ReligionNewsBlog.com, Aug. 6-8, 2004
Sun, Aug. 08, 2004
[Lee James] Australian spiritual guru teaches ancient Indian philosophy
Lee James, who also dons the role of a psychotherapist, actor and hostage negotiator, started as a stage and TV actor but soon got drawn into ancient Indian spirituality and with time moulded it in his own style of "spiritual counselling." "India has a rich spiritual history and this is the country's gift to the world. However, ironically it takes a foreigner to teach it to the people here," James, who is associated with the Prajapita Brahma Kumari Ishwariya Vidyalaya, told PTI.
[TD Jakes] Evangelist megastar visiting Westchester
"T.D. Jakes is the prism through which we can learn about contemporary American religion," said Shayne Lee, assistant professor of sociology at the University of Houston, who is working on a book about Jakes to be called "American Phenomenon." "He is a black, neo-Pentecostal preacher who has become one of America's most important preachers. He is compared to Billy Graham, but while Graham's strength is the simple, yet compelling message of salvation, Jakes' strength is addressing complex pathologies like sexual abuse and addictive relationships, more like Dr. Phil. "He is the model of the new postmodern preacher - business savvy, high-tech, multidimensional," Lee said. "Jakes is not only the symbol of where the black church is heading, but postdenominational Protestant America."
[USA] World's respect for U.S. strained
The escalating anger at the United States stems mainly from Washington's foreign policy. A series of international surveys by the Pew Global Attitudes Project, conducted from late February to early March in eight countries - Britain, France, Germany, Russia, Jordan, Morocco, Pakistan and Turkey - found large majorities expressing skepticism of U.S. motives in the invasion of Iraq and in America's global struggle against terrorism. [...] A lack of consistency in America's efforts to promote democracy abroad also troubled Ondrej David, a bar manager in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic. David, 30, cited the "war-for-oil" theory, too. "The question is, do the Americans believe in pressing for democracy in a part of the world where there is no petrol?" said David, 30. "Democracy is definitely not the only reason [for invading]. Otherwise, America could go into half the world." [...] For many in other nations where democracy is embryonic or imperiled, the images of U.S. military occupation and contorted, nude Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib, as well as the detentions at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have undermined America's credibility as a champion of human rights.
[Gentle Wind Project] New age therapy group sues over Web site
A local new age psychotherapeutic organization recently filed a civil suit in U.S. District Court against a Maine couple and others they claim designed a Web site intent on destroying its reputation. The Gentle Wind Project is a 24-year-old non-profit corporation that describes itself as being "dedicated to education and research aimed at alleviating human suffering and trauma." [...] The organization holds seminars across the country, selling "healing instrument" products for donations ranging from $450 to upwards of $10,000, asserting they have exclusive healing technology that is channeled telepathically from the "spirit world" and has healing powers.
[Salva Me Pater Omnis Oculos Meus] Leader of Cebu cult posts bail on adultery charges
A leader of a local cult called "Salva Me Pater Omnis Oculus Meus" was arrested last Friday on adultery charges but he was later freed after posting P12,000 bail. Judge Donato Navarro of Municipal Trial Court in Cities Branch 6 issued an arrest warrant for cult leader Alfredo Verano after a man accused him of having four children with his wife. The couple are both members of the Salva Me cult. [...] The cult, whose name means "Father, save us from all our offenses," hogged the headlines in January last year when about 150 residents of Barangay Buhisan filed a petition demanding that the cult be banished from their community. The cult was accused of engaging in illegal treasure hunting, and Verano was alleged to be treating his female members as sex slaves.
[Witchcraft] Transgender witch claims life ruined
A battle between a transgender witch and a Christian councillor will unfold in the discrimination courts this week. Olivia Watts is taking on Casey mayor Rob Wilson under Victoria's new religious vilification laws, claiming he incited hatred against her pagan religion when he outed her as a witch in a 2003 press release. Entitled "Satanic Cult Out To Take Over Casey", Cr Wilson's statement called on local church leaders to hold a "day of prayer" to ward off occult forces. The press release came amid a competitive council election in which both Ms Watts and Cr Wilson were candidates. He became mayor; she launched legal action with the Equal Opportunity Commission.
