ReligionNewsBlog.com, July 31-Aug. 2, 2004
Mon, Aug. 02, 2004
[Witchcraft] S.Africa boy lives after hand, ear, penis cut off
Vicious attackers hacked off a South African boy's hand, ear and genitals and left him for for dead in what police said could be part of the "muti" trade in body parts for witchcraft.
[Polygamy] Human smuggling denied
The men of Bountiful make no bones about the fact they're in polygamous relationships and at least one admits having nearly 20 wives. But with nearly everyone in the religious community a descendant of half a dozen men, where do the new brides come from?
[Order of Saint Charbel] Doomsday cult wins federal cash
A doomsday cult led by a self-proclaimed prophet who has been banned by the Vatican has secured $332,000 from the Howard Government to run a private school since 1996. William "Little Pebble" Kamm has previously predicted a tsunami would devastate Australia's east cost and believes his Order of St Charbel converts in NSW, Victoria and South Australia will survive the coming apocalypse after he is appointed as the last pope.
[David Francis] Oom Paul fails to live out 'prophecy'
Thursday was meant to be a red-letter day in the history of the Free State dorp of Hertzogville. It was the day the Meintjies family expected their patriarch, Oom (Uncle) Paul, to rise from the dead. [...] A mysterious prophet, David Francis, who also fixes leaking roofs in Durban, and who seems to have a strong hold over the family, had told them Oom Paul was going to rejoin them in the land of the breathing. Foulds took us to the mortuary. I was about to confront that detail I could do without: the dead man. Before I could tell Foulds "It's okay", he lifted the white plastic sheet, exposing Oom Paul's face. Back outside in the street, Foulds locked the extra padlock the Meintjies family had asked him to put on the mortuary.
[David Francis] Oom Paul out in the cold
Paul Meintjies was apparently raised from the dead in the mortuary here just before dusk on Saturday. But he won't be wearing the sweater his wife knitted for him to keep him warm after a month's cold in the mortuary, and he won't be joining his family and the "prophet" who predicted his resurrection for a festive meal. Shortly after he rose from the death, he "froze to death again" because the funeral director wasn't there to unlock the mortuary's heavy doors, says Duke Potgieter, the man who specially came from Cape Town to give Meintjies a new lease on life. According to Potgieter, Meintjies' "second death" is to be blamed on the funeral director, Nico Foulds. Potgieter, who is the leader of the Kingdom Body, also calls himself "The Son of Man". According to his website, The Kingdom Body is "an informal group of resurrected individuals separated from those who reject the truth".
[Aum Shinrikyo] Court Releases Cult Group Suspects in Police Director Shooting Case
In March of 1995, a group of followers of Aum Shinrikyo, a Japanese cult, shot the then Director of the National Police Agency (NPA) Koji Kunimatsu. [...] The Weekly Post has found an important witness whose testimony the police department has totally ignored. The witness was one of the leaders of the terrorist cult group and said to The Weekly Post, "The sarin gas attack and shooting of Mr. Kunimatsu were planned to be executed on the same day."
[Islam] Series of bombings targets Christians in Iraqi churches
A series of coordinated explosions rocked five churches across Baghdad and the northern city of Mosul on Sunday, killing at least two people and wounding about 40 others in the first attacks directed at the country's Christian minority in a violent 15-month insurgency.
[Polygamy] Troubles dogging polygamy prophet
In the past few days:
. Jeffs was accused in a lawsuit of sodomizing his then-5-year-old nephew and covering up serial child molestations by fellow church leaders for decades. In a statement Friday, he denied the allegation.
. Texas authorities cited FLDS officials for 29 environmental violations at a compound the church is building on a remote ranch in the western part of the state.
. The attorney general of British Columbia organized a task force to look into allegations of sexual exploitation, child abuse and forced marriages at an FLDS community near the Canadian-U.S. border.
. Dozens of young men and boys who were chased out of the FLDS so older men could have a better pick of young brides have taken the unprecedented step of going public with their stories and appealing for help.
