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Religion Items In The News

September 4, 1999 (Vol. 3, Issue 110)

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

Rainbow
Religion Items in the News is always posted first to the AR-talk list.

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.

As most of these items stay online for only a day or two, URLs to the original stories are provided as inactive links. If you can not find a story online, Read this).

Note: I am including a selection of items regarding the Waco cover-up
investigation, because many of the additional items are repetitive.
To find additional stories, including the most current Wire
Services-, CNN-, and Washington Post reports on the Waco Cover-up,
use these pre-defined searches:

http://www.apologeticsindex.org/b10.html#newscurrentOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]


Religion Items in the News - September 4, 1999 (Vol. 3, Issue 110)
================================================================

(Story no longer online? Read this)

=== Waco Cover-up Investigation

1. Tenacity of 2 Played a Role in Reviving Inquiry on Waco
2. Tension Between Reno and Freeh Reaches Breaking Point on Waco
3. Reno Is "Very Troubled" by FBI Waco Revelations
4. Reno denies rift with Freeh; will name investigator for Waco
5. Former Sen. Danforth likely head of independent Waco probe,
official says
6. Marshals Impound FBI Waco Evidence
7. Marshals confiscate FBI siege video
8. FBI Releases New Waco Videotape; Reno 'Troubled'
9. U.S. fights Waco evidence order

=== Other News
10. Courts resume Asahara trials (Aum Shinrikyo)
11. Cultist says he could not defy 'poa' order (Aum Shinrikyo)
12. Psychiatrist found negligent in repressed-memory case
13. Jury finds therapist negligent in repressed-memory lawsuit
14. Liberia-Religion 18 Sect Members Charged With Incest (Never Die
Church)
15. Detained members of banned meditation sect stage hunger strike
(Falun Gong)
16. Ex-Cult Leader Pledges To Assist VCs (Nigeria's campus cults)
17. A Daring Diva's Disappearing Act (Sergio Andrade)
18. 'Warlock' gets 110-year term for sex assaults
19. Jehovah's Witnesses' apartment trashed
20. Judge Rules for Million Youth March
21. U.S. Prepares For Possible Y2k Violence
22. Constitutional Security Agent believes Scientology has been
overestimated
23. Bavaria wants to continue surveillance of Scientology
24. New jail ministry has controversial ties (Greater Grace World
Outreach)
25. Calif. Minister Sentenced for Fraud
26. Francis Frangipane Drops Out of Mayoral Race
27. Britain facing Asian crime wave ("Muslims")
28. Integration brings more assertiveness ("Muslims")
29. Richard Ford examines why some Asians turn to crime ("Muslims")
30. Islamic confab will tackle more than religion
31. Americans flock to find out more about Buddhism
32. Unorthodox temple unsettles Thai Buddhist harmony
33. German Church's Fight for Survival Is 'Crucial' for Europe
34. [Removed]
35. Psychic hot line caller in LA gets 30 days in jail

=== Noted
36. The Robin Hood of American religion goes online (Universal
Life Church)
37. Alternative-Lifestyle Guru Danny Seo, Doing Very Well By Doing Good

=== Newsgroup Posting
38. The Globalization of Scientology: Influence, Control and
Opposition in Transnational Markets (by Stephen Kent)

=== Books
39. The respectable cult (Christian Science)
41. Like Jonestown in slow motion (Christian Science)
41. 'Tathea' a gold mine of Mormon doctrine

=== The Church Around The Corner
42. Is There Woof After Death?


=== Waco Cover-up Investigation

1. Tenacity of 2 Played a Role in Reviving Inquiry on WacoOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
New York Times, Sep. 2, 1999
http://www.nytimes.com/yr/mo/day/news/national/waco-debate.html
Michael McNulty and David Hardy refused to let go.
(...)

Espousing views popular with many right-wing groups, McNulty, in
particular, has blamed Federal agents for the deaths of the Branch
Davidian leader, David Koresh, and about 80 of his followers, a
position many critics regard as anti-Government propaganda. McNulty and
Hardy, however, regard as Government propaganda the official
explanation that Koresh and his followers carried out a suicide pact by
setting fire to the cult compound and shooting themselves on the 51st
day of a siege by Federal agents.
(...)

Hardy, 48, an Arizona lawyer, requested documents and evidence related
to the siege and fire, then sued for them. Both men pushed the Texas
Rangers to begin an inquiry into evidence under state control. They
also gave information to lawyers representing the families of deceased
Branch Davidians in a wrongful-death lawsuit. And McNulty, 53, a
documentary film maker from Colorado, toured the state evidence lockers
four times, unearthing what he says are potentially flammable devices
capable of starting a fire.
(...)

In the midst of it all, McNulty and Hardy are enjoying a broad new
forum, appearing regularly on radio and television news programs.
McNulty often uses his media appearances to promote his forthcoming
documentary, "Waco: A New Revelation." In an interview on Court TV,
McNulty even waved a sign with an 800 number so that viewers could call
about the film.

Critics say they fear that while McNulty may have come up with some
information worth examining, he has also spread much that is
unsubstantiated and misleading.

"It's really unfortunate," said Mark Potok, a spokesman for the
Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors paramilitary and other
anti-Government groups. "This has given credence to the rest of
McNulty's views, which are unsupported."
(...)

A Vietnam veteran who converted 20 years ago from Roman Catholicism to
the Mormon faith, McNulty said the Branch Davidian fire had reminded
him of a bloody incident in Mormon history, the Haun's Mill Massacre of
1838. In that incident, a mob in Missouri herded Mormons into a grist
mill and shot them to death with muskets. Ultimately, the Mormons, led
by Joseph Smith, were ordered out of Missouri.
(...)

Despite the nomination (the film did not win), "Rules of Engagement"
also was criticized for failing to accurately present evidence that
placed the Government in a favorable light, and for numerous
inaccuracies. Nonetheless, Mark Pitcavage, a historian who specializes
in right-wing extremist groups and operates the Militia Watchdog Web
site, said the film made McNulty a celebrity among followers of
right-wing, anti-Government groups.

"The Waco documentary was highly publicized, but the inaccuracies were
not," Pitcavage said. "I don't think the McNulty Waco documentary could
even remotely be considered objective."
[...more...]


