ReligionNewsBlog.com, Aug. 3-5, 2004
- ReligionNewsBlog.com, Aug. 3-5, 2004
Thu, Aug. 05, 2004
[ Gods Holy Words Church] 12 convicted for misleading cult promises
The followers of the so-called goddess who call themselves Gods Holy Words Church conducted rituals to make themselves holy before 3:00pm on July 29 because they were told by one woman who claimed to be the goddess that all the faithful followers of Jesus Christ would be taken back to heaven, Mr Nigi said.
[Mariology] Church declares weeping Virgin statue a hoax and chases the missing donations
After finding that a statue of a weeping Virgin Mary was an elaborate hoax, the Catholic Church is investigating another mystery: where is the money donated by the faithful who came to see it?
[Islam] Feds arrest 2 in missile scheme after raiding mosque
Two leaders of a mosque in Albany, N.Y., were arrested on charges stemming from an alleged plot to purchase a shoulder-fired missile, federal authorities said Thursday.
[Jan-Aage Torp] Pastor's Olympic 'vision' spurs debate
An Oslo pastor from an evangelical Christian movement claims he had a vision in May that the upcoming Summer Olympics in Athens would result in a "bloodbath." The pastor's remarks have sparked criticism from other Christian leaders and even a local bishop.
[Ritual Killing] Sorcerers Nabbed with 50 Bodies, 20 Skulls
Nigerian police have arrested 30 witch-doctors in a raid on fetish shrines in southeast Anambra state where over 50 decomposing bodies and 20 human skulls were discovered, a police spokesman said Thursday. The heads, genitals and other vital parts of some of the bodies, found in a teak forest in Okija village, had been severed, a sign they may have been killed for ritual.
[Ritual Killing] Grisly find in Nigerian 'evil forest'
Nigerian police have recovered 20 human skulls and more than 50 corpses in a raid on two black-magic shrines in an "evil forest" in the south of the country, police Commissioner Felix Ogbaudu said on Thursday
[Ritual Killing] Police recover 20 human skulls, 1 corpse in shrines
Though the priest of one of the shrines claimed that the skulls and the dead bodies were deposited by their owners because they were killed by the shrine by which name they swore to an oath, a native of Okija who tipped off the police, said the people were actually killed by the priests. He alleged that the priests killed their victims through what he called isusu and then ate them. He said the practice had existed for years but nobody was courageous enough to expose the perpetrators. He said he, however, took an oath with one of the priests for him to be able to penetrate the cult and have a first hand knowledge of their mode of operation.
[Ritual Killing] Nigeria Discovers 50 Possible Cult Victims
Police in eastern Nigeria discovered skulls and corpses of more than 50 people in shrines where a secretive cult was believed to have carried out traditional ritual killings, a police spokesman said Thursday.
[Religious Intolerance] Woman Fired For Eating 'Unclean' Meat
A Central Florida woman was fired from her job after eating "unclean" meat and violating a reported company policy that pork and pork products are not permissible on company premises, according to Local 6 News. Lina Morales was hired as an administrative assistant at Rising Star -- a Central Florida telecommunications company with strong Muslim ties, Local 6 News reported.
[Religious Merchandising] Jesus Credit Card Raises a Few Eyebrows
Family Christian Stores nationwide are offering the new Mastercard with an image some Christians say their master wouldn't approve being on a charge card. Stone says she's heard a few comments both positive and negative from her customers.
[Hate Groups] Neo-Nazi duo jailed for race hate attacks
Two members of the Australian Nationalist Movement neo-Nazi group were today jailed for their part in a campaign of race hate in Perth.
[Yan-Gwagwarmaya] Nigeria wife-swapping sect raided
Several people have been killed after Nigerian police raided the headquarters of an Islamic sect, whose members exchanged their wives. Members of the Yan-Gwagwarmaya sect battled the police with guns and machetes before being overwhelmed, the police say.
[David Francis] 'Dead man will rise today'
If the prediction of a self-proclaimed prophet, Durban resident David Francis, is to be believed, Meintjies will rise from the dead by the end of today. The much anticipated resurrection was originally scheduled to take place on July 29, however this did not happen.
[UFOs] UFO sightings rise
There's something fishy going on in Manitoba's skies. Unidentified flying object (UFO) sightings in the Keystone Province are nearing an all-time high, according to an independent group that investigates and records reported sightings across Canada.
