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Religion News Blog, June 18, 2003

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  • Anton Hein
    ReligionNewsBlog.com, June 18, 2003 [Magnificat Meal Movement] Magnificent Mercs and millions http://www.religionnewsblog.com/archives/00003461.html ... Cult
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 18, 2003
      ReligionNewsBlog.com, June 18, 2003

      [Magnificat Meal Movement] Magnificent Mercs and millions
      :===Begin Quote===
      Cult leader Debra Geileskey who claims she has visions of the Virgin
      Mary has amassed a property empire worth more than $3.5 million.

      The former school teacher whose Magnificat Meal Movement headquarters
      are based at Helidon, 80km west of Brisbane, also owns four
      Mercedes-Benz with matching number plates.

      Land title searches show she owns or part owns at least 20 properties,
      including homes, farms, offices, shops and units.

      In the past 18 months, Ms Geileskey and companies in which she is the
      sole director bought $2.3 million worth of property in the Gatton,
      Laidley and Livingstone shires.

      Among last year's purchases was a $950,000 orchard, a $590,000 cattle
      property, $300,000 tropical fruit farm and a $285,000 house site.

      Ms Geileskey is a director of 10 companies, and often uses the name
      Debra Burslem.

      She owns or part owns about a dozen properties in Helidon's Railway
      St, the town's main street.

      Ms Geileskey attracted world-wide attention with claims she received
      messages from Jesus and the Virgin Mary.
      :===End Quote===

      [Worldwide Church of God] Doctrinal Aftershocks
      :===Begin Quote===
      Ten years ago, leaders in the Worldwide Church of God (WCG) began
      denouncing the fringe beliefs of their founder and transforming their
      church into an evangelical denomination. This revolutionary
      theological shift caused congregations and families to splinter. It
      also sparked a financial Armageddon in the highly visible movement of
      150,000 people.

      Now church leaders propose a physical shift that they say will
      determine the church's future. They want to turn their valuable
      55-acre Ambassador College campus in upscale Pasadena into about 1,500
      residential units. Church officials say selling the headquarters will
      secure the church's financial foundation, provide pensions for its
      pastors, and create much-needed housing for city residents.
      :===End Quote===

      [Hate Groups] Prosecutors don't want Hale trial moved
      :===Begin Quote===
      The government disagrees that media coverage has been pervasive and
      rebutted the defense's suggestion that central Illinoisans are more
      familiar with Hale and less likely to be shocked by bad press.
      Prosecutors doubt the long history of Hale coverage in the U.S.
      Central District would somehow "dull the senses of prospective

      "Understandably, defendant cites no legal authority to support the
      notion that some media coverage can create so much prejudice that a
      change of venue is warranted, but an extreme amount of media coverage
      can somehow 'cure' any potential prejudice," Assistant U.S. Attorney
      David Weisman wrote in a 19-page response filed Monday.

      In addition, prosecutors contend that before his arrest in Chicago,
      "the defendant's own penchant for media coverage has been the driving
      factor in his repeated appearances in the media."
      :===End Quote===

      [Obituary] Robert Vaughn Young. Death of a Hero.
      :===Begin Quote===
      From: grahameb@... (Graham Berry)
      Newsgroups: alt.religion.scientology
      Date: 15 Jun 2003 20:28:59 -0700

      Robert Vaughn Young

      It is with great sadness that I have learned of the death of Robert
      Vaughn Young. He died early Sunday afternoon June 15, 2003 after a
      long illness.

      In the late 1980s Vaughn "escaped" from Scientology with his then wife
      Stacy Brooks. He was one of the highest level executives to have ever
      defected from the church. In 1993 Vaughn and Stacy agreed to testify
      as expert witnesses in litigation then being handled by Dan Leipold,
      Esq. and myself. The rest of that story is also history.
      :===End Quote===

      [Falun Gong] Commission weighs Falun Gong stand
      :===Begin Quote===
      The Lohs and three other Falun Gong practitioners asked the city's
      human relations commissioners Monday night to write a letter to the
      Chinese government condemning its persecution of the movement.

