Religion News Blog, May 8, 2003
- ReligionNewsBlog.com, May 8, 2003
[Word of Faith Fellowship] Officials mum on WOFF hearing
A juvenile court hearing regarding children inside The Word of Faith
Fellowship was called off on Wednesday after attorneys apparently
reached an agreement outside the courtroom.
Earlier this year, DSS filed motions requesting the names of all
children 5- years-old and younger who were members of the church.
[Hate Groups : Scientology] Scientology gets lift from Cruise
Church Of Scientology officials are hoping Hollywood star Tom Cruise's
popularity in Taranaki will ignite interest in his religion.
The Auckland-based church will hold a two-day exhibition in New
Plymouth this weekend in an effort to enlighten people on the
philosophies of the religion.
Church director Mike Ferris said publicity surrounding Cruise's
religious beliefs since arriving in New Zealand had undoubtedly helped
raise the church's profile in the country.
[Panawave] TELEVIEWS / Tama-chan, star of river and screen
And now the Televiews award for the best continuing series of the
spring TV season...and the winner is: "The World According to
The story reached a stunning turning point at the end of Episode 6
when the wide shows, always willing to serve as the nation's devoted
deputy sheriffs, got their first helicopter shots of the Shiro-shozoku
(also known as the Pana Wave Research Center), the strange sect that
had masterminded the Tama-chan abduction/rescue plan of fan club B.
[Panawave] NPA promises to keep monitoring Pana Wave cult
"The bizarre nature of its members' outfits plus a sense they are
strange are causing public anxiety," Sato told a regular news
conference. "We have no plan to change our policy to build up efforts
to resolve these concerns."
[Catholic Church] Md. Priest Charged With Child Sex Abuse
A priest who was shot three times last year by a man who accused him
of sexual abuse has been charged with molesting the shooter as a
The Rev. Maurice Blackwell, 57, was expected to report to authorities
to face four child sexual abuse charges Thursday, a day after he was
indicted by a grand jury. Each charge carries a maximum penalty of 15
years in prison.
[Interfaith] Pursuing an Evangelical-Muslim dialogue
Top American evangelicals met in Washington Wednesday to begin the
daunting process of trying to square a circle.
Here is the problem: How do you dialogue with Muslims without engaging
in syncretism - the mixing of religions traditional Christians eschew?
How do you proceed without minimizing, on the one hand, the difference
between Christianity and Islam - and without trading gratuitous
insults on the other, as Diane Knippers, President of the Institute on
Religion and Democracy, phrased it? At a Consultation on Evangelical
Christian-Muslim Relations, organized by the IRD and the National
Association of Evangelicals, fellow conservative Christians, such as
the Rev. Franklin Graham, were gently rebuked for calling Islam a
wicked and evil faith.
The 60-odd participants in Wednesday's consultation all seemed to
agree that a dialogue was essential, even though a survey of
evangelical leaders in the U.S. revealed that 77 percent had an
unfavorable view of Islam.
In a poll commissioned by the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a
Washington-based think tank, and belief.net, an Internet publication,
76 percent of the respondents said Islam opposes religious freedom.
Almost as many (72 percent) stated that Islam is against pluralism and
democracy and the Sharia legal system violates human freedom. Only 10
percent agreed with President George W. Bush that Islam is "a religion
To dialogue well with Muslims, the IRD presented to the consultation
Guidelines marked by great theological rigor. These Guidelines hold it
"appropriate and necessary to... seek to understand Islam and Muslim
Christians are to open themselves to "talk with all varieties and
stations of Muslims (and) give testimony to the Gospel of Jesus
Christ, because it is our duty to do so."
Clearly rejecting the mushy approach by some mainline Protestants to
interfaith discussions, the Guidelines advise evangelicals to "make
sure that Christians entering into dialogue with Muslims have a firm
grasp of an orthodox faith in the mainstream of the Christian
NOTE: Link to the guidelines published by the IRD:
[Gambling] Bennetts gambling reveals split in Catholic, Protestant
Since William Bennett, author of The Book of Virtues, was revealed
as a high-stakes casino player, several Protestant organizations have
lamented his gambling, which they consider sinful.
But groups from the Roman Catholic Church, Bennetts own denomination,
have remained largely silent, reflecting a long-standing split in
Christianity over gaming.
[Islam] Christians condemn anti-Islam talk
In an unusual public rebuke, leading evangelical Christians condemned
derogatory statements about Islam by the Rev. Franklin Graham and
others among their fellow religious conservatives. They also pledged
to improve relations with Muslims.
The evangelicals meeting Wednesday said the derisive comments
endangered Christian missionaries in the Muslim world, strained
already tense interfaith relations and fed the perception in the
Mideast and beyond that the war on terrorism is a Christian crusade
[Falun Gong] Pitt researcher's wife released from labor camp in China
A University of Pittsburgh researcher said his wife, a member of the
banned Falun Gong spiritual movement, has been released from a forced
labor camp in China.
Cailu Xu said that over the weekend he spoke to his wife, Xiaomei Jai,
for the first time in 18 months.
Xu, also a practitioner of Falun Gong, fled his native country after
his wife was arrested in November 2001. He left China last summer to
attend an academic conference in Boston and has not returned.
[Panawave] Countdown to doomsday: What makes a cult leader tick?
About the only constant in Yuko Chino's apparently soon to be over
life is that other people have nearly always regarded her as something
of a kook. Those who knew her as a child almost universally describe
the ailing 69-year-old cult leader as a weirdo. Much of Japan remains
befuddled as her white-clad followers from Panawave Laboratory drape
unblemished cloth along the roads as they traverse the countryside in
preparation for what they believe will be the end of the world later
[Panawave] Koizumi urges cult not to inconvenience others
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on Wednesday urged a white-robed
doomsday group "not to cause inconvenience to other people," as its
caravan of vehicles stopped once again on its journey through central
Japan, this time on a sightseeing road in the mountains of Nagano
[Amina Lawal] Saving Amina
Five million people signed a petition to save this Nigerian woman from
being stoned to death next month. But, say experts, the protest is
mistaken and may even harm her cause. Libby Brooks investigates
[Amina Lawal] False Information About Amnesty International's Campaign
on Amina Lawal
Amnesty International today moved to correct misleading information
falsely attributed to one of the web pages of the Spanish section of
Amnesty International. Information has been widely distributed by
email falsely claiming that Amina Lawal's execution had been set for 3
June 2003 and referring to Amnesty International as a source.
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