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Religion Items In The News

March 26, 1999 (Vol. 3, Issue 77)

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Religion Items in the News - March 26, 1999 (Vol. 3, Issue 77)

=== Main
1. Supreme Court Denies Appeal By Anti-Cult Group (Real CAN)
2. Supreme Court rules against anti-cult network (Real CAN)
3. Award against anti-cult group upheld (Real CAN)
4. CAN Files to Be Auctioned (Real CAN)
5. Former NFL player, black supremacist charged with 1984 cult
6. Woman Died As Sect Tried To 'Purify' Her?
7. Belgian woman dies after satanic ritual in Spain
8. Gunman kills leader of sect that had expelled families
9. Geomancer Sentenced To Death For Murders
10. Only 30 remain with UFO cult leader in new location (Chen Tao)
11. Last member of Garland church returning to Taiwan (Chen Tao)
12. Sect member 'unfit to teach' (Jehovah's Witnesses)
13. Industrious spirit fuels Jehovah's Witnesses' growth
14. Farrakhan begins 4-month sabbatical
15. Controversy swirls around Adrian minister and microbroadcaster
16. Klan knights cash in on Celtic racism
17. Bewitched by Wicca
18. School Yields: Girl Can Wear Witch Symbol
19. Rivalries Brew In Mexico Witchcraft Capital (New Jerusalem)
20. His father preaches peace, and he makes guns (Unification Church)
21. Daughter quits suit seeking care of church leader (CUT)
22. Europe spars over faith (Religious Freedom)
23. Pres. Hinckley in Spain for dedication of temple (LDS)
24. Polygamy here to stay, scholar says
25. Group offers support for 'godly men' (LDS/Promise Keepers)
26. Christian Science care funds questioned
27. Mystery Surrounds Supposed Miracles Attributed To Teen
28. Christians battling aspartame, which 'damages the temple'
29. Doctor of the body is positively inspiring... (Chopra)
30. Hinduism Takes Hold
31. Christians gather in Holy Land awaiting 2000
32. Catholic Church opens arms to growing wave of Americans
33. Silicon Valley CEO turns UFO evangelist (Firmage)

1. Supreme Court Denies Appeal By Anti-Cult Group
Yahoo/Reuters, Mar. 22, 1999

[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
The U.S. Supreme Court Monday rejected an appeal by an anti-cult group
that has been held liable for abducting a Pentecostal Christian church
member in a bid to ``deprogram'' him.

The high court without any comment or dissent let stand a ruling that
upheld the award of $1 million in punitive damages and $875,000 in
actual damages against the Cult Awareness Network in the case of Jason

Rick Ross, one of the defendants and a ``deprogrammer'' who was hired
by Scott's mother, tried to get Scott to renounce his membership of the
Life Tabernacle Church, a branch of the United Pentecostal Church
International. Scott escaped after pretending to renounce his beliefs.

The anti-cult group was held responsible for the act of one of its
unpaid volunteers, who referred Ross to Scott's mother.

In its Supreme Court appeal, lawyers for the anti-cult group said, ``A
decision that silences the message of an advocacy organization has
serious nationwide consequences.''

2. Supreme Court rules against anti-cult network
Seattle Time, Mar. 22, 1999
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
(...) Lawyers for the now-defunct, Chicago-based network said that
holding the nonprofit group legally accountable for the act of one
unpaid volunteer was "unprecedented and unsupportable." The appeal said
the award threatens other advocacy groups "across the political

Scott's mother, herself a former member of the church, had contacted a
woman who served as an unpaid volunteer for the Cult Awareness Network.
She, in turn, put Scott's mother in touch with deprogrammer Rick Ross.

Ross performed successful involuntary deprogrammings on Scott's two
younger brothers, but both were under 18 and therefore within their
mother's control. Because Scott was not a minor, his involuntary
deprogramming was illegal.

Scott sued Ross and two other deprogrammers. His lawsuit also named the
Cult Awareness Network as a defendant, based on its volunteers' putting
Scott's mother in touch with Ross.

The lawsuit never alleged that any of the network's four paid staff
members in Chicago even knew about Scott's abduction and deprogramming.
But lower courts found that network volunteers routinely referred
callers to deprogrammers.

