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Religion News Blog, Mar. 18 - 19, 2003

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  • Anton Hein
    Religion News Blog, March 19, 2003 [Brian Mitchell] Smart s alleged abductors arraigned http://www.religionnewsblog.com/archives/00002785.html ... Brian David
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 19, 2003
      Religion News Blog, March 19, 2003

      [Brian Mitchell] Smart's alleged abductors arraigned
      :===Begin Quote===
      Brian David Mitchell was charged with four first-degree felonies --
      one count each of aggravated burglary and aggravated kidnapping and
      two counts of aggravated sexual assault.

      He also has been charged with two felony counts of aggravated burglary
      and attempted aggravated kidnapping for allegedly trying to break into
      the home of Smart's cousin, Jessica Wright, on July 24.

      Mitchell's wife and alleged accomplice, Wanda Ilene Barzee, faces the
      same six charges. Barzee also appeared Wednesday on closed-circuit TV
      from the jail where the pair is being held.

      Each of the counts carries a life sentence. Neither suspect entered a
      :===End Quote===

      [Brian Mitchell] 'Divine Revelation' Unlikely to Influence Court
      :===Begin Quote===
      Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Barzee may believe God ordered them to
      kidnap Elizabeth Smart, but legal experts say divine revelation will
      be little help to them in the courtroom.

      "Being egged on by another is not a defense," said Assistant Utah
      Attorney General Michael Wims. "It is not a defense that God urged
      them to do it."

      But Utah's insanity law -- the strictest in the nation -- focuses on a
      defendant's intent to commit a crime, leaving little room for
      theological explanations or excuses.

      "You've got a defense only if, as a result of mental defect or
      disease, you cannot form the intent necessary to commit the crime,"
      Wims said.

      A mentally ill defendant can be held accountable in a kidnapping case
      if he intentionally detained a victim and understood the victim was
      human, defense attorney Mark Moffat said.
      :===End Quote===

      [Interfaith] Relations Among U.S. Religions at a Low
      :===Begin Quote===
      Some Christians say Islam promotes violence. Jews feel they are being
      scapegoated by opponents of a U.S. war on Iraq. A Muslim leader
      wonders if there's a divine message in the breakup of the shuttle
      carrying an Israeli astronaut.

      In the buildup to war, religious leaders say, interfaith relations in
      America have been poisoned, causing damage it may take years to heal.

      While some efforts to find common ground continue, observers say
      mistrust is high - at a level that would have been unthinkable before
      the Sept. 11 attacks - and has worsened with the move toward an Iraq
      :===End Quote===

      [Religious Freedom] 'Religious Candy' Students Win Case
      :===Begin Quote===
      A federal judge ruled Tuesday that a high school cannot suspend
      students for handing out candy canes with religious messages.

      U.S. District Court Judge Frank Freedman said a policy at Westfield
      High School that prohibits the distribution of printed material on
      school grounds without permission violated the students' First
      Amendment rights.
      :===End Quote===

      [Human Rights Violations, USA] US chides Belgium over rights law
      :===Begin Quote===
      Washington has berated Brussels after several Iraqi families announced
      they were suing former US President George Bush and other US
      politicians for human rights violations in a Belgian court.

      Families of those who died in the US attack on the Amiriyah air raid
      shelter in Baghdad, which took place in the 1991 Gulf War, are to file
      a case against the former president under a law enabling Belgian
      courts to hear human rights cases.
      :===End Quote===

      [Human Rights Violations, USA] Iraqis sue over first Gulf War
      :===Begin Quote===
      The lawsuit cites Bush senior, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary
      of State Colin Powell and retired US Army General Norman Schwarzkopf,
      who led operation Desert Storm against Baghdad, said deputy Patrick

      Cheney was US defence secretary at the time of the first Gulf War,
      while Powell was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

      The action was brought under Belgium's universal competence law, which
      allows legal proceedings against people accused of war crimes, crimes
      against humanity, or genocide, regardless of their nationality or
      :===End Quote===

      [Falun Gong] China Frees Activist After Serving Time
      :===Begin Quote===
      A Chinese-born New York City woman imprisoned for publicizing details
      of China's crackdown on Falun Gong was released Wednesday after
      serving almost three years.

      Teng Chunyan, 40, walked out of a women's prison on the southern
      outskirts of Beijing after being released a month early due to good
      behavior, according to authorities.

      ``Falun Gong is purely an evil cult,'' Teng told reporters, echoing
      the communist government's description of the group. ``It has a
      definite political aspect.''
      :===End Quote===

      [Hare Krishna] Airport solicitations barred
      :===Begin Quote===
      Hare Krishna solicitors are again being restricted at Los Angeles
      International Airport.

      A federal judge refused to continue blocking the airport from
      enforcing its new anti-solicitation law, which went into effect Dec.
      16 and requires charity representatives to remain in small, cordoned
      off "booths" in all nine passenger terminals.
      :===End Quote===

      [Brian Mitchell] Woman Rebuffed Mitchell's Proposal to Be Plural Wife
      :===Begin Quote===
      Accused Elizabeth Smart kidnapper Brian David Mitchell proposed
      marriage to a 20-year-old woman two years ago, telling her God wanted
      her to become his plural wife and join him and wife Wanda Barzee in
      the rugged foothills east of Salt Lake City.

