ReligionNewsBlog.com, Dec. 6-8, 2003
Mon, Dec. 08, 2003
[Ahmadiyya] Minister snubs demand for declaring Ahmadiyyas non-Muslim
[Bangladesh] State Minister for Religious Affairs Mosharef Hossain Shajahan
yesterday rejected a demand for declaring the Ahmadiyya sect non-Muslim, a
rallying cry that led religious bigots to stage a hate-filled demonstration
on Friday and declare a tough movement ahead.
[Hate Groups] Black author talks about converting KKK members
Many Americans cannot imagine becoming buddies with national leaders of the
Ku Klux Klan. Daryl Davis doesn't have to try. He did it. The 47-year-old
black man befriended many Klansmen, witnessed the resignation of several
Klan members and wrote a book on his experiences. He has appeared CNN,
Geraldo and Jenny Jones for his work with white supremacists.
[Nuwaubians] Charges considered against Nuwaubians who were in Christmas
United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors members who marched in Saturdays parade
told the event organizer when they applied to participate that they were a
Masons group, officials said. Authorities are considering whether to charge
the group members with submitting false information to a government agency,
which is a felony, said Brunswick prosecutor Stephen Kelley.
[False Memory Syndrome] 'We can implant entirely false memories'
"We can easily distort memories for the details of an event that you did
experience," says [Elizabeth] Loftus. "And we can also go so far as to plant
entirely false memories - we call them rich false memories because they are
so detailed and so big."
[Amish] Amish child labor practices under review
A bill before Congress seeks to exempt the Amish from child labor laws in a
culture where children leave school after the eighth grade to learn a trade
and support their families. If approved after years of trying, it would be
similar to an existing exemption that covers farming.
[False Memory Syndrome] Lawyer in sex-abuse case will test ruling
The attorney for a medieval history group leader who hosted weekend
sleepovers for children will be among the first to take advantage of a
recent state Supreme Court decision concerning sexually abused children.
[...] A September Supreme Court decision allows for so-called taint hearings
to be held so a judge can rule if false memories were planted, primarily in
young children, during interviews.
[Offbeat News] Church's billboard called offensive
billboard some people are finding offensive was put up by a Christian
church pastor who says he's just trying to crack a stereotype that his
congregation is boring. The first billboard sponsored by an evangelical
church called The LightHouse features a cartoon-like, white stick figure
standing on a roof with a cross behind him and shouting "Blah! Blah! Blah!"
A second billboard went up on Friday and explains that "Blah" stands for
"Bringing Life And Hope."
[Films] Groundhog Almighty
A new movie series from the Museum of Modern Art, "The Hidden God: Film and
Faith," features some pretty brooding stuff. [...] With one exception. On
Thursday, the opening-night feature at the Gramercy Theater, where the
series is being presented, was "Groundhog Day," the 1993 movie starring Bill
Murray as a sarcastic television weatherman forced by a twist of fate and
magic to relive one day of his life, Feb. 2, over and over. Since its debut
a decade ago, the film has become a curious favorite of religious leaders of
many faiths, who all see in "Groundhog Day" a reflection of their own
spiritual messages. Curators of the series, polling some 35 critics in the
literary, religious and film worlds to suggest films with religious
interpretations, found that "Groundhog Day" came up so many times that there
was actually a squabble over who would write about it in the retrospective's
[Hate Groups] Greene County target of anti-gay church
Greene County is the latest target of a Kansas church that wants to
establish monuments condemning a gay man who was murdered in Wyoming in
1998. County officials vow to fight the attempt by Fred Phelps, pastor of
the Topeka, Kan., church, to put a 6-foot granite monument in the
Greeneville courthouse. Phelps said if officials do not comply, his group
will picket the county.
[Hate Groups] Boise faces Phelps controversy
One of the first political problems facing incoming mayor Dave Bieter will
be an attempt by an extremist anti-gay church to erect a hate monument next
to the city's own monument to the Ten Commandments. [...] Civil libertarians
say the city may have no choice but to accommodate both monuments -- and
maybe more. Phelps has formally asked the city for permission to install a
6-foot granite edifice bearing the name and image of Matthew Shepard, a
21-year-old Wyoming college student who died in 1998 five days after when he
was lured out of a Laramie bar by two men, kidnapped and beaten into a coma.
