Religion News Blog, Apr. 12 - 15, 2003
- Religion News Blog, Apr. 12 - 15, 2003
April 15, 2003
[Human Rights] New Book Includes Papal Texts on Human Rights
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.
[World Ministries Church] Five plead not guilty to failing to report
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
[World Ministries Church] Killeen's last days
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.
[Christianity] Virtual Ark Sets Sail in Religious Big Brother Game
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 Noahs 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.
[Islam] France threatens to deport radical Muslims
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.
[Hate Groups] FBI reveals guns, chemicals, fake IDs
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
[Jim Bakker] Jim Bakker flattered by positive response in Branson
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.
[Transcendental Meditation] Peace Palace a place to ponder
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.
[Faith Healing] Alleged SoCal faith healer arrested for continuing
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
[Franklin Graham] Graham Invitation Irks Muslims at Pentagon
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.
[BukasLoob Sa Diyos Covenant] SARS cases linked to religious group
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.
[Euthanasia / Jehovah's Witnesses] Suicide Tourists
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.
[Falun Gong] Hong Kong Falun Gong followers support lawsuit in U.S.
against Jiang Zemin
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.
[Archeology] Dawn of American religion found
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.
[Witchcraft] Mexican villagers stone 'witch' to death
An angry crowd stoned to death an Indian man accused of practicing
witchcraft in a southern Mexico town with a long tradition of
[Catholic Church] 34 Men File Priest Sex Abuse Suit
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.
April 14, 2003
[Branch Davidians] Feds: Safety Better Since '93 Waco Siege
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
[Catholic Church] Lawyer attacks church via racket law
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.
[Science] Leading scientist defends the Exodus account but puts Sinai
in Saudi Arabia
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
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).
[Mormon Church] ACLU Argues Against Church's Appeal of Main St. Ruling
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.
[Branch Davidians] Siege Mentality
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
April 13, 2003
[Christianity] Jakes tries to lead ladies up corporate ladder
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.
[Vatican Radio] Vatican radio back in the dock
Vatican Radio has denied allegations that its transmitters have been
putting lives at risk in a Rome suburb by violating restrictions on
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
[Hate Groups] Judge Sentences KKK Members to Prison
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.
[Hate Groups] Inmate David Duke
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.
[Branch Davidians] Shaping society: Branch Davidian siege impact huge
on civil liberty issues
Part 8 of a 9-part series.
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."
[Branch Davidians] Branch Davidian site recalls painful chapter for
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.
April 12, 2003
[Religion Trends] U.S. faith broad but not deep, Gallup says at DBU
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
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
[Human Rights Violations, USA] Report: Worldwide executions down in
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.
[Human Rights Violations] 1,526 executed in 2002
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.
[World Ministries Church] Brother gets Ministries member's body
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
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