ReligionNewsBlog.com, Jan. 17, 2005
ReligionNewsBlog.com, Jan. 17, 2005
[Children of God] Ex-sect members fear new violence
Former members of an international evangelical sect rocked by the murder-suicide of two leading members said Sunday that more violence may be in the offing for the troubled Children of God.
Many young people who say they suffered years of physical, sexual and spiritual abuse growing up in the sect say that the latest deaths are part of a series of suicides by former members.
[Islam] Britain's online imam declares war as he calls young to jihad
An extremist London cleric is using live broadcasts on the internet to urge young British Muslims to join al-Qaeda and has condoned suicide terrorist attacks. Omar Bakri Mohammed, who has lived in the UK for 18 years on social security benefits, pledged allegiance to Osama bin Laden and told his followers that they were in a state of war with Britain.
[Children of God] Fringe Group at Center of Deaths
Almost 20 years after a fringe religious group renounced practices that included child sexual abuse and incest, a murder-suicide carried out in two states has brought the group's sordid past back to the fore.
Last week, Richard P. Rodriguez, 29, the disaffected son of Karen Zerby, current leader of the communal Christian ministry known as the Family, allegedly killed longtime group member Angela M. Smith, 51, in his Tucson, Ariz., apartment. Then, after driving to Blythe, he apparently took his own life.
In a videotape recorded a day before the deaths, Rodriguez described his desire to exact revenge for an isolated childhood in which he was routinely sexually abused.
[Death Penalty] Church Petitions To Fight Death Penalty
The petitions will be returned to the Connecticut Catholic Conference, the public policy office for the state's Roman Catholic bishops.
The conference is collaborating with the Connecticut Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, which developed the petition that will be presented to this session of the General Assembly.
The debate on the death penalty is heating up as the state prepares for its first execution in more than 40 years. Serial killer Michael Ross is slated to die by lethal injection in the early morning hours of Jan. 26 for killing four eastern Connecticut women and girls, three of whom were raped.
[Mexico] Mexicans petition modern saints
The Captured Infant is one of several saints and religious symbols that Mexicans have adopted in recent decades for help with the kinds of tribulations they face in the 21st century. They include Juan the Soldier of Tijuana, whose spirit is believed to protect migrants who cross illegally into the United States, and Jesus Malverde of Sinaloa, who some say is the saint of drug traffickers.
"People want saints and symbols that reflect their environment. And kidnappings and drug traffickers are part of the modern Mexico," said Carlos Garma, an anthropologist at Mexico's Autonomous University. "But the principle is the same as the old saints. People go to them for help."
[Da Vinci Code] UNC scholar's new book takes shot at 'Da Vinci Code'
Ehrman, who chairs UNC's religious studies department, takes a shot at debunking many of these claims in his new book, "Truth and Fiction in The Da Vinci Code."
Ehrman, an expert on Jesus and the New Testament, knew the subject matter so well, the book took all of two weeks to write.
"My book was a response to all these historical claims," Ehrman said this week from his office on campus. "They're all wrong."
Though Dan Brown's wildly popular work has been the subject of a number of "debunking the myths" books in the popular press, Ehrman's is the first from a prominent academician who doesn't put a conservative religious spin on the issue.
[Alternative Healing] Doctors, Others Deride Chiropractic School
Some Florida State University professors have been circulating a parody map showing the campus of the future, with a new Bigfoot Institute, a School of Astrology and a Crop Circle Simulation Laboratory.
It's a not-so-subtle jab in a growing debate over a proposal to build a chiropractic college on this campus -- the first such school at a public university in the United States.
More than 500 professors, including the university's two Nobel laureates, have signed a petition opposing the school and a handful have even threatened to resign rather than teach alongside what they consider a "pseudoscience."
[Opus Dei] The Dei today
It wields huge influence in the Vatican yet is condemned as a sinister and ruthless Catholic sect. Now the fundamentalist group is taking control of a British parish for the first time - and one of its members is in the Cabinet. Peter Stanford gains rare access to the closed world of Opus Dei.
[Euthanasia / Assisted Suicide] Church ends taboo on mercy killings
The Church of England took a radical step towards backing 'mercy killing' of terminally ill patients last night after one of its leading authorities said that there was a 'strong compassionate case' for voluntary euthanasia.
Canon Professor Robin Gill, a chief adviser to Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said people should not be prosecuted for helping dying relatives who are in pain end their lives. Last week Gill was sent by Williams to give evidence to a parliamentary committee investigating euthanasia.
[Transcendental Meditation] Lynch: 'Bliss is our nature'
"Pretty much everything I'm going to tell you I've learned from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi," Lynch says, staring off into the middle distance of his screening room. "I've been practicing transcendental meditation, the Maharishi's transcendental meditation, for 31 years."
[Benny Hinn] Pastor Benny Hinn’s Bangalore congregation kicks up a fuss
The proposed ‘Pray for India’ programme later this week by American evangelist, Mr Benny Hinn has sparked a controversy with the Bharatiya Janata Party and Sangh parivar organisations up in arms against it, dubbing it as one that’s intended to promote religious conversion.
[Hate Groups] Call for Europe-wide swastika ban
German politicians have called for Nazi symbols to be banned throughout Europe after Prince Harry was pictured wearing a swastika to a fancy dress party.
The Liberal group in the European Parliament says all of Europe suffered because of the crimes of the Nazis, so there should be a continent-wide ban.
