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Religion Items In The News

November 11, 1999 (Vol. 3, Issue 132)

About this news letter   More Religion Items In The News   News Database

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).

Religion Items in the News - November 11, 1999 (Vol. 3, Issue 132)


=== Aum Shinrikyo
1. The Asahara Trial: Guru ordered cult to make guns
2. Sect leader's wife pleads for apology
3. 15 years sought for Aum's Aoyama

=== Waco/Branch Davidians
4. Investigator: Examine Waco Video

=== Falun Gong
5. US asylum offer for Falun Gong member infuriates Beijing
6. China warns U.S. of new difficulties over sect
7. Canada slams China over Falun Gong arrests
8. Banned Chinese group screens documentary video
9. Chinese Religious Leaders Slam Falun Gong Cult (1)
10. Chinese Religious Leaders Slam Falun Gong Cult (2)

=== Scientology
11. Scientologists file complaint against Belgium
12. Scientology accuses foe in lawsuit of fraud
13. Lisa McPherson Trust
14. Drugs for unruly kids attacked
15. Hearing more like a circus

=== Mormon Church
16. Judge to issue another order in LDS Church copyright case

=== Unification Church
17. Moon's son dies in fall from hotel
18. Further Report on Suicide

=== Paganism/Wicca
19. Barr's Witch Project: Lawmaker Wants to Ban Witches from the Military
20. Pagans join Interfaith Council

=== Other News
21. Two die in suicide pact by cultists (Chinese Dragon Buddha)
22. Nokia Dismisses Swiss Subsidiary's Chairman on Cult Membership
23. Parole hearing postponed for Manson follower
24. U.S. fugitive Ira Einhorn not worried about extradition
25. Texas Baptists vote to reject dictum of wifely submission

=== Noted
26. Spiritualist Camp Lures the Living Who Long to Reach the Dead
27. The most dangerous man in the world (Peter Singer)

=== Religious Pluralism; Interfaith and/or Interdenominational Dialogue
28. Religion Fair Finds Unity in Difference
29. At age 50, troubles bedevil the National Council of Churches
30. Papal Call for Christian Unity Gets Cool Reception
31. India Religious Leaders Trade Ideas With Pope

=== Religious- Freedom, Persecution and/or Intolerance
32. UN: Social Committee, continuing review, is told prevention strategy
33. Romania moves to curtail religious liberty
34. Religious Sign Off Complaint Filed


=== Aum Shinrikyo

1. The Asahara Trial: Guru ordered cult to make guns
Japan Times, Nov. 10, 1999
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/news11-99/news.html#story9
Aum Shinrikyo founder Shoko Asahara on Wednesday told the Tokyo District
Court that he ordered cult members to manufacture 1,000 automatic rifles.
Asahara was testifying during a session of the murder trial for former senior
cult members Toru Toyoda and Shigeo Sugimoto.
(...)

"I gave the orders," Asahara said of the rifle program, "but the purpose (of
the weapons) was not to murder people. It was meant to deepen the disciples'
understanding of me."

Asahara also said he ordered followers to secretly cremate fellow Aum member
Teruyuki Majima, who died in 1988. In September of that year, Aum members
accidentally killed Majima by repeatedly dunking him in water during
"religious training," prosecutors alleged, adding that Asahara ordered cult
members to secretly cremate his body in an incinerator at an Aum complex.

At the end of the session, Sugimoto, who listened to Asahara's testimony,
criticized his former leader for not apologizing to the victims of the crimes
that Aum committed.
(...)

Following Sugimoto's speech, Toyoda called on Aum members in the public
gallery not to repeat their mistakes by putting their belief in Asahara.
[...more...]


2. Sect leader's wife pleads for apology
South China Morning PostAFP, Nov. 10, 1999
http://www.scmp.com/News/Asia/Article/FullText_asp_ArticleID-19991112032142424.asp
The Aum Shinri Kyo (Supreme Truth) sect should apologise for the crimes
committed under its leader, Shoko Asahara, his imprisoned wife said in a
letter to a magazine published yesterday. "The responsibility for many
serious crimes committed during our time rests with us," Tomoko Matsumoto,
41, said in a letter carried in the latest edition of the monthly Tsukuru
magazine.
(...)

Some of Asahara's disciples have been found guilty of the sarin gas attacks
and other crimes but the sect as an organisation has never admitted its
responsibility in public or apologised.

Tomoko Matsumoto, now appealing for leniency for her involvement in a murder
case, said the cult "totally lacks consideration for victims and bereaved
families as well as for society". She urged the sect to "regret what it
should, draw a line and make efforts for a fresh start".

Asahara also unveiled part of a letter she received from her third daughter
fearing the break-up of the sect.

"What do you think we should do, mom? . . . Are we just waiting for a fall?"
the girl, 16, wrote. She is believed to rank high in the sect as Asahara's
first child after his claimed "enlightenment". "With a lack of unity within
and under attack from the outside, we are standing before the collapse," said
the teenager's letter, dated October 2.
[...more...]


