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ReligionNewsBlog.com, Dec. 9-10, 2003

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  • Anton Hein
    ReligionNewsBlog.com, Dec. 10, 2003 Wed, Dec. 10, 2003 [Transcendental Meditation] Transcendental meditation gains popularity
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 10, 2003
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      ReligionNewsBlog.com, Dec. 10, 2003

      Wed, Dec. 10, 2003
      [Transcendental Meditation] Transcendental meditation gains popularity
      Transcendental meditation, introduced in the US by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
      after the Beatles adopted him as his guru in the sixties, is now practised
      by 1.5 million Americans and its disciples are steadily growing.

      [Transcendental Meditation] Peace man
      David Lynch's films, such as Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks, show a dark vision
      of the world. Is that why he is helping an Indian guru raise a billion
      dollars to build a university of peace? He explains to Julian Borger.

      [Mormon Church] BHSU religion book to be pulled
      The book, "What Teachers Need to Know About Their Students' Religious
      Beliefs," is described as a handbook to help classroom teachers learn the
      religious doctrine and customs of 25 different religions and denominations.
      Written by Len Austin, an assistant professor of education at BHSU, the book
      was published in 2003 and used in Austin's educational psychology course
      during the fall semester. The book is optional, supplemental reading and is
      not a required textbook for the course.
      Dean Myers, dean of the BHSU College of Education, said Austin would be told
      to withdraw the book from his curriculum next semester, after Myers learned
      that some beliefs held by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,
      commonly referred to as the Mormon church, were included in a section on
      American Indian religion.

      [UFOs] Sci Fi Channel-backed researcher sues NASA over UFO files
      A researcher backed by cable television's Sci Fi Channel plans to sue NASA
      for records she contends the agency has of a UFO that reportedly crash
      landed and was recovered by government workers in southwestern Pennsylvania
      in 1965. The Associated Press obtained an advance copy of the lawsuit to be
      filed Tuesday in federal court in Washington, D.C., on behalf of Leslie
      Kean, a San Rafael, Calif., investigative reporter backed by the cable
      channel and a group called the Coalition for Freedom of Information.

      [Word of Faith Fellowship] Church claims DSS harassment
      Claiming harassment and conspiracy, the Word of Faith Fellowship, Inc., and
      19 members of the Spindale-based church have filed a federal lawsuit against
      the Rutherford County Department of Social Services, three of its employees
      and the chairman of the DSS Board. [...] The filing from the church comes on
      the heels of an October ruling by District Court Judge Randy Pool which gave
      DSS custody of the children of Shana Muse. The children had been living with
      church members Kent and Brooke Covington. The Covingtons and Muse are in an
      ongoing legal battle over Muse's four children who lived with the Covingtons
      for just over a year after Muse left the church. A custody battle ensued
      with DSS getting involved. DSS won a court ruling last month that removed
      Muse's children from the Covingtons and placed them in DSS care. Pool ruled
      the WOFF environment was abusive to children. [...] The church's leader,
      Jane Whaley, also is facing criminal charges of assault filed by an
      ex-member, Lacy Wien.

      [Islam] France divided over Muslim veils
      The issue is expected to come to a head tomorrow, when Mr Chirac is due to
      receive a long awaited special report on enforcing secularism which
      observers believe could prepare the way for a total ban on head-scarves in
      French institutions such as schools, hospitals and the civil service. The
      report by a 20-strong commission, headed by the former centre-right minister
      Bernard Stasi, is the result of months of hearings with teachers, religious
      leaders, sociologists, politicians and historians. [...] The issue has been
      smouldering for more than a decade, occasionally triggering debate when a
      school has expelled a girl for insisting on wearing the veil. But over the
      last year, confrontations between parents, pupils and teachers have grown
      increasingly acrimonious while growing concern about Islamic fundamentalism,
      women's rights and Muslim immigration has catapulted the subject into the

      [Islam] Hearing for Muslim Chaplain Delayed
      A preliminary hearing for a Muslim chaplain accused of mishandling
      classified information from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was
      postponed Tuesday. The monthlong delay will allow the Army to review
      documents that defense attorneys seek to have released. Maj. Gen. Geoffrey
      Miller, commander of Guantanamo camp operations, granted a postponement
      until Jan. 19, said Col. Dan Trimble, the presiding judge in the case
      against Army Capt. James Yee. The Army will use the time to determine
      whether the documents are classified.

