Religion News Blog, March 9, 2003
[Jehovah's Witnesses] Blood substitute is surgical solution for church
PolyHeme, developed by Evanston, Ill.-based Northfield Laboratories
Inc., is basically recycled blood.
Though used on a case-by-case basis depending on emergency need,
PolyHeme has not been approved by the federal Food and Drug
Administration, said Jason Shane, manager of Fountain Valley Regional
Medical Center's Bloodless Medicine and Surgery Program.
[Jehovah's Witnesses] For Witness faithful, it's all in the blood
L.C. Cotton, associate director of hospital information services for
Jehovah's Witnesses, said physicians across the world, and especially
here in the United States, have made efforts to accommodate their
In this country, there are more than 82 bloodless medicine and surgery
centers and more than 30,000 physicians capable of treating patients
without the use of blood products, Cotton said.
In the world, there are more than 100,000 physicians, he said.
[Jehovah's Witnesses] Church lets faithful opt for PolyHeme
Though it is not whole blood, it is derived from it.
The question now is it still blood?
Cotton could not answer that question but said individuals must decide
whether to accept the product.
"When blood is fractionated beyond those primary components and other
blood derivatives, we feel that it is an individual decision,' he
said. "If an individual's conscience will allow him to accept the
product, then that would be up to that individual. That is between
himself and his God.'
As far as other Jehovah's Witnesses possibly ostracizing those who do
accept hemoglobin substitutes, Cotton said it would never happen.
[Branch Davidians] Doing time: Branch Davidians still behind bars
display hope, anguish
Ten years after the federal siege on the Branch Davidians' remote
settlement 10 miles east of Waco, imprisoned followers of dead
Davidian prophet David Koresh display hope, anguish and holy
indignation about the past, present and future.
During a 1994 criminal trial in San Antonio, 11 Branch Davidians were
acquitted of murder and conspiracy to commit murder charges. Five of
the 11, however, were convicted of voluntary manslaughter and weapons
charges. Three others were convicted of weapons charges.
Of those convicted, only Ruth Riddle - a Canadian sentenced to five
years for carrying a firearm during a crime - has completed her time
and gained release.
[Mormon Church] Controversy on Mormon Main Street
In an effort to ease tensions, some members of the city council have
put forth a plan that would eliminate the public access clause and
give the Church the right to control behavior on the property. In
exchange, the Church would give the city some land it owns on the
other side of town, so that a new community center can be built there.
But the ACLU's Stephen Clark says that would amount to religious
favoritism on the part of the government, which is unconstitutional.
"The government can't be at the behest, can't act at the behest, of a
religious organization," he says. "That's the classic case of a
violation of the principle of separation between Church and State."
Stephen Clark says the ACLU will challenge the deal between the city
and the Church if it goes through. Meanwhile, church attorneys are
preparing their request for a hearing before the U.S. Supreme Court.
[Sikhism] The relevance of Sikhism
Forty years ago, there were so few Sikhs in Canada people would stop
and stare at men with turbans. Though there are now 500,000 Sikhs
across the country, the culture is still little known.
[Human Rights Violations, USA] Cycle trip to 'forbidden' Cuba costs
pensioner £5,000 penalty
Under President George W. Bush, the long-standing embargo on Cuba,
which is enforced mainly out of deference to Right-wing Cuban exile
groups dedicated to the overthrow of Fidel Castro, has been policed
with greater force.
The number of American visitors to Cuba who have been sought for
breaking the embargo has quadrupled. The US Treasury now warns people
who visit without permission that they could face fines of up to
Last April James Sabzala, a Jamaican-born Canadian citizen with
business interests in Pennsylvania, was convicted of selling water
purification equipment to Cuban hospitals and advised that he faced a
lengthy prison sentence as well as a substantial fine.
[Hinduism] Religious ritual sparks outrage in India
Devotees, mostly women, in south India are allowing a priest, wearing
thick wooden sandals embedded with nails, to walk over them in the
belief that the ritual would cure them of their ailments or even bless
the childless with a baby.
The annual ritual at the Poochiyur temple near the city of Coimbatore
in the southern state of Tamil Nadu has been conducted for years
without a complaint.
But this year, it sparked outrage among local media and prompted the
State Human Rights Commission to call for an investigation.
[Raelians] Members of sect disrobe as hundreds protest against war in
Four members of the group stood on the grounds of the federal
building, disrobed for several minutes and encouraged others to do the
same as a sign of their opposition to war.
"Whenever everybody undresses, the ego goes away and then we can make
decisions," said protester Nadine Gary. "Imagine President Bush nude
addressing the state of the union. Imagine Saddam Hussein nude."
