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ReligionNewsBlog.com, Mar. 13-15, 2004

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  • Anton Hein
    ReligionNewsBlog.com, Mar. 13-15, 2004 Mon, Mar. 15, 2004 [Anglican Church] Episcopal Gay Fight Not Over Yet http://www.religionnewsblog.com/6453-.html
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 15, 2004
      ReligionNewsBlog.com, Mar. 13-15, 2004

      Mon, Mar. 15, 2004
      [Anglican Church] Episcopal Gay Fight Not Over Yet
      Dissension within the church on gay rights issues is likely to come up at the next meeting of the nation's Episcopal bishops, a closed door session which begins Friday in Navasota, Texas.

      [Santeria] Santeria: A stigmatized religion
      People who practice Santeria are not always open about it because of the stigma that still surrounds the religion. For that reason, Marta Moreno Vega, a professor of religion at Hunter College and founder of the Caribbean Cultural Center in Manhattan, did not want to estimate how many people observe Santeria.

      [Self-Help Groups] 12 steps lead to a support group for every human flaw
      Some 70 years after a New York stockbroker and an Ohio surgeon met for the first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, the 12-step recovery program they pioneered dominates the addiction treatment landscape in the United States today. But even as researchers have studied and debated its effectiveness in treating alcohol and drug addiction, the program has spread like a blanket of kudzu vines to just about every problem imaginable. In fact, Alcoholics Anonymous has granted permission to use its 12-step model 660 times, according to the organization.

      [Marcus Wesson] 9 bodies unclaimed in Fresno massacre
      The family silence following the deaths does not surprise cult expert Janja Lalich, a sociology professor at California State University at Chico and author of "Women Under the Influence: A Study of Women's Lives in Totalist Groups." Mothers may be keeping silent because they are afraid of Wesson's power, she said. "Who knows what sort of fears he may have instilled in them over the years," she said, noting that the empty caskets may have been a scare tactic. "He could still harm them -- he's still alive. They may also be afraid of being implicated in the crime." Women who fall into the clutch of charismatic male leaders are often from upper-class, educated backgrounds -- counter to common assumptions, she said.

      [Offbeat News] A town asks itself: Did banning Satan make a difference?
      It truly was an ambitious undertaking: But Carolyn Risher, mayor of this coastal hamlet of shrimp fishermen and God-fearing folk, believed the hour had come to cleanse her town of the giver of evil. [...] So she sat at her kitchen table on Halloween night two years ago and drafted a proclamation. [...] "Be it known from this day forward," she began, "that Satan, ruler of darkness, giver of evil, destroyer of what is good and just, is not now, nor ever again will be, a part of this town of Inglis ... In the past, Satan has caused division, animosity, hate, confusion, ungodly acts on our youth, and discord among our friends and loved ones. NO LONGER!"

      [Seventh-day Adventism] Christians cautioned against accepting strange doctrines
      An America-based Evangelist, Dr Dick Miller, has cautioned Christians to avoid being misled by what he described as strange doctrines and false Bible teachings by some self-proclaimed men of God. [...] Evangelist Miller was preaching the sermon at the start of a two-week crusade dubbed: "The King Is Coming Evangelistic Crusade" at Nkawie in the Atwima District by the Seventh-Day Adventist (SDA) Church.

      Note: Sadly, Seventh-day Adventism is notorious for its promotion of strange doctrines and false Bible teachings.

      [Islam] British Muslims 'Back Terror Strikes on Us'
      More than one in 10 British Muslims back al Qaida-style terror strikes on the United States, a poll has revealed. In the run up to the anniversary of war in Iraq, more condemned the recent Gulf conflict than attacks on America. And almost half said they might consider becoming a suicide bomber if they lived as a Palestinian. An overwhelming 80% say Britain and the US should not have launched the invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein. That is significantly higher than the 73% opposed to terrorist strikes on the US, according to the ICM survey for The Guardian.

      [Swedenborgianism] Swedenborgian Church Sues Two Top Leaders
      The national Swedenborgian church is suing two top leaders of its former Boston affiliate, including the treasurer who has a criminal record and a mob past, for allegedly trying to command the affiliate's finances.

