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303ReligionNewsBlog.com, Jan. 23, 2004

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  • Anton Hein
    Jan 23, 2004
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      ReligionNewsBlog.com, Jan. 23, 2004

      Fri, Jan. 23, 2004
      [Nuwaubians] Sect Leader Convicted of Molestations
      The leader of a quasi-religious sect was convicted Friday of molesting boys
      and girls at the group's ancient Egyptian-style compound. Malachi York, 58,
      could face up to 80 years in prison at sentencing. [...] He was found guilty
      on 10 counts of child molestation and racketeering. He was acquitted of
      transporting minors across state lines for unlawful sexual activity.

      [The Body] Emotions run high at sect trial
      Karen Robidoux's lawyer, Brockton-based Joseph Krowski, delivered an opening
      statement that ran just short of an hour. He concentrated intently on his
      client's life history, noting that she first gave birth at 13 years old, and
      on her mental state at the time of her son's death. Robidoux broke down for
      several minutes as Krowski spoke in detail of Samuel's final days. [...] A
      former sect member, Dennis Mingo, Michelle's ex-husband, was on the witness
      stand for more than four hours Thursday, describing the practices of Roland
      Robidoux and the sect in disciplining children, including his own five and
      at least 10 others who were in the mid-1990s a part of "The Body." [...]
      Krowski also asked Mingo if Karen Robidoux was a prisoner in the sect, to
      which Mingo replied after several seconds, "Yes, we were made to feel that
      if we left, we were turning our back on God. "When I left the group, I felt
      something would happen to me," Mingo said. "I'd be struck down or something.
      To this day, I have trouble making decisions, five years later." It was
      Dennis Mingo who first alerted police to the deaths of Samuel and another
      sect child, who was stillborn, after he found a journal written by Jacques
      Robidoux describing Samuel's final weeks of life.

      [The Body] Strict discipline: Ex-member testifies cult beat children
      Attleboro cult leader Roland Robidoux taught his brainwashed minions to beat
      their children with paddles to ''break their spirit'' and encouraged
      spanking babies who were just a few months old as ''training,'' an ex-member
      testified yesterday. ''As soon as they could crawl or walk, that's when the
      training would begin,'' former sect member Dennis Mingo said from the
      witness stand in Taunton Superior Court. ''Roland had a saying: All he
      needed was two weeks and a paddle and he could straighten out any child.
      That was his philosophy.'' The allegations of systematic abuse of children
      in The Body religious sect were made by Mingo during the trial of Karen
      Robidoux, who is charged with second-degree murder for the 1999 starvation
      death of her 11-month-old son, Samuel. Prosecutors say Robidoux, 29, starved
      her son to death to fulfill a religious prophecy handed down by Michelle
      Mingo, who is Roland Robidoux's daughter and Mingo's ex-wife.

      [Polygamy] News Conference Could Change Polygamous Community
      A news conference slated for later today could change the polygamous town of
      Colorado City forever. One of the town's residents promises to spill the
      beans about the polygamous church and blow things wide open. He says he was
      forced out of the church just before the upheaval two weeks ago when leader
      Warren Jeffs forced out 21 longtime members. Police are worried the
      division will spark violence. So far the town is quiet, but some believe
      today's developments will create a third faction, adding to two others
      created in the '80s.

      [Nuwaubians] Conspiracy theories compete in York trial
      Prosecutors, in closing arguments Thursday in the trial of Nuwaubian leader
      Malachi York, ridiculed defense contentions that York is a victim of a
      conspiracy concocted by an angry son.

      [Monster of Florence] Satanic Cult Probed in Monster of Florence Murders
      Almost 20 years after the last murder blamed on the "Monster of Florence,"
      investigators have reopened the case because they suspect a Satanic cult
      ordered the killings and kept body parts as prizes. "The refrigerator of
      horror," was Friday's headline in Il Messaggero newspaper, referring to new
      witness reports of female genitalia and body parts in the fridge of a plush
      Tuscan villa. The villa was rented by a doctor, thought to have drowned in a
      Tuscan lake in 1985. But when authorities recently discovered he was a
      suspected Satanist and had actually been murdered, they reopened their
      files, a judicial source told Reuters. Investigators now suspect the doctor
      was part of a clan that ordered the "Monster" to kill eight couples.

      [Nuwaubians] Nuwaubian Trial Jury In Disagreement
      The jury deciding the case of cult leader Malachi York on Friday asked a
      judge to replace a juror who was the only holdout on the child molestation
      charges against the leader.

