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ReligionNewsBlog.com, Jan. 6, 2004

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  • Anton Hein
    ReligionNewsBlog.com, Jan. 6, 2004 [Internet] Click and ye shall be saved http://www.religionnewsblog.com/5536-.html According to a major new survey on
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      ReligionNewsBlog.com, Jan. 6, 2004

      [Internet] Click and ye shall be saved
      According to a major new survey on internet use in the United States, more
      than a third of all Americans who are connected to the web (in total 126
      million people as of August 2003) have used it to access religious and
      spiritual information. This compares with 40 per cent of American internet
      users who have searched the web for political information, and 66 per cent
      who have sought health and medical data. But while the number of people
      using the web for these last two purposes increased 57 per cent and 59 per
      cent respectively between March 2000 and November 2002, what the researchers
      call "religion surfers" almost doubled in number over the same period, from
      18 million to 35 million (or an increase of 94 per cent). Moreover, there
      has been a significant increase in the daily use of the internet to access
      religious information. While the overall numbers remain low, they
      nevertheless did climb from 3 million in 2000 to 5 million in 2002, an
      increase of 66 per cent. The survey was conducted by the Pew Research
      Centre of Washington DC and the report of its findings was released just
      before Christmas.

      [Hate Groups : Scientology] Exhibit critical of psychiatry is back up
      One month after being kicked out of the Thompson Center, a controversial
      Scientology-linked exhibit returned to the state government building Monday,
      describing psychiatry as an evil profession that needlessly feeds drugs to
      children and has ties to Nazism. [...] On Monday, officials with the
      Citizens Commission used last month's dustup to promote the exhibit, saying
      it was a display that "psychiatrists don't want you to see." "Someone has to
      show the other side of the story," said Marla Filidei, the group's
      international vice president. But Joan Anzia, president-elect of the
      Illinois Psychiatric Society, said the Citizens Commission's campaign
      against psychiatry was riddled with distortions.

      NOTE: Ms. Filidei is right: someone has to show the other side of the
      story. For example, in the case of CHHR - a Scientology front group - it
      should be noted that lying and acts of hatred are Scientology sacraments,
      codified in its so-called 'scriptures.' As the folks at CCHR show, such
      unethical doctrines invariably lead to unethical behavior.

      [Catholic Church] Suits against Catholics obscure reality
      We are seeing a rush of people coming forward to sue the Catholic Church
      over allegations they were abused in the past by priests, and to the casual
      observer it would seem that such abuse has been widespread in Catholicism.
      But that is far from the truth. [...] The vast majority of the thousands of
      Catholic priests in California go about their work every day, never breaking
      the trust their congregations have put in them. They uphold not only their
      priestly vows, but fulfill the expectations to which their church and the
      public hold them. Unfortunately, the few who do break their vows and behave
      inappropriately and even as criminals make news far in excess of their

      [Catholic Church] 800 cases filed in state against Catholic church
      About 800 people statewide took advantage of a one-year window in 2003 to
      file molestation lawsuits against the Roman Catholic Church, according to
      lawyers for the plaintiffs. The lawyers say negotiations over the claims
      could yield one of the largest clergy abuse settlements in the nation's

      [Offbeat News] Man envisions Christian nudist colony for families
      The spot Bill Martin selected for his modern-day Garden of Eden looks
      nothing like paradise, at least not yet. The lakes are dirty, the trash
      piles massive, the former owner's land deeds are loaded with racist dogma.
      And then there's the pedophile problem, one of the many things standing
      between Martin and his dream: a family-friendly, Christian-themed nudist
      community in this rural Tampa suburb. He's a determined Quaker who envisions
      a place where man and woman and their children can roam shame-free in the

      [New Age] SQ is latest corporate mantra
      After IQ and EQ, the new quotient that has captured the interest of
      corporate India's is SQ, or Spiritual Quotient. And its advocates say it's
      here to stay. With the Indian economy growing at over seven percent, the
      tempo is high. But with it comes higher stress. And New Age gurus are
      offering SQ as a stress buster for business people. [...] Information
      Technology companies have taken to spirituality in a big way - almost every
      firm has a meditation room. Transcendental meditation is in thing. Over 120
      companies have opted for Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's courses and 4000-plus
      executives have signed up for the Art of Living Corporate program.

