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Religion News Blog, Apr. 12 - 15, 2003

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  • Anton Hein
    Religion News Blog, Apr. 12 - 15, 2003 April 15, 2003 [Human Rights] New Book Includes Papal Texts on Human Rights
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 15, 2003
      Religion News Blog, Apr. 12 - 15, 2003

      April 15, 2003

      [Human Rights] New Book Includes Papal Texts on Human Rights
      :===Begin Quote===
      The Vatican Press has just published a book entitled "Human Rights in
      the Teachings of the Church, from John XXIII to John Paul II," which
      includes papal texts on the rights and duties of the human person.

      "Human rights are a meeting ground today between believers and
      nonbelievers," the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and
      Peace, Archbishop Renato Martino, said Thursday when presenting the
      work at the Luigi Sturzo Institute.
      :===End Quote===

      [World Ministries Church] Five plead not guilty to failing to report
      :===Begin Quote===
      Five people pleaded not guilty in Tucson City Court yesterday to
      charges they failed to report the death of a man as his body
      decomposed for at least three weeks in his Southwest Side home.

      Police said the body of James W. Killeen, 50, remained in his South
      Hillerman Drive home while members of a religious group prayed for his
      :===End Quote===

      [World Ministries Church] Killeen's last days
      :===Begin Quote===
      Religious leader Stanley Adair Bennett promised an ailing follower
      that if he fasted for 40 days, not only would he be healed but a
      paraplegic woman would walk again.

      The woman, Joanne Tapia, says she believes Bennett "deceived" the sick
      man, James Killeen - a diabetic whose January death went unreported
      for three weeks while Bennett and his followers prayed for his
      resurrection, according to police and autopsy reports.

      Bennett, 51, who was in court yesterday for a hearing on charges he
      failed to report a death, has refused to comment on the case.

      Tapia, paralyzed in 2001 when her ex-boyfriend shot her, was receiving
      care at the home of James Killeen and his wife, Eleanor, when police
      discovered Killeen's body there Jan. 23.
      :===End Quote===

      [Christianity] Virtual Ark Sets Sail in Religious Big Brother Game
      :===Begin Quote===
      An internet reality game show billed as a religious version of the Big
      Brother programme is to be launched at Easter, it was announced today.

      The satirical Christian web magazine shipoffools.com will launch a
      virtual Noah’s Ark on Easter Sunday featuring 12 “heroes and zeroes”
      from the Bible.

      Every fourth day the web audience will vote to make one of the Ark
      inhabitants walk the plank after nominations by fellow contestants.
      :===End Quote===

      [Islam] France threatens to deport radical Muslims
      :===Begin Quote===
      France has threatened to deport any Muslim leaders preaching extremist
      views, after fundamentalist Muslims won a strong voice in a new
      council to represent Islam in France.

      Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy said on Tuesday the council, which
      will represent the country's five million Muslims, would not be
      allowed to become a breeding ground for radical Islam.
      :===End Quote===

      [Hate Groups] FBI reveals guns, chemicals, fake IDs
      :===Begin Quote===
      Machine guns, more than 100,000 rounds of ammunition, pipe bomb
      materials, binary explosives and reading materials, including "The
      Turner Diaries," "Anarchist Cookbook" and articles from white
      supremacist groups, were also found in the storage unit, LaRocca said.

      A search of a U-Haul truck found at Krar's home on Oak Spring Road
      also led authorities to more guns, a silencer, powder sodium cyanide
      and blank identification forms. Despite finding the unusual items,
      agents don't believe Krar was planning to commit terrorism, LaRocca
      :===End Quote===

      [Jim Bakker] Jim Bakker flattered by positive response in Branson
      :===Begin Quote===
      Jim Bakker has good reason to be happy as his six-piece band
      appropriately plays Kool and the Gang's "Celebration."

      Bakker, the disgraced televangelist who spent five years in prison for
      fraud related to bilking followers of his once-thriving PTL operation
      in South Carolina, is in the early stages of reviving that career in
      this southwest Missouri entertainment mecca, home to more than 40

      "The Jim Bakker Show," taped at the Studio City Cafe in Branson, is
      the 63-year-old Bakker's latest venture into Christian television.

      Bakker's hour-long show debuted Jan. 2, exactly 16 years after the
      last show from his Heritage Village resort in Fort Mill, S.C. It now
      airs on more than 32 stations in 20 states, as well as more than 200
      cable stations. And it is broadcast via satellite in 93 countries.
      :===End Quote===

      [Transcendental Meditation] Peace Palace a place to ponder
      :===Begin Quote===
      The Horse Capital of the World and the home of Jif peanut butter now
      has another claim to international fame.

