ReligionNewsBlog.com, Mar. 13, 2005
ReligionNewsBlog.com, Mar. 13, 2005
[Living Church of God] Ministers to console shooting victims
Charles Bryce, the director of church administration, has only moments to spare. He is heading to Milwaukee to console the wife of his good friend, Pastor Randy Gregory.
Gregory, his son and five others were killed Saturday when a gunman interrupted services.
[Aum Shinrikyo] Victims Still Awaiting Compensation After 1995 Gas Attack
Even 10 years after the AUM Shinrikyo sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system, the government continues to move at a snail's pace in providing much-needed monetary aid and medical and psychological care to several thousands of victims of the March 20, 1995 attack.
[Aum Shinrikyo] AUM Follower Bemoans Treatment Over 1995 Sarin Attack
Ten years after the sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system, relatives of the 12 people who died and the more than 5,500 others who survived are still trying to come to terms with what happened on March 20, 1995.
But some members of AUM Shinrikyo -- the religious sect which gained notoriety for the sarin attack and other crimes -- claim they too have their own scars to bear.
"We are not recognized for our teachings. The view of our group is all based on the sarin gas attack -- that is how we are seen from the general viewpoint," a longtime member of AUM said.
AUM has vowed to reform in an effort to distance from its criminal image but people still regard it with fear and loathing.
[Aum Shinrikyo] Security Concerns May Lead to Restrictions on Human Rights
The 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system has stirred public concerns over the security of Japanese society, leading people to support tougher punishments and the spread of surveillance systems, civil rights activists said.
[Polygamy] Teen rejected by polygamous family finds new life
Barlow - the son of polygamist Dan Barlow, banished from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in January 2004 - is one of dozens of a group known as the Lost Boys, who have fled or been kicked out of the polygamous communities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz.
[Colonia Dignidad] Argentina hands over fugitive in Chile sex case
The former head of a secretive German colony in southern Chile was flown to Santiago early Sunday after his arrest in Argentina.
Paul Schaefer, who founded the commune-like enclave in 1961, is wanted in connection with the disappearance of a dissident under the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet ruled from 1973-90.
Schaefer, 83, also faces charges of sexually abusing children at the colony, Colonia Dignidad, 400 kilometers, or 245 miles, south of Santiago. He was arrested Thursday near the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires.
[Church Universal and Triumphant] CUT undergoes change of perception
Last week, the Church Universal and Triumphant announced it is breaking ground on a new office building at its headquarters here.
That's not so unusual. Groups put up structures all the time.
What is unusual is the contrast with what happened 15 years ago, when the church was wrapping up its last major construction project: a 756-person underground bomb shelter in a mountain meadow tucked into the upper reaches of the church's sprawling Royal Teton Ranch.
[Living Church of God] Details about the sect involved in shooting at hotel church
Terry Ratzmann, the man who police say killed seven people and then himself during a church service, was a member of the Living Church of God, a born-again denomination that focuses on ``end-time'' prophecies.
The church's estimated 6,300 members in 40 countries place a strong emphasis on using world news to ``prove'' that these are end times, to be followed by Christ's second coming.
[Living Church of God] Tragedy puts spotlight on small, obscure church
The Living Church of God, a relatively new organization born of a contentious split over religious doctrine, is small but spreads its word through weekly telecasts on 150 stations in several countries.
While there was no known motive for Saturday's slayings at a Brookfield hotel, the man believed responsible had been upset about a taped sermon by the church's spiritual leader, Roderick C. Meredith, according to a fellow congregation member who survived the attack. She reported that the sermon by Meredith, who is seen on many of those broadcasts, dealt with a coming "spiritual war."
[Living Church of God] Police Provide Details in Wisconsin Church Group Shooting
The Living Church of God, according to its Web site, is "a new organization with an old history," led by Dr. Roderick C. Meredith, who was ordained in 1952. Its 200 congregations observe Saturday as the true Christian Sabbath - Mr. Colwell said Mr. Ratzmann refused to attend his wedding because it was on the Sabbath - and "members today view themselves as the spiritual heirs of the original Jerusalem Church of New Testament time," the Web site says.
[Hate Groups] Germany Cracks Down on Neo-Nazi Music
Germany's Supreme administrative court has ruled that a neo-Nazi rock group that spread racial hatred was a criminal organization, upholding a first such statement in Germany against a music band.
The court also upheld a three and a half year prison sentence against the lead singer of the band, Michael Regener -- argueing his lyrics would incite public hatred against foreigners and minorities in Germany. The move is part of a nationwide crackdown on neo-Nazi groups and organizations -- two of which were also banned this week.
[Books] Barney the Inquisitor
Why did U.S. special forces try to kill goats by staring at them? What is Uri Geller doing working for the military, and why did the U.S. Army's Psychological Operations section use music by Barney the purple dinosaur to interrogate Iraqi prisoners? These are just three of the questions Jon Ronson raises in The Men Who Stare at Goats, his latest foray into the dark recesses of government, where conspiracy theories fester and grow.
[Colonia Dignidad] Argentina expels Chile cult head
Argentina is to deport a former Nazi to Chile, where he is wanted on charges of sexually abusing children.
The decision was announced two days after Chile's most wanted fugitive was arrested after eight years on the run.
