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Religion Items In The News

Religion Items in the News - October 9, 1998 (Vol. 2, Issue 51)

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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 - October 9, 1998 (Vol. 2, Issue 51

Main
1. 38 in cult leave Denver, upset families
2. Expert, parents concerned as cult members disappear
3. Relatives fear for group's members
4. Religious leader seen as enigma
5. 7 Doomsday Cult Members Found Dead
6. Murder suspicion in macabre cult deaths
7. Suspected Cult Members Commit Suicide
8. Hare Krishnas lift the lid on history of child abuse
9. Cult activity attracts attention at Pitt
10. Parents' past, faith investigated
11. Abuse laws still vague when faith is involved
12. Parents accused of kidnapping their son waive extradition
13. Religion, health ties explored
14. Snakebite kills Tenn. minister
15. Churches Critised over healing claims
16. Coming of Age (New Age)
17. Psychiatrist loses bid to dismiss false-memory case
18. Ex-patient tells of earlier cult memories
19. Abused animals fill trash bin
20. Trial begins Davidian land dispute
21. Mormon students drop complaint
22. Publication helps connect LDS faithful to fellow members
23. At 88, Mormon leader optimistic
24. Trends show some Americans seeking new faiths
25. Swede appeals ban on publishing Scientology book
26. Computer Worries Spawn New Breed of Survivalists
27. 2000 Computer Bug Has Apocalyptic Overtones
28. Christians prepare for millenium
29. Some see opportunity in Y2K fears
30. CUT leader under fire
31. TV evangelist gets thousands jumping and dancing
32. Developer adds 'blessing' to building costs (Feng Shui)
33. Anti-Christian Violence in India Builds on Fear of Conversions
34. UN religion official plans landmark Vietnam trip
35. Kuwait Islamist calls for ban on churches
36. Bewitched Weddings (Wicca)
37. No Bible stories - Son silenced in school

Noted
38. Interview with Dr. John Stot
39. Some business leaders let religion influence vision, employee policy

Books
40. Religious scholar (...) also studied Presbyterians, LDS Church
41. 2 LDS book publishers expand on Web
42. First Edition Captured on CD-ROM Format
43. Why People Believe Weird Things
44. Conspiracy Theorist Robert Anton Wilson to Publish...

World Wide Web 45. Transcript: ABC Special on "The Power of Belief" with John Stossel

People Unclear On The Concept 46. Man plans suit over "So help me God" phrase on assessment form

Main

1. 38 in cult leave Denver, upset familiesOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
- Concerned Christians may be bound for Israel, cop says
Source: Inside Denver/Rocky Mountain News, Oct. 8, 1998

A Denver religious group's sudden departure has left behind worried families, relatives and anti-cult activists say.

At least 38 members of Concerned Christians, including several young children, apparently left the metro area without a trace recently, said Mark Roggeman of Jude Ministries.

Concerned Christians leader Monte Kim Miller has made doomsday predictions and claims to be the voice of God. Miller has predicted the annihilation of Denver and that he would die in the streets of Jerusalem in December 1999.
(...snip...)

Honsberger said that he and Miller once were active in the same kind of ministry, working with people who were involved in cults and so-called New Age religions.

However, in October 1996, Roggeman, Honsberger and a seminary student confronted Miller at his home about his teachings and his control over several people in his group.

Relatives had complained to Honsberger that members of the group were selling their homes and businesses and turning the proceeds over to the group.

While at Miller's home, the three men claimed, he began speaking to them as if it were God's own voice, while referring to himself as "Kim" in the third person.
[...more...]

2. Expert, parents concerned as cult members disappear from DenverOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: Glenwood Post, Oct 8, 1998

A cult expert says he's worried after he received numerous calls from parents as far away as Florida and California saying they haven't heard from their adult children, members of a Denver religious group,in a week.
(...snip...)

The disappearance is in keeping with the prophecies of the group's leader, 44-year-old Monte Kim Miller of Denver, Honsberger said.
(...snip...)

Janja Lolich of the Cult Recovery and Information Center in Alameda, Calif., also received a call this week from a parent of a Concerned Christians member. She's been aware of the group for two years, she said.
(...snip...)

The departure did not surprise Honsberger. "They've been talking this way for quite a while, and not hiding it," he said. "According to them, (Miller) is the last prophet on Earth. (They think) he is one of the two witnesses from Revelations 11Off-site Link, which is a Biblical account of the end times. The bigger picture, really, is the notion that, according to him, he and his co-prophet are going to die in the streets of Jerusalem."

Honsberger said Miller teaches Concerned Christians members that he is God and prophesies he will die in the streets of Jerusalem in December 1999, only to rise again in three days. He also believes the apocolypse will strike Denver on Saturday, Honsberger said.
(...snip...)

Honsberger said Miller first emerged on the religious scene in the 1980s as an anti-cult activist.
[...more...]

3. Relatives fear for group's membersOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: Denver Post, Oct 8, 1998

(...) That same night, Miller abandoned his home in the 2200 block of South Clarkson Street in Denver and disappeared, as did 30 to 60 of his followers.

Cult experts say the group left to prepare for an apocalypse Miller predicts will hit Denver on Saturday.
[...more...]

