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ReligionNewsBlog.com, Jan. 28-30, 2004

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  • Anton Hein
    ReligionNewsBlog.com: • Up-to-date news on cults, sects, religions, and related issues • Searchable news archive • Links to research resources
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 30, 2004
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      • Up-to-date news on cults, sects, religions, and related issues
      • Searchable news archive
      • Links to research resources

      ReligionNewsBlog.com, Jan. 28-30, 2004

      Fri, Jan. 30, 2004
      [Falun Gong] Taiwanese Falun Gong slam Paris police
      Members of Taiwan's Falun Gong group Friday claimed French police had
      harassed and arrested practitioners as they mounted a peaceful demonstration
      in Paris during the visit there this week by Chinese President Hu Jintao.

      [The Body] Witness pleaded for her nephew's life
      Renee Horton testifies in the murder trial of Karen E. Robidoux that she was
      threatened by sect leader Jacques Robidoux after she protested the
      11-month-old's starvation.

      [Hate Groups : Scientology] Cult aims at kids' shows
      Scientologists are using fronts called "Drug Free Ambassadors" and "Kids For
      A Drug Free Future" to dupe councils into giving them information stalls and
      stage time at family events. [...] The Church of Scientology has previously
      come under fire for using deceptive recruitment methods.

      [Islam] Some 1.7 million Muslims prepare to start Hajj rituals
      Before dawn on Saturday, the faithful will move towards Mount Arafat, a
      revered place in Islam, for the culmination of the hajj, symbolising the
      Final Judgement at the scene of the Prophet Mohammed's last sermon 14
      centuries ago. The pilgrims will then return to Mina to sacrifice an
      animal, generally sheep, marking Eid al-Adha, or feast of the sacrifice,
      celebrated on Sunday. They will spend two more days in Mina to take part in
      a symbolic stoning of the devil. [... The hajj, one of the five pillars of
      Islam, is required of able-bodied Muslims at least once in their lifetime,
      if they have the financial means.

      [USA] Truth catching up to Bush
      Regardless of who emerges as the Democratic presidential nominee, the race
      has already served its greater democratic purpose: It has blown away George
      W. Bush's wartime aura of patriotic infallibility. Not only Howard Dean,
      the passionate truth-teller about Iraq, but Senator John Kerry, Gen. Wesley
      Clark and others have found their voices to question almost all aspects of
      Bush's post-Sept. 11 performance. They are bringing home to Americans the
      worldwide debates about their president's penchant for exploiting and
      fanning fears by exaggerating dangers, taking unilateral actions abroad, and
      squandering U.S. credibility.

      [USA] Teenagers Freed From Guantanamo
      Three teenage boys from Afghanistan whose detention at the U.S. prison camp
      for terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, stirred an international outcry
      were freed on Thursday, military officials said.

      [Religion Trends] New Book Explores Transformation of Religion in America
      Over the last two years, Professor Wolfe visited different religious
      communities to discover how Americans actually live their faith. [...] Those
      conversations resulted in a book titled The Transformation of American
      Religion. In it, Professor Wolfe explains that religion in America is moving
      in new directions. [...] Religion, like culture, is a powerful force that
      influences how people think and act. When religion and culture come into
      conflict, Professor Wolfe says, culture wins.

      [Hate Groups] Task Force Thwarts Prison Gang's Growing Reach
      White prison inmates calling themselves the Nazi Low Riders, or NLR for
      short, had begun to fill a power vacuum created in a bid by the Department
      of Corrections to break up and isolate a more entrenched white supremacist
      gang, the Aryan Brotherhood. [...] As the gang's senior leaders were
      released from prison, they were "given the keys" to regions — law
      enforcement parlance for controlling drug profits generated by junior
      members. Most of the money and drugs were funneled back into the prisons for
      use by Nazi Low Rider felons. [...] After four years, the task force has
      made a total of 263 arrests on state-related charges in the Ontario area and
      13 federal arrests. It has obtained 28 federal indictments, 41 state
      convictions and 20 federal convictions.

      [Cannibalism] Court in Germany sentences Armin Meiwes for killing and eating
      A German who confessed to killing, dismembering and eating another man who
      allegedly agreed to the arrangement over the Internet was convicted Friday
      of manslaughter and sentenced to 8 1/2 years in prison. A state court ruled
      that Armin Meiwes, a 42-year-old computer expert, had no ‘‘base motives’’ in
      the crime — sparing him a murder conviction.

