ReligionNewsBlog.com, July 22-23, 2004
- ReligionNewsBlog.com, July 22-23, 2004
Fri, Jul. 23, 2004
[Islam] Imams face English entrance test
Muslim imams and other "ministers of religion" wishing to enter Britain to work must show a basic command of spoken English, under new Home Office regulations. Within two years of entry, they will have to reach a higher standard as "competent" English writers or speakers, according to the restrictions, which will come into force by the end of next month. The Home Office is also considering introducing a requirement for imams and priests who have been in Britain for a year to show "a knowledge of, and engagement with, British civic life". They may also be required to have some form of "professional qualification".
[Islam] US outlines Hamza case
Abu Hamza's extradition hearing has been postponed until October 19. Hamza is wanted by the US, whose government has accused him of playing a key role in Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terror network.
[Diploma Mills] Detecting Diploma Mills
In May, the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee held hearings on diploma mills, singling out several institutions that had committed particularly egregious fraud or had marketed themselves to federal employees. The hearing, however, brought to light the problem of actually identifying diploma mills, or schools that essentially sell degrees in exchange for little or no coursework. [...] At those hearings, investigators gave several general tips on how to recognize a diploma mill.
[False Memory Syndrome] Concerns over repressed memory therapy
The Victorian government will reportedly conduct an investigation into the practice of repressed memory therapy. The government revealed plans it would look into who was practising repressed memory therapy and the training they had received, according to a report on the ABC TV program Stateline. The Health Services Commissioner will oversee the inquiry which is expected to take about six months.
[Islam] Hamza part of 'global conspiracy'
Controversial Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri was part of a "global conspiracy to wage Jihad" against the West, US government lawyers claim. Mr Hamza, 46, is at Belmarsh Magistrates' Court for a hearing to decide whether he should be extradited to face US terrorism charges.
[Seventh-day Adventism] Adventists get Turkmenistan registration
Now, Fedotov's small group of Seventh-day Adventists has become the first organization registered under relaxed religious restrictions in this majority Muslim nation. But Fedotov is still treading carefully, unsure whether his 70 congregants finally will be able to practice their faith freely. [...] President Saparmurat Niyazov made the changes to religion laws this year in response to strong international pressure, including the threat of possible sanctions from the United States, which has made religious freedom one of its main concerns in Turkmenistan. Despite the positive steps, however, groups have said official harassment continues, and they are testing their new freedoms with trepidation.
[Orlando and Glynis Bethel] Federal judge rejects preacher's suit against TV station
A judge has dismissed a defamation lawsuit that Loxley preacher Orlando Bethel and his wife filed against WPMI-TV15 and two of its on-air employees, ruling that the Bethels' allegations didn't meet the threshold for a federal case. [...] Orlando Bethel -- and to a lesser extent his wife Glynis -- have been in and out of the news for two years, ever since Bethel told mourners at his wife's uncle's funeral that the deceased was in hell and they were headed there too. Members of the congregation proceeded to pummel him. The funeral fracas and Bethel's subsequent evangelizing in public spots led to a series of minor criminal charges against him and others in Baldwin County, Montgomery and Pensacola. In March, the couple sued WPMI, the local NBC affiliate, along with anchor Peter Albrecht and anchoreporter Mike Rush. They claimed the station defamed them during various newscasts, a charge that station management denied.
[Word of Faith Fellowship] Lawsuit against WOFF on hold
A former Word of Faith Fellowship member who had sued the church has temporarily dropped her case. Lacy Wien filed her civil suit in early 2003, seeking $2.8 million in damages for what Wien says was years of physical and emotional ab-use while she was a member of the church. Neither Wien nor her attorney Peter Lane of Rutherfordton would comment on the reason behind withdrawing the suit at this time except to say that it is a temporary withdrawal. [...] In March, Wien won an misdemeanor assault conviction against WOFF co-founder Jane Whaley for an incident that occurred at the church building in Spindale while Wien was still a member in February 2002.
[Center for Inquiry] Inquiring minds at center want science and reason to rule
Display cases at the Center for Inquiry hold snake oil and other murky cure-alls, fortune-telling tools and a bug-eyed alien in repose, as it might have looked after its spaceship crash on a Roswell, N.M., farm in 1947. [...] For years the center and its determined hoax-busters have taken on crop circles and ghost sightings _ any and all things paranormal. But equally important as proving what isn't true, chairman Paul Kurtz says, is proving what is. That's why, as the center undertakes a major four-year expansion, there is a special focus on getting the public to get science. "The United States is the leading scientific and technological power on the planet, with amazing breakthroughs, yet the general public is basically illiterate about science," said Kurtz, 78, founder of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP) and the Council for Secular Humanism, both housed at the Center for Inquiry.