4. Religious leader seen as enigmaOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: Denver Post, Oct. 8, 1998
(...) But over the years, critics say, Concerned Christians has become an apocalyptic personality cult. And they say the 44-year-old Miller, who has as many as 60 disciple-like followers, may be capable of leading members over the edge.

"I consider this a very dangerous group," said Hal Mansfield, director of the Fort Collins-based Religious Movement Resource Center. "This is Jonestown waiting to happen."
(...snip...)

No one knows for sure where the group has gone, though Honsberger and relatives of group members say Jerusalem or or Mexico are possible destinations. The disappearance has some fearing the group has embarked on a journey that could end in a mass suicide.
(...snip...)

Cult experts say Concerned Christians members believe Miller is God and that he is the last prophet to walk the Earth before Armageddon. Miller has prophesied that the Apocalypse will begin in Denver on Saturday, Honsberger said.
(...snip...)

KUSA-9News reported Tuesday that Miller had told his followers to prepare to die.
[...more...]

5. 7 Doomsday Cult Members Found DeadOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: Access Waco, Oct. 5, 1998
Seven doomsday cult members were found burned to death today in a suspected self-immolation ritual, police said.

The seven, identified by police as members of the Youngsang (everlasting life) Church, were found burned beyond recognition in a mini-van on the east coast.
[...more...]

6. Murder suspicion in macabre cult deathsOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: South China Morning Post, Oct 8, 1998

[Regarding: Youngsang Church]

Police are to conduct forensic tests on the incinerated remains of seven South Korean doomsday cult followers who died in an apparent group suicide this week.

Police are not ruling out murder as the cult was dogged with fraud claims and reports many members had disappeared.
(...snip...)

Among the dead was Woo Jong-min, the cult's 53-year old leader.
(...snip...)

Fringe faiths proliferate in deeply religious South Korea, where a natural tendency to idealise leaders has produced messianic figures like the Reverend Moon Sun-myung, head of the Unification Church and business empire known worldwide as the Moonies.

The Korean National Council of Churches estimates some 300,000 follow more than 100 Korean cults.
(...snip...)

The Everlasting Life sect once had thousands of followers, but its popularity waned after leader Woo suggested the faithful could achieve god-like status.
[...more...]

7. Suspected Cult Members Commit SuicideOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: Korea Herald, Oct. 7, 1998
Sokcho police investigating the case said they suspect that the seven might have burned themselves to death in "a religious rite to obtain ever-lasting life in heaven," based on the statements of the relatives of 27-year-old Woo Jae-hong, who was found to be the car's owner.

Woo's relatives told police that Woo and six others left Seoul at the end of July, saying that they were hitting the road to "martyr themselves."
[...more...]

8. Hare Krishnas lift the lid on history of child abuseOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: Star-Telegram, Oct 8, 1998
The Hare Krishna movement, one of the most controversial religious movements to emerge from the 1960s, has voluntarily detailed one of its darkest episodes -- the widespread abuse, sexual and otherwise, of children who attended the group's boarding schools during the 1970s and 1980s.
(...snip...)

But in the latest issue of the biannual Hare Krishna publication ISKCON Communications Journal, two articles -- one written by an outside academic with long experience studying the movement; the second by a member of the group -- extensively detail the extent of the abuse.
(...snip...)

A Washington-based spokesman for the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), as the movement is officially called, said the group's decision to publicly confront the abuse issue was made "to reestablish a level of integrity that the organization has to function on (and) to educate people inside the movement so that this can never happen again.
(...snip...)

Thomas L. Bryson, associate executive director of the American Academy of Religion, called ISKCON's decision to allow Rochford to detail the abuse in the movement's premier scholarly journal "highly unusual."

"It's rare for a group to invite an outsider in and give him carte blanche to say what he wants in one of their forums," said Bryson, whose Atlanta-based academy is a professional group for academics whose specialty is religion.
(...snip...)

In 1997, in response to the history of abuse, the movement -- which at its peak numbered no more than 10,000 American converts and today claims far less -- established a Child Protection Office.
[...more...]

9. Cult activity attracts attention at PittOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: Tribune-Review, Oct. 8, 1998
When a lovelorn sophomore told Joyce Giangarlo that he'd been dumped because his girlfriend's "discipler" disapproved of him, the University of Pittsburgh official was alarmed.
(...snip...)

Giangarlo discovered the probable answer several days later, when national cults expert Ronald Loomis arrived Tuesday in Pittsburgh on a three-day mission.
(...snip...)

"That's classic ICC activity," Loomis told Giangarlo after she related her tale at an initial session for clergy at the William Pitt Union. ICC recruits, Loomis said, are typically overseen by a so-called "discipler," who dictates whom the recruit may befriend and date. And the ICC faithful characteristically don't consider members of any other denominations to be Christian, he added.
(...snip...)

The International Churches of Christ has been banned on 37 campuses in 14 states and three countries, Loomis said. In Great Britain, the National Union of Students has advised all student governments to deny ICC recognition on campus.
(...snip...)

Loomis and other cult scholars commonly acknowledge that distinguishing a cult from a religion can be tricky. Churches such as ICC are far-flung offshoots of mainstream denominations, he said.
(...snip...)

An international conference of cult scholars met in 1985 and hammered out what has since become a widespread definition. The so-called Wingspread Conference's description, which Loomis himself uses, defines two characteristics of a cult:

- Members show excessive dedication to some person, idea or thing

- The group uses unethically manipulative techniques of persuasion and control to advance the goals of the group's leaders, to the detriment of members, their families and society

Organizational mind control is prevalent everywhere from schools to monasteries to boot camps, Loomis conceded.