Police said he was targeted in part because he was gay. His attackers were
later convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. Phelps' monument
would say that Shepard went to hell because he was gay.
[The Fellowship] N.Va. Neighbors Up in Arms Over Secretive Enclave
The Fellowship, best known for its National Prayer Breakfast every February,
is described by backers as a loosely knit group of friends who advise the
rich and powerful on the teachings of Jesus Christ. In its mission to
create global harmony, the Fellowship has for decades quietly brought
together Third World leaders, disgraced captains of industry, members of
Congress and ambassadors for talks at an imposing white mansion that sits on
a hill overlooking the Potomac River. Pop star Michael Jackson was a guest
[Panawave] Police: Pana Wave wrote manual on how to beat members
The Pana Wave Laboratory group in Fukui, five of whose members were arrested
Friday on suspicion of beating an associate professor of a Fukuoka
university who died in the group's facility in August, compiled a manual
giving instructions on how to administer punishment beatings to members,
police said Friday.
[USA] Interview: 'Of course, it was all about Iraq's resources'
Edited excerpts of an interview with Noam Chomsky by Simon Mars of Dubai's
Business Channel. [...] Simon Mars: Do you think control over energy
resources was the main reason for the invasion of Iraq? Noam Chomsky: They
didn't decide to invade Eastern Congo where there's much worse massacres
going on. [See: http://www.religionnewsblog.com/5325-.html%5d
Of course it
was Iraq's energy resources. It's not even a question. Iraq's one of the
major oil producers in the world. It has the second largest reserves and
it's right in the heart of the Gulf's oil producing region, which US
intelligence predicts is going to be two thirds of world resources in coming
years. The invasion of Iraq had a number of motives, and one was to
illustrate the new National Security Strategy, which declares that the
United States will control the world permanently by force if necessary and
will eliminate any potential challenge to that domination. It is called
[Jehovah's Witnesses] Congregation of 60,000 tourists knocking politely on
From Thursday, the largest-ever congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses in
Australia will converge at Telstra Stadium for their intern ational
convention. It will be attracting 60,000 delegates, making it the
second-largest event to be held in Sydney this year, says Denis Winchester,
from the Tourism Industry Council. "It's the mother of all conventions. The
next closest I can think of is a Lions convention in Brisbane for 20,000."
[Church and State] Just Case, Bad Trend
We would all be better off if the state of Washington had given Joshua Davey
his state scholarship to study theology at an evangelical college. Because
Davey was denied his scholarship, he sued. Because Davey sued, the U.S.
Supreme Court may be forced to make a ruling that unsettles more than it
settles in our national argument about religious liberty.
[Cloning] There's No Monkeying Around With Cloning
Almost seven years after the birth of Dolly the sheep shocked scientists and
the public, cloning has shown mixed progress. Scientists have achieved it in
more than a dozen mammal species, including mice, rabbits, goats, pigs and
horses. They've cloned a calf from a slaughtered cow. They've even cloned a
wild sheep from a carcass found in a pasture. But an efficient cloning
process still eludes them. Clones are more prone to physical defects than
regular animals are. And researchers haven't been able to duplicate monkeys
from adult or fetal tissue, a goal that could help medical research.
[Ninja] Apocalyptic rebel movement revisits Congo's heart of darkness
In the forests and jungles near Brazzaville, a bitter guerrilla war is led
by a messianic pastor who claims that the end of the world is coming. Rory
Carroll is the first western journalist to meet him in his remote Kindamba
hide-out. [...] This is the Pool region of the Republic of Congo. Ninja
country. A rebel movement has for years battled the government in a
guerrilla war with atrocities committed on both sides. The Ninjas wear
purple as a sign of suffering. Their hair is dreadlocked because of a Bible
passage which says no razor should touch the head of the chosen ones. They
say an apocalypse is coming and, after so much destruction, many suspect it
has already started. Ten years of fighting have made Pool desolate.
