ReligionNewsBlog.com, Jan. 4-6, 2005
ReligionNewsBlog.com, Jan. 4-6, 2005
[Books] Selling Spirituality: the silent takeover of religion
According to Jeremy Carrette and Richard King, the separation of spirituality from religion came about in the 1960s, when spirituality was cut off from its roots and became individualised: something concerned with "my" quality of life, "my" prosperity, "my" authenticity, and so on. In the 1980s and 1990s, companies started tapping into this new spirituality, using it to enhance the image of brands.
[Hate Groups] Kansas church plans 2 anti-gay protests
A Kansas church that protests against gays is planning a trip here next month in response to the state Supreme Court's ruling that same-sex partners of University System employees are entitled to health benefits.
The Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., sent faxes this week stating that its members will protest at a half-dozen "pro-gay" churches in Helena on Feb. 13, and outside the state Supreme Court building in Helena and at the University of Montana in Missoula on Feb. 14.
[Hate Groups] Banality of a church of hate
The phrase "banality of evil," first applied to the Nazis, always has been more ironically satisfying than strictly accurate. We get the point — those goose-stepping popinjays were insipid to the point of inanity — but the world appeased them to its peril.
Likewise, one can smile at the emptiness of character exhibited by members of a church of hate — folks with the effrontery to travel about the country showing off their intolerance — but they should not be ignored. They should be shamed.
[Andrea Yates] Andrea Yates' conviction thrown out
The Texas First Court of Appeals reversed today the capital murder conviction of Clear Lake mom Andrea Yates, who's serving a life sentence for drowning her children in a bathtub.
The three-member appeals court granted Yates’ motion to have her conviction reversed because, among other things, the state’s expert psychiatric witness testified that Yates had patterned her actions after a Law & Order television episode that never existed.
In ordering a new trial, the appellate court said the trial judge erred in not granting a mistrial once it was learned that testimony of Dr. Park Dietz was false.
[Antroposophy] Steiner option to be offered in state-run primary school
The controversial Steiner teaching method is to be offered at a South Australian government school for the first time.
Despite the protests of some parents and criticism that Steiner schools operate "like a religious cult", Trinity Gardens P-7 School is to enrol two classes of Steiner students next year.
The issue has divided the school community, with some parents fearing their school will be taken over.
[Church and State] Atheist Files Second Suit on 'Under God' in Pledge
An atheist who sued because he did not want his young daughter exposed to the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance has filed another lawsuit - this time with other parents.
The plaintiff, Michael Newdow, won his case more than two years ago before a federal appeals court, which said it was an unconstitutional blending of church and state for public school students to pledge to God.
In June, the Supreme Court dismissed the case, saying Dr. Newdow could not lawfully sue because he did not have custody of his elementary-school-age daughter and because her mother objected to the lawsuit.
In the latest challenge, which was filed Monday in federal court in Sacramento, eight co-plaintiffs have joined the suit, and all are custodial parents or the children themselves, Dr. Newdow said.
[TD Jakes] Bishop Jakes, Turning His Focus to Home
T.D. Jakes, the TV mega-preacher who whipped up a spiritual storm during a revival meeting this week in Upper Marlboro, is going through trying times. He talked to The Post's Hamil Harris about the two heart attacks his 25-year-old son, Jamar, suffered last month.
[Gilbert Deya Ministries] Now Deya Accuses the Press Over Babies Saga
The Kenyan preacher at the centre of the miracle babies saga, Mr Gilbert Deya, has accused the media, the judiciary and the Kenyan and UK authorities of torturing and humiliating his family and church members.
In a reaction to the news that a child recently taken into care in Britain was to go for a DNA test this week and the rearrest of his wife Mary and two others, he said there was a conspiracy to intimidate his family and bring down his ministry.
The UK department of social services announced yesterday that the preacher would undergo a test to determine the parentage of the child in custody.
[Archeology] Unscrolling the Commandments
If Alabamians got excited about former Chief Justice Roy Moore's granite monument of the Ten Commandments, imagine how they'll react when the world's oldest known copy of the Ten Commandments arrives in Alabama for display.
The parchment from the Dead Sea Scrolls contains a complete handwritten Hebrew text of the commandments dated to within 30 years before the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. It will be part of a Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit that starts Jan. 20 and ends April 24 at the Gulf Coast Exploreum in downtown Mobile. The exhibit will feature 12 scrolls from the Israel Antiquities Authority, seven of them biblical books.
