ReligionNewsBlog.com, Oct. 25, 2003
[Transcendental Meditation] Palaces of Peace
If enough donors come through, followers of an Indian guru say they can
bring peace and harmony to the world -- one palace at a time. Friday in
Manhattan, followers of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, former spiritual adviser to
the Beatles, said their next goal is calming Long Island's frenzied streets.
They unveiled plans to build a "peace palace," on an unidentified busy
corridor in Smithtown. If approved, it would house 12,000 square feet,
teach meditation classes to anyone who can pay the $2,500 lifetime cost, and
offer spa and health services. After that, a palace in Manhattan could
follow. Followers hope to raise $1 billion in the near future and
eventually construct a palace in 3,000 cities worldwide.
[Anglican Church] Williams sparks fury among gays
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, was rebuked yesterday for
snubbing an international conference for homosexual clergy at which
Anglicanism's first openly active gay bishop is a speaker.
[Witchcraft] Three 'witches' kill themselves
Three members of the same family accused of being witches have committed
suicide, Indian police say. They took their lives after fellow villagers
publicly humiliated them, forcing them to eat human excrement. Six people
the police want to interview in connection with the case have gone missing.
The deaths occurred in the village of Kamalpura in the state of Bihar, in
eastern India, where attacks on people accused of witchcraft are common.
[Witchcraft] Tanzania arrests 'witch killers'
Police in Tanzania say they have arrested a number of people suspected of
murdering old women in the belief that they were witches. [...] With
"witchcraft"-related crimes on the increase in Tanzania, the police chief
said old women with red eyes were being singled out for attack. Police also
arrested a number of witchdoctors suspected of passing on the names of
"witches" to people whose relatives had died "through witchcraft".
[Elizabeth Smart] Smart Says Ordeal Not Life-Altering
Elizabeth said that if anything has changed, it's that she has more
compassion for the homeless after experiencing how they live. That
compassion doesn't extend to her captors. ``They didn't have to be''
homeless, she said. ``They had plenty of opportunity to do what they wanted,
but they're such idiots.'' The NBC interview was the first of a media blitz
to coincide with the Monday release of her parents' book, ``Bringing
Elizabeth Home: A Journey of Faith and Hope.''
[Islam] Muslims to begin Ramadan observance
At the first glimpse of the crescent moon this weekend, Muslims around the
world will begin the observance of Ramadan, one of the holiest periods of
their year. Muslims are prohibited from eating, drinking and engaging in
sexual activity during daylight hours. [...] Muslims are expected to recite
the entire Quran (114 chapters) during the month. They also are expected to
pray constantly, ask for forgiveness and worship in the mosque. Muslims
believe Ramadan is the month in which the first verses of the Quran were
revealed by the archangel Gabriel to the prophet Muhammad.
[Hate Groups] Hale 'church' dealt $200,000 defeat
The racist reverend Matt Hale didn't get to appear Friday before the federal
judge he allegedly tried to get his chief of security to kill. So he didn't
get to see U.S. District Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow sock him and other
leaders of his group, once known as the World Church of the Creator, for
$200,000 in sanctions for repeatedly thumbing their noses at a court order.
Attorneys for the TE-TA-MA Truth Foundation, based in Oregon, asked for the
sanctions after winning a trademark case against Hale's group, now known as
the Creativity Movement. The foundation had trademarked the "Church of the
Creator" name and went to court to stop Hale's group from using it.
[Islam] Muslim scarf at heart of disputes around U.S.
As a devout Muslim who will observe Ramadan this weekend, Elgohail insisted
on wearing her hijab, the head scarf encouraged by the Quran but prohibited
by the Navy. The school tried to work with her on several alternatives ---
and officials even exempted Elgohail from the ROTC requirement in the end
--- but she dropped out of the school as a matter of principle. [...] Her
experience is one of many playing out across the country in which
authorities have questioned those wearing the hijab. From schools to police
departments to airlines to motor vehicle agencies, the scarf is welcomed in
some places, tolerated in others and banned in still others.
