ReligionNewsBlog.com, Apr. 22-23, 2004
Fri, Apr. 23, 2004
[Islam] French court suspends deportation order for Muslim cleric who advocated wife-beating
A French court on Friday temporarily suspended a deportation order that has already led to the expulsion of a Muslim cleric who advocated wife-beating and stoning women.
[Hate Groups] Hale jury in second day of deliberations
Jurors deliberating for a second day in the trial of white supremacist Matthew Hale asked the judge Friday to clarify what constitutes murder solicitation, a question that goes to the heart of the government's most serious charges against him. Prosecutors say Hale solicited two men to kill U.S. District Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow after she ordered him to stop using the name World Church of the Creator for his white supremacist group. Hale's attorneys argue that he never solicited anyone to kill Lefkow and that the FBI planted a mole to try to entrap Hale in a murder plot.
[Islam] In Germany, suspicion follows growing Muslim population
Germany's 3 million Muslims - second only to France among West European nations - are making their presence felt in ways that not all Germans find reassuring. The past decade has witnessed a surge in the number of mosques across Germany and other European countries. Germany has about 2,400 mosques, but more significantly, Germany's mosques have been emerging from nondescript storefronts and inconspicuous basements into more visible and recognizable quarters. [...] "I personally feel it is important that mosques get out of the backyards and into the open," said Gunter Piening, who heads the Berlin city office that deals with integration and migration issues. "If a group builds a mosque, it shows a will for integration. When people build their house of God, it means they feel at home," he said. But other public officials and many ordinary Germans worry that the elaborate new mosques will turn Muslim communities inward and give encouragement to fundamentalists and radicals.
[Islam] France to train imams in 'French Islam'
The French interior minister, Dominique de Villepin, said yesterday that the country must urgently begin training Muslim clerics in a moderate Islam that respects human rights and the republican code. Addressing a meeting of local prefects a day after he deported an Algerian imam who was in favour of stoning women, Mr De Villepin said they should not think twice about expelling any foreign preacher who advocated violence, hatred, racism or human rights abuses. [...] The problem of radical Islamic clerics preaching a message contrary to French law and values is a pressing one: government figures show 27 Muslim prayer leaders have been deported on public order or human rights grounds since 2001 - more than half of them since last July. Abdelkader Bouziane, the 52-year-old imam of a Lyon mosque, said in an interview that the Koran authorised husbands to hit their wives, that polygamy was right, that women were not men's equals and that music was a sin. Asked whether he approved of the stoning of unfaithful wives, he replied: "Yes." He was deported on Wednesday, a week after Abdelkader Yahia Cherif. The self-proclaimed imam of Brest in Brittany had asked his congregation to "rejoice in the Madrid bombings" that killed 191 people.
[Internet] Google revisits policy on hate sites
Google, the leading Internet search engine, is considering more clearly identifying offensive Web sites in its search results, such as those of anti-Semitic groups, as hate sites. The possible change follows complaints by a Jewish group. The company may classify racist sites in their own category and perhaps offer additional information, including an explanatory note about why the potentially offensive sites appear at all. The policy would be part of a broader change at Google to bring back category labels to all search results, not just for Web sites that some people find offensive. [...] Google's review comes a couple weeks after the Anti-Defamation League and online petitioners expressed concern over an anti-Semitic Web site, Jew Watch, showing up among the top results for the search term "Jew." It is currently the top result. Google, based in Mountain View, initially responded by emphasizing that its search results are generated automatically, based on a mathematical algorithm. The company refused to omit the Jew Watch Web site but added that it in no way endorses its views. Shortly thereafter, Google took the unusual step of including a link above the Jew Watch search result that labeled it as offensive. Users who clicked on the link got an explanation about why the Web site was given a top ranking. Google said that unlike the terms "Judaism" and "Jewish," "Jew" is often used in an anti-Semitic context. Most mainstream Web sites don't use the term, Google said, thereby skewing the results.
[Witchcraft] Witchcraft thrives in Morocco
Islam, Morocco's dominant religion, denounces sorcery as a pagan satanic rite. However, pre-Islamic practices of black and white magic, witchcraft, beliefs in various omens and superstitions are widespread in the north African country. Many people believe that jinns, or spirits, rule their lives.