[Books] Bounded Choice : True Believers and Charismatic Cults
[Janja] Lalich's fascinating discussion includes her in-depth interviews with cult devotees as well as reflections gained from her own experience as a high-ranking member of the Democratic Workers Party.
Incorporating classical sociological concepts such as "charisma" and "commitment" with more recent work on the social psychology of influence and control, she develops a new approach for understanding how charismatic cult leaders are able to dominate their devotees.
She shows how members are led into a state of "bounded choice," in which they make seemingly irrational decisions within a context that makes perfect sense to them and is, in fact, consistent with their highest aspirations.
[Science and Religion] Science's scourge of believers declares his faith in Darwin
Prof Richard Dawkins, the scourge of those who maintain their belief in a god, has declared that he, too, holds a belief that cannot yet be proved.
Now the Oxford University evolutionary biologist is among the 117 scientists, futurists and other creative thinkers who have responded to the question: "What do you believe is true even though you cannot prove it?" posed by John Brockman, a New York-based literary agent and publisher of The Edge, a website devoted to science.
[Antisemitism] Anti-Semitism Rising, State Dept. Says
A rise in the number of Muslims in Western Europe, many of them poor and uneducated, is contributing to an increase in already deeply rooted anti-Semitism there, the State Department said in a report to Congress.
However, far-right groups still account for a significant proportion of attacks on Jews and Jewish property, the report said.
[Felicisima Galope] Cultist tagged in New Year's Day attack yields
A top leader of a pseudo-religious sect who is wanted for allegedly ordering an attack in a remote village in Makilala town, voluntarily surrendered to authorities on Monday.
Felicisima Galope, however, denied the accusations hurled against her by her former ‘master’ and followers.
[Elizabeth Smart] Smart Family Seeks Quick Resolution
The father of Elizabeth Smart says the family wants a quick resolution to the kidnapping and sexual assault charges against the girl's alleged abductor, Brian David Mitchell - even if that means a plea deal.
[Scientology (Consumer Alert!)] Church volunteers fly out to give aid
Volunteer ministers from the Church of Scientology in East Grinstead have flown out to Madras to help the aid effort in India after raising funds for their flights and operations.
NOTE: The Church of Scientology has embarked on a charm campaign which, like everything else it does, appears designed to a) seek to present the cult as a legitimate religion, and b) to market its expensive 'services' to vulnerable people.
[Exorcism] British TV exorcism planned
An exorcism will be shown for the first time on British television as part of a new programme, the Daily Mirror reports.
But religious leaders have slammed the idea and said Channel 4's show, Exorcism, could be "very dangerous".
The programme is being pitched as a serious scientific experiment as industry regulator Ofcom prohibits "actual demonstrations of exorcisms and occult practices" on TV.
[Lord's Resistance Army] LRA get new peace terms
Hope for a peaceful end to the northern conflict was renewed yesterday when the Government negotiators handed over an improved version of the proposed ceasefire agreement to the LRA leader, Joseph Kony.
[Marcus Wesson] Mind control possible argument in Wesson case
Mind control and religion could play prominently in the mass murder trial of Marcus Wesson.
The prosecution's witness list includes at least five experts, including some who will testify about mind control, said Wesson's attorney, Peter Jones, who added that he may not be ready for the scheduled Jan. 25 trial because he's unsure what the psychologists and psychiatrists will say on the stand.
On Dec. 1, Jones was given a list of witnesses who could testify against Wesson. The names include Park Dietz, Kris Mohandie, J. Reid Meloy, Susan Napolitano and Randall Robinson, according to a document posted on a Fresno County Superior Court Web site.
[Helge Fossmo] Supreme Court will not hear Knutby case
The life sentence handed down by the Court of Appeal in November to the pastor of Knutby will stand, following the Supreme Court's decision not to hear his appeal.
The pastor, Helge Fossmo, was found guilty of murdering his second wife, Alexandra, and for the attempted murder of a neighbour in January of this year.
[Branch Davidians] Branch Davidians feel at home
Charles Pace said the 1993 siege and destruction of Koresh's compound was predicted in the teachings of the Branch Davidian church, which still owns the land. He believes it was a reminder to the world of what happens when a man claims to be the only one who can interpret the word of God.
Today, nearly 12 years later, the Paces go about their lives on the property, although Pace said at times they do feel as if they're "living in a fishbowl."
[Yoga] Indian yogis treat trauma victims in tsunami-hit villages
Yoga experts fanned out across tsunami-hit villages in southern India to aid people suffering trauma amid an acute shortage of skilled pyschological counsellors.
