a combination of tough new laws and unfulfilled
prophecies have left the militia movement vanquished.
“There really are no real active militias out there anymore,” Mr.
[AUM Shinrikyo] Asahara to be questioned March 13
The Tokyo District Court on Friday finished hearing from witnesses in
the trial of AUM Shinrikyo founder Shoko Asahara charged with murder
and attempted murder in the fatal 1995 Tokyo subway sarin gas attack,
setting the stage for questioning Asahara himself at the next session
slated for March 13.
ApologeticsIndex.org / ReligionNewsBlog.com
March 2, 2003
[Branch Davidians] Waiting for Koresh
Part 2 in a 9-part series.
"Things are going to change soon," says Catherine Matteson, 87, one of
the few Branch Davidians still attending gatherings in the 3-year-old
chapel built atop where Koresh's compound stood at their Mount Carmel
site. "He is going to return. He is going to be resurrected."
[New Age] Motivational program teaches trust in angels
About 130 children from across the valley participated in a leadership
training program Saturday that encouraged them to trust in the power
The annual Angel Light Academy Youth Leadership conference is
scheduled to continue through today at the Fred Young Labor Center.
[Seventh–day Adventism] Lawsuit revisits a Bellevue family's demise
At a small church near downtown Issaquah, a Seventh-day Adventist
pastor urged his secretary, Terry Rose, to join a counseling circle of
more than a dozen women.
Though he had no clinical training, Pastor Terry Reid Campbell
diagnosed Rose and the rest of the women as suffering from multiple
personalities and the trauma of satanic ritual abuse.
Jerry Rose has filed a civil lawsuit against Campbell, 61, the Western
Washington Corporation of Seventh-Day Adventists and the General
Conference Corporation of Seventh-Day Adventists.
Campbell's attorney, John Woodbery of Bellevue, denied all allegations
cited in the lawsuit, but said any potential responsibility for
damages should be shared with the church. The General Conference
Corporation of Seventh-Day Adventists has filed a cross-claim, placing
all potential blame on the pastor.
[Nuwaubians] York getting a lot of jail mail
York is expected to be sentenced to serve 13 years in a federal prison
with his state sentence to run concurrent. He will be 71-years-old
when he is eligible for parole.
[World Ministries Church] Friend fears dead man's faith did him in
Buddy Martinez, Killeen's co-worker and friend, said he became worried
about Killeen even before Christmas. The two men used to attend the
same church on the South Side. Martinez started to worry about Killeen
and his wife after they started missing services.
Killeen told Martinez that his new ministry owned property near
Sahuarita and that during the apocalypse, it was a safe haven that
"God wouldn't touch."
"That threw up red flags for me," Martinez said Friday. "I know that
God doesn't work like that. He loved the Lord. I know this."
[Media] Keston news service put out in the cold
As a result, the director, Lawrence Uzell, and the service’s three
full-time journalists based in Russia, central Asia and the UK, have
all resigned. They did so in December, after the Keston Institute, the
parent body of the News Service, decided on suspension.
Canon Michael Bourdeaux, who founded the Institute in 1969 and this
year was elected president for life, said that new plans were afoot
for the News Service, and that these would be announced at an
extraordinary general meeting. This is to be held at 11 a. m. on 22
March at St Anne’s College in Oxford.
One of Keston’s trustees, Leonid Finkelstein, has also resigned over
the suspension of the News Service. He said that the News Service was
the most viable and important product of the Keston Institute, and
that “without it, the value of Keston is nil”.
[Buddhism] Area Buddhists building bridges between sects
Currently there are 31 groups that have joined the new Northwest
Dharma Association, a small fraction of the close to 400 Buddhist
groups in the Northwest. But Wilhelm said it's an encouraging start
after one year of planning. "We thought that if we had 10 groups by
the end of this process, we'd be thrilled."
[Hate Groups : Scientology] Scientologists establish missions in their
Geared toward introducing newcomers to Scientology, the missions mark
the first time in the church's 27 years in Clearwater that Scientology
overtly will try to recruit Tampa Bay area residents.
March 1, 2003 (Continued)
[Hate Groups : Scientology] Chairman Makes Loan to Clearwater, Fla.,
Digital Lightwave's fortunes have tumbled since the telecom boom of
the late 1990s, when its stock surged and put Zwan on Forbes
magazine's list of the 400 richest Americans. The company was later
dogged by legal problems, a federal investigation and investor
concerns about Zwan's close ties to the Church of Scientology.
[Mark Cecil Thurman] Lauderdale man who defrauded Christian
fundamentalists gets eight years
To push his stock, Thurman falsely claimed his company was connected
to some of the best-known religious groups in the country. He produced
a letter, later proved a forgery, from the Trinity Broadcasting
Network endorsing his company. Thurman claimed, also falsely, that TBN
had invested $500,000 in Families on Line.
[The Family (Winnfred Wright)] Judge OKs cult deprogramming
Judge Terrence Boren set Wilson's bail at $600,000, despite the
objections of the District Attorney's Office, which wanted Wilson held
without bail pending her sentencing on April 14. Deputy District
Attorney Barry Borden said Wilson has improperly been sending letters
to her children and remains a danger to them.
But Wilson's defense attorney, Douglas Horngrad of Mill Valley, said
his client deserves to have "deprogramming" for years of abuse before
she is sentenced. Wilson shared the Lucas Valley home with Winifred
Wright, who sired all 13 children, and three of Wright's other
She remained in custody last night while her supporters work out the
logistics of her transfer to the specialized treatment clinic, the
Wellspring Retreat and Resource Center in Albany, Ohio.
ApologeticsIndex.org / ReligionNewsBlog.com
Religion News Blog, Mar. 3, 2003:
[Hate Groups] KKK backs Augusta ban on women
A new controversy over racism and bigotry threatens to engulf the
world’s biggest golf tournament as the Ku Klux Klan wades into the row
over the exclusion of women from the club that hosts the US Masters.
A splinter group of America’s notorious white supremacist movement
says the exclusive Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia has the right
to pick whoever it wants as its members and plans to show its support
for the club by demonstrating at next month’s event.
[Catholic Church] Reports to Detail N.H. Church Sex Cases
In dueling reports, the state attorney general and New Hampshire's
Roman Catholic archdiocese both hope to shed light on a dark chapter
in the state's priest abuse scandal.
[False Memory Syndrome] Ending the 'Memory Wars' does not redeem the
The wars turned on a bizarre psychiatric opinion: that a child when
sexually abused by a trusted parent or teacher could "repress" and
forget the experience even while it was happening. These "repressed
memories" could then produce unexplained mental depression later in
life unless a therapist drew them forth with such procedures as
As the wars wind down, three books together give a full picture of
these events. One describes in vivid detail just how vicious the
battles were and how the falsely accused were mistreated by the
judicial system. The second explains just how false evidence and
misdirected testimony were produced, leading to the erroneous
convictions and false memories. The third brilliantly explains just
how our minds are built so as to develop beliefs that go beyond
evidence - and how in most other circumstances this feature is
[Falun Gong] Lu calls on nation to view Falun Gong abuse as a
Following reports last month of the mistreatment of Taiwanese Falun
Gong members at the hands of Hong Kong immigration, Vice President
Annette Lu yesterday called on the public to view the incident
as a serious violation of human rights.
[Mike Murdock] Profit in the pulpit
Part 1 of 3.
A Denton televangelist who says his mission is to rescue people from
poverty is living lavishly, while the ministry he founded spends most
of its money on overhead, an examination finds.
[Mike Murdock] Ministry gives money to Murdock's relatives
Part 2 of 3. (Part 3 tomorrow)
Some of the ministry's chief beneficiaries are Mike Murdock's
relatives, documents show. The ministry, incorporated in 1973 to
spread the Gospel and provide charity, gives money to or employs Mike
Murdock's father, sister, son and niece.
[AUM Shinrikyo] Noose tightens for Aum's Matsumoto
Prosecutors will seek the death penalty for Aum Shinrikyo founder
Chizuo Matsumoto when they present final arguments April 24 on his
role in two deadly nerve-gas attacks and other crimes, sources said.
[Internet / Hate Groups : Scientology] Big Brother and your browser
What appears to be the first case of this sort arose in 1996, when the
Cult Awareness Network--which warned of the dangers of unconventional
religions--was sued into oblivion by the Church of Scientology. A
bankruptcy court judge placed the group's assets including
cultawarenessnetwork.org up for auction--and the winning bidder
was--you guessed it--Scientology.
The disturbing thing is that it would be legal for the Justice
Department to seize control of a purportedly illegal site and set up a
sting operation tomorrow.
Mark Rasch, a former federal prosecutor who's a vice president at
Solutionary in McLean, Va., represented Cult Awareness Network during
its demise. After Scientology gained control of
cultawarenessnetwork.org and promptly began reading e-mail sent to the
old addresses, Rasch told me on Friday, "people thought they were
communicating confidentially with an anti-cult group when they were
talking with their enemies."
[Human Rights Violations, USA] Saudis: No ‘Particular Concern’
In a move expected to infuriate religious conservatives and
human-rights advocates alike, the Bush administration has decided to
reject the recommendation of a special government commission to place
Saudi Arabia on an American blacklist of countries that violate
[Catholic Church] Victims of Priests' Abuse Seeking Redress Outside
Anderson's presentation at a conference of survivors of sexual abuse
marked a pivotal moment in the scandal gripping the Catholic Church.
Frustrated after months of pleas for change inside the church, the
victims' movement is shifting tactics and applying pressure primarily
from the outside by lobbying state legislators and assisting grand
"In the past, survivors always tried to force changes from within,"
said Susan Archibald, president of the Linkup, a victims' support
group that gathered here for its 11th annual meeting. "But at the end
of last year, we were still disappointed by the level of transparency
and accountability accepted by the bishops. So we decided to fight
from another direction."
[Hate Groups] Anti-Gay Group Demonstrates Against Play In
A handful of demonstrators from a Kansas group known nationally for
its anti-gay views picketed a Mary Washington College performance
Saturday night of a play about the notorious murder of a gay student.
The anti-gay demonstrators from Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka,
Kan., were met by about 400 students holding a candlelight vigil.
The reason for the groups' presence was a performance of a play, "The
Laramie Project," about the murder in 1998 of openly gay college
student Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyo., and the community's reaction
to the slaying.
ApologeticsIndex.org / ReligionNewsBlog.com
Religion News Blog, March 4, 2003
[Mike Murdock] Murdock uses 'love bonding' to reach donors
Ole Anthony of the Trinity Foundation, a televangelist watchdog group,
bluntly says that Murdock allows people, women in particular, to think
he has a personal relationship with them.
Consider the messages Murdock sends, critics say. On one
audiocassette, he assures the listener, "I'm not sending this to
everyone. I felt led of God to tell you this."
[Islam] Muslim leader pleads guilty to having false Social Security
[Catholic Church] Judge rejects motion that would have delayed
[Offbeat News] Muslims have blasted a school's decision to ban the
Three Little Pigs from classes
The ban, which extends only to classes of under-seven-year-olds, has
attracted criticism from leading British Muslims.
But Inayat Bunglawala of the Muslim Council of Britain told The Sun:
"This is bizarre - there is nothing to stop children from reading
"The ban is simply on the consumption of pork and pig products."
[Catholic Church] Church hangs up on Internet confessions
[Church of God Restoration] Judge rules for CAS in Aylmer spanking
A judge says that while the seizure of seven children from their home
two years ago for fear they were being spanked was "very traumatic," a
child welfare worker did not violate anyone's constitutional rights.
[Church of God Restoration] Ruling stems from case where social
workers took kids
The interests of children take precedence over the rights of parents,
an Ontario court judge has emphasized.
"The court has clearly said children's rights trump parental autonomy
every time," London lawyer Alfred Mamo said yesterday, after Madam
Justice Eleanor Schnall released her reasons for upholding the actions
of a social worker who took seven children from their home in July,
[Zhong Gong] U.S.-based dissident reported freed from Chinese
Zhang was a member of the banned Zhong Gong spiritual group, Cooper
said. The group was outlawed following the 1999 crackdown on the
better-known Falun Gong group, which communist leaders regarded as a
threat to their control.
[Falun Gong] A world apart: Local Amnesty chapters host benefit for
persecuted wife of Pitt researcher
[UFOs] N.H. case called ‘flagship’ in UFO abduction annals
The Hills’ story was documented in John Fuller’s best-selling book
"Interrupted Journey." Fuller learned of the Hills while researching
his book "Incident in Exeter," about Norman Muscarello, who saw a UFO
in Exeter in 1965. (See related story.)
Muscarello, an Exeter resident, passed away this past week. Betty said
she didn’t know him well, but was sorry to hear of his death. The pair
were kindred members of a galactic club.
[Hate Groups] Judge to Remain on Supremacist's Case
U.S. District Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow said removing her from the
copyright infringement case would only subject another judge to
Matthew Hale's hatred.
``Based on Hale's expressed contempt for this nation's 'illegitimate
government,' there is no reason to believe that any other judge who
might inherit this case ... would not be subject to the same or
similar attacks,'' Lefkow wrote last week in denying a request that
another judge be assigned to the case.
[Koreshans] College of Life leaders surprised to learn state votes to
pursue their property
The foundation owns around 50 acres at the intersection, land that
includes the foundation headquarters and a few historic sites from the
days when the Koreshan cult pioneered the area. Cult leader Cyrus Teed
had visions of a utopian society preaching celibacy, communal living
and the belief the universe was a sphere, with the Earth and
everything else inside it.
[Jehovah's Witnesses] Paramedic's wife tells of terror
The soft-spoken woman said she also was prevented from leaving the
marriage by her faith as a Jehovah's Witness, a religion she said
frowns on divorce unless one of the parties cheats on the other.
[Catholic Church] Report Details Sex Abuse by Priests and Inaction by
The New Hampshire attorney general's office released more than 9,000
pages of documents and a detailed report today showing how the
leadership of the state's Roman Catholic diocese knew for years about
sexual abuse of minors by some of its priests and helped cover it up,
violating the state's child endangerment law.
[Love Israel Family] Bankruptcy may be Love Israel family's salvation
The bankruptcy filing is the latest twist in the odyssey of a
religious family that got its start on Queen Anne Hill in the 1960s
and moved to Snohomish County after an internal breakup that members
still refer to as "the divorce."
Now, after efforts to preserve their lifestyle led them into the rat
race they had tried to avoid, the aging hippies who remained together
say the financial implosion may have set them free.
[Love Israel Family] Faith and community bind the Love Israel family
[Shunning] Cast Out
Shunning is not a topic that typically arises when detectives
interview a murder suspect.
But Christian Longo, accused in the December 2001 killings of his
wife, MaryJane, and their three children, raised shunning as the
reason they moved to Oregon, so far from friends and family in
After McMinnville resident Robert Bryant killed his wife, Janet, their
four children and himself in February 2002, Janet's sister also cited
the practice, saying it helped create the isolation and despair that
drove Robert - "a loving and dedicated husband" - to snap.
Both families were members of the Jehovah's Witnesses, who say
shunning is an act of love intended to inspire repentence and a return
to right living.
[Shunning] Many religions remove members
[Exorcism] Kirk plans to tackle taboo of possession by evil spirits
Saving those suffering from demons through the power of exorcism - the
mission sounds like a quest from the Middle Ages.
In fact this is the drive behind a new study launched by the Church of
Scotland amid concerns it is not doing enough for people who have been
[House of Prayer] Church couple now 'fugitives'
Two members of the House of Prayer church were classified as fugitives
Monday after failing to turn themselves in to their probation officer,
a spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Corrections said.
Church members David and Sharon Duncan, convicted of child cruelty in
October, did not report in as expected by by 4:30 p.m. Monday for
allegedly violating terms of their probation.
[House of Prayer] Warrants Issued for Pastor, Members
A judge issued new warrants late Monday afternoon for the arrest of
the Rev. Arthur Allen and two members of his House of Prayer church.
Rev. Allen and his church members failed to turn themselves into
police at 4:30 p.m. for allegedly violating their probation.
ApologeticsIndex.org / ReligionNewsBlog.com
Religion News Blog, March 5, 2003
[Human Rights Violations, Islam] Man tells of flogging - 250 lashes
down, 50 to go
Two hundred and fifty lashes down, 50 to go, was how Melbourne man
Robert Thomas last night described his ordeal of imprisonment and
flogging in a Saudi Arabian jail for a crime he says he did not
Before they took Mr Thomas to be beaten, she says prison staff and
fellow inmates gave him a chance to lessen the pain by converting to
Islam. He refused the offer.
He said he had no a lawyer at trial. The punishment is in accordance
with sharia, the Islamic legal code derived from the Koran.
[Palo Mayombe] Woman accused of heading cult, stealing bodies
Some of the remains were taken to a religious store in Newark, where
they were used in religious ceremonies, police said.
Mirabel was a priestess in the Palo Mayombe cult, which originated
among West African slaves.
[Sikhism] Sikh sues NYPD for religious discrimination
A Sikh-American has sued the New York Police Department for alleged
religious discrimination, saying it fired him for refusing to remove
his turban and trim his beard.
Amric Singh Rathour, along with the Sikh Coalition, have filed a
federal lawsuit charging the NYPD with religious discrimination and
challenging its "no turban policy".
[Anthony Fernwalt] FBI Agents Search Home Of Carroll County Religious
About 11 years ago, Fernwalt gained attention after he claimed to have
received messages from the Virgin Mary and started selling holy water
from his home.
[Christianity] Movement prospering under government control
The prospects of some freedoms and more people seeking faith after
hard times brought on by the collapse of the former Soviet Bloc sowed
the beginnings of la Iglesia de las Casas or the Church of the Homes.
"We don't have the possibility to build new churches," Otero said.
"It's the only way churches can grow in Cuba."
While there is tolerance from Castro's regime, the church movement is
part underground and part regulated. Government rules prohibit a limit
of 25 people from worshipping at a home has helped the movement
spread, said Hedgepeth, who visited the island in October.
[Islam] Remarks on Muslims arouse ire
When state lawmaker Lois McMahan chose to not participate in a Muslim
prayer at the House of Representatives in Olympia, it was, the
Republican says, for private reasons.
Now her personal protest has become a public spectacle.
[Vampirism] 'Vampire cult' killer asks for new trial
If his lawyers had sketched out a plan to tell the jury about his
mental defects and the hallucinogenic drugs he had taken, maybe
"vampire cult" leader Roderick Ferrell wouldn't be in prison for life
for the deaths of Richard and Ruth Wendorf.
That's what Ferrell is arguing in a motion that claims his lawyers
didn't prepare an adequate defense for him. He also says they coerced
him to plead guilty to a murder charge by providing him with
[Hate Groups] World church leader complains about printer
According to Kroenke, a woman at the print shop quoted him a price
after examining the original, but after she found out who Kroenke was,
she told Heckart about the customer. He said Heckart refused to take
Kroenke said he told Heckart that refusing to provide service on the
basis of religious discrimination could violate the Civil Rights Act
and be grounds for legal action.
Tim Thorson, executive director of the Riverton Chamber of Commerce,
said he is proud of Heckart's stance toward Kroenke.
''Discriminating on the basis of religious faith is wrong, but telling
a member of a terrorist organization to leave your business makes all
the sense in the world,'' he said.
[Religion Trends] Poll finds growing acceptance of multiple religious
beliefs among Christians
A new Harris poll indicates that while the majority of Americans say
they believe the basic concepts of the Bible, there's also a growing
acceptance of other religious beliefs -- even among those who call
[Hate Groups : Scientology] The art of Scientology
Is Scientology something to be wary of? The Internet bristles with
disenchanted accounts of it. "They have a history of difficulties with
people who leave," says Professor Morris. "There are lots of reports
and a number of former members who write books. They see it as
brainwashing and pressure. There are reports of dependency on
Mr Ferris says: "If we're ethical we'll survive. Despite the
brickbats, we have survived."
Note: The Scientologist's argument is a logical fallacy. After all,
the Maffia, despite being unethical, survives. Saddam Hussein,
despite being unethical, survives. Al Quaeda, despite being
unethical, survives. Unethical behavior is encouraged and condoned in
Scientology's own scriptures.
[Warmongering] The Scottish preacher whose wartime writings inspire
The devotional lectures of Chambers, who died of a ruptured appendix
in 1917, make up My Utmost For His Highest, the bestselling daily
devotional in the world.
The work has sold two million copies in the United States since 1991,
and after Newsweek magazine reported the importance it holds for
President Bush it looks likely to sell even more. Chambers’s message,
much of which was written in wartime, is a simply written direction to
devote oneself to the Almighty. In turn, God will lead us through life
with a sense of victory.
[Religion Trends] Born-again Christians surge in influence
Claims that the American news media form a vast liberal conspiracy
strike me as utterly unconvincing, but there is one area where
accusations of institutional bias have merit: Nearly all of us in the
news business are completely out of touch with a group that includes
46 percent of Americans.
That is the proportion who described themselves in a Gallup poll in
December as evangelical or born-again Christians. Evangelicals have
moved from the fringe into the mainstream, and that is particularly
evident in the current administration.
Robert Fogel of the University of Chicago argues that America is now
experiencing a fourth Great Awakening, like the religious revivals
that have periodically swept America in the last 300 years. Yet
offhand, I cannot think of a single evangelical working for a major
ApologeticsIndex.org / ReligionNewsBlog.com
Religion News Blog, March 8, 2003 (thus far...)
[Polygamy] Utah Legislature adds new polygamy offense to crime books
The Utah Legislature approved a tougher criminal sanction Wednesday
for men who take young girls as their polygamist wives.
[Human Rights Violations, USA] US Assurances to UN on Torture
Press reports have attributed statements to US officials that the US
is using "all appropriate pressure," that "prisoners are sometimes
kept on their feet for lengthy periods," and that "stress and duress"
techniques are acceptable.
The techniques reportedly employed - including hooding, holding in
prolonged painful positions, and denial of food and sleep - were cited
and condemned as torture in the 2002 Department of State Country
Reports on Human Rights Practices. This year's report, mandated to be
released to Congress by February 28, has yet to be released.
[House of Prayer] Arrest warrants issued for pastor, 2 church members
A Fulton County judge ordered authorities to arrest the pastor of the
House of Prayer and two of his church members because they skipped a
court hearing this afternoon.
Probation officers asked the court to revoke the probation of the Rev.
Arthur Allen and David and Sharon Duncan because they have refused to
go to anger-management counseling.
Their lawyer, Manny Arora, said he has not been able to find his
[Human Rights Violations, USA] Group Points Out Religious Oppression
The State Department seeks advice on which countries to designate from
the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, an independent
In a statement, the commission acknowledged problems in the six
countries named by the State Department but said India, Laos,
Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan and Vietnam also deserved
March 7, 2003
[Human Rights Violations, USA] Alleged torture in terror war imperils
U.S. standards of humanity
In Afghanistan, it is hardly surprising to find two dead bodies with
signs of torture. This week, however, a shocking U.S. military
coroner's report also suggested that the most likely suspect in the
homicides was the U.S. government. Even more disturbing is emerging
evidence that the United States may be operating something that would
have seemed unimaginable only two years ago: an American torture
Instead of continuing our long fight against torture, we now seek to
adopt more narrow definitions to satisfy our own acquired appetite for
coercive interrogations. If the U.S. is responsible for the deaths of
the two men in Afghanistan, it is more than homicide. It would be
suicide for a nation once viewed as the very embodiment of human
NOTE: It should be noted that America's alleged "long fight against
torture" is belied by its ongoing fight against an international
[Human Rights Violations, USA] America admits suspects died in
American military officials acknowledged yesterday that two prisoners
captured in Afghanistan in December had been killed while under
interrogation at Bagram air base north of Kabul – reviving concerns
that the US is resorting to torture in its treatment of Taliban
fighters and suspected al-Qa'ida operatives.
President Bush appeared to encourage extra-judicial solutions in his
State of the Union address in January when he talked of al-Qa'ida
members being arrested or meeting "a different fate". "Let's put it
this way," he said in a tone that appalled many, "they are no longer a
problem to the United States and our friends and allies."
[Human Rights Violations, Marocco] Court Jails 'Satanist' Heavy Metal
The trial followed articles in some newspapers which described the
accused as "Satanists" who recruited for an international cult of
The 14 men aged between 22 and 35 years were found guilty of
"possessing objects which infringe morals" and of "acts capable of
undermining the faith of a Muslim."
[Hate Groups] Attack at prison receives criticism
Federal prison officials were criticized Thursday for placing American
Taliban John Walker Lindh at risk in the general population because of
Walker Lindh was attacked during prayer by one or more white
supremacists Monday night at the Federal Correctional Institution in
Victorville where he has been imprisoned since January.
[Hate Groups] Group wants Germany to suspend Zundel charges
A Toronto organization is calling on Germany to suspend charges
against Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel to make it easier for Canada to
Mr. Zundel is being held in custody in Canada by the federal
immigration department after applying for refugee status on the basis
that he would be persecuted for his beliefs if he returned to his
native Germany. There, he is wanted on a warrant accusing him of
[Hate Groups] Legislator under fire for helping 'hate group'
A state lawmaker is being criticized by a civil rights group for
reserving a room at the state Capitol for what the Southern Poverty
Law Center calls a white supremacist hate group.
Rep. Dick Brewbaker, R-Montgomery, said he reserved the Capitol
auditorium for a League of the South conference on Saturday because he
made a promise to a constituent who is a member of the group.
[Mel Gibson] Actor Mel Gibson Takes Up Traditional Catholicism
Gibson, a follower of traditional Catholicism with its Latin mass and
rejection of Vatican II reforms, helped finance construction of a new
traditionalist church near Malibu and is completing a self-financed
film in two dead languages -- Aramaic and Latin -- on the last 12
hours in the life of Christ, the article said.
[Mel Gibson] Mel's mad at cult slur
Noxon's article claims Gibson embraces "a strain of Catholicism rooted
in the dictates of a 16th-century papal council and nurtured by a
splinter group of conspiracy-minded Catholics, mystics, monarchists
and disaffected conservatives".
The group hates the Pope, celebrates mass in Latin, fasts on Fridays
and requires women to wear hats in church.
[Falun Gong] Group's parade ban to stay
Spiritual group Falun Dafa has failed to overturn a Melbourne City
Council decision banning members from taking part in Monday's Moomba
The council recently rejected an application by the group to take part
in the event, citing concerns over its "strong political
[Censorship] China censorship slows net
Beijing has essentially built an online barrier around China,
requiring traffic in and out to pass through just eight gateways — a
step that heightens official control. Banned topics include human
rights and the outlawed Falun Gong spiritual group.
Problems emerged in October after the installation of "packet-sniffer"
software that briefly holds chunks of data for screening.
[Falun Gong] Local Falun Gong practitioners to rally for Charles Li's
Forty-four days after his arrest, Li’s friends and fellow Falun Gong
practitioners are gathering today outside the U.S. State Department in
Washington, D.C., to rally for his release.
Li was arrested for allegedly disrupting the transmissions of radio
and TV facilities during a previous trip to China, said Zhijian Jin,
spokesman for the Chinese Consulate in Chicago. Many people, however,
believe Li was arrested because of his spiritual practice, Falun Gong
or Falun Dafa.
[Hate Groups : Scientology] Free will a crucial issue in case against
Scientology, court is told
A fundamental issue in the legal action by a woman against the Church
of Scientology is whether her free will was overborne or compromised
in her decision to take up certain courses run by the church, the High
Court heard yesterday.
If the court finds Ms Mary Johnston's free will was affected, it must
then decide whether that has any legal consequences entitling her to
damages, Mr Michael Collins, for the church said.
The fundamental point was whether Ms Johnston's free will was
compromised to an extent that was unacceptable in law, counsel added.
His side would be arguing free will is a concept that cannot be
[Unification Church] Rev. Moon's Napa resort sold to developer
From 1976 to the mid-90s, devoted members of Moon's Unification Church
occupied the crumbling Aetna Springs resort, where by varying accounts
they communed with God or brainwashed legions of recruits, some
against their will.
Over the past decade, church activities faded until the 672-acre
facility with 34 Mission-style buildings and a nine-hole golf course
was leased to a Southern California theme park developer with
Then, in a quiet deal late last month, Aetna Springs was sold.
[Anthony Fernwalt] Sleepy village shaken up
The man who drew national attention when he discovered a weeping
portrait of the Virgin Mary and claimed to have conversed with Christ
was arrested Tuesday after authorities swept in on his wooded hillside
home and defunct Christ in the Hills shrine, which was a mecca three
years ago for those who thought the world would end with the century.
Fernwalt had claimed he was using birth certificates of dead Canadians
to bring Pakistani and Indian nationals into the country for a
terrorist attack using sarin gas.
[Anthony Fernwalt] Priest backs man’s claims of seeing Virgin Mary
A Kilgore man’s purported visions of the Virgin Mary have never been
substantiated by the Catholic Church, but that hasn’t stopped one
priest from believing that they are true.
In 1992, Fernwalt gained national attention by claiming to have
discovered a weeping painting of the Virgin Mary at St. Jude’s
Orthodox Catholic Church in Barberton, where he was the custodian.