But cults, unlike other groups that demand devotion and obedience, use deception to gain their ends, he said.
(...snip...)

10. Parents' past, faith investigatedOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: St. Petersburg Times, Oct 2, 1998
(...) Florida law defines neglect as depriving a child of "necessary food, clothing, shelter or medical treatment," including care to ease "immediate pain."

But the law adds that a parent "legitimately practicing religious beliefs in accordance with a recognized church or religious organization who thereby does not provide specific medical treatment for a child shall not, for that reason alone, be considered a negligent parent." The exemption does not address emergency care.

The Johnsons, who belong to a small group known as the Bible Readers Fellowship, have refused to talk to Hillsborough detectives. But in 1996 they told Palm Bay police their faith allows no room for doctors, and a fellow group member equated medicine with sorcery.
[...more...]

11. Abuse laws still vague when faith is involvedOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
The recent death of a boy has child advocates asking whether the law addresses the issue properly.
Source: St. Petersburg Times, published October 3, 1998
(...) The impact, experts say, is chilling: Making a case against a parent -- even an abusive parent -- whose child dies for lack of medical attention is nearly impossible if the parent can show ties to a religion, even a tiny circle of like-minded friends, that disdains modern medicine.
(...snip...)

"Florida statutes are replete with inconsistencies when it comes to child neglect and religious exemptions," Levine said. "We are blinded to the fact that Florida is a magnet for any individual or group, sect or cult that wants to set its own rules of conduct. Questions of religious exemptions where the treatment of children is concerned are worthy of scrutiny and, we think, reform."
[...more...]

12. Parents accused of kidnapping their son waive extraditionOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: Trib.com, Oct 7, 1998
A couple accused of abducting their malnourished 21-month-old son from a Salt Lake City hospital will be returned to Utah today or Thursday, a U.S. attorney says.
(...snip...)

The couple, both 23, had told family members their son David was the Christ child and had to remain pure and so fed him little more than watermelon and lettuce.
(...snip...)

Christopher Fink, a high school dropout who posted several rambling religious tracts on the Internet, holds a patchwork set of religious beliefs he apparently drew from Mormon church doctrine, several fundamentalist groups and his own revelations from God.
[...more...]

13. Religion, health ties exploredOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: Express-News, Oct 7, 1998
Science slowly is losing its bias against prayer in the healing process, according to a physician who closed his Dallas practice in 1988 to explore the links between faith and health.

Dr. Larry Dossey, former chief of staff at Medical City Hospital in Dallas, says there is an explosion of research that integrates the science of body, mind and soul.

"Spirituality is important in health. There are 250 studies showing people who follow some sort of religious path -- it doesn't seem to matter which -- live longer, get sick less, and spend less money on health care," Dossey said by phone from his home in Santa Fe, N.M., where he is an author and executive editor of Alternative Therapies magazine.
(...snip...)

"Denominational affiliation makes no difference," he said. "The prayers of Buddhists work as well as the prayers of born-again Christians."

Of interest to Dossey are studies about the effects of intercessory prayer and healing, even for people who don't know someone is praying for them. Laboratory experiments have shown that yeast grows faster and wounded mice heal quicker when scientists pray for them, he said.

"This is a key feature of the data, because rats and mice and yeast don't think positively. There is not the placebo effect," he said. "This really does suggest that we are on a threshhold of redefining what human consciousness is all about."
[...more...]

14. Snakebite kills Tenn. ministerOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: Lexington Herald Leader, Oct 5, 1998
The husband of the last woman to die in Kentucky from a snakebite received in church has himself been killed by a rattlesnake bite. John Wayne "Punkin" Brown Jr., 34, was bitten on the hand Saturday night while handling a 3-foot-long yellow timber rattler at a church in northeastern Alabama, said Dave Kimbrough, an author who has studied religious snake handling.
(...snip...)

Handling snakes in church is a practice confined largely to a handful of fundamentalist churches in Central and Southern Appalachia. Those who practice snake handling believe the Bible commands them to do it as evidence of their faith.

Mainstream Protestants believe handling snakes is wrong -- a misinterpretation of the Bible.

It is a misdemeanor to handle snakes in church in Kentucky. Serious efforts to enforce the law, however, ended in the 1950s because of reluctance to prosecute people for their religious beliefs.
(...snip...)

Kimbrough has documented more than 75 snake-handling deaths in the United States this century.
[...more...]

» See also: America in jaws of fear as rattlesnakes get more bite 15. Churches Critised over healing claims.
Source: BBC Ceefax (Teletext), Oct 6, 1998
No URL (Teletext is a text-based news service broadcast by European TV stations)

An evangelical church which published an advert claiming that a visiting preacher had raised six people from the dead has been rebuked. It was among a number of churches warned about miracle healing claims by the Advertising Standards Authority. The ASA said its aim was to protect people by ensuring that health claims were backed with "scientific evidence." The ASA issued its criticism after receiving several public complaints.
16. Coming of AgeOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Once dismissed as the province of cranks and naive idealists, New Age thinking has thoroughly infiltrated the mainstream. The Vatican is worried; the NHS is hiring Feng Shui consultants. Should we take the new spiritualism seriously, asks Madeleine Bunting
Source: The Guardian (England), Oct 8, 1998
Deepak Chopra and Wayne Dyer, two of the world's most successful gurus, appeared in a double-bill before 2,500 people last week in an event billed as the New Age's coming of age. But then, optimism is the hallmark of the amorphous, anarchic phenomenon known as the New Age. Its sixties style of idealism has survived both the disillusionment of the seventies and the materialism of the eighties, and shows no sign of waning.
(...snip...)

