Religion News Blog, Mar. 25 - 26, 2003
- Religion News Blog, Mar. 20 - 26 (Yep, catching up... Highlights for
Mar. 25 and 26; headlines only for the other days.)
March 26, 2003
[Brian Mitchell] Faculty cult expert helps explain Smart case
Elizabeth Smart is home safe. But as Professor Janja Lalich knows from
her own experience, the hard part isn't over.
Lalich said people don't understand why Smart didn't just run away,
but the reason is essentially mind control.
[Walden House] Troubling end to life of S.F. addiction expert
Relying on street smarts, charisma and strong convictions, Alfonso P.
Acampora spent the last 30 years turning a small San Francisco group
home called Walden House into a multimillion-dollar drug treatment
organization with more than a dozen sites throughout California.
Acampora, 61, of Oakland died Saturday at the Claremont Resort in
Berkeley of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The state attorney general's office had been investigating allegations
that he had misused Walden House funds. Walden House spokesman Rick
Rice said that Acampora was confident the accusations would be
disproved, but that he nonetheless was exhibiting "a fair amount of
[Walden House] Walden House accused of fiscal mismanagement
The apparent suicide of Walden House CEO Alfonso Acampora came as his
leadership at the nationally renowned drug and alcohol rehabilitation
program was under threat from a state attorney general's investigation
into alleged financial irregularities.
The criminal probe, which has been under way for six months, was
prompted by a whistleblower complaint from a former Walden House board
member who has alleged widespread fiscal mismanagement at the
nonprofit. The complaint included allegations that Acampora padded the
payroll with family members, doled out business to members of the
Walden House board and billed the agency for his own questionable and
sometimes lavish perks.
[Hate Groups : Scientology] Advertising Authority upholds complain
over "untruthful" scientology claims
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has today upheld a complaint
by the Church of England over claims made by the Scientology movement
that it had "saved 250,000 people from drug abuse".
Welcoming the ASA's ruling, Mr. Arun Arora, Director of Communications
for the Diocese of Birmingham said:
"This is a landmark ruling by the ASA.
Despite the thousands of pounds spent by Scientology in legal fees
trying to delay, bury and frustrate this complaint, the truth has come
out - and the truth is Scientology makes claims for their dangerous
cult which they can neither prove nor substantiate.
[Islam] Muslim clerics divided on jihad
The calls for jihad against Americans have mushroomed since the start
of the US-led war on Iraq but Muslim religious scholars are divided on
whether and how to wage a holy war against the infidel invaders.
[Hate Groups : Scientology] Victims of Scam Target Church
Investors defrauded of $255 million by EarthLink Inc. co-founder Reed
Slatkin are hoping to recover funds from the Church of Scientology
International and six affiliated organizations that allegedly wound up
with tens of millions of dollars from the investment scam, their
attorneys said Tuesday.
The investors won an initial battle when a bankruptcy judge in Santa
Barbara recently refused to block subpoenas ordering the Scientology
groups to hand over records of money transferred to them by certain
Slatkin investors who came out ahead financially. The subpoenas also
seek records of communications the groups had about Slatkin, a
longtime but now excommunicated Scientologist who was known for his
[Bible Code] Torah without science
Undaunted, and with a flair for doomsday prophecies that made his
first book popular among supermarket-tabloid readers, Drosnin now
presents us with Bible Code II. If you took his first book seriously,
be aware that his predictions regularly fail to come true (Netanyahu
being assassinated while serving as prime minister, an atomic
holocaust in 1996, and others). If, like me, you found his first book
to be entertainingly silly, this one will be a real treat.
Do we therefore conclude that this whole code business is a scientific
Absolutely not. On the contrary, codes researchers have gone to great
lengths to distance themselves from Drosnin. The research they have
conducted involves a recognized scientific standard an a-priori list
of words, standardized spellings, and a protocol that has led in many
cases to stunning results.
Even skeptics have been impressed. For example, Harold Gans, a senior
mathematician and cryptologist who worked for the Pentagon, was
skeptical of Witztum and Rips' s findings. After doing his own
independent testing he found very strong evidence of codings, and has
since joined the research team.
Despite a barrage of attacks, the scientific findings of codes have
stood the test of time. The best that critics have been able to do so
far is to raise suspicions that Witztum and Rips cheated in order to
attain their results.
