ReligionNewsBlog.com, Nov. 19 - 22, 2004
News about religious cults, sects, alternative religions and related issues
Mon, Nov. 22, 2004
[Peoples Temple] Foreign Trade Minister calls on PNCR to disclose all on
"It is the greatest tragedy from the national and international
This was the way Minister of Foreign Trade and International Cooperation
Clement Rohee described what happened at Jonestown in 1978.
Speaking with Martin Goolsarran of NCN Television, Minister Rohee said
this nation needs full disclosure on what took place in that part of
[Christian Exodus] Christian group plans mass exodus to South Carolina
Church and state is the age old debate over how much each should be
connected to the other.
One man says he has the answer and his name is Cory Burnell, "The
particular reason we've looked at this strategy is that we've come to the
conclusion that across the nation, Christian conservatives really are
having trouble getting any voice at the national level."
Burnell is the leader of "Christian Exodus ." It's a group of Christian
activists who say the nation is so far off the proper path, they will move
to a place where many already share their views, set up a Christian
government and possibly, split from the other state
[Peoples Temple] Keeping her brother's memory alive
For many, the date of Nov. 18 passes each year without much thought.
For 74-year-old Shannon Ryan Torphy, it always passes with a recollection
of her older brother, Leo and the Nov. 18, 1978, shooting in Jonestown,
Guyana, that killed him.
"I remember . . . I always remember. He was my brother and I lost him,"
she said recently while seated on a couch of her room at the Brookside
Assisted Living facility in Freehold.
It was on that date that California Democratic Congressman Leo Ryan, 53,
was gunned down by members of the Rev. Jim Jones' People's Temple in
Guyana, South America.
[Mormon Church] Retailers set sights on Mormons' pocketbooks
On a shelf at Wal-Mart's Sandy store on State Street — next to a line of
jewelry boxes and figurines — sits a 15-inch statue of the Angel Moroni,
boxed and ready for holiday shoppers, many of them predictably members of
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who recognize the Book of
Mormon character as the figure perched on more than 100 LDS temples
While many may well be turned off by the hawking of one of the faith's
signature symbols — made in China for Wal-Mart and selling at $19.86 —
there are few better clues about the growing market for LDS products, and
the money to be made from some 12 million Latter-day Saints. Once
considered a tiny niche market, the church's rapid growth in the past two
decades portends more targeted marketing by both LDS and secular retailers
to an ever-growing audience.
[Islam] Terror probes turn up an even more zealous brand of Islamic
An ultra-radical Islamic ideology mixing zealot-like devotion and holy war
creed is drawing more scrutiny in anti-terrorist probes from the Middle
East to Europe — with increasing indications that its base on the fringes
of Islamic extremism could be widening.
In existence since the 1960s, al-Takfir wa al-Hijra has offered
intellectual inspiration to al-Qaida and other militant groups. But
authorities now worry about followers becoming more aggressive with
recruitment and retaliation against perceived foes of Islam, such as Dutch
filmmaker Theo van Gogh.
Officials in the Netherlands say the Dutch-Moroccan suspect — accused of
killing Van Gogh on a busy Amsterdam street earlier this month — hosted
gatherings of immigrants influenced by the Egyptian-founded Takfir
ideology, which strives for a purified form of Islam and condemns anything
or anyone deemed an enemy of the faith.
[Islam] U.S. Muslims grapple with issues
Should Muslims seek to return to Islam as it was practiced 1,000 years
ago? Is homosexuality halal (permitted) or haram (forbidden)? These and
other debates raged on — though generally in calm, respectful tones — as
more than 100 Muslims from across the country came together to attend a
three-day conference sponsored by the Asma Society, a New York City-based
Muslim nonprofit group espousing religious tolerance and cultural exchange.
[Hate Groups] Judge refuses to acquit Hale
"This is a case involving an intelligent, educated defendant who tried to
walk a very fine line, soliciting another person to commit a crime of
violence but doing so in terms designed to make it appear that he was only
discussing abstract philosophical concepts," wrote U.S. District Judge
[Media] A bet on Christian readers for The Jerusalem Post
The Jerusalem Post, an English-language newspaper born in Israel in 1932
as The Palestine Post, is about to get new owners who are betting they can
rebuild its circulation by reaching an international readership of Jews
and fundamentalist Christians.
