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Religion Items In The News

April 30, 1999 (Vol. 3, Issue 82)

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

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

If links have not yet been provided, check the Apologetics Index for further information.

=== Main
1. Quebec cult leader surrenders (Apostles of Infinite Love)
2. Cult deputy jailed for 10 years (Zhu Shen Jiao/Supreme Spirit)
3. Sarin gas sect fears silence candidates in local election (Aum)
4. Bar on Aum may be illegal (Aum Shinrikyo)
5. Cult supporters defend operation ("VIP")
6. Cult Group Protests In Beijing (Items 6 - 12: Falun Gong)
7. Chinese cult draws many followers
8. Sect vows to stop 'evil tide sweeping mankind to catastrophe'
9. Sect gets chance to air grievances
10. Peking may outlaw cult behind rally
11. U.S. Cult Master "Played No Role" In Rally
12. Authorities Warn Cult Against Threatening "Social Stability"
13. Hard labour for sect's children (Amish)
14. Chemo begins for Amish girl
15. Is spanking abuse? SJC to take up case
16. State may require pill coverage
17. God 'fills in' for dentists (Toronto Blessing)
18. God 'Gives' Gold Teeth To Believers (Toronto Blessing)
19. Judge: Church may stay at Purchase, leader must go (ICC)
20. Archbishop Of Mexico Warns Against Sects In Society
21. Courts underestimate sect influence
22. Death of a 'Nethead' (Scientology)
23. Scientologists unwanted in civil service
24. No sympathy in other Austrian states for Upper Austria's proposal
25. Foreign Extremism on the Advance (Scientology)
26. Russian neo-Nazis under fire after shul is vandalized
27. Organized hate still growing in America
28. Deaths seen through prism of Christianity (Littleton)
29. 70,000 at memorial united by their tears (Littleton)
30. Goths: Morose outcasts in dire need of acceptance
31. Pagans prefer to say they're 'nature based'
32. Russia's Ministry Of Justice Rejects Jesuits' Bid For Registration
33. Cao Dai Religion Struggles In Vietnam
34. Many inmates converting to Islam
35. Japan's Buddhists accused of getting them coming and going
36. Inbreeding key to doctrine of keeping bloodline pure (Kingston Clan)
37. Mormons bring their message to Harlem
38. Ruling on Bibles called victory for religious freedom
39. Catholic weekly ends `pray and publish' ads
40. Sinead O'Connor "Ordained" By Schismatic Sect
41. Millennium madness comes to UK
42. Millennium Fever Casts Its Spell
43. Scholars reclaim the word "martyr"
44. Drawing Gangs to God (Jesus' Disciples)

=== Noted
45. Scholar sees strength in abundance of faiths
46. Is astronomy refashioning the images of God?
47. 12 Steps, Christian Style
48. 10,000 'Jesus People' fill Pond
49. A 'Jesus People' Reunion? They Never Really Left
50. Religious Awakening In Holland

=== Books
51. Matthew Fox Sheds New Light on the Destructive Forces of Humanity
52. A Look at New Religious Liberty in Latin America
53. Knockoff seeks to apply Buddha's views to everyday life
54. From atheist to liberal Christian

=== Online
55. A Network of Hate
56. Cyberfaith: Gimme that online religion
57. "CAN" Revamps Website


=== Main

1. Quebec cult leader surrenders
National Post (Canada), Apr. 29, 1999
http://www.nationalpost.com/news.asp?f=990429/2537748&s2=national&s3=newsOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Wearing a floor-length brown robe, and a large crucifix around his
neck, the leader of a Saint-Jovite-based cult turned himself into
police yesterday and was arraigned on charges of sexually assaulting
minors going back more than 30 years.

A Canada-wide arrest warrant was issued two weeks ago for Jean-Gaston
Tremblay, the leader of the Apostles of Infinite Love.

Mr. Tremblay, 70, was also known as Father Jean Gregoire de la Trinite.
His followers believed he was the real Roman Catholic pope, calling Mr.
Tremblay Pope Gregory XVII.

His lawyer, Michel Massicotte, said yesterday that the frail, bearded
man was in France visiting the cult's missions when police raided the
cult's Saint-Jovite compound two weeks ago.
[...more...]
Back To Top


2. Cult deputy jailed for 10 years
South China Morning Post, Apr. 30, 1999
http://www.scmp.com/news/template/China-Template.idc?artid=19990430014820047
&top=china&template=Default.htx&maxfieldsize=1492
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
A court has sentenced the lieutenant of a cult leader to 10 years in
prison for helping defraud peasants of cash, grain and jewellery, a
newspaper said yesterday.

Li Ping, 22, ranked third in the Zhu Shen Jiao, or Supreme Spirit Sect,
was convicted by a court in Liuyang, Hunan, on March 4, the China Youth
Daily said. Li was found guilty of helping sect leader Liu Jiaguo
defraud followers of 300,000 yuan (HK$280,860) in cash, tens of
thousands of kilograms of grain and silver ornaments, the paper said.
(...)

Zhu Shen Jiao, one of China's biggest religious cults with 10,000
members, called for the overthrow of a "secular nation" and the
establishment of a "spiritual nation", according to state media. It
proposed buying firearms to stage an armed rebellion.
[...more...]
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3. Sarin gas sect fears silence candidates in local election
South China Morning News, Apr. 23, 1999
http://www.scmp.com/news/template/Asia-Template.idc?artid=19990423024325015
&top=asia&template=Default.htx&maxfieldsize=1558
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
(...) In Kita-Mimaki village, the candidates and voters are preoccupied
with their vigil against followers of Aum Shinri Kyo, the cult accused
of the 1995 sarin gas attack in Tokyo's subways which killed 12 people.

Electioneering is eerily quiet as candidates respect the distress of
locals who fear a two-storey house purchased by the cult could be its
new headquarters.
(...)

But as the cult regroups around the country on the back of its
successful personal computer business, which sold seven billion yen
(HK$452.9 million) worth of PCs last year, some communities are ridding
themselves of its followers.

This week, a company associated with the sect agreed to leave a Tokyo
apartment building which is home to a widow of a sarin gas attack
victim. Shizue Takahashi collected 3,300 signatures demanding its
expulsion.
[...more...]
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4. Bar on Aum may be illegal
Daily Yomiuri, Apr. 28, 1999
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/newse/0428po11.htmOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
A town mayor's rejection of an application by the Aum Supreme TruthOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
cult members to register as residents may be illegal, said Home Affairs
Minister Takeshi Noda on Tuesday.

Kijuro Tateno, the mayor of Sanwamachi, Ibaraki Prefecture, announced
Monday that he intended to turn down registration notices by 24 Aum
members to move into the town.
(...)

The assembly members and town managers of 13 municipalities on Tuesday
submitted petitions to Diet members from their prefectures calling for
a new law to limit the activities of the Aum Supreme Truth.
[...more...]
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5. Cult supporters defend operation
Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Apr. 26, 1999
http://www.abc.net.au/news/state/sa/archive/metsa-26apr1999-5.htmOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Supporters of an organisation, targeted by a Federal Liberal Senator
last week, are continuing to defend its operation.

In Federal Parliament, Senator Grant Chapman, said a cult was operating
under the guise of the "Vibrational Individuation Program" based on the
use and control of food.
(...)

Program member Judy Dispain has confirmed that the organisation uses
kinesiology which she describes as an "accepted practice of muscle
testing" to determine food intolerances.

She says her individual program is similar to a vegetarian diet, with
the addition of offal and other meat.
[...more...]
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6. Cult Group Protests In Beijing
International Herald Tribune, Apr. 26, 1999
http://www.iht.com/IHT/TODAY/MON/FPAGE/china.2.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
More than 10,000 Chinese followers of a cult-like figure who lives in
the United States massed Sunday on the streets surrounding the
headquarters of the Communist Party in the largest, and strangest,
protest since the student-led demonstrations rocked Beijing in 1989.

Clutching the writings of the Chinese martial arts master Li Hongzhi,
the protesters entered Beijing in the predawn hours in buses and
flooded the streets around the Zhongnanhai compound.
(...)

The protesters were demanding action by the Chinese government against
a Chinese magazine that last week published an article critical of the
cult called Falun Gong.