[Harry Potter] Court Hears Case About Potter-Like Books
Cast away images of sorcerers soaring on broomsticks at the Hogwarts
School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Picture instead lawyers bickering
about copyright infringement in a drab, gray-carpeted courtroom.
That's what remained of Harry Potter's magic during a raw legal battle
at an Amsterdam municipal court Tuesday in a case filed by British
author J.K Rowling against a Russian writer alleged to have stolen her
Lawyers representing Rowling, her Dutch publisher Harmonie and the
U.S. company Time Warner Entertainment are seeking to prevent the
release in the Netherlands of a literary series about Tanya Grotter,
the heroine of the Russian books who flies a magical double bass
instead of a broomstick.
[Patriot/Militia Groups] California militias revive their rhetoric
Extremist paramilitary or militia groups have re-emerged in California
and other western states, calling themselves a last line of defense
but acting like camouflage-wearing vigilantes.
While experts who track such groups said they see little solid
evidence of a surge, they agreed that the timing for a resurgence
[Hate Groups] Bond Again Denied White Supremacist
A federal judge will not hold a new detention hearing and said white
supremacist and World Church of the Creator leader the Rev. Matthew
Hale will remain held pending trial on charges of threatening another
jurist, according to documents obtained Tuesday.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew Rodovich in Hammond, Ind., earlier this
year denied bond for Hale, 31, of East Peoria, who pleaded innocent to
a two-count indictment accusing him of soliciting the murder of U.S.
District Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow and obstructing justice.
[Transcendental Meditation] M.U.M.'s Hagelin plans "second government"
Hagelin, a professor at Maharishi University of Management, has
decided to form a "U.S. Peace Government."
He says he isn't talking about seceding from the United States or
overthrowing its leaders, however.
Instead, he sees his position as similar to that of the "shadow
government" or "loyal opposition" in British politics: the people who
are out of power but still try to influence public policy.
Part of the group's approach would involve "the strategic application
of meditation." While the proposal was endorsed last week by
Transcendental Meditation guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Hagelin said it
wouldnt just be a meditator group.
[Bioterrorism] U.S. not ready for toxin attack, experts say
Botulinum toxin has never been used successfully as a weapon, though
the Japanese cult Aum Shinrikyo tried and failed to disperse it in
aerosols at least three times in the early 1990s.
Still, experts fear both small- and large-scale attacks.
They cite, as an example of a small attack, cult followers spreading
salmonella on salad bars at 10 Oregon restaurants in 1984, sickening
about 750 people.
[Samaritan Foundation] Woman pleads innocent to accessory in murder of
A woman has pleaded innocent to charges of being an accessory after
the fact to the murder of Chicago filmmaker Allen Ross.
Before his body was found in 2000, Ross had been missing since
November 1995, seven months after he moved to Cheyenne with Williams
and his common-law wife, Linda Greene, from Guthrie, Okla. The three
and others belonged to a religious sect called the Samaritan
Detectives theorize that Ross was killed because he was trying to gain
rights to some of the materials the cult was printing.
March 25, 2003
[Religious Insanity] Parents Wanted To Feed Drugs To Children, Police
A Corona couple who believed the world was coming to an end are in
custody after they allegedly made family funeral plans and told police
they had drugged their two younger children.
[Jehovah's Witnesses] Patient refusing life giving blood transfusion
Acting Chief Extension Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture [in
Antigua] Sereno Benjamin is in critical condition at Holberton
Hospital. He needs a blood transfusion necessary to save his life, but
his faith does not allow him to be transfused.
[Santeria] Miami man guilty in bizarre Santeria killing
At 30, Henry Cuesta has already spent a sixth of his life in jail
awaiting trial for murder. On Friday, a Miami-Dade County jury
convicted him in the contract killing of Dulce Diaz, a Santeria
practitioner, eliminating his chances of ever being a free man.
[Raelians] Raelians claim to have cloned again
The Raelian religious sect sought to astound the world Monday with yet
another claim that they have successfully cloned a human being.
Brigitte Boisselier, president of Clonaid and a member of the
Raelians, which founded the company, provided media in Sao Paulo with
photos of a Japanese baby she alleged was a clone, although without
any scientific proof to back the claim.
