ReligionNewsBlog, Jan. 21, 2004
Wed, Jan. 21, 2004
[Hate Groups : Scientology] Psychiatrists think Cruise should have head
The American Psychiatric Association is concerned that some comments by Tom
Cruise could prevent people who need help from getting it. [...] "It's like
arguing that the earth is flat," Dr. James Scully, the Medical Director of
the American Psychiatric Association, told The Scoop. "Psychiatry is a
branch of medicine supported by substantial research. . . . Comments like
that are absurd. . . . If someone is suffering and needs to get help, it
would be a shame if they do not get the help that could help them because a
celebrity says something." Would Dr. Scully welcome a dialogue with Cruise?
"A dialogue? Yes. We'd welcome an open dialogue. A Scientology speech? No,"
says Dr. Scully, referring to Cruise's religion, which is opposed to
psychiatry. "We don't find discussions about Scientology useful."
[Abraham Kennard] Police discount exorcism, but girl's slaying murky
Atlanta police are downplaying the possibility that the murder of a young
girl occurred during an exorcism, but they were still struggling Tuesday to
untangle the details of her death.
[Exorcism] Couple Charged in Alleged Exorcism Death
6-year-old girl found dead in a motel room had been strangled, stabbed,
beaten and covered in pages torn from a Bible, possibly in an attempt to
"undemonize" her, police said Tuesday.
[Polygamy] Claim: number of runaways from polygamist towns exaggerated
Three teenage runaways from the nation's largest polygamist enclave are in
state custody, but one group that works to protect children from polygamy
says reports of another eight children running away last weekend were
exaggerated. "This is all much ado about nothing," Bob Curran of the St.
George group Help the Child Brides told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
[...] The eight youths, Curran says, actually stopped in St. George during a
Saturday night joy ride and found that they would not make it the 35 miles
back to their homes in time for their curfew. So, they waited out the night
at the home of a man who houses and employs young men of legal age who have
left the twin communities. "When they were gone the next day and they went
back home, I really had my suspicions," Curran said. But by that time, talk
of the runaways had taken on a life of its own.
[Nuwaubians] Sect leader framed, daughter says
The defense of Nuwaubian leader Malachi York drew to a close Tuesday as an
alleged victim testified that she was not molested by York. And York's
daughter said her brother concocted a conspiracy to frame his father.
York's daughter, Leah Mabry, 23, said her brother, Jacob, met with her and
several alleged victims in May 2001 and told her "that I should go to the
FBI and say I was molested by Malachi York." Mabry said she was never
molested by her father, who founded the United Nation of Nuwaubian Moors and
moved the quasi-religious organization to a farm in Putnam County in Middle
Georgia in 1993. She said Jacob York "has a vendetta against [his father].
He hates him."
[USA] Resistance to Patriot Act gaining ground
Opponents of the antiterrorism measure say the nascent bipartisan
groundswell in communities across the nation signals a growing
dissatisfaction with the expansion of federal powers -- and will reshape the
national debate if it continues to accelerate with support from disparate
groups, from gun owners to librarians to fiscal conservatives. The
burgeoning nationwide movement has prompted three state governments, and 236
communities in 37 states, to pass resolutions against the Patriot Act. If
the backlash continues to grow, opponents of the Patriot Act believe, their
momentum will force Congress and the White House to address some of the
law's unpopular elements.
[Mel Gibson] Vatican Denies Pope Endorsed Film
Pope John Paul II never endorsed Mel Gibson's controversial Biblical epic
"The Passion of the Christ," the pontiff's longtime secretary told a
Catholic news service. Published reports over the past month said John Paul
gave his approval of the film after a screening in his apartment in early
December by saying, "It is as it was." The film's producers said the quote
was given to them by the papal secretary, Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz. In
its report Monday, the Catholic News Service quoted Dziwisz as saying, "That
is not true."
