Religion News Blog, Apr. 27 - 29, 2003
- April 29, 2003
[Panawave] Cultists fearing microwave attack whitewash roadside
Some 40 members of a bizarre cult have taken over a 200-meter stretch
of road in Gifu Prefecture, covering up crash barriers and roadside
trees with huge white cloths, it was learned Tuesday.
Officials of Hachiman and Yamato, the two central Japan towns that
manage the Omami road, have urged members of the Fukui-based cult, the
"Panawave Laboratory," to move out but they have refused to comply.
The group claims that electromagnetic waves are causing catastrophic
environmental destruction, including a rise in temperature. The
damages caused by the waves will ultimately result in the end of the
earth, according to the cult.
They also allege that scalar wave attacks are being carried out by
communist terrorists who have dispersed around the world following the
break up of the Soviet Union.
Panawave members always wear white garments saying that they protect
them from the ill-effects of electromagnetic waves. They have
previously been in trouble with authorities for blocking traffic and
covering road signs, signals and trees with white cloths.
[Twelve Tribes] Controversy Continues To Surround Alleged Cult
Twenty years ago the town of Island Pond made national headlines. The
charge? An extremist cult was abusing its children.
Those charges have been dropped and now the group is bigger than ever,
with 3,000 members around the world.
They live together in communities, giving up all of their possessions
to await the second coming.
The Twelve Tribes are everywhere.
Members preach on Church Street in Burlington.
They built Muddy Waters on Main Street.
They make Common Sense products, sold in the City Market.
There are 30 communities in dozens of states and countries.
Plattsburgh State Professor Richard Robbins has studied the group and
convinced students that it's no more cult than Christianity.
"I'm not religious, but I find their way of life appealing," he said.
"We know we're not a cult because each person has the free will to do
what they choose," Whitten added. The sad part is that the truth
hasn't gotten out."
NOTE: See the updated Apologetics Index entry on the Twelve Tribes,
proving Prof. Robbins wrong in his baseless assertions:
April 28, 2003
[Islam] Muslim leaders rip biased Islamic school textbooks
Two prominent New York Muslim leaders have taken to the pulpit to
condemn anti-Semitic and anti-Christian textbooks used at local
After hearing about a March 30 Daily News exposè on the textbooks,
Imam Omar Namus of the Islamic Cultural Center on E. 96th St. publicly
criticized the books before a gathering of almost 1,000 during Friday
prayers at the Osman Bin Affan Mosque on E. 55th St.
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who presides over the Al-Farah Mosque in
Tribeca, also criticized the textbooks during Friday prayers before
about 300 worshipers.
[Taliban] Pakistan Vows Crackdown on Taliban Remnants
Pakistan on Monday vowed to act against Afghan Taliban leaders who
might have been operating from its territory, but denied reports that
the elusive chief of the Islamic militia was in the country.
Christianity] Bible scholars seek to polish Mary Magdalene's image
The name Mary Magdalene conjures up a Hollywood image of a voluptuous
temptress, possibly a prostitute, who after hearing the message of
Jesus of Nazareth sees the error of her ways and repents of her sinful
But there's a problem with that popular image. It's not true.
Look closely at the text, biblical scholars say. There are seven
mentions of Mary Magdalene in the four Gospels and in none is there
any indication that she engaged in prostitution, adultery or any other
[Ethics / Netherlands] Amsterdam trip
A policy of tolerance in the Netherlands has created an indifferent
view of marijuana and one of the lowest pot-smoking rates in the
[Colonia Dignidad] Rich commune exists in shadow of dark roots
The rows of corn grow tall and straight at Colonia Dignidad, one of
the world's richest communes. Its timber products, baked goods and
sausage, renowned for their quality, are sold nationwide. Its 65-bed
hospital provides the region's best health care. One of the commune's
elderly German hausfraus seems friendly enough, offering a traveler
some apple juice for the road.
But the shadow of its founder and longtime leader, Paul Schaefer - a
former Nazi and Baptist preacher who fled Germany in 1961 amid charges
that he had sexually abused boys in an orphanage he ran there - hangs
over the secretive 70-square-mile commune. So does the dark reputation
it got during the military dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet, when
survivors say Colonia Dignidad provided hospitality to interrogators
and torturers in his secret police.