      The world's first Peace Palace, a $4 million facility for those who
      seek to spread peace through transcendental meditation, was
      inaugurated here yesterday.

      "The basis of world peace is in the individual," said Tom Linner,
      administrator of the Peace Palace.

      The facility, which sits on 11 acres at the University of Kentucky's
      Coldstream Research Campus, opened last summer.

      Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, founder of the transcendental meditation
      movement, has plans for 191 more Peace Palaces in the United States
      and 3,000 around the world.
      :===End Quote===

      [Faith Healing] Alleged SoCal faith healer arrested for continuing
      :===Begin Quote===
      An alleged faith healer charged with involuntary manslaughter in a
      patient's death remained jailed Friday after being arrested for
      continuing to practice medicine without a license, officials said.

      Reina Chavarria, 48, of the Van Nuys area, was arrested Thursday for
      investigation of practicing medicine without a license and possessing
      controlled substances, said officials with the county Department of
      Health Services.
      :===End Quote===

      [Franklin Graham] Graham Invitation Irks Muslims at Pentagon
      :===Begin Quote===
      Muslim employees of the Defense Department are protesting plans for
      the Rev. Franklin Graham, who has called Islam an evil religion, to
      lead Good Friday prayers at the Pentagon.

      In letters to the Pentagon chaplain's office, Muslim office workers
      said they were dismayed by the choice of Graham and urged officials to
      find "a more inclusive and honorable Christian clergyman" to lead the
      April 18 service.
      :===End Quote===

      [Bukas–Loob Sa Diyos Covenant] SARS cases linked to religious group
      :===Begin Quote===
      A large cluster of SARS cases, most of which had been previously
      reported, has been linked to a Toronto branch of an international
      Catholic sect, health officials said Monday.

      There are 10 probable and 19 suspect cases among the Bukas-Loob Sa
      Diyos Covenant group, said Dr. Sheela Basrur, the city's chief medical
      officer of health.

      Two physicians who treated members of the group have also been
      diagnosed with severe acute respiratory syndrome, Basrur said.

      And in another sweeping move intended to contain the outbreak, the
      group's 500 members in the Toronto area have all been placed under

      Members of the group first became exposed to SARS at the funeral of a
      victim of the disease two weeks ago, Basrur said.
      :===End Quote===

      [Euthanasia / Jehovah's Witnesses] Suicide Tourists
      :===Begin Quote===
      A disabled couple flew to a suicide clinic in Switzerland to end their
      lives - after telling their family they were going on holiday.

      Bob Stokes, 60, and his 55-year-old wife Jennie, who have two grown-up
      children, took lethal doses of drugs the day after arriving.

      A family friend said yesterday: "I'm absolutely devastated they felt
      so desperate to end their lives.

      "I'm also surprised because they were Jehovah's Witnesses and I don't
      think their church would have accepted their decision.
      :===End Quote===

      [Falun Gong] Hong Kong Falun Gong followers support lawsuit in U.S.
      against Jiang Zemin
      :===Begin Quote===
      Members of the Falun Gong meditation sect rallied Monday in support of
      a lawsuit brought in the United States against former Chinese
      President Jiang Zemin, whose government sought to eradicate the group
      in the mainland.

      Falun Gong followers worldwide were turning out to support the suit
      filed last October in federal court in Chicago by practitioners,
      mostly from the United States, who accuse Jiang of genocide and other
      crimes, said Kan Hung-cheung, a local Falun Gong spokesman.
      :===End Quote===

      [Archeology] Dawn of American religion found
      :===Begin Quote===
      The oldest image of a deity in the Americas has been discovered by
      archaeologists - pushing back the origin of religion there by 1,000

      A 4,250-year-old gourd fragment found in a looted cemetery on the
      Peruvian coast, 120 miles north of Lima, bears an archaic image of the
      Staff God, which was the principal deity in the region for millennia.
      :===End Quote===

      [Witchcraft] Mexican villagers stone 'witch' to death
      :===Begin Quote===
      An angry crowd stoned to death an Indian man accused of practicing
      witchcraft in a southern Mexico town with a long tradition of
      religious violence.
      :===End Quote===

      [Catholic Church] 34 Men File Priest Sex Abuse Suit
      :===Begin Quote===
      The Diocese of Rockville Centre and its top hierarchy were sued for
      hundreds of millions of dollars today by 34 men claiming they were
      abused by priests as children. The two lawsuits seeking hundreds of
      millions of dollars were filed in Nassau State Supreme Court.
      :===End Quote===

