ReligionNewsBlog.com, May 2-3, 2004
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Mon, May. 03, 2004
[Hate Groups : Scientology] Fears at intention of lecture on drugs
Fears have been sparked about the intentions of an anti-drugs talk in Markbeech after it turned out to be led by people with links to a controversial group. Geraldine Ormond, the organiser of the hour-long lecture last week, admitted she would not have got involved if she had known the main speaker was linked to the Church of Scientology. [...] The Markbeech talk was led by American Bobby Wiggins, who speaks for Narconon, a drug rehabilitation programme which employs the beliefs of scientology.
[Barbara Schwarz] Woman pursues Oregon public records - lots of them
A Utah woman has asked Oregon workers for any records they may have about Dwight Eisenhower and Church of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. The state says it has no such records. But that response is unlikely to stop Barbara Schwarz, the unofficial queen of the Freedom of Information Act. The Salt Lake City woman has submitted more than 2,000 public records requests to the federal government. The justice department has apparently had it with her, advising workers to ignore her demands until she has paid for past searches. Schwarz has filed so many lawsuits, many of them voluminous, that a federal court has limited her public records-related complaints to new issues not to exceed 10 single-spaced pages. [...] Court records show Schwarz claims to be Hubbard's daughter and Eisenhower's granddaughter.
[Polygamy] FLDS no longer says Texas property will be a hunting retreat
Texas authorities have been disabused of the notion that the 1,300-acre spread bought in Schleicher County by polygamists will be used as a corporate hunting retreat. "This is not going to be used as a hunting ranch," Washington County Sheriff Kirk Smith told the Deseret Morning News Sunday after a short visit to the west Texas town of Eldorado, where the compound is located. [...] Residents of Eldorado learned in March that the FLDS Church had purchased the property and was constructing several large, three-story rectangular buildings on the site.
[Hate Groups] Sentencing will not solve mystery of weapons horde
Long before Timothy McVeigh bombed a federal building and Osama bin Laden leveled the World Trade Center, the government had its eye on William Krar, a cigar-chomping East Texan they feared might engage in domestic terrorism. Described as a white supremacist and a student of militia-led revolt, Krar is scheduled to be sentenced in a federal court Tuesday after pleading guilty to possessing enough sodium cyanide to fatally gas everyone in a 30,000-square-foot building, such as a civic center or a high school basketball arena. Federal officials say they still who [sic] first caught their attention in 1985 -- intended to do with the deadly material.
[Iglesia ni Cristo] Little sect is big player in Philippine politics
Iglesia ni Cristo, a small but well-connected sect that votes as one, is set to reprise a familiar role as kingmaker in the closely contested May 10 presidential election. The Iglesia, literally Church of Christ, has in the waning days of the campaign reportedly distributed sample ballots to its voting members, estimated to number at least a million, instructing them to choose President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. [...] The sect was founded in 1914 by its current leader's father Felix Manalo, a disaffected former member of the Seventh Day Adventists. [...] Discipline and conservatism define the sect. Attendance is compulsory at twice-weekly masses inside its distinctive and brightly lit spire-topped churches, where the women sit apart from the men. [...] Iglesia spokesmen have said the sect provides "guidance" to its voters, in line with the sect's belief that its chief minister is authorized by God to interpret the teachings of the Bible in contemporary times.
[Islam] Zamfara Gov. Orders Demolition of All Churches
Governor Ahmed Sani of Zamfara State, has ordered the demolition of all churches in the state, as he launched the second phase of his Sharia project yesterday. Speaking at the launch in Gusau, the state capital, Governor Sani disclosed that time was ripe for full implementation of the programme as enshrined in the Holy Quran.
[Kabbalah] Is an Obsession With a Sinister Cult About to Destroy Madonna's Marriage?
Madonna, the Queen of Pop, her hair scraped back in a ponytail and her face devoid of makeup, is having her weekly lesson in the ancient Hebrew teachings of Kabbalah. The singer has become so immersed in this branch of Judaism, described as 'a divine system of wisdom', that she has embraced the new name given to her by her teachers and credits Kabbalah with changing her life. But now, as she prepares for her Reinvention world tour, which kicks off later this month, Madonna is facing awkward questions over her role as 'celebrity recruiting sergeant' in the movement some claim is becoming a dangerous cult.