[Islam] Muslim rage takes on stronger religious tone as U.S. strikes
From mosques to the Internet, Muslims around the world are
increasingly expressing anger at the U.S. attack on Iraq in radical
"The war between right and wrong has begun. This is a jihad," a holy
war, Syed Ahmed Bukhari, one of India's most influential Islamic
clerics, said in a sermon in New Delhi that drew cries of "God is
great!" from worshippers.
A London-based Arabic Web site known for extremist commentary posted a
fatwa, or religious ruling, declaring any Muslim ruler or official who
helps the "aggressor forces" in the war on Iraq to be an apostate
dangerous words when some fundamentalists say apostasy the
renouncing of Islam should be punished by death.
The banned Muslim Brotherhood, which wants to transform Egypt into an
Islamic state, is gaining exposure at anti-U.S. protests on a scale
rarely seen in Cairo.
Dia'a Rashwan, an expert on radical Islamic groups at Egypt's Al-Ahram
Center for Political and Strategic Studies, said he has noticed a
trend as he navigated Web sites and chat rooms in recent days.
"Now we have many calls to jihad, and those calls aren't only coming
from what we usually call radicals or extremists," he said. More
moderate clerics are using similar language, as are Islamic thinkers
who usually confine themselves to political analysis, not calls to
arms, he said.
[Human Rights Violations, USA] One rule for them
Suddenly, the government of the United States has discovered the
virtues of international law. It may be waging an illegal war against
a sovereign state; it may be seeking to destroy every treaty which
impedes its attempts to run the world, but when five of its captured
soldiers were paraded in front of the Iraqi television cameras on
Sunday, Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, immediately
complained that "it is against the Geneva convention to show
photographs of prisoners of war in a manner that is humiliating for
This being so, Rumsfeld had better watch his back. For this
enthusiastic convert to the cause of legal warfare is, as head of the
defence department, responsible for a series of crimes sufficient,
were he ever to be tried, to put him away for the rest of his natural
It is not hard, therefore, to see why the US government fought first
to prevent the establishment of the international criminal court, and
then to ensure that its own citizens are not subject to its
[Human Rights Violations, USA] Hicks's lawyer says US must abide by
The lawyer representing the alleged Australian Taliban fighter, David
Hicks, is calling on the International Red Cross to now put pressure
on the United States to abide by the Geneva Convention at their
Guanatanamo Bay facility in Cuba.
Mr Hicks and another Australian Mamdouh Habib have been held in
military custody without charge for more than a year.
[Human Rights Violations] Images of POWs violates Geneva Convention,
The International Committee of the Red Cross joined U.S. Defense
Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld in denouncing the broadcasts on Iraqi
television, which were later picked up by Qatar's Al-Jazeera satellite
network. ``It's very clear that prisoners of war shouldn't be subject
to public exposure,'' Red Cross spokeswoman Nadia Doumani told Agence
But the United States has also been criticized for photo images of
prisoners it has captured. Indeed, it was the last nation publicly
scolded by the Red Cross for the release of footage showing al-Qaida
and Taliban captives, bound and sullen, as they were transported to
the Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba and placed in cages there.
[Human Rights Violations, USA] Hypocrites of America crying foul
Nothing more clearly illustrates the cruel hypocrisy of America's war
against Iraq than Washington's reaction to the news that GIs have been
Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld screamed "Geneva Convention! Geneva
Convention!" at the Iraqis for showing footage of US soldiers taken on
He thundered that the film was "video propaganda" which violated their
rights as prisoners of war under international law.
How two-faced can you get?
Rumsfeld is the warmonger who ignored international legalities when
the UN refused to back the invasion of Iraq.
And he ruled that PoWs captured by the Americans in Afghanistan more
than a year ago have NO rights, and can be caged like animals at Camp
X-Ray in Guantanamo, Cuba.
[Raelians] Clonaid wants to breed clones in Brazil
The controversial firm Clonaid wants to open a human cloning clinic in
Brazil, its director Brigitte Boisselier said Sunday.
"We want to open a clinic on each continent. For North and South
America, we could open a clinic in the Caribbean, but we would prefer
Brazil," Boisselier said.
