Religion News Blog, Apr. 24 - 26, 2003
- Religion News Blog, April 26, 2003
[Alternative Healing / Shamanism] Healer gets house arrest in Wiki
Saying he had to strike a balance between the spiritual and the
temporal, an Ontario judge sentenced a Shuar traditional healer to 12
months of house arrest for the death of a Wikwemikong elder in
Justice Gerald Michel also sentenced Juan Uyunkars son Edgar to one
day in jail, time served, plus six months probation. Edgar Uyunkar was
also ordered to leave Canada as soon as possible.
On Thursday, the Uyunkars pled guilty to charges of administering a
noxious substance and trafficking in a controlled substance.
They were arrested Nov. 24, 2001, after a police investigation into
the death of Wikwemikong elder Jean (Jane) Maiangowi.
The 71-year-old diabetic died after ingesting a solution containing
tobacco, water and South American vines.
The elder Uyunkar and his son had been invited to the Wikwemikong
First Nation to perform traditional healing ceremonies for band
Justice Michel said the sentence was necessary in order to bring home
to all natural healers the message that they have to be careful with
reference to unlawful substances and their consequences.
The sentence cannot and will not satisfy everyone because of the
conflicting principles between the spiritual and the temporal, but I
must mete out a penalty, the judge said.
[Alternative Healing / Shamanism] Woman dies in healing ritual; shaman
The Uyunkars said the purging removed contaminants such as bile,
phlegm, salt, fats and excess sugar from the blood and also expelled
The ceremonies were so popular in Wikwemikong that the health
authority paid to send Mr. Uyunkar back to Ecuador to obtain more
pieces of the vine used in making the drink. Mr. Uyunkar did not know
it is a banned substance in Canada, and without attempting to conceal
it, was able to bring it back through customs to continue the healing
ceremonies in Wikwemikong.
Jane Maiangowi, 71, began the three-day healing ceremony that led to
her death on Oct. 17, 2001, with her husband, Antoine, and grandson
Michael. They were told, along with 50 other participants, to stop
taking any other drugs and to fast as much as possible. Ms. Maiangowi,
a diabetic, stopped taking her prescribed Diamicron. She fasted.
[World Ministries Church] J. Killeen to be buried here today, brother
A man whose body decomposed for at least three weeks in a Southwest
Side home before his death was reported will be buried here today, his
James Killeen was cremated Tuesday morning at Desert Rose Cremation
and Burial, 2750 S. Fourth Ave., said his brother, Christopher
Killeen, who lives in Rhode Island. The burial will be at South Lawn
[Transcendental Mediation] National "Yogic Flying" Competition Comes
Members of the audience at Maharishi University cheered as yogic
flying players competed in four different events. Around 20 yogic
flying competitors used Transcendental Meditation to raise their
bodies feet into the air while sitting. "You feel like everything's
gonna be taken care of for you. And whatever you want to do, you'll be
able to do," said Michael Koren.
White Supremacist Group Fined $1,000 a Day
A federal judge ruled a group headed by a jailed white supremacist
should be fined $1,000 a day until it stops calling itself the World
Church of the Creator.
U.S. District Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow said Thursday the group
failed to comply with an order to stop using the name and was in
contempt of court.
Attorneys expressed doubt that Matthew Hale's organization has much
money to pay but said that individual members could be held
Hale, 31, was sued by the Oregon-based group TE-TE-MA Truth
Foundation, which claimed that it held a trademark on the name.
[Hate Groups] Hale's racist organization fined over trademark
Thursday, attorneys for the Oregon church said Hale's group was still
using the name, in violation of the court order, on its Web site, on
merchandise it was selling and in other instances.
"There has been some compliance, but not full compliance," the judge
said, agreeing to the penalties sought by the Oregon church's
Todd Reardon, representing Hale's group, which now calls itself the
Creativity Movement, said group members were trying to comply with the
NOTE: In light of the name change, Apologetics Index has created a new
entry on this hate group:
[Human Rights Violations, USA] Amnesty finds race factor in US death
Statistical evidence from the United States suggests that black
defendants convicted of killing whites have been sentenced to death 15
times more often than white defendants convicted of killing blacks,
according to a study published by Amnesty International yesterday.
The survey, based largely on recent investigations carried out by
individual states, suggests that race remains a powerful factor when
American juries decide whether to send convicts to death row, but that
the race of the victim is often more important than the race of the
[Polygamy] Sect leader objects to Santorum's polygamy comment
The leader of one of Utah's largest polygamist sects has objected to
Sen. Rick Santorum's lumping plural marriage with other practices the
Pennsylvania Republican considers to be antifamily.