      [Hate Groups] Federal Inmate Says He Will Name Bombing Conspirators
      A federal inmate who is expected to testify at bombing conspirator Terry
      Nichols' murder trial will name other suspects in the Oklahoma City bombing,
      according to a published report. [...] In a telephone interview from a
      federal facility in Jonesville, Va., Langan told the newspaper he will tie
      bombing coconspirator Timothy McVeigh and the bomb plot to several men
      associated with Elohim City, a white supremacist enclave in eastern

      [Bob Larson] Hold Your Demons
      Satan is alive and well in the Pasadena Sheraton’s Magnolia Room. “We got
      some seats right up front where the good stuff is,” offers Bob Larson, who
      is about to demonstrate a live exorcism before 150 people. “You can see the
      whites of the demons’ eyeballs up here.” Once the king of the Christian
      airwaves with his nationally syndicated radio show Talk Back With Bob Larson
      and his TV program In the Name of Satan, the holy warrior currently focuses
      his energies on casting out demons and raising DWJD (“Do What Jesus Did”)
      spiritual freedom teams. (“Not ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ but do what he did,”
      says Larson, on the difference between his DWJD and the more famous WWJD.)

      [Aum Shinrikyo] Aum nerve-gas cult chemist sentenced to death
      Masami Tsuchiya, 39, became the 11th Aum member to receive a death sentence
      in court of first instance. A ruling in the trial of Aum guru Shoko Asahara
      is scheduled for February 27 at the district court.

      [Aum Shinrikyo] Japan Cult Member Sentenced to Death
      Tsuchiya, convicted on charges of murder and attempted murder in the subway
      gassing and other attacks, was accused of heading the cult's drive to
      develop an arsenal of chemical weapons including VX, mustard and sarin gases
      intended to trigger Armageddon.

      [Aum Shinrikyo] Key AUM cultist Tsuchiya gets death for subway gassing
      The court concluded that Tsuchiya had developed all chemical weapons used in
      the crimes he was charged with under the instruction of Asahara.
      ''It is not an exaggeration to say that without him, the AUM-related crimes
      in which chemical weapons were used could not have taken place,'' the judge
      said. ''He played a major role in a series of crimes.'' Tsuchiya was
      accused of murder and attempted murder in the sarin gas attacks on the Tokyo
      subway in March 1995 that killed 12 people and left thousands injured. He
      was also charged in six other cases, including three incidents in which VX
      nerve gas was used to kill or harm people.

      [Da Vinci Code] Eight surprising fictions in Dan Brown's 'Da Vinci Code'
      Besides several art-history quibbles (the big one: Brown insists on calling
      the artist Da Vinci, not Leonardo - "It's like calling Jesus `Of Nazareth,'
      " Younger says), "The Da Vinci Code" has riled up religious scholars as
      well. The Internet is full of lengthy treatises about the book's many errors
      and assumptions. Here's a look at some of the burning questions brought up
      by "The Da Vinci Code" - and the real religious history "behind" those

      [Abraham Kennard] Trading Latte for a Maté
      Organic vegan carob brownies helped feed a steady stream of customers at
      yesterday's ribbon-cutting ceremony and grand opening of the Maté Factor
      Café. Run by the religious group known as the Twelve Tribes, the café
      occupies the former site of the Home Dairy on the Commons. [...] The Twelve
      Tribes' beliefs on issues of race and disapproval of homosexuality are
      frequently cited by those advocating a consumer boycott. Several of the
      patrons said they were still making up their minds about the group.

      [Transcendental Meditation] Meditating on a lost party
      A lot of bounce has gone out of the next federal election campaign, even
      before it begins. The Natural Law party has disbanded -- its candidates will
      no longer be yogic flying above the heads of a startled electorate. As a
      political device, buttock-bounding has taken a prat-fall. No NLP candidate
      has ever been elected. The party gained more laughs than votes. [...] Now
      the followers of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi say they're going to pursue their
      objective through colleges that teach transcendental meditation and on the

      [Cannibalism] German cannibal trial verdict due
      Mr Meiwes, a 42-year-old computer expert, admits killing and then eating
      another man three years ago, after placing an advert on the internet. It
      was, he told the court, the realisation of a dream he had nurtured ever
      since having schoolboy fantasies about consuming his classmates. Despite
      this, psychologists said he was mentally fit to stand trial.

      [Cannibalism] The challenge of the 'cannibal consensus'
      Armin Meiwes is, on the surface of things, an attractive, well-dressed, and
      amiable 42-year-old German. He is also, by his own admission, a cannibal,
      who three years ago ate an engineer he had found through the internet. On
      Friday, a court will decide whether Mr Meiwes should spend just a couple of
      months behind bars or much of the rest of his life for his activities. At
      stake is whether a person can be tried and imprisoned for murder when his
      victim had consented to be slaughtered.

