Religion News Blog, Mar. 17, 2003
- Religion News Blog, Mar. 17, 2003
March 17, 2003
[Offbeat News] Big stink in Lithuania over toilet-paper Rasputin
Lithuanian President Rolandas Paksas stirred up a media storm over his
faith in a mystic who wraps people in toilet paper to cure their ills.
Paksas' claim to be a ``believer'' in mystic Lena Lolisvili has
sparked uproar in the Catholic former Soviet country, which is
sensitive about its image abroad after being invited to join the
European Union and NATO in 2004.
[Erich von Daniken] 'Prophet' opens theme park for our alien heritage
In a few weeks, on a massive site outside Interlaken in Switzerland,
Von Daniken's Mystery Park - containing recreations of major
'extra-terrestrial works' that include Stonehenge, the Pyramids of
Egypt, the Mayan temples, and others - will open to visitors at a cost
of £22 a head.
[Hate Groups] Aryan Nations plans June march in Coeur dAlene
The June events are intended to show our enemies that we have not
left North Idaho, Butler said.
Butler said he hoped to attract 100 to 200 participants from various
white supremacist and anti-Semitic groups to the congress.
They include people from the White Aryan Resistance, the National
Alliance and the Ku Klux Klan.
[Polygamy] Women campaign against polygamy
A coalition of 12 Malaysian women's groups yesterday launched a
campaign against polygamy following recent moves by some states to
ease restrictions for Muslim men to take a second wife.
[Islamism] Dutch Jews concerned as Muslims form extremist group in
An anti-Semitic Belgian Muslim organization is spreading its influence
in Holland, where it plans to run in local elections.
The Arab European League was established in Belgium in 2000 to
strengthen Arab and Muslim identity and fight against perceived
discrimination against Arabs and Muslims.
Earlier this month the league opened a branch in Holland. At the end
of a week of lectures by the leagues extremist leader, the
Lebanese-born Dyab Abu Jahja, the league announced that it had signed
up some 600 members in Holland and plans to run as a political party
in local elections scheduled for 2006.
[Polygamy] Smart case highlights Mormon church's historical link to
Despite the Mormon Church's centurylong effort to rid itself of the
stigma of polygamy, high-profile cases like Elizabeth Smart's
abduction have cast the church in an unfavorable light by linking it
to the outlawed practice.
Mitchell, once a high local Mormon leader, was excommunicated several
years ago for "activity promoting bizarre teachings and lifestyle" far
afield of the church. Also excommunicated was Wanda Barzee, arrested
along with Mitchell on Wednesday for her alleged complicity in
Such discipline is not uncommon in the church's struggle with
polygamous splinter groups who continue to keep multiple
Yet the church also teaches that plural marriage will revive when
Christ returns. And members are allowed a kind of polygamy in the
belief that widowers who marry again may live with both in the
[Islam] Islam for our time?
How do you explain - particularly to your own impressionable child -
that the murderous actions of September 11, 2001 need not be a source
of shame among co-religionists?
Tahar Ben Jelloun is a novelist, essayist, critic and poet of Moroccan
origin who has lived in France for more than three decades. He is a
winner of the Prix Mahgreb and the Prix Goncourt.
He is also the father of deeply troubled daughters living in a country
which prides itself on its attachment to logic.
So, when his child said she didn't want to be a Muslim, he knew he had
to answer some serious questions.
In this little book, Tahar takes those questions further, to explain -
as he sees it - the nature of Islam.
[Islam] Muslim street in Europe
French and German concerns about a unilateral US attack on Iraq or
Washingtons blind support for Israel are at least partly related to
nervousness about the Muslim street at home. Whether Brussels, Berlin,
Paris, or Washington like it or not, Europes Muslim constituencies
are likely to become an even more vocal foreign policy lobby. Two
trends are empowering Europes Muslim street: demographics and
opportunities for full citizenship
Islam may still be a faraway religion for millions of Americans. But
for Europeans it is local politics. The 15 million Muslims of the
European Union (EU) up to three times as many as live in the United
States are becoming a more powerful political force than the fabled
Arab street. Europes Muslims hail from different countries and
display diverse religious tendencies, but the common denominator that
links them to the Muslim world is their sympathy for Palestine and
Palestinians. And unlike most of their Arab brethren, growing numbers
of Europes Muslims can vote in elections that count.
