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Religion Items In The News

Religion Items in the News - October 15 1998 (Vol. 2, Issue 52)

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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 15 1998 (Vol. 2, Issue 52)

Main
1. O'Hair's atheist organization to leave Austin
2. Relatives Search For Members Of Denver-Based Cult (Miller)
3. Source says Apocalypse cult safe, still in U.S. Source (Miller)
4. Radio's Art Bell Mysteriously Quits
5. From Radio's Overnight Sensationalist, Dead Air
6. Are we alone? UFO Conference launches today in Cocoa Beach
7. NASA, news media rapped at UFO conference
8. Astronaut asks Washington to tell truth about aliens
9. Church leaders condemn cult (ICC)
10. Church trial for death comet cult (Little Pebble)
11. Church to probe doomsday faction (Little Pebble)
12. Priest's claims of chats with Virgin Mary provoke probe (...Pebble)
13. Religious sect reports abuse of children... (ISKCON)
14. Moonies plan ski resort for North Korea
15. In a remote corner of the world, Rev. Moon sees hope
16. Trial on suit over cult's land delayed (Branch Davidians)
17. IRS again infiltrated by Scientology cult
18. French lawyer says Scientology evidence missing
19. Scientology saga far from complete (Letter)
20. Japanese Cult That Used Nerve Gas Has Resurfaced (Aum Shinrikyo)
21. Japanese seek faith, in all forms, as economic concerns mount
22. Pack off, Gujarat Govt. tells 'faith-healer'
23. Congressional passage of religious freedom abroad act hailed
24. Coptic cleric's plight fuels a religious rift in Egypt
25. EU: Cook Calls For Dialogue Between Islamic Countries And West
26. Satanic Bounty - Price Raised on Rushdie's Head
27. Finding the door to Islamic peace (Opinion)
28. [Korean Protestants Criticized] for Destroying Buddhist Temples
29. Britain Throws the Book at Nation of Islam
30. 10,000 men to march for solidarity
31. Fear 'key to cult shooting'

Noted
32. Christianity Showing No Visible Signs of A Nationwide Revival
33. Pop culture helps bring witchcraft out of the broom closet
34. Hollywood's Mushy Spirituality
35. Hell hath less fury these days

Books
36. Author describes journey from Judaism to new faith

Main

1. O'Hair's atheist organization to leave AustinOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: American Statesman, Oct 15, 1998

Three years after atheist Madalyn O'Hair mysteriously disappeared with her son and adopted daughter, her Austin-based organization, American Atheists, is moving its national headquarters and severing a tie to Texas that dates from 1965.
(...snip...)

By the end of the year, the group will consolidate its operations in a New Jersey suburb of New York City where its president, Ellen Johnson, lives.
(...snip...)

"I'd rather be in Texas because it's warmer here," Tyson said. "But as a national organization, we ought to be in Washington more than here. You're more accessible. You're more in their face."
[...more...]

Back To Menu 2. Relatives Search For Members Of Denver-Based CultOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Also at: http://dailynews.yahoo.com/headlines/ts/story.html?s=v/nm/19981014/ts/cult_1.htmlOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: Reuters/Fox News/Yahoo, Oct 14, 1998
(...) Members of Denver-based Concerned Christians disappeared more than two weeks ago, abandoning homes and jobs to follow their charismatic leader, Monte Kim Miller, 44, said Hal Mansfield, director of the Religious Movement Resource Center.
(...snip...)

Miller, who founded Concerned Christians, is suspected of leading the group to either Jerusalem or Mexico. Relatives of members of the group said the members were fleeing Denver because Miller prophesied the city would be ground zero for an apocalyptic disaster last Saturday.

Miller, a former marketing manager, claims to be the last prophet on Earth, according to Bill Honsberger, who also monitors cult groups.
(...snip...)

"I don't think that he's dangerous," said Carol Giambalvo, a former cult member and consultant to American Family Foundation, an anti-cult organization. "I think he had financial problems and needed a reason to move out of Denver, so he made this little prophecy," she said.

NOTE: Carol Giambalvo provided the following clarification, as posted to the AR-talk mailing list:

"Unfortunately, the Reuters reporter misquoted me ... his question was do you think the group is in danger of suicide.... my reply was that I don't think so, that usually a leader feels threatened in order to invoke suicide of all his followers. I did express my concern for the families who can't locate their family members and concern for the psychological damage the leader is causing. My apologies if this misquote in any way makes the situation of less concern."

