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ReligionNewsBlog.com, Feb. 9-10, 2004

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  • Anton Hein
    ReligionNewsBlog.com, Feb. 9-10, 2004 Tue, Feb. 10, 2004 [Aum Shinrikyo] Top court upholds life term for ex-AUM member, gas attack driver
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 10, 2004
      ReligionNewsBlog.com, Feb. 9-10, 2004

      Tue, Feb. 10, 2004
      [Aum Shinrikyo] Top court upholds life term for ex-AUM member, gas attack
      The Supreme Court has upheld lower court rulings sentencing a former member
      of the AUM Shinrikyo cult to life in prison for murder for his role as a
      driver in the 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system, court
      sources said Tuesday. As demanded by the prosecutors, the Tokyo District
      Court in 2000 and the Tokyo High Court the following year sentenced Kiyotaka
      Tonozaki, 40, to a life term. Tonozaki appealed to the Supreme Court in
      2002. The court's ruling was dated Monday.

      [Religious Intolerance] Religious jellybeans lead to lawsuit
      Parents have sued a suburban school district because a kindergarten teacher
      stopped their daughter from distributing bags of jellybeans with an attached
      prayer to her classmates. Allen and Sheila Wuebben of suburban Kettering say
      the school's policy of prohibiting students from distributing religious
      literature in the classroom violates their daughter Madison's rights to
      freedom of speech and religion. In a lawsuit filed on Feb. 6, the Wuebbens
      asked U.S. District Judge Thomas Rose to allow their daughter to distribute
      the candy and religious message, plus "nominal damages in the amount of $1."

      [Islam] French MPs set to massively approve school headscarf ban Tuesday
      France's National Assembly is poised this week to approve the controversial
      law banning the Islamic headscarf and other religious signs from schools, as
      a campaign to block it by opponents of the measure has failed to gain
      momentum. The lower house of parliament will vote the bill through on
      Tuesday, with a massive majority predicted as a result of a deal between the
      ruling Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) of President Jacques Chirac and
      the opposition Socialists (PS). Socialist deputies promised to back the bill
      after the UMP accepted two amendments: one allowing for a period of
      mediation before a pupil is punished for wearing the headscarf, and the
      other setting in place a mandatory review of the law after one year.

      [Yoga] New twist to yoga positions as guru sues
      Yoga practitioners are tying themselves in knots over a millionaire guru's
      attempt to copyright a series of positions. Bikram Choudhury, a former
      weightlifter based in Los Angeles, is being sued over his claim to own the
      copyright of a series of 26 postures used in Bikram yoga, a fast-growing
      style in which exercises are repeated in a studio heated to 40C (104F). Mr
      Choudhury has sent letters to more than 100 Bikram yoga schools and
      teachers, accusing them of violating his copyright and trademark by
      deviating from his strict teachings and employing instructors who were not
      trained by him. In response, a collective of US yoga teachers are suing Mr
      Choudhury in a San Francisco federal court, arguing that his copyright and
      trademark claims are unenforceable, because his teachings draw on postures
      that have been in public use for centuries.

      [Polygamy] Teen who ran away returned to polygamist community
      A 17-year-old girl who ran away to St. George from the polygamist enclave of
      Colorado City, Ariz. after an alleged altercation with her father has been
      returned to her home, a newspaper has reported. The unidentified teenager
      spent two weeks in Utah and Arizona state custody before being returned home
      Jan. 30, The (St. George) Spectrum reported. The girl's return home came
      after 5th District Court Judge James Shumate dismissed a protective order
      she had obtained against her father, saying the St. George court did not
      have jurisdiction over an Arizona case.

      [Buddhism] Execution of monk is opposed
      Human Rights Watch on Monday exhorted China to overturn a terrorism
      conviction against a well-known Tibetan monk and halt plans to execute him
      ``on what appear to be trumped-up bombing charges.'' In a report prepared
      for release today, Human Rights Watch said the monk, Tenzin Delek, appears
      to have been targeted for death as a champion of Tibetan Buddhists and a
      loyal follower of the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader living in
      exile in India. A Chinese court convicted Tenzin Delek, 50, and an alleged
      co-conspirator of terrorism for a series of bombings in 2001 and 2002,
      including one in the city of Chengdu that seriously hurt one person.

