ReligionNewsBlog.com, Jan. 27, 2004
- ReligionNewsBlog.com, Jan. 27, 2004
[Success Coaches] Would you buy a way of life from a guru?
Deepak Chopra earns $20m a year selling spiritual guidance to the likes of
Demi Moore, Hillary Clinton and Mikhail Gorbachev - and he's not the only
self-help guru making a fortune. In the first of two extracts from his new
book, Francis Wheen traces the rise and rise of mystic mumbo-jumbo.
[New Age] Quack addicts
Cherie and Tony bonding in a muddy Mayan ritual - it's the ultimate example
of how mumbo-jumbo has inundated Britain, writes Francis Wheen in this final
extract from his fascinating new book
[The Body] Doctor: Mother let baby starve
Despite being under the influence of a controlling religious sect, Karen
Robidoux could have done something to prevent the child's death, a child
nutrition expert testifies.
[The Body] Defense may take the stand
Krowski said it may not be necessary to hear from Robidoux in light of
testimony given yesterday by Dr. Eli Newburger. [...] Krowski's two-hour
cross-examination of Newburger, the prosecution's expert medical witness,
was easily the four-day trial's most heated. Newburger, who admitted to
Krowski he was being paid $450 an hour by the state to assist in the case,
was adamant that Karen Robidoux was aware she was killing her son. Krowski
has based his case around the contention that Robidoux, who broke down in
court for the third straight day yesterday, was brainwashed by the sect and
wasn't in her right mind. [...] In addition to Newburger, medical examiner
Margaret Greenwald and former sect member Daniel Horton testified yesterday.
Despite being called by the prosecution, Horton's testimony appeared helpful
to Robidoux. "I'm ashamed and disgusted," Horton said. "I regret every day
that I didn't step in to help Karen and Samuel. "I was so beaten down. I
couldn't make a decision for myself or my wife and four children. I had to
check with the group, with Roland and Jacques. My life was taken away; it
was like I didn't have a choice. "We lived in this fear atmosphere," Horton
said. "I didn't feel able to walk away. It just wasn't possible to me. I
thought I was doing right by God. It's foolish and stupid now to look back
and wonder how you got to that point."
[The Body] Witnesses describe baby's suffering
Newberger, who said he reviewed numerous police and mental health reports in
the case, said that Karen Robidoux knew her son was facing "disaster" and
could have saved him if she reached outside the sect, whose members had
isolated themselves from society. But under relentless and sometimes
sarcastic questioning by Karen Robdioux's defense attorney, Joseph Krowski,
Newberger generally agreed with the defense argument that Karen Robidoux was
an emotionally battered woman who could not overcome years of indoctrination
in the male-dominated sect and act against the orders of her husband and
other sect members. "There's no question that people can be controlled in
that setting," Newberger told Krowski, who chided the doctor for charging
prosecutors $450 an hour for his testimony.
[The Body] Prosecution Won't Call Sect Member In Murder Trial
A member of an Attleboro sect will apparently not be called to testify
against a former member of the group accused of killing her infant son.
Karen Robidoux is being tried in Taunton Superior Court for the
second-degree murder of her son, Samuel. [...] Corneau said last week that
for religious reasons, he would not answer questions, even though he has an
immunity deal and he was willing to go to jail. The prosecutor will instead
enter previous comments from Corneau into the record. Another former sect
member, Daniel Horton, took the stand Monday. He told the jury how hard it
was to break away from the sect.
[Ayurveda] Balm from the East
The effectiveness of the ancient Indian healing art of ayurveda is getting a
closer look in the U.S. [...] Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, a proponent of
transcendental meditation, brought ayurveda to the United States three
decades ago, and Dr. Deepak Chopra exposed it to the masses in his
bestseller "Perfect Health" (Harmony Books, 1991). Now, the California Assn.
of Ayurvedic Medicine, a professional group based in Foster City, Calif., is
sponsoring its first Ayurveda Awareness Day on Feb. 13. [...] Ayurveda
treatments are becoming popular in spas, medical clinics and wellness
centers. And like Mejia, many people are finding their way to ayurvedic
medicine through the practice of yoga. Ayurveda is considered yoga's sister
science, and workshops are frequently taught in yoga studios throughout
Southern California. "Yoga is the doorway," says Mas Vidal, owner of
Dancing Shiva, a Los Angeles Veda yoga studio that added an ayurveda healing
center last year. "Ayurveda is what all the great yogis practiced. Ayurveda
was taught as a way of life."
[Human Rights] New criminal court deters tribal warfare
Congo's human rights minister said Thursday the new International Criminal
Court has had "a pronounced deterrent effect" on armed groups in Congo's
strife-torn northeast since prosecutors said last year that the militias
could be the court's first target for a war crimes investigation. [...]