3. 15 years sought for Aum's Aoyama
Asahi Daily News (Japan), Nov. 9, 1999
http://www.asahi.com/english/enews/enews.html#enews_25754
Prosecutors on Monday demanded a 15-year prison term for a senior member of
Aum Shinrikyo accused of trying to murder a lawyer who counseled cult
victims. Noting that the defendant, Yoshinobu Aoyama, was a trained lawyer,
prosecutors told Tokyo District Court that he played an "extremely important"
role in cult affairs.

With his lawyer's training, they said Aoyama ensured that the cult managed to
escape detection from judicial authorities, thereby indirectly assisting
senior members in carrying out deadly sarin gas attacks in Matsumoto, Nagano
Prefecture, and on Tokyo's subway system.
(...)

"The habitual criminal involvement of a lawyer is detrimental to the judicial
system," prosecutors said. They said Aoyama was privy to the worst excesses
of the cult, yet he had not fully accepted his criminal responsibilities. In
addition, he had volunteered little about the cult while pointing an
accusatory finger at other defendants, prosecutors said.
[...more...]


=== Waco/Branch Davidians

4. Investigator: Examine Waco Video
AOL/AP, Nov. 9, 1999
http://www.aol.com/mynews/news/story.adp/cat=011101&id=1999110905367005
An investigator wants a federal judge to order an impartial simulation of the
FBI's infrared videotaping in the waning hours of the 1993 Waco siege to
determine whether bursts of light in the original tapes were made by gunfire
from federal agents.
(...)

Special counsel John Danforth is proposing that the judge presiding over the
Branch Davidians' wrongful-death lawsuit against the government supervise the
re-creation of the aerial taping that occurred April 19, 1993.
(...)

The plaintiffs' lead counsel, Houston lawyer Michael Caddell, welcomed
Danforth's suggestion and said he would be surprised if the judge rejects it.

"This is the appropriate way to do it,'' Caddell said Tuesday. ``Basically,
this calls the government out and says, `We'll do this in a way that protects
your legitimate security concerns and lets us get to the truth of what
happened.'''
[...more...]


=== Falun Gong

5. US asylum offer for Falun Gong member infuriates Beijing
South China Morning Post, Nov. 10, 1999
http://www.scmp.com/News/China/Article/FullText_asp_ArticleID-19991112032051768.asp
Beijing criticised the US yesterday for granting asylum to a Falun Gong
practitioner from the mainland. Xinhua quoted Foreign Ministry official
Zhang Qiyue as saying China had "voiced its indignation and opposition" over
the move, adding that it had made "representations" to the United StatesOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
about the issue.

In Washington, the State Department said it did not discuss individual cases.

According to law firm Madeo and Fasano in New York, asylum was granted to
Chen Rong, 17, last week. "The asylum was based upon the fact that Ms Chen
would face persecution, including prison and torture, for practising Falun
Gong, at the hands of the Chinese Government if she returned to China," the
firm said.

It was not clear if the case would set a precedent for other Falun Gong
practitioners to seek asylum in the US.

Ms Zhang warned that bilateral ties would be jeopardised if political asylum
was granted to more members of the sect.
[...more...]


6. China warns U.S. of new difficulties over sect
AOL/Reuters, Nov. 9, 1999
http://www.aol.com/mynews/news/story.adp/cat=01060202&id=1999110905230590
China warned the United States on Tuesday of ``new difficulties'' in their
shaky ties unless Washington stopped criticising Beijing's crackdown on the
outlawed Falun Gong spiritual movement.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue demanded the United States "correct
its erroneous'' decision to grant political asylum to a Falun Gong adherent
in New York. She did not identify the practitioner. She accused Washington
of practising "double standards'' and attacking China "for no reason at
all.''
(...)

Zhang said China was ``indignant and resolutely opposed'' to the decision to
grant asylum to the Falun Gong practitioner, a move she said was an
intervention in China's internal affairs.
[...more...]


7. Canada slams China over Falun Gong arrests
AOL/Reuters, Nov. 9, 1999
http://www.aol.com/mynews/news/story.adp/cat=01060202&id=1999110906328319
The Canadian government Tuesday condemned China's arrest of members of the
outlawed Falun Gong spiritual movement and its repression of freedom of
belief.
(...)

"We are most disturbed at the repression of freedom of belief and the arrest
and detention of so many Falun Gong practitioners,'' said Canadian Secretary
of State for Asia and the Pacific Raymond Chan in a statement.
(...)

Chan was commenting on a two-day joint meeting in Beijing this week with
Chinese officials to discuss human rights and the repression of freedom of
belief.
(...)

The Canada-China meeting is taking place as a seven-member Canadian
delegation on religious freedoms, organized by the Canadian Council of
Churches, completes a two-week visit to China.
[...more...]


8. Banned Chinese group screens documentary video
AOL/Reuters, Nov. 8, 1999
http://www.aol.com/mynews/news/story.adp/cat=01060202&id=1999110809093195
New York-based practitioners of the Falun Gong spiritual movement, which has
been officially banned in China, screened a video Monday to counter what they
called China's ``vicious'' campaign against the movement.

Falun Gong was once lauded by the Chinese government for helping to reduce
health care costs in China.
(...)

"For reasons best known to itself ... Beijing ... has vowed to crush us,''
said Gail Rachlin, a U.S. practitioner of Falun Gong and a public relations
executive, adding that Falun Gong was the fastest growing spiritual movement
in the world.
(...)