2. Tension Between Reno and Freeh Reaches Breaking Point on WacoOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
New York Times, Sep. 3, 1999
http://www.nytimes.com/library/politics/090399reno-freeh.html
(...) The conflict between Ms. Reno, Director Freeh and their two
agencies publicly erupted on Wednesday when Ms. Reno dispatched United
States marshals to Freeh's headquarters to seize previously undisclosed
tapes that contained radio voice communications of agents asking for
and receiving authorization to fire the tear-gas rounds.

Today, F.B.I. officials complained that Ms. Reno ordered the marshals
to take custody of the tapes in a way that left a powerful impression
that Ms. Reno no longer believed the Federal Bureau of Investigation
could be trusted.
[...more...]


3. Reno Is "Very Troubled" by FBI Waco Revelations
New York Times, Sep. 3, 1999
http://www.nytimes.com/yr/mo/day/late/04waco.html
(...) Reno defended the decision by senior Justice Department officials
to send U.S. marshals to FBI headquarters this week to take possession
of the videotapes and the other recently discovered evidence.

She said she questioned why it took the FBI several days to inform the
Justice Department about the tapes. "I questioned that. I think this is
a matter the outside investigator should look at," she said.

Reno denied that her relationship with FBI Director Louis had
deteriorated and that she could no longer trust him. "I have a
relationship with Louie Freeh and the people around him that I think is
excellent," she said.
[...more...]


4. Reno denies rift with Freeh; will name investigator for WacoOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
San Francisco Gate, Sep. 3, 1999
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/news/archive/1999/09/03/national1134EDT0614.DTL
(...) While confirming that she had ordered agents not to use
incendiary devices during the tear-gas operation, Reno said all the
evidence she has seen supports the view that federal agents did not
start the fire.

``If the truth shows what I believe to be the case -- that we tried to
set up something that would bring the people out and give them a chance
to come out in a safe and orderly way -- and that it was their
determination and their judgment and their actions that brought that
fire upon them, then I would use the experience we have here and figure
out what we can do for the future,'' she said.
(...)

In addition to the Reno-ordered probe, congressional hearings will be
convened this fall and the House Judiciary Committee chairman, Rep.
Henry Hyde, R-Ill, is pushing for a congressional commission in hopes
that would avoid the bitter partisanship exhibited during earlier Waco
hearings on Capitol Hill.

The infrared videotape made public Thursday, recorded from an FBI
plane, runs from just before 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. on the final morning of
the 51-day siege -- covering the period during which the FBI assault
began.
(...)

A second videotape, which runs from 8 a.m. to 10:42 a.m., surfaced
Thursday; and FBI officials were taking steps to release it publicly as
well.

Bureau officials had previously insisted in sworn affidavits that they
didn't have any infrared video footage before 10:42 a.m. -- hours after
the tear-gas assault began at 5:55 a.m. FBI spokesman Tron Brekke said
the apparent discrepancy is ``a legitimate point for inquiry.''
[...more...]


5. Former Sen. Danforth likely head of independent Waco probe, official
says
CNN, Sep. 3, 1999
http://www.cnn.com/US/9909/03/waco.danforth/
A senior law enforcement official tells CNN that former Republican Sen.
John Danforth has emerged as the leading candidate to head an
independent probe of the 1993 Waco siege.
[...more...]


6. Marshals Impound FBI Waco Evidence
Washington Post, Spe. 2, 1999
http://search.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/WAPO/19990902/V000624-090299-idx.html
(...) Senior Justice officials directed the marshals to seize the
evidence Wednesday afternoon after being informed by the FBI that new
information had been discovered in the files of the FBI's hostage
rescue team at Quantico, Va., Justice and FBI officials said.

The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times today quoted officials
as saying an audio track on the infrared tape picked up the voice of an
agent seeking and receiving permission from a commander to fire
incendiary tear-gas grenades at the bunker.
[...more...]


7. Marshals confiscate FBI siege video
Dallas Morning News, Sept. 2, 1999
http://dallasnews.com/specials/waco/0902waco1fbi.htm
(...) The seizure, which federal officials conceded was highly unusual
and embarrassing to the FBI, was made within hours after senior bureau
officials notified the Justice Department that the tapes had been
discovered at the headquarters of the FBI's hostage rescue team.
(...)

FBI officials had previously insisted in sworn affidavits that they had
no infrared videotape before 10:42 a.m., four hours into the gas
assault. In a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by Tucson,
Ariz., lawyer David T. Hardy, FBI officials also told a federal judge
under oath that the bureau had no recorded radio traffic of the entire
six-hour tear gas assault.
(...)

Mr. Burton said the committee has also called in experts to help
analyze previously disclosed infrared video shot by the FBI on April 19
and another videotape shot by the Texas Department of Public Safety.

A documentary on the standoff scheduled for release this month by a
Fort Collins, Colo., company includes the infrared and DPS footage. A
former Defense Department expert alleges in the film, Waco: A New
Revelation, that flashes caught on the videotapes are gunfire directed
at the Branch Davidians from FBI helicopters and government personnel.
(...)

Mr. Burton said he was pleased that a federal judge in Waco had
recently moved to take control of all government evidence relating to
the 1993 standoff. On Tuesday, the Justice Department filed a motion
asking U.S. District Judge Walter Smith to reconsider, arguing that
such a turnover might handicap the wave of new investigations.
(...)

Lawyers for surviving Branch Davidians also have complained that they
have been denied access to evidence that might help their pending
wrongful death lawsuit against the government.
[...more...]


8. FBI Releases New Waco Videotape; Reno 'Troubled'
Excite/Reuters, Sep. 3, 1999
http://news.excite.com/news/r/990903/14/news-crime-davidians
(...) It marked the third key piece of evidence that the FBI has
discovered in the past two weeks confirming that potentially incendiary
devices had been fired during the assault, after six years of denying
their use.
[...more...]


9. U.S. fights Waco evidence order
Dallas Morning News, Sept. 1, 1999
http://dallasnews.com/specials/waco/0901tsw100waco.htm
U.S. Justice Department lawyers on Tuesday challenged a federal judge's
authority to take control of evidence in the Branch Davidian case,
setting up a high-stakes legal showdown.

An Aug. 9 order in which U.S. District Judge Walter Smith demanded
custody of all documents and other evidence is without any legal basis
under federal or civil court rules, Justice Department lawyers argued
in a 19-page motion. The judge's move "threatens a wholesale intrusion"
into the executive branch and an "unwarranted and substantial burden"
on the entire federal government.
(...)

The argument is the latest development in an escalating skirmish over
who will control and investigate the vast array of evidence, documents,
photographs and other materials tied to the Branch Davidian standoff.

