ReligionNewsBlog.com, Nov. 17-18, 2003 - Part 2/2
- ReligionNewsBlog.com, Nov. 17-18, 2003 - Part 2/2
[Jehovah's Witnesses] Irreconcilable beliefs shattered family
Court of Queen's Bench Justice Rosemary Nation said in her 29-page decision
the catalyst for the breakup between Lawrence and Arliss Hughes and their
two daughters was differing opinions on whether their oldest daughter,
Bethany, should receive blood transfusions. All members of the family had
been Jehovah's Witnesses for nearly 20 years and were opposed to receiving
blood products when Bethany was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in
February 2002. A bitter clash between religious beliefs and medical
treatment led to the ultimate breakup and bankruptcy of a Calgary family, a
judge has concluded in the parents' divorce action.
[Jehovah's Witnesses] Ruling sought on transfusion for baby of Jehovah's
The Nevada Supreme Court has been asked to decide if Valley Hospital Medical
Center in Las Vegas was wrong in giving a blood transfusion to a critically
ill baby against the religious beliefs of the baby's parents, who are
[Hate Groups : Scientology] Scientology opens new church with fanfare
Politicians and celebrities sat among rows of filled white seats, as
plainclothes security wearing earphones surveyed the crowd. Meanwhile,
hundreds of red, white and blue balloons waited to be released. One could
have been forgiven for thinking Vice President Cheney was in Buffalo a day
early. Instead, it was the grand opening of the Church of Scientology's
restored building at the southwest corner of Main and Virginia streets.
Despite a chilly, gray afternoon, a crowd estimated by organizers at 1,400
came out to hear outdoor speeches, get a tour of the restored 1893 building
and celebrate Scientology's expanded presence in Buffalo. It is the latest
chapter for a worldwide organization that has long been accused of being a
cult rather than a religion.
[USA] Carter: U.S. human rights missteps embolden foreign dictators
Opening a conference of international human rights workers, Carter said the
erosion of civil liberties in the U.S. has given a blank check to nations
who are inclined to violate human rights already. He cited the indefinite
detention of hundreds of terrorism suspects from Afghanistan at the U.S.
Navy base in Guantanamo and a post-Sept. 11 roundup of roughly 1,200 U.S.
immigrants _ many of whom were held for months without being formally
charged with any crime. I say this because this is a violation of the basic
character of my country and its very disturbing to me, Carter said.
[USA] U.S. renews ties with repressive Equatorial Guinea
Equatorial Guinea's president had his opponents imprisoned and tortured, had
his presidential predecessor executed by firing squad, helped himself to the
state treasury at will. State radio recently declared him "like God."
Teodoro Obiang might seem an unlikely candidate for warmer relations with
Washington, except for one thing -- his tiny West African country's got a
tremendous amount of oil. With America looking increasingly for
alternatives to oil from the Middle East, West Africa -- and dictators like
Obiang -- aren't looking so bad. To the dismay of human rights activists,
Washington reopened its embassy on the tropical country's island capital of
Malabo last month after an eight-year shutdown.
[USA] U.S. one of a few nations with juvenile death laws
The United States continues to come under fire from abroad for state laws
allowing execution of juvenile offenders. International human rights
treaties prohibit anyone under 18 years old at the time of the crime being
sentenced to death. The International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights, the American Convention on Human Rights and the U.N. Convention on
the Rights of the Child all have provisions to this effect. More than 110
countries whose laws still provide for the death penalty for at least some
offenses have laws specifically excluding the execution of child offenders
or may be presumed to exclude such executions by being parties to one or
another of the above treaties. The United States remains the only country
that has failed to ratify the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.
It joins the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi
Arabia and Yemen as the seven countries known to have executed prisoners who
committed a crime under the age of 18 since 1990, according to Amnesty
International, a human rights group that opposes the death penalty. The
country that has executed the greatest number of juvenile offenders since
1990 is the United States, with 17, Amnesty International reported.
[USA] Supreme Court should limit secret detention
The Supreme Court will consider whether the courts have any jurisdiction
over non-American citizens detained on foreign soil. More than two years
after 9/11, the country still is groping for ways to define and prosecute
its enemies. The 660 prisoners at Guantanamo were captured by U.S. troops in
Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the government has held them incommunicado as
"enemy combatants" because of alleged links to Al-Qaeda or the Taliban. The
administration has refused to follow Geneva Convention requirements that
they receive hearings before military tribunals and has denied them access
to lawyers and visitors. The government even has refused to say who is being
held or for exactly what reasons. [...] The nation that others looked to as
a champion for human rights now embarrasses itself with disdain for them.
