Apologetics Index
News about cults, sects, alternative religions...

Religion Items In The News

October 25, 1999 (Vol. 3, Issue 127)

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

Unlike the edition posted to the AR-talk list, items in the archived newsletters will, time-permitting, link back to entries in the A-Z Index.

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

=== Aum Shinrikyo
1. New anti-Aum bill emphasizes speed in controlling cult
2. Anticult bill to restrict activities of ex-convicts
3. Tough anti-subversion bill targets AUM
4. AUM stakeout continues

=== Waco/Branch Davidians
5. Report: Congress panel may test Waco bullets
6. No-nonsense style defines Waco judge

=== Scientology
7. Punitive damages allowed in Scientology case
8. Germany using leadership role to spread religious discrimination: US lawmakers
9. Doug Frantz, National Correspondent for The New York Times.
10. Judgment may Boomerang

=== Falun Gong
11. China accuses Falun Gong of leaking state secrets
12. Leaders Of Banned China Sect Face Prosecution

=== Hate Groups
13. New York Protest Swamps Ku Klux Klan Demonstration
14. Insults, fists greet KKK members at New York rally
15. UN: Third Committee hears of dangers of 'modern racism and hatred' found on Internet web sites

=== Cults - General
16. Experts warn of cult danger
17. Government 'must warn public against cults'
18. Cult numbers rise as millennium nears

=== Other News
19. Israel To Expel 20 Members Of Christian Groups
20. Character First! Volunteers With Links to Religion Teach Traditional Values
21. Moslem children stay home in Norway in protest
22. India Tribal Christians To Counter Hindu Zealots
23. Ex-S. Baptist Leader Chides Church
24. Dutch propose right-to-die for 12 year olds; doctors opposed.

=== False Memory Syndrome
25. Just who is guilty here?
26. Long chapter in Fells Acres case ends, but nobody wins
27. LeFave granted freedom

=== Evolution/Creationism
28. Illinois Erases Evolution Theory In Schools-Paper

=== Noted
29. Feel good about your feng shui consultant
30. His, hers or ours? ("Gender spirituality")
31. Success of Harry Potter bowls author over

=== Aum Shinrikyo

1. New anti-Aum bill emphasizes speed in controlling cult
Asahi News (Japan), Oct. 23, 1999
A new bill to regulate the Aum Shinrikyo cult will allow authorities to take
swift measures to monitor and control the organization, Justice Ministry
sources said Friday.

The bill will be submitted at a forthcoming extraordinary session of the Diet.
the measure targets the organization that "had committed mass murder in the
past" and "consisting of members that had been involved in the mass murder,"
the sources said.

When enacted, the law will allow authorities to inspect the organization's
facilities and ban Aum Shinrikyo from acquiring new properties. The Public
security Investigation Agency will then have to submit a written request to
the Public Security Examination Commission to determine whether such measures
should be taken.

According to the draft of the bill, Aum Shinrikyo must regularly provide the
agency with the names and addresses of its senior members along with its
assets, including buildings and properties. Agency investigators and police
could also be able to conduct searches of the organization's facilities.

2. Anticult bill to restrict activities of ex-convicts
Daily Yomiuri (Japan), Oct. 24 ,1999
The Justice Ministry plans to include a clause that would in effect prohibit
activities of former Aum Supreme Truth cult executives, even after they have
served prison sentences, in a bill targeting cults, according to ministry
officials. The bill is targeted at organizations that have committed
indiscriminate mass murder, such as Aum.

If a cult is found to have the capability of committing indiscriminate mass
murder, or if it refuses to be inspected, the bill allows the imposition of
restrictions on cult members prohibiting them from opening new facilities or
engaging in group activities at existing premises, the ministry said.

3. Tough anti-subversion bill targets AUM
Mainichi Daily News, Oct. 25, 1999
(...) The ministry drafted the bill partly because crimebusters have been
frustrated by the reams of red tape that have hindered attempts to regulate
AUM's activities.

4. AUM stakeout continues
Mainichi Daily News, Oct. 24, 1999
Three weeks have passed since residents of Ikebukuro in Tokyo's Toshima-ku
started their round-the-clock surveillance in front of an apartment complex
in an effort to block the AUM Shinrikyo cult from relocating its headquarters
to the building. The move was prompted by an announcement by the cult on
Sept. 29 that it will move its headquarters out of an Adachi-ku facility in
compliance with the demand by its bankruptcy receiver.

