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A white-supremacist organization has withdrawn an offer to settle a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 Churchs 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 communitys church listings
fall under the heading Lutheran.
But North Dakota and Fargo-Moorheads 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.
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