      [Nuwaubians] York trial opens with jury selection amid tight security
      Opening arguments will begin today in the child molestation trial of cult
      leader Malachi York. [...] Only a few of York's supporters attended the jury
      selection, and they didn't demonstrate outside as they have done in recent
      hearings. Royal warned them last week against protesting near the courthouse
      during the trial. A parking lot just down the street was designated as a
      demonstration site, but it remained empty throughout the day. York faces
      federal charges that he transported children across state lines for sexual
      purposes. He also faces racketeering charges for allegedly failing to report
      monetary transactions.

      [Branch Davidians] David Koresh
      He was born Vernon Wayne Howell in Houston, Texas on August 17, 1959.
      BIOGRAPHY: David Koresh recounts how the young boy was abused by his
      stepfather and had developed a learning disability by the time he entered
      school. He found comfort in the Seventh Day Adventist church where he became
      intensely interested in the Bible, especially in the scriptures that spoke
      of a vengeful God who would come at the end of time to destroy the evil in
      the world.

      Note: Preview of an upcoming TV broadcast

      [Books] Jesus as cultural icon
      Honk if you love Jesus? Then there'll be a whole lotta honkin' goin' on
      because everybody today loves Jesus. You don't even have to be Christian -
      indeed, mainstream Christianity has become rather suspect as a home for
      Jesus - as Stephen Prothero ably and wittily demonstrates in "American
      Jesus." Jews, secularists, Hindus, Buddhists and Americans of 101 other
      stripes not only lay claim to Jesus but also claim they understand him
      better than anyone else. In short, Jesus has become, as the subtitle
      states, a "national icon." To find out how and why, Prothero, a professor of
      religion at Boston University, goes on a quest "for the cultural Jesus."

      [Islam] French Muslims Lash Out at Planned Headscarf Ban
      French Muslim leaders lashed out on Monday at a planned law that would ban
      Islamic headscarves from public schools and said Muslims were becoming the
      target of a growing hate campaign which police did nothing to stop.

      [Sikhism] French turban ban gets Sikh group into action
      United Sikhs, a Sikh organisation has launched a global signature campaign
      for people of all faiths to appeal French President Jacques Chirac to
      reconsider his call for legislation to ban wearing articles of faith,
      religion and ethnic identity in public schools and regulate their wearing at
      workplace. The law would ban Sikhs from wearing their turbans besides
      banning Islamic head coverings, Jewish skullcaps and oversized Christian
      crosses in public schools and workplaces in France .

      [USA] Democrat hopeful walks with God in 'Bible belt'
      Howard Dean, the front runner for the Democratic presidential nomination,
      has for the first time spoken openly about his Christian beliefs during the
      campaign, seeking to broaden his appeal to mainstream America. [...]
      Religion and its importance among the southern and mid-western states is a
      crucial issue. President Bush, a born-again Christian who rarely overlooks
      the chance to invoke God, enjoys strong backing in the south: in 2000, he
      won every state in the "bible belt". Mr Dean, by contrast, is not a regular
      churchgoer and only a few months ago said he did not think religion "ought
      to be part of American policy". While the two previous Democrats in the
      White House, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, invoked God, Mr Dean has been
      labelled in the press as one of the "most secular candidates to run for
      president in modern history", a fact that could make him "culturally alien
      to much of the country".

      [USA] Jesus is a Democrat, claims Dean as he woos Bush faithful
      In a striking shift in strategy on the stump, Democratic presidential
      candidates are attempting to enlist God on their side to counter President
      George W Bush's overwhelming popularity among religious voters. Howard
      Dean, the Democratic frontrunner, is the latest to try the tactic. Despite
      previously sticking to his pledge to keep "God and guns" out of politics, he
      all but recruited Jesus Christ as a liberal Democrat in an interview over
      the Christmas period. For his part, Gen Wesley Clark has begun speaking in
      church halls throughout the South and has hired a Roman Catholic
      sociologist. A specialist in religious psephology, the aide is advising the
      general on reaching out to "convertible Catholics" who might be persuaded
      not to vote again for Mr Bush in November. According to a survey released
      last month, two out of three church-goers voted in 2000 for President Bush,
      a passionate evangelical who has described Jesus as his "favourite political
      philosopher". Among evangelical Christians - of whom there are millions -
      his support rises to 87 per cent.

