ReligionNewsBlog.com, Jan. 19, 2004
- ReligionNewsBlog.com, Jan. 19, 2004
Mon, Jan. 19, 2004
[Religious Freedom] Orthodox Jews fight condo rules in Supreme Court
Orthodox Jews who live in a luxury Montreal condominium will ask the Supreme
Court of Canada today to consider whether they bargained away their rights
to religious freedom when they signed their deeds of purchase. Several
religious organizations will side with five families as they argue that a
condo rule barring them from putting huts on their balconies for about a
week each year to celebrate a fall religious festival contravenes the
Charter of Rights. The case is considered one of the most significant in
the court's winter session because the outcome could determine whether
private contracts can override the charter and human-rights legislation.
[Jehovah's Witnesses] Fifth man alleges sexual abuse at Placer congregation
A fifth man is contending in court documents that he was sexually abused as
a youth at a Jehovah's Witness congregation in Placer County. The filing at
the Historic Courthouse in Auburn by the plaintiff identified by a first
name and last initial follows a lawsuit by four men in November alleging
sexual misconduct. The allegation involves the same unnamed defendant
beginning in the 1980s and continuing for a decade at Jehovah's Witnesses
congregations in Loomis and Rocklin.
[Hate Groups : Scientology] Cruise: `Psychiatry should be outlawed'
Cruise follows the line of thinking adopted by his religion, the
controversial Church Of Scientology, and refuses to accept psychiatry as a
legitimate form of self-improvement. [...] The "Last Samurai" star, 41,
says, "I think it's an utter waste of time. There's nothing scientific about
1) Cruise thinks there's nothing scientific about psychiatry.
2) Cruise adheres to the nutty, unscientific fantasies of the
See what Cruise believes: http://www-2.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/OTIII/
3) Now you know why Scientologists hate psychiatry.
[Psychics] Psychic Uri Geller: Jackson denied under hypnosis that he abused
Psychic Uri Geller defended his friend Michael Jackson on Sunday, saying the
pop singer denied under hypnosis three years ago that he had sexually abused
children. Geller, best known for his claimed telekinetic ability to bend
spoons, told Israel's Army Radio that he hypnotized Jackson when the two
were alone in a recording studio at an undisclosed location. The hypnosis
would have taken place before Jackson is alleged to have molested a
cancer-stricken boy invited to his Neverland Ranch.
[The Body] Deprogrammed mom ready to go on trial for cult killing of son
Those close to Attleboro cult mom Karen Robidoux say she's finally emerged
from the fog of the brainwashing sect that swallowed 14 years of her life.
But on Wednesday, she will go on trial for allegedly systematically starving
her son to death to fulfill a bizarre cult prophecy nearly five years ago.
``In light of what she's been through, I would have predicted she'd be in
far worse shape,'' cult deprogrammer Robert Pardon said of Robidoux, who is
charged with second-degree murder for the 1999 death of her son, Samuel.
``She is really coming to grips with what occurred to her. She is as much a
victim as Samuel.'' Robidoux's husband, Jacques Robidoux, is already
serving a life sentence without parole after being convicted last year of
first degree murder for starving the couple's 18-month-old son. Karen
Robidoux has since distanced herself from the Attleboro-based fundamentalist
sect - known as The Body. She is free on $100,000 bail and living in a
southeastern Massachusetts group home for people who've fled high-control
[The Body] Ex-sect mom's trial set to start Tuesday
The highly-anticipated infanticide trial of Karen Robidoux is due to begin
this week. Robidoux's infant son starved to death almost five years ago,
allegedly because of cult-based religious beliefs. Her husband, Jacques,
was convicted in June 2002 of first-degree murder in Samuel Robidoux's death
and sentenced to life in prison. The couple were members of a small,
Attleboro-based sect called "The Body." The sect, which was led by Jacques'
father, Roland Robidoux, rejects modern medicine, courts, government and
[Transcendental Meditation] Peace, and Kucinich, Gets a Chance
In this little pocket of Iowa, houses are built to face the rising sun,
something called yogic flying is a popular pastime and Dennis J. Kucinich is
a leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. Even as
much of the country still struggles to pronounce his name (it's
koo-SIN-itch), Mr. Kucinich has become a phenomenon in Fairfield, population
9,500. His proposals to promote world peace, universal health care and
environmental sustainability arguably resonate here as in no other place in
America. [...] Mr. Kucinich, a vegan, who has proposed a cabinet-level
Department of Peace, is not a typical candidate. And Fairfield, despite its
picturesque town square and fluttering American flags, is not a typical
Iowan town. The home of Maharishi University of Management and a center of
the Global Country of World Peace, Fairfield and the surrounding area is
home to 2,000 practitioners of Transcendental Meditation who began settling
there in the early 1970's.
