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Religion Items In The News

June 5, 1999 (Vol. 3, Issue 89)

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

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.

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Religion Items in the News - June 5, 1999 (Vol. 3, Issue 89)

=== Main
1. Scientology subpoenas Worldnet
2. Scientology's Online Battle
3. Scientology Association loses its registration
4. LDP ups pace on AUM Shinrikyo crackdown
5. Aum company running farm operation
6. Link feared between activists and cult (Falun Gong)
7. Growth of Believers in Chinese Communist Party
8. Psychologist barred from treating cases involving false memories
9. KKK linked to seven Australian churches
10. In the shadow of CUT
11. Landmark takes the lead
12. Case of first grader, Bible story returns
13. Scottish Bank to End Deal With Robertson
14. Benny Hinn is moving his base to Texas
15. Been dead, done that (NDE)
16. A refutation of evolution
17. Religious beliefs caused teacher's reassignment, suit alleges

=== Noted
18. Hearing Announced: 'Religious Freedom in Western Europe
19. The soul of a new generation (Gen-X, PoMo)
20. Spirituality becomes part of annual PrideFest event
21. 17-year-old's last words inspire others

=== The Church Around The Corner
22. Fancy Converting To Christianity Over A Beer?

=== Main

1. Scientology subpoenas Worldnet
CNet, June 3, 1999
Raising new issues about anonymity on the Net, the Church of
Scientology is invoking a law passed last year to force AT&T to
disclose the identity of an Internet service subscriber who allegedly
infringed the church's copyrights online.

Scientology's Bridge Publications, which four years ago helped to forge
new law when it sued Internet service provider Netcom, claims the
anonymous author "made two unauthorized, verbatim Internet postings" of
the church's copyrighted works on the "alt.religion.scientology" Usenet
group. Invoking a provision in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act,
Bridge Publications filed a subpoena on AT&T that would require it to
turn over the name of the Worldnet subscriber.

In a telephone interview, the poster, going by the pseudonym "Safe,"
said AT&T had agreed to delay complying with the subpoena until at
least tomorrow to give his attorney time to figure out how to proceed.

Regardless, Dan Leipold, Safe's counsel and an attorney who has done
battle with Bridge Publications in the past, said he was concerned the
law was being misused against his client.

"This individual has not been shown to do anything wrong and yet he's
going to lose his anonymity," said Leipold, who declined to name the
author. "He's worried. He does not want to give up the anonymity
because he knows who's on the other side and he knows what they'll do
to him."

Critics have charged that the Church of Scientology employs strong-arm
tactics to silence those who publicly disagree with its policies. Chief
among the alleged tactics are lawsuits and public smear campaigns.

According to one of the offending Usenet postings, the church goes so
far as to make it a "high crime" for followers to "Organize splinter
groups to diverge from Scientology practices still calling it
Scientology or calling it something else." In all, the post, which
purports to cite the Introduction to Scientology Ethics, lists 274
"errors, misdemeanors, crimes, and high crimes" against the Church.

2. Scientology's Online Battle
Wired, June 3, 1999
(...) The WorldNet subscriber said that he wants to remain anonymous,
afraid that the Scientologists will harass him because of his views
about the church.

The Church of Scientology is notorious for litigation to protect its
copyrighted works. Critics like Keith Henson, an engineer from Palo
Alto, California, who criticized the group in online newsgroups, have
found themselves the subject of lawsuits after posting parts of the
group's doctrines. But that's not the worst of it.

Henson said that, in addition to filing suit against him in 1996, the
church has picketed various companies where he has worked as a
consultant, hung up posters defaming him, and posted Web sites critical
of his actions.
[ http://www.parishioners.org/Intolerance/Henson01.html ]

Dan Liepold, an attorney who has represented a number of defendants
against suits brought by Scientologists, said that Safe had contacted
him for representation in this case.

Liepold said that the Scientologists have named two of Safe's postings
in the subpoena (here and here). One of the postings contains a list of
crimes, according to Scientologists.

[ The posts referred to as "here" and "here" are found at Deja.com:
274 Crimes in the Church of Scientology:
Disproving False Data ... "Dead Agenting"
http://www.deja.com/=dnc/getdoc.xp?AN=480259236 ]


Safe, ironically, considers himself to be a Scientologist. While he
disagrees with the teachings of current church leaders, he said that he
lives his life by the principles laid out by Scientology's founders.