Miller's empty home in southeast Denver is for sale. According to court records, Miller and his wife, Marcia, declared bankruptcy a year ago, owing more than $600,000, published reports said.
[...more...]
Back To Menu 3. Anonymous source says Apocalypse cult safe, still in U.S. SourceOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: Glenwood Post, Oct 9, 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." Mansfield has monitored Concerned Christians for at least two years, fielding complaints from relatives and friends of group members.
(...snip...)

On Wednesday, a source claiming to have recently been in contact with a Concerned Christians member told The Denver Post the group is still in the United States and that its members are not planning to kill themselves.

The source demanded anonymity, saying Miller regularly bars his followers from talking to anyone he suspects of communicating with the media or speaking out against him. Such people are called agents of Satan by Miller, the source said.
[...more...]

Back To Menu 4. Radio's Art Bell Mysteriously QuitsOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: Washington Post, Oct 13, 1998; 6:28 p.m. EDT
Art Bell, an overnight radio host with a following among insomniacs, UFO enthusiasts and conspiracy theorists, quit on Tuesday, citing what he described only as "a threatening, terrible event" that happened to his family.

Bell gained widespread attention in November 1996 when an amateur astronomer told him he had a photo showing a mysterious "Saturnlike object" trailing the Hale-Bopp comet. Astronomers later said the object was actually a star whose image was distorted by the astronomer's telescope.
(...snip...)

Then, in March 1997, 39 people in the Heaven's Gate cult committed suicide about the time the comet was closest to Earth. They left a message saying that the comet heralded the arrival of a spacecraft that would "take us home" to a higher plane of existence.
[...more...]

Back To Menu 5. From Radio's Overnight Sensationalist, Dead AirOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: Washington Post, Oct 14, 1998 Wednesday, October 14, 1998; Page C01
(...) "You may recall about a year ago ... I told you that there was an event, a threatening, terrible event, occurred to my family, which I could not tell you about," Bell told his listeners at 2:55 a.m. Nevada time, at the end of an otherwise "normal" show. "Because of that event, and a succession of other events, what you're listening to right now is my final broadcast on the air."
(...snip...)

Talkers, a radio industry trade magazine, estimates Bell's audience at about 6.5 million, ranking the show as America's fourth most listened to, following Rush Limbaugh, Laura Schlessinger and Howard Stern.
(...snip...)

Adding to Bell's mystique was his geographical proximity to Area 51, the supersecret military facility north of Las Vegas that is the ultimate estination for alien hunters, many of whom believe it houses the remains of aliens killed in crash landings of flying saucers. Further, noted one listener, Bell quit on Oct. 13. 10-13 Productions is (coincidentally?) the name of the company that produces the Fox television show "The X-Files," which deals with paranormal and extraterrestrial activity.
(...snip...)

His many listeners, however, can take solace in the fact that Bell is fine, reports Nye County Sheriff Wade Lieseke Jr. "He is not in danger," Lieseke said. "This is a personal event with him that occurred a year ago. It is not an immediate law enforcement issue."

Bell told the sheriff what the "threatening terrible event" was, but Lieseke said he is not at liberty to disclose it. The sheriff did say, however, that the event was the cause of Tuesday's sign-off.
(...snip...)

The creepiness of Bell's announcement seemed a bit too perfect to some observers. "It's some exquisite timing in that it's right on the eve of the National Association of Broadcasters convention," said Jim Bohannon, whose nighttime talk show is heard on about 400 stations.
(...snip...)

Regardless of the explanation, worried listeners began sending e-mails to Bell's Web site at www.artbell.com minutes after his show went silent.
[...more...]

Back To Menu 6. Are we alone? UFO Conference launches today in Cocoa BeachOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: Florida Today, Oct 9, 1998
(...) As details of the Heaven's Gate UFO suicide cult began to dribble out of the San Diego suburb, few were as troubled as Whitley Strieber. On the eve of his lecture during the Space Coast UFO Conference in Cocoa Beach, the author still wonders whether the tragedy could've been prevented.
(...snip...)

The irony is that, almost single-handedly, Strieber helped elevate the level of discourse on space aliens into the pop mainstream.
(...snip...)

