Religion News Blog, June 16 - 17, 2003
- ReligionNewsBlog.com, June 17, 2003
[Prem Rawat / Elan Vital, Inc.] Don't waste your lives
A Senior church leader in Bristol has issued a stark warning after a
speaker on spiritual enlightenment packed the Colston Hall with two
recruitment conferences at the weekend. Canon Peter Bailey, a close
advisor to the Bishop of Bristol, said people should be free to make
their own minds up about the controversial organisation Elan Vital and
its leader Prem Rawat, once called Lord of the Universe by followers.
Despite the warning, Elan Vital denies it is a sect or religious
He was billed as a motivational speaker, but until just a few years
ago was known as the Guru Maharaj Ji, head of the Divine Light
Mission, a movement founded in India which attracted thousands of
[Transcendental Meditation] Celebrities push for Transcendental
Meditation center in L.A.
Celebrity backers of a proposed meditation center say the new "Peace
Center" would lift the spirits of city residents.
Practitioners of Transcendental Meditation want to build a $4 million
center where 200 followers of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi can gather twice a
day to practice a technique called "yogic flying." The goal, they say,
is to spread positive vibrations into the community to help reduce
tension and crime.
Backers include actors Stephen Collins, Laura Dern, Heather Graham and
Laura Harring as well as director David Lynch.
[Hate Groups] Rudolph waives hearing, will be jailed until trial
Eric Robert Rudolph agreed Monday to stay in jail until he is tried on
charges he bombed a Southside abortion clinic in 1998.
Defense attorneys said in a statement that after careful consideration
it is clear Rudolph will not get nor can he make bond. His hearing was
set for today.
Rudolph has been portrayed as anti-Semitic, anti-government and at one
point a follower of a white supremacist religion.
His defense lawyers said in its Monday statement that their
investigation continues to "bear out that there is no connection
between Eric Rudolph and extremist organizations."
[Mel Gibson] Gibson Rebuts Criticism of Religious Film
Actor and director Mel Gibson insists his forthcoming film about Jesus
Christ will "inspire not offend" Catholics and Jews.
The movie, directed by Gibson, stars James Caviezel as Christ during
the last 12 hours of his life and Monica Belluci as Mary Magdalene.
The reported $25 million production will feature dialogue only in
Latin and Aramaic with no English subtitles.
'"The Passion' is a movie meant to inspire not offend," Gibson said in
a statement published in the trade newspaper Variety on Friday. "My
intention in bringing it to the screen is to create a lasting work of
art and engender serious thought among audiences of diverse faith
[Islam] Speaker blasts Islam at Baptist gathering
For the second year in a row, a preacher at an event preceding the
Southern Baptist annual convention has slammed the religion of Islam.
One year after the Rev. Jerry Vines generated a year's worth of
controversy by calling the founder of Islam ''a demon-possessed
pedophile,'' Ergun Caner, a theology professor from Criswell College
in Dallas, picked up where Vines left off.
Caner, a Turkish immigrant who converted to Christianity as a child,
spoke to pastors at the denomination's annual convention yesterday
about his disdain for questions on why he switched religions.
''I didn't switch nothing,'' he said. ''I got saved. I went from
worshipping a false, dead idol to knowing the one true living
[Aum Shinrikyo] Shots fired at AUM facility in Osaka
Several shots have been fired at an AUM Shinrikyo facility in Osaka's
Nishinari-ku, but no one was injured in the incident, police said
A mysterious caller to several media organizations claimed
responsibility for the attack on the doomsday cult's training
[Hate Groups] Amnesty refuses to support campaign for Zundel's release
Under pressure from supporters of Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel to
denounce his imprisonment, Amnesty International has instead issued a
policy statement declaring it has no concerns over his incarceration.
"Amnesty International does not consider Ernst Zundel to be a prisoner
of conscience and is not calling for his release," says a statement
issued by the London-based International Secretariat of Amnesty
The policy was drafted last week in response to a growing number of
queries about the case.
Mr. Zundel's supporters have been lobbying Amnesty International --
the world's foremost human rights organization -- to join the campaign
against his detention by the Canadian government.
