ReligionNewsBlog.com, Feb. 14-18, 2004
Wed, Feb. 18, 2004
[Fraud] Fake doctorate draws questions
A list of faculty at Southwestern Adventist University in Keene says faculty
member Alan Williams has a Ph.D. from Glencullen University. But Williams
does not have a doctorate. And Glencullen University does not exist.
Southwestern Adventist and Williams acknowledge that Glencullen is not a
real university. They say he is a victim of fraud. But experts on fake
diplomas say that even though Williams did not commit a crime, he should
have known Glencullen was a scam.
[Brainwashing] 'Evil predator' kept woman slave in garage, jury told
The man accused of keeping a woman as a slave in the garage of his family
home was an evil predator, a jury heard yesterday. In his closing address,
prosecutor Peter Faris, QC, said Graeme John Slattery, 42, had
systematically broken down the woman's identity to the point where she would
do anything he ordered. [...] Mr Faris said Slattery had selected the woman
in 1996, when she had been recently abandoned by her husband. He then "took
control of her life" breaking down her identity with constant punishment,
humiliation and violence. [...] The prosecutor said the woman could not
leave Slattery because she had been subjected to brainwashing similar to
that experienced by concentration camp victims.
[Brainwashing] 'I was a zombie slave' woman claims
A woman broke down in the witness box yesterday as she described being
turned into "a complete zombie" by the man accused of treating her like a
slave. "I was in a situation where everything had been taken from me. My
own being was no longer there," she told a County Court jury in Ballarat.
NOTE: Cult apologists - folks who have turned their defense of cults into
something of a cottage industry - deny the existence of brainwashing.
[Polygamy] Girls who fled polygamy on run again
Two girls placed in state foster care last month after fleeing from the
polygamous community of Colorado City are on the run again. The 16-year-olds
bolted Sunday while on a weekend camping trip in west Phoenix, said Flora
Jessop of Phoenix, a former Colorado City resident who left as a teenager in
1986. She said the girls were scared that they would be returned to their
parents. In letters they left behind, Jessop said the girls wrote that they
feared being locked up or forced to marry much older men if they were sent
home. [...] Earlier this month, another girl, 17, who also ran away from
Colorado City, was returned to her parents. An investigation determined that
that child was not in danger.
[Polygamy] 2 girls flee to avoid going back to polygamous town
The girls disappeared sometime between Friday and Sunday -- just after a
Maricopa County Superior Court issued a "no contact" order against Flora Mae
Jessop, an activist who had helped them flee their Colorado City families in
mid-January. Jessop had arranged for them to stay in a "safe house" in
Phoenix while state officials sorted out the girls' custody. Among the
options: returning them to their families in Colorado City or placing them
in foster care or with other relatives.
[Polygamy] No One Wants Excommunicated FLDS Member's Council Seat
No one wants a city council seat that became vacant when a town leader was
excommunicated and ordered out of the church-controlled town.
[Christianity] Spiritual book having strong influence on churches
At the epicenter is a wildly popular book on living, entitled The
Purpose-Driven Life. The book's approach is taking root in unlikely places
like offices and college campuses. The best-selling California minister who
wrote the book, Rick Warren, preaches that we were all created for specific
reasons that can be found in the Bible. A lot of "purpose-driven" people are
committing themselves to mission.
[Abuse] Abuse doesnt always have to be physical
In the book, The Emotionally Abused Woman Beverly Engel defines abuse as
any behavior that is designed to control and subjugate another human being
through the use of fear, humiliation and verbal or physical assaults.
Emotional abuse is any kind of abuse that is emotional rather than physical
in nature. It can include anything from verbal abuse and constant criticism
to more subtle tactics such as intimidation, manipulation and refusal to
ever be pleased. [...] Living with an abuser often results in the victim
being brainwashed into accepting blame for the situation. A huge majority
think its their fault, and they have guilt feelings, Henricks said.
[Hate Groups] Court: Hate tattoos can be used against suspect
New York's highest court ruled Tuesday that a defendant who refused to
testify at trial couldn't keep his tattoos from speaking against him.
Photographs of defendant Christopher Slavin's many white supremacist tattoos
were used against him in a trial over the brutal assault of two Mexicans in
Suffolk County. The tattoos weren't used to identify the suspect - the
victims hadn't seen the tattoos covered by Slavin's clothing - but instead
were used to help determine Slavin's state of mind and motive in the attack.
[Emmanuel Milingo] Married archbishop back at Vatican
Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, the African faith healer and exorcist who
shocked Catholics by marrying in the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification
Church in 2001, returned to the Vatican Wednesday. [...] It was the first
time he had been seen in public in the Vatican in nearly three years.