Santorum has been under fire for comparing homosexuality to bigamy,
polygamy, incest and adultery.
Owen Allred, 89, head of the United Apostolic Brethren, based in the
Salt Lake City suburb of Bluffdale, agreed with Santorum in part.
''He is absolutely right. The people of the United States are doing
whatever they can to do away with the sacred rights of marriage,''
But Allred, who was quoted by The Salt Lake Tribune in Thursday's
edition, said Santorum's inclusion of polygamy in his list tarnishes a
religious tradition whose roots are traced to biblical figures such as
Abraham, Jacob and Moses - defiling them as ''immoral and dirty.''
[Aum Shinrikyo] Aum Shinrikyo developments
The following is a chronology of developments either involving or
allegedly linked to AUM Shinrikyo cult founder Shoko Asahara.
[Aum Shinrikyo] Aum trial points to system flaws
The trial of Aum Supreme Truth cult founder Chizuo Matsumoto, 48, also
known as Shoko Asahara, at the Tokyo District Court, which has taken
seven years so far, showcases the difficulty of speeding up court
Government reforms planned for the judicial systems call for all
first-stage trials to be finished within two years and for the
introduction of a mixed jury system, in which members of the public
will participate in criminal trials with judges.
After the reforms are implemented, a lengthy trial such as Matsumoto's
would not be tolerated. In addition to its length, Matsumoto's trial
highlighted other tasks reforms need to tackle.
[Aum Shinrikyo] A mere shell of a man
Prosecutors simply had no alternative but to seek the death penalty
Our outrage against the defendant is renewed. But we wonder how to
deal with the gnawing sense of futility and emptiness that remains.
Matsumoto never said anything coherent about the fundamental issues.
He uttered not one word of apology to the victims and their families.
Initially, Matsumoto was quite vocal, however incoherent, in court.
After having been harshly rebuked by a former follower for his
``crimes as guru,'' however, he locked himself up within his shell of
Who is this man-this accused who seems nothing more than a puny,
[Aum Shinrikyo] Evil spirit lives on in shabby man in court
Unashamed of his penchant for megalomania, the defendant once boasted
in court: ``I have become a creature with the capacity to move the
whole universe.'' But when he was given a chance to explain himself
under the Subversive Activities Prevention Law, he said many of his
instructions to members of his cult had not been followed and added
that he took it as a sign that his authority had tumbled.
This shows he is a person who can calculatingly humble himself,
depending on circumstances.
People are sometimes drawn to evil, but they cannot stand vulgarity, a
British novelist once observed. As cult leader, Matsumoto may have
bewitched his followers by exercising evil power. But only his vulgar
side stands out in the courtroom.
The gulf between the gravity of charges against him and the pettiness
of his behavior often leaves me speechless.
April 25, 2003
[Harry Potter] Judge orders schools to let Potter reappear
federal judge ordered Harry Potter books back onto an Arkansas school
district's library shelves Tuesday, rejecting a school board's claim
that tales of wizards and spells could harm school children.
Ruling in favor of a fourth-grader's parents, U.S. District Judge Jimm
Larry Hendren ordered the Cedarville School District to put the four
books in J.K. Rowling's popular series back in general circulation.
[Religious Intolerance] Teacher's Aide Suspended for Wearing Cross
teacher's aide is challenging her one-year suspension without pay for
wearing a cross necklace, which officials say violates a Pennsylvania
Public School Code prohibition against teachers wearing religious
"I got suspended April 8, 2003, for wearing a cross to work and not
being willing to either remove it or tuck it in," said Brenda Nichol,
43, of Indiana County.
Officials at ARIN Intermediate Unit 28 wouldn't comment on Nichol's
case specifically, but said their employee handbook is based on the
school code and prohibits all employees from wearing religious garb.
ARIN supplies teachers aides and other services to 11 school districts
and two technical schools in Armstrong and Indiana counties.
Nichol acknowledges she was told of the prohibition as far back as
1997, and was warned twice since March that wearing the necklace was
cause for suspension. Under the school code, she could be fired for a
"I think the public needs to know that there is a code out there that
is against our freedom," Nichol said. She has enlisted the help of the
American Center for Law and Justice, a Virginia-based public-interest
law firm founded in 1990 by Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson. The
group plans, but has not yet filed, a federal court lawsuit.