"Amnesty International does not adopt persons who are imprisoned for
'hate speech' as prisoners of conscience," Amnesty International's
[Jim Bakker] Bakker's back
Since January, Bakker, 63, and his new wife, Lori Graham Bakker, have
been turning up here each weekday morning to record an hour-long show
of music, pious chat and, of course, old-fashioned preaching.
On hand every day to ensure an atmosphere of wholesome devotion to
Bakker, are the paying customers of the 260-seat café, nearly all
tourists visiting Branson, cheering him on while shovelling down
barbecued ribs and eight-inch-high chocolate gateaux.
Bakker, in other words, has made a swift journey from shamed to
shameless. When the new Jim Bakker Show hit the airwaves in January,
it was 16 years to the day since his last PTL appearance. Yet the sins
that were subsequently unearthed were surely enough to make any
resurrection in the TV evangelising business an utter impossibility.
[Christianity] Former Charles Manson follower tells of redemption
Dennis Rice looks like he's ready to give a talk on real estate law.
The 64-year-old's receding gray hair, wireless spectacles, yellow tie
and office blue shirt don't give any hints about his previous life --
as a member of the most feared cult in modern American history, the
Now a minister with a not-for-profit church based in Tempe, Ariz.,
Rice told about 25 congregants at The Door Christian Church in
Pembroke Pines on Sunday how he became involved with Charles Manson,
and his journeys in and out of prison. He focused mostly on how he
redeemed himself through Christianity.
[Satanic and/or Ritual Abuse] Old black magic: Does Scott Peterson
have a dated defense strategy?
When Jeffrey Victor, a sociologist who studies the occult, learned
Scott Peterson's defense team may blame a satanic cult for the murder
of his wife and unborn child, he couldn't help but shake his head.
"Not this again, not this nonsense," Victor recalled thinking.
If much of the country seemed intrigued by reports that Laci
Peterson's disappearance coincided with a "satanic high holiday" and
that her body showed signs of a ritual murder, Victor and others who
were on the front lines during what he calls the "satanic panic" of
the late 1980s and early 1990s were more circumspect. To them,
Peterson may be the suspect of the moment, but his defense, if he uses
it, seems a thing of the past.
"What's being raised in California is kind of a vestige from a
national obsession of 15 or so years ago," said anthropologist Phillip
Stevens Jr. of the years when allegations of vast, international
Satanic cults committing ritual murders and child abuse dominated
afternoon talk shows. The allegations resulted in scores of
controversial prosecutions and civil suits against day care centers
Back then, Stevens, a professor at the State University of New York at
Buffalo, contributed to a report that investigated nearly 12,500
alleged instances of Satanic activity and concluded there was no
evidence such cults even existed. He said recently, "This is a
non-issue now. It burned itself out. People finally wised up."
[Christianity] Keeping the Faith, Differently
If one thing can be said of Conrad Tillard, it is that he never shied
away from the incendiary remark.
If another might be permitted, it could be that he is not too proud to
change his mind.
Mr. Tillard is the former minister of Mosque No. 7 in Harlem who made
an infamous career as a slinger of slurs when he served as the Nation
of Islam's chief representative in New York. He once referred to a
Brooklyn assemblyman as a "snotty-nosed Jewish politician." He often
repeated the view of some members of the Nation that the white man is
These days, however, Conrad Tillard, once known as Conrad Muhammad, is
emerging from a five-year metamorphosis that has transformed him from
a fist-shaking black nationalist to a Bible-quoting Baptist preacher.
He has returned to the name of his birth. He has also returned to the
faith he practiced as a child.
ReligionNewsBlog.com, June 16, 2003
[House of Prayer] Three convicted House of Prayer members remain
Police said they are still pursuing the leader House of Prayer church,
who was convicted on child cruelty charges and has evaded arrest for
three months since missing a probation hearing.
The Rev. Arthur Allen, 71, and two followers, 46-year-old David Duncan
and 42-year-old Sharon Duncan, have eluded police since March, when
they skipped a hearing to determine whether they had violated their
probation by not attending parental counseling courses.
[Mind Control] Joyce Brothers: Test your knowledge about mind control
Do most people have built-in resistance to thought control or
brainwashing? Is our ability to resist it directly related to our
intelligence? Is timing important to mind control? Do methods of
brainwashing differ from place to place and year to year? Can there be
permanent damage to hostages who undergo brainwashing in time of war?
