Religion News Blog, Feb. 27 - 28, 2003
- February 28, 2003
[House of Prayer] Church members face new legal bind
Arrest warrants have been issued for the pastor of the House of Prayer
and two members of his congregation, their attorney said Thursday.
Probation officers allege that the Rev. Arthur Allen Jr. and church
members David and Sharon Duncan violated terms of their probation,
lawyer Manny Arora said.
[Branch Davidians] Pain still fresh for survivors of Branch Davidian
Some of the Branch Davidians imprisoned on siege-related charges
continue the movement from behind bars, backed by free-world Web
pages, Goins said.
"Livingstone Fagan has been writing along the lines of what David was
about from a higher religious perspective. Renos Avraam, another
survivor out of the fire, believes that he has been anointed or has a
calling. He's written extensively and he has a minor following,
probably bigger than our following," Goins said.
Collectively, the survivors' fragmented efforts have given the sect an
"Internet afterlife," according to religious scholars.
[Raelians] Cult of freedom
"After the worst coverage of us, the most garbage-filled, there are
still people who say, 'hold on,' and buy the book and join us," says
the sect's founder, Raël, a former auto racing journalist and
chansonnier once known as Claude Vorilhon.
But the media circus surrounding the cult's cloning claims has focused
on the freakish nature of Raëlianism and overshadowed the fact that it
is an intriguing, nascent religion.
Susan Palmer, who teaches religion at Concordia University and Dawson
College in Montreal, defines a cult as "a baby religion that is just
not toilet-trained, that is still throwing up on people's carpets" and
adds, "Anyone who knows anything about religion knows they all started
out as cults."
[Falun Gong] Falun Gong internees get student help
[Polygamy] Utah House Ups Underage Polygamy Penalty
The Utah Legislature is debating whether to increase the penalties for
married men who wed underage girls, an attempt to protect teens from
being married into polygamist relationships.
A bill overwhelmingly approved by the House on Tuesday makes marrying
a second wife who is under the age of 18 a second-degree felony,
punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
[Polygamy] Young Brides Stir New Outcry on Utah Polygamy
Polygamists and their supporters are opposing the proposal as
religious persecution and are arguing that the problem is being
overblown. Rod Parker, a Salt Lake City lawyer who represents the
Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the
adjoining towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., said
stories of young teenagers being forced into marriage were
[Islamism] 5 Tied to Islamic Charity Indicted in N.Y., Idaho
[Islamism] Musicians bewail religious crackdown
Traditional Pashtun musicians like Gul are feeling increasingly
unwelcome in this Pakistani frontier town since a coalition of
Taliban-like religious groups won control of the provincial government
late last year, promising to impose Islamic law and crack down on
[Religious Intolerance] Cambodia bans Christian proselytizing
"Christians are not allowed to proselytize (at) citizens' houses by
knocking on doors or waiting for them, saying 'the Lord is coming,'
which is an interruption of daily life or may intrude on privacy in
the community," it added.
[Islamism] Lying about Islam
Americans have a lot to learn about Islam - even in the aftermath of
the horrors of 9/11. While the atrocities of that day provided a
wake-up call about terrorism, our political and media elites continue
to show us that they haven't done their homework on the religious
background of al Qaeda - and are likely not to.
An exceptionally irritating example of this came to light when a USA
Today "Q&A on Islam and Arab Americans" appeared as a mass mailing
around the country. Although the flier bore the USA Today logo, a call
to the newspaper elicited the claim that the logo was used without its
permission, even though the content of the flyer appeared on the
paper's Web site.
But the leaflet was sent out by the "International Institute of
Islamic Thought" (IIIT) in Herndon, Va., one of a group of Muslim
organizations raided by federal authorities in an antiterrorism
investigation last year.
IIIT advocates for the Wahhabi sect of Islam, the most extreme,
separatist and violent trend in the faith of Mohammed. Wahhabism is
the official religion in Saudi Arabia. Saudi oil royalties are spent
to spread Wahhabism throughout the world - including right here in
[Human Rights Violations, USA] Group Asks Vatican to Condemn
A U.S. group that seeks to halt the death penalty and life sentences
for juveniles took its cause to Pope John Paul II on Wednesday,
seeking a Vatican declaration that condemns the prosecution of
children as adults.