[Anthony Fernwalt] Suspect faces federal charges
FBI agents descended on his property Tuesday after CNN and the Fox
News Network forwarded them e-mails from a man identifying himself as
Tony Black, a Muslim who had converted to Christianity.
Black claimed Fernwalt, under the alias Waine Coxall, brought him into
this country and was smuggling in other terrorists for a planned
chemical attack using sarin gas.
[Alistah Laishkochav] Polygamist guru faces new child sex charges
A sect leader with nine wives who was jailed in Victoria for child sex
crimes has been extradited to NSW to face new charges.
[Islamism] Hate preaching cleric jailed
During the trial el-Faisal argued that his words were taken from the
Koran, the Muslim holy book, and that he had been misrepresented.
But the judge said that while Britain prided itself on its freedom of
speech, it could not accept it when other people's rights were
He told el-Faisal: "As the jury found, you not only preached hate, but
the words you uttered in those meetings were recorded to reach a wider
"You urged those who listened and watched to kill those who did not
share your faith."
[Raelians] Cult may be alien to some, but it's down to earth for
The Raelian movement is thought to be among the last of a dozen or so
left. "What they've done is melded together what is probably the
single-best known religious mythology in the Western world, which is
Christianity, with UFOs," said Douglas Cowan, a religious studies
professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
NOTE: Douglas Cowan is known for, among other things, his avid support
of cult apologists.
[House of Prayer] House of Prayer arrest warrants on hold until Friday
A judge has put on hold arrest warrants for three House of Prayer
church members, including the pastor, until 1 p.m. Friday.
That's when they're due in Fulton County Superior Court for a hearing,
a spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Corrections said today.
[Ritual Killing] New leads in torso murder
Detectives investigating the murder of a young boy whose mutilated
body was found in the River Thames in London are following up new
leads in Nigeria.
Officers believe the boy, who they have named Adam, may have come from
They fear the unidentified child, aged between four and six, was the
victim of a sacrificial killing.
[Hate Groups : Scientology] Professor says Scientology church tried to
A professor of sociology who has written books and articles critical
of the Church of Scientology and other organisations told the High
Court yesterday the church was attempting to isolate him within the
Prof Stephen Kent, who is based in Canada, made the claim in the
ongoing action for damages by Ms Mary Johnston (40), who operates a
sports equipment centre at Westwood, Foxrock, Dublin, and who is a
former member of the church.
Stephen Kent is being subjected to an extended hate campaign by the
Scientology organization. Hate and harassment activities, along with
other unethical behavior, is encouraged and condoned in the cult's
March 6, 2003
[Hate Groups] Man sentenced for plot against McVeigh judge
A man already serving time for murder was convicted of plotting to
kill the federal judge in the Oklahoma City bombing trials, allegedly
in the hopes that the judge's death would help the white supremacist
[Religious Freedom] U.S. Concerned About Religious Freedom
The United States expressed concern Wednesday over what it termed
severe violations of religious freedom in six countries: Burma, China,
Iran, Iraq, North Korea and Sudan.
NOTE: Saudi Arabia, which is needed as an ally right now, was of
course not criticized. The U.S. Commission on International Religious
Freedom has criticized the State Department's report:
[House of Prayer] Reprieve Issued for Church Members
Allen, as well as Sharon and David Duncan, were deemed fugitives from
justice when they failed to turn themselves into police at 4:30 p.m.
Monday for allegedly violating the terms of their probation.
ApologeticsIndex.org / ReligionNewsBlog.com
Religion News Blog, March 9, 2003
[Jehovah's Witnesses] Blood substitute is surgical solution for church
PolyHeme, developed by Evanston, Ill.-based Northfield Laboratories
Inc., is basically recycled blood.
Though used on a case-by-case basis depending on emergency need,
PolyHeme has not been approved by the federal Food and Drug
Administration, said Jason Shane, manager of Fountain Valley Regional
Medical Center's Bloodless Medicine and Surgery Program.
[Jehovah's Witnesses] For Witness faithful, it's all in the blood
L.C. Cotton, associate director of hospital information services for
Jehovah's Witnesses, said physicians across the world, and especially
here in the United States, have made efforts to accommodate their
In this country, there are more than 82 bloodless medicine and surgery
centers and more than 30,000 physicians capable of treating patients
without the use of blood products, Cotton said.
In the world, there are more than 100,000 physicians, he said.
[Jehovah's Witnesses] Church lets faithful opt for PolyHeme
Though it is not whole blood, it is derived from it.
The question now is it still blood?
Cotton could not answer that question but said individuals must decide
whether to accept the product.
"When blood is fractionated beyond those primary components and other
blood derivatives, we feel that it is an individual decision,' he
said. "If an individual's conscience will allow him to accept the
product, then that would be up to that individual. That is between
himself and his God.'
As far as other Jehovah's Witnesses possibly ostracizing those who do
accept hemoglobin substitutes, Cotton said it would never happen.
[Branch Davidians] Doing time: Branch Davidians still behind bars
display hope, anguish
Ten years after the federal siege on the Branch Davidians' remote
settlement 10 miles east of Waco, imprisoned followers of dead
Davidian prophet David Koresh display hope, anguish and holy
indignation about the past, present and future.
During a 1994 criminal trial in San Antonio, 11 Branch Davidians were
acquitted of murder and conspiracy to commit murder charges. Five of
the 11, however, were convicted of voluntary manslaughter and weapons
charges. Three others were convicted of weapons charges.
Of those convicted, only Ruth Riddle - a Canadian sentenced to five
years for carrying a firearm during a crime - has completed her time
and gained release.
[Mormon Church] Controversy on Mormon Main Street
In an effort to ease tensions, some members of the city council have
put forth a plan that would eliminate the public access clause and
give the Church the right to control behavior on the property. In
exchange, the Church would give the city some land it owns on the
other side of town, so that a new community center can be built there.
But the ACLU's Stephen Clark says that would amount to religious
favoritism on the part of the government, which is unconstitutional.
"The government can't be at the behest, can't act at the behest, of a
religious organization," he says. "That's the classic case of a
violation of the principle of separation between Church and State."
Stephen Clark says the ACLU will challenge the deal between the city
and the Church if it goes through. Meanwhile, church attorneys are
preparing their request for a hearing before the U.S. Supreme Court.
[Sikhism] The relevance of Sikhism
Forty years ago, there were so few Sikhs in Canada people would stop
and stare at men with turbans. Though there are now 500,000 Sikhs
across the country, the culture is still little known.
[Human Rights Violations, USA] Cycle trip to 'forbidden' Cuba costs
pensioner £5,000 penalty
Under President George W. Bush, the long-standing embargo on Cuba,
which is enforced mainly out of deference to Right-wing Cuban exile
groups dedicated to the overthrow of Fidel Castro, has been policed
with greater force.
The number of American visitors to Cuba who have been sought for
breaking the embargo has quadrupled. The US Treasury now warns people
who visit without permission that they could face fines of up to
Last April James Sabzala, a Jamaican-born Canadian citizen with
business interests in Pennsylvania, was convicted of selling water
purification equipment to Cuban hospitals and advised that he faced a
lengthy prison sentence as well as a substantial fine.
[Hinduism] Religious ritual sparks outrage in India
Devotees, mostly women, in south India are allowing a priest, wearing
thick wooden sandals embedded with nails, to walk over them in the
belief that the ritual would cure them of their ailments or even bless
the childless with a baby.
The annual ritual at the Poochiyur temple near the city of Coimbatore
in the southern state of Tamil Nadu has been conducted for years
without a complaint.
But this year, it sparked outrage among local media and prompted the
State Human Rights Commission to call for an investigation.
[Raelians] Members of sect disrobe as hundreds protest against war in
Four members of the group stood on the grounds of the federal
building, disrobed for several minutes and encouraged others to do the
same as a sign of their opposition to war.
"Whenever everybody undresses, the ego goes away and then we can make
decisions," said protester Nadine Gary. "Imagine President Bush nude
addressing the state of the union. Imagine Saddam Hussein nude."
[Hutterites] Part of Ritzville Hutterite group is moving to Oregon
The Washington Hutterites are expanding to the Oregon farm partially
because the community in Ritzville has outgrown its land. It has
almost more hands than work to go around.
[Maitreya] Cult's leader is out of this world
A cult whose leader is said to appear in different bodies is out to
bring peace to Iraq.
Hollywood-based Share International's so-called world teacher,
Maitreya, is based in London preparing for his emergence.
March 8, 2003 (Continued..._
[Oral Roberts] Oral history
He meets twice monthly with Hinn, whom he views as the future of the
healing movement. Roberts occasionally appears on Hinn's program This
Is Your Day, which airs on the Colleyville-based Daystar Network and
the Costa Mesa, Calif.-based Trinity Broadcasting Network. TBN
founders Paul and Jan Crouch have celebrated Roberts' birthdays in
recent years on their talk show Praise the Lord.
[Religious Merchandising] Traveling ministries now book big arenas
These days, traveling evangelists prefer football stadiums and concert
arenas with jumbo screens and high-tech sound systems - and they're
packing them in.
T. D. Jakes. Kenneth Hagin. Kenneth Copeland. Creflo Dollar. Joyce
Meyer. Fred Price.
If you think their messages of inspiration, hope, faith healing and
everything in between is for those believers on the fringe, think
[Wilbur Eash] Amish sect leader may be in prison for up to 15 years
Last August, Eash was accused of violating a 14-year-old boy, the son
of a woman who followed Eash to the area. He was originally charged
with first-degree criminal sexual conduct for molesting the boy, but
he later pleaded guilty to a less serious count punishable by a
maximum of 15 years in prison.
According to a 1990 Los Angeles Times story, Eash's followers credited
him with having supernatural powers. He was disillusioned with the
Amish religion's strict beliefs and led the splinter group away from
Shipshewana, Ind., promising the use of phones and electricity.
[Osho] Concern over 'love' cult
The controversial Orange People cult has been accused of trying to
lure children as young as 14 to weekend residential retreats at Byron
Bay on the NSW north coast.
The group, now known as the Sannyasins, was once notorious for
promoting free love among members. It is reported to have about 5000
members in and around Byron Bay.
[Unification Church] Unification Church to launch political party
The Unification Church said yesterday that it will form a political
party Monday to prop up its social campaign on family values and world
The church, also known as the Family Federation for World Peace and
Unification, said it will hold a mass rally in which about 2,000
promoters will register with the nation's election commission, a legal
step essential to organizing a political party.
"We have made efforts to promote family values, world peace and
inter-Korean reunification. And we believe we need an organization
that can operate with legal protection," said a church official on the
reasons behind the launch of the new party.
[Harry Potter] The Split Verdict on Harry Potter
While Harry Potter books remain banned in some places, there is a
growing acceptance of the stories of the boy wizard, with a blessing
of sorts from the Vatican recently and even new efforts to preach
Christianity itself through them.
One critic of the Harry Potter stories is Doug Groothuis, professor of
philosophy at the interdenominational, graduate-level Denver Seminary.
"The roots of the Harry Potter books are definitely not Christian,"
Dr. Groothuis said. "They are not even neutral in the ancient
tradition of the occult. Children's imaginations should be treated
very carefully and wisely."
Richard Abanes, who has written two books that highlight what he sees
as the wrongs of the Harry Potter stories, said: "I suppose you could
take anything and make it Christian. Some people want to portray Harry
as a Christlike figure and bring up several things he does that they
say are noble, courageous and loyal to his friends. They ignore many
moments where he is very un-Christian and is blatantly immoral, lying,
[Islam] Washington state lawmakers apologize for skipping Muslim's
A Muslim leader returned to the state House on Friday to deliver the
opening prayer, and this time everyone listened.
Reps. Lois McMahan and Cary Condotta drew criticism Monday when they
deliberately stayed off the House floor during Imam Mohamad Joban's
prayer. The Republicans apologized to him and shook his hand on his
[House of Prayer] New warrants out in House of Prayer case
The 70-year-old Allen's apparent absence is unusual because he has run
the independent church on Hollywood Road, in a poor part of northwest
Atlanta, for more than 35 years and is deeply involved in his
followers' lives. Now the outspoken pastor's phone is disconnected.
Neither Allen nor his wife, Trina, who have seven children under the
age of 18, answered the door at his house Thursday evening or Friday
afternoon. Allen's Jaguar was parked in the driveway of his modest
blue stucco house, and a note left on it Thursday remained there
Meanwhile, the Duncans have vacated their house on Culpepper Street in
Atlanta, leaving behind clothing, toys and furniture on the lawn.
Church members, including a brother-in-law, said they don't know the
whereabouts of the family, which includes at least eight children
ApologeticsIndex.org / ReligionNewsBlog.com
Religion News Blog, March 11, 2003
[Islamism] Sunni authority calls war against Iraq 'new crusade'
The highest authority in the Sunni Islamic world on Monday declared
that war against Iraq will be a "new crusade" compelling every Muslim
to perform "jihad."
The Islamic Research Center at Cairo's Al-Azhar University, the
world's leading teaching institution from Islam's Sunni sect, did not
elaborate, however, on what form any jihad -- or "holy struggle" --
[Yazidi] Ancient Faith Is a Reminder of Iraq's Diversity
For centuries, believers in the Yazidi religion in northern Iraq were
oppressed by their Ottoman overlords and Muslim Kurdish neighbors and
labeled a sect of devil worshipers. When not the victims of massacres,
they were snickered at for what was seen as their strangely eclectic
list of taboos -- among them, eating lettuce, wearing the color blue
and uttering words that begin with the sound sh.
[Islam] Koran to get Irish translation
There are about 18,000 Muslims in the State, almost 12,000 of them in
Dublin. The Islamic community is the fastest-growing religious
minority in the State.
[Church Universal and Triumphant] Bison didn't gain much from CUT land
Late in 1998, the Church Universal and Triumphant and the federal
government announced they had worked out plans for the church to sell
land or conservation easements on 5,000 acres along the park border to
the U.S. Forest Service.
At the time, the church also proposed selling the cattle grazing
rights on its remaining 7,000 acres to the government. But the church
and the Clinton-era Interior Department couldn't agree on the value of
those rights, former officials with both entities said Thursday.
And that means cattle are still there and bison aren't allowed.
[Transcendental Meditation] Can good vibrations stop war?
Hagelin and the Marharishi view war as a failure of leadership and
diplomacy, two qualities that were often founded on the idea of
successfully prosecuting war in less advanced times. The Maharishi's
idea is that these failures of leadership and diplomacy usually exist
in a maelstrom of mounting tensions -- be they ethnic, religious or
His idea of the pagodas filled with meditating believers amounts to
stress management on a societal scale.
[Transcendental Meditation] F.U.M. asks county to help secure funding
The dorms will be specifically designed to accommodate Vedic pandits,
or peace-creating students specifically trained in the Transcendental
Meditation and TM-Sidhis programs. A total of 40,000 pandits are
expected to be permanently established in India in the next few
months, according to the university.
The 1,600 group is a part of a larger group of 8,000 planned for the
United States. These groups are part of a plan created by university
founder Maharishi Mahesh Yogi to create permanent world peace using
large groups of pandits practicing meditation.
[Psychics] ITC monitors Diana spirit show
When shown on a US pay-per-view TV channel on Sunday, The Spirit of
Diana featured footage of séances in Paris and London in which mediums
said Diana was "having fun" in the afterlife.
She was also spending time with Mother Theresa and planned to marry
Dodi Fayed, mediums Craig and Jane Hamilton-Parker claimed.
Viewers paid $14.95 (£9.50) to hear the mediums relay "messages" from
the princess that her death was definitely an accident and that she
was not bitter about it.
[Bible Code] Is It Good for the Jews?
Two weeks ago, a group of senior intelligence officials in the Defense
Department sat for an hour listening to a briefing by a writer who
claims — I am not making this up — that messages encoded in the Hebrew
text of the Old Testament provide clues to the whereabouts of Osama
bin Laden. One of the officials told me that they had agreed to meet
the writer, Michael Drosnin, author of a Nostradamus-style best
seller, without understanding that he was promoting Biblical prophecy.
Still, rather than shoo him away, they listened politely as he
consumed several man-hours of valuable intelligence-crunching time.
Apparently he has given similar briefings to top officials of Mossad,
the Israeli intelligence agency.
[Human Rights Violations, USA] War crimes court to receive judges
The United States has withheld support, fearing its citizens might
become targets for politically-motivated persecution.
It has signed agreements with 24 other countries guaranteeing immunity
for American subjects in those countries.
Russia and China have also refused to ratify the treaty.
[Unification Church] 'Moonies' launch political party in S Korea
The religious sect said its leader, Reverend Moon Sun-Myung, and his
followers held a convention at the Little Angels Hall in Seoul to kick
off the Party for God, Peace, Unification and Home.
He said the church would seek to create similar parties in Japan and
the United States.
['Satanic Cults' Rumors] Justice in Guatemala Can Be Gasoline and a
Several factors lie behind the violence. The shared experience of
decades of war and the resulting breakdown in village leadership left
divisions and suspicions that set the stage for vigilante outbursts.
Several human rights advocates also said that fast-growing Evangelical
churches, whose preachers work independently in small congregations,
had frightened villagers about the dangers of satanic cults and
encouraged retribution with strict interpretations of Scriptures.
Such teachings by locally trained Guatemalan preachers, they said,
played a role in whipping up hysteria among the villagers of Todos
Santos, a western mountain village famous for its colorful textiles,
where a lynching in 2001 claimed the life of a Japanese tourist who
tried to photograph a child.
[Human Rights Violations, USA] Ex-FBI Chief, Judges Take Interest in
The case has attracted the attention of former FBI director William S.
Sessions who, joined by two retired federal appeals court judges and a
top former federal prosecutor, has asked the Supreme Court to stay
The intervention of four such prominent figures is the latest
high-level attack on alleged procedural and other flaws in the
practice of capital punishment in the United States. The critique is
particularly significant because it has been leveled in Texas, which
executes nearly as many convicts as all the other states combined and
has come under repeated attack as error-prone and dismissive of
[Jehovah's Witnesses] Oregon Family Killing Trial Opens
In police interrogations, Longo has claimed he was driven to murder by
financial problems and shame over being expelled from the Jehovah's
Witnesses for passing bad checks. According to investigators, Longo
said: ``I sent them to a better place.''
[Jehovah's Witnesses] Jehovah's Witness 'killed family out of shame'
Financial troubles and the shame of being thrown out of the Jehovah’s
Witnesses drove an Oregon man to murder his wife and three young
children and dump their bodies along the Pacific coast, a court was
Christian Longo has pleaded guilty to killing his wife and youngest
daughter, but has denied being responsible for the deaths of his two
March 10, 2003
[Christianity] Threat of war conjures visions of Armageddon
The site of this battle is the Plain of Megiddo in Israel, within easy
striking distance of Iraq, where an American war appears increasingly
likely. And so it isn't surprising to see biblical prophecy
conferences popping up or to hear a caller ask a local Christian radio
host, "Could this war in Iraq signal the beginning of Armageddon?"
Could it trigger the end of the world as we know it?
No, say a wide range of Bible scholars.
Even those fundamentalists who adhere to a very strict line of
end-times prophecy say more has to happen first.
[Mannatech] Sugar pill's claims sicken health groups
A sugar pill promoted as a treatment for Aids, cystic fibrosis and
Down's Syndrome is being peddled to vulnerable Kiwi families.
Doctors and support groups are alarmed that sufferers are being given
false hopes by the distributors of Ambrotose, a product with no
scientific evidence supporting its claims.
[Mannatech] Prosecution threat to sugar pill distributors
Ambrotose is made from eight sugars, aloe vera and vegetable extracts
and was developed by the Texas-based company Mannatech, which has an
"aid relief" arm called MannaRelief.
Mr Pratt will meet a company representative today to discuss the
He said the company had strict rules about what could be said about
the pills and he understood that if it was found people were breaching
company rules they would lose their distributorships.
[Mannatech] 'Shonky' sugar pill created by religious group
Canadian Eugene Fox, who sends out a MannaPrayer email to followers of
the group, claims on his website that Ambrotose helped his bowel
disease and his wife's arthritis.
"The Lord places a high value on our physical health.... The Lord
built Mannatech around an amazing discovery given through prayer to
the chief scientist, Dr Bill McAnalley. It's the plant-derived
glyconutrient complex (brand name Ambrotose)," Mr Fox said.
Mr Fox said Mannatech was established when founders Sam and Linda
Caster knelt with family members in a Texas living room and "gave
themselves to the Lord in a fresh commitment".
ApologeticsIndex.org / ReligionNewsBlog.com
Religion News Blog, March 12, 2003
[Shadowmancer] Move over, Harry Potter
Millions of children are waiting anxiously to get their hands on the
latest Harry Potter novel but a book written by a North Yorkshire
vicar could knock the teenage wizard off the top of the best seller
He's already had letters castigating him for promoting witchcraft in
the book but he dismisses the criticism as "nonsense". Shadowmancer is
informed by his Christianity and ultimately, good triumphs over evil.
[Islam / Islamism] Saudi form of Islam wars with moderates
Some Muslims say Wahhabism, the fundamentalist version of Islam
practiced in Saudi Arabia, is intent on stamping out all other sects.
[Atheism] Why I sued over the intrusion of 'under God' into the Pledge
of Allegiance. (By Michael Newdow)
More than anything, I've learned to truly appreciate the genius of the
constitutional democracy left to us by the founders. It's still
amazing to me that one individual can force the entire nation to at
least ponder the ideals upon which our laws rest.
[Christianity] Bible scholars rejoice at signs
Ever since Jesus said only God knows the hour or day of the Second
Coming, preachers and self-appointed prophets have been trying to
predict when it will happen — and watching the sun rise on another
Such talk bothers Craig Hill, professor of New Testament at Wesley
Theological Seminary in Washington and one of many biblical scholars
who say end-time interpreters distort Scripture to fit their own point
of view. Most claim to read the Bible “literally” yet take bits and
pieces from books written centuries apart under different
circumstances, he said.
[Falun Gong] Menlo Park man faces charges of sabotaging broadcasts in
A Chinese court said today it would put an American citizen on trial
later this month on charges of disrupting government television and
radio broadcasts -- accusations apparently related to his ties to the
banned Falun Gong spiritual movement.
[Hate Groups] Supremacist held on gun charges
A former leader of a white supremacist group is being held on weapons
charges after dozens of federal agents descended on his isolated
Dahlonega home to arrest him over the weekend.
Chester James Doles, once a local organizer of the National Alliance
and a longtime Ku Klux Klan activist, will remain in federal custody
at least until Wednesday, when prosecutors will ask that he be
detained until trial. Doles was charged with being a felon who
illegally possessed a number of rifles and handguns.
[Falun Gong] China officials vow to intensify cult crackdowns
China's top law enforcement officials promised redoubled efforts
yesterday to crush terrorists, ethnic separatists, Falun Gong
activists and others who they said threaten national security -- and,
just as importantly, economic progress.
[Falun Gong] Pitt researcher Xu fights to free wife
In November 2001, Jia was taken into custody because she distributed
information about Falun Gong and was put into the Beijing female labor
camp. Xu said he and their son had not seen her since October 2001,
when she left home to avoid being arrested.
[Satanism] Devil worshipping rumors rife among children
“They are convinced that devil worshippers are around the corner and
are waiting to kidnap them,” she said. “No matter what I tell them
they don’t believe me, because they hear their friends saying that
they saw a real devil worshipper on television, discussing what they
do in their meetings.”
Tele-Lumiere, a private Christian television station, aired a report
on devil worship last Sunday, and included a live testimony from an
alleged former devil worshipper, who described in detail the orgies
and bloody rituals she and her devil worshipping mates would partake
[Antisemitism] W.House Condemns Lawmaker's Remarks on Jews, Iraq
The White House, lawmakers of both parties and local Jewish groups on
Tuesday criticized a Democratic representative's remarks suggesting
that American Jews were responsible for the push for war with Iraq.
Rep. James Moran of Virginia told a church forum March 3 that if "it
were not for the strong support of the Jewish community for this war
with Iraq, we would not be doing this." He then suggested Jewish
leaders could prevent the war if they chose to. The remarks were later
reported by local papers.
[Jehovah's Witnesses] Longo prosecutors offer motive
Christian Longo murdered his wife and three children in December 2001
because he was tired of them and they were preventing him from living
a wilder lifestyle, a prosecutor argued at Longo's trial yesterday.
[Church / State] Church and state connected in most European countries
Religion and politics are far from being so strictly separated in the
European states as the political debate might lead one to believe,
writes Danish paper Kristeligt Dagblad on presenting the findings of
an extended research into the constitutions of 25 European countries.
The research shows that the state is entwined with the religious life
in the vast majority of the 25 EU countries – the fifteen EU member
states plus the ten acceding countries.
[House of Prayer] Pastor's Attorney Advises to Surrender
“The court might revoke his probation based on the fact he didn't
appear and violated his probation by failing to appear. But i would
advise him to come back and face the charges and face the issues,” he
If convicted of probation violations, Allen could face up to 10 years
in prison. David Duncan could face eight years and Sharon Duncan could
face up to five.
March 11, 2003 (Continued..._
[Human Rights] Milestone in international justice
The swearing in of 18 judges at the International Criminal Court in
The Hague marks the court's official inauguration on Tuesday. Many of
the 139 signatory states sent delegates to the ceremony, attended by
Queen Beatrix and UN Chief Kofi Annan. Noticeably absent was the
United States, which has boycotted the tribunal and left the bill for
its running with European and other Western nations.
NOTE: Listen to the comments of Benjamin Ferencz, one of the original
Nuremberg prosecutors, who - correctly - states that the current
administration has "deceived" the American public with regard to the
[House of Prayer] Atlanta Pastor Declared a Fugitive
State officials said the pastor of the controversial church violated
his parole and then failed to show up in court to explain why. The
three convicts could now face up to 10 years in prison.
Last year, Allen was convicted on several charges, including spanking
children in a way that Division of Family and Children Services
(DFACS) considered abuse.
Allen, along with David and Sharon Duncan, spent weeks in jail before
returning to the controversial church.
[Chrysalis] Program lets inmates find God in different ways
Dubbed "Chrysalis" - the last stage in a butterfly's development - the
program was created by Etter for her thesis project at Hartford
Seminary as an alternative to traditional residential programs taught
from a Christian perspective.
"What happened in most faith-based programs was basically Christian,"
said the Rev. Anthony Bruno, director of Religious Services for the
state Department of Correction. "To have something that expands to the
true minority religions, and have them participate, that's the
[Santeria] Santeria, intrigue surround alleged hit man murder case
Even after the divorce, he kept sending her flowers. Constantly, he'd
call her and pass by her house at night.
Then he started leaving brujeria, black magic, at her door. On one day
it was coconuts, on another an egg, the next a headless chicken with a
burned note in a paper bag.
The last thing he sent her, police say, was a hit man with bullets in
[Human Rights Violations, USA] War tribunal starts without U.S.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Congress has enacted legislation giving the
president power to use "all means necessary" to free any Americans the
court takes into custody. The new law is jokingly referred to as the
"Invasion of The Hague Act."
Tuesday's ceremony won't be without an unofficial American presence,
The man who signed the treaty on behalf of the United States, former
war crimes ambassador David Scheffer, is attending.
Scheffer told The Associated Press he was "very disappointed"
Washington wasn't participating and was forfeiting its chance to take
a leadership role in world justice.
Likewise, Benjamin Ferencz, a war crimes prosecutor for the United
States at Nuremberg, is attending. Ferencz, 82, also has raised his
voice against Washington's stance.
"The current leadership in the United States seems to have forgotten
the lessons we tried to teach the rest of the world," Ferencz wrote on
his Web site.
Richard Dicker, international justice expert at Human Rights Watch,
said the inauguration of the first 18 judges would help to thwart U.S.
efforts to undermine the court.
"The judges' inauguration makes this court more unstoppable than
ever," Dicker told the AP.
[Islam] Saudi defense minister says churches will never be allowed in
Sultan said that foreigners have been allowed to worship freely in
their homes since they began arriving in Saudi Arabia in 1951 but
permitting a church in the country "would affect Islam and all
ApologeticsIndex.org / ReligionNewsBlog.com
Religion News Blog, March 13, 2003
[Islam] To be a Muslim - and a Marylander
After such reports, Maryland's Islamic communities say they consider
it part of their mission to educate non-Muslim neighbors about who
they are - and who they are not.
Dr. Mohammad Haq, a Waynesboro, Pa., physician who is active in the
Hagerstown-area Islamic community, said that when he sees broadcasts
of Osama bin Laden, "I say that this is a man who gave opportunity to
the enemies of Islam to damage this faith. He is the man who hijacked
our religion and gave a bad name to a peaceful religion."
Haq, originally from Pakistan, says terrorists are to Muslims what the
Ku Klux Klan is to Christians.
[Catholic Church] Judge orders Catholic leader's testimony
Auxiliary Bishop Agustín Román, one of the highest-ranking local
Catholic leaders, must give a pretrial deposition within 60 days about
alleged abuse by two other priests, said Miami-Dade Circuit Judge
The ruling puts intense pressure on the archdiocese, which is trying
to fend off 20 molestation lawsuits -- including this case filed last
year by a former altar boy, who claimed he was abused by two Catholic
priests three decades ago.