The video, which features the group's founder, Li Hongzhi, and well as
interviews with practitioners of the philosophy in Washington, New York and
San Francisco, will be shown at colleges and universities and on local
television stations. It has been distributed to each member of Congress,
Rachlin said.
[...more...]


9. Chinese Religious Leaders Slam Falun Gong Cult (1)
Northern Light/Xinhua, Nov. 10, 1999
http://library.northernlight.com/FB19991110300000031.html?cb=0&dx=1006&sc=0
Leaders of major Chinese religious groups have been hailing the government
ban on Falun Gong and all agreed that cults must not be tolerated since they
imperil the society.

Dao Shuren, vice-chairman of the Buddhist Association of China, called Falun
Gong an evil cult from head to toe.
(...)

Zhang Jiyu, vice chairman of the Taoist Association of China, echoed a recent
People's Daily commentator's article, saying that the hidden intention of Li
Hongzhi, the leader of Falun Gong, is to counter the government, the society,
and the mankind.
(...)

The absurd "theory" of Falun Gong has features contrary to science, mankind
and the government, says Quexi, vice president of the China Advanced
Institute of Tibetan Buddhism. Li Hongzhi and his aides are making every
effort to manipulate Falun Gong practitioners and turn the cult into a
national organization.
(...)

Shi Zesheng, vice chairman of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement Committee of
Protestant Churches of China, excoriated Falun Gong's anti-government
activities, including the siege around the government and Communist Party of
China headquarters. Shi also blamed Falun Gong for the deaths of many of its
followers and their relatives.
[...more...]


10. Chinese Religious Leaders Slam Falun Gong Cult (2)
Northern Light/Xinhua, Nov. 10, 1999
http://library.northernlight.com/FB19991110300000049.html?cb=0&dx=1006&sc=0
These Chinese religious leaders have ridiculed Falun Gong for calling itself
a religion, noting that a cult can never be a religion, though it often
steals religious terms while debasing religion by terming itself the supreme
religion.

Falun Gong's illegal activities have riled the religious leaders who have
called on the government to take legal action to protect normal religious
activities and crack down on cults.
[...more...]

* XinhuaOff-site Link is a state-controlled news agency


=== Scientology

11. Scientologists file complaint against Belgium
AOL/Reuters, Nov. 9, 1999
http://www.aol.com/mynews/news/story.adp/cat=01060527&id=1999110902239456
The Church of Scientology said Tuesday it had filed a complaint with the
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) against BelgiumOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
for alleged discrimination against religious minorities.

The complaint, filed ahead of an OSCE security conference in Istanbul next
week, follows a raid last month by Belgian police on 25 offices and homes of
Scientology members throughout the country.

Belgian court officials said then the raids were part of an investigation
into alleged racketeering and fraud.

The Church of Scientology, however, has said the raids were tantamount to
religious persecution.
[...more...]


12. Scientology accuses foe in lawsuit of fraud
St. Petersburg Times, Nov. 10, 1999
http://www.sptimes.com/News/111099/TampaBay/Scientology_accuses_f.shtml
The Church of Scientology contends in a court filing that fraudulent
paperwork preceded a 1997 wrongful death lawsuit against the church.

In a petition filed this week, Scientology asks a Pinellas probate judge to
remove a Texas woman, Dell Liebreich, as the personal representative of Lisa
McPherson
's estate. McPherson, a Scientologist, died in 1995 at 36 after 17
days in the care of Scientology staffers. Liebreich is McPherson's aunt.
Under Leibreich's direction, McPherson's estate filed a lawsuit in 1997
alleging Scientology caused McPherson's death.

But the church is alleging, among other things, that Liebreich forged a key
document used in setting up the estate. The charge is based on the findings
of an expert, Gus R. Lesnevich, who once examined handwriting for the Army
and the Secret Service.

Liebreich's attorney, Ken Dandar of Tampa, called the church's petition
slanderous, saying, "They're making some very outrageous and serious
allegations."

The wrongful death case continues to drag on in Hillsborough County Circuit
Court. A trial is scheduled in June, but the church is trying to stop it
before it gets that far.

Scientology contends Liebreich improperly used the estate to file the lawsuit
and further her bias against Scientology. It says the lawsuit has, in turn,
been improperly used by New England millionaire Robert S. Minton to further
his two-year-old campaign against Scientology.
[...more...]


13. Lisa McPherson Trust
A.r.s Week in Review, Nov. 7, 1999
Free A.r.s Week in Review subscriptions are available, just email me at
rkeller@voicenet.com. Subscriptions are also available on ONElist. Email
weekinreview-subscribe@onelist.com or see http://www.onelist.com

Bob Minton announced the formation of the Lisa McPherson Trust this week.

"The Lisa McPherson Trust is a direct outgrowth of several very
significant events relating to Lisa's death: A) the fateful call by Fanny
McPherson to an attorney by the name of Ken Dandar who was and is both
courageous enough and pure enough to withstand the assaults of
scientology; B) the internet awareness campaign started by Jeff Jacobsen
which helped bring the tragic death of Lisa McPherson to national
attention; C) the death-bed request by Fanny McPherson to Ken Dandar that
she wanted Ken to let the world know what scientology did to Lisa; and D)
the continued courage of Lisa's remaining family led by Dell Liebreich to
make scientology accountable for Lisa's tragic death.

