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ReligionNewsBlog.com, Dec. 4, 2003

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  • Anton Hein
    ReligionNewsBlog.com, Dec. 4, 2003 Thu, Dec. 04, 2003 [Hate Groups : Scientology] Illinois Orders Exhibit s Removal http://www.religionnewsblog.com/5283-.html
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 4, 2003
      ReligionNewsBlog.com, Dec. 4, 2003

      Thu, Dec. 04, 2003
      [Hate Groups : Scientology] Illinois Orders Exhibit's Removal
      The state of Illinois ordered a group that's an offshoot of the Church of
      Scientology to remove a display condemning psychiatry from a state office
      building. The exhibit at the Thompson Center in downtown Chicago by the
      Citizens Commission of Human Rights attacked psychiatry as a profession that
      "spawned the ideology which fired Hitler's mania ... and created the
      Holocaust." It also accused psychiatrists of "hooking our children on
      drugs." The group erected the display Monday with state permission, but was
      asked to dismantle it Tuesday after people complained that it spread
      misinformation and violated the separation between church and state,
      officials said.

      NOTE: Lying, deception, and other unethical activities are Scientology
      sacraments - codified, condoned and encouraged in the cult's scriptures as
      written by founder, L. Ron Hubbard.

      [Hate Groups] White supremacist returns to area
      James P. Wickstrom, the white supremacist leader whose presence in the
      community stirred controversy earlier this year, has returned to living in
      the Hampton Township area. Wickstrom, 61, left the area in late June to
      continue teaching a religious doctrine called Christian Identity in
      Madisonville, Tenn.

      [Peyote] Peyote may have medicinal benefits
      Long before Timothy Leary and Ken Kesey and the counterculture generation
      discovered hallucinogenic drugs, the Indians of western Mexico were using
      peyote to commune with their gods. Anthropologist Peter T. Furst, who spent
      30 years among the Huichol people, says that Indian shamans have been using
      hallucinogenic plants as a doorway to the divine for thousands of years,
      likely following a tradition carried by their ancestors over the Bering
      Strait. And now, some U.S. scientists are exploring how these substances
      might be used by doctors to battle anxiety, mental illness and alcoholism.

      [Hate Groups : Scientology] Investors bilked in Ponzi scheme fear losing
      claims to legal fees
      A group of investors bilked out of millions of dollars in a Ponzi scheme run
      by former Internet executive Reed Slatkin are now fighting to keep lawyers
      and accountants sorting through the investment manager's bankrupt estate
      from soaking up millions in fees.

      [Baha'i] Iran making room for its spiritual minorities
      Despite their small numbers, the three groups -- "recognized minority
      religions" under the 1979 constitution -- are guaranteed five seats in the
      290-member parliament. Jews and Zoroastrians get one seat each, Armenian
      Christians two, and Chaldean and Assyrian Catholics share one seat. They
      have their own schools, as well as churches, synagogues and temples. Unlike
      Iran's Muslims, men and women of these minority faiths are permitted to
      dance together in their clubs and to serve liquor -- as long as no Muslims
      are admitted to the premises. Another major step forward may come with the
      ending of one of Iran's most egregious forms of discrimination -- unequal
      status for minorities in the payment of "blood money" as compensation for
      victims of violent crime. [...] The Baha'is, Iran's largest religious
      minority, continue to face unapologetic persecution. A 19th century offshoot
      of Shiite Islam, the Baha'i faith is viewed as apostasy by the Shiite

      [Baha'i] Shiite regime's persecution keeps Baha'i faith in shadows of Iran
      For Reza and the 300,000 other members of the Baha'i sect, there is no
      respite from unending persecution at the hands of the Shiite religious
      regime. The sect, which was founded in 19th-century northern Iran as a
      breakaway from Shiite Islam, has little chance of improving its lot.

      [Mormon Church] N.Y. auction to include rare LDS Church items
      Three rare printed works from the early history of The Church of Jesus
      Christ of Latter-day Saints highlight the Americana items to be auctioned
      Thursday, by Swann Galleries in New York City. The auction of "Printed and
      Manuscript Americana" includes 16 issues ofThe Reflector newspaper, printed
      in Palmyra, N.Y., from 1829-30; a complete Book of Mormon published in March
      of 1830; and the second Mormon hymnal in Welsh from 1849. [...] The
      complete Book of Mormon was published two weeks before the organization of
      the LDS Church and is in the original binding. It is the only edition that
      names Joseph Smith as the author and is also estimated to be worth

      [Jehovah's Witnesses] Congregations want court order
      Jehovah's Witnesses congregations in Amarillo and Dumas are seeking a court
      order protecting them from releasing documents in a lawsuit filed by a woman
      who claims a former church elder sexually abused her.