[UFOs] Call to honour space aliens
Dan Foley, a Republican from Roswell, New Mexico, the area where some
say aliens landed, proposed an "Extra-terrestrial Culture Day" every
second Thursday in February.
Mr Foley asked for the bill "in recognition of the many visitations,
sightings, unexplained mysteries and technological advances... of
alien beings" in New Mexico.
[Mennonites] Midwife Headed To Jail For Religious Beliefs
On Friday, Miller will go back to jail to finish her sentence for not
telling a grand jury who gave her the prescription drugs she used to
stop a woman from bleeding after delivering the woman's baby more than
a year ago.
Miller, who is Mennonite, strongly believes that giving the name would
violate religious beliefs. "Because I have convictions -- religious
convictions -- not to harm somebody else," she said. "If I did that, I
wouldn't be true to my convictions."
Midwives are not licensed to give drugs, so a judge found her in
contempt of court when she wouldn't tell who gave her the
[Islam] Muslims could be mistakenly eating pork
Muslims may be unwittingly eating pig DNA because processed chicken is
not properly labelled, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) says.
Islam forbids the eating of pork and Muslims look for the label
"Halal" on food to see whether they can eat it. "Halal" is an Arabic
word for lawful.
Twelve out of 25 samples of chicken from EU plants were found to
contain pork traces. Eleven of these were marked "Halal".
[Polygamy] Man charged with unlawful sex with minors
A Colorado City polygamist was charged with five criminal counts
alleging he had unlawful sex with teenage girls who became his wives,
according to prosecutors and court records.
A complaint filed Feb. 27 in Mohave County Superior Court alleges
Orson William Black Jr. had sexual relations with Roberta LeAnn Stubbs
when she was 15 to 17 years old. Black faces similar charges involving
Roberta's sister, Beth M. Stubbs.
[AUM Shinrikyo] Asahara silently snatches air during gas attack trial
Court questioning of Shoko Asahara, the AUM Shinrikyo cult guru
indicted over the lethal gassing of Tokyo subways in 1995, began on
Thursday with Asahara ignoring his lawyers' questions and suddenly
snatching at the air around him.
[Hate Groups : Scientology] High Court urged not to inquire into
The High Court has been urged not to engage in a "wholly impermissible
type of religious discrimination" by permitting an inquiry into the
truth or falsity of the Church of Scientology's religious claims.
For the court to admit evidence from a psychologist which was critical
of the practice of auditing - described as the core and single most
important way in which Scientologists profess and practise their
religious belief - would be akin to conducting a judicial inquiry into
the legitimacy of the Sacrament of the Mass in Roman Catholicism, it
was argued. This was impermissible under the constitutional guarantee
of the free profession and practise of religion.
In submissions on behalf of the church, it was argued Scientology had
been recognised as a religion by many governments worldwide, and must
be treated the same as any other religion here.
NOTE: Inquiring into the truth of falsity of religious claims is not
akin to 'religious discrimination':
Even the Jehovah's Witnesses, a cult of Christianity acknowledge this:
Can there be false religion? It is not a form of religious persecution
for anyone to say and to show that another religion is false. It is
not religious persecution for an informed person to expose publicly a
certain religion as being false, thus allowing persons to see the
difference between false religion and true religion.
- The Watchtower (Official publication of Jehovah's Witnesses),
November 15, 1963, p. 688
[Word of Faith Fellowship] Stepmother gets her son from WOFF
A 6-year-old boy was removed from a home at The Word of Faith
Fellowship on Tuesday after his father and stepmother petitioned a
judge for custody.
It came nearly 12 hours after a judge ordered the sheriff to take the
child into custody and deliver him to his stepmother.
The removal also came after an attorney representing the child's aunt,
who is a member of Word of Faith Fellowship and had physical custody
of the child, contacted a judge seeking an emergency stay of the
judgment, but opted not to seek the order.
The boy is the nephew of Gene Worley of Forest City who is currently
embroiled in a legal battle with his estranged wife Denise Worley over
custody of their three children.
[Amway] Once-barred Amway becomes booming business in China
The store -- and about 100 other Amway outlets across China -- is part
of a strategy the company has used to bounce back from the
business-world equivalent of a death sentence: Its longtime sales
model, which relies on independent sales representatives selling door
to door and deriving income from their recruits' sales, was declared
illegal five years ago by a Chinese government directive that lumped
direct sellers like Amway with illegal pyramid schemes.
"Never take for granted that people will understand your business
model," says Eva Cheng, chairman of Amway (China) Co. Ltd. "You need
to be in aggressive communication mode all the time."
[Hate Crimes] FBI says war could lead to hate crimes against Muslims,
Arabs in U.S.
U.S. war with Iraq or another terrorist attack could trigger a wave
of hate crimes against Muslims and Arab-Americans in the United
States, the FBI said Wednesday.
The FBI, in its weekly bulletin to 18,000 state and local law
enforcement agencies, said most such attacks have been "isolated acts
directed at targets of opportunity" rather than the result of a
broader conspiracy against specific ethnic groups.
The crimes have included murders, attempted murders, assaults and
arson against mosques, Arab-owned businesses and Islamic centers.
[Human Rights Violations, USA] Supreme Court Stops 300th Texas
The Supreme Court on Wednesday stopped Texas from executing its 300th
inmate since capital punishment resumed in the United States in 1977,
granting a dramatic last-minute stay to condemned killer Delma Banks.
Banks' claims that he was wrongly convicted of a murder 23 years ago
were backed by three former federal judges.
[Iglesia ni Cristo] Police dismiss cult links in massacre
Police looking into the Tuesday morning massacre of four Iglesia ni
Cristo members in Upper Batinguel, dismissed speculations that the
killer could have been a member of a cult or a satanic group.
[Hate Groups] Duke sentenced to 15 months and $10,000 fine under plea
Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke got the sentence agreed to in a
plea bargain on a tax and a mail fraud charge - 15 months in prison
and a $10,000 fine.
Duke, 52, must report to prison by noon April 15; the Federal Bureau
of Prisons will decide which prison, U.S. Attorney Jim Letten said
In brief comments to reporters after his sentencing, Duke said he
would speak more freely about the investigation and charges against
him after his release from prison in 2004.
"When I'm out of the jaws of the federal government I'll have a lot to
say," Duke said, accompanied by two daughters and a granddaughter.
[Hate Groups : Scientology] Copyright law for the digital age is
Let's admit it -- we made a mistake. It seemed like a good idea at the
time, but we screwed up. It's time to make things right and repeal the
Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
In March 2002, the Church of Scientology used the DMCA to pressure
Google and other search engines to remove links to sites critical of
the church. Scientology claimed that these sites contained copyrighted
material and that Google was helping to provide people with access to
them. The DMCA is structured such that Google faced a huge legal
liability if the links were not removed immediately.
I'm sure you see the pattern here. The DMCA is used by large
organizations to shut down individuals or small companies doing
anything they don't like. There have, in fact, been few actual
lawsuits. The DMCA is used primarily to threaten. Since the law is
weighted overwhelmingly in favor of the copyright holder, defending
oneself against it is extremely expensive and risky.
[Human Rights Violations, Morocco] Moroccan Court Grants Bail for
Heavy Metal Fans
Defense lawyer Mahfoud Billeh said on Wednesday the 11 were freed on
Tuesday night by the Casablanca court pending hearing of appeals
against sentences of between one and six months.
They were convicted on March 6 under laws covering distribution of
written or visual material which "undermines good morals" and "making
people listen, with bad intent, to songs which contravene good morals
or incite debauchery."
The three refused bail were sentenced to a year in prison for
"employing seductive methods with the aim of undermining the faith of
[Mungiki] 700 'Mungiki' sect member surrender
More than 700 Mungiki followers have surrendered following a state
amnesty as the government maintained the hunt for the outlawed sect's
coordinator Ndura Waruinge continues.
Internal Security Minister Chris Murungaru today said those who gave
themselves up to the police had been bonded to keep the peace, and
released back to the community.
[Deepak Chopra] 'Mickey Mouse Peace Plan' urged
A Middle Eastern Disney World would ensure lasting peace in Iraq by
easing fear and anger among children, according to Dr. Deepak Chopra,
an American self-help guru, the National Post reported yesterday.
The idea is one of 10 suggestions Chopra outlines in an essay that is
to appear today in several European newspapers. He also suggests free
access to CNN news and MTV music videos would encourage Iraqis, who
face the imminent threat of a U.S.-led attack to unseat their
president, Saddam Hussein, to "feel like part of the world."
ApologeticsIndex.org / ReligionNewsBlog.com
Religion News Blog, March 14, 2003
[World Ministries Church] Body's morgue stay lengthens
More than two months after his estimated date of death, James W.
Killeen has yet to be cremated or buried.
Eleanor Killeen's telephone has been disconnected. Family members say
her involvement with a religious group called World Ministries led her
to pray with other group members over Killeen's dead body for three
weeks, believing it would be resurrected.
The local leader of World Ministries, Stan A. Bennett, operates a
retreat center in Sahuarita. When a photographer and a reporter
visited the compound last week, Bennett asked them to leave. He said
he would not talk about World Ministries, nor would he speak about
accusations from Killeen's brother and sister that the group is a
[Sikhism] Sikh leader to pray for his 3 accusers
An internationally renowned Sikh religious leader has filed documents
in B.C. Supreme Court offering his prayers for three dissident members
of a Richmond congregation who want him deposed for misappropriating
Harnek Singh Grewal, 65, vehemently denies charges that he used
hundreds of thousands of dollars donated to the Nanaksar
Gurdwara-Gursikh Temple Society for personal use.
[Brian Mitchell] Relatives Recall Kidnapping Suspects' Downward Spiral
In their early years, Brian D. Mitchell had been a jewelry designer
and Wanda Barzee an accomplished pianist who knew Tchaikovsky and
Beethoven and once played the Mormon Tabernacle Choir organ. They met
at their Mormon church. He was in drug rehabilitation for a heroin
problem, two of Ms. Barzee's sons said yesterday.
Then Mr. Mitchell began hearing voices, his stepson Mark Thompson
recalled in an interview yesterday. "He said prophets were starting to
talk to him," Mr. Thompson said. "They told him to sell all his
worldly possessions, and he did."
And so began, as Mr. Thompson and his brother, Derrick, described it,
a downward spiral for the couple.
[Brian Mitchell] Smart Was Forced to Depend on Captors
Frightened at first by her abduction at knifepoint, Elizabeth was
forced to depend on her captors during her nine-month disappearance,
authorities said. When found by police, the 15-year-old vehemently
denied her identity when asked if she was Elizabeth Smart and told
officers that the couple she was with were her parents.
"There is clearly a psychological impact that occurred at some point,"
Police Chief Rick Dinse said. "There is no question that she was
[Brian Mitchell] Teenage girl kidnapped by fanatic 'to be his child
Newspapers reported that police believed that the heavily bearded
Mitchell wanted Elizabeth to be his second wife.
"It was a religious thing," the police source said. "This guy just
wanted another wife and God told him this was the one."
[Brian Mitchell] Smart Might Have Been A Perfect Victim To Fall Prey
Those who study cults say Elizabeth small was the perfect victim:
smart, attractive and soft spoken.
Shirley Landa, who has been a cult fighter for almost 30 years, told
KOMO 4 News: "She's a very obedient little girl, came from a wonderful
family. She's going to do what she's told to protect her family."
Landa believes the suspected abductor, Brian Mitchell, threatened the
girl's family and Elizabeth believed him.
NOTE: Landa was the CAN volunteer who referred Jason Scott's mother to
Rick Ross - an act that figured prominently in the trial charade
against the real Cult Awareness Network. Scientology subsequently
gained control over CAN, and turned it into a hate group. See:
[Brian Mitchell] Captors likely controlled Utah teen, experts say
The experts said that Mitchell, an excommunicated Mormon who saw
himself as a prophet to the homeless, may have brainwashed Smart, as
her father has said. Or she may have experienced what psychologists
call the "Stockholm syndrome," a reaction in which prisoners begin to
identify and sympathize with their captors. Patricia Hearst, the
heiress who participated in a 1974 bank robbery with her kidnappers,
is the best-known example of this.
Another possibility is that Smart was simply paralyzed by fear.
Steven Hassan, a Cambridge, Mass., mental health counselor who is both
a former cult member and anti-cult crusader, believes that Elizabeth
Smart was more likely the victim of active brainwashing than of the
Stockholm syndrome, which is an unintentional identification with the
"This is really a case where she was completely dependent on them for
an extended period of time," he said.
She was subjected to a combination of fear, isolation and intense
control over every aspect of her life. Even her clothing was changed
as she was made to wear a white robe and veil, he said. All that works
to weaken a sense of identity.
"I believe that she was a victim of a cultlike, mind-control process,"
[Brian Mitchell] Police Say Smart Girl Mentally Joined Captors
Elizabeth Smart was taken against her will at knife-point from Salt
Lake City home nine months ago but at some point in her captivity she
"psychologically" joined her captors, police and family members said
The chief said Elizabeth was held against her will for two months in a
remote mountain campsite and later became "psychologically affected"
by Mitchell and her other captor, Mitchell's wife Wanda Barzee. That
attachment prevented her from escaping when she might have had the
Asked why Elizabeth had not tried to escape from the street preacher
and his wife held on suspicion of kidnapping her, Dinse said; "There
was clearly a psychological impact that occurred at some point. There
is no question she was psychologically affected by this group."
March 13, 2003 (Continued)
[Alternative Healing] Cameroon bans urine 'remedy'
The Cameroon health minister has deemed it necessary to warn people
that drinking urine may not be good for your health.
Urbain Olanguena Awono has even warned that those who advocate
drinking urine risk prosecution.
He was moved to speak after a wave of interest in "urinotherapy".
[Brian Mitchell] Kidnapped teenager reunited with parents
Elizabeth Smart was snatched from her home in Salt Lake City by a
self-styled prophet for the homeless, who wanted to take her as a
[Brian Mitchell] Elizabeth May Have Been Taken to Be a Replacement
Mitchell, 49, attended Skyline High School in the 1970s, was a
devout member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,
married and fathered four children.
Then things fell apart.
He and his wife divorced, and in the late 1980s, Mitchell married
Wanda Ilene Barzee, who had several children of her own. Barzee's
daughter, Louree Gayler, was 12 at the time, and her new stepfather
made her uncomfortable.
"He was kissing and holding me the wrong way," Gayler said Wednesday.
"But he never molested me because he wanted to see his other kids."
Gayler says she endured the situation for three years, then went to
live with her father.
Mitchell may have kidnapped Elizabeth to "give my mom back something
she lost," Gayler said. "Elizabeth resembles me at 15."
Gayler's brother, Mark Thompson, a 32-year-old construction worker in
Salt Lake City, agrees.
[Hate Groups : Scientology] Scientology case settled out of court
A High Court action for damages by a Dublin sports shop owner against
the Church of Scientology has ended after out of court talks.
The case taken by Mary Johnston was expected to last until May.
However, Mr Justice Peart was told at lunchtime today that the case
appeared to be settled.
No details of the settlement were disclosed but costs in the action
are estimated to be around €2 million.
NOTE: This is not the first time the cult has settled. See, for
example, the case of Scientology's hate campaign(!) against Bonnie
Note, specifically, the cult's full apology in court:
and its PR spin out of court:
[AUM Shinrikyo] Asahara maintains his silence
At a news conference after the day's session, victims of Aum's attacks
and their families said it was regrettable that Asahara did not speak.
Shizue Takahashi, whose husband died in the subway attack, asked,
"Does this man realize whose trial it is?" It's a waste of time to
hold any more sessions."
However, Hiroyuki Nagaoka, who represents a group of people whose
family members have become cult followers and was himself attacked by
cultists using deadly VX gas, said: "Even now, youths are being lured
into the cult by smooth-talking cult executives. To save such people,
I strongly ask Asahara to say just one thing in the end -- that he was
[AUM Shinrikyo] Aum leader Matsumoto stays silent at 251st hearing
Aum Supreme Truth leader Chizuo Matsumoto remained silent during a
hearing Thursday at the Tokyo District Court as defense lawyers
attempted to question him for the first time since his trial over the
sarin gas attacks began in January 1998.
The hearing adjourned after less than an hour. If Matsumoto still
refuses to speak at two upcoming hearings, the prosecution is likely
to close their arguments and make demands for Matsumoto's punishment.
[Elizabeth Smart] Why Did She Not Escape?
Based on similar cases, one expert said it is likely fear or
psychological pressure kept the 15-year-old from making an escape --
that she experienced Stockholm syndrome or another psychological
reaction that made her believe escape was impossible because of
mystical or overt forces.
"We have no idea what psychological or pressure manipulations he used
with her," said Janja Lalich, a sociology professor at California
State University, Chico, and author of Captive Hearts, Captive Minds
and co-author with Margaret Singer of Cults in Our Midst.
Still, she said, past experiences show that "when you are removed from
your normal environment and kept confined in some way, which we know
[Elizabeth] must have been at the beginning, you can enter a very
distorted reality," said Lalich. "If they are good at what they do,
they use a punishment/reward system. It doesn't take much for your
reality to shift."
That reality, Lalich said, is governed by fear and works to keep a
captive in check, even in public settings. "You can't figure out how
to [leave] rather than you don't want to," Lalich said, adding that
Elizabeth's youth could also have been a factor.
NOTE: Mercifully, cult apologists like J. Gordon Melton - who
passionately disclaims brainwashing and/or mind control theories -
have not yet been heard to comment on this case.
[Brian Mitchell] Man found with Smart known as drifter
Mitchell was a downtown fixture, frequently seen wearing white pants,
a robe-like tunic and a brimless white hat that resembles a puffy
turban or baker's toque. One of the photos provided to law enforcement
shows him in such a hat.
He often was seen panhandling and preaching to the homeless in
downtown Salt Lake City before Elizabeth's disappearance last June.
[Brian Mitchell re: Elizabeth Smart] Mitchell was odd, familiar figure
The Mitchells met at a group therapy session, according to Wanda's
mother, Dora Corbett. "They used to be temple workers (for the LDS
Church). But something happened, and I don't know what. They quit
going to church." A dozen years ago, Mitchell began having
"revelations," eventually changing his name to Emmanuel, Hebrew for
"God is here."
Derrick Thompson said his stepfather told him he had taken "10 hits of
LSD and talked to God out in the desert" several years ago. "They said
they weren't on drugs, but we think that was a lie. We think that's
how he could communicate with God. That and listen to the Steve Miller
The Mitchells also got involved in "patriot" groups opposed to paying
income taxes, and later became followers of survivalist guru Bo Gritz,
according to Corbett. "Then all of a sudden they decided to buy a
fifth-wheel trailer and they went up to Idaho where this Bo Gritz
When they didn't get along with Gritz and his other followers they
left Idaho, sold the fifth-wheel, sold all their worldly possessions,
"and went off across the United States" as vagrants.
ApologeticsIndex.org / ReligionNewsBlog.com
Religion News Blog, March 14, 2003
[Christianity] Dean attacks theistic relativism
The new Dean of Sydney's Anglican Cathedral, St. Andrews, made a
striking debut this weekend.
In his inaugural sermon at the cathedral, Dean Phillip Jensen -
brother to the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Dr. Peter Jensen -
attacked what he sees as excessive relativism in the media treatment
of Hinduism, Judaism, Islam and Christianity.
[Christianity] No sacred cows in dean's tirade
.b On Friday night, the 11th Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen,
installed his brother, the Reverend Phillip Jensen, as the 11th Dean
of Sydney. To mark the occasion, the new Jensen in the cathedral
delivered a broadside attack on secularism, religious tolerance,
political correctness and the media in a 40-minute sermon which ended
in spontaneous applause from some quarters of the cathedral.
What started as a declaration of love for Sydney and the Sydney
Anglican diocese soon progressed into an argument outlining why the
world's religions are mutually incompatible. More than half an hour
later, Mr Jensen turned his wrath on the media, its hypocrisy and the
way it sought to censor Christianity out of public discourse. He went
so far as to prophesise his own crucifixion at the media's hands.
"If one view is right the others must be wrong. We must stop the
stupidity of stretching social tolerance into religious or
philosophical relativism," he said.
He dismissed suggestions that his comments might inflame religious
"All I'm saying is that both [Christianity and Islam] cannot be right.
That's not attacking Islam, that's just saying the truth."
[Christianity] Outrage over dean's hostility to other faiths
The new Anglican Dean of Sydney has been accused of insensitivity,
provocation and offensive intolerance after his strident defence of
Religious organisations across the community yesterday railed against
the Reverend Phillip Jensen's provocative comments, which included
saying that Australia had stretched the idea of tolerance to the point
He told the congregation at his installation in St Andrew's cathedral
on Friday that "some or all" religions were wrong and if wrong were
"the monstrous lies and deceits of Satan devised to destroy the life
of the believers".
Critics believe that his views were clearly aimed at all religions
other than his own.
The Catholic Church's Sister Marianne Dacy, who is the national
secretary of the Australian Council of Christians and Jews, said the
dean's comments were anathema to interfaith dialogue.
"He is totally out of tune in today's era of reconciliation between
different religions," she said. "It is quite upsetting to hear a view
like that expressed by such a prominent churchman."
Keysar Trad, spokesman for the Lebanese Muslim Association, said he
received several messages from prominent Christian leaders yesterday,
distancing themselves from Mr Jensen's comments.
NOTE: It is a serious sign of the time when people who identify
themselves as Christians apparently do not understand or accept the
exclusive nature of Christianity.
[Christianity] Will the real God please give us a sign
Jensen's assertion that Christianity holds an exclusive claim on truth
is hardly new, and such a claim about Islam would not sound out of
place in a mosque, or about Judaism in a synagogue. So what was it
about his sermon that had much of Sydney crying foul and wondering who
else might be on his hit list?
Professor Wayne Hudson, director of the Centre for Advanced Studies in
the Humanities at Griffith University, Brisbane, says Jensen should
not be dismissed as a scholarly lightweight or fundamentalist zealot.
And he agrees with Jensen that conservative Christians aren't fairly
heard in public debate.
It is not so much what Jensen is saying that is offensive, Hudson
argues, but the way he says it: "He blurs the facts in an unscholarly
way ... he says true things in a way that is not consistent with the
best standards of religious citizenship in Australia, because he does
not exercise intellectual respect towards others he does not agree
Given Jensen's position as Dean of Sydney, says Hudson, the right to
publicly assert his religious beliefs comes together with the duty to
acquire a reasonable understanding of the world's other great
religions, which he clearly does not possess.
"He talks about other religions [in] the way Catholics and Protestants
talked about each other in Australia in the 1950s," says Hudson. "His
take on Islam and Hinduism is monstrous. It's grotesque. It does not
represent what contemporary scholars will say."
The Reverend Dr John Woodhouse is principal of Moore Theological
College - Sydney's training ground for Anglican priests and Jensen's
alma mater. Woodhouse insists that Jensen was not, in his sermon,
attacking other religions. If anything, he was taking other beliefs
seriously enough to evaluate.
"To insist that all religions are equally true, even if they
contradict one another, is a trivialisation of religious claims," says
Woodhouse. "If the Koran says that Jesus lived but did not die, and
the Christian Bible says that he lived and did die, anyone who
respects both religions can investigate whether one or the other or
neither is right at this point. But to say that both religions are
equally true is disguised disrespect.
"It means that what they are both saying is not important enough to
seriously consider ... Religious belief cannot be reduced to pure
Jensen, Woodhouse says, has criticised the secularist trivalising of
religion and the resulting censorship of intelligent religious
discussion in the media. "Much of the reporting of his criticism has
confirmed its truth," he says.
[Sikhism] City Sikhs mum on B.C. case
It was unclear yesterday how a legal battle raging in British Columbia
will impact on the Edmonton construction of the biggest Sikh temple in
Members of the Nanaksar Gurdwara-Gursikh Temple Society in B.C. are
trying to get their spiritual leader deposed because of alleged
misappropriation of funds.
[Hate Groups] Woman convicted in plot to bomb Jewish landmarks tells
judge: 'I have a lot of shame'
Chase was sentenced to four years and nine months in prison Thursday.
U.S. District Judge Nancy Gertner told her: "I hope you do something
with the rest of your life to make up for what you came close to
In July, a federal jury convicted Chase and her former boyfriend, Leo
Felton, 32, of several charges, including conspiring to make a bomb in
what prosecutors described as a scheme to foment "racial holy war."
[Elizabeth Smart] Interviews With Patricia Hearst; Friends, Members of
LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, Elizabeth Smart's miraculous return and
her ordeal. We'll speak with members of the Smart family and they'll
tell us how Elizabeth's doing and what she's had to say about what she
Plus, the Smart's family's bishop, Bishop David Hamblin of the Mormon
Church. He prayed with the Smarts and counseled them through nine
months of agony.
But first: exclusive. Patricia Hearst, the most famous kidnap victim
of our time, will give us an idea of what captivity may have been like
[Brainwashing] A Search for Answers: Has Elizabeth Become A
Police and her family said Elizabeth was psychologically traumatized
-- even brainwashed -- by the homeless couple now in custody for her
"I have no doubt about that," said Ed Smart, Elizabeth's father. "I
have no doubt that she feared for her life when she left [her
Experts are putting a name to Elizabeth's behavior while in captivity
-- Stockholm Syndrome, in which victims become emotionally attached to
and allied with their captors. Experts also are drawing comparisons
with another well-known kidnap victim: Patricia Hearst.
"People are in disbelief that she couldn't have run to a phone and
gotten help," said Doug Goldsmith, director of The Children's Center,
a counseling service in Salt Lake City. "That's a misunderstanding of
the tremendous psychological trauma of being held hostage in a
situation like she was in."
NOTE: Thus far we have fortunately been spared comments from cult
apologists like J. Gordon Melton on how brainwashing does, in his
opinion(!) not exist. And mercifully, we have not yet heard him or
other cult defenders proclaim Elizabeth Smart a liar (as Melton does
with apostates). Authorities, media professionals and others would be
wise not to accept Melton's views. Instead, see:
- on apostates
- on brainwashing
[Brainwashing] Authorities Examine Bond Between Teen and Captors
When officers approached the teen, Sandy Officer Bill O'Neal said,
"she kind of just blurted out, `I know who you think I am. You guys
think I'm that Elizabeth Smart girl who ran away.'"
Smart told police her name was "Augustine" and that her cheap black
sunglasses protected her eyes while they healed from surgery. When
they asked why she wore a wig and T-shirt for a head scarf, she became
"Her heart was beating so hard you could see it through her chest,"
Handcuffed and loaded into a separate police car from Mitchell and
Barzee for the ride to the station, Smart began to cry.
"We kept telling her, do this for your family, do this for yourself.
Do the right thing _ we know you're Elizabeth Smart," said Sergeant
Smart responded with a biblical quote, "Thou sayest."
[Brainwashing] Teenager's recovery likely to take months
Lippert said that initially kidnapped children may feel euphoric, but
that may be followed by sadness as they realize the impact of their
Typically, victims in high-profile cases are overstimulated by
attention from the media, law enforcement and friends and neighbors,
Lippert said. They appear vulnerable and may want to talk about it as
a way of being helpful, recalling small details about their abduction.
"That is an abduction survival strategy," Lippert said. "It gives them
something to help out with. They might want to give precise
descriptions of where they were held, how they determined day from
Another survival strategy, she said, is continuing the same compliant
behavior employed during the abduction. Victims learn that they need
to comply with orders from their captors to escape alive, and children
might continue that behavior after they are freed, Lippert said.
Details of Elizabeth Smart's ordeal have not yet been made public, but
some observers say it appears she might have been frightened into
complying with her kidnapper. Her father has referred to
Reports that Elizabeth appeared in public with her alleged kidnapper,
Brian David Mitchell, without trying to escape may indicate she
suffered from Stockholm Syndrome, a common malady of hostages,
according to Douglas Goldsmith, a Salt Lake City child psychologist.
[Brainwashing] Could Elizabeth Smart be a victim of brainwashing?
Was Elizabeth Smart - the Utah teen-ager snatched from her bedroom
last June, then remarkably rescued Wednesday - brainwashed into
staying with her captors?
Her father, Ed Smart, said Thursday he knows "that she's been through
brainwashing," though he has not asked his daughter for details about
her nine-month ordeal.
The American view of mind control is more sensational than clinical.
The public tends to remember how attorney F. Lee Bailey defended
heiress Patty Hearst in the 1970s, claiming she was brainwashed into
joining her kidnappers in their crime spree.
But where, exactly, did he get the idea?
[Brain Mitchell] Family suspects girl afflicted with captive syndrome
As this city expressed overwhelming gratitude to their God and their
community for the safe return of Elizabeth Smart, a sobering reality
was setting in: Elizabeth is not the same girl she used to be.
Her family believes the 15-year-old girl, allegedly abducted by a
religious fanatic who had done minor maintenance work on their home,
"I have no doubt about that," her father, Ed Smart, said Thursday
During the nine months she is believed to have been under the control
of Brian David Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Ilene Barzee, the girl
apparently never reached out for help even though she appeared
frequently in public with the couple.
