Religion News Blog, March 11, 2003
[Islamism] Sunni authority calls war against Iraq 'new crusade'
The highest authority in the Sunni Islamic world on Monday declared
that war against Iraq will be a "new crusade" compelling every Muslim
to perform "jihad."
The Islamic Research Center at Cairo's Al-Azhar University, the
world's leading teaching institution from Islam's Sunni sect, did not
elaborate, however, on what form any jihad -- or "holy struggle" --
[Yazidi] Ancient Faith Is a Reminder of Iraq's Diversity
For centuries, believers in the Yazidi religion in northern Iraq were
oppressed by their Ottoman overlords and Muslim Kurdish neighbors and
labeled a sect of devil worshipers. When not the victims of massacres,
they were snickered at for what was seen as their strangely eclectic
list of taboos -- among them, eating lettuce, wearing the color blue
and uttering words that begin with the sound sh.
[Islam] Koran to get Irish translation
There are about 18,000 Muslims in the State, almost 12,000 of them in
Dublin. The Islamic community is the fastest-growing religious
minority in the State.
[Church Universal and Triumphant] Bison didn't gain much from CUT land
Late in 1998, the Church Universal and Triumphant and the federal
government announced they had worked out plans for the church to sell
land or conservation easements on 5,000 acres along the park border to
the U.S. Forest Service.
At the time, the church also proposed selling the cattle grazing
rights on its remaining 7,000 acres to the government. But the church
and the Clinton-era Interior Department couldn't agree on the value of
those rights, former officials with both entities said Thursday.
And that means cattle are still there and bison aren't allowed.
[Transcendental Meditation] Can good vibrations stop war?
Hagelin and the Marharishi view war as a failure of leadership and
diplomacy, two qualities that were often founded on the idea of
successfully prosecuting war in less advanced times. The Maharishi's
idea is that these failures of leadership and diplomacy usually exist
in a maelstrom of mounting tensions -- be they ethnic, religious or
His idea of the pagodas filled with meditating believers amounts to
stress management on a societal scale.
[Transcendental Meditation] F.U.M. asks county to help secure funding
The dorms will be specifically designed to accommodate Vedic pandits,
or peace-creating students specifically trained in the Transcendental
Meditation and TM-Sidhis programs. A total of 40,000 pandits are
expected to be permanently established in India in the next few
months, according to the university.
The 1,600 group is a part of a larger group of 8,000 planned for the
United States. These groups are part of a plan created by university
founder Maharishi Mahesh Yogi to create permanent world peace using
large groups of pandits practicing meditation.
[Psychics] ITC monitors Diana spirit show
When shown on a US pay-per-view TV channel on Sunday, The Spirit of
Diana featured footage of séances in Paris and London in which mediums
said Diana was "having fun" in the afterlife.
She was also spending time with Mother Theresa and planned to marry
Dodi Fayed, mediums Craig and Jane Hamilton-Parker claimed.
Viewers paid $14.95 (£9.50) to hear the mediums relay "messages" from
the princess that her death was definitely an accident and that she
was not bitter about it.
[Bible Code] Is It Good for the Jews?
Two weeks ago, a group of senior intelligence officials in the Defense
Department sat for an hour listening to a briefing by a writer who
claims I am not making this up that messages encoded in the Hebrew
text of the Old Testament provide clues to the whereabouts of Osama
bin Laden. One of the officials told me that they had agreed to meet
the writer, Michael Drosnin, author of a Nostradamus-style best
seller, without understanding that he was promoting Biblical prophecy.
Still, rather than shoo him away, they listened politely as he
consumed several man-hours of valuable intelligence-crunching time.
Apparently he has given similar briefings to top officials of Mossad,
the Israeli intelligence agency.
[Human Rights Violations, USA] War crimes court to receive judges
The United States has withheld support, fearing its citizens might
become targets for politically-motivated persecution.
It has signed agreements with 24 other countries guaranteeing immunity
for American subjects in those countries.
Russia and China have also refused to ratify the treaty.