3. Award against anti-cult group upheld
Seattle Times, Mar. 23, 1999
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Yesterday's Supreme Court ruling upholding a more than $1 million award
against a national anti-cult group would seem a straightforward victory
for a onetime local man.

But in the case of Cult Awareness Network vs. Scott, Jason Scott is no
longer involved. CAN no longer owns its name, and most of the
interested parties have nothing to do with Bellevue's Life Tabernacle
Church, where it all began.

Ross and others were arrested and charged with unlawfully imprisoning
Scott. He was tried and acquitted in 1994, and Scott then sued him,
three other men and CAN. Scott hired lawyer Kendrick Moxon, who had
litigated several cases against the anti-cult group and often
represented the Church of Scientology. For years, the Scientologists
had denounced CAN as a hate group.

After a jury awarded Scott more than $5 million in October 1995,
including the more than $1 million from CAN, the group declared
bankruptcy. Ross signed a settlement with Scott in 1996, entitling
Scott to $5,000 and 200 hours of Ross' time as an intervention

The people involved in the Supreme Court case say they are in a group
called CAN, but a Scientologist now owns the name. The group that
sprang from the name purchase espouses the opposite views of the old
CAN. Many Scientologists belong to the new CAN, which issued a
statement yesterday that the old network's "reign of terror is long
over." The old CAN "does not have the ability to function," attorney
Paul Lawrence said, so whether there is money to pay the award is not

*** Real CAN home page: http://www.can-inc.org/
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Details: http://www.apologeticsindex.org/c00.html#realcan
[Story no longer online? Read this]

Scientology-run CAN: http://www.cultawarenessnetwork.org/
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Details: http://www.apologeticsindex.org/c19.html
[Story no longer online? Read this]

4. CAN Files to Be Auctioned
Newsgroup: alt.religion.scientology, March 19, 1998
By Charlotte L. Kates clkates@aol.com
Reposted at URLreference/newcan10.html
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
As many ARS readers are well aware, the (real) Cult Awareness Network
(CAN) has been undergoing a major legal battle to save its thousands of
sensitive files from passing into the hands of Scientology and its fake

On Friday, March 12, Chicago Judge Thomas Quinn ordered all of the CAN
files --membership and donor lists, financial records, and thousands of
personal, once-confidential letters and correspondence from former cult
members and the families of cult victims to be turned over to the
sheriff for auction in 60 days. CAN Board representative Dr. Edward
Lottick stated that it appeared the judge had not even read the CAN
board's briefs on the issue, and that the judge "ran roughshod over

The 60-day window was granted by Quinn to allow the Supreme Court to
decide whether to grant certoriati in the Jason Scott case. If the
Court agrees to hear an appeal of the Scott case, Quinn will be under
tremendous pressure to stay the execution of the sale, as its purpose
is to satisfy the judgement againstCAN in Scott. If, however, the high
court refuses to hear the case, the files will go up for sale in sixty

Scientology's already-dominant ability to spend money for the files is
bolstered further by the fact that, Gerald Beeney, a Scientologist,
bought the Scott judgement from Jason Scott for $25,000, and would
receive any income from the sale of the files, which he would
undoubtedly be willing to return toScientology.

This is an absolute travesty of justice. If you or anyone you know has
information about yourself or a relative or friend in the CAN files,
this is a warning that Scientology--well known for using personal
information to harass and attack its critics and opponents--may soon
have that personal information inits hand.

*** Dr. Edward Lottick of the CAN Board, at (717) 287-1377, is the
official contact relating to the CAN files.

Information about the CAN files: http://members.aol.com/canfiles/
[Story no longer online? Read this]

5. Former NFL player, black supremacist charged with 1984 cult
CNN, Mar. 24, 1999
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Prosecutors say a former National Football League player who admitted
to killing seven people also stabbed a homeless white man to death as a
sacrifice to the leader of a black supremacist cult.

Robert Rozier, 43, was charged with murder Tuesday in the 1984 slaying
of Attilio Cicala, who was stabbed near the Yahweh Ben Yahweh temple in
Newark. Prosecutors said they believed cult members offered Cicala up
as a sacrifice a few days before the cult's leader was to visit Newark.