. Rumors have circulated that one of Jeffs' dozens of wives may have run away into protective custody.
Amid the whirlwind of events, Jeffs seems to have disappeared and his carefully crafted world appears to be teetering.
[Polygamy] Polygamy's 'lost boys' need not walk alone
Richard Gilbert was 16 when he was tossed out of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. His offense? A desire to continue public school after an edict from FLDS leader Warren Jeffs that followers homeschool their children. And the bad deed that led to a similar fate for Tom Steed at age 15? Talking to nonmembers and watching three movies - including "Charlie's Angels" and "The 6th Day." Now 19, these two "lost boys" were among 50 youths at the state Capitol on Saturday as South Jordan dentist and businessman Dan Fischer issued a plea for mentors and financial support of children abandoned by the FLDS community.
[Hate Groups] White supremacist hunt continues
West Australian police are still hunting the leader of the white supremacist Australian Nationalists Movement (ANM) after he allegedly threatened to harm a number of high profile people. A statewide alert remains for Jack van Tongeren, who was not at home when armed police raided his house at Gingin earlier this week.
[USA] Doctors and Torture
[By Robert Jay Lifton, in the New England Journal of Medicine]
There is increasing evidence that U.S. doctors, nurses, and medics have been complicit in torture and other illegal procedures in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay. Such medical complicity suggests still another disturbing dimension of this broadening scandal.
[TD Jakes] A charismatic evangelist casts film's Next Big Thing: Jesus
Is America ready for another R-rated Jesus flick? Bishop T.D. Jakes, an evangelist who is frequently mentioned as a leading contender to replace Billy Graham as America's preacher, is betting on it in a new film that includes intense scenes of child rape, drug use, domestic violence and murder. Seeking to take a page from the phenomenal success of Mel Gibson's movie "The Passion of the Christ," Jakes was in Cleveland on Friday promoting "Woman, Thou Art Loosed: The Movie" in a private showing for pastors in advance of its planned nationwide release in October. The movie, starring Kimberly Elise from 2004's "The Manchurian Candi date," tells the story of a young woman searching for hope in prison after a lifetime of sexual abuse, poverty and addiction. Like Gibson, Jakes is hoping pastors will rent out theaters for a gritty, modern screen adaptation of Jesus overcoming suffering. Jakes' pitch: "The Passion" told how Jesus was crucified. "Woman, Thou Art Loosed" tells why Jesus was crucified: to offer hope to people suffering today.
[Ruben Ecleo] Justify bail, CA orders Ecleo
The Court of Appeals on Sunday gave the cult leader Ruben Ecleo Jr. of the Philippine Benevolent Missionary Association 10 days to explain why he should not be arrested and brought back to jail.
[Lori Hacking] Search for Missing Utah Woman Halted
Mark Hacking directed a relative to give police new information about his wife's disappearance that has police turning again to a municipal landfill, detectives said Sunday. Authorities investigating the case were surprised by the family's request that volunteers stop searching for Lori Hacking based on new detail from her husband. The statement released late Saturday by the families of Mark and Lori Hacking did not say what Mark Hacking had told them.
[Ahmadiyya] Ahmadi Muslims call for 'peaceful jihad'
Tens of thousands of devotees of an Islamic sect rejected by the Muslim world converged on a Surrey village yesterday to hear their leader call for a peaceful "jihad" against fanatics who follow "extremist and ignorant mullahs". Up to 30,000 Ahmadi Muslims from around the world were expected to attend the three-day event near the village of Tilford in Surrey. The Ahmadis are ostracised by the mainstream, which claims the faith is incompatible with the tenets of Islam.
[Feminism] Vatican Criticizes Feminists
The Vatican has criticized modern feminists who campaign for absolute gender equality, saying that they are undermining the traditional concept of family. The Roman Catholic Church released a lengthy message sent to bishops around the world three months ago. The letter, titled On the Collaboration of Men and Women in the Church and in the World, written by one of Pope John Paul's closest advisers, says women should be respected and have equal rights in the workplace, but it advised Catholics to recognize and accept differences between the sexes.
