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Religion Items In The News

September 21, 1998 (Vol. 2, Issue 49)

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


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

Religion Items in the News - September 21, 1998 (Vol. 2, Issue 49)

1 Uruguay takes over Moonie bank
2 Uruguay takes over Moon's bank
3 Cult leader promises followers a new start up the Moonie river
4 Cult guru's lawyers lash at prosecutors, court (Aum Shinrikyo)
5 Church of Scientology Wins $3 Million Ruling
6 Boston U.'s Scientology connection
7 Tabloid Lawyers Can't Question Presley About Church Of Scientology
8 [Press Release] Scientology has gained little
9 Scientologists not permitted in the police union
10 'Toxic Christianity,' or God's modern-day movement? (ICC)
11 ...pastor Marianne Williamson (...) leads Warren New Age ministry
12 Unfair Sect Recruitment on Public Land a Criminal Offense
13 Madonna's New Holy War
14 Madonna Draws Praise From Leader Of Previously Critical Hindu Group
15 Big-name TV preachers say God led them to Dallas area
16 Holy war - World Prayer Center arms itself with technology, faith
17 Russian sect digs in its heels (Molokans)
18 Catholics ready to sign statement to end dispute
19 Saying MAX train angers spirits, monks try to make peace

20 Alpha Course renews, awakens the spirit
21 The century's spiritual leaders

22 Belief in God in an Age of Science
23 International Bible Commentary

World Wide Web
24 Net Religious Groups Besieged
25 Getting religion on the Internet

People Unclear On The Concept
26 Bible in Pig Latin
27 Cardinal in Loan Shark Case Reported to Perform Miracle
28 Thief steals props for Jesus role


1. Uruguay takes over Moonie bank
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: BBC News, Sep 20, 1998

The banking authorities in Uruguay have taken temporary control of a bank owned by the religious sect known as the Moonies the Unification Church of the Reverend Sung Myung Moon.

The Uruguay Central Bank ordered the takeover of the Banco de Credito, which is believed to have debts of one-hundred million dollars, saying it was necessary to resolve the bank's liquidity problems and to safeguard the Uruguayan banking system.


Back To Top 2. Uruguay takes over Moon's bank
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: Infoseek/Reuters, Sep 18, 1998
Uruguay's Central Bank said Friday it was taking over Banco de Credito, which is controlled by Korean Evangelist Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church, due to liquidity problems.

"This measure is due to liquidity problems registered in the last few days, due to the failure of the majority shareholder to remedy the situation," Central Bank president Humberto Capote told reporters.

Moon's Unification Church, which has built up a presence in Uruguay and owns a newspaper and land across the River Plate in Argentina, has been accused of using cult techniques to control people and alienate them from their families.

Back To Top 3. Cult leader promises followers a new start up the Moonie river
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: The Scotchman, Sep 16, 1998
(...) The Moonies, or Unification Church to give the cult its proper name, claimed to have more than 30,000 members in the United States alone at the height of its popularity in the mid-1980s.

Since then, followers have dwindled to a few thousand and its leader, the Rev Sun Myung Moon, has retreated to an estate at Irvington, outside New York.

Now the "church" has embarked on an ambitious project which, if successful, could see Rev Moon abandon the US for what is described as a utopian city in the Brazilian jungle.

The elderly founder of the Unification Church has invested £20 million on the community, modestly named the New Hope Farm, which he claims will one day be linked via satellite to classrooms across the world.

Rev Moon's vision is to encourage environmentally responsible development in the third world - and he believes he can do this by setting up 33 separate communities on the 86,000-acre site on the Brazilian border with Paraguay.

However, cynics say the development is the North Korean guru's way of gleaning new members, topping up his bank accounts and putting behind him the shambolic scandal of his heir apparent son's marriage problems.

Hyo Jin, Moon's eldest son by his second wife, is embroiled in a bitter dispute with Nansook Hong, his ex-wife.

It is in this light that the 78-year-old Moon has changed tack. After refusing all press interviews for 20 years, he recently allowed respected writer Peter Maass access to his New York estates and his New Hope Farm project.

Back To Top 4. Cult guru's lawyers lash at prosecutors, court
Source: Newspage.com, Sep 18, 1998
No URL. Free registration at www.newspage.com
Attorneys for a cult guru accused of murder in the nerve gas attack on Tokyo subways denounced his trial Thursday as "unfair" because some of the prosecutors' charges are contradicted by testimony from their own witnesses.