      [Books] Ex-nun embraces religion though skeptical of God
      "The Spiral Staircase" picks up where [Karen Armstrong's] first book, "Through the Narrow Gate," leaves off: in 1969, when Armstrong ended her seven-year stint as a nun and attempted to re-enter the secular world. It is the story of her struggle to find a place in that world, to come to terms with the damages inflicted by seven years in an oppressively structured environment, to deal with illnesses and disabilities including eating disorders, depression and epilepsy-induced blackouts, and to sort out her religious views

      [The Passion of The Christ] Forum: Gibson's atonement
      Much of the criticism of 'The Passion of the Christ,' says Philip Jenkins, is staggering in its ignorance of the Christian tradition. [...] So central, in fact, is the Atonement to Christianity that we should properly object to any film on the life of Jesus that does not place this theme in the foreground, or which fails to emphasize the blood and violence. If Christians are shocked by this bloodshed, and many are, perhaps they have failed to understand the extraordinary brutality of the process of crucifixion. "The Passion of the Christ" is certainly not beyond criticism. Some of the violence is overdone, notably in the scourging scene. But it is alarming to see how many of the attacks on the film target not just Gibson's interpretation, but the whole underlying religious framework. The protesters' message seems to be that Christianity of its nature is sadistic, bigoted and repressive, and therefore its ideas should not be presented to a mass audience. And that critique is, of its nature, deeply intolerant.

      [Atheism] Atheists get organized
      Atheists and other nonbelievers launched a political action committee Tuesday to endorse candidates and lobby lawmakers to remove all traces of religion from the government. But organizers acknowledged that they face a major problem: Most politicians won't want public support from their new group, which calls itself the Godless Americans Political Action Committee, or GAMPAC. So American Atheists President Ellen Johnson, who announced the formation of the group, proposes an unusual approach: GAMPAC could use the threat of endorsement to pressure lawmakers into siding with the group on issues.

      [Marcus Wesson] Polygamist Charged With Fresno Murders
      A man suspected of killing nine of his family members lived a bizarre life of polygamy and incest, even fathering two of his victims with his own daughters, police said. Marcus Wesson, 57, was arrested Friday after emerging blood-covered from his home, where authorities found nine bodies in a back room tangled and intertwined with clothing. His demeanor was described by officers as "very calm." [...] The grisly tale of polygamy, incest and murder stunned not only police but also Wesson's 29-year-old son, Dorian. "He was a good father. He wasn't abusive at all," Dorian Wesson told the Los Angeles Times in Sunday's editions. "He belongs to the Seventh-day Adventist (Church) and writes books too."

      [Marcus Wesson] Fresno cops grill dad in killing of 9 children
      The son hadn't seen the father in nearly a year. On Saturday afternoon, he stood in the sunlight outside the house where the father allegedly killed nine family members and tried to recall the man who raised him. "He was a good father. He wasn't abusive at all," said Dorian Wesson, 29, who lives in Santa Cruz. "He was born in Kansas, lived in San Jose and moved to Fresno to buy and sell houses. He belongs to the Seventh-day Adventist and writes books, too." He tried to fit that image to the man arrested Friday in the murder of seven of his children and two of his grandchildren. Their bodies were stacked in a back bedroom while 10 ornate caskets purchased by his father, Marcus Wesson, from a local antique store filled the living room.

      [USA] Guantanamo three complain of beatings
      Three Britons released from Guantanamo Bay after two years of imprisonment have told of the conditions they endured as terror suspects. [...] The claims by the trio echo previous claims of poor treatment made by two other released Britons - Tarek Dergoul, 26, from east London, and Jamal Udeen, 37, from Manchester.

