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Religion Items In The News

October 31, 1999 (Vol. 3, Issue 129)

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

Rainbow
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).


=== Falun Gong
1. China Approves Anti-Cult Law
2. Text of Chinese parliament resolution banning "heretic cults"
3. China parliament passes cult law amid protests
4. China passes draconian law to punish Falun Gong
5. Falun Gong States Its Case to the World
6. Falun Gong Changes Tactics, Cops Get Rough
7. China Confronts a Silent Threat
8. Banned in China, Thriving in New York
9. Up-to-date Falun Gong news

=== Scientology
10. Anti-Scientology Foundation Created
11. The Octopus: the trail leads to America
12. Advertisement situation: Mid-city district office steps in The cross has to go!
13. The broker: "For God's Sake!"
14. Scientology - "One can defend oneself"
15. Concerto for dude and orchestra
16. Orange County's 31 Scariest People

=== Hate Groups
17. Austrian police uncover Neo-Nazi group planning a "political coup"

=== Waco/Branch Davidians
18. Government rejects attorney's effort to test if agents used guns at Waco
19. The FBI's sniper under fire

=== Paganism/Wicca
20. Witchcraft Problem in South Africa
21. Witch Exhibition Reveals Dutch Past
22. Spelling class: Teen witches are in the movies, on TV -- and at local high schools
23. Be Witched
24. Pagans say they're not all that different; conclaves brewing in Macomb and nation
25. Witches connect on the Web
26. Halloween is only one of many pagan holidays
27. Halloween: harmless fun or wicked influence?

=== Israel - Deportations
28. Christian doomsday cult members were planning attack on Temple Mount
29. Israel deports 20 over suspected 'doomsday' plotting
30. Israel deports suspected doomsday Christians

=== New Age
31. New Age leaders call for millennium wave of prayer
32. New Age book club

=== Cults - General
33. A date with death
34. FBI Warns Of Millennial Violence Risk

=== Other News
35. Muslim death sentence on playwright
36. Caught in community furor, mayor gives up on proclamations
37. Seekers feel Mary's power
38. Pilgrims still flock to Medjugorje
39. Pope, Dalai Lama Denounce Extremism
40. Churches pull together in secular age
41. Ex-TV evangelist Jim Bakker wants back on the air
42. Lord launches bid to outlaw religious discrimination
43. Rites and wrongs (relious discrimination)
44. Author Plans Mystery Park Attraction (von Daeniken)

=== Religion in the Workplace
45. Religion in the Workplace

=== Noted
46. The Way the World Ends
47. Proselytizing: Christian critics call for limits on Southern Baptist tactics
48. More Hispanics drawn to evangelical faiths
49. US admits torture concerns

=== Books
50. At War With Doubt
51. The shifting shapes of belief: New books survey the religious landscape
52. Free Them! Breaking The Chains Of Cult Mind Control
53. Corporate Cults: The Insidious Lure of the All-Consuming Organization


=== Falun Gong

1. China Approves Anti-Cult Law
Washington Post/AP wire, Oct. 30, 1999
http://search.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/aponline/19991030/aponline072902_000.htm
As Falun Gong followers quietly protested for a sixth defiant day on its
doorstep, China's legislature approved an anti-cult law today to quash the
banned spiritual movement and punish group leaders.

The law was passed 114-0 with two abstentions by the executive committee of
the National People's Congress. It makes leaders of Falun Gong and other
groups labeled cults liable for prosecution for murder, fraud, endangering
national security and other crimes, the government's news agency Xinhua
reported.

With the new law, prosecutors will be able to seek heftier prison terms and
even the death penalty at trials for principal Falun Gong members, expected
in coming weeks.
(...)

The new anti-cult law is a core feature of the government's renewed campaign
against the meditation group, which the government this week officially
branded an "evil cult" - harsher than its earlier consideration as an illegal
organization.

An explanation of the law released by the chief prosecutor's agency and
Supreme People's Court and carried by Xinhua stated that cult leaders could
be charged with murder if followers die after refusing medical treatment - a
key tenet of Falun Gong.
(...)

The new law calls for education for rank-and-file cult followers and
punishment for a small number of cult leaders, Xinhua reported.
[...more...]
Back To Top


2. Text of Chinese parliament resolution banning "heretic cults"
BBC, Oct. 30, 1999
http://news2.thls.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/monitoring/newsid%5F499000/499137.stm
The Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress - or parliament
- on Saturday passed a legislative resolution banning what it described as
"heretic cult organizations".

Without referring to the banned Falun Gong movement by name, the resolution
ordered "severe" measures against the "handful of criminals" who organized
the "cults", while exempting the majority of "deceived" members from
prosecution.

The law called for improved legal education for the whole public and said
that the drive against "cults" went hand in hand with the protection of what
it called "normal religious activities".

The following is the text of the resolution, as published by the official
Chinese news agency Xinhua :
[...more...]
Back To Top


3. China parliament passes cult law amid protests
Yahoo! UK, Oct. 30, 1999
http://uk.news.yahoo.com/991030/1/a6lo.html
(...) Xinhua said the law differentiated between leaders and followers.
"Local governments are asked to take necessary measures to educate those
deceived while punishing a small number of cult leaders and those who have
committed crimes," it said.
(...)

China this week accused 13 Falun Gong leaders of stealing and leaking state
secrets. Although state secrets can be almost anything not officially made
public, the crime can carry the death sentence.
(...)

Adherents deny Falun Gong is a cult, insist it is no threat to the Communist
Party, which has 60 million members, and say they are baffled why they should
be "persecuted" when they are simply striving to be "good people".

Beijing denies persecuting them, saying China is a country ruled by law. But
it says the movement "seduces, brainwashes and blackmails", and vowed to show
no mercy.
(...)

Members follow the teachings of their U.S.-based leader, Li Hongzhi, who
preaches salvation from a world corrupted by science and technology. Li is
fiercely anti-gay.
[...more...]
Back To Top


4. China passes draconian law to punish Falun Gongoffsite
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Nando Times, Oct. 30, 1999
http://www2.nando.net/noframes/story/0,2107,500051409-500084356-500274460-0,00.html
(...) China's Foreign Ministry telephoned several foreign news organizations,
warning them not to contact Falun Gong members. Security agents followed
foreign reporters. One agent carried a travel bag with a hidden camera.
operated by a handheld remote control, the camera's motorized film drive
audibly whirred with every picture taken.

By tightening the law on cults, the communist government sped up the trials
of principal members already in custody. But the need for new measures shows
how threatened Chinese leaders feel by Falun Gong and how undaunted its
followers remain more than three months into a ban on the widely popular
group.

In passing the law 114-0 with two abstentions, senior legislators called
Falun Gong "unprecedented in the 50-year history of the People's Republic in
terms of its size of organization, influence, number of illegal publications
as well as the damages it brought to the society," the government's news
agency, Xinhua, said.
(...)

In a directive issued immediately after passage of the law, China's chief
prosecutors agency and the Supreme People's Court identified as offenses key
activities Falun Gong has been accused of: illegal assembly, resisting bans,
organizing across provincial lines and causing deaths by preventing medical
treatment.

The latter charge would open the way for leading members to be tried for
murder, a death-penalty offense. Falun Gong practitioners are not to take
medicine. The government has blamed the group for 1,400 deaths, many of them
among people who refused to be treated for illnesses.
[...more...]
Back To Top


5. Falun Gong States Its Case to the World
International Herald Tribune, Oct. 29, 1999
http://www.iht.com/IHT/TODAY/FRI/FPAGE/china.2.html
In the face of an official crackdown nationwide, members of the outlawed
Falun Gong spiritual movement held a daring, clandestine press conference
here Thursday for a handful of foreign journalists.

They appealed for international help to protect their civil rights and gave
grim personal details of the persecution they said was being inflicted on
thousands of die-hard believers. The members insisted, against all evidence,
that national leaders would see their movement as wholesome and unthreatening
if they only knew the facts.
(...)

The speakers at Thursday's press conference risked serious criminal charges
for speaking out in an illegal setting. They described a worsening pattern of
arrests and harassment over the last six months that has turned once-upright
citizens into bewildered enemies of the state and sometimes into homeless
fugitives.
(...)

Combining elements of Buddhism, Taoism and traditional qigong exercises that
are said to harness cosmic forces in the body, Falun Gong has been wildly
popular, especially among middle-aged and older people who believe it brings
good health. Mr. Li's writings advocate clean living but also include attacks
on homosexuality and degenerate youth culture, and suggest that practitioners
can attain supernatural powers.
[...more...]
Back To Top


6. Falun Gong Changes Tactics, Cops Get Rough
AOL/Reuters, Oct. 29, 1999
http://www.aol.com/mynews/news/story.adp/cat=01060202&id=1999102901350074
Chinese police dragged members of the outlawed Falun Gong movement out of
Tiananmen Square by the hair Friday, kicking and beating adherents as they
escalated their civil disobedience campaign against a government crackdown.
(...)

In previous days, Falun Gong protests near the Great Hall of the People,
where parliament's top body was meeting to discuss strengthening anti-cult
legislation, were so low key it was easy to miss them.
(...)

While dozens did the same Friday, it was clear from the beginning of Friday's
protests that some had decided to be much bolder following the government's
decision to declare the movement a cult. Cults are illegal in China.
(...)

The United States has criticized the harsh crackdown on Falun Gong and
rejected Beijing's demands to extradite Li, who maintains his group is
apolitical.

The protests by ordinary folk in Tiananmen Square, the political heart of
China, are highly unusual. That they are being sustained is extraordinary.
(...)

"No responsible government will appease a cult. To be merciful or tolerant to
a cult is to trample citizens' human rights," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman
Zhang Qiyue told reporters Thursday.
[...more...]
Back To Top


7. China Confronts a Silent Threat
Washington Post, Oct. 30, 1999
http://search.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/WPlate/1999-10/30/168l-103099-idx.html
(...) The protests are a clear sign that, despite its ban and a subsequent
crackdown, the Communist Party has failed to crush Falun Gong, which is
reputed to have a strong but flexible organization and about 10 million
adherents throughout China. The protests also underscore the willingness of
many followers to endure jail sentences and rough treatment at the hands of
police to further their cause.
(...)

The crackdown shows that the Communist Party is unwilling to bend on the
question of its authority, even though its tough tactics appear not to be
working. Many ordinary Chinese now refer to the crackdown as a "little issue
made big" and scoff at the government's Cultural Revolution-style propaganda
campaign against Falun Gong.
(...)