[Brethren] Sect drops legal bid on ex-member
A secretive religious sect has dropped legal action against a former member and paid him $25,000. The Exclusive Brethren sued exiled member John Wallis for defamation over a letter alleging the church was dividing families. The action was dropped on Friday, three days before it was due to be heard in court. Mr Wallis said the Brethren had demanded $50,000 to settle the claim but instead walked away after paying him $25,000. The offending letter, which was highly critical of the church, was sent to several church elders.
Sat, Aug. 07, 2004
[Polygamy] Polygamist accused of sexual abuse
As a polygamist group transforms ranchland outside the West Texas town of Eldorado into a cloistered compound, local residents continue to wonder about the whereabouts of the sect's embattled leader. Warren Jeffs, who is known as the prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints, is facing a lawsuit that alleges he and his two brothers sexually abused one of his nephews during the 1980s.
[Islam] Zarqawi's terror group releases CD urging men to take up arms
The terrorist group led by Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has released a CD-ROM urging Muslim men to take up arms against the "crusaders" in Iraq and threatening to kill Iraq's interim Prime Minister. The 45-minute CD-ROM, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press yesterday, also includes claims of responsibility for attacks in Iraq and shows footage of bombings against US forces and other targets in Iraq.
[Hinduism] Throngs expected at Hindu temple's opening
It sits on Route 59, the same road that bustles with morning traffic and sprouts gas stations, strip malls and other staples of daily suburban Chicago life. But the Hindu temple that rises in Bartlett, creamy white stone against a blue August sky, seems at least a world away. [...] As many as 7,000 visitors, most of them Hindus from around the world, are expected to turn out Sunday for the temple's grand moment: A consecration ceremony that will see the gods brought in, set upon their elaborate shrines and have life breathed into them.
[Hate Groups] Aryan Nations 'memo' inquiry sought
A white supremacist group has recently posted on its Web site a purported law enforcement memo saying several Seattle area residents, most of whom are apparently connected through their participation in Democratic Party politics, are involved in a plot to assassinate the hate group's leaders. Although clearly fake, the memo posted by the Aryan Nations prompted the local Anti-Defamation League office yesterday to ask the FBI and Seattle police to investigate the matter -- and caused concern among the people on the list, most of whose home addresses are listed.
[USA] Peace pastor faces penalties for Iraq trip
The Rev. Frederick Boyle lost his New Jersey ministry, half his pay, and 25 pounds, all for his opposition to the war in Iraq. The pacifist Methodist could lose much more _ his freedom and more in fines _ on charges that he violated a U.S. Treasury Department ban on travel to Iraq. "They have sent me a prepenalty notification letter in which they say they intend to fine me $10,000," said Boyle, the bearded, graying former pastor of Titusville United Methodist Church. Boyle, 55, attracted widespread attention when he traveled to Iraq in March to protest the consequences of an imminent bombardment of Baghdad.
[Lori Hacking] Claim of early pregnancy adds legal twist to missing woman case
When prosecutors file expected charges against the husband who reportedly confessed to killing his missing pregnant wife, they will signal whether they intend to accuse Mark Hacking of double or aggravated murder - a crime that would warrant the death penalty. But without a body, legal experts say, the district attorney will find it difficult to prove the elements of aggravated murder. Whether Lori Hacking was five weeks' pregnant, as she reportedly told friends before being reported missing July 19, is one element of that charge.
[Lori Hacking] Mark Hacking 'snapped' after wife learned deceptions, father says
Mark Hacking "just snapped" and killed his wife after she learned he had been lying for years about his education and career plans, his father believes. "If he did this, then I think it's clear that this whole house of cards he had built, all this deception, had come to an end. He had been found out. His wife discovered his deception and confronted him with it, and I just think he just saw his whole world collapsing and broke down," the father, Douglas Hacking, told the Associated Press on Thursday.
[Luis Palau] Luis Palau, spiritual spitfire
One wonders, at times, when Luis Palau actually breathes. As he talks, his words spill out -- cogent, clear thoughts, not ramblings -- but he's so full of spiritual energy and excitement that when he begins to tell stories he can't seem to stop. In terms of personal style, think Hubert Humphrey with a very subtle Spanish accent and high on Jesus. [...] Palau, 69, is an evangelical with conservative views. However, he is first and foremost, he'll tell you, an evangelist. He wants to get his message out to everyone, so he tries to be clear about what he believes without offending anyone. He is clear about sin. It's anything that separates you from the love of God. He would include a list of modern issues in that category, but, as he says often, he doesn't talk in terms of issues.