Yahweh Ben Yahweh, which means "God the Son of God" in Hebrew, is a
Black Israelite sect that believes blacks are the lost tribe of Israel
and that true Jews and white people are devils.

Ben Yahweh, also known as Hulon Mitchell Jr., and six others were
convicted in 1992 of conspiracy for ordering 14 killings of white
people and resistant black disciples.

6. Woman Died As Sect Tried To 'Purify' Her?
Excite/Reuters, Mar. 23, 1999
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Investigators believe the Belgian woman who died after an apparent sect
ritual in Spain was suffocated while performing an act supposed to
"purify" her body, a Spanish newspaper reported Tuesday.

The woman was believed to have been subjected to a ceremony during
which other sect members covered her with a blanket and sat on her, the
daily El Pais said, citing sources involved in the investigation.

The goal was to interrupt her breathing, the sources said.

7. Belgian woman dies after satanic ritual in Spain
Infoseek/Reuters, Mar. 22, 1999
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
(...) The radio and daily newspaper El Mundo cited police sources as
saying the woman and those taken into custody were members of a cult.

``They were practising a particular ritual of their group which
produced serious injuries, presumably caused by a knife, and burns on
many parts of her body,'' El Mundo quoted the police sources as saying.

8. Gunman kills leader of sect that had expelled families
CNN, Mar. 21, 1999
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
A leader of a sect that had expelled 79 families from its community
last year was shot to death while riding in his pickup truck, Mexican
newspapers reported Sunday.

Ausencio Velazquez Huerta, a leader of "The New Jerusalem" sect was
shot twice Saturday in the community of Puruaran in the western state
of Michoacan, where the sect is based. There have been no arrests.

9. Geomancer Sentenced To Death For Murders
Excite/Reuters, Mar. 23, 1999
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
A Chinese geomancer was sentenced to death Tuesday for poisoning five
Hong Kong women and stealing HK$1.2 million ($153,846), the official
Xinhua news agency said.

Li, a 47-year-old Shantou resident, was a self-styled master of feng
shui, a traditional Chinese belief that fortunes are decided by stars
and the elements.

10. Only 30 remain with UFO cult leader in new location
Star-Telegram, Mar. 20, 1999
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
What does a cult leader do when his grand prophecies fall flat? In
the case of Chen Hon-ming of Taiwan, who predicted that God would
appear on cable TV, then materialize in Chen's image on a Garland lawn
a year ago, he issues a sweeping new revelation and relocates to
upstate New York.

But 12 months later, only 30 of his 160 followers are still with him.

To make matters worse, two of Chen's closest lieutenants have dropped
out of the Taiwanese UFO cult, as the news media dubbed his Way of
Truth sect, which mixes Christianity and Buddhism with a belief in
flying saucers.

Despite the setback, a spokesman said Chen stands by his prediction of
a nuclear holocaust in Asia and Europe between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31 while
divine UFOs evacuate worthy believers to the safety of the Great Lakes
region. Chen considers the region sacred.

But Chen has not taken the defection of his key followers lightly.

In angry, open letters to President Clinton and Taiwan's President Lee
Teng-hui released this week, Chen accuses the sect's former No. 2
leader of trying to disrupt the group through lies, blackmail and

11. Last member of Garland church returning to Taiwan
Dallas Morning News, Mar. 23, 1999
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
(...) Chiang Chin-hung, once the No. 2 leader of God's Salvation
Church, says he will return to Taiwan in the fall. He's the last of a
group of about 160 who came to Texas from Taiwan to be a part of the
sect, which practices a blend of Buddhism, Christianity and a belief in

Mr. Chiang said he disavowed God's Salvation Church last spring and
remained in Garland this long only because of his wife's job.

The plight of God's Salvation Church isn't unusual, said Dr. Ling-Chi
Wang, chairman of the ethnic-studies department at the University of
California at Berkeley.

Seismic shifts in social and economic mores in Taiwan have many people
casting around for a firm identity, which they often hope to find in
nontraditional religious groups, said Dr. Wang, an Asian-American

The group's disintegration isn't surprising because its survival hinged
on an event that didn't happen, said Dr. Lonnie Kliever, chairman of
the religious-studies department at Southern Methodist University. But
unlike many cult leaders, Mr. Chen didn't try to hold people with
threats, Dr. Kliever said.

