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Religion Items In The News
Religion Items in the News - December 10, 1998 (Vol. 2, Issue 61)
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 - December 10, 1998 (Vol. 2, Issue 61)Main
1 1. Asian economic ills spread to Rev. Moon's business empire
2 2. Ousted Waco sect leader dead after escape bid
3 3. Ex-Branch Davidian Found Dead
4 4. Aum trial lawyer arrested
5 5. The Life and Death of a Scientologist
6 6. Former Scientologist shares familiar tale of force-feeding
7 7. Scientology threatens [German] state with suit
8 8. Scientology threatens suit against surveillance
9 9. Prison for Scientologist
10 10. China arrests religious group members (Main God Religion)
11 11. Satanic Cults Cause Fears In Spain
12 12. [Murder Trial] after (...) victim refuses blood and dies
13 13. Grand jury to consider Wendorf case again (Vampire cult)
14 14. Preacher holding Colorado teen will face inspection (New Bethany)
15 15. Prison-based movement stirs debate (Five Percent)
16 16. ADL: Prison racism is on the rise (Aryan Brotherhood/Farrakhan)
17 17. Ex-Californians tap wealth to promote supremacy of whites
18 18. Witches stew over dress code
19 19. Group wants religion taken out of [Canadian] schools
20 20. Are WSU's students rejecting Darwinism? Noted
21 21. E-church logs on to God.com
22 22. A Trip to Stonesville (Dr. Weil) World Wide Web
23 23. The Scientology Comparative Religion Page People Unclear On The Concept
2424.Sidewalk evangelist pleads innocent to disturbing peace
1. Asian economic ills spread to Rev. Moon's business empire
Arizona Daily Star, Dec. 7, 1998
Overturning governments and ravaging industries, the Asian economic crisis now threatens to undermine one of the region's most prominent religious leaders: the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, head of the Unification Church. Moon saw his vast South Korean business empire collapse last week under a mountain of debt. It is the latest in a series of spectacular setbacks for the self-proclaimed messiah, who once boasted the adoration of hundreds of thousands of believers around the world.
2. Ousted Waco sect leader dead after escape bid
CNN, Dec. 7, 1998
The original leader of the Waco-based Branch Davidian sect, who was ousted after a gunfight with David Koresh, has died after an apparent escape attempt from a mental hospital in West Texas.
(...) In 1987 Roden was expelled from the sect's compound in Waco, Texas, after a gunfight in which Koresh successfully challenged Roden for leadership of the movement.
3. Ex-Branch Davidian Found Dead
Acccess Waco, Dec. 8, 1998
(...) Roden's mother owned the 77-acre site of the Branch Davidian compound near Waco known as Mount Carmel. She named Koresh as thetrustee of her will.
Daily Yomiuri, Dec. 7, 1998
Police on Sunday arrested Yoshihiro Yasuda, the chief defense lawyer for former Aum Supreme Truth cult leader Chizuo Matsumoto, on suspicion of teaching people how to hide income derived from rental buildings so that the Housing Loan Administration Corporation could not collect on it. The arrest of the court-appointed counsel is likely to have an impact on Matsumoto's trial.
5. The Life and Death of a Scientologist - After 13 Years and Thousands Of Dollars, Lisa McPherson Finally Went 'Clear.' Then She Went Insane.
Washington Post, Dec. 6, 1998
[NOTE: Excellent, lengthy article providing extensive details - AWH] (...) Within 17 days, McPherson who'd spent most of her adult life and tens of thousands of dollars as a devotee of Hubbard's teachings would be dead. The once-voluptuous 36-year-old she stood 5 feet 9 and wore a size 12 dress lost an estimated 40 to 50 pounds during the ordeal, dropping to 108, her bruised body pocked by insect bites and scabs. She was never seen by a licensed physician during that time. An autopsy attributed her death to a blood clot that developed due to "severe dehydration" and "bed rest." Last month, after more than two years of investigation, the state attorney here filed two felony counts against the Scientology organization, alleging abuse or neglect of a disabled adult and the practice of medicine without a license. (No individuals were charged; to obtain their testimony, all Scientology witnesses were given immunity by prosecutors.) A criminal conviction would only bring fines of up to $15,000, but also would allow a court to order restitution to the victim's family and payment of law-enforcement investigation costs.