The Ikebukuro-Honcho liaison council against AUM Shinrikyo, comprising
members of the Ikebukuro-Honcho 4-chome neighborhood association, erected a
barricade in front of the apartment building and launched round-the-clock
surveillance the following day in a bid to block the cult from moving into
the building.

The association of the apartment's residents is poised to file a lawsuit with
the Tokyo District Court, demanding that the cult move out of the building.
Toshima-ku's municipal government extended 3.8 million yen in loans to the
association last August to help it finance the expenses of the lawsuit.

=== Waco/Branch Davidians

5. Report: Congress panel may test Waco bullets
Excite/Reuters, Oct. 24 ,1999
One of the congressional committees investigating the assault on the Branch
compound in Waco, Texas, may order ballistic tests on some bullet
casings found at an FBI sniper position, according to a New Yorker magazine
story to be published Monday.

The FBI has denied that its agents fired any shots during the standoff and
assault. The ATF used the house during a fierce gunfight with the cult on
Feb. 28, 1993, that started the siege.

Attorneys for the surviving Davidians argue that the shots may have come
later, from the gun of Lon Horiuchi, an FBI sharpshooter who was also
involved in the 1992 standoff at Ruby Ridge, Idaho.

6. No-nonsense style defines Waco judge
Dallas Morning News, Oct. 25, 1999
(...) Three floors up sits the judge who forced every agency of the U.S.
government to surrender what he terms a "mountain of sealed documents:" U.S.
District Judge Walter S. Smith Jr. In a rare interview, Judge Smith said he
acted to protect the evidence for a wrongful-death case filed by surviving
Branch Davidians - a lawsuit set for trial next May.

He said he also wanted to ease public concerns over recent revelations about
government actions during the 51-day siege, information that contradicts the
government's previous accounts of what federal agents did.

"After more and more revelations were found, I just decided, let's get all
the information here," he said.

But the judge said he has been troubled by information surfacing six years
after the government absolved itself of blame for the standoff's tragic end.

"It has been something," he said. "If they had just been upfront with the
things, that now are coming out like teeth are being pulled, there wouldn't
have been a problem, I don't think."

"He is concerned that there have been things or there's the perception that
things have transpired that should not have," said Mr. Guinn, a friend and
law school classmate. "He's troubled by it, and he thinks it's time to get
the issues out on the table."

"If you get convicted, watch out. He will hurt you. But as far as making sure
you get a fair trial, I think that he will give you as fair a trial as you
could hope for," said Joe Turner, an Austin defense attorney who represented
one of the Branch Davidians tried before Judge Smith in a 1994 criminal
trial. "He will make the government prove the case. He makes the government
follow the rules," Mr. Turner said. "I think he takes seriously his job of
making the government toe the line."

=== Scientology

7. Punitive damages allowed in Scientology case
St. Petersburg Times, Oct. 23, 1999
The family of Lisa McPherson can seek punitive damages if the Church of
Scientology is found to have caused her death, a judge ruled Friday.

The ruling came after a five-hour hearing in which church lawyers vigorously
argued that the family had no grounds to seek a windfall from Scientology.

Their argument: Churches cannot be made to pay punitive damages because of a
new Florida law that says governments "shall not substantially burden the
free exercise of religion" without a "compelling governmental interest."

The new law is the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1998. The church has
used it as a defense in Pinellas County, where Scientology's Clearwater
branch has been criminally charged with abusing and illegally practicing
medicine on McPherson. McPherson, 36, suffered a mental breakdown in 1995 and
spent 17 days under the care of staffers at Scientology's Fort Harrison Hotel
in Clearwater. She died after the staffers drove her to a hospital 45 minutes
away in Pasco County. A Scientologist doctor at the hospital, Dr. David
Minkoff, had agreed to see her.

Ken Dandar, the lawyer for the estate, argued the state has a compelling
interest in "preserving life." "This organization exists for one reason --
to make money," he said of Scientology. "Therefore, punitive damages are the
only thing that wakes them up to stop what they are doing."