Strieber is a keynote speaker in the three-day UFO Conference beginning today at the Cocoa Beach Hilton. Sponsored by a Gulf Breeze organization called Project Awareness, the conference offers a mixed bag for the alternative crowd. In addition to veteran UFO researchers Stanton Friedman and Bob Oechsler, the fare includes lectures on remote viewing (Skip Atwater), Mars anomalies (Vince DiPietro), Egyptian mysteries (Zecharia Sitchin), after-death communication (Judy Guggenheim) and channeling (Mary Jo McCabe).
(...snip...)

Now the momentum has spilled over to cyberspace. Log onto the Internet and you can find countless UFO conspiracy sites.
[...more...]

Back To Menu 7. NASA, news media rapped at UFO conferenceOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: Florida Today, Oct 10, 1998
(...) But UFO researcher/author Stanton Friedman scored a crowd pleaser when he charged, during the question-and-answer session, "If any newspaper spent one-fifth of what they've spent (investigating) Monica Lewinsky, we'd have the answers to flying saucers."

Twenty years ago, Friedman, a nuclear physicist whose contracts included classified projects, was the first to investigate the 1947 accounts of a controversial crash in the New Mexico desert. Now popularized as the Roswell Incident, that event has become what Friedman contends was the beginning of a "Cosmic Watergate" engineered by the military and civilian intelligence machinery.
(...snip...)

DiPietro criticized MGS camera operator Michael Malin, whose contract gives him a six-month proprietary embargo on the images. He said other scientists reported Malin had taken numerous pictures of the so-called Face on Mars, other than the single one released to NASA in April that appeared to reflect natural terrain rather than artificial features.

"This leads me to believe we are not getting all the facts from Malin Enterprises," DiPietro said.
[...more...]

Back To Menu 8. Astronaut asks Washington to tell truth about aliensOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: Ottawa Citizen/Times of London, Oct 11, 1998
The U.S. Congress should grant immunity to high-level officials so they can tell the real story about alien visits to Earth, says a former astronaut.

Edgar Mitchell, who holds a doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was the sixth man to walk on the moon, wants Washington to acknowledge what he believes is long-standing knowledge of extra-terrestrial life.
(...snip...)

Although he acts as a consultant on the X-Files, the cult television series, he is scornful of "disinformation" about aliens and flying saucers that emanates from the Internet and marginal UFO organizations in America.
(...snip...)

Since leaving NASA he has studied psychic and spiritual phenomena and submitted luminaries such as Uri Geller, the Israeli spoon bender, to scientific scrutiny. In his research he has come to believe in life beyond our skies.
[...more...]

Back To Menu 9. Church leaders condemn cultOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
University takes action to protect student body Source: Belfast Telegraph (Ireland), Oct 14, 1998
CHURCH leaders at Queen's University today voiced alarm over a new cult-like group which they claim is targeting students on the campus. The International Church of Christ today confirmed they have "planted" a six-strong group in Belfast but deny they are targeting under-graduates.

The organisation's London base is to be featured tonight on a television documentary called Living with the Enemy (BBC2).
(...snip...)

Baptist Minister Rev David McMillan said: "The Queen's chaplains are very concerned because of the way people in this sect approach people.

"They seem to work mainly in student areas, perhaps because young people are more impressionable and therefore vulnerable to them."A Presbyterian mission worker said: "They can be really deadly. They take over people's lives and do their thinking for them and take them away from their relatives."

"Unfortunately it seems wherever we go, the Students' Unions and other people slander our church," Mr Partington [ICC elder - AWH], who is based in London, added. "We are mainline, evangelical and we don't have any weird or wonderful doctrines. Others do complain about what they consider targeting but which to us is actually, actively sharing our faith.
[...more...]

Back To Menu 10. Church trial for death comet cultOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: The Australian, Oct 9, 1998
THE Catholic Church will hold an inquiry into a doomsday cult which claims a comet will destroy the Earth before the new millennium. In a rare move, the cult spawned by the so-called "Little Pebble", William Kamm, are to be tested by the Church, it was announced yesterday.

Mr Kamm is the leader of the Order of St Charbel, an unorthodox Catholic cult based at Nowra on the NSW south coast. The inquiry will aim to provide a definitive statement on Mr Kamm and the cult's beliefs which are claimed to be a "message from heaven".
(...snip...)