Chilean investigators say more than 70 criminal investigations are
pending against the settlement, Schaefer or other residents, including
tax evasion, fraud, kidnapping and sexual abuse of children.
[Catholic Church] Monk who gave cappuccino its name beatified
The Pope yesterday beatified a 17th-century friar credited with
halting a Muslim invasion of Europe and in the process gave the world
As the Turks fled, legend has it, they left behind sacks of coffee
which the Christians found too bitter, so they sweetened it with honey
The drink was called cappuccino after the Capuchin order of monks, to
which d'Aviano belonged.
[Religion Trends] 69% of Russians Say They Profess a Religion
In recent years the number of Russians who consider themselves
religious believers and the number of Russians who consider themselves
Orthodox has increased. According to a recent survey by the Public
Opinion fund , this year 69% of respondents said that they profess a
religion. Moreover, 59% of those questioned identified themselves as
Orthodox, 8% Muslim and 2% other religions. 30% of those questioned
did not consider themselves religious. In 1997 the same index had 62%
professing a religion and 38% not professing a religion.
[Americanism] U.S. Forfeits Claim To Moral Authority
The Bush administration's doctrine of pre-emptive first strike
represents a radical departure from previous U.S. national security
doctrine and national values.
As this country veers wildly off the course set by our founders, the
United States and the world desperately need new leadership who, like
Eisenhower, understand that the United States cannot assert moral
leadership in the world if the rest of the world perceives that it has
abandoned a foreign policy premised upon respect for the rule of law
and established international norms.
[Islam] For Muslims, a Mixture of White House Signals
When President Bush travels to Dearborn, Mich., on Monday to speak to
Iraqi exiles and other Arab-Americans, he will trail behind him
considerable uncertainty about his administration's intentions toward
Since the 2001 terrorist attacks, Mr. Bush has consistently said that
Islam is a religion of peace and warned against anti-Muslim prejudice.
Yet he also recently nominated to a government institute a scholar,
Daniel Pipes, who has enraged many American Muslims by suggesting that
mosques are breeding grounds for militants and that Muslims in
government and military positions should be given special attention as
Mr. Bush reached out to Muslims in the 2000 presidential campaign,
viewing them as a potentially significant voting bloc that tends to be
conservative on social issues. But he has also embraced evangelical
Christian leaders who have cast Islam as evil and has adopted much of
the foreign policy agenda of neoconservative thinkers who view Islamic
fundamentalism as perhaps the gravest threat to national security.
Some political analysts and scholars said the inconsistent signals
coming from the White House reflected a tension between two factors.
On one side, they said, is Mr. Bush's instinct that his party should
stand for tolerance and inclusion, for both moral and electoral
reasons. On the other, they said, is the political reality that he
cannot afford to alienate and may not want to alienate Christian
conservatives, who make up much of his base of support, or the
neoconservative foreign policy hawks whose influence on his
administration has been profound.
[Seventhday Adventism] Anti-abortion protests end in Adventist church
Steve Decker, a 54-year-old Renton man, says he has demonstrated
against abortion outside several local Seventh-day Adventist churches
weekly for most of the past year for the same reason he joined the
church in the first place: his belief in the Bible.
But now his demonstrating has led to his ouster from the church, and
ire from a neighborhood.
Decker said he was expelled April 19 from membership in the Redmond
Seventh-day Adventist Church because, he believes, "our church is
embarrassed and humiliated that I'm exposing the Seventh-day Adventist
Church's position on abortion."
Pastor Chad Carlton of the Redmond church said it is not Decker's
anti-abortion stance that led the church to make its move. Rather,
"we've communicated with Steve that we disagree with his methods."
[Christianity] LSU speaker offers 'rational' proof for Christianity
The main dilemma William Lane Craig faces when he speaks at different
universities is, "There's not enough evidence," he said.
But Craig is convinced the evidence for Christianity is not quite
coercive but significantly rational.
In other words, he said he thinks the evidence would not compel
someone whose heart was closed to believe in Jesus, but the evidence
is enough to rationalize Christianity.
The Campus Crusade for Christ brought Craig to Louisiana State
University to hold three different speaking engagements this week.
