ReligionNewsBlog.com, Mar. 8, 2004
- ReligionNewsBlog.com, Mar. 8, 2004
[Homosexuality] The divided, the divisive and the divine
Even as gay and lesbian couples began to circle the altar last Tuesday
night, Tony Campolo brought home why homosexuality remains a divisive issue
within the evangelical Christian church. [...] He sought to advise a packed
house how to rescue the biblical Jesus from the religious right, elements of
which have transformed Christ into a vengeful, flag-waving, nationalistic
deity. With irony and wit, he ridiculed the notion that the Jesus who
blessed the poor, the merciful and the peacemakers has been turned into the
champion of prosperity theology, capital punishment and war in the Middle
East. "The Jesus of Scripture comes not in power but in love," Campolo said.
"Do we know how to talk about this Jesus who came in love? You've got to
know your Bible. Our ignorance is problematic. The reason your
fundamentalist, nationalistic brothers and sisters cut you to pieces on
'Good Morning America' is . . . they know the Bible and we don't."
[Homosexuality] Religious views on homosexuality and gay marriage
Religious views vary on homosexuality and gay marriage. Here are snapshots
of how major religious denominations address the issue.
[Homosexuality] Gays in Church: A Great Divide
The debate over homosexuality is one that some theologians say threatens to
[Aum Shinrikyo] Enforce new laws applicable to Aum cult
Aum Shinrikyo killed more than 20 people. More than 10 of its members,
including its guru, have been sentenced to death. One reason that such an
organization continues to survive is that the cult itself is unable to fully
grasp and recognize the significance of what it did. Another major reason is
the failure of Japan's legal and social frameworks to grasp what the Aum
case is about. The court system may be useful in trying individual criminal
acts. But the court alone cannot decide how the nation and society as a
whole should treat groups that commit such indiscriminate mass murders.
[USA] Democracy begins at home, chides billionaire philanthropist George
Might does not make right, and therefore the United States has committed a
tremendous mistake in using its military supremacy to force democracy on
Iraq. That was the blunt critique of the Bush Administration that
billionaire financier and munificent philanthropist George Soros delivered
to a packed audience at UC Berkeley last night.
[Islam] Fears as young Muslims 'opt out'
Navid Akhtar is a practicing Muslim deeply concerned about a growing trend
among his contemporaries toward a separatist ideology that turns its back on
Britain. He wrote this personal account for Sunday's Five Live Report. Young
Muslims are opting out. They've renounced the Islam of their immigrant
parents and feel disillusioned with a society that they perceive as racist.
Many are turning their backs on democracy and Britain.
And they are finding a new identity in a brand of Islam that is radical and
[Marc Dutroux] Victims 'saw Dutroux as saviour'
The first witness against Belgium's alleged child killer Marc Dutroux has
described how two of the victims had been brainwashed by the accused.
Jean-Marc Connerotte, who led the initial investigation, said the two girls
kissed Mr Dutroux when he guided police to the dungeon in his house. "That
shows how much he had conditioned them," said the investigating judge.
[Islam] Apology ordered for Muslim's TV comment
A television channel has been ordered to broadcast an apology for comments
on air by a visiting Muslim lecturer who advocated death for homosexuals.
[Islam] Muslim leader may lose title
Australia's Muslim body may discuss stripping Grand Mufti Sheik Taj el-Din
Al Hilaly of his title at its next Congress meeting over comments he
allegedly made about terrorism. The mufti has come under fire for comments
he allegedly made during a sermon in Lebanon in which he made reference to
the Arab martyrs and the September 11 attacks in New York as "God's work
[Carole Caplin] When you take advice from a new age fashion guru what do you
Fosters allegation about the true relationship, between his former
fiancée, Carole Caplin, and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, has
understandably been dismissed by Downing Street as publicity for his book.
But the alarm bells that rang in Number 10 during the run-up to Christmas
2002 when Cheriegate was in full swing, will be ringing again. As a former
Downing Street aide said last night: Invite a former topless model and New
Age fashion guru into your household, take lifestyle advice from her and
well ... what do you expect?
[Carole Caplin] 'Cheriegate' conman brings new embarrassment to Blairs
Peter Foster, a jailed conman, was at the centre of the financial scandal
that broke around Cherie Blair in late 2002 when he helped her buy two flats
in Bristol, the university city of her son Euan. In a series of
unsubstantiated claims, Foster currently living in Australias Gold Coast
said that Caplin, who was his fiancée until the fallout of the Cheriegate
affair saw their brief relationship end, had an extraordinary influence
over Blair. He claimed that the political establishment in Britain would be
astonished if they realised how reliant Blair had become on the former
topless model and dancer turned New Age lifestyle consultant.
[Hinduism] Goddess of rock angers Hindus
The rock singer Tina Turner has enraged Hindus in Britain by agreeing to
play an Indian goddess in a new British film production. Turner, who has
been noted for highly charged stage shows since the 1960s, will portray
Shakti, the symbol of female power and energy, in The Goddess, to be made by
Ismail Merchant and James Ivory.