      After a 30-minute debate over the role of the commission, members
      unanimously agreed to write a letter to U.S. Rep. Pete Stark, Sen.
      Dianne Feinstein and Sen. Barbara Boxer informing them that local
      residents have been affected by China's Falun Gong crackdown.

      "As a melting pot, we have to address issues like (Falun Gong),"
      Commissioner Mohamad Rajabally said at the meeting.
      :===End Quote===

      [Judaism] Pre-teens reclaim Judaism
      :===Begin Quote===
      Rabbi Ari Korenblit, the spiritual leader of Temple Sholom, said that
      this year alone, attendance at the synagogue's Hebrew school rose from
      18 to more than 100. Many new students are from Russian families who
      recently moved to Mill Basin or Bergen Beach.

      "We are getting the children of the victims of communism," the rabbi
      said. "Communism's theology was anti-religion. In their birthing
      centers in some cities, there were signs that said, 'There is no god.'
      That was their religion."

      Korenblit said that while some Russian newcomers do not participate in
      religious life because it is not part of their tradition, other
      families are embracing Judaism.
      :===End Quote===

      [Harry Potter] Release of new Harry Potter book causes a marketing
      :===Begin Quote===
      This time, merchandisers are leaving nothing to the imagination. When
      the next installment, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, goes
      on sale at midnight Friday, fans can buy officially licensed
      paraphernalia like a Harry Potter robe with built-in fiberoptic
      lights, ($55.99), a battery-powered magic wand with flashing lights
      and sound effects ($12.99) and forehead-scar makeup ($7.49).

      J.K. Rowling, the author of the series, has often said she wanted to
      protect her stories from becoming encrusted with marketing pitches and
      merchandising plugs, but she may have finally lost the battle.
      :===End Quote===

      [Hate Groups] Rightwing religions: where do they come from?
      :===Begin Quote===
      South Africa's rightwing religions originated historically from a
      British movement dating from the nineteenth century, says Free State
      University theologian Sybrand Strauss.

      The British Israel movement expounded the theory that the British were
      the real descendants of Biblical Israel and thus God's only chosen
      people, says Strauss.

      They argued that the 10 so-called lost tribes of Israel, who vanished
      from history after being conquered in 720 before Christ, eventually
      settled in Britain.

      Strauss, who earlier studied South Africa's rightwing sects for the
      Dutch Reformed Church, says it is not clear how Afrikaners became
      involved in this movement.

      However, a variation of the classic British Israel theory states that
      not only the British are descendants of Israel's 10 lost tribes, but
      all the white peoples of the world.
      :===End Quote===

      [Jehovah's Witnesses] Blainville won't back down from Jehovah's
      Witness battle
      :===Begin Quote===
      The city of Blainville, Que. is appealing a ruling that struck down a
      bylaw that restricted door-to-door solicitation by Jehovah's

      The Quebec Superior Court ruled the bylaw violated their basic
      religious freedoms, but the city isn't giving up. It says
      municipalities have a right to limit religious freedoms.

      Blainville enacted the bylaw in 1996 after some residents complained
      they were being woken up by Jehovah's Witnesses on the weekends.

      It forbids all door-to-door solicitation on weekends and after 7:30
      p.m. And those who want to canvass at all can only do so for two
      months of the year, with a permit.
      :===End Quote===

      [Father Divine] For the faithful, Father Divine is still God
      :===Begin Quote===
      Since his death, his widow and other believers have done their best to
      preserve Father Divine's presence and sustain the religious movement
      he founded in New York during the first half of the 20th century.

      The International Peace Mission still maintains its stunning hilltop
      estate in Gladwyne, outside Philadelphia, church offices in downtown
      Philadelphia and a budget hotel - the Divine Tracy - near the
      University of Pennsylvania campus.

      Believers, most of whom are now in their 70s and 80s, still gather
      regularly to sing religious and patriotic songs and listen to
      recordings of Father Divine's sermons.

      But there are signs the movement is in its twilight.
      :===End Quote===

      [Ruben Ecleo] Ecleo case crawls on a year after
      :===Begin Quote===
      They were promised immortality by the man they called the “Divine
      Master.” And on that night of June 18, 2002, the promise was brought
      to the test on Dinagat Island off Surigao del Norte–16 members of the
      Philippine Benevolent Missionary Association (PBMA) lay dead for the
      cult leader Ruben Ecleo Jr., whose family holds awesome religious and
      political power on the island.