[Aum Shinrikyo] 10 years after Aum sarin attacks, pseudo-religions thriving in Japan
Asahara's punishment for the subway attack and other criminal cases involving the deaths of 27 people was a forgone conclusion: the hangman's noose. Prosecutors called him the most heinous criminal in Japanese history.
But even today, Aum and other fringe religious groups continue to make headlines while interest in Japan's traditional Shinto and Buddhist faiths continues to decline.
[Church Universal and Triumphant] CUT copes with illness of leader, sect changes
Elizabeth Clare Prophet, at the age of 65, is suffering the sixth year of the ravages of Alzheimer's Disease.
"She's continuing a slow decline," Erin Prophet, her oldest daughter and co-guardian, said in a recent interview.
It's a sad, slow winding down of a woman whose life was always controversial, but never dull, who is still revered by thousands of people around the world as a spiritual leader with a direct link to God.
She founded the Church Universal and Triumphant, an international New Age sect with its headquarters in Corwin Springs. She's written dozens of books, had at least four books written about her and her church, could preach for hours and never break a sweat.
[Children of God / The Family] Growing up in a cult
Before driving across the desert and killing himself, Ricky Rodriguez, 29, had killed Angela Smith, 51. The two had known each other. Smith may have helped to raise Rodriguez.
The names didn't mean much to most people. But the news was cataclysmic within the secretive religious society to which both had once belonged.
For more than three decades, the Children of God, now called The Family, had been a world unto itself. In that world, Rodriguez had been royalty.
He was the son of the group's self-proclaimed prophet and prophetess, who led a fervent flock scattered in communes around the globe. When he was 2, they declared him a prophet too, announcing to followers that the boy would one day "deliver them out of great sorrow and bondage."
That was not to be.
[Gloria Trevi] A nonfiction puzzle of stardom and sex
Charged with the kidnapping, raping and brainwashing the young teens they'd taken into their performing arts training school, Trevi and Andrade fled to Brazil. After a year on the lam, they were arrested and spent years in jail fighting extradition charges.
That's where Christopher McDougall, who covered Trevi's story for The New York Times, picks up in Girl Trouble: The True Saga of Superstar Gloria Trevi and the Secret Teenage Sex Cult That Stunned the World.
[Living Church of God] Gunman kills seven, then himself at church meeting
A man neighbors described as quiet and devout opened fire Saturday on a group of men, women and children attending a weekly church service at a Brookfield hotel, killing eight people - including himself - and seriously wounding four others.
"He planned to shoot us all," said Chandra Frazier, a 31-year-old woman attending the Living Church of God gathering.
[Samaritan Foundation] Cult member gets jail for hiding man's body
A 51-year-old Cheyenne, Wyo., woman was sentenced to at least two years in prison this week for helping cover up the murder of Chicago filmmaker Allen Ross, who authorities have long believed was killed by his cult leader, who was also his common-law wife.
[Polygamy] Polygamous leader ruled in default in suit
The head of a polygamous sect on the Utah-Arizona border has forfeited the right to defend himself against allegations that he orchestrated the firing and blacklisting of a former member, setting the stage for a possible damage award against him.
The clerk of U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City on Friday entered a certificate of default against Warren Jeffs, president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), in a lawsuit filed by ex-member Shem Fischer.
Now that he has the certificate, Fischer can either request a hearing or submit an affidavit to argue the amount of monetary damages he should be paid. Jeffs has the legal right to dispute the amount but cannot defend himself against the underlying allegations in the suit.
[USA] Army Details Scale of Abuse of Prisoners in an Afghan Jail
Two Afghan prisoners who died in American custody in Afghanistan in December 2002 were chained to the ceiling, kicked and beaten by American soldiers in sustained assaults that caused their deaths, according to Army criminal investigative reports that have not yet been made public.
John Sifton, a researcher on Afghanistan for Human Rights Watch, said the documents substantiated the group's own investigations showing that beatings and stress positions were widely used, and that "far from a few isolated cases, abuse at sites in Afghanistan was common in 2002, the rule more than the exception."
[Colonia Dignidad] Indicted Chile cult leader 'ill'
A former Nazi and fugitive child abuser, Paul Schaefer, has been taken to hospital in Argentina, a day after his arrest ended eight years in hiding.
[Colonia Dignidad] Cult leader arrest stirs joy in Chile
Members of a German-Chilean religious cult have celebrated the arrest of their ex-leader, a fugitive convicted as a paedophile.
Human rights lawyers said the arrest could help them prove the cult aided the 1973-1990 dictatorship in the torture of political prisoners.
[Benny Hinn] Hinn Claims Dateline Story Distorted Facts to Attack His Ministry
Televangelist Benny Hinn is accusing NBC of deception after the network's airing of an investigative report on the finances and spending practices of his ministry. The recent Dateline report featured former and current employees of Benny Hinn Ministries, who provided NBC with receipts and other documents detailing how ministry funds are spent.
[Islam] Spanish Muslims issue 'fatwa' against Osama Bin Laden
Spain’s leading Islamic body has issued a religious order declaring Osama Bin Laden to have forsaken Islam by backing attacks such as the Madrid train bombings a year ago.
Anton and Janet Hein-Hudson
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