ReligionNewsBlog.com, July 14-15, 2004
Thu, Jul. 15, 2004
[House of Prayer] Judge: Pastor convicted of child abuse shouldn't get new trial
A Fulton County judge ruled Thursday that the pastor convicted of child cruelty at his Atlanta church will not get a new trial. Superior Court Judge T. Jackson Bedford made the ruling after hearing last week's arguments that the court erred by letting House of Prayer pastor Arthur Allen Jr. defend himself. But Bedford had said he repeatedly asked Allen to accept court-appointed counsel and had 11 lawyers on standby to advise him on legal questions and strategy help that Allen would not take. Allen and four others were convicted in 2002 of beating boys at his independent church.
[Falun Gong] Tattoo is facing torture protest
Horrific acts of torture are to be re-enacted in the Capital in a protest against the visit by members of the Chinese army at this year's Tattoo. Followers of Falun Gong, an ancient spiritual practice, will stage an open-air exhibition of torture methods they allege are used on their members by the Chinese government.
[Polygamy] Group calls Utah soft on polygamy
A leading anti-polygamy group is publicly condemning a manual prepared by the state Attorney General's office for not being hard enough on polygamy. The group Tapestry Against Polygamy said Tuesday that the manual demonstrated apathy toward polygamy and gave pro-polygamists a platform. The attorney general's office intended the manual to guide service providers and social workers who work with polygamy victims and might not understand the culture.
[Benny Hinn] All hail Benny!
Praise the Lord! A controversial faith healer has proved to be the answer to motor-ists' prayers - by getting Midland motor-way repairs postponed. The repairs were planned for the M42 near the NEC tomorrow and Saturday night and were set to cause huge disruption. That was before Highways Agency officials became aware that US televangelist Benny Hinn was sweeping into the city. Up to 22,000 people from churches in Birmingham and across the country are expected to flock to two rallies at the NEC. Now the agency has postponed the carriageway repairs, which would have seen sections of the motor-way being closed, to ensure easy access for people attending the rallies.
[Catholic Church] Church lists $100 million in accounts
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Portland acknowledged Wednesday that it has nearly $100 million in investment accounts never before disclosed publicly. In a U.S. Bankruptcy Court hearing, the archdiocese's chief financial officer, Leonard Vuylsteke, said the organization keeps about $88 million in a long-term investment account and $8 million to $9 million in a short-term account. [...] The disclosure was an early step in an unfolding legal battle over whether the archdiocese is the true owner of parish property, as priest sex-abuse claimants say, or whether the archdiocese merely holds the property in charitable trust for its 124 parishes. The archdiocese, which declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy on July 6 in the face of millions of dollars in lawsuit claims, told the court in its initial filing that it owned no more than $50 million in assets.
[Nuwaubians] Judge orders forfeiture of Nuwaubian property
U.S. District Judge Ashley Royal issued an order Thursday allowing the government to seize $1.7 million in property tied to the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors, including the sect's 476-acre compound in Putnam County.
[Lord's Resistance Army] Ugandan troops grab top Lord's Resistance rebel
Ugandan troops backed by helicopter gunships have captured a key commander from the shadowy Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebel group, the Ugandan army said on Thursday. It said the commander, Kenneth Banya, had probably not been involved in any atrocities attributed to the LRA and might be allowed to retire in his home area under an amnesty. Banya was a brigadier in the cult-like LRA, which has waged a 18-year-old conflict against government troops in the remote north of the east African country. Some 1.6 million people have fled their homes to escape the fighting.
[Fraud] Turning the tables on Nigeria's e-mail conmen
Mike is a "scambaiter," dedicated to fighting back against those who send out the notorious 419 e-mails, promising untold wealth to anyone gullible or naive enough to disclose their bank details. [...] His group of volunteers at 419eater.com use their computer skills to fool the scammers, to disrupt their crimes, and to have some fun at the scammer's expense. [...] Mike told me how he baited the writer of the e-mail above, Prince Joe Eboh. "I'm sure he's not a prince at all," Mike says. "He contacted me with a standard 419 [so-called after a section of Nigeria's legal code] scam. "I tried to turn it round by saying I worked for a church and we couldn't do any business with people who are not of our faith." Mike sent a response in the name of Father Hector Barnett of the Church of the Painted Breast.