April 24, 2003
[AUM Shinrikyo] Aum facilities rocking social boat
The Aum Supreme Truth cult currently operates 28 facilities that carry
out its practices and promotional activities and about 120 residential
facilities that house its followers in 17 prefectures, The Yomiuri
Shimbun has learned.
Regarding the conflict between members of the cult and local
residents, Yoshihide Sakurai, an associate professor of the Graduate
School of Letters at Hokkaido University, said the cult had a
"self-centered" attitude, although laws of religion are meant to allow
freedom of activity.
Sakurai added: "It's no wonder local residents fear the cult. Cult
members should realize the responsibility to alleviate residents'
fears rests with them."
[AUM Shinrikyo] Aum Shinrikyo plagued by guru's whims, journalist says
The crimes perpetrated by the disciples of Shoko Asahara and those
allegedly committed by the Aum Shinrikyo guru himself were the product
of one man's whimsical impulses and not a concerted quest for power,
according to journalist Shoko Egawa.
Egawa has covered the cult extensively since the days when few people
were aware of its criminal activities.
[AUM Shinrikyo] Death demanded for Asahara
Exactly seven years after the trial began, prosecutors Thursday
demanded the death penalty for Aum Shinrikyo founder Shoko Asahara,
accused of masterminding two sarin attacks in the mid-1990s as well as
other heinous crimes.
The defense team is expected to present its final arguments in Oct. 30
and Oct. 31; a ruling is expected to be handed down early next year.
[AUM Shinrikyo] Prosecutors demand death penalty for AUM's Asahara
The 48-year-old Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, was
indicted on murder and other charges in 13 criminal cases, including
the March 1995 subway gassing that killed 12 people and injured more
The crimes also include a 1994 sarin gas attack in Matsumoto, Nagano
Prefecture, the killing of AUM cultists, and the murder of a lawyer,
who was helping people with complaints against AUM, and his family.
''The crimes are indiscriminate terrorism with not the slightest bit
of religiousness and are the most atrocious and heinous villainy in
criminal history,'' the prosecutors said in their 300-page closing
''The defendant preached a dangerous doctrine that affirms murder and
it is clear that he ordered the events. The claims that deny he did so
are false,'' they added.
[AUM Shinrikyo] Japan Doomsday Guru May Get Death Penalty
Asahara, who has denied the allegations but alternated between
incoherent ranting and sullen silence throughout most of the trial, is
also charged with ordering a series of other killings, assaults and
Prosecutors say he was involved in 26 deaths altogether.
He sat emotionless during most of his trial Thursday.
Nine of Asahara's top lieutenants have already been sentenced to death
for their roles in the subway attack and other cult-related crimes.
[Christianity] A new beginning; Former Wiccan joins the Episcopal
Diehl had attended other services at Christian churches, including
Episcopal services, as a high school and college student. That
exploration and discussion about Christianity were discouraged by
Diehl's mother, a practicing Wiccan.
"I got stuck with a lot negative stereotypes, that all Christians were
sheep," says Diehl, who also practiced Wicca, of her upbringing.
The death of her grandmother in November, the gentle nudging of her
fiance and her abandonment of the ceremonial side of Wicca all
contributed to Diehl's arriving at St. Paul's. After an initial trial
period, Diehl formalized her intention of joining the Episcopal Church
to the Rev. Warren Raasch, St. Paul's dean, in January.
[Hate Groups / Terrorism] FBI Keeps Heat on Domestic Terror Groups
Sept. 11, 2001, may have pushed April 19 [Branch Davidians tragedy]
out of America's consciousness. But while the public has largely
forgotten domestic-born terrorism, federal authorities haven't.
"The federal government has had remarkable success in [the past year]
getting rid of many of the most vocal leadership" of home-grown
extremist groups, said Brian Levin, director of the Center for the
Study of Hate and Extremism in San Bernardino, Calif. "Hate Takes a
Hit," crows the Southern Poverty Law Center's most recent
"Intelligence Report," which tracks extremist groups and militias.
[Faith Healing / Ariel Ben Sherman] Couple plead innocent in child
abuse death case
Trial for Jacqueline P. Crank, 42, and Ariel Ben Sherman, 74, was set
for Jan. 27 in Loudon County Criminal Court. They are free on bond.
Crank's daughter Jessica Crank, 15, died of bone cancer at the home
she shared with her mother and Sherman, who has been referred to in
court as the girl's "spiritual father."
