ReligionNewsBlog, Jan. 14-16, 2004
Fri, Jan. 16, 2004
[Germany] Sect members arrested
The Bavarian state police say they have thwarted a planned contract murder
of a local politician in Austria by three German members of a sect operating
out of a yoga school near Salzburg.
[Anglican Church] US Anglicans plot to break up church
American Anglican traditionalists are plotting the break-up of their
national church and the creation of a new fundamentalist church in the wake
of its consecration of the openly gay bishop Gene Robinson.
[Polygamy] Anonymous letter decries FLDS leader
The writer of an anonymous letter, sent to 460 households in the twin cities
of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, says he was told in a dream by God that
a false prophet is leading the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter Day Saints.
[Cloning] US doctor visits London to find woman to carry cloned baby
Plans by a US-based doctor to launch a search in Britain for a surrogate
mother to carry the world's first cloned baby was condemned by Britain's
fertility watchdog yesterday. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology
Authority (HFEA) said that Panos Zavos, a reproductive specialist who is
flying to London tomorrow to launch his appeal at a press conference, would
be breaking the law if he implanted a surrogate mother with a cloned embryo
[Christianity] Only half of nation's senior pastors hold biblical worldview
Barely half of the nation's senior pastors ... hold to a biblical worldview,
a new study by Christian researcher George Barna shows. [...] "Worldview"
is a term used to describe the belief system by which a person understands
or makes decisions about the world. For the Barna poll, the requirements
for holding to a biblical worldview were minimal. Those holding to such a
view had to embrace the accuracy of biblical teaching, the sinless nature of
Jesus, the literal existence of Satan, the omnipotence and omniscience of
God, salvation by grace alone and the personal responsibility to evangelize.
In December, Barna released another poll showing that only 9 percent of
people categorized as "born-again" held to a biblical worldview.
[Death Penalty] 'Exonerated' is a gripping condemnation of death row
The staging of the powerful Off-Broadway drama, "The Exonerated," is
simplicity incarnate. [...] And that is all that's needed to put the focus
where it belongs: on a group of excellent actors delivering the gripping,
complicated, triumphant and tragic true stories of a half-dozen Americans
who have spent up to 22 years living on death row. The fact that the six
individuals profiled in "The Exonerated" were eventually cleared of their
alleged crimes, or released from prison due to a major lack of evidence
against them, makes this a stirring brief that outdoes any fictional
crime-and-punishment TV show for pathos and plot twists. And whether one
opposes the death penalty or endorses it, most of us hold fast to the sacred
American notion that human beings are innocent until proven guilty. And that
tenet comes in for a real trial by fire here.
[USA] U.S. Still Holds Child Detainees at Guantanamo
The United States has held three child detainees at its military base in
Guantanamo Bay for more than a year and the Pentagon said on Thursday it has
no plans to move or free them, despite international pressure. [...] The
detentions without trial at Guantanamo Bay have drawn worldwide criticism
from governments and human rights groups who have urged the United States to
file charges against the prisoners and to send the children home to their
[Mel Gibson] Gibson film set for 2,000 screens
Mel Gibson's film about the life of Jesus, The Passion of Christ, is to be
released on 2,000 screens in the US. The controversial movie, which will be
independently released, will be seen on as many screens as a major studio
[Witchcraft] White witch scores on pitch for Frome
white witch who performed a ritual to remove a curse from the pitch of
minor league side Frome Town says she has already helped the team improve
their luck. Frome, in Somerset, have struggled to score goals at home this
season but got one in a 2-1 defeat by rivals Paulton Rovers on Tuesday.
[Pakistan] Car bomb blast at Bible society
A powerful car bomb blew up outside a Christian Bible society in Pakistan
today, wounding 15 people, damaging the wall of a nearby church and
shattering parked cars.
[Nuwaubians] Witness tells of sex abuse, death threat by York
Throughout the trial of Malachi York, jurors have heard the name of one
alleged victim more than any other. On Wednesday, they finally saw the
tender-voiced 16-year-old, who told them York molested her repeatedly for
years beginning when she was 5.
[Nuwaubians] Nuwaubian members testify York's accusers untrustworthy
Longtime members of Malachi York's quasi-religious cult defended their
leader in court Thursday, describing York as a father figure and those who
accuse him of child molestation as liars.
[Green Dragon Temple Cult] HK cult linked to prostitution
A cult in Hong Kong lured women into working as prostitutes by promising
them places in heaven if they slept with enough men, reports say.