The sect, which has bases in four States, was last year the subject of a Victorian and Australian Federal Police investigation into its finances and suspected criminal law breaches.
[...more...]

Back To Menu 11. Church to probe doomsday factionOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: South China Morning Post, Oct 10, 1998
(...) Members of the cult known as the Order of St Charbel believe their leader, William Kamm, who is known as "Little Pebble", will be nominated by Pope John Paul as his successor.

Mr Kamm forecast a comet would hit the Earth this year. When the prediction failed, members accepted the explanation that he had got the year wrong. The cult now expects civilisation to be destroyed by the end of next year, and that 144,000 people would be left to begin "the new era".
[...more...]

Back To Menu 12. Priest's claims of chats with Virgin Mary provoke probeOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: Hong Kong Standard, Oct 10, 1998
The Catholic Church has launched an inquiry into a renegade order that claims it receives messages from the Virgin Mary, including one that the Hale-Bopp comet was going to bring about the end of the world in June.
(...snip...)

Richard Williams, a spokesman for the order said it had received direct messages from Heaven including warnings that a tidal wave will destroy villages along part of Australia's east coast, that the world will end in 1999, and that Mr Kamm will become the next pope.

Mr Williams denied a former member's reported claim that Mr Kamm ordered the digging of graves for a mass suicide.
(...snip...)

Mr Williams confirmed Mr Kamm had earlier predicted the world would end in June after a comet plunged into the sun. Asked to explain why it didn't happen, Mr Williams said: "Heaven never tells us the whole story."
[...more...]

Back To Menu 13. Religious sect reports abuse of children at its boarding schoolsOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: Bergen Record, Oct 10, 1998 Also at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/WPlate/1998-10/10/094l-101098-idx.htmlOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: Washington Post, Oct 10, 1998
(...) In an extraordinary display of candor by a religious group, the Hare Krishna movement published the findings in an official journal, recounting sexual molestation, beatings, public humiliation, and isolation in roach-infested closets. Teachers, administrators, and monks were among the abusers.

The report was written by an independent sociologist, Professor E. Burke Rochford Jr. of Middlebury College in Vermont.
(...snip...)

One of the sect's official publications, the ISKCON Communications Journal, reported Rochford's findings in its current issue.
(...snip...)

At its peak in the early 1980s, the sect claimed 5,000 U.S. members living in communities centered around their temples, according to Anuttama Dasa. Today there are about 90,000 U.S. members, with only 800 living in the spiritual communities, he said.
[...more...]

Back To Menu 14. Moonies plan ski resort for North KoreaOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: BBC News, Oct 13, 1998
A South Korea company owned by the Unification Church, whose followers are known as the Moonies, says it's struck a deal with North Korea to build a luxury tourist resort for foreigners there.

The company, the Tongil group, says it's to set up a hotel and ski resort and expand development of a tourist zone on Mount Kumgang.
[...more...]

Back To Menu 15. In a remote corner of the world, Rev. Moon sees hopeOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: St. Petersburg Times, Oct 11, 1998
(...) The 78-year-old multimillionaire and founder of the Unification Church - a controversial religious sect with large financial investments in the United States - has decided this sparsely populated frontier with Paraguay and Bolivia is the ideal place to build a new "Kingdom of Heaven on Earth."

Officially, the project is known as the New Hope Ranch. But Moon, who thinks of himself as a latter-day Messiah, likes to call it his Garden of Eden.
(...snip...)

When the project is complete in eight years, the New Hope Ranch will be a world model for the development of education, agriculture and tourism, Moon's followers say.
(...snip...)

But experts who have closely followed Moon's career view New Hope more as one of the last, bizarre ventures in a long series of spiritual and financial enterprises by the aging leader of a shrinking sect.
(...snip...)

The church is being revamped, shedding much if its spiritual identity in favor of universal issues of family values and world peace. In Brazil, Moon's organization recently changed its name to the Association of Families for Unification and World Peace.
(...snip...)

"Most of his ideas are trial and error," said Eileen Barker, a sociology professor at the London School of Economics, who has studied Moon. "He's certainly got vision. Whether it's 20-20 vision is another question."
(...snip...)

The only disapproval has come from the local Roman Catholic Church. Jardim's priest, Father Bruno Brugnolaro, laughs at the idea of all religions being taught at New Hope. "What they want to do is substitute all religions. The Catholic Church has made it very clear what it thinks about that," he said.
[...more...]

