ReligionNewBlog.com, Nov. 12-14, 2003
Fri, Nov. 14, 2003
[Religious Fraud] Pastors in Togo accused of taking other men's wives
Many Togolese women have been taken for a ride by their pastors. The
fledgling charismatic churches, which are mushrooming in Togo, promise
eternal life, peace of mind, happiness and fortune. Yet the women are being
stripped of their possessions by church leaders.
[Jehovah's Witnesses] To watch towers rise
Carr is not alone in her criticism of the plan by the Watchtower Bible and
Tract Society - the legal entity of the Jehovah's Witnesses religious group
- to develop a 1,000-unit apartment complex on the lot at 85 Jay St. [...]
Now, Devine explained, plans call for the development of a large residential
complex that could house up to 1,800 Jehovah's Witnesses, many of whom now
live in smaller buildings scattered about Brooklyn Heights.
[Catholic Church] Bishops Get Low Ratings in Poll of Catholics
Although the president of the nation's Roman Catholic bishops said this week
that they have "turned the corner" on the church's sex abuse scandal, a poll
released yesterday found that rank-and-file Catholics and lay leaders still
give the bishops low ratings and think some should resign
[Amish] A life apart
Over 150,000 Amish live in 22 American states and Ontario, Canada. Their
numbers have been steadily increasing over the years, as they raise very
large families and only about 15 percent leave the fold. While Ohio boasts
the highest Amish population, the oldest settlements are in Pennsylvania.
The first large group of Amish immigrants to America put down stakes in
Lancaster County, where about 22,000 can be found today.
[Islam] Former Head of Islamic Charity Sentenced
The former head of an Islamic charity suspected of having ties to terrorism
was sentenced Thursday after pleading guilty to bank and visa fraud. U.S.
District Judge Lawrence Zatkoff sentenced Bassem Khafagi, formerly of Ann
Arbor, to 10 months of time already served in prison. Khafagi, 41, pleaded
guilty Sept. 9. [...] The FBI said Khafagi is a founding member of the
Ypsilanti-based Islamic Assembly of North America, a charity that purports
to promote Islam. Officials said earlier this year that they were
investigating the organization for possible links to terrorism.
[Christianity] Eaten missionary's family get apology
The residents of a Fiji village have apologised to the family of an English
Christian missionary who was eaten by tribespeople 136 years ago. Thomas
Baker's descendants, joined by Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase and 600
people, attended a tribal ceremony in Nabutautau. The local inhabitants
believe their village has been suffering bad luck ever since the cannibalism
incident in 1867, and hope saying sorry will help their fortunes.
[JRR Tolkien] Church to hold Lord of the Rings mass
A Dutch church that held a Harry Potter mass last year is now planning to
celebrate a Lord of the Rings mass.
[Religious Persecution] Persecution of Christians around the world ignored
According to Chuck Colson, "More Christians died for their faith in the
twentieth century than in the previous nineteen centuries combined."
[Hate Groups] Prison probe panel asked to focus on hate groups
As a state commission met for the first time yesterday to review the
correctional system in the wake of the killing of a former priest convicted
of child molestation, the Anti-Defamation League called on the panel to
investigate the possibility white supremacists and terrorist cells may be
organizing in Massachusetts' prisons.
[Satanic and/or ritual abuse] Malicious prosecution trial awaits verdict
It is now up to a judge to decide whether an early 1990s police
investigation into alleged ritual satanic child abuse was overzealous. He
hopes to have a ruling by Christmas.The lawsuit involves 12 people charged
in a sensational child sex abuse case more than a decade ago. They are suing
the investigating police officer along with two prosecutors and a child
[Emmanuel Milingo] Controversial Archbishop Hospitalized in Italy
It hasn't been a good month for African archbishop Emmanuel Milingo. First
the Vatican stopped him from appearing at a press conference and now the man
of the cloth is holed up in a hospital in Northern Italy undergoing a series
of medical exams.
