ReligionNewsBlog.com, July 26, 2003
- ReligionNewsBlog.com, July 26, 2003
July 26, 2003
[Islam] Challenging the Quran
Luxenberga pseudonymis one of a small but growing group of scholars, most of
them working in non-Muslim countries, studying the language and history of the
Quran. When his new book is published this fall, its likely to be the most
far-reaching scholarly commentary on the Qurans early genesis, taking this
infant discipline far into unchartedand highly controversialterritory. Thats
because Islamic orthodoxy considers the holy book to be the verbatim revelation
of Allah, speaking to his prophet, Muhammad, through the Angel Gabriel, in
Arabic. Therefore, critical study of Gods undiluted word has been off-limits in
much of the Islamic world. (For the same reason, translations of the Quran are
never considered authentic.) Islamic scholars who have dared ignore this taboo
have often found themselves labeled heretics and targeted with death threats and
violence. Luxenberg, a professor of Semitic languages at one of Germanys
leading universities, has chosen to remain anonymous because he fears a fatwa by
enraged Islamic extremists.
[Hate Groups : Scientology] L. Ron Hubbard-inspired teacher training center
opens in county
In a multimillion-dollar complex overlooking the Mississippi River, a company
called Applied Scholastics International has opened its national headquarters -
a training center for teachers, tutors and business trainers.
The center uses methods developed by L. Ron Hubbard, the late science fiction
writer and founder of Scientology.
Scot Danforth, who oversees teacher education for the University of Missouri at
St. Louis, said he searched a database of four decades of published educational
research and could find no study on L. Ron Hubbard's instructional techniques.
"In my opinion, they are involved in the worst kind of deception. They make
grandiose claims about the effectiveness of their methods and materials ... with
data that has never been published in a legitimate educational research
journal," he said.
NOTE: See Scientology v. Education <http://studytech.org/home.php>, a site that
examines the cult's front groups and their claims.
[Yezidis] Faith that preceded Abraham goes its own way in Kurdistan
Scholars believe that the Yezidis' strange and ancient religion is one of the
last surviving offshoots of a faith even older then Judaism or Zoroastrianism,
which it heavily influenced.
Known as "the cult of the angels", this early Indo-European faith held that
there was only one God but that he created seven angels to serve him. Chief
among these, for Yezidis, is the angel who disobeyed his maker: the fallen
[Kingston Clan] Polygamist arrested on incest charge on Pioneer Day
A member of the polygamous Kingston clan sought on an incest charge was arrested
at a Pioneer Day family gathering, investigators said.
The incest charge stems from Kingston's alleged 1995 marriage to his
first-cousin LuAnn Kingston when she was 15 and he was 24. After five years,
during which time two daughters were born, LuAnn Kingston left the marriage and
asked the state to prosecute.
She said it took over a year for her to get the courage to meet with prosecutors
after leaving Jeremy Kingston.
[Christianity] Catholic, traditional Protestant writers criticize 'Left Behind'
Some Roman Catholics and conservative Protestants are attempting a counterattack
against those fabulously popular "Left Behind" novels with plots depicting the
End Times that will occur in the near future.
The Catholic bishops of Illinois, the state where the novels' publisher,
Tyndale, is based, charge that the novels are "anti-Catholic in content and
form" because the scenario unfairly depicts a future pope who establishes a
false liberal religion linked with the Antichrist.
Beyond denominational polemics, however, the bishops object because the novels
reject traditional Christian beliefs about the End.
[Mormon Church] Book Reviews: Under the Banner of Heaven / Predators, Prey and
For readers who know nothing of even the mainstream Mormon past, Krakauer
presents details that sound stranger than fiction: how the angel Moroni told
Joseph Smith Jr. of 1,400-year-old solid gold plates bearing scripture, buried
in upstate New York; how the Mormons fled from a place called Nauvoo (in
Illinois); how a peep stone can provide magical visions; how even the
deceased can be inducted into the fold.
This history is complex enough for the book to warrant many long footnotes,
enough to indicate organizational difficulties. It becomes even more tangled in
investigating fundamentalist sects and splinter groups devoted to plural
marriage as a holy principle and to the abundance of dangerous self-proclaimed
prophets like Dan and Ron Lafferty. Ron, who once tried to kill Dan because God
told him to, also believes that God has said to him: And surely I will fulfill
all my promises unto my servant Ron.
Dorothy Allred Solomon, who comes from a prominent line of polygamists, puts a
more human face on this subject by describing her own experience as the 28th of
her fathers 48 children. She was raised by seven mothers and remembers a time
when Daddy went away to college, actually when he served five years in
prison for illegal cohabitation.
[USA] Nuns sentenced to prison for anti-war protest
Calling them "dangerously irresponsible," a federal judge sentenced three nuns
to at least 21/2 years in prison Friday for vandalizing a nuclear missile silo
during an anti-war protest last fall.
Despite his strong words, U.S. District Judge Robert Blackburn gave the women
less than the six-year minimum called for under sentencing guidelines.
Jackie Hudson was sentenced to 21/2 years, Carol Gilbert to two years, nine
months, and Ardeth Platte to three years, five months.
[Benny Hinn] Believers tout the healing powers of evangelist Hinn, critics
Hinn rarely grants interviews, and his ministry did not respond to a half-dozen
requests for this story.
"Benny Hinn is not somebody that many evangelical leaders think about or talk
about with any regularity because he is considered marginal and controversial
and not credible," said Tim Morgan, a senior editor for Christianity Today
magazine. "Christian critics have problems with everything from his worship
service to his financial accountability to his theological views.
"At the same time, he's very much a hero in the charismatic Pentecostal
movement. It's easy to say that he's a polarizing figure. People react
positively or negatively, but they can't ignore the fact that Benny Hinn is
coming to town."
[Middle East] Christians differ over 'road map'
Christian groups in the United States have adopted sharply different stances on
President Goerge W. Bush's peace plan, which envisions the creation of a
Palestinian state by 2005.
While the majority of churchesRoman Catholic, Orthodox, mainline Protestant and
some evangelical groupsgenerally welcome the "road map," a vocal segment of
evangelical Protestants are lobbying the Bush administration to abandon it
because of their belief that it rewards terrorism and violates God's promise in
the Biblical book of Genesis to give the Jewish people the historic land of
So-called Christian Zionists also see the modern state of Israel as a
fulfillment of biblical prophecyand a precondition of the second coming of
Jesus Christ. Setting up a Palestinian state is seen as undermining these end
"Because of their apocalyptic interpretation of the Bible, they view the
initiative as a betrayal," said Randall Balmer, a religion professor at Columbia
University. "They've threatened to derail the whole thing."
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