Back To Menu 16. Trial on suit over cult's land delayedOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: Dallas Morning News, Oct 8, 1998
A state district judge delayed until December a trial in a lawsuit over who owns the Branch Davidian land near Waco where about 80 people died in a fire.
(...snip...)

Wednesday's trial involves a lawsuit filed by Trustees of Branch Davidian Seventh Day Adventist Association against Amo and George Roden and Charles Mitchell.

Mr. Isgitt said his clients sued to clear the title to the land, which he said consisted of several acres they wish to use as "church grounds."

He described his clients as mostly Branch Davidians who had accepted Mr. Koresh's leadership, including some survivors of the fire.
[...more...]

Back To Menu 17. IRS again infiltrated by Scientology cultOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: FACTNet, Oct 12, 1998
In yet another bizarre twist in the Scientology-IRS war, it has just been revealed that Scientology's tax exempt status and billion dollars in tax forgiveness was aided by the efforts of an IRS official secretly working for the cult.

This information was revealed to FACTt by Scientology defector Jesse Prince in interviews concerning Scientology's criminal activities and near unlimited spending on covert operations. Jesse Prince was second in command of all of Scientology under David Miscavige, the cult's current leader.
[...more...]

Back To Menu 18. French lawyer says Scientology evidence missingOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: Infoseek/Reuters, Oct 14, 1998
A French lawyer pressing fraud charges against the Church of Scientology said on Wednesday that important documents in the case had gone missing and appealed to the Justice Ministry to find out what had happened to them.

Olivier Morice, representing plaintiffs who charge that scientologists illegally posed as doctors, said 1-1/2 volumes were missing from the 10-volume mass of evidence.
(...snip...)

"Either this is a mishap, and this is inadmissible and serious and shows the administration of justice needs to be reformed in a major way.

A second possibility is that an attempted infiltration by Scientology which, using completely inadmissable methods, may have had these documents disappear."
(...snip...)

Unlike the United States, France refuses to recognise Scientology as a religion.
(...snip...)

The French government announced last week it was stepping up its observation of sects.
[...more...]

Back To Menu 19. Scientology saga far from completeOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: San Jose Business Journal, Oct 12, 1998 [Letter to the Editor]
Although Ward chose to settle, he maintains that he did not violate Scientology's copyrights in any way. According to the settlement agreement, Scientology and Ward explicitly agreed that there was no admission of liability on Ward's part.

No judge or jury has ever ruled that Ward infringed copyright.

On the other hand, newspaper articles, sworn affidavits, and court testimony reveal allegtions that Scientology itself is committing frighteing criminal acts including false imprisonment, fraud, and extortion (see members.aol.com/jour0/investigation.htmlOff-site Link) as directed by Scientology policy. While these diturbing [sic] accusations go uninvestigated, Scientology sics its juggernaut of well-paid attorneys on its critics.
[...more...]

Back To Menu 20. Japanese Cult That Used Nerve Gas Has ResurfacedOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: New York Times, Oct 11, 1998
The cult that planted nerve gas in the Tokyo subway three years ago, killing 12 people and injuring thousands more, is back.

Aum Shinrikyo, which was found responsible for the sarin attack and for several murders with VX, the most toxic nerve agent known, is regrouping, recruiting new members at home and abroad, and raising vast sums of money, security officials and Japanese and American terrorism experts say. The U.S. State Department has designated it a terrorist group, although it has not been linked to any illegal acts since 1995.
(...snip...)

"There has been no word of repentance or apology," concludes the Public Security Investigation Agency, the main intelligence arm of Japan's Ministry of Justice, in a 70-page report issued in January. Moreover, the document states, Aum Shinrikyo -- the name is the Buddhist mantra "Om" followed by "Supreme Truth" -- has not revised or abandoned "its dangerous doctrine that justifies murder to achieve its ends."

According to the report and interviews with Japanese security officials and independent experts, the group now has about 5,000 followers, including 500 "monks," followers who are "ordained" and live communally. It operates some 28 installations at 18 branches (down from a peak of 24) throughout the country.
(...snip...)

