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Religion News Blog, Mar. 6 - 7, 2003

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  • Anton Hein
    Religion News Blog, March 8, 2003 (thus far...) [Polygamy] Utah Legislature adds new polygamy offense to crime books
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 7, 2003
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      Religion News Blog, March 8, 2003 (thus far...)

      [Polygamy] Utah Legislature adds new polygamy offense to crime books
      :===Begin Quote===
      The Utah Legislature approved a tougher criminal sanction Wednesday
      for men who take young girls as their polygamist wives.
      :===End Quote===

      [Human Rights Violations, USA] US Assurances to UN on Torture
      :===Begin Quote===
      Press reports have attributed statements to US officials that the US
      is using "all appropriate pressure," that "prisoners are sometimes
      kept on their feet for lengthy periods," and that "stress and duress"
      techniques are acceptable.

      The techniques reportedly employed - including hooding, holding in
      prolonged painful positions, and denial of food and sleep - were cited
      and condemned as torture in the 2002 Department of State Country
      Reports on Human Rights Practices. This year's report, mandated to be
      released to Congress by February 28, has yet to be released.
      :===End Quote===

      [House of Prayer] Arrest warrants issued for pastor, 2 church members
      :===Begin Quote===
      A Fulton County judge ordered authorities to arrest the pastor of the
      House of Prayer and two of his church members because they skipped a
      court hearing this afternoon.

      Probation officers asked the court to revoke the probation of the Rev.
      Arthur Allen and David and Sharon Duncan because they have refused to
      go to anger-management counseling.

      Their lawyer, Manny Arora, said he has not been able to find his
      :===End Quote===

      [Human Rights Violations, USA] Group Points Out Religious Oppression
      :===Begin Quote===
      The State Department seeks advice on which countries to designate from
      the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, an independent
      federal agency.

      In a statement, the commission acknowledged problems in the six
      countries named by the State Department but said India, Laos,
      Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan and Vietnam also deserved
      :===End Quote===

      March 7, 2003

      [Human Rights Violations, USA] Alleged torture in terror war imperils
      U.S. standards of humanity
      :===Begin Quote===
      In Afghanistan, it is hardly surprising to find two dead bodies with
      signs of torture. This week, however, a shocking U.S. military
      coroner's report also suggested that the most likely suspect in the
      homicides was the U.S. government. Even more disturbing is emerging
      evidence that the United States may be operating something that would
      have seemed unimaginable only two years ago: an American torture

      Instead of continuing our long fight against torture, we now seek to
      adopt more narrow definitions to satisfy our own acquired appetite for
      coercive interrogations. If the U.S. is responsible for the deaths of
      the two men in Afghanistan, it is more than homicide. It would be
      suicide for a nation once viewed as the very embodiment of human
      :===End Quote===
      NOTE: It should be noted that America's alleged "long fight against
      torture" is belied by its ongoing fight against an international
      anti-torture pact:

      [Human Rights Violations, USA] America admits suspects died in
      :===Begin Quote===
      American military officials acknowledged yesterday that two prisoners
      captured in Afghanistan in December had been killed while under
      interrogation at Bagram air base north of Kabul – reviving concerns
      that the US is resorting to torture in its treatment of Taliban
      fighters and suspected al-Qa'ida operatives.

      President Bush appeared to encourage extra-judicial solutions in his
      State of the Union address in January when he talked of al-Qa'ida
      members being arrested or meeting "a different fate". "Let's put it
      this way," he said in a tone that appalled many, "they are no longer a
      problem to the United States and our friends and allies."
      :===End Quote===

      [Human Rights Violations, Marocco] Court Jails 'Satanist' Heavy Metal
      :===Begin Quote===
      The trial followed articles in some newspapers which described the
      accused as "Satanists" who recruited for an international cult of

      The 14 men aged between 22 and 35 years were found guilty of
      "possessing objects which infringe morals" and of "acts capable of
      undermining the faith of a Muslim."
      :===End Quote===

      [Hate Groups] Attack at prison receives criticism
      :===Begin Quote===
      Federal prison officials were criticized Thursday for placing American
      Taliban John Walker Lindh at risk in the general population because of
      his notoriety.

      Walker Lindh was attacked during prayer by one or more white
      supremacists Monday night at the Federal Correctional Institution in
      Victorville where he has been imprisoned since January.
      :===End Quote===

      [Hate Groups] Group wants Germany to suspend Zundel charges
      :===Begin Quote===
      A Toronto organization is calling on Germany to suspend charges
      against Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel to make it easier for Canada to
      deport him.

