Religion News Blog, Mar. 14, 2003 (Continued)
- Religion News Blog, March 14, 2003
[Christianity] Dean attacks theistic relativism
The new Dean of Sydney's Anglican Cathedral, St. Andrews, made a
striking debut this weekend.
In his inaugural sermon at the cathedral, Dean Phillip Jensen -
brother to the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Dr. Peter Jensen -
attacked what he sees as excessive relativism in the media treatment
of Hinduism, Judaism, Islam and Christianity.
[Christianity] No sacred cows in dean's tirade
.b On Friday night, the 11th Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen,
installed his brother, the Reverend Phillip Jensen, as the 11th Dean
of Sydney. To mark the occasion, the new Jensen in the cathedral
delivered a broadside attack on secularism, religious tolerance,
political correctness and the media in a 40-minute sermon which ended
in spontaneous applause from some quarters of the cathedral.
What started as a declaration of love for Sydney and the Sydney
Anglican diocese soon progressed into an argument outlining why the
world's religions are mutually incompatible. More than half an hour
later, Mr Jensen turned his wrath on the media, its hypocrisy and the
way it sought to censor Christianity out of public discourse. He went
so far as to prophesise his own crucifixion at the media's hands.
"If one view is right the others must be wrong. We must stop the
stupidity of stretching social tolerance into religious or
philosophical relativism," he said.
He dismissed suggestions that his comments might inflame religious
"All I'm saying is that both [Christianity and Islam] cannot be right.
That's not attacking Islam, that's just saying the truth."
[Christianity] Outrage over dean's hostility to other faiths
The new Anglican Dean of Sydney has been accused of insensitivity,
provocation and offensive intolerance after his strident defence of
Religious organisations across the community yesterday railed against
the Reverend Phillip Jensen's provocative comments, which included
saying that Australia had stretched the idea of tolerance to the point
He told the congregation at his installation in St Andrew's cathedral
on Friday that "some or all" religions were wrong and if wrong were
"the monstrous lies and deceits of Satan devised to destroy the life
of the believers".
Critics believe that his views were clearly aimed at all religions
other than his own.
The Catholic Church's Sister Marianne Dacy, who is the national
secretary of the Australian Council of Christians and Jews, said the
dean's comments were anathema to interfaith dialogue.
"He is totally out of tune in today's era of reconciliation between
different religions," she said. "It is quite upsetting to hear a view
like that expressed by such a prominent churchman."
Keysar Trad, spokesman for the Lebanese Muslim Association, said he
received several messages from prominent Christian leaders yesterday,
distancing themselves from Mr Jensen's comments.
NOTE: It is a serious sign of the time when people who identify
themselves as Christians apparently do not understand or accept the
exclusive nature of Christianity.
[Christianity] Will the real God please give us a sign
Jensen's assertion that Christianity holds an exclusive claim on truth
is hardly new, and such a claim about Islam would not sound out of
place in a mosque, or about Judaism in a synagogue. So what was it
about his sermon that had much of Sydney crying foul and wondering who
else might be on his hit list?
Professor Wayne Hudson, director of the Centre for Advanced Studies in
the Humanities at Griffith University, Brisbane, says Jensen should
not be dismissed as a scholarly lightweight or fundamentalist zealot.
And he agrees with Jensen that conservative Christians aren't fairly
heard in public debate.
It is not so much what Jensen is saying that is offensive, Hudson
argues, but the way he says it: "He blurs the facts in an unscholarly
way ... he says true things in a way that is not consistent with the
best standards of religious citizenship in Australia, because he does
not exercise intellectual respect towards others he does not agree
Given Jensen's position as Dean of Sydney, says Hudson, the right to
publicly assert his religious beliefs comes together with the duty to
acquire a reasonable understanding of the world's other great
religions, which he clearly does not possess.
"He talks about other religions [in] the way Catholics and Protestants
talked about each other in Australia in the 1950s," says Hudson. "His
take on Islam and Hinduism is monstrous. It's grotesque. It does not
represent what contemporary scholars will say."
The Reverend Dr John Woodhouse is principal of Moore Theological
College - Sydney's training ground for Anglican priests and Jensen's
alma mater. Woodhouse insists that Jensen was not, in his sermon,
attacking other religions. If anything, he was taking other beliefs
seriously enough to evaluate.
"To insist that all religions are equally true, even if they
contradict one another, is a trivialisation of religious claims," says
Woodhouse. "If the Koran says that Jesus lived but did not die, and
the Christian Bible says that he lived and did die, anyone who
respects both religions can investigate whether one or the other or
neither is right at this point. But to say that both religions are
equally true is disguised disrespect.
