ReligionNewsBlog.com, Oct. 17, 2003
[Kabbalah] The red string squad
In the process of morphing from obtuse mysticism to a celebrity-friendly
philosophy, the kabbala may have lost some authenticity, complexity and
profundity. Indeed, it was originally intended for Jewish, pious, learned,
married males over the age of 40 - not female pop stars with no formal
education in Judaism. Rabbi Alan Brill, a kabbalist and professor of Jewish
mysticism at Yeshiva University, who isn't a stringent critic of the center
like some of his colleagues, admits that "it's not the same as the
traditional study of the classic texts.
[Vampirism] 'Vampire' tormented vicar
A self-styled "vampire" who admitted in court he drank blood, has been found
guilty of waging a campaign of harassment against a vicar and his family.
Hotel porter Benjamin Lewis, 25, of Totton, near Southampton, Hampshire, was
convicted of religiously-aggravated harassment, at Southampton Crown Court
[Vampirism] Self-styled vampire 'drank blood'
He told the court: "I am not a Satanist. I identify myself with Jesus Christ
because he was put on trial because he was different to anyone else.
"I have been interested in blood drinking - I believe in psychic vampirism.
"I read in the Bible that blood is the life."
[USA] Guantanamo Bay detainees' lawyer gives speech at UT
The detention of hundreds of political prisoners by the U.S. government and
the denial of their legal rights rivals some of the darkest civil liberties
violations in American history, according to a Minneapolis civil rights
lawyer. [...] Mr. Margulies, 43, working for the Center for Constitutional
Rights in New York, represents two Britons and two Australians being held at
Guantanamo. Like all prisoners there, they are being held in solitary
confinement, are not allowed contact with outsiders, and have not been
[Anglican Church] U.S. Episcopalians, divided over gays, welcome outcome of
A split in the Anglican Communion appeared inevitable following a two-day
summit of Anglican leaders, as U.S. Episcopalians rejected a demand from
senior archbishops that they not consecrate a gay man as a bishop.
[Mormon Church] LDS sues to head off strippers
The LDS Church, through its real estate division, is suing a Salt Lake City
board for allowing downtown's Dead Goat Saloon to have a sexually oriented
business license. The suit -- filed Wednesday in 3rd District Court as an
appeal of a Board of Adjustment decision -- says the planned strip club will
harm the church's Property Reserve Inc., an adjacent property owner with
plans to redevelop Crossroads Plaza and ZCMI Center.
[USA] US defends role for evangelical Christian
The Pentagon stepped up to defend the high-level appointment of an
evangelical Christian general who has described America's "war on terror" as
a struggle between Judeo-Christian values and Satan. Lieutenant General
William Boykin, a veteran of the elite Delta Force, is to head the hunt for
high-profile targets such as Osama Bin Laden and Mullah Omar as the deputy
under secretary of defence for intelligence. But the appointment became a
source of embarrassment to the Bush administration yesterday after details
emerged of the general's sermons to evangelical Christian groups depicting
the "war on terror" as a religious crusade. "We in the army of God, in the
house of God, kingdom of God have been raised for such a time as this," Gen
Boykin told an audience last year, according to an investigation in the Los
[USA] General's linking of religion, war draws fire
Remarks by U.S. Army Lt. Gen. William G. "Jerry" Boykin casting the war on
terrorism in religious terms drew rebukes Thursday from politicians and
military specialists and calls from religious groups for his reassignment or
reprimand. But the Pentagon's top military commander defended Boykin,
saying he didn't think any military rules had been broken.
[USA] General Casts War in Religious Terms
The Pentagon has assigned the task of tracking down and eliminating Osama
bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and other high-profile targets to an Army general
who sees the war on terrorism as a clash between Judeo-Christian values and
Satan. [...] Although the Army has seldom if ever taken official action
against officers for outspoken expressions of religious opinion, outside
experts see remarks such as Boykin's as sending exactly the wrong message to
the Arab and Islamic world.
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[Mungiki] Police arrest 10 'Mungiki' followers in crackdown
More than 10 members of the outlawed Mungiki sect have been arrested in
Nakuru in the past one week. Yesterday, the police said two sect members
were arrested and their paraphernalia recovered from one of their houses in
[Anglican Church] Church split over gay bishop election
The Anglican Church is facing a crisis over the issue of homosexuality after
the close of an emergency summit between senior clergy in London. Anglican
leaders who met at Lambeth Palace condemned the appointment of a gay bishop
in the United States. The consecration "would tear at the fabric of the
Anglican Communion at its deepest level", 37 clerics warned in a agreed
statement at the end of the two-day summit. But the diocese of New Hampshire
responded by making it clear it would go ahead with Reverend Gene Robinson's
appointment as its Bishop in November.
