ReligionNewsBlog.com, June 22 - 23, 2004
- ReligionNewsBlog.com, June 22 - 23, 2004
Wed, Jun. 23, 2004
[Sufism] Pir Vilayat Inayat-Khan, 87, Sect Leader, Dies
Pir Vilayat Inayat-Khan, who headed an international order of Sufis, members of a mystical offshoot of Islam, and wrote books about it, died on Thursday at his home in Suresnes, a suburb of Paris. He was 87. His death was announced by Donald Graham, an official of the Sufi Order International.
[USA] US war crimes immunity bid fails
The US has given up trying to get its soldiers immunity from prosecution at the new International Criminal Court. It has withdrawn its attempt to have its exemption renewed by the United Nations Security Council, because it failed to gain enough support. The US won special status for the last two years, arguing its troops could be subject to malicious prosecution. But UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said it should not be renewed, partly because of the prisoner abuse scandal.
Note: The stature includes sufficient safeguards to prevent malicious prosecution.
[USA] U.S. Withdraws UN Measure on Immunity for Soldiers
The United States on Wednesday withdrew its U.N. Security Council resolution seeking an exemption for U.S. soldiers from international prosecution because it lacked votes for adoption.
[Campus Cults, Nigeria] Death Toll Now 6 in Ibadan Varsity Cults Clash
Death toll in the bloody clash that occurred at the University of Ibadan at the weekend between rival cult groups has increased to six as tension continued to mount on the university campus. It was learnt that three more bodies of students reportedly killed by the cultists were recovered within campus precincts between Sunday and Monday night. The three new corpses of students were reportedly discovered at the Agric area of the campus, Abadina and Benue road of the institution.
[Peyote] Justices uphold religious peyote use
The Utah Supreme Court on Tuesday ensured that Utah members of the Native American Church, regardless of their race, cannot be prosecuted for using peyote as part of their religion.
[Hate Groups : Scientology] L.A. schools look hard at Narconon
School district officials in Los Angeles have ordered a review of an anti-drug program whose teachings are linked with the Church of Scientology and are warning teachers that its instruction "is not based on science." Los Angeles is the second district in the state to scrutinize Narconon Drug Prevention and Education, which reaches thousands of students in at least 20 California districts and has provided lectures in schools across the country for two decades. Earlier this month, San Francisco schools Superintendent Arlene Ackerman gave Narconon until this Thursday to revise its curriculum or be barred from the district after The Chronicle reported that religious concepts embraced by the Church of Scientology have found their way into its classroom lectures. Also, state schools chief Jack O'Connell ordered the state Department of Education last week to investigate Narconon.
[Hate Groups : Scientology] Backers defend anti-drug program
Supporters of an anti-drug program with ties to the Church of Scientology addressed the San Francisco Board of Education on Tuesday night in attempt to show the value of keeping the program intact in the city's public schools.
[Satanism] Satanic Cult Link to Cemetery Staff `Suicides'
Italian authorities plan to exhume at least two more corpses as part of a widening investigation into satanic rites, heavy metal music and human sacrifice that has kept the nation agog for the past three weeks. At least three murders of a ritual type are already pinned on the semi- professional heavy metal musicians from the Beasts of Satan band and their plumber friend, all now in custody, who police believe to be the leaders of a satanic sect known by the same name. The men, all in their 20s, are accused of stabbing and shooting their victims, then burying them still alive in a lonely wood. But after checking records of other deaths in recent months in the district of Legnano, on the outskirts of Milan, particularly those that occurred when the moon was full or new, police have alighted on two suicide cases that were particularly baffling: two young men, at least one of them close to the alleged Satanists, both of whom worked in the Legnano cemetery and both of whom killed themselves in the past six months.
[Kabbalah] May the light be with you
A form of Jewish mysticism has so captivated Madonna that she has changed her name - to Esther - in its honour. Other devotees include Gwyneth Paltrow and David Beckham. But is Kabbalah just another sect preying on the gullible? Charlotte Edwardes signs up for an initiation course
[Raelians] Singapore warns against cloning
The Singapore government has warned its citizens against human cloning after a foreign group linked to the controversial Raelian sect claimed two couples from the city-state had signed up with it to engineer babies. Clonaid, which claims to have produced 13 cloned babies worldwide, told the Streats daily newspaper two Singaporean couples had signed deals agreeing to pay $200 000 (about R1,2-million) to conceive children through cloning. The claim prompted the health ministry to issue a warning against human cloning, branding it unethical and highlighting government plans to introduce a law this year banning the practice.