Followers of the cult leader, Li Hongzhi, who lives in Houston, said
they were concerned that the article, which argued that Falun should
not be practiced by young people, represented the first step in a
government campaign to ban the cult - which involves group meditation,
exercise and ofttimes bizarre spiritual training.
(...)

Cults and religions, combining traditional Chinese beliefs with a dose
of hucksterism, have proliferated in China among a restless people
seeking a spiritual anchor amid economic and social upheaval.
(...)

Falun Gong, or the law of the revolving wheel, says it is ''an advanced
system of cultivation and practice'' - incorporating elements from the
Chinese martial art, tai chi'chuan, Buddhism and Taoism. It is kind of
a New Age movement with Chinese characteristics.
(...)

Mr. Li moved to the United States, and he gave his first seminar in
Houston on Oct. 12, 1996. Since then he has generally picked
celestially significant days for his teachings - often to crowds of
thousands. Mr. Li' s writings have been translated into seven
languages, and Falun organizations are active around the world and in
18 U.S. states and Washington. More than 80 Web sites are devoted to
the practice of Falun.
[...more...]
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7. Chinese cult draws many followers
USA Today, Apr. 26, 1999
http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/nwsmon07.htmOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
(...) Li Hongzhi lives off royalties from his Falun text and sermon
compilations. A Falun web site claims membership of 100 million in
China, the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia and Singapore.

Falun Gong (pronounced fah-luhn gung) borrows heavily from Buddhist and
Taoist philosophies and styles itself as a school of qigong (pronounced
chee-gong), a traditional Chinese practice that uses meditation and
martial arts exercises to channel unseen forces and improve health.
(...)

The government tolerates qigong schools it deems acceptable and
suppresses others as superstition. Any attempt to ban all qigong would
pit the central government against the large proportion of the
population that believes in it.

So far, Falun is under study, and no conclusion has been reached, said
Wang Kai, an official in charge of qigong for the State Sports
Administration and himself a practitioner of Falun.
(...)

Falun Gong teaches that illness is caused by evil that can be purged.
By following the three principles of ''truth, compassion and
forbearance,'' clairvoyance and other supernatural powers can be
obtained. Those who reach enlightenment will look younger - with clear
skin and fewer wrinkles - and feel ''light all over.''

Followers believe Li implants a falun - a ''wheel of law'' or miniature
of the universe - into their lower abdomens, where it spins constantly,
absorbing and releasing power.
(...)

Chen Zhong, a retiree who practices Falun, said it instills high
standards, promotes good deeds and deters crime. He said followers are
told not to take medicine and claimed many have been cured of leukemia,
hepatitis and other diseases through Falun.
[...more...]
Back To Top


8. Sect vows to stop 'evil tide sweeping mankind to catastrophe'
South China Morning Post, Apr. 26, 1999
http://www.scmp.com/news/template/Front-Template.idc?artid=19990426012041050
&top=front&template=Default.htx&maxfieldsize=1924
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
The Fa Lun Gong movement promises to cure sickness and reverse a tide
of evil sweeping mankind to the brink of catastrophe.
(...)

"Your diseases will be eliminated directly by me," leader Li Hongzhi,
47, wrote in one of his five books, regarded by devotees as sacred.
(...)

Mr Li's cult claims more than 100 million members and sees human
corruption in everything from homosexuality to rock music and drug
addiction.
(...)

The Fa Lun Gong - or "Buddhist Law" cult - is rooted in the notion of
karma, which holds that people's good and bad deeds determine their
fate in the next life. Society is in such steep decline that humans are
actually being reincarnated as demons, many disguised as monks,
according to Mr Li, who lives in Houston, Texas, devotees said.
[...more...]
Back To Top


9. Sect gets chance to air grievances
Hong Kong Standard, Apr. 27, 1999
http://www.hkstandard.com/online/news/001/china/news001.htmOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
(...) ``The government has never banned various qigong activities, so
any controversy can be settled through normal channels,'' a spokesman
from the news office of the State Council said.
(...)

He refused to confirm Hong Kong press reports that the leaders of the
Falun Gong group had been arrested, but he did say ``high-level
leaders'' made the decision to solve the protests through normal
channels.
(...)

Li Hongzhi, who founded Falungong in 1992 and published his ideas in
1994, has a following of millions nationwide, they said. He now
lives in the US and appears at Falungong conventions around the
world several times a year, followers outside of China said.
[...more...


10. Peking may outlaw cult behind rally
The Independent (UK), Apr. 28, 1999
http://www.independent.co.uk/stories/B2704912.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
(...) Across China, Falun Gong adherents follow the teachings and
supposedly health-giving meditation and martial arts techniques of Li
Hongzhi, a 47-year-old qigong master now living in New York. His main
book has been banned in China, and Falun Gong has no status as an
official religion, but Mr Li's followers have created the biggest
non-government movement in China, and one that vents its displeasure
when irked.

Falun Gong says it is not a political movement, but to Peking's eyes it
represents a force the government does not control.
(...)

Rong Yi, a spokesman for Mr Li in New York, said the Falun Gong
followers had been angry about an incident last week in Tianjin, 60
miles from Peking, where a youth magazine criticised the cult,
prompting a protest in that city. Mr Li said the police had "used
force" to break up that demonstration, and detained some believers for
a short period of time.
[...more...]
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11. U.S. Cult Master "Played No Role" In Rally
Inside China Today, Apr. 28, 1999
http://www.insidechina.com/china/news/1999042805.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
(...) Zhang Erping, who describes himself as a contact person for Fa
Lun Gong
founder and leader Li Hongzhi, said Li has not been in touch
with any of the rally organizers and played no role in organizing it.
(...)

Li, a former office clerk who was born in Jilin Province in 1951,
taught his Fa Lun Gong practice in China from 1992-94, Zhang said, but
was pressured to leave the country once he began to acquire a massive
following.
(...)

Many of Li Hongzhi's teachings -- which are said to be widely available
in China despite an official ban -- are also available on the World
Wide Web.
(...)

The aim of the rally -- Zhang refused to call it a protest and rejects
the terms "sect" or "cult" to describe the group's practices -- was to
call on the government to recognize Fa Lun Gong and lift a ban on Li's
writings.
[...more...]
Back To Top


12. Authorities Warn Cult Against Threatening "Social Stability"
Inside China, Apr. 29, 1999
http://www.insidechina.com/china/news/1999042801.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
China warned followers of a cult-like martial arts group on Wednesday
that they would be punished if they jeopardized social stability and
called their 10,000-strong weekend protest "wrong".
(...)

"Those who damage social stability under the pretext of practicing
martial arts will be dealt with in accordance with the law," the
official said in an interview with the state news agency Xinhua.
(...)

The sect boasts 100 million followers, mostly the elderly, women and
the sick but also including government officials, university professors
and students.

One cult researcher and Chinese sources cast doubt over the sect's
membership claim. They say the figure is somewhere between five and 15
million. By contrast, the Communist Party has about 60 million members.
(...)

Followers are prohibited from consulting doctors when sick. As a
result, some have died, while others have become insane from practicing
qigong, said the cult researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
[...more...]
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13. Hard labour for sect's children
Sydney Morning Herald, Apr. 26, 1999
http://www.smh.com.au/news/9904/26/text/world11.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
The US Congress is in the process of exempting the Amish community from
laws to protect children in the workplace - a move which critics say
will put the clock back 50 years.

The reform, which is already half way to becoming law, will allow
14-year-old Amish children to work in sawmills and other dangerous
places, despite a national crackdown on child labour abuse.

But supporters of the exemption, which sailed through the House of
Representatives last month, say it is essential to preserve the way of
life of the 150,000-strong religious sect, which is struggling for
economic survival in pockets of rural Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana.
[...more...]
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14. Chemo begins for Amish girl
Michigan Live, Apr. 22, 1999
http://fl.mlive.com/news/index.ssf?/news/stories/amishf$03.frmOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
[See Faith Healing;    Healing - Alternative]

Against her parents' wishes, Mary Stutzman, a 3-year-old with leukemia,
began chemotherapy Wednesday at Hurley Medical Center.

According to their attorney, Mary's parents believe the procedures are
excessive and against God's will.

Ananius and Delia Stutzman are Amish and had rejected the treatment
suggested by Hurley doctors. Yet the hospital sought and won a court
order this week to give the child chemotheraphy and a spinal tap -
because it could prolong her life.
(...)

