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News Items of Interest to Apologists and Counter-Cult Professionals
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Apologetics Index provides a database and glossary of information on cults, sects, new relgious movements, apologetics and counter-cult organizations, and doctrines.  Issues addressed range from spiritual abuse to the teachings and practices found in current renewal and revival movements.  Apologetics Index also provides up-to-date religion news, articles on Christian life and ministry, and a variety of other features.

Religion Items In The News

News Items of Interest to Apologists and Counter-Cult Professionals

About Religion Items In The News      More Religion Items In The News

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NOTE: Unlike the edition posted to the AR-talk list, items in the archived newsletters will, time-permitting, link back to entries in Apologetics Index.

Religion Items in the News - September 15, 1998 (Vol. 2, Issue 48)

===== Main
1. The end is nigh, says cult leader (Fiat Lux)
2. Japan Cuts Cult Member's Sentence (Aum Shinrikyo)
3. Yogic flyers pledge to save billions for Germany (TM)
4. £1m on offer for those with special gifts (James Randi)
5. Pagan Passion (Wiccans)
6. Moonstruck (Unification Church)
7. Swedes Halt Scientology Web Manual
8. The Law Should only prevent abuse (Scientology)
9. Scientology Mail in the Mailbox
10. Pres. Hinckley speaks out
11. Larry King Live Transcript (Interview with Hinckley)
12. Host King met Pres. Hinckley through wife

===== Noted
13. Christian institute in S[alt].L[ake] to start offering degrees
14. Y2K scare spurs surge in food sales
15. Whole Life Expo offers herbal potions, cosmic powers

===== Books
16. 'Happy Christian' knows grief (Zig Ziglar)

===== World Wide Web
17. DIDAX INC. Re-Launches Premier Christian Web Site As 'crosswalk.com'
18. English dubbing of the German TV-show, "The Dark Side of Scientology"

===== People Unclear On The Concept
19. Guns not religious artifacts, feds note

===== Main

1. The end is nigh, says cult leaderOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
   (Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: Sunday Times, Sep 5, 1998
(free registration required)

SEVERAL hundred people from across Europe have joined a sect in the Black Forest headed by a Swiss former secretary who predicted the recent stock market falls and now claims the third world war will break out before the end of the year.

"Uriella", 69 - born Erika Bertschinger - who has believed herself to be the reincarnation of the Virgin Mary since falling from a horse on to her head in 1973, has also warned her estimated 750 followers that a meteorite will soon hit the North Sea, destroying much of northern Europe.
(...snip...)

The 26 long-standing resident members of the sect, Fiat Lux - Latin for Let There be Light - have swollen to more than 200 people in the last few months. Another 144 - many of them pensioners - are expected to join them in the next few days as the predicted apocalypse nears. Fiat Lux owns at least half a dozen luxurious houses in the picturesque Lindau Valley.
[...more...]

2. Japan Cuts Cult Member's SentenceOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
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Source: Access Waco, Sep 10, 1998

A Tokyo court on Thursday shaved six months off a seven-year jail term for a doomsday cult member convicted of helping abduct a man who later died, according to news reports.

The Tokyo High Court lowered the sentence after the defendant, Eriko Iida, 37, agreed to make compensation payments to another kidnapping victim of the Aum Shinri Kyo cult, the reports said.
[...more...]

3. Yogic flyers pledge to save billions for GermanyOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
   (Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: Infoseek/Reuters, Sep 10, 1998

The Natural Law Party on Thursday launched its bid for votes in Germany's general election with a pledge to dramatically reduce public spending by means of yogic flying and transcendental meditation.

"Our policies could save Germany 600 billion marks ($350.9 billion) per year and the greatest savings would come in the area of health care and natural medicines," said Reinhard Borowitz, the party's top candidate for the September 27 vote.

The party's manifesto promised to save money by cutting stress through a combination of the group's basic staples: yogic flying, an activity whose ultimate aim is levitation, and transcendental meditation.
(...snip...)