      [Religion Trends] Living the religious life of a none
      Kellee Hom was raised in the Roman Catholic Church but never imagined she'd
      become a religious none. No, not "nun." That's "none," as in "none of the
      above." Hom is among a growing number of Americans who simply answer "none"
      or "no religion" when pollsters ask them their religious affiliation. Some
      "nones" identify themselves as as atheists or agnostics, but the vast
      majority believe in God, pray and often describe themselves as "spiritual
      but not religious." [...] Nones are one of the fastest growing religious
      categories in the United States. According to a recent survey, their ranks
      have more than doubled in a decade and include about 29 million Americans.

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      [Cannibalism] Is it murder if victim asks to be eaten?
      Prosecutors in the case of the German who killed and ate a man could face
      legal problems proving he had committed murder because the victim offered
      himself for slaughter and wanted to be eaten. Armin Meiwes, who went on
      trial yesterday, has been charged with murder for 'sexual satisfaction'.
      Cannibalism is not a crime in Germany, Britain's Independent on Sunday
      reported. Meiwes met the man he ate, Mr Bernd-Juergen Brandes, in early
      2001, after advertising on websites for 'young, well-built men aged 18 to 30
      to slaughter'. The Independent said Mr Brandes, 43, said in an online
      message: 'I offer myself to you and will let you dine from my live body. Not
      butchery, dining!!' Prosecutors say that despite the dead man's apparent
      'death wish', the accused is guilty of killing him to satisfy an extreme
      sexual lust. But the consensual nature of his act could make a murder
      charge difficult to apply, legal experts said. Although Meiwes has admitted
      killing Mr Brandes, his lawyer is arguing for a 'killing by demand' verdict,
      as would be the outcome in an euthanasia case.

      [Cannibalism] Cannibal says he was lonely and dreamt of 'brother' to
      Clad in a dark suit and a respectable black-and-white patterned silk tie,
      42-year-old Armin Meiwes sat quietly in the dock of a court in the German
      city of Kassel yesterday and told judges what had driven him to kill a man
      and eat him. "I felt completely alone. I wanted an imaginary brother. I
      dreamed of someone like the teenager Sandy in the American TV series
      Flipper," Meiwes told the court. But then the so-called "Rotenburg
      cannibal" explained exactly what having a brother meant in his terms. "The
      fantasies were always the same - cut him open, take out the intestines and
      then cut up the flesh into pieces," he said.

      [Cannibalism] Cannibalism: A modern taboo
      Armin Meiwes, the German who is standing trial for eating an acquaintance,
      has advised others not to follow his example. But he is unlikely to be the
      last to sample human flesh. After years of wrangling over its very
      existence, anthropologists increasingly concur that cannibalism is a
      tradition which has spanned both cultures and centuries, although the extent
      to which it has been practised remains an academic battleground. General
      repugnance has met the case of Mr Meiwes, who has confessed to killing and
      eating a man he met after advertising for someone who wanted to be killed
      and eaten.

      [Cannibalism] On stand, man describes slaying, cannibalism
      Prosecutors say the killing was sexually motivated and filed murder charges,
      despite concluding that the killing had the victim's consent. Meiwes'
      attorney argued against murder charges, saying the slaying was a form of
      mercy killing. Meiwes faces life in prison if convicted of murder. "My
      friend enjoyed the dying, his death," Meiwes was quoted saying recently by a
      local newspaper. Seeking to bolster his claim that he acted according to
      the wishes of others, Meiwes testified that he had at least five other
      respondents to his Internet ads at his home but let them go -- including a
      teacher who offered himself as a "devoted pig for slaughter."

      [Islam] Islamic group sues US lawmaker
      An Islamic group said it had sued a US lawmaker from North Carolina over
      statements in which he blamed the organization for the failure of his
      marriage and accused them of raising money for militants. The Council on
      American-Islamic Relations said it filed the suit Tuesday in US District
      Court in Washington over remarks by Representative Cass Ballenger published
      October 4 on the front page of the Charlotte Observer.

