ReligionNewsBlog.com, Apr. 19, 2004
[Militia Groups] 9 years after Oklahoma City blast, militias remain shadowy groups in U.S.
When FBI agents searched a rented storage locker in a small east Texas town last year, they were alarmed to discover a huge cache of weapons and the ingredients to make a cyanide bomb capable of killing thousands. Just as startling was the identity of the owner of the arsenal, which included nearly half a million rounds of ammunition and more than 60 pipe bombs. He was not some foreign terrorist with ties to al-Qaida but a 63-year-old Texan with an affinity for anti-government militias and white supremacist views. William Krar, an itinerant gun dealer, quickly pleaded guilty to possession of the chemical weapon and then promptly clammed up, leaving federal officials to wonder what he intended to do with his deadly arsenal and whether his conspiracy extended beyond two known accomplices who pleaded guilty to lesser charges. Experts who track domestic terrorist groups would like to know as well. The 1995 Oklahoma City, Okla., bombing, which occurred nine years ago Monday, led to a period of disarray and decline for militias, but anti-government right-wing extremists remain a largely hidden threat of unknown proportions. With the nation focused on terrorist threats from abroad in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, experts wonder if the Krar case, which FBI agents discovered only by accident, could be a harbinger of homegrown attacks to come.
[Islam] Eton appoints its first imam to religious staff
The first imam employed to care for the spiritual development of Muslim pupils at Eton College described his appointment as "a fantastic step" yesterday and said he hoped to hold debates in the school on such issues as the Iraq war and Israel. [...] The traditionally Christian and largely Anglican school teaches 1,290 boys aged between 13 and 18. It already has four Anglican priests, a Roman Catholic chaplain and a Jewish tutor. The appointment of a Muslim tutor has been seen as a natural development. Eton is among the first leading independent schools to appoint a Muslim teacher.
[Snake Handlers] For snake handlers, going to church can prove deadly
When the Rev. Dwayne Long picked up a rattlesnake in church last Sunday to show his faith in God, he was breaking a Virginia law that makes it a misdemeanor to handle dangerous snakes. A conviction could have cost him $250. His convictions, however, cost him his life. [...] Followers of the fundamentalist movement, who usually gather in small, rural churches scattered throughout Appalachia, read literally the words of Mark 16:17-18, which includes the "taking up of serpents" as one of five signs that identify true believers.
[Buddhism] Dalai Lama speaks casually to thousands from armchair on stage
The Dalai Lama and retired South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu teased each other and an audience of some 13,000 mercilessly Sunday, often bursting into giggles and waving at each other. The exiled Tibetan Buddhist head and Anglican leader are in Vancouver to participate in a roundtable discussion along with fellow Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi scheduled for later in the week. [...] Before speaking on the importance of cultivating a good heart, the Dalai Lama said he realized there were non-Buddhists at the meeting and that it might be "better and safer to keep one's own tradition." Organizers of the Dalai Lama's spiritual teaching said they expected many of those in the audience to have had little prior exposure to Buddhism.
[Nuwaubians] York sentencing set for Thursday
Malachi York is scheduled to be sentenced in federal court Thursday - but first, a federal judge must hear two more motions involving the cult leader and convicted child molester, officials said. [...] Today, Judge Ashley Royal is scheduled to hear arguments on whether Patrick can withdraw from York's case. March 15, Patrick filed a motion to withdraw from the case "for reasons that can be outlined at the sealed closed ex-parte hearing for client protection." [...] Friday, York's legal team is expected to argue against federal prosecutors' attempt to seek restitution in the case. Prosecutors have asked the court for restitution of $113,402.53 in trial costs.
[Aum Shinrikyo] Two suspected Japanese Aum cultists barred from entering Philippines
Immigration commissioner Alipio Fernandez said Koichi Ninomiya and Hiroki Tsuno would be denied entry if they attempted to visit the country. [...] "The government cannot take chances by allowing the entry of aliens who are considered threats to our peace and security," Fernandez said in a statement.
[Marcus Wesson] The Many Portraits of Marcus Wesson
Those who know the accused killer draw starkly conflicting views of him.
[Branch Davidians] On This Day 1993: Waco cult siege ends with inferno
Approximately 77 cult members, including David Koresh, died in the fire. Some cult members, including David Koresh, were found to have died of gunshot wounds.
[UFOs] Investigators seek clues in UFO sightings
Bev Carpenter's hands painted pictures in the warm blue sky, the sound of birds punctuated by her testimony of the only thing investigators found missing: The UFO she saw the night of April 8. Roger Sugden, assistant director of Mutual UFO Network Indiana, and MUFON state section director Stewart Hill, went to Carpenter's rural home Friday to look into reports by at least seven people in three counties of sightings of something they can't explain. MUFON, headquartered in Littleton, Colo., is an international scientific organization of people who are seriously interested in studying and researching unidentified flying objects and was founded in 1969.
[USA] U.S. Supreme Court hear argument over Guantanamo detainees
The Supreme Court begins a historic review of presidential power in the age of terror this week when it considers the rights of foreigners now detained by the United States at Guantanamo Bay. Taking on for the first time President Bush's efforts to fight terrorism, the justices will hear arguments Tuesday on whether hundreds of men held for more than two years without criminal charge or prisoner-of-war status at the U.S. Navy base in Cuba may challenge their detentions in an American court. [...] Rulings expected later this year could restrain or endorse the administration's prosecution of what officials have characterized as an open-ended war on terror. "This is a defining moment," said constitutional-law scholar Michael A. Mello, a professor at Vermont Law School. "We are living in a fundamental moment in constitutional jurisprudence in this country.