Hillsborough County Circuit Judge James S. Moody Jr. ruled a jury could at
least consider whether punitive damages were warranted. He cited a sworn
statement by Minkoff, the Scientologist doctor in Pasco County, who
pronounced McPherson dead. Minkoff has testified he was "shocked" by
McPherson's condition at the hospital.

The judge said Florida's Religious Freedom Restoration Act does not prevent
the state from protecting the public against "certain acts."

The issue will not be relevant unless a jury finds that Scientology caused
McPherson's death. A trial is scheduled for June.

8. Germany using leadership role to spread religious discrimination: US
Yahoo! Asia, Oct. 21, 1999
US lawmakers, flanked by Hollywood actress Anne Archer, on Thursday ripped
Germany for allegedly using its leadership role in Europe to spread
discrimination against the Church of Scientology and other minority groups.
"Germany is a nation that should be a leader with regard to tolerance, but
unfortunately it isn't ... and other European countries are following the
German example," said Republican Representative Ben Gilman, chairman of the
House International Relations Committee.

Gilman's comments came as lawmakers unveiled identical House and Senate
resolutions condemning Germany's policies towards groups such as Scientology
and calling on the German government to engage in "constructive dialogue"
with those groups.

9. Doug Frantz, National Correspondent for The New York Times.
The Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University
The 1999 Watchdog Journalism Conference

(...) Doug Frantz is a national correspondent for The New York Times, where
he has worked for five years.

He was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for a series of articles on the Church of
Scientology in 1997 and for articles in 1992 about American relations with
Iraq before the Gulf War.

What Happened to Scientology Church?

Q. - I must say I've only read one of the four series, which was Doug's; I
would like to now read all the others, they're really stunning stories you've
told. But I had read Doug's stories on Scientology and was quite impressed at
the time, and I had an immediate question, which was, what happened to you
afterwards, because I assume they came after you and you haven't told that
part of it. And secondly, what happened in general? I thought you had the
goods on them so completely that how could the IRS have kept this exemption?
I had another reason for being interested in the story, which is it became an
international story by virtue of the fact that Scientology then was
worldwide, treated as a religion, and of course we know the Germans tried to
crack down on it and it became a big issue at the State Department briefing
and other places, and I had thought you had broken through that whole thing
and things were going to change, but I gather they haven't. Maybe you could
tell us.

Frantz - No, I don't think they've changed at all. I could have made a career
out of writing about Scientology and I chose not to, and my editors, bless
them, agreed. What happened to me? Not much happened to me. It was very
adversarial. There were private investigators poking around my house and
photographing my wife and children, and other odd coincidences occurred, but
it wasn't anything that I didn't expect, and it wasn't anything that hadn't
happened in spades to lots of other people, including IRS officials. I should
say though that I had an interview midway through my investigation of the IRS
story. I went out to Los Angeles to have an interview with the
Scientologists. I didn't want to wait until the end, I don't think that's
fair, I hardly ever do that, and also those interviews, if you do them midway
you can get new things to investigate. So I went out there expecting to see
one church official and their tax lawyer, a woman from Washington named
Monique Yingling, and Dean Baquet, the National Editor, who's a wonderful
editor, had a good suggestion, he said, "Take somebody along from the LA
bureau just in case you need some friend in there." So I went in with Jim
Sterngold and we were met at the door by this nice PR lady, and she took us
up to the top floor of one of their buildings on Sunset Boulevard, and we
walked in and there were six lawyers, three Scientology officials, a video
camera, and a stenographer. The room was very small, very cramped, and the
first hour they spent attacking me, personally. They knew a lot of stuff
about me that surprised me, and I spent an hour sitting there listening to
them and defending myself a little bit, and the next two hours they answered
my questions to some extent. It was really the most extraordinary interview
I've ever had, the most confrontational interview I've ever gone through, and
I've covered the mob in Chicago for a long time and it was nothing like this.
It was really tough. But nothing bad happened to me. Nothing untoward
happened to Scientology either over this, over their exemption. Part of that
blame, I think, rests with Congress, because there's really nobody there
willing to pick up the issue and go with it and ask the necessary questions
about this tax exemption, about the circumstances behind it. I had some
contact with a staff member on Senate finance, a guy who worked for Bill
Roth, and he was really hot to go, and he had one conversation with Roth and
the thing was over. Nobody gave a damn.