For more than 30 years, the cross-breeding of Eastern and non-Christian spirituality, Jungian psychotherapy, and Western science has attracted ridicule and adherents in almost equal measure.
(...snip...)

Like it or not, it's time to take the New Age seriously. That's the view of the Vatican which is drawing up a draft document on the subject this month. Of particular concern is Brazil, the biggest Catholic country in the world, where the New Age is flourishing.
(...snip...)

Don't forget this is salvation for only those who can afford it; a collection of Chopra's tapes comes with a £40 price tag. The connection between money and New Age spirituality leaves a lot of participants and observers uncomfortable. It's noticeable how many people 'transformed' by the New Age, then develop careers as practitioners - therapists, astrologers et al - with a vested financial interest in it.
[...more...]

17. Psychiatrist loses bid to dismiss false-memory caseOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: PostNet, Oct 7, 1998
[Regarding: False Memory Syndrome]
A prominent psychiatrist, accused of convincing a patient she ate meatloaf made of human flesh while serving as a satanic priestess, lost a preliminary round Wednesday to retain his medical license.
(...snip...)

After she sought treatment for depression, Burgus contends she was led to believe she possessed 300 personalities, had sexually abused her children, ate human flesh and served a satanic cult.
[...more...]

18. Ex-patient tells of earlier cult memoriesOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: Houston Chronicle, Oct 6, 1998
A former psychiatric patient said Tuesday that she began having bizarre memories of cult abuse long before she was treated by Houston therapists accused of exploiting the memories in an insurance fraud scheme.

Mary Shanley, 47, acknowledged the earlier memories during a day of defense cross-examination in the trial of a former administrator and four former therapists at Spring Shadows Glen Hospital.

The five are accused in a federal indictment of collecting fraudulent insurance payments by convincing patients that repressed memories of cult abuse induced multiple personality disorder and other mental ailments.
[...more...]

19. Abused animals fill trash binOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: The Arizona Republic, Oct. 4, 1998 (
...) Police and Humane Society investigators will look into the possibility that cult activity was involved, she said, noting that goats are often used in cult rituals and that a puppy and the kitten were black.
[...more...]
20. Trial begins Davidian land disputeOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: Access Waco, Oct 7, 1998
Followers of Branch Davidian leader David Koresh are hoping to put to rest a decades-old dispute over ownership of the 77-acre tract near Elk where Koresh and 75 cult members died five years ago.
(...snip...)

Amo Roden Drake, ex-wife of former Branch Davidian leader George Roden, and Douglas Mitchell, who said he joined the Branch Davidians under the leadership of the late Ben Roden, have filed claims to the land and dispute the claim of the surviving followers of Koresh.
(...snip...)

Mitchell, who tried to block anniversary memorial services on the property, has said that, under his interpretation of the church by-laws, he is the only true believer and that the name of the church is his.
[...more...]

21. Mormon students drop complaintOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: The Press (New Zealand), Oct 2, 1998
Waikato University students who complained of harassment by a lecturer after he called Mormonism a cult have backed down. Three women students -- two of them Mormons -- had until Wednesday been pressing ahead with formal charges against American history lecturer Raymond Richards.

Dr Richards said yesterday that the result was a victory for academic freedom. On August 10, Dr Richards told 122 first-year students Mormonism was a cult and founder Joe Smith a conman, fraud, and megalomaniac.
[...more...]

22. International Magazine reaching far and wideOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Publication helps connect LDS faithful to fellow members Source: Deseret News, Oct 3, 1998 Last updated 10/03/1998, 12:01 a.m. MT
No longer a stepchild of the church's three English-language magazines — the Ensign for adults, the New Era for youths and The Friend for children — the International Magazine has come of age as the LDS Church has gone global.

Now published in 31 languages, including English, its growth seems virtually assured as the number of English-speaking church members is being eclipsed by foreign-language converts on every continent.
(...snip...)

Finally, he said, the magazine serves as a missionary tool, both for full-time proselyting missionaries and in a variety of other situations. "I talked to a mission president from Eastern Europe who said it was exactly what they needed to help get the church into his nation."
[...more...]

23. At 88, Mormon leader optimisticOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: Akron Beacon Journal, Oct 3, 1998
"I like the press," Hinckley said. "You talk their language a little, you get along with them." But the friendliness of this Mormon chief executive masks nerves of steel, the experts say, noting he skillfully sidesteps difficult questions.
(...snip...)

"A man said to me once, 'Do you believe you can become a god?' " Hinckley said, grinning. "I said to him: 'You want to be a scrub forever?' "

Mormons espouse the concept of "eternal progress," Hinckley said, exploring a controversial tenet. Asked what awaits in the next life, he said, "I don't know in detail. But I have some rough ideas. Wonderful things await us if we walk in the commandments of God.
(...snip...)

