Religion News Blog, Mar. 27-29, 2003
- March 29, 2003
[Apologetics] Christ Orthodox Presbyterian Church Sponsors Debates
On Friday, the church is sponsoring a debate between Protestant
apologist James White, who is the director of Alpha & Omega Ministries
in Phoenix and the author of Letters to a Mormon Elder, and LDS
defender Dennis Potter, who teaches philosophy at Utah Valley State
College in Orem and is managing editor of Element: An E-journal of
Mormon Theology and Philosophy.
The two will debate the question: Does Christ's atonement perfect
those to whom it is applied?
On April 5, White, who also has written The Roman Catholic
Controversy, will debate Robert Sungenis, executive director of
Catholic Apologetics International and author of Not By Faith Alone:
The Biblical Evidence of the Catholic Doctrine of Justification.
The topic for that debate will be: Is the Mass a propitiatory
sacrifice? [Translation: Was Christ's sacrifice complete or do we have
to add something?]
[Mormon Church] Philosophers, Historians Explore LDS Scholarship at
The two-day conference, "God, Humanity and Revelation: Perspectives
from Mormon Philosophy and History," has brought together historians
and philosophers from several Utah campuses, including LDS
Church-owned Brigham Young University, the University of Utah, Utah
State University and Utah Valley State College, as well as from
Vanderbilt, Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of
Richmond, the University of North Carolina -- Chapel Hill, Wellesley,
University of St. Andrews in Scotland and the Claremont School of
Theology in northern California.
Nearly 300 people have registered for the conference held on Yale's
New Haven, Conn., campus and between 30 percent and 40 percent are not
members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"This is the most significant event in Mormon scholarship for a very,
very long time," West said as the conference was getting under way
Friday. "I don't think we've ever assembled this quality of scholars
or number of attendees before."
[Zen] Zen Buddhist abbot: War comes from internal struggle
Shih, the abbot of a Zen Buddhist monastery in Cleveland, has a wry
sense of humor and an acceptance of however people want to use
Buddhism. You can practice it as a religion, you can practice it as a
philosophy, you can be a casual observer, he said. It makes no
demands, but all of those options are available.
Indeed, one regular attendee at the Buddhist sessions is the Rev. Zev
Rosenberg, pastor of St. Pauls. Buddhism is more a set of practices
than a set of beliefs, Rosenberg said. It does not presuppose that
you have any religious belief. ... You can, as a devout Christian,
engage in Zen meditation as a spiritual practice.
[World Ministries Church] No charges planned in death of man here
The Pima County Attorney's Office will not seek charges in the death
of a man whose body decomposed in his home for three weeks as family
and friends reportedly prayed over it for resurrection, a prosecutor
The decision was made after an autopsy on the body of James W.
Killeen, 50, a Union Pacific Railroad worker, was inconclusive, said
Rick Unklesbay, chief criminal deputy county attorney.
Officer Corey Doggett wrote in another report that Killeen's brother
Christopher "said that James became involved in a 'cult.' "
Doggett added, "Chris also said that James told him that he was going
to be resurrected by the 'cult' leader, Stan Adair Bennett."
The wife "kept the victim in the bedroom and she and others prayed so
they could revive him," Detective Raul Olivas wrote in a report.
[Church of God Restoration] Parents to appeal ruling in corporal
A judge's ruling in a case involving the corporal punishment of
children by their fundamentalist Christian parents will be appealed
because it gives social workers too much power, lawyers said
The appeal was announced at a news conference after Madam Justice
Eleanor Schnall approved an agreement between the St. Thomas and Elgin
children's aid society and the parents, who were under investigation
for allegedly beating their children.
The agreement followed the seizure of seven children from their Aylmer
home in June, 2001.
[World Ministries Church] Killeen autopsy unhelpful
Killeen's dead and decomposing body was discovered in the Tucson home
he shared with his wife, Eleanor, on Jan. 23 after his siblings and
mother became concerned about his welfare. The case drew attention
because police reports said his wife and other members of a religious
group had been praying over Killeen's body for about three weeks,
believing that he would be resurrected.