"In fact, he publicly indicated that a number of the group were free to
leave," Dr. Kliever said. "It wasn't the stereotyped view of a religion
movement that tries to hold on to people with a death grip of fear or

12. Sect member 'unfit to teach'
South China Morning Post, Mar. 25, 1999
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
A member of the Jehovah's Witness religious sect who was sacked from
his teaching job was not fit to teach and his employer was right to
dismiss him, the Court of Appeal heard yesterday.

The institute was sued for wrongful dismissal by Peter Nappalli, who
was sacked in 1994 for not reciting Singapore's national pledge and

The Jehovah's Witness movement, which has been banned in tightly
controlled Singapore since 1972 on the grounds it is prejudicial to
public welfare and order, considers such recitations acts of worship
and against its faith.

Mr Tang said teachers had to be role models to students and that
reciting the national pledge and singing the national anthem - which
were made mandatory by the institute in 1988 - were central to that.

13. Framework for faith: Industrious spirit fuels Jehovah's Witnesses'
Sacramento Bee, Mar. 22, 1999
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Building a house of worship from scratch can take weeks, if not months.
But not so if it's done Jehovah's Witness style.

All of that proselytizing appears to be paying off. While the
California Regional Building Committee typically organizes six "quick
builds" a year, the volunteer crew is overseeing 11 new Kingdom Halls
this year, including one in Laguna that could hold as many as eight
separate congregations.

Dick Bisbee, presiding overseer of the Kingdom Hall in Colfax and head
of the committee, estimates local growth at 3 percent to 4 percent a
year. National and overseas figures are similar. The number of active
Jehovah's Witnesses in the United States surpassed the 1 million mark
in 1998 and is nearing 6 million worldwide.

Since Pittsburgh haberdasher Charles Taze Russell founded the religious
group in the 1870s, followers have interpreted the Bible in what many
Christians would call unorthodox ways: Denouncing the Trinity, the
belief in God as father, son and holy spirit; dismissing Christmas as a
holiday because Dec. 25 was not Jesus Christ's true birthday; and
declaring the imminent arrival of an "earthly kingdom" by setting
specific end-times throughout the 1900s, with the last stated date in

"It's a subtle point, but they don't want to talk end dates anymore,"
said Joel Elliott, who wrote about Jehovah's Witnesses for the
Encyclopedia of Religion and Society last year and is completing his
dissertation on the sect at the University of North Carolina, Chapel
Hill. "Most Witnesses don't consider 1975 to be a failed date, though
historically it was."

Jehovah's Witnesses believe the Battle of Armageddon is soon to come.
That so much time and money is going into remodeling or crafting new
Kingdom Halls with mass destruction possibly at hand is not a
contradiction, according to Bisbee.

"The buildings might be destroyed, but all the things the friends are
learning, they will know how to work in unity," he said. "They'll know
how to rebuild whatever needs to be."

14. Farrakhan begins 4-month sabbatical
Chicago Sun-Times, Mar. 20, 1999
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Although a spokesman for minister Louis Farrakhan said Friday that the
Nation of Islam leader is in no imminent medical danger, Farrakhan has
begun a four-month sabbatical from public appearances to recover from a
combination of ailments.

Leonard Farrakhan Muhammad, chief of staff of the Chicago-based group
and Farrakhan's son-in-law, brushed aside questions about any successor
to Farrakhan, saying the man who has led the group for more than 20
years ``is 100 percent in control of the Nation of Islam and all of

15. Controversy swirls around Adrian minister and microbroadcaster
Toledo Blade, Mar. 21, 1999
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Rick Strawcutter is a witty and engaging minister who's beloved by his
flock, and whose teachings on values and the Bible have been shared
with thousands.

Several national watchdog organizations claim he has links to some of
the most virulent hate groups in America - some considered so dangerous
they're watched by the FBI.

While he oversees his congregation of 250 members, he has been quietly
running a distribution center from a back room in his church that
offers videos ranging from militia and anti-government rhetoric to
Jewish conspiracy beliefs.

