ReligionNewsBlog.com July 25-27, 2004
- ReligionNewsBlog.com July 25-27, 2004
Tue, Jul. 27, 2004
[Aum Shinrikyo] Kunimatsu case stumps prosecutors
The Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office likely will not prosecute three men currently under custody on suspicion of attempted murder in the 1995 shooting of then National Police Agency Commissioner General Takaji Kunimatsu, according to sources. Although police arrested the men to defend the credibility of the police force, the case would again be deadlocked if prosecutors decide not to press charges against the suspects Wednesday, their last day of custody, the sources said.
[Polygamy] Sect greets abuse probe
Stating he has nothing to hide, the spiritual leader of a polygamist sect says he will not hamper an investigation into alleged acts of sexual exploitation, forced marriage and child abuse by his group. In a rare interview, Winston Blackmore told the Calgary Sun he welcomes a just-announced investigation by B.C.'s attorney general into the sexual and marriage practices of the Mormon fundamentalist church. Blackmore, while admitting he has up to 20 wives, says his community -- part of a breakaway sect of the Mormon Church -- is doing nothing wrong.
[Sabians] Sect members thrown off doomed boat
Asylum-seekers boarding a doomed illegal boat voyage to Christmas Island believed they were being jinxed by members of a religious sect and kicked them off the vessel, a court was told today. The committal proceedings against one of the accused people smugglers heard the asylum-seekers, who were Muslims, also tore out pages of their holy book - The Koran - and threw them into the sea in the hope the gesture would calm the waters. A member of the Sabians, regarded as unlucky by the Muslims, told the hearing in Brisbane he was ordered off the boat after suggesting when he boarded the vessel in Indonesia that it was unsafe and would never make it to Australia.
[Islam] French Muslim group courts showdown over headscarf law
With just weeks to go before the start of the school year, one of France's largest Muslim bodies faces a showdown with the government after advising girls they can wear head-coverings to class despite a new law banning conspicuous religious insignia.
[Internet] 'Sieg Heil' website gives lesson on Holocaust
All traffic to the former neo-Nazi website siegheil.de has been redirected to shoa.de, a site providing information on the origins of anti-Semitism and a detailed account of the Nazis' murder of about 6 million Jews.
[Kabbalah] Kabbalah Advocates Bring Message to Moscow
Madonna's red-string bracelets and rumors of Britney Spears' Kabbalah-themed tattoos have brought the word "Kabbalah" into the hipster lexicon. But for those who have devoted their lives to this form of Jewish mysticism, the Kabbalah goes far deeper than something to brag about to your celebrity friends.
[Gregorio XVII] Spanish sect leader says he is the real Pope
Papal pretender "Gregorio XVII" is leader of a self-styled church in Spain who says God crowned him after Pope Paul VI's 1978 death, that Satan controls the Vatican and that the devil will crucify him at the start of an apocalyptic end of an era. [...] Followers call 58-year-old Gregorio the last Pope, and say he will be crucified. An electronic information package handed out at the church shows gory pictures of Gregorio with bleeding wounds in the hands, torso and forehead similar to those of Christ on the cross.
[Islam] Australian publisher pulls controversial 'memoir'
A major Australian publisher has this morning withdrawn from sale Norma Khouri's best-selling book Forbidden Love over a row about its authenticity. Random House Australia marketed the book as: "A harrowing memoir by a Jordanian woman whose life-long friend was the victim of an honour killing at the hands of her own father." Over the weekend, the Sydney Morning Herald reported allegations that the author had fabricated details of the story, which was published to wide acclaim two years ago. [...] Members of Australia's Muslim community are now seeking an explanation from the author and the publisher. Keysar Trad from the Lebanese Muslims Association says the book has damaged the image of the Muslim community.
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[Aum Shinrikyo] NPA Chief Shooting Suspects to Be Released
Prosecutors have decided to release three people with links to the AUM Shinrikyo cult, who were arrested earlier this month over the 1995 shooting of then National Police Agency chief Takaji Kunimatsu, due to lack of credible evidence, investigative sources said Monday.
Mon, Jul. 26, 2004
[Hoaxes] Anti-Semitic lie: Woman convicted
A young French woman who admitted to lying about being the victim of an anti-Semitic attack has been convicted for fabricating a story that stunned France and given a four-month suspended sentence. The 22-year-old woman, Marie Leblanc, was also on Monday ordered to receive counseling and put under probation for two years at the trial in Pontoise, north of Paris.
[Universal Life Church] Aspiring ministers click to save souls
Anyone with a computer can become a man or woman of the cloth. An online form at Universal Life requires the most basic information. Within five minutes, a "Rev." can be attached to your name for free. A paper certificate sets you back $5. With the credential, you can preach the Word, marry, bury and baptize. But the offers don't stop there. Internet ministries certify saints, divinity or pastoral counselors. Loftier titles creep up in price, with some packages in the $200 range.