Shoko Asahara, the leader of the Aum Shinri Kyo cult, is on trial on 17 charges in the March 20, 1995 sarin attack that killed 12 people and sickened thousands.

Back To Top 5. Church of Scientology Wins $3 Million Ruling
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: San Francisco Chronicle, Sep 19, 1998
A federal judge in San Jose has awarded the Church of Scientology a $3 million judgment against a persistent critic of the church who published portions of the group's secret scriptures on the Internet.

But defendant Grady Ward will not have to pay the full fine as long as he refrains from further publications of Scientology secrets and pays the church $200 per month for the rest of his life, according to settlement papers released yesterday.

Ward, a computer buff and Arcata resident who defended himself during the 30-month legal battle, could not be reached for comment yesterday. But according to statements in court papers, he has threatened to appeal the judge's order.

According to McShane, this week's settlement resolves four of five similar lawsuits challenging the legality of publishing church documents in cyberspace.

The Church of Scientology has prevailed in one lawsuit in Sweden, one in Virginia and two in San Jose. In the most recent case, San Jose resident Keith Henson -- allegedly an associate of Ward -- was fined $75,000 for a similar Internet posting, McShane said.

The fifth case still under way in San Jose's district court involves former Scientology minister Dennis Erlich, who claims the church is engaged in consumer fraud because members are required to pay before they can advance spiritually. Other church dissidents say they have paid thousand of dollars and wiped out their life savings to access the church's instructions for passing through levels of spirituality.

[Note: The Swedish Parliament makes CoS scriptures available to anyone. Details]

6. Boston U.'s Scientology connection
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: Boston Globe, Sep 16, 1998

(...) It is not widely known that the man to whom both Silber and Westling answer is Boston lawyer Earle Cooley, chairman of the BU board of trustees and chairman of the board's executive committee. For over a decade, Cooley has zealously defended the interests of the Church of Scientology, which a 1991 Time magazine cover story called "a hugely profitable global racket that survives by intimidating members and critics in a Mafia-like manner."

I contend that Cooley is more than "just" a lawyer for Scientology. I say he is deeply allied with one of the great anti-intellectual movements of our time, and his activities are wildly incompatible with his status as a top official of a major American university.

Back To Top 7. Tabloid Lawyers Can't Question Presley About Church Of Scientology
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: CBS, Sep 16, 1998
National Enquirer attorneys cannot probe Lisa Marie Presley's relationship with the Church of Scientology in the defamation and invasion of privacy lawsuit she filed against the supermarket tabloid, a judge ruled.

"They sought to invade her personal relationship with the Church of Scientology. The court ruled that area was out of bounds," Petrocelli said, adding the ruling was a significant victory for the plaintiff.

Back To Top 8. [Press Release] Scientology has gained little Source: Der Spiegel (Germany), Sep 19, 1998
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Translation: German Scientology News
The Scientologists are rather short of their alleged goal of obtaining controlling positions in society. This is the conclusion arrived at - according to a report by news magazine "Der Spiegel" - by German federal and state security in a report which is to be presented to the Interior Ministry conference this fall.

In the dossier, which is still being prepared, the security agents come to the conclusion that the [Scientology] psycho-sect has not even gotten their foot in the door of political parties. The state security agents were only able to detect one sect member in the FDP and two in the CDU. Neither was there any possibility of the systematic infiltration of the German economy. Nationwide the number of Scientologists are "significantly under 10,000, exactly 30 of whom reside in the new German states."

In addition to that, according to the findings of state security, the sect is in a financial turmoil. Several of the district [Scientology] organizations are carrying an enormous debt. The "growing money shortage" has even led to a cut in pay for staff members. Scientology denies major commercial difficulties, "We have a very sound financial policy: 'do not spend more than you take in'." According to the security agency's opinion, OSA themselves, the alleged sect secret service acts more like a kind of security guard "and rather dilettantish at that."