"It means that what they are both saying is not important enough to
seriously consider ... Religious belief cannot be reduced to pure
Jensen, Woodhouse says, has criticised the secularist trivalising of
religion and the resulting censorship of intelligent religious
discussion in the media. "Much of the reporting of his criticism has
confirmed its truth," he says.
[Sikhism] City Sikhs mum on B.C. case
It was unclear yesterday how a legal battle raging in British Columbia
will impact on the Edmonton construction of the biggest Sikh temple in
Members of the Nanaksar Gurdwara-Gursikh Temple Society in B.C. are
trying to get their spiritual leader deposed because of alleged
misappropriation of funds.
[Hate Groups] Woman convicted in plot to bomb Jewish landmarks tells
judge: 'I have a lot of shame'
Chase was sentenced to four years and nine months in prison Thursday.
U.S. District Judge Nancy Gertner told her: "I hope you do something
with the rest of your life to make up for what you came close to
In July, a federal jury convicted Chase and her former boyfriend, Leo
Felton, 32, of several charges, including conspiring to make a bomb in
what prosecutors described as a scheme to foment "racial holy war."
[Elizabeth Smart] Interviews With Patricia Hearst; Friends, Members of
LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, Elizabeth Smart's miraculous return and
her ordeal. We'll speak with members of the Smart family and they'll
tell us how Elizabeth's doing and what she's had to say about what she
Plus, the Smart's family's bishop, Bishop David Hamblin of the Mormon
Church. He prayed with the Smarts and counseled them through nine
months of agony.
But first: exclusive. Patricia Hearst, the most famous kidnap victim
of our time, will give us an idea of what captivity may have been like
[Brainwashing] A Search for Answers: Has Elizabeth Become A
Police and her family said Elizabeth was psychologically traumatized
-- even brainwashed -- by the homeless couple now in custody for her
"I have no doubt about that," said Ed Smart, Elizabeth's father. "I
have no doubt that she feared for her life when she left [her
Experts are putting a name to Elizabeth's behavior while in captivity
-- Stockholm Syndrome, in which victims become emotionally attached to
and allied with their captors. Experts also are drawing comparisons
with another well-known kidnap victim: Patricia Hearst.
"People are in disbelief that she couldn't have run to a phone and
gotten help," said Doug Goldsmith, director of The Children's Center,
a counseling service in Salt Lake City. "That's a misunderstanding of
the tremendous psychological trauma of being held hostage in a
situation like she was in."
NOTE: Thus far we have fortunately been spared comments from cult
apologists like J. Gordon Melton on how brainwashing does, in his
opinion(!) not exist. And mercifully, we have not yet heard him or
other cult defenders proclaim Elizabeth Smart a liar (as Melton does
with apostates). Authorities, media professionals and others would be
wise not to accept Melton's views. Instead, see:
- on apostates
- on brainwashing
[Brainwashing] Authorities Examine Bond Between Teen and Captors
When officers approached the teen, Sandy Officer Bill O'Neal said,
"she kind of just blurted out, `I know who you think I am. You guys
think I'm that Elizabeth Smart girl who ran away.'"
Smart told police her name was "Augustine" and that her cheap black
sunglasses protected her eyes while they healed from surgery. When
they asked why she wore a wig and T-shirt for a head scarf, she became
"Her heart was beating so hard you could see it through her chest,"
Handcuffed and loaded into a separate police car from Mitchell and
Barzee for the ride to the station, Smart began to cry.
"We kept telling her, do this for your family, do this for yourself.
Do the right thing _ we know you're Elizabeth Smart," said Sergeant
Smart responded with a biblical quote, "Thou sayest."
[Brainwashing] Teenager's recovery likely to take months
Lippert said that initially kidnapped children may feel euphoric, but
that may be followed by sadness as they realize the impact of their
Typically, victims in high-profile cases are overstimulated by
attention from the media, law enforcement and friends and neighbors,
Lippert said. They appear vulnerable and may want to talk about it as
a way of being helpful, recalling small details about their abduction.
"That is an abduction survival strategy," Lippert said. "It gives them
something to help out with. They might want to give precise
descriptions of where they were held, how they determined day from
Another survival strategy, she said, is continuing the same compliant
behavior employed during the abduction. Victims learn that they need
to comply with orders from their captors to escape alive, and children
might continue that behavior after they are freed, Lippert said.