Mormonism enjoys a 4.7 percent annual growth rate. Its 5 million U.S. adherents make it the nation's seventh-largest denomination. Outside the United States, the growth rate is almost double, with an estimated 5 million Mormons in other countries.
(...snip...)

University of Washington sociologist Rodney Stark has predicted the church will swell to 280 million by the year 2080 if growth rates continue.
[...more...]

24. Trends show some Americans seeking new faithsOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: MSNBC, Oct. 5, 1998
Although Tulsa is often considered a community with deep ties to religious tradition, experts say that some people are beginning to seek spiritual guidance from diverse sources.
(...snip...)

Bowlin cites non-denominational churches, which provide spiritual fulfillment of some kind to attract members, as influences on the movement away from traditional religious structure.
[...more...]

25. Swede appeals ban on publishing Scientology bookOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: Reuters/Infoseek, Oct 7, 1998
A man who tried to publish the secret holy book of the U.S.-based Church of Scientology appealed on Wednesday against a Swedish court decision preventing him from doing so, the court said.

The court ruled earlier this week that Zenon Panoussis, a Swede, must not publish the book and would be fined 50,000 crowns ($6,433) if he released the document into the public domain again. He had previously managed to run it over the internet for a short time before a court ordered its removal.
(...snip...)

Panoussis argued he had the right to publish it because of Sweden's freedom of speech laws. His appeal is expected to take about one year to go through the Swedish courts. Meanwhile, the court will keep the document away from the public eye.
[...more...]

26. Computer Worries Spawn New Breed of SurvivalistsOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Part 1 of 2 Source: San Francisco Chronicle, Oct 2, 1998
(...) He and others fear that the Year 2000 computer problem, known as Y2K, could cause phone and power failures, food and water shortages and financial turmoil and other disruptions.
(...snip...)

Paranoia is growing so rapidly that the Federal Reserve plans to add $50 billion to the country's $150 billion in cash reserves next year in case consumers start hoarding money out of fear that automated teller machines will fail.
[...more...]

27. 2000 Computer Bug Has Apocalyptic OvertonesOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Groups link glitch to Bible prophecies
Part 2 of 2
San Francisco Chronicle, Oct 3, 1998
When Mark Andrews worries about "Y2K," those predictions of computer chaos in the year 2000, he turns to the Bible and is not comforted. Andrews sees doomsday on the near horizon.

Y2K could position the world to see the fulfillment of Bible prophecy -- food shortages, disease, pestilence," says Andrews, author of the book, "Y2K: Worldwide Collapse 2000" and a contributor to "The Prophecy Club" newsletter.
(...snip...)

One of the most comprehensive Y2K Web sites (www.cbn.orgOff-site Link) is run by the Christian Broadcasting Network, the conservative evangelical empire of Pat Robertson, the religious leader and former candidate for the Republican presidential nomination.
(...snip...)

In one of his "700 Club" broadcasts earlier this year, Robertson highlighted the Y2K prophecies of Gary North, a controversial Christian right-wing leader who predicts that there will be "chaos in the cities" when the problem hits.
(...snip...)

So far, Robertson and his Y2K editor have been careful not to portray the problem as a prelude to the "end times." "God is alerting us that a big problem is coming, but we're not making any predictions," Parkhill said in an interview. "Is this a harbinger of the end times? I don't think so."

Nevertheless, the alarmist response to Y2K in evangelical circles reminds many fundamentalist Christians of Bible prophecies about the Great Tribulation, a future period of violent social chaos, and the rise of the Antichrist -- two events that many fundamentalist Christians believe must precede the second coming of Jesus Christ.

Radio evangelist Noah Hutchings has been preaching that message over the airwaves for 48 years. His Southwest Radio Church out of Oklahoma City is heard on 100 radio stations across the country, including KCBC in Northern California. Hutchings is out with a new book titled "Y2K=666?"
(...snip...)

Larry Burkett, who runs Christian Financial Concepts, an evangelical ministry in Gainesville, Fla., thinks Y2K will cause serious service disruptions and a recession but not necessarily the second coming of Christ.
(...snip...)

Andrews, the man who wrote "Worldwide Collapse 2000," said he already has sold his home in the San Diego suburbs and moved with four other families to a self- sufficient mountain farm in the southwestern United States.
(...snip...)

Steven O'Leary, co-founder of the Center for Millennial Studies in Boston, has been tracking the religious response to Y2K and says "the rhetoric has really heated up over the last few months."
[...more...]

28. Christians prepare for milleniumOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: Trib.com, Oct. 5, 1998
(...) One of the messengers is Chuck Missler, who held a recent seminar. "Proverbs 27:12Off-site Link says, 'A prudent man foreseeth the evil and hideth himself.' That means," Missler explains, "a prudent man takes action."
(...snip...)

At Missler's recent conference in Denver, Dena Mohr was selling a water purification system for $199.95.
(...snip...)

"I've got Christian friends who are stockpiling guns ... and putting these away in barns out in the country and burying them in the ground," says Joel Belz, publisher of World Magazine, which covers news from a Biblical perspective.
(...snip...)

Many Christians also believe the Y2K attention is a good platform from which to speak their beliefs.
(...snip...)

At Colorado Springs' Focus on the Family, spokesman Paul Hetrick said Y2K is "an opportunity disguised as a problem." "Right now, our American culture is a kind of self-sufficient, self-oriented, self-gratifying, and one tends not to consider God," he said.
[...more...]

