ReligionNewsBlog.com, Apr. 14, 2004
[Hate Groups] White Supremacists Banned From Dedication
White supremacist groups who plan to protest next month's dedication of the Brown vs. Board of Education National Historic Site will not be allowed on the property that day, the site superintendent said. The dedication will be on May 17, the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that declared racially segregated schools unconstitutional. Site spokeswoman LaTonya Miller said the White Revolution, the White Knights and the Ku Klux Klan are expected to protest the dedication. Only the White Revolution has confirmed its plans.
[Hate Groups] Witness in Hale trial admits he sees white supremacist as enemy
A prosecution witness who claims white supremacist Matthew Hale asked him to kill a federal judge testified Wednesday that he came to consider Hale and other members of the "racial movement" his enemies after another Hale follower got his 13-year-old daughter pregnant.
[Polygamy] Polygamist family's lawsuit alleges 'secretive religious society'
Attorneys wrangling over a $110 million lawsuit against Utah's largest polygamist family must end their bickering if the case is ever to be resolved, a judge said Tuesday. Mary Ann Kingston, 22, is suing 242 members of the Kingston polygamist family and more than 100 businesses operated by the group in and around the Salt Lake City area. Her complaint also names 1,000 "John Does." The suit seeks damages from what Kingston and her lawyers called a "secretive religious society and economic organization" that teaches and promotes sexual abuse of young girls through illegal and underage marriages, incest and polygamy.
[Jehovah's Witnesses] Sex abuse victims target Jehovah's Witness in civil suit
Napa child molester Edward Bedoya Villegas died in prison nearly 10 years ago, but the legal aftermath of his actions is still being hashed out in Napa Superior Court. Two of his victims are suing two Napa Jehovah's Witness Congregations and other Jehovah's Witness groups, saying high-ranking elders and church policymakers were negligent in supervising Villegas and concealed records for more than 20 years. The church, including its Brooklyn-based national headquarters, is fighting back.
[Avatar Group] Passion, Joy Restored in Controversial Therapy
If you thought this was a moment from a New Age gathering somewhere in California, think again. The meeting is taking place in a working-class eastern Moscow neighborhood. [...] Avatar was formed in 2000 by Tikhonova and her husband, Roman, both graduates of Lifespring, a popular but controversial U.S. self-help movement that made its way to Russia in the early '90s. A typical Avatar basic training course, which costs $275, is designed as a hard-hitting group encounter, lasting 12 hours a day for three days, usually with a follow-up session the same week. The course begins with a two-hour speech by Tikhonov about the basics of the group's philosophy and a briefing on the rules participants will be asked to observe during the session. At the end of the lecture, participants leave the room for a short break and are asked to come back only if they decide the course is right for them. Avatar's organizers are reluctant to discuss what comes next, claiming that doing so would undermine the experience for those who have not been through the program. Graduates, however, relate a three-day emotional roller coaster, where lectures are combined with various partner exercises and closed-eye, or guided imagery exercises, in which the trainer lulls participants into a trance-like state and brings them back to their childhood to confront long-standing issues.
[Internet] Google won't dump anti-Semitic site
Google, under fire for refusing to exclude an anti-Semitic website from Internet search results, on Tuesday said it cannot deny users access because that would betray a vow to deliver unbiased information - no matter how it detests the site's message. [...] "I certainly am very offended by the site, but the objectivity of our rankings is one of our very important principles," Sergey Brin, who started Google with fellow Stanford University graduate student Larry Page in the late 1990s, told Reuters in a telephone interview. "We don't let our personal views - religious, political, ethical or otherwise - affect our results," said Brin, who added that he is Jewish. Several weeks ago, a New York-based real estate investor started an online petition urging Google to remove the site. As of Tuesday afternoon, the petition - at www.removejewwatch.com - had collected more than 50 000 signatures.