10. Judgment may Boomerang
Tages-Anzeiger (Switzerland), Oct. 23, 1999
Translation: CISAR
In a surprising turn of events, two Scientologists have been exonerated in a
legal proceeding in Basel. The judgment, however, could turn out to be a
boomerang. The new law in Basel-City Canton which prohibits deceptive
advertising on public land has not passed its baptism by fire. The solitary
judge in the Basel Criminal Court exonerated two Scientologists on formal
grounds. They had repeatedly accosted pedestrians in an aggressive manner and
were fined 500 franks, which they then appealed.

But the Scientologists will have to accept the exoneration with a grain of
salt. In the basis of his judgment, the judge stated that the distribution of
personality tests by Scientologists is part of a comprehensive sales
strategy, which makes it commercial activity. The goal of their operation
consists of selling astronomically expensive course and materials, as the one
accused had demonstrated. He had stated that he had paid out about 15,000
franks [over $10,000] for such "religious services."

Because of that, the judge did not rate the advertising as an idealist or
religious activity, but as commercial. Therefore the new law could not be
applied; the Scientologists have to be charged for unfair [commercial]
competition. But because the sect is using everything it has to look like a
church, the exoneration may hurt more than help. Now their advertising can be
assessed as commercial activity, and the "missionaries" have to count on
being prosecuted for unfair competition, which carries heavier penalties.

=== Falun Gong

11. China accuses Falun Gong of leaking state secrets
Nando Times, Oct. 25, 1999
China's communist government on Monday accused the banned spiritual movement
Falun Gong of stealing state secrets. The government is also seeking to
tighten laws to quash Falun Gong and other quasi-religious organizations.

An inquiry by China's national police force, the Ministry of Public Security,
found that Falun Gong members had leaked or disseminated 59 classified
official documents, 20 of which carried the highest security classification,
the government's news agency, Xinhua, said in a report read on nationwide

The report is part of an intensifying campaign in the exclusively state-run
media ahead of expected trials of leading Falun Gong members. Scholars
familiar with the government's three-month crackdown against the group have
said authorities were having trouble finding evidence to support harsh
charges and punishments.

Meanwhile, the executive committee of China's national legislature opened a
seven-day session Monday partly devoted to reviewing a new law "to combat
heretic cults" like Falun Gong, Xinhua said.

12. Leaders Of Banned China Sect Face Prosecution
CNN, Oct. 25, 1999
China accused at least 13 leaders of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement
Monday of stealing and leaking state secrets on an unprecedented scale.

If charged and convicted, the 13 leaders face at least five years in prison.
The maximum penalty is death.

Xinhua said the leaders had organized more than 300 protests nationwide since
April 25 when 10,000 sect members lay siege to Beijing's Zhongnanhai
leadership compound to demand official status for the faith, which combines
elements of Buddhism, Taoism, meditation and breathing exercises.

The standing committee of the National People's Congress, the top body of the
Chinese parliament, began a one week session Monday to review a bill aimed at
"preventing and dealing a blow to religious cults," including Falun Gong.

"Cult organizations have seriously destroyed social stability, endangered
economic development, the safety of people's lives and property," Xinhua
quoted senior lawmaker Hou Zongbin as saying. Cults "must be effectively
curbed," Hou added.

=== Hate Groups

13. New York Protest Swamps Ku Klux Klan Demonstration
Excite/Reuters, Oct. 24, 1999
A Ku Klux Klan group staged a small, silent demonstration in New York
Saturday, surrounded by thousands of angry protesters chanting their
contempt. Sixteen men and women wore Klan robes and hoods but not face
masks, and they did not use a sound system, respecting limits set by the
administration of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

Without masks and denied a sound system by the city permit, Klan members
stood silent as thousands jeered. Despite the group's two-hour permit, the
Klan members dispersed after slightly more than an hour, defiantly raising
their hands in a Nazi-style salute as they were led away under police

Jeffery Berry, grand wizard of the Church of the American Knights of the Ku
Klux Klan, the Butler, Indiana, group granted the demonstration permit,
blamed the small turnout on the ban on masks. He said that as many as 100
people would have appeared if they could have hidden their faces.