29. Some see opportunity in Y2K fearsOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: Denver Post, Oct 4, 1998
(...) And Chuck Missler, Fortune 500 honcho turned Christian author, is here to remind them. "There are 460 days left. But who's counting?" warns Missler, standing beneath a huge projection screen that peppers the devout audience with gospel verses and a ledger of potential Y2K calamities - dead phone lines, bank runs and anarchy.
(...snip...)

Davis worries about a lot of bad days that never come to pass. But he is fairly certain that Jan. 1, 2000, will be a pretty bad day, followed immediately by a string of even worse days named Jan. 2, Jan. 3 and so on, without a foreseeable end.
(...snip...)

Before dismissing Davis as a camouflaged crank, consider that he's a mild-mannered engineer for one of America's most respected computer networking giants. When he says the comfortable world we have grown accustomed to is threatened by the Y2K problem, he's not talking black helicopters and government plots.
(...snip...)

At Chuck Missler's recent Y2K conference in Denver, Dena Mohr used breaks in the program to wander the crowd and hawk her "Emergency Survival" water purification system. The units cost $199.95 apiece. The Broomfield woman handed out brochures to dozens of guests who already had paid $30 each to hear Missler speak.
(...snip...)

But those $199 water filters and $1,500 food kits are small change compared to the $64,000 you could spend for an 800-square-foot cabin plus 40 acres at a "Christian Y2K Relocation" site in Minnesota. Called "God's Wilderness," the owners promise "far more protection in the Y2K scenario than any other part of the United States." They are seeking God-fearing buyers who are "willing to work" yet who are "teachable."

30. CUT leader under fireOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: MSNBC, Oct 3, 1998
Lawyers for the spiritual leader of the Church Universal and Triumphant want to delay her deposition, in connection with a lawsuit against the church. Attorney Michael Milodragovich says the deposition by Elizabeth Clare Prophet should be postponed, because of a pending guardianship case involving her, and to let another law firm represent her.
[...more...]
31. TV evangelist gets thousands jumping and dancing at three-day conferenceOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: Alabama Live, Oct 5, 1998
The thousands of men attending television evangelist T.D. Jakes' Manpower crusade in Birmingham didn't just listen to his words. They responded with shouts, tears, jumps into the aisles and dancing.
(...snip...)

In a rollicking final session Saturday, Jakes grabbed a bottle of olive oil and began anointing the foreheads of men in front of the stage. He then passed out dozens of bottles of olive oil to pastors and they fanned out through the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Center arena to do the same. "I want you to go home smeared with the anointing of the Holy Ghost," Jakes said.
[...more...]

32. Developer adds 'blessing' to building costsOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: San Diego Union-Tribune, Oct 2, 1998
Lumber, land, labor -- feng-shui? At least one contractor has added a new item to the list of home-building costs. Fremont-based Kaufman and Broad recently paid two practitioners $6,000 to perform a four-hour "community blessing" at its newest development here.

Company officials held the ceremony to help ensure the happiness and prosperity of future residents, who are expected to be predominantly Asian. Feng-shui is the Chinese art of arranging an environment harmoniously. Practitioner Diana Robinson conducted a "seven-star blessing" designed to cleanse "space" of negative or stagnant energies.
[...more...]

33. Anti-Christian Violence in India Builds on Fear of ConversionsOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: Christian Science Monitor, Oct 5, 1998

[See: Religious Persecution]

(...) Father Pinto knows colleagues who've been beaten, raped, and killed. In a clear escalation of intimidation and violence against Christians in India, last month four nuns in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh were raped, allegedly by a Hindu gang. This summer churches were attacked and desecrated, prayer meetings raided. In July a group of Hindu militants, the Bajrang Dal, stormed a Pentecostal school, terrifying students, injuring one, and seizing 300 Bibles that the mob burned. Local media paint lurid pictures of devious missionaries undermining Hindu culture and converting India to Christianity in a few years' time.
(...snip...)

What is unusual is that both the propaganda and violence are traced to a network of Hindu groups with links to state governments - as well as the nation's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government.
[...more...]

34. UN religion official plans landmark Vietnam tripOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: Reuters/Infoseek, Oct 5, 1998
The United Nations' top official on religious intolerance has asked to meet members of all Vietnam's religious groups during a landmark visit this month, a U.N. source said on Monday.
(...snip...)

International human rights groups have claimed that Hanoi currently detains people for peaceful expression of religious or political beliefs.
(...snip...)

The majority of Vietnam's 78 million people are at least nominally Buddhist, but there are around eight million Catholics, and beliefs in Taoism, Confucianism and animism are also strong.
(...snip...)

All religions in Vietnam have to be state-sanctioned and governing bodies have to be approved by and operate under the communist party's umbrella organisation known as the Fatherland Front.
[...more...]

35. Kuwait Islamist calls for ban on churchesOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: CNN, Oct 7, 1998 [See: Islam; Religious Persecution]
A Kuwaiti clergyman has called for a ban on building churches in Gulf Arab states, triggering a fresh debate on religious tolerance in Kuwait.