[Aum Shinrikyo] Day of Judgment: Aum's actions showed self-righteousness
This is the seventh installment of a series on Chizuo Matsumoto, founder of
the Aum Supreme Truth cult.
[Word of Faith Fellowship] DSS answers Word of Faith lawsuit
Attorneys for the Rutherford County Department of Social Services are asking
a federal court to throw out a case filed against DSS by the Word of Faith
Fellowship. The motion for dismissal was filed last week in response to the
a civil rights lawsuit the WOFF filed against DSS alleging, among other
things, religious discrimination. [...] WOFF is represented by John Gresham
of Charlotte and Eric Lieberman and David Goldstein of New York. Lieberman
has represented the Church of Scientology for many years in similar cases
involving the limits of religious freedom. The lawsuit is one of a number of
recent legal proceedings involving the WOFF.
NOTE: This is not a case of 'religious freedom,' but rather a case of
consistent spiritual, physical and emotion abuse on behalf of the WOFF.
[Emmanuel Milingo] Controversial Archbishop Returns to Italy
The most famous stray of the Catholic Church, African archbishop Emmanuel
Milingo, who rocked the Vatican by eloping then repenting, has returned to
the fold again after reportedly fleeing to his native Zambia in late 2003.
Tue, Feb. 17, 2004
[The Passion of The Christ] Old-time Catholics: Gibson film casts light on
The movement, known as traditionalist Catholicism, grew worldwide from
opposition to the modernizing reforms of the Second Vatican Council, a
series of meetings held from 1962-65 that dramatically changed the church.
[...] Gibson has refused over the years to describe his exact religious
affiliation and declined to do so in an interview by e-mail with The
Associated Press for this article. He has said previously that he attends
Latin Mass and recently even built his own chapel near Malibu, Calif., so he
could worship closer to home. However, it is not clear what traditionalist
beliefs he follows. The movement is as diverse as the many splinter groups
it has generated, from moderates who maintain some contact with the Vatican
to the more militant who rejected outright the authority of the late Pope
John XXIII - who convened the council - and every pope elected thereafter.
[The Passion of The Christ] Gibson defends cross vision
Mel Gibson said critics who found his controversial film The Passion of the
Christ anti-Semitic were missing the point, and defended his violent
depiction of the crucifixion, saying he had deliberately set out to make a
movie that would shock. Decrying anti-Semitism as an "un-Christian" sin
that went against the tenets of his faith, Gibson told ABC's Diane Sawyer in
a Primetime interview that he had never intended the film to trigger a
"blame game" over responsibility for Christ's death. "It's about faith,
hope, love and forgiveness. That's what this film is about. It's about
Christ's sacrifice," he said, in excerpts of the interview released ahead of
its broadcast on Monday evening.
[The Passion of The Christ] Gibson Talks About Film, Furor and Faith
He has spent the last few days talking to handpicked members of the media,
trying to dispel any notion that his film which graphically depicts the
last 12 hours in the life of Christ blames Jews for the killing of Jesus,
or is in any way anti-Semitic. "I've taken every opportunity to say this
out there and publicly: This is not the blame game
. I understand that some
may have fears
because they maybe look at one aspect of it; it emotionally
sort of causes a knee-jerk reaction. I'm sorry for that. I'm stunned by
that. I don't understand." He pauses. He's been brooding on this, and seems
pained. "I do understand it now, because I've had to think about it and look
at it for a while. It wasn't something that I was completely aware of."
[Polygamy] 'Child Bigamy' Bill Advances In Senate
The child bigamy bill (S1335) makes the crime a Class 3 felony, which
carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison and a $150,000 fine. It is
similar to a Utah law, said its sponsor, Sen. Marilyn Jarrett, R-Dist. 19.
Growing problems with citizens of Colorado City taking several wives,
including children, prompted the legislation. Colorado City is home to a
fundamentalist sect, known as the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter Day Saints, which practices polygamy.
[Warmongering] Tutu attacks 'immoral' Iraq war
Former archbishop of Cape Town and Nobel peace prize winner Desmond Tutu
says the "immoral" war in Iraq has left the world a much more unsafe place.
Desmond Tutu urged US President George Bush and British Prime Minister Tony
Blair to admit they had made a mistake. The archbishop also demanded to
know whether it had been right to attack Iraq in defiance of international
law. Archbishop Tutu's severest criticism of the war yet came in a lecture
to the Prison Reform Trust in London.