Sun, Aug. 01, 2004
[Lori Hacking] Police issue brief statement in Hacking case
Police in Salt Lake City aren't saying much about what Mark Hacking apparently told relatives about the search for his wife, Lori. Detective Dwayne Baird issued a brief statement today saying a Hacking family member had provided police with "substantial new information," but wouldn't elaborate.
[Lord's Resistance Army] World Court to Try 5 Kony Commanders
The International Criminal Court will prosecute five top LRA commanders, sources in the Defence Ministry have said. The Monitor has learnt that the Cabinet is working around the clock to amend the Amnesty Law to exclude the suspects including rebel boss Joseph Kony and his deputy Vincent Otti from amnesty.
[USA] Kerry would end U.S. threats over ICC agreements
If Democrat John Kerry wins the presidential election in November he would end U.S. threats to cut aid as a way of pushing countries to keep American soldiers out of the International Criminal Court, a spokeswoman for his campaign said on Friday.
[Unitarian Universalism] A Unitarian pastor examines the nature of - gasp - sin
That dog-bites-man headline commands attention when the clergyman in question leads a New York City congregation of the Unitarian Universalist Association, which usually stresses optimistic views about humanity. But Rev. Forrest Church deals in traditional concepts more than do some colleagues of his very liberal denomination. The surprise in an article he wrote for the denomination's U U World magazine was openness to a version of original sin, Christianity's belief that each person is tainted by sinfulness from birth.
[Brainwashing] How brainwashing came to life and thrived
"The Manchurian Candidate" remake brings to a wider audience questions about the role of the state in brainwashing and mind control, a topic usually reserved for the "nutters" on the Internet, as a character in the new movie puts it succinctly. [...] To update the science of brainwashing for the new "Manchurian Candidate," Demme, the director, turned to Jay Lombard, a physician who treats brain disorders in Nyack, NY. Lombard said it wasn't a big stretch to think that as scientists got better and better at understanding how the brain works, they could eventually use that knowledge to influence behavior. As an adviser to Demme, he said he "put on my devil's cap and used my own fantasies as to what might be possible. " Other experts in neurosciences asked about the technology in "The Manchurian Candidate" agreed that true mind control -- the ability to create specific thoughts or memories with brain chips or electromagnetic waves -- is still the stuff of science fiction. But the movie's theme of medical technology morphing into nefarious military applications resonated nonetheless.
[Polygamy] Polygamists defend lifestyle
Until recently, Blackmore -- self-proclaimed Bishop of Bountiful, a community of about 1,000 just south of Creston, B.C. -- was near omnipotent. The man, rumoured to have at least 30 wives and more than 100 kids, was chief executive officer of all Bountiful's business interests and trustee of 320 hectares of property. He controlled all the cash and most aspects of the lives of his Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS) followers, which is not connected to the mainstream Mormon Church. However, his power has been weakened in the beautiful little community sandwiched between lush fruit orchards and the face of the Skimmerhorn Mountains. The polygamist society has been ripped in two, divided by a bitter leadership fight that split families and pit neighbour against neighbour in Canada and the U.S.
[Cult Apologists] UCSB research of 'new religions' returns surprises
Six weeks ago, 11 UCSB students set out to map the "new religious movements" in Santa Barbara and Ojai. [...] The students, under UCSB researcher and cult expert J. Gordon Melton, discovered 90 groups in the area (including spirituality hub Ojai) that qualify roughly as "new religions." [...] "When someone uses the word 'cult,' it usually says more about them than the group," said Mr. Melton, the founder and director of The Institute for the Study of American Religion, and the author and editor of more than 30 books.
NOTE: When a scholar like J. Gordon Melton refuses to accurately use the term 'cult.' it actually says more about him than about the term. It should be noted that, as a notorious cult apologist, Melton has a vested interest in confusing and misrepresenting cult-related terrminology.