"I see, and Allah knows best, that the entering of non-Moslems to the Arabian Peninsula and Kuwait is not allowed and as such the building of (non-Moslem) houses of worship like churches ... are also banned," Sheikh Kazim al-Misbah told the October edition of Kuwait's al-Hadath magazine.

Ahmad al-Baghdadi, a university professor whose liberal views have in the past angered Kuwaiti Islamists, responded to Misbah in Wednesday's al-Seyassah daily.

"Why is our government afraid of the Islamist trend and does not refer to the public prosecution he who bans church building (in Kuwait) and deliberately insults the people of the book," he wrote.
[...more...]

36. Bewitched WeddingsOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: AP/Salt Lake Tribune, Oct 3, 1998
A self-described Wiccan witch and high priestess has been granted approval to perform marriages in Virginia. The Norfolk Circuit Court issued a minister's certificate to Rosemary Kooiman of Lanham, Md., after two other circuit courts refused. Kooiman, 69, leads the Nomadic Chantry of the Gramarye, a 50-member congregation in the Wiccan tradition. About 100,000 people practice Wicca in the United States and Canada, she said. Wicca, which comes from the Old English word for witch, celebrates seasonal and life cycles using rituals from pre-Christian Europe.
37. No Bible stories - Son silenced in school, family fights court rulingOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: Philadelphia Daily News, Oct 8, 1998
It's been three years since Zachary Hood came home from school in tears because his first-grade teacher had stopped him from reading a Bible story in class. The teacher at the Haines School in Medford allowed the then-6-year-old to read the story to her privately. But she told him he couldn't read it to the class because it was religious.
(...snip...)

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia ruled that the teacher was acting in regard for her entire class and her decision was not aimed at violating her former student's religious beliefs.

Noted

38. Interview with Dr. John StottOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: Orange County Register, Oct 3, 1998

Dr. John Stott has been called one of the most influential Anglican clergymen of this century, a mover and shaper of modern evangelicalism, a "guardian of God's word."
(...snip...)

Q. What do you believe is the biggest problem facing Christianity?
A. Pluralism. Pluralism is an affirmation of the validity of every religion, and the refusal to choose between them, and the rejection of world evangelism.

We should treat everyone with respect. But that doesn't mean we should treat their religion with the same respect. For example, Muslims say that Jesus was never crucified. It's central to Christianity. So we can't say both are right. Of course, this goes against postmodernism that says there is no universal truth.

Some are watering down Christianity and saying there is nothing unique about Jesus. There is. He is God who became a human being. There is his atoning death on the cross. No other religious leader claimed to die for the sins of the world. He is unique in his resurrection. It is our responsibility to share the good news when we have the opportunity.
(...snip...)

Q. Are you worried about the millennium? Some are fearful that it will herald the end of the world.

A. There was similar superstition with the advent of year 1000. Some felt the Second Coming was at hand, and they gave up their work and waited for his arrival. I'm afraid it is foolish and there is no evidence at all. We can't know the date and time of his coming. My fear for the millennium is that people will forget that the millennium is a celebration for the birthday of Christ.
[...more...]

39. Some business leaders let religion influence vision, employee policyOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: Free Press, Oct 2, 1998
(...) Like Baum, business leaders from Wall Street to Main Street are finding God -- and they are taking Him to work.

Be they Hindu or Muslim, Christian or Jewish, corporate suits or entrepreneurs, soul-seeking business leaders are increasingly allowing their religious beliefs to influence financial strategies, marketing, employee policies and company vision.
(...snip...)

The purpose of spirituality in the workplace is not to convert, business leaders say, but to fully express what they believe through their actions.
(...snip...)

And religious scriptures are full of savvy businessmen. Abraham, for instance, was a veritable Bill Gates.
(...snip...)

"The richest people of all time, in their time, were often the people who were the most Godly," says Laurie Beth Jones, president and founder of the Jesus CEO Foundation. The organization infuses spiritual principles into business, education, health care, government and the mass media.

[...more...]

Books

40. Religious scholar pens Westminster's historyOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
He also studied Presbyterians, LDS Church Source: Deseret News, Oct 4, 1998

While teaching religion at Trinity University in San Antonio, Douglas Brackenridge become interested in how a "mainstream group" like Presbyterians would react to being considered a "fringe group" in Mormon-dominated Utah. A thoughtful, careful scholar, he came to Salt Lake City in 1990 to study the relationship between Presbyterians and Mormons. Westminster survived because of its early leaders, professor says.
(...snip...)

Brackenridge says he spent multiple weeks reading LDS ward and stake records, trying to find out what Mormons thought of Presbyterians.
(...snip...)

In these records he found tension between the two religious groups, but he also found interaction and acceptance. Often, Presbyterian leaders spoke critically of Mormons when they were in New York raising funds but were much kinder when they were back in Salt Lake City. "They believed they were a beacon of light to the Latter-day Saints, whom they believed were not Christians. Early on, they thought they could do large-scale conversions, but that stopped by the end of the 19th century. Presbyterian headquarters in New York pretty much gave up on anti-Mormonism. They realized Mormons were here to stay."

Brackenridge is convinced that Mormons are indeed Christians. "When Presbyterians ask me if Mormons are Christians, I say, 'Well, the Bible I have says "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved." It doesn't say anything about the exact nature of God. Paul says, 'If you confess with your lips that Jesus is the Lord, and if you believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you shall be saved.' I say, 'It seems to me that's what Latter-day Saints believe.'"