Chinese analysts in Beijing are split about whether the Falun Gong movement
poses a serious challenge to the government.

To analysts such as Wang Shan, who runs a private research institution in the
capital, Falun Gong is the first mass movement made up mostly of workers and
not controlled by the party since the Communist revolution in 1949. As such,
he said, Falun Gong reflects a deep-seated opposition among many of China's
dispossessed who, over the last few years, have not benefited from economic
reforms. "It represents their alienation from society," he said.

But other analysts, looking to the fact that Falun Gong's leadership is
sprinkled with high ranking, retired military officers and party members,
said they believe the movement represents a broader challenge to the
government.

"Many people, especially older cadres, are bothered by the moral vacuum in
China today," said a senior Western diplomat. "With its Chinese roots and its
emphasis on clean living, Falun Gong has provided a convenient way to express
opposition to the direction the party is taking--toward patronage, corruption
and sleaze."
(...)

The party says Falun Gong is a dangerous cult and blames it for the deaths of
at least 1,400 people. It accuses Falun Gong's leader, Li Hongzhi, a New
York-based martial arts master who says he can cure cancer with a jolt from
his fingertips, of being a charlatan and a scam artist.
[...more...]
Back To Top


8. Banned in China, Thriving in New York
New York Times, Oct. 29, 1999
http://search.nytimes.com/search/daily/bin/fastweb?getdoc+site
+iib-site+19+1+wAAA+cult%7EOR%7Ecults
(...) But even as the Chinese Government continues its campaign to eradicate
Falun Gong from Chinese society because of fears that it has gained cult
status, the movement's popularity in the New York area has continued to grow
among immigrants and Westerners alike. There are about two dozen loosely
organized practice groups in the city of anywhere between 5 and 60 people
each. And nearly 600 followers showed up at an "experience sharing"
conference in upper Manhattan earlier this month.

In many ways, the movement is benefiting from a wave of interest in qigongoffsite
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(pronounced chee-goong), a form of Chinese healing and physical strengthening
that has thousands of years of history and thousands of different styles of
exercise and meditation. Since the early 1990's, a growing number of qigong
classes and centers have emerged across the region as an alternative to yogaoffsite
[Story no longer online? Read this]
or tai chi, or as a means for Chinese immigrants to socialize with one
another.

Yet practitioners of the two spiritual imports find themselves in an awkward
relationship. Followers of Falun Gong describe their practice as a more
enlightened version of qigong. Practitioners of qigong, on the other hand,
cannot seem to distance themselves from Falun Gong fast enough for fear of
being labeled a cult.
(...)

New Yorkers who practice Falun Gong, which combines elements of Buddhism,
Taoism and qigong, are an eclectic bunch. About half the followers are
Chinese, who learned about Falun Gong from friends and relatives in China,
and the rest are a mix of white, black and Hispanic residents, who learned
about the practices at health expositions or from friends.

Like qigong, Falun Gong teaches that exercise and meditation can harness the
body's energy, an intangible force known in Chinese as qi, to improve one's
health.
(...)

But Falun Gong also espouses a philosophy on life that includes a Falun, or
"law wheel," that spins in the abdomen, drawing in good forces and expelling
bad ones. It also suggests that advanced students can gain supernatural
powers like X-ray vision and abnormally long lives.

They describe their practices as an elevated, more enlightened version of
qigong.
(...)

But many practitioners of traditional qigong are extremely wary of being
confused with Falun Gong. They say Falun Gong's emphasis on morality and the
cult of personality surrounding its founder, Li Hongzhi, separates it from
traditional qigong, where the emphasis is on self-help and independence.

Dr. Effie Poy Yew Chow, president of the American Qigong Association and a
consultant on alternative medicine for the National Institutes of Health,
said that while Falun Gong followers are urged to stop taking medicine to
cultivate themselves, "true qigong is about setting people free to make
choices and not dropping everything just to do one thing."

Local followers of Yan Xin qigong, another enormously popular style of qigong
in China and here, were so paranoid about being linked to Falun Gong and
subsequently being targeted by the Chinese Government that they refused to
discuss their practices for publication.
(...)

The Chinese Government created a commission in the early 1990's to try to
regulate and contain the thousands of styles of qigong that had proliferated
in the 1970's and 1980's. In the process, the Government branded a handful of
qigong masters as charlatans, just as it has Li Hongzhi.
(...)

While millions in China seem to have turned to qigong starting in the late
1970's as they searched for new meaning and direction in post-Mao China,
followers in the United States seem drawn to qigong mainly for what they see
as its health benefits. And their ailments can range from insomnia and achy
joints to cancer and other life-threatening diseases.

The American Qigong Association hopes eventually to create training standards
and certification requirements for qigong, much like those now imposed on
acupuncture. Those standards would be a move toward legitimizing qigong in
the United States which, in an odd way, would parallel the Chinese
Government's recent attempts to regulate the myriad of styles in practice
there.
[...more...]
Back To Top


9. Up-to-date Falun Gong news

Rather than list many repetitive Falun Gong news items, I have provided a
cross section. If you want additional items, use these pre-defined news
searches:

http://www.apologeticsindex.org/f02.html#falungongnewsoffsite
[Story no longer online? Read this]


=== Scientology

10. Anti-Scientology Foundation Created
Los Angeles Times, Oct. 30, 1999
http://www.latimes.com/news/state/19991030/t000098470.html
A critic of the Church of Scientology said he is financing a new foundation
named after Lisa McPherson, a Scientologist who died in 1995 while in the
care of the church. Robert S. Minton said he would incorporate the Lisa
McPherson Educational Foundation.

McPherson, 36, suffered a severe mental breakdown 17 days before she died
of a blood clot in her left lung. Her death prompted a wrongful death
lawsuit, filed in Tampa, and criminal charges against the church in Pinellas
County.

Minton's foundation will reach out to disaffected members of the church and
educate the public about what he says are the harmful effects of Scientology.
The new foundation will provide "exit counseling" for people wanting to leave
Scientology, said Minton, who has spent about $2.5 million over the past
three years fighting the church.

At the same time, Scientologists have used McPherson's name in registering
two corporate names. The Lisa Foundation Inc., or the Lisa McPherson
Foundation Inc., would work against the "hate-mongering" and "religious
intolerance" of Minton and his allies, said Bennetta Slaughter, a Clearwater
businesswoman and a Scientologist. She was McPherson's boss and longtime
friend, and will lead the groups.
[...entire item...]

* Regarding "exit counseling," see:
http://www.apologeticsindex.org/e00.html#exitoffsite
[Story no longer online? Read this]

Regarding Lisa McPherson, see:
http://www.lisamcpherson.org/offsite


11. The Octopus: the trail leads to America
Hamburger Morgenpost (Germany), Oct. 29, 1999
Translation: CISAR
http://www.lermanet.com/cisar/991029a.htm
The money- and psycho-sect of Scientology celebrated the acquisition of its
new center on Dom Street by city hall on Monday with many Scientologists who
were flown in for the occasion. The MoPo [this newspaper] has now found out:
the trail of the Scientology Octopus leads across the Atlantic towards the
USA, to Washington.

"We're all going to Hamburg! The International Association of Scientologists
is handing over the new Org!" David Miscavige, President of the "Religious
Technology Center" and sovereign ruler of Scientology, betrayed with these
words at a sect celebration in Great Britain last Sunday that the new Hamburg
branch was openly operating on instructions from headquarters in Los Angeles
- apparently the crumbling German organization was no longer entrusted with
the new building.

The MoPo did some research: the new, not quite 20 million mark building on 9
Dom Street is currently in possession of the "Waterfront
Grundstuecksverwaltungsgesellschaft mbH".
[...more...]
Back To Top


12. Advertisement situation: Mid-city district office steps in The cross has to go!
Hamburger Morgenpost, Oct. 29, 1999
Translation: CISAR
http://www.lermanet.com/cisar/991029c.htm
The Scientology symbol can be seen all the way from the corners of Moenckberg
and Berg streets: their big, self-styled cross hangs many meters tall on the
new sect center on Dom Street, adorned with the controversial label
"Scientology Kirche". The mid-city district office does not intend to put up
with that.

Background: as an advertisement, that type of facade alteration has to have a
permit, said Claudia Eggert, speaker for the district office. The
Scientologists, however, have not submitted an application and are acting
entirely on their own: "That is clearly not allowed and will be treated as an
ordinance violation."
[...more...]
Back To Top


13. The broker: "For God's Sake!"
Hamburger Morgenpost (Germany), Oct. 28, 1999
Translation: CISAR
http://www.lermanet.com/cisar/991028b.htm
Real estate agent Christian Voelkers showed he was appalled upon being
addressed by the Hamburger Morgenpost about a particularly explosive deal,
"For God's sake!" His agency, "Engel & Voelkers" had arranged the deal with
the building on Dom Street for the new Scientology lessor, "Waterfront."

The Hamburg brokerage firm had already been approached in 1998 by a U.S.
investor - a staff member had acquired a "first-class lawyer's office" as a
party interested in the property at 9 Dom Street: "everything was run through
Washington." "Not one word" had been mentioned about Scientologists moving
in. "We have the policy of not doing business with Scientologists. We do not
sell to them." The deal will not be undone: Voelker can keep his commission.

Industry experts are surprised that the seller, the VITA Swiss life insurance
company, is parting from the 1a property. The selling price was not quite 20
million marks, and had been rated as relatively high. The Hamburg
Scientologists had given their limit as five million marks in looking for a
building. This indicates that there may be investors from other countries
involved.
[...entire item...]


14. Scientology - "One can defend oneself"
Hamburger Morgenpost (Germany), Oct. 27, 1999
Translation: CISAR
http://www.lermanet.com/cisar/991027a.htm
It was a secret affair, carried out undercover. From November 27, the
Scientologists are operating out of a new center - in the vicinity of city
hall, of all places. MOPO [this newspaper] learned that the owner of the sect
temple on Dom Street is the "Waterfront Grundstuecksverwaltungsgesellschaft
mbH." The neighbors downtown are anxious.

Ursula Caberta, Scientology commissioner in the Hamburg Interior agency,
warns of a new offensive by the U.S. organization, which has been accused of
brainwashing and avarice. She reports on opposition to it in an interview.
(...)

