Apologetics Index
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Religion Items In The News

June 1, 1999 (Vol. 3, Issue 88)

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=== Main
1. Prosecutors seek death sentence for AUM gasser
2. Cult member may face hanging (Aum)
3. AUM members move under local pressure
4. Move to outlaw killer Aum cult
5. Dead notary's sister takes stand against Aum
6. Sect children case settled (The Family)
7. Ombudsman: British Columbia owes Doukhobors apology, compensation
8. Top French Court Sends Einhorn Back To U.S
9. Investigators: Former employee behind death of missing atheist
10. Ex-Aryan security chief sentenced in assault
11. Satanic Ritual Ends With Stabbing
12. Prosecutor accuses two of killing cousin for shunning her culture
13. Montessori Parents Protest; Petition against Scientology
14. Proceedings against Scientology in Madrid postponed
15. Spanish Parliament plans Sect Observation Agency
16. Russian Court Rejects Church Ban
17. Buddhism in blossom
18. Buddhist festival goes national
19. Young Hindus bring ancient faith to a crossroads in U.S.
20. Hare Krishnas in Yugoslavia feel war's stress
21. Faith finds new worth in old ways
22. Witches brew up protest for Barr meeting
23. Wiccan leader flies out of broom closet (Curott)
24. For New Age action, it's hard to beat Brasilia
25. New law would affect rights of Catholic church in Chile
26. Alternative treatments finding a following
27. Hinckley Breaks Ground on Temple `Where It All Began,' Hill Cumorah
28. Genealogy Site Overwhelmed by Millions of Hits (LDS)
29. Bishop T.D. Jakes puts Phila. Pentecostals on their feet
30. Churches agree on need for revival, differ on what it should look
31. LWF, Roman Catholics ready to sign 'Joint Declaration'

=== Noted
32. A Path to the 12 Steps: How Alcoholics Anonymous Began
33. Chuck Colson's Miracle
34. Hits and Myths (Star Wars; The Matrix)
35. For Some, Doom Is in the Digits, in the Web

=== Books
36. Millennialism thrives at the end of the millennium
37. Author disputes end-of-the-world theology

=== The Church Around The Corner
38. God makes it all happen...

=== Main

1. Prosecutors seek death sentence for AUM gasser
Mainichi Daily News, June 1, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
A member of one of the AUM Shinrikyo death squads that released lethal
sarin gas on Tokyo subways in 1995, killing 12 and sickening thousands,
should receive the death penalty, according to prosecutors at the Tokyo
District Court on Monday.

2. Cult member may face hanging
BBC, May 31, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
[Aum Shinrikyo]
(...) Masato Yokoyama is one of the many cult members on trial for his
part in the sarin gas attack, which killed 12 and injured thousands
more on Tokyo commuter trains in 1995.

But this is the first time that the prosecution has asked for the death
penalty for a cult member for taking part in the gas attack.

As no one on the train he was riding was killed, the decision to ask
for the death penalty is surprising. But lawyers said that did not
mitigate the fact that he had taken an active role in the fatal attack.

3. AUM members move under local pressure
Mainichi Daily News, June 1, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Witch-hunters trying to expel members of doomsday cult AUM Shinrikyo
[Story no longer online? Read this]
from Kawaguchi are up in arms after the cultists vacated one factory in
the city only to relocate in another close by.

In the face of vehement opposition among local residents to their
presence, cultists accepted eviction notices and reluctantly agreed to
shift away from the computer factory they had set up in Kawaguchi.
Authorities and residents are still jittery about the cult's

Justice Minister Takao Jinnouchi on Monday announced that the
government intends to amend a law so that it can be applied to AUM
Shinrikyo in order to regulate the doomsday cult's activities.

4. Move to outlaw killer Aum cult
Sydney Morning Herald, June 1, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
The Japanese Government will make a second attempt to outlaw the
controversial Aum Shinrikyo cult responsible for the 1995 sarin gas
attack in the Tokyo subway system.

The aim would be to amend the Antisubversive Activities Law, drafted in
1952, to make it easy for authorities to clamp down on rogue
organisations perceived to be a threat to public safety.