The government's filing came one day after a Waco federal prosecutor
warned Attorney General Janet Reno in a letter that lawyers within her
department had long withheld evidence that the FBI fired pyrotechnic
tear gas within hours before the compound burned. For years, government
officials had insisted otherwise.

On Tuesday, the federal prosecutor, Bill Johnston, told The Dallas
Morning News that he felt compelled to go public with his warning after
being given a 5-year-old document that discusses the use of "military
gas" by the FBI on April 19, 1993.
(...)

He said both the language in those nondisclosure notations and
typewritten identification lines on the top of each page indicated that
they were sent from the department's civil torts section, which is
defending a massive wrongful-death lawsuit arising from the standoff.
(...)

On Tuesday, DPS Commission Chairman James B. Francis Jr. said he was
disappointed that in the Justice Department's action. "From what I can
understand of the Justice's Department's motion today, they're still
attempting to prevent the evidence from being judicially reviewed," Mr.
Francis said. "And I think that is most unfortunate."
[...more...]


=== Other News

10. Courts resume Asahara trials
Japan Times, Sep. 2, 1999
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/news9-99/news.html
After a monthlong summer recess, the trial of Aum Shinrikyo founder
Shoko Asahara resumed Thursday at the Tokyo District Court.
(...)

Prosecutors are reportedly scheduled to begin hearings on the 1994
murder of Tadahito Hamaguchi, an office worker in Osaka, and other
attempted murder cases involving the use of VX nerve gas sometime in
late October.
[...more...]


11. Cultist says he could not defy 'poa' order
Japan Times, Sep. 3, 1999
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/news9-99/news.html#story11
A former key member of Aum Shinrikyo said Friday he had doubts about
killing a fellow cultist in 1989 but acted upon the order from Shoko
Asahara because he was not in a position to defy the guru.

Kazuaki Okazaki, 39, was testifying before the Tokyo District Court in
Asahara's 129th trial session. Okazaki said the guru ordered him and
three other cultists to "poa" Shuji Taguchi because Taguchi was trying
to flee from the cult and had said he would try to kill Asahara. In the
cult's jargon, "poa" meant to kill.
(...)

Okazaki was sentenced to death last year over his role in the 1989
murder of an anti-Aum lawyer. He is appealing the decision to the Tokyo
High Court.
[...more...]


12. Psychiatrist found negligent in repressed-memory case
San Francisco Gate, Sep. 3, 1999
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/news/archive/1999/09/03/national0152EDT0452.DTL
A jury awarded $850,000 in damages to a woman who claimed false
childhood memories implanted by her psychiatrist made her believe she
was molested by her father and had multiple personalities.

The jury on Thursday found Dr. Juan Fernandez III negligent in his care
of Joan Hess, who said the psychiatrist implanted memories during
hypnosis that led her to believe she was sexually abused, that she had
more than 75 personalities and that her parents belonged to a cult that
forced others to have sex with animals and witness babies being killed
and eaten.
(...)

Repressed-memory therapy contends victims of childhood trauma can
forget the abuse for decades, and it can be the source of adult
disorders. Recovering the memories can cure the disorders.
[...more...]


13. Jury finds therapist negligent in repressed-memory lawsuit
CNN, Sep. 3, 1999
http://www.cnn.com/US/9909/03/repressed.memory.ap/index.html
A therapist was found negligent on Thursday for leading a woman to
believe she was molested by her father, that her parents were in a
baby-killing cult and that she had 75 personalities. She was awarded
$850,000.

"In my view, there is no defense for this kind of therapy. If that
means that this is now a message that this stuff has to stop, I hope
the message is delivered," said William Smoler, an attorney for Joan
Hess and her family.

Dr. Juan Fernandez III declined to comment as he left the courtroom
wearing a necktie that featured a drawing of Daffy Duck.
(...)

Mrs. Hess, 47, the ex-wife of former Wausau Mayor John Hess, contended
none of the horrors her therapy revealed actually occurred, and that
she was permanently harmed by the ordeal. She contended some of the
personalities caused her to threaten suicide, forcing her to be
hospitalized numerous times.
[...more...]


14. Liberia-Religion 18 Sect Members Charged With Incest
Northren Light/ANS, Aug. 31, 1999
http://library.northernlight.com/FC19990831090000159.html?cb=0&dx=1006&sc=0
The magisterial court in Monrovia has charged 18 members of a sect in
Liberia of statutory rape and incest when they were arraigned, press
reports said Tuesday. But the reports said the defendants, all members
of the Kingdom Assembly church, also labelled by members as "the Never
Die church," pled not guilty to the charges.
(...)

The police swoop followed a longstanding public criticism that
activities of the sect were "immoral, unlawful and promiscuous,"
inviting the government to intervene.

Leaders of the sect Friday told a radio talk show that their church
does not honour marriage, and that every woman in the church belongs to
every man who may engage them into sexual intercourse at will. They
added that children born out of such intercourse do not have parents on
earth because their church doctrine teaches that its members have their
parents in heaven. Based on this belief, members of the sect have
intercourse with persons who otherwise would be their mother, father,
daughter, son or relations, they said on the radio programme.

While the hour-long talk show was going on, a mammoth crowd besieged
the radio station with probable intent to unleash their wrath on the
sect leaders. But the police intervened and rescued them from the
angry crowd.
[...more...]


15. Detained members of banned meditation sect stage hunger strike
San Francisco Gate, Sep. 3, 1999
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/news/archive/1999/09/03/international1138EDT0616.DTL
Female members of a meditation movement jailed in a crackdown ordered
by China's communist government staged a hunger strike this week, group
members and a Chinese prison official said Friday.

Thirty-one followers of the Falun Gong movement were being subjected to
hard labor at the Daguang detention center in Changchun, a provincial
capital in the northeast, and the 24 women among them began refusing
food this week in protest, a statement from Falun Gong practitioners in
the United States said.
(...)

Wei said he was personally ``giving them education''-- making them read
newspaper articles critical of Falun Gong and watch video tapes
condemning the movement to ``help speed up the pace of their
conversion.'' ``Most of them have repented but a few remain
unchanged,'' he said.
(...)

Wei, the prison warden, denied charges by the U.S.-based Falun Gong
members that the prisoners were being beaten with cattle prods, stamped
on, doused in dirty or icy water and otherwise tortured. ''We treat
them the same as other criminals in custody. No torture at all. We are
only re-educating them,'' he said.
[...more...]