Thu, Jan. 15, 2004
[USA] US military lawyers challenge legality of terror trials
In a direct challenge to their commander-in-chief, five military lawyers
defending Guantanamo Bay prisoners will tell the Supreme Court today that
military trials for their clients are unconstitutional. [...] They will
argue that, in banning defendants from appealing to the civilian courts,
President George W Bush is claiming "monarchical" powers, to act as the
defendants' ultimate prosecutor, judge, jury, final court of appeal and,
potentially, executioner. Unless prisoners have recourse to civilian judges,
they are being thrown into a legal "black hole", say lawyers. Over Bush
administration objections, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear actions
challenging Mr Bush's treatment of Americans and foreigners designated
[Nuwaubians] Girl testifies Ga. cult leader molested her since age 5
A 16-year-old girl told a federal jury Wednesday cult leader Malachi York
began molesting her at age 5 and would sodomize or have sex with her several
times a week over an eight-year period.
[USA] Ohio murderer, struggling to the end, is executed
A murderer whose claims of mental retardation were rejected by the courts
was executed Wednesday after struggling with guards and pleading for his
life until the last moment. Lewis Williams, 45, was put to death by
injection for fatally shooting a 76-year-old woman during a robbery at her
Cleveland home in 1983.
[Hate Groups] Columbine Copy Plot Discovered
Two high school students have been arrested and accused of creating an
elaborate plan to re-create the bloody Columbine high school massacre on its
five-year anniversary in April. Christopher Levins, 17, of Prairieville, and
Adam Sinclair, 19, of Geismar, were each booked Monday with one count of
terrorizing - a felony punishable with up to 15 years in prison, Ascension
Parish Sheriff Jeff Wiley said. "This is not just a case of kids just
talking to be cool," Wiley said. "These students had plans all worked out."
[Trenchcoat Mafia] The cult of Eric and Dylan
Five years after the Columbine massacre, the so-called 'Trenchcoat Mafia'
have become unlikely heroes for a generation of miserable, alienated
teenagers around the world - and the appeal of the pair is growing. Johann
Hari reports on a chilling obsession.
[Mormon Church] BYU alters hoopster's photo to hide tattoos
Some things about Brigham Young University basketball star Rafael Araujo are
hard to miss: his determined rebounds, his monster dunks, his crowd-pleasing
blocks -- and, well, his tattoos. But the colorful designs that dominate
the dominating center's arms are missing from a picture of him on Page 13 of
the school's media guide. Duff Tittle, BYU associate athletic director for
communications, acknowledged this week that the large photo of Araujo had
been altered, along with others. "We have touched up photos for years -- as
far as removing tattoos, covering up bellybuttons, just things like that,"
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Wed, Jan. 14, 2004
[Ahlul Sunna WalJama] Students behind failed campaign in Nigeria to create
A bloody uprising aimed at creating a Taliban-style state in Africa's most
populous nation appears to have been a rebellion by students who got money
from family, not al-Qaida, officials and captive fighters told The
[Ahlul Sunna WalJama] Tracking down Nigeria's 'Taleban' sect
The group - which the authorities believe is part of the world-wide
movement, Ahlul Sunna WalJama, is also known locally as the Taleban -
because of its admiration for the former administration in Afghanistan.
[Islam] Imam rapped for wife-beating book
A Muslim cleric who wrote a book that advised men how to beat up their wives
without leaving incriminating marks has been sentenced by a Spanish court.
Mohamed Kamal Mustafa was given 15 months in jail, which he will not serve
as Spanish law suspends sentences of under two years for first offences.
Mustafa's book, Women in Islam, sparked outrage among women's groups when it
was published three years ago. In his defence, the imam said he was
interpreting passages from the Koran.
[Lord's Resistance Army] Uganda rebels retreat to Sudan to regroup
Some rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) have fled to Sudan under
pressure from the Ugandan army, whose troops advanced on their positions
after the end of heavy rains, an army spokesman said on Tuesday.
[Falun Gong] Falun Gong figure is freed
In the relentless official Chinese suppression of Falun Gong, the outlawed
spiritual sect, Sam Lu counts his wife as one tiny but significant victory.