MOPO:
Are the Scientologists liquid enough to finance such a large project over the
long term?

Caberta:
I have considerable doubts about that. A lot of financially powerful people
have left them, including leading financiers from the real estate market. If
the new lessor has been looking at the press, he has to know that the main
reason Scientology had to leave the building on Steindamm was unpaid rent.
(...)

MOPO:
Are the Scientologists carrying out a new offensive?

Caberta:
Yes. They are starting out in the USA again and have made an effort to get a
resolution against Germany into the U.S. Congress. They are trying to defame
Germany. But that also shows that they are not doing well here. Our
impression was that there were more foreign Scientologists at their
demonstration in Hamburg than there were German.
[...more...]
Back To Top


15. Concerto for dude and orchestra
The Independent (England), Oct. 29, 1999
http://www.independent.co.uk/enjoyment/Music/Classy/concerto291099.shtml
(...) The transition can't be easy; even for a pianist with Corea's technical

prowess.
(...)

Has Corea had to train a different part of his mind to interpret someone
else's work?

"That's a strange comment to me. Mind wandering on stage means boring, or
something. But we're talking metaphysics now. And, do you want to define
mind? Remember you're talking to a Scientologist. In fact, without any
technical terms, I find that when I'm performing the best possible state of
mind is no thoughts at all, just action. Anything other than that is a
distraction."

Chick Corea's association with Scientology stretches back to 1968 and is
well-known. In America there are high-profile Scientologists in most aspects
of arts and entertainment. In Europe, Corea's religious beliefs have been
treated with suspicion, and so the fact that his own piano concerto is
"dedicated to the spirit of religious freedom" probably won't go unnoticed.
[...more...]
Back To Top


16. Orange County's 31 Scariest People
Orange County Weekly, Oct. 29 - Nov. 4, 1999
http://www.ocweekly.com/ink/00/08/supplement.shtml
(...)

12. JACKIE PANZIK
One of the many mysterious arms of the Church of Scientology, the Citizen's
Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) takes out ads in the Pennysaver, rents a
room on the bottom floor of Garden Grove Medical Center, and periodically
breaks loose with a slide presentation extolling the evils of the corrupt and
conspiratorial psychiatry industry. It's a well-rehearsed show, complete with
violent and disturbing slides and complicated overhead transparencies direct
from L. Ron Hubbard's Los Angeles office. According to Jackie Panzik,
organizer of the OC chapter, the show offers abundant evidence that
psychiatrists everywhere are playing backgammon with our brains--almost always
with perilous results. But that ain't the scary part. What makes Panzik scary
is the fact that after shocking the audience into slack-jawedness, she and
her group slyly offer what they believe is an escape from our destined
shrink-induced stupor: Scientology. She doesn't do so explicitly, mind you,
but deftly, in a style that can only be described as L. Ronian. All books and
brochures on display at the meeting are published by the church's own
publishing house, Bridge Publications Inc. And there are always a few
strangely well-informed attendees seated among first timers to share shock
and outrage and then help them make sense of the group's ideas. But to anyone
finding themselves at a CCHR meeting, we say: be afraid. Be very afraid. The
Church of Scientology really doesn't want you to surrender your mind to
psychiatrists. They want it for themselves. MITIGATING FACTOR: Scientology is
a church, and who could ever be afraid of a church?
[...more, but the above is the only section dealing with COS...]


=== Hate Groupsoffsite
[Story no longer online? Read this]

17. Austrian police uncover Neo-Nazi group planning a "political coup"
Trib.com, Oct. 29, 1999
http://www.trib.com/HOMENEWS/FORN/Nazis.html
A neo-Nazi group planning a "political coup" in Austria was uncovered in the
province where Adolf Hitler was born, police said today. Most of the eight
unidentified ringleaders have been arrested and a total of 69 people have
been questioned in connection with the group, police said, according to the
Austrian Press Agency.
(...)

The discovery follows an international stir over the recent electoral success
of the far right-wing Freedom Party. The party's leader, Joerg Haider, has
denied any links to neo-Nazi groups but has described Waffen SS members as
"men of character."
(...)

The suspects maintained contacts with convicted neo-Nazis in Austria and
like-minded people in Germany, the Czech Republic, Britain and the United
States, Herwig Haidinger, a senior police officer, told reporters in Linz.
[...more...]
Back To Top


=== Waco/Branch Davidians

18. Government rejects attorney's effort to test if agents used guns at Waco
Dallas Morning News, Oct. 27, 1999
http://dallasnews.com/specials/waco/1027waco1waco.htm.htm
Government lawyers have rejected a Texas attorney's challenge to join a
scientific field test that he has said would prove that federal agents fired
at the Branch Davidian compound near Waco just before it burned in 1993.

The federal lawyers sent a caustic letter Monday declining to participate in
tests designed to show how airborne infrared cameras similar to those used by
the FBI during the siege might have recorded the thermal signatures of
gunfire.
(...)

Michael Caddell, a Houston lawyer representing Branch Davidians in a
wrongful-death case against the federal government, said the refusal is more
evidence that the government's lawyers are treating his and other efforts to
determine what happened near Waco "as some sort of game."

He said the decision was particularly disturbing because outside
investigators who recently began re-examining the 1993 incident have
expressed interest in such a test, including House and Senate committees and
the office of independent counsel John Danforth.

"Your refusal to participate in efforts to arrive at the truth of what
happened . . . will clearly be interpreted by many as an admission of
liability and a continuance of the government's stonewalling," Mr. Caddell
wrote in response to the Justice Department.
(...)

FBI officials have refused to reveal any technical information about their
camera to the media or even to Mr. Caddell's experts, citing law-enforcement
secrecy issues. Experts have said that information is crucial to any accurate
scientific assessment of the infrared videos.
[...more...]
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19. The FBI's sniper under fire
US News & World Report, Nov. 8, 1999
http://www.usnews.com/usnews/issue/991108/horiuchi.htm
(...) The man in the Sierra 1 sniper post at Waco and the Sierra 4 post at
Ruby Ridge was FBI marksman Lon Tomohisa Horiuchi. Over the past seven years,
he has become the most controversial law enforcement officer in America. For
most of that time, the 45-year-old West Point graduate and former infantry
officer has been in courtrooms or preparing his defense. At Ruby Ridge,
Horiuchi shot and killed Weaver's wife, Vicki, 43, as she held their
10-month-old daughter behind the door of their cabin. He also shot and
wounded Weaver, 44, and his friend, Kevin Harris. At Waco, some 80 members of
the Branch Davidian religious sect perished after the FBI and other law
enforcement agencies moved to end the 51-day siege.

Now it's Horiuchi who is in the crosshairs. He is the only individual
defendant still left in the wrongful death civil lawsuit filed by Branch
Davidians and their survivors against the federal government. His attorneys
say he is innocent, that he "didn't take any shots whatsoever at Waco." But
Houston lawyer Michael Caddell, who represents some of the Davidians, says
the group has "specific evidence" showing that Horiuchi did fire his weapon.
Earlier this year, a federal judge in Waco ruled that the Davidians had
uncovered "at least some evidence to support their claim" that Horiuchi fired
into the burning building.

How did this 15-year FBI veteran, the son of another U.S. Army officer, wind
up in such a legal quagmire? What caused this husband and father, a
politically conservative Catholic who homeschools some of his six children,
to become such a figure of hatred? Horiuchi's actions at Waco and Ruby Ridge
have been documented in great detail. Perhaps it is the significance militia
groups have attached to both events, rather than the events themselves, that
has intensified the focus on him. For now at least, Horiuchi is not saying.
His attorneys have counseled silence, and that seems to be Horiuchi's
preferred response in any case.
[...more...]
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=== Paganism/Witchcraft

20. Witchcraft Problem in South Africa
Northern Light/AP, Oct. 30, 1999
http://library.northernlight.com/EA19991030210000048.html?cb=0&dx=1006&sc=0
(...) The arson attack Sept. 20 in this dirt-road village 215 miles north of
Johannesburg was one of a rash of witchcraft-related crimes in recent months
that has authorities worried. Sharpening the concern is the arrival of spring
rains, bearing destructive lightning and charges that witches conjured up the
jagged bolts.

Such ideas are not new in this society, where belief in "muti" -- the power
of magic -- is strong and traditional healers are a respected and established
group. Hundreds of witchcraft accusations are reported every year and police
have recorded about 600 killings in Northern Province since 1990.

The violence has declined in the past several years, but not the number of
witchcraft reports.
[...more...]
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21. Witch Exhibition Reveals Dutch Past
Northern Light/AP, Oct. 29, 1999
http://library.northernlight.com/EC19991029310000054.html?cb=0&dx=1006&sc=0
(...) The De Stratemakerstoren Museum, tucked away in the turret of a 16th
century garrison, is conjuring up images of a dark era for the Dutch: the
executions of scores of alleged witches in the 1400s and 1500s, many of them
guilty of nothing more than eccentricity.

And although Holland doesn't celebrate Halloween, the museum's latest
exhibition also chronicles the resurgence of witchcraft in modern society.
(...)

But as movies like "The Blair Witch Project" and "The Craft" help
cultivate a renewed interest in witching ways, it's clear that history hasn't
seen its last witch yet.

"People aren't satisfied anymore with their religions, their symbols," De
Mul said. "They're going back to the older signs of nature. You can see it
happening all over the world; witches are coming back."
[...more...]
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22. Spelling class: Teen witches are in the movies, on TV -- and at local high schools
Sacramento Bee, Oct. 29, 1999
http://www.sacbee.com/lifestyle/news/lifestyle01_19991029.html
(...) No matter how much black she wears, Hana is a witch because it feels
right, not because she loved last week's episode of "Sabrina the Teenage
Witch." Hana and other teens say they're drawn to Wicca's morals and
spirituality, because it gives them a voice. And they accept the fact that
being a witch gives their fellow students reason to voice disapproval.
(...)

But no matter how many Hollywood witches there are, they were not the
motivating factor behind Hana's decision to study witchcraft. She was drawn
to the Wiccan faith by blood -- and not in an icky way. Rather, the religion
is something of a family tradition. Hana lives with her mother and
half-sister. Hana's mother is also a witch, the high priestess of a local
coven.

Her mother, Malcha, who asked to be called by her Wiccan pseudonym, was one
of two witches to lead an open circle at the Unitarian Universalist Community
Church last Sunday. In a room filled with mist and dim candlelight, Malcha
and her male counterpart guided about 60 participants on a journey into the
land of the ancestors so that they might communicate with deceased loved
ones.
(...)