Prosecutors at the court, established in July 2001 despite strong opposition
from the U.S. government, have said the deaths of at least 5,000 civilians
in tribal violence in the Ituri province may constitute war crimes under
their jurisdiction. [...] The International Criminal Court is empowered to
intervene as a "court of last resort" if one of the 92 member countries is
found to be "unable or unwilling" to prosecute individuals responsible for
crimes against humanity, war crimes or genocide. Since Congo did not endorse
the Rome Statute creating the court, the government in Kinshasa would have
to relinquish jurisdiction to the court, based in the Dutch city of The
Note: The United States of America, which prefers illegal warfare over the
rule of law, is involved in a vicious fight against the International
Criminal Court. Considering America's manifold violations of international
law, including its growing record of human rights violations at home and
abroad, that does not come as a surprise. After all, U.S. government
officials would be prime canditates for prosecution. See: "One Rule For
[USA] Justices Will Revisit Teen Executions
The Supreme Court said Monday it will decide whether the Constitution
forbids the execution of killers who were under 18 when they committed their
crimes, the latest step in the court's reexamination of capital punishment
in America. The high court could ban the practice, as four justices have
urged, or it could reaffirm earlier rulings that allowed states to decide
for themselves whether to make 16- and 17-year-olds eligible for execution.
The court's answer, expected in the term that begins next fall, follows
landmark decisions two years ago that banned the execution of the mentally
retarded and required that juries, not judges, be the final arbiters of who
is sent to death row.
Note: See also this item on Amnesty International's campaign against child
"In a report issued today, Amnesty International documents executions of
such offenders in eight countries since 1990: China, the Democratic Republic
of the Congo, Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the United States of
America, and Yemen. Most of these countries have now changed their laws to
ban the use of death penalty against children, leaving the USA as the only
country which openly acknowledges executing child offenders and which claims
for itself the right to do so."
[Satanic and/or ritual abuse] Saskatchewan gov't won't drag out victims'
The Saskatchewan government is willing to discuss the possibility of interim
payments for Richard Klassen, Diane Kvello and their family members who won
a malicious prosecution lawsuit, Justice Minister Frank Quennell said
[Satanic and/or ritual abuse] Klassen asks for interim payments
Richard Klassen intends to apply for interim payments on an award for
damages once the amount is set by the courts, he said Tuesday. He hopes that
today, a Queen's Bench judge will go ahead and set a date for a trial to
determine the award in the malicious prosecution lawsuit he and 11 others
won in December.
[Polygamy] Supreme Court denies Holm request for release
The Utah Supreme Court has denied a motion by convicted bigamist Rodney Holm
requesting a release from jail until an appeal to his conviction could be
heard. [...] Holm, a former police officer in Colorado City, Ariz. and
Hildale, was decertified following his conviction. He is a member of the
Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which preaches
polygamy as a central tenet. [...] The conviction stems from Holm's union
with a third wife, Ruth Stubbs, who was 16 at the time the pair were married
in a church ceremony by FLDS prophet Warren Jeffs.
[Islam] Islam's new voices see faith with critical eye
Long before the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Safi and
other Muslim spokesmen realized there was a growing, worldwide network of
Muslim terrorists killing in the name of Allah. They also knew that the
rights of women and non-Muslims were being routinely denied by Islamic
regimes such as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. [...] Safi is among a small but
growing movement of Islamic scholars and activists calling themselves
"progressive Muslims." They include gay Muslims, peace and justice
advocates, feminists advocating gender equality and Muslims working to
improve Islamic relations with Jews and people of other faiths.
[Polygamy] Tales of fear, retribution at secretive desert church
Earlier this month, Warren Jeffs, the leader or "prophet" of the
Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, excommunicated
nearly two dozen men from the priesthood, ordering them to leave their
church-owned homes and their families. [...] Utah Attorney General Mark
Shurtleff says both states and federal and local agencies have a task force
probing the activities of the church and Jeffs, 47, its reclusive leader.
Shurtleff calls the FLDS a cult and Jeffs a racist "evil dictator."
[Polygamy] Utah polygamy ban challenged; Supreme Court sodomy ruling cited
When the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Texas' law against sodomy last year,
at least one justice foresaw the likes of Brian Barnard. Justice Antonin
Scalia warned that the ruling would unleash a wave of challenges to state
laws against "bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution,
masturbation, adultery, fornication, bestiality, and obscenity." Sure
enough, Barnard, a civil rights attorney, has brought a lawsuit challenging
Utah's ban on polygamy. And some legal experts say the case could have a
fighting chance because of the Supreme Court's gay-sex ruling.
[Polygamy] Utah polygamist pleads guilty to incest
member of Utah's polygamous Kingston clan was sentenced Monday to a year
behind bars for taking as his wife a 15-year-old cousin, who was also his
aunt. Jeremy Ortell Kingston pleaded guilty to incest in an arrangement with
prosecutors. The felony charge will be reduced to a misdemeanor if Kingston
successfully completes three years' probation.
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