3. Scientology Association loses its registration
Sueddeutsche Zeiting (Germany), June 2, 1999
Translation: German Scientology News
The Scientology Church Celebrity Center Munich, reg. ["registered
association"] has had its legal capabilities as a registered
association revoked by the city administration officials. However, the
aggressive psycho-cult is fighting for the status of an "idealistic"
association and is suing in the Munich Administrative Court today. It
does not want to give in to the pressure by the codes office and have
to become an ordinary business.

Almost exactly 15 years ago, the city succeeded on the first try in
redesignating a Munich "Scientology Church" as commercial enterprise.
In the second attempt before the Bavarian Administrative Court, a
compromise had to be agreed upon. In principle, nothing has changed in
the city's accusations. The gist of it is that an association which
first subjects its members to a sort of brainwashing and then
commercially exploits them has forfeited its right to invoke a
so-called "idealistic" purpose. In reality, Scientology is only
concerned about making sales.

The goods and services offered by Scientology do not deal with
religious content, but with mundane matters such as assistance in life,
health care and personality development. Eye witness accounts of former
sect insiders have proved that the Scientology organization only takes
on the character of a religious congregation and creates a religious
image in order to have a stronger position in dealing with government
authorities and taxes.

4. LDP ups pace on AUM Shinrikyo crackdown
Mainichi Daily News (Japan), June 3, 1999
The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) decided to push the government to
speed up a procedure to amend a law regulating doomsday cult AUM
Shinrikyo's activities Wednesday.

During the meeting of the LDP in-house committee, members said the bill
should ease requirements for applying the law so that authorities can
raid "anti-social" groups such as AUM more easily.

They added that the government should step up investigations into
companies affiliated with AUM, as they are believed to be a financial
source of the cult's activities.

5. Aum company running farm operation
Daily Yomiuri (Japan), June 2, 1999
GIFU -- A company affiliated with the Aum Supreme Truth cult in
Minokamo, Gifu Prefecture, has been growing crops at a field since last
August, and storing the produce in warehouses in the neighboring town
of Mugicho, it was learned Wednesday.

According to public security sources, the cult has been saying that
Armageddon will come in September and has been moving members to Gifu
and Nagano prefectures.

6. Link feared between activists and cult
South China Morning Post, June 2, 1999
Authorities have taken steps to prevent what they consider to be an
attempted "collusion" between the China Democracy Party and the Falun
Gong cult.

Security personnel in cities have stepped up surveillance of the party,
deemed the largest centre of opposition in the country. A source close
to the police establishment said they had evidence that underground
dissidents associated with the party had tried to make contact with the
Falun Gong, a Buddhist and qi gong sect.

"Fortunately for the authorities, Falun Gong leaders have, so far,
insisted they do not want to get involved in politics," the source

7. Growth of Believers in Chinese Communist Party
EWTN, June 3, 1999
Since the Tiananmen massacre, religion is perhaps the fastest growing
social force in China today.

Loss of confidence in Communism and a quest for faith in religion is
even involving members of the Party and the army.

There is a desperate attempt to re-organize and cleanse the ranks. In
1995 the Party's Central Commission for Discipline and Control noted
that at least 9% of Party members had joined religious organizations,
taking part regularly in their activities.

8. Psychologist barred from treating cases involving false memories
Star-Tribune, June 3, 1999
The Minnesota Board of Psychology has permanently barred Renee
Fredrickson, a St. Paul psychologist, from treating patients for
problems potentially involving ritual cult abuse.

Fredrickson, 52, author of the book "Repressed Memories: A Journey to
Recovery from Sexual Abuse," was sued by a female patient two years ago
for allegedly causing false memories of ritual cult abuse, torture,
dismemberment and murder. That case was settled later.

But following an investigation by the Psychology Board, Fredrickson
acknowledged allegations that, during the course of therapy, at least
three patients came to believe they had been victims of sexual abuse
and satanic cults, and at least one patient became suicidal as a

9. KKK linked to seven Australian churches
The Age, June 3, 1999
Christian groups have been established in several Australian states
under the umbrella of an American movement with close links to the Ku
Klux Klan and other white supremacist groups.