[Hutterites] Part of Ritzville Hutterite group is moving to Oregon
The Washington Hutterites are expanding to the Oregon farm partially
because the community in Ritzville has outgrown its land. It has
almost more hands than work to go around.
[Maitreya] Cult's leader is out of this world
A cult whose leader is said to appear in different bodies is out to
bring peace to Iraq.
Hollywood-based Share International's so-called world teacher,
Maitreya, is based in London preparing for his emergence.
March 8, 2003 (Continued..._
[Oral Roberts] Oral history
He meets twice monthly with Hinn, whom he views as the future of the
healing movement. Roberts occasionally appears on Hinn's program This
Is Your Day, which airs on the Colleyville-based Daystar Network and
the Costa Mesa, Calif.-based Trinity Broadcasting Network. TBN
founders Paul and Jan Crouch have celebrated Roberts' birthdays in
recent years on their talk show Praise the Lord.
[Religious Merchandising] Traveling ministries now book big arenas
These days, traveling evangelists prefer football stadiums and concert
arenas with jumbo screens and high-tech sound systems - and they're
packing them in.
T. D. Jakes. Kenneth Hagin. Kenneth Copeland. Creflo Dollar. Joyce
Meyer. Fred Price.
If you think their messages of inspiration, hope, faith healing and
everything in between is for those believers on the fringe, think
[Wilbur Eash] Amish sect leader may be in prison for up to 15 years
Last August, Eash was accused of violating a 14-year-old boy, the son
of a woman who followed Eash to the area. He was originally charged
with first-degree criminal sexual conduct for molesting the boy, but
he later pleaded guilty to a less serious count punishable by a
maximum of 15 years in prison.
According to a 1990 Los Angeles Times story, Eash's followers credited
him with having supernatural powers. He was disillusioned with the
Amish religion's strict beliefs and led the splinter group away from
Shipshewana, Ind., promising the use of phones and electricity.
[Osho] Concern over 'love' cult
The controversial Orange People cult has been accused of trying to
lure children as young as 14 to weekend residential retreats at Byron
Bay on the NSW north coast.
The group, now known as the Sannyasins, was once notorious for
promoting free love among members. It is reported to have about 5000
members in and around Byron Bay.
[Unification Church] Unification Church to launch political party
The Unification Church said yesterday that it will form a political
party Monday to prop up its social campaign on family values and world
The church, also known as the Family Federation for World Peace and
Unification, said it will hold a mass rally in which about 2,000
promoters will register with the nation's election commission, a legal
step essential to organizing a political party.
"We have made efforts to promote family values, world peace and
inter-Korean reunification. And we believe we need an organization
that can operate with legal protection," said a church official on the
reasons behind the launch of the new party.
[Harry Potter] The Split Verdict on Harry Potter
While Harry Potter books remain banned in some places, there is a
growing acceptance of the stories of the boy wizard, with a blessing
of sorts from the Vatican recently and even new efforts to preach
Christianity itself through them.
One critic of the Harry Potter stories is Doug Groothuis, professor of
philosophy at the interdenominational, graduate-level Denver Seminary.
"The roots of the Harry Potter books are definitely not Christian,"
Dr. Groothuis said. "They are not even neutral in the ancient
tradition of the occult. Children's imaginations should be treated
very carefully and wisely."
Richard Abanes, who has written two books that highlight what he sees
as the wrongs of the Harry Potter stories, said: "I suppose you could
take anything and make it Christian. Some people want to portray Harry
as a Christlike figure and bring up several things he does that they
say are noble, courageous and loyal to his friends. They ignore many
moments where he is very un-Christian and is blatantly immoral, lying,
[Islam] Washington state lawmakers apologize for skipping Muslim's
A Muslim leader returned to the state House on Friday to deliver the
opening prayer, and this time everyone listened.
Reps. Lois McMahan and Cary Condotta drew criticism Monday when they
deliberately stayed off the House floor during Imam Mohamad Joban's
prayer. The Republicans apologized to him and shook his hand on his
[House of Prayer] New warrants out in House of Prayer case
The 70-year-old Allen's apparent absence is unusual because he has run
the independent church on Hollywood Road, in a poor part of northwest
Atlanta, for more than 35 years and is deeply involved in his
followers' lives. Now the outspoken pastor's phone is disconnected.
Neither Allen nor his wife, Trina, who have seven children under the
age of 18, answered the door at his house Thursday evening or Friday
afternoon. Allen's Jaguar was parked in the driveway of his modest
blue stucco house, and a note left on it Thursday remained there
Meanwhile, the Duncans have vacated their house on Culpepper Street in
Atlanta, leaving behind clothing, toys and furniture on the lawn.
Church members, including a brother-in-law, said they don't know the
whereabouts of the family, which includes at least eight children
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