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ReligionNewsBlog.com, Dec. 11, 2003

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  • Anton Hein
    ReligionNewsBlog.com, Dec. 11, 2003 [Hate Groups] Southern California prison gang leader sentenced http://www.religionnewsblog.com/5389-.html Bridges, 36, is a
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 11, 2003
      ReligionNewsBlog.com, Dec. 11, 2003

      [Hate Groups] Southern California prison gang leader sentenced
      Bridges, 36, is a "senior" in the Nazi Low Riders, a gang committed to
      spreading a white supremacist philosophy and which tried to control drug
      trafficking activities of white inmates through violence and intimidation,
      according to Thom Mrozek, spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office.

      [Hate Groups] Leaflets Spreading Message Of Hate
      Shocked by a rash of racist fliers dropped on their doorsteps, Anne Arundel
      County residents and political leaders are struggling to come up with a
      defense against what appears to be the message of white supremacy. The
      leaflets -- which usually have been enclosed in plastic, weighted with
      pebbles and distributed at night by members of a white supremacist group
      called the National Alliance -- advertise politics of total racial

      [Internet] Surfing the Web gets spiritual
      The results of a survey of 2,600 U.S. teens released today indicate that far
      more teens visit religious Web sites than pornographic sites. Or at least
      say they do.

      [Joshua and Caleb Thompson] Brothers Guilty in Beating at Bible Study
      A pastor and his brother were convicted Wednesday in the beating of a Bible
      student, who was struck repeatedly with a tree branch after acting up during
      a summer church program. Joshua Thompson and his twin brother, Caleb, 23,
      were convicted of felony charges of injury to a child and aggravated assault
      with a deadly weapon in the beating of Louie Guerrero, who was 11 at the
      time. Prosecutors say the beating caused injuries so severe that Guerrero
      spent a week in intensive care under the threat of kidney failure and needed
      a blood transfusion.

      [Unification Church] Church urges Christian unity
      ''Sometimes, people will wonder what happened to Rev. Moon's people,'' said
      Michael Mickler, vice president and professor of church history at the
      seminary. ''We're still here. It's just that the majority of our students
      are international and the church has moved more of its focus toward
      international peace initiatives.'' [...] Although there are no hard numbers
      for membership, Carlson estimated that there are about 50,000 devout
      followers, associate members and other various people connected to the
      church. The Red Hook church draws more than 100 families who live between
      Newburgh and Albany, he said. Attendance for the church, which convenes
      inside the seminary, also fluctuates depending on the number of seminary
      students in a given semester. The seminary usually hosts about 120 students
      from all over the world, with the majority coming from Japan and Korea,
      where Unification has large bases.

      [Islam] French headscarf ban recommended
      Muslim girls in France could be barred from wearing headscarves in schools
      after an expert commission recommended a ban on "conspicuous" religious
      signs. The official commission headed by former minister Bernard Stasi has
      released its findings on issues relating to religion and the state.
      French President Jacques Chirac will announce next week whether he supports
      the commission's recommendation. The ban would also include the Jewish
      skull-cap and large Christian crosses.

      [Mormon Church] Strip club owner asks court to toss LDS suit against city
      The LDS Church might think a sexually oriented business in downtown Salt
      Lake City harms its business interests. But the man behind a planned strip
      club says it is the church that is harming him by turning downtown into what
      he calls its version of "Vatican City." The church sued Salt Lake City in
      October over its granting the Dead Goat Saloon an SOB license, and Dead Goat
      owner Daniel Darger has intervened in the case. This week, in his latest
      response to the suit, Darger asked 3rd District Judge Denise Lindberg to
      throw out the case. He also said the church shouldn't be allowed to sue
      because of a doctrine called "unclean hands." The legal argument is the
      equivalent of accusing the pot of calling the kettle black. It also sets the
      stage for Darger to countersue the church, which he says he intends to do.

      [Mormon Church] ACLU can depose SLC mayor, LDS church leader in plaza case
      Salt Lake City's power players -- Mayor Rocky Anderson and LDS Presiding
      Bishop H. David Burton --have agreed to make themselves available for
      depositions in the Main Street Plaza case.

      [Mormon Church] ACLU to talk to LDS official
      In a rare move, attorneys for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
      Saints will allow a top church leader to be questioned as part of an ongoing
      lawsuit. [...] The ACLU has sued the city, contending the Main Street Plaza
      deal that eliminated a public easement on the church-owned plaza violates
      the U.S. Constitution. The church was later added as a defendant in the
      case, which is the second lawsuit the ACLU has filed over the city's sale of
      Main Street to the church.

      [Jehovah's Witnesses] 60,000 Jehovah's Witnesses together
      Let the news ring throughout the land - for the next four days, it's safe to
      answer the doorbell. The nation's entire population of 60,000 Jehovah's
      Witnesses have suspended their door-knocking activities to descend on
      Sydney's Telstra Stadium for a five-yearly international convention to
      celebrate their faith. That leaves only 50,000 Mormons to contend with.