[Abraham Kennard] Two Men Indicted in Church Scam
federal grand jury has indicted two men on charges of scamming about 1,600
churches out of nearly $9 million. The jury returned the 91-count
indictment against Abraham L. Kennard, 45, of Wildwood, and R. Scott
Cunningham, 52, of Dalton, the U.S. Attorney's office announced Tuesday.
[Anglican Church] Episcopalian splinter group launched over gay bishop
Episcopalians upset with what they consider to be the denomination's drift
away from traditional Christianity launched a new national group yesterday.
The Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes stopped short of
breaking from the national Episcopal church. But by formally declaring their
intent to link congregations with like-minded bishops - regardless of
geography - planners set the stage for what could be a nasty battle within
liberal dioceses such as the Diocese of Massachusetts. The battle was
sparked by the ordination of non-celibate gay Bishop V. Gene Robinson of New
Hampshire but is rooted in differences that go back decades.
[Cannibalism] Dead man feared cannibalistic cult
The man found dead in a Dartmouth ball hockey court on the weekend was one
of at least 10 Nigerians in recent years to claim he escaped a cannibalistic
cult, only to have his refugee claim turned down by skeptical immigration
[Falun Gong] Falun Gong founder blasts crackdown
Falun Gong founder Li Hongzhi attacked China's deadly crackdown on the
meditation group, claiming in a rare television appearance Wednesday that it
was rooted in Beijing's "jealousy" over Falun Gong's mass following. Taking
aim at former Chinese President Jiang Zemin, Li said the campaign against
Falun Gong was ordered by "the most evil person in China," although he did
not mention Jiang by name. "People who care about power don't care about
people suffering," Li said in an interview with a New York-based TV outlet
that appears to have close ties to Falun Gong. "The Chinese leaders couldn't
tolerate so many people practicing Falun Gong. It's a form of jealousy. This
jealousy led to the oppression."
[Cannibalism] Nigerian 'cult' refugee found dead
A refugee claimant who said he fled Toronto in fear of a cannibalistic
Nigerian cult was found dead over the weekend in the penalty box of an
outdoor hockey rink in Dartmouth, N.S. [...] Mr. Nosakhare lived in Halifax,
across the harbour from Dartmouth, since fleeing Toronto in late 2002, when
his name appeared in news reports detailing his bizarre refugee claim. "His
claim has been that people were after him," Kingsley Jesuorobo, Mr.
Nosakhare's lawyer, said yesterday. "He told me he was scared for his life.
He didn't want to be in this environment [Toronto] where everyone knew who
he was." Mr. Nosakhare's story has been baffling since 1999, when he
arrived in Toronto as a refugee claimant with a tale of kidnapping, torture,
murder and cannibalism. It is unclear, in fact, if that is even his name.
[Allen Harrod, et. al.] Jury starts deliberating child molestation case
Jurors began deliberating the fate Tuesday of Allen Rex Harrod, a
self-proclaimed religious prophet who is charged with molesting three
children in rituals laid out in his own interpretations of Scripture.
Harrod, 58, is charged with 32 counts of child molestation stemming from
acts he allegedly committed on one daughter, a son and the daughter of a
friend. If convicted, he could face life in prison. His wife, Irene Hunt, is
charged with eight counts involving two children and could face up to 18
years in prison. Harrod's attorney, Dani Williams, variously compared the
case to the Salem witch trials, the propaganda of Hitler's Nazi Germany and
the ill-fated McMartin preschool child-molestation trial of the 1980s.