Details of Elizabeth Smart's ordeal have not yet been made public, but
some observers say it appears she might have been frightened into
complying with her kidnapper. Her father has referred to
Reports that Elizabeth appeared in public with her alleged kidnapper,
Brian David Mitchell, without trying to escape may indicate she
suffered from Stockholm Syndrome, a common malady of hostages,
according to Douglas Goldsmith, a Salt Lake City child psychologist.
[Brainwashing] Could Elizabeth Smart be a victim of brainwashing?
Was Elizabeth Smart - the Utah teen-ager snatched from her bedroom
last June, then remarkably rescued Wednesday - brainwashed into
staying with her captors?
Her father, Ed Smart, said Thursday he knows "that she's been through
brainwashing," though he has not asked his daughter for details about
her nine-month ordeal.
The American view of mind control is more sensational than clinical.
The public tends to remember how attorney F. Lee Bailey defended
heiress Patty Hearst in the 1970s, claiming she was brainwashed into
joining her kidnappers in their crime spree.
But where, exactly, did he get the idea?
[Brain Mitchell] Family suspects girl afflicted with captive syndrome
As this city expressed overwhelming gratitude to their God and their
community for the safe return of Elizabeth Smart, a sobering reality
was setting in: Elizabeth is not the same girl she used to be.
Her family believes the 15-year-old girl, allegedly abducted by a
religious fanatic who had done minor maintenance work on their home,
"I have no doubt about that," her father, Ed Smart, said Thursday
During the nine months she is believed to have been under the control
of Brian David Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Ilene Barzee, the girl
apparently never reached out for help even though she appeared
frequently in public with the couple.
"She was psychologically impacted by this abduction," said Salt Lake
City Police Chief Rick Dinse. Mitchell and Barzee remained in custody
on suspicion of aggravated kidnapping.
[Brian Mitchell] Polygamy implied
Relatives of Elizabeth Smart said Thursday that authorities had shared
information with them indicating that the suspect in the girl's
9-month disappearance was a polygamist.
The information has led some family members to conclude that Elizabeth
might have been kidnapped to be a wife.
Tom Smart also suggested another possible motive: that Elizabeth was
kidnapped because Mitchell's wife, Wanda Barzee, wanted a daughter.
[Brainwashing] Local woman can relate to Smart's alleged brainwashing
Portlander Donna Grobey understands what its like to totally turn
ones self over to the power of others. You know I started out as
Donna, but I became what they wanted me to be, says Grobey about her
experience with a cult.
For three years in the late 1980's, Grobey was part of a religious
cult in New York City . She lived with the cult group, giving them all
of her money. The cult controlled her time, who she dated, and
discouraged her from contacting family or anyone else outside the
group. Grobey says she stayed nearly three years out of fear. Well in
my particular group, if I left my church I was going to hell. So I
wasn't going to go anywhere, I was scared to death.
[Infinity Forms of Yellow Remember] Watchdog in sniff round 'miracle'
A cult which offers wands and waters as miracle cures for ailments
including cancer has come under the scrutiny of Tasmania's Office of
Consumer Affairs and Fair Trading.
The group, which calls itself Infinity Forms of Yellow Remember, has
been operating in Tasmania for at least three years.
Late last year, it fell foul of New South Wales' fair trading laws and
was ordered to change its marketing, after it agreed bottles of water
it was selling as a miracle cure for a minimum of $40 were in fact
ordinary distilled water.
[Hate Groups : Scientology] City forces halfway houses to shut down
One of those landlords is a real estate investor and a Scientologist,
who, 23 years ago, was involved in one of the darkest chapters of
Scientology history. Richard Weigand, 56, was one of nine
Scientologists convicted of conspiring to conceal the theft of
government documents related to the church.
[Hate Groups : Scientology] Psychologist says church appeared to use
A woman who is suing the Church of Scientology appeared to have been
hypnotised while undergoing an auditing session by a member of the
church, a psychologist told the High Court yesterday. Ms Mary Johnston
appeared to have been subjected to "very curious" and "not very good"
Dr Peter Naish, a chartered psychologist who has written extensively
on hypnosis, said it was his view Ms Johnston was very susceptible to
NOTE: On the same day that this item was reported, the cult settled
out of court for a reported 2 million. Earlier, the cult's lawyer
had tried to block Mr. Naish's testimony. Though Scientology is known
for its abuse of the legal system, the hate group also has settled
many cases in which publicity might damage its business operation when
experts properly evaluate its products and services.
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