[Religious Insanity / Islamism] Kiss gets Iranian actress suspended
sentence of 74 lashes
A prominent Iranian actress has been handed a suspended sentence of 74
lashes for publicly kissing a male film director during an awards
ceremony, a report said.
[Peyote] Mich. Judge Bars Peyote Use for Boy
A 4-year-old boy must wait until he is physically and emotionally
ready before he can ingest sacramental peyote at American Indian
ceremonies, a family court judge said.
In his 31-page decision Tuesday, Judge Graydon W. Dimkoff described
peyote as ``dangerous'' and prohibited the boy from ingesting the
peyote as a minor until he is fully aware of the implications and has
permission from both parents.
[Islam] Shi'ites show they can't be ignored
Yesterday's boisterous predawn scene sent a clear and, to some, an
alarming message: In Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein, Shi'ites
cannot be ignored.
The grass-roots response to the call to pilgrimage also raises a
specter that terrifies the White House: a replay of Iran's Islamic
Revolution of 1979.
But rifts within the Shi'ite clergy were also on display yesterday in
Karbala. How they play out could determine whether a new Iraqi
government has to contend with a fiery brand of politicized Islam or
whether the clerics will retreat to their center of learning, the
Hawza in Najaf, and serve solely as religious authorities.
[AUM Shinrikyo] Prosecutors expected to demand death penalty for Aum
For most of the trial, which began April 24, 1996, Asahara has kept
silent over his role in the alleged crimes. He pleaded not guilty to
all the charges on April 24, 1997, except for a VX nerve gas attack on
a man. He also has claimed that his followers committed the crimes
against his will.
He refused to respond to his lawyers and presiding Judge Shoji Ogawa
during all three questioning sessions held March 13, 27 and April 10
He last spoke in court in November 1999 as a witness in the trial of a
former senior Aum cultist. He then said he had not known that Aum
[Religion Trends / Internet] Believers flock to online religion
More New Zealanders are defining their spiritual journey online with
traffic to religion sites up on this time last year, according to
Hitwise, New Zealand's leading Internet competitive intelligence
So, why the increase in virtual religion?
According to Tessa Court, SVP of Hitwise, "given the range of choice
and information, there's little wonder that congregations are aging
and attendances at church services are down, with young people using
the Internet to define their spiritual journey and beliefs without
having to set foot in a church."
[Raelians] Little behind Clonaid, files reveal : But publicity raises
The fringe scientific group Clonaid, which earned international
notoriety last year by claiming to have cloned a human baby, has no
address, no board of directors, and only two employees, according to
sealed court documents obtained by the Globe. Yet the group is pushing
forward with plans to charge dozens of prospective cloning patients up
to $200,000 apiece for its services.
The picture that emerges from the documents, as well as from
interviews with Clonaid's tiny staff, is of a disorganized, amateurish
effort that nonetheless has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars
and has plans to gross even more.
Clonaid asserts it has continued work at full speed, allegedly cloning
its fifth baby recently, though no proof has been offered.
And the Raelian sect has seen its dues-paying membership swell by 10
percent because of all the publicity, according to its founder.
[Hate Crimes] Calif. Muslim teen sues over alleged hate attack
A Muslim teenager who was severely beaten in what he called a skinhead
attack sued four of his alleged attackers and their parents on
Wednesday for civil rights violations in California state court.
[Lucille Poulin] Ex-nun who beat kids released from P.E.I. jail
A former nun convicted of assaulting children at a religious commune
on Prince Edward Island was released from jail Thursday.
Lucille Poulin was sentenced to eight months after being convicted
last November of beating the children with a wooden paddle.
Some people in P.E.I. say they're worried that she will violate her
[Polygamy] Family, Colorado City church feud over property
A Colorado City family claims they are being evicted from their home
for refusing to allow their teenage daughter to enter a polygamist
Milton and Lenore Holm live in a house built on land owned by the
United Effort Plan, a trust controlled by the Fundamentalist Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, an offshoot of the Mormon church
that practices polygamy.
[Robin Marie Murphy] 'Cult murders' killer Murphy wants new trial
After serving 22 years of a life sentence, a former Fall River woman
-- a co-conspirator in the so-called "cult murders" in 1979 and 1980
-- will be in Superior Court tomorrow to request a new trial.
Robin Marie Murphy, 18 when she pleaded guilty to second-degree murder
in a plea bargain with prosecutors, will ask a Superior Court judge to
grant her a new trial because of "serious mistakes and omissions" she
alleges her trial attorney made.
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