At the time, Malcha told her daughter about the most basic elements of the
faith -- that Wiccans worship the Earth, as well as male and female deities
who promote love. But as Hana grew, her lessons became more detailed. Her
mother told her that Wicca is a pantheistic religion that encourages its
members to choose what gods best suit their spiritual needs. As a
nature-based worship, Wicca celebrates polarity, the light and dark sides of
all things.
(...)

She says at the age of 10 she began going to every Wiccan ritual. Well, maybe
not every ritual. "She's just talking about public rituals," Malcha says.
"Hana is too young to be a Wiccan, but she can call herself a witch.
Witchling, I call her.

"Anybody can read a book and be a witch," she explains. "The title, Wiccan,
assumes you've been initiated." There are age requiremnts that go with
initiation, which means teens traditionally can't be Wiccans. But to sidestep
the issues, many teenagers dabble in the Craft on their own as solitary
witches.

They do this by checking an array of Internet sites and self-help books,
including the "Teen Witch: Wicca for a New Generation."

The book, written for 10-to 17-year-olds, has sold 78,561 copies since its
1998 release, making it Llewellyn Publications' third best seller, says Lisa
Braun, a publicity manager for the 95-year-old Minnesota-based publishing
house.
(...)

RavenWolf, the author of a series of books on witchcraft, including "To Ride
a Silver Brromstick" and "To Stir a Magick Cauldron," wrote the book for her
four children, whose ages range from 13 to 20.
[...more...]
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23. Be Witched
San Francisco Chronicle, Oct. 29, 1999
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/1999/10/29/CC71063.DTL
(...) What brings these witches of Contra Costa together is educational
rather than ceremonial concerns. They have come out of the broom closet, so
to speak, to teach the uninitiated and the curious all about the enchanting
world of witchcraft, Wicca, paganism and other forms of goddess worship. They
won't cast spells on this night, merely dispel stereotypical depictions of
this old-time religion that predates Christianity.
(...)

The witches giggle, nod knowingly. These self-described priestesses have
heard it all before, all that Grimms Fairy Tale hooey. They set Jessica
straight. They tell her that witchcraft -- these practitioners, by the way,
prefer to use the traditional term rather than the more New Agey name Wicca
-- is a nature-based religion featuring many gods and goddesses. Far from
being satanic, paganism honors the seasons and phases of the moon through
ritual that, yes, occasionally involves magic.
(...)

"There was a poll taken by a (metaphysical) store in Contra Costa about five
years ago, to see how many pagans there were in the county," Lockhart says.
"There were 3,000 who signed up. And it's probably twice as many now, since
there are a lot of solitaries out there who aren't open about it. But they
are out there."
(...)

Don't call Steve Corum a warlock. He is a witch, the chief godhi (lawgiver)
of an Asatru circle based in Walnut Creek. If you call him --or, for that
matter, any priest in pagan or heathen traditions -- a warlock, it's
considered highly offensive. "Very derogatory," Corum says. "Warlock
means oath- breaker."

Seven years ago, Corum converted from Christianity to Asatru (meaning "speak
the truth" in old Icelandic). This traditional Norse religion is similar to
Wicca, says Corum. But he says it is decidely more male-centered.

"Most pagan religions are very feminine-heavy, but in Norse, we emphasize
more the divine marriage between gods and goddesses," Corum says. "But we
still give reverence to the old (religion). We're honest in our affairs with
family, kindred. We believe in the Three Fold Law, that any negative spell
you send out comes back to you three times negative."

Corum says the Norse tradition differs from Wicca and other pagan religions
in two respects:

-- Norse followers prefer to describe themselves as heathens, not pagans
Corum says they use the term to refer to those from Germanic cultures.

-- Norse followers are not pacificists. "We are peace-loving, but there are
times when you have to draw blood," he says. "You don't go looking for
conflict, but you don't back down. That's not what Wicca believes. It's more
fuzzy-bunny, light, light stuff. We're hard-core warrior."
(...)

We asked witches in Contra Costa and Cheryl Cabot of the Witches' League for
Public Awareness in Salem, Mass., to dispel assumptions about witchcraft,
Wicca and paganism. Here are their answers:
[...more...]
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24. Pagans say they're not all that different; conclaves brewing in Macomb and nation
Detroit Free Press, Oct. 28, 1999
http://www.freep.com/news/religion/qpagan28.htm
Just in time for Halloween, thousands of real witches, shamans, druids and
other devotees of ancient Earth-based religions are staging a nationwide
"coming out" demonstration. A series of simultaneous pagan gatherings Friday
and Saturday will stretch from the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C., to
Freedom Hill Park in Macomb County -- to Chicago, Cincinnati and Des Moines,
Iowa. The events are called Blessed Be and Meet Me, a name chosen to convey a
peaceful invitation to find out about a religious movement that is rarely
seen in public.
(...)

The fact that pagans can successfully hold such a nationwide event is a sign
of the movement's maturity, said Starhawk of San Francisco, the author of
seven books on paganism and the best-known witch in the United States. Twenty
years ago, her book "The Spiral Dance" helped to rejuvenate nature-based
religion.
(...)

Religious scholars disagree about whether the estimated 250,000-500,000
modern U.S. pagans are direct descendants of ancient pre-Christian religions
-- or are carving out a new religion based on elements they've collected from
the past.

"This is really the revival of pre-Christian nature traditions," said Andras
Corban Arthen, director of the EarthSpirit Community in Williamsburg, Mass.,
a pagan educational group. "There was an erosion of this type of culture
through the centuries, but it never really died. In a lot of places, it
remained alive in the guise of folklore. "Now, we're seeing a revival
primarily of the Celtic and Germanic traditions," he said.
(...)

Isaac Bonewitz, the keynote speaker at the Washington event, sees it
differently. "There are pagans who tell you they believe their tradition
goes all the way back in an unbroken line to the Stone Age, but I think
that's a little far-fetched," said Bonewitz, who was born in Royal Oak and
later crisscrossed the country studying paganism and writing several books
about it.

"I would say most forms of paganism are new religious movements that are in
search of roots that go back to Celtic and Germanic peoples. And that's
normal.... Creating new religions is a wonderful human art form."
[...more...]
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25. Witches connect on the Web
USA Today, Oct. 27, 1999
http://www.usatoday.com/life/cyber/tech/review/crg527.htm
(...) Real witches -- neo-pagans who practice earth-based religions,
including Wicca -- are using the Internet to dispel Halloween stereotypes and
myths about their practices.

"We were clearly one of the few religious groups to embrace the Internet with
a passion from the beginning," says Fritz Jung of The Witches' Voice
(www.witchvox.comoffsite), the largest site for the neo-pagan community. It was
launched in April 1996. Before the Internet, Jung, who turns 48 on
Halloween, says there were about 300,000 witches and Wiccans in the USA. Now
there are closer to 1 million, most of them women.

"The Internet has been a fabulous vehicle for the pagan community," Jung
says. Before the Web, "we were very fragmented with no national
communication. The Net blew this spiritual path wide open."
(...)

"We see ourselves as a clearinghouse for information," says Walker, 48, who
describes herself as "an old-fashioned, practical-magic witch." Every day,
she scours Web-based newspapers, looking for anti-witchcraft sentiment in the
news, which she posts on her site. She also offers visitors advice dealing
with issues such as religious discrimination in the workplace.
[...more...]
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26. Halloween is only one of many pagan holidays
Excite/U-WIRE, Oct. 27, 1999
http://news.excite.com/news/uw/991027/university-183
(...) The festivities at the end of October are not only tradition for Chico
students, but also for pagans celebrating Samhain. This is the pagan New Year
and just one of eight pagan holidays that complete the Wheel of the Year. The
duration of Samhain is from Oct. 31 to Nov. 1.
(...)

Pike said the recent upstart of paganism, called neopaganism, combines vague
Celtic rituals with modern inventions such as social awareness and
counterculture ideals. Pike said neopaganism has only been around since the
1960s but its following is rapidly increasing.
(...)

Chico State student Misty Summer Plant said she was attracted to paganism
because of its nontraditional nature. She said she sees paganism and
Christianity at odds because Christians must follow strict outlines stated in
The Bible, and pagans are free to believe and do what they want to do.
(...)

Huge bonfires are an important characteristic of pagan festivals, and the
Burning Man festival, held every summer at the Black Rock Desert in Nevada,
seems like it fits in this category. At this event, a 50-foot-tall effigy is
burned to the ground while more than 10,000 participants gather around in
awe. However, according to the official Burning Man Web site, it is not.
(...)

For more information on the "social experiment" that is Burning Man, check
out http://www.burningman.com.
[...more...]
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27. Halloween: harmless fun or wicked influence?
Bergen Record, Oct. 28, 1999
http://www.bergen.com/home/round28199910283.htm
(...) The contemporary celebration of Halloween has its roots in Samhain, the
Celtic harvest festival and New Year celebration. On this day, the ancient
Celts believed that the souls of those who had died during the year were
allowed to enter the land of the dead. During Samhain eve, considered the
night of the wandering dead, the Celts left food and drink for masked
revelers and lit bonfires. Modern-day Wiccans and other neo-Pagans continue
to celebrate this ancient feast.

In the Christian tradition, the Celts' wandering spirits came to be
associated with the devil and evil spirits. On the Western Christian
calendar, Halloween falls on the eve of All Saints Day. On this feast day,
all Roman Catholics are required to attend Mass. The holiday began May 13,
609, when Pope Boniface IV dedicated the Pantheon in Rome to the Virgin Mary.
Pope Gregory III, who reigned from 731 to 741, changed the date to Nov. 1,
when he dedicated a chapel in honor of All Saints in the Vatican Basilica.
Pope Gregory IV, who reigned from 827 to 844, extended the feast to the whole
church. In the Eastern Orthodox tradition, All Saints Day has no connection
with Halloween. The feast is celebrated in spring, the Sunday after
Pentecost.
[...more...]
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=== Israel - Deportations

28. Christian doomsday cult members were planning attack on Temple Mount
IsraelWire, Oct. 29, 1999
http://www.israelwire.com/New/991029/99102921.html
(...) The police stated that the cultists arrested this week are not the same
as the "concerned Christian" cult members arrested and deported last year,
who wanted to commit suicide in Israel. The police received intelligence
reports that the recent group of Christian cult members planned provocations.
Among those arrested are women and children, who will be deported soon.