      [USA] In The Northwest: Trend spotter deconstructs the House of Bush
      [Kevin P.] Phillips has since devoted himself to mapping his country's
      political, economic and social trends. He has done so with startling
      accuracy and unsparing intellectual honesty. Phillips is out with a
      provocative book about a family of blue bloods and its retainers who have
      accomplished a restoration and are now asking voters for unchecked power. It
      is called "American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune and the Politics of Deceit
      in the House of Bush" (Viking Press, $25.95). As Phillips explained on the
      phone, there is "an enormous similarity" between the United States under
      Bush II and the country that was beginning to throw off 35 years of
      Democratic domination in 1968. [...] Phillips is looking ahead. What
      "American Dynasty" does best, however, is look back at how the Bush dynasty
      was shaped. A pretty story it is not, of two future Bush presidents making
      their money by playing on family connections and government contracts -- and
      being in tight with a military-industrial complex far more powerful than
      what the Republican president to whom Phillips dedicates this book -- Dwight
      Eisenhower -- warned against in 1960. The network of connections and
      alliances, begun by patrician patriarchs 75 years ago, has helped the Bushes
      trump the Kennedys as the United States' reigning political dynasty. [...]
      One more stanchion supports the Bush dynasty -- religion. A family of staid
      Episcopalians has produced -- in George W. Bush -- a politician whom
      Phillips characterizes as leader of the religious right in the United
      States. How so? Phillips sees a tide toward fundamentalism running across
      the world's religious landscape, from Islam to Hinduism to Christianity. In
      the United States, cosmopolitan mainline churches have "been totally
      overshadowed by the rise of fundamentalism, Pentecostalism and the Southern
      Baptists." [...] It's fascinating stuff, from the 43rd president's
      scriptural references to the 41st president's profitable post-White House
      association with the Unification Church of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon,
      self-styled "Lord of the Second Advent."

      [Nuwaubians] Jury picked in cult leaders trial
      York, 58, aka Chief Black Thunderbird Eagle, has unsuccessfully argued he
      has American Indian heritage and should not be judged by the U.S. court
      system. Prosecutors have said they plan to make a case that York used his
      status as a religious leader for sex and money, enriching himself, marrying
      several women and abusing young girls who were part of his sect.

      [Michael Jackson] Jackson, Nation of Islam no role
      Michael Jackson's attorney denied reports that the Nation of Islam was
      taking control of the singer's business, saying that Jackson was in "full
      control" of his affairs. "The idea that there is some takeover by the Nation
      of Islam -- someone is spinning you," lawyer Mark Geragos said in a
      statement posted Sunday on Jackson's Web site.

      [Hate Groups] Neo-Nazi group takes message to turnpike
      The same violent neo-Nazi club that inspired the Oklahoma City bomber is
      advertising for new members on a billboard in Orlando's back yard. [...]
      That goes to the home page of the National Alliance, a group founded in the
      early 1970s as a spinoff of the American Nazi Party. (Spelling America with
      a K is a nod to German Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.) The Anti-Defamation
      League and other watchdog groups call the National Alliance the most violent
      and dangerous homegrown terrorist group in the United States. "These people
      are gutter-level bigots with aspirations to take over America in the name of
      white people," said Art Teitelbaum, the Southern-area director of the
      Anti-Defamation League.

      [Satanic and/or ritual abuse] Saskatoon family calls for apology in
      malicious prosecution lawsuit
      The dozen people who successfully sued investigators for malicious
      prosecution in a bizarre but unfounded sexual abuse scandal want the
      Saskatchewan government and police to apologize. Lawyer Robert Borden said
      the 12 members of Richard Klassen's family and extended family deserve
      official recognition that they have done nothing wrong in light of last
      week's civil court ruling that found they were victims of malicious
      prosecution. "These people were wronged. These people were innocent. That is
      clear," Borden said Monday. "Surely these parties should have the courage to
      come forward and say that the judge was right. "That is not an admission of
      liability. That is simply doing the right thing."