[Transcendental Meditation] Kucinich gains loyal following in Fairfield area
He doesn't get as much press as Howard Dean or Dick Gephardt, and polls
consistently rank him in the single digits, but Democratic presidential
candidate Dennis Kucinich has developed a devoted following in Fairfield,
due in part to members of the Transcendental Meditation community. He's
been endorsed by John Hagelin, three-time presidential candidate for the
Fairfield-based Natural Law Party.
[Islam] Hamas: Women who shame family can be bombers
Last week, Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin praised the woman who
killed herself and four Israeli security men at the Erez checkpoint. But it
turns out Yassin's militant Islamist organization does not unequivocally
support the use of women in terror attacks - it is especially hesitant about
the deployment of married mothers. Senior Hamas figures who have consulted
about the subject recently are inclined to support only the use of women who
have desecrated rules of "family honor."
[Satanic and/or ritual abuse] Calvert wants to say sorry
Premier Lorne Calvert would like to offer an apology to Richard Klassen and
his family, but says he can't while the matter is still before the courts.
During a conference call Friday, Calvert said since the province has
appealed the malicious prosecution lawsuit, he is not prepared to apologize
during that process. "It would be inappropriate for myself as premier to
intervene in that legal process," said Calvert. But at the end of the legal
process, if the initial finding is upheld, "I would want to be the first to
make an apology, but that, at this moment, is not an option that is
available to me," said Calvert.
[Satanic and/or ritual abuse] Police chief apologizes to Klassen
Saskatoon Police Chief Russell Sabo on Wednesday apologized in person to
Richard Klassen, who, along with 11 others, last month won a malicious
prosecution lawsuit against Saskatoon police Supt. Brian Dueck. [...]
Klassen, Diane Kvello and members of their families won the judgment last
month against Dueck, Crown prosecutor Matthew Miazga and therapist Carol
Bunko-Ruys, who were involved in prosecuting them in the early 1990s on
false accusations of sexually abusing foster children.
[Satanic and/or ritual abuse] Justice system under fire
The Saskatchewan justice system must give equal time to cases of injustice
and crimes against marginalized citizens, said the sister of Neil
Stonechild, who spoke at a demonstration outside Premier Lorne Calvert's
Saskatoon constituency office Wednesday. Later in the day, Saskatoon police
Chief Russell Sabo did just that. He apologized in person to Richard
Klassen, who, along with 11 others, last month won a malicious prosecution
lawsuit against Saskatoon police Supt. Brian Dueck.
[Satanic and/or ritual abuse] Saskatchewan Party rips province for backing
The provincial government is "fundamentally wrong" to support a defamation
lawsuit against a man wrongly accused of ritual child abuse, the
Saskatchewan Party said on Tuesday. The province announced last week it
would appeal Court of Queen's Bench Justice George Baynton's malicious
prosecution judgment against justice and police officials rather than settle
with the 12 innocent plaintiffs. The government is also appealing Baynton's
dismissal of a defamation lawsuit brought against plaintiff Richard Klassen
by Crown prosecutors Matthew Miazga and Sonja Hansen.