(...) If, as Hubbard decreed, the ultimate aim of Scientology is its adherents' "total freedom" and "survival," then what went wrong in the case of Lisa McPherson?
(...) For many residents, the long-running McPherson case has revived unwelcome memories of Scientology's controversial past here in the mid-'70s the town's political, business and media establishment were targeted for what Hubbard memos termed "takeover" and "control." In 1975, Hubbard moved his sect ashore, secretly purchasing downtown properties under the guise of a group called United Churches of Florida. The guru's plan to create a Scientology-run city part of an even more grandiose scheme for global domination foundered after FBI raids and news reports exposed his goals. Prosecutors used internal church documents to help convict Hubbard's wife and 10 other top Scientologists in a conspiracy to infiltrate, bug and burglarize federal agencies. Hubbard was named an unindicted co-conspirator in that case.
6. Former Scientologist shares familiar tale of force-feeding
St. Petersburg Times, Dec. 5, 1998
A former Scientologist from Denmark said Friday that he helped force bread, fruit and liquids into the throat of an unconscious woman as part of an effort help her recover from a mental breakdown. Karsten Lorenzen's detailed account at a news conference held by a group of Scientology critics resembles the experience of Lisa McPherson, as documented by state investigators and Clearwater police. McPherson was the 36-year-old Scientologist whose 1995 death has resulted in criminal charges of abuse and practicing medicine without a license against the Church of Scientology in Clearwater.
(...) Church officials said Friday they had not fully investigated the Denmark man's story but called it another in a series of unsupported and fantastic allegations by critics who, they contend, have serious credibility problems.
(...) "I consider this guy another one of the stable who make outrageous allegations without any documentation to support it," said Mike Rinder, a top Scientology official. "I think these people literally sit around, drink and think up what the next outrageous thing is that they're going to say to get them on the news."
7. Scientology threatens state with suit Translation: German Scientology News
Schweriner Volkszeitung (Germany), Dec.8,1998
Schwerin (dpa) Interior Secretary Timm (SPD) rejected an ultimatum from the Scientology organization to end the observation of its members. "We won't let ourselves be extorted," stated the Minister in Schwerin yesterday. If there were to be Scientology activity in the Northeast, "of course it would be under observation" by the Constitutional Security Agency. Timm was reacting to a letter from Scientology attorneys, in which the cessation of surveillance by the Constitutional Security Agency was demanded by, at latest, Thursday; otherwise there would be the risk of facing a lawsuit.
9. Scientology threatens suit against surveillance
Freie Presse Online (Germany), Dec. 8, 1998; Translation: German Scientology News
The Scientology organization has threatened the Saxon Interior Minister with a lawsuit if the undercover surveillance of the organization does not cease.
(...) Similar sounding letters, according the the organization's statement, also when to the Interior Ministers of the four other new German states as well as Rheinland-Pfalz and Saarland.
(...) Hardraht stated that the surveillance of Scientology would continue regardless of the threat of a lawsuit. It has been determined that Scientology "is developing limited cover operations." The organization is also active in the free state. The state administration will not let itself by influenced by "extortion." The Minister stated that a clear-cut legal principle for the surveillance of the organization existed. Scientology has "confirmed that it has actual points in common with constitutionally hostile objectives which require observation." Findings from the surveillance will be deliberated upon by a federal and state work group.
Teletxt Schweiz (Switzerland), Dec.4, 1998; Translation: German Scientology News
The Criminal Court of Lausanne has sentenced a member of the Scientology association to six months prison suspended. The court found the man guilty of exploiting the dependency of a depressed person. Charges against two other people were dropped. The court accused the the sentenced man of having exploited the psychological instability and depression of a 38 year old PTT employee who had met up with the Scientologists. The man was wangled out of 20,000 franks for courses. Charges of fraud were dismissed against the Scientology member.
10. China arrests religious group members
Infoseek/Reuters, Dec. 7, 1998
China has arrested more than 20 members of an unofficial religious group in the southern province of Hunan, accusing them of swindling believers, the Wenhui Daily said on Monday. Police recently arrested key members of the group, called Zhu Shen Jiao, or Main God Religion, the newspaper said. The group cheated some of its 10,000 believers out of 300,000 yuan ($36,232) in cash and 20,000 kg of grain as well as gold and silver ornaments, it said. Zhu Shen Jiao told followers to prepare for a great calamity and that it was safer to keep belongings with the group, the newspaper said.