Killeen's siblings, convinced their brother was under the influence of
a dangerous religious group, say he had been on a 40-day fast under
the directive of the group, which is known as World Ministries.
Killeen, a robust railroad worker, suffered from diabetes - a
condition that made it impossible for him to survive a fast, his
[Human Rights Violations, USA] So much squandered in so little time
Recently, The New York Times ran a story announcing Iraqi officials
targeted by the United States to face war crimes trials. The irony, of
course, is that any judgment would have to be rendered by a special
tribunal set up by the United States, because we do not recognize the
International Criminal Court that opened this week to handle cases of
human rights, genocide and war crimes.
We have the power to wage war on our own and to engage in other
actions that characterize an empire.
We have not figured out, however, that to act with real authority in a
dangerous and changing world requires that those of like mind join us
in shaping a different future. Right now, it seems, many simply resist
us out of fear of what we are becoming.
Note: an expanded sidebar to this article explains why the publishes
of Apologetics Index, which includes Religion News Blog, address human
rights issues in general with a particular emphasis on U.S. human
[Witchcraft] Bewitched by Wicca
The two helped found the Tucson Area Wiccan-Pagan Network, also known
as TAWN. It holds monthly meetings, cranks out brochures - many of
them written by O'Gaea - and maintains a Web site at www.tawn.org.
Both were raised in Oregon, he as a Presbyterian, she as a Unitarian.
After marrying and coming to Tucson in 1974, they joined the Unitarian
In 1984, they discovered Wicca, and in 1991 founded Campsight Coven,
raising their son, Ryan, the Wicca way.
Since then, she's published two books on raising children in the
Wiccan way. A third book, "In the Service of Life: A Wiccan
Perspective on Death," is due out next month
[Human Rights] Compromising justice
Belgium is poised to water down a controversial war crimes law that
has caused the country no end of diplomatic embarrassment, writes
The truth is of course that critics of the country's war crimes law
have long struggled to understand why Belgium should be the world's
judge and jury. And the fact that the world's first permanent
international criminal court (ICC) has now opened for business in the
Hague makes Belgium's position all the more untenable.
[Hate Crimes] Arabs, Muslims, Sikhs Report Hate Crimes
Muslim, Arab and Sikh groups say reports of backlash crimes are
trickling in, and they fear an increase if the war in Iraq drags on.
Advocates who track such incidents say they've heard about a dozen
potential hate crimes - most involving verbal harassment or property
damage to Arabs, Muslims and Sikhs - since the war began last week.
[Religion Trends] Arizonans aren't big on church
Fewer than half of Arizona adults routinely take part in religious
services, according to a new survey by WestGroup Research of Phoenix.
The survey was part of WestGroup's monitoring of current events in
January. The survey of 866 adults had a margin of error of 3 percent.
Highest regular church attendance can be found among members of the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with 88 percent, the
Catholic Church, with 62 percent, and non-denominational Christian
churches, 60 percent.
[Church / State] Lawmakers shrink Bush faith initiative
Unable to pass even a watered-down version of the president's
faith-based initiative, congressional sponsors said yesterday they
would remove all efforts to open government programs to churches and
other religious groups from the bill.
Their legislation instead will just provide tax breaks for donations
to charities, including religious groups.
[Islam] Sunnis and Shiites: Islam's feuding arms
Sects of the same religion often behave like warring relatives. Their
feuds are violent, long lasting and, almost always, silly and
That's historically true of Catholics and Protestants. It remains true
of the Sunnis and Shiites of Islam that play such a crucial role in
the pain and confusion of modern Iraq.
They disagree on the way power was taken following Mohammed's death
and make nuanced distinctions in their interpretation of faith.
[Islam] Iraq's Shiite Majority Remains Calm
Life seemed normal in this down at the heels neighborhood of Baghdad,
home to 1.5 million Shiite Muslims. For now, at least, there's no sign
of a Shiite revolt against Saddam Hussein.