The police believe that many more cult members have arrived in Israel and are
hiding in areas under PLO Authority (PA) jurisdiction. The police are
involved in gathering intelligence information about the groups, and hope for
cooperation with the PA in the matter.
[...more...]
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29. Israel deports 20 over suspected 'doomsday' plotting
Bergen Record, Oct. 29, 1999
http://www.bergen.com/morenews/israel199910291.htm
In its third operation against Christian doomsday groups in a year, Israel on
Thursday began deporting 20 foreigners suspected of planning violent acts for
the millennium year.
(...)

On Monday, Israel arrested 17 Americans, two Britons, and two Australians,
all members of the House of Prayer and Solomon's Temple groups, on the Mount
of Olives.
(...)

The 20 deportees said they provided only housing to needy Christians and
guided tours around the Old City of Jerusalem. Some of them had lived in
Israel for some time. But police say they were suspected of laying the
infrastructure for apocalyptic groups to take root on the Mount of Olives,
where tradition says Jesus first will arrive at the Second Coming. "Israeli
police have information that the deportees pose a threat to public order,"
said the Interior Ministry statement.

Eleven of those detained Monday had appealed their deportation to the
Interior Ministry, but the petitions were rejected Thursday and arrangements
made for the deportations.

Some of the Americans slated for deportation had destroyed their passports
and needed new travel documents, Yaffe said.
[...more...]
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30. Israel deports suspected doomsday Christians
AOL/Reuters, Oct. 28, 1999
http://www.aol.com/mynews/news/story.adp/cat=01060605&id=1999102812374881
(...) Police said those slated for deportation included Brother David, leader
of the House of Prayer group, and another man named Brother Solomon, head of
the Temple group.

Brother David, an American who said he came to Jerusalem to have "front-row
seats" for the Second Coming, told Reuters in a telephone call from prison
Wednesday that Israeli authorities knew him better than to think he would
commit any violence. "I've lived here for 20 years," he said. "We're not
going to be deported."

Rabbi David Rosen, director of the Israel office of the U.S.-based
Anti-Defamation League, which works to combat anti-Semitism and prejudice,
expressed concern about sweeping generalizations about Christian millennium
pilgrims.

"From what we know of these people, whatever one may think of their ideology
or theology, there has been no indication that there has been any imminent
danger," he said.
[...more...]
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=== New Age

31. New Age leaders call for millennium wave of prayer
Excite/Reuters, Oct. 29, 1999
http://news.excite.com/news/r/991029/20/millennium-prayer
Leaders of the "New Age" spiritual development movement are calling for
"wave" of prayer around the world on New Year's Eve -- with prayers spoken,
sung, chanted or even typed into the electronic realm of Cyberspace.

Best-selling author James Redfield, whose "Celestine Prophesy" series created
numerous spiritual support groups, says the aim of the mass prayer is to do
nothing less than "heal the world."

Redfield, in a telephone interview with Reuters on Friday, said he hopes the
moment of prayer that he and other spiritually concerned people are calling
for will turn into the biggest ecumenical prayer vigil ever.
(...)

Celebrities such as actor LeVar Burton and Marianne Williamson, the founder
of Detroit-based Church of Today will lead prayer groups at various spots
around the country which will be broadcast live on the Internet via
Redfield's Web site, www.celestinevison.com. Burton will be broadcasting live
from Walt Disney World in Orlando, Redfield said.
(...)

Many celebrities and spiritual leaders are coming on board as sponsors, said
Redfield. He is starting on Monday promotion of his newest book, "The Secret
of Shambhala," the third in a runaway bestselling series of novels about an
ongoing quest.
[...more...]
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32. New Age book club
Birmingham News, Oct. 29, 1999
http://www.al.com/news/birmingham/Oct1999/29-e295477b.html
With 10 million copies of The Celestine Prophecy in print and 6 million of
its sequel, The Tenth Insight, spiritual novelist James Redfield has become
an international celebrity.
(...)

"What I see myself doing is trying to chronicle and illustrate what I believe
is a budding spiritual renaissance emerging all over the world and crossing
all religions," Redfield said. "I'm trying to look at human culture and what
people are moving to next."

His third novel, The Secret of Shamb-hala, continues the Celestine series
with an adventure into the mythological utopian community of Shambhala, part
of Tibetan Buddhist lore. "Shambhala is where people know how to pray to
uplift the world," Redfield said.
(...)

"There's a prayer field we create at all times," Redfield said. "We're really
praying all the time." That energy must be used to solve the problems of the
world, he said. "Living a higher spiritual awareness is our call, our
challenge."

Science is only beginning to address the power of prayer by studying the
health of patients who have been prayed for, Redfield said. "Our spiritual
intuition is that of course prayer works," he said. "If prayer works,
influence across space by the mind works."
(...)

His wife, Salle Merrill Redfield, has followed him into publishing with her
books The Joy of Meditating and the newly released Creating a Life of Joy.
The success of Redfield's books increased the demand for spiritual writing
and helped Mrs. Redfield sell 100,000 copies of her first book.
(...)

Redfield notes that there were similiar fanciful spiritual books long before
he got on the scene, such as Richard Bach's Illusions and Carlos Castaneda's
series on Native American spirituality. But he has been a primary force in
the establishment of a genre called visionary fiction. "I made it more
universal across cultures," Redfield said.
[...more...]
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=== Cults - General

33. A date with death
The Guardian, Oct. 27, 1999
http://www.newsunlimited.co.uk/g2/story/0,3604,96156,00.html
While most people will be partying in the new millennium, some will be
preparing for doomsday.
(...)

In the US, heightened surveillance is being carried out on the scores of
fringe religious sects and religiously influenced armed militia groups spread
out among the villas of California and hilltop bunkers in the Bible Belt. At
the weekend, British police officers will be briefed by US colleagues on how
to avoid the mistakes the FBI made at Waco. And in Israel, expected to be the
destination for hordes of Christian pilgrims as Christmas and New Year
approach, they are getting tough.

On Monday, 21 members of two Christian groups, the House of Prayer and
Solomon's Temple - three of them Britons - were arrested by police as posing
"a danger to public safety".
(...)

Perhaps the Israelis are right to be cautious. Their most fearful vision is a
terrible one: a clash or a conspiracy bringing together Christians convinced
that the foretold violent, chaotic time of tribulation preceding the second
coming has begun; ultra-radical Jews who yearn to see the ancient Temple of
Jerusalem restored; and Muslims, seeking to protect the Dome of the Rock, the
third holiest place in Islam.

But are the Israeli authorities, in fact, in danger of provoking the very
crisis they are trying to prevent?
(...)

"I'm not sure these identified groups are going to be the source of any
trouble," said Brenda Brasher, an associate of the Boston-based Centre for
Millenial Studies.
"I think the greatest source of trouble is going to be the
lone individual, like Timothy McVeigh, who identifies with these groups but
doesn't belong to them. In this Israeli situation, these loners who read
about the expulsions - who knows how they're going to react? I don't want to
fuel that sort of paranoia."

Brasher knows the leaders of the two latest groups to be arrested, Brother
David and Brother Solomon, well. Both, she feels, are at worst harmless, at
best generous workers for the poor - like the group of mainly Irish Roman
Catholic pilgrims turned away from Haifa earlier this month.
(...)

The first group to be expelled from Israel, Concerned Christians, was less
benign. Fourteen members of the cult, including six children, were deported
by plane to Toronto in January after police raided the two homes in Jerusalem
where they were staying. No charges were laid, but police said the cult had
been planning acts of violence in the Old City in the days leading up to the
new year, and might have staged a mass suicide attempt.
(...)

Some radical US websites - the Internet has become a key medium for extremist
groups to spread their messianic message - predict that a central part of the
time of tribulation will be a wholesale slaughter of Christians by Muslims.
The authorities dread action in Jerusalem's old city to try to provoke the
Muslim community.
[...more...]
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34. FBI Warns Of Millennial Violence Risk
Washington Post, Oct. 31, 1999
http://search.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/WPlate/1999-10/31/179l-103199-idx.html
The FBI is warning police chiefs across the country that it has discovered
evidence of religious extremists, racists, cults and other groups preparing
for violence as New Year's Eve approaches and is urging law enforcement
agencies to view the dawn of the next millennium as a catalyst for criminal
activities.

The FBI says those most likely to perpetrate violence are motivated either by
religious beliefs relating to the Apocalypse, or are New World Order
conspiracists convinced the United Nations has a secret plan to conquer the
world.

In a 34-page report prepared by the bureau's domestic terrorism unit, the FBI
says some members of militias and racist groups, including one called
"Christian Identity" and another called "Odinism," are acquiring weapons and
surveying targets in anticipation of the millennium.

FBI officials plan to brief law enforcement officials about the millennial
threat at a closed-door meeting of the International Association of Chiefs of
Police in North Carolina on Tuesday.
(...)

Neil Gallagher, head of the FBI's national security division, said in an
interview that the bureau is not predicting that terrorism or violence will
occur on or around Jan. 1. Instead, he said the report is aimed at making
local law enforcement officials "more sensitive" to the heightened security
risks posed by the year 2000. He also said the public needs to be "aware but
not scared" of such threats. The report says the risks will increase as Jan.
1 approaches.

"If a cult sells its property and personal effects and purchases guns and
explosives, we need to be more concerned about what that cult will do on
January 1," Gallagher said.
(...)

The report is the result of a nine-month intelligence-gathering effort called
"Project Megiddo" by the bureau's domestic terrorism unit, which also relied
on information gathered by agents in FBI field offices. The effort is
intended to serve as a "strategic assessment" of the potential for domestic
terrorism linked directly to the coming millennium, rather than a general
assessment of the terrorist environment.
(...)

In its report, the FBI describes several groups that it says have some
members that pose a violent threat. "Christian Identity" followers,
comprising loosely knit groups throughout the country, are "ardently opposed
to race mixing" and believe that the "white Aryan race is God's chosen race."
Christian Identity provides the "unifying theology" for a number of
"right-wing" groups that pose a threat, the report says. "Odinists" also
adhere to a white supremacist ideology and can be dangerous because many
members believe in becoming "martyrs for the cause," the report says.