      [Islam] Dissension among radicals over killing of Muslims
      A split has developed among Southeast Asian radicals about the wisdom of
      attacking targets where Muslims could die.Some militants inside the
      al-Qaida-linked terror group Jemaah Islamiyah (jeh-MAH' is-lah-MEE'-uh) want
      their holy war to focus on fighting Christians in certain parts of
      Indonesia, rather than bombing Western targets where Muslims die, too.

      [Obituary] First Editor of Christianity Today Dies
      Theologian Carl F.H. Henry, the first editor of Christianity Today and a
      leading voice in the evangelical movement, has died. He was 90. [...] "He
      will be singularly remembered as the man who led the evangelical movement
      out of its wilderness and brought it into the 20th century," said Charles
      Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship and former special counsel to President
      Nixon. [...] "His book, published in 1947, came just as Billy Graham was
      preaching, and many people believe, as I do, that Henry and Graham,
      together, sparked the renewal of evangelicalism that we've been experiencing
      for 40 years," Colson said.

      [Nuwaubians] DA, police investigate
      Stephen Kelley, district attorney for the Brunswick Judicial Circuit, said
      Monday he may seek to prosecute the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors who
      marched in the parade Saturday handing out literature and asking spectators
      about the guilt or innocence of their leader, Malachi York. And the
      Brunswick Police Department is investigating the group for giving children
      documents containing profanity. York, known as Chief Black Thunderbird in
      the religious sect, will face federal charges of child molestation and
      avoiding financial reporting requirements in the U.S. District Court in
      Brunswick on Jan. 5, 2004. The trial was moved from Macon due to pre-trial
      publicity. According to the Downtown Development Authority, the parade's
      organizer, the group did not properly identify itself when it applied to
      participate. "They said they were a Masons group, a Shriners group," said
      Meredith Hanak, DDA executive director.

      [Islam] Second German state to ban scarf
      The government in Germany's biggest state, Bavaria, has prepared a draft law
      to ban Muslim teachers from wearing headscarves in schools. A Bavarian
      cabinet minister said the aim was to protect school pupils against
      fundamentalist influences. The bill is expected to be passed next year in
      the regional parliament, which is dominated by the Christian Social Union
      (CSU) party. Bavaria, after Baden-Wuerttemberg, is the second state to
      propose a ban. Bavarian Education Minister Monika Hohlmeier said the
      headscarf was increasingly used as a political symbol. [...] The plans are
      similar to a draft law unveiled in neighbouring Baden-Wuerttemberg last

      [Brainwashing] The Brainwashing Defense
      Lawyers for accused sniper Lee Boyd Malvo are using an insanity defense that
      claims John Allen Muhammad, 42, indoctrinated Malvo, 18, into a "cult of
      two," such that Malvo could not distinguish right from wrong. Malvo is on
      trial for last year's Washington D.C., area sniper shootings and will face
      the death penalty if convicted. Psychologists and legal experts are
      skeptical about the insanity-by-brainwashing defense, though some cult
      experts are adamant that the youngster was, in fact, brainwashed. [...]
      Steven Alan Hassan, director of the Freedom of Mind Resource Center in
      Somerville, Massachusetts, argues that not only can a "cult of two" exist;
      it can spawn an extreme form of indoctrination. [...] In psychological
      parlance, brainwashing can be likened to a dissociative disorder, in which
      one's consciousness, sense of identity or behavior is altered, according to
      Hassan. Malvo's lawyers argue that his true personality is in fact
      resurfacing now that his bond with Muhammad has weakened. But legal experts
      sound the alarm at the use of such terminology. "Brainwashing is not a legal
      term, and is probably shorthand for a 'lack of intention,'" says Richard
      Uviller, professor of law emeritus at Columbia University. [...] Cult
      expert Robert Jay Lifton strikes a cautious note about the applicability of
      brainwashing to the sniper case. [...] "A strong person, particularly an
      older person, can have an enormous influence on the shaping of mind and
      behavior of another person," he says. "But there is still the issue of
      responsibility. One would have to be extremely cautious about labeling a
      process between two people to be thought reform."