[Offbeat News] New e-mail service to...God
Bezeq announced Monday a new service: E-mails to God that will be placed in
the Western Wall. The new service expands the company's existing fax
service of notes to the Western Wall, which receives about 200 notes a week
and more on holidays. Since more people have access to the Internet than
fax machines, Bezeq hopes the e-mail service will bring many more notes.
Tradition holds that God will grant the pleas placed between the massive
stones of the Wall, which surrounded the Jewish Temple.
[Transcendental Meditation] TM officials say money is in place for 500 from
Officials in the Transcendental Meditation movement said recently they have
raised enough money to bring 500 young men practicing the TM program from
India to Maharishi Vedic City. [...] Wynne said the men will spend their
days studying, meditating and reciting literature from the ancient Vedic
tradition of India.
[Catholic Church] Draft survey: 4,450 priests accused of sex abuse
Children accused more than 4,000 priests of sexual abuse between 1950 and
2002, according to a draft survey commissioned by the U.S. Conference of
Catholic Bishops. The survey, to be released February 27, found that
children made more than 11,000 allegations of sexual abuse by priests. The
4,450 accused priests represent about 4 percent of the 110,000 priests who
served during the 52 years covered by the study. The report is based on a
nationwide survey of church records, and was compiled by the John Jay
College of Criminal Justice for the conference. The bishops' conference
commissioned the survey to get a better understanding of the scope of the
[Imposter] Woman on school deception charge
A woman, who claims she escaped from a satanic cult, travelled across
Australia posing as a teenager, a court heard yesterday. Jacqueline
Bayliss, 39, of Doncaster, attempted to deceive secondary schools and even
managed to trick the Royal Children's Hospital into thinking she was an
18-year-old, Melbourne Magistrates' Court heard. [...] Ms Bayliss,
representing herself, said she had escaped a cult and found refuge in the
church. She told the court cult leaders continually abducted and tortured
her as punishment for leaving.
[Imposter] Man puzzled by motives of woman who passed as 13-year-old boy
A Galena pastor said Monday that a 33-year-old woman who attended his church
for several months posing as a 13-year-old boy is still living in the area
and still attending the church. And even though an Internet search turns up
information that a woman by the same name has been jailed in the past for
similar masquerades in other states, Jim Jones, pastor of Galena Assembly of
God, 1500 E. Seventh St., said he is still wondering: Why the ruse? [...]
According to a CNN Internet news report, a 25-year-old woman named Birdie Jo
Hoaks was arrested in December 1995 in Salt Lake City, Utah, apparently
trying to pass herself off as an abandoned 12-year-old boy in order to
solicit donations. According to the report, Hoaks had pulled off similar
scams in at least 11 other states and had been jailed in at least two
[Seventh-day Adventism] On air with Three Angels
Danny Shelton leaned into a speaker phone toward the end of talks with a
satellite company promising to sell his Three Angels Broadcasting Network to
thousands of cable operators across the country. [...] The 52-year-old
Shelton hopes his latest satellite deal will win millions more viewers.
Until then, it remains most notable for its ties to the Seventh-day
Adventist church, a Protestant denomination whose members go to church on
Saturday, shun alcohol and tobacco (many also are vegetarians) and
anticipate what they believe will be Jesus' imminent return.
NOTE: Theologically, Seventh-day Adventism is a cult of Christianity.
[Reina y Señora de Todo lo Creado] Former S.A. priest leading Costa Rican
church that many call cult
The Archdiocese of San Antonio is warning Catholics about a breakaway church
deep in Central America. [...] Father Alfredo Prado fled San Antonio last
fall after church officials ordered him into a retirement home. Now he's
involved in a controversial Costa Rican religious group at a small sanctuary
nestled on a ridge above a coffee plantation. The 73-year-old Prado is
accused of sexually abusing teenage boys more than 30 years ago while
serving as pastor at St. Timothy's Catholic Church in San Antonio. He has
never been charged and Prado denies any wrongdoing. Dozens of San Antonians
have visited the compound in Central America. Some are drawn by Prado,
others come to hear a 24-year-old with only a third-grade education. Juan
Pablo Delgado is the leader of what locals call the Virgin Cult.
[USA] Franklin Graham urges religious broadcasters to help re-elect Bush
The son of evangelist Billy Graham told thousands attending the N-R-B
convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, that if Bush is defeated there
won't be anyone to stop the media from broadcasting pornography. He said the
kind of entertainment shown during the Super Bowl halftime show will be just
the "tip of the iceberg."