The primates (church leaders) meeting in London also announced a commission
would be set up to examine the deep divisions over homosexuality to report
back in a year.
[Anglican Church] Q&A: Anglican gay summit
Anglican church leaders from around the world have begun a two-day
conference at Lambeth palace, to try and resolve differences over the issue
of homosexuality. Conservatives and liberals in the Church are deeply
divided, with some Anglicans threatening to leave and form their own church.
The BBC's religious affairs correspondent, Martha Doyle, looks at the issues
that are being debated by the bishops in London.
[Anglican Church] Leaders grasp church gay sex row
The dispute has simmered for years, but has come to a head because of three
developments within the past few months. The a diocese of the Canadian
church endorsed same-sex blessings; in England a gay man was nominated as a
bishop, and then asked to stand down; and a gay priest has been elected a
bishop in the US. Many members of the 70-million-strong worldwide church -
known as the Anglican Communion - believe the Bible teaches that
homosexuality is always wrong. Some believe homosexual activity is wrong,
but accept that individuals cannot change their make-up: many of them
therefore accept gay and lesbian clergy who remain celibate, giving their
sexuality no expression and living solitary lives.
A third group, a sizeable minority in the UK and North America, believes
sexuality is a matter of nature not choice, and accepts homosexual clergy,
who for years have worked alongside their straight colleagues without any
[Polygamy] State officials say they will rid Utah of its polygamist
Utah authorities have revoked the police certification of one polygamist
officer and they vow to do the same with all others. The action by the
Peace Officer Standards and Training council comes after state officials
said the police were hampering investigations into underage marriages.
''They are sworn officers, and they are sworn to uphold the law, but they
are openly committing third-degree-felony bigamy,'' Attorney General Mark
Shurtleff, a member of the POST council, said Thursday. [...] The action
particularly targets Hildale, Utah, and its sister city, Colorado City,
Ariz. Most of the residents are members of the polygamist Fundamentalist
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. City officials did not return
phone calls seeking comment.
[Church and State] Supreme Court to Consider Case on 'Under God' in Pledge
The Supreme Court added the Pledge of Allegiance to the docket for its new
term on Tuesday, agreeing to consider whether public schools violate the
Constitution by requiring teachers to lead their classes in pledging
allegiance to the flag of "one nation under God."
[Religion Trends] In third world, chorus of hallelujahs like never before
"In countries where everything is very O.K., where they take care of their
citizenry, people are very lethargic when it comes to religion and God,"
said Oluwayemisi Ojuolape, 27, a lawyer in Lagos, who attended this
all-night vigil, called Holy Ghost Service. "They are not encouraged to ask
for any help. They seem to have all of it." Not so in the developing world,
where Christianity is drawing followers as never before. That growth is
changing the complexion and practice of the Christian faith and other
religions in a fervid competition for souls, generating new tremors in
places like Nigeria, which are already marbled with ethnic and political
fault lines, and causing schisms between the old Christians of the Northern
Hemisphere and the newer ones of the Southern. It is also beginning to be
felt in the political life of these countries. The new Christian expansion
is particularly striking in Pentecostalism, a denomination born only about
100 years ago among blacks, whites and Hispanics in an abandoned church in
[Jehovah's Witnesses] Jumping Jehovah! Prince goes a door-knockin'
Proselytizing for Jehovah's Witnesses during last Sunday's Vikings game
wasn't the smoothest call Prince has ever made. An Eden Prairie woman, who
prefers to be identified only as Rochelle, said, "Door bell rings. My
husband runs upstairs and says, 'Prince is at the door!' I said, 'No way.' "
Even though this was an inopportune time, they let in the man who introduced
himself at "Prince Nelson" and another man.
[False Memory Syndrome] Disciplined doctor licensed in Montana
A psychiatrist who was disciplined in Illinois for allegedly using drugs and
hypnosis to convince a family it was involved in satanic and cannibalistic
cults has resumed his medical practice in Helena. Dr. Bennett Braun, who
said two years ago that he was fed up with his profession and would not
return to it, received his state physician's license in June and began
soliciting patients Oct. 1. The former Chicago-area doctor agreed to a
two-year suspension of his medical license in October 1999 and five years
probation after accusations by a former patient. Patty Burgus and her
children sued Braun. Burgus, a patient Braun diagnosed as having multiple
personality disorder, claimed the doctor used medication and hypnosis to
convince her that she had 300 personalities, ate meatloaf made of human
flesh and was a high priestess in a satanic cult. Braun, a popular target
for the False Memory Syndrome Foundation, has consistently denied those
accusations. But his malpractice insurer agreed to a multimillion-dollar
settlement, and Braun has sued the company for $20 million, saying the deal
was struck over his objections and in violation of his policy. Howard
Brinton, Braun's attorney, said the case is before an Illinois appellate
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