[Raelians] Cult finds 'eternal youth' formula
The controversial cult which claims to have cloned five babies says it has
discovered a way of reversing the ageing process. The Raelian sect believes
it can use stem cells to turn back the clock on any part of the body. It
says it has already carried out experiments which involve shortening ageing
human DNA, which stretches over time. The sect's claims are sure to reignite
the controversy surrounding human cloning and the use of stem cells, which
are obtained from foetuses.
[Raelians] Could they really have done it?
Scientists accept that it is theoretically possible. As cells in the body
replicate, they get slightly shorter so that, over time, the body weakens.
By using stem cells to maintain their original size, it it should be
possible to control and even reverse ageing. But Raelians have refused to
provide details about how they might achieve this, so scientists say it is
impossible to judge their techniques.
[Hate Groups] Fox Lake, FBI send skinheads a message
Police had nervously watched the Lake County Skinheads for years. The group
actively recruited youths and seemed to grow more aggressive after a
neo-Nazi friend of Derifield's was gunned down in northern Lake County after
a confrontation with state police, authorities said. So when the girl was
attacked walking home, Fox Lake Police Chief Edward Gerretsen said federal
and local authorities sought to "send a clear-cut message: We're not going
to tolerate this type of behavior." Police and Lake County prosecutors
welcomed the help because federal penalties are stiffer than those provided
under state law.
[Hate Groups : Scientology] A Church's Concerns
An Off Off Broadway production performed by a cast of children has received
some unwanted attention from the Church of Scientology. "A Very Merry
Unauthorized Children's Scientology Pageant," which opens Thursday at the
Tank on 42nd Street, tells the life story of L. Ron Hubbard, the science
fiction writer who founded a religion whose adherents include Tom Cruise and
John Travolta. Alex Timbers, who conceived and directed the show, imagined
it in the "idiom of a Nativity pageant," so he cast children 8 to 12. The
Rev. John Carmichael, president of the Church of Scientology in New York, is
not amused. He has visited the artistic staff to express his concern three
times and sent a stern letter to the producer, Aaron Lemon-Strauss,
pointedly outlining many of the church's past lawsuits. "I have not seen the
show," Mr. Carmichael said by phone on Wednesday, "but in general I don't
think you should ridicule a religion that helps people."
NOTE: Scientology is not a religion, but rather a commercial enterprise that
masquerades as a religion, and that increasingly acts like a hate group.
Hate and harassment activities, abuse of the legal system, and other
unethical behavior are encouraged and condoned in the cult's so-called
'scriptures' (written by L. Ron Hubbard, a man who - the record shows - did
not know how to tell fiction and non-fiction apart).
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Thu, Nov. 13, 2003
[Church and State] Alabama Chief Justice removed from office
Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore was ordered removed from office Thursday
after a state ethics board ruled unanimously that he had violated judicial
ethics rules by defying a federal judge's order to move a stone Ten
Commandments monument from the state judicial building.
[Falun Gong] Taiwanese Falun Gong followers to file lawsuit
Six Taiwanese Falun Gong followers plan to file a lawsuit in Taiwan accusing
former Chinese President Jiang Zemin of persecuting them and aiming to wipe
out the popular spiritual movement in China, a member said on Thursday.
[Prophet's House] Doomsday sect case handled by West Java Religious Affairs
Religious Affairs Minister Said Agil Husein Al Munawar said the `Doomsday`
Sect case would be handled by the West Java religious affairs office along
with relevant parties including the Indonesian Council of Churches.
[Prophet's House] Authorities Urged to Punish Doomsday Sect
The National Police and Attorney General's Office have been urged to punish
leaders of a Christian doomsday sect that had incorrectly prophesized the
world would come to an end earlier this week.
[Hate Groups : Scientology] Dentist-Scientologist refuses a deserter
[After the recent news reports of a large-scale mutiny at the 'Church' of
Scientology in Amsterdam, Netherlands (http://tinyurl.com/usga)
, the cult
has been in the news on a regular basis. Other than a few 'letters to the
editor' from a handful of Scientologists, the news has not been good for the
hate group. One item discussed dentist Hans Beekman. As a dedicated
Scientology member he is not allowed to have any contact with so-called SP's
- people the cult calls "Suppressive Persons".]