[Faith Healing] Faith healing is no cure: Doctors
Experts in the field of psychology say there is no proof whatsoever to show
that illness can be cured by faith healing. Some say, however, that there is
a psychological factor at work in illness, which is played on at such prayer
gatherings. "Call it the placebo effect," says psychiatrist Rajesh Parikh.
"Studies have shown that even in the worst of illnesses, when people think
they are taking medicines, there is a 40 per cent chance that they will get
better. This is why, in the US , all medicines have to show an efficacy
percentage much higher than 40 per cent to be passed by the FDA."
[Benny Hinn] Thousands flock to Benny Hinn meetings in Mumbai
Despite the disapproval of the Catholic church, thousands of Christians here
are flocking to hear charismatic evangelist Benny Hinn. The crowds thronging
the meeting of the American preacher are expected to peak on Sunday, the
last day of the three-day event, say the organisers.
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Mon, Feb. 16, 2004
[Aum Shinrikyo] Day of Judgment: Matsumoto's Aum cult grew rapidly in late
This is the sixth installment of a series on Chizuo Matsumoto, the founder
of the Aum Supreme Truth cult.
[The Passion of The Christ] Gibson breaks his media silence to respond to
Gibson said he is wounded by accusations that his film is irresponsible and
emphatically denied that he is anti-Semitic. He seemed incredulous at times
when asked if he thought his movie could incite anger or violence towards
Jewish individuals or the State of Israel. "Frankly, that hurts," Gibson
said of the accusations. "I am offended by that. It's simply not true.
"Anti-Semitism is the deliberate abuse of Jewish people simply for being
Jewish. That is not only stupid, it's morally wrong. By what I believe, it
is not only boorish and bigoted, it is a sin. It is a moral crime. To be
racist in any form is to be un-Christian."
[The Passion of The Christ] Gibson reworks Passion' to clarify role of Jews
The filmmaker deleted a controversial scene that drew objections from
Christian and Jewish leaders alike the so-called "blood curse" from the
Gospel of Matthew that has been abused for centuries to hold all Jews
accountable for the death of Jesus. And several flashbacks, added without
fanfare after primary filming was completed, show Jesus commanding his
followers to love all people and declaring he faced death "of my own
[Rhema Lifesavers Ministry] Woman Getting Evaluated After Family Says Church
A woman will undergo a mental evaluation after her family says she is being
brainwashed by her church. Erica Dawson's family protested outside the
Rhema Lifesavers Ministry in Eatonville on Sunday morning. They say Erica
started acting strange six months ago, after she started attending services
at the ministry. Family members say Erica refused to watch television or
listen to the radio, saying it was evil. She even refused to associate
herself with friends and family.
[Britney Spears] Britney Turns To God For Help
Troubled pop beauty Britney Spears has turned to Christianity to help solve
her problems - on her father Jamie's insistence. [...] "Her family told her
that they loved her very much but that they couldn't stand by and watch her
destroy her life and her career. "They told her she needed to get back on
her feet and return to traditional values, and that included Christianity."
[Yoga] The guru to the stars who is tying the yoga world in knots
Anyone thinking of adding, altering or in any way changing [Bikram
Choudhury's] 26 copyrighted and trademarked postures - each to be performed
twice in a heated room - has received a "cease and desist" letter from his
lawyers. The letter is curt and pointed: if a yoga teacher has not attended
a $5,000-per-person training programme and is not paying a studio franchise
fee, he or she should not be teaching "Bikram" yoga. The letter threatens
penalties of $150,000 for any infringement. But now the yoga teachers are
hitting back and a federal lawsuit has been filed against Mr Choudhury
claiming yoga is a 5,000-year-old tradition that cannot be owned. And if Mr
Choudhury doesn't like it? Well, say the enthusiasts, he's flexible enough
to know where to shove it.
[Aum Shinrikyo] Security agency raids 11 AUM-related locations
The Justice Ministry's Public Security Intelligence Agency raided 11
facilities nationwide Monday related to the AUM Shinrikyo cult, which is
blamed for a host of crimes, including the 1995 subway gas attack in Tokyo,
ahead of next week's first court ruling on AUM founder Shoko Asahara. The
Tokyo District Court is widely expected to hand down the death penalty on
Asahara, 48, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, on Feb. 27. The raids,
which involve about 200 agency officers, were conducted to prevent any of
his followers from taking any action related to the ruling.
[Aum Shinrikyo] Japanese authorities raid doomsday cult facilities ahead of
Japanese agents raided key facilities of a doomsday cult Monday, searching
for evidence of a terror plot ahead of a verdict in the trial of the group's
guru for a 1995 nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subways.
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