ReligionNewsBlog.com, Dec. 14-15, 2004
Wed, Dec. 15, 2004
[Fraud] Nigerian scam adds Christian variation
The lady in Nigeria was on her deathbed, she said in her e-mails.
She was a Christian woman dying in a non-Christian country, with $3.2 million in the bank. She wanted to send the money to the United States where Christian charities could use the money.
Would Karen Boltz help the woman fulfill her dying wish?
[Mariology] Methodist church stirs controversy with statue
When some members of Amor de Dios United Methodist Church in Little Village elected to move a statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe into the sanctuary last year, the icon spawned an exodus.
Turned off by the introduction of a Roman Catholic tradition to a Protestant congregation, most of the church's 15 founding parishioners drifted away. To them, venerating the Virgin Mary and reciting the rosary did not belong in a Methodist church.
Pastors of other Hispanic Methodist congregations objected too. They said praying to the Virgin equaled idolatry.
And Roman Catholics in the neighborhood worried that the church might be selling itself as something it was not.
Still, Rev. Jose Landaverde allowed the statue to stay. He says he sees no harm in embracing a tradition--the Virgin is an unofficial national symbol of Mexico--that might bring people closer to God.
[Ruben Ecleo] Ecleo trial begins; judge bans foreign travel
Ecleo, supreme master of the Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association, stands accused of killing his wife, Alona Bacolod-Ecleo, 27, on Jan. 5, 2002.
[Seventh-day Adventism] Appeals Chamber Upholds Father-Son Conviction
Pastor Ntakirutimana, 80, was the president of the West Rwanda Seventh-Day Adventist (SDA) area at the time of the genocide. He was based at Mugonero SDA complex in Kibuye province. His son, Doctor Ntakirutimana, 46, was a doctor at the SDA hospital in the complex.
The two were found guilty of conveying attackers to Mugonero complex and Bisesero hills to kill hundreds of predominantly ethnic Tutsi men, women and children who had taken refugee in the complex. The refugees were fleeing from attacks by extremist Hutu militias.
Doctor Ntakirutimana was also found guilty of at least two murders and direct participation in several attacks in the Bisesero area in Kibuye. "By these acts, in particular transporting and encouraging attackers, Elisaphan Ntakirutimana knowingly participated in the massacres of Tutsis in Bisesero", judge Meron ruled.
[Religion Trends] O Little Town of ... where?
It may be Christmas but 'tis the season to be silly if the findings of an internet poll are anything to go by. It has found that more than a quarter of those it polled do not know that Bethlehem was the birthplace of Jesus Christ.
The finding was recorded earlier this month by the internet polling company YouGov, commissioned by the Sky Box Office channel to promote its festive showing of Mel Gibson's version of the crucifixion, The Passion of the Christ.
It found that nearly 20% of churchgoers claimed not to know the answer either.
[USA] Justice Triumphs -- Finally
His faith sustained Tom Goldstein as he served 24 years for a murder he didn't commit. His own legal study helped free him.
[Science and Religion] Parents sue schools over 'intelligent design'
Highlighting the growing national debate over the role of religion in public life, 11 Pennsylvania parents Tuesday filed a federal lawsuit challenging a local school district's order to teach "intelligent design" to public high school students.
The requirement, they said, violates the religious liberty of parents, students and faculty and the constitutional separation of church and state.
[Glenn and Justin Helzer] Prosecutor calls killer a 'psychopath,' religious extremist
Glenn Helzer says he killed five people in the opening salvo of a battle to save the world from Satan, but he is nothing more than a "psychopath" and a religious extremist who sought to promote himself instead of God, a prosecutor said Tuesday.
[France] As holidays approach, French find new ban on religious symbols cuts both ways
PARIS – They arrived as they do every December: gaily wrapped gifts destined for children at a kindergarten in rural northern France.
But this year, teachers unwrapped a few, took a look and sent all 1,300 packages back to City Hall. The presents were innocent, but strictly speaking, illegal: seasonal chocolates shaped like Christian crosses and St. Nicholas.
As Christmas approaches, France is awakening to the realization that a new law banning conspicuous religious symbols at schools – a measure used mainly to keep Muslim girls from wearing traditional Islamic head scarves to class – can cut both ways.
[Ruben Ecleo] 3 more cultists charged with Cebu lawyer's slay
The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Central Visayas (CIDG 7) has charged three more members of the cult group Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association (PBMA) with involvement in the killing of human rights lawyer Arbet Sta. Ana Yongco.