Australian Identity groups, while having close ties with the US
movement, say they do not share the extremist views of some of their
American brethren.

The Southern Poverty Law Centre in the US describes Identity, with
50,000 American followers in 94 churches, as ``increasingly the glue
that binds together the terrorist right'', with a big meeting in
Colorado in 1992 bringing together a new coalition of KKK members,
neo-Nazis and extremist fundamentalists.

10. In the shadow of CUT
The Billings Gazette, June 1, 1999
(...) GRW's owner, John Fanuzzi, doesn't hide that he's a longtime
member of the Church Universal and Triumphant. It's obvious most of the
people who work here are also members of the church. There are signs of
the church's presence throughout the GRW workplace. Pictures of El
Moyra, St. Germain and other church "ascended masters" decorate work
stations. Purple and gold, the colors that represent good karma and
positive spiritual vibes, are prevalent in the dress of employees. Some
of the church philosophies carry over into business principles, but not
as work-related canons. Golden Ratio takes its name from a mathematical
formula with a more spiritual tenet, one denoting balance, equilibrium,
good karma. Its product, bodywork and therapeutic massage tables, goes
hand-in-glove with New Age holistic health convictions.

But Hartley, a non-CUT member who covets her fundamental Christian
beliefs, says perhaps what's weird about GRW isn't any of those things.

It's rather that this is a great place to work, she says, whether
you're a member of the church or not.

"I don't agree with many of the things they believe, but they respect
my beliefs," she says. "I'm very comfortable here. This is probably the
best place I've ever worked."

Fanuzzi finds many of the allegations about the church improbable,
mostly because he claims he has no personal experience with being
coerced by church officials or duped by church doctrine.

Now, he and other members are confident the church is emerging from its
troubled times into a more open and less suspect presence. New leaders
have surfaced since spiritual guru Elizabeth Clair Prophet succumbed to
disabling diseases. Church officials now vow the church is becoming a
good neighbor and upstanding community member.

11. Landmark takes the lead
Tages-Anzeiger (Switzerland), June 3, 1999
Translation: German Scientology News
Most inquiries at Infosekta on Landmark, Scientology and Pentecostal
movements. Same as 1997, the Infosekta sect counselling center also
received the most inquiries (101) last year on controversial
psycho-business Landmark Education. This is stated in their new
activities report. Scientology again takes second place on the "hit
list" with 69 inquiries. Fifth through third places are occupied by the
charismatic Christian communities of the Pentecostal movement (60).

Slipping back a place are the Jehovah's Witnesses (44) and the VPM
(31), who held second place behind Scientology in 1993. Then come the
esoteric course business Avatar (22) and the International Christian
Fellowship ICF (22), which mainly concentrates on missionary activity
for youth and which holds services for 800 people in the old stock
exchange on Sunday evenings. Other inquiries were received on the
Amway direct sales system, the esoteric-theosophical cult of the
Universal Church which has been noted for its racist statements, Herbal
Life with its weight-loss powder, the New Apostolic Church, the new
revelation community of Universal Life, the congregation of Christ, and
healer Bruno Groening's congregation.

12. Case of first grader, Bible story returns
Philadelphia Daily News, June 3, 1999
Eight months after they first approved of the action, a panel of
federal appeals judges yesterday reconsidered the thorny question of
whether a South Jersey teacher violated the constitutional rights of a
first grader when she would not let him read a Bible story to his

The three-year-old case of Zachary Hood has drawn national attention as
the federal courts continue trying to define the murky question of what
constitutes acceptable use of religious-based material in the public
schools, and what violates the Constitution's ban on state-sanctioned

13. Scottish Bank to End Deal With Robertson
Washington Post, June 4, 1999
(...) Top executives from the Bank of Scotland were scheduled to meet
with Robertson in the United States on Friday and will reportedly pull
the plug on a much-ballyhooed joint venture designed to bring the
bank's experience in British-style telephone banking to the huge U.S.

The action follows reports in Britain of recent comments from Robertson
that proved offensive to some bank customers and to many Scots
generally. Scottish Christians put too much emphasis on "tolerance,"
Robertson explained, and as a result "you can't believe how strong the
homosexuals are." He warned that Scotland "could go right back to

The remarks, made on Robertson's Virginia Beach-based Christian
Broadcasting Network, referred to the fact that Scottish churches have
ordained homosexuals.