[The Body] Beginning of Robidoux's trial delayed
Robidoux's infant son starved to death almost five years ago, allegedly at
the hands of his parents, then both members of an Attleboro-based religious
sect known as "The Body." Karen's husband, Jacques, was convicted in June
2002 of first-degree murder in Samuel Robidoux's death and sentenced to life
in prison. Known as "The Body," the sect, led by Jacques' father, Roland
Robidoux, rejects modern medicine, courts, government and schools. Karen
Robidoux is being charged with second-degree murder in the 1999 death of her
11-month-old son. The judge reportedly postponed the trial's opening from
Tuesday until today for personal reasons. Karen's lawyer, Brockton-based
Joseph Krowski, is expected to use a battered- woman defense, but not within
the usual framework of an intimate couple. Krowski is instead likely to
suggest a pattern of abuse against Karen Robidoux by fellow sect members,
with whom she had a near-lifelong affiliation. Krowski has said that
Robidoux lacked the free will to make personal decisions outside the sect's
beliefs and rules.
[Polygamy] In-fighting embroils polygamist haven
The stakes are high if it turns out this is a power struggle for control of
the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a
polygamist-practicing breakaway faction of the larger Mormon church. The
man who leads the church also controls its million-dollar-plus bank account.
Some fear blood could be spilled by the split between prophet Warren Jeffs
and the Barlows, the sons of the towns' founder. Utah's attorney general
fears Jeffs is turning into a maniacal ruler over the estimated 10,000
[The Body] Mother set to go to trial in son's starvation death
It's been nearly five years since little Samuel Robidoux died of starvation,
just three days before his first birthday. His parents, members of a tiny
religious cult in southeastern Massachusetts, withheld solid food from the
boy for two months after another cult member said she received a message
from God, according to prosecutors. When Samuel's mother, Karen Robidoux,
goes on trial this week, her defense will paint a more sympathetic picture
of a woman they say was brainwashed by a cult and terrified to go against
the wishes of her husband. Samuel's father, Jacques Robidoux, was convicted
of first-degree murder in June 2002 and is now serving a life sentence.
[...] Prosecutors called it a clear case of murder committed by both
parents. But Karen Robidoux's lawyer, Joseph Krowski, plans to use a
battered woman's defense, arguing that she endured psychological abuse from
her husband and other sect elders that left her powerless to stop her son's
[Nuwaubians] Cult leaders son tried to frame him, witness testifies
A daughter of cult leader Malachi York testified Tuesday she was urged by
her brother to lie to authorities by saying her father molested her. Leah
Mabry, 23, told a federal jury her brother, Jacob York, has a vendetta
against their father, the leader of the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors. He
hates him, Mabry said.
[Amish] Doubts about Amish teen reality show
Call it The Real World: Lancaster County.
Except that on UPN's proposed reality series, with the working title Amish
in the City, five Amish young adults will be uprooted from their simple life
and placed with five "mainstream" Americans in a yet-to-be-disclosed city.
The show, which is set to be cast this summer, would follow the Amish youths
as they enter rumspringa, a rite of passage that occurs when Amish teenagers
turn 16 and are allowed to leave their families. After a few years of
sampling outside life, the Amish teens must then choose to either return to
their church or leave the community. Network executives say they believe
that viewers will love to watch what happens when Amish stop being Plain
People and "start getting real." CBS executive Leslie Moonves, who oversees
UPN, called it a "fish-out-of-water" situation. "This is not intended to be
insulting to the Amish, but to have people who have never had television,
who will walk down Rodeo Drive and be freaked out by what they see," Moonves
said at a news conference outlining UPN's new shows. But Amish scholars
doubt casting for the show will attract Amish youths, who are serious about
their culture and religion. "I can't imagine that any of them may be
willing to do it," said Donald Kraybill, who has written several books about
the Amish. "For Amish people to be on this show would be a very blatant
violation of their religious principles."
[Islam] French ban on religious signs could include beards
France's looming ban on religious symbols in state schools could also
include beards if they are considered to be a conspicuous sign of faith,
Education Minister Luc Ferry said on Tuesday. Ferry, discussing the draft
law that has prompted protests from Muslims determined to defend
schoolgirls' Islamic veils, told a National Assembly committee that the
government wanted to ensure the ban was not circumvented by new religious
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