      April 14, 2003
      [Branch Davidians] Feds: Safety Better Since '93 Waco Siege
      :===Begin Quote===
      In the years that followed the raid on the Branch Davidian complex,
      the mantra "Not Another Waco" has become a powerful credo for the
      Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and law enforcement agencies

      "The events of Waco were a watershed for the ATF, on a personal level
      ... and professional level in terms of it being a horrendous wake-up
      call in terms of how we do business," said Brad Buckles, ATF director
      since 1999.
      :===End Quote===

      [Catholic Church] Lawyer attacks church via racket law
      :===Begin Quote===
      The newest lawsuit in the past year's unprecedented wave of sex-abuse
      litigation against the Cleveland Catholic Diocese could prove to be
      the most contentious yet.

      Rocky River attorney Jay Milano filed a civil racketeering lawsuit
      against the diocese on Thursday, saying he will seek access to records
      never before viewed by laymen outside the locked vaults in Cathedral

      Milano wants to see the secret file of every priest who works in the
      eight-county diocese, plus financial records from all of the different
      corporations the diocese owns and operates - businesses that Milano
      contends are used to hide and protect property, and to shield assets.

      A Massachusetts judge's order to open secret church records of the
      Boston Archdiocese last year - and the subsequent publication of the
      information - is considered the deciding event that launched the
      crisis in the Catholic Church in America.
      :===End Quote===

      [Science] Leading scientist defends the Exodus account but puts Sinai
      in Saudi Arabia
      :===Begin Quote===
      A British scientist is making two claims about Jewish history this
      Passover season that could surely spark discussion over the Seder

      Colin J. Humphreys of Cambridge University has concluded that science
      backs traditional beliefs that the Israelites' exodus from Egypt was
      led by Moses pretty much the way the Bible and the Haggadah ritual
      tell it.

      He also says that Mount Sinai, where Scripture says Moses received
      God's Law, is located in Saudi Arabia, not Egypt's Sinai Peninsula --
      moving a key site for Judaism into the nation where Islam was founded.

      Humphreys' theories come at a time when his close, literal reading of
      the Book of Exodus is far out of fashion among Conservative and Reform
      Jews, though it may be welcomed by Orthodox Jews and conservative

      He details his ideas in a readable new book, "The Miracles of Exodus:
      A Scientist's Discovery of the Extraordinary Natural Causes of the
      Biblical Stories" (HarperSanFrancisco).
      :===End Quote===

      [Mormon Church] ACLU Argues Against Church's Appeal of Main St. Ruling
      :===Begin Quote===
      The American Civil Liberties Union says the U.S. Supreme Court should
      reject the Mormon church's appeal of a lower court ruling regarding
      free speech on the city's Main Street plaza.

      The ACLU argued in a brief filed Friday that the Oct. 9 ruling from
      10th U.S. District Court of Appeals isn't as radical as The Church of
      Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints claims it is.
      :===End Quote===

      [Branch Davidians] Siege Mentality
      :===Begin Quote===
      Ten years ago, the Waco siege ended with 86 dead - most, including
      `cult leader' David Koresh, burnt alive. Aaron Hicklin meets the
      survivors, the blood-trail tourists and the white-supremacists for
      whom 19 April 1993 was a day of revelation
      :===End Quote===

      April 13, 2003
      [Christianity] Jakes tries to lead ladies up corporate ladder
      :===Begin Quote===
      I thought Jakes would preach himself into a sweat, lay hands on a few
      folks or anoint them with oil like other world-renowned evangelists.

      But he was on a different mission this time: climbing the corporate

      I learned a lot about Christians climbing corporate ladders. However,
      it can't compare to "climbing Jacob's ladder." At least I know who's
      waiting for me at the top.
      :===End Quote===

      [Vatican Radio] Vatican radio back in the dock
      :===Begin Quote===
      Vatican Radio has denied allegations that its transmitters have been
      putting lives at risk in a Rome suburb by violating restrictions on
      electromagnetic emissions.

      On Wednesday, Italy's Supreme Court ruled that three officials from
      the broadcaster would have to stand trial over the charges.

      In doing so, the top court overturned a lower court's ruling a year
      ago saying that, under the 1929 Lateran Treaty - establishing the
      Vatican as an independent state - Italy had no jurisdiction over the
      three officials.
      :===End Quote===

      [Hate Groups] Judge Sentences KKK Members to Prison
      :===Begin Quote===
      A federal judge sentenced five Ku Klux Klan members to prison
      Thursday, calling them ``domestic terrorists'' for burning a cross in
      the front yard of three black men.