[Kabbalah] Madge opens £12m school
No wonder MADONNA is charging £200 for tickets to her concerts these days. She must be feeling the pinch after forking out £12MILLION to set up a Kabbalah school in New York. The Queen of Pop is opening the specialist centre just down the road from her Big Apple apartment at the end of the year. The Kabbalist Grammar School For Children The K School for short will teach primary-age pupils the beliefs of the mystical Jewish faith.
[Catholic Church] Judge orders church to determine worth of assets
The first Roman Catholic archdiocese in the nation to file for bankruptcy argued Wednesday that 80 claims of sex abuse by priests should be moved to another court to decide just how much victims are owed. But U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Elizabeth Perris ruled the Archdiocese of Portland still must determine how much it is worth, no matter which federal judge hears the case. [...] The archdiocese sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on July 6, setting the stage for what could become the first ruling in U.S. history on how far the courts can go to ensure the Catholic Church pays damages for sex abuse by its priests.
[Polygamy] In Utah court, lawyers argue that polygamy is legal
If Texas cannot criminalize sodomy, Utah should not be able to criminalize polygamy, argued the attorney for three adults who want to live together as husband and wives. The three filed a lawsuit after they were denied a marriage license by the Salt Lake County Clerk's Office in December. They ask that the county clerk be required to issue the marriage license, and they seek a declaration that the state's criminal and civil bans of polygamy are unconstitutional.
[Unification Church] Moons groups lure lawmakers to symposiums and conferences
The Rev. Sun Myung Moon is undertaking an ambitious and diffuse campaign to influence members of Congress, their top foreign-policy staffs and United Nations ambassadors with an ongoing series of seminars and junkets in New York and Jerusalem and on Capitol Hill. Groups such as the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace (IIFWP) the Womens Federation for World Peace (WFWP), the World Culture and Sports Festival and the Middle East Peace Initiative (MEPI) all groups that have been founded by or are directly affiliated with Moon have lured lawmakers, congressional staffers and various countries U.N. ambassadors to their symposiums. But those organizations have not made their association with Moon clear to the participants before they accepted the glossy invitations, attendees say.
[Religious Persecution] Persecuted for their faith -- and ignored by the U.S.
If Bush truly believes religion is the "first freedom of the human soul," why isn't his administration pressuring countries that persecute people for their beliefs? [...] For all the White House's talk about religious freedom and its open appeal to religious constituencies in the election campaign, Bush's record in this area is stunning for its lack of interest, consistency and results.
[Hate Groups : Scientology] Moonchild Lands at New York Fringe
Based on actual events, Moonchild "examines the relationship between a young, broke and struggling L. Ron Hubbard and the brilliant, half-crazed rocket scientist Jack Parsons, a Satanist and disciple of the infamous Aleister Crowley," according to press materials. "Playwright Maureen FitzGerald speculates on how a meeting between two of the twentieth century's most controversial figures led to the birth of a multi-million dollar empire."
[Polygamy] Investigation launched into polygamous sect dubbed 'Canada's dirty little secret'
The peace of a secretive polygamous sect that has quietly practised its controversial - and illegal - way of life in a remote part of Canada for more than 60 years is about to be shattered. Murmurings about alleged sexual abuse and forced marriage within the 1,000-strong community of Bountiful have reached fever pitch as women have fled the group with tales of exploitation. [...] Geoff Plant, the attorney general of the western Canadian province of British Columbia, has now launched an extensive investigation into the allegations.
[Polygamy] HBO producing series on polygamous family
Think Tony Soprano, but without all the violence or swearing, and with a wife who doesn't care if he sleeps with other women. That's the star of HBO's new original drama series, called "Big Love," about a polygamous, fictional Utah family living in the present day.
Wed, Aug. 04, 2004
[Mormon Church] Mormons meet to answer criticism
A group of Mormons plan to meet this week to defend their faith on issues ranging from the role of blacks in the church to historical inaccuracies in the Book of Mormon. This is the sixth conference of the Foundation for Apologetic Information & Research, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing well-documented answers to criticisms of Mormon belief and practice.
[Hinduism] Hindu temple accuses US judge of interference
New York, One of America's largest Hindu temples has accused a judge of violating the separation of church and state by intervening in its affairs. The magnificent, grey-towered Ganesha temple in Flushing, Queens, plans to file a motion in a federal court to stop state courts from forcing it to hold elections to its board of trustees, The New York Times reported Wednesday. Thousands of Hindus across the US are following the legal tussle closely. In what was seen as a bitter defeat for the temple's current 11-member board and a victory for six disaffected members, who had filed a suit to demand elections, a state appellate panel ordered the polls a year ago.
