ReligionNewsBlog.com, June 19-20, 2004
- ReligionNewsBlog.com, June 19-20, 2004
Sun, Jun. 20, 2004
[Buddhism] Foreign Minister gets tough on commercial exploitation of Buddha image
Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar has addressed letters to his counterparts in Buddhist and European countries seeking assistance to take preventive measure against the commercial exploitation of the Buddha image. [...] Several instances of such exploitation of the Buddha image including on swimwear for women advertised on the Internet, candles manufactured in the form of the Buddha and compact discs with the Buddha's image cited in the petition filed in the Supreme Court.
[Eckankar] New Age religion emphasizes personal spiritual development
The first time Karen Bezoski left her body she was sitting in a parapsychology class at Weber State University in 1971. It was like the frequent stories of near-death experiences, weightless floating and walking into the light, she recalls. Except she wasn't dying. That experience, coached by meditation experts from Berkeley, Calif., led Bezoski toward a belief in reincarnation and "soul travel," which eventually led her to Eckankar, a New Age religion emphasizing the importance of personal spiritual development.
[Mungiki] Kenyan Security Minister Vows "Total War" Against Mungiki Sect Members
National Security Minister Dr Chris Murungaru has said the government is preparing to destroy the remaining Mungiki sect [a quasi-religious group that claims to follow Kikuyu traditional religion] and members who did not obey the government amnesty that expired last year.
[Uganda] Police investigates export of body parts
Police is investigating the possible existence of a well-organised racket, exporting human organs to the US and European countries. The underhand international trade in human organs has been growing over the past few years, as new lifestyles in the rich west cause new diseases. The organs are transplanted into bodies of rich patients who can expensively pay for them. [...] Sunday Monitor has learnt that a kidney could fetch up to Shs 25 million, while a heart goes for a lot more cash. When cult leader Joseph Kibwetere burnt thousands of people in Kanungu district, in 2000, several mass graves were discovered through out the country. It is believed these might have been victims of the international racket dealing in human organs.
[Hare Krishna] Hare Krishna Followers Pull Chariots Through London
Thousands of Hare Krishna followers joined a colourful procession through the capital today. For the first time in the events 36 year history they pulled three wooden chariots through Londons streets to mark the Ratha-yatra Carnival of Chariots. [...] The 40ft high chariots are said to carry three deities including Lord Krishna, known as Jagannath.
[Eternal Life Church] Cult leader linked to killings dies
Cho Hee-seong, 72, a religious leader who was once sentenced to death for ordering killings within his Yeong Saeng ("Eternal Life") Church, died Saturday of a heart attack he suffered while imprisoned at Seoul Detention Center. Mr. Cho received a death sentence in February for ordering members of the church to kill six other members between 1990 and 1992. Last month, however, a higher court overturned the verdict, saying he hadn't ordered the killings, merely helped those who'd committed them to escape investigation. The court reduced his sentence to a two-year prison term. At the time of his death, Mr. Cho was awaiting the result of an appeal he'd filed with the Supreme Court asking it to vacate the two-year sentence.
[Marcus Wesson] Wesson's speedy trial a rarity
Murder mysteries typically aren't resolved in a hurry; trials for some of the Valley's notorious killers -- Cary Stayner, Dana Ewell, Josefina Saldana -- didn't begin until more than two years after their arrests. But the man accused of Fresno's worst mass killing could stand trial sooner than six months after police found nine of his children dead, stacked in a back bedroom of his home. On March 12, Marcus Wesson was handcuffed in front of his modest central Fresno home. He later was charged with murdering the victims, who ranged in age from 1 to 25. On Aug. 31, jury selection is scheduled to begin in Fresno County Superior Court. The trial would have started Monday but Wesson's lawyers recently won a two-month delay despite his protests. Wesson pleaded with a judge to ignore his lawyers' request. Part of his strategy, he said, was to have a timely trial. [...] Family members told police Wesson admired David Koresh, the man who had multiple wives and commanded a sect of more than 100 people called the Branch Davidians. On April 19, 1993 their standoff with federal agents ended in a fiery explosion and mass suicide in which 80 Branch Davidians were killed in a Waco, Texas compound.
[Hate Groups : Scientology] Common sense prevails
After 13 years, Narconon, funded and staffed by the Church of Scientology, is being accused of using misleading and inaccurate information -- "irresponsible . . . pseudoscience'' is what a host of medical experts are calling it. Among the debunked teachings are Narconon claims that drugs are stored in body fat, creating cravings and flashbacks that can be remedied with perspiration and vitamins. But worse than flawed science are indications that lessons are imbued with religion -- "all the Scientology . . . basics," according to church data obtained by The Chronicle.