      [Yoga] Man who slapped wife sentenced to yoga
      First there was house arrest. Now there's yoga. A judge ordered a man
      convicted Wednesday of slapping his wife to take a yoga class as part of his
      one-year probation. "It's part of anger management," County Criminal Court
      at Law Judge Larry Standley said of the ancient Hindu philosophy of exercise
      and well-being. "For people who are into it, it really calms them down.

      [Alternative Healing] 2nd employee sues ExxonMobil for alleged cult
      The ExxonMobil Corp. is facing a second lawsuit filed by a former Baytown
      Olefins Plant employee alleging she was fired because she resisted pressure
      from supervisors and co-workers to join a “New Age religion.” [...]
      According to the lawsuit, in September 1998, Foster’s immediate supervisor,
      Elaine Scharold, arranged for Foster to be sent for a “day of pampering” on
      her birthday that month. The lawsuit states that when Foster, who is
      Christian, went to the appointment, she learned that “it was a type of
      indoctrination for a new age religion.” The complaint alleges that when
      Foster went to the appointment, she first learned that Scharold and other
      co-workers in the lab adhered to “certain spiritual, religious teachings of
      an individual named Alix Rodwell, that included a practice known as
      ‘Reiki.’” [...] The lawsuit claims that between September 1998 and her
      termination on May 17, 2002, Foster was subjected to “routine, unrelenting
      coercion by Scharold and other co-workers to become a part of this religious
      cult.” [...] The lawsuit also states that William McCracken, a former BOP
      contract worker, stood up on Foster’s behalf and complained to senior Exxon
      management, only to be fired. McCracken filed a lengthier but substantially
      similar lawsuit in a Houston federal court on Dec. 16, nearly two weeks
      before Foster’s lawsuit was filed. Neither ExxonMobil nor Kelly Services
      (the contract employer for whom McCracken worked) has yet filed an answer to
      that lawsuit.

      [The Body] Former member details oppressive life within sect
      The jury heard the opening arguments yesterday and testimony from the former
      sect member, as it weighs whether Robidoux committed murder by depriving her
      infant son of solid food. The 11-month-old boy died in 1999 after subsisting
      on a 51-day diet of only breast milk -- the result of a vision by sect
      member G. Michelle Mingo that said Robidoux needed to atone for vanity in
      her appearance. If convicted on the second-degree-murder charge, Robidoux
      faces life in prison. Jacques Robidoux, her husband, is serving a life
      sentence for first-degree murder in the boy's death. Dennis Mingo said he
      is ashamed of it all now: the hard wooden paddles to spank sect children;
      the car caravan to Maine in which 20 children starved for 60 hours; the
      sect men who placed their hands on an out-of-gas car on the trip, believing
      God would provide. Mingo said he had often gone along with the sect leaders'
      wishes, and sometimes even believed in them, because he had married into the
      Attleboro sect.

      [The Body] 2 views of mother on trial in death
      Yesterday, the first prosecution witness was Dennis Mingo, Michelle's former
      husband, who was the first person to alert law enforcement that something
      was awry in the sect built around three families -- the Robidouxs, the
      Corneaus, and Karen Robidoux's own family, the Daneaus. Mingo was for many
      years a willing participant in the group, but he said he lost faith in his
      leaders after they declared in the late 1990s that all books were the works
      of man, and as such, must be considered Satan's work. Mingo left the group,
      and left his five children with their mother. But in 1999 he began
      investigating rumors that another couple in the sect, Daniel and Rebecca
      Corneau, had had a baby that no one had ever seen. While visiting his
      Seekonk home, Mingo found notes chronicling the slow death of Samuel
      Robidoux and Karen Robidoux's alleged role in it. Although the notes were
      introduced in the trial yesterday, the jury has not yet heard their
      contents. [...] Under cross-examination by Krowski, Mingo testified that he
      had first turned his back on his mother, because Jacques and Roland told him
      she was acting on behalf of Satan. Mingo said that even though about five
      years have passed since he was an active member of the group, he still
      sometimes fears that in leaving the sect, "I have turned my back on God."
      [...] Also yesterday, David Corneau agreed to testify. In 1999, his wife,
      Rebecca, had a stillborn son, who was found buried in Maine with Samuel
      Robidoux. Corneau, who has been granted immunity from prosecution, had been
      arrested as a material witness Wednesday, when he failed to appear in court.
      His lawyer, J. W. Carney Jr., told Donovan that his client considered the
      summons an "invitation," not an order, that he appear. Carney said Corneau
      will be in court when needed.