"The Lisa McPherson Trust has been charged by the memory and suffering of
Lisa McPherson and her family to be like the Surgeon General's report on
cigarette packages and we will stick to the side of scientology as a
WARNING to consumers that 'scientology and all other destructive mind
control cults are dangerous to your health, your emotional well-being,
your bank account and your very life.'

"I would like to add my enormous thanks to following people who have
agreed to serve in various capacities for The Lisa McPherson Trust:

"Board Members: Peter Alexander, Stacy Brooks, Gabe Cazares, Patricia
Greenway, Brian Haney, Jeff Jacobsen, Rod Keller, Kim Krenek, Dell
Liebreich, Ed Lottick, Bob Minton, Duncan Pierce, Jesse Prince.

"Several Board members will be active in staff positions but the real
workhorses will be: David Cecere, Executive Director; Kim Baker, Deputy
Executive Director; Mark Bunker, Multimedia Coordinator; Grady Ward,
Webmaster and Security Coordinator.

"An Advisory Committee is being put together which so far consists of the
following individuals: Gerry Armstrong, Ida Camburn, Ken Dandar, Ray
Emmons, Steve Hassan, Keith Henson, Dan Leipold, Arnie Lerma, Margaret
Singer
, Lawrence Wollersheim."

Message-ID: <xvIgONPA9w2rtvYWGRVF9BN4YifJ@4ax.com>
[...entire item...]


14. Drugs for unruly kids attacked
Denver Post, Nov. 10, 1999
http://www.denverpost.com/news/leg/leg1110.htm
A parade of experts appeared before a group of legislators Tuesday to point
accusatory fingers at psychotropic medications, such as Ritalin and Luvox,
claiming a connection between the drugs and an epidemic of school shootings.

Tuesday's hearing coincides with a drive before the state Board of Education
to pass a resolution forbidding schools from making parents put disruptive
children on Ritalin. The board will hear additional testimony today and is
expected to vote on the resolution Thursday.
(...)

Countering the well-orchestrated blitz of out-of-town experts were local
mental health advocates who said much of the information was skewed and out
of context.
(...)

Leading off at the hearing was Bruce Wiseman of California, national
president of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, which he said is a
watchdog group. Pfiffner confirmed that the commission is linked to the
Church of Scientology.
[...more...]

* CCHR is one of many Scientology front organizations


15. Hearing more like a circus
Denver Post, Nov. 10, 1999 (Column)
By Chuck Green, Denver Post Columnist
http://www.denverpost.com/news/green1110.htm
The gold dome shining so brilliantly under the glorious sun Tuesday wasn't
what it seemed. It wasn't the roof over the state's Capitol. It was the big
top over a circus.

Ringmaster Penn Pfiffner was in charge, presiding over an interim committee
of the Colorado General Assembly that, well, doesn't really exist. His act
featured trained seals, dancing bears and enough clowns to make Barnum and
Bailey envious.

Pfiffner, a state representative from Lakewood, single-handedly created the
committee that doesn't exist. It has no sanction from his legislative
colleagues, it has no staff and no budget, it has no official status, it has
no clue.
(...)

So what, you might ask, caused a noncommittee to hold a non-committee meeting
of non-committee members?

They were summoned not only by the talented ringmaster, but also by the
mysteriously whacko Church of Scientology, which seems to have captured
Pfiffner's rich imagination. The hearing room was seeded with enthusiastic
scientologists, and an adjacent room resembled a library abundantly stocked
with scientology literature.

Pfiffner's self-designed Interim Committee on Scientologists' Paranoia Over
Psychotropic Drugs and Their Effect on America's Youth and Violence in Our
Schools featured theories on how the U.S. military, the Central Intelligence
Agency, American universities and other assorted suspicious institutions have
secretly drugged our youth.
[...more...]


=== Mormon Church

16. Judge to issue another order in LDS Church copyright case
Deseret News, Nov. 10, 199
http://www.deseretnews.com/dn/view/1,1249,125015585,00.html?
A federal judge said Wednesday it appears LDS Church critics Jerald and
Sandra Tanner are violating copyright laws by using their Web site to direct
others to Internet locations where copyrighted church manuals are posted.
"My look at this case now is that they are contributory infringing," U.S.
District Judge Tena Campbell said.

But she will not issue a preliminary injunction preventing the Tanners from
posting on their Utah Lighthouse Ministry Web site information that might
lead others to sites containing the copyrighted material until the Tanners
have had a chance to present evidence Nov. 18 on the allegations.

The judge said she will issue another temporary restraining order Thursday
expanding on a temporary order she issued last month that bars the Tanners
from posting LDS Church copyrighted manuals on their Web site and from
posting indexes about the manuals.

The new order is likely to also restrict the Tanners from posting addresses
to other Internet locations where copyrighted material is posted but would
only be in effect until the Nov. 18 hearing.
(...)

