Religion News Blog, June 25, 2003
- ReligionNewsBlog.com, June 25, 2003
[Islam / Islamism] Radical Muslims Killing Muslims
Over the past few years, extremist Islamic groups in Pakistan have mounted a
unilateral terror campaign. But Americans and Christians have not been the only
victims. Women, secular advocates and even Muslims -- Ahmadis, dissenting Sunni
Muslims and Shiite Muslims -- have also come under attack.
There is a tendency to view the Muslim population as a monolith, with a uniform
agenda and little dissent. This outlook on Islam has prompted a slew of articles
with titles like "Why Do They Hate Us."
But in Pakistan, many Islamic radicals hold equal (and sometimes more) animosity
toward dissenting Muslims (particularly Shiites) than toward westerners. The
Sipah-i-Sahaba have even killed many of their own Sunni clerics, because the
clerics rejected their divisive agenda. Often, implementing a skewed
understanding of Islamic sharia (religious law) -- and not hatred of the West --
is their prime motivation.
[Eric Rudolph] 'Christian terrorist' is oxymoron
The thinking seems to be that if we call the Muslims who were responsible for
the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and many other terrorist activities "Muslim
terrorists," we must out of fairness call Rudolph a Christian terrorist. This is
TTrue Christians were not rejoicing after Rudolph bombed the abortion clinics
and committed other foul deeds. Jesus Christ said in regard to those who are
Christians, "by their fruits ye shall know them." Matthew 7:20. Terrorism,
murder and suicide are not fruits of Christianity although they obviously are of
[Mariology] Massachusetts Locals Said to See Religious Images
Two weeks after people began flocking to Milton Hospital to look at an image in
a window that they say looks like the Virgin Mary, some are seeing another image
on the building's chimney.
Some see a cross, others say it's a second image of the Madonna.
[Christianity] Church in danger of double split over bishop
Pressure mounted yesterday for a synod debate on the appointment of the gay
theologian Dr Jeffrey John as Bishop of Reading as Anglo-Catholic priests
consider leaving the Church of England over the row.
[Mel Gibson] Fresh anti-Semitism charge against Gibson's Jesus film
Continuing to raise concerns over "The Passion," the Mel Gibson-directed film
about the last days of Jesus Christ, the Anti-Defamation League of America (ADL)
says that based on a study of an early version of the screenplay, the project
could be "replete with objectionable elements that would promote anti-Semitism."
The ADL embraced the findings of an interfaith committee of scholars that has
raised objections to the unreleased film -- even though the U.S. Conference of
Catholic Bishops has distanced itself from the same group.
[Mormon Church] Main Street Plaza Dispute Not Over Yet
Now that the U-S Supreme Court has turned away a Mormon church challenge to the
Main Street ruling, some leaders in the dispute say there's more legal action on
The Supreme Court today let stand a Tenth Circuit Court ruling which says The
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can't create a "First Amendment-free
zone" on the Main Street Plaza.
[Nokulunga Fiphaza] Umtata's extraordinary day of death
Superintendent Nondumiso Jafta said the exhumation followed allegations by the
mother of a woman staying at the compound that her daughter had died and been
buried without her being notified of the child's death.
Twelve church elders were arrested on Thursday and charged with concealing the
deaths and defeating the ends of justice. They have since been granted bail of
R300 each and are due back in the Umtata magistrate's court on Friday.
The chief of the area, Jonas Ndzambule, said the two properties where the
churches were situated would be dug up by bulldozers to establish whether there
were more bodies.
[Religion Trends] Teen interest in supernatural can promote family dialogue
"It's not that they are watching TV and becoming convinced there are angels,"
Clark says. "(They're saying), 'That's interesting. That's possible.'"
Clark teaches media studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder's
journalism school and authored the newly-released book on teen spirituality
"From Angels to Aliens: Teenagers, the Media and the Supernatural" (Oxford
University Press: 2003).
Teens have long been fascinated by angels, ghosts, aliens, witchcraft and magic,
What's changed is the availability of supernatural material how much the media
caters to that population's interests and a vocal opposition to such
programming by conservative Christian groups. Strong opposition may be inciting
more teens to engage in supernatural practices, because teens rebel against
cultural authority, she says.
[Hare Krishna] Russians, Germans begin annual padyatra
Pune: Scores of devotees from Russia, Germany and other parts of the world
belonging to the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) began
their 'Hare Krishna Dindi' on Tuesday to take part in the traditional padayatra
to Pandharpur for blessings from Lord Vithal on 'Ashadhi Ekadashi' falling on
[Witchcraft] Witch doctors revel in new spell of power
In this remote region of southern Siberia, near the borders of China, Mongolia
and Kazakhstan, Tamara Klesheva, 59, is a practitioner of the ancient art of
After decades of suppression when these traditional healers were almost wiped
out, they are enjoying a renaissance not seen since the Russian colonists
arrived nearly 400 years ago. Fuelled by a new spirit in Russia since the fall
of communism, dozens of would-be shamans are being trained in tiny Siberian
Tamara said: "Young people with special powers come to me and I tell them how to
study. Our numbers are growing again. The knowledge and experience are
spreading. We're not oppressed any more."