[Interfaith] Coming together
This article contains no news of religious schisms, scandals or violence.
Still interested? The organizers of two events coming to Atlanta next week
are hoping people will be. While recent religion headlines seem dominated by
conflict, another trend is quietly gathering momentum.Reconciliation efforts
are popping up all over the religious landscape. In the post-Sept. 11 world,
the need for tolerance --- between and within faiths --- has become more
urgent because religion-inspired violence can turn catastrophic, religious
leaders say. "More people are open to interfaith voices because we realize
that this world is much smaller than we thought," says Plemon El-Amin, imam
of the Atlanta Masjid of Al-Islam in Decatur. "People's problems and
insanities on the other side of the world can affect us." But supporters of
religious reconciliation efforts around the United States face two huge
challenges: How can they make their movement, which has no fiery leader or
juicy conflict, appealing to the public? And how can they teach people that
a person can be passionately committed to their own faith while still being
open to the claims of another faith? The two Atlanta events are designed to
address both challenges.
[Religion Trends] Everyone else can go to hell, Americans say
The survey, which was carried out by the Barna Research Group in Oxnard,
southern California, indicates that belief in the concepts of heaven and
hell is just as high as it was a decade ago.
[Religious Intolerance] Church sues over park display
A Fort Lauderdale church is challenging Broward County's refusal to allow a
cross and sign reading ''Jesus is the reason for the season'' in a two-mile
holiday lights attraction at a county park. Calvary Chapel of Fort
Lauderdale filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday claiming unconstitutional
censorship after months of wrangling with county officials over its planned
display at the Holiday Festival of Lights.
[Hate Groups : Scientology] Mutiny at Dutch Scientology organization
The Scientology Church Netherlands, located at the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal
(a street) in Amsterdam, is recently confronted with a massive exodus.
According to former big bosses of the sect, during the last few months at
least 50 of the approximately 150 active core members stepped out. The
management talks about "mutiny" in internal documents, as always whenever
there is the slightest doubt about the teachings of the founder L.Ron
Hubbard. High-ranked Scientologists have been flown in from outside of the
country to avert the crisis in Amsterdam. The desertion from the expensive
sect (years of study of the basics of L.Ron Hubbard easily requires an
investment of hundreds of thousands of Euro`s) can, according to the
apostates, be traced back to a number of causes. On one hand, slowly but
surely a separation came into being between Trade Marks (adherents who think
along fixed lines, who think that the Church of Scientology has the monopoly
on the teachings of Hubbard), and the "Independents": Scientologists who
discover that it can be done a lot better, more enjoyable and especially
cheaper outside of the straitjacket of the Church. On the other hand, a
number of adherents also turned their back on the "Org" on the Nieuwezijds,
as the head office of the sect is called internally, because of a fraud
scandal. Scientologists have swindled fellow adherents and non-adherents for
hundreds of thousands of Euro`s via little companies inside and outside of
the country. [...] The management of Scientology has until now reacted
fully according to protocol on the massive exodus. Against a few apostates
an "SP declare" is issued: a declaration (that is hung up like a kind of
death sentence in the "Org") that a certain member is from now on considered
a "Suppressive Person" - The worst that can happen to you with Scientology.
SP`s are allowed to be tricked, prosecuted or lied to, or destroyed
according to internal "ethics".
[Islam] FBI Urges Vigilance for Muslim Holy Month
The FBI is urging extra vigilance for possible terror attacks and violence
against Muslims during the upcoming Islamic holy month of Ramadan. In its
weekly bulletin to 18,000 state and local law enforcement agencies, the FBI
says it has no credible information that an attack is planned by al-Qaida or
any other terror group during the period of fasting and reflection that
begins next week. But attacks overseas have been timed in the past to
coincide with symbolic dates, the FBI says, adding that "the possibility of
such an attack in the United States cannot be discounted."