Sandra Tanner said the information was posted after she received hundreds of
inquiries from people wanting information about church membership procedures.
"I thought it was information that they should have and that it was unfair
that it wasn't available to them," she said.

As evidence that the Tanners are contributing to copyright infringement, IRI
says their Web site contains an announcement that the handbook is back online
and includes three Internet addresses where the entire 160-page manual can be
downloaded. They are also referring visitors through e-mail to the other Web
locations.
(...)

He [the Tanners' attorney - awh] said if IRI wants to make a contributory
copyright infringement claim it should file a new lawsuit and also name as a
defendant the Salt Lake Tribune, which included the Web site addresses in
articles.
[...more...]

* For background on the case, see this Watchman Fellowship report:

http://www.watchman.org/tannersued.htmOff-site Link
(...)
Despite IRI's lawsuit against the Tanners, the Handbook has been
republished in its entirety on the Internet. Brian Barnard, the
Tanner's attorney, has noted that the entire Handbook is online at
http://www.xenu.net/izen.com.au/lds/Off-site Link (Sheila R. McCann, "With LDS Book
on Net, Lawsuit Might Be Moot," Salt Lake Tribune, October 30, 1999.
<http://www.sltrib.com/10301999/utah/42791.htmOff-site Link>). Barnard believes that
the increasing availability of the Handbook on the Internet decreases
IRI's ability to argue that the Tanners have reduced the value of the
book (Ibid.).


=== Unification Church

17. Moon's son dies in fall from hotel
Las Vegas Review-Journal, Nov. 4, 1999
http://www.lvrj.com/lvrj_home/1999/Nov-04-Thu-1999/news/12288305.html
The son of controversial religious leader the Rev. Sun Myung Moon fell to his
death from a Reno hotel room window, and the young man's family doesn't
believe it was suicide.

Las Vegas resident Young Jin Moon, 21, son of the founder of the Unification
Church, had every reason to live, said the Rev. Phillip Schanker, a vice
president with Moon's Family Federation for World Peace and Unification.
(...)

Although the Washoe County coroner's office ruled the Oct. 28 death a
suicide, the Reno Police Department is conducting a full investigation, said
Deputy Chief Jim Weston.
(...)

Moon was buried with a private service Saturday in Sierra Memorial Gardens
in Reno. Schanker said a much larger public ceremony is being planned by the
Rev. Moon.

Young Jin Moon, Schanker said, did not play a key role in the church.
"He was not a public figure, not someone who everybody knew really well,"
said Schanker. "He didn't stand on stage like his brothers or give speeches.
In an internal sense, there was a respect and love and support for all the
children in the family. But I wouldn't say he was an active leader."

Even so, his Sept. 6, 1997, wedding to Hwa Jung Yoo, then 20, in New York
City drew congratulations from Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, the Rev. Jerry
Falwell, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan and Washington Mayor Marion
Barry.
[...more...]


18. Further Report on Suicide
Steve Hassan
Resource Center for Freedom of Mind Confidential Mailing List
http://www.freedomofmind.comOff-site Link
I have received some further information about the death of Moon's son
from the NBC reporter, Victoria Campbell, who originally reported the
story.

"There was a memorial for Moon's son here in Reno over the weekend,
attended by followers of the church. One of the members told the reporter
that the police department is considering this a 'murder', rather than a
suicide.

I have confirmed with the coroners office that this is still classified as
a suicide. There's no evidence that anyone else was ever in the room,
except for two hotel employees delivering food he had ordered. There's
also a railing outside the room that would be tough to "fall over", but
easy to climb if you were intent on killing yourself.

I suppose it's to be expected that the church is putting out this
information, but I just wanted you to know that nothing has changed here
as far as the authorities are concerned. There's no question in their
minds that he committed suicide."
[...more...]


=== Paganism/Wicca

19. Barr's Witch Project: Lawmaker Wants to Ban Witches from the Military
Law Street, Nov. 1, 1999
http://www.lawstreet.com/journal/art991101wiccan.html
(...) But Barr has also been waging a little-noticed witch-hunt against
real-life witches--members of the Wicca religion.
(...)

It is considered one of the fastest growing religions in the country, drawing
everyone from teenage girls to retired businessmen.
(...)

What began as a protest letter from Barr has boiled over into a much larger
First Amendment battle between the right-wing and witches.
(...)

Members of Wicca and other "neopagan" groups, meanwhile, have been galvanized
by the emerging threat.
(...)

Since Wicca is a religion in the eyes of the courts, it enjoys the protection
of the First Amendment
(...)

Barr is on much safer constitutional ground when he argues that the military
should be able to ban the practice of witchcraft for reasons of military
readiness. To bolster his case, Barr cited the Supreme Court's ruling in
Goldman v. Weinberger (1986), in which the court defended the military's
right not to allow an orthodox Jewish officer to wear a yarmulke while on
duty. The court ruled that because of the military's unique interests and
goals, it is not under the same obligation to guarantee freedom of religious
practice.
[...more...]


20. Pagans join Interfaith Council
Boston Globe, Nov. 8, 1999
http://www.boston.com/dailynews/312/region/Pagans_join_Interfaith_Council:.shtml
(...) ''We get a lot further trying to understand one another than by
battling,'' said the Rev. Richard H. Barron, pastor of the First Baptist
Church of Greenfield and president of the Council. ''We just accepted them as
another faith.''

