ReligionNewsBlog.com, Nov. 10-12, 2004
Fri, Nov. 12, 2004
[Helge Fossmo] Appeals court upholds Knutby verdict
Pastor Helge Fossmo has been sentenced by the Appeals Court to life
imprisonment for the murder of his second wife, Alexandra, and for the
attempted murder of a neighbour in January of this year. He was found not
guilty of the murder of his first wife in 1999.
[Offbeat News] Pastor short of cash, but robbers agree to take a check
Lacking cash, a Kansas City church pastor wrote checks for two men during
an armed robbery Wednesday night. Since the checks were written to each
robber by name, police think they know who the robbers are.
[Gilbert Deya Ministries] 'Miracle Baby' Is Victim of Child Greedy
Traffickers - Judge
The one-year-old boy is one of many children who a self-styled archbishop
claims were born to infertile mothers through the power of prayer.
[Melody O'Gara] Missing woman's 'cult' connection
Her father, Hugh, said she was reading a book before she disappeared which
urges readers to "dump" their past. [Eckhart Tolle's "The Power of Now"]
[Islam] Muslim convert Cat Stevens gets peace award in Rome
Former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev presented singer-songwriter
Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens, with a peace prize, two months
after he was refused entry to the United States on "national security
[Buddhism] Afghanistan wants its 'Dead Sea Scrolls of Buddhism' back from
The Afghan government is to request the return of the "Dead Sea Scrolls of
Buddhism" from the British Library, amid concerns the priceless
manuscripts were looted during civil war in the early nineties.
[Nicole Mancini and John Thurber] Couple arrested after church workers
fear child sacrifice
A Farmington woman who allegedly said she wanted to "sacrifice" at least
one of her children in a local church on Wednesday is scheduled to face
child endangerment charges in court today, along with her boyfriend.
[Islam] An online war for hearts and minds
The battle for Muslim minds is not being fought by radicals in Falluja or
in the mosques. It is being fought on the net. And one of Europe's experts
on Islam in the West says governments must rethink how they are going to
win this war. [...]
[Science and Religion] Bringing religion to medicine
Dr. Daniel Sulmasy and Dr. Alan Astrow, faculty members at New York
Medical College, aren't trying to be prophets, exactly. But they want
their fellow physicians to acknowledge that they often are not prepared
for the questions that arise when medicine runs out of answers, and
patients are not ready to die.
[Hate Groups] Arafat's Terrorist Legacy: A Partial List
Yasser Arafat, considered the founder of the modern-day terrorism, began a
wave of murder against Jewish targets around the world shortly after
taking control of the PLO in 1968-9.
[Islam] Elders 'beat children at mosques'
Police and child protection officials have launched an investigation into
allegations of child abuse at two mosques in the West Midlands.
Around 40 schoolchildren are to be interviewed over claims that they have
been subjected to violence and punishment by elders at the mosques, which
are on adjoining roads.
[Lord's Resistance Army] Uganda Heads List of World's Forgotten Tragedies
The kidnapping and torture of children by a Uganda religious sect was high
on the list of a new United Nations appeal on Thursday for the world's
The appeal seeks $1.7 billion for 14 crisis areas that have not captured
headlines, 11 of them in Africa. Among the worst is for northern Uganda,
which has 1.6 million homeless people, more than in Sudan's Darfur region.
[Rastafarianism] Two marijuana proponents convicted of possession
Two proponents of legalizing marijuana were convicted yesterday of
misdemeanor counts of possession of marijuana during three protests at
Independence National Historical Park after a federal judge rejected their
claim that smoking was constitutionally protected because they are
[Aum Shinrikyo] Justice Minister Backs Extension of AUM Surveillance Law
Justice Minister Chieko Nono said Friday that the law allowing
surveillance of the AUM Shinrikyo cult, responsible for the deadly 1995
sarin attack on the Tokyo subway system and other crimes, should be
extended beyond December when it will be reviewed.
[Hate Groups] Matt Hale's sentencing postponed
White supremacist Matt Hale's sentencing for soliciting the murder of a
federal judge - originally scheduled for Monday - has been postponed.
Thu, Nov. 11, 2004
[Interfaith] Reaching out, church hires Muslim
A Muslim imam will join the staff of a Christian church, a first in Denver
and perhaps nationally.