      [Swedenborgianism] A tiny church, a pot of gold, an ex-con spark a bitter feud
      Upfront about his prolific rap sheet, MacKenzie has won an ally in the church's longtime pastor, the Rev. G. Steven Ellis, who sees him as a man who turned his back on crime, a sinner seeking spiritual sanctuary. Ellis, a Bible scholar who has been pastor of the Boston church for 22 years, has sided with MacKenzie against church elders, who are skeptical of MacKenzie's conversion and worried about his motives. Ellis did more than take MacKenzie's side. He nominated him for church treasurer, pushing aside his own mother-in-law. And so in September, MacKenzie took office. It seemed like a very auspicious move. For while the Bowdoin Street church is poor in numbers, it is rich by any other measure -- and may soon become much richer. The church owns an 18-story apartment building above its chapel that churns out more than $1 million a year in clear profit, according to an October audit by the church's accountant. And a plan has been floated in Boston real estate circles to convert the building to condominiums, a move that the church estimates could yield as much as $75 million.

      [Polygamy] Polygamy on the Border
      Today the Fundamentalist Church Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints counts some 10,000 members in what now are the twin cities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz. A branch flourishes far to the north in Bountiful, British Columbia. Despite state and federal laws banning polygamy, the practice has continued all these years. Their leader is Warren Jeffs. The faithful believe his words are given by God. He shields his people from the outside world, yet lives in a walled compound protected by bodyguards. He exiles men who displease him, yet many yearn to come back. Most of the FLDS flock say they have found spiritual fulfillment, but some chafe at the austere lifestyle and flee. "I believe Warren is trying to accomplish something that even God hasn't heretofore," says a man who once was close to Jeffs. "To be able to pull together a captive group of followers who are measured by a mortal man as being perfectly united in mind and body and purpose."

      [Polygamy] Thou shalt obey
      Since succeeding his father as FLDS leader in 2002, Warren Jeffs has tightened the grip on his followers in part by casting out "sinners".

      [Polygamy] Polygamy was rejected under the gun
      Despite a century of efforts to distance itself from polygamy, the notion of multiple wives clings to the LDS Church in the popular mind. That's because it was once at the heart of Mormon identity -- defended from the pulpit, in the courtroom and in Congress. [...] Today The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints excommunicates anyone who promotes or practices polygamy. [...] Still, it's not so easy to disentangle the principle of plural marriage from Mormonism. It is still enshrined in Mormon scripture (Doctrine & Covenants 132) and some believe it will one day be re-established, if not on earth, at least in heaven. In his quasi-official 1966 book Mormon Doctrine, which remains in print, the late LDS Apostle Bruce R. McConkie wrote that "the holy practice will commence again after the Second Coming and the ushering in of the millennium."

      Sun, Mar. 14, 2004
      [Marcus Wesson] Police: Fresno Slay Suspect a Polygamist
      A man suspected of murdering nine of his family members apparently was involved in polygamy and incest, fathering two of the victims with his own daughters, police said Saturday.


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      Sat, Mar. 13, 2004
      [Marcus Wesson] Nine bodies found in Fresno home; suspect in custody
      At a small home where authorities found a stack of nine bodies in one room and 10 caskets in another, Fresno police on Friday arrested a man suspected of fathering some of the victims and murdering them all. Police arrested Marcus Wesson, 57, on suspicion of homicide after a two-hour standoff. [...] The bodies were so entangled that it took hours for police to confirm the number of dead. Police Chief Jerry Dyer said: "There may have been some kind of ritual involved, but we have to make that determination." [...] A man who identified himself only as Mike and who said he was Wesson's brother-in-law said Wesson "thought he was God." Police acknowledged that they were investigating a possible cult angle.

      [Hate Groups : Scientology] Tom cans top gun in sect spat
      Tom Cruise has fired one of his closest advisers in a split that rocked Hollywood. The "Last Samurai" star canned Hollywood megapublicist Pat Kingsley this week after months of strained relations about his involvement in Scientology, sources said yesterday. "He was talking more and more about Scientology," a source said. "She was counseling him not to. It became an issue."