Ted Tarr, a Wiccan priest, and his wife, Mary Colleen MacDougall, a priestess
trained in the Celtic Fairy tradition, said they decided to join the
mainstream council, in part, to promote recognition for their religion.
(...)

Barron said he expected some people would question the council's action.
Some, he said, see the word pagan and think anti-faith and devil worship.

''No one on the council will ever compromise his or her faith,'' Barron said.
''We are all clear on that. But, we can be tolerant, open and cooperative.
Our purpose is to bring people of divergent faiths together.''
[...more...]


=== Other News

21. Two die in suicide pact by cultists
South China Morning Post, Nov. 10, 1999
http://www.scmp.com/News/Asia/Article/FullText_asp_ArticleID-19991112032134206.asp
Two members of a doomsday cult are reported to have committed suicide,
prompting officials to repeat warnings about the sect and raising fears of a
return to tighter controls on unauthorised religious activity.

This week's deaths followed an incident last month when three other cult
members refused medical treatment and starved themselves to death as part of
a ritual designed to test their faith.

Authorities, stung by the deaths, broke up meetings of the so-called Chinese
Dragon Buddha cult and fined members for illegal assembly.

Local media reported this week that senior cult member Vie The Vinh, 46, and
Pham Van Cuong, 23, had taken their own lives to escape a disaster their sect
believes will destroy the world next year.
[...more...]


22. Nokia Dismisses Swiss Subsidiary's Chairman on Cult Membership
AOL/Bloomberg, Nov. 10, 1999
http://www.aol.com/mynews/business/story.adp/cat=01&id=1999111005180294
Nokia Oyj, the world's largest maker of cellular phones, dismissed the
chairman of Nokia International, its Swiss subsidiary, because he allegedly
was a member of a religious sect, Swiss daily newspaper Tages-Anzeiger
reported. Hans Rudolf Barth, who was in charge of legal and administrative
services for Nokia International, was allegedly a member of the sect whose
members have been convicted of making racist statements, which is illegal
under Swiss law, the report said. The sect linked to Barth has also claimed
that wireless technology can lead to physical and mental diseases and cause
death, the paper said.
[...more...]


23. Parole hearing postponed for Manson follower
San Francisco Gate/AP, Nov. 5, 1999
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/news/archive/1999/11/05/state1448EST0035.DTL
A parole hearing for Charles Manson follower Leslie Van Houten was abruptly
postponed after her new lawyer asked for more time to study the case.

But family members of two murder victims said they believed Van Houten asked
for the delay to avoid facing them in the prison hearing room.
[...more...]


24. U.S. fugitive Ira Einhorn not worried about extradition
CNN/AP, Nov. 10, 1999
http://www.cnn.com/US/9911/10/einhorn.interview.ap/index.html
Fugitive killer Ira Einhorn is counting on support from the French people to
keep him from being brought to justice for the 1977 slaying of his girlfriend
and having to pay a $907 million wrongful death judgment against him.

"They're supporting me -- they're freaked about the situation," the ex-hippie
guru told Esquire magazine in an interview to be published in its December
edition. "It has nothing to do with guilty or innocent. It has to do with the
way I'm being treated. And they're just so shocked."
(...)

In February, a French court ordered him extradited provided that he be
retried and not face the death penalty. Einhorn remains free in France while
appealing the extradition order.

Einhorn, who spends his days tending a fruit and vegetable garden, swimming
in one of two streams on his property, or e-mailing his Internet UFO group
about government conspiracies, has said little since his arrest in 1997 and
has refused most interviews.
[...more...]


25. Texas Baptists vote to reject dictum of wifely submission
CNN/AP, Nov. 9, 1999
http://www.cnn.com/US/9911/09/baptists.submission.ap/index.html
Texas' Southern Baptists on Tuesday repudiated the denomination's call for
women to "submit graciously" to their husbands.

The Baptist General Convention of Texas is the largest state organization
(2.7 million members) within the nation's 15.7 million-member Southern
Baptist Convention and sends it millions of dollars each year. But the state
organization is more moderate than the national one.
(...)

Leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention denounced the decision and noted
that the "submit graciously" amendment had passed with overwhelming support.
They said it is little more than a paraphrase of the apostle Paul's
teachings.

R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
in Louisville, Ky., called the vote "an intentional rejection of a clear
teaching of the Bible."
[...more...]


=== Noted

26. Spiritualist Camp Lures the Living Who Long to Reach the Dead
Los Angeles Times, Nov. 9, 1999
http://www.latimes.com/news/nation/19991109/t000101891.html
(...) But every day, bereaved relatives, paranormal pioneers and curious
tourists arrive--sometimes by the busload--to consult one or more of the 50
mediums, psychics and healers who have made this central Florida town a mecca
for those hungry for a word from the great beyond.

"With the approach of the Year 2000, people seem to be looking for more
substantial ways of worship," said Steve Adkins, a medium and president of
the Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp Meeting Assn. "By bringing back lost loved
ones, we hope to create an awakening to God, and remove the fear of death."