"Amish are not opposed to medical care," said Gertrude Enders
Huntington, a University of Michigan lecturer who has studied Ohio's
Amish since 1951. "What they are opposed to are any remedies that will
cause the child physical or psychological discomfort on a mere chance
that they'll stay alive."

The old-order group prefers homeopathic remedies - a form of medicine
that relies on minute amounts of herbs, minerals and other substances
to stimulate a person's natural defenses and help the body heal itself.

The group views Western medical practices as crossing God's will.
(...)

Attorney Ed Goldman, a member of the University of Michigan Hospital
Pediatric Ethics Committee, said adult patients can walk out of the
hospital if they wish, citing religious reasons for refusing treatment,
but the situation is different when the patient is a child.
[...more...]
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15. Is spanking abuse? SJC to take up case
Boston Globe, Apr. 29, 1999
http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/119/metro/
Is_spanking_abuse_SJC_to_take_up_case+.shtml
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
In the heart and mind of Woburn pastor Donald R. Cobble Jr., he has a
God-given and biblically sanctioned right to punish his young son by
spanking him with a leather belt.

But the state agency charged with protecting children disagrees,
likening Cobble's tough-love discipline to child abuse.

Now, the state's highest court will step in as arbiter, weighing the
rights of parents to raise their children as their religious beliefs
dictate against the right of the state to step in when strictness
crosses over to abuse.
(...)

At issue is Cobble's belief that corporal punishment is an act of love
sanctioned by the Bible, a belief not shared by the Superior Court
judge who agreed with the state Department of Social Services last year
that Cobble's method of discipline could veer into child abuse.
(...)

But Jeffrey A. Locke, acting commissioner of the DSS, said the Cobble
case should be viewed as the one that might finally, clearly delineate
the line between abuse and physical punishment - not as an intrusion
into the privacy of child-rearing or deeply held religious beliefs.

Locke noted that the SJC, in a case decided in the 1980s, ruled that a
parent's religious beliefs must give way when a child's physical
well-being is threatened.

In that case, the SJC upheld the manslaughter conviction of Christian
Scientists whose son died when they did not get traditional medical
treatment for the child.

Cobble is an associate pastor at the Christian Teaching and Worship
Center in Woburn. In 1997, he and his ex-wife, Lisa, clashed with the
DSS.
[...more...]
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16. State may require pill coverage
San Jose Mercury News, Apr. 20, 1999
http://www7.mercurycenter.com/premium/front/docs/pill20.htmOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Legislators are on the verge of passing a bill requiring that
California health insurers pay for birth control pills, but the
legislation still could be derailed by a classic battle pitting church
against state.
(...)

But underlying the legislative victories is a simmering battle about
whether any new measure should include an exemption for Roman Catholic
and other religious employers.
(...)

This year, backers of the measure say they again want to work with the
religious community, but Monday's floor debate exposed raw nerves.

``Whose conscience are we talking about?'' asked Hertzberg. ``Are we
talking about Jehovah's Witnesses' conscience that says we don't
approve blood transfusions and have a special policy for them? Do we
have a different policy for Muslims or Hindus . . . all of whom have
different religious practices that relate to their medical treatment?''
(...)

``This is an issue of religious freedom. We're asking for respect of
our religious rights,'' said Ned Dolejsi, director of the California
Catholic Conference. ``We seek a conscience clause to allow, for
example, the Catholic Diocese of San Jose to not be required to pay for
something that is morally unacceptable from our standpoint.''
[...more...]
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17. God 'fills in' for dentists
BBC, Apr. 21, 1999
http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/uk/newsid_324000/324274.stmOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Charismatic Christians in the UK are claiming that God has turned their
ordinary amalgam dental fillings into gold during church services.
The church-goers believe they are experiencing a phenomenon reported by
their Canadian counterparts last month, and associated to the Toronto
Blessing.

The appearance of precious metal fillings in the mouths of the faithful
- as well as instances of gold dust appearing on their heads and hands
- is being hailed as a miracle. And they say some of the fillings are
even cross-shaped.
(...)

One Folly's End parishioner told the Christian online magazine, Ship of
Fools, that God had turned her grey amalgam fillings into a metal which
appeared to be platinum or white gold.
(...)

Spokesman Sandy Campbell said that not all of those people had received
gold fillings, but had had the mercury leached out of their existing
amalgam fillings - leaving shiny metal behind.
(...)

The Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship - where more than 300
incidents of "dental miracles" were claimed during a conference last
month - say there is evidence in the Bible for the phenomena.

They quote Psalm 81:10Off-site Link: "Open wide your mouth and I will fill it."
(...)

During a Toronto blessing, a congregation member will enter a
trance-like state, fall to the floor shaking, laughing, shouting - or
even making animal noises
. Believers say God enters the body during
this blessing and carries out works which might not be achieved
otherwise.
(...)

But Ship of Fools editor Simon Jenkins says church leaders are
irresponsible to encourage reports of "miracles".

He said that doing so was dangerous for the church - which may be made
to look ridiculous through unresearched claims - and for individuals,
who may feel cheated when they discover that the dentist put a filling
there, and they had just forgotten about it.
(...)

"We have the worst conflict going on in Europe since WWII, and yet we
have these people saying God is performing trivial magic tricks.

"Many will be thinking, why is God concerning himself with people's
fillings, while there is such serious trauma in the world as Kosovo.
They are bound to ask, hasn't God got anything better to do?"
[...more...]
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* Related Links posted by BBC:
Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship: www.tacf.orgOff-site Link
Ship of fools: http://www.geocities.com/~ship-of-fools/Off-site Link


18. God 'Gives' Gold Teeth To Believers
The Times of London, Apr. 17, 1999
http://www.sunday-times.co.uk/ (Free registration required)
(...) GOD is filling worshippers' teeth with gold fillings and
producing gold dust on their hands and faces, according to the latest
"miracle" craze to sweep England's charismatic evangelical churches.
(...)

The latest Christian "miracles" are said to be a fulfilment of the
prophecy in Psalm 81.10: "Open thy mouth wide and I will fill it."

The miracles are reported on the British Christian website Ship of
Fools, an on-line magazine which keeps track of happenings in church
life.
(...)

One church which has been affected is Croydon's Folly's End Christian
Fellowship, an independent evangelical church of about 300 worshippers.

Jenny Taylor, administrator of the Fellowship, said: "I have had gold
dust appear on my hands and chest and around my eyes, although I have
not had gold teeth.
[...more...]
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19. Judge: Church may stay at Purchase, leader must go
The Journal News, April 17 1999
http://www.ftech.net/~hamrag/judge.htmOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
U.S. District Court Judge Colleen McMahon has ruled that the
controversial New York City Church of Christ can resume holding
services at Purchase College but that the school's suspension of a
leader of the church's Bible study group is justified.
(...)

Andrea Lark and the church, a branch of the International Churches of
Christ
, which has been called a cult, are suing Purchase College in
U.S. District Court in White Plains.

The complaint, filed Jan. 12, alleged the college violated their
Constitutional rights by prohibiting the church's Westchester
congregation from meeting on the campus and by suspending Lark for
violating the college's community standards of conduct.

Lark, a 28-year-old junior from Fairfield, Conn., was suspended in July
for allegedly "intimidating ... harassing ... and detaining" a member
of the Bible study group.
(...)

It was the first such lawsuit brought by the church or one of its
branches. The ICC reports 150,000 members in 153 countries.
[...more...]
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20. Archbishop Of Mexico Warns Against Sects In Society
EWTN, Apr. 27, 1999
http://www.ewtn.com/ewtn/news/getstory.asp?number=14977Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Cardinal Norberto Rivera, Archbishop of Mexico, warned during his
Sunday homily against the presence of false pastors and sects in
society, asking Mexican Catholics "not to fall in the hands of these
bandits and soul thieves".

These people, stated the Archbishop "exert fraudulent manipulations" of
the Gospel and announce "new and fascinating doctrines and teachings"
to seduce people to exchange the rich treasure of Catholic faith for a
handful of strange ideas. False pastors and their sects, he emphasized,
offer new experiences and doctrines that are "softer than the exigent
and comforting Gospel of Jesus Christ".
[...more...]
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21. Courts underestimate sect influence
Tages-Anzeiger (Switzerland), Apr. 22, 1999
Translation: German Scientology News
http://www.lermanet.com/cisar/990422a.htmOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
(...) Cases of infatuation with sects leading to the destruction of
marriages are par for the course. When just one of the partners falls
into the clutches of a sect or a healer, the relationship almost always
falls apart. If it is the husband who wanders off, the harm to the
children is controlled. In this case, the mother gets custody, but few
courts today will prohibit the father from visiting his children on the
weekend and bringing them to a sect event.
(...)

