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356ReligionNewsBlog.com, June 24-26, 2004

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  • Anton Hein
    Jun 26, 2004
      ReligionNewsBlog.com, June 24-26, 2004

      Sat, Jun. 26, 2004
      [Kabbalah] Madonna adopts kabbalah and new wave of controversy
      Madonna is a student of the Kabbalah Centre, a worldwide education organization with a center in Houston. The center does not require students to be Jewish, and the study can be incorporated into any faith, said Robin Davis, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles-based organization. "The aims of the center are to help people navigate through the wisdom of kabbalah and to help them understand it and embrace it and help them incorporate it into their lives so their lives can be more meaningful," she said. Madonna has been a serious student for more than eight years, Davis said. "This is not a trendy thing she has picked up as a whim for the moment," she said. But Gelman and other local rabbis are concerned that such study is rooted less in traditional Judaism than in New Age spirituality.

      [Christian Science] Christian Science church bans spiritual teacher after she married her lesbian partner
      A woman who married her lesbian partner in Massachusetts was banned from teaching in the Church of Christ, Scientist, after she refused to "repent" for her actions. A church letter sent to Kathleen Clementson said she had abused her role as a teacher and could teach spiritual healing again only if she repented and served a three-year probation. Clementson, 62, instead returned her teaching credentials and left the church.

      [USA] UN Rights Envoys Seek Access to Prisoners of U.S.
      United Nations human rights investigators Friday demanded access to prisoners held by U.S. forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay to check that international standards were being upheld. In a rare joint statement, they unequivocally condemned terrorism in all forms, but reiterated "concerns about certain measures taken in the name of the fight against terrorism." [...] Reed Brody, counsel at the New York-based Human Rights Watch, told Reuters: "If the Bush administration is serious about its rejection of torture, it needs to let U.N. inspectors in."


      United States Loses Fight to Block U.N. Vote on Enforcement of Torture Treaty
      The Associated Press, July 24, 2002

      Freedom fries
      The Guardian (USA), May 14, 2004
      Shocked by the torture images? Then don't miss a new documentary about the 'school' run by the US Army. John Patterson reports.

      TORTURE U.: Congress should shut former School of the Americas
      Detroit Free Press (USA), May 11, 2004 (Editorial)

      [USA] British bash US military trials; Fault rules as 'unacceptable'
      Britain's top legal officer called proposed US military trials of Guantanamo Bay detainees ''unacceptable" yesterday in a speech reviving a rare rift between the closest allies in the global anti-terrorism war. Attorney General Lord Goldsmith's comments, released ahead of delivery in a speech in Paris, were some of the bluntest statements yet of London's disquiet concerning the US handling of terrorism suspects at the US base in Cuba. ''While we must be flexible and be prepared to countenance some limitation of fundamental rights if properly justified and proportionate, there are certain principles on which there can be no compromise," he said in the release. ''Fair trial is one of those -- which is the reason we in the UK have been unable to accept that the US military tribunals . . . offer sufficient guarantees of a fair trial in accordance with international standards."

      [Islam] Muslims Flock to See Messiah After Web Hoax
      "The story ended up being that there was a woman in the clinic who had given birth to the Messiah and who had died. She was later dug up and was still alive but her whole body was burned -- just her two breasts were unharmed," said Buescher. "Allah ordered the woman to feed the child for 40 days and then die again. This crazy story was seen by people on a Turkish Internet site," he said.

      [Hate Groups] Romanian yogis hit by investigation
      Romanian yoga practitioners launched protests across the country yesterday, accusing authorities of damaging their reputations and violating their rights by launching criminal investigations against members of their group. Carrying banners which read "Human rights severely violated in Romania," dozens of members of the Movement of Spiritual Integration into the Absolute demonstrated outside the local government office in the city of Timisoara in the west of the country. "We protest against the deeply undemocratic attitude of authorities toward Misa members and yoga practitioners," said Dan Spatariu, a doctor in Timisoara.