[Brethren] The Brethren sent us to Hell
If a member of the Exclusive Brethren strays outside the sect into the
'Devil's domain', there is a high price to pay. Julia Llewellyn Smith
meets a couple whose family was destroyed by their 'terrifying' church
Things improved only after BBC's Everyman announced that it was making
a programme about the Brethren. The Wallachs were visited by the
sect's "universal leader", an Australian, Bruce Hayles, as well as
several elders, who apologised for past "mistakes" and invited them to
return. Another Brethren paid off the couple's mortgage - pounds
110,000 - but then announced that the fellowship wanted a legal charge
on the property. "We feel they are trying to buy us," Christine says.
[Christianity] Poor Christians are deluded by 'grab it' gospel
Followers of the so-called prosperity gospel known by its critics as
the blab it and grab it gospel are encouraged to believe that it
is acceptable to pray for material wealth.
An authoritative report by the Evangelical Alliance, an umbrella
organisation for Britains evangelical Churches, raises concerns about
teachings that if the believer gives a sum of money to the preacher,
God will multiply it by a hundred times or more in favour of the
The prosperity gospel became a cause of concern among the evangelical
movement in the 1990s because of the activities of Morris Cerullo
World Evangelism, which had offices in this country and was affiliated
to the Evangelical Alliance.
Members of the Evangelical Alliance council were alarmed by his
fundraising methods, particularly when he allegedly linked the level
of donors contributions to his own ministry with the extent of Gods
blessing on the donors lives. The concern was about the suggestion
of so automatic an equation between material offering and divine
Under pressure from the council, Mr Cerullo resigned from the Alliance
in 1996. The report was commissioned by the Alliance partly as a
response to this, but also out of concern that the huge expansion of
the prosperity message in America was about to be paralleled in
NOTE: The EA's press release highlights a more balanced approach than
the above quoted article may suggest:
The radical, and sometimes controversial, `prosperity gospel which
has galvanised parts of the Church in UK - is explored in a new
Evangelical Alliance report which throws down a challenge to both its
critics and supporters alike to engage in constructive dialogue.
The Faith, Health and Prosperity report recognises the significant
tensions which exist between the wealth-affirming ethos of the
so-called Word of Faith movement - which asserts that God guarantees
health and wealth through faith and an obedience to his Word - and
mainstream evangelicalism. It concludes that, at key points, Word of
Faith is `sub-orthodox and `erroneous.
But the report does acknowledge that, at its heart, Word of Faith is
all about "a deep appreciation for what God has done in Christ, a
desire to take the Word of God with the utmost seriousness, and, most
importantly, a determination to defend the life of faith against the
forces of secularism". It states that there is enough common ground
for bridges to be built and calls on evangelicals to be "ready to
affirm those aspects of Word of Faith teaching and practice that
coincide with their own biblical convictions".
Those within the movement are urged to "take steps to engage in
serious biblical scholarship in dialogue with other evangelical
scholars". The report concludes that they "must demonstrate a
willingness to be heard as one voice among many others within
evangelicalism, in dialogue with others, open to reproof and
[Raelians] Religious sect says it plans to provide proof of human
Boisselier said the parents of the cloned babies planned to set up an
association in Brazil, where the legal climate is more sympathetic to
cloning, and the group has been invited to speak to the Brazilian
parliament. She said scientific evidence proving the existence of one
of the clones, a boy, would be produced in coming days.
"All the proofs for the Japanese baby are ready to be published and
that should be in a few days ... maybe next week," Boisselier said.
The evidence would include the results of DNA testing performed by a
credible scientist, she said, adding "Not someone chosen by me."
[Raelians] 50 families 'seeking clones'
The families of more than 50 Israeli and Palestinian children have
appealed to the controversial cloning firm Clonaid to produce copies
of their lost relatives, the company's chief executive has claimed.
"I have had many, many requests from parents whose children were
killed here in recent violence," Clonaid chief Brigitte Boisselier
told reporters at a press conference in Tel Aviv.
[Raelians] Raelian cult claims demands pour in from parents to clone
children killed in intifada
Even before she entered the room where the press conference was being
held, Dr. Brigitte Boisselier's assistants placed a small metal device
on the table. At first glance, it did not look like anything special.
But a few minutes later, it turned out that according to Dr.
Boisselier, this metal box was the device responsible for the most
important scientific revolution of the early 21st century. According
to the Raelian cult, this box produced the electric current that
enabled five human babies to be cloned. And the scientific proof that
this cloning occurred? Maybe it will finally be presented next week,
at a special session of the Brazilian parliament on the subject.
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