      [Max Lucado] Best-selling Christian author not without critics
      To millions of readers, he's a writer whose personal anecdotes help connect ordinary Christians to God. To thousands at his church, he's an honest, humble preacher. But to some within the Churches of Christ, Max Lucado is an errant theologian whose positions on baptism and instrumental music in worship have strayed too far from the faith's literalist following of New Testament teachings. [...] Most Churches of Christ teach that baptism by immersion is an integral part of salvation -- and the vast majority believe the Bible prohibits instrumental music in worship services, permitting only a cappella singing. While Lucado views baptism as important, he suggests it's not essential for redemption. His church allows instrumental music in some services. And in October, Oak Hills dropped the "Church of Christ" from its name -- an effort to reach people hesitant to attend a Church of Christ, Lucado said.

      [The Body] Cult lawyer calls verdict just
      No jury in the country would have convicted Karen Robidoux of murder once they learned what life was like for the former Attleboro religious sect member, her attorney told a local lawyers' group Thursday night. ``There wasn't legal trickery here. That was a just verdict,'' Brockton defense lawyer Joseph Krowksi Sr. said of the jury's decision to acquit Robidoux of second-degree murder in the starvation death of her son, Samuel.

      [Transcendental Meditation] Arraignment set in murder case
      Arraignment has been set for 9:30 a.m. March 29 in the case of Shuvender Sem, the 24-year-old Maharishi University of Management student accused of stabbing another student to death in the university dining hall March 1.

      [David and Cathy Tribble] Dead baby's parents charged
      A Northland couple whose sick baby died in December were arrested this morning and charged with "failing to provide the necessaries of life".

      [Christianity] No doughnuts on Sunday?
      Sunday morning worshippers at Fellowship Church used to satisfy their spiritual hunger with God and their growling stomachs with Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Then pastor Ed Young preached a series of sermons on the biblical principle of the body as the temple of the Holy Spirit. "People loved the Krispy Kremes, but the more we started thinking about this, we were saying, 'We can't talk about this on the one hand and on the other hand have all these doughnuts,'" Young said. These days his 18,000-member suburban Dallas church touts healthy eating and physical fitness.

      [Schools and Religion] Measures back religion in school
      Alabama students could hear a lot about God in their classrooms if legislation involving various religious issues becomes law. Legislative proposals moved almost effortlessly through various committees Wednesday.

      [Science and Religion] Courts may test evolution lesson
      The state's top education official said Wednesday she is confident a new lesson plan on evolution would withstand possible court scrutiny.

      [Tarna Dal] Sect leader on the rampage after release from jail
      Out on bail hours after his arrest earlier this week, a leader of a religious sect in Punjab widely seen as a dreaded criminal has launched a counter-attack on his opponents threatening to take them on physically. Ajit Singh Phoola, who heads the Tarna Dal, a sect of religious Nihang Sikhs, was arrested Sunday, capping what was seen as a reign of terror in the state's border areas. However, he was released only a few hours later and has reportedly been on the rampage since then. With the ruling Congress government deliberately looking the other way, Phoola and his gang of armed supporters have started intimidating villagers again.

      [Mormon Church] Film explores LDS missionary work
      Jed Ivie knows about the hardships of signing up for a mission with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Loneliness. Discouragement. Culture shock. Illnesses. Now, those themes are in the spotlight during a new movie being shown in the Treasure Valley on Saturday morning. "The Best Two Years," being distributed by the company Ivie works for, is about a missionary eventually run down by obstacles while serving in Holland. [...] In the movie, the weary Elder Rogers, played by K.C. Clyde, doesn't get any breaks when he is given the assignment of showing a new, zealous missionary, Elder Calhoun, the ropes. Calhoun, played by Kirby Heyborne, is intent on making an impact on Holland while Rogers is content to serve the remaining few months of his mission and then go home. "Basically, he's at the point where he doesn't know why he's serving in missions anymore," said Ivie, the director of media relations for HaleStorm Entertainment, based in Orem.

      [Raelians] Beam Me Up!; Alien group backs Maori in race debate
      A wacko alien sex cult has joined New Zealand's race debate. The Raeliens - who believe humans are direct descendants of aliens - are supporting Maori after National leader Don Brash's call to end what he claims is special treatment for Maori. The Raelians compared the Maori's plight to the Nazi Holocaust.

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