Critics say the law, designed to suppress the growth of communism in
the 1950s, is seriously deficient in dealing with cults like Aum.
Unless authorities can prove a political motivation for anti-public
acts, any prosecution will fail.

5. Dead notary's sister takes stand against Aum
Japan Times, May 27, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
A former Aum Shinrikyo follower whose brother was allegedly abducted
and drugged to death by cultists testified before the Tokyo District
Court on Thursday that the cult's continuing activities threaten the
lives of herself and other relatives.

In the hearing of Aum founder Shoko Asahara, the sister of Tokyo notary
public Kiyoshi Kariya said she still feels insecure about testifying,
fearing it could arouse the cult to attack her and Kariya's family.

The witness also said she initially was afraid to tell police and
prosecutors what she knew because she had suspected Aum members might
have infiltrated law enforcement bodies.

"Aum is an eccentric cult, and we don't know what they'll do," she
said. "I can't believe Aum is still allowed to carry on after all they
have done."

6. Sect children case settled
The Australian, May 28, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
MEMBERS of a religious sect today said they were "thanking God" at the
settlement of their legal battle over the removal of children from
their families in dawn raids seven years ago.

Outside the NSW Supreme Court, their solicitor, Greg Walsh, said the
terms of settlement were confidential but his clients were extremely
happy with the outcome.

The plaintiffs, 31 of whom are still children, had sued the State,
claiming they suffered psychological damage following the raids on the
homes belonging to the Christian fundamentalist sect The Family,
formerly known as Children of God.

7. Ombudsman: British Columbia owes Doukhobors apology, compensation
Star-Telegram, May 27, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
(...) Ombudsman Dulcie McCallum argued the government should give an
explanation, an apology and compensation to those children of the
roughly 2,000 Sons of Freedom Doukhobors who suffered strappings,
overcrowding and shoddy housing at the prison-like enclave called New
Denver Elementary School Dormitory.

The ombudsman's damning report has come out in the same year that
British Columbia's 22,000 Doukhobors, who traditionally shun military
service, meat, religious hierarchy and governments, are celebrating the
100th anniversary of their ancestors' arrival in Canada.

8. Top French Court Sends Einhorn Back To U.S
Excite, May 27, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
France's Supreme Court ruled Thursday that U.S. counterculture guru Ira
should be returned to the United States to stand trial for the
murder of his girlfriend in Philadelphia more than two decades ago.

9. Investigators: Former employee behind death of missing atheist
CNN, May 27, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
A former office manager for Madalyn Murray O'Hair killed the missing
atheist, her son and her granddaughter out of hatred and greed,
according to an affidavit from an agent of the Internal Revenue

The affidavit, unsealed Wednesday, for the first time presents the
government's theory behind the mysterious disappearance of Mrs. O'Hair,
Jon Garth Murray, and Robin Murray O'Hair in September 1995. The three
vanished from San Antonio along with $500,000 in gold coins.

10. Ex-Aryan security chief sentenced in assault
Spokane.Net, May 25, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Former Aryan Nations security chief Edward ``Jesse'' Warfield could
spend as long as five years in prison under a sentence he received

The 44-year-old Missouri resident was sentenced for his role last
summer in a car chase and shooting that began on a county road outside
the Aryan Nations compound near Hayden Lake.

He told the judge that he still sees no reason why the Aryans shouldn't
be able to publicly demonstrate their cultural pride with parades in
downtown Coeur d'Alene. ``I just don't see where that is such a hateful
thing,'' Warfield told the court.

Kosonen later asked Warfield why there weren't any Jews or minorities
attending activities at the Aryan Nations. When he couldn't answer the
question, the judge said, ``Don't you see that it is not a religious
movement, it is a racist movement?''

He explained that it wasn't the Aryan Nations symbol or the Nazi
swastika that attracted him to Richard Butler's compound, but its
formal name, Church of Jesus Christ Christian.

``I went up there under the pretense I would be learning about my
Christian heritage,'' he said.

