ReligionNewsBlog.com, May 15-17, 2004
Mon, May. 17, 2004
[Hate Groups] White supremacist 'Creators' pamphlet Hudson
The group, New England Creativity, is part of the Creativity Movement, formerly known as the World Church of the Creator, touted as a religious group based in Missouri. [...] Although the flyer left in Keegans driveway said the group uses peaceful means to spread its message, group leader Matthew Hale was recently found guilty in an Illinois courtroom of plotting to have a federal judge murdered.
[Homosexuality / Lesbianism] U.S. state recognises gay marriages
Hundreds of gays and lesbians are celebrating as they wait to apply for something many of them never thought possible -- the right to legally marry in the United States. Same-sex couples were set to exchange vows on Monday when Massachusetts becomes the first U.S. state to allow gay marriage, an election-year milestone likely to fuel legal and political battles nationwide.
[Christianity] Services Fit for an Arena
Many U.S. congregations have grown so large that the term "megachurch" no longer seems adequate. So some observers have created a new category: the gigachurch. Where megachurch refers to congregations with an average of 2,000 or more worshipers every weekend, gigachurch refers to those with 10,000 or more, said Texas-based church consultant Bill Easum, adding that the rising number of large congregations reflects a major shift in worship patterns.
[Kabbalah] Why do stars put their faith in Kabbalah?
It is the trendiest faith around, endorsed by superstars like Madonna, Demi Moore and Britney Spears. As I take my first lesson in Kabbalah, I begin to understand why. "By the fourth class you will learn to see into the future," my teacher announces confidently. From the offset it is easy to see why so many celebrities are attracted to Kabbalah, as I'm promised money, sexual energy, passion and beauty - all for £180. [...] As if more reasons were needed, Kabbalists say the "positive flow of energy" can stop the ageing process. More bizarrely, they believe negative energy can be absorbed by swinging a chicken above the head.
[Homosexuality / Lesbianism] Lesbian pastor, acquitted in Methodist trial, won't return to post
The Rev. Karen Dammann, a lesbian pastor who was the focus of a church trial, has chosen not to return to her Ellensburg church, a United Methodist official said Friday. Dammann chose to remain on family leave rather than return to First United Methodist Church in the central Washington city, said the Rev. Ron Hines, superintendent of the Pacific Northwest Conference's Seven Rivers District. [...] In March, a jury of 13 pastors meeting in Bothell acquitted Dammann of violating Methodist law even though she acknowledged she had a female partner. The trial decision figured prominently at the Methodist national policy meeting last week in Pittsburgh, where discord over gay-related issues showed a deep rift in the nation's third-largest denomination.
[Falun Gong] Falun Dafa members sue Sydney paper for defamation
A Sydney Chinese newspaper is being sued for defamation by the Falun Dafa meditation group over the paper's publication of criticism by the Chinese Government consulate in Sydney.
[Cult Apologists] Cult experts snubbed by archbishop
An ecumenical group that provides information and advice for families of people involved with religious and other cults has been dismayed by a decision by the Archbishop of Canterbury not to follow his predecessors by becoming its patron. [...] Some senior members of the group suggested Dr Williams had been "nobbled" by Anglican evangelicals who disapprove of Inform's consensual rather than confrontational approach to new religions.
NOTE: While INFORM claims objectivity, founder Eileen Barker is a board member of cult defenders organization CESNUR. The late Jeffrey K. Hadden, a cult apologist, wrote his controversial memo regarding the possible 'neutralization' of anti-cult organizations on behalf of Eileen Barker and David Bromley. Tilman Hausherr's Cultapologists FAQ states, among other things, that Eileen Barker "[c]laimed under oath in the Moscow trial against Prof. Alexander Dvorkin that a person can belong simultaneously to scientology, the Moon organization, Krishna, Jehovah's Witnesses, the Mormons, CoG, the Local church (Witness Lee), Mother of God center, and the Vissarionites. (Dvorkin had made a booklet partly based on Steve Hassan's "questions for the educated consumer", and was sued by an inter-cult group. He won the lawsuit and it was upheld on appeal)"
For recommended cult experts and counseling services, see: http://www.apologeticsindex.org/recommended
[Christianity] ALT-WORSHIP: Christian Cool and the New Generation Gap
For evidence of generational upheaval these days, you might skip over the usual suspects - sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll - and consider instead the church. Two decades after baby boomers invented the suburban megachurch, which removed intimidating crosses or stained-glass images of Jesus in favor of neutral environments, their children are now wearing "Jesus Is My Homeboy" T-shirts. As mainline churches scramble to retain young people, these worshipers have gained attention by creating alternative churches in coffee bars and warehouses and publishing new magazines and Bibles that come on as anything but church. [...] The changes are often more stylistic than doctrinal. Many alt-evangelicals espouse conservative theology, but reject the censure of some churches. Mr. Strang sees this as a blueprint for an evangelical left.