      [Zhong Gong] Chinese guru's hearing begins
      A Chinese spiritual guru who reportedly once had 38 million followers says
      the criminal charges against him are false and the result of a continuing
      campaign of persecution by the communist Chinese government. Hong Bao
      Zhang, 49, was in Pasadena Superior Court on Wednesday for his preliminary
      hearing, where he was represented by celebrity attorney Mark Geragos.

      [Zhong Gong] Zhang preliminary hearing begins
      Nan Fang He, 49, cried as she described the extensive beating she allegedly
      received at the hands of Hong Bao Zhang, 49, founder of the Zhong Gong
      spiritual movement. Zhong Gong was founded in China in 1987 and has
      reportedly had as many as 38 million followers. [...] If convicted of a
      felony, Zhang could be deported to China where he would "certainly be
      executed,' according to John Kusumi, executive director of the China Support
      Network, a Connecticut-based organization that supports the Chinese
      democracy movement.

      [Hate Groups : Scientology] Spendy dating service has Scientology ties
      Apparently, the group's services don't always come cheap. In fact, an
      Australian farmer has filed a lawsuit, claiming that he paid Affinity
      International of Queensland more than $230,000 - and he still hasn't found
      love. [...] Affinity, notes the paper, "has ties to Scientology." A
      spokeswoman for Scientology in the U.S. tells the Scoop that she has never
      heard of Affinity International, or of a group called Affinity Exchange that
      has operated in the U.S. and other countries, touting itself as a dating
      service catering to followers of L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology.

      [Joshua and Caleb Thompson] Pastor says he hit boy at Bible study, but not
      100 times
      A church pastor admitted today that he struck a Bible studies student
      several times across the back with a stick, but denied he delivered the 100
      blows the victim said he suffered. [...] Thompson, 23, and his twin brother,
      Caleb, are on trial in the beating of Louie Guerrero. The boy, now 12, spent
      a week in intensive care with kidney failure and needed a blood transfusion.

      [Faith Healing] Miracle healer heals himself at hospital
      His has been the most notable face among the Christian gospelers. He has
      presided over several thousand 'miracle healing' meetings wherein countless
      'sufferers' have had their illness or afflictions, ranging from common cold
      to blindness, 'cured' through prayers. But when it came to healing his own
      troublesome knee, D G S Dinakaran, the well-known evangelist in question,
      seems to have reposed faith with a team of doctors at a local hospital
      rather than hobble around and wait for divine help.

      [Witchcraft] Owner to give Wiccans land if he loses in court
      The founder of a Wiccan church said her coven will use land off Stanzione
      Drive for ceremonies whether the town lets them build on it or not. [...]
      The land is owned by Dr. Richard Cohen, a veterinarian with a practice on
      Route 44 and a director of the church. He donated a portion of his 50-acre
      parcel to the church several years ago. His intention was to build his dream
      house with a small farm on his portion of the property, he said. But he has
      insufficient frontage on Stanzione Drive and his frontage on Wheeler Street
      is wetlands. [...] Cohen has appealed the ZBA decision and has a court date
      set for January. The church returned the land to Cohen during the legal
      wrangle with the town, but he said he intends to give the Wiccans the entire
      parcel if he is not allowed to build his house. [...] "If they deny me a
      house, they won't make any taxes because I'll give it all to the church,"
      Cohen said.

      [Witchcraft] Relic hunter arrested after witchcraft claim
      Mahbub Mian, an Indian Moslem from Guntur district in the southern state of
      Andhra Pradesh, hired a sorcerer to help him find a treasure apparently
      buried decades ago by a Hindu king. [...] The sorcerer planned elaborate
      prayers and rituals over 24 days. Mian provided him with a girl from the
      village, who was stripped naked, made to pray for two hours and walk along
      the outskirts of the village at midnight. Police accused Parthasarathi of
      performing witchcraft on her.

      [Witchcraft] Brothers kill sister-in-law for practising 'witchcraft'
      The Jamshedpur police have arrested one Gurucharan Das for allegedly killing
      his sister-in-law charging her with practising black magic. [...] Gurucharan
      Das' daughter died a few days back under mysterious circumstances. The
      murder of Sushila Sardar is latest in a series of witchcraft-related
      killings which are rampant in Jharkhand. According to available official
      data, as many as 261 case have been registered under Anti-witchcraft Act,
      2001 so far.

      [Lee Boyd Malvo] Prosecution challenges psychologist's testimony in Malvo's
      murder trial
      Psychologist Dewey Cornell of the University of Virginia has testified that
      Malvo has a dissociative disorder that has given him a distorted view of
      reality and that he was brainwashed by Muhammad. But prosecutor Robert F.
      Horan Jr. noted Malvo ran away twice from his mother Una James -- in late
      October 2001 and in January 2002 -- and chose to be with Muhammad.