      [Nuwaubians] His Dream Became Their Nightmare
      When Dwight York moved his followers to the heart of Georgia's red-clay
      dairy country 11 years ago, the residents of Eatonton didn't know what to
      expect. The Nuwaubians — as they later called themselves — were urban blacks
      from Brooklyn, Baltimore and Philadelphia, many of them well-educated and
      steeped in the politics of black nationalism. [...] On the land, eventually
      home to 500 people, rose two great pyramids, obelisks, a dun-colored sphinx
      and a massive gateway covered with hieroglyphics. At the gate stood armed
      guards, ready to detain anyone wishing to enter the place they called
      Tama-Re, Egipt of the West. Conflicts over the construction grew so tense
      that observers warned it could erupt into the kind of violence that occurred
      at the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Texas. [...] Known as "the Lamb"
      or "the Master," York combined messages of black empowerment with Muslim and
      Christian beliefs and New Age mysticism. At one point, circulars claimed he
      came from the planet Rizq in the Illyuwn galaxy; in 2003, he warned, a ship
      would arrive to save 144,000 believers from apocalypse.

      [Salvation Army] Salvation Army picks up $1.5bn takeaway from McDonald's
      The Army has revealed that - after weeks of soul-searching - it has accepted
      a $1.5bn (£820m) bequest from Joan Kroc, the widow of Ray Kroc, founder of
      the burger empire. It is the largest gift ever given to a charity. This is
      more money than the Army manages to raise in the US through its usual
      fund-raising activities in a whole year. [...] But the Army, which is part
      of the worldwide church founded by William Booth in England in 1865,
      pondered for several weeks before concluding that it was ready to take the
      money, because it comes with strings attached. Ironically, the bequest may
      actually increase the long-term burden on the Army to raise money every
      year, rather than ease it. Mrs Kroc, who died aged 75 in southern California
      last October, stipulated that it be used entirely for the building and
      operation of between 25 and 30 family centres, evenly spread through the
      Army's four administrative territories in the US, with headquarters in Los
      Angeles, Chicago, New York and Atlanta. [...] Under the terms of her will,
      the bequest to the Army must be divided in two, with half dedicated to
      building the new centres and the other half to be put in an endowment to
      help cover operating costs. But the interest from that may only cover half
      of the costs of keeping the centres open. The Kroc gift means the Army will
      be forced to raise more money every year - at least $70m (£38m) more -
      rather than less. "No one realistically was ever gong to turn it down," said
      George Hood, the national community relations secretary. "But in accepting
      it, we are taking on a significant fund-raising challenge."

      [Polygamy] Ousted polygamist church leader to speak
      An ousted leader of a polygamist church community in the Arizona Strip says
      he will speak about abuses there at a press conference Friday, an activist
      against the community says. Jay Beswick, a Phoenix-area activist who is
      founder of Help the Child Brides, said the man does not want his name known
      until the press conference, scheduled for 1 p.m. at the man’s Colorado City

      [Polygamy] Ousted Polygamist Prepares to Speak Out
      The ousted member plans to draw a line in the sand of sorts. He says he
      won't voluntarily leave the home he lives in no matter what the prophet
      says. And if he's physically forced out, he says he'll live under a bridge
      with his family.

      [USA] U.S. Rejects Church Leaders' Bid to Visit Guantanamo
      U.S. church leaders said on Wednesday the Pentagon had rebuffed their plea
      to send a small interfaith delegation to minister to detainees at the U.S.
      naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The Rev. Bob Edgar, general secretary of
      the National Council of Churches and a former U.S. congressman, said his
      group would continue to press its case for a visit with U.S. officials.
      [...] The council was part of a broad coalition of religious and human
      rights organizations that filed a friend of the court brief with the U.S.
      Supreme Court this month asserting that foreign nationals being held at the
      base have the right to challenge the legality of their detention.
      International organizations including the Red Cross have accused the United
      States of condemning the prisoners to a "legal black hole."

      [Human Rights Violations] Ban urged for child executions
      Amnesty International has launched a two-year campaign to ban the execution
      of child offenders worldwide. In a report entitled, "Time to end a shameful
      practice" it says that those who commit crimes below the age of 18 have the
      capacity for rehabilitation. [...] The US is one of eight countries Amnesty
      says has executed child criminals since 1990. According to Amnesty's report,
      the US is the only country in the world which openly acknowledges executing
      child offenders. "The USA promotes itself as a global human rights champion
      yet it accounts for 13 of the 19 known executions of child offenders
      reported since 1998," it said.