16. Ex-Cult Leader Pledges To Assist VCs
Northren Light/ANS, Aug. 30, 1999
http://library.northernlight.com/FD19990830190000067.html?cb=0&dx=1006&sc=0
[Nigeria] Dayspring Foundation, an organisation founded in 1995 and
owned by an ex-tertiary institution cultist has offered to assist VCs
meet the target given them by President Olusegun Obasanjo to stamp out
the menace of cultism on their campuses.

Richard Uyanga, General Co-ordinator of the foundation told P.M News
that the non-governmental organisation is poised to eradicate secret
cultism from primary to tertiary levels in Nigeria.
[...more...]

* See related items:
http://www.apologeticsindex.org/an990514.html#15 (May 11, 1999)
http://www.apologeticsindex.org/an990720.html#15 (July 13, 1999)
http://www.apologeticsindex.org/an990720.html#16 (July 15, 1999)


17. A Daring Diva's Disappearing Act
Washington Post, Aug. 31, 1999
http://search.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/WPlate/1999-08/31/068l-083199-idx.html
(...) Today, Trevi is in hiding and on the run from the law after a
sordid, career-crashing sex scandal involving minors. The episode has
rocked Mexico's entertainment industry and outraged fans and detractors
alike. Trevi -- a working-class icon who stood for women's liberation,
equal opportunity and helping the downtrodden -- is accused of luring
dozens of young female fans, some just 12, into a cult-like troupe of
sex slaves for Sergio Andrade, her manager and one of Mexico's top
record producers.
(...)

According to the criminal complaints, two books by Andrade's former
wife, and recent interviews with several girls who worked with Andrade
and Trevi, girls who joined the group were subjected to a super-secret,
degrading and humiliating life of subservience to Andrade. According to
some accounts, the girls were allowed no contact with the outside world
-- no visitors, no phone calls or trips home, no television, radio or
magazines -- and sometimes were forced to sleep at the foot of
Andrade's bed and drink water from a toilet. He allegedly fomented
rivalries among the girls and switched loyalties, made them monitor
each other's behavior, and meted out swift punishment when angered.
[...more...]


18. ' Warlock' ' gets 110-year term for sex assaults
Startribune.com/AP, Sep. 1, 1999
http://www2.startribune.com/stOnLine/cgi-bin/article?thisStory=80886546
A man who promised young girls witchcraft powers if they had sex with
him has been sentenced to more than 100 years in prison in a series of
sexual assaults.
[...more...]


19. Jehovah's Witnesses' apartment trashed
Jerusalem Post, Sep. 1, 1999
http://www.jpost.com/News/Article-5.html
(...) In addition to breaking glass, ripping pictures off the walls,
destroying his library and fax machine, and cutting open the sofas in
the apartment, the attackers also covered the walls with threatening
graffiti, Levi said. They painted a cross and swastika on the walls and
phrases such as "Nazi missionary," "Josef Levi, the missionary,"
"Christian dog traitor" and "Death."

The incident marks a significant rise in the harassment the Levis have
been subjected to since becoming Jehovah's Witnesses in 1974, said
Levi. His wife was beaten and they receive death threats, over the
telephone and from haredim outside their home.
(...)

Two haredi groups in the Bat Yam-Holon area have been harassing the
over 100 Jehovah's Witnesses who live in the area, said Lon Koenig, of
Watch Tower. He said some 160 complaints have been filed with the
Israel Police over the last two-and-a-half years but none have gone to
court.
[...more...]


20. Judge Rules for Million Youth March
Callaw/AP, Sep. 1, 1999
http://www.callaw.com/stories/edt0901y.html
A judge ruled Tuesday that the Million Youth March can go forward in
Harlem this weekend over the city's objections because the First
Amendment protects even offensive speech.

U.S. District Judge Denny Chin said that many statements made by the
event's organizers, including Khallid Abdul Muhammad, were ``bigoted,
hateful, violent and frightening.'' But he said that did not justify
denying a permit for the rally.
(...)

Michael Hess, the city's chief lawyer, argued that the rally should not
be protected by the First Amendment because organizers made it clear
they hoped to incite violence.
(...)

Roger Wareham, a lawyer for the Million Youth March, told the judge
that the rally organizers were urging peace and could not be held
accountable for everything every speaker said.
(...)

Wareham said Mayor Rudolph Giuliani had a vendetta against Muhammad,
who last year encouraged the crowd to beat or shoot officers if they
were attacked. Some in the crowd threw barricades, chairs and bottles
in the closing moments of the rally.

At a Harlem news conference Monday, Malik Shabazz, a march organizer,
vowed that ``all efforts to stamp out the Million Youth March will be
met with divine doom and destruction.''
[...more...]


21. U.S. Prepares For Possible Y2k Violence
NewsPage, Sept. 1, 1999
http://www.newspage.com/cgi-bin/NA.GetStory?story=c0831162.001&date=19990901&Query=violence
The U.S. government is preparing for possible violence from cults,
guerrillas, hate groups and end-of-world-fearing zealots as 2000
approaches. Law enforcement officials are working on contingency
plans to cope with everything from cyber attacks to bombs at New Year's
Eve parties, though they say they lack knowledge of specific, credible
threats.
(...)

Michael Vatis, head of a new FBI-led interagency center to protect
critical U.S. infrastructure, cited in particular a fringe view among
white supremacists that the world is on the verge of a final
apocalyptic struggle.
(...)

Groups with similar views or apocalyptic cults like Heaven's Gate, 30
of whose members committed mass suicide in 1997, may deem the rollover
to 2000 ``a good time for them to make their mark on history,'' said
Blitzer.
[...more...]


22. Constitutional Security Agent believes Scientology has been
overestimated
Giessener Anzeiger (Germany), Aug. 31, 1999
Translation: German Scientology News
http://www.lermanet.com/cisar/990831a.htm
The Nordrhein-Westphalian Constitutional Security Chief Fritz Achim
Baumann believes the importance of the Scientology organization in
commercial and political areas has been overestimated, and has placed
the necessity of further surveillance by the intelligence agency in
question. In a pre-published interview with the Hamburg magazine,
"Stern" on Tuesday, Baumann said that Scientology was "primarily a
commercial undertaking which entices people with a mix of offerings
which contain elements of church, religion and therapy."