"She was psychologically impacted by this abduction," said Salt Lake
City Police Chief Rick Dinse. Mitchell and Barzee remained in custody
on suspicion of aggravated kidnapping.
[Brian Mitchell] Polygamy implied
Relatives of Elizabeth Smart said Thursday that authorities had shared
information with them indicating that the suspect in the girl's
9-month disappearance was a polygamist.
The information has led some family members to conclude that Elizabeth
might have been kidnapped to be a wife.
Tom Smart also suggested another possible motive: that Elizabeth was
kidnapped because Mitchell's wife, Wanda Barzee, wanted a daughter.
[Brainwashing] Local woman can relate to Smart's alleged brainwashing
Portlander Donna Grobey understands what its like to totally turn
one’s self over to the power of others. “You know I started out as
Donna, but I became what they wanted me to be,” says Grobey about her
experience with a cult.
For three years in the late 1980's, Grobey was part of a religious
cult in New York City . She lived with the cult group, giving them all
of her money. The cult controlled her time, who she dated, and
discouraged her from contacting family or anyone else outside the
group. Grobey says she stayed nearly three years out of fear. “Well in
my particular group, if I left my church I was going to hell. So I
wasn't going to go anywhere, I was scared to death.”
[Infinity Forms of Yellow Remember] Watchdog in sniff round 'miracle'
A cult which offers wands and waters as miracle cures for ailments
including cancer has come under the scrutiny of Tasmania's Office of
Consumer Affairs and Fair Trading.
The group, which calls itself Infinity Forms of Yellow Remember, has
been operating in Tasmania for at least three years.
Late last year, it fell foul of New South Wales' fair trading laws and
was ordered to change its marketing, after it agreed bottles of water
it was selling as a miracle cure for a minimum of $40 were in fact
ordinary distilled water.
[Hate Groups : Scientology] City forces halfway houses to shut down
One of those landlords is a real estate investor and a Scientologist,
who, 23 years ago, was involved in one of the darkest chapters of
Scientology history. Richard Weigand, 56, was one of nine
Scientologists convicted of conspiring to conceal the theft of
government documents related to the church.
[Hate Groups : Scientology] Psychologist says church appeared to use
A woman who is suing the Church of Scientology appeared to have been
hypnotised while undergoing an auditing session by a member of the
church, a psychologist told the High Court yesterday. Ms Mary Johnston
appeared to have been subjected to "very curious" and "not very good"
Dr Peter Naish, a chartered psychologist who has written extensively
on hypnosis, said it was his view Ms Johnston was very susceptible to
NOTE: On the same day that this item was reported, the cult settled
out of court for a reported €2 million. Earlier, the cult's lawyer
had tried to block Mr. Naish's testimony. Though Scientology is known
for its abuse of the legal system, the hate group also has settled
many cases in which publicity might damage its business operation when
experts properly evaluate its products and services.
ApologeticsIndex.org / ReligionNewsBlog.com
Religion News Blog, Mar. 17, 2003
March 17, 2003
[Offbeat News] Big stink in Lithuania over toilet-paper Rasputin
Lithuanian President Rolandas Paksas stirred up a media storm over his
faith in a mystic who wraps people in toilet paper to cure their ills.
Paksas' claim to be a ``believer'' in mystic Lena Lolisvili has
sparked uproar in the Catholic former Soviet country, which is
sensitive about its image abroad after being invited to join the
European Union and NATO in 2004.
[Erich von Daniken] 'Prophet' opens theme park for our alien heritage
In a few weeks, on a massive site outside Interlaken in Switzerland,
Von Daniken's Mystery Park - containing recreations of major
'extra-terrestrial works' that include Stonehenge, the Pyramids of
Egypt, the Mayan temples, and others - will open to visitors at a cost
of £22 a head.
[Hate Groups] Aryan Nations plans June march in Coeur d’Alene
The June events are intended “to show our enemies that we have not
left North Idaho,” Butler said.
Butler said he hoped to attract 100 to 200 participants from various
white supremacist and anti-Semitic groups to the congress.
They include people from the White Aryan Resistance, the National
Alliance and the Ku Klux Klan.
[Polygamy] Women campaign against polygamy
A coalition of 12 Malaysian women's groups yesterday launched a
campaign against polygamy following recent moves by some states to
ease restrictions for Muslim men to take a second wife.
[Islamism] Dutch Jews concerned as Muslims form extremist group in
An anti-Semitic Belgian Muslim organization is spreading its influence
in Holland, where it plans to run in local elections.
The Arab European League was established in Belgium in 2000 to
“strengthen Arab and Muslim identity” and fight against perceived
discrimination against Arabs and Muslims.
Earlier this month the league opened a branch in Holland. At the end
of a week of lectures by the league’s extremist leader, the
Lebanese-born Dyab Abu Jahja, the league announced that it had signed
up some 600 members in Holland and plans to run as a political party
in local elections scheduled for 2006.
[Polygamy] Smart case highlights Mormon church's historical link to
Despite the Mormon Church's centurylong effort to rid itself of the
stigma of polygamy, high-profile cases like Elizabeth Smart's
abduction have cast the church in an unfavorable light by linking it
to the outlawed practice.
Mitchell, once a high local Mormon leader, was excommunicated several
years ago for "activity promoting bizarre teachings and lifestyle" far
afield of the church. Also excommunicated was Wanda Barzee, arrested
along with Mitchell on Wednesday for her alleged complicity in
Such discipline is not uncommon in the church's struggle with
polygamous splinter groups who continue to keep multiple
Yet the church also teaches that plural marriage will revive when
Christ returns. And members are allowed a kind of polygamy in the
belief that widowers who marry again may live with both in the
[Islam] Islam for our time?
How do you explain - particularly to your own impressionable child -
that the murderous actions of September 11, 2001 need not be a source
of shame among co-religionists?
Tahar Ben Jelloun is a novelist, essayist, critic and poet of Moroccan
origin who has lived in France for more than three decades. He is a
winner of the Prix Mahgreb and the Prix Goncourt.
He is also the father of deeply troubled daughters living in a country
which prides itself on its attachment to logic.
So, when his child said she didn't want to be a Muslim, he knew he had
to answer some serious questions.
In this little book, Tahar takes those questions further, to explain -
as he sees it - the nature of Islam.
[Islam] Muslim street in Europe
French and German concerns about a unilateral US attack on Iraq or
Washington’s blind support for Israel are at least partly related to
nervousness about the Muslim street at home. Whether Brussels, Berlin,
Paris, or Washington like it or not, Europe’s Muslim constituencies
are likely to become an even more vocal foreign policy lobby. Two
trends are empowering Europe’s Muslim street: demographics and
opportunities for full citizenship
Islam may still be a faraway religion for millions of Americans. But
for Europeans it is local politics. The 15 million Muslims of the
European Union (EU) — up to three times as many as live in the United
States — are becoming a more powerful political force than the fabled
Arab street. Europe’s Muslims hail from different countries and
display diverse religious tendencies, but the common denominator that
links them to the Muslim world is their sympathy for Palestine and
Palestinians. And unlike most of their Arab brethren, growing numbers
of Europe’s Muslims can vote in elections that count.
[Brethren] The Brethren sent us to Hell
If a member of the Exclusive Brethren strays outside the sect into the
'Devil's domain', there is a high price to pay. Julia Llewellyn Smith
meets a couple whose family was destroyed by their 'terrifying' church
Things improved only after BBC's Everyman announced that it was making
a programme about the Brethren. The Wallachs were visited by the
sect's "universal leader", an Australian, Bruce Hayles, as well as
several elders, who apologised for past "mistakes" and invited them to
return. Another Brethren paid off the couple's mortgage - pounds
110,000 - but then announced that the fellowship wanted a legal charge
on the property. "We feel they are trying to buy us," Christine says.
[Christianity] Poor Christians are deluded by 'grab it' gospel
Followers of the so-called prosperity gospel — known by its critics as
the “blab it and grab it gospel” — are encouraged to believe that it
is acceptable to pray for material wealth.
An authoritative report by the Evangelical Alliance, an umbrella
organisation for Britain’s evangelical Churches, raises concerns about
teachings that if the believer gives a sum of money to the preacher,
God will multiply it by a hundred times or more in favour of the
The prosperity gospel became a cause of concern among the evangelical
movement in the 1990s because of the activities of Morris Cerullo
World Evangelism, which had offices in this country and was affiliated
to the Evangelical Alliance.
Members of the Evangelical Alliance council were alarmed by his
fundraising methods, particularly when he allegedly linked the level
of donors’ contributions to his own ministry with the extent of God’s
blessing on the donors’ lives. The concern was about “the suggestion
of so automatic an equation between material offering and divine
Under pressure from the council, Mr Cerullo resigned from the Alliance
in 1996. The report was commissioned by the Alliance partly as a
response to this, but also out of concern that the huge expansion of
the prosperity message in America was about to be paralleled in
NOTE: The EA's press release highlights a more balanced approach than
the above quoted article may suggest:
The radical, and sometimes controversial, `prosperity gospel’ which
has galvanised parts of the Church in UK - is explored in a new
Evangelical Alliance report which throws down a challenge to both its
critics and supporters alike to engage in constructive dialogue.
The Faith, Health and Prosperity report recognises the significant
tensions which exist between the wealth-affirming ethos of the
so-called Word of Faith movement - which asserts that God guarantees
health and wealth through faith and an obedience to his Word - and
mainstream evangelicalism. It concludes that, at key points, Word of
Faith is `sub-orthodox’ and `erroneous’.
But the report does acknowledge that, at its heart, Word of Faith is
all about "a deep appreciation for what God has done in Christ, a
desire to take the Word of God with the utmost seriousness, and, most
importantly, a determination to defend the life of faith against the
forces of secularism". It states that there is enough common ground
for bridges to be built and calls on evangelicals to be "ready to
affirm those aspects of Word of Faith teaching and practice that
coincide with their own biblical convictions".
Those within the movement are urged to "take steps to engage in
serious biblical scholarship in dialogue with other evangelical
scholars". The report concludes that they "must demonstrate a
willingness to be heard as one voice among many others within
evangelicalism, in dialogue with others, open to reproof and
[Raelians] Religious sect says it plans to provide proof of human
Boisselier said the parents of the cloned babies planned to set up an
association in Brazil, where the legal climate is more sympathetic to
cloning, and the group has been invited to speak to the Brazilian
parliament. She said scientific evidence proving the existence of one
of the clones, a boy, would be produced in coming days.
"All the proofs for the Japanese baby are ready to be published and
that should be in a few days ... maybe next week," Boisselier said.
The evidence would include the results of DNA testing performed by a
credible scientist, she said, adding "Not someone chosen by me."
[Raelians] 50 families 'seeking clones'
The families of more than 50 Israeli and Palestinian children have
appealed to the controversial cloning firm Clonaid to produce copies
of their lost relatives, the company's chief executive has claimed.
"I have had many, many requests from parents whose children were
killed here in recent violence," Clonaid chief Brigitte Boisselier
told reporters at a press conference in Tel Aviv.
[Raelians] Raelian cult claims demands pour in from parents to clone
children killed in intifada
Even before she entered the room where the press conference was being
held, Dr. Brigitte Boisselier's assistants placed a small metal device
on the table. At first glance, it did not look like anything special.
But a few minutes later, it turned out that according to Dr.
Boisselier, this metal box was the device responsible for the most
important scientific revolution of the early 21st century. According
to the Raelian cult, this box produced the electric current that
enabled five human babies to be cloned. And the scientific proof that
this cloning occurred? Maybe it will finally be presented next week,
at a special session of the Brazilian parliament on the subject.
ApologeticsIndex.org / ReligionNewsBlog.com
Religion News Blog, March 19, 2003
[Brian Mitchell] Smart's alleged abductors arraigned
Brian David Mitchell was charged with four first-degree felonies --
one count each of aggravated burglary and aggravated kidnapping and
two counts of aggravated sexual assault.
He also has been charged with two felony counts of aggravated burglary
and attempted aggravated kidnapping for allegedly trying to break into
the home of Smart's cousin, Jessica Wright, on July 24.
Mitchell's wife and alleged accomplice, Wanda Ilene Barzee, faces the
same six charges. Barzee also appeared Wednesday on closed-circuit TV
from the jail where the pair is being held.
Each of the counts carries a life sentence. Neither suspect entered a
[Brian Mitchell] 'Divine Revelation' Unlikely to Influence Court
Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Barzee may believe God ordered them to
kidnap Elizabeth Smart, but legal experts say divine revelation will
be little help to them in the courtroom.
"Being egged on by another is not a defense," said Assistant Utah
Attorney General Michael Wims. "It is not a defense that God urged
them to do it."
But Utah's insanity law -- the strictest in the nation -- focuses on a
defendant's intent to commit a crime, leaving little room for
theological explanations or excuses.
"You've got a defense only if, as a result of mental defect or
disease, you cannot form the intent necessary to commit the crime,"
A mentally ill defendant can be held accountable in a kidnapping case
if he intentionally detained a victim and understood the victim was
human, defense attorney Mark Moffat said.
[Interfaith] Relations Among U.S. Religions at a Low
Some Christians say Islam promotes violence. Jews feel they are being
scapegoated by opponents of a U.S. war on Iraq. A Muslim leader
wonders if there's a divine message in the breakup of the shuttle
carrying an Israeli astronaut.
In the buildup to war, religious leaders say, interfaith relations in
America have been poisoned, causing damage it may take years to heal.
While some efforts to find common ground continue, observers say
mistrust is high - at a level that would have been unthinkable before
the Sept. 11 attacks - and has worsened with the move toward an Iraq
[Religious Freedom] 'Religious Candy' Students Win Case
A federal judge ruled Tuesday that a high school cannot suspend
students for handing out candy canes with religious messages.
U.S. District Court Judge Frank Freedman said a policy at Westfield
High School that prohibits the distribution of printed material on
school grounds without permission violated the students' First
[Human Rights Violations, USA] US chides Belgium over rights law
Washington has berated Brussels after several Iraqi families announced
they were suing former US President George Bush and other US
politicians for human rights violations in a Belgian court.
Families of those who died in the US attack on the Amiriyah air raid
shelter in Baghdad, which took place in the 1991 Gulf War, are to file
a case against the former president under a law enabling Belgian
courts to hear human rights cases.
[Human Rights Violations, USA] Iraqis sue over first Gulf War
The lawsuit cites Bush senior, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary
of State Colin Powell and retired US Army General Norman Schwarzkopf,
who led operation Desert Storm against Baghdad, said deputy Patrick
Cheney was US defence secretary at the time of the first Gulf War,
while Powell was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The action was brought under Belgium's universal competence law, which
allows legal proceedings against people accused of war crimes, crimes
against humanity, or genocide, regardless of their nationality or
[Falun Gong] China Frees Activist After Serving Time
A Chinese-born New York City woman imprisoned for publicizing details
of China's crackdown on Falun Gong was released Wednesday after
serving almost three years.
Teng Chunyan, 40, walked out of a women's prison on the southern
outskirts of Beijing after being released a month early due to good
behavior, according to authorities.
``Falun Gong is purely an evil cult,'' Teng told reporters, echoing
the communist government's description of the group. ``It has a
definite political aspect.''
[Hare Krishna] Airport solicitations barred
Hare Krishna solicitors are again being restricted at Los Angeles
A federal judge refused to continue blocking the airport from
enforcing its new anti-solicitation law, which went into effect Dec.
16 and requires charity representatives to remain in small, cordoned
off "booths" in all nine passenger terminals.
[Brian Mitchell] Woman Rebuffed Mitchell's Proposal to Be Plural Wife
Accused Elizabeth Smart kidnapper Brian David Mitchell proposed
marriage to a 20-year-old woman two years ago, telling her God wanted
her to become his plural wife and join him and wife Wanda Barzee in
the rugged foothills east of Salt Lake City.
"You are the only woman that God sent us to . . . We are one, even as
I am one with the Father," Mitchell said in a four-page handwritten
marriage proffer to Julie Adkison dated March 1, 2001.
[Superstition] Prospect of war 'making us more superstitious'
The prospect of war may have triggered a significant increase in
superstitious rituals, according to a nationwide survey.
Of those questioned, 77 per cent indicated that they were at least a
little superstitious and/or carried out some form of superstitious
behaviour, and 42 per cent said that they were very/somewhat
[Brian Mitchell] Mitchell, wife charged with kidnapping, sexual
assault in Smart abduction
Prosecutors charged a self-proclaimed prophet and his wife Tuesday
with aggravated kidnapping and sexual assault in the abduction of
Elizabeth Smart, disclosing for the first time details of the girl's
Brian Mitchell and Wanda Barzee also were charged with burglary and
attempted aggravated kidnapping – a charge stemming from what
prosecutors said was an attempt to later abduct Elizabeth's
March 18, 2003
[Brainwashing] Experts: Smart's brainwashing likely began at
knifepoint, reinforced continually
Hassan believes once Mitchell had Elizabeth he immediately began to
drive home his belief system, laid out in a dense 27-page manifesto in
which he declared himself a messenger of God. "He likely began saying
in a very fanatical way that he was a prophet, and that she was meant
to be his wife," he said. "He knew the right words to say because he
was a Mormon who was excommunicated and she was Mormon."
This connection between them, a shared knowledge of religious doctrine
and reference points, allowed the hold over her to become that much
stronger. "Someone who already believes in God and the revelation as a
respected religious experience is more ... vulnerable," he said.
[Archeology] Israeli police break ancient tablet
Experts at Israel's Geological Institute, which studied the stone at
the request of the collector, believe it is authentic and dates back
to the 9th century B.C. Microscopic flecks of gold burned into the
stone could mean it was located together with gold objects in a
building that burned - possibly the First Temple, which was destroyed
by the Babylonians in 586 B.C., officials at the institute said.
But experts on ancient script at the Israel Museum, who also studied
the tablet, believe the Hebrew inscription, which resembles passages
of Kings II, 12:1-6, 11-17, could be fake.
[Hate Groups] German neo-Nazi ban rejected (Updated)
Germany's constitutional court has rejected a request from the
goverment and parliament to outlaw the neo-Nazi National Democratic
Party (NPD) party.
"The proceedings have been dismissed," said presiding judge Winfried
The court suspended proceedings a year ago after it emerged that the
government's case against the NPD was based partly on provocative
speeches made by its informants.
The NPD said the government had told the informants to incite racial
hatred and recruit violent neo-Nazis to strengthen its case.
[Hate Groups] German neo-Nazi ban rejected
[Cultic Organizations] FBI breaks up cult-like San Diego-based
Harrell claimed to be in charge of an offshore trust created by Joseph
Smith, the founder of the Mormon Church, worth $1.6 trillion,
according to the FBI. Investors were told that money would be
available to them if they gave him enough seed money to start an
insurance company called Good Samaritan.
Harrell, described as extremely charismatic, used religion to control
his enterprise, Caldwell said. He began investor meetings with a
prayer and attendees were told to hug each other.
"It was truly almost cult-like," Caldwell said. "He did not hesitate
to threaten to kill people if he found out they were working for the
[World Ministries Church] Diabetic man fasts 40 days before dying
Killeen was found dead in his home on Jan. 27. His wife, three adult
daughters and members of the World Ministries, with which they were
involved, reportedly prayed for three weeks that he would be
resurrected. Authorities discovered Killeen's body after concerned
relatives called asking that police check on him.
Killeen's family says the 50-year-old diabetic was encouraged to fast
and was convinced he was the group's next prophet.
[Warmongering] War in Iraq a crime, says Vatican
Military intervention against Iraq would be a crime against peace
demanding vengeance before God, the head of the Vatican's Pontifical
Council for Justice and Peace has said.
"War is a crime against peace which cries for vengeance before God,"
said Archbishop Renato Raffaele Martino, speaking on Vatican Radio.
He stressed the deeply unjust and immoral nature of war, saying it was
condemned by God because civilians were the worst sufferers.
ApologeticsIndex.org / ReligionNewsBlog.com
Religion News Blog, Mar. 20 - 26 (Yep, catching up... Highlights for
Mar. 25 and 26; headlines only for the other days.)
March 26, 2003
[Brian Mitchell] Faculty cult expert helps explain Smart case
Elizabeth Smart is home safe. But as Professor Janja Lalich knows from
her own experience, the hard part isn't over.
Lalich said people don't understand why Smart didn't just run away,
but the reason is essentially mind control.
[Walden House] Troubling end to life of S.F. addiction expert
Relying on street smarts, charisma and strong convictions, Alfonso P.
Acampora spent the last 30 years turning a small San Francisco group
home called Walden House into a multimillion-dollar drug treatment
organization with more than a dozen sites throughout California.
Acampora, 61, of Oakland died Saturday at the Claremont Resort in
Berkeley of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The state attorney general's office had been investigating allegations
that he had misused Walden House funds. Walden House spokesman Rick
Rice said that Acampora was confident the accusations would be
disproved, but that he nonetheless was exhibiting "a fair amount of
[Walden House] Walden House accused of fiscal mismanagement
The apparent suicide of Walden House CEO Alfonso Acampora came as his
leadership at the nationally renowned drug and alcohol rehabilitation
program was under threat from a state attorney general's investigation
into alleged financial irregularities.
The criminal probe, which has been under way for six months, was
prompted by a whistleblower complaint from a former Walden House board
member who has alleged widespread fiscal mismanagement at the
nonprofit. The complaint included allegations that Acampora padded the
payroll with family members, doled out business to members of the
Walden House board and billed the agency for his own questionable and
sometimes lavish perks.
[Hate Groups : Scientology] Advertising Authority upholds complain
over "untruthful" scientology claims
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has today upheld a complaint
by the Church of England over claims made by the Scientology movement
that it had "saved 250,000 people from drug abuse".
Welcoming the ASA's ruling, Mr. Arun Arora, Director of Communications
for the Diocese of Birmingham said:
"This is a landmark ruling by the ASA.
Despite the thousands of pounds spent by Scientology in legal fees
trying to delay, bury and frustrate this complaint, the truth has come
out - and the truth is Scientology makes claims for their dangerous
cult which they can neither prove nor substantiate.
[Islam] Muslim clerics divided on jihad
The calls for jihad against Americans have mushroomed since the start
of the US-led war on Iraq but Muslim religious scholars are divided on
whether and how to wage a holy war against the infidel invaders.
[Hate Groups : Scientology] Victims of Scam Target Church
Investors defrauded of $255 million by EarthLink Inc. co-founder Reed
Slatkin are hoping to recover funds from the Church of Scientology
International and six affiliated organizations that allegedly wound up
with tens of millions of dollars from the investment scam, their
attorneys said Tuesday.
The investors won an initial battle when a bankruptcy judge in Santa
Barbara recently refused to block subpoenas ordering the Scientology
groups to hand over records of money transferred to them by certain
Slatkin investors who came out ahead financially. The subpoenas also
seek records of communications the groups had about Slatkin, a
longtime but now excommunicated Scientologist who was known for his
[Bible Code] Torah without science
Undaunted, and with a flair for doomsday prophecies that made his
first book popular among supermarket-tabloid readers, Drosnin now
presents us with Bible Code II. If you took his first book seriously,
be aware that his predictions regularly fail to come true (Netanyahu
being assassinated while serving as prime minister, an atomic
holocaust in 1996, and others). If, like me, you found his first book
to be entertainingly silly, this one will be a real treat.
Do we therefore conclude that this whole code business is a scientific
Absolutely not. On the contrary, codes researchers have gone to great
lengths to distance themselves from Drosnin. The research they have
conducted involves a recognized scientific standard an a-priori list
of words, standardized spellings, and a protocol that has led in many
cases to stunning results.
Even skeptics have been impressed. For example, Harold Gans, a senior
mathematician and cryptologist who worked for the Pentagon, was
skeptical of Witztum and Rips' s findings. After doing his own
independent testing he found very strong evidence of codings, and has
since joined the research team.
Despite a barrage of attacks, the scientific findings of codes have
stood the test of time. The best that critics have been able to do so
far is to raise suspicions that Witztum and Rips cheated in order to
attain their results.
[Harry Potter] Court Hears Case About Potter-Like Books
Cast away images of sorcerers soaring on broomsticks at the Hogwarts
School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Picture instead lawyers bickering
about copyright infringement in a drab, gray-carpeted courtroom.
That's what remained of Harry Potter's magic during a raw legal battle
at an Amsterdam municipal court Tuesday in a case filed by British
author J.K Rowling against a Russian writer alleged to have stolen her
Lawyers representing Rowling, her Dutch publisher Harmonie and the
U.S. company Time Warner Entertainment are seeking to prevent the
release in the Netherlands of a literary series about Tanya Grotter,
the heroine of the Russian books who flies a magical double bass
instead of a broomstick.
[Patriot/Militia Groups] California militias revive their rhetoric
Extremist paramilitary or militia groups have re-emerged in California
and other western states, calling themselves a last line of defense
but acting like camouflage-wearing vigilantes.
While experts who track such groups said they see little solid
evidence of a surge, they agreed that the timing for a resurgence
[Hate Groups] Bond Again Denied White Supremacist
A federal judge will not hold a new detention hearing and said white
supremacist and World Church of the Creator leader the Rev. Matthew
Hale will remain held pending trial on charges of threatening another
jurist, according to documents obtained Tuesday.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew Rodovich in Hammond, Ind., earlier this
year denied bond for Hale, 31, of East Peoria, who pleaded innocent to
a two-count indictment accusing him of soliciting the murder of U.S.
District Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow and obstructing justice.
[Transcendental Meditation] M.U.M.'s Hagelin plans "second government"
Hagelin, a professor at Maharishi University of Management, has
decided to form a "U.S. Peace Government."
He says he isn't talking about seceding from the United States or
overthrowing its leaders, however.
Instead, he sees his position as similar to that of the "shadow
government" or "loyal opposition" in British politics: the people who
are out of power but still try to influence public policy.
Part of the group's approach would involve "the strategic application
of meditation." While the proposal was endorsed last week by
Transcendental Meditation guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Hagelin said it
wouldnt just be a meditator group.
[Bioterrorism] U.S. not ready for toxin attack, experts say
Botulinum toxin has never been used successfully as a weapon, though
the Japanese cult Aum Shinrikyo tried and failed to disperse it in
aerosols at least three times in the early 1990s.
Still, experts fear both small- and large-scale attacks.
They cite, as an example of a small attack, cult followers spreading
salmonella on salad bars at 10 Oregon restaurants in 1984, sickening
about 750 people.
[Samaritan Foundation] Woman pleads innocent to accessory in murder of
A woman has pleaded innocent to charges of being an accessory after
the fact to the murder of Chicago filmmaker Allen Ross.
Before his body was found in 2000, Ross had been missing since
November 1995, seven months after he moved to Cheyenne with Williams
and his common-law wife, Linda Greene, from Guthrie, Okla. The three
and others belonged to a religious sect called the Samaritan
Detectives theorize that Ross was killed because he was trying to gain
rights to some of the materials the cult was printing.
March 25, 2003
[Religious Insanity] Parents Wanted To Feed Drugs To Children, Police
A Corona couple who believed the world was coming to an end are in
custody after they allegedly made family funeral plans and told police
they had drugged their two younger children.
[Jehovah's Witnesses] Patient refusing life giving blood transfusion
Acting Chief Extension Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture [in
Antigua] Sereno Benjamin is in critical condition at Holberton
Hospital. He needs a blood transfusion necessary to save his life, but
his faith does not allow him to be transfused.
[Santeria] Miami man guilty in bizarre Santeria killing
At 30, Henry Cuesta has already spent a sixth of his life in jail
awaiting trial for murder. On Friday, a Miami-Dade County jury
convicted him in the contract killing of Dulce Diaz, a Santeria
practitioner, eliminating his chances of ever being a free man.
[Raelians] Raelians claim to have cloned again
The Raelian religious sect sought to astound the world Monday with yet
another claim that they have successfully cloned a human being.
Brigitte Boisselier, president of Clonaid and a member of the
Raelians, which founded the company, provided media in Sao Paulo with
photos of a Japanese baby she alleged was a clone, although without
any scientific proof to back the claim.
[Islam] Muslim rage takes on stronger religious tone as U.S. strikes
From mosques to the Internet, Muslims around the world are
increasingly expressing anger at the U.S. attack on Iraq in radical
"The war between right and wrong has begun. This is a jihad," a holy
war, Syed Ahmed Bukhari, one of India's most influential Islamic
clerics, said in a sermon in New Delhi that drew cries of "God is
great!" from worshippers.
A London-based Arabic Web site known for extremist commentary posted a
fatwa, or religious ruling, declaring any Muslim ruler or official who
helps the "aggressor forces" in the war on Iraq to be an apostate —
dangerous words when some fundamentalists say apostasy — the
renouncing of Islam — should be punished by death.
The banned Muslim Brotherhood, which wants to transform Egypt into an
Islamic state, is gaining exposure at anti-U.S. protests on a scale
rarely seen in Cairo.
Dia'a Rashwan, an expert on radical Islamic groups at Egypt's Al-Ahram
Center for Political and Strategic Studies, said he has noticed a
trend as he navigated Web sites and chat rooms in recent days.