      NOTE: CAIR is a controversial organization, rejected by many Muslims:

      [Islam] Islamic conference speaker draws wrath
      Some anti-hate groups are outraged that a Saudi cleric who called on God to
      "terminate" the Jews and urged Muslims to shun peace with Israel is the
      invited keynote speaker at an Islamic conference scheduled this month in
      Osceola County. A newly formed group, the Universal Heritage Foundation, is
      sponsoring the conference and an appearance by Shaikh Abdur-Rahman
      Al-Sudais. [...] Medin said several of the more than two dozen announced
      speakers have links to groups that have preached hatred. The list of
      speakers also raised eyebrows with some terrorism experts.

      [Joshua and Caleb Thompson] Two on Trial in Bible Studies Beating
      A 12-year-old testified Wednesday that he was severely beaten with a tree
      branch by a church pastor and the pastor's twin brother to "get the devil
      out" of him because he had misbehaved during Bible class. Joshua and Caleb
      Thompson, both 23, are accused of the 2002 beating, which police say was so
      severe that the boy's kidneys failed and he required a blood transfusion.
      The Thompsons face felony charges of serious injury to a child and
      aggravated assault, with penalties ranging from probation to life in prison
      if convicted.

      [USA] Bush Urged to End Guantanamo 'Charade'
      Human rights group Amnesty International today called on the US government
      to “end the charade” of Guantanamo Bay. The call came after reports that
      military lawyers assigned to the inmates accused of international terrorism
      believe tribunal rules violate their own professional and ethical codes.

      [USA] US Gives Australian Qaeda Suspect Access to Lawyer
      A military lawyer has been assigned to defend an Australian al Qaeda suspect
      being held in Guantanamo Bay, but no charges have yet been laid and no trial
      date set, the U.S. Department of Defense said on Wednesday. The assignment
      of a military lawyer to defend David Hicks is the first time a foreign
      terror suspect imprisoned at the U.S. military base in Cuba has been allowed
      access to a lawyer, and comes only a day after the Pentagon said a U.S.-born
      man captured in Afghanistan would get a defense attorney. [...] A Pentagon
      spokesman said the assignment of a lawyer to Hicks did not set a precedent
      for other Guantanamo Bay detainees to have defense counsel, and declined to
      elaborate on why Hicks was chosen to be the first foreign suspect assigned a
      lawyer. [...] The United States , which does not recognize the detainees as
      prisoners of war but as "enemy combatants," has been widely condemned
      overseas for holding prisoners at the U.S. military base without allowing
      them to challenge their detention in court.

      [USA] Guantanamo a 'kangaroo court' - British judge
      A senior British law lord has delivered a scathing attack on the US
      Government's and the American courts' treatment of the detainees at
      Guantanamo Bay, branding it "a monstrous failure of justice". Lord Steyn,
      one of the most senior judges in Britain's highest court, described the
      military tribunal for trying the detainees as a "kangaroo court". The term,
      he said, implied "a pre-ordained arbitrary rush to judgement by an irregular
      tribunal, which makes a mockery of justice". He asked whether the British
      Government should not "make plain, publicly and unambiguously, our
      condemnation of the utter lawlessness" at Guantanamo Bay. Delivering the
      F.A. Mann lecture in London on Tuesday, Lord Steyn said: "Trials of the type
      contemplated by the United States Government would be a stain on United
      States justice. The only thing that could be worse is simply to leave the
      prisoners in their black hole indefinitely."

      [USA] Judge blasts US for 'monstrous failure of justice'
      Law Lord Johan Steyn will say in a speech in London, released to Channel 4
      news, that the prisoners are being held illegally. "The purpose of holding
      the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay was and is to put them beyond the rule of
      law, beyond the protection of any courts, and at the mercy of victors,"
      Steyn will say. [...] Their treatment has appalled human rights groups who
      believe the prisoners will be deprived of a fair trial. "The procedural
      rules do not prohibit the use of force to coerce prisoners to confess,"
      Steyn's speech said. "The blanket presidential order deprives them all of
      any rights whatsoever. As a lawyer brought up to admire the ideals of
      American democracy and justice, I would have to say that I regard this as a
      monstrous failure of justice."