[Kabbalah] Mystical Kabbalah, Trendy Kabbalah
Celebrities in Los Angeles, New York and London have been studying it at their branches of the Kabbalah Centre, which is also at the center of swirling allegations about teaching a materialistic brand of "Jewish lite" to stars. Leaders of the center reject this criticism, and defend their followers, who have adopted red string bracelets, and specially bottled kabbalah water as badges of their spiritual journey.
[Polygamy] Polygamy still proves popular
Defying expectations that Western influences and urbanization would gradually do away with plural marriages, polygamy is going strong among Muslims in parts of black West Africa. In Senegal, nearly 47 per cent of marriages are multiple like Sene's.
[Islam] France wrestles with radical Islam
France has long maintained one of the strictest antiterrorism programs in Europe, in part because it was hit early by Islamist terror and because it has the largest Muslim population on the Continent. Many other countries in Europe have been far more tolerant in allowing radical discourse to flourish in their mosques. But making such a hard-line stance stick is difficult, even here in a country that has been more willing than most of its European neighbors to limit free speech in the interest of a calm and cohesive society. Bouziane, 52, won an appeal that would allow him to return from his native Algeria to France, despite the Interior Ministry's presentation to the court of evidence that Bouziane has links to groups that support terrorism.
[Islam] Wife-beating row imam seeks visa back to France
A radical Islamist cleric, deported to his native Algeria by the French authorities last week for justifying wife-beating, applied Thursday for a visa to return to France, his lawyer said. The return of Abdelkader Bouziane, a 52-year-old Algerian who preached at a mosque in the eastern city of Lyon, was made possible after an administrative tribunal ruled the deportation illegal.
[Paganism] 'The wheel of the year'
Selena Fox is one of the leaders of Circle Sanctuary, 200 acres in southwestern Wisconsin, which is both a nature preserve and a nature spirituality center. This weekend the center, near Mount Horeb, Wis., will celebrate Beltane, one of eight festivals marking "the wheel of the year" by a variety of nature-based religions. Circle Sanctuary, in its 20th year, is multicultural and multi-religious -- those within the community may be Pagans ("with a capital P," Fox said) to Wicca practitioners, many of whom also profess Buddhism, Taoism, Judaism or other faiths, she said. Because the word "Pagan" comes so loaded with stereotyped baggage, Fox prefers the term "nature spirituality." Nature spirituality constantly struggles in the public perception with "the 'W' word," she said, meaning "witch."
[Witchcraft] 'Magic' used to extract body parts
Police in Mozambique's northern Nampula province have detained 14 people after body parts and organs were found in a house, apparently for use in witchcraft, the state Noticias newspaper reported on Friday. "These people claim the organs were extracted from their dead relatives, not through murder but through magical techniques," Acting Provincial Attorney Daniel Magula was quoted by Noticias as saying, adding that an investigation was under way.
[Witchcraft] Girl 'murdered for lottery spell'
A Pakistani witch has been arrested after an eight-year-old girl was murdered for a spell to predict the winning number in a government bond lottery, police said on Friday.
[Iglesia ni Cristo] Not all INC members are in favor of Arroyo: bishop
The leaders of Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) are having difficulty convincing their members to vote for President Arroyo on May 10, according to Dagupan-Lingayen Archbishop Oscar Cruz. Cruz said some of his friends at the INC told him that INC head Eraño Manalo and some of the sect's high-ranking officials are seeking ways to convince and get the full cooperation of the INC flock in supporting the candidacy of Arroyo.
[Iglesia ni Cristo] Iglesia ni Cristo going for Macapagal
Palace sources on Saturday said the Iglesia ni Cristo, a Christian sect which is known to vote as a bloc and is believed to command from 2 to 4 million votes, has given its nod to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo despite the widespread perception it would support the opposition, and would likely make known its decision on Monday.
[Hate Groups] The next face of hate?