The Natural Law Party was founded in Britain in March 1992 by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi -- the Indian mystic who converted the Beatles to transcendental meditation in the 1960s.

The party says it is now active in some 70 countries worldwide, ranging from Barbados to Kazakhstan to the United States and has more than five million voters wordwide.
[...more...]

4. £1m on offer for those with special giftsOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
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Source: Irish Times, Sep. 9, 1998

If you are a water dowser then a man in Florida wants to give you £1 million. He will also entertain clairvoyants, mind readers or those with extra sensory perception, but you will only get the cash if you can prove your powers. Mr James Randi, founder of the James Randi Educational Foundation, has had a standing bet since 1968 with those claiming abilities related to the paranormal, occult or supernatural. "I am not a debunker, I am an investigator," Mr Randi maintained. Nor was he a scientist "but I try my very best to act in a scientific fashion". He described 13 new applicants based in the UK who claimed a range of powers including a man who said he was magnetic.
[...more...]

5. Pagan Passion - Local practitioners of the Wicca faith are doing a slow burn over a culturally insensitive Camel adOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
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Source: MetroActive, Sep 3-9, 1998 issue

BRIN-MARIE MCLAUGHLIN doesn't have yellow teeth or green skin. But the 33-year-old freelance Web page designer is a witch--a priestess of the Wicca religion--and therefore a Pagan. And she's angry.
(...snip...)

McLaughlin took offense at a two-page full-color Camel cigarette ad that employed icons of her religion to sell smokes. It was only a matter of days before McLaughlin put up a Web site protesting Camel's use of Pagan books and imagery, which joined other Pagan Web sites already circulating on the Internet encouraging boycotts and letter-writing campaigns against the cigarette manufacturer.
(...snip...)

The ad, featured in a host of publications like Vogue, Entertainment Weekly and some newspapers, roused Pagans of all stripes to call upon the muse and pen letters of protest. Pagans from the Bay Area to Miami have been putting up Web pages, writing letters and sending out the vibe to get some respect.
(...snip...)

Paul Langlois says the ad represents a double standard. "If it had a picture of a Koran or a Bible, or texts from a more traditional faith, people would be up in arms." Pagans, he says, have gotten a bum rap ever since the Romans joined up with the Christians and turned religion into an empire. Today, he says, "Hollywood and Disney teach that it is OK to dump negative connotations on Paganism."
[...more...]

[Links in article include http://members.aol.com/brinmarie/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
http://members.aol.com/TDragnhawk/silvercamel.htmOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(protest sites)]

6. Moonstruck - Divorce, drugs, jail, a nasty custody battle--family woes lay bare the dark side of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon
Source: People Magazine, Sep 21, 1998 issue
Not yet on WWW (9/15), but should appear at:
http://www.pathfinder.com/people/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Text available at Deja NewsOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]

(...) The tale of two weddings sheds harsh light on the frenzied times and nasty feuds that are rending the family of Moon, 78, the founder and leader of the powerful Unification Church. While church members believe that Moon, his second wife, Hak Ja Han, 55, and their 12 surviving children--known to followers as the True Family--embody a theoretical ideal that should be emulated, evidence suggests that the Moons are hardly a model of domestic tranquility. "This is a dysfunctional family," says Madelene Pretorius, 36, a former church employee who left the group in 1995. "It's very difficult to reconcile Rev. Moon's principles with the reality I was experiencing."
(...snip...)

What's more, court papers and disillusioned associates alike are laying bare the secretive family's lavish lifestyle, which stands in contrast to Moon's austere public image. "There were BMWs and expensive Mercedeses everywhere for the Moon family's use," says Donna Collins, 28, a former church member. "Money was no object." At the same time, "there were church members working 12 hours a day who couldn't afford to buy their kids sneakers," says a former friend of the family. "The members did without for the True Family to have."
[...more...]