[Books] Christian titles behind Baker reorganization
Because of its double-digit growth, Baker Book House has reorganized, renaming its publishing division Baker Publishing Group while redefining its six divisions and expanding its warehouse. [...] The Christian publishing market has grown from $5.7 billion in 1999 to more than $8 billion this year. The region has seen much of the growth. Baker rival Zondervan, which is based in Grand Rapids, is the world's largest publisher of Bibles and has a nonfiction runaway best seller in Rick Warren's "The Purpose-Driven Life." The book has sold about 16 million copies since being released in September 2002.
[Church and State] ACLU files suit against school's religious activities
The ACLU filed suit Tuesday against the Bossier Parish School Board and the principal of an elementary school, alleging the school is violating the First Amendment by sponsoring a teacher-led prayer group and other religious activities.
[Interfaith] Keeping disagreements on faith friendly
The Rev. Greg Johnson of Lehi, Utah, and Robert Millet, a professor of religion at Brigham Young University, have shared a close friendship for seven years and are traveling about the United States to teach others how to communicate effectively with people who believe differently from them. [...] "An Evangelical and Latter-day Saint in Dialogue" is not a debate event, said Tom Sherry, the adviser to the LDS student group and a coordinator of activities sponsored by the OSU Religious Advisers Association and Student Affairs Division. Johnson, an ordained Baptist minister, and Millet, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, will describe the basic beliefs of their own churches and point out some of the central theological differences between evangelical Christians and Mormons. Then they will model how they approach doctrinal discussions with each other without compromising their own religious convictions. "There's no intent for people to become 'more Baptist' or 'more Mormon,'" Sherry said. "We want them to learn how people can have a credible, productive conversation in a friendly way when they come from two starkly different viewpoints."
[Islam] Terrorists in Spain Said to Eye Jewish Sites
Terrorists believed responsible for the Madrid train bombings last month also considered attacks on a Jewish community center and cemetery outside Madrid, a senior Spanish investigator said Tuesday.
[Islam] It's Christian bells vs. Muslim prayer calls
Hamtramck Muslim community members' request to amend the city noise ordinance so mosques can use loudspeakers for a call to prayer has divided some residents along religious lines. At a City Council public hearing Tuesday, Muslim speakers said they often hear church bells that are louder and ring as early as 6 a.m., but they don't complain. They said the call to prayer would be less noisy. [...] Some Christians said the call to prayer, which occurs five times a day and starts as early as 6 a.m., would disrupt their lives. [...] "Both sides have issued threats of federal lawsuits based on the constitutionality of the ban or the removal of the ban." [...] But the measure is likely to pass, Majewski said. There will be a vote next week, and if it passes it would go into effect in late May. The city has become increasingly Islamic in flavor.
[Islam] Justice Department joins Muslim head scarf lawsuit
In what one supporter called "a ground-breaking step," the Justice Department has been allowed to join a lawsuit supporting a Muslim girl suspended for wearing a head scarf to school. Leah Farish, a Tulsa attorney for the family of Nashala Hearn, said Tuesday that Frank H. Seay, U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Oklahoma, on Monday granted a Justice Department request to join in the federal lawsuit.
[Nuwaubians] York's 'wife' gets prison
A companion of cult leader and convicted child molester Malachi York will spend two years in prison after pleading guilty Tuesday to molesting four children. As part of the plea agreement with Kathy Johnson, Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit District Attorney Fred Bright said federal prosecutors have agreed to ask a federal judge to drop their case against her. Federal prosecutors declined to comment Tuesday afternoon because the case is still pending. [...] Although they were never legally married to York, prosecutors said Tuesday that Johnson was York's "main wife" and one of five top women in the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors camp.
[Hate Groups] Witness: Matt Hale Urged Killing of Judge
A one-time follower of white supremacist Matthew Hale testified Tuesday that Hale, angry over the outcome of a lawsuit, asked him if he would kill a federal judge, three lawyers and a minister involved in the case. "He shouted how he wanted them dead - the judge and the attorneys, they had to die," Jon Fox said in the second day of testimony in Hale's trial. Hale, 32, whose organization preached racial holy war, is charged with solicitation to commit murder and obstruction of justice. Prosecutors say he became furious with Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow in 2002 when she issued an order barring his group from using the name World Church of the Creator. The name is trademarked by an Oregon religious organization that has no ties to Hale.