[Voodoo] Vodou priest wants religion recognized
The exclusion of Vodou practitioners in plans to uplift Haiti will keep the country in a chaotic state, a Vodou priest said Wednesday. Max Beauvoir, 68, of the Temple of Yehwe in Mariani, Haiti, said politicians, humanitarian organizations, and Christian leaders from abroad have refused to acknowledge the role of the religion in the country's culture for 200 years. As a result, Haiti is on the brink of total collapse, and he believes Vodou gods are upset. "I think if they continue with this kind of scheme of unfairness, [the gods] may soon be tired of them and see us all disappear," he said.
[Religious Merchandising] Church denies woman's claim $1.8 million gift coerced
A downtown church disputes a former member's claim that pastors badgered her into donating her entire $1.8 million inheritance to the church. Lucinda Bennett is suing the First Baptist Church of West Palm Beach to recover the money, saying church officials took advantage of her emotional disorders by hounding her for contributions. [From Mar. 11, 2004: Church administrators called her at home, urging her to "heed God's call," telling her she "signed a contract with God" and challenging her to "outgive God," the lawsuit said.]
[USA] Woman loses her job over coffins photo
A military contractor has fired Tami Silicio, a Kuwait-based cargo worker whose photograph of flag-draped coffins of fallen U.S. soldiers was published in Sunday's edition of The Seattle Times. [...] Her photograph, taken earlier this month, shows more than 20 flag-draped coffins in a cargo plane about to depart from Kuwait. Since 1991, the Pentagon has banned the media from taking pictures of caskets being returned to the United States. Tami Silicio's photo fueled a debate over a U.S. policy on casket images. That policy has been a lightning rod for debate, and Silicio's photograph was quickly posted on numerous Internet sites and became the subject of many Web conversations. Times Executive Editor Michael R. Fancher yesterday appeared on ABC's "Good Morning America" news show with U.S. Rep. Mike Castle, R-Del., who supported the Pentagon policy prohibiting such pictures. As a result of the broader coverage, The Times received numerous e-mail and phone calls from across the country - most of which supported the newspaper's decision. [...] Silicio said she never sought to put herself in the public spotlight. Instead, she said, she hoped the publication of the photo would help families of fallen soldiers understand the care and devotion that civilians and military crews dedicate to the task of returning the soldiers home.
[Nuwaubians] York supporters say tape proves his innocence
Supporters of Malachi York gave reporters a videotape Thursday that they say proves the cult leader's innocence. The tape appears to show a woman who originally testified that she was molested by York. The tape seemed to show her recanting testimony she gave in January that she had been sexually molested by York. In the videotape, the woman says she was coerced into testifying by one of York's sons.
[Restored Israel of Yahweh] Cult members plead not guilty to tax evasion
Three people who belong to a decades-old cult that does not believe in paying federal taxes also believe their employees at a Mays Landing construction company and fellow group members should not have to abide by government rules. Well, the government has a major rule that everyone must abide by - pay your taxes. The trio, charged April 12 with not withholding taxes on almost $700,000 from employee paychecks starting in 1996 and more than $100,000 in under-reported Social Security and Medicare taxes, pleaded not guilty at their arraignments Thursday. About a dozen fellow cult members from the Restored Israel of Yahweh, or RIOY, a Hamilton Township group, showed up for the 20-minute proceeding.
[NXIVM] Court upholds Nxivm ruling
Allegations that a Colonie-based human potential company is a cult can stay online, a federal court has affirmed. Nxivm (pronounced NEX-ee-um), which offers human potential seminars, alleged that Rick Ross of New Jersey, a "cult deprogrammer," published critical commentary of its program after obtaining information through copyright infringement. In September, a federal district judge in Albany denied its request for an injunction to remove the information from a Web site.
[Mormon Church] Mormon Church Gets Ready to Open Its Newest Temple
A legacy of misunderstanding and persecution has bred a keen instinct for public relations in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And so, in what has become something of a ritual itself, the Mormon church opens every newly built temple to the public. Then it shuts the doors.
[Mormon Church] Some fear Utah's Mormon conservatism is driving away business
Some employers and politicians - mostly Democrats - are warning that Utah's Mormon conservatism is driving away business. They say Utah's hard-line stands on such topics as gay rights, abortion and alcohol have given the state a reputation as an uptight, reactionary place where diversity is not welcome. Some Utah leaders dispute the notion that the state's political bent is a turnoff to business. And clearly it has not been an impediment to some employers.
