ReligionNewsBlog.com, Aug. 23, 2004
- ReligionNewsBlog.com, Aug. 23, 2004
[Kabbalah] Mystical Kabbalah sparks new interest
Seeking a simplified explanation of Kabbalah is like asking a fast-food question that requires a gourmet answer, says Rabbi Sholom Dubov, of Congregation Ahavas Yisrael, who leads the Maitland group. There is a positive side to Hollywood's fascination with Kabbalah, Dubov says. "Madonna raised an awareness that is causing Jewish people to question and explore that aspect of Judaism, which until now was off limits," he says.
[Islam] Throwing their hijabs into the five rings
A record number of Muslim women are representing their countries this year in Athens, nearly every one of them overcoming unimaginable hardships. Some endure death threats for exposing their legs to foreign men; others prepare for this day without the mats, shoes or other equipment that would be standard in any U.S. or European elementary school, much less the gymnasiums that produce world-class competitors. And many of the women struggle to find ways to balance their desire to obey Islam's requirements for modesty with the ability to maintain a competitive edge. In contrast to perceptions in the West, many say, their societies wholeheartedly encourage their participation in sports.
[Prison] Georgia trying new faith-based program at state prisons
Georgia officials are trying a new faith-based program at six state prisons, which they hope will help inmates stay out of trouble once they are released. The program seeks to teach inmates personal responsibility, ethics, life skills, tolerance and respect for themselves and others.
[False Memory Syndrome] Human mind put on trial
Prosecutors began presenting testimony this past week that they hope will convince a superior court judge to clear the way for repressed memories of sexual abuse to be admissible as court evidence. Under a 1996 New Hampshire Supreme Court ruling called the Hungerford Law, state courts do not recognize repressed memories as reliable. Hungerford requires certain criteria be met for those memories to be used as testimony. If Assistant Rockingham County Attorney Brad Bolton meets those criteria, he'll have the go-ahead to try an ongoing sexual abuse case against Exeter resident Philip Bourgelais.
[Church and State] Bush weds religion, politics to form world view
Since the attacks of Sept. 11, the president and his administration have converged a religious fundamentalist worldview with a political agenda -- a distinctly partisan one, wrapped in the mantle of national interest but crafted by and for only those who share their outlook. It is a modern form of political fundamentalism -- that is, the adaptation of a self-proclaimed conservative Christian rectitude, by way of strategic language choices and communication approaches designed for a mass-media culture, into political policy. Motivated by this ideology, the Bush administration has sought to control public discourse and to engender a climate of nationalism in which the public views presidential support as a patriotic duty and Congress (and the United Nations) is compelled to rubber-stamp administration policies. The goal is a national mood of spiritual superiority under the guise of a just sovereignty. The ultimate irony is that in combating the Islamic extremists responsible for Sept. 11, the administration has crafted, pursued and engendered its own brand of political fundamentalism -- one that, while clearly tailored to a modern democracy, nonetheless functions ideologically in a manner similar to the version offered by the terrorists.
[Ahmadiyya] Fanatics vow to lay siege to Ahmadiyya base
Religious fanatics yesterday vowed to go ahead with their planned siege to Ahmadiyya Complex at Bakshibazar on August 27 unless the government declares the sect non-Muslims before the deadline.
[USA] To disagree with America doesn't mean hating her
Disagreement with some policies of the U.S. administration doesn't constitute hatred of America and Americans, and I was a little surprised that some readers didn't want to see the difference. Dissent, as we know, is a tradition and a staple of the American way of life, something that we encourage and uphold here. It is also, after all, something that we, in our bid to spread freedom and democracy, are trying to instill in the Iraqis and Afghans: to have opinions and to have the freedom to express them without fear of being demonized or jailed.
[Raelians] Maybe ET will make appearance there, too
So the little guy tells Rael that aliens made all the people on earth, and there is no God. And if we'd just all get together, and build them a fancy Embassy, they'd come back to Earth, and we'd all clone ourselves and then get to live happily forever after (Is this starting to sound like ''a man walks into a bar . ?).
[Jehovah's Witnesses] Negligence suit rejected; Patient refused blood transfusions
The family of a Jehovah's Witness who died from blood loss during surgery in Chilliwack General Hospital has had its claim for compensation rejected by the B.C. Supreme Court, although negligence was a factor in her death. Daphine Hobbs, a 35-year-old mother of three infants, died April 16, 1996, after a hysterectomy performed by obstetrician Dr. John Robertson. Before the operation, she had signed a waiver saying she did not want to receive a blood transfusion at any time during the process.
