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Religion News Blog, June 19 - 20, 2003

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  • Anton Hein
    ReligionNewsBlog.com, June 19 - 20, 2003 June 20, 2003 [Humanistic Judaism] Creator of Humanistic Judaism Set To Leave Pulpit
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 20, 2003
      ReligionNewsBlog.com, June 19 - 20, 2003

      June 20, 2003
      [Humanistic Judaism] Creator of Humanistic Judaism Set To Leave Pulpit
      :===Begin Quote===
      When Rabbi Sherwin Wine steps down from his pulpit next week, he'll thank his
      colleagues, his family and his friends. But he won't be thanking God.

      Wine caused eyes to roll 40 years ago when he created Humanistic Judaism, a
      movement that celebrates Judaism as a culture rather than a religion, and places
      its faith in people rather than a supreme being.

      On June 27, Wine, 75, will retire from the Birmingham Temple — the Humanistic
      congregation he launched outside Detroit that pioneered what has become a viable
      "fifth denomination" of Judaism.

      Wine took secular notions and gave them the trappings of religion —
      congregations, rabbis, services, structure. When he founded the Birmingham
      Temple in 1963, such a combination was "a novel idea," he said.
      :===End Quote===

      [Religious Insanity] Girl weds dog to break 'evil spell'
      :===Begin Quote===
      The girl, Karnamoni Handsa, had to be married quickly because she had a tooth
      rooted to her upper gum, which is considered a bad omen by her Santhal tribe in
      the remote village of Khanyhan, about 60 kilometres (37 miles) from Calcutta.

      "Members of the village jury asked us to get her married to a dog or to face the
      bad omen," the girl's father was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency.

      The tribe elders said the marriage would not affect the girl's life, and that
      she would be free to marry again later and did not need to divorce the dog.
      :===End Quote===

      [Prem Rawat / Elan Vital, Inc.] Spiritual body faces inquiry
      :===Begin Quote===
      An inquiry has been launched into the organisation linked with controversial
      speaker Prem Rawat, who led The Charity Commission has confirmed that it is
      investigating Elan Vital, the UK-registered charity which was set up in 1997.

      The Indian-born icon Mr Rawat was billed as a motivational speaker when he
      addressed two sell-out crowds at the Colston Hall on Saturday and Sunday.

      But up until just a few years ago, Mr Rawat was known as the Guru Maharaj Ji,
      head of the Divine Light Mission and who was once called Lord of the Universe by
      followers who lined up to kiss his feet.

      Andrew Carpenter, a former follower of Mr Rawat, spent three months
      investigating Elan Vital before making a submission to the Charity Commission
      this month.

      Mr Carpenter claims that between 1996 and 2002, Elan Vital gifted more than £4.5
      million in grant aid to organisations in Switzerland, America and Australia, all
      exempt from providing public statements on their activities and spending.
      :===End Quote===

      [Rainbow Family] Utah Prepares for Rainbow People
      :===Begin Quote===
      The so-called Rainbow Family, up to 20-thousand strong, is heading for its
      annual gathering, this year, in Utah's Uinta Mountains.
      :===End Quote===

      [Rainbow Family] 20,000 People Expected in The Uintas For The "Rainbow Family"
      :===Begin Quote===
      In the next 2 weeks, some 20 thousand people are expected in Utah's Uinta
      Mountains for a counter- culture event called the Rainbow Family's annual

      These scenes are from the gathering 2- years ago in Central Idaho. And what's
      billed as a celebration of peace and love always turns out to be a giant
      headache for government agencies.

      John Hollenhorst just returned from Central Idaho. John, are there any lessons
      for us in Idaho's experience?

      Yes, it didn't turn out too badly, even though it generated plenty of worry.

      Some Idahoans now say the Forest Service worried way too much.
      :===End Quote===

      [Falun Gong] Falun Gong supporters seek aid for imprisoned doctor
      :===Begin Quote===
      Three Falun Gong practitioners held a banner in front of Geneva City Hall
      Thursday, seeking help to rescue a California doctor being held in China.

      "SOS: Urgent Rescue of U.S. Citizen Dr. Li Persecuted in China," read the banner
      held by Chen Hou and his wife, Sara Effner of Missouri, and Jiwu Wang, of

      Li is from China but is a naturalized U.S. citizen. He returned to China to
      challenge the country's stand on Falun Gong and intended to tap into the
      state-run cable broadcast to prove his case. He was arrested Jan. 22 at
      Guangzhou airport and sentenced to three years in the Nanjin Prison.
      :===End Quote===

      [Witchcraft] Group to open school for Wicca in Hoopeston
      :===Begin Quote===
      The world of Wicca will become more accessible in East Central Illinois because
      Chicago-based Telepathic Media has purchased the former town hall building in
      Hoopeston for use as a school to teach Wiccan principles, which include a belief
      in a god and goddess of nature.