11. Satanic Ritual Ends With Stabbing
APBNews.com, May 28, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
A 17-year-old accused of repeatedly stabbing a friend he asked to
participate in a satanic ritual pleaded not guilty today to a charge of
attempted first-degree murder, authorities said.

"The victim thought he was involved in one level of activity and became
an unwilling participant in another," Broward County Assistant State
Attorney Alex Urruella told APBNews.com.

12. Prosecutor accuses two of killing cousin for shunning her culture
Akron Beacon, May 26, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
An assistant prosecutor accused two men of killing their cousin because
they were upset she shunned her Muslim culture.

``What these two did was shoot a woman in the back of the head. They
believe that their religious belief supersede our law,'' said Carmen
Marino, chief of the Cuyahoga County prosecutor's major trials

13. Montessori Parents Protest; Petition against Scientology
Sueddeutschen Zeitung (Germany), May 22, 1999
Translation: German Scientology News
(Story no longer online? Read this)
3,000 signatures against street recruitment by Scientology were
collected by the 'Montessori Parents / Psycho-sects e.V.' initiative
and handed over to Mayor Gertraud Burkert in city hall yesterday. The
citizens, children among them, got the signatures of people who, in
that past year, have been "shamelessly and repeatedly oppressed" by
Scientologists, including those in front of the Dianetics center on
Leopold Street.

As it said on the initiative's flyer, "We cannot bring ourselves to
understand how an organization which is being observed nationwide by
Constitutional Security may distribute leaflets daily on the streets
and drag unsuspecting citizens off to take tests." It is through the
personality test, which gives an essentially negative profile of the
person being tested, that citizens are said to be pulled into the
Scientology system. Besides financial harm, people risk being put under
massive psychical influence. Parents of former students of the
Dietramszell Montessori school founded the initiative in 1996, after
cases of psycho-terrorism were reported near the school, which children
of Scientologists also attend. Gertraud Burkert forwarded the list to
the district administrative representative.
[...entire item...]

14. Proceedings against Scientology in Madrid postponed
epd (Germany), May 25, 1999
Translation: German Scientology News
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Court proceedings against the Scientology organization in Madrid which
had been scheduled for June 1 have been postponed. The lawyer
representing the 18 accused has himself accused the judge of the 4th
chamber of the Madrid court with prejudice, reported the Spanish daily
newspaper "El Pais" on Tuesday. Until the highest court in Madrid
decides upon this application by the defense, the proceedings are

The process against the leading Scientology members, Scientology
President Heber Jentzsch among them, is supposed to last for three
months. The state attorney made a total of twelve charges against the
accused of violation of Spanish criminal and civil law. Among these
charges are the psychical treatment and medical diagnosing with a
"personality test" without medical education. People with mild
depression suffer personality upsets after this "treatment," according
to the state attorney.
[...entire item...]

15. Spanish Parliament plans Sect Observation Agency
epd, May 26, 1999
Translation: German Scientology News
(Story no longer online? Read this)
The Spanish Parliament intends to establish a Sect Observation agency.
One year ago Interior Minister Jaime Mayor Oreja had warned of a rise
in doomsday sects because of the end of the millennium, and now the
lower House of Representatives sees this step as being urgently needed,
reported the daily newspaper "El Pais" on Wednesday.

The Interior Minister, upon an inquiry from Parliament, estimated the
number of "destructive sects" in Spain at about 200 and the number of
sect adherents at between 100,000 and 150,000. This information was too
imprecise for the representatives. The Lower House voted unanimously on
Tuesday that the administration should establish a sect observation
[...entire item...]

16. Russian Court Rejects Church Ban
InfoBeat, May 28, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
A Russian court has rejected an attempt to ban a Pentecostalist church
in the far east under a controversial religion law, a defense lawyer
said today. Prosecutors in the port city of Magadan had accused the
chief pastor of the Word of Life Pentecostalist Church of hypnotizing
congregants to extort donations.