He was a featured speaker at the annual ``Identity Super Conference''
in Missouri last year - an event where white supremists gather to share

His video ministry has been placed on the lists of two national
watchdog organizations - including the Southern Poverty Law Center -
that track extremist groups. And he is a well-known national
distributor of anti-Semitic videos, says the Anti-Defamation League.

The accusations are a surprise to some members of his congregation.

He can be controversial, yes, but a leading player in an underground
hate group? Local civic and community leaders say they are unaware of
the pastor's activities.

Since the early 1990s, he says he has been distributing a wide variety
of videos - 500 titles in all - over the Internet through his Proclaim
Liberty Ministry.

Some of the tapes, which cost between $12 and $25 each, are about UFO
sightings, government atrocities in Guatemala, and the evils of the
federal monetary system. Some are more disturbing videos of rabid
anti-Semitic spokesmen Jack Wickstrom and Pete Peters - national
figures who are known for their racist causes.

16. Klan knights cash in on Celtic racism
The Telegraph (London)/Sunday Times (SA), 21 March 1999
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
THE Ku Klux Klan, the white supremacist movement known for racial
murders and cross-burning in the American deep South, has set up a
network of activists in Britain.

Following the revelation last week that MI5 officers had arrested
British soldiers suspected of having links with the neo-Nazi Combat 18
group, it has also emerged that the police are concerned about the
activities of the Klan, known by the initials "KKK".

Klan membership has grown in strength in Britain since Allan Beshella,
a former leader of the movement in the US, moved to south Wales in the
late '80s.

The Klan's interest in Britain's Celtic fringe comes as no surprise,
given its roots. Established in the defeated South after the American
Civil War, the KKK took its name from the clans of Scotland and uses a
highly selective view of Scottish history to support its philosophy.

It is believed that the movement started in the 1860s as a club for
Confederate cavalry officers of Scots descent, before evolving into a
secret society to inspire terror among freed slaves.

Nick Lowles, co-editor of Searchlight magazine, which monitors
extremist groups, said the Klan tended to attract some of the more
extreme members of the right-wing British National Party.

"Many of the members we have identified are so dangerous that they have
been kicked out of the British National Party - itself an organisation
that attracts thugs," he said.

17. Bewitched by Wicca
CNews (Canada), Mar. 22, 1999
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
(...) Whether it's just a fad, teen rebellion or a genuine curiosity,
there's a resurgence of interest in witchcraft or Wicca, particularly
among teenage girls.

"In a poll of the top 60 interests of teenage girls, witches are No. 1.
It's the fastest-growing spiritual practice in the United States," says
Phyllis Curott, a New York City civil rights lawyer and Wiccan high

"There are lots of teenage girls and young women in the crowds at my
book signings," she says, referring to her recently published Book Of
Shadows (Broadway Books, $35.95), which tells of her 20-year
exploration as a member of the Wicca religion.

"Teenage girls are attracted to Wicca because it offers a feminine
perspective. If they don't belong to a formal church, they seek a
model to provide dignity as a woman," says David Reed, professor of
theology at Wycliffe College/U of T.

"Adult fears are overstated because of response to the word 'witch',
which is linked to the demonic," says Reed. "However, while white Wicca
is good, we have to be careful about people opening up to a dimension
of the spiritual world which is demonic."

18. School Yields: Girl Can Wear Witch Symbol
Chicago Tribune, Mar. 23, 1999
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
A 17-year-old student and self-proclaimed witch has won her fight to
overturn a Lincoln Park High School policy banning the wearing of the
five-pointed star that is the symbol of her pagan faith.

The school reversed the policy Monday and agreed to pay the legal costs
of Crystal Seifferly, the American Civil Liberties Union said.

19. Rivalries Brew In Mexico Witchcraft Capital
Excite/Reuters, Mar. 24, 1999
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
In Mexico's capital of witchcraft, rivalries are brewing and bubbling.
On the shores of Lake Catemaco in southern Veracruz state, shamans who
commune with Lucifer in snake-filled grottoes are pitted against
"charlatans" who perform for tourists while white-clad virgins chant in
the shadows of jungle stages.