11. Satanic Cults Cause Fears In Spain
Catholic World News, Dec. 3, 1998
An investigation into the activities of Satanic cults, undertaken by the Spanish newspaper ABC, has yielded disturbing information about the growth of the cults' activities, and the connection with murders, suicides, and human sacrifices.
(...) Jaime Mayor, the government's interior minister, reported that there are now "about 200 destructive sects" operating in Spain, "the majority of them under legal cover." Police estimates put the overall membership of the groups at about 150,000.
(...) The ABC article also cited statistics from the international law-enforcement consortium, Interpol, suggesting that the number of such ritual sacrifices is on the rise across Europe. Interpol reported that there were at least 100 human sacrifices in Europe in the years 1989 and 1990.
12. Driver on trial for DUI murder after religious victim refuses blood and dies
Bakersfield Californian, Dec. 4, 1998
Jurors must decide if a drunken driver killed a devout Jehovah's Witness or whether her religious refusal of a blood transfusion did.
(...) Jennifer Russell, testified that on the way to the hospital her mother repeatedly said she didn't want a blood transfusion and even tried to pull out an intravenous line. Deputy District Attorney Larry Larson said by the time Mrs. Russell reached the hospital, she had lost half the blood in her body, but he said that should not divert attention from Cook's behavior.
(...) Jurors will be told that they can only absolve Cook of murder or manslaughter if they find that the failure to obtain a transfusion was the sole cause of Mrs. Russell's death.
13. Grand jury to consider Wendorf case again
Orlando Sentinel, Dec. 8, 1998
The case of vampire cult member Heather Wendorf will go back before a Lake County grand jury to decide once and for all whether the teen should be charged in the slayings of her parents.
(...) In a letter attached to Knupp's subpoena, Chief Assistant State Attorney Ric Ridgway wrote Knupp that he can tell the grand jury about any evidence concerning what the sheriff thinks to be Heather's involvement in the death of her parents. Knupp was outraged when a 1997 grand jury declined to indict Heather. Since then, four vampire cult members have been convicted in the slayings of Richard and Ruth Wendorf at their rural Eustis home on the night of Nov. 25, 1996. Cult leader Rod Ferrell, 18, a former Eustis High School student who often told friends he was a 500-year-old immortal vampire, is on death row.
14. Louisiana preacher holding Colorado teen will face inspection
Denver Rocky Mountain News, Dec. 6, 1998
(...) Ford, who for 27 years has run harsh detention centers for children their parents believe are wayward, had sued Louisiana to halt what he called harassment by child-welfare workers and fire marshals who sought to inspect his New Bethany Baptist Church in Arcadia. But U.S. District Court Judge Donald Walter tossed out the lawsuit Nov 23.
(...) The boy has been charged with no crime, and no court supervises his detention at New Bethany, where staff members use spanking and other forms of physical and psychological punishment to discipline the young inmates. Children held by Ford have been as young as 8.
(...) During the two-year court battle, a state social services memo surfaced that appears to confirm what several former residents have said about New Bethany. The 1988 memo paints a stark picture of life at New Bethany, an account blending the experiences of many residents into one story of a girl named "Julie."
(...) As her parents drove away, she said, she was told: "You belong to us now. You have no one but us. You were reborn today when you entered here, and so you have no past, no family, nothing but us and the New Bethany home."
15. Prison-based movement stirs debate
Bakersfield Californian, Dec. 5, 1998
(...) For the Five Percent, education and family are of prime importance. The word "peace" is central to the teachings. The 34-year-old movement rejects drinking, drugs and fornication. It also rejects most accepted history, authority and organized religion. The black man, the Five Percent teaches, is god.
(...) Thousands follow the teachings in Harlem, where the movement began, and beyond: New England, California, the Midwest. Elders say they hear from Alaska and Europe. Prisons are where many members first learn and study. The lyrics of hip-hop music by such stars as Busta Rhymes, Wu Tang Clan and Erykah Badu spread the word on CDs and radio. Although the lessons teach a moral code, the Five Percent reject being called a religion. They call themselves "a culture" and "a way of life." They also call themselves the Nation of Gods and Earths.
(...) The teachings are called Supreme Mathematics. They draw in part from the Nation of Islam, such as the teaching that a scientist created the white man from the black man, who in turn tricked the black man into slavery.