[Hare Krishna] Restaurant chain with Krishna consciousness
Jashomatinandana Das is convinced it is the Lord's will that the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) should be setting up a chain of eateries in India. No wonder, then, that the widespread religious group is going about the job in right earnest: 22 Govinda's Prasadam restaurants will come up in the next two years, says the president of Iskcon. And since everything is prabhu ki iccha, the revenue model for the chain will be based on altruism, not mercantilism - the pricing has been kept eater-friendly.
[Religious Intolerance] Canadian Court Eliminates Bible Distribution Ministry
Will the Bible get its day in court? Not in Canada's citizenship courts, apparently. The Canadian Bible Society's almost 50 year-old practice of offering free Scriptures to new citizens at Canadian citizenship ceremonies was ended in May by Senior Citizenship Judge, Michel Simard. In a letter to the Bible Society dated May 7th, Judge Simard and Citizenship Registrar, Patricia Birkett, informed the Bible Society that notwithstanding a previous agreement with the Citizenship Commission, Bibles and other holy books are no longer to be displayed at citizenship court ceremonies and distributed to citizenship court applicants. "Canada is a multicultural nation where freedom of religion is guaranteed under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms," they wrote, "...we find that allowing holy books to be made available at citizenship ceremonies detracts from this message and could be construed as a tacit endorsement of certain religions." The letter did not indicate how banning holy books would help the cause of freedom of religion.
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Thu, Jul. 22, 2004
[Cults] When Spirituality Goes Awry: Students in Cults
Adolescents are objects of recruitment for religious cults. Identifying new religious movements, cults, and dissenting religious groups, understanding their practices, and discovering reasons for their attractiveness to some students are helpful to the school counselor. Suggestions are offered as to how to identify which cults are destructive, and how professional school counselors can assist students involved with such group. [Feature-length article from the Professional School Counseling journal]
[Mormon Church] Mormon church leader Neal A. Maxwell dies after battling leukemia
Neal A. Maxwell, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, died after a lengthy battle with leukemia, the church said. He was 78. Maxwell died at home surrounded by his family late Wednesday, which was the 23rd anniversary of his call to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, one of the highest ranking bodies of the Mormon church.
[Christianity] Christian wrestling goes for grip on souls
Turn the other cheek? How about break the other arm? In the world of Ultimate Christian Wrestling, the meek aren't exactly blessed. Usually they're bashed, bounced and power-bombed. Perhaps the most extreme among extreme evangelists, these good news bruisers are primed to put Satan in a sleeper hold. A loose network of pro and semipro wrestlers, UCW is the brainchild of Rob Fields, an otherwise mild-mannered English teacher at Woodstock High School. Fields, who lives in Canton, has been body-slamming for God since last summer and claims more than 200 souls saved.
[Islam] Dutch PM: Islam must not influence Turkey's EU entry
European countries should not allow themselves to be guided by fear of the Islamic faith when discussing the entry of Turkey into the European Union, Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said on Wednesday. "Islam is not the problem. Muslims, Christians and people of other beliefs can live together perfectly well. The problem is not religion but misuse of religion to sow hatred and intolerance and to oppress women," Balkenende said. European governments will decide in December whether negotiations can be started with Turkey about its entry to the EU. The Netherlands - which currently holds the six-month rotating EU Presidency - will supervise those talks
[Christianity] Turmoil endangers Iraq's Christians
Under Saddam Hussein's officially secular regime, Christians could worship freely as long as they weren't overt about their beliefs, said Sleiman, who arrived in Chicago over the weekend from St. Joseph's Cathedral in Baghdad. But now that a host of Islamic extremists are jockeying for power in post-Hussein Iraq, Christians from Mosul in the northern part of the country to Basra in the south reportedly feel intimidated and are trying to flee the country.
[Islam] Michigan City OKs Amplified Islamic Prayers
Residents of this once-predominantly Polish city on Tuesday upheld an amendment to the city's noise ordinance, a victory for those in favor of allowing mosques to issue the call to prayer over loudspeakers. The vote, which supporters of the prayer calls acknowledged was merely symbolic, was 1,462 to 1,200, or 55 percent to 45 percent. The City Council unanimously passed the amendment to the noise ordinance in April after a mosque asked for permission to begin broadcasting the Arabic chants, traditionally issued five times a day.
Anton and Janet Hein-Hudson
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