Cassadaga is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, founded
in 1894 by spiritualists from New York looking for a winter retreat. It is
now the oldest active religious community in the southeastern United States.
(...)

Spiritualism is a religion based on the principle that the dead do not die.
They merely pass over into the spirit side of life. And from there they talk
to the living, sometimes as guardian angels, offering encouragement and
consolation.
(...)

A poll conducted for CBS News last year found that 32% of respondents
believed that some people could talk to spirits of the dead. And 12% of those
polled said they themselves had conversed with the beyond.
(...)

Spiritualism is a particularly American religion that traces its roots to
a hoax. In 1848, two sisters in Rochester, N.Y.--Catharine and Margarett
Fox--drew a crowd to their farmhouse when they claimed that unexplained
knocking on the walls was produced by the ghost of a murder victim rumored to
have been buried in the basement. Years later, after countless performances
and a stint with impresario P.T. Barnum, the sisters confessed that they'd
made the sounds themselves.

But by then it didn't matter. Believers wanted to believe. Today, there
may be as few as 10,000 people in the U.S. who identify themselves as
spiritualists, and only a handful of residential camps--including one in Lily
Dale, N.Y., and another in San Diego County called Harmony Grove.
[...more...]


27. The most dangerous man in the world
The Guardian (England), Nov. 6, 1999 (4,961 words)
http://www.newsunlimited.co.uk/weekend/story/0,3605,100198,00.html
(...) His name is Peter Singer and he is, in the words of his
enemies, "the most dangerous man in the world today".

That's quite a description for an academic philosopher from an obscure
university, Monash, in Western Australia. But Singer's appointment to
Princeton University's Professorship of Bioethics has detonated an academic
bomb right in the quad of one of America's most prestigious Ivy League
universities, provoking a thousand hostile editorials and a firestorm of rage
in the American establishment.
(...)

But like some ancient Stoic philosopher demanding more punishment, Singer
appears to thrive on the antagonism he generates. "My views are perceived to
be threatening by a segment of this society, and it's a segment that comes
largely from the Christian viewpoint. And that segment feels in some sense of
crisis because it has lost some important battles, notably the abortion
battle. I state my opposition to that viewpoint more bluntly than most people
do. This is a society that does need to hear some of the things I've got to
say."
(...)

Singer is a utilitarian, a follower of the 19th-century philosophers Jeremy
Bentham and J S Mill, who formulated the treatise that the best moral good
was the happiness of the greatest number. In utilitarianism, an action is
judged not by its intrinsic nature, but by its consequences. The crucial and
only important moral question is, does it reduce suffering and/or increase
happiness?

The second tenet of utilitarianism is the idea of "equality of interest". The
pleasures derived by a rich sweatshop owner from exploiting his workers,
profits, increased leisure time, do not count more highly than the pain, fear
and suffering of the workers.
[...more...]


=== Religious Pluralism; Interfaith and/or Interdenominational Dialogue

28. Religion Fair Finds Unity in Difference
Los Angeles Times, Nov. 8, 1999
http://www.latimes.com/editions/orange/ocnews/19991108/t000101685.html
"Roots and Visions" was the theme Sunday of a Religious Diversity Faire at UC
Irvine that featured representatives of two dozen faiths from all over the
world and drew almost 500 participants from Orange County.

Leaders of panel discussions talked about religious pluralism in the new
millennium, trends in institutional religions, the differences between
ancient sacred texts and how teaching ministries will evolve.
(...)

The question whether interfaith dialogue promotes watered-down beliefs or
leads instead to a reinforced faith was addressed by veteran religion
reporter Bob Abernethy, host of the PBS television series "Religion and
Ethics NewsWeekly." Abernethy delivered the keynote address, "The
Implications of Religious Diversity," at the fair, the sixth such annual
gathering at UCI.

"I respond with great hope to all those who have discovered the paradox of
being open to all religions by going deep into their own," he said. "Not in
watering down any religion, but by plumbing the historic depths of all. I
strongly suspect that if we are to learn how to proceed from tolerance to
understanding to respect, it will not be in spite of our deepest beliefs but
because of them."
(...)

Panel discussions focused on topics such as reincarnation, international
religious freedom, interfaith ministry, mysticism, modern prophets and
labyrinths. They also addressed specific traditions, such as Sikh, American
Indian, Unitarian Universalist, Buddhist and Roman Catholic.
[...more...]


29. At age 50, troubles bedevil the National Council of Churches
Akron Beacon Journal, Nov. 7, 1999
http://www.ohio.com/bj/news/ohio/docs/030115.htm
On paper, it's one of America's grandest religious alliances, representing 35
denominations with 50 million members and styling itself as ``the primary
national expression of the movement for Christian unity.''

If so, Christian unity is in trouble. For the National Council of Churches
has reached a historical low point as it celebrates its 50th anniversary at a
meeting starting Tuesday in Cleveland.
(...)

On the conservative end of the spectrum, leaders of the Evangelical caucuses
in seven council denominations last week called upon the organization to
disband. "The NCC is a hindrance to the cause of Christian unity,'' said
Methodist James Heidinger II, accusing the council of "extremely liberal
theological and political views.''