16. ADL: Prison racism is on the rise
Excite/UPI, Dec. 9, 1998
(...) The report, "Bigotry Behind Bars: Racist Groups in U.S. Prisons," says prison officials estimate up to 10 percent of the nation's inmates are affiliated with racist gangs that are bolstered by hate groups outside the prisons. The ADL says the most notorious gang is the Aryan Brotherhood, which was established in the 1960s at Northern California's San Quentin Prison and has spread to prisons throughout the United States. But the ADL report says racist prison gangs aren't only made up of white supremacists. The report says the Nation of Islam led by Louis Farrakhan has "organized an extensive prison outreach program since 1984" that sends literature and tapes filled with "anti-Semitic and anti-white statements" to inmates.
17. Ex-Californians tap wealth to promote supremacy of whites
Spokane.Net, Dec. 6, 1998
(...) Two men who made their fortunes in California's computer industry are spending large chunks of money promoting two white supremacy churches in North Idaho. Carl E. Story and R. Vincent Bertollini are using their ministry, The 11th Hour Remnant Messenger, to benefit America's Promise and the Aryan Nations. For Story, his new alliances evolved after he gave $4 million to TV evangelist Jimmy Swaggart and $5 million to a charismatic Christian church near San Francisco almost a decade ago, his friends say.
(...) Now, Story and Bertollini are promoting Christian Identity, the same racist theology that underlies the Aryan Nations and America's Promise Ministries in North Idaho. But the pair bring something new to the movement that alarms human rights activists: money. The 11th Hour Remnant Messenger has spent $1.5 million in the past eight years, Bertollini said recently.
(...) The two men paid for the production and separate mailings of a large color poster explaining Christian Identity, and a videotape of an interview with Aryan Nations leader Richard Butler.
(...) Stewart C. Best of Wheeler, Wis., said he has known Carl Story for several years and described him as evolving from a non-Christian, to a fundamentalist Christian, to a charismatic Christian, to a Christian Identity believer. Best operates Best Video Productions, which sells a variety of conspiracy theory and Christian prophecy videos.
18. Witches stew over dress code
Detroit News, Dec. 9, 1998
Metro Detroit witches are calling a letter sent to high school parentsdiscriminatory and uninformed. After being told by his staff that they've seen an "increase in gang and or cult activity," Lincoln Park High School principal Tom Kolka drafted a list of groups the district considers "inappropriate" in the school. Kolka could not be reached Tuesday for comment, but in the letter, he said the district wants to keep "schools and students free from threats or wrongful influence of any groups or gangs which advocate drug use, violence or disruptive behavior." Witches, white supremacists and satanists were among the groups he named.
19. Group wants religion taken out of schools
Montreal Gazette, Dec. 7, 1998See Religious Intolerance
Calling religious teaching in schools an outdated practice that contravenes human-rights charters, a group called on Quebec yesterday to secularize the school system completely.
20. Are WSU's students rejecting Darwinism?
Moscow-Pullman Daily News, Dec. 7, 1998
If the Scopes monkey trial were held today before a jury of Washington State University freshmen, the result might well be a repeat of the original case, with teacher Scopes and evolution losing. As a result of growing conservative religious sentiment in Washington, in the view of some university faculty, high school graduates are showing up on WSU's doorstep without any knowledge of Darwin's theories of human evolution.Noted
(...) Religious opposition to evolutionary theory isn't affecting teaching at WSU, Hurlbert said. "Where it is making an impact is at the local schools, K through 12. What happens is benign neglect. High school teachers who live in communities where there are strong views (on evolution) simply avoid the issue. They don't get paid enough to fightthe battle." But if the evolution vs. creation debate hasn't reached WSU classrooms yet, it soon might. Local college students are moving opposition to evolution to campus.
(...) Hurlbert said he understands that evolutionary teaching may be difficult for some Christians. But the idea that the ancient ancestor of modern humans crawled out of the sea looking something like a lungfish and "eventually that creature, whatever that was, through a couple of billion years turned into us" remains sound, he said.
(...) But "there has been nothing in science that has thrown any doubt on the basic principle of evolution. Some of the details are argued, of course," Hurlbert said. But if evolution is to be thrown over because of scholarly debate, religion won't fare much better, he said.