Fringe members of the Aryan Nations white supremacist group may pose a threat
because extremist members will not necessarily adhere to their leader Richard
Butler's public renunciation of violence, according to the FBI. In addition,
radical U.S. members of a group called the "Black Hebrew Israelites," who are
proponents of "an extreme form of black supremacy," also pose a threat.

"Current intelligence from a variety of sources indicates that extreme
factions of [Black Hebrew Israelites] groups are preparing for a race war to
close the millennium," the FBI report says.

While most of the report focuses on domestic threats, an entire portion is
devoted to Jerusalem, where the FBI says an influx of tourists making
pilgrimages and millennial cults will add to the danger.
(...)

The FBI's Gallagher, who declined to release a copy of the report, said the
bureau is in the process of distributing the study to police chiefs and is
considering making public a redacted version on its Web site.
[...more...]
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=== Other News

35. Muslim death sentence on playwright
The Guardian, Oct. 30, 1999
http://www.newsunlimited.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,3604,97815,00.html
A fatwa has been issued on a playwright whose work portrays Jesus Christ as a
homosexual crucified as the King of Queers. Terrence McNally, author of the
controversial play Corpus Christi, which opened in London on Thursday night,
was sentenced to death by a Muslim cleric.

The shari'ah court of the UK issued the fatwa, saying McNally had insulted
the Messenger Issa (Jesus), who is a prophet in the Koran. Signed by Omar
Bakri Muhammad, one of the voices of extreme Muslim fanaticism, the fatwa was
passed out to the audience outside the Pleasance Theatre.
(...)

Yesterday, Sheikh Muhammad insisted that the death threat must stand. The
father of seven, who lives in north London and had called for the
assassination of John Major during the Gulf crisis, said: "The fatwa is to
express the Islamic point of view that those who are insulting to Allah and
the Messengers of God, must understand it is a crime."

The Muslim leader criticised Christian churches for not taking stronger
action against the play. "The Church of England has neglected the honour of
the Virgin Mary and Jesus," he said. "It is blasphemy for them not to take
action."
(...)

On the sheikh's questioning by the police, he said: "The day a man gets
arrested just for quoting Islam we get a serious problem. What's that,
censoring the Koran to suit your society?"

The fatwa can only be carried out by an Islamic state, and the sheikh warned
individual Muslims not to try to carry it out. He would still face arrest and
execution if he travelled to Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia or Sudan.

"This should only happen on their own soil. We do not believe in political
assassination, but obviously he would face capital punishment. He will be
arrested and there will be capital punishment," he said.

Last night the Charity Commission pledged to investigate after it emerged
that the copies of the fatwa handed out at the demonstration had been
produced by a registered charity.
[...more...]
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36. Caught in community furor, mayor gives up on proclamations
Star-Telegram/AP, Oct. 28, 1999
http://www.star-telegram.com/news/doc/1047/1:RELIGION51/1:RELIGION51102899.html
Mayor Leni Sitnick says she will no longer issue proclamations honoring
people or groups after her recent recognition of pagan religions sparked
protest and anger in the community.

"I am deeply saddened that a gesture of good intention to support religious
tolerance and freedom has caused division in our community," Sitnick said
Wednesday.

Sitnick last week proclaimed the week of Oct. 25 as Earth Religions Awareness
Week -- a recognition of pagan religions, or Earth-centered beliefs.

Critics feared the event might spark students' interest in witchcraft and the
occult. Local ministers protested and asked the mayor to instead designate
"Lordship of Jesus Christ Awareness Week."
(...)

Sitnick had planned to sign the "Lordship" proclamation, but abandoned it at
the request of some local ministers. The ministers said the proposed gesture
was appreciated, but it would mean the government overstepping the
constitutional boundary separating church and state.
[...more...]
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37. Seekers feel Mary's power
Orange County Register, Oct. 25, 1999
http://www.ocregister.com/community/religion/maryx205w.shtml
Marilyn Kwee says she saw the sun dance in spirals as the healing presence of
the Virgin Mary came over her on a hillside in Medjugorje 15 years ago.
(...)

It's a vision and feeling that has overcome many of the millions who have
trekked to the Bosnian mountain community. The town became a spiritual site
after a group of children in 1981 reported seeing Mary.

This past weekend, as they have for the past 10 years, local believers like
Kwee deepened their spirituality at the Medjugorje Peace Conference at the
University of California, Irvine. The three-day Virgin Mary extravaganza was
attended by more than 15,000 people. Similar events are held around the
world.
[...more...]
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38. Pilgrims still flock to Medjugorje
Orange County Register, Oct. 25, 1999
http://www.ocregister.com/community/religion/marys25w.shtml
It was June 24, 1981, and a group of children was playing on a hillside
outside Medjugorje, Bosnia. Suddenly, they said, the Virgin Mary appeared to
them. She had black hair and blue eyes and a halo of stars. She was standing
on a tall white cloud, and her message was to pray for peace in your hearts,
in your families, in the world.

To this day, some of the visionaries, who are now grown-ups, say she still
shows herself to them. She is said to return each evening at 5:40 to the
choir loft of St. James Church in the village.

Millions of pilgrims who have visited the site say they have had "miraculous"
experiences -- both physical and spiritual -- and return to their everyday
lives with renewed faith. Many, including Orange County believers, have said
their rosaries changed from silver to gold while visiting the shrine. And
from the Medjugorje hilltop, some say, the sun seems to spin on its axis.
[...more...]
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39. Pope, Dalai Lama Denounce Extremism
AOL/AP, Oct. 28, 1999
http://www.aol.com/mynews/news/story.adp/cat=01060517&id=1999102802479776
With Pope John Paul II presiding next to the Dalai Lama, representatives of
20 of the world's faiths closed a millennium-ending gathering Thursday with a
forceful denunciation of religious extremism.
(...)

"Any use of religion to support violence is an abuse of religion," John
Paul said in his final message to the four-day council, speaking to a crowd
of red- and orange-robed Asian monks, Catholic priests in black cassocks,
Muslim women in head scarfs and Africans and American Indians in the
traditional clothing of their own countries.

Beyond the message of tolerance it produced, the council was remarkable for
the scenes it brought to a bastion of Christianity:

An American Indian pivoting in the center of the square at sunset, blessing
the four corners of the earth from the heart of Rome. Muslims spreading out
newspapers in the marble colonnade to kneel toward Mecca and pray.
(...)

John Paul summoned representatives of the world's religions to the Vatican
for one last try during this millennium at cooperation to solve common
problems of the world's people.

The council is opposed by traditionalists in many religions, made uneasy at
seeing their faith put on an equal footing with others. The first Vatican
interfaith council, at Assisi in 1986, was a factor in the only formal
Catholic schism of this century, when hard-liners in the church in France
broke away from the Vatican.

This second meeting, 13 years later, stressed the differences between
religions - but denounced exploiting them for violent ends.
[...more...]
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40. Churches pull together in secular age
Christian Science Monitor, Oct. 29, 1999
http://www.csmonitor.com/durable/1999/10/29/p1s3.htm
On Oct. 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to a church door in
Wittenberg, Germany, launching the Protestant Reformation that split the
Roman Catholic church and shaped the modern world. This Sunday, 482 years to
the day later, the two churches are taking a quiet but momentous step to
repair that breach.

After three decades of dialogue and reading the Bible together in several
countries, the Lutheran World Federation and the Roman Catholic Church will
sign a joint declaration on the essential issue that sparked Luther's revolt:
how one obtains salvation or finds a right relationship with God.

An agreement on the theological issue of "justification" may seem obscure and
outdated in a secular world where sin has all but disappeared from mainstream
vocabulary. But for these churches, the declaration ends centuries of
condemnations and begins a new era of dialogue - one aimed at "full church
communion," resolving differences without necessarily merging.
(...)

This step is part of a vigorous ecumenical push by both Lutherans and
Catholics for more visible unity with other churches, inspired by Christ
Jesus' prayer that his followers "may be one." Today, many churches are
refocusing on this centuries-old call, as they confront an aggressively
materialistic culture, declining memberships, and growth in other world
faiths.
(...)

And while that is the stated aim of the Lutheran-Catholic dialogue, both
sides seem aware that it may ultimately be out of reach.
(...)

Catholics, meanwhile, are pushing forward ecumenically on all fronts. Top
priority goes to closing the gap with the Eastern Orthodox Church. Dialogue
with Anglicans has produced a document called "The Gift of Authority." And
Fr. Neuhaus has been involved in a US initiative with evangelical Protestants
called Evangelicals and Catholics Together.
(...)

Justification is the central article of Christianity for Lutherans. Based on
Paul's teachings, to be "justified" is to be right with God, to be on the
road to eternal life. Lutherans have said justification comes by grace
through faith alone. Catholic doctrine has said good works are also required.

The heart of the consensus says: "Together we confess: By grace alone, in
faith in Christ's saving work and not because of any merit on our part, we
are accepted by God and receive the Holy Spirit, who renews our hearts while
equipping and calling us to good works."
(...)

No one underestimates the huge differences that remain - such as papal
infallibility, the role of women, and issues of human sexuality. But the real
task, both parties say, is finding fresh ways to share the meaning of
justification with a hungering world.
[...more...]
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41. Ex-TV evangelist Jim Bakker wants back on the air
Charisma Daily News, Oct. 28, 1999
http://www.charismanews.com/worldnews/worldnews.cgi?a=168&t=news.html
Former TV evangelist Jim Bakker wants to get back on the tube. The one-time
PTL network head caught in a sex scandal and jailed for 45 years following
the financial collapse of the ministry and his Heritage USA theme park says
he has an important message from God to share--and the best way to do it is
on television.

In a letter to supporters from his New Covenant Fellowship ministry in
Charlotte, N.C., Bakker tells them that if they knew something terrible was
going to happen to people, they would "get on television to warn them. It's
the only way to reach masses of people quickly."
(...)

"I literally feel His Word exploding in me," Bakker writes, warning of "tough
times" ahead. "I have to preach...I cannot rest until I have done everything
in my power to show His love before times get too rough." He asks supporters
to let him know "how you feel about me going back on television."
[...more...]
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42. Lord launches bid to outlaw religious discrimination
News wire (England), Oct. 28, 1999
http://www.lineone.net/newswire/cgi-bin/newswire.cgi/skynews/uk/story/1999/10/c--1999-10-28-1n10.html
A new bid to outlaw religious discrimination was being launched in the House
of Lords today. Labour peer Lord Ahmed will call for racial and sexual
discrimination to be extended to religion.