[Mormon Church] Mormon student, university, settle case over theatrical swearing
The University of Utah has settled a lawsuit alleging anti-Mormon bias, agreeing to allow students to withdraw from some academic activities because of their religious beliefs. The lawsuit was brought four years ago by Christina Axson-Flynn, 24, who left the theater department after claiming she feared retaliation from professors for refusing to recite lines that contained the F-word or took "the Lord's name in vain."
[Jehovah's Witnesses] Korea: Supreme Court Rejects Rights of Conscientious Objectors
The [South Korean] Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a lower court's ruling against a Jehovah's Witness, bringing an end to months-long legal disputes over the refusal of mandatory military service by ``conscientious objectors'' due to their religious beliefs. The ruling against the 25-year-old, identified by the surname Choi, will likely serve as the guidelines for lower courts in dealing with around 300 other similar cases. As some judges recently made conflicting rulings on the conscientious objection in past months, district courts earlier said they would await the ruling by the Supreme Court to make a decision on the thorny matter.
[Faith Healing] 'Healers' left her soiled & crippled
A stroke victim who believed a faith healing could help her walk again tearfully recounted yesterday a tale of torture and cruelty in a bizarre church ritual. From her wheelchair, Charmaine Babb, 34, told a rapt Brooklyn jury how a pastor and his wife sliced her feet and set them afire while her husband watched. The young mother - whose left leg was amputated afterward - described being stranded in unchanged diapers, crawling on the floor, as her cut and scratched left foot became infected during nine days of captivity at the Great Deliverance Spiritual Baptist Church in Crown Heights.
[Lord's Resistance Army] Former Lord's Resistance rebels join Ugandan army
Hundreds of former Ugandan rebels from the shadowy Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) were inducted into the East African country's army on Tuesday, an army spokesman said. The 300 former rebel fighters had surrendered to government troops fighting the cult-like group in an 18-year-old conflict that has forced some 1.6 million people to flee their homes in Uganda's remote northern districts.
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Wed, Jul. 14, 2004
[Ritual Killing] Man questioned over killing
Detectives hunting those responsible for dumping the torso of a young boy in the Thames are questioning a man in connection with the murder. The unknown black African boy, named Adam by police, was found floating in the river near Tower Bridge in September 2001.
[Hate Groups] Human rights groups ignore Aryan parade
The annual Aryan Nations gathering and parade in northern Idaho this weekend will be largely ignored by human rights groups. Five years ago, hundreds of people converged on downtown Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, to heckle Aryan Nations founder Richard Butler and a handful of neo-Nazi supporters as they marched through the resort town. But no large demonstrations are planned during Saturday's scheduled parade because human rights groups contend they've already won the war against the hate group. "We think this is a non-event this time," said Tony Stewart, a leader of the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations. "This is kind of like the dying swan in a sense."
[Zoroastrianism] Zoroastrian fire still flickers in Iran
Zoroastrians say the sacred spring at Chak Chak, a shrine perched beneath a towering cliff face in the searing desert of central Iran, has lost none of its miraculous healing powers. [...] Iran's Shias are generally tolerant of the ancient religion. [...] Zoroastrians have their own member of parliament and hold high positions in bodies such as the Oil Ministry. They say their communities are more vibrant in Canada and Australia.
[Islam] Police Investigating Mosque in Germany
Police on Monday searched computer hard-drives and discs seized from a Moroccan mosque in Frankfurt looking for evidence of violent films, including a beheading, that a young girl said were shown to her and other children to try and incite hatred toward non-Muslims, authorities said.