[Unification Church] 'Moonies' launch political party in S Korea
The religious sect said its leader, Reverend Moon Sun-Myung, and his
followers held a convention at the Little Angels Hall in Seoul to kick
off the Party for God, Peace, Unification and Home.
He said the church would seek to create similar parties in Japan and
the United States.
['Satanic Cults' Rumors] Justice in Guatemala Can Be Gasoline and a
Several factors lie behind the violence. The shared experience of
decades of war and the resulting breakdown in village leadership left
divisions and suspicions that set the stage for vigilante outbursts.
Several human rights advocates also said that fast-growing Evangelical
churches, whose preachers work independently in small congregations,
had frightened villagers about the dangers of satanic cults and
encouraged retribution with strict interpretations of Scriptures.
Such teachings by locally trained Guatemalan preachers, they said,
played a role in whipping up hysteria among the villagers of Todos
Santos, a western mountain village famous for its colorful textiles,
where a lynching in 2001 claimed the life of a Japanese tourist who
tried to photograph a child.
[Human Rights Violations, USA] Ex-FBI Chief, Judges Take Interest in
The case has attracted the attention of former FBI director William S.
Sessions who, joined by two retired federal appeals court judges and a
top former federal prosecutor, has asked the Supreme Court to stay
The intervention of four such prominent figures is the latest
high-level attack on alleged procedural and other flaws in the
practice of capital punishment in the United States. The critique is
particularly significant because it has been leveled in Texas, which
executes nearly as many convicts as all the other states combined and
has come under repeated attack as error-prone and dismissive of
[Jehovah's Witnesses] Oregon Family Killing Trial Opens
In police interrogations, Longo has claimed he was driven to murder by
financial problems and shame over being expelled from the Jehovah's
Witnesses for passing bad checks. According to investigators, Longo
said: ``I sent them to a better place.''
[Jehovah's Witnesses] Jehovah's Witness 'killed family out of shame'
Financial troubles and the shame of being thrown out of the Jehovahs
Witnesses drove an Oregon man to murder his wife and three young
children and dump their bodies along the Pacific coast, a court was
Christian Longo has pleaded guilty to killing his wife and youngest
daughter, but has denied being responsible for the deaths of his two
March 10, 2003
[Christianity] Threat of war conjures visions of Armageddon
The site of this battle is the Plain of Megiddo in Israel, within easy
striking distance of Iraq, where an American war appears increasingly
likely. And so it isn't surprising to see biblical prophecy
conferences popping up or to hear a caller ask a local Christian radio
host, "Could this war in Iraq signal the beginning of Armageddon?"
Could it trigger the end of the world as we know it?
No, say a wide range of Bible scholars.
Even those fundamentalists who adhere to a very strict line of
end-times prophecy say more has to happen first.
[Mannatech] Sugar pill's claims sicken health groups
A sugar pill promoted as a treatment for Aids, cystic fibrosis and
Down's Syndrome is being peddled to vulnerable Kiwi families.
Doctors and support groups are alarmed that sufferers are being given
false hopes by the distributors of Ambrotose, a product with no
scientific evidence supporting its claims.
[Mannatech] Prosecution threat to sugar pill distributors
Ambrotose is made from eight sugars, aloe vera and vegetable extracts
and was developed by the Texas-based company Mannatech, which has an
"aid relief" arm called MannaRelief.
Mr Pratt will meet a company representative today to discuss the
He said the company had strict rules about what could be said about
the pills and he understood that if it was found people were breaching
company rules they would lose their distributorships.
[Mannatech] 'Shonky' sugar pill created by religious group
Canadian Eugene Fox, who sends out a MannaPrayer email to followers of
the group, claims on his website that Ambrotose helped his bowel
disease and his wife's arthritis.
"The Lord places a high value on our physical health.... The Lord
built Mannatech around an amazing discovery given through prayer to
the chief scientist, Dr Bill McAnalley. It's the plant-derived
glyconutrient complex (brand name Ambrotose)," Mr Fox said.
Mr Fox said Mannatech was established when founders Sam and Linda
Caster knelt with family members in a Texas living room and "gave
themselves to the Lord in a fresh commitment".
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