Back To Top 9. Scientologists not permitted in the police union
Source: Yahoo! Schlagzeilen Politik (Germany), Sep 17, 1998
Translation: German Scientology News
Members of the Scientology Organization are excluded from the police union (GdP). On Thursday at their federal congress, the GdP became the first union to make an incompatibility resolution. Outside of that, the police union advocated better cooperation in Europe in stating that border police stations should be manned by investigators from both countries.

The approximately 250 delegates were unanimously in favor of improving the information work being done on Scientology, and to more closely watch over the organization. "We would like to have the Scientology sect categorized as constitutionally hostile," said Norbert Spinrath, the new GdP chairman.

Back To Top 10. 'Toxic Christianity,' or God's modern-day movement?
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: BC Christian News, Sep 1998 issue (Vol. 18, Issue 9)
"BY GRACE are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9).

"One of my disciplers called that false doctrine," states James Fam. The University of BC student was speaking to BC Christian News about his experience with the Vancouver Church of Christ (VCC). The church's extreme emphasis on human effort, he says, was one reason he left. Currently a member of Westpointe Christian Centre, Fam now helps bring people out of the VCC.

VCC was established in 1991; it is a branch of the International Churches of Christ (ICOC), also known as the Boston Movement, founded by Kip McKean in 1979. ICOC split off from the mainstream Church of Christ, which disavows any connection with McKean.

Back To Top 12. Unfair Sect Recruitment on Public Land a Criminal Offense
Source: 1998 News-Window Switzerland, Sep 16, 1998
Translation: German Scientology News
Unfair or deceptive recruitment methods by sects on public land is now a criminal offense in the city of Basel. The Basel Canton Parliament ruled by a landslide with four votes against the new code. The people have the last word.

The Basel criminal code does not prevent legitimate activity and is relative. Neither is it a one-time law and is not a Scientology law.

In a communiqué this evening, the Scientology [sic] reacted testily to the criminal code. It stated the new regulation was "a populist waste of time, since the Basel Great Council is trying to re-invent the wheel." It continued to say that the federal law about unfair competition already covers the facts of the matter. The sect does not see that it will be affected by the regulation, since Basel is not able to do away with freedom of thought or religion. The sect also states that it operates in neither an unfair nor a deceptive manner.

Back To Top 13. Madonna's New Holy War
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: E! Online, Sep 14, 1998
Madonna and religion just don't mix. Remember that thing Madonna wore on her face during last week's MTV Video Music Awards? Well, it wasn't a "thing," at all. It was a set of facial markings holy to Hindus--and some Hindus aren't happy about its TV exposure, courtesy the Material Girl.

The association, in a statement, declared Madonna's "stage performance, which combined Eastern mysticism with Western hedonism, did not sit well with sincere Hindus, Vaishnavas and yoga practitioners around the globe."

Back To Top 14. Madonna Draws Praise From Leader Of Previously Critical Hindu Group
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: MTV.com, Sep 17, 1998
Madonna got a reprieve on Wednesday from the Vice President of the World Vaishnava Association, Swami B. V. Tripurari, who issued a statement in response to some criticism dished out against her by other WVA members.

The swami, on the other hand, says in a statement that, "the Hindu community and Eastern spiritual seekers the world over should be happy for Madonna personally in terms of her genuine interest in enlightened life, and grateful to her for her sincere efforts to attract others to the same."

Back To Top 15. City of Evangels - Big-name TV preachers say God led them to Dallas area; amenities help keep them here
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: Dallas Morning News, Sep 12, 1998
(...) Other local television preachers believe they've gotten the same divine nod toward Dallas. When Bishop Jakes packed up his ministry in 1996 and left his hometown, Charleston, W.Va., he landed in a region that a handful of mega-ministries and a host of lesser-known television evangelists have long called home.

The ranks include Kenneth Copeland in Fort Worth, James Robison in Euless and the Trinity Broadcast Network's international production facility in Irving. (Two local, formerly high-profile figures who've fallen from grace are Robert Tilton and Mr. Grant.)

Dr. Nancy Eiesland is a religion professor at Emory University's Candler School of Theology in Atlanta. She said the Dallas area holds another attraction for ministries and evangelists: its closeness to Latin America.

"The Trinity Broadcast Network has always had that connection," Dr. Eiesland said. "But Dallas will allow some of those others to go into Latin America as well, and Latin Americans really identify with these type ministries."