[Glenn and Justin Helzer] Ex-wife wants Helzer spared
Sending confessed murderer Glenn Taylor Helzer to California's death chamber would devastate his two young daughters, Helzer's former wife testified Monday.
Ann Helzer was the final witness called by defense attorneys in a trial that explored issues of religious fanaticism and centered on a murderous plot to secure Christ's return to earth.
When the couple first started dating, Glenn Helzer, 34, of Concord was a devout Mormon who had returned the year before from a two-year mission to Brazil, Ann Helzer said. Through Glenn, Ann Helzer joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
[Antisemitism] France bans Hizbollah channel over race hate
France has ordered a satellite television station run by the extremist Hizbollah movement in Lebanon to be banned from the French airwaves by tomorrow for promoting the hatred of Jews.
[Japan] When Jesus walked in Japan
In the Bible version of The Greatest Story Ever Told, Jesus Christ was crucified at Calvary and rose from the dead three days later to save mankind from sin. Not so, says local legend in Shingo; that was his brother Isukuri. In reality, Christ escaped the clutches of the Romans, fled across land carrying his brother's severed ear and a lock of hair from the Virgin Mary and settled down to life in exile in the snowy isolation of Northern Japan.
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Tue, Dec. 14, 2004
[USA] Human rights group demands U.S. accountability in Afghanistan
WASHINGTON - The Asia Division of Human Rights Watch has sent a letter to U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld demanding accountability in Washington for crimes allegedly committed by U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
Human Rights Watch says it has heard testimony that U.S. forces have hung prisoners upside down, hit them with sticks, soaked them in cold water, forced them to lie in snow and administered electric shocks to their toes.
[South Korea] For cult leader buried alive, resurrection doesn't arrive
Four members of a religious cult that believes in resurrection and eternal life are under investigation for burying their leader alive by sealing him in an underground room and pouring concrete over the entrance.
[Mormon Church] LDS author disfellowshipped
After an exhausting six-hour disciplinary hearing Sunday, Mormon leaders temporarily suspended Grant H. Palmer's membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Palmer, a longtime Mormon educator, was asked to defend himself on charges of apostasy stemming from his 2002 book, An Insider's View of Mormon Origins, which challenged traditional beliefs about the church's history.
In the book, Palmer argues that the faith's scripture, The Book of Mormon, reflects LDS founder Joseph Smith's own 19th-century environment, not ancient America as Mormons believe. He further suggests that Smith embellished his divine revelations to respond to critics and to stabilize the church.
In the charges, Adams said that Insider's View had damaged others' faith.
[Gilbert Deya Ministries] UK police seize child from Deya son's home
Controversy continued to haunt Archbishop Gilbert Deya as police in Britain seized a four-year-old baby boy from his son’s home.
NOTE: For the background to this story, see the new Apologetics Index entry on Gilbert Deya:
[Psychotic Depression] Moms who kill children have religion in common
Andrea Yates said Satan told her to drown her five children.
Deanna Laney said the Lord sent her signs to beat her three sons with stones.
And the night before Dena Schlosser became the latest Texas mother to take her child's life, she told her husband she wanted to give her children to God. The suburban Dallas mother was charged with capital murder for severing her 10-month-old baby's arms. Attorneys were expected to discuss her competency in court Tuesday.
Women who kill their children commonly cite God, the devil and other religious influences for their actions. Although the mothers are also often found to be severely mentally ill or psychotic, the recurring theme of religiosity begs the question: Is religion to blame?
[Theo van Gogh] Dutch watch Van Gogh's last film
The last film to be made by the slain Dutch director Theo van Gogh, called 06/05, has been premiered in The Hague.
Members of Van Gogh's family and celebrities attended the screening of 06/05, based on the murder of the anti-immigration politician Pim Fortuyn.
[South Korea] Cult Leader Found Dead in Concrete-Sealed Room
Police found the remains of a religious cult leader on Tuesday [14 December] while acting on tips that his followers put him in a room and sealed it with concrete in an attempt to allow him to experience immortality and resurrection.
[Holocaust] A Catalogue of Genocide
The lives of thousands of Holocaust victims are coming to light in a new database that allows anyone with an Internet connection to research the fate of family members and friends sent to Nazi death camps.
More than 3 million names are included in the digital archive, which was launched last month by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust center in Jerusalem. The ultimate goal is to have most or all of the estimated 6 million Jews who were executed, Avner Shalev, chairman of Yad Vashem's directorate, said in a telephone interview from Israel.
Anton and Janet Hein-Hudson
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