ReligionNewsBlog.com, Nov. 23, 2003
- ReligionNewsBlog.com, Nov. 23, 2003
Sun, Nov. 23, 2003
[Islam] Belgian police clash with Muslim youths, arrest 35
Belgian police made 35 arrests on Saturday after clashing with Moroccan
teenagers who smashed car and shop windows in the port city of Antwerp on
the first anniversary of the shooting death of a young Arab.
[Aum Shinrikyo] Residents' health to be surveyed after 1994 sarin attack
The city of Matsumoto in Nagano Prefecture has decided to conduct a health
survey on about 2,000 residents ahead of the 10th anniversary in June next
year of the sarin gas attack in the city by the AUM Shinrikyo cult, city
officials said Saturday.
[Islam] 13 Churches, Houses Torched in Fresh Crisis
THISDAY gathered that the arson was as a result of an alleged blamsphemy
against Prophet Mohammed, (PBUH), by a female student of Federal Government
Girls College (FGGC) Kazaure, during a heated argument with her colleagues.
[Ahmadiyya] Attacks on Ahmadias: No move to arrest attackers, instigators
Although fundamentalists openly attacked a mosque of the Ahmadia sect in
Nakhalpara Friday noon and caused communal disturbance, the government has
done nothing to arrest the culprits till yesterday.
[Ahmadiyya] Bid to 'capture' Ahmadia mosque turns violent
At least 50 people including 18 policemen were injured in twin attacks by
anti-Ahmadia Muslims on law-enforcers near an Ahmadia mosque at Nakhalpara
in Tejgaon before and after the Juma prayers yesterday. [...] Police and
witnesses said the incident ensued when some 500 anti-Ahmadia Muslims
marched towards East Nakhalpara Ahmadia Mosque shortly after noon for what
they called freeing the mosque from non-Muslims.
[Word of Faith Fellowship] WOFF man cleared on charges
The assistant principal and youth leader at the Word of Faith Fellowship was
cleared Friday on a charge that he assaulted a then-16-year-old boy during
an incident that took place at the church in 2001. [...] In explaining his
ruling, Fox expressed frustration that he was not sure what happened on that
evening two years ago. Fox, however, was not sufficiently swayed by the
prosecution's argument that the witnesses for Doyle, all current WOFF
members, were pressured to lie about what happened because of possible
repercussions from church leadership. "I am unhappy that the court is not
clear what happened," said Fox. "There is no question to this court that
some of the people were not telling the truth today."
Fox took about 10 minutes to explain his ruling, discussing, among other
things, the appropriateness of corporal punishment and the status of the
WOFF in this community. "The Word of Faith is an awkward fit in this
community, and I think it would be in any community," said Fox who recalled
other cases he has presided over where the WOFF was "hovering." Using
Biblical references, he made a point of saying that no church or religion is
above the law.
[Da Vinci Code] 'Da Vinci Code' fascinates readers
"The book is certainly not reliable in any scholarly way; If you're going to
read about the life of Jesus and the gospels, don't depend on 'The Da Vinci
Code,'" said the Rev. Chris Viscardi, theology/philosophy chairman at Spring
Hill College, a Jesuit institution in Mobile. "It would be like taking the
play, 'Julius Caesar,' and using it as a biography to study the life of
Caesar. It's a Shakespeare play. This book is a novel. The kinds of evidence
we have of biographical knowledge of Jesus is very limited. We have
testimony and narratives from people who saw Jesus as the Messiah, and the
gospels are not biographical narratives in any modern sense." Viscardi sees
"Code" as a spin-off of the scholarly research in search of the historical
Jesus. He says we live in a world where a person can go on the Internet and
find any opinion on anything, some reliable, some confusing, some deceiving.
Education and critical thought is the key. "What the novel talks about is
fascinating, but it is a novel, not to be taken seriously as a scholarly
. NOTE: The author of The Da Vinci Code presents fiction as fact.
Apologetics Index presents research resources on The Da Vinci Code:
[Da Vinci Code] Magdalene creates stir
A blockbuster novel, a controversial TV special, and a just-released book on
a long-hidden gospel bearing her name: The woman known as Mary Magdalene is
again at the center of a swirl of speculation. Long portrayed in Christian
tradition as a repentant prostitute out of whom Jesus cast seven devils,
Mary is having her own resurrection in the popular imagination as history is
corrected, and new, sometimes explosive, claims are asserted about her
relationship to the Master. This is not, though, just about setting the
record straight on an intriguing historical figure. In an era when "God
talk" has moved convincingly into the media/entertainment arena, observers
say, her story is captivating because it encapsulates major unresolved
issues facing Christianity - the role of women in the church, the place of
human sexuality, and the yearning for the feminine aspect of the Divine.