NOTE: Scientology is based entirely on fantasy and lies. It should be noted that the cult's scriptures actively encourage and condone lying, hate- and harassment activities as well as other unethical behavior.
[Unification Church] Lawmaker's take on Moon fete is crowning oddity
The most disturbing thing is not that U.S. Rep. Danny Davis (D.-Ill.) attended an elaborate coronation ceremony in Washington for the controversial Rev. Sun Myung Moon and his wife. And it's not that Davis took an active role in the ceremony, carrying to the dais on a velvet pillow one of the jeweled crowns that were placed upon the heads of the robed Moons. More than half a dozen other congressmen and senators also were in attendance, according to several reports, including one in the Washington Times, a newspaper Moon owns. The event took place March 23 in the Dirksen Senate Office Building under the banner of the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace, a Moon-led organization. [...] No, the most disturbing thing is that, to this day, Davis expresses no regret about assisting in the pageantry designed to burnish and inflate the reputation of a man who, divine or not, wants to abolish Western-style democracy, compares gay people to dung-eating dogs, and in exhorting Jews to convert and follow him, told them: "You have to repent. Jesus was the King of Israel. Through the principle of indemnity, Hitler killed 6 million Jews."
[Feroze Golwalla] Prayer led to pain for cult victims
When she joined a fledgling missionary group at evangelical Wheaton College, Carrie Andreson expected to grow closer to God. She and other students would gather mornings in graduate student Feroze Golwalla's apartment to pray and plan for an overseas mission trip. But as the weeks passed, the students began fasting and soon were depriving themselves of sleep. Some cut off ties to family and friends and left Wheaton to follow Golwalla and his strict directives. In her desire to become a missionary, Andreson had become part of a cult. At Golwalla's orders, Andreson said, she even beat other members and ultimately caused self-inflicted wounds, puncturing her face and buttocks with a hanger until she bled and scarred. [...] "If Feroze had walked on campus with a bottle of wine and cigarettes in his pocket, he'd be kicked out of Wheaton," said Christine Wolfe, mother of twin boys who joined. "But there's nothing protecting students from a predator like Feroze." [...] Golwalla kept them busy with mundane tasks, such as ordering them to compile thousands of e-mail addresses from Christian groups. The busywork limited them to three or four hours of sleep. Cult experts say the technique is classic mind control, depriving followers of sleep and nutrition to the point that they don't question anything. "They were lured in via their Christian upbringing and their desire to serve God," said Bob Pardon, a Massachusetts-based cult expert hired by the families to get their children out. "They figured they could do it in ways they'd never seen before." [...] For the parents, the quest to get their children out was emotionally painful. At many points, they lost all contact with their children. The Wolfes' parents worked with Pardon. Andreson's parents consulted with him and with Steve Hassan, a Boston-based cult researcher.
[Kabbalah] Guy's fear: 'I though they were after my wife's $$'
The latest reinvented version of Madonna hit Manhattan last week, struggling to sell tickets and peddling $120 T-shirts at her Garden concerts. She's also reportedly Wanna_make_something_of_it.html">adopted the name Esther in adherence to kabbalah, the mystical Jewish "technology" that she and husband Guy Ritchie follow religiously and that Ritchie flatly denies is a cult out to rip off celebrities, Simon Mills reports.
[Sathya Sai Baba] Guru who gives us no answers
The Secret Swami might have veered towards the amusing - in an "Oh my God, how gullible can you be?" kind of way - had it not been for the repeated allegations of sex abuse. Sai Baba, the swami in question, had started off looking like some old bloke with an ego as big as his bank account. [...] The documentary took a much less wide-eyed approach than Sai Babas flock, denouncing him from the start as a sham whose ashram resembled a market place, not a shrine. Oh yes, he appeared to have done some good - constructing a hospital in the district, providing free medicare for the poor, and supplying clean water - however, the £40 million it cost was funded by wealthy acolytes, faithfully following Sai Babas earnest exhortation: "Wherever you see a sick person - there is your field of service". And yet, Sai Babas secret motto turned out to be different, more like: "Wherever you see a gullible young believer, (boys only apply) bingo! - sexual opportunity".
[Gwen Shamblin] Church founded by diet guru scrutinized after boy dies
The Remnant Fellowship, a church that grew out of a Christian weight-loss program, preaches obedience and tough discipline for unruly children.