The break-up of families due to sects used to happen primarily in
connection with Jehova's Witnesses, the fundamental Christian
congregations (non-denominational, evangelical or charismatic) and with
larger sects such as Scientology. In recent times, an increasing number
of separations occur under the influence of healers, cults and esoteric
speciality groups. The members drift out into a cosmic or occult mock
reality and completely dedicate their lives to obtaining enlightenment
or to becoming a shaman.
[...more...]
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22. Death of a 'Nethead'
New Times Los Angeles, Apr. 29, 1999
http://www.newtimesla.com/1999/042999/feature1-1.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
(...) It was Friday the 13th -- the birthday of Scientology founder L.
Ron Hubbard. Scientology had played a big role in Gale's life, although
he had by then broken with the church. Both his parents were committed
Scientologists; his mother was the national spokesman for a Scientology
front group that seeks to ban the practice of psychiatry. Born in L.A.,
Gale had been sent to a Scientology boarding school in Oregon, where
he'd honed his extraordinary gifts as a computer geek. As a 16-year-old
MIT freshman, he'd written a key computer program for EarthLink, the
Pasadena-based Internet provider created by Sky Dayton, another
Scientologist.
(...)

Apparently unable to get to the roof, he entered an empty classroom on
the 15th floor.
(...)

Then he picked up a wooden chair and flung it through a large
plate-glass window. He calmly wiped glass shards off the sill, stepped
onto it, and heaved his six-foot-two-inch frame into the wintry night.
(...)

"First, foremost, and above all else -- I am a Scientologist," she
[Philip's mother - AWH] said.

She has been a practicing Scientologist since she was 12. Her parents
and grandparents are Scientologists, as was her husband. Her
15-year-old daughter is also a member. In the church hierarchy, Marie
is rated OT [Operating Thetan] VIII, which supposedly gives her not
only complete psychic control over matter, energy, space, and time, but
also makes her privy to all the Scientology trade secrets subject to
endless copyright-infringement lawsuits triggered by legions of critics
who post the material on the Internet.

As chief spokesman for the church's Citizens Commission on Human
Rights, she has for years preached the ostensible evils of psychiatry
in speeches, radio interviews, and newspaper articles. Scientology
wants to ban psychiatry as part of its goal of "clearing the planet"
and eliminating emotional trauma from the lives of all humans.
[...more...]
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23. Scientologists unwanted in civil service
Salzburger Nachrichten (Austria), Apr. 27, 1999
Translation: German Scientology News
http://www.lermanet.com/cisar/990427a.htmOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
An active membership in the "Scientology Church" may preclude working
in the civil service. This opinion was brought forward on Monday by
State Representative Franz Hiesl (OeVP), personnel director of the
state of Upper Austria. In contrast to the Free State of Bavaria
[Germany] he has not determined that infiltration has taken place in
the state agencies; his statement is, instead, to be taken as a shot
across the bow. The legal basis for a dismissal or discharge should be
determined in accordance with existing ordinances.

In Bavaria, for the past two years, every state worker has had to sign
a statement that he is neither a member of the sect nor does he support
its views. Untrue statements are grounds for dismissal. Originally the
Germans had wanted to enforce a ban on Scientologists from civil
service throughout the entire federal jurisdiction, however, that could
not be carried out. "We will stick to the Bavarian route. A
Scientologist challenges the state in this way and endangers democracy.
That is not consistent with a state servant whose oath of office is to
the Constitution and the Republic," said Hiesl.
[...more...]
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24. No sympathy in other Austrian states for Upper Austria's proposal
Der Standard (Austria), Apr. 28, 1999
Translation: German Scientology News
http://www.lermanet.com/cisar/990428a.htmOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Franz Hiesl, Upper Austria's state personnel director, has not found a
sympathetic ear among the other Austrian states. The VP politician has
proposed - following the Bavarian model - a written statement signed by
state applicants that they are not members of Scientology, and that
they do not identify with its goals. The reason given is that
membership in an anti-democratic sect is said to be inconsistent with
the oath of office. Those who do not keep to their statement of
guarantee could be dismissed.
(...)

In the state of Tyrol a career ban on Scientologists is not presently
under consideration.

That contradicts the principle of religious freedom, said Joerg Haider,
from the office of the Kaerntner state director, in charge of
personnel. "Job bans will not regulate anything," said VP
representative Manfred Doerler from Vorarlberg.
[...more...]
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25. Foreign Extremism on the Advance
Mannheimer Morgen (Germany), Apr 27, 1999
Translation: German Scientology News
http://www.lermanet.com/cisar/990427b.htmOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
(...) There is no change in the surveillance of Scientologists by
Constitutional Security. Rannacher figures on increased activity after
the restraint shown by the organization in the past months. With the
help of the American headquarters Scientology has started a $40 million
advertising campaign in Germany. One fifth of the 6,000 Scientologists
nationwide live in Baden-Wuerttemberg.
[...more...]
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26. Russian neo-Nazis under fire after shul is vandalized
Jewish Bulletin of Northern California, Apr. '99
http://jewishsf.com/jb/irussian.shtmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Russia's largest and best-organized far-right organization suffered a
major defeat this week. A court in the Russian capital banned the
Moscow branch of the neo-Nazi Russian National Unity movement -- a
group that may have been responsible for an attack last week on a
synagogue in Minsk, the capital of the former Soviet republic of
Belarus.
(...)

None of the charges brought against the group, whose members wear black
uniforms and sport armbands reminiscent of the Nazi swastika, centered
on its neo-Nazi character or on its attempts to incite ethnic,
religious or racial strife, a punishable crime under Russian law.

Just the same, Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, who in December blocked the
RNU from holding its national convention in Moscow, hailed the court's
decision and said his office will continue to work against the neo-Nazi
group. Before the verdict was announced, RNU leaders said they would
ignore the court decision, adding that they plan to participate in
Russia's parliamentary elections, which are slated for December.
[...more...]
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27. Organized hate still growing in America
Star-Telegram, Apr. 26, 1999
http://www.star-telegram.com/news/doc/1047/1:RELIGION22/1:RELIGION22042699.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
(...) A recent conference in New York City convened by the American
Jewish Committee sadly revealed that the organized hate movementOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
continues to grow in the United States despite the Oklahoma City
bombing.
(...)

Ostendorf listed the recent incidents involving white supremacy groups
in confrontation with government authorities, including the "Freemen"
of Montana and Kansas who espouse violent racist and anti-Semitic
teachings.
(...)

Most domestic terrorists believe in the so-called Christian IdentityOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
movement that uses biblical verses to justify virulent racism and
hatred of Jews.
(...)

Law enforcement officials estimate there are currently 16 Christian
Identity groups in Missouri and three in Kansas. "I think the Christian
Identity movement is the up-and-coming fad among extremists" in the
Midwest said Capt. Jim Keathley, who tracks such groups for the
Missouri Highway Patrol.
(...)

Because the Identity movement uses the Bible to "prove" its ugly
teachings,some mainline pastors are frequently confused when they first
encounter Christian extremists. And just like dangerous religious
cults, Christian Identity leaders are toning down their blatant racism
and anti-Semitism. Instead, they cleverly play upon the
anti-government and isolationist feelings of many Americans.
(...)

Ostendorf's group has performed a valuable service by alerting many
church leaders to the serious dangers and potential for violence the
Christian Identity movement represents.
[...more...]
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28. Deaths seen through prism of Christianity
Seattle Times, Apr. 27, 1999
http://www.seattletimes.com/news/nation-world/html98/reli_19990427.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
(...) As the first jolt of tragedy has begun yielding to a deeper
search for meaning, the deaths of a few of the Littleton shooting
victims are being understood in churches across the United States
through the prism of Christianity.

Last week, it became evident that some of the victims apparently had
been selected by gunmen Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold because of their
religious faith.
(...)

"The question one has to ask oneself is, are these incidents exceptions
. . . or are they Christian targets in a certain climate of hate?" said
Richard Cizik, director of the Washington office of the National
Association of Evangelicals.