[Taliban] Taleban drugs control 'effective'
The Taleban's fight against opium production in Afghanistan was the "most
effective" drug control policy of modern times, research suggests. During
the 1990s, Afghanistan was the main source of the world's illicit heroin
supply. But a UK study has found a Taleban crackdown on drugs led to global
heroin production falling by two-thirds in 2001. However, it notes that
such draconian methods could not be used elsewhere.
[USA] Daddy, why did we have to attack Iraq?
Q: What did Afghanistan do to us on September 11th?
A: Well, on September 11th, nineteen men - fifteen of them Saudi Arabians -
hijacked four airplanes and flew three of them into buildings in New York
and Washington, killing 3,000 innocent people.
Q: So how did Afghanistan figure into all that?
A: Afghanistan was where those bad men trained, under the oppressive rule of
Q: Aren't the Taliban those bad radical Islamics who chopped off people's
heads and hands?
A: Yes, that's exactly who they were. Not only did they chop off people's
heads and hands, but they oppressed women, too.
Q: Didn't the Bush administration give the Taliban 43 million dollars back
in May of 2001?
A: Yes, but that money was a reward because they did such a good job
Q: Fighting drugs?
A: Yes, the Taliban were very helpful in stopping people from growing opium
Q: How did they do such a good job?
A: Simple. If people were caught growing opium poppies, the Taliban would
have their hands and heads cut off.
[Falun Gong] Final warning letter issued to Falun Gong
The Home Ministry has issued a final warning letter to the Falun Gong sect
in the country, ordering it to stop interfering in China's internal affairs
or face the consequences. Sin Chew Daily, in an interview with Deputy Home
Minister Datuk Chor Chee Heung, reported that the ministry had been
monitoring the sect's website and observed that the sect here wanted to use
Malaysia as a launching pad to go against the Chinese Government. "Their
news on the website stating that the organisation had received approval from
the Registrar of Societies are also false," he said.
[Hate Groups] Ex-Klan leader now promotes acceptance
Clad in his signature white sheet and hat, Johnny Lee Clary and his fellow
Ku Klux Klan members showed up at the home of black civil rights leader the
Rev. Wade Watts, whom Clary had met earlier on a radio show, and proceeded
to terrorize him. [...] Now, Clary has done a complete about-face. He's in
Rocky Mount until Monday, visiting area churches, schools and the Holiday
Inn Gateway Convention Centre on Sunday to spread his message of love and
acceptance. His new tell-all book, "Beneath the Sheets: The Ku Klux Klan
Exposed," is for sale through his Web site, www.johnnyleeclary.com. He's
appeared on "The Oprah Winfrey Show," "Geraldo," "Sally Jesse Raphael" and
"The Jerry Springer Show," both as a Klan spokesman and later as a
motivational speaker against the same hate groups he once advocated.
[Aum Shinrikyo] Cults in the Subway
The lethal behavior of the Aum Supreme Truth has been covered by several
works of nonfiction, most notably the Kaplan/Marshall "The Cult at the End
of the World." Now, thanks to Stew Magnuson, we have a fictional account as
well. Beside the strange fictional relationship between Tamara and her
cultist boyfriend, the book addresses something that has yet to be fully
publicized: How much did the Japanese police know about Aum, and what
dissuaded them from taking action against the cult before it could paralyze
the transit system with sarin? Was it inertia, incompetence, laziness or
NOTE: Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi write:
Reliable reports since 1995 have shown that Japanese authorities were
actually not just overly cautious, but negligent and deferential, if not
protective, regarding criminal activities by Aum, because of its status as
an NRM. ''Some observers wonder what took the Japanese authorities so long
to take decisive action. It seems apparent that enough serious concerns had
been raised about various Aum activities to warrant a more serious police
inquiry prior to the subway gas attack'' (Mullins, 1997, p. 321). The group
can only be described as extremely violent and murderous. ''Thirty-three Aum
followers are believed to have been killed between ...1988 and
...1995...Another twenty-one followers have been reported missing [and
presumed dead]'' (Mullins, 1997, p. 320). Among non-members, there have been
24 murder victims. One triple murder case in 1989 and another poison gas
attack in 1994 which killed seven have been committed by the group, as well
as less serious crimes which the police was not too eager to investigate
(Beit-Hallahmi, 1998; Haworth, 1995; Mullins, 1997). So it is safe to
conclude that religious freedom was not the issue in this case. Nor is it
likely, as some Aum apologists among NRM scholars have claimed, that this
lethal record (77 deaths on numerous occasions over seven years) and other
non-lethal criminal activities were the deeds of a few rogue leaders.