[Islam] Grisly death for dedicated Christian worker
On Monday, hostage Kim Sun-Il stood gesticulating as he shouted desperately at the camera, "I don't want to die". On Tuesday, the Arabic interpreter and devout Christian, who dreamed of missionary work in the Arab world, knelt silently and impassively before his Muslim militant captors beheaded him.
[David Berkowitz] Killer now listens to son of God
This being the modern age, even a convicted serial killer can have his own Web page. Take David Berkowitz - better known as "Son of Sam." A prison-cell convert to Christianity, Berkowitz has a Web presence sponsored by the House Upon the Rock Christian Church in San Diego. And from Berkowitz's Web page, "Forgiven for Life," it's just a one-click jump to a Focus on the Family Web page offering cassettes or CDs of "David Berkowitz: Son of Hope," a March interview featured on the Colorado Springs-based Christian ministry's radio program with the man who terrorized New York 27 years ago at the point of a .44-caliber handgun. Providing a forum for Berkowitz's musings on his spiritual journey may suggest an unlikely alliance for the evangelistic ministry of Dr. James Dobson, who boasts a regular radio audience of about 21 million people. But Scott Welch, an associate producer for Focus on the Family's radio broadcasts - carried on 2,000 stations in North America and also distributed internationally - believes in both Berkowitz and his message of redemption. It's a viewpoint that is not shared by victims' families or their advocates.
[Venezuela] The goddess and the president
When opponents of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez succeeded on 3 June in triggering a recall vote on his rule, many saw it as a sign of trouble for the controversial leader. But for some, the real warning for Mr Chavez - and the nation - came three days later when the statue of goddess Maria Lionza collapsed in Caracas. "To my way of seeing, it's a warning to her followers that there will be blood, that what's to come is ugly," says Albert Zerpa, a medium who helps Maria Lionza's believers communicate with otherworldly spirits.
[Unification Church] The Rev. Moon Honored at Hill Reception
More than a dozen lawmakers attended a congressional reception this year honoring the Rev. Sun Myung Moon in which Moon declared himself the Messiah and said his teachings have helped Hitler and Stalin be "reborn as new persons." [...] Details of the ceremony -- first reported by Salon.com writer John Gorenfeld -- have prompted several lawmakers to say they were misled or duped by organizers. Their complaints prompted a Moon-affiliated Web site to remove a video of the "Crown of Peace" ceremony two days ago, but other Web sites have preserved details and photos.
[USA] Abuse of power makes U.S. weak
[by Jesse Jackson]
There were no weapons of mass destruction. Saddam wasn't collaborating with al-Qaida and had nothing to do with Sept. 11. The Iraqis didn't treat us as liberators. Our soldiers were put into an occupation without the forces or the training or even the basic equipment needed to meet the task. Everything Secretary of State Colin Powell told the Security Council turned out to be wrong. The loss of moral authority, the loss of legitimacy, across the world is staggering. In only a few short months since Sept. 11, this administration squandered the global goodwill we had in the wake of the horror.
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Tue, Jun. 22, 2004
[Chabad Lubavitch] Thousands gather at rebbe's grave for 10th anniversary of his death
Thousands of Orthodox Jews gathered at the grave of Lubavitcher rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson - whose leadership transformed the sect into a major force in Judaism - in observance of the 10th anniversary of his death.
[Hate Groups] Arson not ruled out in storefront church blaze
A Monday morning fire that burned a controversial furniture store in Hampton Township may have been intentionally set. An accelerant-sniffing dog hit on numerous spots around the front door of Marquiss Quality Furniture, 644 W. Center Road, on Monday afternoon, investigators said. Christian Identity teacher James P. Wickstrom, whose message is strongly pro-white and anti-Jewish, had been holding regular Bible study meetings at the store for the last three years.
NOTE: Despite its name, the teachings and practices of the so-called 'Christian Identity' movement are incompatible with those of historical, biblical Christianity.