"A believer is never stung from the same pit twice," says Shiite taxi
driver Abu Haider, citing a popular proverb to explain the lack of
[Jehovah's Witnesses] Longo admits affair, trail of bad debts
In his second day of testimony, Christian Longo admitted to cheating
on his wife and leaving a trail of bad debts, but he shed no light on
his claim that someone else killed two of his children.
Longo, 29, who returns to the stand on Monday, has already pleaded
guilty to killing his wife, MaryJane, 34, and his youngest daughter,
Longo also described an affair he had with his business partner's wife
in the spring of 2000. The two discussed divorcing their spouses and
getting married until Longo's wife, MaryJane, found out about the
affair after discovering e-mails on his computer, he said.
She confronted Longo and said she was going to tell elders at the
Jehovah's Witness church, as well as Longo's father, about the affair,
March 28, 2003
[Secularism] In Canada, secularism grows more pervasive
The French-Canadian writer Yann Martel has acknowledged that he
rearranged chapters in the Canadian edition of his new novel, "Life of
Pi," because he feared Canadians would be offended by its religious
"America is a very religious, almost puritanical country," he told
Publishers Weekly last year. "In Canada, secularism is triumphant, and
to talk noncynically, nonironically about religion is strange."
Martel's comments have been much quoted recently as a sign that in at
least one vital respect, Canadian and American societies are moving in
opposite directions despite their common language and geographic
In a recent survey by the Pew Research Center for the People and the
Press in Washington, only 30 percent of Canadians said religion was
very important to them, compared with 59 percent of Americans.
[Christianity / Iraq] 2 Christian Groups' Aid Effort Questioned
Two major evangelical Christian groups said yesterday that they have
amassed supplies in Jordan and are preparing to send relief workers
into Iraq as soon as the military situation permits.
The Southern Baptist Convention, the nation's largest Protestant
denomination, and Samaritan's Purse, run by the Rev. Franklin Graham,
said they are ready to provide emergency shelter, food aid and medical
care to Iraq's mostly Muslim population. The announcements raised
concerns among U.S. Muslim leaders that the groups intend to
proselytize in Iraq.
[Zen] The art of building a bridge
Fukushima's eyes are closed as he describes monastic life in Kyoto,
Japan, where he is head abbot of the Tofukuji sect of Renzai Zen
Buddhism and the 303rd master of the 750-year-old Tofukuji Monastery,
one of the historic five mountains of Zen Buddhism.
Every spring for several years, Fukushima has taken 2 1/2 months to
travel America and visit college campuses. When he started, his
itinerary included just three colleges; now there are 32. He's able to
visit 25 on each trip, and Pomona College is always on the list.
[Hate Groups : Scientology] Scientology expands Tampa presence
Saturday will mark the grand opening of the church's new home in an
old West Tampa cigar factory
But Earl Haugabook, president of the West Tampa Chamber of Commerce,
is wary of the church, given its controversial history in Clearwater.
"An organization like Scientology, which has basically taken over
downtown Clearwater, is not the type of organization we want in the
West Tampa area," Haugabook said.
[Satanism] Brothers admit to belonging to devil worshipping cult
Mount Lebanon Investigating Magistrate Ali Ibrahim interrogated
Wednesday two of four suspects arrested over the weekend for allegedly
belonging to a devil worshipping cult.
[AUM Shinrikyo] Asahara again refuses to respond to questions by his
Aum Shinrikyo founder Shoko Asahara refused again Thursday to answer
questions from his own lawyers, while victims of the cult's crimes
called for him to receive the death penalty.
During the day's session at the Tokyo District Court, two victims of
the cult's sarin gas attacks and the relative of another addressed the
court. Five others submitted written statements.
[AUM Shinrikyo] Aum cult survivors and kin testify
Asahara has denied masterminding the attack and blamed his disciples,
despite testimony from most followers that the offences were committed
under his direction. He has made virtually no statement at his trial
since January 1998 apart from murmuring incoherently, and has often
appeared to doze off during proceedings.
He has refused even to answer his own lawyers' questions.
If he remains silent at a session on April 10, prosecutors are
expected to make their closing argument against him on April 24.