Numerous individuals must have been involved in, and numerous others aware
of, these activities.
[Yoga] Yoga stretches far, from India to San Francisco
Bringing together world-renowned faculty and yoga practitioners, Yoga
Journal magazine is hosting its second annual West Coast conference. [...]
As with any industry, yoga's supercharged growth has translated into an
exhilarating and lucrative ride for some and a new beginning for others,
such as small-business people. Its pervasiveness has also created -- or
created an interest in uncovering -- controversies. There are, for starters,
the alleged sex scandals. Last year, Yee was sued by a former employee who
claimed she was denied the opportunity to teach at his studio after she
approached him about his alleged sexual affairs with students. (Yee was
unavailable to comment on the lawsuit, but according to his Piedmont Avenue
studio manager, Lisa Stewart, "the case was settled out of court to the
satisfaction of all parties.") The paradox between yoga's spiritual roots
in India and the United States' capitalistic ethos has caused strains, too.
[Psychics] Psychic institute helps let those true colors glow
Rich Powers was sitting on a folding chair with his eyes tightly shut when
something brought him to full attention. "Hey, Ray," he said, "there's a
little bit of stuck energy behind you. It's a rust orange color, maybe some
family energy. As the translucent blue comes in, though, it's cleaning out
the rust." [...] Such is the tenor of conversation on almost any day at
Anaheim's Southern California Psychic Institute, where people let their
colors show. In fact, said Joel Hipps, who co-directs the place with his
wife, Barbara, checking auras is a daily routine. [...] Aided by 10
teachers, they now instruct as many as 100 people a month at nonprofit
psychic centers in Santa Monica, Costa Mesa and a business suite in Anaheim.
[...] For some, being psychic has a spiritual aspect. At least once a month,
Hipps said, the institute, which he also calls the Church of the Rose, holds
a religious service for students and certified clairvoyants. "We're a
nondenominational Christian psychic church," he said. "We see Jesus as a
psychic, and basically we're trying to learn to perform all the miracles he
did." A few miracles already have been mastered, Hipps said.
[Media] The Porn Star and the Evangelist Help Push Surreal Life to Success
Ron Jeremy is basking in the glow of mainstream media attention as the WB
network flexes their PR arm for the Surreal Life 2, which debuted on January
11 to set network ratings records for the it's timeslot on WB. [...] And the
Hedgehog living in the same house as evangelist Tammy Faye Messner should be
energetic enough for anyone. Throw in a bitter Vanilla Ice, who now goes by
Rob Van Winkle, former Baywatch babe Traci Bingham, Erik Estrada of CHIP,
and Canatella and the kinetic potential of the show is endless. [...] A
quick review of commentary on the show suggests that the opposite polarity
of Messner and Jeremy is one of the most intriguing aspects of the show.
Jeremy previously told AVN.com that Messner and he got along great, and that
she was a "sweetheart" and surprisingly open minded.
[Cloning] Experts demand human cloning proof
Scientists have received the news that a human embryo has been cloned into a
woman with a large dose of skepticism and are challenging the maverick
fertility expert to prove it. U.S.-based Dr Panos Zavos said on Sunday some
secrecy had to be maintained in his work and he stood by his announcement
that he had transplanted the embryo into a 35-year-old-woman less than two
weeks ago. The claim bore a striking resemblance to an announcement made
last year by the Raelian Movement -- a cult that believes life on Earth was
engineered by visitors from outer space -- saying it had produced the
world's first cloned human. It never came up with any scientific evidence
but managed to whip up huge publicity around the world. Scientists are now
throwing down a similar gauntlet to Zavos, urging him to publish his results
so they can be reviewed by experts.