Even the usually taciturn International Red Cross complained. Battlefield
justice is best left to the military, but the executive branch has so
overstepped that the Supreme Court had to intervene. The justices cannot
allow Guantanamo, over which the government has clear sovereignty, to become
the private, permanent limbo for an administration that makes up rules as it
[Peoples Temple] Jonestown and City Hall slayings eerily linked in time and
Opening his defense of Dan White for the November 1978 San Francisco City
Hall killings of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk, attorney
Doug Schmidt introduced a spooky and evocative rationale to justify a plea
of not guilty. Schmidt attempted to connect the dual assassinations with the
suicide-murders just days before of more than 900 men, women and children
who had followed the Rev. Jim Jones from the Peoples Temple on San
Francisco's Geary Boulevard to the jungle outpost of Jonestown, Guyana.
[...] Part of the connection between the events came through media
coverage. Each day between Saturday, Nov. 18, and Monday, Nov. 27, new and
terrible video, photos and revelations emanated from the jungle retreat
where many former San Franciscans had chosen, been coerced or programmed to
join the man they called "Father". Before Sept. 11, Jonestown was the
greatest single loss of American civilian life in a non-natural disaster.
[Hate Groups : Scientology] Cruise Invokes Scientology for Making him a
Tom Cruise credits Scientology for the inner peace and serenity he projects
in his latest film "The Last Samurai.""Well, it's known I'm a Scientologist,
and that helped me to find the inner peace and great stability and tools to
help others," Cruise says in a very candid press conference for his latest
film opening Dec. 5.
NOTE: Scientology is known for its hate and harassment activities, as well
as for other unethical behavior condoned and encouraged in founder L. Ron
Hubbard's 'scriptures.' Documentation:
[Hate Groups : Scientology] The Man with a Plan to Convert a Galaxy into
There are those who take solace in convention. For them, societal norms are
a safety blanket and envisioning radical change is too unsettling. Then
there's Keith Henson, who goes a long way to counterbalancing these
futurephobes. [...] Most recently, Henson came to widespread attention for
his vocal criticism of Scientology. In April 2001, he was convicted of
"interfering with a religion" after Scientology accused him of picketing its
Golden Era Productions in Riverside, California, where two women-Ashlee
Shaner and Stacy Meyer-had died. Scientology has also successfully sued him
for excerpting its scriptures, and Henson has been forced into bankruptcy.
Following the 2001 verdict, Henson promptly fled to Canada where he claimed
political refugee status in an effort to force the US government to examine
what he calls a "criminal conspiracy" between the Hemet District Attorney's
office and Scientology to deprive him of his civil rights. "At the time, I
was the only American seeking refugee status in Canada," he says.
[Campus Cults] New Education Policy: Cultists to Forfeit Certificates
Cultists in tertiary schools are now to have their results cancelled upon
detection, or even have their degree certificates withdrawn if found out
after graduation. A new policy guideline on the war against campus cultism
emerging from consolidated strategies of the National Council on Education
(NCE), would make state education planners account for incidents of
[Falun Gong] Japan asked to aid Falun Gong devotee held in China
The government is being asked to pressure China over an arrest it made last
year in connection with the Falun Gong spiritual movement. Atsushi Kaneko
is worried that the Chinese government may not release his Chinese wife,
Yoko Kaneko, when her 18-month detention expires Sunday. Yoko was arrested
May 24, 2002, for violating a Chinese law banning "evil cults" while she and
some friends were distributing Falun Gong leaflets in Beijing.
Mon, Nov. 17, 2003
[Peoples Temple] Remembering Jonestown Massacre
Twenty-five years ago this week, former Peninsula Congressman Leo Ryan met
the Rev. Jim Jones in a steamy South American jungle. Within hours, both men
would be dead, part of one of history's worst mass murder-suicides. On
Tuesday, the congressman's daughter, Erin, plans to join the mourners at
Oakland's Evergreen Cemetery, where more than 400 victims of the Jonestown
massacre are buried in a common grave.
[Prophet's House] "Doomsday" sect members undergoing psychological treatment
Some 164 members of the Christian "Doomsday" sect led by Rev. Mangapin
Sibuea are undergoing psychological teraphy at a mental institute here, a
Christian social worker said.
[Peoples Temple] Jonestown: 25 Years Later
In Indianapolis, where the Rev. Jim Jones debuted professionally in the
pulpit and collected a strong, integrated, community service-oriented
congregation known as the Peoples Temple, there is still pain among friends
and families whose loved ones followed Jones first to California and then
into the jungle of Guyana, where they died under his leadership.
[Peoples Temple] Jim Jones Timeline
[Birth to death timeline]
[Peoples Temple] Journalist shot at airstrip says Jones wielded great power
Los Angeles Times state projects editor Tim Reiterman carries a vivid
reminder of that event 25 years ago with him all the time -- in his memory
and in his physical scars. Reiterman was a member of the news media who
accompanied U.S. Rep. Leo Ryan to Jonestown in November 1978. Then a
reporter for the San Francisco Examiner, he was on the Port Kaituma airstrip
when a group from Jonestown opened fire on those there. He was shot in the
left forearm and in his wrist. Hiding in the grass that lined the airstrip,
he staunched the bleeding with his belt. Reiterman still can feel the
[Peoples Temple] Former local newspaperman recalls interviews, events
As the years have passed, Jones appears to be a humanitarian turned despot.