Ibrahim Kazerooni, a Shiite cleric, will direct the church's fledgling
Abrahamic Initiative, a bridge-building effort among Christians, Jews and
Muslims. He will continue to head the Islamic Center of Ahl Al-Beit in
[Polygamy] Foster gets last chance with kids
Heidi Mattingly Foster will get a final chance to show she can be a good
parent to her children with polygamist John Daniel Kingston.
Third District Juvenile Court Judge Andrew Valdez agreed Wednesday to let
Foster have expanded visits with eight of the 11 children she had with
[Theo van Gogh] Dutch say murder suspect linked to radical Muslims
Dutch authorities are investigating a radical Muslim group they suspect is
linked to the man accused of killing a filmmaker critical of Islam and to
last year's Casablanca bombings.
[Netherlands] Seven held in Dutch anti-terror raids
Dutch police stormed a flat after a 14-hour standoff in which four
officers were wounded, arresting two people there and five more in other
parts of the country all suspected of links with a network of radical
[Islam] 2 Held After Dutch Standoff
The confrontation in the Dutch city erupted about 2:45 a.m. when
anti-terror police raided an apartment house in search of three extremists
in a crackdown on Islamic networks that was launched after the slaying
last week of filmmaker Theo van Gogh.
[Word of Faith Fellowship] Whaley appeal hearing delayed until January
Word of Faith Fellowship co-founder Jane Whaley's hearing on her appeal of
a misdemeanor assault charge was put off until January after a scheduling
conflict with attorneys arose on Wednesday.
Whaley was found guilty in March of assaulting former WOFF member Lacy
[Smith's Friends] Tiny Christian sect seen as the centre of Woerlens' lives
Known informally as the fellowship of Smith's Friends, the Norwegian-based
church has been defined by religion sociologists as authoritarian and
ethnocentric, and in Germany where it has significant membership, the news
media have called it a cult.
The cult label is very likely an overstatement, suggested University of
Toronto new-religion specialist David Reed. For example, its 25,000 to
30,000 adherents living in 55 countries are close-knit but do not live
communally. However, the church certainly is the star by which its members
steer their lives.
[USA] The law and Guantanamo
A prosecution before the first U.S. military commission since World War II
was halted this week, just as it was getting started, by a federal judge
in Washington who ruled that the proceedings lacked the basic elements of
a fair trial and violated the Geneva Conventions. It was the latest in a
series of court decisions that have taken the Bush administration to task
for trampling on the law in the name of fighting terrorists. The
administration should bring its policies into compliance with law.
[USA] Editorial: Justice at last/One detainee gets a day in court
Salim Ahmed Hamdan was captured by U.S. forces in Afghanistan and has
spent three years interned at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba. Finally
this week, he got his day in court, and what a refreshing day it was. For
the first time, a federal judge has said what most of the world has long
believed: American treatment of the captives at Guantanamo goes against
the rule of law, against the nation's international obligations and
against the best interests of American troops in foreign conflicts.
[USA] Review of detainee rights proper
A federal judge has ruled that the Bush administration exceeded
constitutional authority - and ignored the Geneva Conventions - when it
set up military commissions to try terror suspects held at Guantanamo Bay.
The decision is an important step in sorting out the status of so-called
[Carl Drew] Drew case in judge's hands
After 11 days of testimony from more than 20 witnesses, the fate of
convicted "cult murderer" Carl Drew now rests with Superior Court Judge
[Mormon Church] LDS artist adapts religious text
The Book of Mormon is many things to many people, a spiritual guide to the
truths of the world to some, a topic of scorn and controversy to others -
now it is one more: a comic book.
[Mormon Church] Doubleday Book of Mormon is on the way
Cast in a partially gold cover reminiscent of the plates from which
millions believe it was translated, the first secular printing of "The
Book of Mormon" will line bookstore shelves beginning next week, marking
what many within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will no
doubt see as a milestone in the mainstreaming of their faith.
[Melody O'Gara] Missing Melody could be with a cult
Melody, from Bolton, disappeared two weeks ago from a friend's house in
Sydney where she had stayed the night. She has not been seen since and has
not been in contact with any family or friends.