      The school will begin hosting only seminars before branching into night classes,
      and then full-time instruction. The facility will be the technological center of
      the online school Witchschool.com.
      :===End Quote===

      [Rainbow Family] Rainbow Reunion's Size Raises Eyebrows
      :===Begin Quote===
      Hundreds of members of the 30-year-old, loosely organized clan of flower
      children, hippies and others of the countercultural persuasion already are
      assembling on approximately 4,000 acres of the north slope of the Uinta
      Mountains. Thousands more are expected to arrive in the next two weeks.

      The U.S. Forest Service this week approved a "noncommercial group special-use
      permit" for the gathering, which will occur by the Little West Fork of the
      Blacks Fork of the Bear River, near the Utah-Wyoming border and about 20 miles
      northeast of Mirror Lake.

      Unlike most of the Rainbow Family's previous gatherings over the past three
      decades, this one will be legitimate, at least in the eyes of the Forest
      Service, which has activated its "National Incident Management Team" to monitor
      the group's reunion.
      :===End Quote===

      [Rainbow Family] Rainbow Family begins gathering in Utah
      :===Begin Quote===
      With a carefully worded permit in hand, the Rainbow Family is looking forward to
      its first legal gathering in six years.

      "We're going to do our very, very best to protect the resources of the area and
      work with state, county and local officials for health and safety," said Garrick
      Beck, a longtime gathering participant.

      "We have moved the gathering into the legal arena and I think everybody should
      be congratulated for this," he said.

      The group regularly runs afoul of the Forest Service's permit rule for the
      gatherings because it has no official leaders to take responsibility for the
      :===End Quote===

      [Catholic Church] Church Sex Abuse Study to Proceed
      :===Begin Quote===
      Roman Catholic bishops from California and several other states agreed today to
      provide information on the extent of child sexual abuse in the church after
      researchers promised to make "purely technical" changes in the way the data are
      collected, organizers of the study said.

      The agreement by the holdout bishops, reached behind closed doors at a meeting
      of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops here, clears the way for the $250,000
      study to proceed without changing its goals, Washington lawyer Robert S. Bennett
      :===End Quote===

      [Hate Crimes] Pinellas doctor gets 12½ years for bomb plot targeting Muslims
      :===Begin Quote===
      A Pinellas County podiatrist who amassed weapons and a list of 50 Islamic
      centers throughout Florida was sentenced on Thursday to 121/2 years for plotting
      to bomb a mosque in retaliation for the Sept. 11 attacks and ongoing suicide
      bombings in Israel.
      :===End Quote===

      June 19, 2003
      [Falun Gong] Falun Gong follower from Hong Kong released from Myanmar prison
      :===Begin Quote===
      A follower of the Falun Gong spiritual movement from Hong Kong has been released
      from a Myanmar prison after a year and a half, having been detained for
      demonstrating during a visit by China's then-president Jiang Zemin, a Falun Gong
      spokeswoman said Wednesday.

      Chan Wing-yuen, 71, was freed June 9 and deported to Hong Kong, said the
      spokeswoman, Carol Chan.

      The Hong Kong man had been sentenced to seven years for attempted subversion
      after he unfurled a banner with the words ``Truthfulness, Compassion,
      Tolerance'' at Yangon's airport shortly before Jiang's arrival on Dec. 12, 2001,
      the spokeswoman said.

      It was unclear why he was released early, she said. Myanmar authorities did not
      immediately respond to a faxed query from The Associated Press.
      :===End Quote===

      [Media / Christianity] 'Nightline' examines evangelicals
      :===Begin Quote===
      Now 18, Stanley lives in Odessa, Mo., and is one of three young evangelical
      Christian ministers featured in the program. Documentary makers followed the
      youths from their schoolyards through the state trials to the final rounds of
      the National Evangelical Preaching Competition at Bob Jones University in
      Greenville, S.C.

      In many ways, the show resembles a religious version of Spellbound, the recently
      released documentary film about spelling bees. It is also a form of journalistic
      penance. "We looked at this this way: This is a great story. And this is
      something we don't do a lot of," says Leroy Sievers, Nightline's executive

      Andrew Tyndall, a media analyst who publishes the Tyndall Report, says that the
      three nightly network newscasts typically dedicate fewer than five minutes
      weekly to religion. None of the three major broadcast networks have a person
      devoted solely to the subject. (During much of the 1990s, ABC employed a
      reporter with that assignment. She no longer works for the network.) "As a beat,
      you'd say that religion is down at the bottom end," Tyndall says. "It gets large
      coverage only when there's a scandal - or when it's flaky."
      :===End Quote===

      [Catholic Church] Church's progress on sex-abuse cases remains under scrutiny
      :===Begin Quote===
      As some 270 U.S. Roman Catholic bishops gather in St. Louis today for their
      annual spring conference, questions still loom about just how much the church is
      doing to address the clergy sexual-abuse scandal that has buffeted the church
      for the last 18 months.