A senior Christian Democrat said the proposal may be discussed at the next meeting of European justice ministers.
The symbols are already banned under German law.
[Mormon Church] Speaker's apology to LDS stirs up fuss
In the two months since a leading evangelical Christian apologized, on behalf of his fellow believers, to Latter-day Saints for mischaracterizations of their faith, several conservative Christians have voiced their displeasure with his remarks.
A story following the event in Baptist Press, which writes about the Southern Baptist Convention, quoted three local ministers — Mike Gray, pastor of Southeast Baptist Church; Roger Russell of Holladay Baptist Church; and Tim Clark of the Utah-Idaho Baptist Convention — saying Mouw unfairly impugned their ministries and activities by making a blanket apology to Latter-day Saints.
Another Utahn troubled by Mouw's remarks, Ronald V. Huggins, assistant professor of theological and historical studies at Salt Lake Theological Seminary, posted a text of his own in response at a Web site of the Institute for Religious Research, www.irr.org/mit/authentic-dialogue.html, under a section titled, "Mormons in Transition."
[Polygamy] Temple construction begins at YFZ Ranch
The already rapid pace of construction at the YFZ Ranch picked up sharply this week as walls began going up on a building many believe will be the first-ever temple built by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Aerial photos obtained by the Success reveal that concrete forms have been erected around a large foundation just west of several log cabin-style buildings.
[Superstition] Tsunami sparks ghost sightings
A new terror is washing over southern Thailand in the wake of the tsunami: ghosts.
Locals say spirits are terrifying them; health experts say the phenomenon is an outpouring of delayed mass trauma.
Volunteer body searchers at the resorts of Phi Phi Island and Khao Lak have been reported as claiming they have heard laughing and singing on a devastated beach only to find darkness and empty sand.
[Scientology (Consumer Alert!)] City rejects tsunami-aid appeal
The city has declined a request from a group linked to the Church of Scientology that is seeking donations to assist orphans in nations struck by the Indian Ocean tsunami.
[Islam] Canada's Muslims split over bid to introduce Islamic law courts
Canada's Muslim community is being torn apart by a controversial proposal to establish Sharia courts to enforce Islamic law in civil matters.
Women’s groups and moderate Muslims in the nation’s largest province are outraged at the recommendation by former attorney-general Marion Boyd to allow arbitration tribunals to be governed by the principles of Sharia - the code of Islamic law.
[Children of God] Rage turns to vengeance against 'Family'
As a baby, the 29-year-old Rodriguez had been christened "Davidito," the young prince and future prophet of the Children of God -- a freewheeling religious sect founded in the late 1960s by Oakland native David "Moses" Berg.
But heading west into the desert last Saturday night in his Chevy Cavalier, all Rodriguez could think about was whether to kill himself. Or someone else.
[Children of God] Murder and Suicide Reviving Claims of Child Abuse in Cult
Mr. Rodriguez is not the only suicide among people reared in the Children of God. Some former members who keep in touch with one another through a Web site, movingon.org, say that in the last 13 years at least 25 young people reared in the cult have committed suicide.
[Islam] Indonesia Muslims Warn Against Evangelism
A senior Islamic leader warned foreign relief workers Friday of a serious backlash from Muslims if they bring Christian proselytizing to tsunami-struck Sumatra along with humanitarian help.
[Religion, General] A battle to save survivors' souls, too
Muslims are handing out Qurans with the bags of rice and sugar they distribute to tsunami victims. Christian aid groups have also rushed in, quietly promising salvation in this predominantly Islamic region but fearful their presence could spark sectarian violence.
Across the Indian Ocean basin, dozens of religion-based groups have joined relief efforts in the wake of last month's tsunami, which killed more than 155,000 in 11 countries and left millions homeless.
The groups range from militants believed linked with al-Qaida to evangelical Christians, and their presence is most profound in Indonesia, where the needs are greatest and the cash-strapped government has thrown open the doors to foreign aid groups.
[Science and Religion] Judge in Georgia Orders Anti-Evolution Stickers Removed From Textbooks
A federal judge in Georgia has ruled that schools in Cobb County must remove from science textbooks stickers that say "evolution is a theory, not a fact" that should be "approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered."
The judge, Clarence Cooper of Federal District Court, wrote that the stickers, perhaps inadvertently, "convey a message of endorsement of religion," violating the First Amendment's separation of church and state and the Georgia Constitution's prohibition against using public money to aid religion.
[Jehovah's Witnesses] Hospital's test of new blood worries group
Officials at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center said they will reach out to midstate Jehovah's Witnesses over religious concerns about a proposed trial of an experimental blood substitute.
[USA] U.S. moral authority hurt by prison abuses, rights group says
Washington's moral authority in the war on terrorism has been undermined by the abuse of prisoners in Iraq and the secretive detention and coercive techniques used against prisoners elsewhere, Human Rights Watch said in a report yesterday.
The international monitor said human rights suffered a serious setback worldwide in 2004 as a result of the Abu Ghraib scandal and the failure of the global community to protect victims of ethnic massacres in the Darfur region of Sudan.
[Benny Hinn] Benny Hinn to lead prayer meet
Festival of Blessings has organised a prayer meeting led by Benny Hinn on January 21, 22 and 23 at the Jakkur airfield.
The stage and shamianas have been erected to house the prayer. Benny Hinn is a US-based Israeli-born prayer leader who holds prayer meetings across the world and is regularly seen on the God channel.
Anton and Janet Hein-Hudson
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