[Underground Church] Report: Chinese police beat, detain church leader as
legislative session convenes
Hua Huiqi, a church leader and housing activist, was taken to a police
station on Friday and badly beaten after he complained that he was being
illegally held under ``effective house arrest,'' the rights group said in a
[Swadhyaya] 5,000 here pay tribute to revered Indian spiritual leader Dadaji
In life, Pandurang Shastri Athavale, the spiritual leader of 30 million
people, visited the Chicago area nearly every year since 1979. In death, he
returned one last time Saturday, and more than 5,000 of his followers went
to the Rosemont Theater to view his cremated ashes. Athavale, known to his
followers as Dadaji, developed a philosophy that helped economically
revitalize 100,000 villages in India, an accomplishment that helped him earn
the $1.2 million Templeton Prize for progress in religion, an honor he
shares with Mother Teresa, the Rev. Billy Graham and Bill Bright, the
founder of Campus Crusade for Christ. As leader of the Swadhyaya (pronounced
swad-HE-ya) movement, Dadaji preached a philosophy that God is in everyone,
and therefore we should treat everyone as if they were a member of our
family. Most of his followers are Hindu, but members of all religions are
welcome and encouraged to continue practicing their religious beliefs.
[Mormon Church] Few changes to free-speech laws
With one month until The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' annual
general conference, Salt Lake City Attorney Ed Rutan's office has finished a
four-month examination of the city's free-speech ordinances. But that
lengthy review has brought few recommended changes to city code. In fact,
Rutan is recommending that the City Council only alter a few lines of the
city's existing ordinances governing free speech. That modification falls
short of what the LDS Church wanted. Back in December the church had
suggested more sweeping ordinance changes, including "buffer" zones between
street preachers and conference attendees. Rutan will offer his
recommendations to the City Council Tuesday, suggesting that the council
alter one city ordinance to outlaw "acts, gestures and displays" that incite
violence or "are inherently likely to cause a violent reaction" or "create a
clear and present danger of a breach of the peace or imminent threat of
violence." Presently, the city's disturbing-the-peace ordinance only bans
"words" that were actually "intended to cause acts of violence."
[Neale Donald Walsch] Author Foretells a 'New God'
Neale Donald Walsch, author of the best-selling "Conversations with God"
books, would be the first to acknowledge that his "one God" concept isn't
terribly revolutionary. Walsch puts forward this concept in his new book
"Tomorrow's God." The concept includes these principles that there is only
one God who doesn't care what religion, if any, humans worship; that we are
one with God and with each other; that no one is better than anyone else;
that freedom is at the heart of life; and that love knows no bounds. "But
what is far more revolutionary," he said in a phone interview from his
Ashland, Ore., home, "and what my book suggests and predicts is that the
human race will create a new God in the next 25 years.
[Buddhism] Buddhism: the new religion of choice for 30-somethings
When the Dalai Lama visits Scotland this summer he will find fertile ground
for his teachings. Experts believe the number of Buddhists in the country
has risen past the 10,000 mark and is growing. [...] The 2001 Census
recorded 6800 Buddhists in Scotland but, according to Dr Perry
Schmidt-Leukel, an expert in Buddhism at Glasgow University, the true number
is greater . The Census was the first real statistic about the number of
Buddhists in Scotland, but some wilder estimates put the number in the UK at
around 500,000 people, he said. He believes that celebrity interest in
Buddhism has prompted some people to join. It is fashionable to flirt with
the religion. It provides insights into the very questions of human
existence and Buddhism gets a very good press through the media. [...]
Cosmopolitan recently launched a new section to examine modern faiths.
Section editor Hannah Borno said: Young women seem not to be adopting
Buddhism wholesale, but are extracting aspects of it that suit their
lifestyle, for example doing 15 minutes of meditation in the morning and
[USA] Guantanamo families arrive in US
The families of three British men held at Guantanamo Bay for two years
without trial have arrived in the US. They are there to put pressure on the
American government to ensure prisoners at the US base in Cuba are treated
in line with international law. On Monday, they will deliver letters to the
White House in protest at what they say is a violation of law. Around 660
Taleban and al-Qaeda suspects are still being held at Guantanamo Bay. The
relatives have been joined by former hostage Terry Waite and actors Corin
and Vanessa Redgrave and form part of a delegation from the the Guantanamo
Human Rights Commission. [...] The families' case recevied a fresh boost
when Home Secretary David Blunkett criticised their treatment by the US
authorities. He told Sky News's Sunday with Adam Boulton that he believed
the way the alleged terrorists being held at Guantanamo Bay had been treated
[Lord's Resistance Army] Cross-border war on Uganda rebels
Sudanese rebels say they have launched a major offensive against Uganda's
notorious Lord's Resistance Army. The Sudanese groups say they are
retaliating for LRA atrocities committed in southern Sudan, from where they
launch attacks on Uganda. Uganda hopes the LRA will now be tied up fighting
in Sudan and so will be less able to attack Uganda.
[Mungiki] How Mungiki trains killers
There is a killer Mungiki unit and it is among the highest organs in the
hierarchy of the outlawed sect. Those who graduate into the squad are known
in the Mungiki fraternity as members of the bagation squad. The word
bagation, police sources reveal, is a corruption or contraction of the words
"no bargain over death". And police told the East African Standard that they
have confirmed that at least 50 young people have graduated into the death
squad in Nairobi since January.
[Unity-States of Our World] Parents want to take jailed, 'brainwashed' son
Parents of Russell Gould, 30, whose adherence to the philosophy of David
Wynn Miller has landed him in trouble with the law, say their son has been
"brainwashed," and they want to take him back to their Wyoming home while
his court case is pending. [...] It was the latest chapter in local courts
of the organization Miller, of Milwaukee, calls the Unity-States of Our
World, which has its own language and own legal system and whose adherents,
like Gould, have been arrested here for serving phony lawsuits on public
officials. [...] "He is a very dangerous psychopath," said Bruce Gould of
Miller, "as dangerous as James Jones." Although he said he was not
contending Miller would lead followers to the same kind of mass suicide
Jones and his followers committed in Guyana in 1978, Bruce Gould said Miller
"has the same type of control."
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