[Elizabeth Loftus] Elizabeth Loftus Elected to National Academy of Sciences
Elizabeth Loftus, Distinguished Professor in UC Irvine's School of Social Ecology, has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Loftus, a forensic memory expert, was one of only 72 scientists from around the world elected to the respected 141-year-old academy today. Members are nominated and elected based on distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. [...] A pioneer in false memory research, her work during the past three decades indicates that memory is highly susceptible to distortion and contamination, and that people can be influenced to "remember" familiar or common experiences that did not actually occur. Loftus has examined numerous claims of repressed memory in court that have turned out to be highly dubious or false. She also has explored the memories of eyewitnesses whose accounts are sometimes inaccurate and have led to the conviction of innocent people. Two years ago, the Review of General Psychology ranked Loftus No. 58 among the top 100 psychologists of the 20th century...
[Transcendental Meditation] Vedic City to break ground on housing for 500
Members of the Transcendental Meditation movement plan to lay the cornerstones today for 46 new buildings intended to house 500 Vedic pandits from India. [...] TM advocates say a large number of people practicing the technique in one place can create peace. The pandits have been described as Vedic scholars and peace-creating experts by supporters and as Hindu monks by critics. Also today, Wynne said, 3,000 little flags will be placed around Vedic City. She said the flags represent 3,000 "peace palaces" that the Global Country of World Peace, a TM-linked group, plans to build around the world.
[Hate Groups] Desperate for new recruits, national hate group turns to love
Still reeling from the death of its founder two years ago, National Alliance, the largest white supremacist group in the United States, turned to a new tactic this Valentine's Day. In an effort to boost a reported decline in membership, the West Virginia-based neo-Nazi organization began distributing thousands of fliers encouraging whites to "Love Your Race" in neighborhoods across the country. [...] Those who call the number are welcomed by a recorded voice message from National Alliance founder William Pierce, author of the infamous Turner Diaries, a fictional work about the coming white revolution that provided inspiration to, among others, executed Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. But Pierce died in July of 2002. According to the ADL, Pierce's death has led to infighting among National Alliance leaders that threatens to topple the group, which is estimated to have more than 1,500 members nationwide. Several board members have resigned and other former members are openly critical of current National Alliance chairman Erich Gliebe. In its 2004 update on the group, the ADL reported, "the National Alliance has clearly been damaged and its future remains tenuous."
[Hate Groups] Spokane County man arrested in Oklahoma firebombing
A Spokane County man with ties to the Aryan Nations white supremacy group is in federal custody in Arkansas, accused of attempting to firebomb a synagogue in Oklahoma City. [...] Brown said Gillespie is a white supremacy advocate and has been affiliated with the Aryan Nations, which has its headquarters in northern Idaho.
[Campus Cults] 50 Arrested Over Cult Killings in Rivers
The Rivers State [Nigeria] Police Command has arrested 50 suspected cultists over recent killings in the state. Most of the killings took place along IIlabuchi/Timber streets in Diobu axis last Sunday. Four persons, including a six-year-old boy were shot dead by a suspected cult gang in the area.
[Homeschooling] Religious materials banned for B.C. home schooling
Home-schooling parents are fuming after the B.C. Education Ministry ordered thousands of them to stop using faith-based materials -- or any other "unofficial" resource -- when teaching their children at home. Many parents, including some who aren't religious, say they will cut their ties with the school system rather than obey the directive. [...] Although most home-schooling parents are fiercely independent, many enrolled their children in distance education after they were promised they would continue to be their children's primary teacher, with the public school system playing a supporting role. The link to the school system gave them teacher expertise that they might not have otherwise, as well as money for resources. There were benefits for the education system as well, mainly in increased accountability. [...] Nagle said that program, which has an enrolment of 280 children and a waiting list of 100, is now in jeopardy because parents are set to run. "I'm definitely not going back and I don't know anyone who is," said Anita Kosovic, who has two children in U-Connect. Although her family isn't religious, she said she doesn't want to be held to B.C.-approved resources, some of which she says are awful. "I don't think anyone should be able to tell me what I can do in my own home and that's what they're telling us."
[Nuwaubians] Sect Leader Get 135 Years for Molestation
The leader of a quasi-religious sect was sentenced Thursday to 135 years in prison for molesting boys and girls at the group's ancient Egyptian-style compound. Malachi York, the 58-year-old ``Master Teacher'' of the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors, will also have to forfeit the 476-acre compound, adorned with pyramids and a sphinx.