Sat, Nov. 20, 2004
[Religious Merchandising] What would Jesus eat?
Poor Jesus Christ. What with coming up with one-liners for T-shirts and
bumper stickers and approving the cars that we drive -- let alone running
the White House for the next four years -- He must be almost as busy as
According to The New York Times, His latest brand extensions include the
Riverview Community Bank in Minnesota, a "Christian financial institution"
whose deposits have grown from $5-million (U.S.) to more than $75-million
in the past 18 months, and the chain of Curves fitness centres (based in
Waco, Tex.), which Entrepreneur magazine calls the "fastest growing
franchise in the world" (and whose born-again founder Gary Heavin donates
10 per cent of profits to Operation Save America, a radical-right
anti-abortion group). Said Heavin in an interview with Today's Christian:
"I couldn't dream this big . . . but I serve a God who is."
[Catholic Church] Devout Catholics 'risk lung cancer'
After nine hours of candle burning, the normal daily amount, the
atmosphere in the Roman Catholic basilica in Maastricht, Holland, had
readings between 12 and 20 times higher than European clean air guidelines.
The air quality was worse than in an area used by 45,000 vehicles a day.
[Jehovah's Witnesses] Man Shot Outside Blockbuster Refused Transfusion
According to a coroner's investigator, Davis said no to offers of a
transfusion because he's a devout Jehovah's Witness, and his religious
stance prevented him from accepting blood from others.
[Internet] And on the eighth day, the Lord created spam
The growth area in unsolicited email is now spam containing religious
mesages. And the bad news is that unlike commercial spam, it's not illegal.
[Internet] Not All Spiritual E-Mail Is Sent With Divine Intentions
Get ready for spiritual spam. An e-mail security company Friday reported
an uptick in evangelical missives crusading across the Internet.
[Ruben Ecleo] Ecleo to ask for delay in slay case until SC rules on venue
After the parricide case of Ruben Ecleo Jr. was raffled off to another
judge for the sixth time, the cult leader’s lawyer said his client will
ask the court to defer further hearing the case until the Supreme Court
rules on his motion to transfer the case to Manila.
[Polygamy] Union vote to exclude Kingston relatives
Struggling coal miners at the Kingston family-owned Co-Op Mine in
Huntington now can vote to join the United Mine Workers of America union
without fear their voices will be drowned out by co-workers related to the
In a ruling handed down this week, the National Labor Relations Board
(NLRB) in Denver determined workers at the mine who are related by blood
or marriage to the Kingston family won't be allowed to vote on UMWA
[Netherlands] Popular Dutch lawmaker would shut border to Muslim
immigrants for 5 years
One of the most popular politicians in the Netherlands said Friday his
country's democracy is under threat and called for rejecting immigration
from non-western nations in the wake of the killing of a Dutch filmmaker,
allegedly by a Muslim radical.
"We are a Dutch democratic society. We have our own norms and values,"
Geert Wilders told The Associated Press in an interview Friday. "If you
chose radical Islam, you can leave, and if you don't leave voluntarily,
then we will send you away. This is the only message possible."
Fri, Nov. 19, 2004
[Islam] Norwegian imam supports van Gogh murder
Dr. Zahid Mukhtar, spokesperson for Islamic Council in Norway, stated that
he sympathize with reason why the Dutch film director Theo van Gogh was
[Nuwaubians] Nuwaubian leader appeals case, has backers
Attorneys for jailed religious sect leader Dwight "Malachi" York on
Thursday called his federal conviction on child sex charges flawed, as
more than 100 members of the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors proclaimed
the group strong, even with its leader in prison.
York recently referred to himself as "Baba" in a letter to supporters from
a special housing unit of the federal prison in Leavenworth, Kan. In the
Oct. 30 message, York said he has received visitors from another planet
while in prison and was moved by prison officials because he was
converting other inmates and levitating in the air.