      [Hate Groups] Fire at store where white supremacists met ruled arson
      A fire that heavily damaged a Bay City-area furniture store used as a meeting place for a white supremacist group was a case of arson, state police said Friday. [...] A group organized by Christian Identity teacher James P. Wickstrom met at the store for about three years. Wickstrom moved to Tennessee in June 2003, but returned to the area a few months ago.

      [Hinduism] Tradition at the temple
      Hindu men and women sit in separate groups in the temple, the women dressed in brightly shaded sarees and salwar kameezes, the traditional garments of India, and the men dressed in duller Western clothes. Separation of the sexes inside their temples is one of the main tenets of the Swaminarayan faith, which was established in the late 18th century by Bhagwan Swaminarayan and adopted by mostly Gujarati-speaking Indians. Gujarati is a language spoken in the North Indian state of Gujarat. The religion has about 1 million followers, whose social work has created medical centers, schools and colleges, and environmental efforts.

      [Mormon Church] Hispanics a growing presence in Church of Latter-day Saints
      Once a predominantly U.S.-centered religious institution, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has become international. Of its 12 million members worldwide, more than half, 6.4 million, live outside the United States, the majority in Spanish-speaking countries. Calderon, who was baptized into the faith as a teenager, is one of an estimated 144,000 Spanish-speaking U.S. Mormons.

      [Mormon Church] Mormon Church Leader Arrested in Sex Case
      A leader in the Mormon Church was arrested in an Internet sex sting after allegedly arranging to meet a 14-year-old girl in Idaho. Clayton R. Hildreth, stake president of the Butte chapter of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was taken into custody Wednesday at a home in Boise.

      [Chabad Lubavitch] Doctrinal dichotomy: Chabad bucks beliefs of mainstream Judaism
      If the non-Jewish public is even vaguely aware of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, it's probably because its annual telethon draws celebrities including Adam Sandler, Michael Douglas, James Caan, Whoopi Goldberg and Anthony Hopkins. But within the Jewish world, this small branch of Judaism is generating outsized levels of interest -- and concern. On the one hand, Chabad -- with its rigorous observance of Jewish law and rabbis in long beards and wide-brimmed black hats -- has become an island of growth, innovation and success at a time of aging synagogue memberships and stagnant population elsewhere among American Jews. On the other hand, there's the matter of the Messiah.

      [Mormon Church] Downtown Dissonance: Mormon Revitalization Plans Worry Some
      No one has taken as great an interest in that endeavor as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is already the region's largest landowner and counts the city as its international headquarters. But for some people, who think Utah should shed its reputation as the Mormon capitol of the world, that's exactly the problem.

      [Unification Church] Weldon finds he was 'host' at Rev. Moon event
      Rep. Curt Weldon joined other members of Congress and spoke at a Capitol Hill event March 23 that honored the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, whose claims of clairvoyance, tax-fraud conviction, and forays into the newspaper business have made him a political lightning rod and a figure of some ridicule. Weldon (R., Pa.), in a statement yesterday, said he had appeared briefly at the start of the event at the Dirksen Senate Office Building but had not known Moon would be honored in a ceremony hours later, after Weldon had left.

      [Unification Church] Utah politicians distance themselves from Moon event
      Two Utah politicians said they were surprised to find their names listed as co-hosts of a Washington, D.C., event that wound up honoring the controversial religious leader, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon. "I was on no committee and had nothing to do with the planning of the event," said state Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper. "The congressman was not at the event," said Joe Hunter, chief of staff for Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah. "He somehow ended up being listed as one of the co-hosts without our knowledge or consent."

      [Unification Church] Bishop denies link to Moon crowning
      Rep. Sanford Bishop of Georgia was listed as a co-sponsor of a Capitol Hill gathering at which the Rev. Sun Myung Moon was literally crowned as mankind's Messiah, but Bishop said he not only didn't sponsor the event but didn't attend. The banquet honoring Moon and his wife was held March 23 in the Russell Senate Office Building but just came to light this week, leaving several lawmakers, including Bishop, scrambling to deny their involvement or explain that they had been misled about the event's nature. [...] Bishop, a Baptist, in no way supports Moon, she said. "He has said Jesus Christ is his savior. He does not in any way accept Rev. Moon as his Messiah," Hoelzer said.

