ReligionNewsBlog.com, Nov. 17-18, 2003 - Part 1/2
[Religious Insanity] Self-proclaimed preacher accused of biting family
A California man made an initial appearance in federal court here after a
Friday incident at Grand Canyon National Park in which he is accused of
punching, biting and screaming at visitors as he preached a religious
message. [...] Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Aspey said Chimel told a judge
here Monday that it was the first time he physically confronted people to
get them to listen to his message.
[Peoples Temple] Jonestown survivors recall fateful day
A memorial service Tuesday at a mass grave will mark the 25th anniversary of
the Jonestown massacre, in which 913 men, women and children died in the
worst mass murder-suicide in recent history.
[Peoples Temple] Jonestown survivor: 'Wrong from every point of view'
Former Jones follower, Laura Johnston Kohl, who had the good fortune to be
elsewhere in Guyana November 18, 1978, joined anchor Anderson Cooper from
CNN's San Francisco bureau.
[Peoples Temple] Timeline: Road to tragedy in Jonestown
The Rev. Jim Jones and his followers participated in a murder/suicide that
took the lives of more than 900 people, including a U.S. congressman, 25
years ago. The massacre was so shocking that every case of mass suicide with
religious overtones afterward has been compared to it.
[Hate Groups] Aryan Nations member who ran for office will stand trial
Aryan Nations member and failed Hayden City Council candidate Zachary Beck
will stand trial on malicious harassment charges. Beck, 24, was arrested
Oct. 31 and accused of attacking a Hispanic man in a grocery store parking
lot. Malicious harassment is a hate crime in Idaho.
[Polygamy] Bigamist Stuck in Jail, Plans Appeal
A judge rejected a polygamist's request to get out of jail while he appeals
his bigamy conviction to a higher court. In denying Rodney Holm's request,
5th District Judge G. Rand Beacham dismissed arguments that Holm was being
prosecuted for his religious beliefs.
[Antisemitism] Chirac to Tackle Anti-Semitism and Muslim Slums of Bitterness
Reflecting concern that disaffected Muslim youths are behind anti-Semitic
acts in France, President Jacques Chirac on Monday called an emergency
high-level meeting to approve measures to stop attacks on Jewish sites.
[Vampirism] 'Vampires' jailed in Britain
Two self-styled vampires who bombarded a vicar and his family with abusive
phone calls, howled in the churchyard and pinned obscene pictures on the
church notice board were jailed Friday.
[USA] Blair's Wife Faults Bush's Opposition to International Court
On the eve of President Bush's state visit to Britain, the wife of Prime
Minister Tony Blair strongly criticized the administration's campaign
against the International Criminal Court, saying its concerns are "not well
founded." Cherie Booth, a leading human rights lawyer, levied the criticism
yesterday during a panel discussion on human rights and international law at
Georgetown University. Most of her remarks were an academic and historical
overview of the development of international law, but she devoted a
substantial portion to countering Bush's arguments for rejecting the court.
[Islam] Converts in the houses of the Lord
Islam is among NSW's fastest growing religions, with the growth strongly
driven by disenchanted Catholics and Anglicans. Linda Morris meets some of
[Religious Freedom] Judge Allows Preacher to Speak at Schools
A federal judge has allowed a Texas evangelist to address public school
students in this southern Illinois town. U.S. District Judge James Foreman
issued an order Monday allowing Texas-based evangelist Ronnie Hill to speak
at local schools, said Robert Marsh, who fought the assemblies in court.
However, the judge's order blocked Hill's followers from distributing
invitations to the church revival where Hill is speaking. The first of
Hill's anti-drug, secular speeches was held Monday morning at a Marion
elementary school. Other assemblies were planned Tuesday at local junior and
senior high schools.
[Abraham Kennard] Question of faith arises over Columbia center
More than 5,000 congregants - including Buddhists, Muslims, Jews and
Christians - attend services at the centers weekly. A congregation of
Messianic Jews - who believe that Jesus is the Messiah - is building a fifth
interfaith center in Columbia's last village of River Hill. And that has
ignited a debate over the freedom of religion in the town that was developed
in 1967 as a home for people of all races and backgrounds. Columbia's four
interfaith centers embody the planned community's vision of bringing
together diverse groups, providing a place to worship in a tolerant
[Reina y Señora de Todo lo Creado] Archbishop warns of Costa Rican cult
Archbishop Patrick Flores of San Antonio is warning Catholics about a Costa
Rican religious cult in which a former San Antonio priest has taken refuge.
In an uncharacteristic move, Flores has issued a statement urging Catholics
to stay away from the Reina y Señora de Todo la Creado, which translates as
"The Queen and Lady of All Creation." The group, which has ties to Texas
and several members from San Antonio, is centered around Juan Pablo Delgado,
a 24-year-old "visionary" who claims to receive messages from the Virgin
Mary. It has a reputation for violence in Costa Rica, and its members are
reportedly preparing for the end of the world in late December.
[Orthodox Church] Russian Orthodox Church freezes ties with Episcopal Church
over gay bishop
The Russian Orthodox Church announced Monday that it is suspending ties with
the U.S. Episcopal Church over its consecration of an openly gay bishop,
saying that homosexuality is a sin and that it ''cannot condone the
perversion of human nature.''