14. Insults, fists greet KKK members at New York rally
CNN, Oct. 23, 1999
More than a thousand anti-Ku Klux Klan protesters gathered in New York on
Saturday afternoon, hurling insults and in at least one case swift punches at
Klan members, dressed in white gowns and hoods and flanked by heavily
equipped police officers.

Members of the Partisan Defense Committee -- which had plastered the city
with 80,000 leaflets advertising its demonstration -- and other activists
carried placards reading "Stop the KKK" and spoke into bullhorns at makeshift
podiums before the KKK rally began.

15. UN: Third Committee hears of dangers of 'modern racism and hatred' found on Internet web sites
Northern Light, Oct. 25 ,1999
[Hate groups]

A code of conduct should be instituted to regulate the relationship between
the Internet and free speech to serve as a curb on rampant racism, the
representative of Pakistan told the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and
Cultural) this morning, as it met to continue its consideration of issues
related to the elimination of racism, racial discrimination and the right of
peoples to self-determination.

He said institutionalized racism was being replaced by a most disconcerting
modern racism and hatred placed on Internet Web sites. Advances in science
and technology should be used to better society, not to destroy it. Libya's
representative said that in spite of all efforts to combat racism and other
modern expressions of it, the phenomenon continued to entrench itself more
strongly in corners of the world. Racist attitudes and behaviours were
encouraged by far right neo-Nazi groups using the Internet. Instead of
spreading understanding, the Internet was spreading hatred, which violated
international law and the right to life itself.

=== Cults - General

16. Experts warn of cult danger
News Wire (UK), Oct. 23, 1999
A seminar warning about the potential danger of cults which suck in or harm
young and vulnerable people was being held today. Politicians from across
Europe were meeting at the Royal Society of Medicine in west London to
discuss how best to tackle the problem of extremist sects.

"Cults are on the increase as we approach the millennium, with more and more
people trying to make sense of the world and being sucked in by these
groups," said a spokeswoman for Family Action Information Resource (FAIR)
which organised the meeting.

"In the worst cases joining a cult can be devastating. Followers are cut off
from their friends, family and lovers, and have their finances drained by
their new 'friends'. If they do manage to escape they are often left with

The seminar will include a talk from the secretary of the French government's
office against cults to discuss how France and other European countries deal
with sects.

17. Government 'must warn public against cults'
News Wire (UK), Oct. 23, 1999
(...) Conservative former Home Office minister Tom Sackville told a seminar
at the Royal Society of Medicine in west London that the Government should
issue publicity warnings about potentially harmful cults.

About 150 people, including parents of children who joined cults, and
doctors, psychiatrists and academics, attended the seminar organised by
Family Action Information Resource (Fair).

Conference chairman James Hanratty said: "Huge distress and sorrow is being
caused to families. "It takes a lot of courage for them to say 'enough is
enough' and stand up to cults. That is why they look to Government agencies
to help and support them," he said.

Judge Dennis Bathelemy, secretary of the French government's office on cults,
told the conference the French closed dangerous cults down and issued
warnings to people.

18. Cult numbers rise as millennium nears
News Wire (UK), Oct. 23, 1999
(...) By the beginning of the 1990s the number of cults in Britain stood at
about 500. Numbers of people joining cults is thought to be increasing as the
millennium approaches.

In America there are an estimated 2,500 cults, 900 of which believe in
Armageddon or the Day of Judgment. Many also fear an upsurge of violence as
we near the millennium. It is common for American cult members to trawl
parts of Britain to look for new recruits.

=== Other News

19. Israel To Expel 20 Members Of Christian Groups
Excite/Reuters, Oct. 25, 1999
Israeli officials said Monday they had detained 20 people, 13 of them
Americans, from apocalyptic Christian groups who would be deported for posing
a threat to public safety.

Police spokesman Rafi Yaffe said the people detained Monday belonged to
organizations he called the "Temple group" and the "House of Prayer group,"
both of which believe in the imminent Second Coming of Jesus.

"Every one of them believes he will be given a certain role at the End of
Days," the spokesman said. "We are fearful that their presence in the country
could lead to the endangerment of public safety."