      "You are the only woman that God sent us to . . . We are one, even as
      I am one with the Father," Mitchell said in a four-page handwritten
      marriage proffer to Julie Adkison dated March 1, 2001.
      :===End Quote===

      [Superstition] Prospect of war 'making us more superstitious'
      :===Begin Quote===
      The prospect of war may have triggered a significant increase in
      superstitious rituals, according to a nationwide survey.

      Of those questioned, 77 per cent indicated that they were at least a
      little superstitious and/or carried out some form of superstitious
      behaviour, and 42 per cent said that they were very/somewhat
      :===End Quote===

      [Brian Mitchell] Mitchell, wife charged with kidnapping, sexual
      assault in Smart abduction
      :===Begin Quote===
      Prosecutors charged a self-proclaimed prophet and his wife Tuesday
      with aggravated kidnapping and sexual assault in the abduction of
      Elizabeth Smart, disclosing for the first time details of the girl's
      nine-month ordeal.

      Brian Mitchell and Wanda Barzee also were charged with burglary and
      attempted aggravated kidnapping – a charge stemming from what
      prosecutors said was an attempt to later abduct Elizabeth's
      18-year-old cousin.
      :===End Quote===

      March 18, 2003

      [Brainwashing] Experts: Smart's brainwashing likely began at
      knifepoint, reinforced continually
      :===Begin Quote===
      Hassan believes once Mitchell had Elizabeth he immediately began to
      drive home his belief system, laid out in a dense 27-page manifesto in
      which he declared himself a messenger of God. "He likely began saying
      in a very fanatical way that he was a prophet, and that she was meant
      to be his wife," he said. "He knew the right words to say because he
      was a Mormon who was excommunicated and she was Mormon."

      This connection between them, a shared knowledge of religious doctrine
      and reference points, allowed the hold over her to become that much
      stronger. "Someone who already believes in God and the revelation as a
      respected religious experience is more ... vulnerable," he said.
      :===End Quote===

      [Archeology] Israeli police break ancient tablet
      :===Begin Quote===
      Experts at Israel's Geological Institute, which studied the stone at
      the request of the collector, believe it is authentic and dates back
      to the 9th century B.C. Microscopic flecks of gold burned into the
      stone could mean it was located together with gold objects in a
      building that burned - possibly the First Temple, which was destroyed
      by the Babylonians in 586 B.C., officials at the institute said.

      But experts on ancient script at the Israel Museum, who also studied
      the tablet, believe the Hebrew inscription, which resembles passages
      of Kings II, 12:1-6, 11-17, could be fake.
      :===End Quote===

      [Hate Groups] German neo-Nazi ban rejected (Updated)
      :===Begin Quote===
      Germany's constitutional court has rejected a request from the
      goverment and parliament to outlaw the neo-Nazi National Democratic
      Party (NPD) party.

      "The proceedings have been dismissed," said presiding judge Winfried

      The court suspended proceedings a year ago after it emerged that the
      government's case against the NPD was based partly on provocative
      speeches made by its informants.

      The NPD said the government had told the informants to incite racial
      hatred and recruit violent neo-Nazis to strengthen its case.
      :===End Quote===

      [Hate Groups] German neo-Nazi ban rejected

      [Cultic Organizations] FBI breaks up cult-like San Diego-based
      investment fraud
      :===Begin Quote===
      Harrell claimed to be in charge of an offshore trust created by Joseph
      Smith, the founder of the Mormon Church, worth $1.6 trillion,
      according to the FBI. Investors were told that money would be
      available to them if they gave him enough seed money to start an
      insurance company called Good Samaritan.

      Harrell, described as extremely charismatic, used religion to control
      his enterprise, Caldwell said. He began investor meetings with a
      prayer and attendees were told to hug each other.

      "It was truly almost cult-like," Caldwell said. "He did not hesitate
      to threaten to kill people if he found out they were working for the
      :===End Quote===

      [World Ministries Church] Diabetic man fasts 40 days before dying
      :===Begin Quote===
      Killeen was found dead in his home on Jan. 27. His wife, three adult
      daughters and members of the World Ministries, with which they were
      involved, reportedly prayed for three weeks that he would be
      resurrected. Authorities discovered Killeen's body after concerned
      relatives called asking that police check on him.

      Killeen's family says the 50-year-old diabetic was encouraged to fast
      and was convinced he was the group's next prophet.
      :===End Quote===

      [Warmongering] War in Iraq a crime, says Vatican
      :===Begin Quote===
      Military intervention against Iraq would be a crime against peace
      demanding vengeance before God, the head of the Vatican's Pontifical
      Council for Justice and Peace has said.

      "War is a crime against peace which cries for vengeance before God,"
      said Archbishop Renato Raffaele Martino, speaking on Vatican Radio.

      He stressed the deeply unjust and immoral nature of war, saying it was
      condemned by God because civilians were the worst sufferers.
      :===End Quote===

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