[AUM Shinrikyo] Cult victims' relatives call for death of leader
Relatives of the Aum Supreme Truth cult's victims confronted its
leader in court yesterday and demanded his execution.
Shoko Asahara, 48, is charged with ordering followers to murder
enemies of the cult and members of the public over a period of six
He was arrested after cult members released the deadly nerve gas sarin
on to underground trains in Tokyo in 1995, killing 12 people and
March 27, 2003
[Islam] Fortuyn killer was 'protecting Dutch Muslims'
The man who confessed to killing Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn has told
a court he did it to protect the country's Muslim minority from
Fortuyn's anti-immigration policies.
[Transcendental Meditation] Think peace
By meditating collectively, they said, they can generate and
distribute psychic energy capable of reducing crime, preventing
terrorism and reducing general societal stress.
For some outsiders, those claims may amount to wild overstatement. For
practitioners at the Maharishi Vedic Center of Portland, however,
nothing could be more true.
They are so certain of the benefits of their meditation that they are
pushing ahead with a plan to build a $1.2 million, 12,000-square-foot
Peace Palace somewhere near the Portland's southwest suburbs.
Practitioners are responding to a call from their spiritual leader,
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, to build 3,000 such "palaces" around the world.
About 200 are scheduled to be constructed in the United States.
[Hate Groups : Scientology] Cult church censured on drug ads
A Church of Scientology advert claiming that its programmes had
"salvaged" 250,000 people from drug abuse has been censured by the
Advertising Standards Authority as unproved, following a complaint by
the Church of England.
A Church of England spokesman said: "The truth is Scientology makes
claims for their dangerous cult which they can neither prove nor
substantiate. Drug users trying to kick the habit are vulnerable. This
makes them perfect prey for cults."
[Jehovah's Witnesses] Longo says that pride kept him from asking for
Longo admitted his misdeeds were in direct contradiction with his
Jehovah's Witness faith that called for a strict adherence to biblical
tenets. He said his theft from the camera store ran him afoul of his
congregation's judicial committee, which refused to let him be married
in his church.
He also testified that death brings sleep until the "righteous and
unrighteous" are awakened. That reawakening brings a second chance at
salvation, he said.
When Krasik asked if death means Jehovah's Witnesses are in a better
place, Longo said no.
"They're essentially asleep until God decides otherwise," Longo said.
[Jehovah's Witnesses] Defense still not showing hand on Longo strategy
Christian Longo, accused of killing his wife and three young children,
took the stand Wednesday in his own aggravated murder trial and
described his strict upbringing as a Jehovah's Witness, his subsequent
"shunning" by the church and the beginnings of his marriage.
[Trinity Broadcasting Network] TV Ministry Told to Be More Considerate
In an ongoing spat between a handful of Costa Mesa residents and the
world's largest Christian television ministry -- which operates in
their backyard -- the city's planning commission Monday ordered the
Trinity Broadcasting Network to be better neighbors.
While the city considers the network's request to conduct outdoor
tapings on its property, the commission gave TBN a list of two dozen
good-faith restrictions intended to appease neighbors.
[Deepak Chopra] New-Age rage: Deepak Chopra finds a lot wrong in the
Deepak Chopra, the guy who cornered the market on that whole
mind-body-spirit thing, is sipping mineral water poolside at the Shore
Club and seething about the evil-doers.
''If we talk about weapons of mass destruction, we have to talk about
the fact that 90 percent of those weapons are sold by, manufactured by
and traded by the five permanent members of the Security Council. An
alcoholic parent doesn't have a right to tell his children they can't
have a sip of beer.''
In Deepak's mind, warmongering is warmongering. And that means George
and Saddam, as far as he's concerned, are cut from the same universal
[Hate Groups : Scientology] Scientologist drug claim on poster is
The Advertising Standards Authority has upheld a complaint against the
Church of Scientology, which stated in a poster that it had rescued
250,000 people from drug addiction.
The council said that the worldwide religious movement had not proved
its claim that as many as a quarter of a million addicts had stopped
using drugs as a direct result of Scientology's intervention.
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