[Jehovah's Witnesses] Blood transfusions would have saved woman's life, doctor says
Linda Grissom, a Jehovah's Witness, would have survived complications from surgery if she had agreed to blood transfusions, a hematologist at St. Anthony's Medical Center told a jury Thursday. Dr. Victoria J. Dorr, the hematologist, testified in St. Louis County Circuit Court that Grissom, 64, refused to allow her to start transfusions about five hours after Dr. Ronald Gaskin cut an artery during gallbladder removal surgery on Nov. 20, 2001. [...] Grissom's husband, Gene, and her daughters, Patty, Lisa and Sheila, are suing Gaskin for unspecified damages, claiming malpractice. Their attorney, Alvin A. Wolff Jr., has alleged that Gaskin botched the surgery by nicking the aorta in the procedure. Gaskin's attorneys, Philip Willman and Matthew Hendricks, say their client was not negligent and should not be blamed for a death the patient could have prevented.
Thu, Apr. 22, 2004
[Julius Schacknow] Cult members disturb local religious leaders
With some of their colleagues getting unwanted visits in the past few months, some area clergymen are keeping watch for several men who claim that their deceased leader was the second coming of Christ, and who say that those who do not follow them will face damnation. [...] The men, McClanahan said, are followers of the late Julius Schacknow, the self-proclaimed "sinful messiah" who announced at a 1970 Trumbull outdoor revival that he was Jesus Christ reincarnated, according to the New Haven Register. Schacknow, who faced two civil sexual assault lawsuits that were settled out of court in the 1980s - one filed by his stepdaughter - claimed that he needed to sin to know what sin was like, according to published reports. He allegedly used his charisma and position as a religious leader to entice women to sleep with him, according to the Register, and he died in 1996 at the home of one of his seven unofficial wives.
[Nuwaubians] York's sentence: 135 years
A federal judge sentenced convicted child molester and cult leader Malachi York Thursday to 135 years in federal prison. The sentence came after 57-year-old York told a packed courtroom he did not receive a fair trial and that Judge Ashley Royal chose a jury of his own peers to hear the case in January.
[Infinity Forms of Yellow Remember] Fight goes on against cults
A Hobart alderman says he will continue his fight against cults, despite a court appearance yesterday. Salsa Headrock Junior had taken an interim restraint order against Hobart City Council alderman Ron Christie. The court heard the former Tasmanian nurse, who now lives in New South Wales, had had a relationship with Ald Christie after he was a patient at a Hobart private hospital. Since the relationship ended Ald Christie has campaigned against an alleged cult called Infinity Forms of Yellow Remember, later known as Hermes Far Eastern Shining. [...]
[Ravi Shankar] Guru set to meet the cons
Scots cons are to get a lesson in love and kindness from one of the world's leading spiritual gurus. Indian religious master Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is to share his wisdom and global message of love with the criminals. He will speak to inmates at Edinburgh's Saughton Prison, which houses assassin Ricardo Blanco and vampire killer Allan Menzies. Shankar, who studied under Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the famous founder of the meditation movement, will visit the prison during a four-day stay in Scotland. [...] Bangalore-born Shankar, in his 40s, set up the Art of Living Foundation who have taught self-help courses to more than a million people in 130 countries.
[Transcendental Meditation] Maharishi Students To Host Cultural Peace Exchange
Many students from the Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightment in Fairfield are preparing to organize the first Cultural Peace Exchange in Southeast Iowa. [...] The Cultural Peace Exchange will take place on May 1st and 2nd at the Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment in Fairfield, Iowa.
[Transcendental Meditation] Maharishi Vedic City Growing And Developing For Its Citizens
Many new things are beginning to shape up for the 200 or so citizens who have already made Maharishi Vedic City in Southeast Iowa their home. "It's so exciting. It's been our dream for so many years to have the city develop. We've had the goal of developing toward 8,000 residents. We are seeing a lot of good progress in that direction," says Maureen Wynne, City Attorney.
[Magnificat Meal Movement] Haughey home after bizarre cult experience Down Under
A nephew of Charles Haughey, who shocked friends by moving to Australia to join a controversial cult, has returned home to Ireland to live. Niall Haughey and his family left Ireland behind in March 2003 to pledge their lives to the bizarre enclosed religious group Magnificat Meal Movement (MMM), whose members are told the outside world is evil. [...] When contacted by the Sunday Independent at his father's Dublin home, Mr Haughey confirmed that he had left Australia and returned to Ireland, but refused to say whether or not he had left the religious movement altogether. [...] Irish cult expert Mike Garde, who has been investigating the MMM since 1997, said the cult "brainwashes" their members and is more focused on making money than any spiritual belief.