Despite being banned in Russia, the group is still active there, as well as in Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan. It maintains encrypted Web sites and chat rooms in Japanese, English and Russian and controls a network of electronic, computer and other stores that generated about $30 million in revenues in 1997. Its publishing company, now its second-largest source of revenue, reopened in April and issues at least one book or pamphlet a month, officials said.
(...snip...)

Several experts have interpreted the rise of religious cults -- 185,000 of which are registered with the government -- as a response to the strains of modern Japanese society. They also caution about the persistence of the underlying conditions that leave young Japanese vulnerable to groups like Aum.
[...more...]

Back To Menu 21. Japanese seek faith, in all forms, as economic concerns mountOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: The Christian Science Monitor, Oct. 8, 1998
(...) The disconnection makes it hard to gauge the scope of religious activity, particularly with the push toward individually based faith. Figures show a decline in religious groups since 1990, but anecdotal evidence reveals a burgeoning interest in spirituality.

Perhaps the most striking sign of this is growing membership in Aum Shinri Kyo, the apocalyptic cult responsible for gassing Tokyo's subways, now estimated at 5,500.

Traditional faiths are also benefiting. Enrollment at the International Buddhist School in Chiba prefecture has tripled in recent years. And though Christianity attracts only 1 percent of Japanese, a coalition of Christian groups recently held a week-long revival in Tokyo, their largest ever.
(...snip...)

Why the interest in spirituality now? Many observers say current economic uncertainty drives people to seek spiritual support. A longer-term perspective would consider a postwar breakdown in family and community that has left many feeling rootless and adrift.
[...more...]

Back To Menu 22. Pack off, Gujarat Govt. tells 'faith-healer'Off-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: The Hindu, Oct. 11, 1998
The BJP Government in Gujarat has asked the California-based 'faith-healer,' Rev. Roger Houtsma, to cancel his "prayer meetings" here and return to the United States.
(...snip...)

The Minister of State for Home, Mr. Haren Pandya, however, has denied that the organisers were forced to cancel the prayer meetings. The Government had only asked Rev. Houtsma to either prove his claims scientifically or refrain from making any references about faith healings.
[...more...]

Back To Menu 23. Congressional passage of religious freedom abroad act hailedOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: Star-Telegram, Oct. 13, 1998
Congressional passage of the compromise International Religious Freedom Act has been hailed by a broad spectrum of religious leaders, who generally view the measure as assuring that the treatment of religious believers overseas will become a centerpiece of U.S. foreign policy.
[...more...]
Back To Menu 24. Coptic cleric's plight fuels a religious rift in EgyptOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: Boston Globe, Oct 15, 1998
A bishop of the Coptic Church here faces charges that carry the death penalty under government sedition laws after speaking out against "systemic, inhuman and unspeakable" police abuse against Christians in this remote region of Upper Egypt.
[...more...]
Back To Menu 25. EU: Cook Calls For Dialogue Between Islamic Countries And WestOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Oct 14, 1998
(...) Cook made his appeal early this week (Monday) on a visit to the Ismaili Center in London, where he praised the major contribution to British society of its 1.5 million Muslim population. Many of Britain's Muslims are immigrants from the former British empire, particularly Pakistan and India.
(...snip...)

Far from needing Islam as an enemy, Cook said, the West could not afford to have Islam "as anything but a friend." He added: "We may have different cultures and different religions, but that does not mean we can never get along."

Cook also said the Koran teaches that mankind was made into nations and tribes so that people might know each other, not despise each other. In that spirit, he added, Islam and the West must try to improve understanding, erase distrust, and break down dangerous stereotypes.
[...more...]

Back To Menu 26. Satanic Bounty - Price Raised on Rushdie's HeadOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: ABC News, Oct 12, 1998
British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook will soon meet Salman Rushdie to discuss reports that Iranian hard-liners were offering large bounties on the author's head, officials said today.
[...more...]
Back To Menu 27. Finding the door to Islamic peaceOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: Washington Times, Oct. 15, 1998 [Opinion]
(...) ... Islamic fundamentalists totally reject Buddhism and Hinduism as idol worship that must be extirpated. They also believe that Jews and Christians are not real Jews and Christians because their texts have been altered. As such they are not even entitled to Islamic protection accorded to "people of the book" who follow the Old or New Testaments but do not accept Mohammed. This is a dangerous concept.

... So what needs to be done to counter intolerant and violent Islamic fundamentalism?