[USA] Rumsfeld responsible for torture: report
U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld authorized the expansion of a secret program that encouraged physical coercion and sexual humiliation of Iraqi prisoners to obtain intelligence about the growing insurgency in Iraq, the New Yorker magazine reported Saturday.
[USA] New Abuse Accusations Emerge as Senators Vow Full Inquiry
Leading lawmakers from both parties vowed today to pursue the Iraq prisoner abuse scandal as high as it goes, even as controversy erupted over accusations that top Pentagon officials approved tougher interrogation tactics for Iraq in an urgent effort to gain intelligence to stop surging violence last summer.
[USA] New president, same grotesque abuse of power
The pornography of Iraqi prisoner abuse reflects the pornography of US Middle East policy. And if you think hacking off some poor bugger's head, on television, is the pits in human behaviour you've forgotten those Vietnam War images of a screaming, naked girl child ravaged by napalm. Thirty-three years ago, on April 22, 1971, former naval lieutenant John Kerry, who served in Vietnam for six months in 1968-69, testified before a congressional committee in Washington. Here, edited, is part of his opening speech: [...] "We are asking Americans to think about that. We are here to say the problem of this war is not just the war, but of everything: of racism, of the weapons used, of the hypocrisy of taking umbrage at the Geneva Conventions when we are more guilty than anyone of violations - in free-fire zones, in search-and-destroy missions, in bombings, in the torture of prisoners. All accepted policy. That is what we are trying to say. It is part and parcel of everything ..."
[Transcendental Meditation] Group studies M.U.M. safety policy
A Maharishi University of Management committee charged with evaluating the college's campus safety policies will likely release a public report in the next few months, M.U.M. executive vice president Craig Pearson said Thursday. The nine-member committee, formed after the March 1 murder of freshman Levi Butler in the university dining hall, has been meeting approximately twice a week since early April. It includes university administrators, an M.U.M. student, a local mental health professional and a Fairfield police officer.
[Transcendental Meditation] Ministry considers 'TM' in Trinidad and Tobego schools
The use of transcendental meditation in schools is being considered by the Ministry of Education as a tool to deal with the problem of troubled and under-performing students. Steve Williams, supervisor, Guidance Officer Unit, Ministry of Education, speaking yesterday at the "Improve the Brain Campaign" held by the Trinidad and Tobago Peace Government at the Hilton Trinidad, said that a presentation on the subject would be made on Monday to teachers and principals in a move "to open up their eyes" to the benefits of meditation.
[Transcendental Meditation] Love is in the air
The Maharishi issued a proclamation recently stating that large groups of peace-creating Yogic Flyers were going to promote coherence in world consciousness and change the trends of life from destruction to peace. Yogic wha, did you say? According to Alltm.org, one of the many websites promoting the godly guys teachings, yogic flying is but a natural extension to transcendental meditation. The uplifting experience, evidently, manifests itself in three stages: Saith the site, Stage One is generally associated with what would best be described as hopping like a frog. Stage Two is flying through the air for a short time. Stage Three is complete mastery of the sky. And if you think theyre just blowing wind, check out Alltm.org/YFlying.html to see a picture of three joyous souls on the up and up.
[Alternative Healing] Medicine for the soul
Complementary medicine sometimes seems to exist in that twilight world of hunches. You either get it or you dont. Like conservation and feminism, it has baggage that can be as much to do with the supporters as the cause itself. Alternative therapies? Cranky, unscientific, downright weird. Or is that just Prince Charles? Charles is one of its most famous advocates, and around 20% of the British population agree with him; we spend £1.6 billion a year on complementary therapies. But the proof? Scientific data does exist. De Vries himself has been involved in extensive research with the Dutch health service, which showed alternative therapies to be twice as effective as conventional ones in treating rheumatoid arthritis. But there are difficulties. We can see how acupuncture, homoeopathy and herbalism might be tested. But how do you gauge the effects of thinking positively? Of becoming more spiritual? According to de Vries, both affect health.