      [Death Penalty] Appeals court intervenes in California execution
      A condemned man in California won a stay of execution yesterday amid an
      outpouring of public protest over evidence suggesting he might not have been
      the one who committed a horrendous quadruple murder in 1983. Kevin Cooper's
      19 years on San Quentin Prison's death row had been due to end with his
      death at 12:01 this morning, until the stay was granted by the 9th Circuit
      U.S. Court of Appeal around noon yesterday. His bid for clemency had already
      been denied by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and by a three-judge 9th
      Circuit panel on Sunday. [...] Canada's Association in Defence of the
      Wrongly Convicted joined those opposing the execution - only the third time
      it has done so in an American case. "I think there has been a tremendous
      amount of pressure," AIDWYC spokesman Win Wahrer said in an interview
      yesterday. "We are into a crucial period now. The California justice system
      is under an international microscope. Most countries in the world find it
      absolutely barbaric and appalling that the death penalty exists. At the very
      least, any citizen deserves to have every stone turned over before a
      decision of this magnitude is made."

      [Alternative Healing] Fort Lauderldae to become USA's holistic health
      Fort Lauderdale may become the nation's holistic health destination for
      upscale baby boomers if developers launch a $102.6 million makeover of the
      former Cleveland Clinic, which includes 172 condominium-hotel and time-share
      units. 'The Lauderdale Beach Wellness Resort will become a world-class
      holistic health center, the first of its kind in Florida,' said Donald
      Kipnis, CEO of Miami-based Miller & Solomon Construction Co., the project's
      prime developer. Plans call for a range of services and amenities, featuring
      urgent care, homeopathic, alternative and traditional medicine, including
      yoga, acupuncture and acupressure, cosmetic dentistry and surgery.

      [Hare Krishna] Meat ad insulting to Hare Krishnas, appeal board rules
      An advertisement featuring a group of dancing, chanting butchers praising
      red meat was "extremely derogatory and insulting to Hare Krishnas", the
      Advertising Standards Complaints Appeal Board has ruled.

      [Offbeat News] Passengers: Pilot promotes faith on flight
      A pilot asked passengers on an American Airlines flight to identify
      themselves as Christians, calling those who aren't "crazy," some of the
      passengers said Monday. The airline is investigating reports about the
      incident onboard Flight 34 from Los Angeles, California, to New York on
      Friday, a company spokesman said.

      [New Age] Cleese on finding Holy Grail
      Cleese, who turned from Anglicanism to atheism at his British boarding
      school, has discovered the Meaning of Life. And he found it in the mineral
      baths at the Esalen Institute -- the famous spiritual retreat on the Big Sur
      coast. The writer, actor and comic will discuss these and other discoveries
      at a series of Bay Area appearances this week. The proceeds will support
      Esalen, the California institute that has been cultivating social and
      personal transformation -- and giving some great massages -- since the early
      '60s. Cleese, 64, offered up a preview in an interview with The Chronicle in
      which he recalled his long, strange, spiritual journey from the High Church
      of England to the California New Age.

      [Aum Shinrikyo] Day of Judgment: Origin of Aum's appeal unknown
      This is the first installment of a series on Chizuo Matsumoto, 48, also
      known as Shoko Asahara, the founder of the Aum Supreme Truth cult. Matsumoto
      is scheduled to be sentenced by the Tokyo District Court on Feb. 27 on
      charges, including those related to the 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo
      subway system.

      [The Body] Sect member to plead guilty as accessory in baby's starving death

      A member of a religious sect whose self-described vision from God led to the
      starvation death of an infant is expected to plead guilty to an accessory
      charge, the prosecutor in the case confirmed Monday. Michelle Mingo is
      scheduled to appear in Taunton Superior Court Tuesday afternoon for a change
      of plea hearing on a charge of being an accessory before the fact to an
      assault and battery on a child. Because Mingo has already been held in
      state custody for nearly four years, prosecutors will not recommend any
      additional prison time, Assistant District Attorney Walter Shea told The
      Associated Press.

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      Mon, Feb. 09, 2004
      [Benny Hinn] Record crowd expected for rally by controversial evangelist
      Over a million people are expected to attend a prayer rally here this
      weekend to be addressed by American evangelist and faith healer Benny Hinn,
      but the Catholic church is opposed to the event. Hinn will address "The
      Festival of Blessings - Pray for India" rally Feb 13-15 at the Bandra Kurla
      Complex, the organisers said. [...] But the Archbishop of Bombay, Cardinal
      Ivan Dias, has issued a statement asking Catholics to stay away from the
      rally. "Benny Hinn, despite his popularity on TV shows, is not accepted
      even by many of his own colleagues... It will be wise to strongly discourage
      your parishioners from attending his programme," Dias said in a statement.
      Dias also referred to Hinn's "false prophecies, his alleged vision of angels
      and contact with the dead, his emphasis on the prosperity of the Gospel and
      exaggerated physical healings".