[USA] After a Life Spent Behind Bars, Out Walks a Free Man
Robert Carroll Coney was in prison when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. He was in prison when the Beatles came to America, when men walked on the moon, when the war raged in Vietnam, when Communism fell, and when the Internet and cellphones were invented. But last week, after spending almost every day of the last 42 years behind bars, Mr. Coney, 76, walked out of the Angelina County jail in Lufkin. A state district judge had found credence in Mr. Coney's longstanding claims that he had been beaten into pleading guilty, without a lawyer, to a $2,000 Safeway supermarket robbery that landed him a life sentence in 1962, a term he fled only to be imprisoned many times in other states, escaping often, recaptured often, until he was returned to Texas last year to serve out his original term.
[Hate Groups] Alsace seeks legal ban on neo-Nazi rallies booked as 'private dinners'
Officials in Alsace have urged the French government to ban private neo-Nazi gatherings after a number of covertly organised skinhead celebrations were held in the region.
[Prison] Maryland prisons adopt religious program from popular book
Maryland's Division of Correction is adopting a nondenominational personal growth program for Christian inmates based on a best-selling book. A California prison was the first to offer the program last year. It is based on the Rev. Rick Warren's book "The Purpose-Driven Life," and California officials credit it with helping to reduce prison violence by nearly 40 percent.
[Kabbalah] Kabbalah bracelets strung up in serious religious debate
Target and the source of the Red String Package - the Kabbalah Centre in Los Angeles - didn't return calls. Regardless, the Kabbalah Centre's eagerness to profit from the red string does seem to be at the center of a knotty debate over kabbalah vogue. As of recently, the bracelets are available locally, but the Kabbalah Centre has been a leader in hawking them. However, some Jewish leaders and activists have criticized the Centre for commercializing the bendel and other products, such as "Kabbalah water," which supposedly has healing powers. Such hue and cry for a wee bit of thread? Turns out it's much more than that.
[Hate Groups : Scientology] Is Cruise losing control?
He is supposed to be promoting his new film, Collateral, but Tom Cruise is more interested in talking about Scientology. Will his new openness about his beliefs affect the fanbase he works so hard to cultivate? [...] Since parting company in May with his long-time personal publicist Pat Kingsley, Cruise is talking openly about the religion that he adopted in 1989. Indeed, some speculate that he fired Kingsley because she was advising him to tone down the Scientology talk in public. [...] "The last thing I would ever do is talk to a psychiatrist," confirms Cruise, who starts to get heated the moment the subject arises. "Look at the history of psychiatry: it's based on opinions. It's not based on any facts; there's no science to it. Now science is an organised body of knowledge based on specific axioms, and these axioms are invariable, the physics of the universe. Psychiatry itself is not a science, there's no science behind it - it's called junk science."
NOTE: Scientology is based entirely on junk science and bad, really bad science fiction. Conveniently, Scientology teaches its members that it is OK to lie and to engage in other unethical behavior. Oh, and you have to sign a contract in which you promise never to see a professonial every Scientologist desperately needs: a psychiatrist.
[Jehovah's Witnesses] Man died after religious beliefs delayed vital op
A Jehovah's Witness who went into hospital for a simple hip replacement operation died after developing a lethal deep vein thrombosis (DVT), an inquest has heard.