After a two year surveillance of the organization by Constitutional
Security, he further stated in the interview, "Indeed we have found
indications of endeavors taken by the Scientologists against our basic
democratic principles. However according to our observation, these
[endeavors] were not actually being transformed into reality."
(...)

He said the risks associated with Scientology lie primarily in personal
areas. "Isolation, lack of ability to succeed, intellectual deficit -
all the little, human weaknesses are immoderately magnified by the
Scientologists. For the victims, that turns into expensive
pseudo-therapy. The fact is that the sect counselor is more in demand
than the secret agent," said the chief of the Nordrhein-Westphalian
Constitutional Security office.
[...more...]


23. Bavaria wants to continue surveillance of ScientologyOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
AFP (Agence France Presse), Aug. 31, 1999
Translation: German Scientology News
http://www.lermanet.com/cisar/990831b.htm
The Bavarian state administration believes it is necessary for
Constitutional Security to continue surveillance of Scientology.
Interior State Secretary Hermann Regensburger (CSU) dismissed
considerations of Nordrhein-Westphalian (NRW) Constitutional Security
to suspend surveillance by the intelligence agency. Even if the number
of active Scientologists were under 5,000, this was "no reason for
calling off the alarm," stated Regensburger. He said that Scientology
had at its disposal "a well-constructed, strategic network intact which
was born by an aggressive cadre organization." Besides that, the
suggestion of the Director of NRW Constitutional Security, Fritz Achim
Baumann, was contrary to the report of the "Federal State Work Group on
Scientology" of October 1998 [see http://www.lermanet.com/cisar/trn1060.htm or
http://members.tripod.com/German_Scn_News/trn1060a.htm], as well as the
report of the NRW Constitutional Security.
[...more...]


24. New jail ministry has controversial ties
The Standard-Times, Sep. 2, 1999
http://www.s-t.com/daily/09-99/09-02-99/a01lo002.htm
The new church providing religious services at the county jails has
ties to a controversial preacher who, a court ruled, bilked millions
from a wealthy parishioner in Massachusetts.
(...)

Some are also questioning the church's affiliation with Baltimore's
Greater Grace World Outreach.

That organization is headed by former Lenox preacher Carl Stevens, who
a bankruptcy court judge ruled had improperly taken millions from an
heiress to the Lechmere department-store fortune in the 1980s.
(...)

The 20-year-old Grace Church is listed on the web site of the Greater
Grace World Outreach of Baltimore as a member. Greater Grace was
founded, and is headed, by Carl Stevens, who for years ran The Bible
Speaks program in Lenox, but left after allegations the church was
cult-like.

Mr. Stevens was sued in 1987 by Besty Dovyenas, heiress to the Lechmere
fortune, who claimed Stevens and the church brainwashed her and coerced
contributions totaling $6.6 million. Church members tried to persuade
her to leave her husband and children and sign documents professing
that God had prompted her to donate to Bible Speaks, she alleged.
Family members enrolled her in a cult deprogramming course before suing
for the donations she had made.

A judge agreed with the heiress and ordered The Bible Speaks to give
back the money in 1987. Bible Speaks declared bankruptcy that year and
Mr. Stevens moved to Maryland where he founded Greater Grace.
(...)

Swansea's Grace Gospel spokesman Thomas Taylor said the Greater Grace
and Grace Gospel no longer have any binding affiliation, and are "just
friends."
(...)

But, according to Mr. Taylor, Grace Gospel made a formal announcement
of disaffiliation with Greater Grace " a few years" back.
(...)

That letter of disaffiliation could not be located yesterday, he said.
[...more...]

Sidebar:
Grace Gospel dedicated to spreading the word
(...)

From running a K-12 Christian school, to radio and cable-access
programs, to a 24-hour manned prayer line, Grace Gospel tries to live
in accord with the passage from the Gospel according to Mark: "And He
said unto them, 'Go forth and preach the Gospel to every living
creature.'"
(...)

Other Protestant ministers, such as Rev. Bob Thayer of the Inter-Church
Council of New Bedford, which lost the contract to Grace Gospel after
it was put out to bid, have described Grace Gospel's doctrine as one
predicated on fear of hell and damnation, and out of step with
mainstream Protestant groups.
[...more...]


25. Calif. Minister Sentenced for Fraud
Northren Light/AP, Sep. 3, 1999
http://library.northernlight.com/ED19990902800000028.html?cb=0&dx=1006&sc=0#doc
A California clergyman who defrauded about 2,000 followers out of $1.4
million in a pyramid scheme was sentenced to nearly four years in
prison. Charles Groeschel, 67, was sentenced to three years and 10
months in prison for a pyramid scheme based in his hometown of Palm
Desert, Calif., in which he told followers they could make millions of
dollars in a year. Groeschel, who ran the Association of Individual
Ministries under the name Pastor Chuck, pleaded guilty to mail and wire
fraud.
(...)

Prosecutors said Groeschel carried out the criminal scheme in the name
of God, quoting lines from the Bible that indicate profit is not a bad
thing. One Biblical passage promised ``we will receive a hundred fold
return in this life.'' In 1997 and 1998, he collected more than $1.4
million from about 2,000 lower-income individuals, many of them
residents of New York City.
[...more...]

26. Francis Frangipane Drops Out of Mayoral Race
Charisma News Service, Sep. 2, 1999
http://www.charismanews.com/worldnews/worldnews.cgi?a=130&t=news.html
A week after the surprise announcement that he intended to run for
mayor of his Iowa hometown, author and international speaker Francis
Frangipane has stepped out of the race. He withdrew his nomination
Tuesday, less than an hour before the deadline for standing down.

The senior pastor at River of Life Ministries in Cedar Rapids made the
U-turn after realizing that he would be unable to continue his writing
if he was appointed to the two-year office. "I felt I had reached the
boundaries of what God wanted me to surrender," he explained in a
message written for this weekend's church bulletin.
[...more...]


27. Britain facing Asian crime wave
The Times of London, Sep. 3, 1999
http://www.the-times.co.uk/news/pages/Times/frontpage.html?2488675
The first Muslim adviser to the Prison Service has been appointed by
Jack Straw amidst concern that Britain is on the verge of an Asian
crime wave. The move by the Home Secretary follows a doubling of the
number of Muslims in prisons in just six years, enough to fill eight
medium-sized jails. Home Office researchers and academics have warned
ministers and police of a serious upsurge in crime by young Asians,
shattering the belief that they are more law-abiding than white or
black people.