[Witchcraft] Tanzanian 'witch killers' charged
Some 20 people in Tanzania have been charged with murdering seven men they suspected of practising witchcraft. [...] They had organised a secret ballot where residents named the alleged witches and wizards, who were then attacked with machetes and spears.
[St John Apostolic Faith Mission] Pastor: We had to chain them
A church on the East Rand has apparently been keeping people in shackles on church grounds for the past couple of years "to drive their demons out". Although the Gauteng Association for Mental Health has been investigating this alleged "inhuman" situation for the past three months, the seven people, who might be mentally ill, have still not been freed from their chains. Police spokesperson superintendent Eugene Opperman said police were investigating these allegations. "We will decide what to do as soon as we have enough information." Some of the people have allegedly been held for years at the St John's Apostolic Faith Mission in Etwatwa, a township outside Benoni. Pastor Paul Mabothe, a representative of the church, said it was necessary to keep the people in shackles "for their own safety". "These people do funny things. They could run around and damage themselves or church property," Mabothe said.
[St John Apostolic Faith Mission] 'Church of chains' holding 8
A North Rand church has been holding eight people in chains as it believes they are possessed by demons. Charlotte McClain-Nhlapo of the Human Rights Commission said a preliminary investigation into a complaint against the St John Apostolic Faith Mission Church in Etwatwa, Daveyton, had been opened. She said once the investigation was complete the HRC would make recommendations as to what actions should be taken. The eight would remain with the church until the investigation was completed.
[Helge Fossmo] Swedish pastor appeals sentence for ordering nanny to kill his wife
The lawyer for a pastor convicted of manipulating his former nanny into murdering his wife said Monday he would appeal the life sentence a court handed down last week. Helge Fossmo, 32, was sentenced to life in prison Friday after the Uppsala District Court ruled that the Pentecostal church pastor persuaded Sara Svensson, 27, to shoot his wife as she was sleeping in their house in Knutby, about 75 kilometres (45 miles) northeast of Stockholm. Svensson also shot Fossmos' neighbour, Daniel Linde, who survived the Jan. 10 attack.
[Mormon Church] Conference for Mormon Scholarship Begins Tomorrow
A conference for Mormons who want to defend their faith from critics begins tomorrow in Sandy. This is the sixth conference of the Foundation for Apologetic Information & Research, also known as FAIR. Participants in the two-day conference can hear presentations on every touchy issue the L-D-S Church faces, including the banning of black men from the faith's all-male priesthood until 1978, the role of women in the church, homosexuality and same-sex marriage, and problems new D-N-A evidence poses for the Book of Mormon's historicity.
[USA] Guantanamo Britons Endured 'Catalogue of Abuses'
Britain and the US stand accused of a shocking catalogue of human rights abuses today by three Britons who were held at Guantanamo Bay. Asif Iqbal, Rhuhel Ahmed and Shafiq Rasul, all from Tipton in the West Midlands, returned to Britain in March having spent more than two years without legal representation in American custody, first in Afghanistan, then at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. They were then released without charge by British police. They were shackled, punched, kicked, slapped, hooded, forced to strip naked and deprived of sleep, they said in the 115-page dossier Detention in Afghanistan and Guantanamo.
[Polygamy] Attorney argues against state's polygamy laws
While the state may have a legitimate interest in outlawing fraudulent or coerced polygamous relationships, it does not have a similar concern when it comes to consenting adults, a civil rights attorney said Tuesday. Attorney Brian Barnard made the argument in federal court on behalf of three Utahns who wish to participate in plural marriage. The married couple, along with the man's would-be second wife, filed a lawsuit after they were denied a marriage license by the Salt Lake County Clerk's Office in December.
[Polygamy] Attacking a cult
Fall into this rabbit hole and the ordinary rules don't apply. A cult is called a church, women are chattel, children are denied education, little girls are assigned as second and third "wives" to older men, and teen boys are driven away because they represent competition for girls. That's the way things are in the twin cities of Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah. Here, in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a tyrant is called prophet. He runs everybody's life and owns everything, including the keys to heaven. In his corner of Earth, he's the law. When people first learn that the Arizona-Utah line hosts the nation's largest polygamous community, they are enraged. Why doesn't the law sweep in and stop this perversion of faith and family?
[David Francis] Oom Paul: Family 'losing it'
The Durbanite who calls himself a prophet and who "predicted" Oom Paul Meintjies' resurrection tore the Meintjies family apart, disturbed the peace and brought turmoil to a lot of people's lives, say the dead man's best friend and his sister. Henry Roux and Oom Paul's sister, Hettie Vorster, are upset with "prophet" David Francis and with Meintjies's widow, Anna, and her children, Pieter and Petro Joseph, who are waiting in isolation in the Meintjies' house for Oom Paul to rise from the dead.