She added that Clonaid had already applied for permission to set up
[Raelians] Company shows 'cloned baby'
A company claiming to have created the world's first cloned babies has
distributed a photograph of one of the "clones" for the first time.
Clonaid said a picture of an infant in an incubator published on its
website shows the third of five babies supposedly cloned since
[Transcendental Meditation] M.U.M. dorm plan discussion continues
M.U.M. plans to build six dormitories to house 1,600 Vedic pandits,
which are students ages 18 years and older who have been trained in
M.U.M.- affiliate schools in India. The pandits would obtain temporary
student visas in order to complete a one- to two-year study program.
[Satanism] 4 young men charged with belonging to devil worshipping
Over the past few weeks, more than 50 young men and women were
arrested on suspicions of devil worshipping, but only seven were
actually charged with cult-related crimes, like desecrating corpses
and carrying out orgies in cemeteries, according to State Prosecutor
In Lebanon, no devil worship-related murders have been committed to
Devil worship rituals in Lebanon are restricted to offering animal
sacrifices, particularly chickens and cats. Cult members are said to
drink the animals blood and make blood pacts with the devil, as well
as desecrate cemeteries and have sexual orgies, sometimes with the
Once a year, a ceremony involving human sacrifice is held. It is
believed that female members of the cult offer their unborn babies
often the result of ritual orgies as a sacrifice.
No one was caught red-handed, but we were able to obtain confessions
from those we arrested, Addoum told The Daily Star. All those
arrested until now are under 25.
[Hate Groups] Riverton chamber declares 'hate-free zone'
The Riverton Chamber of Commerce has declared the city a ''hate-free
zone'' in response to a white supremacist organization that moved its
world headquarters there three months ago.
Thorson said the community has suffered from negative publicity since
the World Church of the Creator transferred its headquarters in early
December from Illinois to the Riverton home of Thomas Kroenke.
March 24, 2003
[Religious Revelation] Revelation: Is It Divine Inspiration or
[Religious Revelation] Religions Have Rules on Divine Communications
[War] How faiths view the war
[War] Statements on war by religious institutions and leaders
[Human Rights Violations : Female Genital Mutilation] Ban planned for
[War] Churches divided on meaning of Gulf War
[Mormon Church] Kidnapping Case Puts Mormons on Defensive
[Religious Intolerance] Hindu campaigners combat Christian conversions
[Branch Davidians] The Branch Davidian siege's influence on popular
March 23, 2003
[Human Rights Violations, USA] Bishop says US use of uranium is a war
[Hate Groups : Scientology] Iorio meets Scientologists at fundraiser
March 22, 2003
[Human Rights Violations, USA] US told to ratify child rights
[Human Rights Violations, USA] Concern over US targeting other Muslim
[Falun Gong] China sentences, expels Falun Gong member
[Church / State] Europe debates role of God in constitution
March 21, 2003
[Human Rights Violations, USA] People turn to faith in troubled times
[Atheism] DNA leaders call religion to account
[Peyote] Judge weighs issues about father's religious freedom, child's
[Religion Trends] Geopolitical tensions boost US bible sales
[Polygamy] Mom Sentenced to Jail for Encouraging Sex Abuse of
[Psychics] Astral travelers touch down in Beirut
[Human Rights Violations, USA] This war is brought to you by ...
[Falun Gong] US member of banned sect jailed in China
[AUM Shinrikyo] Tragedy of sarin attack hard to erase
[Brainwashing] Brainwashing: Not just in wartime
March 20, 2003
[Human Rights Violations] House condemns stoning as punishment
[Human Rights Violations, USA] Iraq and Beyond
[Religion Trends] Poll: Sermons don't affect opinions on Iraqi War
[John Rubio and Angela Camacho] Lurid details of killings disclosed in
[Human Rights Violations, USA] US to round up all Muslim and Arab
[Kingsway International Christian Centre] 'Prosperity is the promise
[John Templeton] Colorado pioneer in environmental ethics wins
religion prize worth more than $1 million
[John Templeton] John Templeton: Spiritually rich, and passing it on
[AUM Shinrikyo] Subway workers offer prayers on sarin attack
[Fraud] Con man told to repay $4.7 million to Jehovah's Witness fraud
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