[Hate Groups] Berlin to ban neo-Nazi demonstrations
German Interior Minister Otto Schily is drafting legislation to outlaw neo-Nazi demonstrations, a move welcomed by opposition conservatives but criticised by civil liberties advocates. A spokeswoman for the minister said Tuesday the reduction of the rightists' constitutional freedom of assembly was designed to protect the general public and had been suggested by most of the 16 state interior ministers.
[UFOs] Man finds tough sell for his "UFO discovery"
Bob White is convinced his story deserves a grand stage, that his most prized possession should be displayed before a national audience. It should draw tourists from all over the country, he figures, and be a major attraction for people who want to see an artifact that White swears was retrieved from a UFO in 1985. Instead, White's find is in tiny Reeds Spring in southwestern Missouri, secured in a locked display case at Museum of the Unexplained, a converted video-rental store that, during a recent morning, went more than three hours without a customer. White can't figure it out.
[Religion Trends] Outsourcing gets religion in India
Is nothing sacred? The hard-nosed commercialism that has spawned a boom in international business outsourcing is catching on in the religious world. In the West, there is a growing shortage of holy men of all religions, and the costs of spiritual services are on the rise. An opportunity, then, for India, where high-quality, low-cost "religious outsourcing" is becoming big business. Catholics have led the way, but Sikhs and Hindus are catching on fast.
[Mormon Church] Church to break silence on downtown
The LDS Church apparently listened. Urged by Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson and City Council Chairwoman Jill Remington Love to speak up about their plans for downtown, church officials are publicly meeting with council members today to discuss at least one of their redevelopment projects. And LDS Presiding Bishop H. David Burton, who is in charge of the church's $500 million downtown strategy, is meeting privately with Anderson and Salt Lake Chamber President Lane Beattie earlier in the day.
[Kabbalah] Cult of celebrities
For all the good vibes and ego-shrinking Madonna says she has received thanks to Kabbalah, she has courted plenty of criticism, too -- namely, for preaching a practice whose ties to traditional, ancient kabbalah are tenuous at best and treacherous at worst, rabbis and scholars say. Watchdog types say the Kabbalah Center is more about merchandising -- "empowered" stones, soul-cleansing water, those $26 strings -- than enlightenment. Some are more blunt. The center is "not just a cult, but a dangerous cult," says Rabbi Immanuel Schochet, a Toronto-based scholar of Jewish philosophy and mysticism. "They are distorting kabbalah ... taking some of our sacred books and reducing it to mumbo jumbo, all kinds of hocus-pocus."
[Unification Church] Senators duped by Moonie event
U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton thought he was simply doing a good turn on March 23 when he stopped by a Capitol Hill event honoring a Minnesota woman with an "Ambassadors for Peace" award. Dayton, D-Minn., ducked in for a few minutes, got his photo taken during an awards ceremony, then left. Yet that brief drop-in has caused a growing headache for Dayton and his staff, who were angry to later discover that the event was linked to the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the controversial Korean religious leader who calls himself a messiah, and who is known for conducting mass weddings.
NOTE: The Washington Post item mentioned earlier (http://www.religionnewsblog.com/7617-.html) is more realistic, saying:
But a key organizer -- Archbishop George A. Stallings Jr., pastor of the Imani Temple, an independent African American Catholic congregation in Northeast Washington -- said Moon's prominent role should have surprised no one. [...] "You'd have to be deaf, dumb and blind to not know that any event that is sponsored by the Washington Times . . . could involve the influence, or the potential presence, of the Reverend Moon," he said.
[Mormon Church] LDS Church to Complete Purchase of Triad Center
Mormon church leaders say they will finalize the purchase of a downtown Salt Lake City office campus on Wednesday. It plans to turn entire city block that is home to the Triad Center into an educational complex. It will be the new home of the LDS Business College and a new Salt Lake City extension campus for the church-owned Brigham Young University.
[Doman Program] Anything to reach Ryan
To scientists, it's quackery. But to a Clearwater family with an autistic child, a controversial treatment plan is their best shot at a normal life. [..] Kitty and her husband, Randy, attribute Ryan's progress to a controversial treatment program they began three years ago. Developed by the Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential in Philadelphia, the regimen includes more than 40 hours a week of treatments administered at home by parents. Followers call it the Doman program, after its creator, Glenn Doman. [...] Kitty had already quit her job in finance at the Church of Scientology to devote herself to Ryan's care.
Anton and Janet Hein-Hudson
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