[Islam] Immigrants Keep Islam -- Italian Style
Italy's Muslim population recently passed the 700,000 mark, and as it has grown, so have Muslim voices expressing a desire to fit in with the host society. Some Muslims stick rigidly to the ways of the old country, yet at places like this restaurant, others are creating a hybrid culture of tolerance and experimentation.
[Witchcraft] Pakistan: Child murder linked to witchcraft
Pakistani police have found the body of a child with his throat cut in a town where two men were arrested earlier this year for allegedly murdering four children to use their blood in witchcraft, police said today.
[Witchcraft] India's Government may make witchcraft illegal
The Indian government is reportedly considering a proposal to declare all forms of witchcraft illegal to prevent a practice that has killed more than 2500 women in the last 16 years, official sources said. The idea is to put in place a new law that would make witchcraft a social crime, the sources said. Crimes related to witchcraft -- like human sacrifice and witch-hunting -- are currently tried under certain laws but there is no bar on the practice of necromancy and voodoo.
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Sun, Jul. 25, 2004
[Sukyo Mahikari] Cancer patients turn to Japanese faith healing
A controversial four-decade-old Japanese cult, whose first disciples were bar girls, has now found a different kind of following in Nepal - cancer patients. Sukyo Mahikari is a religious movement started in 1959 by Japanese mystic Okada Yoshikazu, who envisioned bathing the world with a light that would heal believers but destroy non-believers.
[Mormon Church] Fire Levels Utah Furniture Factory
A huge fire broke out Friday at a shop that makes furniture for Mormon Temples worldwide, leveling the business and threatening a nearby apartment complex.
[Anglican / Episcopal Church] New members like church's inclusiveness
Unable to accept their bishop's homosexuality, some Episcopalians have left their church. To others, Gene Robinson's consecration last year served as a powerful magnet. [...] Robinson's election and consecration last year as the Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire caused a stir inside and outside the Anglican community. Religious leaders and church goers in several denominations denounced the move and said it would cause the church to split. So far, about nine of the country's 107 dioceses and more than 30 congregations have joined the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes, a traditionalist group opposed to Robinson's consecration.
[Antisemitism] Belarus Jews complain of rising anti-Semitism
A leading Jewish group in Belarus on Saturday accused the government of turning a blind eye to a rising tide of anti-Semitism in the ex-Soviet republic. Conditions for Jews in Belarus "differ little from the situation in the former Soviet Union," Yakov Basin, head of the Belarusian office of the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews, said in a statement.
[Aum Shinrikyo] Suspects May Not Be Charged in Shooting of National Police Chief
Prosecutors may not indict four AUM Shinrikyo cult-linked suspects arrested over the 1995 shooting of the then National Police Agency chief due to a lack of credible evidence, investigation sources said Sunday. As doubts linger over the credibility of testimonies by former police officer Toshiyuki Kosugi, among the four arrested, prosecutors believe it would be difficult to sustain a trial without being able to pinpoint who actually shot Takaji Kunimatsu, the sources said.
[Ruben Ecleo] Compel guard to testify in Ecleo case, court asked
The private prosecutor in the parricide case against cult leader Ruben Ecleo Jr. has asked the court to issue a warrant of arrest for a security guard who allegedly saw him drive a car out of a subdivision the night his wife was said to have been killed.
[Lord's Resistance Army] Ugandan rebels kill at least 42 in southern Sudan
Rebels fighting an 18-year insurgency in northern Uganda have killed at least 42 civilians in southern Sudan in the past week, a church leader and Sudanese rebels said. The Lord's Resistance Army killed the civilians in villages near Kapeota, 750 kilometres south of Sudan's capital, Khartoum, said Rev. Paul Yugusuk, a local Anglican church leader, on Saturday.
[Kabbalah] Lohan in the spirit?
Kabbalah could find its membership rolls packed with curious teenage girls now that a young starlet has taken an interest. Lindsay Lohan, 18, was recently caught by paparazzi sporting the trendy religion's must-have accessory, a red string bracelet meant to protect the wearer from the evil eye, reports MSN.com.
[Kabbalah] Long journey into the Zohar
Every weekday morning, Daniel Matt turns on his computer, stares at the tree-lined slopes outside the window of his Berkeley Hills home and waits for the words to describe the indescribable. [...] Even his car's license plate bears witness to his single-minded focus: ZOHAR. [...] The only extant English translation of the Aramaic text to date has generally been considered more a paraphrase that doesn't begin to capture Moses de Leon's poetic voice. Now, there is Matt's translation, the first two volumes of which were recently published.