Such interpretation is not surprising. For one thing, last week's
tragedy took its greatest toll on teenagers. In addition, it took place
at a time when Christianity, especially in its evangelical form, is
attracting increasing interest among adolescents and young adults
across the country.
[...more...]
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29. 70,000 at memorial united by their tears
Contra Costa Times, Apr. 26, 1999
http://www.hotcoco.com/news/frontstories/kbk06625.htmOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
(...) Sunday afternoon, more than 70,000 people covered a mall parking
lot across the street from Columbine High School to mourn the nation's
deadliest school shooting.
(...)

The service in this deeply religious community also attracted religious
groups from near and far.

Among them were members of the Church of Scientology, who handed out
yellow-and-green pamphlets promising "The Way to Happiness," and Hare
Krishnas
, offering mourners free vegetarian food.

The Christian Motorcyclists Association handed out cards, urging people
to wear helmets and find God, and members of the Westboro Baptist
Church
of Topeka, Kan., who often turn up at large events to spout
their homophobic views, were on hand with signs blaming it all on
homosexuals.
(...)

Cletis Cansler of Gideon's International, the group that supplies hotel
Bibles, said his people arrived at the site at 9 a.m., and gave away
8,000 Bibles -- its entire supply -- by noon.
[...more...]
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30. Goths: Morose outcasts in dire need of acceptance
Post-Gazette, Apr. 27, 1999
http://www.post-gazette.com/headlines/19990427goths3.aspOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
(...) Hart's Web site, "The Sanctuary," promotes itself as "a
fellowship of Christian misfits -- a spiritual alternative for the
disenfranchised ... We are here for anyone seeking sanctuary and
looking for answers in a big, dark universe."
(...)

Evangelical Protestants are not alone in reaching out to goths and
their kin. Some former punk musicians in California who converted to
the Eastern Orthodox faith run the Death to the World organization. The
name is a theological double entendre on a New Testament concept.

They find that goths are sometimes drawn to the Orthodox ethos of
candles, icons, chanting and elaborate vestments.

Death to the World has more than a dozen coffeehouses across the United
States, said Frederica Matthewes-Green, an Antiochian Orthodox writer
from Baltimore. Although the group is not affiliated with a canonical
Orthodox church, its theology is legitimate, Matthewes-Green said.
(...)

Unlike some youth subcultures that believe in God but reject organized
religion, goths often reject God but keep religious trappings, Hart
said. Most religious goths are self-styled practitioners of Wicca, an
ancient Celtic nature religion, he said, while others dabble in
spiritualism, a religion that tries to communicate with the dead
through seances. Few are Satanists, Hart said.

They can relate to the Jesus whose own friends failed to understand
him, Hart said. He tells them that vampirism is a counterfeit of the
life given them through the blood of Jesus, that his crucifixion was
the piercing to end all piercing.
(...)

There is now a Christian gothic and industrial music sub-subculture.
[...more...]
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31. Pagans prefer to say they're 'nature based'
Times-Dispatch, Apr, 24, 1999
http://www.gatewayva.com/rtd/saturday/religion/pagan0424.shtmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
(...) The Spring Gathering of the Tribes continues today at New
Quarter Park near Williamsburg, a four-day semiannual affair of pagan
networking and the sharing of ideas. It's also designed to let
non-pagans learn more about what devotees call an oft-misunderstood
religion.
(...)

Workshops range from "Out of the Broom Closet, Into the Courts," a
Wiccan high priestess's tale of the barriers she encountered while
adopting her daughter, to "GOD(S)," an exploration of pagan principles
and practices with African roots.
(...)

She said that paganism takes many different forms, and there are as
many branches as there are of Christianity. Some pagans believe in
multiple deities, others in a single great spirit that connects humans,
animals and plants. Others say one superior being may manifest itself
in a number of different personalities.

The religion generally forbids proselytizing. But for people looking
for a good primer, Electra recommend "The Truth About Witchcraft
Today,''by Scott Cunningham.
(...)

Pagans from Florida to Vermont had arrived by yesterday afternoon,
though most were from Virginia. Several said they had been raised as
Christians but switched to paganism after long, often difficult
spiritual journeys. "I just couldn't say 'Amen!' to everything," said
Mary, a former Christian from Hampton who asked that her last name not
be used.

She and others say they like the religion's connection with the natural
world, and that pagans are welcome to question or even disagree with
elements of the faith without having to abandon it.
[...more...]


32. Russia's Ministry Of Justice Rejects Jesuits' Bid For Registration
EWTN, Apr. 26, 1999
http://www.ewtn.com/ewtn/news/getstory.asp?number=14955Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Russia's Ministry of Justice earlier this month refused the
registration request of the Russian branch of the Catholic Society of
Jesus (Jesuits) under the 1997 law on religion.
(...)

At the request of Galina Krylova, the lawyer who had drawn up the
re-registration documents for the Jesuits, the Ministry of Justice set
out in writing its reasons for refusal. Ignoring the Jesuits'
connection to the Catholic Church, which was largely left unimpeded by
the 1997 law, the ministry called the Jesuits a "foreign religious
organization," and therefore is only allowed to open a representative
body in Russia and not found a religious organization, as local
communities were defined.
[...more...]
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33. Cao Dai Religion Struggles In Vietnam
Reuters, Apr. 25, 1999
http://reuters.townnews.com/reuters/index.inn?story=/stories/vietnam-religion.htmOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Cao Dai is a religion under siege in Vietnam. Believers say priests
cannot be trained, some sacred activities are banned and property has
been confiscated. Sources say several Cao Dai clergy have been jailed
for actions considered a threat to national security.

Fear is pervasive at the Tay Ninh Holy See, the seat of this unique
sect that blends Eastern and Western religious philosophies under a
banner of "Love and Justice," which counts several million adherents in
Vietnam.
(...)

Chieu claimed to receive direct communications from God calling on five
great religions -- Confucianism, Geniism, Christianity, Taoism and
Buddhism -- to unite. God is represented by the Divine, All-Seeing
Eye, a bright symbol found throughout Cao Dai temples.

The three main saints are Chinese 1911 revolution leader Sun Yat Sen,
French 19th century writer Victor Hugo and 16th century Vietnamese poet
Nguyen Binh Khiem. Other spirits who have manifested themselves include
Joan of Arc, Vladimir Lenin and Winston Churchill.
(...)

Cao Dai beliefs came through spiritualism and "automatic writings," a
practice authorities banned as superstitious. According to tradition,
mediums hold an upturned wicker basket pierced by a long stick with a
pen attached. Followers believe the basket moves on it own, creating
the automatic writings. The messages are then interpreted by a third
person.
[...more...]
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34. Many inmates converting to IslamOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Deseret News, Apr. 24, 1999
http://www.deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,80000480,00.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
There have always been a lot of born-again Christians in the nation's
prisons. Now, inmates are converting to more diverse faiths, including
Islam, which adherents say is the world's fastest-growing religion.
[...more...]
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35. Japan's Buddhists accused of getting them coming and going
Nando Times, Apr. 28, 1999
http://www.nando.com/noframes/business/story/0,2469,42993-69344-476285-0,00.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
(...) Japan's Buddhist establishment is increasingly under attack over
the practice of charging bereaved and vulnerable relatives huge fees
for afterlife names given to the dead at their funerals.

The tradition is ancient. It began with names conferred only on
Buddhist priests. When temples began according afterlife names to lay
people, the names became something akin to a ranking system reflecting
the deceased's noble actions during life. Now, however, the decision
is based almost exclusively on money. And lots of it.
(...)

The names are written on funeral markers and are believed by the devout
to help the dead find a better niche in the afterlife. Going cheap on a
name, therefore, can carry a heavy stigma.
(...)

The controversy over the names has fueled criticism that many of
Japan's Buddhist temples are run like corporations with the aim of
amassing as much money as possible.
[...more...]
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36. Inbreeding key to doctrine of keeping bloodline pure
Salt Lake Tribune, Apr. 25, 1999
http://www.sltrib.com/1999/apr/04251999/utah/100694.htmOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
(...) Marrying your half-sister, niece or first cousin is common
practice among select leaders of the Latter Day Church of Christ, the
most affluent of the half-dozen polygamous orders spread throughout
Utah. Many of the estimated 1,000 to 1,500 Kingston clan members know
and fear the dangers of incest -- knowledge of birth defects is
widespread among the group. But the lure of heaven is more powerful.