      Fri, Jun. 25, 2004
      [Kabbalah] Kabbalah and the snake
      [Rabbi Jeremy Rosen:] I am a serious devotee of Kabbalah. The real thing of course. Not the hocus pocus, Madonna in tefillin, red cotton band on your wrist, spend £7 on a bottle of water, 'give me your money and you’ll feel better or cure your cancer for a thousand dollar' sort of Kabbalah. Serious Kabbalah is a very complex mystical tradition that is an integral part of Judaism. But it is a highly complex layer that only makes sense if it comes on the basis of a really solid foundation in knowledge and practice of traditional Judaism. Otherwise it is just like judging a person entirely by his clothes. To think that one can understand it without a mastery of the original language is like being an expert in Shakespeare through translation into Hindustani. My father often used the expression of an ignoramus that ‘He knows about as much as a Cossack does of Kabbalah.’

      [Unification Church] Moonie leader 'crowned' in Senate
      The US Senate was used for a bizarre ritual in which the Rev Sun Myung Moon, the head of the Unification church, was "crowned" and declared himself the messiah in the presence of more than a dozen Republican and Democratic members of Congress, it was reported yesterday.

      [Unification Church] Utahns deny they 'hosted' Moon event
      Although their names were listed with event organizers and hosts, three Utahns say they had nothing to do with planning a controversial Capitol Hill dinner where the Rev. Sun Myung Moon proclaimed himself the Messiah and had a crown and royal robes placed on him and his wife. Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah; State Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper; and Franklin-Covey founder Stephen Covey were listed by Moon's Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace as members of the "host committee" for the March 23 dinner it sponsored in the Dirksen Senate Office Building.

      [Unification Church] Politicians filmed bowing to 'Moonie' cult leader
      Capitol Hill, home to America's lawmakers, is well known as a place where strange things happen. Few have been as strange, however, as the recent "crowning" of the Rev Sun Myung Moon, eccentric head of the "Moonies". Republicans and Democrats alike are in damage-limitation mode after it was revealed they were guests of the Korean-born businessman at a ceremony during which he declared he was the Messiah. Video footage of the event, in which the politicians can be seen bowing their heads to the 84-year-old, is on the internet.

      [Glenn and Justin Helzer] Details of bizarre plot to kill in God's name
      When Glenn Taylor Helzer told Dawn Godman he wanted her to kill in God's name, she considered it a blessing. Guardian angels circled, Godman recalled in court recently, as she sat with Helzer in a car outside the Mormon Temple in Oakland and listened to his plan to hasten Christ's return to Earth. She said he made her feel like a child in its parent's arms. Such was the portrait of Glenn Taylor Helzer that emerged during his brother Justin Helzer's murder trial, which ended June 16 with his conviction on 11 counts, including murder, extortion and kidnapping, and will in all likelihood be presented as jurors, beginning today, consider Justin Helzer's state of mind when he killed.

      [USA] Critics Rip U.S. Before Guantanamo Ruling
      One prisoner is accused of training with al-Qaida, two others of being aides and bodyguards to Osama bin Laden. Yet so far, none of the hundreds held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is charged with carrying out a terrorist attack, and criticism of the U.S. detentions is mounting. The British government has complained that U.S. plans for military tribunals violate international law, and Prime Minister Tony Blair has personally asked President Bush to allow four Britons held at Guantanamo to return home, according to court papers obtained Friday by The Associated Press. Also Friday, 31 U.N. human rights experts urged the United States and other governments to give the world body access to prisons holding terror suspects including Guantanamo. Some critics accuse Washington of exaggerating the captives' importance, as the Supreme Court prepares a ruling expected next week on whether nearly 600 inmates can appeal in civilian courts, as argued by their lawyers.

