ReligionNewsBlog.com, Aug. 14-16, 2004
Mon, Aug. 16, 2004
[Catholic Church] John Paul In The Twilight
The pilgrimage of Pope Jean Paul II to the French shrine of Lourdes was in many ways a capstone to his exceptionally long pontificate. His 104th foreign trip may not have been his last, but for the ailing spiritual leader of the world's Catholics, it may have been the most significant.
[Aum Shinrikyo] Cultists charged with fraud for selling steroid-packed cream
Two senior members of the AUM Shinrikyo cult, under indictment for the group's unauthorized sales of a cream it claimed could treat atopic dermatitis, were hit Monday with fraud charges, police said.
[Aum Shinrikyo] Aum member, man arrested on suspicion of drug fraud
Takashi Inoue, the 36-year-old head of the cult's center in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo, and Kiyoshi Nakano, 37, a business owner of Tachikawa, also in Tokyo, were held and indicted earlier on suspicion of violating the Pharmaceutical Affairs Law.
[Religious Merchandising] Retailers are riding the wave of popularity of Christian-themed books
Janis McWilliams is a devout Christian and an avid reader, but she doesn't much enjoy novels that are "dripping in Jesus" - and she admits she has usually found Christian novels poorly written, and a little boring. But like an increasing number of readers, she's been attracted by an innovative generation of authors who have breathed new life into Christian fiction. Moving beyond prose that reads like either a Bible study or a dime-store romance, Christian writers have started a literary renaissance by exploring serious religious themes in everything from futuristic thrillers to historical epics.
[Fellowship of Friends] Oregon House
Although the society is recognized as a tax-exempt religious organization, the Fellowship has often been referred to as a cult by former members, neighbors and cult experts alike. [...] Cult or not, the Fellowship has its own dirty laundry. In the early 1980s and into the 1990s, there were lawsuits from former members who accused its leader, Robert Burton, of brainwashing and sexual abuse. Fellowship officials declined to be interviewed for this story. The Fellowship has continued to maintain a low profile in recent years.
[Archeology] John the Baptist's cave 'found' in Jerusalem
A British archaeologist is set to reveal what he believes to be the location of John the Baptist's cave to the west of Jerusalem, The Times reported on Monday. Shimon Gibson, 45, has found a cave with a ritual baptism pool, rock carvings and pottery, which he linked to John the Baptist and his followers, the newspaper said. According to the New Testament, John baptised Jesus in the River Jordan. The Times said Gibson would reveal details at a press conference on Tuesday to be held at the cave, near the village of Ain Karim, which Christian tradition regards as John the Baptist's birthplace.
[Destiny Churches] Destiny Church defends use of children in protest
The controversial Destiny Church is under fire for using children in a campaign against gay marriage and other reforms it claims are ruining society. Destiny, a nationwide conservative evangelical church that also has political ambitions, was behind the "enough is enough" rally in Auckland last Saturday that attracted 1000 angry marchers, many of them children. Another, larger demonstration is planned outside parliament on August 23 to protest against legislation such as the Civil Union Bill and prostitution law reform. Critics say it is exploitative to use children for political purposes, but church leaders say they are marching with their parents and it is part of the church's message of protecting the "next generation".
[Peyote] Peyote, Indian Religion and the Issue of Exclusivity
What makes someone a member of a religion? Is it something gained as a birthright, at a baptism, a result of devotional church attendance or even race? A case in Utah over peyote use has unearthed such questions, and the discussion seems to be just getting started. Peyote, a small cactus whose buttonlike tops can cause hallucinations when eaten, is considered a sacrament and a deity in American Indian religion, and the American Indian Religious Freedom Act was designed to make a legal exemption for its use in religious ceremonies by Indians who are members of tribes. But a unanimous ruling this summer by the Utah Supreme Court allowed members of the Native American Church who are nontribal members to use peyote as well. The court ordered the case remanded to a lower court for reconsideration, but the state is considering an appeal to the United States Supreme Court.
[Islam] Muslims issue anti-terror guide
Senior imams are publishing a guide for Muslims including advice on how to cope should there be an 11 September-style terror attack on the UK. It warns an anti-Muslim backlash would be likely and sets out people's rights. The guide also urges Muslims to be vigilant against potential terrorists and to report any suspicions to police.
[Christianity] Bible study meets in unconventional place - Hooters
Single Focus, which has about 90 members, also holds a more traditional Bible study at a house each week, as well as mission trips and ski retreats, but Lamborn said the Hooters gatherings provide an option for people who wouldn't necessarily accept an invitation to a church. [...] "We're about reaching the lost, and I think we're called to do that," he said. "Our attitude is to go where the unchurched and the de-churched are."
[Buddhism] 11th Panchen Lama arrives in Lhasa on third visit to Tibet
The Beijing-backed 11th Panchen Lama was in Lhasa on his third visit to the Himalayan capital since his disputed selection as a leading Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader by the atheist Chinese communist government in 1995.