7. Swedes Halt Scientology Web Manual
Source: New York Times, Sep 14, 1998
http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/i/AP-Sweden-Scientology.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
   (Story no longer online? Read this)
Also at:
http://www2.nando.net/newsroom/ntn/info/091498/info14_15352_noframes.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
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http://www.msnbc.com/news/196408.aspOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
   (Story no longer online? Read this)

A Swedish court on Monday ordered a man to stop spreading a copyrighted Church of Scientology training manual on the Internet and ordered him to pay the church more than $150,000.

The legal battle between the controversial church and Zenon Panoussis has attracted the attention of the United States, with U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky saying Sweden's law on open public records violates international copyright law.

Panoussis obtained a copy of the church's training manual in 1996 and sent it to the Swedish Parliament. Swedish law permits the Parliament to allow public access to documents filed with it.

Under pressure from the United States, the government last year agreed to stop allowing public access to the manual, but that decision was overturned in June by the Supreme Administrative Court.

Panoussis also had put the manual on the Internet, which the Stockholm District Court on Monday ruled was a copyright violation. The court ordered Panoussis to repay the church's Religious Technology Center court costs of about $150,000 and another $1,250 in fines.
[...more...]

[NOTE: Asked by someone whether the Swedish government still makes the church manual available, a poster to alt.religion.scientology replied:

"They are available from now to eternity. This court ruling have nothing to do with that. The decision that finally made them available from the parliament is final, and can not be overturned by any future court ruling. The highest court in the land, the Supreme Administrative Court, ruled that NOTs should be public, and nothing can change that. A decision from the Supreme Administrative Court can not be appealed. This ruling, only applies to Zenon."
Message-ID: <35ffbf54.6260165@The.Fifth.Galactic.Invader.Force>
Subject: Re: AP Article: Swedes Halt Scientology Web Manual
Date: Tue, 15 Sep 1998 04:14:05 +0200]

[Swedish-language article: Olagligt sprida scientologernas bibelOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Source: Dagens Nyheter (Swedish), Sep 14, 1998
- translation will be posted to AR-talk if and when available]

8. The Law Should only prevent abuse Source: Basler Zeitung (Switzerland)
English Translation: German Scientology News September 8, 1998

The proposed law which would punish importunate methods of recruitment on public land is one of the items of business which occupy a central point of interest in the September session. "The restriction should only prevent the abuse," argued Susanne Haller (SP).
(...snip...)

Despite the fact the the administration's proposal does not mention the word "Scientology" a single time, it is directed predominately at this organization.
(...snip...)

In order to be able to oppose the controversial recruitment methods of Scientology and similar organizations the administration is now recommending a supplement to canton punishable violations by the great council. The new punishment will apply to "those who bother passers-by on public land in an importunate method." The police are to receive authority "to direct recruiters away from individual or general locations, if their making contact with passers-by presents an importunate annoyance or when there are indications that illicit, particularly deceptive or otherwise vile methods are being used in recruitment."

In his opinion of the matter, Jurg Stettler, the speaker of the Swiss Scientologists, told BaZ [this newspaper] that the resolution of the administrative council would be unique world wide, and that freedom of religion and speech of individual citizens would be restricted.
[...more...]

9. Scientology Mail in the MailboxOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Source: Stuttgarter Zeitung (Germany)
September 11, 1998
English Translation: German Scientology News

Many households in the Stuttgart area are receiving mail they did not ask for: Scientology is distributing its magazine "Freiheit" [Freedom] via mail carrier. The German postal service is obligated to deliver.
(...snip...)

In several Stuttgart districts, including Sommerrain, mail carriers have been distributing the magazine "Sonderausgabe Freiheit" [Special edition of Freedom] which is published by Scientology to all households. This mail hits many people the wrong way: they neither like to find advertisements from Scientology in their mailboxes nor are they able to understand why the German postal service is distributing the magazines.
(...snip...)

In Stuttgart mail carriers have already been called names several times because they are the ones carrying mail for Scientology, said Gerold Beck. He asked for understanding for the deliverers' situation. Several letter carriers have even refused to deliver the mailings, but they are obligated to do it anyway.
[...more...]