Those beliefs have put the religious movement under scrutiny in a case involving two members accused of beating their 8-year-old son to death last year in suburban Atlanta's Cobb County. Last month, investigators raided the Franklin headquarters of the church and weight-loss program, seeking evidence of a connection to Josef Smith's death. Authorities say the boy was chronically abused and died from a blow to the head. His parents, Joseph and Sonya Smith of Mableton, Ga., are charged with felony murder, child cruelty and deprivation of a minor. [...] Church leaders say on a Web site that the media ''have already tried and found this couple guilty. These same individuals are now attempting to associate the teachings of Remnant Fellowship with this unfortunate incident.'' But it's former Remnant members who are saying church leaders sanctioned severe beatings and locking children in a bare room with a Bible until they learned obedience to God and their parents. Audiotapes made by those former members recorded Shamblin praising such ''showdowns'' with children, including the Smiths' son Josef.
[Italy] Italian Police Look to a Cult in '98 Killings of Teenagers
The six-year search for Chiara Marino and Fabio Tollis, two missing teenagers who were members of a heavy metal band called the Beasts of Satan, ended in a pit in the woods northwest of Milan. The authorities say other members of the loose-knit band buried the bodies after killing the teenagers in a drug-fueled Satanic sacrifice. [...] The discovery of the bodies has captured the Italian imagination, especially in the north, not so far away from where a series of crimes that came to be known as the Monster of Florence killings haunted people in the Tuscan woods for two decades, beginning in 1968. This is a country in which Roman Catholic priests are still asked to carry out exorcisms. A sociologist, Maria Macioti, a professor at La Sapienza University in Rome, has said increasing numbers of young people seem drawn to devil worship. A magistrate has warned of the lure of antichrist cults.
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Sat, Jun. 19, 2004
[Ananda] Ananda gets green light for expansion
Following the approval of zoning officials, the Ananda Church of Self-Realization and Retreat Center will proceed with plans to construct a new staff house on Tomaquag Road. [...] The board's decision effectively ends a standoff between retreat founders and several neighbors opposed to the church's expansion.
[Paganism] Pagans find spirituality they missed in church
When people become disenchanted with their parents' religions, they sometimes turn to the religions of their ancestors. Annoyed by what they perceive as wrong-headed self-righteousness and people not living up to the tenets of their beliefs, gossiping and back-stabbing, some find comfort in older, earth-based religious teachings. "Church wouldn't be so bad if not for all the people who go there," said a Morgan Township, Ohio, man who identified himself by his "Indian name," Sky Hawk. "I still consider myself a Christian in a way because I believe in the message that Jesus had, but the way it is practiced -- or not practiced -- in the church left a bad taste in my mouth."
[Islam] Muslims here express outrage
Hours after an al-Qaida group announced the killing of American hostage Paul Johnson on Friday, Muslims expressed outrage locally at the second beheading linked to the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
[Mormon Church] Mormon president calls new temple in New York 'Zion in Babylon'
Gordon B. Hinckley, president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, dedicated a new Mormon temple in New York, calling its construction a "miracle." [...] The temple is for sacred rituals including marriages and baptisms and is the 119th Mormon temple worldwide.
[Mungiki] Stop Terror Now, Urges Rights Group
Kenya Human Rights Commission has asked the Government to act swiftly and stop killings by the Mungiki followers in Nairobi. The commission's deputy executive director, Mr Steve Ouma, said the killings showed that the Government had failed to protect Kenyans. [...] Police Commissioner Brigadier Mohammed Ali is categorical that Mungiki is illegal. "The existence of the organisation remains illegal and the status quo has not changed," he told journalists recently in Nairobi. [...] On Monday, sect members slashed a 13-year-old school girl to death at Mlango Kubwa estate, Nairobi. The girl was peeping outside the door of their house as the gang terrorised residents.
[Mormon Church] Medal of Freedom for President Hinckley
LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley will be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom the nation's highest civil honor by President Bush during ceremonies Wednesday at the White House.
[Hare Krishna] Swami can't return to New Vrindaban
A former swami released from prison cannot return to the New Vrindaban community he once ran because he is banned for life from all Hare Krishna temples. Swami Bhaktipada was freed four years early from a prison in Butner, N.C., earlier this week. Bhaktipada, who also is known as Kirtanananda Swami and was born Keith Ham in Peekskill, N.Y., was arrested in 1987, charged with racketeering and accused of ordering the murders of two devotees who had threatened his control of the community.
[Mungiki] Murdered: Sect Members Who Said No
These are the faces of death - six people ruthlessly murdered by a Mungiki revenge squad desperate to silence them for spilling the sect's secrets. Within the last six months, 14 known defectors have either been killed or have mysteriously disappeared in what is turning out to be a major underworld war. They have been killed since an ultimatum to defectors to rejoin the sect expired in January. The brutal beheading of a street preacher two weeks ago is only the latest in a chain of apparent executions to have befallen defectors from Mungiki.
Anton and Janet Hein-Hudson
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