[Mormon Church] Utah art dealer: Divine intervention led to return of
Last month, Snarr's trailer and two Mormon holy books from the 1800s were
recovered by Reno police. The third stolen Bible was recovered by a Reno
Gazette-Journal reporter who turned it into police.
[Church and State] Town Wasting Money in High Court Appeal, Legal Experts
The town of Great Falls is likely fighting a losing battle in its effort
to keep the name of Jesus Christ in its council meeting prayers, several
legal experts say.
The Town Council this week voted to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court in
its ongoing case with Darla Wynne. Wynne, a Great Falls resident and
Wiccan high priestess, sued in 2001 to prevent the council from evoking
the name of a specific deity, in this case Jesus, in its prayers.
Wynne won the case, a decision that has been upheld in two appeals,
prompting the 6-1 council vote to go to the highest court in the land.
[Uniao do Vegetal] A Federal Appeals Court Says A Religious Group Can
Import Illegal Drugs
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit recently sat en banc -
that is, in a larger-than-usual panel representing the Circuit as a whole
- to address the claim that the federal drug laws do not apply to a
The party adverse to the government was the O Centro Espirita Beneficiente
Uniao Do Vegetal (UDV). It was secretly importing a tea-like substance
called hoasca -- which it refers to as the "vine of the soul," the "vine
of the dead," and the "vision vine - from Brazil to the U.S. for use in
its religious ceremonies. The problem is, hoasca contains a Controlled
Substances Act, Schedule I, banned drug
[Armenia] Armenian Apostolic Church Calls for Review of Law on Religion
The participants in a sitting of the supreme spiritual council in the Holy
See of Echmiadzin discussed the activities of various sects in Armenia and
the recent registration of the Jehovah's Witnesses religious sect in
[Bible] Getting the Bible back to its roots
Biblical scholar Robert Alter's major new English translation of the first
five books of the Hebrew Bible -- alternately called the Five Books of
Moses, the Torah or Pentateuch -- has some critics manning the barricades
while others are applauding his efforts to return the work to its original
Hebrew meanings and majestic repetitions.
[Glenn and Justin Helzer] Ex-Playmate rehashes Helzer's extortion plot
Jurors in the penalty trial of Glenn Taylor Helzer heard two witnesses
once close to Helzer describe how he masterminded an extortion plot and
five murders in the summer of 2000.
[The Fellowship (Australia)] Book exposes damning secrets about cult
A new book is lifting the lid on The Fellowship, which some clergy want
expelled from their church, writes Steve Waldon.
"One Sunday evening, close on 65 years ago, in the genteel suburb of
Canterbury, an earnest bunch of church men and women gathered in the home
of Alan and Frances Neil to share their faith, encourage one another, and
learn more about the deeper Christian walk.
Without doubt, they were a sincere and eager group, representing most of
the big mainline churches, whose motives were 100 per cent commendable.
They could not know they were laying the foundation for a parachurch
organisation, which would live on for many decades to come, outlive most
of those present, and acquire a reputation as cruelly elitist and
The organisation referred to is The Fellowship. According to a new book,
Fractured Families: The Story of a Melbourne Church Cult, up to 400 people
are still connected to the group, which is described as elitist, pious and
[The Fellowship (Australia)] How I endured 'psychological crucifixion'
Traditional Christian teaching holds that believers are saved by grace.
Works are a sign of their commitment. Contrary to The Fellowship,
theologians say the New Testament does not portray prosperity as a sign of
God's favour. Fractured Families says The Fellowship's emphasis on works
and public confession leads to crippling introspection, and elitism.
Leaders use this to control members.
[Polygamy] Author discusses abuse in polygamist families
Current legislation is not enough to protect women from the dangers of
polygamy, a local author said at a Food for Thought meeting on Wednesday.
The presentation, sponsored by the Women's Resource Center, focused on
abuse and coercion, which occurs often in polygamist families, said
presenter Andrea Moore-Emmett.
She interviewed 18 women who left from polygamist families so she could
gather information for her book, "God's Brothel."
Anton and Janet Hein-Hudson
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