      [Cannibalism] Germans aghast over cannibal trial
      A five-judge panel is expected to rule on Friday in the murder trial of a
      German who confessed to killing and eating a man he met over the Internet.
      CNN's Senior International Correspondent Walter Rodgers explains the
      background to the case.

      [Orthodox Church] Orthodox Church leader calls US embargo of Cuba a
      "historical mistake,"
      The leader of the Orthodox Church branded the US embargo of Cuba a "historic
      mistake" in a sermon Sunday during the full pomp inauguration of a new
      cathedral in Havana with President Fidel Castro in attendance. Bartholomew
      I, the Orthodox ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople, made the statement
      during a sermon that formed part of the five-hour ceremony to consecrate the
      tiny San Nicolas Cathedral in the Cuban capital. "The blockading of peoples
      and countries by society in general from other nations on earth is a
      historic mistake," said the patriarch, who is spiritual leader of the 300
      million strong orthodox community worldwide. "And the problems between
      nations and countries, like those between people, are resolved through
      dialogue," he added. [...] The United States has enforced an economic
      embargo against Cuba since 1961. The patriarch also underlined the need for
      free public worship in Cuba.

      [Polygamy] Polygamist says leader ordered him from home
      The excommunicated member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of
      Latter Day Saints who spoke out against the polygamist sect's leader has
      been told to leave his home, he said Wednesday. Ross Chatwin, 35, was given
      notice Tuesday to vacate his residence in Colorado City, Ariz., by a trustee
      of the FLDS' United Effort Plan, which owns most of the homes in town, he
      said. Chatwin, who is married with six children, has five days to give up
      the home before eviction proceedings begin, according to the notice. "I'm
      not going to leave," Chatwin said. "Otherwise I'll undo all the good I did
      in the first place."

      [Polygamy] Chatwin served eviction notice
      On March 30, Chatwin was ousted from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus
      Christ of Latter Day Saints, which controls most the Colorado City area's
      land and property through a trust, United Effort Plan. And on Tuesday, FLDS
      church attorney Rod Parker ordered Chatwin to leave his house on church land
      within five days. If he defies the order, Parker said, a lawsuit will be
      filed "at any time" this week. Chatwin, who became the first apostate to
      hold a press conference last Friday denouncing Jeffs as a "Hitler-like
      dictator," said he won't leave his green house in Colorado City.

      Thu, Jan. 29, 2004
      [International Churches of Christ] Evangelical church's plans for Eugene
      raise concerns
      Banned from several college campuses back East and in Canada, the church has
      lost thousands of members in recent years in the wake of controversy over
      financial abuses and authoritarian control. The church's founder, Thomas
      "Kip" McKean, resigned in 2002. But McKean is now senior minister at the
      Portland church - and a catalyst behind the move to reach out into Eugene.
      In a letter last November, he told parishioners that Eugene is home to the
      UO "as well as nine other colleges with a combined enrollment of 30,000
      students." (The Higher Education Directory lists four colleges in Eugene.)
      At least 18 church members have moved to Eugene, from Portland, San Diego
      and elsewhere, to get the new church off the ground.

      [Hate Groups : Scientology] Cruising to stardom
      Christensen shrugs off Scientology's reputation as a cult, preferring
      instead to focus on what she says she's learned from prolific science
      fiction author L. Ron Hubbard's spiritual books, which her parents have
      studied since before she was born.

      [Hate Groups : Scientology] Man who killed mother will get more treatment
      A judge Tuesday ordered Jeremy M. Perkins, who killed his mother last
      spring, to get another six months of psychiatric treatment at a secure state
      mental health facility in Rochester. [...] Perkins stabbed his 54-year-old
      mother, Ellie, 77 times in their home on Hopkins Road in Amherst on March
      13. In July, he entered a plea of mentally not responsible. [...] Perkins'
      schizophrenia was being treated with vitamins and herbs by his parents,
      Church of Scientology "auditors" who rejected modern psychiatry. On Tuesday,
      John R. Nuchereno, Perkins' attorney, told the judge that had his client
      been given psychiatric treatment instead of being treated at a Church of
      Scientology medical facility, "his mother would be alive today."

      [Islam] French Cabinet adopts bill banning Muslim head scarves in public
      French Cabinet ministers Wednesday adopted a bill banning conspicuous
      religious symbols in public schools — the first step in outlawing Islamic
      head scarves in the classroom. The bill, containing three articles, goes to
      the parliament for debate Tuesday.

      [Twelve Tribes] Twelve Tribes cafe causes controversy
      A religious sect known as the Twelve Tribes operates the cafe. Everyone that
      works there is a member of the Twelve Tribes, a group that believes in
      communal living and shared incomes. The past president of the "Cult
      Awareness Network" and current Director of Education for the "American
      Family Foundation" says the Twelve Tribes are a cult.