[Worldwide Church of God] Sale of 5 Historic Pasadena Homes Draws Curious
The offer was irresistible: Five adjacent historic homes on Pasadena's
oldest street were on the market Saturday for the first time in decades.
[...] Yet, many emerged with starkly different views of the properties,
which had been shuttered for the last several years by their owner, the
Worldwide Church of God. Some visitors saw an opportunity; others envisioned
a money pit. [...] With the church in the midst of a financial downsizing,
the decision was made to develop much of its 50-acre Pasadena property and
move its headquarters elsewhere in Southern California.
[Mormon Church] The Untold Story Of The Mormons
In the wake of civil legislation across the world and anti-racism campaigns
against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in America came an
incredible revelation on June 9, 1978, from the Mormon President, Spencer W.
Kimball, who announced that he had received a revelation which signalled the
end of the Church's ban on blacks' acceptance into the priesthood, The
Chronicle has gathered. Until then, the Church had pontificated that blacks
would never hold priesthood in the church because they bore the "Mark of
Cain" and had been born through this lineage as a punishment for their
failures in the pre-existence.
[Mormon Church] Ghana LDS Temple Open for Tours; Veep Visits
The first temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) in
West Africa is completed... and will open for public tours today.
[Islam] Seminary Is Reaching Out to Muslims
One of the nation's leading evangelical Christian seminaries has launched a
federally funded project for making peace with Muslims, featuring a proposed
code of ethics that rejects offensive statements about each other's faiths,
affirms a mutual belief in one God and pledges not to proselytize. The
$1-million project, initiated by Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, is
being hailed by both sides as a pioneering attempt to ease continuing
conflict. But, in an illustration of sharp theological divides, some
conservative evangelicals are challenging the ethics code and asserting that
they do not believe in the same God as Muslims.
[Opus Dei] Catholics scrutinize enigmatic Opus Dei
Lexington College, a school on Chicago's Near West Side that specializes in
food-service management, is run by Opus Dei, a tiny religious movement
brought to public attention by the best seller "The Da Vinci Code," a kind
of ecclesiastical mystery novel featuring a Machiavellian Opus Dei operative
who takes orders from a sinister, off-stage presence called "The Teacher."
Earlier, the group briefly made headlines when it was learned that Robert
Hanssen, the FBI agent turned Russian spy, sent his children to a
Washington-area private school run by Opus Dei--Latin for the "Work of God."
Recently, the group opened a new multistory headquarters in the heart of
Manhattan, a sign of its abundant financial resources. All of this has shone
a spotlight on a group that has been something of a mystery, even to other
U.S. Catholics. Yet it has tentacles of influence stretching all the way to
the Holy See, where the pope's spokesman, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, is a
[Islam] Alhambra mosque: Granada rediscovers its Muslim roots
Five hundred years after being hounded out by the Roman Catholic monarchs
Isabel and Ferdinand, Spain's Muslims have built a mosque overlooking what
was once Islam's most important outpost in Europe, the Alhambra palace in
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Sun, Dec. 07, 2003
[Franklin Graham] Evangelist invited to visit Sudan
Evangelist Franklin Graham plans to travel to Sudan at the invitation of its
Muslim government, which he has criticized for military actions against
predominantly southern, Christian rebels.
[Aum Shinrikyo] Aum's Hayashi continues appeal of death sentence
Convicted killer Yasuo Hayashi appealed his death sentence to the Supreme
Court after the Tokyo High Court on Friday upheld the punishment against the
former member of Aum Shinrikyo. Hayashi, 45, the former ``minister of
science and technology'' in the cult, was sentenced in the Tokyo District
Court in 2000 for his role in the 1995 sarin gas attack on Tokyo subways
that killed 12 people and made more than 5,500 others ill.
[Islamism] Hamas chief Yassin rejects coexistence with Israel
Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin has again rejected the continued
existence of Israel next to an independent Palestinian state, telling a
German news magazine a Jewish state could be established in Europe.
[Catholic Church] Priest accused of molesting boy after dressing him up like
A former DuPage County priest already facing sexual abuse charges molested a
teenage boy after dressing him like Jesus Christ and taking his picture, an
attorney for the victim said Wednesday.