In the past, Robertson has responded to his Scottish critics by
insisting that he was the victim of misquotes and distortions. He hired
a lawyer in Glasgow who threatened several local newspapers with
defamation suits. But after his latest remarks, critics put a video of
his television show on the Internet, making it hard for the television
evangelist to deny what he had said.

14. Benny Hinn is moving his base to Texas
Orlando Sentinel, June 1, 1999
Controversial televangelist Benny Hinn announced Tuesday that he is
moving his ministry's headquarters from Orlando to the Dallas/Fort
Worth area. Hinn's Orlando church, the World Outreach Center, will
remain open and Hinn will continue to preach there -- "as his schedule
allows," ministry spokesman David Brokaw said.

"We have outgrown our limited space in Orlando and for the ministry to
accomplish what God has called us to in international evangelism, this
is a move we must make," Hinn said in a prepared statement.

In his statement, Hinn said the Dallas/Fort Worth area is more
accessible "to our people." Ministry officials also said corporate and
individual backers of the evangelist were concentrated in that area.

Late last year, questions surfaced regarding the fund-raising methods
used by the church, which collects more than $50 million a year in

Some have questioned Hinn's healing claims, as well.

The church also made headlines late last year when it was revealed that
the 1997 death of longtime Hinn aide David Delgado was caused by
chronic heroin abuse.

15. Been dead, done that
National Post (Canada), May 31, 1999
Of all those dying to visit Vancouver this summer, the members of the
International Association of Near Death Studies have a better claim
than most.

Many of the 500 people expected to attend the association's annual
conference at the University of British Columbia, Aug. 20-22, believe
they have survived a trip to death's door -- often accompanied by
out-of-body experiences, soothing white light, whispered messages of
love and even the proverbial life flashing before their eyes.

Critics generally fall into two categories: scientific and religious.
Some scientists and doctors dismiss the experiences as hallucinations,
oxygen deprivation or the chemical reactions of a dying brain. Some
mainstream or fundamentalist clerics are troubled by the all-embracing
concept of an afterlife open to all, and the apparent absence of a

Lovelidge calls the devil a "fear tool" of many religions. "I didn't
really believe in Jesus and I went into the light, so figure that one
out," he says. Still, he says he was transformed into a far more
spiritual, less material, person.

16. A refutation of evolution
Evansville Courier & Press, May 31, 1999
Having finally won a protracted zoning fight, a Christian ministry
organization now is trying to drum up financial support to build a
Creation museum in northern Kentucky.

Officials from the Answers in Genesis ministry have raised only
$300,000 of the estimated $5 million to $8 million needed to construct
the museum in Boone County.

“I think people will come from all over the world to see this,” said
Ken Ham, the Florence-based ministry’s executive director. “People will
be amazed by what they find here.”

17. Religious beliefs caused teacher's reassignment, suit alleges
Star-Tribune, June 2, 1999
After realizing his dream to teach biology, a Faribault High School
science teacher has been reassigned because of his religious beliefs,
according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Rice County District Court.

Rodney LeVake contends that he was switched to a general science
teaching position last year after telling colleagues that he refused to
accept the theory of evolution as "unquestionable fact," said his
attorney, Frank Manion.

=== Noted

18. Hearing Announced: 'Religious Freedom in Western Europe: Religious
Minorities And Growing Government Intolerance'
Today the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe announced
the forthcoming hearing:

Religious Freedom in Western Europe: Religious Minorities and Growing
Government Intolerance, Tuesday, June 8, 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.,
Room 2212, Rayburn House Office Building, Capitol Hill,
Washington, D.C. Open to Members, Staff, the Public and the Press

The purpose of this hearing by the Helsinki Commission is to examine
religious freedom issues in Western Europe. There is an alarming trend
toward religious intolerance in Western Europe exemplified by the
investigations carried out by the French, Belgian, and German
parliaments into the activities of minority religious groups. These
parliaments have instituted commissions to investigate ``dangerous
sects'' and ``psycho-groups,'' often listing groups in order to warn
the public against them.

