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ReligionNewsBlog.com, Oct. 26-28, 2003

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  • Anton Hein
    ReligionNewsBlog.com, Oct. 26-28, 2003 Tue, Oct. 28, 2003 [Vampirism] Celebrity cult of vampires can turn into real-life evil
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 28, 2003
      ReligionNewsBlog.com, Oct. 26-28, 2003

      Tue, Oct. 28, 2003
      [Vampirism] Celebrity cult of vampires can turn into real-life evil
      Stirling University's Dr Glenice Byron lectures on the UK's only
      postgraduate course in Gothic imagination. She said: 'We are moving towards
      another high point in vampirism. I don't think the general public are aware
      of the extent to which it permeates our culture. On the internet it's an
      entire culture: people write their own vampire stories as hobbies' But for
      some it is not enough merely to fantasise.

      [USA] Novelist Turow and journalist Cohen make the case against capital
      The evidence from two very different new books leads inexorably to the same
      conclusion: The criminal justice system in most states works less well than
      generally believed. The author of one book is Stanley Cohen, a journalist
      known primarily as a sportswriter. The author of the other book is Scott
      Turow, a lawyer known primarily as a best-selling novelist. From their
      divergent vantage points, they both argue that the death penalty cannot be
      justified because the risk of executing innocent defendants is too high.

      [USA] Bile, guile and the American way
      Michael Moore may be too caught up in his own personality cult, says
      Stephanie Merritt, but Dude, Where's my Country? proves the need for his
      voice to be heard. [...] If it takes a lick of Moore's hyperbolic sarcasm,
      painful punning and rash of exclamation points to make that many people
      aware of how spurious Bush's arguments for war have been, or how many
      civilians have died in Iraq, or quite how far-reaching the implications of
      the Orwellian Patriot Act have already proven, good liberals should find it
      in their hearts to forgive him in the interests of spreading the word.
      (That said, Bush's America can sometimes be so daft that cartoonish
      incomprehension is the only possible response - what kind of democracy
      allows the monitoring of public library records as part of a crackdown on
      terrorism, but not gun purchase records, lest law-abidin', gun-totin'
      Americans feel their liberties have been compromised?)

      [Church and State] Italian Muslims fear 'crucifix' fallout
      This week Italy is hosting an EU conference on inter-religious dialogue to
      promote peace between religions in Europe. But a story of religious
      conflict is dominating the Italian press. A radical Muslim leader has won a
      court battle to remove the crucifix from a state school where his children
      attend - a decision which has shocked political and public opinion and
      caused deep concern within Italy's Muslim community.

      [Aum Shinrikyo] Japan cult guru trial nears end
      After a seven-and-a-half-year trial, the chief lawyer defending doomsday
      cult guru Shoko Asahara, charged with masterminding the deadly 1995 nerve
      gas attack on Tokyo's subway, is about to wrap up his case and wait for a
      verdict. If convicted, Asahara could be hanged. But lawyer Osamu Watanabe
      says he would appeal if a death sentence is handed down, and that could add
      additional years before the case is concluded. Watanabe said he will claim
      in his final argument on Thursday that the prosecution has failed to prove
      Asahara was directly responsible for the rush-hour attack, which left a
      dozen people dead and sickened thousands.

      [Branch Davidians] Return to Waco
      In 1993, 80 members of the Branch Davidian sect died when US agents stormed
      their compound in Waco. Ten years on, the Davidians have regrouped, rebuilt
      their church and, as Alex Hannaford reports, are still in the thrall of
      their dead leader.

      [Hate Groups : Scientology] Jacko Charity Single Raising Money for
      A lot of big name stars are unwittingly about to start raising money for
      Scientology, thanks to Michael Jackson. At 3 p.m. PST Monday, Jackson is
      launching a worldwide Internet download of his charity single, "What More
      Can I Give?" For $2 a shot, Jackson fans will be able to hear this record,
      made two years ago but never released. The record features Celine Dion,
      Mariah Carey, members of 'N Sync, The Backstreet Boys and others. But what
      fans - and the two dozen participating artists - probably don't know is that
      proceeds from the single download are going, in part, to Scientology.
      Jackson has designated The HELP Organization, which uses study techniques
      developed by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, as one of the beneficiaries
      of his largesse.

      Mon, Oct. 27, 2003
      [Church and State] Vatican denounces Italian judge's ruling to remove
      crucifix from school
      An Italian judge's order that the crucifix be removed from a public school
      drew a rebuke Monday from the Vatican and set off outrage across a country
      that officially separates church and state but appears unwilling to abandon
      its Catholic roots. The Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano printed a
      front-page illustration of Christ juxtaposed with a 1998 comment from Pope
      John Paul II. "Many things can be removed from us Christians. But the cross
      as a sign of salvation we will not let them take," the pope's quote said.
      "We will not allow it to be excluded from public life." The controversy
      erupted after Islamic activist Adel Smith won a court ruling last week to
      have a crucifix removed from his sons' elementary school in the small town
      of Ofena, 90 miles northeast of Rome.

      [Islam] A hidden voice of Islam
      In the midst of an impoverished East Oakland neighborhood as concerned with
      the war on drugs as the war in Iraq lie answers to a question roiling the
      country since Sept. 11, 2001: Can Islam and the United States co-exist?
      They can, say members of a largely African-American mosque there, offering
      their decades-old history as proof. But that history is often ignored and
      misconstrued. Perhaps no group of Americans can speak about Islam and the
      United States with the same intimacy or authority as African-American
      Muslims. But their voice -- and story -- frequently is missing in the
      national conversation about Islam after Sept. 11, 2001.