... Nourish Western contacts with mainstream Islamic thinkers and opinion leaders. Using government and academic exchange programs, bring them to visit the United States. And send to Islamic countries religious and political figures. Hold forums to exchange ideas with leaders of the Al Ahzar Islamic center in Cairo and other senior Islamic institutions. Even if Christian, Jewish and Muslim theologians disagree, by listening to each other they will open the door to humanization of the other -- to the understanding that tolerance does not mean one agrees with another, only that one understands the other's right to hold differing views.
[...more...]

Back To Menu 28. Churches Criticize Radical Protestants for Destroying Buddhist TemplesOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Korea Herald, Oct 15, 1998
Spurred by widespread reports of Buddhist statues smashed by Christian fanatics, Korea's Protestant leaders are breaking their silence to ease the country's simmering religious tension.
(...snip...)

Tedesco, an American who has lived in Seoul for over 10 years, said the Christian leadership's long reluctance to call attention to the issue was partly rooted in embarassment.

"The success of Christianity in Korea in the past 100 years or so has been the darling of Christian commentators and partisan Korean studies pundits, who never tire of repeating the litany of good _ that is, western _ things that foreign missions have brought to Korea," he said. "Extremist Christian intolerance and violence against Buddhist temples and images in Korea...is the fly in the ointment."
[...more...]

Back To Menu 29. Britain Throws the Book at Nation of IslamOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: Christian Science Monitor, Sep 18, 1998
Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam is challenging Britain's right to decide what Muslim children should be taught in schools. So far, the US-based black separatist group has resisted a government order to shut down its schools, with the spotlight on a West London school that has 60 pupils, ages 3 to 16.

Officials say several Muslim schools operate illegally in London and other cities. In Britain, all schools must be registered with the government. Inspectors have the right to enter premises, find out what's taught, and examine pupil records.

The Nation of Islam established a foothold in Britain in 1986 and is believed to have more than 2,000 active members here.
(...snip...)

The Nation of Islam challenge to the government coincides with unrelated reports that hundreds of young British Muslims attending mosques are being taught the philosophy of the Taliban, the radical Deobandi sect now running Afghanistan. The group has no known connection to the Nation of Islam.
(...snip...)

Ronald Greaves, professor of Islamic studies at Wolverhampton University in the north of England, says Deobandi teaching in Britain is on the increase and is "a cause for concern." He says much of the teaching appears to take place at mosques in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Bradford, and at small Islamic colleges in the north of England.
[...more...]

Back To Menu 30. 10,000 men to march for solidarityOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: BBC News, Oct 14 Wednesday, October 14, 1998
Thousands of black men are expected to gather in the centre of London on Saturday to take part in the 10,000 Man March. The rally has been organised by the Nation of Islam and other black groups as a chance for British black men to gather together in Trafalgar Square and show their solidarity.
[...more...]
Back To Menu 31. Fear 'key to cult shooting'Off-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: The Australian, Oct 15, 1998
JUSTIFICATION was the fundamental issue in the trial of the man accused of murdering alleged cult leader Adam Clay, the Supreme Court in Hobart heard yesterday.
(...snip...)

Mr Weeding, 26, of Wilga Rd, Risdon Vale, has pleaded not guilty to the shooting murder of Mr Clay, an alleged ninja clan leader and former Order of St Basil guesthouse manager, in West Hobart on May 31 last year.
[...more...]

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Noted

32. Christianity Showing No Visible Signs of A Nationwide Revival Annual Survey by Barna Research Reveals Current Trends Regarding Spiritual BehaviorOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Undated.

Religion continues to be a major topic of interest and involvement for most American adults. However, the annual national tracking study of religious behavior and beliefs conducted by the Barna Research Group reveals that the much discussed and anticipated spiritual revival is not discernible through common measures of spirituality.
(...snip...)

George Barna, President of the research firm that conducted the survey, summarized the findings. "God and faith are still hot, but long-term or intense religious commitments are not. Despite their fascination with spirituality, most churched people are only moderately devoted to their current church and they are not deeply invested in spiritual growth. It seems that many adults are awaiting the next big spiritual fad to explore. The breadth of our intrigue with faith remains much more extensive than the depth of our commitment to genuine spiritual development."
[...more...]