The number of prisoners registering as Muslims is expected to
accelerate sharply over the next few years as a demographic time bomb
of young British Asians reaches the peak offending age of between 18
and 25. Ministers have been told that the upsurge in criminal activity
could lead to a dangerous new "moral panic".
(...)

Harry Fletcher, assistant general secretary of the National Association
of Probation Officers, said young Muslims were drifting into Western
lifestyles and then into crime: "We have been saying for a decade that
this was going to happen. There has been family breakdown and the
youngsters are rebelling against elders and tradition."
[...more...]


28. Integration brings more assertiveness
The Times of London, Sep. 3, 1999
http://www.the-times.co.uk/news/pages/Times/frontpage.html?2488675
Asian youths are becoming more assertive. They drink, they take drugs,
they get into trouble. Any rise in crime among Muslims is primarily
because there are more young Muslims, according to police in Bradford,
where in the predominantly Kashmiri Manningham district not one of the
ten best-known burglars is Asian. Most are white.
[...more...]


29. Richard Ford examines why some Asians turn to crime
The Times of London, Sep. 3, 1999
http://www.the-times.co.uk/news/pages/Times/frontpage.html?2488675
The huge rise in the number of Muslims in jail is fuelled by a large
youthful Asian population reaching the peak offending age at the same
time as Western values undermine the community's traditional strengths,
academics said yesterday.
(...)

Within British Asian communities, it has been clear for some time that
the social, cultural and sexual mores that controlled the lives of an
older generation were being undermined by Western values.
[...more...]


30. Islamic confab will tackle more than religion
Philadelphia Daily News, Sep. 2, 1999
http://www.phillynews.com/daily_news/99/Sep/02/local/MUSL02.htm
Politics Muslim-style will be part of the agenda for the National
Islamic Convention of the Muslim American Society that starts in
Philadelphia tomorrow.

The convention's unofficial goal is to break down stereotypes and
showcase the followers of Imam W. Deen Mohammed, predominantly
African-Americans, as part of the American and Islamic mainstream.
(...)

Ali is leading two politics-based workshops Saturday. He said they'll
show Muslims why and how they should get active in community affairs.
(...)

In 1975 W. Deen Mohammed founded a movement that took tens of thousands
of blacks from his late father Elijah Muhammad's separatist Nation of
Islam
into mainstream Sunni Muslim practices. It has evolved into the
Muslim American Society.
(...)

In Chicago this weekend, the Islamic Society of North America,
predominantly Asian and Middle Eastern born and immigrant heritage
Muslims, holds its convention. Shabazz said the differences between the
groups are mostly in ethnic and racial composition, not in beliefs.
[...more...]


31. Americans flock to find out more about BuddhismOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Lexington Herald-Leader, Aug. 28, 1999
http://www.kentuckyconnect.com/heraldleader/news/082899/faithdocs/buddhism28.htm
It wasn't a leap of faith but rather the inability to take one that led
Roger Bosse to a new religion. ``Accepting Jesus Christ as God is a
bit of a step in faith which I found difficult to take,'' says Bosse,
who was raised a Methodist. ``Buddhism ... doesn't recognize a
god-creator of the universe ... but it does recognize a spiritual
essence in all individuals that can be experienced and understood.''

Many Americans apparently are looking for that same type of experience.

They're flocking to courses like ``Living Buddhism in America,'' a
summer-school class at Colorado College with a waiting list. They're
working toward graduate or undergraduate degrees at the
``Buddhist-inspired'' Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colo., where the
student body has tripled to 800 since the mid-1990s. They're meeting
regularly in Buddhist centers like the one Bosse belongs to in Colorado
Springs where he and dozens of others meditate and receive instruction
from a Tibetan nun.

Two distinct groups are playing a role in the growth of Buddhism in the
United States.

There is an ``ethnic and immigrant Buddhism,'' which is being brought
to the country by Asian newcomers, says David Gardiner, an assistant
religion professor at Colorado College.

Then there's ``import Buddhism or white Buddhism,'' made popular by
primarily white, upper middle-class Americans.
[...more...]


32. Unorthodox temple unsettles Thai Buddhist harmony
Christian Science Monitor, Aug. 31, 1999
http://www.csmonitor.com/durable/1999/08/31/p7s1.htm
In contrast with the low profile of most of Thailand's traditional
Buddhist temples, the activity at Dhamma-kaya is more reminiscent of
Christian television evangelism.

Closed circuit monitors relay the image and voice of the temple's
leader, Phra Dhammachayo. At the edges of the prayer hall, volunteers
wait patiently behind cash registers at designated donation points. And
in the normally harmonious world of Thai Buddhism, this unorthodox
movement with several hundred thousand followers here and around the
world is causing something of an uproar.

Last week, after months of investigations and intense media
speculation, Thai authorities arrested Abbot Phra Dhammachayo, along
with his secular aide, on charges of abusing his authority and
embezzling temple funds. The soft-spoken, media-shy monk was later
released on bail of $54,000.

Guilty or not, Phra Dhammachayo and his movement are shaking the
religious foundations of this nation, where traditional Theravada
Buddhism is the nominal faith of 90 percent of the population of 60
million.
(...)

Advocates say Dhammakaya could be the face of Theravada Buddhism for
the new millennium. Wearing traditional saffron robes, the temple's
monks, at least half of whom are university graduates, routinely carry
mobile phones and use personal computers. Dhammakaya has its own Web
site and has put ancient Buddhist texts on CD-ROM.

Full-page advertisements in national newspapers and on billboards were
used to promote a recent "miracle," when followers were said to have
seen a crystal ball appear in place of the sun. Temple brochures exhort
followers to donate up to $270 to purchase a personalized Buddha image
that will be placed on or in the new Chedi.

Critics say the temple's marketing techniques and the wealth it has
achieved through donations are at odds with Buddhism, which teaches
people to steer away from material attachment.
[...more...]


33. German Church's Fight for Survival Is 'Crucial' for Europe
Charisma News Service, Sep. 3, 1999
http://www.charismanews.com/news2.cgi?a=141&t=news.html
(...) The 900-member independent church in Cologne had been given until
today to voluntarily pay back taxes of around $50,000 or face the
prospect of government officials taking the money from its
account--and almost certain closure. The church already has paid
$50,000 to tax authorities on another contested ruling.