[Polygamy] Cult fears ignored
B.C. legislators were warned about the "serious" situation at a polygamous commune more than a decade ago, but so far have not acted on the recommendations of a top secret report obtained by the Sun. The multi-page document was compiled by the Committee on Polygamous Issues, a group comprised of former members of the polygamous community of Bountiful and other interested parties, in the early 1990s and then given to the provincial government.
[Lori Hacking] Hacking family: More searches unnecessary
The family of a missing Utah woman said her husband has given them information that makes the search for Lori Hacking unnecessary. Family members would not divulge the information and police said they were unaware of any such information. Mark Hacking, Lori's husband, remained hospitalized at the University of Utah Hospital's psychiatric ward where he was admitted after he reported his wife missing the morning of July 19.
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Sat, Jul. 31, 2004
[Kabbalah] Ritchie furious with guru
Film director Guy Ritchie has threatened to beat up wife Madonna's religious guru, according to reports. The threat to "break the face" of the singer's Kabbalah adviser sparked a furious row, reports The Sun. The paper says the Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels director grabbed the cleric by the throat backstage at a Miami concert hall. The guru reportedly interrupted Madge and Guy once too often while they were trying to have a conversation.
[Transcendental Meditation] M.U.M. campus safety committee releases report
The committee charged with evaluating Maharishi University of Management's campus safety policies after the March 1 stabbing death of Levi Butler, a university freshman from California, has released its final report.
[Mormon Church] LDS Apostle David B. Haight dies
LDS Apostle David B. Haight passed away at 4:15 saturday morning of causes incident to age. He was 97. His death comes just ten days after the passing of fellow apostle Neal A. Maxwell. Haight was named to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on 8 January 1976. Elder Haight had served as an Assistant to the Twelve since 6 April 1970.
[Polygamy] Krakauer still vexed by FLDS
A year ago Jon Krakauer told the more than 800 people crammed into a Utah movie theater for a reading of his book, "Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith," that he wasn't pursuing social reform when he wrote about religious extremism. Since then, he has so deeply immersed himself in the distressed lives of members and former members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints that he no longer will write about the polygamous sect that inhabits twin towns on the Utah-Arizona border. "I've been asked to help a lot of people who feel they've been victimized by this culture," Krakauer told the Associated Press on Friday in a rare interview. "I just keep getting drawn deeper and deeper into this." By "this," Krakauer means the religious politics of FLDS and its leader-prophet, Warren Jeffs, who reportedly has banished hundreds of men and boys from Hildale and Colorado City, Ariz., in a struggle for control over the sect, whose estimated 6,000 to 12,000 members make it the largest polygamous group in the West. Krakauer's best-selling book on religious extremism focused on the 1984 cold-blooded murders of Brenda Lafferty and her 15-month-old daughter, Erica, in American Fork. He will be in Salt Lake City on Saturday to lend weight to an organization calling itself Diversity, founded by former polygamist Dr. Dan Fischer.
[Buffy, the Vampire Slayer] Buffy takes on religion
Jana Riess liked watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer -- a lot. [...] Riess wanted to look past the show's violence, scantily clad characters and other controversial portrayals that drew criticism. So she wrote a book combining her key interests, calling it What Would Buffy Do? Religion, meet Buffy. In the book's 183 pages, Riess explores spirituality and underlying religious messages found in the show's 144 episodes. "It's the most moral show on television," said Riess, who lives in Winchester.
[Islam] Mecca-Cola hits Israeli markets with a cause
Mecca-Cola, a drink made popular in recent years in Europe and the Arab world thanks to rising anti-American sentiment, hit Israeli markets last week [...] The company's motto is "No more drinking stupid, drink with commitment."
[Mormon Church] Scientist says DNA challenges basic Mormon teachings
Fundamental teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints about some events in the Book of Mormon are changing -- not through revelation, but through church-sanctioned scholars' reinterpretations, an Australian geneticist and former LDS bishop writes in a new book. In Losing a Lost Tribe: Native Americans, DNA and the Mormon Church, author Simon Southerton applies his own and others' DNA research to Mormon beliefs, while also examining the writings of Brigham Young University scholars at the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies.
Anton and Janet Hein-Hudson
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