[Joyce Meyer] Preaching prosperity
As part of a long line of "prosperity gospel" preachers -- a line that also included Jim and Tammy Bakker -- Meyer points her fans to a God who can fix their problems. He even wants them to be wealthy. [...] In her 20 years in ministry, the 60-year-old Meyer has created a major TV presence, a series of conferences that include as many as 20 in the United States and others overseas each year, 46 books, more than 225 audio tapes and 75 videos. The ministry, based near St. Louis, says it takes in about $8 million a month in revenues and funds numerous charities, including its own St. Louis Dream Center for needy people in the inner city. Questions have surfaced recently about Meyer's finances, though.
[Islam] Preaching from the converted
She Wanted to Save the Planet, Now She Says 11 September Was a Good Thing. He Liked to Party, Now He Prays for Democracy's Destruction. What is It That Draws Middle-Class Westerners to Allah? Peter Stanford Meets Five British Converts to Militant Islam and Hears Why, By `Word and Sword', They Hope to Make This Country a Muslim State.
[Antisemitism] Thousands march to protest rise in anti-Semitic acts in France
At least 9,000 people marched in eastern Paris on Sunday to denounce a recent increase in anti-Semitic acts in France. An array of lawmakers and celebrities took part in the march, triggered mainly by recent cases of vandals spray-painting swastikas and other anti-Semitic graffiti on Jewish sites in eastern France.
[Hate Groups] Police shut down white supremacist site
Police are considering charges after shutting down a white supremacist website and seizing a large amount of Nazi and hate material. Officers raided an Old Strathcona home on May 7, shutting down the website for Western Canada for Us and confiscating computer hard drives, Nazi flags and jewelry, and books promoting white supremacy.Police say one of the books seized is illegal in Canada.
[Hate Groups] White supremacist group cuts short demonstration
Two dozen white supremacists cut short a rally Saturday when protesters moved within about 25 feet of them. A line of police officers in riot gear stood between the groups as insults were exchanged. The supremacists gathered in a city park near the former Monroe Elementary School, where the daughter of the lead plaintiff in the Brown v. Board of Education case was a student. The Topeka case, along with four others, resulted in the U.S. Supreme Court's 1954 decision declaring segregated schools unconstitutional.
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Sat, May. 15, 2004
[USA] U.S. arranges to detain and interrogate terror suspects in secret
All told, more than 9,000 people are held by U.S. authorities overseas, according to Pentagon figures and estimates by intelligence experts, the vast majority under military control. The detainees have no conventional legal rights: no access to a lawyer; no chance for an impartial hearing; and no apparent guarantee of humane treatment accorded prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions or civilians in U.S. jails. Although some of those held by the military in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo have had visits by the International Committee of the Red Cross, some of the CIA's detainees have, in effect, disappeared, according to interviews with former and current national-security officials and to the Army's report of abuses at Abu Ghraib.
[USA] U.S. bans coercion of Iraqi prisoners
Under a barrage of international and domestic criticism, the top U.S. commander in Iraq has banned virtually all coercive interrogation practices, such as forcing prisoners to crouch for long periods or depriving them of sleep, the Pentagon announced on Friday. [...] Rumsfeld has said that the U.S. military in Iraq was abiding by the Geneva Conventions and that the mistreatment was the work of a terrible few. But the International Red Cross had warned U.S. officials for months that Iraqi prisoners were being abused in U.S.-run prisons. Even Rumsfeld's deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, acknowledged at a Senate hearing Thursday that hooding prisoners or forcing them to crouch naked for 45 minutes -- tactics available to interrogators with Sanchez's approval under the old policy -- were inhumane. The Pentagon's chief spokesman, Lawrence Di Rita, acknowledged that it was "likely that the heightened scrutiny of the last couple weeks" had prompted Sanchez to revise the interrogation rules. He said Rumsfeld had not ordered Sanchez to change the policy. The changes appear to affect only operations in Iraq and would not change interrogation methods at the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where harsher approaches have been authorized.
NOTE: Despite some cosmetic changes, America's growing record of human rights abuses throughout the world explains why the USA fights the International Criminal Court (by, among other things, lying about the Court).
[The Body] Sect topic of TV magazine
The bizarre case of the Attleboro religious sect in which a sect baby was starved to death because his parents believed they were fol lowing orders from God will be featured Sunday night on the ``Dateline NBC'' news magazine show.
[USA] Freedom fries
You can't get an accurate picture of what "exporting democracy" means by listening to Bush or Cheney, who seem to loathe democracy and freedom for anyone but their crooked mates and their minatory corporate backers. Better to seek out documentaries like The Corporation, a history and indictment of the titular business entity, or Hidden in Plain Sight, a searing exposé of the US Army's "School of The Americas" at Fort Benning, where a number of Latin America's more celebrated dictators and secret policemen received lengthy instruction in the application of electricity to testicles and footwear to faces.