Scheduled to appear are:

Administration Witness (invited)
Willy Fautre, Human Rights Without Frontiers
Dr. T. Jeremy Gunn, US Institute for Peace
Rev. Louis DeMeo, Grace Church of Nimes (France)
Alain Garay, Esq., human rights lawyer and counsel for Jehovah's

19. The soul of a new generation
Contra Costa Times, May 30, 1999
(...) If religious leaders want to touch the souls of younger
generations, they may need to preach to a new beat, analysts say. It's
not that Gen-Xers have abandoned God; it's just that many in their late
teens to early 30s see no need for institutional religion in their
lives, they say.

Certainly, many remain faithful to established religions and
traditions. But researchers and ministers say a number of young people
are disappearing from conventional churches.

Twenty-seven percent of people in their 40s and 25 percent in the 50 to
64 age group do not attend worship of any kind, according to the Barna
Research Group, a Southern California organization that consults for
churches on culture and faith. For those 18 to 29, the number is
significantly higher -- 40 percent. For those in their 30s, the number
is 37 percent.

Dieter Zander, co-author of "Inside the Soul of a New Generation,"
describes Gen-Xers, and some Boomers, as a "postmodernist" culture,
where long held "truths" have been turned upside down or abandoned.

"Postmoderns intuitively reject rationalism's claim that reason is the
sole source of truth," he says. "While boomers may find God through
knowledge and intellectual understanding, postmodern spiritual seekers
want more. Modernism basically said we can figure it all out. It took
the mystery out of life. Postmodernism is a realistic look at some of
those assumptions and says, 'No, we are not getting better and no,
there is a lot of life we can't figure out.'"

Alternative, "postmodern" churches have been springing up in the Bay
Area and across the nation in recent years to speak to this new culture
of 20- to 30-somethings. While they may communicate in an updated
language, the message is not religion-lite.

20. Spirituality becomes part of annual PrideFest event
Detroit Free Press, June 4, 1999
When the Rev. Deb Dysert came to metro Detroit last August to become
pastor of Divine Peace Metropolitan Community Church in Hazel Park, she
immediately started asking about Pride events. She wanted to make sure
the gay community's annual celebration that starts today had a
spiritual element.

At first, Dysert's idea of infusing PrideFest with a jolt of religion
-- something that had never been done -- was met with hesitation by gay
community leaders. "In part, because I was new. They were like, 'Who
are you and can you pull it off?' " Dysert said.

Underlying that was the concern that some members of the gay community
would say religion has often been used to degrade gays and has no place
in PrideFest.

But Jeffrey Montgomery, executive director of the Triangle Foundation,
a gay rights advocacy group in Detroit, said that's exactly why
religion should be a part of PrideFest.

"Despite the bigotry, it's no reason to cede the whole field of
religion over to those bigots. Gay people are every bit as spiritual,
devout and religious as anyone else. We should be proud of that."

Tonight's event, called "Celebrating Our Spiritual Journey," will
include religious readings, a few prayers and a lot of music.

The headliner is Marsha Stevens, composer of "For Those Tears I Died,"
a standard in Christian hymnals since 1972. Since being rejected by her
church after coming out as a lesbian, Stevens has focused on
evangelizing the lesbian and gay community through gospel music.

21. 17-year-old's last words inspire others
USA Today, June 1, 1999
(...) On Monday, this city became the latest setting for a religious
rally inspired by the last words of Cassie Bernall, who was among the
13 people killed April 20 by two students in Littleton, Colo. One of
the killers leveled a shotgun at Bernall and asked if she believed in
God. She answered yes, and the gunman fired.

No one could have predicted how that act would galvanize other

Cited from church pulpits and on Christian talk radio, plastered on
T-shirts and lapel buttons, Bernall's last words have developed a life
of their own. At the Florida rally, called the "Yes, I Believe in God"
memorial concert, two of Bernall's former high school classmates were
among speakers. The event follows similar revivals in Colorado,
Illinois, Pennsylvania and California.

Upcoming this summer: rallies in 22 more states.

=== The Church Around The Corner

22. Fancy Converting To Christianity Over A Beer?
Excite/Reuters, June 3, 1999
A group of Christians has acquired an historic pub in the northern
English city of Bradford in an effort to win converts with good beer
and talk about sport.

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