An Interior Ministry official said the 20 included 13 Americans, three
Britons, three Jamaicans and an Australian. The official reason police cited
for their arrests was the expiration of their visas. Police said most of the
American detainees were from Denver, Colorado, the same as another group
called the Concerned Christians deported in January.

Among those being held was Brother David, who police say is the leader of the
House of Prayer group, and another man named Brother Solomon, the apparent
leader of the Temple group.

20. Character First! Volunteers With Links to Religion Teach Traditional Values Northern Light/WSJ Abstracts, Oct. 25, 1999
Character First! is a new program designed to instill values in public
elementary school students in Oklahoma. Volunteers teach thirty-minute
sessions each week to the students with the help of games, singing and
story-telling to get across values such as "diligence" and "truthfulness" to
the children. Many parents, such as Kimberly Price, president of Spencer's
Parent Teacher Association, are very supportive of the program. Ms Price
says, "if we could have them every day, we would." The problem that worries
some educators and parents is that the Character First! Program was developed
by a Christian organization, led by conservative minister Bill Gothard.
However, Michael Josephson, founder of Character Counts!, a similar program
without any religious affiliations says, "You don't need to believe in God to
believe in trustworthiness." Education professor Cathy Kass feels, "A lot of
people look at it as a way for certain viewpoints to get into the school."
Ms. Kass adds, "I'm Jewish, I grew up in the South, in small towns, and I
know what it's like to have religion that's not mine pushed on me." Guy
Sconzo, the assistant school superintendent where the program was first
implemented in 1996, says, "Who cares? As long as it's working, God bless
them." For additional information refer to The Wall Street Journal or go to
[...entire item...]

* Note: Only the above abstract is on file.

21. Moslem children stay home in Norway in protest
AOL/Reuters, Oct. 22, 1999
Muslims in Norway kept their children at home Friday, saying that school
textbooks violate religious freedom by focusing too much on Christianty.

Muslims in the cities of Oslo, Bergen, Stavanger and Skien joined the protest
over school courses presenting Christianity as the main religion and giving
little exposure to other beliefs. It was unclear how many stayed home.

Jon Lilletun, who is both Norway's Minister of Education and Church Affairs,
said that parliament was reviewing whether Muslims should be allowed an
exemption to the classes, meant to outline everything from major world
religions to atheism.

But he told NRK radio that anyone in Norway should "know about the culture
which has been here for 1,000 years and the life view we have built up. We
also need to know about the life views of other cultures.''

Norway has a state Lutheran church and many teachers are devout Christians.
Muslims say that Norway is out of line with international conventions with
its focus on Christianity.
[...entire item...]

22. India Tribal Christians To Counter Hindu Zealots
AOL/Reuters, Oct. 23, 1999
Thousands of Christian tribesmen will gather in Calcutta next month to tell
hard-line Hindu groups that they were not lured or coerced by missionaries to
adopt the faith, Christian leaders said Saturday.

The tribals, recent converts to Christianity, will gather for a rally which
coincides with a series of protests organized by Hindu zealots ahead of the
visit of Pope John Paul to New Delhi from November 5 to 8.

Hindu hard-liners accuse Church leaders of using bribes and deceit to convert
ignorant destitutes.

India has 22 million Christians, just over two percent of the population.
"If Christians used force, they would have been 100 percent of the
population after British rule," Mullick said.

23. Ex-S. Baptist Leader Chides Church
Northern Light/AP, Oct. 23, 1999
The Southern Baptist Convention's targeting of Hindus, Jews, and Muslims for
conversion on their holiest days is deliberately aggressive and runs counter
to the spirit of the Gospel, a former convention official said Friday.

"We need to cultivate personal relationships rather than launch a new crusade
that's confrontative and abrasive,'' said Keith Parks, who spent 13 years as
president of the convention's International Mission Board.

Parks compared the efforts to Muslims trying to convert Christians to Islam
at Easter.

Parks makes no apologies for spreading his faith as a missionary in
Indonesia, but he objects to condemning other religions and singling out any
group for conversion.

He said he's not sure Hindus, Jews, and Muslims would like his claim that he
has access to the true God through Jesus Christ, but he said it's essential
that a Christian's descriptions of other faiths be acceptable to members of
those faiths.