      U.S. District Judge Tucker Melancon gave the men terms ranging from a
      year to almost 14 years. He also fined ring leader David Anthony
      Fuselier $5,000 and the others $3,000, and ordered each to pay about
      $1,500 in restitution.

      The defendants ``are just as much a threat to the United States as are
      the foreign terrorists,'' the judge said.
      :===End Quote===

      [Hate Groups] Inmate David Duke
      :===Begin Quote===
      On Tuesday he will report to a federal prison in Texas, a new personal
      and political low for a man who had already fallen far from the
      political prominence of a decade ago.
      :===End Quote===

      [Branch Davidians] Shaping society: Branch Davidian siege impact huge
      on civil liberty issues
      Part 8 of a 9-part series.
      :===Begin Quote===
      Waco attorney Stanley Rentz, a former McLennan County judge who
      represented Branch Davidian Graeme Craddock during the 1994 criminal
      trial in San Antonio, says he thinks the Branch Davidians will find a
      spot in history.

      "I think that the Davidians were sort of a landmark," Rentz says. "We
      will always know them here, of course. But they were sort of a
      landmark nationally, too, until Oklahoma City. After that, that became
      the focus. Since Oklahoma City, we have seen a lot less of the militia
      people. They found out there is a lot of difference between blowing up
      a stump in the woods and blowing up a building full of people."
      :===End Quote===

      [Branch Davidians] Branch Davidian site recalls painful chapter for
      :===Begin Quote===
      Each year, hundreds of people visit this site in a pasture 10 miles
      east of Waco off a winding, two-lane road past cow pastures, fields of
      wildflowers and a few houses.
      :===End Quote===

      April 12, 2003
      [Religion Trends] U.S. faith broad but not deep, Gallup says at DBU
      :===Begin Quote===
      Contrary to reason, Americans are becoming both more and less
      religious year by year, veteran pollster George Gallup Jr. told a
      luncheon audience at Dallas Baptist University March 31.

      "America's religion is broad but not deep," Gallup observed.
      "Fortunately, we're seeing pockets where religious faith is maturing
      and deepening."

      Michael Lindsay, consultant for theology, religion and culture at the
      Gallup Organization, accompanied Gallup and shared in the noontime

      "Americans' level of biblical illiteracy has not improved over the
      last half century. In fact, it has not kept pace with increasing
      literacy on the whole," Gallup reported.

      "This leaves them vulnerable to cults, many of which glorify self, not

      The influence of cults and various religious ideas, compounded with
      Americans' poor theological foundations, has produced "a great deal of
      fuzziness in spirituality," he said. That particularly has taken its
      toll on mainline denominations--Episcopalian, Lutheran, Methodist and
      Presbyterian--each of which has lost about one-third of its membership
      in the past three decades.

      "The bad news about religion in this country is there is a lot of
      superficiality," he added. For example, the Gallup Organization has
      polled people who simultaneously claim to be born-again Christians and
      say they practice "channeling" with spirits.

      "It's not that Americans don't believe anything," Gallup said. "They
      believe everything."
      :===End Quote===

      [Human Rights Violations, USA] Report: Worldwide executions down in
      :===Begin Quote===
      The number of people executed by governments worldwide fell
      dramatically last year, but increased in the United States, which is
      the only known country to apply the death penalty for crimes committed
      as juveniles, Amnesty International reported Friday.

      Last year, the United States was the only known country to execute
      people who committed crimes as juveniles.

      "This blight on our country's human rights record belies our claim to
      be an international human rights defender," said William F. Schulz,
      executive director of Amnesty International USA.
      :===End Quote===

      [Human Rights Violations] 1,526 executed in 2002
      :===Begin Quote===
      Releasing its statistics for the number of worldwide executions
      carried out during 2002, Amnesty International called on the UN
      Commission on Human Rights to take strong action against the death
      penalty at its annual session, currently sitting in Geneva, and to
      establish a universal moratorium on executions.
      :===End Quote===

      [World Ministries Church] Brother gets Ministries member's body
      :===Begin Quote===
      A judge has allowed a relative to claim the remains of James Killeen,
      a Tucson man over whose decomposing body relatives and a religious
      leader prayed for three weeks.

      The group reportedly was praying for the man's resurrection
      :===End Quote===

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