20. His father preaches peace, and he makes guns
Boston Globe, Mar. 21, 1999

[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
To his church, he is the sinless child of the ''True Parents,'' a scion
of an apostle of peace. But his business card could say something else:
Justin Moon, gun maker.

At the end of a gritty industrial strip here, sandwiched between a
highway and a graveyard, the son of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the
self-proclaimed messiah who claims to have conversed with Jesus and
Moses, is making small pistols that pack a punch.

The Harvard-educated Kook Jin ''Justin'' Moon is the chief executive
officer of Kahr Arms, whose products are viewed as finely crafted
weapons by gun enthusiasts and as shameful symbols of hypocrisy by
critics of the Rev. Moon's Unification Church, which preaches peace and

21. Daughter quits suit seeking care of church leader
Spokane.net March 16, 1999
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Moira Prophet has removed herself from a suit seeking guardianship of
her mother, Church Universal and Triumphant spiritual leader Elizabeth
Clare Prophet.

Moira Prophet was one of Prophet's three adult children who had filed a
counter petition in response to Murray Steinman's attempt to control
the spiritual leader's legal, financial and medical affairs. He is a
vice president in the church. Court documents say Prophet endorses
Steinman's guardianship petition.

Moira Prophet's decision, filed March 4 in District Court at
Livingston, leaves two of Prophet's adult children, Sean and Erin,
seeking to become their mother's conservator and guardian,

22. Europe spars over faith
Christian Science Monitor, Mar. 25, 1999
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
While violence has flared between and against faiths in several regions
of the world, quieter forms of persecution have emerged in surprising
places. In Europe, on a continent that helped nourish the concept of
universal human rights, religious freedom is taking some serious blows.

And these blows are glancing not just in Eastern Europe, where
countries may still be struggling with the aftermath of totalitarian,
atheistic pasts, but also in the heart of Western Europe, where a few
governments have taken it upon themselves to call a whole host of
minority religions "dangerous sects."

"In Europe in the last few years, partly as a function of nervousness
about suicidal sects, governments have decided to step in and define
what a religion is," said Robert Seiple, the US State Department's
special representative for international religious freedom, in an
interview in Vienna last month. "And when you do that, it's very easy
to get it wrong." And get it wrong they do, say many minority faiths,
who see no reason for their inclusion on the lengthy blacklists.

There is no doubt that "numerous European democracies and former Soviet
republics" are violating their own commitments, says the IHF. It
released a detailed report on religious discrimination last week in the
lead-up to a special meeting on religious freedom held March 22 in
Vienna by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
(OSCE). The 54 nations of the OSCE (from Canada and the US to the
former Soviet republics) have made "probably the most specific
international commitments to religious liberty [see box] of any place
in the world," says Karen Lord, counsel on freedom of religion for the
Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (the independent US
agency responsible for staying on top of OSCE commitments).

France and Belgium set up commissions to look into sects and published
reports with lists of more than 170 "harmful" groups without consulting
with the groups or with scholars in the field. "This resulted," says
the IHF, "in media reports libeling minority religions, circulation of
rumors and false information, and incitement of religious intolerance."

In both countries, groups have found that when they provide accurate
information to the commissions, no attention is paid to it. Meanwhile,
government bodies have been set up to "observe" the groups. And some
countries in Eastern Europe are looking to these methods as models, Mr.
Fautré says.

"In Europe, the states generally think that it is their responsibility
to protect their citizens against various forms of dangers, including
'new religions,' " says Paula Tscherne of IHF. "It appears that in some
countries anything outside the mainstream religions [Roman Catholic,
Lutheran, Orthodox] is regarded as dangerous." In some societies,
state-recognized churches are subsidized, and they may be worried about
splitting the pie.

Some scholars also see something else at work. Massimo Introvigne,
director of the Center for Studies on New Religions, in Torino, Italy,
has looked closely at the commissions and often directly connected
anti-cult movements in Western Europe. In a briefing for a US
congressional committee last July, he described "a dangerous ideology,
hostile to religious minorities in general," and said it involves "a
secular-humanist reaction against the postmodern return to religious

"Modern anti-cult movements are ... primarily secular organizations
fighting 'cults' based on brainwashing or mind-control paradigms"
discredited in the US, he says, but that have been sold to the press
and public bodies in France, Germany, and Belgium. "In some countries,
including France," he says, they "operate with the help of taxpayers'
money and are responsible for spreading misleading information about a
number of religious minorities." France has created a Mission to Fight
Sects, and plans to develop materials for the schools.