Is the Stockholm syndrome related to the United Nations and the
current war? How much do you know about this subject?
[Meditation] Meditation has its practitioners in San Antonio
It's been more than 30 years since the Beatles went to India to study
transcendental meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
Although transcendental meditation, or "TM," is not as popular as it
became then, it has kept a following and new forms of meditation are
The topic will be addressed in an upcoming issue of Time magazine, and
a recent segment on NBC's "Today" show focused on TM, while San
Antonio has seen the formation of groups that practice Falun Gong,
rainbow/crystal meditation and centering prayer in the past five
[UCKG] 'Cult' church plan opposed
The church that believed evil spirits possessed child abuse victim
Victoria Climbié is set to be refused permission to move into a
disused south London cinema.
The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG) applied to turn the
former ABC cinema in Catford into a place of worship, conference
centre, meeting hall and library.
But next week councillors are expected to refuse the application
because the loss of the leisure facility - although closed - is
contrary to council policy.
[Order of Saint Charbel] Catholic priest cast out over cult
The Catholic Church has excommunicated a priest who tried to have
himself made a bishop without the Pope's permission.
Wollongong Bishop Peter Ingham announced the excommunication of Father
Malcolm Broussard - a follower of the Little Pebble cult - and any
Catholic who adheres to him.
But the Little Pebble, William Kamm, said yesterday the
excommunication was invalid and revealed plans to sue the church for
"defamation, religious persecution and . . . other things".
His group, the Order of St Charbel, claims to have 500,000 members in
160 countries but only a couple of hundred in Australia. It was
founded in Nowra, after Mr Kamm reported receiving visions and
messages from the Virgin Mary, who gave him the name Little Pebble.
The Catholic Church has formally repudiated the cult.
[Hate Groups / Scientology] Scientology's image
Scientology officials have gotten smarter about public relations, but
they shouldn't be surprised that most local residents still remember
their past tactics.
Many Pinellas County residents know the story of how the Church of
Scientology slipped into Pinellas under a different name in 1975 and
began buying property in downtown Clearwater, where it established its
international religious retreat known as Flag. They remember the
clashes that followed between Clearwater city officials and
Scientology, the church's penchant for secrecy and the disinformation
campaign hatched by the organization to discredit a city official who
They also know something about the origins of Scientology: that it was
created by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, that some of its
teachings are based on Hubbard's theory that harmful "engrams" or
painful memories were planted in the brains of earthlings, and that
Scientologists pay thousands of dollars to be purged of those negative
feelings through church-designed counseling known as "auditing."
Many Pinellas residents also remember hearing that a member of the
Church of Scientology, Lisa McPherson, died in 1995 after being kept
in the care of staffers in the church's Fort Harrison building.
Because they know all that, some of them have strong opinions about
Scientology, and it should come as no surprise that many of those
opinions are negative. What is surprising, given the history of the
church in Pinellas, is that Scientology officials are shocked by how
many Pinellas residents distrust or dislike their organization.
What did they expect?
The church recently hired professional researchers to survey 300
shoppers at a St. Petersburg mall to learn their opinions of
Scientology, Flag and the McPherson case. The results: Four out of
five people questioned had something negative to say. They freely used
words like "cult," "scam," "strange" and "brainwashing."
[Hate Groups / Scientology] Scientologists accept Clearwater trial
Attorneys for the Church of Scientology in Clearwater withdrew their
request Tuesday to transfer a civil case to Palm Beach or Broward
In a letter to the judge on the breach-of-contract case, an attorney
for the church wrote that since the court date was only four weeks
away, the church would try for a fair jury panel there.
The Scientologists previously argued that they could not continue in
the Clearwater area because a survey conducted by the church had shown
a bias in the area.
[Order of Saint Charbel] Doomsday cult set to grow
A doomsday sect plans a large-scale expansion in Australia.
The sect - which claims an association with the Catholic Church - is
headed by Malcolm Broussard, who practiced as a Catholic priest in the
Fr Broussard was this week excommunicated from the Catholic Church.
NSW-based Father Broussard has proclaimed on his website to be the
Order of St Charbel's first bishop.
ApologeticsIndex.org / ReligionNewsBlog.com