[Mannatech] Salesmen ignore rebuke over cancer cure claims
Salesmen for a company accused of peddling sugar pills as a cancer cure are continuing to make the claims despite warnings of prosecutions. The family of a seriously ill woman said they were approached by a salesperson who said $1600 worth of the pills would cure her. [...] The pills are made by an American company, Mannatech, which uses an Amway-style direct marketing sales technique. [...] After stories about Mannatech in the Herald last year, the Ministry of Health warned the company and some of its salespeople that they could be breaching the Medicines Act. Ministry adviser Dr Stewart Jessamine said that Mannatech had said it had written to distributors warning them not to make therapeutic claims.
[Satanic and/or ritual abuse] College investigates complaint against doctor in Klassen case
The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan is conducting a disciplinary investigation of the doctor whose medical reports were used to bolster the malicious prosecution of Richard Klassen and 11 others. [...] Klassen and 11 extended family members won the malicious prosecution lawsuit against Saskatoon police Supt. Brian Dueck, Crown prosecutor Matt Miazga and social worker Carol Bunko-Ruys, following a lengthy trial last year.
[The Passion of The Christ] Passion back at top of US box office
The Passion of the Christ has become the eighth bestselling movie in US history after an Easter weekend in which it routed a host of new movies at the box office. The film reclaimed the top spot in the film charts, taking $17.1m in three days from Good Friday. In total it has made $354.8m in the US, passing The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers for the number eight spot on the all-time domestic charts, just behind Jurassic Park.
[Shroud of Turin] Scientists find another face on reverse side of Turin Shroud
Computer image processing has discovered the ghostly image of a man on the Turin Shroud, but on its reverse side, rather than on the top of the famous relic. The image matches that of the face on the front side of the shroud, with faint details of a nose, eyes, hair, beard and moustache.
The discovery is published today in a scientific paper by two Italian scientists. The shroud is among the most controversial Christian relics. Supporters say the handwoven cloth is the burial shroud of Jesus, and that the "image" visible on its front - the smudged outline of a man's body - is proof of the Resurrection. But scientists who have studied the image have repeatedly said it is a convincing and clever fake, probably from medieval times, "no miracles are necessary to explain the [front] image" and it "can be explained by reference to highly probable, well-known chemical reactions". But that assertion will meet a renewed challenge with the new research, in the peer-reviewed Journal of Optics A: Pure and Applied Optics.
[The Passion of The Christ] Oman approves screening Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ"
Mel Gibson's controversial film "The Passion of the Christ" is to make its debut in Oman, the marketing manager of the Oman Arab Cinema Co. said. [...] As in many other countries, the movie has already broken box office records in the neighbouring United Arab Emirates, where it hit the big screen last month.
[Buddhism] Martin to meet with Dalai Lama despite protests from trade partner
Paul Martin will become the first Canadian prime minister to meet with the Dalai Lama despite protests from trade dynamo China. Martin has decided to meet the Nobel prize winner next week when the Tibetan spiritual leader visits Canada. The visit is sure to annoy Beijing.
[Mariology] Owner: Virgin Mary statue weeps again
A statue of the Virgin Mary that has been drawing crowds since 2002 when it apparently began weeping rose-scented tears has started crying again, in the week before Easter, its owner said Sunday. Patty Powell, who bought the statue 10 years ago in Bangkok, said it started shedding tears again on Palm Sunday. [...] Powell, from the Western Australia state capital, Perth, began displaying the statue at a local Catholic church in 2002. However the city's Catholic Archbishop Barry Hickey ordered her to remove it from the church after an analysis of the "tears" found they were a mixture of vegetable oil and rose oil.
Anton and Janet Hein-Hudson
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