      Ecleo faces parricide charges before the Cebu City Regional Trial
      Court Branch 23 for allegedly murdering his third wife, Alona Bacolod,
      on January 6 last year.

      Much may be puzzling about Alona’s death, but accusations by her
      family point to Ecleo as the suspect. Alona’s constant nagging about
      Ecleo’s addiction to methamphetamine hydrochloride, or shabu, had
      reportedly led him to murder her.

      That incident tested even more the faith of PBMA members on Dinagat
      when Ecleo’s armed men fought authorities in a fierce battle to
      prevent their “Divine Master” and “Supreme President” from being
      :===End Quote===

      [Hate Groups] 'Politics is not for us, God already chose us'
      :===Begin Quote===
      They believe God created an elect group of whites to rule the peoples
      of the world. They also believe the Bible forbids racial

      Yet Jaco van der Merwe, spiritual leader of the Lewende Hoop (Living
      Hope) congregation in Kroonstad, denies their message is political.

      "There are no political elements in our preaching. We are simply
      relaying what God says in his word," Van der Merwe says, sitting in
      his home office on a smallholding outside Kroonstad.

      His church building is a converted workshop on the same property.
      Police and intelligence officers do not seem to agree that the Lewende
      Hoop teachings are a-political.
      :===End Quote===

      [Jehovah's Witnesses] Quebec municipality tries again in court to
      restrict Jehovah's Witnesses
      :===Begin Quote===
      "If these aren't restrictions on religious freedoms, I don't know what
      are," said Justice Pierre Dalphond.

      Dalphond also said the City of Blainville has been "paternalistic" in
      its treatment of residents by not allowing them the right to not
      answer the door, or the option of discussing their views with the

      In April 2001, a Quebec Superior Court justice ruled that to lump the
      religious group in with peddlers was "insulting, degrading, hurtful
      and defamatory."

      However, the judge refused the Jehovah's Witnesses request for $3,500
      in damages for each of the 14 people fined under the bylaw since 1997.

      The City of Blainville appealed the ruling, while the Witnesses are
      appealing the question of damages.

      Lawyers representing the Witnesses argued that awarding damages sends
      a message to all publicly elected officials.

      "To put it in simple English, you can not license freedom of
      expression," said lawyer Glen How, who is also a Witness.
      :===End Quote===

      [Human Rights Violations, USA] Op-ed: America and war crimes
      :===Begin Quote===
      The US has bribed and bullied over thirty countries to help it cripple
      and if possible destroy the ICC, but the great majority of nations
      (including many of the bullied ones) consider it a major advance in
      international cooperation. In humanitarian terms it is a practical
      step forward for global maturity and decency. The only circumstances
      in which the Court would have a case referred to it would be if
      individuals alleged to have committed war crimes had not been subject
      to their own national judicial process. What could be fairer than

      But it isn’t a matter of being fair. It is a matter of America being
      above the law. No American citizen is ever going to be charged with
      committing a war crime. The US will ride roughshod over international
      law and treat with disdain and contempt those nations trying to
      construct a system of egalitarian international justice. Bush is
      determined to destroy internationalism. That’s the way it goes, and
      there is nothing we can do about it. Little wonder that terrorists
      :===End Quote===

      [Stigmata] In apparent stigmata, a question of belief
      :===Begin Quote===
      Bernas first began to experience her wounds during Easter in 1992. She
      also claims to have had visions of Jesus, who addresses her as "my
      sweet petal" or "my suffering soul." She has written about these
      experiences in two self-published books.

      The Archdiocese of Ottawa, where Bernas lived prior to
      Niagara-on-the-Lake, set up a special commission to investigate her
      claims, but diocesan officials are reluctant to talk about it.

      "It doesn't really concern the general public. It just creates
      propaganda," said Gabrielle Tasse, spokeswoman for the Ottawa

      In the foreword to her books, Bernas maintains that the commission
      concluded she was neither lying nor crazy.