While attempting to raise the latest repayment funds from friends and
supporters--though still maintaining the ruling is unfair--Christliche
Gemeinde Koln (CGK) senior pastor Terry Jones, who began the church in
1982, has vowed to continue fighting the anti-charismatic movement he
says is behind the ruling.
(...)

"The historical significance of the city helps us understand why we
have had so much trouble," said Jones, whose early church meetings were
held, he discovered later, in the same building where Karl Marx first
preached communism. "It is such a gate of heaven or hell; things that
happen there do spread through the world."

In the last few years there have been media slurs against the church,
physical attacks on the property, job discrimination against members,
and bomb and assassination threats in addition to the revoking of CGK's
tax-exempt status, he said. Families have had their children taken from
them for being part of a "cult," and some have been ordered to pay back
taxes on their giving.
(...)

The campaign against CGK prompted a 1997 delegation from Britain's
House of Lords, which reported that they were "completely unprepared
for the sheer scale of prejudice, discrimination and even persecution
which our witnesses reported." Jones also gave evidence to U.S. Senate
hearings into religious persecution in Germany.

While accepting that the tax battle seems to be lost, Jones is
continuing to fight the church's "cult" label. "We can live without the
benefits. People will give without them," he said. "It's what it means
if we don't have it--to us it is about justice and religious
freedom...If we lose, then there is no stopping it."

CGK's case is being taken to the European Court of Human Rights in
Strasbourg by the European Center for Law and Justice, the
international arm of the American Center for Law and Justice. "This is
one of the most critical cases in Europe because it is about church
autonomy," said senior counsel Joel Thornton. "It is crucial for Europe
that this church survives this attack."
[...more...]

* Thomas Gandow, whose pastoral site for sect- and world view
questions is here:

http://www.ekibb.com/seels/sekten/index.htm>

states that for a while he handled more complaints regarding
CGK then about all other movements combined.

*
Tilman Hausherr reports that in the tax case, the US State
Department stopped supporting Terry Jones after he admitted that
the church had somehow "forgotten" to file the correct papers.

* A spokesperson for the Berlin Senate's Department for Youth and
Family told me complaints about the church have diminished after
the church split. The department still keeps its information
online:

Gemeinde auf dem Weg Evangelische Freikirche e. V.
http://www.sensjs.berlin.de/familie/sekten/sekten_teil712.htmOff-site Link


34. [Removed]

35. Psychic hot line caller in LA gets 30 days in jail
Excite/Reuters, Sep. 2, 1999
http://news.excite.com/news/r/990902/21/ca-crime-psychic
She might have seen it coming: a woman who pleaded no contest to
charges of using her boss's phones to make $120,000 in calls to a
psychic hotline was sentenced to 30 days in jail Thursday.

Cheryl Burnham, 39, a former secretary for the Los Angeles County
department of Public Social Services, was also placed on five years'
probation and ordered to pay $98,000 restitution.
[...more...]


=== Noted

36. The Robin Hood of American religion goes online
Excite, Sep. 1, 1999
http://news.excite.com/news/uw/990901/university-171
(...) But one unique church takes Internet ministry to the most radical
extreme. The Universal Life Church (http://www.ulc.org) will ordain
anyone to the ministry for free, for life and with no regard to race,
gender, sexual orientation, nationality or theological position. And
they'll do it online.

It doesn't matter whether you are a Christian, Satanist, Kabbalist,
Wiccan, atheist, or a creator of your own "homemade" religion. The ULC,
from its international headquarters in Modesto, Calif., and its
monastery in Tucson, Ariz., welcomes all.
(...)

The ULC actually pre-dates the cyber-era. This unique denomination was
established in 1962 by Kirby J. Hensley, an illiterate former Baptist
from North Carolina. Fed up with the hypocrisy and dogmatism of the
mainstream churches, Hensley began ordaining anybody -- without
question -- for free. Full page articles about him in Time (21 Feb.
1969) and Newsweek (5 May 1969) added to his status as the Robin Hood
of American religion.
[...more...]


37. Alternative-Lifestyle Guru Danny Seo, Doing Very Well By Doing Good
Washington Post, Aug. 31, 1999
http://search.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/WPlate/1999-08/31/058l-083199-idx.html
(...) If everything goes according to plan, this young Washingtonian
aims to be the impresario of a whole new lifestyle, spiritual yet
stylish, in which his followers wear hip, eco-friendly shoes and donate
their frequent-flier miles to charities for sick children. He believes
in yoking technology to philanthropy, in pairing fashion and
environmentalism, in making activism cool.
(...)

His two books have received blurbs of praise from lots of big-name
activists: chimp scientist Jane Goodall, children's lobbyist Marian
Wright Edelman, Habitat founder Millard Fuller. Already he has earned
two lifetime achievement awards, one of which, the Albert Schweitzer
Reverence for Life Award, sent him scrambling to figure out who Albert
Schweitzer was.
(...)

Above all, he intends that this kind of existence--a sort of cafeteria
menu of good works--will come to be known as the "Conscious Style," by
Danny Seo, and the planet will be a better place. He will become the
green Martha Stewart, the trendy Mother Teresa, for the Gen X-, Y- and
Zers.
(...)

For all the "Heaven" and "angel" references, Seo, who was raised
Lutheran, does not practice any particular religion. Yet he maintains
an almost monastic lifestyle in keeping with his beliefs.
[...more...]


=== Newsgroup Posting

38. The Globalization of Scientology: Influence, Control and
Opposition in Transnational Markets (by Stephen Kent)
Academic Press, 1999
Posted to alt.religion.scientology; archived by Deja, Sep. 2, 1999
http://x46.deja.com/getdoc.xp?AN=520072333&CONTEXT=936273460.40697912&hitnum=24
(Revised version of a paper presented at the Society for the
Scientific Study of Religion, November, 1991.)

Locating itself within a sociological perspective that analyses
religiously ideological organisations as transnational corporations,
this study examines the global activities of Scientology. It summarises
the organisation's resolution of its international conflict
with Interpol, its take-over of its internationally influential
opponent, the Cult Awareness Network (CAN) and its heightened rhetoric
against psychiatry. The article also highlights Scientology's
international marketing strategies that attempt to further the
teachings of its founder, L. Ron Hubbard, and gain political and
social influence. Despite Scientology's efforts to adjust its approach
to fit the cultural realities of the countries that it enters, its
apparent successes in some formerly Iron Curtain nations is
counterbalanced by growing opposition in Western Europe
[...more...]


