ReligionNewsBlog, Sep. 23-24, 2004
Fri, Sep. 24, 2004
[USA] Cat Stevens to take legal action
Yusuf Islam, the British singer formerly known as Cat Stevens, is taking legal action after he was refused entry into the US. Mr Islam said the decision to deny him entry on grounds of national security was "very serious and wholly unfounded" and he wants an explanation. His Washington-bound flight was diverted to Maine on Tuesday and he was told to leave the country by the FBI. He said a legal process had been put in place to find out what had happened. In a statement Mr Islam said: "Never would I believe that such a thing could happen in the 'land of the free' - unfortunately, it did.
[USA] Singer Cat Stevens calls U.S. ban 'ridiculous'
''Half of me wants to smile and half of me wants to growl. The whole thing is totally ridiculous,'' said Islam, whose string of hits in the 1960s and 1970s included Peace Train, Wild World and Morning Has Broken. ''Everybody knows who I am. I am no secret figure. Everybody knows my campaigning for charity, for peace. There's got to be a whole lot of explanation.''
[Islam] Why Terrorists Decapitate
For centuries, it has been one of humanity's most graphic, gruesome ways to end a life: sever the head, home to thoughts, dreams and that most personal of features -- the face. Decapitation by hand, with sword or knife, smacks of ugly yesterdays -- things the West prefers to think it has left behind. Now, as insurgents in Iraq commandeer a modern medium by bringing decapitation videos to the Internet, an ancient punishment has become a 24-hour news cycle's shocking message of defiance -- one that effectively both sows terror and shows off to the young Islamic men the militants are trying to recruit.
[Islam] Beheading video shows full horror, savagery of act
I still can't bring myself to watch any of these Internet videos, but I wanted to find out. There are humane ways to die and there are the barbaric and unspeakable. Decapitation, terrorist style, has to lead the league in barbaric and unspeakable. This isn't death by injection or dying in your sleep. This is the evil we're up against. Jonathan Hayes, a New York City medical examiner who gave a talk in Des Moines after 9/11, felt the same need to know after the beheading of Nick Berg. "The true nature of this war has been so carefully hidden, every supplied statistic and every image pruned like a prize rosebush," he wrote for New York Magazine . "But the slaughter of Nick Berg seemed unspinnable; like the Abu Ghraib images, it was digital information, free to anyone who chose to look." Hayes chose to look. Almost everyone who has seen a beheading video advises against it. It changes you. Enrages you. Embitters you. Depresses you. Leaves you doubting whether there's any hope for the world. Like nothing else, the videos convey the full horror and savagery of the act.
[Islam] A rare look at secretive Brotherhood in America
Over the last 40 years, small groups of devout Muslim men have gathered in homes in U.S. cities to pray, memorize the Koran and discuss events of the day. But they also addressed their ultimate goal, one so controversial that it is a key reason they have operated in secrecy: to create Muslim states overseas and, they hope, someday in America as well. These men are part of an underground U.S. chapter of the international Muslim Brotherhood, the world's most influential Islamic fundamentalist group and an organization with a violent past in the Middle East. But fearing persecution, they rarely identify themselves as Brotherhood members and have operated largely behind the scenes, unbeknownst even to many Muslims
[Yoga] Naked yoga OK in San Francisco
Nudists, grab your yoga mats and head for San Francisco. City prosecutors Wednesday said it was not illegal to perform naked yoga in the city -- even at the crowded tourist destination of Fisherman's Wharf. Prosecutors dropped charges against a limber nudist, known locally as the "Naked Yoga Guy," who made a habit of striking yoga poses in the buff in order to promote a book and his lifestyle
[TD Jakes] Pop Culture Slowly Moves Into the Pew
Some people might see the new movie "Woman, Thou Art Loosed" because -- for their own cathartic reasons -- they want to see a victim of child sexual abuse exact revenge on her abuser before she starts healing her psychic and spiritual wounds. Others might see the movie, which opens next Friday, for the heartfelt performance of Kimberly Elise ("Beloved," "The Manchurian Candidate") as the abused woman "loosed" from her past. [...] Even more of its audience, I suspect, will be like the film's major characters: Bible-based Christians for whom church is a central motivating force rather than a Sundays-and-major-religious-holidays thing. And many, no doubt, will be Bishop T.D. Jakes fans.
[Islam] Charge: Islamic lecturer exhorted Va. Muslims to join Taliban
A lecturer at a northern Virginia mosque who allegedly urged some of his followers after the Sept. 11 attacks to join the Taliban and fight U.S. troops was charged Thursday with attempting to aid the Taliban and other crimes. [...] Prosecutors have said Al-Timimi was the spiritual leader of a "Virginia jihad network" of young Muslim men--nearly all of them U.S. citizens living in metropolitan Washington, D.C.--who played paintball games in 2000 and 2001 as a means of training for holy war across the globe.