[Witchcraft] Panhandle zoning board rejects Wiccan church
Santa Rosa County's zoning board unanimously refused to let a Wiccan church
meet in a residential neighborhood, a decision applauded by about 200
opponents. One opponent held up a Bible and pointed to it in front of about
a dozen Pagans who attended the board's meeting Thursday. Others said it
wasn't a religious issue, arguing that a residential area is inappropriate
for a church, citing traffic as a major problem. The Rev. William E.
Livingston, chancellor of the Fire Dance Church of Wicca, said he will
appeal the decision.
[Falun Gong] Falun Gong club urges Yale President to intervene
The Yale Falun Gong club, along with Amnesty International, is creating a
petition asking university leaders, including Yale President Richard Levin,
to speak with Chinese officials about the Chinese government's persecution
of Falun Gong followers.
[USA] Financier Soros puts millions into ousting Bush
George Soros, one of the world's wealthiest financiers and philanthropists,
has declared that getting George Bush out of the White House has become the
"central focus" of his life, and he has put more than $15m (pounds 9m) of
his own money where his mouth is. [...] The Bush administration's "war on
terrorism" cannot be won, he argues, but is instead ushering in "a permanent
state of war". He uses the emotive terms like "supremacist ideology"
deliberately, saying that some of the rhetoric coming from the White House
reminds him of his childhood in Nazi-occupied Hungary. "When I hear Bush
say, 'You're either with us or against us,' it reminds me of the Germans,"
he said in yesterday's interview. "My experiences under Nazi and Soviet rule
have sensitised me."
[Transcendental Meditation] The Maharishi's Hotel of Emptiness
To some, he's considered a spiritual guide. To others, a cult leader. But to
Hartford city officials, the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi has been a supreme pain
in the ass. In 1994, the 92-year-old bearded populizer of transcendental
meditation's enigmatic and faceless Maharishi Vedic Development Corporation
purchased the Clarion Hotel building on Constitution Plaza, and there, in
full view of the bustle of I-91, the dilapidated edifice has sat -- a
vacant, untouched, neglected eyesore, and a billboard advertising Hartford's
urban ruin. [...] The Clarion Hotel purchase was one phase in the
maharishi's 40-year plan, according to news accounts, to open meditation
centers in all 50 states. It's unknown just how many hotels the maharishi
has procured over the years, but it's been reported that the Clarion is one
of at least 25 distressed American hotels he owns -- 25 he has done nothing
Wed, Nov. 12, 2003
[Ritual Violence] Spiritual sleuth studies violent religions to fight crime
Probing strange and violent crime scenes is commonplace for [Dawn]
Perlmutter, director of the Institute for the Research of Organized and
Ritual Violence and a consultant to law enforcement agencies across the
country. [...] Her 440-page book, "Investigating Religious Terrorism and
Ritualistic Crimes," appeared in bookstores last month. It is being billed
by its publisher as "the first complete resource to assist in crime scene
identification, criminal investigation and prosecution of religious
terrorism and occult crime." "There are literally thousands of new
religions, many of whose theologies advocate violence, springing up in this
country today," Perlmutter said in an interview. "I know of at least 150
satanic groups in existence, and more are being formed every day. Many of
the white supremacy groups hide behind a Christian facade, distorting that
faith and advocating an apocalyptic view of the world. "What concerns me,"
she said, "is that people are now using the Internet to create their own
extreme religions and find followers. I've tried to be careful not to
disrespect any religion, but I do draw a very clear line between what's
legal and what's illegal."
[Church and State] Pryor calls for Moore ouster
Attorney General Bill Pryor called Monday for suspended Alabama Chief
Justice Roy Moore to be removed from office for what he called flagrant
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