Dave Neesan leans forward in the booth of an Elmhurst cocktail lounge, pulling copies of white separatist fliers out of a faux-leather portfolio. He is a 46-year-old engineer who wears a suit and tie. He went to college. He just bought a home in Schaumburg. And his organization, the National Alliance, is one of the fastest growing white nationalist groups in the country, a kind of Ku Klux Klan for the next generation.
[False Memory Syndrome] Conviction Tossed After 19 Years
John Stoll had spent nearly 20 years behind bars imagining what it would feel like to hear a judge say he had been wrongly convicted. Now that it was happening, his heart was racing so fast he feared he might not survive the experience. [...] Hours earlier, Kern County Judge John Kelly had overturned his conviction on 17 counts of child molestation in connection with the infamous Bakersfield "witch hunt" cases. Kelly ruled that techniques investigators used to question the alleged victims two decades ago amounted to manipulation and "resulted in unreliable testimony."
[Ravi Shankar] Guru spreads s simple message
"What's the main essence of life? Love!" Indian yogi Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, also known as Guruji, recently told a packed hotel ballroom in Jakarta as he twirled his microphone and almost skipped across the stage. [...] The non-profit foundation he established in 1982 runs educational and development projects in 141 countries and teaches his Art of Living course, a combination of self-development workshops, yoga postures, chanting and breathing techniques to relieve stress. [...] He completed studies in traditional Vedic sciences and obtained a modern science degree by the age of 17. While attending conferences and teaching meditation classes, he came into contact with the renowned guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, founder of Transcendental Meditation (TM) and guru of The Beatles.
[Alternative Healing] The Strange Case of Homeopathy
Ambiguous as the evidence is, in recent years homeopathy has enjoyed renewed popularity in the U.S., coinciding with Americans ambivalence about mainstream medicine.
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Sun, May. 02, 2004
[Exorcism] Chasing Out the Devil in Uruguay
First things first. Yes, the Rev. Julio Cesar Elizaga said he saw the movie "The Exorcist" and liked it. But he said that a real exorcism has almost nothing in common with the cinematic version. If anyone would know the difference, it is Elizaga, a Roman Catholic priest who over the past 47 years has performed, by his own count, more than 100 exorcisms in this tiny, heavily Catholic country tucked into South America's southern Atlantic coast.
[Transcendental Meditation] Trouble in transcendental paradise as murder rocks the Maharishi University
The killing of one student by another has threatened the future of not only what Maharishi disciples call 'a safe, harmonious campus', but also undermines the credibility of the one-time guru of the Beatles and spiritual leader to Hollywood celebrities including film-maker David Lynch and actress Heather Graham.
[Hate Groups : Scientology] Scientology: Forging a new religion
In 1963, the Food and Drug Administration raided Scientology offices and seized e-meters. The agency later barred Hubbard from making medical claims for the device. Facing financial ruin, Hubbard decided to transform his self-help organization into a religion, where his teachings and practices like the e-meter would enjoy the protection of the First Amendment. [...] Hubbard and his followers later made many claims about his lifethat he was a nuclear physicist or stunt pilot, for examplethat would not withstand scrutiny. His most important story was that after being grievously wounded in World War II, he healed himself using only the power of his mind. Naval records show that Hubbard never saw combat and was hospitalized only for ulcers. In 1984, a California Superior Court judge, comparing Hubbards official biography with external evidence, called him virtually a pathological liar.
[Falun Gong] Falun Gong followers protest Chinese suppression
Hundreds of Falun Gong followers protested on Sunday against Beijing's crackdown on the meditation group in mainland China, where it has been banned since 1999 as an "evil cult".
[Aum Shinrikyo] AUM's Asahara May Get Public Defenders
Court-appointed lawyers may defend AUM Shinrikyo founder Shoko Asahara in his appeal against the death penalty as the one private lawyer currently defending him may not be enough to handle his case, trial sources said Saturday. According to the sources, some judges at the Tokyo High Court are voicing concern that unless several lawyers are appointed by the court to defend Asahara, the appeal trial could extend over too long a period. It is extremely rare for state-appointed lawyers to defend an accused who already has a private lawyer, but some judges are saying the measure should be taken considering that this is an ''exceptionally large case.''
Anton and Janet Hein-Hudson
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