      Mr. Zundel is being held in custody in Canada by the federal
      immigration department after applying for refugee status on the basis
      that he would be persecuted for his beliefs if he returned to his
      native Germany. There, he is wanted on a warrant accusing him of
      inciting hate.
      :===End Quote===

      [Hate Groups] Legislator under fire for helping 'hate group'
      :===Begin Quote===
      A state lawmaker is being criticized by a civil rights group for
      reserving a room at the state Capitol for what the Southern Poverty
      Law Center calls a white supremacist hate group.

      Rep. Dick Brewbaker, R-Montgomery, said he reserved the Capitol
      auditorium for a League of the South conference on Saturday because he
      made a promise to a constituent who is a member of the group.
      :===End Quote===

      [Mel Gibson] Actor Mel Gibson Takes Up Traditional Catholicism
      :===Begin Quote===
      Gibson, a follower of traditional Catholicism with its Latin mass and
      rejection of Vatican II reforms, helped finance construction of a new
      traditionalist church near Malibu and is completing a self-financed
      film in two dead languages -- Aramaic and Latin -- on the last 12
      hours in the life of Christ, the article said.
      :===End Quote===

      [Mel Gibson] Mel's mad at cult slur
      :===Begin Quote===
      Noxon's article claims Gibson embraces "a strain of Catholicism rooted
      in the dictates of a 16th-century papal council and nurtured by a
      splinter group of conspiracy-minded Catholics, mystics, monarchists
      and disaffected conservatives".

      The group hates the Pope, celebrates mass in Latin, fasts on Fridays
      and requires women to wear hats in church.
      :===End Quote===

      [Falun Gong] Group's parade ban to stay
      :===Begin Quote===
      Spiritual group Falun Dafa has failed to overturn a Melbourne City
      Council decision banning members from taking part in Monday's Moomba

      The council recently rejected an application by the group to take part
      in the event, citing concerns over its "strong political
      :===End Quote===

      [Censorship] China censorship slows net
      :===Begin Quote===
      Beijing has essentially built an online barrier around China,
      requiring traffic in and out to pass through just eight gateways — a
      step that heightens official control. Banned topics include human
      rights and the outlawed Falun Gong spiritual group.

      Problems emerged in October after the installation of "packet-sniffer"
      software that briefly holds chunks of data for screening.
      :===End Quote===

      [Falun Gong] Local Falun Gong practitioners to rally for Charles Li's
      :===Begin Quote===
      Forty-four days after his arrest, Li’s friends and fellow Falun Gong
      practitioners are gathering today outside the U.S. State Department in
      Washington, D.C., to rally for his release.

      Li was arrested for allegedly disrupting the transmissions of radio
      and TV facilities during a previous trip to China, said Zhijian Jin,
      spokesman for the Chinese Consulate in Chicago. Many people, however,
      believe Li was arrested because of his spiritual practice, Falun Gong
      or Falun Dafa.
      :===End Quote===

      [Hate Groups : Scientology] Free will a crucial issue in case against
      Scientology, court is told
      :===Begin Quote===
      A fundamental issue in the legal action by a woman against the Church
      of Scientology is whether her free will was overborne or compromised
      in her decision to take up certain courses run by the church, the High
      Court heard yesterday.

      If the court finds Ms Mary Johnston's free will was affected, it must
      then decide whether that has any legal consequences entitling her to
      damages, Mr Michael Collins, for the church said.

      The fundamental point was whether Ms Johnston's free will was
      compromised to an extent that was unacceptable in law, counsel added.

      His side would be arguing free will is a concept that cannot be
      :===End Quote===

      [Unification Church] Rev. Moon's Napa resort sold to developer
      :===Begin Quote===
      From 1976 to the mid-90s, devoted members of Moon's Unification Church
      occupied the crumbling Aetna Springs resort, where by varying accounts
      they communed with God or brainwashed legions of recruits, some
      against their will.

      Over the past decade, church activities faded until the 672-acre
      facility with 34 Mission-style buildings and a nine-hole golf course
      was leased to a Southern California theme park developer with
      ambitious plans.

      Then, in a quiet deal late last month, Aetna Springs was sold.
      :===End Quote===

      [Anthony Fernwalt] Sleepy village shaken up
      :===Begin Quote===
      The man who drew national attention when he discovered a weeping
      portrait of the Virgin Mary and claimed to have conversed with Christ
      was arrested Tuesday after authorities swept in on his wooded hillside
      home and defunct Christ in the Hills shrine, which was a mecca three
      years ago for those who thought the world would end with the century.
      Fernwalt had claimed he was using birth certificates of dead Canadians
      to bring Pakistani and Indian nationals into the country for a
      terrorist attack using sarin gas.
      :===End Quote===

      [Anthony Fernwalt] Priest backs man’s claims of seeing Virgin Mary
      :===Begin Quote===
      A Kilgore man’s purported visions of the Virgin Mary have never been
      substantiated by the Catholic Church, but that hasn’t stopped one
      priest from believing that they are true.