[Islam] EU Muslims demand headscarf right
Muslim activists from across Europe have met in London to defend the right of women to cover their heads. Delegates from 14 countries have launched a campaign that will include lobbying the European Parliament.
[Nuwaubians] York conviction puts cult, compound in limbo
People in Putnam County are waiting to see what will happen to the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors religious sect now that its leader, Malachi York, is in federal prison and the government wants to seize its headquarters.
[Kabbalah] Pop-kabbala in a time of shahids [witnesses or martyrs]
True kabbala is far from being an exact science, but the connection between it and the "kabbala" of Madonna and the dubious characters associated with it is about the same as the connection between astrology and astronomy. Or a one American rabbi put it, like the difference between "Barney" and a prehistoric dinosaur.
[Chronicles of Narnia] The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe stars finally revealed
The four young stars in Andrew Adamson's The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe have finally revealed themselves to the world.
[Hate Groups] Residents say they will make it clear supremacists not welcome
Members of a white supremacist group plan to gather near here this weekend, and local residents say they plan to make sure those attending know the community doesn't support their beliefs. [...] A group called the Church of the True Israel said it plans to gather about nine miles outside St. Regis Friday through Sunday for a meeting billed on the group's Web site as the "Gathering of Christian Identity."
[Hate Groups] Extremist Groups Vie for Audience With Simultaneous Events in Two States
Three of the most active Christian Identity groups in the U.S. are planning three separate events in Montana and Idaho on the weekend of July 16-18, 2004, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The events being held by the Aryan Nations, the Church of True Israel (CTI), an offshoot of Aryan Nations, and America's Promise Ministries are expected to collectively gather most of the major Christian Identity figures from around the country.
[Mormon Church] Mormon conversions surge in Latin America
The Guzmans are among a growing number of Latin Americans who have turned to Mormonism in the last few years. According to the church, there are 12 million members worldwide with 4.5 million members in Latin America alone. In comparison, there were only 700,000 Mormons reported in Latin America in 1980.
[Amish] Pa. UPN affiliate wants to prescreen Amish reality show
A UPN affiliate wants to preview a reality series about Amish teenagers exploring urban life before deciding whether to air it. Matt Uhl, the vice president and general manager of the CBS and UPN affiliates in Harrisburg, which reach some of the country's biggest Amish communities, said Tuesday that he was concerned the show could be exploitative.
[Maninder Pal Singh Kholi] Parents praise Indians in quest for girl's killer
A couple who travelled to India in an effort to track down their daughter's killer yesterday said the response to their appeals was "beyond their wildest dreams". Hilary and Trevor Foster flew to India on Saturday in an attempt to trace Maninder Pal Singh Kohli - the prime suspect in the rape and murder of their 17-year-old daughter Hannah, whose body was found close to their home in Southampton on 16 March last year. He is believed to have fled to the Punjab region two days after her body was found.
[Maninder Pal Singh Kholi] Hannah's 'killer' hiding with Sikh sect in India
As the parents of murdered teenager Hannah Foster begin a 12-day trip in India to raise the profile of the hunt for the prime suspect Maninder Pal Singh Kohli, it is reported here that Kohli is hiding with a Sikh religious sect in India. The claim that Kohli was with a sect in the Punjab region was reportedly made by the state's Deputy Speaker Bir Devinder Singh.
[Maninder Pal Singh Kholi] Indian murder suspect 'posing as a holy man'
The parents of the murdered British teenager Hannah Foster want Indian detectives to investigate claims that their daughter's killer is posing as a holy man and hiding in a Sikh temple.
[Antisemitism] Frenchwoman Says She Lied About Anti-Semitic Attack
A Frenchwoman whose report of an anti-Semitic attack on Friday had transfixed the nation admitted today that she had made up the story, the police said. The admission came after the police began to publicly express doubts about her story. The woman's report on how she had been attacked caused a public outcry in France, which has been seen a sharp increase of anti-Semitic incidents in recent months.
Anton and Janet Hein-Hudson
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