=== Books

39. The respectable cult
Salon, Sep. 1, 1999
http://www.salon.com/books/feature/1999/09/01/christian/index.html
A new book asks why Christian Science has gotten away with the kind of
paranoid, secretive practices that usually push religions into the kook
bin.

God's perfect Child, by Caroline Fraser, Metropolitan Books

Picture a relatively new American religious sect founded by a
charismatic, paranoid, authoritarian leader. The church has a set of
secret doctrines, and it threatens legal action against those who would
reveal them. It vigorously pressures journalists, publishers and
booksellers who attempt to disseminate anything but the officially
sanctioned accounts of its deceased founder or its current autocratic
leadership. It has a handful of celebrity followers and some really
weird beliefs. It's also a potential threat to the well-being of many
of its members.

Chances are you weren't imagining the Church of Christ, Scientist. Yet,
at various points in its approximately 130-year history, all of the
above have been true of the religious movement founded by Mary Baker
Eddy. While the Church of Scientology is burdened by a sinister public
image resembling a cross between the KGB and a UFO-contactee cult,
Christian Science has emerged from a bruising bout of legal suits and
financial crises with its respectability essentially intact. That's
astonishing when you consider that the sect is primarily known for its
prohibitions against conventional medical care, strictures that have
led to the avoidable deaths of children raised in Christian Science
households.

In fact, Americans are so given to orgies of sentimental outrage over
the subject of child welfare, you'd think that by now Christian Science
would be regarded as the embodiment of evil. (After all, the ATF
supposedly stormed David Koresh's Branch Davidian compound because they
thought he was molesting 13-year-olds, not killing them.) Instead, the
Christian Science Church's defense of its members' actions on grounds
of religious freedom has been taken seriously as a constitutional
issue.
[...more...]


40. Like Jonestown in slow motion
Salon, Sep. 1, 1999
http://www.salon.com/books/int/1999/09/01/fraser/index.html
Caroline Fraser, author of "God's Perfect Child," talks about the
casualties of Christian Science's belief in the power of prayer and the
media's soft spot for the church.

Caroline Fraser's "God's Perfect Child" tells the remarkable, sometimes
outrageous story of the Christian Science Church's journey from suspect
sect to squeaky-clean personification of mid-century American religious
do-it-yourself-ism to faltering faith whose aging leaders would like to
tap into the current mania for spiritual healing. Her account is an
enjoyably dishy story of mismanaged funds, trendy celebrity adherents
and internecine warfare, but it has a darker side: the still-mounting
body count the church has left in its wake, children who have died as a
result of the faith's prohibition against the use of medical care.

Salon Books interviewed Fraser, who lives in Santa Fe, N.M., via
e-mail.
[...more...]


41. 'Tathea' a gold mine of Mormon doctrine
Deseret News, Aug. 29, 1999
http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/1,1249,115005791,00.html?
After 30 well-received mystery novels, with 7 million copies in print,
Anne Perry is an internationally famous writer whose reputation is
secure. And she continues to write two books each year for her American
publisher, Ballantine Books. But "Tathea" is a completely different
genre, which Ballantine passed on and Deseret Book's Shadow Mountain
enthusiastically picked up. Why? Because it is a hefty Mormon epic.

It doesn't say that anywhere in the book, but Perry, a Mormon convert
who lives in Scotland, openly admits her intention is to reach people
who normally do not read scripture but who might be spiritually touched
by her book.
(...)

Filled with symbolism, the story centers on the empress of an ancient
land who loses her husband and infant son, then begins a new journey,
during which the meaning of life unfolds. Those familiar with the Book
of Mormon will understand the "golden book in an ancient tongue" that
must be translated for the benefit of the contemporary world. They will
also relate to the "Council in Heaven," where a grand dispute takes
place between the forces of good and evil.

In fact, Perry's book is a veritable gold mine of Mormon doctrine,
familiar phrases and scripture, reworded to fit the fantasy tale.
(...)

Surrounded as the doctrine is by a lengthy, complicated story, it seems
doubtful that many readers will find enough religious direction to
re-evaluate their lives or change churches. On the other hand, since
several spiritual novels, such as "The Celestine Prophecy," have landed
on the best-seller list in recent years, there is no reason to think
this one could not. Some will find it thought-provoking, and others
will be bogged down by the complexity. Dare I suggest that the Book of
Mormon, purported to have been translated from reformed Egyptian, is
easier to follow than "Tathea"?
[...more...]


=== The Church Around The Corner

42. Is There Woof After Death?
Washington Post, Aug. 31, 1999
http://search.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/WPlate/1999-08/31/052l-083199-idx.html
Some magazines are not afraid to tackle the big, profound questions of
the ages. With its September issue, Dog Fancy joins the ranks of those
courageous magazines, raising a philosophical query that has perplexed
sages for centuries: "Do Dogs Go to Heaven?"

To find an answer, the magazine called upon the cast of a million
jokes--a priest, a rabbi and a minister. Also a Buddhist, a Baptist and
Mary Buddemeyer-Porter, author of "Will I See Fido in Heaven?"
Immediately, these distinguished experts began scrapping like puppies
fighting for a bone.

The priest--the Rev. Brian T. McSweeney, vice chancellor of the
Catholic Archdiocese of New York--started the controversy. "Heaven was
designed for humans," he said. "The reason dogs may be there is for us,
not for themselves. Dogs will go to heaven perhaps because of our
relationship with them."
(...)

Rabbi Gershon Winkler of Cuba, N.M., did know the answer to that
question: The desert island dog is eligible for heaven--but only if it
is a good dog. "Every animal based on how it lives in this world will
reap its reward, its divine bliss in the world to come."

That's ridiculous, said the Rev. Andrew Linzey, a professor of theology
at the University of Nottingham in England: "I think the idea that
animals can make moral choices and should therefore be held responsible
for their actions is absurd."

Buddemeyer-Porter agreed. Dogs will get to heaven regardless of their
behavior on Earth, she said: "It doesn't make any difference what dogs
do because they are innocent of any sin."

"I think the species as a whole is a natural shoo-in," said Stephen H.
Webb, author of "On God and Dogs." "A dog is an animal that has
sacrificed its bestial nature and has entered into a relationship of
loving mutuality. Dogs are the lead animals, the example for all
animals."

"For me it is perfectly obvious and theologically essential that
animals will go to heaven," added Linzey. "Indeed the only important
theological question is whether humans will go to heaven. After all,
animals have not been sinful, faithless and violent like we have."
[...more...]

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