Her father, Hugh, and brother Kevin flew to Australia last week to help in
the search for Melody, a former Bolton School pupil. After speaking to
some of her friends, they believe she may have decided to follow the
teachings of a self-help book called The Power of Now.
Written by German Eckhart Tolle, the book suggests people can find
inner-fulfilment by forgetting their past.
[Melody O'Gara] Cult fear over lost Melody
The family of missing British backpacker Melody O’Gara are convinced she
has started a new life in a cult.
Melody’s father Hugh and brother Kevin revealed their belief as they
arrived yesterday in Sydney, where the 28-year-old vanished more than two
[Aum Shinrikyo] Aum said still dangerous, to be kept under tight watch
Because of concerns it could infringe upon the freedom of religion and
other rights, the law is subject to review every five years, including its
On Wednesday, Justice Ministry officials told a joint meeting of legal and
security panels of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party that they do not
plan to abolish or revise the law when it comes up for its first review in
December, according to the sources.
[Homosexuality / Lesbianism] 'Homosexuality and the Scriptures' explored
In the wake of voter approval of a constitutional amendment banning same
sex marriage in Oklahoma and controversy within the Episcopalian Church
concerning the consecration of a gay bishop last year, the Rev. Dr. T. Lee
Stevens of St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Bartlesville took on the subject
of "Homosexuality in the Scriptures" during a public forum held Tuesday.
Wed, Nov. 10, 2004
[Hate Groups] Arafat, terrorist to some, national symbol to others, dead
Arafat became one of the world's most familiar faces after addressing the
U.N. General Assembly in New York in 1974, when he entered the chamber
wearing a holster and carrying a sprig. "Today I have come bearing an
olive branch and a freedom fighter's gun," he said. "Do not let the olive
branch fall from my hand."
[Islam] Grief and anger over Theo's murder
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali-born member of the Dutch Parliament,
collaborated with Theo van Gogh on the film "Submission," which deals with
Muslim women who suffer abuse. Van Gogh was murdered in Amsterdam on Nov.
2, and the son of a Moroccan immigrant has been charged. Hirsi Ali is in
hiding under police protection.
[Aum Shinrikyo] LDP Backs Extension of Surveillance Law on AUM Shinrikyo
A ruling Liberal Democratic Party panel on Wednesday gave the go-ahead to
a plan to extend a law allowing surveillance of the AUM Shinrikyo cult,
responsible for the deadly 1995 sarin attack on the Tokyo subway and other
crimes, ahead of next month's review of the law.
[Falun Gong] Hong Kong Court Quashes Falun Gong Obstruction Convictions
Hong Kong's Court of Appeal overturned obstruction convictions against a
group of Falun Gong followers who demonstrated outside China's de facto
embassy in the city almost three years ago.
[Smith's Friends] Mother, seven children killed in farm blaze
The Norwegian-based sect to which the Woerlens belonged is known simply as
The Christian Church -- or, by outsiders, as Smith's Friends after its
founder, a Norwegian ship's officer named Johan Oscar Smith.
Mr. van Stralen, Monika Woerlen's father, was the moving force behind the
establishment of the Toronto-area church, known as the Palgrave Christian
[Polygamy] Polygamists selling Utah-Arizona parcel
A polygamous sect on the Utah-Arizona border recently put 1,300 acres of
its land there up for sale while purchasing property and building new
compounds in Texas and Colorado.
[Melody O'Gara] Cult 'unlikely' to have taken tourist
There was no evidence a cult that believed in severing ties to the past
existed in Australia and had spirited away a British tourist, a cult
expert said today.
However, Uniting Church minister David Milliken said missing tourist
Melody O'Gara may have been taken in by the writings of a German new-age
author who advocated shedding the past "like the skin of a snake".
Ms O'Gara's father Hugh said he had found a copy of Eckhart Tolle's book
The Power of Now among his daughter's belongings.
[USA] Editorial: Halting an injustice
The president surely is entitled to some discretion in the exercise of his
power. But he is not entitled to do anything he wants. The war on
terrorism cannot be allowed to become a free-for-all.
The extent to which Robertson’s ruling applies to other prisoners at
Guantanamo is unclear. The Justice Department vows to appeal the decision.
This is unfortunate.
If the U.S. claims the right to obey only some of the rules of war, it
will have no right to object when others make a similar claim. Roberson’s
ruling was fair, just and sensible. Let it stand.