[Hate Groups] White Wolves leader agrees to meet minister
The leader of an alleged white supremacist group has accepted a Bridgeport
minister's invitation to discuss race and tolerance. Ken Zrallack, 22,
leader of the White Wolves, said his group is "pro-white" rather than a hate
group. He said white people are discriminated against as much as any
[Witchcraft] Religious books removed from drug items display after inquiry
Until last week, a glass case in the Rutherford County Sheriff's Department
lobby displayed books related to the Wicca religion and Celtic lore
alongside drug paraphernalia. No labels explained why the bongs, pipes and
drug-related items were in the case with books, including Living Wicca,
Celtic Lore, The Witches' Almanac and Celtic Magic. The religious items,
which had been on display for at least most of 2003, were removed after The
Tennessean asked where the items had come from and why they were on display.
[Harry Potter] Harry Potter Sales Reach 250 Million Worldwide
The world's most famous boy wizard set a new record Monday -- sales of the
Harry Potter books have hit a quarter of a billion. And avid young Potter
fans can rest easy: J.K. Rowling has started work on the sixth book in the
saga set in Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. [...]
[Rastafarianism] Rastafarians Promote Alternative Farming
For decades the Rastafarian community, in their spiritual home here, had not
been taken seriously and Ethiopians have even termed them as ludicrous. But
all that is set to change with the efforts of a Rastafarian non-governmental
organisation (NGO) in promoting alternative farming techniques and youth
development programmes. "We want to break the perception that we Rastas
just sing reggae music and smoke herb (marijuana) all day. We are serious
development workers," says Ras Kabinda, a convenor of the Ethiopian World
[Falun Gong] Taiwan Falun Gong practitioners sue China's ex-president
Seven Taiwan practitioners of Falun Gong brought a lawsuit in the Taiwan
High Court Monday [17 November] against former mainland Chinese President
Jiang Zemin and other former and incumbent mainland officials for genocide.
Chu Wan-chi, a spokesman for what has been dubbed the "worldwide trial of
Jiang Zemin" campaign, which organized the lawsuit, said the lawsuit is a
part of a global effort to stop Beijing from persecuting other practitioners
of Falun Gong.
[Transcendental Meditation] Supervisors OK Vedic City local option tax
After expressing reservations about the measure, Jefferson County
supervisors approved an ordinance this morning enacting a local option sales
tax in Maharishi Vedic City. [...] Burgmeier said he would try to block any
attempt by Maharishi Vedic City to use taxpayer money to support Vedic
pundits, who are young men from India practicing the Transcendental
Meditation and TM-Sidhi programs. Members of the TM movement founded by
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi say practicing these programs creates peace. "If any
money is spent for the pundit project, I will seek any and all recourse to
stop what I feel is an illegal use and a church-and-state conflict,"
Burgmeier said. As grounds for his objection for using tax money to support
the pundits, Burgmeier cited a court's decision in 1979 ruling that the
Science of Creative Intelligence, an offshoot of the TM movement, could not
be taught in public schools. He added, "the salutation that people use for
the leader of the movement, 'his holiness,' does nothing to ease my
[Peoples Temple] How spiritual journey ended in destruction
Twenty-five years ago, on Nov. 18, 1978, more than 900 members of the Rev.
Jim Jones' Peoples Temple perished in the South American jungle, either
shot, injected or otherwise poisoned by the deadly punch he had ordered them
to drink. The world was shocked by Jonestown. But interviews with people
who knew Jones before he brought his congregation to California reveal early
warning signs in the young life of this crazed prophet -- the quick temper,
the lust for power, the turning points from which there would be no turning
[Word of Faith Fellowship] Whaley hearing delayed
After waiting through the majority of the Rutherford County District Court
docket, Jane Whaley's day in court on a misdemeanor criminal assault charge
was postponed to Dec. 19. Whaley, the co-founder and lead minister of the
Word of Faith Fellowship in Spindale, was charged by former church member
Lacy Wien with assaulting her after Wien threatened to leave the church in
[Santeria] Santeria priest, Passaic mayor threatened after sacrifice
67-year-old woman has been charged with making terroristic threats against
a Santeria priest who performed a highly publicized animal sacrifice in
Passaic last month, after she vowed to make a "human sacrifice" of the
priest himself, police said.
[Emmanuel Milingo] Troublesome archbishop runs a little further from grace
Archbishop Emanuel Milingo has done it again: run off with a woman. Vatican
sources say that the Zambian archbishop, who has been under "monastery
arrest" since returning from marriage to a Korean member of the Moonie sect,
has absconded again.
[John Allen Muhammad] Muhammad Guilty on All Counts
John Allen Muhammad was convicted Monday of masterminding the terrifying
sniper attacks that gripped the Washington region last fall and now faces a
possible death sentence.
[Brainwashing] Acquaintances Split On 'Brainwashing'
Lee Boyd Malvo and John Allen Muhammad crisscrossed the United States after
meeting in the Caribbean, encountering school principals, shelter directors,
old friends and new acquaintances. And each noticed the dynamic between the
two: Muhammad was in charge. But opinions about the degree to which the
young Jamaican was dominated by Muhammad vary significantly among the people
who came across the drifters between the time they met in 2000 and when they
were arrested in October 2002 and charged as the Washington area snipers.
- Continued in Part 2
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