[Ravi Shankar] Catholics Concerned over Cult Leader Appearing at Canada's Foremost Catholic Shrine
Curious calls are pouring in to the Saint Joseph's Oratory information line as the Oratory gears up for the August 14 visit of eastern spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, authority on Vedic literature and master of therapeutic breathing techniques.
[Ritual Killing] Nigerian police follow trail of corpses
Police investigating ritual killings in eastern Nigeria were searching for more human remains today after discovering body parts, skulls and more than 50 corpses, some partly mummified, in a forest. Two religious leaders and 28 other people had been arrested in connection with a secretive local cult, which is feared and obeyed by people living near the wooded areas, including one dubbed by local press as "the evil forest", police said.
[Polygamy] Investigation into commune overdue: Saskatchewan woman
A woman living in Saskatchewan says an upcoming investigation into a polygamous community in B.C. is long overdue.Debbie Palmer says she escaped from a fundamentalist church in the small town of Bountiful 15 years ago.
[Wal-Mart] Wal-Mart, Jesuits square off
The world's largest retailer is taking on one of the Catholic church's most respected religious orders. In a hearing that started this week, a two-member Ontario Municipal Board panel will decide whether a 135,000 square-foot Wal-Mart store is compatible with the adjacent Ignatius Jesuit Centre, a 242-hectare rural property that includes a retreat house to which people from all over the world come for prayer and reflection. The Jesuits say the Wal-Mart proposal, at the junction of Highways 6 and 7, will spell the end of the spiritual nature of the centre.
Fri, Aug. 06, 2004
[Faith Healing] Church 'heelers' guilty
A church pastor and deacon were convicted yesterday of misdemeanors in connection with the slashing and burning of a wheelchair-bound woman in a bizarre healing ritual.
[David Francis] Free State man will stay in mortuary until resurrection
The family of deceased Paul Meintjes of Hertzogville, in the Free State, whose resurrection was predicted by a "prophet" after his death some five weeks ago, has reached a new agreement with the local mortuary. Nico Foulds, a mortician, says in terms of the new agreement the body will stay in the mortuary at R1 000 a day.
[Ritual Killing] Police uncover 10 fresh shrines, Ohanaeze scribe slams raid
No fewer than 10 shrines similar to those uncovered Wednesday by the police in Okija, Ihiala local government area of Anambra State exist in that area, the police said yesterday. Twenty human skulls and one fresh corpse were recovered in a raid by the police at Ogwugwu Isiula and Ogwugwu Akpu.
[Yan-Gwagwarmaya] Police Move Against Islamic Sect; Injure 16
Sixteen people were injured when the police moved against a "heretical" Islamic sect which refused to accept state authority and practised wife-swapping. Abdullahi Zuru, a spokesman for Governor Adamu Aliero of Kebbi State, said that six policemen had been injured when sect members attacked them with machetes, and that 10 suspects were hurt in a subsequent raid.
[Order of Saint Charbel] Cult leader denies sex with teens
Self-styled seer and cult leader William Kamm appeared in a NSW court yesterday on charges he sexually assaulted two teenage followers allegedly selected to be among 12 so-called "queens" who would bear him children. The 54-year-old founder of the Order of Saint Charbel doomsday cult, who goes by the name of Little Pebble, has pleaded not guilty to nine counts of sexual abuse.
[Living Enrichment Center] Church, pastor face criminal investigation
Federal criminal investigators are probing Living Enrichment Center, the financially troubled Beaverton megachurch, which this week lost its charismatic leader and confirmed it will file for bankruptcy and liquidate. Mary Manin Morrissey, the church's energetic founder and lead pastor, resigned her position earlier this week and is planning to declare personal bankruptcy as well. She faces at least $1 million in debts, and lenders are repossessing the home she shares with her husband, Edward. In a letter to the congregation, Morrissey said she is unable to repay loans from church members, some of whom are suing her and the church for their money. [...] The church is aligned with the New Thought movement, a set of ideas stemming from mid-19th-century U.S. philosophers who emphasized the power of thought. The church uses the example of Jesus Christ as a central tenet but also refers to religious figures such as Buddha and Krishna.