[Glenn and Justin Helzer] Jury recommends death for Justin Helzer
A jury recommended the death penalty Tuesday for Justin Helzer in the deaths of the daughter of blues guitarist Elvin Bishop and an elderly couple as part of a bizarre crime spree four years ago. The jury also recommended life in prison without the possibility of parole for Helzer's role in the deaths of two other people.
[Hinduism] Nepal no longer a Hindu kingdom?
It is called the only Hindu kingdom in the world. But going by population statistics, Nepal might not qualify for that position any more in the near future. The 2001 Census by the Central Bureau of Statistics shows a decline in the number of Hindus in the Himalayan kingdom, with more Nepalese opting to become Buddhists, Christians and other traditional religions.
[Euthanasia] Fears over 'unregulated euthanasia'
Raising concern about possible unregulated euthanasia cases, researchers have claimed that Dutch doctors administer "terminal sedation" in four to 10 percent of patient deaths. Researchers from the Erasmus Medical Centre and the Free University medical Centre in Amsterdam said some of these deaths verge on euthanasia and should possibly come into consideration for assessment as such. Euthanasia has been legal in the Netherlands since April 2002, allowing assisted suicides if the patient officially requests to die, is suffering from extreme pain or a terminal illness and a second medical opinion has been sought. The Netherlands was the first nation to legalise euthanasia.
[USA] Guantanamo claims by UK ex-detainee
Full details of a catalogue of abuse and degrading treatment allegedly suffered by a former British Guantanamo Bay detainee have emerged. [...] Claims of mistreatment have been reported since five of the nine Britons held at the base were released, including an outline of Mr Dergoul's claims against the American authorities. But this was the first time a detailed report of his allegations had been published.
[Lori Hacking] Police: Hacking Said He Killed His Wife
The husband of a missing pregnant woman told a "reliable citizen witness" in the psychiatric ward that he killed his wife as she slept and then threw her body in a trash bin, according to a court filing. The document, released Tuesday by the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Department, also says investigators found human blood on a knife in the bedroom of Mark Hacking's apartment and on the couple's headboard and bedrail. Blood found in the bedroom matched traces of blood found in Lori Hacking's car, according to the statement. Mark Hacking was arrested Monday on a charge of aggravated murder, even though his wife's body has not been found.
[Rwanda] Vicar will launch naked calendar
A Gloucestershire vicar is to launch a nude calendar in his church after a group of 13 women posed naked to raise money for rape victims in Rwanda. The Rev Stephen Earley of St Martin's Church in Horsley said: "As Christians we are taught to help widows and orphans, so I didn't hesitate." The calendar will help Surf, an organisation working for survivors of the genocide and those with HIV.
[Hate Groups] Guilty pleas over racist graffiti
Members of the neo-Nazi group Australian Nationalist Movement (ANM) have admitted their part in a campaign of racist graffiti in Perth. ANM members Daniel Tyrone Klavins and Frank James Lemin, and associate Benjamin Weerheym, today pleaded guilty to wilfully damaging numerous premises including a police station, a synagogue, kosher food store and a Chinese restaurant.
[Islam] Muslim chaplain who was cleared in espionage case resigns from U.S. army
A Muslim chaplain cleared after being imprisoned for 76 days in an espionage investigation submitted a letter of resignation to the army Monday, saying officials never apologized to him or allowed him to retrieve his belongings from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Capt. James Yee, 35, ministered to prisoners at Guantanamo Bay naval station, where the military is holding suspected Muslim terrorists. He was taken into custody after the military initially linked him to a possible espionage ring at Guantanamo.
[Catholic Church] Focus Of Catholic Sexual Abuse Suits Now Includes Nuns
The Roman Catholic sexual abuse crisis has focused primarily on molestation by priests, but in Louisville, more than 20 people are now suing an order of nuns that staffed an orphanage decades ago. While most experts agree the incidence of abuse by nuns has been much less frequent than with male clergy, the phenomenon has been gaining some attention recently.
[Islam] Iraqi religious leaders assail church blasts
Iraq's minority Christians contemplated an uncertain and fearful future Monday, while condemnations poured in from Muslim and Christian leaders of the church bombings that killed 11 and injured dozens during Sunday services. Leading the denunciations was the top Shiite religious authority, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who called on Iraqis to respect the rights of all religious communities.
[Islam] Group claiming links to al-Qaida repeats threat against Europe
A group claiming to represent al-Qaida in Europe repeated terrorist threats against Britain, Italy, Bulgaria and other nations with forces in Iraq in a Web statement Tuesday.