And one key to getting in God's good grace, say former church members,
is to give a daughter to one of the seven sons of the late clan
patriarch John Ortell Kingston and the second and most powerful of his
several wives, LaDonna Peterson -- even if you are related to him.
(...)

Today, the clan shares many of the beliefs of other polygamous groups
in the West. They take the practices of plural marriage from Mormon
founder Joseph Smith and cooperative economics from Smith's successor
as church leader, Brigham Young. (The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints
, commonly known as the Mormon Church, prohibits
incest and banned the practice of polygamy in 1890. It excommunicates
anyone found to adhere to the 19th-century practice.) And like other
groups, the clan stores wheat, seeds and other goods in anticipation of
doomsday.

But incest is a new twist. Among the religious underpinnings the
Kingstons use to defend their practice is the parable of the tame olive
tree taken from the Book of Mormon, sacred scriptures to the Mormon
Church and many offshoot groups.
[...more...]
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37. Mormons bring their message to Harlem
Star-Telegram, Apr. 23, 1999
http://www.star-telegram.com/news/doc/1047/1:FAITH3/1:FAITH3042399.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
(...) The Mormon Church's taking root in Harlem may seem unlikely. But
last November, the Mormon congregation of Harlem moved into its own
small church, and membership is growing. The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints, as the church is officially known, did not even
allow black men to attain the priesthood until 1978. But Harlem is one
of the communities in New York City where the church is growing most
quickly.
(...)

But the church denies any racism and points to its recent growth in
Africa and South America. Since the early 1980s, the Mormon Church has
doubled its membership to more than 10 million. The church does not
keep statistics based on race, a spokesman said, but it has noticed
growth in urban, multiethnic neighborhoods in the United States.
Roughly half of the growth in the New York area is among Hispanics.
[...more...]
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38. Ruling on Bibles called victory for religious freedom
Post-Gazette, Apr. 25, 1999
http://www.post-gazette.com/regionstate/19990425bible4.aspOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Steve Zupcic is elated, now that Bibles must be taxed, because it means
there's one less way government can regulate religion.

Zupcic sued the Department of Revenue in 1993 to stop the state from
exempting Bibles and other religious publications from the state sales
tax. On Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that the tax is
illegal because it creates a preference for communicating religious
messages.
(...)

He said he fears that a government that can give preferential tax
treatment to one religion can just as easily use its powers to suppress
religion. His ACLU attorney agreed.
[...more...]
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39. Catholic weekly ends `pray and publish' ads
Waco Tribune, Apr. 22, 1999
http://www.accesswaco.com/shared-cgi/stories/show.cgi?id=aponline-menus-data/
National.AP.V0380.AP-Religion-Briefs.story&menu=National.html
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
The Catholic Telegraph, the official newspaper of the Cincinnati
archdiocese, has ended its long-standing practice of printing ``thank
you'' ads to saints.

The weekly newspaper, in its 168th year, said the ads, which cost $30
apiece, were dropped as of April 1 because they appear to make promises
that cannot be guaranteed.
[...more...]
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40. Sinead O'Connor "Ordained" By Schismatic Sect
EWTN, Apr. 26, 1999
http://www.ewtn.com/ewtn/news/getstory.asp?number=14946Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Irish pop star Sinead O'Connor - who once famously tore up a picture of
Pope John Paul II at a concert in New York-- has been "ordained" to the
priesthood by a renegade Catholic bishop.
(...)

The ceremony was carried out by Irish Bishop Michael Cox, a former
policeman who was ordained a bishop of the schismatic sect based in
Palmar de Troya in Spain.
(...)

O'Connor told Irish radio that she had already celebrated four Masses
-- two in English and two in Latin. She said the Catholic Church should
be grateful to her for using her priesthood to bring young people back
to the Church. Bishop Cox said O'Connor would "bring massive numbers of
people back to Christ through her music."
[...more...]
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41. Millennium madness comes to UK
BBC, Apr. 24, 1999
http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/uk/newsid_327000/327514.stmOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Poltergeists, UFOs and other unexplained phenomena are on the increase
because of "pre millennial tension", according to experts who are
meeting this weekend.

The Fortean Times, the journal of the unexplained, holds its
"unconvention" at the Commonwealth Institute in London and expects
14,000 people to come along over the two days.

The convention, dubbed Monsters, Madness and the Millennium, is
believed to be the world's biggest gathering of experts in unexplained
phenomena.
[...more...]
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42. Millennium Fever Casts Its Spell
Los Angeles Times, Apr. 25, 1999
http://www.latimes.com/CNS_DAYS/990425/t000000027.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Got an ex you want to hex? Want more money for your honey? Then join
the masses who are secretly summoning the spirits at Hollywood's
Panpipes Magickal Marketplace, said to be the oldest and most respected
occult supply shop in the U.S.
(...)

Besides a 300-page Web site (http://www.panpipes.comOff-site Link), with more than
3,000 occult titles available, Panpipes carries a classy blend of
charms, candles, books and oils. For more serious intentions, customers
can request a free private consultation, when they are coached in magic
to achieve goals on their own. Panpipes also gives weekly classes in
spell crafting, Wicca, ceremonial and candle magic, Santeria, voodoo
and cabala that are often led by Derby's latest protege-occultist,
Jymie Darling.
(...)

Even Hollywood continues to take notice of the hunger for occultOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
knowledge. Popular television shows like ABC's "Sabrina: The Teenage
Witch" (the animated version of this series will debut in the fall as
well as a pre-teen spinoff), and the WB's "Charmed" are working their
magic on myriad audiences, both here and abroad. It has also been
rumored that the success of the Columbia TriStar witchcraft thriller
"The Craft" will soon spawn a sequel.

"To this day, 'The Craft' will air on television, and the next day,
there will be a huge influx of young people in our store," enthused
Derby, who was one of the film's consultants.
[...more...]
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43. Scholars reclaim the word "martyr"
Detroit News, Apr. 28, 1999
http://detnews.com/1999/religion/9904/29/04290017.htmOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
The Greek word "martyria" -- which meant "witness" -appears throughout
the books and letters that became the New Testament.
(...)

There was more to being a martyr than dying a tragic death and the
word certainly didn't imply that someone had a death wish. The key,
said Norris, was that the believer refused, in the face of terror and
torture, to deny the faith. Thus, a martyr's death was a public
witness.

Today, the word "martyr" is highly relevant in Uganda, China, Iran,
Indonesia, Sudan and elsewhere. And last week in Littleton, Colo., the
story of 17-year-old Cassie Bernall inspired many young believers to
embrace the true meaning of the word.
[...more...]
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44. Drawing Gangs to God
St. Petersburg Times, Apr. 25, 1999
http://www.sptimes.com/News/42599/Floridian/Drawing_gangs_to_God.shtmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
(...) Here, where members of rival gangs gather twice a week in an
uneasy peace for words of hope, Forte considers it a victory when he
can just get them to stop killing each other.

Of course, Forte, 31, a former recruiter for one of Miami's biggest
gangs before finding God himself, wishes they would become good
Christians in the traditional sense, but he's realistic.
(...)

The congregation, called Jesus' Disciples, is not without controversy.
Some believe that Jesus' Disciples, which also calls itself God's
Nation, a name modeled after gangs like People's Nation and Folk
Nation, is a gang itself. The group has its own handshake, identifying
symbol, which is a seven point crown, its own colors of red, gold and
white, and its own rap CD, featuring songs called Street Preacha and
Pass the Bible.

Some gang leaders have been so suspicious of Forte that they've sent
members to his meetings to try to figure out whether his group is
competition. The Miami Police Department has kept its distance,
uncertain of the group's true mission.
(...)

But Forte, who is struggling financially to keep the gang ministry
alive, insists its only mission is to save troubled young people from
jail -- and possibly death.

He wants to replace the guns and the drugs most of his followers have
used to get by on the streets of South Florida with the Holy Bible. He
believes the way to do it is with the same methods gangs use to recruit
kids.
(...)

He says that if gang members, some of whom sign documents pledging a
lifetime commitment, truly find God, their gangs will let them retire
without serious retribution, although some defectors might still have
to endure a beating. Forte also believes that the kids don't
necessarily have to quit the gang; they just have to quit the crimes.