      Tue, Dec. 09, 2003
      [USA] American Apocalypse
      The apocalyptic imagination has spawned a new kind of violence at the
      beginning of the twenty-first century. We can, in fact, speak of a worldwide
      epidemic of violence aimed at massive destruction in the service of various
      visions of purification and renewal. In particular, we are experiencing what
      could be called an apocalyptic face-off between Islamist forces, overtly
      visionary in their willingness to kill and die for their religion, and
      American forces claiming to be restrained and reasonable but no less
      visionary in their projection of a cleansing warmaking and military power.
      Both sides are energized by versions of intense idealism; both see
      themselves as embarked on a mission of combating evil in order to redeem and
      renew the world; and both are ready to release untold levels of violence to
      achieve that purpose. [...] Despite the constant invocation by the Bush
      Administration of the theme of "security," the war on terrorism has created
      the very opposite--a sense of fear and insecurity among Americans, which is
      then mobilized in support of further aggressive plans in the extension of
      the larger "war." [...] The American military apocalyptic can then be said
      to partner and act in concert with the Islamist apocalyptic.

      Note: This essay was adapted from Robert Jay Lifton's latest book,
      "Superpower Syndrome: America's Apocalyptic Confrontation With the World" n

      [Cannibalism] Cannibal sought a second helping
      German computer expert who has confessed to killing an Internet
      acquaintance and eating his flesh testified at his murder trial yesterday
      that he subsequently sought more volunteers to share the same fate.

      [Cannibalism] Cannibal's video of 'victim's' final hours played to court
      Video images of mutilation and execution flickered in a darkened German
      courtroom yesterday, as cannibal Armin Meiwes's grisly home movie was played
      for the first time. [...] It began with the mutilation of Mr Brandes and
      ended with him being stabbed repeatedly in the throat. The video is exhibit
      A in the sensational trial and important to both defence and prosecution.
      Meiwes's lawyer believes it will prove his client's contention that nothing
      took place in his remote farmhouse home near the city of Kassel that Mr
      Brandes didn't want to happen.

      [Cannibalism] Defendant part of big cannibal scene, detective tells court
      The detective who investigated Germany's infamous cannibal case told a court
      yesterday that he had stumbled upon a vast cannibal scene in Germany -
      involving several dentists and other professionals. Giving evidence in the
      trial of Armin Meiwes, the 42-year-old computer expert who killed and ate
      another man, federal investigator Wilfried Fehl yesterday said the gruesome
      case was not an isolated one. His officers had discovered a flourishing
      cannibal scene in Germany, he said, involving middle-class professionals, as
      well as manual workers. "We are talking about dentists, teachers, cooks,
      government officials and handymen," he told the court, during the second day
      of Mr Meiwes' trial for murder.

      [Hate Groups : Scientology] Scientology lodges appeal in cassation in case
      against Spaink and XS4ALL
      On the afternoon of Thursday 4 December, the Church of Scientology lodged an
      appeal in cassation against the judgment of the Court of Appeal in The Hague
      in the case against Karin Spaink, XS4ALL and other internet providers. In
      this case, Scientology is accusing publicist Karin Spaink of infringement of
      copyright because she posted documents on Scientology doctrine on her
      website. Her aim in posting these documents was to initiate a social
      discussion on the nature of the sect. On 4 September the Court of Appeal in
      The Hague rejected all of Scientology's claims. According to the Court,
      Karin Spaink's right to freedom of speech in exposing the dubious doctrine
      of Scientology weighs more heavily than the copyright of the 'church'. [...]
      In the appeal summons, Scientology contests the appellate court's statement
      that 'Scientology does not hesitate to overturn democratic values'. The
      organisation also continues to take the line that providers are directly
      liable for any infringement of copyright by their subscribers. The case is
      of importance not only for the question of how far freedom of speech extends
      on the internet, but also in terms of the extent to which internet service
      providers (ISPs) are liable for the actions of their subscribers.

      [Hate Groups : Scientology] $320,000 to look for love
      A West Coast farmer has spent almost $320,000 with a dating agency - without
      meeting one woman. The man from Cleve on the Eyre Peninsula, who does not
      wish to be identified, is taking legal action against Affinity Consulting
      International based in Queensland. It has led to the Commissioner for
      Consumer Affairs, Mark Bodycoat, to issue a warning when using such
      agencies. The man first contacted Affinity, which has links to the Church
      of Scientology, in March last year.