[Hinduism] Hindu sect ready to build temple
Hindus plan to build a worship center at the Florida Shirdi Sai Center...
[...] Sai Baba is a branch of Hinduism. The devotees of Sai Baba worship
Shirdi Sai Baba, an Indian philosopher who lived from the mid to late 1800s,
and also Shatya Sai Baba, the religious leader who lives in India. devotees
of Sai Baba believe the two men are direct incarnations of God who have
descended to earth.
[IPIC International] Rancho Cucamonga man denied bail in $160 million church
A Rancho Cucamonga man accused of bilking Christian ministries out of $160
million was ordered sent to Texas to face charges of securities fraud and
money laundering. A federal judge denied bail Friday for Gregory Earl
Setser and ordered the 47-year-old businessman sent to Texas to enter pleas
to the charges.
Sat, Dec. 06, 2003
[Lee Malvo] Cult Expert Testifies for Malvo Defense
Attorneys tried to bolster their insanity defense for sniper suspect Lee
Boyd Malvo with testimony from a cult expert who said Malvo's childhood
could have made him vulnerable to brainwashing by sniper mastermind John
Allen Muhammad. [...] [Paul] Martin has not interviewed Malvo or Muhammad,
but offered general testimony on how brainwashing typically occurs, and
answered hypothetical questions about how the circumstances of Malvo's life
apply in the context of indoctrination. He did not give an opinion on
whether Malvo was brainwashed.
[Lee Malvo] Over Objections, Expert on Cults Is Witness for Sniper Suspect
An expert on cults testified on Friday at the trial of Lee Malvo, the
younger suspect in last fall's sniper attacks in the Washington area.
Drawing parallels to the brainwashing of prisoners of war in Korea, to the
Jonestown mass suicide and the Branch Davidian siege in Texas, he suggested
that John A. Muhammad, who has been sentenced to die for his role in the
shootings, may have come to control Mr. Malvo's mind and free will. "They
can change their moral values," the expert, Paul R. Martin, said of people
who have been indoctrinated. "People can start to engage in crimes. People
can kill when they are under this sort of mindset." Mr. Martin, who said he
had neither interviewed Mr. Malvo nor studied his case, spoke in general
terms, over a prosecutor's frequent and furious objections.
[Superior Universal Alignment] Satanic cult leader acquitted in mutilation
murders of boys
A jury in an Amazon state acquitted the leader of a satanic cult on Friday
in connection with the murder and sexual mutilation of several young boys.
The jury voted 6-1 to acquit 75-year-old Valentina Andrade, who was accused
of planning and ordering the mutilations and killings as part of a black
magic ritual, a court official said by telephone from Belem, 2,400
kilometers (1,500 miles) northwest of Rio de Janeiro. [...] Four other
defendants were convicted in earlier trials in connection with the killings
and mutilations which occurred in the western Amazon city of Altamira,
between 1989 and 1992. They are serving sentences ranging from 30 to 70
years in prison.
[Aum Shinrikyo] Aum cultist loses appeal
The Tokyo High Court on Friday upheld the death penalty for senior Aum
Shinrikyo member Yasuo Hayashi for his roles in two fatal sarin attacks and
an attempt to spread cyanide gas at JR Shinjuku Station.
[Panawave] Five Pana Wave members held over man's death
Five members of Pana Wave Laboratory, a sect whose members dress in white,
were arrested Friday in connection with the August death of a man at their
compound in the city of Fukui, police said. [...] The five, who all live at
the Pana Wave compound, repeatedly struck Chigusa on the back and buttocks
with bamboo swords and rods made of cardboard on Aug. 7, police alleged.
They added that they would further investigate to see whether the injuries
they inflicted were directly linked to the man's death.
[Superior Universal Alignment] Sect leader acquitted in Brazil mutilation
Andrade was accused of the murder of three boys and castration of two others
in Altamira, 200 kms (125 miles) from Beleme, between 1989 and 1993. She was
said to have led the crimes of a sect known as Superior Universal Alignment.
Defense lawyer Arnaldo Busato Filho presented the court documents, including
one from Parana state police in southern Brazil, showing that Andrade wasn't
in Altamira when the crimes were committed.
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