      A year after U.S. bishops met in Dallas to draft a historic charter to protect
      minors from sexually abusive priests and punish offenders, the 195 U.S. dioceses
      are displaying varying levels of commitment to that policy. And the resignation
      this week of the head of a national board designated by the bishops to monitor
      compliance has only increased the scrutiny.
      :===End Quote===

      [Paganism] Sabrina, Harry and the Web help Paganism grow
      :===Begin Quote===
      Paganism and the ancient art of witchcraft are on the rise, experts say, as the
      summer's most celebrated Pagan festival approaches.

      Television, the Internet, environmentalism and even feminism have all played a
      role in the resurgence.

      Soaring Pagan numbers have churches worrying and calling for stricter controls
      on cult TV programmes and films that celebrate sorcery like "Harry Potter",
      "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Sabrina the Teenage Witch".

      Record attendance is expected at dawn on Saturday morning at the mystical
      megaliths of Stonehenge, where Pagans have celebrated the summer solstice for
      thousands of years.

      The trend has worried some of the Protestant church's more traditional elements.

      "The rise of interest in Paganism is damaging because it normalises spiritual
      evil by presenting it as mere fantasy and fiction," said Reverend Joel Edwards
      of the Evangelical Alliance, a grouping of some one million UK Christians.
      :===End Quote===

      [Ethics / Human Rights] What would Jesus do on death row?
      :===Begin Quote===
      Last week Dennis Halstead, John Kogut and John Restivo were released from prison
      after having spent 18 years in the big house for the 1985 rape and murder of
      16-year-old Theresa Fusco.

      The prosecution's case relied heavily on a videotaped confession by Kogut. Kogut
      later recanted his confession, having "admitted" to the crime after more than 18
      hours of interrogation and sleep deprivation.

      But with the help of Centurion Ministries, a Princeton, N.J.-based organization
      that represents people wrongly convicted, and The Innocence Project, Kogut,
      Halstead and Restivo gained their freedom.

      It's just the latest case of a wrongful conviction where the innocent have been
      freed after DNA analysis.

      Now, having been nurtured in a prophetic religious tradition that worships a man
      who consorted with social outcasts, announced the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand
      by proclaiming "liberty to the captives" (see Luke 4:18), and who implored His
      followers to be like God "who makes the sun shine on both the good and evil," I
      can't understand why supporting organizations like the Innocence Project isn't a
      high priority for church folks.

      Sure, plenty of preachers go into the jails to evangelize. But what will it take
      to get the church body to move beyond prison charity to inmate solidarity?
      :===End Quote===

      [Psychics] Fortunes falling for psychics
      :===Begin Quote===
      A City Council ordinance passed last month forces fortunetellers and some street
      performers into more isolated parts of historic Jackson Square, leaving the most
      accessible areas along the shady wrought iron fence for about 200 artists who
      have permits.

      "There used to be 130 readers out here, but now there are only about 14 per
      shift, and we have to compete for this small area on the sidewalk under the
      sun," said Krikkett, 32, who has been reading palms in the French Quarter for
      five years. "Look at that shady beautiful area along the fence. It's only for
      the artists, and they aren't even using it."

      The new law, officials said, is an effort to return the French Quarter, the
      tourist magnet that has given this city a decadent charm found nowhere else in
      America, to the splendor it enjoyed in the late 20th Century. It also appeases
      New Orleans residents--88 percent of whom backed the campaign in a poll--who
      have complained for years about the city's deteriorating quality of life.
      :===End Quote===

      [Archeology] Dead Sea Scrolls on display for the first time outside Israel
      :===Begin Quote===
      Fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls, considered one of the greatest archeological
      discoveries of the 20th Century, went on display in a Montreal museum Tuesday,
      the first time they have been out of Israel.
      :===End Quote===

      [Mariology] Virgin Mary 'seen in US hospital'
      :===Begin Quote===
      A US hospital has asked the Catholic Church for help after being swamped by
      thousands of people seeking to view what they believe is an image of the Virgin
      Mary in a third-floor window.

      More than 25,000 people visited the Milton Hospital near Boston, Massachusetts,
      at the weekend as word of the likeness began to spread.