As the word of their powers spreads, thousands flock to their fires for cures
they say modern medicine cannot bring. Tamara receives up to 50 patients a day,
some with aches and pains, others with life-threatening wounds.
[Christianity] Williams tries to calm row over gay bishop
The Archbishop of Canterbury broke cover yesterday to make his first public
statement on the appointment of the Church of England's first openly gay bishop,
making clear he would not intervene.
He added a plea for tolerance and reflection among his fellow bishops and the
evangelicals who have threatened to divide the worldwide Anglican communion.
After a weekend of being pursued around Wales by television crews, Dr Rowan
Williams issued the text of a letter he is sending to all 116 English bishops,
and briefly read it to journalists in the garden at Lambeth Palace.
The letter appeals for calm but, significantly as far as the evangelicals are
concerned, does not say that the consecration of Canon Jeffrey John as suffragan
bishop of Reading will not go ahead this autumn. "It is not for me to recount
the diocesan process," Dr Williams said.
[Aum Shinrikyo] AUM Shinrikyo cultists arrested in Japan
Three AUM Shinrikyo cult members have been arrested on suspicion of committing
fraud in Okayama Prefecture and three others on suspicion of posing as licensed
medical practitioners in Aichi Prefecture, police said Wednesday [25 June].
Okayama prefectural police officials also said they began searching about 10
facilities linked to the cult in Okayama, Osaka and Fukuoka prefectures in the
Police are recently beefing up investigations against the group across the
On Monday, Osaka prefectural police officials arrested three AUM members on
suspicion of swindling 500,000 yen worth of goods last year from a mentally ill
man and searched several locations, including an AUM facility in Osaka's
[Hate Groups : Scientology] Cruise Gets Hyper About Ritalin
I see that Tom Cruise has picked up the argument advanced by Scientology against
psychiatry in general and psychotropic drugs in particular. He now joins all his
Scientology celeb friends in this misguided and potentially destructive cause.
Why? Scientology would prefer that alienated, frustrated, depressed folk turn to
them for help. But like me I'm sure you've known your share of bright-seeming
children who were unable to do their schoolwork until they were given the right
drugs. There is no shame in having ADHD or any other learning disability. The
shame is in being so blinded by one's fierce devotion to a group that you would
let a child suffer rather than get him the proper treatment.
Scientology's Medical Fraud
[Mormon Church] High Court Passes on Mormon Church Case
The Supreme Court declined Monday to hear arguments on whether The Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints should be allowed to limit speech it deems
offensive in a park it purchased from Salt Lake City.
The court's decision lets stand an October ruling by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court
of Appeals that said free-speech rights along the plaza sidewalks must be
retained because the church had guaranteed the city pedestrian access through
[Ritual Killing] Hindu monks vow to wipe out barbaric rituals of human sacrifice
Hundreds of Hindu monks pledged on Tuesday to fight ancient barbaric rituals of
human sacrifices at temples in India where the grisly practice continues. "A
very miniscule cult still believes that to achieve supernatural magical powers
one needs to sacrifice a child at the altar," Biswajit Giri, a 45-year-old Hindu
"Human sacrifices are an essential ingredient to appease the goddess and then
get her divine blessings," said another sage. "But then nowadays you don't get
volunteers for the sacrifice and hence, as something symbolic, devotees perform
the ritual using six-foot effigies made of flour."
[Nokulunga Fiphaza] Bail for 12 men after eight graves found near Umtata
The 12 were arrested last week after the police discovered the graves at the
church compound in the Mandela informal settlement near Umtata.
A large group of people were living and worshipping at the compound, claiming
they were awaiting the return of Jesus Christ.
Jafta said the police would bring charges of concealment of deaths and defeating
the ends of justice against the arrested men.
Investigating officer Inspector Bongani Ntanjana, with Mandela informal
settlement Chief Jonas Ndzambule, told the court they feared for the lives of
the accused should they be released on bail.
Threats had already been made to set the compound on fire, he said.
The court heard that the church, which Ndzambule said did not have a name, had
surfaced in 1998.
Some reports had it that no one was allowed to leave the compound except the
church elders, some of whom were teachers at schools around Umtata. Children
from the compound were barred from going to school.
[Harry Potter] Harry sends kids back to books
[Our view (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)]
Harry and his prolific creator, J. K. Rowling, are working their spell again on
millions of young and old readers. The weekend debut of "Harry Potter and the
Order of the Phoenix," the fifth book in the saga of Hogwarts School of
Witchcraft and Wizardry and its denizens, set sales records worldwide.
Scholastic says 5 million copies were sold in the United States within 24 hours.
[Harry Potter] Fantasy tales can entice young minds
[Equal Time (Richard Abanes)]
I love fantasy. And so I am not advocating either book burning or banning. But I
am calling for caution. Why? Because some fantasy might affect some children
Regarding Harry Potter morality, the books do not truly illustrate good and
evil, nor do they offer admirable ways to respond to the world. Rowling has
re-defined the concept of "good" to mean anyone who stands against Voldemort,
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