      Nickell, a former detective and magician, investigates claims of the
      supernatural and paranormal for Skeptical Inquirer magazine, based in
      Amherst. In 1993, he wrote a book on the topic, called "Looking for a
      Miracle: Weeping Icons, Relics, Stigmata, Visions & Healing Cures."

      Nickell met Bernas on a Friday evening in March 2002 in
      Niagara-on-the-Lake. He was one of about 100 people who gathered in a
      social hall to see Bernas, whose appearance was advertised earlier on
      a church billboard.

      Nickell can demonstrate how to fake stigmata with tiny incisions in
      his hands and feet that create plenty of blood, and he believes
      Bernas' wounds were self-inflicted.
      :===End Quote===

      [People's Temple] Former People's Temple building is open to
      :===Begin Quote===
      A church that was once home to cult leader Jim Jones is up for sale on
      the Old Northside.

      Jones had been a street preacher before founding the People's Temple
      Full Gospel Church in 1956.

      Today, the building at 15th and North New Jersey streets is home to
      Abundant Faith Apostolic Church, which is moving to the suburbs.

      The congregation has no members left over from the People's Temple

      Pastor Larry Glass says people doing historical research sometimes
      visit but that the Jones connection isn't talked about in the pews.

      Local lore has it that Jones in his early days was different from the
      man who led more than 900 followers to their deaths in Guyana 25 years
      :===End Quote===

      [Polygamy] Green Can Hold, Not Practice, Polygamist Beliefs
      :===Begin Quote===
      Polygamist Tom Green can hold religious beliefs regarding plural
      marriage, but cannot put them into practice, the state argued in a
      brief supporting his bigamy conviction.

      The brief was filed with the Utah Supreme Court on Wednesday in
      response to Green's appeal. Attorneys for both sides expect the case
      ultimately to go to the U.S. Supreme Court.

      "We're saying you can believe whatever you want. We do believe people
      have an important right to practice their religion," Assistant
      Attorney General Laura Dupaix said. "But there's a point where
      religious beliefs do not justify you engaging in socially harmful

      "In this case, the socially harmful conduct was enticing and seducing
      young girls into becoming polygamist wives."
      :===End Quote===

      [Polygamy] Polygamist with secretive Mormon sect released from Utah
      :===Begin Quote===
      Polygamist David Ortell Kingston was released from prison Tuesday
      after serving four years of a potential 10-year sentence for incest
      with his underage niece, who testified she was forced to become his
      15th wife.

      Rather than parole him, the state Board of Pardons and Parole opted to
      terminate his sentence. As a result, the prison has no responsibility
      to follow up on Kingston.

      Todd Utzinger, one of Kingston's former attorneys, said the parole
      board's decision to not supervise Kingston recognizes that "he has
      taken full responsibility and is prepared to go on and live a
      crime-free life.

      Kingston was an accountant for The Latter Day Church of Christ, one of
      Utah's most secretive polygamous sects. It is believed to have about
      1,000 members and a $150 million business empire in six Western
      states. Marriages of half-sisters, first cousins, nieces and aunts are
      part of their religious beliefs
      :===End Quote===

      [Human Rights] First day of justice
      :===Begin Quote===
      Even as the first prosecutor of the new International Criminal Court
      got down to work on Tuesday, Washington continued its push to exempt
      US citizens from the court's scope. Wire news services reported that
      up to six nations had agreed to exemption deals, in addition to the 39
      countries already openly cooperating with the US in side-stepping ICC
      jurisdiction. Despite the US evasion, however, morale at the new Hague
      court is high after the inauguration of Argentinean litigator Luis
      Moreno Ocampo.

      At Luis Moreno Ocampo's swearing-in on Monday, the 50-year-old lawyer
      promised to do his unprecedented job honourably, faithfully and
      impartially. As the first prosecutor of the new International Criminal
      Court (ICC), Mr Moreno Ocampo's powers are those feared most by
      opponents of the court, such as the US.