24. Dutch propose right-to-die for 12 year olds; doctors opposed.
Detroit News/Reuters, Oct. 22, 1999
The Dutch Royal College of Physicians (KNMG) said on Friday it was unhappy
with draft legislation allowing doctors to perform euthanasia on children as
young as 12 against their parents' will.

KNMG, which is broadly pro-euthanasia, does not object to extending the right
to die on request to children as young as 12 if their parents give consent --
a clause in the bill which has drawn fierce criticism in some circles.

Mercy killing has long been condoned in the Netherlands, but the draft law
aims to clarify a legally grey area where doctors may technically be
prosecuted for murder. It proposes immunity from criminal prosecution for
doctors if they follow strict guidelines when performing euthanasia.

=== False Memory Syndrome
[Story no longer online? Read this]

25. Just who is guilty here?
Boston Globe, Oct. 22, 1999 (Opinion)
We still don't have truth, and that may be the biggest shame, as well as
sham, in the gut-wrenching child sexual abuse case known with painful
simplicity as Fells Acres.

There is absolutely no question that a brutal injustice of epic proportions
was committed, but the question remains: by whom? Was it the three members of
the Amirault family, in the rape and molestation of 40 children in their
Malden day care center? Or was it a group of virulent prosecutors devoid of
common sense and the judges who blindly came to their side?

Bet on the latter, and simply recall the fantastic allegations made by the
children against Violet Amirault, her son, Gerald, and her daughter, Cheryl,
for reasons why.

At Fells Acres, never mind that there was no conclusive physical evidence of
sexual molestation on any of the victims. Never mind that every teacher at
the school denied bearing witness to a single untoward act. Never mind that
the children's interrogators often cajoled the victims for the ''correct
answers'' and bribed them with gifts.

Middlesex County prosecutors drank in what they needed and dismissed what
they didn't.

26. Long chapter in Fells Acres case ends, but nobody wins
Boston Globe, Oct. 22, 1999 (Analysis)
(...) But by the early 1990s, similar day care sexual abuse cases around the
country slowly began to collapse. Wild claims by the children were questioned
and scrutinized. And techniques used to investigate those claims were

As public opinion shifted, supporters began to insist that the Amiraults
themselves were the victims: of public hysteria and ill-trained

Finally yesterday, after recently losing her last appeal to the Supreme
Judicial Court, LeFave struck a deal with the government: She would gain her
freedom, but would forever be known as a convicted child molester. But as
long as Gerald Amirault remains behind bars, serving a 30- to 40-year prison
term for his 1986 conviction for molesting nine children, the case still

There remains suspicion in the eyes of the public that LeFave and her brother
were wrongly convicted by investigative techniques that may have prompted the
children to fabricate stories of sexual abuse.

Undoubtedly, prosecutors' efforts to gag LeFave by barring her from TV
appearances will fuel speculation that they want the case to go away.

27. LeFave granted freedom
Boston Globe, Oct. 22, 1999
(...) While LeFave will not have to serve any more of an 8- to 20-year
sentence, her freedom comes at a price. In a deal with prosecutors designed
to shield the now-grown victims, LeFave agreed not to appear on television to
talk about the case and she cannot profit from her notoriety during her 10
years on probation.

In addition, LeFave, who has been free on appeal since 1995, must drop her
15-year quest to clear her name, a crusade that ended in August when the
state's highest court reinstated her 1987 conviction for child abuse.

Using potentially suggestive interviewing techniques that have since been
retooled, investigators wove a sordid saga of schoolhouse molestation,
including claims that children were tied naked to a tree in the schoolyard
and sexually abused by a clown in a ''magic room.''

In the decade after their convictions, other cases of mass child molestation
crumbled amid concerns that the charges were grounded in group hysteria and
not solid evidence. The tide began to turn, both here and nationally.

Popular opinion and courtroom verdicts shifted away from the
once-unchallenged belief that children always tell the truth - even when
coaxed by investigators or when their claims seem truly unbelievable. The
Fells Acres case became a flashpoint for those who think investigators pushed
too hard and accepted too much.