[Religion Trends] Pluralism Project looks at changing religious demographics
With fewer than a million people dispersed over nearly 150,000 square miles,
Montana is one of the most rural and thinly populated states in the country.
It is hardly the kind of place where one expects to find a high degree of
religious diversity. And yet, during a summer of research for the Pluralism
Project, that is exactly what Scott Hyslop discovered. [...] Hyslop was
one of a dozen researchers presenting their findings Oct. 15 at the
Pluralism Project's Fall Research Conference, "Religious Pluralism in
America." Founded in 1991 by Diana Eck, professor of comparative religion
and Indian studies, the Pluralism Project has been engaged in mapping the
country's growing religious diversity and sharing that knowledge in the form
of publications, a CD-ROM, and outreach efforts to schools.
[Mormon Church] Smart book reveals new details, proselytizes for Mormon
''Bringing Elizabeth Home: A Journey of Faith and Hope,'' is full of small
stories like that - details her family kept to themselves until they told
the story their way. Published by Doubleday, the book officially will go on
sale Monday, a day ahead of schedule. Along with the tidbits, readers still
curious about the case that has drawn global media coverage for a year and a
half will get a huge dose of proselytizing. The deeply religious Smarts
spend much of the 215-page book recounting how they became even more devoted
to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during their ordeal. They
quote Mormon scripture, cite lessons from church prophets and frequently
relate how they and thousands of supporters prayed and asked for blessings.
[Islam] Some Hispanics are 'reverting' to Muslim faith
Ms. Espinoza is one of a growing number of Hispanics who are leaving
Catholicism for Islam, for Protestant churches, for other faith traditions
or who are dropping out of any religious practice. Exact numbers are
impossible to come by, but some national Latino Muslim associations claim
"reverts," their term for converts, in the "tens of thousands." [...]
Numbers on converts can be misleading, said Anna Maria Diaz Stevens, a
professor at Union Theological Seminary in New York. She and her husband,
Anthony Stevens Arroyo, of Brooklyn College, have researched the role of
Hispanics in the Catholic Church. "Our work estimates that anywhere from 57
to 62 percent of Hispanics are still in the Catholic Church," she said.
"Others put the numbers much higher. This is a moving target." Citing a
phenomenon she called "revolving-door Christianity," she said many Hispanics
"like to try several religions at the same time." Some leave Catholicism
only to return later.
[Hate Groups] Aryan Brotherhood gang member given 33-year federal sentence
A federal judge sentenced a convicted murderer, who was described as a white
supremacist gang captain, to 33 years in prison Thursday for his part in the
execution-style killing of a man on the Padre Island National Seashore.
[Hate Groups : Scientology] Travolta: You're the castle I want
Hollywood star John Travolta has paid a secret visit to a Scottish castle
amid growing speculation that he is preparing to mount a bid to buy it.
Castle Lee, near Braidwood in South Lanarkshire, is the ancient seat of the
Lockhart family and has its roots in the 13th century. Scots rally driver
Colin McRae is also rumoured to have shown an interest in the beautiful
700-year-old castle, which is expected to fetch in excess of £8 million.
But last night multi-millionaire Travolta was favourite to buy the estate
after it emerged that he visited Castle Lee two weeks ago. The film star,
49, is believed to want to turn the site into a centre for Scientology, a
system of beliefs followed by the actor. It aims to free the Thetan
(free-thinking being), which is passed through incarnations into every
[Falun Gong] Falun in silent protest over Hu's visit
Followers of the Chinese meditation practice Falun Gong took a leaf out of
Mahatma Gandhi's book yesterday and spent the morning in peaceful protest
against the visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao. Hundreds of followers of
the practice came from all over Australia and congregated on Sydney's Bondi
Beach at 4am, meditating among candlelight for the rest of the morning.
Falun Gong spokeswoman Lilian Peng said the group hoped to use Mr Hu's visit
to highlight human rights abuses in China.
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