      [USA] Fresh legal row over Guantanamo
      Military lawyers appointed to defend alleged terrorists being held by the US
      at Guantanamo Bay have expressed growing unease, according to reports. The
      UK's Guardian newspaper says that a team of lawyers was dismissed after
      complaining that the rules for forthcoming trials were unfair. New York's
      Vanity Fair magazine reports that some of the lawyers say their ethical
      obligations are being violated. The Pentagon has strongly denied the media

      [USA] Fair Trials Impossible, Say Guantanamo Lawyers
      Lawyers representing prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay are planning a lawsuit
      against the US government, claiming that fair trials for the detainees are
      not possible, it was reported today. American lawyers said the rules
      governing the forthcoming military tribunals were so restrictive that they
      effectively prevented due process of law.

      [USA] Guantanamo detentions opposed by ex-officers
      Navy Rear Admiral Don Guter felt the Pentagon shudder when an airliner
      hijacked by terrorists crashed into it on Sept. 11, 2001. He helped evacuate
      shaken personnel and later gave the eulogy for a colleague who died. "I
      would have done anything that day, and I fully support the war on
      terrorism," said Guter, who served as judge advocate general, the Navy's
      chief legal officer, until he retired last year. Nonetheless, he's joining
      his predecessor and a retired Marine general with expertise on prisoner
      issues to challenge the Bush administration's indefinite detention of
      suspected terrorists at the Navy base in Guantanamo, Cuba.

      [Antisemitism] Group Publishes Anti-Semitism Report
      Europe's leading Jewish organization released a study on anti-Semitism in
      Europe Tuesday, claiming the European Union's racism watchdog suppressed it
      for political reasons. The year-old study, published on the Web sites of
      British, French and German members of the European Jewish Congress, found an
      overall increase in anti-Semitic activity in European Union nations since
      the escalation of the Middle East conflict in 2000. Serge Cwajgenbaum, the
      congress' secretary-general, said the study accurately reflects the rise in
      incidents witnessed by Jewish community leaders across Europe. "We are
      scandalized that the factual elements of the study were hidden from us,"
      Cwajgenbaum said in a telephone interview from Paris, where the center is

      [Jehovah's Witnesses] Bible study visit leads to horrific discovery
      Eugenio Muriel was a few minutes early for Bible study Monday night. He rang
      the doorbell at Carmen Negrón's house, but no one answered. A second ring
      went unanswered. So he opened the screen door and found the front door open
      -- not unusual for Negrón, who hosted Bible study classes every Monday night
      for about 11 Jehovah's Witnesses. As soon as Muriel walked into the
      two-bedroom house, he was horrified. He saw blood on the floor and found
      Negrón's youngest son, Yamir Orlando Vergara-Negrón, 26, lying near the
      kitchen table. The man's face was covered with blood, and there was blood
      all around him. Not knowing what else to do, Muriel ran outside and called
      to Israel Gonzalez that something terrible had happened. The two men went
      deeper into the house and found another son, Gilberto Vergara-Negrón, 28,
      lying facedown in a bedroom, a television on the floor near the side of his
      head. A quick walk down a short hall revealed yet another body. This time it
      was the family's matriarch, Carmen Negrón, 63. She was lying facedown in the

      And a late Dec. 3 entry:

      [Hate Groups : Scientology] Scientologists' E-meter running on empty
      Astra Woodcraft grew up in the Church of Scientology and doesn’t have much
      nice to say about it. She wrote me after reading Sunday’s column
      [http://www.religionnewsblog.com/html/5217-.html%5d about celebrity
      Scientologist Tom Cruise and his interview on "Larry King Live." "I was
      raised in Scientology my entire life and was able to get out almost six
      years ago when I was 19," she wrote. Both her father and mother were
      Scientologists. So were her grandmother, brother and sister. Today, she,
      her father and sister are out. The rest of the family is still in. "They
      obviously are allowed no contact with us," she says. She told me that she
      was glad to see another negative article about the "cult." "I was forced to
      work there full-time from the age of 14 until I was 19 when I escaped. I was
      married off two months after my fifteenth birthday. I even attended school
      and used to work 80-plus hour weeks." The same year she signed a contract
      promising loyalty to the Sea Org, a subgroup within the church that
      practices a more intense version of Scientology. The term of the contract
      was 1 billion years. "They say you join the Sea Org for a billion years,
      and every time you die you get a 21-year leave of absence between
      lifetimes," she told the San Francisco Chronicle in 2001. "It’s ridiculous."

      Apologetics Index
      Research resources on religions, cults, sects, doctrines, and related
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