      Wed, Jan. 28, 2004
      [Polygamy] Polygamy enclaves stonewall officials
      But there is no such billboard along the lonely highway between Hurricane
      and the twin towns. The hot line, 1-800-897-LINK, operates only during
      daylight hours. After that, callers are told to hang up and dial 911. But if
      women in Hildale and Colorado City do that, the call would ring straight to
      local law enforcement -- part of the same religious group they would be
      trying to flee. Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said he has tried
      unsuccessfully to subpoena information about purported underage marriages
      within the FLDS, whose members constitute all of the twin communities' 8,000
      residents. Shurtleff said attempts to get information from Jeffs, who lives
      within a walled compound the size of a city block in Hildale, have failed.

      [Meditation] Mindful therapy
      More doctors have opened their minds to the idea of meditation as
      complementary therapy as more studies emerge linking better health and
      meditation, said Dr. Roger Walsh, professor of psychiatry at UC Irvine.
      Walsh has published research on meditation and teaches the practice as an
      elective to medical students.

      [Transcendental Meditation] Meditate On This
      After some years of transcontinental vegetation, the maharishi's developers
      are starting to move some of their hotel properties. The asking price for
      the Clarion was an unrealistic $14 million three years ago, but now it is
      down to $7 million, and that may be negotiable. The 397-room Hilton, also in
      need of thorough reconstruction and repair, sold for $6 million. As the
      price on the Clarion has come down, buyer interest has increased.

      [Falun Gong] Falun Gong sues China minister
      Four members of the Falun Gong spiritual movement have filed a lawsuit in
      Paris against visiting Chinese Culture Minister Sun Jiazheng. The members
      said Mr Sun was responsible for "crimes of torture" against the group, which
      is banned in China. Mr Sun is accompanying President Hu Jintao on a state
      visit to France.

      [Nabbi Haza Alzaman] Egypt jails 19 for joining sect
      Tulba, a civil servant with the Egyptian Atomic Energy Authority, had
      declared himself "prophet of our time" and said he had powers to cure
      incurable diseases. He claimed to have received letters signed by God and to
      be able to speak to the angels. The presiding judge, Gamal Badran said the
      19 were guilty of "having adhered to the doctrine of the sect leader,
      supported him and together practiced his extremist ideas."

      [Nabbi Haza Alzaman] 19 Egyptians jailed for joining religious sect
      A court here Wednesday sentenced 19 Egyptians to one year in prison each for
      having joined an extremist religious sect, overturning a previous ruling of
      suspended jail terms.

      [Polygamy] Supervisors meet to discuss tension in polygamist community
      Due to continuing tension in Colorado City, the Mohave County supervisors
      will hold a special meeting this afternoon to discuss the situation.
      District 3 Supervisor Buster Johnson is asking to set aside $50,000 in
      county contingency funds to assist the state in transporting and finding
      temporary housing in case a large group of women and children flee the
      polygamist community

      [USA] The Only Superbad Power
      Though I have lived abroad for many years and regard myself as hardened to
      anti-Americanism, I confess I was taken aback to have my country depicted,
      page after page, book after book, as a dangerous empire in its last throes,
      as a failure of democracy, as militaristic, violent, hegemonic, evil,
      callous, arrogant, imperial and cruel. Daalder and Lindsay may be
      constrained by an American sense of respect for the White House, but they
      too proclaim Bush's foreign policy fundamentally wrong. It is not only
      Bush's ''imperious style,'' they write; ''The deeper problem was that the
      fundamental premise of the Bush revolution -- that America's security rested
      on an America unbound -- was mistaken.'' The more moving judgment comes from
      Soros, a Jew from Hungary who lived through both German and Soviet
      occupation: ''This is not the America I chose as my home.'' (Serge Schmemann
      is the editorial page editor of The International Herald Tribune.)

      [Neale Donald Walsch] Conversations With God?
      Ashland, Oregon is home to author Neale Walsh whose "Conversations with God"
      has been phenomenally successful, staying on the New York Times Bestseller
      list for 137 weeks. His book, and its sequels, along with the Conversations
      With God Foundation have found acolytes world wide, with a 10,000 member
      "Humanity Team" fostering Walsh's concept of God, and view of how life
      should be lived. I recently interviewed Walsh at his home in the hills East
      of Ashland.

      [The Body] Testimony postponed in Attleboro sect murder trial
      The fourth day of testimony in the murder trial of former Attleboro
      religious sect member Karen E. Robidoux was postponed this morning because
      defense lawyer Joseph F. Krowski fell sick. And tomorrow's court session
      could be iffy because of an expected snowstorm.

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