*** Among the links provided with this item:

Decline of religious freedom in parts of Europe
[Note: The site is operated by "a group of 4 volunteers: two
Unitarian Universalists , one Wiccan and one liberal but
unaffiliated Christian." - AWH]

International Coalition for Religious Freedom
[Story no longer online? Read this]
[Note: "ICRF acknowledges with gratitude that, at the current time,
it receives the bulk of its funding from institutions and
individuals related to the Unification Church community." - from
"About US": http://www.religiousfreedom.com/about.htm - AWH]

23. Pres. Hinckley in Spain for dedication of temple
Deseret News, Mar. 18, 1999
[Story no longer online? Read this]
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(...) Thursday marked President Hinckley's third visit with the Spanish
king. In 1978, President Hinckley -- then a member of the Quorum of the
Twelve -- visited with King Juan Carlos during a visit to Madrid.

Friday morning, President Hinckley is to seal in place a symbolic
cornerstone marking the completion of the Madrid temple, the seventh
such edifice in Europe and the first on the Iberian Peninsula. The
temple district includes all of Spain and Portugal and one stake in

The temple, which has an exterior of white Italian marble, will serve
some 80,000 LDS Cburch members in the temple district.

24. Polygamy here to stay, scholar says
Deseret News, Mar. 23, 1999
[Story no longer online? Read this]
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After being practiced through thousands of years in most of the world's
cultures, polygamy is not only here to stay but will likely grow in
some communities, according to an Israeli scholar.

Joseph Ginat, a University of Haifa professor who co-authored a 1996
study of "Polygamous Families in Contemporary Society," said pockets of
plural marriage -- including those in Utah -- will benefit from natural
growth and new membership.

25. Group offers support for 'godly men'
Deseret News, Mar. 20, 1999
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(Story no longer online? Read this)
"Lots of men in this world don't have a close friend to talk to, and 25
(percent) to 50 percent of men don't have anyone to share with," said
Lefty Espinoza, one of the organizers of a men's Christian movement
gathering scheduled May 14 and 15 at the Dee Events Center in Ogden.

Based on the popular Promise Keepers stadium events held nationwide
during the past decade, the two-day gathering is being organized by a
local group of men who've had their lives changed by attending such

"Through Promise Keepers, I've got men I can call on at 3 a.m. if I
need someone to help me or pray for me," Espinoza said. Such friends,
or "accountability partners," check on each other in a way that "holds
my feet to the fire," said Dave Wardell, national co-founder of Promise
Keepers and one of the keynote speakers for the upcoming conference.

26. Christian Science care funds questioned
Dallas Morning News, Mar. 22, 1999
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Medicare has paid about $50 million over the last seven years to
Christian Science facilities that treat sick people with prayer instead
of traditional medicine, and critics are challenging those payments in
federal court as an unconstitutional government endorsement of

The issue of government financial support for what Christian Scientists
call "spiritual healing" is the subject of a suit in the 8th U.S.
Circuit Court of Appeals in Minneapolis. Civil libertarians and medical
groups have filed briefs opposing the payments, while church groups and
U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., who represents the home state of
Christian Science, have registered their support.

Mainstream medical groups blame Christian Science beliefs for the
much-publicized deaths of sick children who were not given traditional
medical care. They point out that church facilities are exempt from
many government regulations that apply to hospitals and nursing homes.

An Iowa-based child protection group said it launched the
constitutional challenge because the church regularly cites the federal
payments as proof of spiritual healing's legitimacy when it lobbies
state lawmakers. The church has persuaded 45 states to give immunity
from child-abuse laws to parents who withhold medical care from

27. Mystery Surrounds Supposed Miracles Attributed To Teen
Chicago Tribune, Mar. 23, 1999
[Story no longer online? Read this]
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(...) At the core of the investigation and the pilgrims' passion are
numerous claims of healing and paranormal manifestations attributed to
the intercession or presence of teenager Audrey Santo, who lies mute,
motionless and off-limits to most visitors in a rear bedroom of the

The Diocese of Worcester recently released the report of a 14-month
investigation into the case, finding no evidence of fraud or other
chicanery, and said it will proceed to a second, more technical phase
of inquiry, according to Raymond Delisle, communications director for
the diocese.