[Islam] Hirsi Ali: shut anti-woman, anti-gay Dutch mosque
Somali-born MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali demanded on Thursday the closure of an Amsterdam mosque that sells books supporting female circumcision, beating wives and the murder of gay people. The Dutch Parliament is to hold an emergency debate about the El Tawheed mosque next week. MPs want Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner and Immigration and Integration Minister Rita Verdonk to explain what they intend to do about the book "De weg van de moslim". The publication - translated as The Way of the Muslim in English - is said to advocate violence against women and killing gay people. Gay people should be thrown head first off high buildings. If not killed on hitting the ground, they should then be stoned to death, the book allegedly suggests. [...] The Liberal VVD party MP said it was time for the Justice Ministry to indicate whether it intended to go to court to have the mosque banned. [...] "This mosque has been warned repeatedly by the authorities that intolerance against non-Muslims and undermining the law is unacceptable in the Netherlands," Hirsi Ali said. "The Way of the Muslim" is one of the publications on sale at the El Tawheed mosque. Earlier this month the mosque was at the centre of a storm about another book available at its open day organised to help combat the mosque's negative public image. That book "Fatwas of Muslim Women" says that women who lie deserve 100 blows and the husband's duty of care for his wife is negated if she refuses him sex or leaves the home without his permission. One of its most controversial aspects is the call for Muslim girls to be circumcised.
[Terry Nichols] Nichols' motion to dismiss denied
A judge denied a motion Wednesday to dismiss the state murder case against Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols, saying there was no basis for claims that evidence important to his defense was withheld. "This motion to dismiss is laced with melodrama but no substance," Judge Steven Taylor said. "Most of the claimed new evidence is not new at all." Nichols' attorneys alleged in the motion, filed last week, that the state was withholding evidence that there were other suspects in the Oklahoma City bombing who have never been charged, including members of a white supremacist robbery gang and residents of Elohim City, a white supremacist enclave in northeastern Oklahoma.
[Hate Groups] Hale jury to start deliberations
A lawyer for white supremacist Matthew Hale, urging a federal jury not to convict him of soliciting the murder of a federal judge because of his hateful views, blasted the government case as a misguided effort to set up Hale.
[Hate Groups : Scientology] Therapy head dimisses healing claims
Nathan Coley is showing visitors around the Scientology Volunteer Minister exhibition. "Scientology means knowing how to know. "Volunteer ministers know how to help people," he says, pointing to a large display depicting the World Trade Centre terrorist outrages. "On September 11, they helped people in shock through spiritual healing." [...] Mr Coley, aged 29, became involved in Scientology two years ago after reading a book on the subject. When pressed for more information, he points me in the direction of a book by Scientology founder L Ron Hubbard. [...] emotional trauma. "This is an E-meter, a very specialised machine. A small current is passed through the batons. When an individual holds these, we ask questions about their life. The dial will indicate emotional trauma." [...] However, medical experts were sceptical of Scientology's methods. Phillip Hodson, fellow and chief spokesman of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, said: "This field of work is called Trauma Debriefing. "Even when done by professionals, there is poor evidence that it is particularly helpful. "However, there is absolutely no evidence to support these extraordinary claims made by the Church of Scientology. "They can believe what they wish. But of the studies considered by the highest body in this field, the Cochrane Panel, none would validate their position. "Counselling is a profession. It takes five years to become a registered and accredited practitioner with the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. Counselling isn't happening just because someone claims they are listening or 'have got a theory'."
NOTE: Scientologist actually interfered with mental health professionals on Sept. 11. The cult which has an active hate campaign against - among others - psychiatrists and psychologists, makes countless offbeat medical claims thought up by founder L. Ron Hubbard. Hubbard was known for his inability to separate fiction from fact.
[Little Pebble] DPP to decide on Pebble case
Lawyers for William (Little Pebble) Kamm are pushing for sexual assault charges to be dropped against the Cambewarra cult leader. Wollongong District Court Judge Joe Phelan heard Kamm's lawyers had presented a draft no bill to Crown prosecutor Paul Cattini which, if successful, would see all charges against Kamm dropped. The Director of Public Prosecutions must now decide whether to proceed with the case against Kamm. [...] Prosecutor Mr Cattini asked for six weeks to consider the case against Kamm. He was to formally enter a plea yesterday, but will be arraigned in June if the case proceeds. No date for a trial has been set.
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