Unlike other ministers, who preach from pulpits and wear suits that
many of these kids could never afford without the help of crime, Forte
speaks with a unique perspective. He was one of them.
(...)

Some gang members even pray to their own leaders, whom they claim have
supernatural powers. Members of Folk Nation, for example, pray to King
David, who is actually a gang member in prison, Forte says
(...)

"As strange as it sounds," says Forte, who retired from the gang when
he was 18, "gang members have a respect for God, whether it is Islam,
Christianity or whatever religion. That was my way out. If a person has
a true conversion, they will let you go."
[...more...]
Back To Top


=== Noted

45. Scholar sees strength in abundance of faiths
Milwauke Journal Sentinel, Apr. 26, 1999
http://www.jsonline.com/news/Metro/apr99/990426scholarseesstrengthin.aspOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
The Rev. Martin E. Marty, a retired University of Chicago professor and
director of the Public Religion Project, scattered quotes, anecdotes
and observations like popping corn kernels as he sprinted through more
than three centuries of American religious heritage in 45 minutes.
Marty was the keynote speaker at a religious pluralism celebration in
Milwaukee attended by local Bahais, Buddhists, Christians, Hindus,
Jews, Muslims and Unitarian Universalists.
[...more...]
Back To Top


46. Is astronomy refashioning the images of God?
Star-Telegram, Apr. 27, 1999
http://www.star-telegram.com/news/doc/1047/1:RELIGION33/1:RELIGION33042799.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
(...) Into this mix waded a few theologians, who are starting to work
on how the discovery of extraterrestrial life might recast notions of
God. What might happen to the three Abrahamic religions -- Islam,
Judaism and Christianity -- with their concepts of "the chosen," and
"the special elect, if God turns out to have other children?
(...)

Haught said some believers might take news of extraterrestrial
intelligence as opportunity to evangelize, as Cleveland author Mary
Doria Russell explored in her fictional book, "The Sparrow," about
Jesuit missionaries jumping the gun into space.

But Seth Shostak, a SETI scientist, warned the religionists against
becoming too cozy with the idea they can rejigger their theology to
make room for extraterrestrial intelligence. He pointed to the
18th-century reaction of the people on the South Sea Islands when Capt.
James Cook sailed into their harbors.

"They took one look at his ship, his guns, his wheels and assumed his
religion must be more advanced," Shostak said, "and they threw off
their religion for his."
[...more...]
Back To Top


47. 12 Steps, Christian Style
Los Angeles Times, Apr. 24, 1999
http://www.latimes.com/excite/990424/t000036803.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
(...) This church within a church is part of the Celebrate Recovery
ministry at Saddleback, a program that's helped 3,300 people in its
eight-year existence. It has been duplicated in more than 500 churches
across the nation and even has its own Web site,
http://www.celebraterecovery.com. Heroin addicts, drunks, sex addicts,
people with eating disorders, co-dependents, people who have been
physically or sexually abused and their children have found help at
Saddleback.
(...)

Saddleback's 12-step program began when Baker, a recovering alcoholic
and increasingly devoted Christian, grew frustrated with the taboo of
mentioning his higher power--Jesus Christ--at traditional Alcoholics
Anonymous
meetings. In the secular world, the concept of a higher
power--the cornerstone of 12-step programs--can be anything from God to
a doorknob, depending on the spiritual comfort level of the person in
recovery. "At an AA meeting, you can talk about anything else, but
not Jesus Christ," Baker says. "I'd be mocked when I talked about my
higher power."
(...)

The program, which attracts 70% of its members from outside the
church, is Saddleback's top outreach ministry. And 85% of the people
who go through the program stay with the church. Nearly half now serve
as church volunteers.
[...more...]
Back To Top


48. 10,000 'Jesus People' fill Pond
Orange County Register, Apr. 25, 1999
http://www.ocregister.com/community/jesus025w.shtmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Label her heretical if you want, but Shanen Laslow bets that Jesus
would have "dug" Saturday's concert at the Arrowhead Pond.

For starters, it bore his name ó the first Jesus People Reunion.
Second, it harkened to the late 1960s and early '70s, when thousands of
hippies became Christians through the guidance of Calvary Chapel in
Costa Mesa.
(...)

Today, scholars credit them with spearheading a casual style of worship
that is the norm among many congregations worldwide. The Jesus People
also helped spawn an evangelical book-publishing industry. And they
were instrumental in the budding success of groups such as Campus
Crusade for Christ, the Navigators and Youth for Christ.

Calvary Chapel has mushroomed into a network of more than 750 U.S.
branches and 500 overseas.
(...)

At times, the audience would hoot encouragement or shed tears of deja
vu. Beyond that, the atmosphere proved no Woodstock. Indeed, the
seven-hour event held a serious goal: to bring new believers to Christ.
[...more...]
Back To Top


49. A 'Jesus People' Reunion? They Never Really Left
Los Angeles Times, Apr. 23, 1999
http://www.latimes.com/excite/990423/t000036532.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
(...) In fact, many former young leaders of the movement from Orange
County have matured into high-profile pastors at local megachurches.
Among them is Chuck Smith Sr. of Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa and Greg
Laurie, a minister whose Harvest Crusade rallies draw more than 100,000
celebrants every summer.
(...)

Many experts argue that although the movement lasted for only about
five years, from 1969 to 1974, it has had long-term effects on
Christianity in America. Casual attire in church, a conversational
style of preaching, hi-fi sound systems in sanctuaries and even the
megachurch phenomenon are among trends some link to the Jesus People.
(...)

Now middle-aged, they are senior pastors at congregations ranging
from 4,000 to 15,000 members. Among the better known, in addition to
Laurie: Mike MacIntosh of Horizon Christian Fellowship in San Diego;
Raul Ries of Calvary Chapel in Diamond Bar; Don McClure of Calvary
Chapel in San Jose, Steve Mays of Calvary Chapel in Torrance and Jeff
Johnson of Calvary Chapel in Downey.

Another congregation that multiplied after the Jesus People's zenith
was the Vineyard churches. The late Orange County pastor Jim WimberOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
organized the first Vineyard Fellowship in 1977 after witnessing
Smith's success with his Calvary Chapel. The Vineyard churches now have
more than 100,000 members in 300 congregations.
[...more...]
Back To Top


50. Religious Awakening In HollandOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Zenith, Apr. 19, 1999
(No URL)
Bishop Adrianus van Luyn of Rotterdam said that a religious awakening
is taking place in Holland in the wake of the desert left by
secularism. There are signs of a real search for God. Bishop van Luyn
spoke in Italy, where he comes every year for spiritual exercises at
the ecumenical monastic community of Bose, in the Piedmont region.

The Dutch Church has lived through the painful experience of going from
one of the strongest social organizations in the country, through the
secularization of the 70s and the flight of youth and intellectuals
which left the seminaries empty. Now there is a reawakening, although
still in the early stages, to which the Church must be prepared to
respond.
[...more...]
Back To Top

* Note: An indication, reported with amazement by secular media, is
the annual "Youth Day" organized by Holland's Evangelical
Broadcasting Corporation (EO). Based on last year's attendance of
35,000 - 10,000 more than in 1995 - expectations were for 40,000 to
attend this year's event, scheduled for June 26. Thus, EO rented
Holland's largest stadium, the Amsterdam Arena. However, already
50,000 seats have been reserved, and and extra 5,000 seats are being
added.


=== Books

51. Bay Area Theologian Matthew Fox Sheds New Light on the Destructive Forces of Humanity
Excite/Business Wire, Apr. 26, 1999
http://nt.excite.com/news/bw/990426/ca-matthew-fox<br> On the eve of publication of a book on the powers of good and evil,
maverick Bay Area theologian Matthew Fox comments: "The tragedy at
Columbine High School, no less than the misery in Kosovo, reopens
questions at the end of this violent century about humanity's capacity
for destruction and evil.
(...)

His latest book, entitled SINS OF THE SPIRIT, BLESSINGS OF THE FLESH
(Harmony Books, May 1999) examines the history of good and evil and
offers a new language for addressing human destructiveness, comparing
the seven chakras of the East to the seven capital sins of the West.
The book also includes an appendix on "The Religion of Hitler" and
seven positive precepts for living. Date: April 25, 1999
[...more...]
Back To Top


52. A Look at New Religious Liberty in Latin AmericaOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Los Angeles Times, Apr. 24, 1999
http://www.latimes.com/excite/990424/t000036770.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM and EVANGELIZATION IN LATIN AMERICA: THE CHALLENGE
OF RELIGIOUS PLURALISM; Edited by Paul E. Sigmund; Orbis Books $25, 400
pages
(...)