      [Satanic and/or ritual abuse] Klassen accuser praises judgment
      One of the twin sisters who falsely accused Richard Klassen and his family
      members of abuse more than a decade ago says she's pleased with a judge's
      recent ruling. [...] On Tuesday, Justice George Baynton of the Court of
      Queen's Bench released his decision into the Klassens' malicious prosecution
      lawsuit. Baynton found that child therapist Carol Bunko-Ruys, Crown
      prosecutor Matthew Miazga and Saskatoon police officer Brian Dueck
      maliciously prosecuted Richard Klassen and 11 other plaintiffs. In the
      early 1990s, Richard Klassen, his wife and other family members were wrongly
      accused of sexually abusing Kathy Ross, her twin sister Michell and the
      twins' older brother Michael. The Ross kids were the foster children of
      Richard Klassen's brother, Peter Dale Klassen and Peter Dale's wife Anita.
      The bizarre allegations included detailed accounts of satanic ritual abuse,
      which included animal and human sacrifice, as well as claims the children
      had been forced to eat feces and drink urine.

      [Satanic and/or ritual abuse] Timeline: Klassen Malicious Prosecution Case
      In what was called the "scandal of the century" at the time, three Saskatoon
      foster children accused their foster parents and members of their family of
      bizarre abuse rituals, including forcing them to participate in orgies,
      drink blood, eat eyeballs and watch babies being skinned alive and burned.
      The children have since recanted their accusations and the foster family has
      sued for malicious prosecution.

      [Satanic and/or ritual abuse] Twins hail malicious prosecution victory
      Two young women who were at the centre of a child molestation case in
      Saskatoon 12 years ago are celebrating a legal victory by the foster family
      they once accused of assaulting them and exposing them to satanic rituals.
      Twin sisters Michelle and Kathy Ross hope their own lawsuit against the
      government will have a greater chance of success in the wake of the Klassen
      family's triumph in a long-running malicious prosecution suit this week.

      [Cannibalism] Cannibal trial: Porn images found
      Investigators found hundreds of violent and pornographic images on the
      computer of a German information technology expert who confessed to killing
      a man and eating his flesh, an official testified at his murder trial
      Monday. "We checked a total of more than 2,000 data files," Volker Kegel,
      an officer with Hessen state criminal authorities told the state court in
      Kassel. The images found, he said, ranged from homosexual pornography to
      torture. Prosecutors say the killing was sexually motivated and filed murder
      charges against Armin Meiwes, 42, despite concluding that the killer had the
      consent of the victim -- whom he met over the Internet.

      [Hate Groups : Scientology] Napa State denies allegations of abuse, cites
      good ratings
      An organization backed by the Church of Scientology, the Citizens Commission
      on Human Rights, last week announced the latest round of civil lawsuits
      generated by Napa State Hospital patients over alleged civil rights abuses.
      However, a hospital spokeswoman says that the hospital has received good
      ratings with the Joint Commission on Accredation of Healthcare
      Organizations. [...] Among other publications, the Citizens Commission
      publishes a booklet entitled "Psychiatry: A Human Rights Abuse and Global
      Failure." Chapter One is entitled, "Psychiatry: A History of Failure."

      Note: As Scientology critic Martin Poulter points out regarding CHHR, "It is
      absolutely remarkable that an organisation which stands accused of so many
      human rights violations itself should spawn a pressure group with this

      Plus a few items posted after yesterday's headlines mailing:

      Mon, Jan. 05, 2004
      [Witchcraft] Wiccans may be free to worship
      A compromise between Santa Rosa County and a local Wiccan church might be
      near. It could allow church members to worship in a residential area and
      defuse a potential religious freedom dispute. County Commissioners are
      scheduled to hear an appeal from the church over a denied permit at 6
      tonight. The Zoning Board of Adjustments denied a conditional-use permit
      request by the church in November to allow a place of worship in a
      residential area. Commissioners could decide a conditional-use permit is
      not required for the church to conduct its meetings, which church officials
      describe as little more than get-togethers with outdoor worship.