      [USA] British Official Rips U.S. Guantanamo Plan
      U.S. plans to use a military tribunal to prosecute terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is unacceptable because it would not provide a fair trial by international standards, Britain's attorney general said. "There are certain principles on which there can be no compromise," Lord Goldsmith said in copy of a speech he planned to make to the International Criminal Law Association on Friday. "Fair trial is one of those, which is the reason we in the UK have been unable to accept that the U.S. military tribunals proposed for those detained at Guantanamo Bay offer sufficient guarantees of a fair trial in accordance with international standards."

      [Order of Saint Charbel] Cult's Jaidyn theory
      Banned cult leader William Kamm claims Jaidyn Leskie's killers are about to be caught. In the latest twist in the bizarre Jaidyn saga, Mr Kamm has sent a series of e-mails to Jaidyn's mother Bilynda Williams. "I have some news for you regarding your son, Jaidyn," he told her in a recent e-mail.
      "His murderers will be arrested soon -- as they will attempt to kidnap two young children again, but this time they will be caught. "Once this happens they will confess." He told Ms Williams the Blessed Virgin Mary had told him about the imminent arrest of Jaidyn's killers.

      [Hate Groups : Scientology] Schools Bar Anti-Drug Program

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      Thu, Jun. 24, 2004
      [Unification Church] A Crowning at the Capital Creates a Stir
      One congressman, Representative Danny K. Davis, Democrat of Illinois, wore white gloves and carried a pillow holding one of two ornate gold crowns that were placed on the heads of Mr. Moon and his wife, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, at the ceremony, which took place March 23 and capped a reception billed as a peace awards banquet. Mr. Davis says he held the wife's crown and was "a bit surprised'' by Mr. Moon's Messiah remarks, which were delivered in Korean but accompanied by a written translation. In them, he said emperors, kings and presidents had "declared to all heaven and earth that Reverend Sun Myung Moon is none other than humanity's Savior, Messiah, Returning Lord and True Parent.'' By Wednesday, after news of the event had been reported in the online magazine Salon and various newspapers, Capitol Hill was in full-blown backpedaling mode, as lawmakers who attended but missed the coronation - or saw it and did not think much of it - struggled to explain themselves.

      [Islam] Muslim trucker sues over alcohol load
      A Muslim truck driver has filed a federal court suit in Tennessee against his employer, saying he was fired for refusing an assignment to transport beer, a Muslim advocacy group said Wednesday.

      [Abortion] Dolly the sheep's immortal message
      When you dress all in white with a large star medallion and talk of a new religion that includes elements contained in a Chris de Burgh song and a Monty Python film, you get used to being laughed at. But when this particular self-declared prophet found his prediction that cloning would become a reality had been fulfilled, "His Holiness Rael" found his speeches promising eternal life were being taken seriously - by some at least. The Raelian Movement now claims to have convinced some 60,000 people worldwide. And Edinburgh - as home to the first mammal clone, Dolly the Sheep - has become something of a spiritual capital.

      [Raelians] Cloned baby? Science shows it's snake oil
      Would you put your well-being in the hands of people who believe aliens created mankind? If you do, then you would no doubt like to be acquainted with the dubious cult-linked firm Clonaid. It has, among other things, claimed cloning successes and even plans to repeat its feat for Singaporean couples. But there is nothing to suggest that the group is doing anything more than preying on the desperate, and peddling scientific snake oil.

      [Raelians] MOH sounds warning against human cloning
      The Ministry of Health (MOH) has warned Singaporeans against pursuing human cloning, following a news report last week that said two local couples have sought the aid of controversial company Clonaid to clone children after attempts to have offspring by other means failed. A report in Streats on June 18 quoted Clonaid vice-president Thomas Kaenzig saying that two Chinese couples here have signed agreements with the company to clone children, to be born by late 2005. This was reported to have cost each couple US$200,000.

      Anton and Janet Hein-Hudson
      Apologetics Index
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