[more news below]
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Tue, Aug. 03, 2004
[Polygamy] Nearly 200 offer help to polygamy's 'lost boys'
Nearly 200 people, including a 97-year-old woman, have called a hotline since Sunday offering to help scores of young men and boys who were thrown out of the nation's largest polygamous community in a pair of remote communities along the Arizona-Utah state line. [...] In a move officials hailed as courageous and unprecedented, dozens of young men and boys gathered on the steps of the Utah capitol in Salt Lake City last Saturday to tell how their lives were shattered by the leadership of their polygamous faith. The youths said they represented but a fraction of more than 400 males who either were excommunicated or driven from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 1998.
[Homeschooling] Pennsylvanians file suit over home school rules
In cases being closely watched by home schooling advocates across the country, the Newborns and a second Pennsylvania family have filed lawsuits under the state Religious Freedom Protection Act challenging the state's home school reporting requirements. The act allows people to challenge any laws they believe impose "substantial burdens upon the free exercise of religion without compelling justification." Similar statutes were passed in 11 other states after a federal religious freedoms law was declared unconstitutional in 1997. Pennsylvania's home-schooling regulations are among the most stringent in the nation.
[Unification Church] Ex-Uganda leader weds by satellite
Former Ugandan President Godfrey Binaisa has married his Japanese bride without meeting her. The 84-year-old exchanged vows with Ms Yamamoto by satellite link in front of followers of the Unification Church, also known as Moonies.
[Ruben Ecleo] Conviction of 'fall guy' in Ecleo case nullified
The Regional Trial Court (RTC) has nullified the decision that convicted an alleged "fall guy" in the murder of Alona Bacolod-Ecleo. Acting presiding Judge Leopoldo Ca¤ete of RTC Branch 60 in Barili town, Cebu said the verdict of his predecessor Judge Idelfonso Suerte to sentence Cedric Devinadera for accessory to murder should be considered "non-existent."
[Ulysses Roberson] Torture prosecution possible in Roberson case
Ulysses Roberson will be held to answer on a special circumstance of torture in the alleged murder of his 4-year-old son, meaning prosecutors could seek the death penalty or life in prison without parole for the polygamist. [...] Hans Uthe, El Dorado County assistant district attorney, believes Roberson, a black man, was motivated by racism when he killed Alexander, a mulatto child.
[Kabbalah] Murphy says no to Kabbalah
Hollywood babe Brittany Murphy has no interest in the controversial Kabbalah following - despite wearing its signature red string bracelet.
[General Assembly CotFB] Court dates set in case involving infants death
The Schmidts each face a charge of criminal recklessness for not seeking medical attention for their daughter last summer because of their religious beliefs. They instead asked church elders in Morgantown to come to their home outside Franklin and pray for their daughter in the hours after her birth. Both attend the General Assembly and Church of the Firstborn near Morgantown, which advocates faith healing instead of medical intervention. Their daughter, Rhiana Rose Schmidt, died less than two days after birth because of puerperal sepsis, a general infection typically treated with antibiotics.
[Aum Shinrikyo] Media scrutinized over coverage of NPA-chief shooting case
Major news media outlets are once again taking heat for depending too much on information from investigative authorities in their reporting, this time over recent incidents surrounding the 1995 shooting of the National Police Agency chief.
[Religious Freedom] Sri Lanka's minorities oppose anti-conversion bill
Christian groups are strongly opposing Sri Lanka's move to introduce a bill banning religious conversions, with the Supreme Court also receiving 25 petitions in its favour and 21 against it, placing the government in a tight spot, reports OneWorld.
[Order of Saint Charbel] School's link to cult investigated
NSW child protection agencies are investigating a federally funded private school on the state's south coast that is linked to a doomsday cult. St Joseph's School has received $332,000 in federal funding since 1996. It is built inside the compound of the Order of St Charbel in Cambewarra, near Nowra, and has as its spiritual leader William Kamm, also known as "Little Pebble". Mr Kamm and the order were denounced by then Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne George Pell in 1997 after a report found he had asked female devotees to bear his children through mystical marriages.
[David Francis] 'Oom Paul' given a deadline
Whether the late Paul Meintjies rises from the dead or not is anyone's guess, but either way, his days are numbered at the town's mortuary. Dead - or alive - he has until Thursday to vacate his fridge. Mortuary owner Nico Foulds said on Monday that he, along with many other people, was now tired of the saga.
Anton and Janet Hein-Hudson
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