[Islam] Militant Muslims find a haven in 'Londonistan'
"Osama bin Laden is a good man. Osama bin Laden wants the same as me -- he wants to see the implementation of God's law," says Khalid Kelly as he sips coffee in a sun-filled London cafe and expounds on his allegiance to the man who has declared war on the West. Kelly, an Irishman, converted to Islam two years ago while imprisoned in Saudi Arabia for distilling and selling alcohol. Since then, he has become the public face of the tiny London-based organization called Al-Muhajiroun. The radical organization is led by Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed, who has long been linked to bin Laden's International Islamic Front for Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders. The presence of militants like Bakri has earned the British capital the sobriquet "Londonistan" among diplomats and terrorism experts, who see London as a worldwide center of Islamic terrorism.
[Buddhism] Temple hopes to build 10-storey Buddha statue
A massive $50-million transformation of Richmond's Lingyen Mountain Temple into a pivotal North American religious centre-complete with a 10-storey statue of Buddha-could begin as early as December.
[Parliament of the World's Religions] World religion gathering discusses Sikh's slaying
The September 2001 murder of a Sikh man in Mesa was the centerpiece of a presentation this month by Valley religious leaders at an international conference in Spain. Balbir Singh Sodhi was shot four days after the terrorist attacks on the East Coast by a man who mistook him for a Muslim. Arizona leaders spoke firsthand of the problem in their presentation at the Parliament of World Religions, "Lessons from Phoenix: Creating Peace in a World of Religious Violence." The presentation focused on the violence directed at the Valley Sikh community. Six members of Arizona's Interfaith Coalition joined nearly 8,000 members from religious communities around the world to celebrate diversity and explore spiritual responses to global issues at the conference in Barcelona.
[Israel] Officials fear Jewish extremists may crash plane on Temple Mount
Israeli security officials have recently become increasingly concerned that right-wing extremists might be plotting an attack on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem to derail Israel's planned withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. The Shin Bet security service and the police are preparing for a number of possible terror attack scenarios at the sacred Old City site, Israeli security sources said last night.
[Islam] Terrified publishers won't print truth about Islam, says author
A distinguished writer and academic has accused leading publishers of turning down his latest book because it is too critical of Islam. David Selbourne, who has written more than a dozen books, and his literary agent suspect that publishers are shunning The Losing Battle With Islam because it could provoke anger from Islamic extremists and other critics. Among the subjects covered in the book is the "negative impact" of actions by Muslims in recent decades. It suggests that Islam is not a religion of peace, balance and compassion, as many of its adherents claim.
[Hate Groups : Scientology] City by the sea
Church of Scientology documents twice have revealed to outsiders a plan to make Clearwater, Pinellas' county seat, a Scientology stronghold. Documents seized by the FBI in 1977 laid out a church plan to take over the city and discredit enemies. And a church pamphlet stated a goal to make Clearwater the world's first "Scientology city" by 2000. [...] Any community could benefit from a growing population of energetic and productive people. The question that must be asked in Clearwater's case is, to what end are the church and its members here? Are they working toward a better city for everyone, or is domination of the community their goal? Are they merely filling a vacuum downtown, or are they building church founder L. Ron Hubbard's dream of a Scientology city by the sea? And if their answer is that there is nothing nefarious going on, can their word be trusted?
[Kabbalah] The Kabbalah craze
"Four entered the orchard," the Talmud relates, in what traditionalists believe is an oblique reference to the study of Jewish mysticism. It may come as a surprise to some that those four were not named Madonna, Britney, Demi, and Roseanne. And today's celebrity enthusiasts of Kabbalah, a suddenly popular form of Jewish mysticism, might want to turn to the end of that Talmudic passage about four esteemed rabbis: One died, one went insane, one became a heretic, and only one "entered in peace and left in peace." The point of the anecdote is that Jewish mysticism is a tough row to hoe, a line of study that ought to be reserved for the most advanced Jewish scholars - and a dicey undertaking in the hands of novices.
[Islam] Muslim group defends rally switch
Muslim extremists who want Britain ruled by fundamentalist Islamic law said they they were right to abandon plans for an unofficial rally in London. Anjem Choudary, the UK head of Al-Muhajiroun, said their rally instead went ahead in Essex and described proceedings there "as absolutely fine". [...] Mr Choudary went on: "Islam will be dominant in Britain. Either wilfully or through the foreign policy of an Islamic state, law and ordered will be changed in Britain and it will be governed by Sharia." But he insisted that did not mean the group wanted to force Britons to adopt Islam individually.
[Islam] Radical muslims call off London rally, fear attack
A radical Muslim group which openly celebrated the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States said on Sunday it had called off a planned rally in central London because of fears of a possible al-Qaeda attack. [...] The Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, wrote to Al-Muhajiroun last week, refusing them permission to hold their rally in London and threatening prosecution if they defied authorities. In a written statement sent to Reuters, the Al-Muhajiroun group said the decision to relocate was taken by Sheikh Muhammad ``after consultation with various leaders within the Muslim community and ... lecturers and students of Sharia.''
Anton and Janet Hein-Hudson
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