"Now we have many calls to jihad, and those calls aren't only coming
from what we usually call radicals or extremists," he said. More
moderate clerics are using similar language, as are Islamic thinkers
who usually confine themselves to political analysis, not calls to
arms, he said.
[Human Rights Violations, USA] One rule for them
Suddenly, the government of the United States has discovered the
virtues of international law. It may be waging an illegal war against
a sovereign state; it may be seeking to destroy every treaty which
impedes its attempts to run the world, but when five of its captured
soldiers were paraded in front of the Iraqi television cameras on
Sunday, Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, immediately
complained that "it is against the Geneva convention to show
photographs of prisoners of war in a manner that is humiliating for
This being so, Rumsfeld had better watch his back. For this
enthusiastic convert to the cause of legal warfare is, as head of the
defence department, responsible for a series of crimes sufficient,
were he ever to be tried, to put him away for the rest of his natural
It is not hard, therefore, to see why the US government fought first
to prevent the establishment of the international criminal court, and
then to ensure that its own citizens are not subject to its
[Human Rights Violations, USA] Hicks's lawyer says US must abide by
The lawyer representing the alleged Australian Taliban fighter, David
Hicks, is calling on the International Red Cross to now put pressure
on the United States to abide by the Geneva Convention at their
Guanatanamo Bay facility in Cuba.
Mr Hicks and another Australian Mamdouh Habib have been held in
military custody without charge for more than a year.
[Human Rights Violations] Images of POWs violates Geneva Convention,
The International Committee of the Red Cross joined U.S. Defense
Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld in denouncing the broadcasts on Iraqi
television, which were later picked up by Qatar's Al-Jazeera satellite
network. ``It's very clear that prisoners of war shouldn't be subject
to public exposure,'' Red Cross spokeswoman Nadia Doumani told Agence
But the United States has also been criticized for photo images of
prisoners it has captured. Indeed, it was the last nation publicly
scolded by the Red Cross for the release of footage showing al-Qaida
and Taliban captives, bound and sullen, as they were transported to
the Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba and placed in cages there.
[Human Rights Violations, USA] Hypocrites of America crying foul
Nothing more clearly illustrates the cruel hypocrisy of America's war
against Iraq than Washington's reaction to the news that GIs have been
Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld screamed "Geneva Convention! Geneva
Convention!" at the Iraqis for showing footage of US soldiers taken on
He thundered that the film was "video propaganda" which violated their
rights as prisoners of war under international law.
How two-faced can you get?
Rumsfeld is the warmonger who ignored international legalities when
the UN refused to back the invasion of Iraq.
And he ruled that PoWs captured by the Americans in Afghanistan more
than a year ago have NO rights, and can be caged like animals at Camp
X-Ray in Guantanamo, Cuba.
[Raelians] Clonaid wants to breed clones in Brazil
The controversial firm Clonaid wants to open a human cloning clinic in
Brazil, its director Brigitte Boisselier said Sunday.
"We want to open a clinic on each continent. For North and South
America, we could open a clinic in the Caribbean, but we would prefer
Brazil," Boisselier said.
She added that Clonaid had already applied for permission to set up
[Raelians] Company shows 'cloned baby'
A company claiming to have created the world's first cloned babies has
distributed a photograph of one of the "clones" for the first time.
Clonaid said a picture of an infant in an incubator published on its
website shows the third of five babies supposedly cloned since
[Transcendental Meditation] M.U.M. dorm plan discussion continues
M.U.M. plans to build six dormitories to house 1,600 Vedic pandits,
which are students ages 18 years and older who have been trained in
M.U.M.- affiliate schools in India. The pandits would obtain temporary
student visas in order to complete a one- to two-year study program.
[Satanism] 4 young men charged with belonging to devil worshipping
Over the past few weeks, more than 50 young men and women were
arrested on suspicions of devil worshipping, but only seven were
actually charged with cult-related crimes, like desecrating corpses
and carrying out orgies in cemeteries, according to State Prosecutor
In Lebanon, no devil worship-related murders have been committed to
Devil worship rituals in Lebanon are restricted to offering animal
sacrifices, particularly chickens and cats. Cult members are said to
drink the animals’ blood and make blood pacts with the devil, as well
as desecrate cemeteries and have sexual orgies, sometimes with the
Once a year, a ceremony involving human sacrifice is held. It is
believed that female members of the cult offer their unborn babies
often the result of ritual orgies as a sacrifice.
“No one was caught red-handed, but we were able to obtain confessions
from those we arrested,” Addoum told The Daily Star. All those
arrested until now are under 25.
[Hate Groups] Riverton chamber declares 'hate-free zone'
The Riverton Chamber of Commerce has declared the city a ''hate-free
zone'' in response to a white supremacist organization that moved its
world headquarters there three months ago.
Thorson said the community has suffered from negative publicity since
the World Church of the Creator transferred its headquarters in early
December from Illinois to the Riverton home of Thomas Kroenke.
March 24, 2003
[Religious Revelation] Revelation: Is It Divine Inspiration or
[Religious Revelation] Religions Have Rules on Divine Communications
[War] How faiths view the war
[War] Statements on war by religious institutions and leaders
[Human Rights Violations : Female Genital Mutilation] Ban planned for
[War] Churches divided on meaning of Gulf War
[Mormon Church] Kidnapping Case Puts Mormons on Defensive
[Religious Intolerance] Hindu campaigners combat Christian conversions
[Branch Davidians] The Branch Davidian siege's influence on popular
March 23, 2003
[Human Rights Violations, USA] Bishop says US use of uranium is a war
[Hate Groups : Scientology] Iorio meets Scientologists at fundraiser
March 22, 2003
[Human Rights Violations, USA] US told to ratify child rights
[Human Rights Violations, USA] Concern over US targeting other Muslim
[Falun Gong] China sentences, expels Falun Gong member
[Church / State] Europe debates role of God in constitution
March 21, 2003
[Human Rights Violations, USA] People turn to faith in troubled times
[Atheism] DNA leaders call religion to account
[Peyote] Judge weighs issues about father's religious freedom, child's
[Religion Trends] Geopolitical tensions boost US bible sales
[Polygamy] Mom Sentenced to Jail for Encouraging Sex Abuse of
[Psychics] Astral travelers touch down in Beirut
[Human Rights Violations, USA] This war is brought to you by ...
[Falun Gong] US member of banned sect jailed in China
[AUM Shinrikyo] Tragedy of sarin attack hard to erase
[Brainwashing] Brainwashing: Not just in wartime
March 20, 2003
[Human Rights Violations] House condemns stoning as punishment
[Human Rights Violations, USA] Iraq and Beyond
[Religion Trends] Poll: Sermons don't affect opinions on Iraqi War
[John Rubio and Angela Camacho] Lurid details of killings disclosed in
[Human Rights Violations, USA] US to round up all Muslim and Arab
[Kingsway International Christian Centre] 'Prosperity is the promise
[John Templeton] Colorado pioneer in environmental ethics wins
religion prize worth more than $1 million
[John Templeton] John Templeton: Spiritually rich, and passing it on
[AUM Shinrikyo] Subway workers offer prayers on sarin attack
[Fraud] Con man told to repay $4.7 million to Jehovah's Witness fraud
ApologeticsIndex.org / ReligionNewsBlog.com
March 29, 2003
[Apologetics] Christ Orthodox Presbyterian Church Sponsors Debates
On Friday, the church is sponsoring a debate between Protestant
apologist James White, who is the director of Alpha & Omega Ministries
in Phoenix and the author of Letters to a Mormon Elder, and LDS
defender Dennis Potter, who teaches philosophy at Utah Valley State
College in Orem and is managing editor of Element: An E-journal of
Mormon Theology and Philosophy.
The two will debate the question: Does Christ's atonement perfect
those to whom it is applied?
On April 5, White, who also has written The Roman Catholic
Controversy, will debate Robert Sungenis, executive director of
Catholic Apologetics International and author of Not By Faith Alone:
The Biblical Evidence of the Catholic Doctrine of Justification.
The topic for that debate will be: Is the Mass a propitiatory
sacrifice? [Translation: Was Christ's sacrifice complete or do we have
to add something?]
[Mormon Church] Philosophers, Historians Explore LDS Scholarship at
The two-day conference, "God, Humanity and Revelation: Perspectives
from Mormon Philosophy and History," has brought together historians
and philosophers from several Utah campuses, including LDS
Church-owned Brigham Young University, the University of Utah, Utah
State University and Utah Valley State College, as well as from
Vanderbilt, Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of
Richmond, the University of North Carolina -- Chapel Hill, Wellesley,
University of St. Andrews in Scotland and the Claremont School of
Theology in northern California.
Nearly 300 people have registered for the conference held on Yale's
New Haven, Conn., campus and between 30 percent and 40 percent are not
members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"This is the most significant event in Mormon scholarship for a very,
very long time," West said as the conference was getting under way
Friday. "I don't think we've ever assembled this quality of scholars
or number of attendees before."
[Zen] Zen Buddhist abbot: War comes from internal struggle
Shih, the abbot of a Zen Buddhist monastery in Cleveland, has a wry
sense of humor and an acceptance of however people want to use
Buddhism. “You can practice it as a religion, you can practice it as a
philosophy, you can be a casual observer,” he said. “It makes no
demands, but all of those options are available.”
Indeed, one regular attendee at the Buddhist sessions is the Rev. Zev
Rosenberg, pastor of St. Paul’s. “Buddhism is more a set of practices
than a set of beliefs,” Rosenberg said. “It does not presuppose that
you have any religious belief. ... You can, as a devout Christian,
engage in Zen meditation as a spiritual practice.”
[World Ministries Church] No charges planned in death of man here
The Pima County Attorney's Office will not seek charges in the death
of a man whose body decomposed in his home for three weeks as family
and friends reportedly prayed over it for resurrection, a prosecutor
The decision was made after an autopsy on the body of James W.
Killeen, 50, a Union Pacific Railroad worker, was inconclusive, said
Rick Unklesbay, chief criminal deputy county attorney.
Officer Corey Doggett wrote in another report that Killeen's brother
Christopher "said that James became involved in a 'cult.' "
Doggett added, "Chris also said that James told him that he was going
to be resurrected by the 'cult' leader, Stan Adair Bennett."
The wife "kept the victim in the bedroom and she and others prayed so
they could revive him," Detective Raul Olivas wrote in a report.
[Church of God Restoration] Parents to appeal ruling in corporal
A judge's ruling in a case involving the corporal punishment of
children by their fundamentalist Christian parents will be appealed
because it gives social workers too much power, lawyers said
The appeal was announced at a news conference after Madam Justice
Eleanor Schnall approved an agreement between the St. Thomas and Elgin
children's aid society and the parents, who were under investigation
for allegedly beating their children.
The agreement followed the seizure of seven children from their Aylmer
home in June, 2001.
[World Ministries Church] Killeen autopsy unhelpful
Killeen's dead and decomposing body was discovered in the Tucson home
he shared with his wife, Eleanor, on Jan. 23 after his siblings and
mother became concerned about his welfare. The case drew attention
because police reports said his wife and other members of a religious
group had been praying over Killeen's body for about three weeks,
believing that he would be resurrected.
Killeen's siblings, convinced their brother was under the influence of
a dangerous religious group, say he had been on a 40-day fast under
the directive of the group, which is known as World Ministries.
Killeen, a robust railroad worker, suffered from diabetes - a
condition that made it impossible for him to survive a fast, his
[Human Rights Violations, USA] So much squandered in so little time
Recently, The New York Times ran a story announcing Iraqi officials
targeted by the United States to face war crimes trials. The irony, of
course, is that any judgment would have to be rendered by a special
tribunal set up by the United States, because we do not recognize the
International Criminal Court that opened this week to handle cases of
human rights, genocide and war crimes.
We have the power to wage war on our own and to engage in other
actions that characterize an empire.
We have not figured out, however, that to act with real authority in a
dangerous and changing world requires that those of like mind join us
in shaping a different future. Right now, it seems, many simply resist
us out of fear of what we are becoming.
Note: an expanded sidebar to this article explains why the publishes
of Apologetics Index, which includes Religion News Blog, address human
rights issues in general with a particular emphasis on U.S. human
[Witchcraft] Bewitched by Wicca
The two helped found the Tucson Area Wiccan-Pagan Network, also known
as TAWN. It holds monthly meetings, cranks out brochures - many of
them written by O'Gaea - and maintains a Web site at www.tawn.org.
Both were raised in Oregon, he as a Presbyterian, she as a Unitarian.
After marrying and coming to Tucson in 1974, they joined the Unitarian
In 1984, they discovered Wicca, and in 1991 founded Campsight Coven,
raising their son, Ryan, the Wicca way.
Since then, she's published two books on raising children in the
Wiccan way. A third book, "In the Service of Life: A Wiccan
Perspective on Death," is due out next month
[Human Rights] Compromising justice
Belgium is poised to water down a controversial war crimes law that
has caused the country no end of diplomatic embarrassment, writes
The truth is of course that critics of the country's war crimes law
have long struggled to understand why Belgium should be the world's
judge and jury. And the fact that the world's first permanent
international criminal court (ICC) has now opened for business in the
Hague makes Belgium's position all the more untenable.
[Hate Crimes] Arabs, Muslims, Sikhs Report Hate Crimes
Muslim, Arab and Sikh groups say reports of backlash crimes are
trickling in, and they fear an increase if the war in Iraq drags on.
Advocates who track such incidents say they've heard about a dozen
potential hate crimes - most involving verbal harassment or property
damage to Arabs, Muslims and Sikhs - since the war began last week.
[Religion Trends] Arizonans aren't big on church
Fewer than half of Arizona adults routinely take part in religious
services, according to a new survey by WestGroup Research of Phoenix.
The survey was part of WestGroup's monitoring of current events in
January. The survey of 866 adults had a margin of error of 3 percent.
Highest regular church attendance can be found among members of the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with 88 percent, the
Catholic Church, with 62 percent, and non-denominational Christian
churches, 60 percent.
[Church / State] Lawmakers shrink Bush faith initiative
Unable to pass even a watered-down version of the president's
faith-based initiative, congressional sponsors said yesterday they
would remove all efforts to open government programs to churches and
other religious groups from the bill.
Their legislation instead will just provide tax breaks for donations
to charities, including religious groups.
[Islam] Sunnis and Shiites: Islam's feuding arms
Sects of the same religion often behave like warring relatives. Their
feuds are violent, long lasting and, almost always, silly and
That's historically true of Catholics and Protestants. It remains true
of the Sunnis and Shiites of Islam that play such a crucial role in
the pain and confusion of modern Iraq.
They disagree on the way power was taken following Mohammed's death
and make nuanced distinctions in their interpretation of faith.
[Islam] Iraq's Shiite Majority Remains Calm
Life seemed normal in this down at the heels neighborhood of Baghdad,
home to 1.5 million Shiite Muslims. For now, at least, there's no sign
of a Shiite revolt against Saddam Hussein.
"A believer is never stung from the same pit twice," says Shiite taxi
driver Abu Haider, citing a popular proverb to explain the lack of
[Jehovah's Witnesses] Longo admits affair, trail of bad debts
In his second day of testimony, Christian Longo admitted to cheating
on his wife and leaving a trail of bad debts, but he shed no light on
his claim that someone else killed two of his children.
Longo, 29, who returns to the stand on Monday, has already pleaded
guilty to killing his wife, MaryJane, 34, and his youngest daughter,
Longo also described an affair he had with his business partner's wife
in the spring of 2000. The two discussed divorcing their spouses and
getting married until Longo's wife, MaryJane, found out about the
affair after discovering e-mails on his computer, he said.
She confronted Longo and said she was going to tell elders at the
Jehovah's Witness church, as well as Longo's father, about the affair,
March 28, 2003
[Secularism] In Canada, secularism grows more pervasive
The French-Canadian writer Yann Martel has acknowledged that he
rearranged chapters in the Canadian edition of his new novel, "Life of
Pi," because he feared Canadians would be offended by its religious
"America is a very religious, almost puritanical country," he told
Publishers Weekly last year. "In Canada, secularism is triumphant, and
to talk noncynically, nonironically about religion is strange."
Martel's comments have been much quoted recently as a sign that in at
least one vital respect, Canadian and American societies are moving in
opposite directions despite their common language and geographic
In a recent survey by the Pew Research Center for the People and the
Press in Washington, only 30 percent of Canadians said religion was
very important to them, compared with 59 percent of Americans.
[Christianity / Iraq] 2 Christian Groups' Aid Effort Questioned
Two major evangelical Christian groups said yesterday that they have
amassed supplies in Jordan and are preparing to send relief workers
into Iraq as soon as the military situation permits.
The Southern Baptist Convention, the nation's largest Protestant
denomination, and Samaritan's Purse, run by the Rev. Franklin Graham,
said they are ready to provide emergency shelter, food aid and medical
care to Iraq's mostly Muslim population. The announcements raised
concerns among U.S. Muslim leaders that the groups intend to
proselytize in Iraq.
[Zen] The art of building a bridge
Fukushima's eyes are closed as he describes monastic life in Kyoto,
Japan, where he is head abbot of the Tofukuji sect of Renzai Zen
Buddhism and the 303rd master of the 750-year-old Tofukuji Monastery,
one of the historic five mountains of Zen Buddhism.
Every spring for several years, Fukushima has taken 2 1/2 months to
travel America and visit college campuses. When he started, his
itinerary included just three colleges; now there are 32. He's able to
visit 25 on each trip, and Pomona College is always on the list.
[Hate Groups : Scientology] Scientology expands Tampa presence
Saturday will mark the grand opening of the church's new home in an
old West Tampa cigar factory
But Earl Haugabook, president of the West Tampa Chamber of Commerce,
is wary of the church, given its controversial history in Clearwater.
"An organization like Scientology, which has basically taken over
downtown Clearwater, is not the type of organization we want in the
West Tampa area," Haugabook said.
[Satanism] Brothers admit to belonging to devil worshipping cult
Mount Lebanon Investigating Magistrate Ali Ibrahim interrogated
Wednesday two of four suspects arrested over the weekend for allegedly
belonging to a devil worshipping cult.
[AUM Shinrikyo] Asahara again refuses to respond to questions by his
Aum Shinrikyo founder Shoko Asahara refused again Thursday to answer
questions from his own lawyers, while victims of the cult's crimes
called for him to receive the death penalty.
During the day's session at the Tokyo District Court, two victims of
the cult's sarin gas attacks and the relative of another addressed the
court. Five others submitted written statements.
[AUM Shinrikyo] Aum cult survivors and kin testify
Asahara has denied masterminding the attack and blamed his disciples,
despite testimony from most followers that the offences were committed
under his direction. He has made virtually no statement at his trial
since January 1998 apart from murmuring incoherently, and has often
appeared to doze off during proceedings.
He has refused even to answer his own lawyers' questions.
If he remains silent at a session on April 10, prosecutors are
expected to make their closing argument against him on April 24.
[AUM Shinrikyo] Cult victims' relatives call for death of leader
Relatives of the Aum Supreme Truth cult's victims confronted its
leader in court yesterday and demanded his execution.
Shoko Asahara, 48, is charged with ordering followers to murder
enemies of the cult and members of the public over a period of six
He was arrested after cult members released the deadly nerve gas sarin
on to underground trains in Tokyo in 1995, killing 12 people and
March 27, 2003
[Islam] Fortuyn killer was 'protecting Dutch Muslims'
The man who confessed to killing Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn has told
a court he did it to protect the country's Muslim minority from
Fortuyn's anti-immigration policies.
[Transcendental Meditation] Think peace
By meditating collectively, they said, they can generate and
distribute psychic energy capable of reducing crime, preventing
terrorism and reducing general societal stress.
For some outsiders, those claims may amount to wild overstatement. For
practitioners at the Maharishi Vedic Center of Portland, however,
nothing could be more true.
They are so certain of the benefits of their meditation that they are
pushing ahead with a plan to build a $1.2 million, 12,000-square-foot
Peace Palace somewhere near the Portland's southwest suburbs.
Practitioners are responding to a call from their spiritual leader,
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, to build 3,000 such "palaces" around the world.
About 200 are scheduled to be constructed in the United States.
[Hate Groups : Scientology] Cult church censured on drug ads
A Church of Scientology advert claiming that its programmes had
"salvaged" 250,000 people from drug abuse has been censured by the
Advertising Standards Authority as unproved, following a complaint by
the Church of England.
A Church of England spokesman said: "The truth is Scientology makes
claims for their dangerous cult which they can neither prove nor
substantiate. Drug users trying to kick the habit are vulnerable. This
makes them perfect prey for cults."
[Jehovah's Witnesses] Longo says that pride kept him from asking for
Longo admitted his misdeeds were in direct contradiction with his
Jehovah's Witness faith that called for a strict adherence to biblical
tenets. He said his theft from the camera store ran him afoul of his
congregation's judicial committee, which refused to let him be married
in his church.
He also testified that death brings sleep until the "righteous and
unrighteous" are awakened. That reawakening brings a second chance at
salvation, he said.
When Krasik asked if death means Jehovah's Witnesses are in a better
place, Longo said no.
"They're essentially asleep until God decides otherwise," Longo said.
[Jehovah's Witnesses] Defense still not showing hand on Longo strategy
Christian Longo, accused of killing his wife and three young children,
took the stand Wednesday in his own aggravated murder trial and
described his strict upbringing as a Jehovah's Witness, his subsequent
"shunning" by the church and the beginnings of his marriage.
[Trinity Broadcasting Network] TV Ministry Told to Be More Considerate
In an ongoing spat between a handful of Costa Mesa residents and the
world's largest Christian television ministry -- which operates in
their backyard -- the city's planning commission Monday ordered the
Trinity Broadcasting Network to be better neighbors.
While the city considers the network's request to conduct outdoor
tapings on its property, the commission gave TBN a list of two dozen
good-faith restrictions intended to appease neighbors.
[Deepak Chopra] New-Age rage: Deepak Chopra finds a lot wrong in the
Deepak Chopra, the guy who cornered the market on that whole
mind-body-spirit thing, is sipping mineral water poolside at the Shore
Club and seething about the evil-doers.
''If we talk about weapons of mass destruction, we have to talk about
the fact that 90 percent of those weapons are sold by, manufactured by
and traded by the five permanent members of the Security Council. An
alcoholic parent doesn't have a right to tell his children they can't
have a sip of beer.''
In Deepak's mind, warmongering is warmongering. And that means George
and Saddam, as far as he's concerned, are cut from the same universal
[Hate Groups : Scientology] Scientologist drug claim on poster is
The Advertising Standards Authority has upheld a complaint against the
Church of Scientology, which stated in a poster that it had rescued
250,000 people from drug addiction.
The council said that the worldwide religious movement had not proved
its claim that as many as a quarter of a million addicts had stopped
using drugs as a direct result of Scientology's intervention.
ApologeticsIndex.org / ReligionNewsBlog.com
Religion News Blog, April 1, 2003
[Hate Groups] CSIS: Zundel a risk to Canadian security
Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel is a risk to Canadian security and if
released would be a lightning rod for the white supremacist movement,
a CSIS agent told an immigration hearing Monday.
[Bible Code] Decoding Bible's 'cryptogram'
While Drosnin apparently has his fans in U.S. military circles, both
Rips and Gans have distanced themselves from Drosnin's conclusions,
saying using the Torah codes to predict the future is unfounded,
futile and of no value.
Barry Levy, dean of McGill University's religious studies department
and a Torah scholar, says, "I'm surprised to learn that the Pentagon
is engaging in sorcery as part of its military strategy. There is
nothing particularly spiritual or convincing or valid about this. It's
[House of Prayer] Expert says Alabama is lagging in raising its
The House of Prayer church in Atlanta, embattled over its use of
corporal punishment on children, was sending young girls to Alabama's
border county east of Anniston to take advantage of this state's more
lenient marriage laws.
Ted Hall, an attorney for the Fulton County Department of Family and
Children Services in Atlanta, said the order only applies to those
children taken into custody by his agency. It does not stop the church
from marrying off other young girls, and he said the practice is still
occurring from time to time. He just doesn't know where.
[Hate Groups] Supremacist group drops offer to settle York suit
A white-supremacist organization has withdrawn an offer to settle a
civil-rights lawsuit against the city because the group alleges that
officials continue to enforce an unconstitutional public assembly
Richard Barrett, attorney for the Mississippi-based Nationalist
Movement, said he would drop the lawsuit if York paid nearly $40,000
for attorney fees accrued in fighting the ordinance in federal court.
[Hate Groups] Slaying of gay couple brings 29-year term
James Tyler Williams was sentenced to 29 years to life Thursday for
the July 1999 double murder of gay couple Gary Matson and Winfield
But his older brother, who had been considered a dominant force in his
life, took to giving media interviews to espouse his anti-Semitic and
white supremacist beliefs.
In a Nov. 4, 1999, jailhouse interview, he admitted killing Matson and
Mowder, saying he did it because he believed God viewed homosexuality
as a mortal sin.
"I'm not guilty of murder," Matthew Williams said at the time. "I'm
guilty of obeying the laws of the Creator."
March 31, 2003
[Human Rights] U.S. Faults China, Others on Human Rights
The State Department accused the Chinese government Monday of numerous
and serious human rights abuses and also took Israel and the
Palestinian Authority to task for what it described as poor rights
Note: Absent from the report is any discussion or acknowledgment of
U.S. human rights abuses.
[Waldorf Schools] Lawsuit against Waldorf revived
John Morse Waldorf School in south Sacramento and the Yuba River
Charter School in Nevada City are once again targets in a legal battle
that seeks to ban any public school in America from using Waldorf
The group that filed the lawsuit against them contends that the
Waldorf system cannot be separated from founder Rudolf Steiner's
religious philosophy -- so the public Waldorf schools are sectarian
and ineligible to receive taxpayer dollars.
Debra Snell, president of People for Legal and Nonsectarian Schools
and a former Waldorf parent, said it boils down to a question of
fairness. "If Catholic or Lutheran schools cannot be publicly funded,
then neither can Waldorf, " she said.
[Religious Insanity] The Smart case and religious certainty
How do people come to imagine that they are prophets or even God? What
gives them an ability to lead other people into the terrifyingly dark
corners of their labyrinthine minds?
Note: A largely uninformed opinion piece
[Nuwaubians] Man makes threats against Pentagon, president
When officers arrived at his Whitehall Road home, Tatum - who is a
member of the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors - answered the door in
an Egyptian fez and a white robe, according to a police report. He
identified himself as the Messiah and said the Heavenly Father told
him to call the Pentagon and have Nuwaubian leader Malachi York
released from jail, according to the report.
[Jehovah's Witnesses] Obituaries in the News: Milton Henschel
Milton Henschel, who served as a member of the governing body of
Jehovah's Witnesses since 1971, died on March 22. He was 82.
[Human Rights] What is Geneva Convention?
Actually, there is more than one Geneva Convention, but the one
referred to in the context of the current US-UK against Iraq is the
convention that lays down how prisoners of war (POW) are to be treated
by countries that are party to the convention. It defines who
qualifies as a POW and what constitutes inhumane treatment (which is
prohibited under the convention).
[Homosexuality] Gay vicar in appeal to Williams after bishop blocks
His case, which he has outlined in a letter to Dr Williams, is
highlighted in a new BBC documentary series, which starts this
evening. In a personal reply, Dr Williams told Mr Wardale that he was
looking at all the issues involved.
Mr Wardale's situation will dismay gay rights campaigners, who expect
Dr Williams, a liberal on the issue, to relax the Church's
restrictions on practising homosexual clergy.
But evangelicals have warned that the Church will split if the new
Archbishop, who has admitted ordaining at least one practising
homosexual, softens the hard-line stance of his predecessor, Dr George
[Ethics, Morals] Church told to rethink bar on sex before marriage
The Church of England should consider changing its teaching on sex
before marriage and preach that cohabitation should be viewed as a
“new path from the single state to the married one”, a report
published tomorrow says.
The report, which contains several papers, representing a number of
points of view, was commissioned by the Southwark Diocese. It will be
sent to all parishes for study and is certain to provoke discussion
throughout the Church. “Society as a whole, not just the Church, is in
a state of crisis in its attitude to cohabitation and marriage,” it
says. The pastoral question of cohabitation is “scarcely being
confronted by Church or State”.
The report, Cohabitation: A Christian Reflection, by a working party
of the Southwark Diocese, says the Church’s traditional teaching that
sex before marriage is wrong has been inherited from a different form
of society from that of today and is now felt as a “heavy load”.
[Hate Groups : Scientology] Detox center seeks wider acceptance
Narconon, a drug treatment program with Scientology backing, now wants
Note: Best research resource on this Scientology front group:
March 30, 2003
[Religious Freedom] Pakistani Court Reverses Christian Case
An appeals court has ordered the release of two Christians in eastern
Pakistan who were sentenced to life in prison for allegedly insulting
Islam's Prophet Mohammed, a Christian activist said Saturday.
