ReligionNewsBlog.com, July 24, 2004
[Word of Faith Fellowship] Federal judge trims WOFF lawsuit
A motion made by the Rutherford County Department of Social Services to dismiss a federal lawsuit filed by the Word of Faith Fellowship and multiple individual church members was largely denied by a federal district court judge recently. Judge Lacy Thornburg dismissed two of the nine complaints levied by WOFF and limited three others to state, not federal, law. The ruling did not pass judgment on any of the WOFF's allegations. Instead, in denying the dismissal, Judge Thornburg ruled that if sufficient evident were presented to prove the WOFF claims then they would violate federal and/or state law. [...] WOFF attorney John Gresham saw the ruling as validation of their legal rationale and has filed a motion relating to the three claims that were limited only to assessment on state law.
Note: Theologically, the WOFF is a cult of Christianity. Sociologically, the church has many cult characteristics as well. Along with with John Gresham, the cult is defended by New York attorney Eric Lieberman, a Scientologist.
[Shadowmancer] 'Harry Potter' Inspires a Christian Alternative
When "Shadowmancer" was first published in Britain last year, it was soon dubbed the Christian alternative to "Harry Potter" and surged to the top of the paperback best-seller list, outranking its secular rivals, the "Harry Potter" books, for 15 weeks in a row. And in May when "Shadowmancer" was published in the United States by G. P. Putnam's Sons, it beat "Harry Potter" for six weeks straight on the children's chapter-book best-seller list of The New York Times. There are 300,000 copies in print, and now booksellers are eagerly expecting a similar success when the sequel, "Wormwood," is published here in September.
[Unity School of Christianity] Unity church to host convicted priest
The Rev. Kathleen McKenna is willing to risk criticism and controversy to help someone build a stronger relationship with God. That's why she didn't hesitate to invite the Rev. Richard Arko -- a Roman Catholic priest convicted of growing marijuana in his church rectory -- to preach to her congregation.
[Religious Freedom] Court: Long Locks Prohibited In Prison Despite Religion
A federal appeals court ruled Friday that a Cherokee Indian inmate cannot grow long hair in an Ohio prison.
[Hate Groups] ACLU questions police methods at Nazi rally
ACLU Nebraska is questioning why law enforcement officials took mug-shot style photographs of participants in a National Socialist Movement rally Saturday and also asked supporters and opponents to identify themselves on videotape.
[Polygamy] Sex abuse allegations spur probe by RCMP
A new RCMP team is being established to investigate allegations of child abuse at the polygamist commune of Bountiful in the British Columbia Interior. "The groundswell of public concern has reached a point where government and the police, in my view, have an obligation to act," Attorney-General Geoff Plant said in an interview yesterday. "It's a priority to investigate the many allegations being made." Bountiful, a community of about 1,000 people near Cranbrook in southeastern B.C., has long been the subject of allegations of sexual abuse and of teenaged girls being made concubines or "celestial wives" of men who are much older and already have several other wives. Although polygamy is illegal in Canada, the B.C. government has been reluctant to act. It has obtained two legal opinions that said the group, a breakaway sect of the Mormon Church known as the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, could likely successfully argue the law violates a person's right to freedom of religion.
[Church and State] Council in S.C. town loses appeal on Christian prayer
A federal appeals court on Thursday upheld a judge's ruling that prohibits the Great Falls, S.C., Town Council from opening its meetings with a prayer that mentions Jesus Christ. A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that such prayers amount to an unconstitutional government advancement of one religion: Christianity. Darla Kaye Wynne, a Wiccan high priestess, sued the town after its leaders refused to open meetings only with nonsectarian prayers or to allow members of different faiths to lead the prayers. Wynne said she was ostracized for refusing to stand and bow her head during the Christian prayers.
[Catholic Church] Arizona man sues church using racketeer statute
A Tucson man with dashed hopes of becoming a priest filed a civil racketeering lawsuit against the Catholic Church in federal court last week. Philip Hower alleges racketeering, negligence, discrimination, defamation and fraud, among other charges, naming the Archdiocese in Santa Fe; the dioceses of Tucson, Phoenix, Boston and Los Angeles; and several bishops, including Bishop Thomas J. O'Brien. He is asking for $5 million in compensatory damages and hopes for $45 million in punitive damages, said Hower's attorney, Ivan Safyan Abrams. According to the complaint, all of the individuals and institutions named are part of a pattern of cover-up and conspiracy. In the suit, Hower alleges that he was sexually assaulted by two Arizona priests and that he was denied ordination as a priest because he blew the whistle.
[Jehovah's Witnesses] Delivering God's message door to door
Jehovah's Witnesses, known for their door-to-door visits to deliver God's message, are holding the third of four district conventions at the Richmond Coliseum this weekend. About 8,000 Witnesses from Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, West Virginia and Washington are attending the convention, which began yesterday and ends tomorrow. A total of more than 30,000 people will attend the four conventions.
[Islam] Islamists to defy Livingstone and police with rally
The Islamist extremist group al-Muhajiroun has vowed to press ahead with an illegal rally in Trafalgar Square tomorrow, defying the police and the mayor of London. [...] Mr Livingstone said he would take legal action if the rally went ahead, but this is unlikely to deter the group. Two years ago, after a similar illegal rally, he pursued a civil action against one of its leaders but the sole result was a £200 fine. Yesterday one activist said they would happily pay another £200 fine.
[Al Quaeda] False reports of Bin Laden's death snare internet users
Osama bin Laden is trying, knowingly or otherwise, to take over the world disguised as a computer virus. Thousands of messages have been posted on internet chat-rooms with a subject line suggesting that journalists have discovered that the leader of al-Qaida has been found hanged. [...] Those who click a link are directed to a website to view pictures. But viewers curious to glimpse the corpse of the world's most wanted man will find that attempts to load the pictures get nowhere. What they may not realise is that their computer might have been infected with a piece of malicious software, a Trojan horse, named because it uses a back-door method of infection and is programmed to steal sensitive information such as bank details.
[Unification Church] Warner 'Deceived' on Rev. Moon Event
Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.) accepts "full responsibility" for arranging the use of a Senate office building for a March ceremony in which the Rev. Sun Myung Moon declared himself the Messiah, a spokesman for the senator says. But the Senate Armed Services Committee chairman released letters this week that show that organizers "deceived" Warner's office, spokesman John Ullyot said Thursday. He said the office would not have helped arrange the event "had its true nature been disclosed."
[Gentle Wind Project] Nonprofit accused of cult activity
Former clients of a local nonprofit, The Gentle Wind Project, have alleged in postings to a Web site that the organization was involved in group sex, mind control, extortion, child neglect and misappropriation of funds. In response, Project officials have filed a suit in Maines U.S. District Court against those clients, calling their claims "wild, scurrilous and utterly unfounded." The suit indicates the allegations have damaged the Projects reputation and its ability to recruit clients.
Anton and Janet Hein-Hudson
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