The Muslim peer said: "Jewish and Sikh communities are protected under the
1976 Race Relations Act because they are classed as ethnic race but Muslims,
Hindus and Buddhists are not classed as ethnic races."

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "What I am asking is for all religions
to be covered under a new law or an extension of the 1976 Race Relations
Act."
[...more...]
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43. Rites and wrongs
The Guardian (England), Oct. 29, 1999 (Opinion)
http://www.newsunlimited.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,97279,00.html
(...) Treating other religions as fairly as Christianity is important in a
pluralist society. There is also pressure to reform the blasphemy law, which
outlaws rudery against Christianity but permits abuse of other faiths.
(...)

The only way to treat all religions equally is to favour none of them.
Moonies, Scientologists, Mormons, Breathairians - how do you differentiate
between cults, cranks, fruitcakes and true believers?
(...)

Above all Lord Ahmed's formulation reveals the bizarre irrationality of
protecting any religions in a multicultural society. If you believe the one
true god uniquely revealed the only truth to your particular prophet, why
sanction anyone else's false god? To atheists the spectacle of believers
bowing down before phantasms and fairytales is as distressing as seeing
Papuan cargo cultists worshipping aeroplanes. It diminishes human reason and
dignity to fall under the spell of hokum and magic. True believers should be
just as distressed to see other worshippers bowing down before false gods.
Tolerance of one another's faith casts doubt on how strongly they believe
their own.

Lord Ahmed's real concern is with the discrimination against Islam and he
quotes the Runnymede Trust's recent commission on Islamophobia.
[...more...]
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44. Author Plans Mystery Park Attraction
Excite/Reuters, Oct. 29, 1999
http://news.excite.com/news/r/991029/09/odd-author
Swiss author Erich von Daeniken, best known for his books on flying saucers,
unveiled a down-to-earth plan for investors to buy shares in his new Mystery
Park attraction in Switzerland.

The park, to be set up near Interlaken in the central Swiss Alps, will let
visitors explore unexplained phenomena such as how the great Egyptian
pyramids in Giza were made or what caused the strange, miles-long Nazca
drawings in Peru's desert.
[...more...]
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=== Religion in the Workplace

45. Religion in the Workplace
Business News, Nov. 1, 1999
http://www.businessweek.com/1999/99_44/b3653001.htm
The big splash at the Young Presidents' Organization powwow in June at Rome's
palatial Excelsior Hotel wasn't a ballroom seminar about e-commerce
juggernauts or Y2K blowups. Instead, the buzz at this confab of some of the
world's youngest and most powerful chief executives was about the shamanicoffsite
[Story no longer online? Read this]
healing journey going on down in the basement.
(...)

Spiritual events like these aren't happening just at exclusive executive
enclaves. For the past six years, 300 Xerox Corp. (XRX) employees--from
senior managers to clerks--have participated in "vision quests" as part of
the struggling copier company's $400 million project to revolutionize product
development.
(...)

Bottom-rung workers are also getting a sprinkling of the sacred at the
workplace. Companies such as Taco Bell (YUM), Pizza Hut, and subsidiaries of
Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) are hiring Army-style chaplains who come in any
religious flavor requested.
(...)

If America's chief executives had tried any of this 10 years ago, they
probably would have inspired ridicule and maybe even ostracism. But today, a
spiritual revival is sweeping across Corporate America as executives of all
stripes are mixing mysticism into their management, importing into office
corridors the lessons usually doled out in churches, temples, and mosques.
(...)

The number of related books hitting the store shelves each year has
quadrupled since 1990, to 79 last year. The latest: the Dalai Lama's Ethics
for the New Millennium, a new business best-seller. Says Laura Nash, a
business ethicist at Harvard Divinity School and author of Believers in
Business: "Spirituality in the workplace is exploding."
(...)

But a recently completed research project by McKinsey & Co. Australia shows
that when companies engage in programs that use spiritual techniques for
their employees, productivity improves and turnover is greatly reduced. The
first empirical study of the issue, A Spiritual Audit of Corporate America,
published in October by Jossey-Bass, found that employees who work for
organizations they consider to be spiritual are less fearful, less likely to
compromise their values, and more able to throw themselves into their jobs.
Says the book's co-author, University of Southern California Marshall School
of Business Professor Ian I. Mitroff: "Spirituality could be the ultimate
competitive advantage." Fully 60% of those polled for the book say they
believe in the beneficial effects of spirituality in the workplace, so long
as there's no bully-pulpit promotion of traditional religion.
(...)

On one side of the divide are evangelical Christians, some of whom want
workplace spirituality to focus on a conservative message about Jesus Christoffsite
[Story no longer online? Read this]
and who think New Age efforts are demonic. On the other are those who fear
the movement is a conspiracy to proselytize everyone into thinking alike.
Somewhere in between are the skeptics who think it's yet another one of
management's fads, exploiting people's faith to make another dollar.

Because of this, many institutions keep away from the issue.
(...)

That's why most companies and executives are careful to stick to a
cross-denominational, hybrid message that's often referred to as secular
spirituality.
(...)

Not everyone sticks to this script, though. Abuses have included everything
from management consultants who employees alleged were fronts for the Church
of Scientology to cult members who use the workplace as an arena to woo fresh
members into their folds.
(...)

But not all of these religious disputes are being fought out in the legal
arena. Fearing that the rising pluralism in the workplace might lead to the
spreading of the "wrong" kinds of religion, some fundamentalist Christians
have taken to advising other believers on how to act like "stealth bombers"
to perform "religious takeovers" of their organizations and "capture"
them for Christ. Some advocated techniques: keeping a Rolodex listing each
co-worker's spiritual progress and using Biblical names for e-mail addresses.
(...)

Once words like "virtue," "spirit," and "ethics" got through the
corporate door, God wasn't far behind. Best-sellers such as Jesus, CEO and
The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (one of which is to cultivate
spirituality) began to line the oak-paneled bookshelves of America's
managers. Seizing the moment, such spiritual gurus as Deepak Chopra and M.
Scott Peck
began advising corporate chieftains about how they could tie the
new secular spirituality into their management techniques.
[...more...]
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=== Noted

46. The Way the World Ends
Newsweek, Nov. 1, 1999
http://www.newsweek.com/nw-srv/printed/us/so/a29843-1999oct24.htm
[Abstract:] The third millennium approaches, bringing with it visions of
peace, apocalyptic terror--and a stream of new books about the last days.
What the Bible says about the end of time, and how prophecy has shaped our world.

(...) A NEWSWEEK Poll found that 40 percent of American adults do believe
that the world will one day end, as Revelation describes, in the Battle of
Armageddon.
(...)

Among academics, studies of the apocalyptic tradition have produced dozens of
new books. "Over the past 30 years," says Bernard McGinn, a medieval
specialist at the University of Chicago Divinity School, "more scholarship
has been devoted to apocalypticism than in the last 300."
(...)

Whether John's Apocalypse (the word means "unveiling") is a foretelling of
the future or a symbolic interpretation of the then current situation of
Christians has long vexed church theologians.
(...)

In short, most contemporary Biblical scholars now believe that John was not
predicting a distant future. Rather, he was locating the trials of the
first-century churches within a wider cosmic battle between Christ and Satan.
Like the earlier prophets, he wanted Christians to know that the faithful
would be rewarded and their oppressors punished.
(...)

Christian fundamentalism owes much of its continuing power and appeal to the
belief that the prophecies of John, Daniel and other Biblical writers
forecast a sequence of specific historical events.
(...)

Though widely read for the wrong reasons, John's Apocalypse nonetheless
insists on hard truths that no serious believer can discount. One is that
sinners have reason to fear a God who, having chosen to create the world, can
also choose to destroy it. The second is that the just have reason to hope in
a God who stands by those who trust their lives to him. Thinking of the end
of the world--like contemplating one's own end--is a painful process. But
studying the Apocalypse presumes that even the end of the world is within the
province of God. And who's to say that John's mythic battle between Christ
and Antichrist is not a valid insight into what the history of humankind is
ultimately all about?
[...more...]
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* Transcript of Newsweek's "Covertalk" with Kenneth Woodward
http://www.newsweek.com/nw-srv/talk/cover/991027/front.htm
(...)
Kenneth Woodward, Religion Editor Kenneth L. Woodward has been
responsible for Newsweek's Religion section since 1964.
(...)

Youngstown, Ohio: Why is it that conservative-fundamentalist Christian
leaders keep on trying to interprete the Book of Revelation in a futuristic
sense and TOTALLY IGNORE its obvious genre---that of apocalytic literature?
That's like reading the obituary page of a newspaper and treating it in your
mind like the sports section!

Kenneth Woodward: Actually, there has been a shift with the American
Evangelicalism, which has fundamentalist roots away from prophecy as
future-telling and toward a recognition of the apocalyptic as a literary
genre. See for example the current issue of Christianity Today which is
devoted to the Book of Revelation.
(...)

Bethesda, Maryland: Revelation refers to a "beast and a dragon" at war. Are
there any literal interperations for these two symbols?

Kenneth Woodward: Only in sci-fi films do we get literal interpretations.
(...)

Harrisburg PA: What kind of reader response does Newsweek get to religion
cover stories, compared to other topics?

Kenneth Woodward: The religion covers are always among the top sellers every
year and sometimes the top seller.
[...more...]
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47. Proselytizing: Christian critics call for limits on Southern Baptist
tactics
Star-Telegram, Oct. 29, 1999
http://www.star-telegram.com/news/doc/1047/1:RELIGION61/1:RELIGION61102999.html
A Southern Baptist Convention official says he knows that critics say it is
arrogant to target Hindus, Jews and Muslims for conversion on their holiest
of days. "There is an arrogance in truth," says Don Kammerdiener of the
International Mission Board. "The Gospel message is a stumbling block for
those who choose not to believe it."
(...)

But some Christian critics say it's possible to share the Gospel's "good
news" without pummeling the listener. The Southern Baptists, they charge,
offend members of other faiths with campaigns designed to make headlines as
much as win converts.
(...)

Take away a Southern Baptist's right to evangelize and you've taken away his
faith, says Kammerdiener, executive vice president of the mission board.

Still, he proposes rules of engagement. Offering inducements to win converts
is unethical, he says. "And I think it is absolutely improper to falsely
describe another religion in attempting to share your faith."
(...)