[Psychics] Why we want to believe psychics
Speaking with a long-departed loved one may be the result of fear or suggestion rather than genuine spirit contact, research suggests. UK psychologist Professor Richard Wiseman looked at controlled "séance" experiments. He found many ways that people strive to interpret a medium's comments to apply to themselves, whether the facts are accurate or not.
[Church and State] Bush's misuse of religion is inexcusable
In combination, these characteristics have transformed Bush's "either you are with us or you are with the terrorists" policy to "either you are with us or you are against God." To the great misfortune of American democracy and the global public, such a view looks, sounds and feels remarkably similar to that of the terrorists it is fighting. Indeed, one is hard pressed to see how the perspective of Osama bin Laden, that he and his followers are delivering God's wishes for the United States, is much different from the perspective of George W. Bush, that the United States is delivering God's wishes to the Taliban or Iraq. Clearly, flying airplanes into buildings in order to kill innocent people is an indefensible immoral activity. So, too, some traditional allies told the Bush administration, is an unprovoked pre-emptive invasion of a sovereign nation. In both instances, the aggression manifested in a form that was available to the leaders. Fundamentalism in the White House is a difference in degree, not kind, from fundamentalism exercised in dark, damp caves. Democracy is always the loser.
[Kabbalah] Madonna and the Kabbalah Cult
Some Jews argue that Madonna's endorsement of Jewish mysticism helps make Judaism attractive to alienated young Jews. Yet Jews need to protect the integrity of their tradition. No matter what the short-term benefits, Jews should shun the Kabbalah Centre and those who promote it. Distorting Judaism is not good for the Jews. For centuries, cabalists vehemently guarded their secrets, wary of popularization. With the emergence of the Kabbalah Centre, we now know why.
[Peyote] Puffs on peace pipes hail court win
Mooney was celebrating a huge legal win in June when the state Supreme Court ruled he could legally use peyote as part of his religious ceremonies. A federal exemption that allows use of the hallucinogenic drug in religious ceremonies applies to all legitimate members of the Native American Church, the court said, not only those who are also members of federally recognized American Indian tribes. Though the ruling protects Mooney from state prosecution for the time being, the U.S. Attorney's Office for Utah recently warned Mooney that his continued use of peyote could subject him to possible prosecution under federal drug laws.
[Peyote] Judge Rules Peyote Use is Legal
A Utah County man today celebrated his right to religious freedom. The Native American Church leader fought for his right to use peyote and the Utah Supreme Court agreed.
[Offbeat News] Chest challenged chicks ring in bigger breasts
Hideto Tomabechi -- who first made headlines in Japan almost a decade ago after he cured brainwashed members of the AUM Shinrikyo doomsday cult that unleashed deadly sarin gas on the Tokyo subway system -- claims to have developed a tune for ring tones that promises to increase the breast measurements of those who listen to it. And Tomabechi's brainchild for better busts has boomed, with chest challenged chicks swarming to transfer data to their own phones.
[Polygamy] Polygamy: Cops must choose job or wives
If the polygamous policemen in southern Utah refuse to give up their plural wives, the state board that governs police certification will end their careers. The unanimous stand taken Wednesday by the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) council may strip Hildale Police Chief Sam Roundy of his ability to enforce the law in Utah and ultimately could gut the small department of seven.
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Thu, Sep. 23, 2004
[Psychics] Tests proves that accurate mediums are hard to reach
Is there anybody there? Not when scientists tested the powers of mediums who claim to receive messages from beyond the grave in controlled experimental conditions. Psychologists Richard Wiseman of the University of Hertfordshire and Ciaran O'Keeffe of Liverpool Hope University put five mediums to the test while ensuring they did not cheat or use psychological tricks. They found that none were able to produce accurate readings for people who were isolated in a separate room.
[Unification Church] IIPC Sponsors Pilgrimage To Holy Land
The Inter-religious & International Peace Council (IIPC), a project of the Inter-religious and International Federation for World Peace (IIFWP) in continuation of the World Peace Pilgrimage, has invited continents of the world to go to Israel in support of the Middle East Peace Initiative (MEPI). The Founder of the IIPC, Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon, who extended the global invitation, said Latin America, Africa, Oceania, Europe, North America and Asia are expected to send 500 pilgrims each to Israel to participate in the event
[Islam] Bible understood differently in two new Quran translations
English versions of the Quran suffer from awkward, old-fashioned wordings and other problems. So English-speaking Muslims, and non-Muslims who want to explore Islam's holy book, can cheer the arrival of two worthy translations: [...] The contrasts between the translations include passages about the Bible, referred to in the Quran as the Torah, Psalms or Gospel. Muslim scholars believe the Bible is unreliable but differ on why. Some say Jewish and Christian interpretations became distorted, while hard-liners think Jews and Christians purposely corrupted the actual texts that God revealed. There's no historical evidence for the latter charge, and the classical 12th-century Quran commentator Fakhr al-Din al-Razi, for one, rejected it.