Back To Top 16. Holy war - World Prayer Center arms itself with technology, faith
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: Dallas Morning News, Sep 17, 1998
The people at the World Prayer Center describe their sleek new building as a base for waging spiritual warfare. They aren't exaggerating by much.

They've got prayer warriors battling Satan. They've got a combat plan for saving souls. They've got a situation room full of data and computers. They've even got a director who sounds like a general.

"Missionaries are the ground troops," says the Rev. Joseph Thompson, director of the World Prayer Center, a new $5.5 million building endorsed by an array of evangelical groups. "Prayer is the air war in our battle."

The World Prayer Center, officially opening this weekend, is expected to become the nerve center of an emerging worldwide evangelical prayer movement. Using phone, fax and Internet, evangelicals are trying to link 50 million Christians in 120 nations in targeted prayer.

The prayer center will have a bookstore devoted to spiritual warfare. And it will include an office for "spiritual mapping," a method of tracking names, income levels, racial and ethnic makeup and other demographic information about cities and regions of the country.

"It's a kind of spiritual technology," said Margaret Poloma, a religion sociologist who studies prayer at the University of Akron. "Americans are great at pulling things together into programs and using technology, and that's what this represents."

Back To Top 17. Russian sect digs in its heels
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: San Jose Mercury News, Sep 20, 1998
(...) Tolmachoff is a member of a little-known Christian sect that broke away from the Russian Orthodox Church in the 1600s. About 60 percent of America's churchgoing Molokans - about 3,000 people - live in Los Angeles. Since 1941, most of them have been burying their ancestors at the Slauson cemetery, sandwiched between a paper factory and a warehouse.

In recent years, as commercial development has surrounded the Slauson cemetery and vacant land in Commerce has become scarce, banks and real estate firms have clamored to buy and develop the cemetery or its vacant 10 acres - offering to pay nearly a half-million dollars an acre.

But the six Molokan churches that own the property have rejected all offers outright.

Back To Top 18. Catholics ready to sign statement to end dispute
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: Deseret News, Sep 19, 1998
A senior Vatican official has said that the Roman Catholic Church is ready to sign - "without delay and in its integrity" - a major statement with the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) that aims to resolve a doctrinal dispute dating from the Reformation. Cardinal Edward Idris Cassidy, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, said that he was clarifying "misreadings" of the official Catholic response to the "joint declaration on justification," on the basis of which some observers believed the Vatican had given only qualified support to the joint declaration with the LWF, the world's major grouping of Lutheran churches.
Back To Top 19. Saying MAX train angers spirits, monks try to make peace
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: The Oregonian, Sep 19, 1998
Braving rain and wind, four [Buddhist] monks ventured 260 feet underground Friday morning to make peace with spirits they say were angered by the new light-rail line that burrows beneath a cemetery.

Friday's ceremony might well be the first of several by those Asian Americans and others worried that the tunnel project has offended the spirits in the cemetery, said Catalani, who worked with Tri-Met officials to arrange the ceremony.

Back To Top Noted

20. Alpha Course renews, awakens the spirit
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: Midland Reporter Telegram, Sep 12, 1998

(...) A course designed to answer as many of those questions as possible, the Alpha Course, has grown in popularity at a phenomenal rate in the seven years since its inception.

The growth of Alpha worldwide is remarkable. In l991, the first year for the course anywhere, four classes were conducted. By 1995, 2,500 classes were taught and last year, that number reached 6,700. By the end of 1998, officials and leaders with the Alpha Course estimate as many as 1 million people worldwide will have completed the course.

In its infancy, Alpha was presented to 55 different theologians of differing faiths. All signed off on the course.

"Alpha emphasizes the basics we all celebrate," Walter said. "The denominational aspects have been filtered out and we are getting back to the Bible's basics."

Back To Top 21. The century's spiritual leaders
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: Nando.Net, Sep 18, 1998
Who most influenced America's spiritual life in the 20th century? Going into its second year of broadcasting, Public Television's "Religion and Ethics Newsweekly" joined the cadre of list makers last week when it posted its choices of the 25 most influential religious figures of the 20th century among Americans.
Back To Top Books

22. God in the machine
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: Irish Times, Sep 17, 1998

Belief in God in an Age of Science
by John Polkinghorne
Yale 133pp, £14.95 in UK

(...) Can religion co-exist with the confident march of science? It is a question which challenges believers in every age, and John Polkinghorne is ideally placed to answer it for ours. An ordained minister of the Anglican church and an eminent particle physicist and former Professor of Physics at Cambridge - if anyone can rebut the triumphalist claims of some contemporary empiricists it is Polkinghorne.