Last year Amnesty International urged Pakistan to amend or abolish its
"The law has frequently been abused to imprison people on grounds of
religious enmity, but also has proved an easy tool to have people
imprisoned when the real motives are business rivalry or land issues,"
the human rights group said.
[Sikhism] Sikhs talk about faith -- and fear
But with the nation at war again in the Middle East, many local Sikhs
are concerned, with good reason, that they will be mistaken for the
things they are not: Arab, Muslim and, of the most concern, terrorist.
In the wake of Sept. 11, Arab and Muslim groups reported about 2,000
attacks on Arab and Muslim Americans nationwide, including those
mistaken because of their skin color, accent or dress.
[Branch Davidians] 10 years later, Waco still trying to live down
Waco probably handled the Davidian situation as well as it could, says
Baylor University sociologist Larry Lyon, who was involved in early
discussions regarding the stigma that attached itself to the city. The
passage of time may help address it, too, he says.
[Antisemitism] Jews fear a resurgent anti-Semitism in Europe
For Jeremy and his parents, the incident a year ago was the harrowing
confirmation of a trend that many say has only gathered momentum
since: a resurgent European anti-Semitism, coming not from its
traditional source among Europe's right-wing nationalists, but from
the Continent's growing Islamic community, egged on by the political
[Sikhism] £17m Sikh temple opens
The largest Sikh temple outside India has been officially opened in
west London on Sunday.
Organisers claimed 40,000 people attended the opening ceremony of the
Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara.
[Religion Trends] Religious census: Study looks at the way we worship
In a nation where Roman Catholics and Southern Baptists dominate the
religious landscape, one-third of this community’s church listings
fall under the heading “Lutheran.”
But North Dakota and Fargo-Moorhead’s religious identity is changing
ever so slightly, according to a recent religious census.
The study, which is conducted nationally every 10 years, was compiled
in 2000. It is published by the Nashville-based Glenmary Research
[Mormon Church] Counting the faithful: Mormon church thrives
Between 1990 and 2000, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
grew by 55.4 percent, or 1,307 members, in North Dakota, according to
a religion census released last November.
That makes it the fastest-growing religious body in the state,
according to the Religious Congregations and Membership report, which
is released every 10 years.
It is also one of the five fastest-growing faith communities in the
[Religious Intolerance] Indian state legislature adopts law banning
An Indian state legislature on Wednesday approved a law that would
impose a three-year jail term and a fine of 100,000 rupees (US$2,100)
on anyone found guilty of inducing or coercing someone into religious
The jail term would be four years if those forced to convert were
minors, women or people belonging to the lowest castes in western
The legislation will become a state law after it is approved by the
federally appointed state governor -- seen as a mere formality.
[Christianity] Religious leaders, scholars debate end-time prophecies
Staff said there is a danger when Christians attempt to interpret
every current event in the Middle East as a sign of the end times.
"They end up crying wolf, and too often people stop listening to the
urgency of remembering that Jesus Christ will personally return," he
[What's Your Name?] Roving evangelist gets TV show
A roving evangelist who walked into this struggling former coal town
several years ago, barefoot and clad in messianic white robes, now has
a local television show.
"The idea of this is to help fill a void that's in the media industry.
There's a need to present the spiritual more ... and focus on the good
news to counteract this tendency to focus excessively on the negative
things in the world," said Carl Joseph, whose show debuted in
mid-March in the Hazleton area.
[Ritual Killing] Priest 'makes human sacrifice'
Police have arrested a village priest in the central Indian state of
Madhya Pradesh for allegedly carrying out a human sacrifice.
The priest, Chandrabhan Singh Lodhi, is accused of sacrificing a low
caste Hindu, or Dalit, to please the village goddess in Parsari
village of Sagar district.
Human sacrifice is illegal in India.
ApologeticsIndex.org / ReligionNewsBlog.com
Religion News Blog, April 2, 2003
[Brian Mitchell] Mitchell's Journey to 'Immanuel'
A decade ago, Brian David Mitchell was a clean-cut husband and father,
a Salt Lake Temple worker and a diecutter at O.C. Tanner. Today he is
a bedraggled prisoner at the Salt Lake County Jail, charged with
kidnapping Elizabeth Smart.
What happened to him? Doug Larsen believes he has a clue.
In the early 1990s, Larsen was perhaps Mitchell's best friend. The two
devout Mormons shared an office at O.C. Tanner, where they discovered
a mutual interest in religious philosophy and scripture. Isolated
somewhat from their co-workers, they talked for hours about their
[Jehovah's Witnesses] Longo says wife was first to kill
Christian Longo testified Tuesday that he strangled his wife,
MaryJane, on Dec. 17, 2001, then killed their unconscious daughter
Madison only after learning MaryJane had drowned two of their children
and tried to smother Madison.
[Offbeat News] UFO was ... cat
Observers heard an explosion and spotted a fireball in the night sky
over Lardal on March 14. Now authorities have managed to puzzle out
the evidence, and say a housecat caused the sighting, NRK Vestfold
[Buddhism] Buddhist precepts revised for modern life
Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk living in exile in France,
made public a revision of Pratimoksha, a list of precepts that
Bhikshus, or male Buddhist monks, need to study and practice, at a
lecture held yesterday at the Joong-Ang Sangha University.
Thich Nhat Hanh is well known for his interest in modernized Buddhism.
The revision serves to update the traditional Pratimoksha to meet the
needs of an advanced scientific era, with such developments as
computer technology, cell phones and the Internet.
[Order of Saint Charbel] Kamm's queen at 14
One of the 12 chosen queens of controversial religious leader William
Kamm was taken to a hotel for regular sex sessions from the time she
was just 14, Nowra Local Court heard yesterday.
The claim was made during a committal hearing into four charges each
of aggravated sexual assault and aggravated indecent assault on a
child aged under 16, along with one charge of inciting a child under
16 to commit an act of indecency, laid against Kamm, also known as The
[Order of Saint Charbel] Little Pebble sex charges
A distressed woman yesterday told a court how her mother had approved
of her having a sexual relationship with a religious cult leader when
she was just 14 years old.
The woman cried at times as she told magistrate David O'Connor, in
Nowra Local Court, about the occasions on which William "Little
Pebble" Kamm had taken her to a Figtree motel, and a Corrimal flat,
[Hinduism] Pillar Found at Site of India Mosque
Archaeologists have uncovered a broken pillar with a carving of a
lotus flower at the site of a destroyed 16th-century mosque claimed by
both Hindus and Muslims, a government official said Tuesday.
The significance of the discovery was still unclear, but officials
hope it will eventually help settle the impassioned debate about what
was originally built on the site.
[Islam] 'A dark future awaits the world'
Today, Dr. Lewis, who is Jewish and was born in Britain, is regarded
as the world's foremost interpreter of the Arab world.
Although he has written more than 20 books on the Islamic world, his
most famous book is What Went Wrong? The Clash Between Islam and
Modernity. The book, completed just before the Sept. 11 terrorist
strikes, topped best-seller lists around the world, largely because it
was one of the first to address the root causes of Islamist terrorism,
focusing on the rise of militant Islam in Iran, Egypt and Saudi Arabia
and the influence of the radical Wahhabi sect. Many of the Sept. 11
terrorists, including bin Laden, practise Wahhabism, which since its
founding in the 18th century has advocated a harsh, puritanical and
often violent form of Islam.
[Nuwaubians] York's wife pleads guilty
The wife of convicted child molester and cult leader Dwight
''Malachi'' York pleaded guilty to a felony charge Tuesday in federal
Kathy Johnson, 34, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Macon to
misprision of a felony.
Misprision of a felony means ''she knew a felony was taking place and
she didn't do anything about it,'' said U.S. Attorney spokeswoman Pam
[Human Rights Violations, USA] More double standards as another child
offender set to be executed
In the same week that Secretary of State Colin Powell spoke of "the
steadfast commitment of the United States to advance internationally
agreed human rights principles worldwide", the USA is set to violate a
fundamental principle of international law respected across the world,
Amnesty International said today, as Oklahoma prepared to execute
Scott Hain for a crime committed when he was 17.
Note: "The Convention on the Rights of the Child clearly stipulates
that capital punishment shall not be imposed for offences committed by
persons below eighteen years of age. All States, but the United States
and Somalia have ratified the Convention."
-- Mary Robinson, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights,
ApologeticsIndex.org / ReligionNewsBlog.com
Religion News Blog, April 4, 2003
[Zoroastrianism] Religion in the News: Zoroastrians
One of the world's oldest religions is establishing a new, American
temple for the faith outside the nation's capital, the Zoroastrian
Center and Darb-e-Mehr.
Once the state religion of an empire that stretched throughout much of
the ancient world, Zoroastrianism now has only about 200,000 adherents
worldwide (some estimates say the number is fewer). Up to 15,000
believers are in the United States.
[Hate Groups] Two suspects supremacists, watchdogs say
Two of three men arrested in Scranton last month on ethnic
intimidation charges are members of a statewide white supremacist
group that has recently established a local chapter, according to
extremist group watchdogs.
A hate group expert at the Anti-Defamation League, an organization
that focuses on domestic extremist groups and advises law enforcement
agencies, said Keith Carney, 21, Feasterville, and Steve Smith, 31,
West Chester, are members of the Keystone State Skinheads.
[Hate Groups] White supremacist group puts up billboard in north
A white supremacist organization has put up a billboard message in
north Florida that urges the United States to cut ties with Israel and
to stop immigration.
The National Alliance's message and its Internet address went up last
month on a highway four miles northwest of Old Town, about 100 miles
southeast of Tallahassee. A few days after the message was posted, an
e-mail from group listed the sign as an accomplishment.
[Jehovah's Witnesses] East Providence man pleads guilty to sexual
A former Jehovah's Witnesses official pleaded guilty Tuesday to
sexually assaulting his young stepdaughter and her male cousin in the
1970s and was sentenced to one year in prison.
[Jehovah's Witnesses] Woman bled to death after refusing transfusion
A young woman died after refusing a vital blood transfusion through
religious beliefs days after giving birth at Whipps Cross Hospital.
Patience Edema, a Jehovah's Witness, 24, died three days after giving
birth to her second daughter, on Tuesday, October 24 last year, from
complications after an emergency hysterectomy an operation to remove
[Christianity] American bishop says Jesus was a sinner
A new row over whether Jesus sinned broke out this week around the
controversial Bishop of Pennsylvania, Charles Bennison.
Last year the radical bishop drew the fire of both the former and
current Archbishops of Canterbury after his decision to sack a
traditionalist priest. Both Dr Carey and Dr Williams told the priest,
Fr David Moyer, that they would have no problem licensing him for
ministry in their dioceses, despite the fact that he was deposed by
the diocese of Pennsylvania.
But, according to critics in his diocese, his latest statement
suggesting that Jesus sinned dwarfs any other incidents in his
[Hate Groups] North Utah Faces Influx of Racists
Law enforcement officials here and in other towns in northern Utah say
they are grappling with a marked increase in crimes committed by men
who joined white supremacist gangs while in prison and who, once
released and bound by ideology and kinship, have settled in the area
to pursue lives of crime.
[Polygamy] Mormon 'prophet' charged with rape, molestation
A self-proclaimed Mormon prophet from Folsom has been charged with
molesting and raping three of his daughters and a stepdaughter for
nearly a quarter-century, couching the abuse in religious doctrine
that he wrote for his followers.
Allen Rex Harrod, 55, faces 97 counts of child molestation stemming
from abuse he wove into rituals for his polygamous sect, authorities
[Cloning] Human beings can’t be cloned, bioethicist says
Human cloning — despite the Raelian cult’s claim last December of
cloning a baby girl named Eve — just doesn’t work, Caplan said.
The reason is that “you’re using old or damaged DNA (from an adult) to
try and make something new,” he said.
[FLDS] Bishop loses Bountiful school case
The Canadian bishop of a polygamist religious group lost control
yesterday of the community's school in British Columbia and over
$1-million in assets to rivals aligned with the U.S.-based sect.
The shift in power was the most recent incident in a bitter fight that
has split families and neighbours in Canada and the United States over
who speaks for God and who should be acknowledged as the Prophet in
the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
[Islam] Russian May Prosecute Islamic Leader
Russian officials warned a top Islamic leader Friday that his call for
a holy war against the United States was illegal and he will be
prosecuted if he repeats it.
Supreme Mufti Talgat Tadzhuddin said Thursday that his organization
had declared jihad, or holy war, against the United States and would
raise money to "buy weapons for fighting America and food for the
people of Iraq."
[Islam] Aborigines turn to Islam
A rising number of young Aborigines in Australia are converting to
Many have embraced the religion for spiritual reasons, while others
insist it gives them a way to escape the oppression suffered by the
country's indigenous population.
[Islam] Listening for a voice of Muslim youth
Somewhere in the US's Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo Bay, there are a number
of young British men.
The men, including a trio dubbed the 'Tipton Taleban' remain
incarcerated after being seized by US forces in Afghanistan.
Why would men such as Asif Iqbal, Shafiq Rasul and Rahul Ahmed leave
their West Midlands homes to allegedly fight abroad?
Paradise, a new play in Birmingham, home to the second largest Muslim
community in Britain, explores these ideas.
The play, by British-born Kashmiri Amber Lone, charts how a frustrated
young man with limited prospects, Umar, falls in with an old
Umar soon finds himself in a Muslim country, fighting for an Islamic
cause that ultimately leads to his own death, shattering his family
[Alternative Healing] Homeopathy Same as Placebo for Kids with Asthma
Homeopathy is a type of alternative medicine that involves diluting
drugs in a solution to the point where only a few or no molecules of
the original drug remains. Homeopaths believe the small amount of drug
will stimulate or provoke the body's immune system to defend itself.
But Dr. Adrian White at the Peninsula Medical School at the University
of Exeter and colleagues in the UK found that homeopathy seemed to be
no better than a placebo at improving quality of life for children
with mild to moderate asthma.
[Harry Potter] Harry Potter triumphs over Russian rival
Harry Potter author JK Rowling has succeeded in blocking publication
of a Russian children's book about a magical girl named Tanja Grotter.
A Dutch judge said the Tanja Grotter story has too many similarities
to the boy wizard of Hogwarts.
Sitting in Amsterdam, he ordered Dutch publisher Byblos to withhold
7,000 translated copies of the first book by Russian Dmitry Yemets. He
rejected an argument that it was a parody of Harry Potter, not
April 3, 2003
[Unification Church] Bush Nominates Ex-Journalist to Senior Trade Post
President Bush has nominated a former managing editor of The
Washington Times to the post of deputy U.S. trade representative, the
administration said on Wednesday.
Josette Shiner, who currently holds the job of associate U.S. trade
representative for policy and communications, will replace Deputy U.S.
Trade Representative Jon Huntsman, who has overseen USTR activities in
Africa and Asia since August 2001.
Note: While they claim to be Christians, both Bush Sr. and Bush Jr.
have a cozy relationship with the Unification Church.
[Bioterrorism] FBI: Terrorists may try to improvise chemical,
The FBI says terrorists could use common household items to improvise
chemical or biological weapons and then hide them in food.
Using materials available at stores, on the Internet or through
mail-order firms, terrorists could make cyanide compounds, grow
salmonella bacteria and botulinum toxin, or distill the poison ricin
from castor beans, the FBI said Wednesday in its weekly bulletin.
The memo, sent to 18,000 state and local law enforcement agencies,
said there is no specific threat or indication that an attack is
imminent. But it detailed several past attacks using such weapons,
including an Oregon cult's contamination of local restaurant salad
bars with salmonella bacteria that sickened 751 people in 1984.
[Catholic Church] Boston Archdiocese Is Sued by San Bernardino Diocese
Underscoring the financial toll of the sexual abuse scandal on the
Roman Catholic Church, a California diocese has sued the Archdiocese
of Boston for damages resulting from its failure to disclose a
priest's history of sexual molestation.
In a lawsuit filed on Monday, the Diocese of San Bernardino, Calif., a
populous jurisdiction just east of Los Angeles, said Boston church
officials gave assurances that the priest, the Rev. Paul R. Shanley,
was in good standing, despite a record of sexual abuse when he
transferred from Boston in 1990.
[Islam] West Europe's Muslims and the Iraq war
Most Muslims in west European countries are fiercely critical of the
war. But not so fiercely, their leaders hope and urge, as to be out of
step with other critics
“THANK you, Germany,” said one banner as Berlin Muslims last weekend
protested against the Iraq war. Like most Muslims in western Europe,
they are appalled by it. But there is a hint of a silver lining: so
are most Germans, not least Gerhard Schröder, and most west Europeans
are against it; and that shared feeling may be bringing together the
natives and the Muslim minority.
Not only in Germany, and not before time: the two groups have been
drifting apart, especially since September 11th. Germany's 3.2m
Muslims are mostly Turks. But they have felt, and resented, the
suspicion as police raid mosques and other Muslim centres to catch
Arab terrorists. In the Netherlands too its 850,000-plus Muslims have
felt increasingly suspect; especially the many Moroccans, says Mohamed
Sini, one of their leaders. But now, he says, relations are improving
again, as the native Dutch—mostly against the war, though the prime
minister backs it—see Muslims reacting much as they do.
[International Law] What Would Grotius Do? The Founder of
International Law Speaks Out on Iraq
Fortunately, with the legality and legitimacy of the present conflict
in Iraq very much in doubt, there is still one untarnished authority
to whom we can turn. He has remained largely quiet during the crisis,
offending none of the principal antagonists.
To the war's critics, especially in Europe, he is a symbol of balance
and humanism, of respect for the rule of law over the law of the
jungle. And to the Bush Administration, he represents an era for which
they are openly nostalgic--a world of independent states looking out
for themselves, their judgments unclouded by the illusory security
afforded by ineffective international organizations.
He is the Dutch scholar Huig de Groot. Better known by his Latin pen
name, Hugo Grotius, he is perhaps the world's leading authority on
international law. According to most accounts, he virtually invented
[Hate Groups] Holocaust denier Zundel to remain in jail
Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel will remain in jail pending an
immigration hearing because the government believes he would continue
to spread his anti-Semitic views if released, an Immigration and
Refugee Board member ruled Tuesday.
[Polygamy] Leavitt adds new polygamy offense to crime books
Gov. Mike Leavitt quietly signed into law a tougher criminal sanction
for men who take young girls as their polygamist wives.
House Bill 307 created the new crime of child bigamy - marrying a
second wife who is under the age of 18. The second-degree felony is
punishable by one to 15 years in prison.
The penalty for ordinary bigamy is zero to five years.
[Hate Groups : Scientology] Scientologists in Germany launch legal
crusade to end observation
The German branch of the Church of Scientology has launched a legal
battle aimed at declaring the organization's continued surveillance by
German security agencies unconstitutional, a spokeswoman said
On Tuesday, the Scientologists filed a suit at a state court in
Cologne against Germany's federal Office for the Protection of the
Constitution, declaring the continued monitoring of Scientologists
illegal. A similar lawsuit was filed in against state authorities in
Note: Documents seized from the cult in Greece provide a good
indication of dangerous the extremist organization is:
ApologeticsIndex.org / ReligionNewsBlog.com
ReligionNewsBlog.com, April 11, 2003
[Religious Freedom] Amnesty International says Vietnam cracking down
on religious dissidents
Vietnam is harshly cracking down on religious dissidents and their
family members by using vague laws to charge them with spying, which
carries a possible death penalty, Amnesty International said Friday.
In a report, the London-based human rights group focused on charges
brought against the niece and nephews of Father Thadeus Nguyen Van Ly,
a Catholic priest sentenced to 15 years in jail in October 2001 for
advocating religious freedom.
[Word of Faith Fellowship] WOFF claims religious protection
The Word of Faith Fellowship has responded to a lawsuit filed by one
of the organization's former members alleging she was the victim of
false imprisonment and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
In answers filed Monday with the Rutherford County Clerk of Superior
Court, attorneys for the WOFF, senior pastor Jane Whaley and church
member Kim Waites deny the allegations made by Holly Hamrick and ask a
judge to dismiss the suit on the grounds of religious freedom.
[Hate Groups : Scientology] Group blames medication
As friends, family, and investigators searched for a possible motive
in Tuesday's slaying of a Massachusetts General Hospital cardiologist,
an antipsychiatry ''watchdog group'' said that Colleen Mitchell's
psychiatric medication had spurred her to shoot Dr. Brian McGovern and
then turn the gun on herself.
Members of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, which is
affiliated with the Church of Scientology, planned a protest at the
hospital today against the use of antidepressants such as Zoloft,
which Mitchell had apparently been taking.
NOTE: The Citizens Commission on Human Rights is a particularly rabid
front group of the Scientology cult. Both organizations act like hate
[AUM Shinrikyo] Cult still a danger in Japan
The Aum Supreme Truth doomsday cult, responsible for a deadly
nerve-gas attack in Tokyo in 1995, could still massacre people and
required continued Government surveillance, Japan said today.
"To this day, there is still danger that they might commit random
massacres," said Justice Minister Mayumi Moriyama, after presenting a
report to the Cabinet Office on the cult by the Public Security
"There is no change in the group's closed structure and deceptive
nature. Therefore we must continue monitoring its activities," she
[AUM Shinrikyo] Japan warning on doomsday cult
The latest report on the group, compiled by the Justice Ministry's
Public Security Investigation Agency, said that Aum had about 650
live-in followers and some 1,000 outside believers, as of the end of
[Warmongering / International Law] The moral decline of a superpower
No, it is not anti-Americanism that is damaging the image of the
United States; nor do the dictator Saddam Hussein and his extensively
disarmed country endanger the most powerful country in the world. It
is President Bush and his government that are diminishing democratic
values, bringing sure disaster to their own country, ignoring the
United Nations, and that are now terrifying the world with a war in
violation of international law.
NOTE: The author, Gunter Grass, was awarded the 1999 Nobel Prize for
[Catholic Church] Aide Says Scope of Church Abuse Unknown
The extent of sex abuse cases among Roman Catholic clergy in America
is still unknown, a top aide to the U.S. bishops said Thursday.
"We still don't know how prevalent the cases are, or how prevalent
they are in other sectors of society," said Kathleen McChesney,
executive director of the U.S. bishops' Office of Child and Youth
McChesney, whose office was created last year in response to the
nationwide clerical sex abuse crisis, spoke at a conference of roughly
100 civil attorneys, prosecutors and molestation victims at the
Cardozo School of Law.
The meeting was believed to be the first large-scale gathering of the
groups to share information about the abuse crisis, which engulfed the
church last year. In 2002, at least 325 of the roughly 46,000 priests
in the United States either resigned or were removed from their duties
because of abuse allegations, many dating back decades.
[Science and Religion] Life: The battle for American science
Creationists, pro-lifers and conservatives now pose a serious threat
to research and science teaching in the US, report Oliver Burkeman and
[AUM Shinrikyo] Aum's Asahara silent during final questioning
Aum Shinrikyo cult founder Shoko Asahara on Thursday forfeited his
final chance to respond to questions by his lawyers on his role in Aum
crimes including the 1995 gassing of the Tokyo subway, maintaining his
silence as his seven-year trial at the Tokyo District Court drew
closer to a conclusion.
The court set April 24 as the date when prosecutors will demand a
sentence. The prosecutors, who concluded they have done their best to
prove that Asahara was the mastermind behind the sarin gas attack and
other Aum crimes, are widely expected to demand the death penalty.
The court will hand down a ruling after the defense counsel gives the
final arguments Oct 30 and 31.
[AUM Shinrikyo] A Strategy?: Ex-Aum leader silent to the end
At the next hearing April 24, prosecutors are expected to seek the
death penalty for Matsumoto, who adopted the name Shoko Asahara when
he ran Aum, sources said.
At Thursday's hearing, family members of those killed when Aum members
released sarin gas in two locations demanded the former guru and
alleged mastermind be given the ultimate sanction.
During his seven-year trial which began in April 1996, Matsumoto has
been indicted on 27 murder counts covering 13 separate cases.
The charges include two cases of indiscriminate mass murder using
sarin nerve gas.
[AUM Shinrikyo] Matsumoto silent as questioning ends
During Thursday's hearing at the Tokyo District Court, the 253rd in
the long trial, victims of the cult's crimes were allowed to present
Matsumoto was also questioned for the third time, but remained silent,
refusing to answer any of the questions posed by his defense lawyers,
as he has done in previous hearings. Presiding Judge Shoji Ogawa
decided to terminate the questioning session.
Prosecutors did not question him at all.
[AUM Shinrikyo] Aum cult man flies to Moscow
The new figurehead of the Aum Supreme Truth doomsday cult left Japan
for Russia on Thursday in an apparent bid to shore up the loyalty of
The trip came amid expectations that prosecutors would demand death
for Aum founder Shoko Asahara, 48, at his seven-year-old trial in two
Fumihiro Joyu, the 40-year-old former telegenic spokesman for the cult
responsible for the 1995 deadly gas attacks on Tokyo subways, left on
a Aeroflot plane from Narita airport, a public safety source in Tokyo
The Russia visit, expected to last for about a week, is his first
overseas trip since Joyu was released from Japanese jail in December
1999 after serving a three-year jail sentence for perjury.
[Islam] Can Islam, democracy coexist?
The American model of democracy and the separation of church and state
isn't an easy fit in a Muslim country, experts and local Muslims say.
The ideal government, according to the Quran, is a theocracy, where
society is governed by the values of Islam.
Badat said Iraq's culture and way of life are completely different
than the United States'. Her husband, Ismail, is president of the
Islamic Center of Southern New Jersey, a Palmyra mosque.
"They (the United States) say they are going to impose democracy,"
said Badat, a native of India. "But Islam itself is an ideology. It is
very complex and doesn't differentiate between spiritual and mundane
"Democracy is the antithesis of Islam," said Badat, a native of India.
"Islam is neither democracy, communism or any of that. It emphasizes
both communal and individual rights, not at the cost of each other.
How will western democracy align with that?"
[Cloning] Human cloning 'flawed'
Human cloning may never be possible because of a quirk of biology.
Scientists in the United States say hundreds of attempts to clone
monkeys have ended in failure.
They think the biological make-up of the eggs of primates, including
humans, makes cloning almost impossible.
April 10, 2003
[Hate Groups : Scientology] Neighbors Worry As Scientology Moves In
Along with purchasing the building, the church acquired an adjacent
parking lot. It is considering purchasing more property in West Tampa
to make room for their community outreach programs, Tirabassi said,
including drug awareness programs, cleanup projects and literacy
Earl Haugabook, president of the West Tampa Chamber of Commerce, said
he is concerned if the church plans to grow in West Tampa.
``They could easily buy a whole bunch of property,'' Haugabook said.
``We want a diversified community with businesses who are going to
come in and offer jobs and keep the West Tampa mystique. We don't want
West Tampa known as the Scientology capital.''
NOTE: The Scientology organization is one of the most unethical cults
around. Promoting and condoning unethical behavior is part and parcel
of the organization's 'scriptures.'
[AUM Shinrikyo] Gas attack victims demand death for Asahara
Angry families of people who died in the 1995 Tokyo subway gassings
carried out by AUM-Shinrikyo cult members heaped abuse at cult guru
Shoko Asahara and demanded the death sentence for him Thursday at the
253rd hearing of his trial.
Testifying at the Tokyo District Court under the revised code of
criminal procedure, families accused Asahara, whose real name is
Chizuo Matsumoto, of directing subordinates in the AUM-Shinrikyo cult
to carry out the sarin gas attacks on Tokyo's subways that killed 12
and injured thousands.
[Cloning] Cloned human embryo reported
A Kentucky fertility specialist says he has created a cloned human
embryo that he plans to implant in a woman in the next month if
genetic tests show that the embryo is healthy. Scientists say it could
be the most credible human cloning experiment to date.
Unlike other supposed cloning efforts that have been cloaked in
secrecy, Dr. Panayiotis Zavos is about to report his results in a
scientific journal published by one of the world's most respected
scientists, in-vitro fertilization pioneer Dr. Robert Edwards.
[War] Church Leaders' Anti-War Message Fails in the Pews
It has been called organized religion's most unified anti-war stance
since the latter days of the Vietnam conflict.
But public opinion polls show the spiritual movement opposing war in
Iraq has had little impact on churchgoers, much less on the American
public, both of which overwhelmingly support both the U.S.-led
invasion and President Bush.
"The mainline churches have suffered a blow to their relevancy in
America that will take them more than a generation to recover from,"
said Rabbi Daniel Lapin, a conservative radio talk-show host from
Mercer Island, Wash., who speaks frequently at Christian Coalition
But the Rev. Robert Edgar, general secretary of the National Council
of Churches, could hardly disagree more. In his view, the council,
representing 36 denominations, is playing a prophetic role -- much as
it did in the 1960s when it took a stand for civil rights.
"None of the Old Testament prophets had a majority," said Edgar, a
former Democratic congressman from Pennsylvania. "My position is that
prophetic voices are always way out ahead of the congregation. Those
willing to speak out should not expect automatic enthusiasm. They
should understand pretty clearly that the rank and file take a little
longer to focus and to follow."
