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Religion News Blog, Mar. 17, 2003

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  • Anton Hein
    Religion News Blog, Mar. 17, 2003 March 17, 2003 [Offbeat News] Big stink in Lithuania over toilet-paper Rasputin
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 16, 2003
      Religion News Blog, Mar. 17, 2003

      March 17, 2003
      [Offbeat News] Big stink in Lithuania over toilet-paper Rasputin
      :===Begin Quote===
      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.
      :===End Quote===

      [Erich von Daniken] 'Prophet' opens theme park for our alien heritage
      :===Begin Quote===
      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.
      :===End Quote===

      [Hate Groups] Aryan Nations plans June march in Coeur d’Alene
      :===Begin Quote===
      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.
      :===End Quote===

      [Polygamy] Women campaign against polygamy
      :===Begin Quote===
      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.
      :===End Quote===

      [Islamism] Dutch Jews concerned as Muslims form extremist group in
      :===Begin Quote===
      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 league’s 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.
      :===End Quote===

      [Polygamy] Smart case highlights Mormon church's historical link to
      :===Begin Quote===
      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
      Elizabeth's kidnapping.

      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
      :===End Quote===

      [Islam] Islam for our time?
      :===Begin Quote===
      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.
      :===End Quote===

      [Islam] Muslim street in Europe
      :===Begin Quote===
      French and German concerns about a unilateral US attack on Iraq or
      Washington’s 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, Europe’s Muslim constituencies
      are likely to become an even more vocal foreign policy lobby. Two
      trends are empowering Europe’s 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. Europe’s 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 Europe’s Muslims can vote in elections that count.
      :===End Quote===

      [Brethren] The Brethren sent us to Hell
      :===Begin Quote===
      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.
      :===End Quote===

      [Christianity] Poor Christians are deluded by 'grab it' gospel
      :===Begin Quote===
      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 Britain’s 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 God’s
      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
      :===End Quote===
      NOTE: The EA's press release highlights a more balanced approach than
      the above quoted article may suggest:

      :===Begin Quote===
      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
      - http://www.eauk.org/CONTENTMANAGER/Content/press/EA_030313a.cfm
      :===End Quote===

      [Raelians] Religious sect says it plans to provide proof of human
      clone soon
      :===Begin Quote===
      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."
      :===End Quote===

      [Raelians] 50 families 'seeking clones'
      :===Begin Quote===
      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.
      :===End Quote===

      [Raelians] Raelian cult claims demands pour in from parents to clone
      children killed in intifada
      :===Begin Quote===
      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.
      :===End Quote===

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