All these issues are tantalizingly injected into the best-selling thriller
"The Da Vinci Code," which set off the latest debate this summer by positing
that Jesus and Mary were married.
[Books] On the road to find God
In his yearlong quest to find God in America, Tom Levinson talked to rabbis,
ministers of all varieties, and a Catholic monk named Brother Gus. He also
met a former Mormon who runs the Coffee Messiah cafe where "Caffeine Saves"
and a practicing Mormon who worked at a Las Vegas wedding chapel;
interviewed a Hindu hotel clerk who also venerated Jesus; visited a Wiccan
community center in Dallas; and stopped by a Sikh gurdwara in New Mexico,
where he was greeted with a "how's it going?" from a tall white man in a
turban, one of the local converts. And then there was Edna Doyle of Waco,
Texas -- a "gracious, feisty" grandmother from Melbourne, Australia -- one
of the surviving members of David Koresh's Branch Davidian cult. Dressed in
a white blouse, cardigan sweater, and a plaid skirt, "Doyle looked more like
a grade school teacher than a domestic terrorist," writes Levinson in his
book, All That's Holy : A Young Guyy: A Young Guy, and Old Car, and the
Search for God in America.
[Church Universal and Triumphant] Seeker's diary: Church Universal and
It would take a book to explain the teachings of Church Universal and
Triumphant. Specifically, it might take 55 books, the number published by
members of this cross-denominational faith since its founding in 1958.
NOTE: Basically, an unbalanced, uncritical puff piece. See the side bar
(added by RNB) for links to relevant research resources, including
information about cult apologist J. Gordon Melton's "travesty of research"
on the group.
Sat, Nov. 22, 2003
[Christianity] Scholars Discover Parts of New Testament
The inscription declares the 60-foot-high monument is the tomb of Simon, a
devout Jew who the Bible says cradled the infant Jesus and recognized him as
the Messiah. It's actually unlikely Simon is buried there; the monument is
one of several built for Jerusalem's aristocracy at the time of Jesus.
However, the inscription does back up what until now were scant references
to a Byzantine-era belief that three biblical figures - Simon, Zachariah and
James, the brother of Jesus - shared the same tomb.
[Falun Gong] Mary Kay Drops Falun Gong Wording in Contracts
Amid pressure from a trio of congressional members, Addison-based cosmetics
giant Mary Kay Inc. said Thursday that it has revised its sales force
agreement in China that effectively reiterated a government ban against the
Falun Gong spiritual group.
[Interfaith] Clergy Group to Counter Conservatives
In an effort to counter the influence of conservative Christian
organizations, a coalition of moderate and liberal religious leaders is
starting a political advocacy organization to mobilize voters in opposition
to Bush administration policies. The nonprofit organization, the Clergy
Leadership Network, plans to formally announce its formation on Friday and
will operate from an expressly religious, expressly partisan point of view.
The group cannot, under Internal Revenue Service guidelines, endorse
political candidates, and it will have no official ties to the Democratic
Party. But the driving purpose of the organization, according to its
mission statement, is to bring about "sweeping changes - changes in our
nation's political leadership and changes in failing public policies."
[USA] Bush's Remark About God Assailed
Evangelical Christian leaders expressed dismay yesterday over President
Bush's statement that Christians and Muslims worship the same god, saying it
had caused discomfort within his conservative religious base. But most
predicted that the political impact would be short-lived. [...] Bush's
remarks sent immediate shock waves through Christian Web sites and radio
broadcasts. A Baptist Press report quoted Richard D. Land, president of the
public policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation's largest
Protestant denomination, as saying that Bush "is simply mistaken." [...] The
Rev. Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals,
also issued a statement contradicting Bush. [...] But both Land and Haggard,
who are frequent visitors to the White House, doubted that the remark would
cost Bush votes in 2004. "This president has earned a lot of wiggle room
among evangelicals," Land said. "If he had said that Islam is on a par with
Christianity, it would be a more serious case of heartburn. This is just
indigestion." Gary Bauer, president of American Values, a conservative
public policy group, said it is unclear what the ultimate fallout will be.
"But the one thing that's for certain is, it's not helpful to the president.
Since everybody agrees he's not a theologian, he would be much better
advised to punt when he gets that kind of question," Bauer said.
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