      The experienced Argentinean prosecutor, who made a name for himself
      pursuing leaders of Argentina's former military dictatorship, will
      have the power to investigate and prosecute the world's most serious
      crimes, from crimes against humanity to genocide.
      :===End Quote===

      [Human Rights] International crime court gets prosecutor
      :===Begin Quote===
      Mr Ocampo will establish the court's prosecution policy and decide
      which cases should go to trial.

      His work will influence perceptions around the world of whether the
      court is seen as being fair and impartial.

      Mr Ocampo - renowned for prosecuting members of the former military
      dictatorship of his country in the 1980s - made a solemn undertaking
      on Monday committing himself to 'serve right and justice', the ICC
      said in a statement.
      :===End Quote===

      [Human Rights] EU Strengthens ICC Support
      :===Begin Quote===
      By adopting a revised Common Position on the International Criminal
      Court (ICC), the European Union (EU) reinforced its support for
      international justice, Human Rights Watch said today.

      The Common Position is the legally binding instrument of the EU Common
      Foreign and Security Policy. It expresses all EU Member States'
      willingness to support the ICC and cooperate to increase its
      effectiveness. The EU's bolstering of international justice comes as
      the ICC Prosecutor takes office today in The Hague, while the Bush
      administration steps up its efforts to exempt American citizens from
      the court's jurisdiction.

      "The European Union's commitment to take a more active role will help
      to safeguard the ICC as it begins its vital work," said Lotte Leicht,
      director of Human Rights Watch's Brussels office. "The new EU Common
      Position is an eloquent rejoinder to U.S. pressure on weaker states."

      Because the ICC treaty entered into force a year ago, the EU resolved
      to adapt its Common Position in order to meet the new challenges
      confronting the ICC. Now that the court has elected its eighteen
      judges and Prosecutor, the EU has decided to take measures to
      strengthen its effective cooperation with the ICC. At the same time,
      the EU is responding to recent efforts by the Bush administration to
      weaken the court.
      :===End Quote===

      [Human Rights Violations, USA] Egypt, Tunisia sign secret agreements
      to exempt the American from International criminal Trial
      :===Begin Quote===
      The US Department Of State announced yesterday that other five
      countries approved to exempt American soldiers from being subject to
      the International Criminal Court. This came in the day when this
      court's power came to effect with the appointment of its first
      attorney general in his post of office yesterday.

      Among the countries which signed a bilateral exemption with Washington
      are two states. They are Egypt and Tunisia in addition to Mongolia,
      Nicaragua and Seashell islands.
      :===End Quote===

      [Human Rights Violations, USA] U.S. averts another battle over
      International Criminal Court
      :===Begin Quote===
      The United Nations averted a battle over the U.S. demand that American
      peacekeepers be exempt from prosecution by the new international war
      crimes tribunal -- but the battle lines were drawn for another
      showdown next year.

      The Bush administration got the quick approval it wanted Thursday for
      another yearlong exemption, but without the unanimous Security Council
      support that it had over the same issue last year.

      The United States wants a permanent exemption, but the European Union
      opposes that. The 90 countries that ratified the 1998 Rome Treaty,
      which created the court, say there are safeguards against such
      :===End Quote===
      NOTE: Benjamin Ferencz, one of the original Nuremberg prosecutors, has
      stated that the U.S. government deceives the American people regarding
      the nature and scope of the ICC:

      [Mormon Church] Land Deal Seems to Resolve Salt Lake City Plaza
      :===Begin Quote===
      After a four-year battle between free-speech advocates and the Mormon
      Church, Salt Lake City has agreed to a plan that gives the church the
      right to restrict behavior on a downtown plaza that has been a public
      easement in exchange for giving the city two acres of land for a new
      community center.

      The plan also includes $5 million in private donations toward
      construction of the center. The agreement goes into effect in 35 days
      if no further legal challenges emerge.
      :===End Quote===

      [Worldwide Church of God] Church Sells Armstrong's Works
      :===Begin Quote===
      Reversing course, the financially struggling Worldwide Church of God
      has agreed to sell the rights to 19 books by church founder Herbert W.
      Armstrong to a splinter group. Announced March 12, the $3 million
      settlement ends a costly round of litigation. It also allows the
      Philadelphia Church of God (PCG) to reproduce Armstrong's teachings.
      :===End Quote===

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