I believe the most definitive book on Jones, his life, and the carnage at
Jonestown was written by Tim Reiterman assisted by John Jacobs. Reiterman,
at the time a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner, accompanied Rep. Ryan
to Guyana and was wounded at the airstrip. The book's title is "Raven." It
was published in 1982 by E.P. Dutton Inc., 2 Park Ave., New York, N.Y.
Reiterman had investigated Jones for 18 months before joining Ryan for the
latter's ill-fated, fact-finding mission to Guyana.
[Peoples Temple] Those who knew Jones remembers his personality traits
Many people know how Jonestown ended, but they don't know where it began,
and for area residents, it is their own backyard. Many are curious and some
even come looking for the answers. It began in the tiny Randolph County town
of Crete, with the birth on May 13, 1931, of James Warren Jones to Lynetta
and James Thurman Jones.
[Peoples Temple] Friends' warning ignored
Twenty-five years have done nothing to diminish the anger of Brenda Ganatos
and Nancy Busch. The two women still get fighting mad about how Mendocino
County officials and the local news media, and later their counterparts in
San Francisco, turned a blind eye to the Rev. Jim Jones and his Peoples
Temple. Jones arrived in Mendocino County in 1965, and he and his followers
quickly infiltrated the local political and government establishments.
[...] "We can live with ourselves today because we know we did everything
we could to try and stop this madman," Ganatos said. "Frankly, I still
don't understand how all those people who should have been concerned and
weren't can look themselves in the mirror today," adds Busch.
[Peoples Temple] The day they 'stepped across'
Speculation is kept alive on numerous Web sites, including a global
conspiracy theory that U.S. government agents went into the jungle and
murdered everyone in order to hide the fact that Jones was a spy for the
CIA. Then there are Peoples Temple loyalists who still believe the
residents of Jonestown voluntarily chose death because they knew the man
they called "Father" would be unfairly blamed for Rep. Leo Ryan's murder on
the jungle airstrip.
[Peoples Temple] Survivors' perspectives differ
Not everyone associated with Peoples Temple died Nov. 18, 1978. Roughly 80
members who were in Guyana lived. Most were in the capital city of
Georgetown to the south, where the temple kept a house. There also are many
former members who left the group or never moved to South America. And
there were survivors from the airstrip ambush. [...] Here are five of
[Peoples Temple] Tragic Truths
It's a quest that led [Rebecca] Moore to change careers, leaving jobs in
public broadcasting, community relations and teaching film and television
editing to get a doctorate in religion. At 52, she is now an assistant
professor in the religious studies department at San Diego State University.
She's written five books about Peoples Temple and Jonestown, two with the
help of her husband, 53-year-old freelance writer and editor Fielding
McGehee III. Another book, a joint effort with other scholars, is due out
early next year. She and McGehee also publish The Jonestown Report, an
annual journal featuring essays and updates from researchers and former
members, and have assembled an extensive Web site called "Alternative
Considerations of Jonestown and Peoples Temple."
[Peoples Temple] Fremont pastor: Jones was 'a bit off'
The Rev. Don Anderson first met Jim Jones in the late 1960s, at a Christian
retreat in Auburn. Jones, leader of the Peoples Temple -- a church that had
just moved from Indianapolis to California -- invited Anderson to go for a
walk in the forest. "Jim seemed very open to me," said Anderson,
then-pastor of Fremont's First Christian Church. "For some reason he seemed
to like me, and I took a liking to him. "But I always had this suspicion
about him." [...] Anderson became more suspicious after Jones stationed
armed guards at the doors of his churches. And once, Jones told Anderson
that he took the name "Jim Jones" because those were the initials of Jesus,
Anderson said. "He said he was a reincarnation of Jesus," Anderson said. "I
thought he was a bit off." Other Tri-City area residents who knew members
of the Peoples Temple agree that things never seemed quite right.
[Peoples Temple] 25 years afer the horror of Jonestown
They say there are lessons to be learned from the Peoples Temple tragedy --
not just how cults or apocalyptic groups form or function, but how
aggressive intervention by a perceived enemy can trigger or fuel violence.
They say these are lessons that can be applied to situations similar to
Jonestown, to Waco or even to al-Qaida and the war on terrorism. "Jonestown
kind of inaugurated an era of apocalyptic terror," said John Hall, a
professor of sociology and director of the Center for History, Society and
Culture at the University of California, Davis. "People who didn't
understand Jones-town took the wrong lessons when they went into Waco."
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