      [Mel Gibson] Flak for Jesus film 'to worsen'
      Mel Gibson has shown his controversial film about Jesus to a group of 4,500
      Christian pastors, predicting the worst of the criticism was yet to come.
      Jewish groups fear The Passion of the Christ will lead to anti-Semitism
      because of its suggestion that Jews were involved in Christ's death. Gibson
      has been showing the film to a number of influential religious groups ahead
      of its US release in February. "I anticipate the worst is yet to come. I
      hope I'm wrong," said Gibson.

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      [China] Journalist: Christians poised to reshape China's future
      Much depends on the country's burgeoning Christian minority, according to
      "Jesus in Beijing" (Regnery), a clear-eyed, well-reported and thoroughly
      fascinating account, probably the best on this topic in many years. [...]
      China boasts one of the world's biggest and fastest-growing Christian
      movements, an often overlooked phenomenon. [...] If present rapid growth
      continues, Aikman says, possibly 20 percent to 30 percent of Chinese will be
      Christian within three decades. [...] Various analysts note that global
      Christian vitality is shifting southward and eastward away from western
      Europe and North America. Aikman thinks China is destined to become a
      powerful part of that pattern.

      [Islam] Unveiled women are root of all evil, says Saudi cleric
      Saudi Arabia's most senior Islamic cleric has condemned women who mingled
      unveiled among men at a business conference this week, saying their actions
      could cause "evil and catastrophe". Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Abdullah al-Sheikh,
      the grand mufti of the desert kingdom, made his comments after the country's
      top businesswoman called for reform and pictures of her supporters - without
      headscarves - appeared on newspaper front pages. "Allowing women to mix
      with men is the root of every evil and catastrophe," he said. "It is highly
      punishable. Mixing of men and women is a reason for greater decadence and

      [Transcendental Meditation] Maharishi University Plans Iowa City Center
      A spokeswoman says plans are sketchy for the proposed five thousand square
      foot center, but the group would like to break ground within a year.

      [Islam] French Fume Over Proposed Ban on Beards
      France's fight to keep religion out of schools has entered new — and some
      say absurd — territory. Teachers and some religious leaders fumed Wednesday
      over a government minister's call to ban beards and bandannas from
      classrooms along with Islamic head scarves, Jewish skullcaps and Christian
      crosses. Muslim leaders were divided, with some denouncing a curb on facial
      hair as "total delirium." Others said street protests against the planned
      law had rattled the government and provoked a crackdown. [...] The latest
      twist in France's controversial plan to ban religious symbols from
      classrooms came Tuesday, when Education Minister Luc Ferry said the planned
      ban on religious symbols could also cover facial hair and bandannas,
      sometimes worn as a discreet alternative to the traditional Muslim head

      [Religious Intolerance] Radio station banned in Hungary
      An alternative radio station in Hungary has been banned from broadcasting
      for 30 days by the state media watchdog for insulting Christians. During a
      live programme on Christmas Eve a presenter from Tilos Radio, based in
      Budapest, suggested that all Christians should be exterminated.

      [Hate Groups] Zundel denied bail; facing deportation
      A Federal Court of Canada judge will rule today that Ernst Zundel poses a
      threat to national security and is to remain in prison while the court
      considers the government's deportation case against him. Lawyers for the
      Holocaust denier have argued he has never advocated violence against
      minorities, but in rejecting the bail application Justice Pierre Blais
      wrote: "Mr. Zundel wields much more power within the right-wing, extremist
      and violent movement known as the White Supremacist Movement ... than he
      lets on."

      [Hate Groups] Ban on Klan masks upheld by court
      A New York federal appeals court has ruled that a state ban on wearing masks
      at public meetings is constitutional, overturning a lower court ruling that
      favoured the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan. The previous ruling had found
      that New York enforced the ban selectively against the Ku Klux Klan, whose
      members are known for their tall, white, cone-shaped hats and eyelet masks.

      [Nuwaubians] Jury deliberates cult leaders case
      The jury began deliberating the case Thursday afternoon but recessed after 3
      1/2 hours without reaching a verdict. They asked one question _ whether they
      could see a book of Yorks writings called The Holy Tablet _ but the judge
      refused because it hadnt been entered into evidence.

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