21. E-church logs on to God.com
San Jose Business Journal, Dec. 7, 1998
Even those who deal in matters related to the omnipotent Supreme Being can realize new efficiencies when the proper technologies are brought to bear. That's a lesson being taught by a new church established in Hillsboro, which counts among its founders one of Intel Corp.'s high priests of technology, Craig Kinnie, director of the chipmaker's architecture labs. The church's administrators and pastor use interactive technology to better manage church affairs and enhance their ability to convey spiritual precepts to parishioners.
(...) The warehouse-turned-church has been equipped with CAT 5 wiring for high-speed, high-capacity computing, and other wiring that will eventually accommodate a high-fidelity sound system. The church will also utilize a software package called eRoom, which is an application that allows ministry teams to use the web to manage projects from multiple locations. A web site is also in the works (http://www.comchristchurch.org).
(...) While a proponent of technology's use, McIntyre says ChristChurch is mindful not to allow it to obscure the objective. "We always need to keep the purpose of worship in the forefront of our minds, and that's to draw people into the presence of God," he says. "Sometimes less is more."
22. A Trip to Stonesville - Andrew Weil, the boom in alternative medicine, and the retreat from science.
The New Republic, Dec. 14, 1998
[NOTE: Lenghty article dealing with Dr. Weil's books and philosophy. By Arnold S. Relman, editor-in-chief emeritus of The New England Journal of Medicine and professor emeritus of medicine and social medicine at Harvard Medical School.] (...) Andrew Weil, M.D., is variously described on the covers of his best-selling books as "the guru of alternative medicine," "one of the most skilled, articulate, and important leaders in the field of health and healing," "a pioneer in the medicine of the future," and "an extraordinary phenomenon."World Wide Web
(...) Not all of this is hype. Weil is arguably the best known and most influential of the many physician-writers now in the vanguard of the alternative medicine movement. He is also one of the most prolific. Since 1972 he has written eight books.
(...) If Deepak Chopra is the mystical poet-laureate of the movement, then Weil is its heavy-duty theoretician and apologist.
(...) The popularity of his teachings, and the spreading wave of interest in alternative remedies that he and others have inspired, are forcing mainstream medicine to deal with a counterculture that it would have preferred to ignore.
(...) Like so many of the other gurus of alternative medicine, Weil is not bothered by logical contradictions in his argument, or encumbered by a need to search for objective evidence.
(...) According to Weil, many of his basic insights about the causes of disease and the nature of healing come from what he calls "stoned thinking," that is, thoughts experienced while under the influence of psychedelic agents or during other states of "altered consciousness" induced by trances, ritual magic, hypnosis, meditation, and the like.
(...) In Weil's mind, intuition, no matter how bizarre and unsubstantiated, rules the day. But if intuition rules, how would we find the truth when one person's intuition conflicts with another's? Weil does not appear to consider that a problem, either. For, as "stoned thinking" reveals, there is not one truth, but many truths. Reality itself is basically "ambivalent." Weil notes that the wisdom of "stoned thinking" is reflected in the teachings of Oriental philosophies and religions, which have always understood the essentially "ambivalent" nature of reality.
23. The Scientology Comparative Religion Page
Scientology publicly claims to be an "applied religious philosophy", as well as being compatible with other religious belief systems. However, in the secret upper levels of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard says many uncomplimentary things about religion in general and Christianity in particular. Because the "Church" of Scientology is less than forthcoming in revealing its entire belief structure, this web site was created to promote the scholarly study of the public and private beliefs of Scientology and Dianetics. These beliefs are then contrasted with Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
(...) As a practicing Christian, I feel a responsibility to warn Christians, Jews, and Muslims of the danger presented by Scientology's deceptive recruiting practices. [...more...]
People Unclear On The Concept
24. Sidewalk evangelist pleads innocent to disturbing peace
Bakersfield Californian, Dec. 4, 1998
A sidewalk evangelist who sports military fatigues and preaches an anti-white Gospel says he is just practicing free speech, but merchants say his public sermons are causing them to lose business. Merchants in the Old Pasadena shopping district complained about Gregory Hamilton's preachings, but authorities didn't take notice until Hamilton allegedly got into a shouting bout with a shop employee. "If Jesus directs me, I'm going to slash your throats," Hamilton allegedly told the woman in the Oct. 18 confrontation.
(...) Hamilton is a member of the Israeli Church of Universal Practical Knowledge, a militant religious group that believes Jesus and many historical figures such as Socrates and Robin Hood were black, and that white people practice bestiality and are sources of disease in the world.
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