[Faith Healing] Miracle man only one who can save me
A terminal cancer patient has pinned her last hope of finding a cure on a miracle man in South America. Paula Livingstone, 34, believes Brazilian spiritual healer John of God is her only chance after doctors told her there is no conventional cure. [...] She will travel with a friend to the mountain village of Goia to meet Joao Teixeira da Faria, known as Joao de Deus or John of God. He is said to have cured illnesses for actresses Janet Leigh and Shirley MacLaine, the son of Peru's president Alberto Fujimori and thousands of others, charging nothing for his services. He claims he is possessed by great, deceased medics and regards himself as the vessel for God's miracles.
[Hate Groups] Oklahoma City Kin Still Seek Coconspirators
For Jannie Coverdale, the search for suspects in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that killed her two grandsons and 166 other people did not end with the arrests of Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols. Nine years after the deadly bombing, Coverdale is among a resolute group of survivors and members of victims' families that is still searching for the enigmatic suspect John Doe No. 2 and evidence of a wider bombing conspiracy. Coverdale and others believe the state murder trial of bombing conspirator Terry Nichols may be their last chance to prove what prosecutors argue is a leap of faith: that unknown others were involved in the plot to bomb the Oklahoma City federal building.
[Mariology] Visions of Mary
Portland author and Rolling Stone writer Randall Sullivan explores the phenomenon of holy visions - and comes away a believer
[Kabbalah] Madonna's profits could go to cult
The controversy over Madonna's August Slane concert took a new twist last week when it emerged she may be giving some of her huge profits from the concert to a controversial Jewish cult. Madonna is to be paid 4.2m for her August 29 gig. This extraordinary deal has ensured that ticket prices for the concert have rocketed to over 100 each. However, the UK's Chief Rabbi Dr Jonathan Sacks has issued a statement distancing his office from the activities of the London Kabbalah Centre. The new London centre, it has been alleged, was part-funded by Madonna and her husband, film director Guy Ritchie. The £3.6m London Kabbalah centre is controlled by an American rabbi, Philip Berg, and is part of the worldwide Kabbalah Centre movement organised by Berg and his family.
[Landmark Education] Fears as 'life-change' firm recruits in Brum
Young Midland professionals are being recruited by a controversial American company which claims to provide life-changing coaching sessions. But concerns have been raised about Landmark Education, a firm which has previously been investigated by the Cult Information Centre.
[Prison] Faith-Based Prison Opens
Hillsborough County is now home to the nation's first faith-based prison for women, continuing a push by Gov. Jeb Bush to give religious organizations a greater role in Florida social services.
[Prison] Crusade to take gospel into state prisons begins
Over the course of decades, reformers have sought to steer juvenile delinquents down the right path by scaring them straight, employing "behavior modification" techniques, or prompting them to consider the impact on victims through "restorative justice.' Now, Florida is embracing yet another approach, referred to by its promoters as "the Jesus method." Beginning today for the next week, 10 of the state's lockups for young offenders will open their doors to a group of evangelical Christians, who intend to spread God's message of love and hope to budding criminals by, basically, putting on a show. [...] "Every performer will say I committed my heart to Jesus Christ and that's what means everything to me," said Don Smarto, president of Youth Direct, a Texas-based nonprofit that is organizing the tour... [...] At the same time, a national network of 24 Christian faith-based groups called Operation Starting Line will pour into Florida's adult prisons, reaching 21,000 inmates with a similar show featuring comedians, ex-offenders, musicians and athletes, such as boxer Marvis Frazier, the eldest son of former heavyweight champ "Smokin'" Joe Frazier. Backers of the event include the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Campus Crusade for Christ, Promise Keepers and Prison Fellowship, a national prison outreach program started by former Watergate felon Chuck Colson.
[Ahmadiyya] Ahmadiyyas urge govt to lift ban
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat, Bangladesh yesterday urged the government to withdraw the ban on its publications, terming the government move 'unjust'. In a press release, the sect's General Secretary Kawsar Ali Mollah said the government decision has encouraged the religious zealots, who have long been spreading anti-Ahmadiyya sentiments to create instability in the society.
[Bible] The Internet shall make Bible free
Ten years ago this March, while driving his Volkswagen Rabbit between Boulder and Longmont, Colo., Johnson says he had an epiphany; God doesn't do copyright. "That was back before most people knew what the World Wide Web was, and I was praying, asking God what to do about the lack of a reliable and trustworthy modern English Bible translation that could be freely copied and distributed electronically," Johnson recalls. [...] Thus was born a new, public domain translation of the Word of God, the World English Bible (WEB). [...] However, it is the very openness of the WEB project that concerns mainstream scholars. One is Joseph Jensen, a professor at the Catholic University of America and executive secretary of the Catholic Biblical Association of America. "Some time ago, a skit showed Gracie Allen reading a book called Brain Surgery Self-Taught," he says. "While biblical scholarship self-taught might not be fatal in the same way, it does have its drawbacks."
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