      [Islam] From golden age to an embattled faith
      Islam is hardly unique as a religion that has been twisted to justify
      killing. Historical circumstances help explain how terrorists have
      commandeered Islam as their cause. Unlike some religions, Islam does not
      have a clearly defined hierarchy to pronounce authoritatively on matters of
      doctrine and interpretation. Backed by radical imams, Islamic militants can
      claim that their interpretation of Islamic teachings is at least as valid as
      others. Also, Islam recognizes no separation between church and state. That
      makes it easy for terrorists to cloak their political causes--over Palestine
      or the presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia--in religious rhetoric. And
      the concept of jihad, which signifies much more than holy war, provides
      another convenient cover for killers and suicide bombers. But scholars who
      have studied Islam and terrorism say none of these factors would matter if
      the Islamic world were not still suffering from a centuries-old crisis of
      confidence, born of the loss of its place at the forefront of world

      [The Passion of The Christ] Who killed Christ?
      Mel Gibson's controversial film on the Crucifixion has been pilloried by
      Jewish leaders but is being hailed by US Catholics as the best recruiting
      tool for 2,000 years, reports Paul Harris in New York.

      [Mormon Church] Downtown 'fighting words' are spelled out
      Calling a woman a "harlot" after she exits the Salt Lake LDS Temple --
      especially in the presence of her husband or children -- may not be
      constitutionally protected, says Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson. Such
      confrontations happen in Utah's capital at least twice a year during the LDS
      Church's world conferences. That prompted the city to write free-speech
      educational guidelines, which were released Friday, to help residents
      understand what is constitutionally allowed and the city's role in
      regulating speech. The guidelines precede a revision of the city's speech
      ordinances, which must be approved by the City Council. Those changes will
      be released within the month. The city received input from the LDS Church
      and the American Civil Liberties Union for the proposed ordinance changes,
      said City Attorney Ed Rutan.

      [Islam] Islamic rappers' message of terror
      It's rap, jihad-style. A music video with blood-curdling images, fronted by
      a young British Muslim rapper brandishing a gun and a Koran is the latest
      hit in radical Islamic circles. The rap song is called 'Dirty Kuffar' -
      Arabic for dirty non-believer - and it praises Osama bin Laden and the
      attack on the World Trade Centre in New York. The video has recently been
      posted on the British website run by the Islamic extremist Mohammed
      al-Massari, the UK-based Saudi Arabian dissident who has lived in Britain
      since 1994. Al-Massari claims that the video has been selling in large
      quantities at mosques to the younger generation and is in heavy demand

      [Films] 'The Passion's' Precedent: The Most-Watched Film Ever?
      [E]vangelical groups have good reason to believe that Gibson's movie could
      become an important tool for their recruiting efforts. In fact, according to
      some missionary organizations, for the last couple of decades the most
      powerful tool they've had at their disposal is another film - "Jesus," a
      1979 Warner Brothers release that has shown a remarkable ability to attract
      people to the Christian faith. The movie is all but forgotten in Hollywood,
      but it has been screened in so many big cities and tiny villages in so many
      countries that it is sometimes described as the most watched movie of all
      time. Campus Crusade for Christ credits it with saving 176 million souls.

      [Mungiki] Six 'Mungiki' defectors arrested
      Six former outlawed Mungiki sect followers were yesterday arrested for
      defying police instructions to disperse during a demonstration. They were
      part of hundreds of the sect's defectors who were demonstrating in Nairobi
      streets to protest against an alleged kidnapping of their Pastor, Jacob

      [Falun Gong] Victory over diplomat in libel case hailed as precedent-setting

      Coming off a victory in a libel lawsuit against a Chinese diplomat, local
      practitioners of Falun Gong will head to the Ontario legislature this week
      to demand that Pan Xinchun pay up and then be expelled from Canada. Joel
      Chipkar said Saturday that last week's Ontario Superior Court decision means
      it is time for Canadians to firmly dismiss the Chinese government's claim
      that the Falun Gong movement is a threat.

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