      Attention is focused on a medical office building where the likeness is
      reportedly formed by a leaking chemical deposit inside a sealed window.
      :===End Quote===

      [Transcendental Meditation] Vedic City drops bid for sales tax money
      :===Begin Quote===
      Vedic City officials submitted a petition May 30 to enact a local option sales
      tax in the city and withdrew it Monday after discovering state law would not
      allow them to get any money from the tax without a new census.
      :===End Quote===

      [Maharishi Vedic Construction Company] Divine intervention fails to get back
      investors’ money
      :===End Quote===
      Heard of Maharishi Vedic Construction Company or Golden Glades? Not unless you
      are one of those unfortunate investors who put money into this company named
      after Maharishi Mahesh Yogi—popularly known as The Flying Swami.

      It is another of those plantation companies which mopped up money from the
      market with clueless investors falling for their tall claims on high interest
      returns ranging anywhere between 18 to 24 per cent, and left their investors
      high and dry.
      :===End Quote===

      [Jehovah's Witnesses] Jehovah's Witnesses lawyer cites 1959 landmark ruling
      :===Begin Quote===
      A veteran of legal battles for the Jehovah's Witnesses was in a Montreal
      courtroom yesterday, revisiting his landmark civil-liberties victories of
      decades ago.

      However, Glen How, 84, and other members of a Jehovah's Witnesses legal team
      received a skeptical hearing from three Quebec Court of Appeal judges for some
      of their arguments.

      The town and the Witnesses are appealing against different parts of an April
      2001 decision by Quebec Superior Court Judge André Crépeau.

      Blainville is appealing against Crépeau's decision to quash the 1996 bylaw as it
      applies to the Witnesses, as a violation of democratic freedoms. The Witnesses
      are appealing against Crépeau's refusal to order the mayor to pay $3,500 in
      "moral" and "exemplary" damages to each of the 14 Witnesses summonsed.
      :===End Quote===

      [Underground Church, China] China arrests eight in crackdown on unofficial
      :===Begin Quote===
      Eight members of an underground Christian church in China's southwest have been
      charged with violating anti-cult laws, a police official said Thursday.

      A human rights group that announced the arrests said they were part of a
      crackdown on unauthorized worship.
      :===End Quote===

      [Sikhism] Claims of 'guru' enrage Sikhs
      :===Begin Quote===
      Grewal has been under scrutiny in Toronto's Punjabi language media because he
      has made statements that have disturbed fundamentalist Sikhs. He believes he is
      on his own path to cosmic consciousness and has said he is above the Guru Granth
      Sahib, the Sikh holy book. His congregation — he is careful never to use the
      word followers — is about 40 or 50 people, half of them relatives.

      He believes he is a Sant, or enlightened being, and must share his wisdom.

      "I am the only path for me for now, do you understand what I'm saying?" he asks.
      "The others that are in my company have experienced these exalted states where
      they see the heavens above and even talk to the saints and prophets of before."

      These are the types of statements that have enraged the Sikh community. Grewal's
      actions conflict with one of the core strictures of the faith.

      "He is breaching one of the fundamental tenets of Sikhism because the last Guru,
      just before his death, ordained the Guru Granth Sahib as the final and the only
      Guru — partly for this very reason, so there would not be any confusion as to
      the divine message and you get away from the practice of all kinds of people
      propping themselves up as the appointed Gurus," said Satwinder Singh Gosal, a
      lawyer and founding member of the Centennial Foundation, an organization
      dedicated to promoting knowledge about Sikhism.
      :===End Quote===

      [Harry Potter] Religious attacks muted as new Potter arrives
      :===Begin Quote===
      Harry Potter can breathe a bit easier these days -- the evil Lord Voldemort may
      still have it in for the boy wizard, but the lawyers, preachers and family
      groups seem ready to give it a rest.

      With the arrival of author J.K. Rowling's fifth novel, "Harry Potter and the
      Order of the Phoenix," set for Saturday, opposition to the orphan with the
      lightning-bolt scar and the high-performance broomstick is muted.

      Evangelical writer Richard Abanes' 2001 book "Harry Potter and the Bible" sold
      more than 100,000 copies and established him as one of the leading critics of
      the novels. Two years later, he thinks the momentum has run out on Potter

      "I've moved on. I have other things to do," Abanes said.

      "Within the Christian media and the Christian community there is much less vocal
      response to this new book. I don't particularly think we're going to see any
      more huge book burnings and demonstrations and lawsuits and things like this. I
      think everybody already knows where they stand on Harry Potter," he said.

      Many conservative Christians have come to embrace the books, in part drawn by a
      portrayal of evil that has grown increasingly sophisticated, almost Biblical,
      with each book.

      Richard Burke, chairman of the English department at Lynchburg College in
      Virginia, is among the academics who have begun to track the rise of evil in the
      Potter books as a dominant theme.
      :===End Quote===

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