[Islam] Questioning Islam
"Why can't girls lead prayer?" "Why would the prophet Muhammad have
commended his army to kill an entire Jewish tribe when the Koran supposedly
came to him as a message of peace?" Her irate teacher wouldn't give her
answers and instead told her to read the Koran. When she tried to look
elsewhere for help, the school did everything it could to keep her out of
its library, where women didn't belong. [...] Now, in her own book "The
Trouble With Islam," a jolting look at the faith she has held on to since
childhood, Manji, who has since become a prominent lesbian television host
in her home country, offers some answers to those questions she asked as an
adolescent and many more that have puzzled her along the way.
[Islam] Al-Qaeda launches online terrorist manual
Al-Qaeda has issued a chilling new call to arms to recruits who remain
undetected by security agencies. In a terrorist manual published on the
internet, Osama bin Laden says: 'After Iraq and Afghanistan will come the
Crusader invasion of Saudi Arabia. All fighters all over the world must be
ready.' [...] The manual is an internal al-Qaeda document and will be of
enormous interest to security agencies. The fact that al-Adel, a former
special forces colonel in the Egyptian army, has risked discovery to publish
it is an indication of its importance.
[Church and State] Conservatives influencing Park Service, critics say
While the Park Service says these are unrelated incidents, reflecting no
overarching political policy, a national alliance of public environmental
workers says the efforts are evidence of a new program of "faith-based
parks" promoted by the Bush administration with the strong support of
[Islam] Muslim Radicalism Flowers in French Town
Clean and green, this well-kept Lyon suburb has for three years running won
the national competition for "Flowered Cities of France." But Venissieux
also has a macabre claim to fame. Long plagued by urban violence, it is
emerging as a breeding ground for Islamic radicals, some implicated in an
alleged terrorist network that authorities say was preparing a chemical
attack against Russian targets. [...] Venissieux first gained national
attention two decades ago when its residents headed a march of 100,000
mostly French Muslims to Paris in 1983 to demand equal rights and
integration. Today, despairing Muslims are increasingly turning to
religion. A more radical brand of Islam took hold about five years ago, said
deputy mayor Bayrem Braiki. Muslim activists "have been stuffing the brains
of our youth ... explaining that the only way out is religion," said Braiki,
28, a practicing Muslim who grew up in Les Minguettes, this town's toughest
[Anglican Church] Conservative Episcopalians meet to form new group
Conservative Episcopalians are gathering Monday to establish an
unprecedented nationwide organization to unite opponents of last year's
consecration of their denomination's first openly gay bishop. Activists say
the new Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes won't be a
breakaway denomination or schism but rather a "church within a church."
Nonetheless, it's a potentially serious challenge to Episcopal Church
leaders. The two-day meeting to form the network involves bishops, clergy
and lay delegates from 12 dioceses representing 235,000 members, a tenth of
the nation's Episcopalians.
[Michael Jackson] Farrakhan army flanks star
The Nation of Islam's involvement in Michael Jackson's affairs was on very
public display yesterday. [...] Their front-and-center presence raises new
questions about whether Louis Farrakhan's group is secretly in charge of
Jackson's empire. "They are in control. Their influence is very
substantial," insists Stuart Backerman, who was ousted from Jackson's team
two weeks ago. [...] Jackson was raised a Jehovah's Witness but left the
faith in the 1980s. His brother, Jermaine, converted to Islam and is thought
to be behind the Nation's involvement.
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[Polygamy] Colorado City upheaval could be big break
A feud that escalated this week between leading families of Colorado City
and the escape of two 16-year-old girls might shed new light on allegations
of child abuse and welfare fraud in the isolated, polygamous community, Gov.