      In 1992, Fernwalt gained national attention by claiming to have
      discovered a weeping painting of the Virgin Mary at St. Jude’s
      Orthodox Catholic Church in Barberton, where he was the custodian.
      :===End Quote===

      [Anthony Fernwalt] Suspect faces federal charges
      :===Begin Quote===
      FBI agents descended on his property Tuesday after CNN and the Fox
      News Network forwarded them e-mails from a man identifying himself as
      Tony Black, a Muslim who had converted to Christianity.

      Black claimed Fernwalt, under the alias Waine Coxall, brought him into
      this country and was smuggling in other terrorists for a planned
      chemical attack using sarin gas.
      :===End Quote===

      [Alistah Laishkochav] Polygamist guru faces new child sex charges
      :===Begin Quote===
      A sect leader with nine wives who was jailed in Victoria for child sex
      crimes has been extradited to NSW to face new charges.
      :===End Quote===

      [Islamism] Hate preaching cleric jailed
      :===Begin Quote===
      During the trial el-Faisal argued that his words were taken from the
      Koran, the Muslim holy book, and that he had been misrepresented.

      But the judge said that while Britain prided itself on its freedom of
      speech, it could not accept it when other people's rights were

      He told el-Faisal: "As the jury found, you not only preached hate, but
      the words you uttered in those meetings were recorded to reach a wider

      "You urged those who listened and watched to kill those who did not
      share your faith."
      :===End Quote===

      [Raelians] Cult may be alien to some, but it's down to earth for
      Raytown man
      :===Begin Quote===
      The Raelian movement is thought to be among the last of a dozen or so
      left. "What they've done is melded together what is probably the
      single-best known religious mythology in the Western world, which is
      Christianity, with UFOs," said Douglas Cowan, a religious studies
      professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
      :===End Quote===
      NOTE: Douglas Cowan is known for, among other things, his avid support
      of cult apologists.

      [House of Prayer] House of Prayer arrest warrants on hold until Friday
      :===Begin Quote===
      A judge has put on hold arrest warrants for three House of Prayer
      church members, including the pastor, until 1 p.m. Friday.

      That's when they're due in Fulton County Superior Court for a hearing,
      a spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Corrections said today.
      :===End Quote===

      [Ritual Killing] New leads in torso murder
      :===Begin Quote===
      Detectives investigating the murder of a young boy whose mutilated
      body was found in the River Thames in London are following up new
      leads in Nigeria.

      Officers believe the boy, who they have named Adam, may have come from
      West Africa.

      They fear the unidentified child, aged between four and six, was the
      victim of a sacrificial killing.
      :===End Quote===

      [Hate Groups : Scientology] Professor says Scientology church tried to
      isolate him
      :===Begin Quote===
      A professor of sociology who has written books and articles critical
      of the Church of Scientology and other organisations told the High
      Court yesterday the church was attempting to isolate him within the
      academic community.

      Prof Stephen Kent, who is based in Canada, made the claim in the
      ongoing action for damages by Ms Mary Johnston (40), who operates a
      sports equipment centre at Westwood, Foxrock, Dublin, and who is a
      former member of the church.
      :===End Quote===
      Stephen Kent is being subjected to an extended hate campaign by the
      Scientology organization. Hate and harassment activities, along with
      other unethical behavior, is encouraged and condoned in the cult's

      March 6, 2003

      [Hate Groups] Man sentenced for plot against McVeigh judge
      :===Begin Quote===
      A man already serving time for murder was convicted of plotting to
      kill the federal judge in the Oklahoma City bombing trials, allegedly
      in the hopes that the judge's death would help the white supremacist
      :===End Quote===

      [Religious Freedom] U.S. Concerned About Religious Freedom
      :===Begin Quote===
      The United States expressed concern Wednesday over what it termed
      severe violations of religious freedom in six countries: Burma, China,
      Iran, Iraq, North Korea and Sudan.
      :===End Quote===
      NOTE: Saudi Arabia, which is needed as an ally right now, was of
      course not criticized. The U.S. Commission on International Religious
      Freedom has criticized the State Department's report:

      [House of Prayer] Reprieve Issued for Church Members
      :===Begin Quote===
      Allen, as well as Sharon and David Duncan, were deemed fugitives from
      justice when they failed to turn themselves into police at 4:30 p.m.
      Monday for allegedly violating the terms of their probation.
      :===End Quote===

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