Other observers say the council's woes simply reflect the decline of
"Mainline Protestant'' denominations such as the United Methodist Church,
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Episcopal Church, United Church of Christ and
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
[...more...]


30. Papal Call for Christian Unity Gets Cool Reception
Los Angeles Times, Nov. 9, 1999
http://www.latimes.com/news/nation/19991109/t000101892.html
Pope John Paul II arrived in Georgia on Monday calling for "new bridges"
between the long-estranged Eastern and Western branches of Christianity. But
he met a wall of silence from the country's Orthodox Christian patriarch.
(...)

Their awkward encounters showed the elusiveness of the pope's dream of
"total communion" with the Eastern churches that broke from Rome more than a
millennium ago. That ideal faces resistance in many of the world's 15 Eastern
Orthodox churches, including the one in this former Soviet republic.
(...)

Not once did Ilia acknowledge the ecumenical theme of John Paul's visit,
and only once did he hint at his reason for being evasive: He complained that
"various kinds of sects and religious movements from foreign countries" are
exploiting Georgia's poverty to proselytize among the needy by luring
converts with "so-called humanitarian aid."

His complaint did not mention Roman Catholics. But other Orthodox Christians
said they oppose closer ties with the Vatican precisely because they might
lead to stronger competition from the country's 100,000-strong Roman Catholic
minority. Most of Georgia's 5.4 million people are Orthodox.
[...more...]


31. India Religious Leaders Trade Ideas With Pope
Los Angeles Times, Nov. 8, 1999
http://www.latimes.com/news/nation/19991108/t000101580.html
(...) John Paul had called on Asian Catholic leaders Saturday to heed the
Christian "call to conversion" and work harder in the next millennium to
"penetrate the hearts of Asian peoples" with the belief that Jesus Christ is
mankind's only savior.

On Sunday, he took pains to distinguish between his church's twin missions
of reaching out to the leaders of other religions and seeking converts among
their flocks.

"Dialogue is never an attempt to impose our own views upon others, since
such dialogue would become a form of spiritual and cultural domination," he
said. "This does not mean that we abandon our own convictions. What it means
is that, holding firmly to what we believe, we listen respectfully to others,
seeking to discern all that is good and holy, all that favors peace and
cooperation."
[...more...]


=== Religious- Freedom, Persecution and/or Intolerance

32. UN: Social Committee, continuing review, is told prevention strategy
needed on religious intolerance
Northern Light/M2 Communications Ltd.
http://library.northernlight.com/FA19991109860000173.html?cb=0&dx=1006&sc=0
A strategy of prevention was urgently needed to curb religious intolerance,
the Special Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance told the Third Committee
(Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) this morning as the Committee met to
continue considering human rights issues. The Committee is reviewing
questions related to alternative approaches for improving human rights; human
rights situations; follow-up to the Vienna Declaration; and the report of the
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The strategy of prevention, the Special Rapporteur continued, should focus on
education and dialogue. The only way to eradicate intolerance was to change
people's mindset. Prevention efforts should begin with children. The school
curricula in some states contained "a virtual hymn to intolerance" by not
mentioning other religions, or by presenting the country's own religion as
the only one.

He said dialogue was the second critical factor in inculcating tolerance and
in light of that, he said his mandate as Special Rapporteur should be changed
to focus not on "intolerance" but rather on "freedom of religion an opinion".
That would make it a positive mandate and would make subjects less reluctant
to meet with him.

Upon introducing his report, the Special Rapporteur engaged in a dialogue
with representatives.
[...more...]


33. Romania moves to curtail religious libertyOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Religious Liberty in Romania
http://www.newsroom.org/Article_show.asp?ArticleID=1262
Romania is planning a new law that will curb Christian outreach and
discriminate against small Christian groups outside mainstream denominations.

The General Status of Religious Organizations Bill under consideration by
legislators would require all religious groups to seek the approval of the
secretary of state for religion and to apply for legal recognition.

However, the legal hurdle that is being proposed is so high that many new or
recent Christian groups would be excluded. To be legally recognized a
religious group would have to have a national membership of at least 0.5
percent of the population of the entire country. That rules out any group
with fewer than 115,000 members. A religious group also would have to show
that its members represent at least 5 percent of the population in the area
in which they live.
(...)

Similar moves are taking place in many of the former Eastern bloc countries
where concern is growing about the new religious movements rushing in to fill
the vacuum left by Communism. Many, like Jehovah's Witnesses, are often
regarded with hostility by the state and traditional faiths.
[...more...]


34. Religious Sign Off Complaint Filed
Washington Post, Nov. 10, 1999
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/aponline/19991110/aponline072815_000.htm
A woman has filed a federal complaint against her employer after she was
ordered to stop saying "have a blessed day" at work. Liz Anderson, an office
coordinator at USF Logistics, lodged a discrimination charge with the Equal
Employment Opportunities Commission on Tuesday, saying it was the only way to
protect her religious freedom.
(...)

"This was a religious practice of hers based on her Christianity," said her
attorney, Kevin Betz. "That makes it a religious practice for which the
employer cannot discriminate against and for which the employer must
accommodate so long as to do so is not an undue hardship to the business."
[...more...]


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