10. Pres. Hinckley speaks outOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
   (Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: Deseret News, Sep 9, 1998

LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley denounced polygamy, fatherless families and the actions of President Clinton Tuesday in an hourlong interview on CNN.
(...snip...)

He also reiterated that polygamy now practiced in Utah is in no way associated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which stopped the practice in 1890.
(...snip...)

"It's behind us," President Hinckley said. "They have no connection with us whatever. They do not belong to the church. There are actually no Mormon fundamentalists."
[...more...]

11. Larry King Live TranscriptOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
   (Story no longer online? Read this)
Gordon Hinckley: Distinguished Religious Leader of the MormonsOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Source: CNN. Aired September 8, 1998 - 9:00 p.m. ET
[NOTE: CNN Transcripts stay online for up to ten days after broadcast]

KING: I know you have a record on my wife because I married a Mormon it should be stated.
(...snip...)

KING: Are people ever thrown out of your church?
HINCKLEY: Yes.
KING: For?
HINCKLEY: Doing what they shouldn't do, preaching false doctrine, speaking out publicly. They can carry all the opinion they wish within their heads, so to speak, but if they begin to try to persuade others, then they may be called in to a disciplinary council. We don't excommunicate many, but we do some.
(...snip...)

HINCKLEY: I say this to other people: you develop all the good you can. We have no animosity toward any other church. We do not oppose other churches. We never speak negatively of other churches. We say to people: you bring all the good that you have, and let us see if we can add to it.
[...more...]

12. Utahn paved way for interview - Host King met Pres. Hinckley through wife
   (Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: Deseret News, Sep 8, 1998

CNN talk show host Larry King's Tuesday interview with LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley won't be his first chat with the LDS prophet.
(...snip...)

"As a member of the church, she wanted (King) to meet the prophet," LDS Church spokesman Don LeFevre said Monday. During their meeting, King, who is Jewish, apparently expressed interest in having President Hinckley on his show.
[...more...]

===== Noted

13. Christian institute in S.L. to start offering degreesOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
   (Story no longer online? Read this)
School near U. to call itself the Salt Lake Seminary
Source: Deseret News, Sep 5, 1998

University of Utah students and others attended the Utah Institute for Biblical Studies on a simple quest for knowledge. Classes didn't lead to a degree of any type, but over 14 years, more than 2,000 students from about 25 different denominations took the Protestant-based classes to learn about the Bible, Christian theology, church history and practical ministry.

Things will change this year, though. The institute is changing its name to Salt Lake Seminary and will soon offer master of divinity or master of Christian studies degrees or a diploma in Christian studies. And the school is beginning the process of becoming accredited.
(...snip...)

Not all of the institute's students have been Protestant. A few Catholics and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have attended, as well as those of "every conceivable religion," he said.
(...snip...)

The most important thing, said Mulholland, is that the seminary is unique in Utah. It's the only seminary between San Francisco and Denver and, for too long, "promising leaders" have had to go out of state to receive what Mulholland describes as a "Christ-centered theological education."
[...more...]

14. Y2K scare spurs surge in food salesOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
   (Story no longer online? Read this)
Stores can't keep survival products on their shelves
Source: Deseret News, Sep 9, 1998

Worried about a worldwide Y2K computer crisis or a plunge in the stock market? A huge surge in sales of food storage and survival products is a sign that many are.
(...snip...)

Such fears have been fueled by Year 2000 alarmists such as Gary North, a historian and newsletter publisher. North and others predict widespread economic consequences and food shortages because of the computer glitch that could affect microprocessors and computers on Jan. 1, 2000.

Some followers have begun stockpiling food, buying generators and storing water. North, who believes Y2K is God's punishment for man's reliance on technology, has taken refuge in rural Arkansas.
[...more...]

[NOTE: See End Times]

15. Whole Life Expo offers herbal potions, cosmic powersOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
   (Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: Cleveland Plain Dealder, Sept 14, 1998

Looking for a way to relieve the stress from a new job assignment, Frank Horvatich found a remedy yesterday at the Whole Life Expo: Universal life force energy.