[Hare Krishna] Molestation case may involve 3 girls
Investigators will be speaking to a third girl in connection with a
Gainesville man already accused of molesting two girls at the Hare
Krishna Student Center in Gainesville earlier this month.
On April 11, Gainesville Police received a report from the center's
director about an investigation by the Hare Krishna Child Protection
Team into the alleged April 4 incident, Gainesville Police Sgt. Keith
Scott McGregor, the Krishna center's director, said Garcia sometimes
"He did have a time in his life when he was more involved," McGregor
Garcia also had previously lived at the center, McGregor said, but has
not been a resident for the past several years.
McGregor, whose spiritual name is Savyasaci das, credited the child
protection team, saying they have offered counseling to the girls
involved in case and initiated the investigation that led to the
[Hare Krishna] Hare Krishna Behind Bars
A religious group in shock after one of their own ends up behind bars.
Forty-four year old Pedro Garcia is in the Alachua County Jail, after
Gainesville Police arrested him for lewd and lascivious molestation
[Evolution / Creationism] Texas Tech professor changes evolution
The Justice Department has ended its investigation of a complaint
against a Texas Tech University biology professor after he stopped
requiring that students believe in evolution to receive a letter of
The department said this week that professor Michael Dini eliminated
the evolution-belief requirement and replaced it with a requirement
that students be able to explain the theory of evolution, The
Associated Press reported.
April 27, 2003
[Islam] Rumsfeld Rules Out Religious Iraqi Government
Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld is ruling out an Iran-style
religious government in Iraq as well as any attempt by Syria and
others in the region to influence Iraq's future.
``If you're suggesting, how would we feel about an Iranian-type
government with a few clerics running everything in the country, the
answer is: That isn't going to happen,'' Rumsfeld said.
On the other hand, Secretary of State Colin Powell said religious
Muslims should not be precluded from governing Iraq.
[Religious Persecution] Laos evicts three families for not renouncing
Authorities in southern Laos have evicted three Christian families
from their homes for refusing to renounce their religious beliefs,
according to Radio Free Asia (RFA), in a move condemned by the US
[Spiritism] Scottish academics find proof of mediums' ability to use
Scottish academics claim to have found scientific proof of a 'sixth
sense' after completing radical experiments which seek to establish
how spiritual mediums obtain information supposedly transmitted from
beyond the grave.
The controversial research, led by a University of Glasgow professor,
appears to discount the common assumption that mediums are merely
picking up signals from body language, or relying on guesswork and
[Mariology] Virgin Mary 'weeps' once more
The Rockingham statue of the Virgin Mary, which became the centre of
world attention last year when it appeared to be "weeping"
rose-scented tears, began crying again over the Easter weekend.
[Cult Apologists] Odd Gods: New Religions & the Cult Controversy (Book
Review by Janja Lalich)
Odd Gods: New Religions & the Cult Controversy, JAMES R. LEWIS (ED.),
Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2001, 435 pp., $33.00 (cloth).
Lewis's purpose, stated clearly at the outset, is to counter the
general public's negative perception of cults and new religious
movements (NRMs), which he maintains is fueled by press exposes and
Most of the book is devoted to entries of varying lengths, many of
which have been vetted by the groups themselves, although the reader
does not know which ones.
Certainly it is a challenge to pull together information on dozens of
groups and try to represent them accurately. I commend Lewis for his
perseverance in that regard. About two dozen entries are authored by
other scholars with specialties in a particular area. Perhaps my
biggest reservation about this book is that it contains practically no
new information. In the Preface we learn that all 19 chapters are
taken from two of Lewis's other works.
Note: See Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi's devastating evaluation of cult
apologist James R. Lewis' so-called 'research':
For more on Lewis, his pro-cult activities, his shoddy research, his
false claims, etcetera, see:
[Religious Persecution] Christian receives life sentence in Pakistan
A court in Pakistan has sentenced a Christian to life in prison for
blasphemy, police officials said Sunday.
International and Pakistani human rights groups say the nation's
blasphemy laws are easily abused and unfair because the accused have
the burden to prove their innocence.
ApologeticsIndex.org / ReligionNewsBlog.com