[Catholic Church] Church to Pay $323,000 and Apologize in Irish Sex
One of Ireland's prominent campaigners for the rights of victims of
clerical sexual abuse settled a five-year-old case against the Roman
Catholic diocese where he was abused more than 20 years ago for
300,000 euros ($323,000), in a deal that included a public apology and
sets a precedent for how the Catholic Church here relates to abuse
[Elizabeth Loftus] UCI Professor Faces Pending Lawsuit
UCI’s Distinguished Professor in Social Ecology Elizabeth Loftus,
widely known for her studies in false memory research, is currently
facing an impending lawsuit filed against her by Nicole Taus in Solano
No stranger to controversy, Loftus has come to the defense of some of
the nation’s most high-profile individuals, among them Ted Bundy, the
Menendez Brothers and Michael Jackson.
Although Taus could not be reached for comment, a plaintiff report
filed at the superior court of California in Solano County accused
Loftus and several other parties of invasion of privacy, defamation,
libel per se, negligent and intentional infliction of emotional
distress and damages.
ApologeticsIndex.org / ReligionNewsBlog.com
Religion News Blog, Apr. 12 - 15, 2003
April 15, 2003
[Human Rights] New Book Includes Papal Texts on Human Rights
The Vatican Press has just published a book entitled "Human Rights in
the Teachings of the Church, from John XXIII to John Paul II," which
includes papal texts on the rights and duties of the human person.
"Human rights are a meeting ground today between believers and
nonbelievers," the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and
Peace, Archbishop Renato Martino, said Thursday when presenting the
work at the Luigi Sturzo Institute.
[World Ministries Church] Five plead not guilty to failing to report
Five people pleaded not guilty in Tucson City Court yesterday to
charges they failed to report the death of a man as his body
decomposed for at least three weeks in his Southwest Side home.
Police said the body of James W. Killeen, 50, remained in his South
Hillerman Drive home while members of a religious group prayed for his
[World Ministries Church] Killeen's last days
Religious leader Stanley Adair Bennett promised an ailing follower
that if he fasted for 40 days, not only would he be healed but a
paraplegic woman would walk again.
The woman, Joanne Tapia, says she believes Bennett "deceived" the sick
man, James Killeen - a diabetic whose January death went unreported
for three weeks while Bennett and his followers prayed for his
resurrection, according to police and autopsy reports.
Bennett, 51, who was in court yesterday for a hearing on charges he
failed to report a death, has refused to comment on the case.
Tapia, paralyzed in 2001 when her ex-boyfriend shot her, was receiving
care at the home of James Killeen and his wife, Eleanor, when police
discovered Killeen's body there Jan. 23.
[Christianity] Virtual Ark Sets Sail in Religious Big Brother Game
An internet reality game show billed as a religious version of the Big
Brother programme is to be launched at Easter, it was announced today.
The satirical Christian web magazine shipoffools.com will launch a
virtual Noah’s Ark on Easter Sunday featuring 12 “heroes and zeroes”
from the Bible.
Every fourth day the web audience will vote to make one of the Ark
inhabitants walk the plank after nominations by fellow contestants.
[Islam] France threatens to deport radical Muslims
France has threatened to deport any Muslim leaders preaching extremist
views, after fundamentalist Muslims won a strong voice in a new
council to represent Islam in France.
Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy said on Tuesday the council, which
will represent the country's five million Muslims, would not be
allowed to become a breeding ground for radical Islam.
[Hate Groups] FBI reveals guns, chemicals, fake IDs
Machine guns, more than 100,000 rounds of ammunition, pipe bomb
materials, binary explosives and reading materials, including "The
Turner Diaries," "Anarchist Cookbook" and articles from white
supremacist groups, were also found in the storage unit, LaRocca said.
A search of a U-Haul truck found at Krar's home on Oak Spring Road
also led authorities to more guns, a silencer, powder sodium cyanide
and blank identification forms. Despite finding the unusual items,
agents don't believe Krar was planning to commit terrorism, LaRocca
[Jim Bakker] Jim Bakker flattered by positive response in Branson
Jim Bakker has good reason to be happy as his six-piece band
appropriately plays Kool and the Gang's "Celebration."
Bakker, the disgraced televangelist who spent five years in prison for
fraud related to bilking followers of his once-thriving PTL operation
in South Carolina, is in the early stages of reviving that career in
this southwest Missouri entertainment mecca, home to more than 40
"The Jim Bakker Show," taped at the Studio City Cafe in Branson, is
the 63-year-old Bakker's latest venture into Christian television.
Bakker's hour-long show debuted Jan. 2, exactly 16 years after the
last show from his Heritage Village resort in Fort Mill, S.C. It now
airs on more than 32 stations in 20 states, as well as more than 200
cable stations. And it is broadcast via satellite in 93 countries.
[Transcendental Meditation] Peace Palace a place to ponder
The Horse Capital of the World and the home of Jif peanut butter now
has another claim to international fame.
The world's first Peace Palace, a $4 million facility for those who
seek to spread peace through transcendental meditation, was
inaugurated here yesterday.
"The basis of world peace is in the individual," said Tom Linner,
administrator of the Peace Palace.
The facility, which sits on 11 acres at the University of Kentucky's
Coldstream Research Campus, opened last summer.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, founder of the transcendental meditation
movement, has plans for 191 more Peace Palaces in the United States
and 3,000 around the world.
[Faith Healing] Alleged SoCal faith healer arrested for continuing
An alleged faith healer charged with involuntary manslaughter in a
patient's death remained jailed Friday after being arrested for
continuing to practice medicine without a license, officials said.
Reina Chavarria, 48, of the Van Nuys area, was arrested Thursday for
investigation of practicing medicine without a license and possessing
controlled substances, said officials with the county Department of
[Franklin Graham] Graham Invitation Irks Muslims at Pentagon
Muslim employees of the Defense Department are protesting plans for
the Rev. Franklin Graham, who has called Islam an evil religion, to
lead Good Friday prayers at the Pentagon.
In letters to the Pentagon chaplain's office, Muslim office workers
said they were dismayed by the choice of Graham and urged officials to
find "a more inclusive and honorable Christian clergyman" to lead the
April 18 service.
[Bukas–Loob Sa Diyos Covenant] SARS cases linked to religious group
A large cluster of SARS cases, most of which had been previously
reported, has been linked to a Toronto branch of an international
Catholic sect, health officials said Monday.
There are 10 probable and 19 suspect cases among the Bukas-Loob Sa
Diyos Covenant group, said Dr. Sheela Basrur, the city's chief medical
officer of health.
Two physicians who treated members of the group have also been
diagnosed with severe acute respiratory syndrome, Basrur said.
And in another sweeping move intended to contain the outbreak, the
group's 500 members in the Toronto area have all been placed under
Members of the group first became exposed to SARS at the funeral of a
victim of the disease two weeks ago, Basrur said.
[Euthanasia / Jehovah's Witnesses] Suicide Tourists
A disabled couple flew to a suicide clinic in Switzerland to end their
lives - after telling their family they were going on holiday.
Bob Stokes, 60, and his 55-year-old wife Jennie, who have two grown-up
children, took lethal doses of drugs the day after arriving.
A family friend said yesterday: "I'm absolutely devastated they felt
so desperate to end their lives.
"I'm also surprised because they were Jehovah's Witnesses and I don't
think their church would have accepted their decision.
[Falun Gong] Hong Kong Falun Gong followers support lawsuit in U.S.
against Jiang Zemin
Members of the Falun Gong meditation sect rallied Monday in support of
a lawsuit brought in the United States against former Chinese
President Jiang Zemin, whose government sought to eradicate the group
in the mainland.
Falun Gong followers worldwide were turning out to support the suit
filed last October in federal court in Chicago by practitioners,
mostly from the United States, who accuse Jiang of genocide and other
crimes, said Kan Hung-cheung, a local Falun Gong spokesman.
[Archeology] Dawn of American religion found
The oldest image of a deity in the Americas has been discovered by
archaeologists - pushing back the origin of religion there by 1,000
A 4,250-year-old gourd fragment found in a looted cemetery on the
Peruvian coast, 120 miles north of Lima, bears an archaic image of the
Staff God, which was the principal deity in the region for millennia.
[Witchcraft] Mexican villagers stone 'witch' to death
An angry crowd stoned to death an Indian man accused of practicing
witchcraft in a southern Mexico town with a long tradition of
[Catholic Church] 34 Men File Priest Sex Abuse Suit
The Diocese of Rockville Centre and its top hierarchy were sued for
hundreds of millions of dollars today by 34 men claiming they were
abused by priests as children. The two lawsuits seeking hundreds of
millions of dollars were filed in Nassau State Supreme Court.
April 14, 2003
[Branch Davidians] Feds: Safety Better Since '93 Waco Siege
In the years that followed the raid on the Branch Davidian complex,
the mantra "Not Another Waco" has become a powerful credo for the
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and law enforcement agencies
"The events of Waco were a watershed for the ATF, on a personal level
... and professional level in terms of it being a horrendous wake-up
call in terms of how we do business," said Brad Buckles, ATF director
[Catholic Church] Lawyer attacks church via racket law
The newest lawsuit in the past year's unprecedented wave of sex-abuse
litigation against the Cleveland Catholic Diocese could prove to be
the most contentious yet.
Rocky River attorney Jay Milano filed a civil racketeering lawsuit
against the diocese on Thursday, saying he will seek access to records
never before viewed by laymen outside the locked vaults in Cathedral
Milano wants to see the secret file of every priest who works in the
eight-county diocese, plus financial records from all of the different
corporations the diocese owns and operates - businesses that Milano
contends are used to hide and protect property, and to shield assets.
A Massachusetts judge's order to open secret church records of the
Boston Archdiocese last year - and the subsequent publication of the
information - is considered the deciding event that launched the
crisis in the Catholic Church in America.
[Science] Leading scientist defends the Exodus account but puts Sinai
in Saudi Arabia
A British scientist is making two claims about Jewish history this
Passover season that could surely spark discussion over the Seder
Colin J. Humphreys of Cambridge University has concluded that science
backs traditional beliefs that the Israelites' exodus from Egypt was
led by Moses pretty much the way the Bible and the Haggadah ritual
He also says that Mount Sinai, where Scripture says Moses received
God's Law, is located in Saudi Arabia, not Egypt's Sinai Peninsula --
moving a key site for Judaism into the nation where Islam was founded.
Humphreys' theories come at a time when his close, literal reading of
the Book of Exodus is far out of fashion among Conservative and Reform
Jews, though it may be welcomed by Orthodox Jews and conservative
He details his ideas in a readable new book, "The Miracles of Exodus:
A Scientist's Discovery of the Extraordinary Natural Causes of the
Biblical Stories" (HarperSanFrancisco).
[Mormon Church] ACLU Argues Against Church's Appeal of Main St. Ruling
The American Civil Liberties Union says the U.S. Supreme Court should
reject the Mormon church's appeal of a lower court ruling regarding
free speech on the city's Main Street plaza.
The ACLU argued in a brief filed Friday that the Oct. 9 ruling from
10th U.S. District Court of Appeals isn't as radical as The Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints claims it is.
[Branch Davidians] Siege Mentality
Ten years ago, the Waco siege ended with 86 dead - most, including
`cult leader' David Koresh, burnt alive. Aaron Hicklin meets the
survivors, the blood-trail tourists and the white-supremacists for
whom 19 April 1993 was a day of revelation
April 13, 2003
[Christianity] Jakes tries to lead ladies up corporate ladder
I thought Jakes would preach himself into a sweat, lay hands on a few
folks or anoint them with oil like other world-renowned evangelists.
But he was on a different mission this time: climbing the corporate
I learned a lot about Christians climbing corporate ladders. However,
it can't compare to "climbing Jacob's ladder." At least I know who's
waiting for me at the top.
[Vatican Radio] Vatican radio back in the dock
Vatican Radio has denied allegations that its transmitters have been
putting lives at risk in a Rome suburb by violating restrictions on
On Wednesday, Italy's Supreme Court ruled that three officials from
the broadcaster would have to stand trial over the charges.
In doing so, the top court overturned a lower court's ruling a year
ago saying that, under the 1929 Lateran Treaty - establishing the
Vatican as an independent state - Italy had no jurisdiction over the
[Hate Groups] Judge Sentences KKK Members to Prison
A federal judge sentenced five Ku Klux Klan members to prison
Thursday, calling them ``domestic terrorists'' for burning a cross in
the front yard of three black men.
U.S. District Judge Tucker Melancon gave the men terms ranging from a
year to almost 14 years. He also fined ring leader David Anthony
Fuselier $5,000 and the others $3,000, and ordered each to pay about
$1,500 in restitution.
The defendants ``are just as much a threat to the United States as are
the foreign terrorists,'' the judge said.
[Hate Groups] Inmate David Duke
On Tuesday he will report to a federal prison in Texas, a new personal
and political low for a man who had already fallen far from the
political prominence of a decade ago.
[Branch Davidians] Shaping society: Branch Davidian siege impact huge
on civil liberty issues
Part 8 of a 9-part series.
Waco attorney Stanley Rentz, a former McLennan County judge who
represented Branch Davidian Graeme Craddock during the 1994 criminal
trial in San Antonio, says he thinks the Branch Davidians will find a
spot in history.
"I think that the Davidians were sort of a landmark," Rentz says. "We
will always know them here, of course. But they were sort of a
landmark nationally, too, until Oklahoma City. After that, that became
the focus. Since Oklahoma City, we have seen a lot less of the militia
people. They found out there is a lot of difference between blowing up
a stump in the woods and blowing up a building full of people."
[Branch Davidians] Branch Davidian site recalls painful chapter for
Each year, hundreds of people visit this site in a pasture 10 miles
east of Waco off a winding, two-lane road past cow pastures, fields of
wildflowers and a few houses.
April 12, 2003
[Religion Trends] U.S. faith broad but not deep, Gallup says at DBU
Contrary to reason, Americans are becoming both more and less
religious year by year, veteran pollster George Gallup Jr. told a
luncheon audience at Dallas Baptist University March 31.
"America's religion is broad but not deep," Gallup observed.
"Fortunately, we're seeing pockets where religious faith is maturing
Michael Lindsay, consultant for theology, religion and culture at the
Gallup Organization, accompanied Gallup and shared in the noontime
"Americans' level of biblical illiteracy has not improved over the
last half century. In fact, it has not kept pace with increasing
literacy on the whole," Gallup reported.
"This leaves them vulnerable to cults, many of which glorify self, not
The influence of cults and various religious ideas, compounded with
Americans' poor theological foundations, has produced "a great deal of
fuzziness in spirituality," he said. That particularly has taken its
toll on mainline denominations--Episcopalian, Lutheran, Methodist and
Presbyterian--each of which has lost about one-third of its membership
in the past three decades.
"The bad news about religion in this country is there is a lot of
superficiality," he added. For example, the Gallup Organization has
polled people who simultaneously claim to be born-again Christians and
say they practice "channeling" with spirits.
"It's not that Americans don't believe anything," Gallup said. "They
[Human Rights Violations, USA] Report: Worldwide executions down in
The number of people executed by governments worldwide fell
dramatically last year, but increased in the United States, which is
the only known country to apply the death penalty for crimes committed
as juveniles, Amnesty International reported Friday.
Last year, the United States was the only known country to execute
people who committed crimes as juveniles.
"This blight on our country's human rights record belies our claim to
be an international human rights defender," said William F. Schulz,
executive director of Amnesty International USA.
[Human Rights Violations] 1,526 executed in 2002
Releasing its statistics for the number of worldwide executions
carried out during 2002, Amnesty International called on the UN
Commission on Human Rights to take strong action against the death
penalty at its annual session, currently sitting in Geneva, and to
establish a universal moratorium on executions.
[World Ministries Church] Brother gets Ministries member's body
A judge has allowed a relative to claim the remains of James Killeen,
a Tucson man over whose decomposing body relatives and a religious
leader prayed for three weeks.
The group reportedly was praying for the man's resurrection
ApologeticsIndex.org / ReligionNewsBlog.com
Yahoo Messenger ID: aheinholland
Catching up, so no excerpts this time:
April 24, 2003
[Religious Insanity / Islamism] Kiss gets Iranian actress suspended
sentence of 74 lashes
[Peyote] Mich. Judge Bars Peyote Use for Boy
[Islam] Shi'ites show they can't be ignored
[AUM Shinrikyo] Prosecutors expected to demand death penalty for Aum
[Religion Trends / Internet] Believers flock to online religion
[Raelians] Little behind Clonaid, files reveal : But publicity raises
[Hate Crimes] Calif. Muslim teen sues over alleged hate attack
[Lucille Poulin] Ex-nun who beat kids released from P.E.I. jail
[Polygamy] Family, Colorado City church feud over property
[Robin Marie Murphy] 'Cult murders' killer Murphy wants new trial
No items posted on Apr. 23, 2003
April 22, 2003
[Alternative Healing] A look at the science behind meditation
[Milli Görüs] Turkey Offers Support for Controversial Islamic Group
[AUM Shinrikyo] Aum flailing amid vacuum left by Asahara
[Church / State] Supreme Court declines to review San Diego
[Human Rights Violations, USA] DNA Clears Louisiana Man on Death Row,
[Islam] Can new panel's head serve France and Muslims, too?
[Islam] Islamic headscarf row rears its head again
[Islam] MP booed for telling Muslim women to unveil
[Human Rights Violations, USA] Texas Death Penalty Case to Get Supreme
[Brethren] 'We were strange, we were shunned, but there's little I
[AUM Shinrikyo] After seven-year trial, doomsday guru's lawyer says he
did his best
[MRTCG] Ugandan journalist sues UK firm over video on 2000 cult deaths
[Mungiki] Arrest Mungiki boss, demands clergyman
[Mungiki] Drama as OCPD flees Mungiki mob
April 21, 2003
[Americanism] 'Does America really merit God's blessing?'
[Mormon Church] Mormons on mission to lure city minorities
[Hate Groups] Yale students spoof anti-gay protest
[Robert Kleasen] Double murder suspect dies in hospital
[Iraq] Iraqi Christians wary of Islamists
[Transcendental Meditation] Meditation center in Lexington could serve
as a global model
[Transcendental Meditation] Group hoping to build peace palace in
[Transcendental Meditation] Local group's TM mantra: Find money
[Hate Groups] Police track white supremacist prison gangs
[Community of Christ
] Former Reorganized Latter-Day Saint returns as a Baptist campus
[Archeology] Digs find evidence of Biblical kingdoms
April 20, 2003
[Branch Davidians] Prophesying about Waco: Waco's future remains
clouded by Davidian tragedy
[Soka Gakkai] Documentary on Controversial Japanese Buddhist Group to
Air on PBS Stations
[Gloriavale Community] Religious sect in pay wrangle
[The Fellowship Foundation] Congressional group house is subsidized by
religious group, records show
[Temple Mount Faithful] High Court postpones ruling on Temple Mount
[Neil and Christy Edgar] Lawyers for Two to Seek Separate Trials
[Neil and Christy Edgar] Two defendants to seek separate trials in
[Falun Gong] Hundreds Demonstrate For Falun Gong Movement
[AUM Shinrikyo] Cult leader faces death penalty call over sarin attack
April 19, 2003
[Faith Healing / Ariel Ben Sherman] Couple face more charges in girl's
[Faith Healing / Ariel Ben Sherman] Jacqueline Crank Indicted on Child
[Civil Liberties] Denver Police to Stop Files on Protesters
[Witchcraft] Three hacked to death over allegations of witchcraft
[Simon Wiesenthal] 'My work is done,' says Nazi hunter
[Hare Krishna] Hare Krishna Offer an Alternative Kind of School
[Benny Hinn] Controversial TV Evangelist Holds Mellon Arena Service
[Jehovah's Witnesses] Two kidnapped Christian preachers found in Jolo
[Catholic Church] Suicide Victim's Family Sues Church
[Branch Davidians] Surviving Davidians mark tragedy's 10th anniversary
[Branch Davidians] Residents recall cult leader David Koresh
[Branch Davidians] Ten Years Later, Waco Feels the Weight of a Deadly
[The Family (Winnfred Wright)] Woman sentenced in death of toddler
[The Family (Winnfred Wright)] Last of Marinwood cult sentenced
April 18, 2003
[Islam vs. USA] Mecca-Cola comes to Africa
[Ritual Killing] Animal sacrifice all in a day's work
[Polygamy] Hatch pressed to take stand against polygamy
[Neil and Christy Edgar] Three charged with hogtying, killing boy are
bound over for trial
[Hate Crimes] Muslim woman's body desecrated in morgue
[Christianity] Filipino Christians nailed to the cross in Good Friday
[Archeology] Burial box 'held the bones of Jesus's brother'
[Catholic Church] Pope reinforces old rules
[Religion Trends / Internet] Holy surfers have faith in the web
[Branch Davidians] Waco Tragedy Must Not Be Forgotten
[Branch Davidians] The Children of Waco
[Branch Davidians] Davidian Survivors Coping 10 Years Later
April 17, 2003
[Neil and Christy Edgar] Prosecutors present evidence in Brian Edgar's
[Hate Groups] Residents reject flyer left by supremacists
[Jehovah's Witnesses] Jury recommends Longo be sentenced to death
April 16, 2003
[Iraq / Evangelism] A crusade after all?
[Hate Groups] White supremacist movement in disarray, says US report
[World Ministries Church] Judge denies widow's objection; James
Killeen's brother will claim body for burial
[Islam] Ex-associate paves the way for Abu Hamza's arrest
[Jehovah's Witnesses] Longo Cries As Father Pleads For Son's Life
[Volkert van der Graaf] Fortuyn gunman spared life term
[Volkert van der Graaf] Profile: Fortuyn killer
ApologeticsIndex.org / ReligionNewsBlog.com
Religion News Blog, April 26, 2003
[Alternative Healing / Shamanism] Healer gets house arrest in Wiki
Saying he had to strike a balance between “the spiritual and the
temporal,” an Ontario judge sentenced a Shuar traditional healer to 12
months of house arrest for the death of a Wikwemikong elder in
Justice Gerald Michel also sentenced Juan Uyunkar’s son Edgar to one
day in jail, time served, plus six months probation. Edgar Uyunkar was
also ordered to leave Canada as soon as possible.
On Thursday, the Uyunkars pled guilty to charges of administering a
noxious substance and trafficking in a controlled substance.
They were arrested Nov. 24, 2001, after a police investigation into
the death of Wikwemikong elder Jean (Jane) Maiangowi.
The 71-year-old diabetic died after ingesting a solution containing
tobacco, water and South American vines.
The elder Uyunkar and his son had been invited to the Wikwemikong
First Nation to perform traditional healing ceremonies for band
Justice Michel said the sentence was necessary “in order to bring home
to all natural healers the message that they have to be careful with
reference to unlawful substances and their consequences.
“The sentence cannot and will not satisfy everyone because of the
conflicting principles between the spiritual and the temporal, but I
must mete out a penalty,” the judge said.
[Alternative Healing / Shamanism] Woman dies in healing ritual; shaman
The Uyunkars said the purging removed contaminants such as bile,
phlegm, salt, fats and excess sugar from the blood and also expelled
The ceremonies were so popular in Wikwemikong that the health
authority paid to send Mr. Uyunkar back to Ecuador to obtain more
pieces of the vine used in making the drink. Mr. Uyunkar did not know
it is a banned substance in Canada, and without attempting to conceal
it, was able to bring it back through customs to continue the healing
ceremonies in Wikwemikong.
Jane Maiangowi, 71, began the three-day healing ceremony that led to
her death on Oct. 17, 2001, with her husband, Antoine, and grandson
Michael. They were told, along with 50 other participants, to stop
taking any other drugs and to fast as much as possible. Ms. Maiangowi,
a diabetic, stopped taking her prescribed Diamicron. She fasted.
[World Ministries Church] J. Killeen to be buried here today, brother
A man whose body decomposed for at least three weeks in a Southwest
Side home before his death was reported will be buried here today, his
James Killeen was cremated Tuesday morning at Desert Rose Cremation
and Burial, 2750 S. Fourth Ave., said his brother, Christopher
Killeen, who lives in Rhode Island. The burial will be at South Lawn
[Transcendental Mediation] National "Yogic Flying" Competition Comes
Members of the audience at Maharishi University cheered as yogic
flying players competed in four different events. Around 20 yogic
flying competitors used Transcendental Meditation to raise their
bodies feet into the air while sitting. "You feel like everything's
gonna be taken care of for you. And whatever you want to do, you'll be
able to do," said Michael Koren.
White Supremacist Group Fined $1,000 a Day
A federal judge ruled a group headed by a jailed white supremacist
should be fined $1,000 a day until it stops calling itself the World
Church of the Creator.
U.S. District Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow said Thursday the group
failed to comply with an order to stop using the name and was in
contempt of court.
Attorneys expressed doubt that Matthew Hale's organization has much
money to pay but said that individual members could be held
Hale, 31, was sued by the Oregon-based group TE-TE-MA Truth
Foundation, which claimed that it held a trademark on the name.
[Hate Groups] Hale's racist organization fined over trademark
Thursday, attorneys for the Oregon church said Hale's group was still
using the name, in violation of the court order, on its Web site, on
merchandise it was selling and in other instances.
"There has been some compliance, but not full compliance," the judge
said, agreeing to the penalties sought by the Oregon church's
Todd Reardon, representing Hale's group, which now calls itself the
Creativity Movement, said group members were trying to comply with the
NOTE: In light of the name change, Apologetics Index has created a new
entry on this hate group:
[Human Rights Violations, USA] Amnesty finds race factor in US death
Statistical evidence from the United States suggests that black
defendants convicted of killing whites have been sentenced to death 15
times more often than white defendants convicted of killing blacks,
according to a study published by Amnesty International yesterday.
The survey, based largely on recent investigations carried out by
individual states, suggests that race remains a powerful factor when
American juries decide whether to send convicts to death row, but that
the race of the victim is often more important than the race of the
[Polygamy] Sect leader objects to Santorum's polygamy comment
The leader of one of Utah's largest polygamist sects has objected to
Sen. Rick Santorum's lumping plural marriage with other practices the
Pennsylvania Republican considers to be antifamily.
Santorum has been under fire for comparing homosexuality to bigamy,
polygamy, incest and adultery.
Owen Allred, 89, head of the United Apostolic Brethren, based in the
Salt Lake City suburb of Bluffdale, agreed with Santorum in part.
''He is absolutely right. The people of the United States are doing
whatever they can to do away with the sacred rights of marriage,''
But Allred, who was quoted by The Salt Lake Tribune in Thursday's
edition, said Santorum's inclusion of polygamy in his list tarnishes a
religious tradition whose roots are traced to biblical figures such as
Abraham, Jacob and Moses - defiling them as ''immoral and dirty.''
[Aum Shinrikyo] Aum Shinrikyo developments
The following is a chronology of developments either involving or
allegedly linked to AUM Shinrikyo cult founder Shoko Asahara.
[Aum Shinrikyo] Aum trial points to system flaws
The trial of Aum Supreme Truth cult founder Chizuo Matsumoto, 48, also
known as Shoko Asahara, at the Tokyo District Court, which has taken
seven years so far, showcases the difficulty of speeding up court
Government reforms planned for the judicial systems call for all
first-stage trials to be finished within two years and for the
introduction of a mixed jury system, in which members of the public
will participate in criminal trials with judges.
After the reforms are implemented, a lengthy trial such as Matsumoto's
would not be tolerated. In addition to its length, Matsumoto's trial
highlighted other tasks reforms need to tackle.
[Aum Shinrikyo] A mere shell of a man
Prosecutors simply had no alternative but to seek the death penalty
Our outrage against the defendant is renewed. But we wonder how to
deal with the gnawing sense of futility and emptiness that remains.
Matsumoto never said anything coherent about the fundamental issues.
He uttered not one word of apology to the victims and their families.
Initially, Matsumoto was quite vocal, however incoherent, in court.
After having been harshly rebuked by a former follower for his
``crimes as guru,'' however, he locked himself up within his shell of
Who is this man-this accused who seems nothing more than a puny,
[Aum Shinrikyo] Evil spirit lives on in shabby man in court
Unashamed of his penchant for megalomania, the defendant once boasted
in court: ``I have become a creature with the capacity to move the
whole universe.'' But when he was given a chance to explain himself
under the Subversive Activities Prevention Law, he said many of his
instructions to members of his cult had not been followed and added
that he took it as a sign that his authority had tumbled.
This shows he is a person who can calculatingly humble himself,
depending on circumstances.
People are sometimes drawn to evil, but they cannot stand vulgarity, a
British novelist once observed. As cult leader, Matsumoto may have
bewitched his followers by exercising evil power. But only his vulgar
side stands out in the courtroom.
The gulf between the gravity of charges against him and the pettiness
of his behavior often leaves me speechless.
April 25, 2003
[Harry Potter] Judge orders schools to let Potter reappear
federal judge ordered Harry Potter books back onto an Arkansas school
district's library shelves Tuesday, rejecting a school board's claim
that tales of wizards and spells could harm school children.
Ruling in favor of a fourth-grader's parents, U.S. District Judge Jimm
Larry Hendren ordered the Cedarville School District to put the four
books in J.K. Rowling's popular series back in general circulation.