[Offbeat News] In church, a vow of silence for cell phones
State-of-the-art technology developed by Israeli electronic-warfare experts is being used by some Mexican churches to silence cell phones that ring during mass, church officials said Tuesday.
[USA] Britain complains to US about detention of Yusuf Islam
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has complained to U.S. officials about the detention of Yusuf Islam, the former pop star once known as Cat Stevens, who was denied entry to the United States because he was on a security watch list. Islam was returning to Britain Thursday. Straw raised the issue with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell at the annual U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York, the Foreign Office said.
[USA] U.S. Urges Changes in Watch List Rules
A gap in the airline passenger-check system permitted the former Cat Stevens to board a London-to-Washington flight despite being on a no-fly list for suspected ties to terrorists, a Bush administration official said Thursday. The incident involving Yusuf Islam, formerly known as singer Cat Stevens, dramatizes a need for changes to tighten the system, said Asa Hutchinson, under secretary for homeland security.
[Branch Davidians] Koresh's Car to be Sold
A bizarre piece of Texas history is expected to bring as much as $60,000 when it is sold at a classic car auction in the Hill Country town of Fredericksburg on Saturday. The black souped up Chevy Camaro owned by Branch Davidian leader David Koresh will be sold as is, complete with damage it suffered when it was run over by an FBI tank as the cult's compound near Waco burned around it on April 19, 1993.
[Kabbalah] Parliament forbids the entry of Madonna into Egypt
Egyptian Parliament members have submitted an order to Government demanding that American singer Madonna be prohibited from entering Egyptian soil. Parliament members also included a number of other international singers on their list of people forbidden from entering Egypt and called on all their embassies abroad to not grant any of them visas into Egypt or be allowed to shoot any of their music videos on Egyptian soil. The demand came after Madonna announced that she will celebrate the Jewish New Years in Israel and that she had converted to Judaism.
[Trinity Broadcasting Network] Christian broadcasting network responds to news articles
The world's largest Christian broadcasting network responded Wednesday to recent news articles about its operations and once again denied a claim by a former employee that he had a homosexual affair with its founder. The Trinity Broadcasting Network issued a press release claiming that articles published by the Los Angeles Times over the past week failed to accurately depict the Costa Mesa-based organization in a fair light.
[Netherlands] Outcast MP demands ban on Islamic immigration
The Netherlands could have a new Pim Fortuyn on its hands, as outcast MP Geert Wilders called Tuesday for a five-year ban on people from Turkey and Morocco immigrating to the Netherlands. Wilders is also calling for an immediate ban on all non-western immigrants who want to join their families in the Netherlands. He claims that problems with integration in the Netherlands are so "immense and acute" that action must be taken now. "All attention must be focused on the immigrants who already live here," Wilders said. [...] Wilders also said Islamic imams who incite hatred or violence should be deported and deprived of Dutch citizenship, newspaper Algemeen Dagblad reported.
[Yoga] Mary can have the last laugh
A yoga teacher today insisted she was not joking about plans to set up 'laughter clubs' throughout Northern Ireland. Mary Mitchell, a qualified laughologist, said it was important that people laughed more in order to combat the stresses of everyday life. According to medical experts, laughter has huge health benefits. Dr William Fry of Stanford University has claimed one minute of laughter is equal to 10 minutes on a rowing machine.
[Aum Shinrikyo] Asahara worshipper dies under bizarre circumstances
A Tokyo woman who maintained her fervent belief in Shoko Asahara even after it was revealed the guru had brought about the lethal 1995 Tokyo subway gassing has died under mysterious circumstances, police and public safety officials said Thursday.
[Netherlands] Tough anti-terror laws change easygoing Dutch self-image
After the 2001 terror attacks on the United Sttes, Dutch intelligence claimed to have cracked a series of Islamic terrorist plots, prompting many people in the Netherlands to wonder: "Are we next?" The terror fears have spawned a raft of harsh security measures - from forcing citizens over 13 to carry identity cards, to authorizing police to stop and search people with no apparent cause - that challenge the image of the Netherlands as one of the world's most progressive countries.
Note: A Sep. 14, 2004 Miami Herald article shows a more accurate picture:
Three years after Sept. 11, the Netherlands offers an approach to terror prevention that stands in the sharpest possible contrast to the one chosen by Washington. The Dutch have decided to safeguard civil liberties and the rule of law at almost any cost. They have also opted to protect their way of life and avoid spreading fear among the population
- Dutch have a kinder, gentler plan, Miami Herald, Sep. 14, 2004
Anton and Janet Hein-Hudson
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