      [Hate Groups : Scientology] Thompson Center To Get Scientology Exhibit
      Reversing an earlier ruling, the state is allowing a controversial exhibit
      to be erected at the Thompson Center by a group affiliated with the Church
      of Scientology. The Citizens Commission on Human Rights ' exhibit blasts
      psychiatry as a wicked profession that "spawned the ideology which fired
      Hitler's mania ... and created the Holocaust." Officials announced on
      Monday that they had decided to allow the exhibit to return to the downtown
      building after discussing the matter with state lawyers. The group erected
      the photographic display in the state building on Dec. 1 but was ordered to
      dismantle it less than 24 hours later after people complained that the
      exhibit spread misinformation and violated the separation of church and
      state, officials said. While the exhibit did refer to the group's
      Scientology ties, the state's lawyers have determined that it did not have
      religious overtones.

      [Hate Groups : Scientology] Anti-psychiatry exhibit OKd
      While criticism of psychiatry is a critical aspect of Scientology's belief
      structure, the state agency's attorneys concluded the display did not have
      religious overtones. The same display has been located outside the state
      Capitol in New Hampshire, inside Georgia's Capitol and in a state office
      building in New York, Filidei said. Despite the about-face, Davies said she
      did not think the state's decision last week was hurried. [...] Still,
      Davies said the state plans to change procedures for future applicants who
      wish to rent space in state buildings by asking them to disclose any
      connections to religious organizations. Had that requirement been in place,
      she said, the Citizens Commission exhibit would have been allowed but the
      state would have known about the group's ties to Scientology and been able
      to study the display before it was erected. [...] The state also maintains
      that when the Citizens Commission first sought to rent the atrium space, it
      did not fully disclose its affiliation to Scientology or fully describe the
      nature of the display. The state contends that the group described the
      exhibition as a "history of psychiatry" in its application.

      [Hate Groups : Scientology] Cult places Scientology Netherlands under
      The international leadership of Scientology, based in Los Angeles and
      Copenhagen, has placed the Scientology Church Netherlands under
      guardianship. First victim of the intervention is the highest boss of 'the
      church' in the Netherlands, executive directory Maria Beekmans-Koster. She
      has been relieved of her position, effective immediately. Reason is the
      serious crisis in which the Dutch branch of Scientology, located at the
      Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal in Amsterdam, has - through mismanagement - found
      itself. The 'believers' are leaving in droves, the church suffers big
      losses, and loses important legal procedures.

      [Word of Faith Fellowship] Word of Faith Fellowship sues DSS, claims
      The suit comes nearly two months after a judge allowed DSS to remove the
      four minor children of former WOFF member Shana Muse from the home of church
      minister Kent Covington and his wife, Brooke. [...] "The purpose of the
      lawsuit is to seek to enforce (the constitutional right of) the church and a
      number of parents and children to freely exercise their religious beliefs,"
      said John Gresham, a Charlotte, N.C.-based attorney representing the church.
      [...] Gresham said the federal lawsuit does not attempt to overturn Pool's
      ruling. It has been appealed separately. But the suit would have DSS
      essentially leave WOFF alone in the future. Along with Gresham, New York
      attorney Eric Lieberman is representing WOFF. Lieberman has represented the
      Church of Scientology over the years. Gresham said that to his knowledge the
      Scientologists have not helped to fund WOFF's suit.

      [Word of Faith Fellowship] Church sues Social Services
      The filing from the church comes on the heels of an October ruling by
      District Court Judge Randy Pool which gave DSS custody of the children of
      Shana Muse. The children had been living with church members Kent and Brooke
      Covington. The Covingtons and Muse are in an ongoing legal battle over
      Muse's four children who lived with the Covingtons for just over a year
      after Muse left the church. A custody battle ensued with DSS getting
      involved. DSS won a court ruling last month that removed Muse's children
      from the Covington's and placed them in DSS care. Pool ruled the WOFF
      environment was abusive to children. [...] The church's leader, Jane Whaley,
      also is facing criminal charges of assault filed by an ex-member, Lacy Wien.
      Wien filed the criminal complaint shortly after the October ruling in the
      Muse case, claiming that Whaley assaulted her when Whaley got upset about
      Wien's desire to leave the church and Wien's wish to pursue a relationship
      with her now husband, Ruben Wien, also a former WOFF member

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