[Religious Intolerance] Teacher's Aide Suspended for Wearing Cross
teacher's aide is challenging her one-year suspension without pay for
wearing a cross necklace, which officials say violates a Pennsylvania
Public School Code prohibition against teachers wearing religious
"I got suspended April 8, 2003, for wearing a cross to work and not
being willing to either remove it or tuck it in," said Brenda Nichol,
43, of Indiana County.
Officials at ARIN Intermediate Unit 28 wouldn't comment on Nichol's
case specifically, but said their employee handbook is based on the
school code and prohibits all employees from wearing religious garb.
ARIN supplies teachers aides and other services to 11 school districts
and two technical schools in Armstrong and Indiana counties.
Nichol acknowledges she was told of the prohibition as far back as
1997, and was warned twice since March that wearing the necklace was
cause for suspension. Under the school code, she could be fired for a
"I think the public needs to know that there is a code out there that
is against our freedom," Nichol said. She has enlisted the help of the
American Center for Law and Justice, a Virginia-based public-interest
law firm founded in 1990 by Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson. The
group plans, but has not yet filed, a federal court lawsuit.
April 24, 2003
[AUM Shinrikyo] Aum facilities rocking social boat
The Aum Supreme Truth cult currently operates 28 facilities that carry
out its practices and promotional activities and about 120 residential
facilities that house its followers in 17 prefectures, The Yomiuri
Shimbun has learned.
Regarding the conflict between members of the cult and local
residents, Yoshihide Sakurai, an associate professor of the Graduate
School of Letters at Hokkaido University, said the cult had a
"self-centered" attitude, although laws of religion are meant to allow
freedom of activity.
Sakurai added: "It's no wonder local residents fear the cult. Cult
members should realize the responsibility to alleviate residents'
fears rests with them."
[AUM Shinrikyo] Aum Shinrikyo plagued by guru's whims, journalist says
The crimes perpetrated by the disciples of Shoko Asahara and those
allegedly committed by the Aum Shinrikyo guru himself were the product
of one man's whimsical impulses and not a concerted quest for power,
according to journalist Shoko Egawa.
Egawa has covered the cult extensively since the days when few people
were aware of its criminal activities.
[AUM Shinrikyo] Death demanded for Asahara
Exactly seven years after the trial began, prosecutors Thursday
demanded the death penalty for Aum Shinrikyo founder Shoko Asahara,
accused of masterminding two sarin attacks in the mid-1990s as well as
other heinous crimes.
The defense team is expected to present its final arguments in Oct. 30
and Oct. 31; a ruling is expected to be handed down early next year.
[AUM Shinrikyo] Prosecutors demand death penalty for AUM's Asahara
The 48-year-old Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, was
indicted on murder and other charges in 13 criminal cases, including
the March 1995 subway gassing that killed 12 people and injured more
The crimes also include a 1994 sarin gas attack in Matsumoto, Nagano
Prefecture, the killing of AUM cultists, and the murder of a lawyer,
who was helping people with complaints against AUM, and his family.
''The crimes are indiscriminate terrorism with not the slightest bit
of religiousness and are the most atrocious and heinous villainy in
criminal history,'' the prosecutors said in their 300-page closing
''The defendant preached a dangerous doctrine that affirms murder and
it is clear that he ordered the events. The claims that deny he did so
are false,'' they added.
[AUM Shinrikyo] Japan Doomsday Guru May Get Death Penalty
Asahara, who has denied the allegations but alternated between
incoherent ranting and sullen silence throughout most of the trial, is
also charged with ordering a series of other killings, assaults and
Prosecutors say he was involved in 26 deaths altogether.
He sat emotionless during most of his trial Thursday.
Nine of Asahara's top lieutenants have already been sentenced to death
for their roles in the subway attack and other cult-related crimes.
[Christianity] A new beginning; Former Wiccan joins the Episcopal
Diehl had attended other services at Christian churches, including
Episcopal services, as a high school and college student. That
exploration and discussion about Christianity were discouraged by
Diehl's mother, a practicing Wiccan.
"I got stuck with a lot negative stereotypes, that all Christians were
sheep," says Diehl, who also practiced Wicca, of her upbringing.
The death of her grandmother in November, the gentle nudging of her
fiance and her abandonment of the ceremonial side of Wicca all
contributed to Diehl's arriving at St. Paul's. After an initial trial
period, Diehl formalized her intention of joining the Episcopal Church
to the Rev. Warren Raasch, St. Paul's dean, in January.
[Hate Groups / Terrorism] FBI Keeps Heat on Domestic Terror Groups
Sept. 11, 2001, may have pushed April 19 [Branch Davidians tragedy]
out of America's consciousness. But while the public has largely
forgotten domestic-born terrorism, federal authorities haven't.
"The federal government has had remarkable success in [the past year]
getting rid of many of the most vocal leadership" of home-grown
extremist groups, said Brian Levin, director of the Center for the
Study of Hate and Extremism in San Bernardino, Calif. "Hate Takes a
Hit," crows the Southern Poverty Law Center's most recent
"Intelligence Report," which tracks extremist groups and militias.
[Faith Healing / Ariel Ben Sherman] Couple plead innocent in child
abuse death case
Trial for Jacqueline P. Crank, 42, and Ariel Ben Sherman, 74, was set
for Jan. 27 in Loudon County Criminal Court. They are free on bond.
Crank's daughter Jessica Crank, 15, died of bone cancer at the home
she shared with her mother and Sherman, who has been referred to in
court as the girl's "spiritual father."
[Religious Insanity / Islamism] Kiss gets Iranian actress suspended
sentence of 74 lashes
A prominent Iranian actress has been handed a suspended sentence of 74
lashes for publicly kissing a male film director during an awards
ceremony, a report said.
[Peyote] Mich. Judge Bars Peyote Use for Boy
A 4-year-old boy must wait until he is physically and emotionally
ready before he can ingest sacramental peyote at American Indian
ceremonies, a family court judge said.
In his 31-page decision Tuesday, Judge Graydon W. Dimkoff described
peyote as ``dangerous'' and prohibited the boy from ingesting the
peyote as a minor until he is fully aware of the implications and has
permission from both parents.
[Islam] Shi'ites show they can't be ignored
Yesterday's boisterous predawn scene sent a clear and, to some, an
alarming message: In Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein, Shi'ites
cannot be ignored.
The grass-roots response to the call to pilgrimage also raises a
specter that terrifies the White House: a replay of Iran's Islamic
Revolution of 1979.
But rifts within the Shi'ite clergy were also on display yesterday in
Karbala. How they play out could determine whether a new Iraqi
government has to contend with a fiery brand of politicized Islam or
whether the clerics will retreat to their center of learning, the
Hawza in Najaf, and serve solely as religious authorities.
[AUM Shinrikyo] Prosecutors expected to demand death penalty for Aum
For most of the trial, which began April 24, 1996, Asahara has kept
silent over his role in the alleged crimes. He pleaded not guilty to
all the charges on April 24, 1997, except for a VX nerve gas attack on
a man. He also has claimed that his followers committed the crimes
against his will.
He refused to respond to his lawyers and presiding Judge Shoji Ogawa
during all three questioning sessions held March 13, 27 and April 10
He last spoke in court in November 1999 as a witness in the trial of a
former senior Aum cultist. He then said he had not known that Aum
[Religion Trends / Internet] Believers flock to online religion
More New Zealanders are defining their spiritual journey online with
traffic to religion sites up on this time last year, according to
Hitwise, New Zealand's leading Internet competitive intelligence
So, why the increase in virtual religion?
According to Tessa Court, SVP of Hitwise, "given the range of choice
and information, there's little wonder that congregations are aging
and attendances at church services are down, with young people using
the Internet to define their spiritual journey and beliefs without
having to set foot in a church."
[Raelians] Little behind Clonaid, files reveal : But publicity raises
The fringe scientific group Clonaid, which earned international
notoriety last year by claiming to have cloned a human baby, has no
address, no board of directors, and only two employees, according to
sealed court documents obtained by the Globe. Yet the group is pushing
forward with plans to charge dozens of prospective cloning patients up
to $200,000 apiece for its services.
The picture that emerges from the documents, as well as from
interviews with Clonaid's tiny staff, is of a disorganized, amateurish
effort that nonetheless has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars
and has plans to gross even more.
Clonaid asserts it has continued work at full speed, allegedly cloning
its fifth baby recently, though no proof has been offered.
And the Raelian sect has seen its dues-paying membership swell by 10
percent because of all the publicity, according to its founder.
[Hate Crimes] Calif. Muslim teen sues over alleged hate attack
A Muslim teenager who was severely beaten in what he called a skinhead
attack sued four of his alleged attackers and their parents on
Wednesday for civil rights violations in California state court.
[Lucille Poulin] Ex-nun who beat kids released from P.E.I. jail
A former nun convicted of assaulting children at a religious commune
on Prince Edward Island was released from jail Thursday.
Lucille Poulin was sentenced to eight months after being convicted
last November of beating the children with a wooden paddle.
Some people in P.E.I. say they're worried that she will violate her
[Polygamy] Family, Colorado City church feud over property
A Colorado City family claims they are being evicted from their home
for refusing to allow their teenage daughter to enter a polygamist
Milton and Lenore Holm live in a house built on land owned by the
United Effort Plan, a trust controlled by the Fundamentalist Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, an offshoot of the Mormon church
that practices polygamy.
[Robin Marie Murphy] 'Cult murders' killer Murphy wants new trial
After serving 22 years of a life sentence, a former Fall River woman
-- a co-conspirator in the so-called "cult murders" in 1979 and 1980
-- will be in Superior Court tomorrow to request a new trial.
Robin Marie Murphy, 18 when she pleaded guilty to second-degree murder
in a plea bargain with prosecutors, will ask a Superior Court judge to
grant her a new trial because of "serious mistakes and omissions" she
alleges her trial attorney made.
ApologeticsIndex.org / ReligionNewsBlog.com
Yoga is both popular and controversial. Does it consist merely of
physical exercisis or is Yoga first and foremost a religious or
spiritual practice? And if it is the latter, can one divorce the
physical from the religious elements?
In Yogasanas: physical postures, spiritual method or both?, Dr. John
F. Weldon takes a look at these issues.
As expected, Japanese prosecutors have demanded the death penalty for
Shoko Asahara, the guru who presided over the Aum Shinrikyo cult's
murders, gas attacks and other crimes.
"Meanwhile, nine of his disciples, who have testified they acted on
the guru's orders, have received death sentences, while six others
received life sentences."
This destructive cult, which at one time was defended by cult
apologists, including J. Gordon Melton, remains under observation of
public security authorities, who believe the cult remains dangerous.
Learn more about Aum Shinrikyo is this updated Apologetics Index
Hate Group Changes Name
The World Church of the Creator, a hate group that promotes white
supremacist under the pretense of religion, has been forced to change
its name after losing a trademark infringement suit. The group is now
known as The Creativity Movement.
Learn more about the hate group in this Apologetics Index entry
ApologeticsIndex.org / ReligionNewsBlog.com
April 29, 2003
[Panawave] Cultists fearing microwave attack whitewash roadside
Some 40 members of a bizarre cult have taken over a 200-meter stretch
of road in Gifu Prefecture, covering up crash barriers and roadside
trees with huge white cloths, it was learned Tuesday.
Officials of Hachiman and Yamato, the two central Japan towns that
manage the Omami road, have urged members of the Fukui-based cult, the
"Panawave Laboratory," to move out but they have refused to comply.
The group claims that electromagnetic waves are causing catastrophic
environmental destruction, including a rise in temperature. The
damages caused by the waves will ultimately result in the end of the
earth, according to the cult.
They also allege that scalar wave attacks are being carried out by
communist terrorists who have dispersed around the world following the
break up of the Soviet Union.
Panawave members always wear white garments saying that they protect
them from the ill-effects of electromagnetic waves. They have
previously been in trouble with authorities for blocking traffic and
covering road signs, signals and trees with white cloths.
[Twelve Tribes] Controversy Continues To Surround Alleged Cult
Twenty years ago the town of Island Pond made national headlines. The
charge? An extremist cult was abusing its children.
Those charges have been dropped and now the group is bigger than ever,
with 3,000 members around the world.
They live together in communities, giving up all of their possessions
to await the second coming.
The Twelve Tribes are everywhere.
Members preach on Church Street in Burlington.
They built Muddy Waters on Main Street.
They make Common Sense products, sold in the City Market.
There are 30 communities in dozens of states and countries.
Plattsburgh State Professor Richard Robbins has studied the group and
convinced students that it's no more cult than Christianity.
"I'm not religious, but I find their way of life appealing," he said.
"We know we're not a cult because each person has the free will to do
what they choose," Whitten added. The sad part is that the truth
hasn't gotten out."
NOTE: See the updated Apologetics Index entry on the Twelve Tribes,
proving Prof. Robbins wrong in his baseless assertions:
April 28, 2003
[Islam] Muslim leaders rip biased Islamic school textbooks
Two prominent New York Muslim leaders have taken to the pulpit to
condemn anti-Semitic and anti-Christian textbooks used at local
After hearing about a March 30 Daily News exposè on the textbooks,
Imam Omar Namus of the Islamic Cultural Center on E. 96th St. publicly
criticized the books before a gathering of almost 1,000 during Friday
prayers at the Osman Bin Affan Mosque on E. 55th St.
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who presides over the Al-Farah Mosque in
Tribeca, also criticized the textbooks during Friday prayers before
about 300 worshipers.
[Taliban] Pakistan Vows Crackdown on Taliban Remnants
Pakistan on Monday vowed to act against Afghan Taliban leaders who
might have been operating from its territory, but denied reports that
the elusive chief of the Islamic militia was in the country.
Christianity] Bible scholars seek to polish Mary Magdalene's image
The name Mary Magdalene conjures up a Hollywood image of a voluptuous
temptress, possibly a prostitute, who after hearing the message of
Jesus of Nazareth sees the error of her ways and repents of her sinful
But there's a problem with that popular image. It's not true.
Look closely at the text, biblical scholars say. There are seven
mentions of Mary Magdalene in the four Gospels and in none is there
any indication that she engaged in prostitution, adultery or any other
[Ethics / Netherlands] Amsterdam trip
A policy of tolerance in the Netherlands has created an indifferent
view of marijuana and one of the lowest pot-smoking rates in the
[Colonia Dignidad] Rich commune exists in shadow of dark roots
The rows of corn grow tall and straight at Colonia Dignidad, one of
the world's richest communes. Its timber products, baked goods and
sausage, renowned for their quality, are sold nationwide. Its 65-bed
hospital provides the region's best health care. One of the commune's
elderly German hausfraus seems friendly enough, offering a traveler
some apple juice for the road.
But the shadow of its founder and longtime leader, Paul Schaefer - a
former Nazi and Baptist preacher who fled Germany in 1961 amid charges
that he had sexually abused boys in an orphanage he ran there - hangs
over the secretive 70-square-mile commune. So does the dark reputation
it got during the military dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet, when
survivors say Colonia Dignidad provided hospitality to interrogators
and torturers in his secret police.
Chilean investigators say more than 70 criminal investigations are
pending against the settlement, Schaefer or other residents, including
tax evasion, fraud, kidnapping and sexual abuse of children.
[Catholic Church] Monk who gave cappuccino its name beatified
The Pope yesterday beatified a 17th-century friar credited with
halting a Muslim invasion of Europe and in the process gave the world
As the Turks fled, legend has it, they left behind sacks of coffee
which the Christians found too bitter, so they sweetened it with honey
The drink was called cappuccino after the Capuchin order of monks, to
which d'Aviano belonged.
[Religion Trends] 69% of Russians Say They Profess a Religion
In recent years the number of Russians who consider themselves
religious believers and the number of Russians who consider themselves
Orthodox has increased. According to a recent survey by the Public
Opinion fund , this year 69% of respondents said that they profess a
religion. Moreover, 59% of those questioned identified themselves as
Orthodox, 8% Muslim and 2% other religions. 30% of those questioned
did not consider themselves religious. In 1997 the same index had 62%
professing a religion and 38% not professing a religion.
[Americanism] U.S. Forfeits Claim To Moral Authority
The Bush administration's doctrine of pre-emptive first strike
represents a radical departure from previous U.S. national security
doctrine and national values.
As this country veers wildly off the course set by our founders, the
United States and the world desperately need new leadership who, like
Eisenhower, understand that the United States cannot assert moral
leadership in the world if the rest of the world perceives that it has
abandoned a foreign policy premised upon respect for the rule of law
and established international norms.
[Islam] For Muslims, a Mixture of White House Signals
When President Bush travels to Dearborn, Mich., on Monday to speak to
Iraqi exiles and other Arab-Americans, he will trail behind him
considerable uncertainty about his administration's intentions toward
Since the 2001 terrorist attacks, Mr. Bush has consistently said that
Islam is a religion of peace and warned against anti-Muslim prejudice.
Yet he also recently nominated to a government institute a scholar,
Daniel Pipes, who has enraged many American Muslims by suggesting that
mosques are breeding grounds for militants and that Muslims in
government and military positions should be given special attention as
Mr. Bush reached out to Muslims in the 2000 presidential campaign,
viewing them as a potentially significant voting bloc that tends to be
conservative on social issues. But he has also embraced evangelical
Christian leaders who have cast Islam as evil and has adopted much of
the foreign policy agenda of neoconservative thinkers who view Islamic
fundamentalism as perhaps the gravest threat to national security.
Some political analysts and scholars said the inconsistent signals
coming from the White House reflected a tension between two factors.
On one side, they said, is Mr. Bush's instinct that his party should
stand for tolerance and inclusion, for both moral and electoral
reasons. On the other, they said, is the political reality that he
cannot afford to alienate — and may not want to alienate — Christian
conservatives, who make up much of his base of support, or the
neoconservative foreign policy hawks whose influence on his
administration has been profound.
[Seventh–day Adventism] Anti-abortion protests end in Adventist church
Steve Decker, a 54-year-old Renton man, says he has demonstrated
against abortion outside several local Seventh-day Adventist churches
weekly for most of the past year for the same reason he joined the
church in the first place: his belief in the Bible.
But now his demonstrating has led to his ouster from the church, and
ire from a neighborhood.
Decker said he was expelled April 19 from membership in the Redmond
Seventh-day Adventist Church because, he believes, "our church is
embarrassed and humiliated that I'm exposing the Seventh-day Adventist
Church's position on abortion."
Pastor Chad Carlton of the Redmond church said it is not Decker's
anti-abortion stance that led the church to make its move. Rather,
"we've communicated with Steve that we disagree with his methods."
[Christianity] LSU speaker offers 'rational' proof for Christianity
The main dilemma William Lane Craig faces when he speaks at different
universities is, "There's not enough evidence," he said.
But Craig is convinced the evidence for Christianity is not quite
coercive but significantly rational.
In other words, he said he thinks the evidence would not compel
someone whose heart was closed to believe in Jesus, but the evidence
is enough to rationalize Christianity.
The Campus Crusade for Christ brought Craig to Louisiana State
University to hold three different speaking engagements this week.
[Hare Krishna] Molestation case may involve 3 girls
Investigators will be speaking to a third girl in connection with a
Gainesville man already accused of molesting two girls at the Hare
Krishna Student Center in Gainesville earlier this month.
On April 11, Gainesville Police received a report from the center's
director about an investigation by the Hare Krishna Child Protection
Team into the alleged April 4 incident, Gainesville Police Sgt. Keith
Scott McGregor, the Krishna center's director, said Garcia sometimes
"He did have a time in his life when he was more involved," McGregor
Garcia also had previously lived at the center, McGregor said, but has
not been a resident for the past several years.
McGregor, whose spiritual name is Savyasaci das, credited the child
protection team, saying they have offered counseling to the girls
involved in case and initiated the investigation that led to the
[Hare Krishna] Hare Krishna Behind Bars
A religious group in shock after one of their own ends up behind bars.
Forty-four year old Pedro Garcia is in the Alachua County Jail, after
Gainesville Police arrested him for lewd and lascivious molestation
[Evolution / Creationism] Texas Tech professor changes evolution
The Justice Department has ended its investigation of a complaint
against a Texas Tech University biology professor after he stopped
requiring that students believe in evolution to receive a letter of
The department said this week that professor Michael Dini eliminated
the evolution-belief requirement and replaced it with a requirement
that students be able to explain the theory of evolution, The
Associated Press reported.
April 27, 2003
[Islam] Rumsfeld Rules Out Religious Iraqi Government
Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld is ruling out an Iran-style
religious government in Iraq as well as any attempt by Syria and
others in the region to influence Iraq's future.
``If you're suggesting, how would we feel about an Iranian-type
government with a few clerics running everything in the country, the
answer is: That isn't going to happen,'' Rumsfeld said.
On the other hand, Secretary of State Colin Powell said religious
Muslims should not be precluded from governing Iraq.
[Religious Persecution] Laos evicts three families for not renouncing
Authorities in southern Laos have evicted three Christian families
from their homes for refusing to renounce their religious beliefs,
according to Radio Free Asia (RFA), in a move condemned by the US
[Spiritism] Scottish academics find proof of mediums' ability to use
Scottish academics claim to have found scientific proof of a 'sixth
sense' after completing radical experiments which seek to establish
how spiritual mediums obtain information supposedly transmitted from
beyond the grave.
The controversial research, led by a University of Glasgow professor,
appears to discount the common assumption that mediums are merely
picking up signals from body language, or relying on guesswork and
[Mariology] Virgin Mary 'weeps' once more
The Rockingham statue of the Virgin Mary, which became the centre of
world attention last year when it appeared to be "weeping"
rose-scented tears, began crying again over the Easter weekend.
[Cult Apologists] Odd Gods: New Religions & the Cult Controversy (Book
Review by Janja Lalich)
Odd Gods: New Religions & the Cult Controversy, JAMES R. LEWIS (ED.),
Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2001, 435 pp., $33.00 (cloth).
Lewis's purpose, stated clearly at the outset, is to counter the
general public's negative perception of cults and new religious
movements (NRMs), which he maintains is fueled by press exposes and
Most of the book is devoted to entries of varying lengths, many of
which have been vetted by the groups themselves, although the reader
does not know which ones.
Certainly it is a challenge to pull together information on dozens of
groups and try to represent them accurately. I commend Lewis for his
perseverance in that regard. About two dozen entries are authored by
other scholars with specialties in a particular area. Perhaps my
biggest reservation about this book is that it contains practically no
new information. In the Preface we learn that all 19 chapters are
taken from two of Lewis's other works.
Note: See Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi's devastating evaluation of cult
apologist James R. Lewis' so-called 'research':
For more on Lewis, his pro-cult activities, his shoddy research, his
false claims, etcetera, see:
[Religious Persecution] Christian receives life sentence in Pakistan
A court in Pakistan has sentenced a Christian to life in prison for
blasphemy, police officials said Sunday.
International and Pakistani human rights groups say the nation's
blasphemy laws are easily abused and unfair because the accused have
the burden to prove their innocence.
ApologeticsIndex.org / ReligionNewsBlog.com
Religion News Blog, April 30, 2003
[Gideons International] Gideons bibles barred in these hotel rooms
A casino spokesman says the decision was made because the casino
expects to attract a diverse customer base.
The Bible Scriptures secretary for the Gideons' Atlantic County
chapter says he understands the casino's stance. But he also believes
the casino will eventually reverse its policy.
[Robin Marie Murphy] Family not happy with fight for new trial
Marsden’s ritualistic murder was the third of three that shocked the
community 23 years ago.
Both Robin Marie Murphy and Carl Drew were each convicted of the 1980
murder. Murphy, though, was able to strike a deal with prosecutors and
pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the Marsden case.
Last week, after serving 23 years in jail, Murphy requested a new
trial, claiming her constitutional rights were violated when she was
not given a full explanation of the charge against her
[Neil and Christy Edgar] Prosecutors oppose separate trials in Edgar
Johnson County prosecutors said today that they adamantly oppose
separate murder trials for the parents and baby-sitter of Brian Edgar.
A hearing is scheduled Wednesday in Johnson County District Court on
the request for a separate trial filed last week by Christy Edgar.
Christy Edgar, her husband, Neil Edgar Sr., and baby-sitter Chasity
Boyd are charged in Johnson County District Court with first-degree
felony murder in the child-abuse death of the 9-year-old boy in
The lawyers for Neil Edgar and Boyd are not asking for separate
[Aum Shinrikyo] Aum's Asahara still wields influence 8 years after
Joyu admits that Asahara still wields influence over followers and
stressed the need for Aleph to follow an independent path.
"We have to face up to the hard fact that parents will die one day,"
said Joyu. "We cannot gain the public's understanding unless we become
He made the remarks at a press conference in January this year, when
the Public Security Examination Commission decided to continue to keep
the cult under surveillance by the Justice Ministry's Public Security
Joyu, who was former Aum spokesman, officially assumed leadership of
the group in January last year and has gradually strengthened his
power within the cult since then.
From around last summer, Joyu began conferring holy names on followers
and holding the ritual of "Shakti Pat" or "divine touch" in which he
touches a worshiper's forehead to produce "supernatural effects."
A senior official of the Pubic Security Investigation Agency said,
"Joyu has no other choice but to stress that Aleph is independent of
Asahara." This is because the cult group "will remain under the
surveillance by public security authorities as long as the influence
of Asahara remains in the group," he said.
[Prem Rawat (Divine Light Mission)] Campus Speaker Criticized by
A controversial religious leader will speak at Zellerbach Hall
tonight, despite objections from former followers who claim he leads a
Former members allege Prem Rawat, head of Elan Vital, Inc., hides a
checkered past and is using the event to recruit new members.
Rawat—formerly known as Guru Maharaj Ji, "Lord of the Universe" and
"Perfect Master"—began Divine Light Mission in the 1970s when he was
13 years old.
Since 1990, Rawat has reworked his image. Divine Light Mission has
been replaced by the charitable organization Elan Vital, which
professes to spread peace and knowledge.
[Panawave] Bizarre cult refuses order to leave roadside squat
Local officials on Wednesday told white-clad members of a bizarre cult
that has mysteriously occupied a section of road to leave but had
their request rejected.
Members of the "Panawave Laboratory," explained to the officials that
a senior member was seriously sick so they could not leave for the
moment, adding that they were planning to leave on Saturday.
[Jehovah's Witnesses] Another Church Sex Scandal
Bill Bowen says by the end of the year he expects at least 100
lawsuits to be filed against the faith.
The problem is huge, he said. "It's of global proportions. You're
talking about tens of thousands of children who've been molested in
the last ten years. Tens of thousands, easily."
The Jehovah's Witnesses Headquarters disputes these numbers but says
they're aware of the problem -- and cites a letter it published last
May. It says "we have long instructed elders to report allegations of
child abuse to the authorities where required by law to do so, even
where there is only one witness."
[Hate Groups] Midland BNP candidate's tribute to Nazi terrorist
A Midland British National Party election candidate changed his name
as an homage to an American Nazi terrorist he idolised, the Sunday
Mercury can reveal.
Mark Payne, 35, changed his name by deed poll to Mark Matthews to
celebrate his Nazi hero Robert J Matthews after the white supremacist
was shot dead by the FBI in 1984.
Mr Payne, who is set to contest Coventry's Woodlands ward, also runs
an extreme right-wing book club from his small suburban home in the
predominantly Asian area of Radford in the city.
According to anti-fascist magazine Searchlight, The 14 Words UK
produces racist literature urging people to fight for white rights.
[Panawave] Cult raises spectre of subway gas attack
Cult members are outfitted in white costumes, gumboots and medical
masks and sport off-white baseball caps. Even spectacle frames are
taped over in white.
The cult reportedly believes that the colour white is an effective
shield against microwaves. They have also covered trees and plants
with white cloth or tape, creating a surrealistic scene.
Reports have ascribed a doomsday character to the Chino Shoho group as
it believes there is a 10th planet in the solar system and has warned
that something cataclysmic will happen in mid-May when the planet
Experts say the cult could one day become a social threat if the
authorities leave it alone.
[Twelve Tribes] Ex-Member Describes Twelve Tribes
Noah Jones was born in Island Pond in 1982 and left the Twelve Tribes
He says they look like a happy group, but are anything but.
"They spanked me from my feet to my neck," Noah explained. "All the
way. I was black and blue, basically, head to toe."
Noah said he's been hit with a two-by-four on a job site, he's been
beaten with reeds and locked in a basement.
He calls it a destructive group, a prison.
[Panawave] White-clad group blocks Gifu road
A group of around 40 people clad from head to toe in white continued
Tuesday to defy official requests to stop blocking a mountain road
straddled by the towns of Hachiman and Yamato in Gifu Prefecture,
local officials said.
The group, which calls itself the Panawave Kenkyusho (research
institute), drove into the area Friday from Fukui Prefecture in a
convoy of about a dozen vehicles, mostly station wagons and camping
trailers that are also draped in white cloth, officials said.
A male member told town officials the group is "moving from place to
place to avoid harmful electromagnetic waves."
[Panawave] Members of 'research group' erect checkpoint on Gifu road
According to sources, the group has blocked roads to carry out its
research in many places around the country, including Aomori, Kagawa,
Kanagawa and Okayama prefectures and Nagoya.
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