Religion News Blog = religion news in context:
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ReligionNewsBlog, Apr. 25-26, 2004
[Satanic and/or ritual abuse] Claims of sex abuse at Satanic rituals led to charge
A woman's allegations that she was sexually abused as a child by Roman Catholic priests during Satanic rituals eventually led police to review the 1980 killing of a nun and charge one of the priests with murder. Investigators told The (Toledo) Blade they could not substantiate the woman's allegations, but her mention of the Rev. Gerald Robinson spurred police to take another look at the nun's murder -- in which he had always been a suspect. Robinson, 66, was charged Friday with killing Sister Margaret Ann Pahl, who was strangled and stabbed about 30 times on April 5, 1980. Her body was found in a hospital chapel, surrounded by lit candles with her arms folded across her chest. [...] In December, authorities re-examined old evidence and concluded that the murder weapon, which they did not identify, was ''in the control of the suspect.'' They used ''blood transfer patterns,'' a rarely used technology that analyzes the patterns made when an item is laid down. DNA evidence was not a factor, Forrester said.
[Dungeons and Dragons] Whatever happened to Dungeons and Dragons?
An estimated 20 million people worldwide have played D&D since it was created, with more than $1bn spent on game equipment and books. [...] The game was wrongly implicated in a missing persons case, a teen suicide and a number of murders. Some schools banned the game, and many parents refused to let their children play.
[Witchcraft] Court sends case back to Zoning Board of Appeals
The fate of land off Stanzione Drive -- linked to the controversy over a Wiccan church moving to town --is still up in the air after court review.
The Superior Court has remanded the case back to the Zoning Board of Appeals, which ruled against the owner of the land, Dr. Richard Cohen, last year. [Context: Dec. 7, 2003: The church returned the land to Cohen during the legal wrangle with the town, but he said he intends to give the Wiccans the entire parcel if he is not allowed to build his house. The portion of the land he had given to the church has no frontage on Stanzione Drive and would also have to be accessed through Cohens driveway or by building a suspension bridge over the wetlands, said Sulyma-Masson, who is a veterinary technician. "If they deny me a house, they wont make any taxes because Ill give it all to the church," Cohen said.]
[Religious Freedom] Supreme Court rules for Ethical Society to get religious tax exemption
The state comptroller's office, pinch hitting for divine beings, is now zero for three in Texas courts but wants one more trip to the plate. The state Supreme Court on Friday rejected Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn's argument that the Ethical Society of Austin doesn't qualify for religious tax exemptions because its members do not worship a specific God or higher power. The group, with about 60 members, defines its faith through pursuit of ethical ideals and humane behavior rather than worshipping a deity. Its roots reach back to the Ethical Culture movement that began in 1876. Although the society meets weekly, performs ceremonies such as weddings and baby namings and holds Sunday school classes, it does not meet the comptroller's requirement of worshipping "God, gods or a higher power." The state has been trying for almost eight years to deny the society religious status that would exempt it from paying sales taxes, property taxes and other state levies.
[Psychics] Famous psychic returns
She predicted President Reagan would be shot, assisted in the hunt for Laci Peterson and claims she can relive a murder through the eyes of a killer. But when Noreen Renier took her first case 25 years ago, to help find a serial rapist in Staunton, she did not foresee a career as a psychic investigator, let alone one that would gain national attention.
[Islam] Muslim women exempt from ID card photos
Thousands of Muslim women will be exempted from having to show their faces on identity cards as the Government moves to allay fears among British Muslims that the new cards will be used to target them in the 'war on terror'. As David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, faced attack for not allowing enough debate over the introduction of the first ID cards in Britain since the Second World War, officials made it clear that if Muslim women do not want to reveal their faces in public, that would be respected. Instead of a photograph, there would be an exemption for certain people, who would only have to give fingerprint and iris-recognition data.
[Islam] Pocket guides on how to deal with CSIS circulating among Muslims
An Islamic group is distributing a pocket guide to Canadian Muslims advising them what to do if CSIS or the RCMP tries to interrogate them about terrorism. Almost 30,000 copies of the Know Your Rights guide are already in circulation across the country and demand is growing among Muslims left shaken by sensational headlines following recent anti-terrorism raids.
[Eula Mae Yates] Church members sue former pastor
Members of an Elizabethtown church want their former pastor to return thousands of dollars, which they claim the pastor was saving for them. A lawsuit filed in Hardin County Circuit Court alleges members of Zion Pentecostal Church handed money over to Eula Mae Yates with the under-standing Yates would save the money and return it at the members' requests. She has refused to return the money, the lawsuit claims. Yates, who was pastor of the church since 1958, said the plaintiffs' claims are false, and she has never collected money to be saved for church members.
[Homosexuality / Lesbianism] Gay row dean attacks prejudice in church
In a move likely to provoke renewed aggravation from conservative evangelicals, Canon Jeffrey John, the dean of St Albans, yesterday broke his silence in a sermon in which he reminded the Church of England that Jesus excluded no "untouchables" such as homosexuals from his special care. The dean, who is gay, attacked "prejudice, bigotry and oppression" within the church, and said Jesus himself was condemned to death by fundamentalist zealots who believed they were obeying scripture - remarks which mirror the argument of his opponents that they are defending biblical orthodoxy in opposing his ministry. The words will sting because Dr John, canon theologian at Southwark cathedral, uses biblical arguments against the evangelicals. They have insisted that he should not be allowed to challenge the church's policy and that his appointment defies biblical injunctions against homosexuals.