[Mormon Church] Mormons mix science into spirituality
Though many in the Mormon church are uncomfortable with the concept of apologetics -- preferring instead to simply "believe" their religion is true instead of trying to defend it for others -- FAIR members say they want to provide the information for anyone who's interested. After all, critics of the religion are numerous, from evangelical Christians who denounce the church's previous support of polygamy to atheists who point to historical inaccuracies in the Book of Mormon.
[Order of Saint Charbel] Cult leader sex trial moved
The trial of a religious cult leader charged with sexually assaulting two teenage girls on the NSW south coast has been moved to Sydney. Order of Saint Charbel founder William Kamm, also known as "The Little Pebble", is due to face trial for the alleged sexual assaults 14 and 15-year-old girls in the 1990s.
[Polygamy] Cloistered wives of B.C. polygamous colony plan public relations campaign
The usually cloistered wives in a B.C. polygamous colony are organizing a public relations campaign to defend their lifestyle as the government prepares to investigate decades old claims of abuse in the community.
[David Francis] 2000 people wait, but 'Lazarus' fails to rise
More than 2 000 people gathered outside the Hertzogville Mortuary in the Free State yesterday in anticipation of a latter-day Lazarus scenario - the miraculous resurrection of Paul Meintjies's frozen body. They were sorely disappointed.
[Polygamy] Bountiful wives deny abuse allegations
Some of the wives at a polygamous commune near Creston say they welcome an investigation launched by the provincial government. Attorney General Geoff Plant announced last month provincial officials will look into accusations of child abuse, forcible marriage and sexual exploitation at the Bountiful commune. But Marlene Palmer says there is no abuse at Bountiful, - a breakaway Mormon sect - and that they're looking forward to the investigation.
[Jehovah's Witnesses] Court allows baby to have surgery
A five-month-old baby girl is to undergo heart surgery in Dublin next week after the High Court yesterday extended an order overruling opposition on religious grounds from her mother to the treatment, writes Martin Wall. The court was told that the baby's mother, a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses community, had withdrawn her consent to the use of blood and blood products in the treatment of her daughter.
[Offbeat News] Bush insists his administration seeking 'new ways to harm our country'
President George W. Bush offered up a new entry for his catalogue of "Bushisms" on Thursday, declaring that his administration will "never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people."
[Lori Hacking] Attorney For Mark Hacking Says Mental illness Will be an Issue
The attorney for Mark Hacking, who told his brothers that he killed his wife and dumped her body in a garbage bin, plans to challenge his statements to his kin. "Remember Mark was housed in a psychiatric unit for the period of time these brothers are claiming they spoke with him," attorney Gil Athay told Salt Lake television station KUTV Thursday. "To me that creates a substantial issue." He said, "mental illness, mental deficiency certainly will be an issue in this case."
[Lori Hacking] Judge Grants Extention In Filing Charges Against Mark Hacking
The District Attorney's Office now has until 5 o'clock Monday evening to file charges against Mark Hacking. Sandra Yi tells us a judge granted the extention, this morning. This extention allows the jail to hold Mark Hacking until Monday, when he's expected to be formally charged.
[Lord's Resistance Army] Kony's wife narrates her ordeal
"IT is useless and a waste of time for anyone to try and give any advice to Kony. Even now as I am talking, he must be abusing and cursing me from wherever he might be in his hideout in the bush in Sudan. So, why should I waste my words on him by trying to give him advice," Nighty Arac spoke bitterly of her husband, LRA rebel chief Joseph Kony. Denis Ojwee reports that Arac, with her two-year old son named Kony, was among the 77 rescued Ugandans airlifted to Gulu from Juba, Sudan on Wednesday.
[David Francis] Oom Paul gets reprieve
The family of Paul Meintjies of Hertzogville, whose resurrection was predicted by a "prophet" after his death some five weeks ago, will inform the town's mortician on Friday what to do with the body.
Anton and Janet Hein-Hudson
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