Janet Napolitano said Thursday. But Napolitano admitted to the Tribune's
editorial board that years of investigation have failed to resolve frequent
reports of underage girls being forced to marry older men at the behest of
community and religious leader Warren Jeffs. Napolitano said a close-knit
society, combined with the broad protections granted to parents under state
law, has thwarted efforts to collect evidence of possible child rape and
other crimes. "Don't just sit at the table and ask 'What are you going to
do,' " Napolitano said. "Give me a suggestion. We are at wits' end unless
you want to go in and declare martial law."
[Polygamy] Colorado City runaway in state protective custody
In the state's first case concerning runaways from polygamist families after
the recent shakeup in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter
Day Saints, the Utah Attorney General's Office intervened Saturday morning
in St. George to put a Colorado City girl in state protective custody. [...]
"If the AG holds the ground," said Jay Beswick, a child protection advocate
who has helped women flee polygamous marriages, "We'll see more runaways."
Beswick, who has researched the FLDS church for more than three years,
predicted a five-way split within one of the largest polygamist enclaves in
North America. Jeffs, who is rumored to be building a compound in Mexico,
will likely keep about 500 faithful, he said. A second group will follow
Winston Blackmore, who now has about 800 polygamists in Canada, Beswick
said. Blackmore came to Colorado City last week and spoke briefly Saturday
before about 500 people at a funeral in St. George.
[Polygamy] Court protects Colorado City runaways
Like many Colorado City girls, Flora Jessop said she was ordered at age 14
to marry a man with five wives. Unlike most Colorado City girls, she ran
away. She walked about 60 miles on foot across the desert, only to be found
on the streets in St. George and returned to her father. She would run four
more times in the next four years, be locked up for three years, baptized
nine times in public, sexually abused by her father, beaten repeatedly and
mentally tortured. "The reality is, when these kids are turned over, they
pay dearly," said Jessop, 33, who finally fled successfully in 1986.
"Sometimes I wonder how I succeeded, too. Then I look around. I saw these
kids. I succeeded so these kids don't have to go through what I went
through." This is true for the two most recent runaways, Fawn Broadbent and
Fawn Holm. In the aftermath of the recent shakeup in the Fundamentalist
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the two-16-year-olds fled in
Jessop's van on Sunday, for fear that the Prophet Warren Jeffs would order
them to marry older men. On Friday night, the girls received court orders
from the Maricopa County Juvenile Court in Phoenix, protecting them from
being returned to homes they no longer miss. With about 6,000 residents,
Colorado City and its neighboring town, Hildale, are dominated by the FLDS
church, an offshoot of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The
FLDS church still teaches polygamy as a central tenet. Jessop, now a
well-known anti-polygamy activist in Phoenix, helped secure the documents
after several days of intense negotiations with Arizona Attorney General
Terry Goddard, Arizona State Sen. Linda Binder, R-District 3, and Child
[Lord's Resistance Army] Ugandan rebels kill 18 in northern village, says
Ugandan rebels from the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) shot dead 18 people,
most of them women, in a northern village last week, a priest said on
Sunday. The cult-like rebel group has waged war against Uganda's government
for 17 years and its fighters are feared for maiming civilians and abducting
children for use as sex slaves and soldiers.
[Islam] Minister blasts headscarf protest
French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy has criticised worldwide protests
against plans to ban Islamic headscarves from state schools. Mr Sarkozy said
the protests at the government proposals would only promote tension,
misunderstandings and anger. Around 5,000 mainly Muslim marchers took part
in a demonstration in Paris, which was fewer than expected. [...] Mainstream
Muslim groups had distanced themselves from the action, advocating instead
continued dialogue with the government. The demonstrations in Paris and
other French cities were organised by a small group, the Party of French
Muslims (PMF), which is regarded by many in France as a radical Islamist
organisation, the BBC's Alan Little reports from Paris.
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