Back To Menu 33. Pop culture helps bring witchcraft out of the broom closetOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: Star-Telegram, Oct 13, 1998
(...) Over the past four centuries, witchcraft -- which is both an ancient tradition of rites and a rapidly growing modern-day religious movement -- has survived persecution and execution, earned a sometimes grudging toleration, and undergone a series of revivals, both in Europe and North America.

Now, movies like "Practical Magic" and a host of books, TV shows and other pop culture products promise to take Wicca -- which is what many of its modern practitioners call it -- to unprecedented levels of popularity.

"What helps the cause is for people to see that witches are not green-faced hags cavorting with Satan, casting evil spells, and baking Hansel and Gretel in the oven," said Phyllis Curott, a New York attorney and Wiccan High Priestess who is currently on a 21-city publicity tour for "Book of Shadows" (Broadway Books), her autobiographical look at the contemporary witch craze.
(...snip...)

Books about Wicca have fueled steady growth at Llewellyn, the St. Paul,

Minn.-based company which publishes titles on a wide range of spiritual, occultic and esoteric topics. In addition to established best sellers like Raymond Buckland's "Complete Book of Witchcraft," with 25 printings and 271,000 copies in print, and Scott Cunningham's "Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner, with 20 printings and 290,000 copies in print, the company has successfully launched many new Wicca titles.
(...snip...)

"On the West Coast, where there's less allegiance to traditional Judeo-Christian belief than in the rest of the country, many Californians are drawn to Wicca and other neo-pagan groups because they blend spirituality, ritual and a deep concern for environmental issues," says Lattin, co-author of the recently published book, "Shopping for Faith: American Religion in the New Millennium" (Jossey-Bass). "It's an earth-based, be-here-now kind of spirituality, and dovetails with rising interest among many feminists in 'goddess' religion."
[...more...]

Back To Menu 34. Hollywood's Mushy SpiritualityOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: New York Post, Oct. 15
(...) These movies treat the "spiritual realm" with a solemnity once reserved exclusively for portrayals of biblical figures in movies such as "The Ten Commandments." But there's an otherworld of difference between then and now. While ghosts and afterlives are treated with deadly earnestness in Hollywood, conventional religious beliefs and institutions are rarely afforded the same respect.

"Spirituality could not possibly be hotter, but the emphasis has to be on the word "spirituality," says Terry Mattingly, a professor at Milligan College in Tennessee, who writes a widely syndicated religion column. "The media tend to define that as directly the opposite of institutionalized religion."
(...snip...)

Isaacs says that, historically, orthodox versions of Judaism and Christianity have trouble finding a home in ego-driven Hollywood because they have what Isaacs terms "the audacity to come in and say, 'There is a higher power, but it's not you.' "
[...more...]

Back To Menu 35. Hell hath less fury these daysOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: The Ottawa Citizen, Oct 13, 1998
Hell is no longer such a hot idea, says Vancouver theologian Stanley Grenz. He says most Canadians no longer believe in it, and some theologians are changing their minds about what it really means.
(...snip...)

Some Christian thinkers want to go even further and entirely dispense with the idea of torment. Mainline Protestant theologians have long been flirting with the idea of universal salvation, what Mr. Grenz calls the "sentimentalist" idea that God will forgive us all at the end of time.

Evangelical Protestants like Mr. Grenz are more hard-nosed, but he says even among the evangelicals, a small but influential group of theologians has found a way of dismissing eternal torment.

A God who would inflict everlasting torment is "more nearly like Satan than like God," says one of Canada's leading theologians, Clark Pinnock of McMaster University in Hamilton.
(...snip...)

In a time when more and more Canadians are turning away from the churches, he says theologians have moved back to emphasizing the fundamental, and more palatable, message of Christianity, that God is love.

Preachers once thought that graphic word-pictures of sinners in the hands of an angry God would frighten congregations into better behaviour, but hell is an unpopular idea today.
[...more...]

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Books

36. Author describes journey from Judaism to new faithOff-site Link
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: Express-News, Oct 13

To his friends, Norman Rothman is known as "the kosher Mormon."
(...snip...)

Rothman and his wife, Annette, are traveling across the country promoting his two books -- "So How Come a Nice Jewish Boy Became a Mormon?" and "The Unauthorized Biography of Joseph Smith, Mormon Prophet."
(...snip...)

For information about these books, call (801) 530-0635 or check out their World Wide Web site at www.jewishmormon.comOff-site Link
[...more...]

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