[Rowan Williams] Anglicans enthrone controversial new leader
[Soka Gakkai] Soka's start hasn't been textbook
One quarter of Soka University's original 20 faculty members have left
or will leave by June as the university founded by a Buddhist sect
struggles to balance its religious legacy with a mission to provide an
open, nonsectarian environment.
The 103-acre campus opened in August 2001 and was touted as an
innovative liberal-arts university where peace and human rights would
be emphasized and professors and students would participate in course
development, hiring and budgets.
But those promises haven't been kept, several professors and students
said. Instead, they said, most decisions are made by an administration
composed entirely of Soka Gakkai Buddhists. And some non-Soka Gakkai
professors and students said they are uncomfortable questioning those
[Hate Groups] Convict charged with plotting to kill judge
A man in prison for a 1994 El Paso murder is scheduled to stand trial
Tuesday for allegedly plotting to kill the federal judge who presided
over the Oklahoma City bombing trials.
[Samaritan Foundation] Williams arrested as accessory to filmmaker's
Police arrested a woman Thursday and charged her with being an
accessory to the murder of filmmaker Allen Ross in 1995.
Ross had been missing since November 1995, seven months after he moved
to Cheyenne with Williams and his common-law wife, Linda Greene, from
Guthrie, Okla. The three and others belonged to a religious sect
called the Samaritan Foundation.
[Branch Davidians] Survivors mark 10-year anniversary of raid on
A decade later, among the survivors' lingering questions is why the
ATF raided the compound instead of arresting Koresh during his jogs or
trips into town. And why couldn't the ATF, with an undercover agent
inside the compound until shortly before the raid, have planned better
to prevent such an outcome?
Because of pending lawsuits, the ATF won't comment on the raid and the
standoff's fiery end, said agency spokesman Andrew Lluberes.
February 27, 2003
[Branch Davidians] Ten years later, Davidian raid has taught lessons
"I don't think it should be forgotten," said Mr. Doyle, one of the
last of the Branch Davidians. Like many involved in the standoff
including law officers he says it serves as a warning about the
dangers of a faceless government.
Paying greater heed to local law officers and building bonds with
members of fringe groups are key to avoiding another tragedy, they
Because of the lessons of Waco, "going against Americans with guns is
the final resort," says retired FBI behavioral expert and Waco
negotiator Clint Van Zandt.
[Deepak Chopra] Guru would join Pope in front of bombs
Deepak Chopra, the doctor who is bringing his brand of East-meets-West
philosophy to Memphis, proposed Wednesday that the Pope, the Dalai
Lama and himself serve as human shields to avoid bombing in Iraq and
to rid the world of Saddam Hussein.
The human shield movement is a growing phenomenon with Iraq welcoming
volunteers and putting them up in a dormlike facility in a Baghdad
hotel. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has warned that those serving
as human shields in Iraq will be treated as war criminals. As of last
week, more than 130 volunteers, including about 18 Americans, had
arrived in Baghdad to act as shields - some at specific sites such as
the Baghdad South Power Plant.
[Witchcraft] Soaring Teenage Fascination with Witchcraft is Rooted in
Glamour and Girl Power
The first issue of Sabrinas Secrets, a magazine spin-off from popular
TV programme Sabrina the Teenage Witch has just hit the UK high
street, confirming after 2,000 years of bad publicity, witches have
been transformed into alluring symbols of female power. A recent study
by Rachel Moseley, researcher at the University of Warwick, reveals
that witches are no longer seen by young girls as dark-arts-practicing
evil crones best drowned or burnt, but magical sorcerers with more
glamour and girl power than Miss Dynamite.
[Witchcraft] TV witchcraft casting a spell on teenage girls
February 26, 2003 (Continued)
[AUM Shinrikyo] Trial of Aum founder Asahara heading for end
Prosecutors may present the closing statement in late April in the
trial of Aum Shinrikyo founder Shoko Asahara for murder and other
charges including those related to the 1995 Tokyo subway sarin gas
attack, legal sources said Wednesday.
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