[Homosexuality / Lesbianism] Evangelicals threaten to 'ruin' C of E over gay canon
Evangelical Anglican churches are threatening the Church of England with financial ruin in protest at the appointment of Canon Jeffrey John, a homosexual, as the Dean of St Albans Cathedral. Several parish churches in the Diocese of St Albans are planning to cap their financial quota contributions after Dr John's elevation, accusing the Church of pursuing "a homosexual agenda".
Their move could leave the diocese several thousand pounds out of pocket. It relies on the "parish share" to provide more than £7 million annually to pay for stipends, pensions and some administrative costs.
[Children of God] HBO Documentary Focuses on Cult Kids
HBO is developing a documentary about the Children of God, an apocalyptic cult accused of extreme sexual practices such as incest and rape. "No Longer Children," will chronicle the lives of several children who, after careful planning, managed to escape without money, education or family support. [...] The documentary is being produced by Diane Farr (the WB's "Like Family") and Noah Thomson, a former child member who will make his directing debut on the project and appear on camera along with many of his 11 siblings.
Sun, Apr. 25, 2004
[Falun Gong] Falun Gong Sues Chinese Minister in U.S. Court
Falun Gong members have sued Chinese Commerce Minister Bo Xilai in U.S. federal court for acts of genocide and torture which they said he carried out against them while a provincial governor, according to court documents made available on Friday. Bo, in Washington this week as part of a delegation headed by Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi, was served with the legal papers on Thursday as he entered a hotel for a dinner in Wu's honor, said attorney Morton Sklar of the World Organization Against Torture USA, who represents the plaintiffs.
[Raelians] Cult Lures Gay Bishop into Fold
Wacky alien sex cult the Raelians have poached one of the world's highest ranking Mormon bishops - because he's openly gay. And they're using the ex-bishop to lure Mormons into their weirdo cult. Ron Boston spent 17 years with the Mormon church in New Zealand and Australia. [...] Kiwi Raelian representative Mark Woodgate says the recruitment of Boston was exciting news for the movement. [...] About eight percent of Raelian members worldwide were ex- Mormons, claimed Woodgate. [...] A spokesman for the Mormon church said it was "ludicrous" followers would join the cult.
[International Churches of Christ] Ban Doesn't Keep Cults From Boston U. Area
Cults have not recently received the media attention they have in the past, but that does not mean they are no longer a problem on college campuses, said cult expert Steve Hassan of the Cambridge-based Resource Center for Freedom of Mind. There are several cult-like groups that look to recruit college students, including the Church of Scientology and the Moon Organization, Hassan said. [...] In Boston, a great deal of attention has been given to the Boston Church of Christ, also known as the International Churches of Christ, which many claim uses deceptive tactics to attract followers. [...] Although the BCC was banned from Boston University in 1987, Marsh Chapel Associate Dean Meredith Ellis said the group became an issue again last semester when it held weekly meetings at the Brookline Holiday Inn, where BU housed about 80 students due to a lack of space in university-owned residences.
[Transcendental Meditation] Charter school drops courses
Leaders of a charter school to open in Cabarrus County this fall have suspended indefinitely their plans to offer Transcendental Meditation and Natural Law Curriculum. The decision comes about two weeks after state officials told the Carolina International School that it had to remove all religion from its curriculum. The N.C. Charter School Advisory Committee specifically targeted TM and Natural Law Curriculum.
[Campus Cults] Cult students terrorise Nigeria's universities
Nigeria's universities are under the grip of cult gang members. About 20 cult groups operate in the country's universities. The most prominent are the "Buccaneers, Vikings, Black Axe and Eiye Confraternity". Their objective is to control the universities for selfish ends. They indulge in criminal acts such as rape, robbery and extortion. They also coerce lecturers into awarding them good grades. Strict lecturers, who refuse to cooperate, are often shot dead in their offices. In the past three months, six lecturers in different institutions in south-eastern Nigeria have been killed by suspected cult members, according to the police and university authorities. Scores of students are killed yearly in cult-related violence.
[Jehovah's Witnesses] Moscow to ban Witnesses
There is no doubt that the Jehovah's Witnesses, zealous evangelizers who preach strict adherence to the Bible, are a controversial organization. Officials in many countries, including Canada, have tried to control the group's activities. But few have gone as far as the city of Moscow, which on March 26 won a court case to ban the religious activities of Jehovah's Witnesses from the Russian capital. Prosecutors in the case argued that the group is "breaking up families, inciting its members to suicide and harming their life and health" because it forbids blood transfusions. The ban will deny Jehovah's Witnesses the right to any form of religious activity, including the holding of meetings or services in private homes.
It also will make it illegal for the group to import or distribute its literature and to carry out missionary work.
[The Passion of The Christ] 'The Passion' -- and its controversy -- lives on
Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ is still getting a lot of attention. It's breaking box office records at home and abroad, still sparking controversy, and some folks say it's even triggering a few miracles. This week, it barged ahead of Jurassic Park with a gross of $361.5 million, making it the seventh-highest-grossing movie in U.S. history. It's just now reaching some foreign movie houses but has already raked in $187 million overseas. [...] But The Passion remains a source of much controversy. Rabbi Ned Soltz, leader of Congregation Beth-Shalom in Arlington, says the film hasn't caused more anti-Semitism in this country. But he says people in Arab nations now seeing the film are exploiting it for any kind of anti-Jewish sentiment it contains. The Miami Herald reports that pirated copies of the movie are selling well in Arab nations and even Israel. Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has praised the film, and one of his aides compared Jesus' suffering to that of Palestinians under Israel. Soltz said he's concerned that evangelical fervor over the film will heighten proselytizing of Jews.
Anton and Janet Hein-Hudson
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