[USA] Bush should obey Geneva Conventions
President George W. Bush should stop flouting federal and international
law over the legal status of detainees in U.S. custody at Guantanamo Bay,
Cuba. The administration needs to move beyond the impasse that has now
dragged on for three years. Bush should abandon his attempt to operate an
alternative justice system for enemy combatants beyond the reach of any
authority other than his own.
[Theo van Gogh] Family, friends pay last respects to Van Gogh
Family, friends and colleagues have paid their final respects to the
murdered Theo van Gogh in a dignified ceremony attended by 500 invited
guests at a crematorium in Amsterdam.
[Islam] Nigeria overturns stoning sentence
A Nigerian Islamic appeal court has freed a pregnant woman sentenced to be
stoned to death for having sex out of wedlock.
Judge Mohammed Mustapha Umar said the conviction of 29-year-old Hajara
Ibrahim by the Lere lower court was unsound and set the woman free.
[Polygamy] Polygamists Torn Apart by Divided Leadership
A leadership change in the nation's largest polygamy group has set off
shock waves and after-effects in several states. And far away in Canada,
it's created a deep division that critics say is driven by a history of
tyranny and brainwashing.
Bountiful, British Columbia is a town divided. Polygamists here are torn
apart by a leadership crisis a thousand miles away.
[Islam] Muslim anger at Ramadan dress code
Pressure was mounting yesterday for national rules on Muslim dress in
schools to be drawn up after a local authority chose Ramadan to enforce a
ban on the jilbab, leading to protests from parents and pupils.
[Science and Religion] Evolution textbooks row goes to court
A suburban American school board found itself in court yesterday after it
tried to placate Christian fundamentalist parents by placing a sticker on
its science textbooks saying evolution was "a theory, not a fact".
[Netherlands] Dutch find the strength to take on their 'new Nazis'
The resonance of this hideous crime, not only in the Netherlands, but
across the whole of continental Europe, is difficult for the British to
comprehend. We have no conception of the status accorded to the artist in
countries that have known totalitarian dictatorship within living memory.
The Nazis and the Communists liquidated or exiled the intelligentsia
wherever they could. Persecution cast a shadow across the Continent from
which it has still not wholly recovered.
Hence the reverence in which the artist is held. Hence the cult of dissent
at any price, however absurd, pretentious or childish. Hence the aversion
to censorship of any kind, including self-censorship. For a post-traumatic
culture, the artist is a high priest. The murder of an artist for the sake
of his art shocks secular Europe rather as martyrdom once shocked
Christendom. Theo van Gogh is a secular martyr.
[Theo van Gogh] Crackdown on radicals as Dutch mourn film maker
The Dutch government declared war on Islamic terrorists yesterday as
mourners gathered in Amsterdam for the cremation of the murdered film
maker Theo van Gogh.
Jan Peter Balkenende, the Dutch prime minister, said the brutal killing of
van Gogh last week by a Moroccan-Dutch terrorist was a grave assault on
freedom of speech and Holland's tolerant way of life. He promised a
relentless crackdown on extremist cells.
[Religious Persecution] China's Christians suffer for their faith
"They hung me up across an iron gate, then they yanked open the gate and
my whole body lifted until my chest nearly split in two. I hung like that
for four hours."
That is how Peter Xu Yongze, the founder of one of the largest religious
movements in China, described his treatment during one of five jail
sentences on account of his belief in Christianity.
[Islam] Buddhist plantation worker beheaded in Thailand
A 60-year-old Buddhist was beheaded in troubled southern Thailand early
Tuesday in revenge for the deaths of 87 Muslim protesters two weeks ago,
most of them in army custody, police said.
[Catholic Church] Vatican to help research on Inquisition
Church, academic and cultural experts will work together to gather
documentation on religious and civil trials for witchcraft, heresy and
other crimes against the faith during the Inquisition, the Vatican said
[Witchcraft] 27 Feared Dead in Ozalla Witch Verification Exercise
Twenty-seven persons were yesterday feared dead in Ozalla community in
Owan West Local Government area of Edo State following the intake of a
concoction allegedly administered on them during a witchcraft verification
exercise by a herbalist hired by elders of the community.
Anton and Janet Hein-Hudson
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