[USA] TORTURE U.: Congress should shut former School of the Americas
Despite a recent name change, the military training school at Ft. Benning, Ga., formerly known as the Army School of the Americas, remains a festering sore in relations between the United States and Latin America. Congress ought to close this training center for Latin American soldiers,
now named the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. A bill sponsored by U.S. Rep. James McGovern, D-Mass., would do that.
The school was made infamous in 1996 with the release of a torture training manual used in the 1980s. It has schooled hundreds of soldiers who have committed documented human rights abuses in Latin America, including some of those involved in the murder of six Jesuit priests in 1989 in El Salvador. The links to such abuses continue, most notably in Colombia.
[Jehovah's Witnesses] Witness protection
Nothing puts people on edge quite like a stranger at their doorstep. So why do the Jehovah's Witnesses insist on the door-to-door ministry? Because the law says they can - and yes, God told them to. It takes just a few minutes of polite conversation with a Jehovah's Witness to arrive at a rather baffling question: Why are people always calling the cops on these nice folks?
[Jehovah's Witnesses] Legally speaking
On March 19, when Topsfield police officer Gary Hayward told a group of Jehovah's Witnesses they'd be better off obtaining a soliciting permit from the police before descending upon local neighborhoods with religious literature, it became clear that Hayward hadn't spent much time in Stratton, Ohio. If he had, Hayward surely would have recalled the groundbreaking 2001 Supreme Court ruling that gave Jehovah's Witnesses the right to spread the word of God wherever they please-without permission from any higher authority.
[Jehovah's Witnesses] Jehovah's Witnesses - who are they?
[PR info from the Jehovah's Witnesses media department]
[Worldwide Church of God] Worldwide Church of God sell remainder of campus
The Worldwide Church of God announced Friday it has sold a large portion of the remaining Ambassador campus to a consortium of local religious institutions, ending a controversial plan to build houses on the site. The highly anticipated deal will preserve the world-renowned Ambassador Auditorium as a house
[Greater Grace World Outreach] Church dispute spills onto Internet
Seventeen years after a federal court ruled that his church used undue influence to obtain more than $6 million from a donor, a Baltimore-based evangelist faces a new controversy in a different venue - the Internet. In recent months, former and current members of Baltimore's Greater Grace World Outreach have used an Internet bulletin board to air criticism and charges against the church's leadership and its aging founder, Pastor Carl H. Stevens Jr.
Fri, May. 14, 2004
[Transcendental Meditation] State OKs changes to Cabarrus charter school
[Charles Manson] CBS unveils a shameless, sadistic new Manson family portrait
[UK] U.K. Paper Apologizes for Fake Photos
[Hate Groups] Sentencing in Matt Hale case scheduled for Aug. 23
[USA] Red Cross Renews Criticism of Conditions at Guantanamo
[Judaism] A hair-raising fear of idols
[Judaism] In Israel, a Ban on Indian Wigs; In Brooklyn, a Rush to Comply
[Judaism] Fear of idolatry sparks wig ban in Israel
[Glenn and Justin Helzer] Playboy model says killer held her spellbound
[Aum Shinrikyo] Japanese court upholds death sentence for Aum doomsday cult member
[Aum Shinrikyo] High Court Upholds Death Sentence on AUM's Hayakawa
[Aum Shinrikyo] Top AUM member's appeal against death sentence dismissed
[Church and State] With limits, religion enters public schools
[Religious Freedom] US Commission Says Religious Freedom Declining Internationally
[Witchcraft] NPR's New Religions Survey, Part IV: Teens and Wicca
Thu, May. 13, 2004
[James Dobson] Warily, a Religious Leader Lifts His Voice in Politics
[Soka Gakkai] NPR's New Religions Survey, Part III: Soka Gakkai
[Hate Groups : Scientology] Scientology Not Accepting Offer
[Helge Fossmo] Pastor charged with murder
[Judaism] Reform Jews drawing men back to the fold
[Campus Cults] Campus Cults: A reflection of a corrupt society
[Marcus Wesson] Lawyers say daughter killed herself, 8 siblings
[Heartland Christian Academy] Judge bars future raids of Christian reform school
[Transcendental Meditation] Students Meditate To Battle ADHD
[Christianity] Tracking the global path of Christianity
[Islam] Hezbollah Condemns Un-Islamic Bergs Beheading
[USA] U.S.: Systemic Abuse of Afghan Prisoners
[Islam] Journal explores suicide bomber profile
[USA] New abuse photos are 'even worse'
Anton and Janet Hein-Hudson
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