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      [Church and State] Storm over Italy crucifix ruling
      A controversy has erupted in Italy over a court ruling ordering a state
      kindergarten to remove crucifixes from its classrooms. A judge in the
      central town of L'Aquila upheld a complaint by an Italian Muslim leader,
      Adel Smith. The ruling has re-opened a bitter debate about religious
      symbols. Italy's Justice Minister said he would order an inquiry into
      whether the decision conformed with Italian law.

      [Hate Groups] Harold Ray Redfeairn, Aryan Leader, Dies
      Harold Ray Redfeairn, who led a schism in the Aryan Nations white
      supremacist group died Sunday, a year after restoring leadership to the
      group's founder to end months of infighting. [...] Aryan Nations founder
      Richard Butler named Redfeairn as his successor in September 2001, a year
      after a civil rights lawsuit forced Butler to forfeit the group's Idaho
      compound. Three months later, Redfeairn and propaganda minister August
      Kreis announced they were forming a splinter group but keeping the Aryan
      Nations' name and moving it to a remote corner of Pennsylvania, where Kreis
      lives. But Redfeairn later renounced the move and the ensuing split among
      members nationwide. He fired Kreis in May 2002 and returned command to
      Butler, who said afterward he thought Kreis was behind the power grab.

      Sun, Oct. 26, 2003
      [Nuwaubians] Lawyer withdraws guilty plea for York
      A federal court judge determined Friday that Nuwaubian leader Malachi York
      withdrew his previous guilty plea to financial and child sex charges. York
      did not directly answer questions from the court about his plea, but U.S.
      District Court Judge Ashley Royal determined through York's attorney that
      he wished to change his plea to "not guilty." York faces federal charges of
      transporting children across state lines for sex and evading financial
      reporting requirements. Also Friday, York's defense attorneys said they
      have been put on notice by the government that York will likely face a new
      round of indictments that include racketeering charges. York's trial is
      scheduled for early January.

      [Polygamy] Polygamy critic arrested by Colorado City police
      Lenore Timpson Holm, a polygamy critic, former plural wife and successful
      plaintiff in a suit against the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of
      Latter Day Saints, has been arrested by Colorado City police on a domestic
      violence charge.

      [Transcendental Meditation] $ 2m NIH Grant for Maharishi varsity
      US Government's National Institutes of Health has awarded a grant of $ 2
      million to medical researchers at the Maharishi University's Institute for
      Natural Medicine and Prevention, a part of the College of Maharishi Vedic
      Medicine in the United States. The grant would help finance a study on how
      the Transcendental Meditation technique and Maharishi's Consciousness-based
      health programmes were useful for both prevention and treatment of heart
      disease and other chronic disorders in African-Americans, the University
      said. The University has been awarded more than $ 20 million in federal
      funds for medical research since 1988.

      [Religion Trends] 'Emergent church' evokes past to attract youths
      Almost 20 years later, Bennett's desire to connect to the past has found a
      home in what's known as the "emergent church," a small but growing movement
      nationwide. Consisting largely of younger Christians, emergent churches cut
      across denominational lines in an effort to reclaim the sense of mystery
      found in the ritual and symbols of the faith's ancient past. But they're
      also dedicated to engaging modern culture, often in small communities that
      draw from various traditions to seek an experience of God in many ways from
      painting during services to meditating on a forgotten Celtic prayer.
      Leaders cite the apostle Paul as their guide, noting he used the culture of
      his time to spread Christianity. Some call emergent churches the "ancient
      future faith." "We're trying to be authentic," Bennett said. "We're not
      trying to be cool, but be real." The movement's growth has been fueled
      largely by Christians meeting on the Internet, or word of mouth. Some
      emergent communities are growing within existing churches, but others have
      started from scratch. Their members hold to orthodox Christianity, but
      reject what they feel is a corporate, overly simplified presentation of the
      faith in today's evangelical churches, said Robert Webber, a professor
      emeritus at Wheaton College in Illinois who wrote a book about the emergent
      church, "The Younger Evangelicals."

      [Archeology] Archaeology's great hoax
      In a storeroom of the Michigan Historical Museum, state archaeologist John
      Halsey examined the newly acquired artifacts purported to be the remnants of
      an ancient Middle Eastern civilization that settled in Michigan thousands of
      years ago. [...] "It's the physical evidence of the largest archaeological
      fraud in the state's history," Halsey said, then, on further reflection, he
      added: "It is arguably the largest archaeological fraud ever in this
      country, and the longest running." [...] More than a century after the first
      relics were discovered, some people still believe them to be authentic. Some
      influential members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the
      Mormons) once considered them evidence of the church's connection to a Near
      Eastern culture in ancient America. The Mormon Church for decades kept a
      large collection of the artifacts in its Salt Lake City museum, but never
      formally claimed them to be genuine. This past summer, after scholars
      examined the relics and declared them fakes, the church donated the 797
      objects to the Michigan Historical Museum, which plans to exhibit them
      beginning next month.

      [General Assembly CotFB] Death pits law against church
      The death of a 10-year-old Tulare girl is at the center of a court case that
      pits religion against the law. Wesley and Laronda Hamm are facing
      involuntary manslaughter and child-abuse charges in connection with the
      March death of their daughter Jessica. The charges were filed in September.
      The Hamms belong to the Church of the Firstborn, whose members refuse
      medical treatment and shun manmade medicine. According to their members,
      they believe in faith healing and placing their health in God's hands.

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