For Polkinghorne, there is purpose and design out there, which our minds can discover and not just fabricate. And God does intervene in the world, not just stand idly by paring his nails in sublime confidence in his artistry. Yes, but how do we know? Most of Polkinghorne's book is devoted to trying to demonstrate the compatibility between scientific method and theology, and he makes heavy reading of such an unlikely proposition.

Back To Top 23. Book's Chapters a First - Locally edited commentary takes uniquely global view
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: Dallas Morning News, Sep 19, 1998
Professor William Farmer says the world has never seen a biblical commentary quite like the one he's edited.

Seven years in the making, the new book proclaims its ambitious goals in its name and cast of contributors. The International Bible Commentary: A Catholic and Ecumenical Commentary for the Twenty-First Century includes writing from 117 biblical scholars from every continent but Antarctica and across a variety of Christian traditions.

"I don't know of any other commentary like this," said Dr. Toni Craven, a professor at Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. "It's international and ecumenical in ways the others are not."

The editors' aims for the new book were expansive:

To produce a work that would be Catholic and catholic - that is, acceptable to Roman Catholic theologians and to the wider Christian world.


Although the scholars were not directed to analyze the texts in any particular manner, the commentaries tend to take the words of the Bible seriously but not necessarily literally.

Back To Top World Wide Web

24. Net Religious Groups Besieged
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: WIRED, Sep 17, 1998

Two unidentified women set up ISP accounts that were used in a three-day automated attack this week on religious Usenet newsgroups. The attackers used familiar newsgroup member names in sending thousands of off-subject, often vulgar, posts to a number of alt.religion groups on the Internet.

The spam attack prevented actual conversation on many newsgroups, since it was difficult to distinguish which of the messages were real.

Back To Top 25. Getting religion on the Internet - High-tech disciples, eager to connect, want that online religion
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: Dallas Morning News, Sep 19, 1998
Religion on the Internet is making a difference in the not-so-virtual world far from computer screens.

Kenneth Bedell spent 10 months at St. Louis University researching religion online for United Methodist Communications. "People think of religion as one of the topics that can be researched on the Internet," he concluded in a report that can be found at www.religion-research.org. "But more importantly, people are looking for information they can use to determine their own actions."

How big a deal is religion on the Internet? There is no single directory of the hundreds of millions of Web pages, so there's no absolute count. But Alta Vista claims to have indexed more than 140 million pages. The Alta Vista search engine (www.altavista.digital.com) identifies about 5 million pages with the word god on them. (God with a capital "G" is on about 4 million of those pages.)

A similar search for the other two of the Big Three discussion topics turned up 11.5 million pages with the word sex and about 3 million with politics.

Back To Top 26. Science news: Bits and bytes
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: Deseret News, Sep 16, 1998
(...) On a related and even sillier note, self-described Web "kook" Earl Vickers has translated the entire Bible into pig Latin and has pig Latin text of the books of Genesis, Job and John available at www.well.com/user/earl/Ible-bay.html. "I've recently completed what is, to the best of my knowledge, the first complete translation of the Bible into pig Latin. This is the 319th translation of the entire Bible," Vickers says at his Web site.
Back To Top People Unclear On The Concept

27. Cardinal in Loan Shark Case Reported to Perform Miracle
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Souce: Washington Post, Sept 20, 1998; Page A28

A flask of saint's blood appeared to liquefy today in the hands of Naples' cardinal, sparking immediate, impassioned debate among Italians over whether it was a sign of divine favor for the cardinal in a loan-sharking case.
Back To Top 28. Thief steals props for Jesus role
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Source: CNews, Sep 15, 1998
A thief ignored the thou-shalt-not-steal rule when he broke into a car and stole $2,200 worth of props owned by an actor who portrays Jesus.

(...) when he returned to his car Monday in a hotel parking lot, he found that someone had broken the Eighth Commandment: Missing were pottery, a handmade wig, costume, bread basket, theatrical makeup and other items.

Back To Top
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