      [USA] How the Secret Service protects Bush from free speech
      When President Bush travels around the United States, the Secret Service
      visits the location ahead of time and orders local police to set up "free
      speech zones" or "protest zones," where people opposed to Bush policies (and
      sometimes sign-carrying supporters) are quarantined. These zones routinely
      succeed in keeping protesters out of presidential sight and outside the view
      of media covering the event. [...] The ACLU, along with several other
      organizations, is suing the Secret Service for what it charges is a pattern
      and practice of suppressing protesters at Bush events in Arizona,
      California, Connecticut, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, Texas and
      elsewhere. The ACLU's Witold Walczak said of the protesters, "The
      individuals we are talking about didn't pose a security threat; they posed a
      political threat." [...] The Bush administration's anti-protester bias
      proved embarrassing for two American allies with long traditions of raucous
      free speech, resulting in some of the most repressive restrictions in memory
      in free countries. [...] Such unprecedented restrictions did not inhibit
      Bush from portraying himself as a champion of freedom during his visit. In a
      speech at Whitehall on Nov. 19, Bush hyped the "forward strategy of freedom"
      and declared, "We seek the advance of freedom and the peace that freedom
      brings." Attempts to suppress protesters become more disturbing in light of
      the Homeland Security Department's recommendation that local police
      departments view critics of the war on terrorism as potential terrorists.
      [...] Such aggressive tactics become more ominous in the light of the Bush
      administration's advocacy, in its Patriot II draft legislation, of
      nullifying all judicial consent decrees restricting state and local police
      from spying on those groups who may oppose government policies.

      - James Bovard is the author of "Terrorism & Tyranny: Trampling Freedom,
      Justice, and Peace to Rid the World of Evil." This article is adapted from
      one that appeared in the Dec. 15 issue of the American Conservative.

      [USA] Endangered friendships
      In October I spent three weeks in Europe, hoping to find passions cooling
      and anti-American sentiments receding. Instead I was told, even by normally
      pro-American officials, that European hostility had only grown deeper as the
      months passed with no weapons of mass destruction being found in Iraq and
      without any sign of recognition by Bush that there had been any merit to
      Europe's prewar warnings. My European friends were not shy in telling me
      that Americans appeared to them simultaneously besotted with power and
      unnerved by terror, increasingly overbearing, jingoistic and rash. [...]
      Meanwhile the American president is unable to appear at public events, even
      in historically friendly Great Britain, for fear of being shouted down by
      protesters, and an October Gallup poll suggested that a majority of
      Europeans view the United States as a threat to peace.

      - Madeleine K. Albright was secretary of state in the Clinton
      administration. She is the author of the best-selling "Madam Secretary: A
      Memoir" (Miramax Books, 2003).

      [USA] Bush doctrine strains global rules
      Indeed, the United States is challenging the whole system of rules that has
      governed relations between the great powers since the Treaty of Westphalia
      in 1648, for it is declaring a doctrine of "limited sovereignty" far more
      sweeping than the one that Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev decreed for Soviet
      satellite regimes when he invaded Czechoslovakia in 1970.

      [USA] Pat Robertson: God Says Bush Will Win in 2004
      "I think George Bush is going to win in a walk," Robertson said on his "700
      Club" program on the Virginia Beach-based Christian Broadcasting Network,
      which he founded. "I really believe I'm hearing from the Lord it's going to
      be like a blowout election in 2004. It's shaping up that way." [...] The
      Rev. Barry W. Lynn, a frequent Robertson critic and executive director of
      Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said he had a
      prediction of his own: "Pat Robertson in 2004 will continue to use his
      multimillion broadcasting empire to promote George Bush and other Republican

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      was found, the author or organization responsible for the item, or the ideas
      expressed within the item. The material is provided solely as a research
      resource, and is intended for educational purposes only.

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