[David Francis] Widow freezes husband in hope of resurrection
Influenced by a self-proclaimed prophet, a widow in South Africa has not buried her husband more than six weeks after his death in the belief that he will rise from the dead.
[Polygamy] Polygamy victims share their horror
[Book Review] "God's Brothel," The Extortion of Sex for Salvation in Contemporary Mormon and Christian Fundamentalist Polygamy and the Stories of 10 Women Who Escaped, By Andrea Moore-Emmett
[Catholic Church] Visions of Mary, other such 'miracles' put faith - and science - to the test
Religious experts are skeptical of many claims of miraculous sightings. Still, they say, those claims can strengthen faith, even if they can't be scientifically verified.
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Sun, Aug. 15, 2004
[Gilbert Deya Ministries] UK Police probe Kenyan pastor over 'miracle babies'
UK police are investigating a London-based Kenyan pastor following revelations in a BBC documentary suggesting babies are being trafficked from Kenya. Police sources at New Scotland Yard told the Sunday Standard in London that Metropolitan Police are investigating Archbishop Gilbert Deya, a London based Kenyan evangelical religious movement leader who claims he can create "miracle babies" for childless couples. The multi millionaire TV evangelist also allegedly claimed he can exorcise demons from women past menopause or who are infertile. The Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Church of England and Children Charities in UK have called for an investigation into the claims, saying Deya's actions are a front for baby-trafficking.
[Hate Groups] Race-hate gang targets students
A campaign of racial vilification is being waged against international students at the University of Newcastle, with a rising number of campus assaults blamed on a militant right-wing group. Police are investigating the assaults against at least four African and Asian students in the past six months. The attacks coincide with propaganda campaigns at the university by supporters of the US-based neo-Nazi group National Alliance and the Australian nationalist youth movement the Patriotic Youth League. The campaign has echoes of a West Australian race-hate campaign targeting Asian businesses, which led to the arrest last week of convicted white supremacist Jack van Tongeren.
[Hate Groups : Scientology] Scientology 'Detox' Furor
The managers of a Scientology-based detox program that's been free for those officially involved in the 9/11 rescue effort now want to offer the service to thousands of other Ground Zero victims - for $5,000 each. Critics, however, are skeptical about whether the program works at all. The clinic's advisory board, which includes Scientologists, doctors and rescue workers, is also pushing for a $1 million government grant to determine whether the program actually works.
Sat, Aug. 14, 2004
[Nuwaubians] Witness in York case maintains original testimony was true
A key government witness in the case of a leader of a quasi-religious sect convicted of child molestation and racketeering said she tried to recant her testimony because she felt sorry for him.
[Polygamy] Polygamist group irks W. Texas town
This group of polygamists - self-described Mormon fundamentalists apparently seeking an escape from an unholy mess in their longtime homes on the Utah-Arizona border - has raised a big-time stir in tiny Eldorado, where fire-and-brimstone religion may be welcome but multiple wives tend to rankle. [...] The local library hasn't been able to keep up with requests for books about Mormonism after the breakaway group, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, took up residence on the former game ranch north of Eldorado.
[Polygamy] Polygamists embrace lifestyle, but not all agree
In this polygamist enclave, where men take many wives to get to heaven, believers are taught that the difference between good and evil is stark and unwavering. Just who is good and who is evil in the heart of polygamy country depends on who's asking.
[Gilbert Deya Ministries] Pregnant by Jesus?
They're called "miracle babies" and for some childless couples in Britain, they're a dream come true. But doctors and Church of England officials are worried the babies aren't miracles at all, but either a shortcut adoption process or a baby-trafficking scheme. [...] The Nyekos are the latest couple who claim to have had a miracle conception. Members of one of Britain's fastest-growing churches - the Gilbert Deya Ministries - they say their three-week old son is a "miracle from God." [...] A BBC investigation looked into the births and discovered that the church's leader, Kenyan-born Gilbert Deya, prays over the childless women, and they are pronounced pregnant by Jesus. [...] Radio 4's Face the Facts discovered that one of the "miracle babies" has been taken into care after tests revealed that its DNA did not match either of its parents. Later, it was discovered the child's Kenyan birth certificate was a forgery.
[Gilbert Deya Ministries] 'Miracle babies' row
Many couples have gone to Kenya, the homeland of the evangelical church's founder, and returned within days with babies said to be gifts from God. But the women were proven not to have been pregnant before they left Britain, according to an investigation, broadcast today, and there are concerns about the source of the children. The Gilbert Deya Ministries are based in London, but last year opened a church in Warwick Street, Hulme and are attracting a growing congregation.
[Polygamy] Relatives File Missing Person Report for Former Polygamous Leader
Relatives of a once promising leader for a polygamous community filed a missing-person report Friday, saying the church elder hasn't been since December and could be dead. Authorities said they would act on the report. Fred Jessop, a former bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, vanished after being excommunicated by the new leader of the fundamentalist faith, which believes polygamy assures a path to heaven and eternal life.
Anton and Janet Hein-Hudson
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