After more than three years in a labor camp, Zhou Xuefei was released
[Satanic and/or ritual abuse] Klassen filing complaint with law society
While lawyers try to figure out what happens next in a malicious prosecution
lawsuit, Richard Klassen is filing a complaint with the Law Society of
Saskatchewan against provincial government lawyer Don McKillop. "It's a
straightforward complaint saying that I believe he was unethical and is
actually somewhat in contempt of court outside of the court," said Klassen
in an interview Monday. Last month, Justice George Baynton ruled in favour
of Klassen and 11 extended family members who had sued Crown prosecutor Matt
Miazga, therapist Carol Bunko-Ruys and Saskatoon police Supt. Brian Dueck
for malicious prosecution in relation to allegations made by three children.
McKillop, who represents Miazga and Bunko-Ruys, said in a news conference
last week that he would be asking for clarification on how to proceed with
an appeal of Baynton's ruling. A judge will hear that application on Jan.
[Islam] Ohio Cleric Arrested; Terror Link Is Cited
A leading Islamic cleric who runs Ohio's largest mosque was arrested Tuesday
on charges that he concealed his ties to terrorist causes when applying for
citizenship to the United States a decade ago. The cleric, Fawaz Mohammed
Damrah, has been an outspoken figure who represented Muslims in Cleveland in
interfaith gatherings after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, but was also
forced to apologize for anti-Semitic and incendiary statements he made years
[Witchcraft] Witch helps unlucky football team
An unlucky football team has called on the services of a white witch to end
its home-match losing streak. [...] Despite scoring 31 goals during away
matches so far this season, they have only managed three goals at home. The
team is so puzzled by this that they have asked local witch Titania Hardie
to lift the apparent curse.
[Nuwaubians] Women say York molested them, fathered children
Two women testified Monday that they were molested by cult leader Malachi
York as children, then became pregnant by York when they were 17. Both women
gave birth, but did not list York as the father on the birth certificates.
[Hong Kong] Cult claims bleach will protect you from SARS
religious group in Hong Kong is being investigated over allegations that it
told students to drink hydrogen peroxide to protect themselves against the
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), officials said on Wednesday.
[Hate Groups : Scientology] Vanilla Ice drawn to Scientology
Faded rap star VANILLA ICE has become the latest celebrity to be drawn to
the teachings of the Church of Scientology.
[Deepak Chopra] Mind-body expert Deepak Chopra will share his wisdom to
More productive than ever, he is currently working on several books. [...]
Another passion: The Alliance for a New Humanity, a metaphysical social
action group founded in December. Meeting in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the
organization intends to address issues like poverty, ecological destruction
and violence. Besides Chopra, the new alliance has the endorsement of Nobel
laureates Betty Williams and Oscar Arias Sanchez, singer Ricky Martin,
metaphysical author Marianne Williamson and former U.S. Vice President Al
Gore, who gave the keynote address in San Juan. Although others have tried
to form such an organization, Chopra thinks enough people now believe in
metaphysics to make a "critical mass of conscience." It claims 600 leaders
from 30 nations, as varied as Italy, Chile, Ireland, Israel, Spain and Costa
[Religion Trends] Fastest-growing religious group: `None'
Their numbers have more than doubled in a decade, to nearly 30 million.
Organized as a religious denomination, they would trail only Roman Catholics
and Baptists in members. They are the "nones," named for their response to a
question in public opinion polls: "What is your religion, if any?" Some
nones are atheists, others agnostics, still others self-styled dabblers in a
variety of faiths and philosophies. Despite their discomfort with organized
religion, many still consider themselves quite spiritual.
[Human Rights] Amnesty finds only two EU states uphold human rights
The EU must improve human rights in its member states as it expands to the
former communist countries of eastern Europe, Amnesty International warned
yesterday. Amnesty told Ireland, which took over the union's rotating
presidency on January 1, that only two of the 15 current member states -
Luxembourg and the Netherlands - could be given a clean bill of health.
[Zhong Gong] Chinese guru Zhang sues opponents
The dispute between Chinese spiritual guru Hong Bao Zhang, the housekeeper
he is accused of assaulting and a group of prominent U.S.-based Chinese
dissidents has reached the local courts as Zhang and his supporters filed
another round of civil lawsuits. The complaints include accusations
including fraud, grand theft and extortion. One complaint alleges Zhang's
housekeeper "maliciously punctured' the forehead of one of the guru's
followers with a thorn, spoiling her chances for marriage. Zhang, 50, of
Pasadena, is the exiled founder of Zhong Gong, a Chinese spiritual wellness
movement that once was reported to have as many as 38 million followers.
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