Emory University law professor John Witte Jr., who directed a three-year
project on proselytizing, believes that groups like the Southern Baptists
should more closely monitor their own missionary activities -- beginning with
a decision not to target religious groups.

"Hustling for Jesus is fine," says Witte, who heads the school's program on
law and religion. But an overly aggressive strategy "violates the universal
quality of the Gospel message and the example of Christ himself."
(...)

Attempts to use the law to curb proselytizers by charging them with
harassment or disturbing the peace have failed in the United States,
beginning with attempts to stop Jehovah's Witnesses in the 1930s.
(...)

Witte calls for "gentle interaction, the fragile ethic that supports respect
and toleration for each other. It also involves education about others'
faith."

Thomas agrees: "Christians are called upon to bear witness to their faith in
Jesus . . . But proselytizing and evangelizing needs to me more of a dialogue
in which we both share and receive. It doesn't mean we are timid about
sharing our faith or making judgments about the relative value of faith
understanding. It means we have a kind of humility in our witness."
[...more...]
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48. More Hispanics drawn to evangelical faiths
Star-Telegram, Oct. 29, 1999
http://www.star-telegram.com/news/doc/1047/1:FAITH2/1:FAITH2102999.html
(...) Recent growth in the number of Hispanic Baptists can be traced to a
couple of areas, but the largest increase has been among Hispanics who are
new to the United States and bilingual Hispanics, said Jim Garcia,
coordinator of ethnic missions for the Baptist General Convention.

"Those who come from other countries, they have come leaving their past
behind and that may include even their religion, and they are open to
whatever this country has to offer, including a faith," Garcia said. "Another
reason is that Baptists, like many evangelicals, tend to be more
family-oriented, in the sense that they emphasize family in the practice of
their faith." This creates a feeling of warmth and community that is
attractive to newcomers, he said.

But it's not just Baptists who are gaining in numbers of Hispanic
worshippers, Coy said. It's evangelical Christianity as a whole.

"You have to look at Latin America. Evangelicals are growing in Latin America
quite quickly. They are a strong minority in a lot of countries," Coy said.
"In a nutshell, it's revival, if you want to use a good, churchy, evangelical
term," he said. "It's a spiritual need that has led to a spiritual revival."

Another reason for the increase is that Baptists are aggressively seeking new
members, Coy said.

More than that, Baptists are meeting the needs of Hispanics, said Albert L.
Reyes, president of the Hispanic Baptist Theological School in San Antonio.
"I believe as Texas Baptists we talk to people about real concrete issues
like poverty," Reyes said. "There are opportunities to meet real needs of
real hurting people."
[...more...]
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49. US admits torture concerns
BBC, Oct. 16, 1999
http://news2.thls.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/americas/newsid%5F476000/476425.stm
The United States Government has conceded that there are instances of torture
in the country, despite strenuous preventative measures.

In a report to the United Nations Committee against Torture, the State
Department said areas of concern included police abuse, death of prisoners in
custody, prison overcrowding and a lack of adequate training for police and
prison guards.

Some 18 examples were cited of abuses committed by US police and prison
officials since 1991.
(...)

The well-publicised beating of black motorist Rodney King by four Los Angeles
police officers in 1991, and the recent harsh treatment of Abner Louima, a
Haitian immigrant, by New York City police officers were among the incidents
cited.

Others were excessive use of force by federal authorities against the Branch
Davidian religious sect in Waco, Texas, in 1993 and the shooting of a white
supremacist in Ruby Ridge, Idaho, in 1992.

But the report, the first the US has sent to comply with the UN Convention
against Torture, stressed that torture was prohibited by law throughout the
US, and that no official was authorised to commit or sanction torture.
(...)

It also defended the legality and use of the death penalty.

"The United States considers the issue of capital punishment to be outside of
the scope of its reporting obligations under this Convention," the report
said.
(...)

But the World Organisation Against Torture said incidents of abuses in the
United States were "surprising and alarming in scope" and accused Washington
of not doing enough to prevent them.

"It justifies the considerable expansion of the death penalty generally
because it is an expression of popular will and largely subject to the
control of states, rather than the federal government," the movement said of
the report.
[...more...]
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* Amnesty International documentation of human rights abuses in and
by the USA
http://www.rightsforall-usa.org/intro/index.htmloffsite


=== Booksoffsite
[Story no longer online? Read this]

50. At War With Doubt
Washington Post/AP, Oct. 30, 1999
http://search.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/WPlate/1999-10/30/026l-103099-idx.html
After Abraham Lincoln was fatally shot on Good Friday in 1865, American
preachers forgot their prepared Easter sermons and rhapsodized about the
martyred president. Some compared him to Moses or even Christ. Ever since,
religionists have portrayed Lincoln as an exemplar of Christian faith.

But he wasn't, not in any conventional sense. So reports Allen C. Guelzo,
professor of American history at Eastern College in St. Davids, Pa., in
"Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President," published this week by Eerdmans.
(...)

The religious aspect of the tale, in a nutshell: Lincoln was unable to
believe, but he was never comfortable in his unbelief.
[...more...]
Back To Top

* Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer Presidentoffsite



51. The shifting shapes of belief: New books survey the religious landscape
Star-Telegram/Religion News Service, Oct. 29, 1999
http://www.star-telegram.com/news/doc/1047/1:RELIGION63/1:RELIGION63102999.html
(...) But by now it has become crystal clear that a secular city is about as
likely as shorter work weeks or paperless offices. "It would appear that news
of God's death will always be premature," writes Michael Shermer in "How We
Believe: The Search for God in an Age of Science" (Freeman), one of three new
books describing the shifting shapes of contemporary American belief.

The most insightful of the new studies is Wade Clark Roof's "Spiritual
Marketplace: Baby Boomers and the Remaking of American Religion"
(Princeton).
(...)

Roof revisited some of the baby boomers he interviewed earlier, and who are
remaking the American religious landscape in their own image. His new study
illuminates seemingly contradictory reports about the current state of
belief, concluding that while religion may be losing some its influence in
public life, spirituality is becoming a more important component of people's
personal lives.

Roof, who was raised a Methodist, finds a growing discontent with secular
"salvations" such as progress, science or careers and "a yearning for
something that transcends a consumption ethic and material definitions of
success."
(...)

Their yearning has given birth to something Roof calls "a quest culture,"
which is characterized by "a deep hunger for a self-transformation that is
both genuine and personally satisfying." For some, this quest has led to
church, while others draw inspiration and guidance from books, therapy,
self-help-groups, the Internet and popular culture.
(...)

But as Gallup reports in "Surveying the Religious Landscape: Trends in U.S.
Beliefs" (Morehouse), interest in spirituality is booming. "The percentage of
Americans who say they feel the need in their lives to experience spiritual
growth has surged from 58 percent in 1994 to 82 percent in 1998," writes
Gallup, an Episcopal layman, and co-author D. Michael Lindsay.
(...)

Gallup's hard statistics are fleshed out by Roof's more nuanced analysis.

Roof breaks baby boomers into five major subgroups: born-again Christians
(who constitute one-third of the total); mainline Catholics and Protestants
(dwindling at 25 percent of the whole); metaphysical believers and seekers
(who constitute 14 percent of the population but have a larger impact than
their numbers might indicate); dogmatists (who consider themselves
"religious" but not "spiritual," at 15 percent) and secularists (neither
religious nor spiritual, and counting for 12 percent).

Members of all these groups exhibit a mix-and-match approach to meaning that
is closer to a jazz musician's improvisational style than a choir member's
more classical approach.
(...)

Author Michael Shermer is the director of the Skeptics Society, and he says
surveys of that group's members find that one-third think it "very likely" or
"possible" that there is a God. In "How We Believe," Shermer finds that
people describe their own beliefs as rational and logical while saying others
believe in God for emotional need and comfort.
[...more...]
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* How We Believe : The Search for God in an Age of Scienceoffsite
by Michael Shermer


Spiritual Marketplace : Baby Boomers and the Remaking of American Religionoffsite

by Wade Clark Roof


Surveying the Religious Landscape : Trends in U.S. Beliefsoffsite
by George Gallup



52. Free Them! Breaking The Chains Of Cult Mind Control
by Steve Hassan
[Description from Hassan's website: http://www.freedomofmind.comoffsite/]

Steven Hassan presents THE state of the art guide on how to help someone
involved with cult mind control. Hassan's newest book reveals a much more
refined method to help family and friends called the Strategic Interaction
Approach. This non-coercive and totally legal approach is far better than
deprogramming and even exit counseling. Topics covered in depth include:
evaluating the situation; interacting with dual identities; communication
strategies for phone calls; letter writing and visits; understanding and
utilizing cult beliefs and tactics; techniques to reality-test and promote
freedom of mind; and planning and implementing effective interventions. Stay
tuned for Free Them! Breaking the Chains of Cult Mind Control, coming this
fall.

* Free Them! Breaking the Chains of Cult Mind Controloffsite
by Steve Hassanoffsite
[Story no longer online? Read this]



53. Corporate Cults: The Insidious Lure of the All-Consuming Organization
by Dave Arnott
[Description from Amazon.com]

(...)
And rest assured, says Arnott, corporate cultism is not an isolated
phenomenon or a far-fetched concept. Consider the top three factors that
Fortune magazine calls the hallmarks of a great place to work: sense of
purpose, inspiring leadership, and knockout facilities. Now read the
uncannily similar characteristics that define a cult: devotion, charismatic
leadership, and separation from community

Both startling expos and insightful self-help manual, CORPORATE CULTS gives
you a clear picture of this deeply rooted, pernicious problem. It exposes the
cycle of manipulation and dependency that is making unhealthy, "cultish"
behavior a commonplace way of life for millions of people.
(...)

From the back cover:
(...)
This eye-opening book provides a fascinating--if startling--expos of the
unhealthy, all-consuming power that cultish organizations wield over their
employees. And it includes behind-the-scenes profiles of cultish cultures,
including those from many well-known and celebrated companies.

But it's not just businesses playing this insidious game. As CORPORATE CULTS
explains, many employees willingly allow themselves to become "enculted." In
a misplaced quest for emotional support and self-esteem, they pledge their
deep commitment to an organization--a commitment that will never be returned.

(...)

Dr. Dave Arnott is a professor of management at Dallas Baptist University.
[...more...]
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* Corporate Cults: The Insidious Lure of the All-Consuming Organizationoffsite
by Dave Arnott


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