[Mormon Church] Sacramento's flourishing Mormon community breaks ground for its own temple
The offer of free family-tree research is a standard part of the missionary work of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In addition to the talk about heritage, Glade and his partner Sevak Tsaturyan visited with the Morales family for nearly 45 minutes in the couple's Fair Oaks apartment. They promised to return soon. The pleasant persistence of Glade and Tsaturyan - and others like them - could be one reason the Mormons are one of the fastest-growing faith groups in the country. The church has been particularly successful in Sacramento - the region is now No. 1 in LDS conversions in the country, according to church officials. Now it's time to build a home. After years of planning and wrangling with local officials, church members finally will break ground Sunday on a 17,500-square-foot temple, the first of its kind in the area
[Presbyterian Church] Area Leaders Join Jewish Opposition To Church's Votes
Local Jewish leaders have joined a national protest against the Presbyterian Church (USA), charging the Protestant denomination with endangering a long-standing relationship between the two faith groups when it passed measures regarding Judaism and Israel at its recent convention in Richmond. Jews said they were most surprised when delegates to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) overwhelmingly approved a resolution, 431 to 62, to divest itself of financial interests in selected international corporations that do business in Israel -- a reflection, church leaders said, of the church's opposition to Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and construction of a security fence around much of the Palestinian territory. They said they were also dismayed by a more closely contested vote, 260 to 233, to reject restrictions on funding additional messianic Jewish congregations. Last fall's opening of Avodat Yisrael, a Presbyterian-supported messianic congregation near Philadelphia, sparked protests from Jewish leaders, who demanded that the church withdraw financial support.
[Antisemitism] Anti-Semitic Attack on Jewish Community Center in Paris
Fire swept through a Jewish community center in eastern Paris in the early morning hours today after arsonists broke into the building and scrawled swastikas and anti-Semitic slogans inside. It was the latest in a wave of neo-Nazi acts sweeping the country.
[David Francis] Paul Meintjies' body to be cremated
The saga of the resurrection of Paul Meintjies of Hertzogville in the Free State is expected to come to an end tomorrow. His body is expected to be cremated in Bloemfontein. Meintjies has been dead for more than 50 days and his body kept in a Hertzogville mortuary after David Frances, a self-proclaimed prophet, predicted that Meintjies would rise from the dead. The mortuary refused to keep the body longer and delivered it to the widow's house on Wednesday. The Free State health department and police intervened and took the body to the state mortuary in Bloemfontein.
[David Francis] Body taken from house after failed resurrection
South African police have removed a man's body from his widow's bedroom after he was left unburied for more than seven weeks following his death because she hoped he would be resurrected. The body of the man, Paul Meintjies, 77, which had been stored by a local undertaker since July 1, was returned to the family home in a coffin on Wednesday. Police said it was a health hazard and gave the family 36 hours to bury him.
[David Francis] Man who predicted resurrection hides at home
Residents of Hertzogville in the Free State said David Francis, who fixes leaking roofs in Durban for a living, was too embarrassed to face the community after his attempts at playing God turned into farce. Francis had convinced the family and friends of Oom Paul, who died seven weeks ago at the age of 74 after suffering a stroke, that he would return from the dead on July 29. According to Nick Foulds, the undertaker, Francis had become the subject of much ridicule and had locked himself in his house and unplugged the telephone. Meanwhile, unless the Meintjies family decides it has given up on hopes of his resurrection, Oom Paul will be given a pauper's burial.
[Gilbert Deya Ministries] Tussle over 'miracle babies'
After a fortnight of mind-boggling revelations of "miracle babies", there is fresh controversy pitting couples claiming to be parents of the children. Last weekend, two couples came forward to claim one baby boy aged five, saying they were ready to go for DNA tests to prove to the world the boy was theirs. The couples said they saw the boy's picture in last Monday's edition of the East African Standard, tried matching it with those of their other children and found it to be that of their son who disappeared mysteriously.
[Gilbert Deya Ministries] Deya's power is hereditary, says mother
Pastor Gilbert Ajuma Deya, Got Abiero's best-known son, is a man of surprises and, currently, a highly controversial figure. But not to his mother, whose faith in the man at the centre of the 'miracle babies' saga, is simple and unwavering. Sitting under a tree next to her crumbling tin-roof house, which stands incongruously near her son's splendid bungalow, she insists that Deya is indeed specially gifted. "It is true that my son has the power to perform miracles, including resurrecting people from the dead. He got the powers from me," says Monica Nono Deya, 78.
[Gilbert Deya Ministries] Making a miracle out of a con game
Have you sensed my fury? I am circumlocuting to delay the moment at which I should delve into the completely bogus world of "miracle" babies, the world of 22 children who in all probability were wrenched from the love and care of their mothers to become part of a religious joke. I grieve for these children, I grieve for what they have been robbed of, I grieve for their families and the pain they endure. Most of all I grieve because none of this was necessary. But the fury I reserve for the ring of con artists, and their half-baked religious hocus-pocus, who are telling me: Rejoice, it is a miracle?
Anton and Janet Hein-Hudson
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