An outgrowth of the political change has been a move toward greater
religious freedom. The intricate details of how that change has
unfolded is the topic of Paul E. Sigmund's new book, which gathers up
some of the most renowned scholars on Latin American theology to trace
the origins of religious freedom and discuss issues confronting the
region.

The first portion of the book offers perspectives on the evolving
role of the Catholic Church and the profound effects of Protestant
growth and evangelization in the area. In the second portion, authors
analyze religious freedom in specific countries with chapters devoted
to Cuba, El Salvador, Mexico, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Argentina, Brazil,
Chile, Colombia, Peru and Venezuela.
(...)

Moreno, in his chapter, expands on the growth of Protestant
denominations. He offers sharp criticism of the internal weaknesses of
Latin American Pentecostalism, most notably the tendency to assign more
importance to the spirit than to the secular world.
[...more...]
Back To Top


53. Knockoff seeks to apply Buddha's views to everyday life
Dallas Morning News, Apr. 24, 1999
http://www.dallasnews.com/religion-nf/rel26.htmOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
If the Buddha were cut off by a careening motorist, what would he do?
Scream obscenities out his window? Calmly shake his fist and gun the
motor? Or pull over to meditate on freedom from worldly anger?

According to Franz Aubrey Metcalf, a self-described full-time BuddhistOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
scholar and part-time practitioner, the final answer is the correct
one. Mr. Metcalf looks to the Buddha for solutions to 100 other modern
predicaments in his upcoming book, What Would Buddha Do?: 101 Answers
to Life's Daily Dilemmas.

The book is an attempt to duplicate the success of the wildly popular
"What Would Jesus Do?" phenomenon, which has spawned more than 20
books, calendars, jewelry, clothes and other merchandise. The '90s WWJD
movement was inspired by the 1898 Christian novel In His Steps, which
first posed the question.
(...)

Mr. Metcalf keeps two goals in mind as he writes - to make Buddhism,
with its roots deep in Asian soil, more accessible to an American
audience and to make the historical Buddha more real.
[...more...]
Back To Top


54. From atheist to liberal Christian
Nando Times, Apr. 25, 1999
http://www2.nando.net/noframes/story/0,2107,41862-67574-477078-0,00.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Writer Anne Lamott was raised as a liberal and an atheist. Her father
could handle discussions about her affairs with married men and LSD
trips, but not about a belief in God.

During her 20s, Lamott was a suicidal bulimic, strung out on alcohol,
cocaine and a variety of prescription drugs. Then hesitantly,
unwillingly, she became a Christian. Surrounded by bohemian,
progressive friends, she took a tough step into a decidedly uncool
world.

Her rocky spiritual journey is chronicled in "Traveling Mercies: Some
Thoughts on Faith."
(...)

Lamott is not a conservative Christian. She occasionally swears, and
has a vengeful streak. She calls herself a left-wing Christian who
thinks apocalyptic right-wing Christians are "just spiritualizing"
hysteria.
[...more...]
Back To Top


=== Online

55. A Network of HateOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
FamilyPC, Apr. 20, 1999
http://www1.zdnet.com/familypc/stories/main/0,4858,396840,00.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
The page loads slowly in your browser--a dramatic black-and-white photo
of a silken-hooded Ku Klux Klansman giving the Nazi salute. Enter the
site and you're just a couple of clicks away from what seems like a
hater's paradise--a directory of more than 200 hate sites listed by
category, such as White Supremacy, Racist Skinheads, Anti-Gay,
Anti-Muslim, even Holocaust Denial and Black Racism.
(...)

It's an equal-opportunity hierarchy of hate, where no matter who you
are, you can find a link to a site maintained by someone who hates you.

Who maintains this archive of animosity? An assistant reference
librarian at Harvard Law School in his mid-thirties named David
Goldman. But Goldman doesn't hate anyone. The site, HateWatch.orgOff-site Link, is
simply taking the "vampire approach" to hate speech. It seeks out hate
on the Net and exposes it, hoping to force discussion about the haters'
ideas instead of chasing them underground where they can go
unchallenged.
[...more...]
Back To Top


56. Cyberfaith: Gimme that online religion
Christian Science Monitor, Apr. 22, 1999
http://www.csmonitor.com/durable/1999/04/22/p1s4.htmOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
The nation's church pews may be emptying, but the Internet is bursting
with believers. Legions of cyber-congregants are changing the very
nature of worship in America.
(...)

The organic structure - and anonymity - of online religion is what's
attractive to many people, including those who've fallen away from
organized worship. They can explore a church or denomination without
having to walk into a brick-and-mortar building - or deal with the
people inside.
(...)

Another phenomenon that enables arm's-length religious participation is
the growing number of Web cams in churches. Online worshipers can
attend services while sitting in their pajamas, if they so desire.
(...)

Ministering on the Internet requires a whole new approach, one that
relies on empathy and authenticity. The ability to listen and discern
spiritual issues is more important than presenting doctrine clearly.

By being a forum for listening as much as preaching, some say the
Internet's greatest contribution to religion will be that it boosts
religious literacy: As people listen to each other, they'll learn more
about other faiths - and have to be more clear about their own.
[...more...]
Back To Top


57. "CAN" Revamps Website
The Scientology-backed "Cult Awareness Network" has recently revamped its
website (www.cultawarenessnetwork.org/Off-site Link). Web master David Hinckley writes

(...) My purpose, as is CAN's purpose, is to provide you with the best
knowledge base possible and, failing that, to gather together great
links to other organizations and institutions you will find useful.

Although this site has been here for a while, it hasn't been a major
focus. Now, according to the media and government statistics, people
are increasingly turning to the internet as an information and support
assistance resource. The same trend is occuring at CAN Online.
(...)

Whatever your reasons are, CAN is fully equipped with information,
counseling and professional referrals to help you, when possible,
improve or resolve your situation. Over the next few months you will
see this site expand to include much more valuable information and
ultimately become more interactive as well.
(...)

Long relatively dormant, the site currently is a confusing jumble of old,
new, and rehashed content. The level of misinformation can be judged by
these kind of lies:

The Cult Awareness Network (CAN) is the nationís leading referral
service for reliable and qualified information on cults.
(Mission Statement - http://www.cultawarenessnetwork.org/statemnt/Off-site Link)

This old newsletter, also still online, further demonstrates CAN's
deceitful nature:

The newspaper Cleveland Plain Dealer recently ran an article which said
about the new CAN: "... the organization provides callers with
information about religious groups and refers callers to the group they
are inquiring about for further information or to people who are deemed
experts in that area...the new CAN's role is mediation, to get families
back together."

And a November United Press International wire story said the new CAN
is: "...a religious tolerance organization that gives people reliable
information and reconciles families through mediation. The vile and
hateful attitude is gone."

While CAN makes it look as if the Cleveland Plain Dealer and UPI laud the
"new CAN," in reality, they merely ran CAN press releases. The above
statements are direct quotes from those CAN press releases.

Throughout the site, CAN assures us it has a "different philosophy" than
the old CAN. However, it's banner cry of "tolerance" is belied by hateful
articles masquerading as press releases, as well as the same unbalanced
approach we have come to expect from the "new CAN."

Elsewhere (http://www.cultawarenessnetwork.org/edmonton.htmlOff-site Link) we are told:

CAN since it was reconstituted has been extremely successful in this
regard, taking over 7,750 calls from people all over North America.

However part of this duty is also to provide warnings about false
experts and groups that do not promote this ideal.

This CAN special report is about an anti-religious conference being
held in Edmonton, Alberta, the capital of the Canadian province of
Alberta. You will find actual documentation on this site of the bias
and motivation of the organizers who have advocated religious
kidnapping.


For details about the "hijacked" CAN, see:

http://www.apologeticsindex.org/c19.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]

For information about the real CAN, see:

http://www.apologeticsindex.org/c00.html#realcan


"Religion Items in the News" is now called "ReligionNewsBlog.com" - a service provided by Apologetics Index.


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