LeFave's cause has been championed nationally, most notably by the editorial
page of The Wall Street Journal. Dorothy Rabinowitz, a Journal editorial
writer, even helped publicize a fund to pay the legal bills of people, like
LeFave, who say they were wrongly convicted of child abuse.

LeFave said she has accepted the fact that her victims believe she is guilty
and that she is unlikely ever to change their minds. She has given up the
notion of ever speaking to them directly but hopes someday they will
investigate the case themselves.

=== Evolution/Creationism

28. Illinois Erases Evolution Theory In Schools-Paper
Excite/Reuters, Oct. 23, 1999

The Illinois Board of Education has quietly eliminated the term "evolution"
from state school standards adopted two years ago, the Chicago Tribune
reported in its Sunday edition, available Saturday.

The Illinois Board of Education approved standards in July 1997 that
contained no explicit reference to evolution, only the phrase "change over
time," the paper said.

The revised Illinois standards gained attention recently because a Christian
conservative group affiliated with Republican presidential candidate Gary
Bauer is taking credit for influencing the state's decision to exclude the
language, the Tribune article said.

The new standards do not ban the teaching of evolution but leave explicit
mention of it to the discretion of local schools.

=== Noted

29. Feel good about your feng shui consultant
Philadelphia Daily News, Oct. 22, 1999
Practicing feng shui falls into two categories: the do-it-yourselfers and
those who hire help. The more than 200 books in print can help if you want to
go the self-taught route, but choosing a feng shui consultant is a little
trickier, especially now that it's trendy, says Nancilee Wydra, founder of
the Feng Shui Institute of America near Vero Beach, Fla., and a feng shui
consultant since 1974.

There are no industry standards or licensing in feng shui (although Wydra is
working to establish these). There are no professional associations to call
for member referrals. And while some people study feng shui for years, others
take weekend workshops and call themselves consultants.

"So many people just started feng shui yesterday," she warns. "The public has
to be careful."

Wydra has these tips for hiring a consultant:

30. His, hers or ours?
Dallas Morning News, Oct. 23, 1999
Seated before the image of a Tibetan Buddhist female deity, Tsultrim Allione
looks serenely out at the crowd of women who've arrived at the meditation
center from around the country. Four years ago, this respected Buddhist
teacher started the women-only 'Wise and Wise' conference, held annually in
Northern California.

"We're here to explore questions and issues that are unique to us as women,"
she begins. "In Buddhism, we are coming out of a patriarchal tradition, and
each year the conference theme is relevant to us as women.'"

Her thoughts echo those of a woman from a completely different religious
tradition. Mary Graham, an evangelical Christian, is the vice president in
charge of developing the blockbuster Women of Faith conferences, which
attracted more than 300,000 women this year.

"The Christian experience, in our generation and our culture, has been
predominantly male in terms of its leadership," she says. "I think women need
to hear from women. It's important to pull apart and talk to ourselves a
little bit."

This is gender spirituality in the '90s. Across the country, thousands of
women and men are reading books and magazines, crowding conferences and
worshiping in small groups that target their gender.

This explosion, both inside and outside organized religion, crosses faiths,
denominations and ethnicities and includes liberals as well as conservatives.

=== Books

31. Success of Harry Potter bowls author over
CNN, Oct. 21, 1999
J.K. Rowling says she's "still in shock" over the response to her highly
popular Harry Potter books. "I don't think it's really sunk in," Rowling said
Thursday in an interview on CNN.

Her three books exploded on the literary scene in the last year and currently
fill the top three spots in the New York Times bestseller list. Harry Potter
has been on the cover of Time Magazine, which compared the books with
childhood classics like C.S. Lewis' "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe"
and J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit."

And what of the controversy raised by some parents who worry the tale of a
young wizard promotes witchcraft and the occult? Her answer is direct and
unforgiving. "I absolutely did not start writing these books to encourage any
child into witchcraft," she says with an uncomfortable chuckle. "I'm laughing
slightly because to me, the idea is absurd."

"I have met thousands of children now, and not even one time has a child come
up to me and said, 'Ms. Rowling, I'm so glad I've read these books because
now I want to be a witch.' They see it for what it is," she emphasized. "It
is a fantasy world and they understand that completely. "I don't believe in
magic, either," she said.

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