As Horvatich lay on a couch, Barbara Weed placed her hands on various points on his torso, channeling energy - also known as Reiki - from the universe to his body.
(...snip...)

The Whole Life Expo, which originated in California and made its debut in Ohio this weekend, featured more than 100 speakers on topics ranging from music therapy to the dangers of cow milk.

It also featured more than 200 exhibits, including clairvoyants, spiritual healers, artists and natural healing products.
[...more...]

===== Books

16. 'Happy Christian' knows griefOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
   (Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: The Arizona Republic, Sep 5, 1998

Confessions of a Grieving Christian
By Thomas Nelson Publishers, $17.99
A few months before her death, Zig Ziglar recalls, his daughter told him not to expect a miracle. Knowing her father's optimism and faith, Suzan Ziglar Witmeyer feared he would tell her daughter that God would heal Suzan. "She said, 'Dad, we don't know that,' " Ziglar said in his Texas-accented baritone. " 'If God chooses to heal me, I'll rejoice, and if he chooses to call me home, I'll rejoice. But I don't want my 15-year-old daughter mad at God.'"

Ziglar talked about his grief while taking time out during a business conference last week in Paradise Valley. And despite losing his firstborn child three years ago at age 46, the world-renowned motivational speaker and author of 14 bestsellers said his faith has never wavered.

His newest book, Confessions of a Grieving Christian (Thomas Nelson Publishers, $17.99), chronicles his experience of a faithful God in the midst of tragedy. He said writing the book has been a balm to his hurting heart, and he hopes it will be a help to those who grieve, particularly parents who have lost a child.
[...more...]

===== World Wide Web

17. DIDAX INC. Re-Launches Premier Christian Web Site As 'crosswalk.com'Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
   (Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: Excite/PRNewswire, Sep 14, 1998

DIDAX INC. (NASDAQ:AMEN) today announced the re-launch and re-branding of its award-winning Christian Web site as crosswalk.com.
(...snip...)

The crosswalk.com site builds upon DIDAX's earlier site, Christian Community Network, which was named the "1997 Christian Web Site of the Year" by the online advocacy group, Best of the Christian Web.
(...snip...)

The online Christian community has been conservatively estimated at more than 10 million households and 30 million adults, based upon 1998 USA Today/Barna Research estimates of total adult Christians in the U.S. population and 1996 Simmons data showing the relative incidence of modems and online access in Christian households.
[...more...]

18. English dubbing of the German TV-show, "The Dark Side of Scientology"
Source: alt.religion.scientology postingOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Message-ID: <35fc8095.322969@ARSCC.Sweden.Dep.OSA.Surveillance>

World Wide Wogs, and ARSCC-Films [wdne] Brings you this English translation of the German documentary "The Dark Side of Scientology", in Streaming RealVideo, as well as downloads of course.

Streaming Part 1: http://www.users.wineasy.se/noname/multimed/Dark1.ramOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Streaming Part 2: http://www.users.wineasy.se/noname/multimed/Dark2.ram

Download Part 1: http://www.marcab.com/XenuArne/Dark1.rmOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Download Part 2: http://www.marcab.com/XenuArne/Dark2.rm

World Wide Wogs, and ARSCC-Films [wdne], also brings you another interesting program: CBS 60 minutes show. This one is from 1980, and is called "The Clearwater Conspiracy". From 6/80.

Streaming: http://www.users.wineasy.se/noname/multimed/Clearwater.ramOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Download: http://www.marcab.com/XenuArne/Clearwater.rm

===== People Unclear On The Concept

19. Guns not religious artifacts, feds note Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
   (Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, Sep 11, 1998

They weren't just peddling religion at Sizer's Christian Book Store, authorities say. It was more like praise the Lord and pass the ammunition. With the arrest yesterday of Gregory Sizer, 29, the feds say they have broken up an operation that sold illegal firearms, at least three of them from the store on Germantown Avenue near Somerset Street, North Philadelphia. [...more...]

Compiled by Anton HeinOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Apologetics Index
http://www.apologeticsindex.org/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]


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