      [Lee Boyd Malvo] Psychiatrist testifies teen sniper suspect was legally
      Sniper suspect Lee Boyd Malvo "displayed a pathological loyalty" to John
      Allen Muhammad and was so brainwashed by him that he no longer knew right
      from wrong, a defense psychiatrist testified Wednesday. Malvo "was merged
      with Mr. Muhammad," Diane Schetky said at Malvo's capital murder trial. "He
      was acting as his proxy ... He was like a puppet in his hands." Asked by
      defense lawyer Craig Cooley if Malvo was able to distinquish right from
      wrong -- the legal standard for insanity in Virginia -- Schetky said, "I
      believe he was not." Schetky was the second defense witness to diagnose
      Malvo with a dissociative disorder, a mental illness that involves a
      distorted view of reality.

      [Faith Healing] Baby's tragic death 'god's will'
      The parents of a Northland baby who died from a kidney infection believe
      their eighth child died as the result of "God's will". [...] Police are
      investigating the circumstances of his death. [...] Caleb's grandfather John
      Tribble said that, in the fortnight before his death, Caleb had suffered
      from a flu virus which had also infected Caleb's five sisters and two
      brothers. Mr Tribble, who is a faith-healer, prayed for Caleb and felt he
      was improving. "Caleb had lost a lot of weight, but on Monday he'd stopped
      vomiting and was chortling and laughing".

      [Faith Healing] Police probe death of 'healed' baby
      Police are investigating the death of a baby whose family had tried to heal
      him with prayer. [...] The baby's father, David Tribble, said the family had
      strong Baptist beliefs and believed in the healing power of God, but were
      not part of any extremist sect or cult. [...] Last year, Jan and Deborah
      Moorhead were jailed for five years for the manslaughter of their
      six-month-old son, Caleb. Mr Tribble said the families knew each other.
      Strict vegans and devout Seventh-day Adventists, the Moorheads would not
      allow Caleb to be treated for a vitamin deficiency caused by his mother's
      diet. Mr Tribble said there was no comparison between the Moorheads' beliefs
      and his own Baptist faith, which had no such restrictions.
      "Just so everybody in the world knows, I don't put my faith in a cabbage or
      turnip or anything like that. They put their faith in herbs or vegetables. I
      put my faith directly in the Holy Spirit." John Tribble said he had used the
      power of God to heal people who went to him for help. "Some have been healed
      and some haven't, but don't ask me why."

      [Transcendental Meditation] 'Twin Peaks' Director Urges $1 Bln for
      As director of such dark films as "Blue Velvet" and "Mulholland Drive" and
      the television series "Twin Peaks," David Lynch seems an unlikely leader for
      a world peace campaign based on mass meditation. As director of such dark
      films as "Blue Velvet" and "Mulholland Drive" and the television series
      "Twin Peaks," David Lynch seems an unlikely leader for a world peace
      campaign based on mass meditation. But for Lynch, life is bliss, and he
      says he wants to spread it around. So he has joined a Washington real estate
      developer and a former magazine executive to try to raise $1 billion to
      bankroll a foundation meant to supply instructors in Transcendental
      Meditation to ease the planet's stress.

      [Books] Author discusses religious zealots
      Some of the most destructive acts committed throughout the centuries have
      been done in the name of religion, says writer Charles Kimball. Kimball,
      author of When Religion Becomes Evil: Five Warning Signs
      (HarperSanFrancisco, $22.95), was the featured speaker Wednesday at a
      reception for the Palm Beach Fellowship of Christians and Jews held at Palm
      Beach Day School. [...] Some of the warning signs of religious extremists
      include claims of absolute truth, blind obedience and the idea of living in
      an ideal time, Kimball said. He explained that absolute truth claims deal
      with someone who to know what God is thinking. "I'm not saying there's no
      such thing as absolute truth," Kimball said. "I just believe it rests with
      God and not with us. Be very careful of absolutist claims, particularly when
      it's linked to violent behavior."

      [Word of Faith Fellowship] Controversial church sues Rutherford County DSS
      A Rutherford County church known for its controversial use of "blasting
      prayer" has sued the county Department of Social Services, alleging
      violation of its freedom of religion. The lawsuit, filed Dec. 5 in U.S.
      District Court by lawyers for Spindale-based Word of Faith Fellowship,
      accuses Rutherford DSS of unconstitutional harassment of church members. It
      says that harassment results "from defendants' disapproval of, dislike for
      and class-based animus towards plaintiffs' lawful religious beliefs and
      practices." [...] At the heart of the controversy are two church practices
      and their application to children. One is "strong" or "blasting" prayer, a
      high-volume form of prayer that Word of Faith members say is based on
      numerous biblical references. Former church members have described blasting
      as a practice in which church members stand in a circle around an individual
      while praying loudly in an effort to drive demonic spirits from the subject.
      The other is "discipleship," in which church members and children spend time
      in isolation, praying, reading Scriptures and listening to tapes of
      religious teachings. Critics of the church and its practices argue that
      blasting prayer is a form of abuse and that discipleship training involves
      isolating children from friends and family.

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