28. Christians battling aspartame, which 'damages the temple'
Dallas Morning News, Mar. 20, 1999
[Story no longer online? Read this]
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Pat Robertson has forsworn the stuff. So have Christian television
hosts Dr. Karen Hayter, Dr. Donald Whittaker and Doug Kaufmann. And
Kenneth Copeland has explicitly banned its sale at his ministry's Fort
Worth headquarters.

What is the target of this new holy war?

Aspartame, the artificial sweetener commonly known as NutraSweet and
Equal that is currently used in more than 5,000 foods and beverages.

The assault on aspartame by Christians, especially those who target it
from a biblical perspective, surprised NutraSweet officials.

29. Doctor of the body is positively inspiring as medic of the mind
The Age (Australia), Mar. 22, 1999
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(...) The CD features celebrities such as Madonna, Goldie Hawn and Demi
Moore - all good pals of Dr Chopra, apparently - reading the works of
the 13th-century Persian poet Jalaleddin Rumi to a backdrop of music
composed by Plack.

``Western theology has created a god who is a dead white male up in the
clouds who is totally judgmental and angry ... Most intelligent people
don't buy into that any more. There is a subtle shift in awareness
among people that all reality is subjective.''

Not surprisingly, these views do not please many doctors and other
critics, who accuse him of selling a brand of mystic mumbo-jumbo.

Dr Chopra's reaction? ``I wanted to kill them, but then I thought what
a waste of time and energy,'' he says, looking serene again.

30. Hinduism Takes Hold
Washington Post, Mar. 20, 1999

[Story no longer online? Read this]
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It's not often a deity is "brought to life" in a new Hindu temple, but
the scene has become more common with the rapid growth of the Indian
community in the Washington area.

The ceremony also will complete sanctification of the $4 million Durga
Temple, the first Hindu temple built in Northern Virginia and the third
in the Washington area.

There are an estimated 60,000 to 87,000 Indian immigrants in the
area--up from 36,000 in the 1990 Census. About 90 percent are Hindu.

31. Christians gather in Holy Land awaiting 2000
San Francisco Examiner, Mar. 21, 1999

[Story no longer online? Read this]
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Kathy Frank and her three children, ages 17, 14 and 11, are among the
most recent newcomers to Brother David's millennial community known as
the House of Prayer.

"I don't necessarily think Jesus is coming back in the year 2000, but
something is coming," said Frank, a former alcohol and drug counselor
from St. Petersburg, Fla., who arrived with her family a month ago and
now plans to stay until, well, eternity.

Brother Solomon Ben David, a Seventh-day Adventist who leads another
millennial Christian group operating just down the street from the
House of Prayer, is among those expecting a human tidal wave to begin
heading toward Jerusalem any time now.

32. Catholic Church opens arms to growing wave of Americans
Miami Herald, Mar. 21, 1999
[Story no longer online? Read this]
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(...) Nationwide, in 1997 the Catholic Church reported 73,426 adult
baptisms and 88,161 transfers from other denominations. The same year
there were 1,040,837 infant baptisms, the main reason total U.S.
membership is growing slowly but steadily each year.

33. Silicon Valley CEO turns UFO evangelist
CNN, Mar. 17, 1999
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(Story no longer online? Read this)
(...) Word got out. In January, Firmage posted his 700-page manifesto,
called "The Truth" (www.thewordistruth.org), which evokes both Star
Trek and the New Testament. In the manifesto, Firmage asserts that
extraterrestrials not only have visited us, but also have influenced
our technological development.

Joe Firmage does not look like a man who's spent 3 million of his own
dollars researching extraterrestrials.

Firmage was born and raised in Salt Lake City, where his family
belonged to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ("It's a
very cosmic thing," he says of the Mormon church).

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