Volunteers and individuals trained in traditional yoga, which combines meditation, breathing techniques and exercises, are focussing on Nagapattinam district where nearly 6,000 people died on December 26.
[Lord's Resistance Army] Uganda still committed to peace talks with rebels
The Ugandan government is still committed to talks with the country's Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels despite the resumption of military operations to flush out the elusive group, a minister said on Tuesday.
[Skeptics] Group thrives on skepticism
The Cincinnati Skeptics Society is more than just a group that challenges claims of UFOs and psychic phenomena. The group also discusses political issues, literature and current events.
"We ran out of ghosts to investigate a long time ago," said Bryan Sellers, the group's secretary.
Instead the group prefers to focus on using critical thinking and scientific methods to investigate things that happen in all aspects of society.
[RLDS] Community of Christ Church Gets $40M Gift
An anonymous family has given the Community of Christ $40 million, a donation that exceeds the church's annual operating budget by about a third.
The Independence-based church, formerly known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, announced the gift in the January issue of its magazine.
[Islam] Trial date set for radical cleric in U.K.
Radical Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri will stand trial beginning July 4 on charges including soliciting the murder of Jews and other non-Muslims, a judge decided Tuesday.
[Felicisima Galope] Police in pursuit of religious group’s leader
Military and police authorities in North Cotabato have intensified their manhunt against a leader of a religious sect who allegedly ordered the attack on a remote village in Makilala town that killed one and injured two other members.
Makilala police chief Leo Ajero identified the leader as Felicisima Galope, head of a breakaway group of the Alpha and Omega, a religious group founded in the early 1960s by a certain Moncado in Barangay New Israel, Makilala.
[Mormon Church] New school trying for LDS niche
Two LDS values-based private schools closed their doors in December. Next week, Mount Hyrum Academy is scheduled to open and take their place.
[Psychics] Psychic charged with theft
A woman who promotes herself as a psychic has been charged with stealing more than $100,000 from a Pennsylvania woman.
[Catholic Church] Alleged victims of Orange County clergy abuse sob as settlement unsealed
Details of a record $100 million settlement between alleged victims of priest sexual abuse and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange were unsealed, with church leaders saying it would make the diocese a "holier, humbler and healthier church."
[Religion, General] Religions are different, but grief is same
Members of the DFW Hindu Temple held a deepa puja Sunday morning. The "prayer of light," honoring victims of last Sunday's earthquake and tsunamis, felt something like a candlelight vigil in any church or synagogue.
But the Hindu religious response to massive human tragedy is essentially different. The flower-draped altar and oil candles surrounded by elaborate statues of Indian deities were clearly not part of a Christian or Jewish service. And differences in how the faiths try to explain unimaginable suffering are more than just ritual.
[Interfaith] Leaders of Jews and Muslims aim to halt extremism
Imams and rabbis from across the world will gather in Brussels today in an unprecedented effort to quell the rising tensions between Muslims and Jews in Europe
The "imams and rabbis for peace" conference will bring together 150 leaders of the two faiths, allowing them a unique opportunity to meet face-to-face.
[USA] Backing Gonzales Is Backing Torture
That is the central question the Senate Judiciary Committee faces Thursday as it begins hearings on the confirmation of White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales as the next attorney general of the United States. At stake is whether Congress wants to conveniently absolve Gonzales of his clear attempt to have the president subvert U.S. law in order to whitewash barbaric practices performed by U.S. interrogators in the name of national security.
Gonzales ignored the objections of State Department and military lawyers to strongly endorse the determination of Justice Department lawyers that neither the Geneva Convention nor corresponding U.S. laws on prisoner protections should be applied in the "war on terror."
[USA] Gonzales Torture Memo Controversy Builds
Attorney General nominee Alberto Gonzales' confirmation hearing this week may become more contentious because the White House has refused to provide copies of his memos on the questioning of terror suspects.
[USA] The torture memos
The photos released last spring of U.S. soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib brought that issue to the world's attention. So far, just a few low-ranking guards have been punished for what the Bush administration has tried to pass off as isolated actions. But the real extent of the abuse at both Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo is made clear in Defense Department and FBI papers released last month as a result of Freedom of Information suits by human rights organizations.
[Islam] Arrested California mosque leader leaves U.S. voluntarily; officials had questioned his speeches
An Orange County mosque leader from Egypt who had allegedly given speeches that could be considered to support terrorist organizations has left the United States, authorities said.
Anton and Janet Hein-Hudson
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