Currently, Brackenridge is a member of a "Mormon Task Force" organized by the Presbyterian Church to help Presbyterians understand Latter-day Saints.
(...snip...)

Brackenridge is pleased that he has had the experience of learning more about Westminster College as well as the LDS Church. "I have a Ph.D. in ecclesiastical history, but much of my education was anti-Mormon. If we discussed Mormons it was in a course called 'sects and cults.' I've discovered that Mormons are much more pluralistic than outsiders think."
[...more...]

41. 2 LDS book publishers expand on WebOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: Deseret News, Oct 2, 1998
The two largest book publishers that target the LDS Church audience are rolling out new electronic products, timed in conjunction with the church's October general conference.

Deseret Book has launched its own Internet service, offering filtering and Web site tracking options, unlimited e-mail accounts, unlimited access and the promise of new features of interest to the LDS market.

Bookcraft, which merged with Infobases (now Infobase) last year, is expanding the availability of the 1998 release of Infobase Library by putting the searchable collection on the Web.
(...snip...)

Deseret Book's biggest Web market is far from its traditional bookstores. "Japan is the biggest market and Singapore is second," Gull said. "We're doing a very nice (Web) business, and it's growing phenomenally fast."

On Sunday, Deseret Book launched http://www.deseretonline.comOff-site Link, a portal site designed as a directory of Web resources of interest to LDS Church members around the globe. The site will also be the home page of Deseret Book's Internet service, which it is offering for $19.95 per month.

Bookcraft on Friday launches a redesigned Web site, http://www.ldsworld.comOff-site Link, showcasing 3,000 works from the Infobase Library — 2,300 of them being gospel-specific works and the other 700 a collection of world classics.
[...more...]

42. First Edition Captured on CD-ROM FormatOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: Salt Lake Tribune, Oct. 3, 1998
Octavo Corp., a fledgling Palo Alto, Calif., company specializing in CD-ROMs of rare books, chose the 1830 Book of Mormon for one of its first endeavors. Grunder reviewed the product, agreeing to write an introduction.
(...snip...)

The CD, with a suggested retail price of $40, promises a high-clarity photographic copy of facing pages of the first edition provided by Southern Methodist University's Bridwell Library.
(...snip...)

"This was a treat for a true bibliophile or collector," said Ames, a non-Mormon. "Separating yourself from the theology itself, you still realize its impact has been staggering . . . . It has changed, literally, millions and millions of lives."
(...snip...)

Hastings expects interest in the CD will range from Mormons desiring an affordable link to their faith's historical roots to students of LDS history. Among the latter are ex-Mormons Jerald and Sandra Tanner, whose Salt Lake-based Utah Lighthouse Ministry had made the critical study of Mormonism its mission for more than three decades. Among dozens of LDS-related writings the Tanners have authored is 3913 Changes in The Book of Mormon, which questions a host of corrections, additions and deletions made to the scriptures following the 1830 edition. Sandra Tanner markets her own CD text-only copy of the 1830work, but likes the idea of a collector-level digital reproduction.
[...more...]

[NOTE: Octavo: http://www.octavo.comOff-site Link]

43. Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our TimeOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
(By Michael Shermer - Freeman, $14.95). Source: Washington Post, Oct 4, 1998
The author is publisher of Skeptic magazine, which is devoted to exposing false beliefs. The book, which comes with a foreword by Stephen Jay Gould, covers creationism, recovered memory, the wave of satanic attributions that swept the United States a few years ago, abduction by aliens, Holocaust denial, and many other topics.
[...more...]
44. "Just Because You're Not Paranoid Doesn't Mean They're Not Plotting Against You."Off-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Conspiracy Theorist Robert Anton Wilson to Publish with HarperCollins Source: Reuters/Infoseek, Oct 7, 1998
What do the Freemasons, the Kennedys, and Queen Elizabeth all have in common? All are at the center of gigantic conspiracy theories with incredibly complex and perpetually multiplying twists and turns. At least this is the case presented by conspiracy theorist/author Robert Anton Wilson, whose new HarperPerennial book, Everything Is Under Control reads according to compact and provocative entries (which include both cross-references to other entries in the book and provide also the addresses to related sites on the Web). This book is truly interactive--you can dip, read through, or follow one of the URL's from an interesting entry onto the Internet.
(...snip...)

The author, who sees himself as a Futurist, conspiracy theorist, and stand-up comic, regularly gives seminars at Eslan and other New Age centers. A former editor at Playboy magazine, Wilson's ideas can be further experienced through his award-winning website: www.rawilson.comOff-site Link

World Wide Web

45. Transcript: ABC Special on "The Power of Belief" with John Stossel

Part 1Off-site Link
Part 2Off-site Link [NOTE: Includes Michael Shermer, James Randi]

People Unclear On The Concept

46. Man plans suit over "So help me God" phrase on assessment form Source: MSNBC, Oct 8, 1998

A citizen of Christian County plans to sue the county assessor's office and the Missouri Tax Commission because of a phrase on the bottom of the annual property tax assessment forms. The form asks people to affirm that they are being truthful, "so help me God."

Robert Oliver of Nixa says he has notified the two government offices of his plans. Oliver says the Freedom from Religion organization inMadison, Wisconsin is backing his lawsuit, which he says will be filed this month.
[...more...]


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