They tried to ban the congregation under a religion law that gives
courts the right to outlaw religious groups found to be inciting hatred
or intolerant behavior. The law has been used against several groups

17. Buddhism in blossom:
Nearly every branch of the religion is represented in the Bay Area, where recent arrivals supplement long-standing communities
San Jose Mercury News, May 23, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
(...) Almost unnoticed, Buddhism is flourishing throughout the Bay
Area, making this one of the few regions outside Asia where almost
every branch and sect of the religion can be found. Fueling this
growth are newly arrived Buddhist immigrants who -- joining
long-established Buddhist communities already here -- underscore the
connection between ancient beliefs and new opportunities.

Indeed, Silicon Valley is now home to more than two dozen ethnic
Buddhist temples and organizations, representing Burmese, Sri Lankan,
Cambodian, Laotian, Vietnamese, Thai, Korean and several sects of
Japanese and Chinese Buddhism. Many of these temples are just a few
years old.

No one knows how many Buddhists live in the Bay Area -- or in the
United States. No group keeps track of these numbers. But Buddhist
scholars estimate there are between 1 million and 6 million adherents
in the United States, with the heaviest concentrations in the Bay Area
and Southern California.

18. Buddhist festival goes national
Newsday, May 27, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Tricycle, a Buddhist magazine that has sponsored day-long teachings in
Central Park for the past five years, is taking the program national.

San Francisco and Williamsport, Pa., have been added to the June 5
"Change Your Mind Day." Tricycle also will sponsor a park session July
10 in Anchorage, Alaska.

In this Buddhist brand of evangelism, teachers give introductory talks
and invite park passersby to experiment with meditation techniques.

19. Young Hindus bring ancient faith to a crossroads in U.S.
Dallas Morning News, May 29, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
(...) For more than a generation, most of the nation's approximately
1.5 million Hindus -- most of them Indian immigrants -- have paid
little attention to their ancient faith. Busy building careers and
families, they've tried to blend into America. But now the first
generation of American-born Indians is coming of age. They are forcing
their baby-boomer parents to reckon with a long-neglected faith.

There is a Web site -- www.hindunet.org/ -- aimed at the young. And
there is a glossy monthly called Hinduism Today that bills itself as a
leader in the Hindu ``renaissance.'' On campuses, Hindu awareness
groups are popping up. There is even a small organization called the
American Hindu Anti-Defamation Council.

Some Hindus believe that if they can rejuvenate their faith, it can
become an important new American force, like Islam. Everyone agrees,
however, that the path will be difficult.

20. Hare Krishnas in Yugoslavia feel war's stress
Contra Costa Times, May 22, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
(...) Aside from attrition caused directly by the NATO attacks,
Purkhmeyer said the Hare Krishna community had already been having a
difficult time because of an educational campaign in Serbian schools
warning students of the dangers of the Hindu movement.

One prominent Serbian Orthodox author, Father Zarko Gavrilovic, said
that although he supports Yugoslav citizens' right to choose what they
believe, he considers the Hare Krishna movement to be harmful to a
society where the traditional denomination has been the Serbian
Orthodox Church.

"Hare Krishna is not a Christian sect," said Gavrilovic, 67, a
theologian who studied at Oxford. "They are taking our territory, our
believers, and in some way washing these people's brains."

Despite the difficulties, neither Miljic nor Purkhmeyer nor other
temple leaders doubted the long-term prospects of the Hare Krishna
movement in Yugoslavia. For one thing, Purkhmeyer said, the Hare
Krishnas are offering an explanation for a conflict that is beyond
explanation for many of those enduring the daily air raids.

"Some other religions would answer at this point, 'The ways of God are
not known to us.' But from our point of view, we understand that what
is happening is an unraveling of karma. This is the result of past
deeds. Surely, God is not allowing this to happen accidentally. It is
difficult for people to hear, but it is logical," said Purkhmeyer, a
former Roman Catholic who quips, "I still like Jesus very much."

21. Faith finds new worth in old ways
Bergen Record, May 29, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
The decision this week by the rabbinic leadership of Reform Judaism to
foster old-style practices such as wearing yarmulkes and keeping kosher
provoked intense and highly public debate within the largest and most
liberal Jewish movement in America.

Although the conflict focused on whether the rabbis were turning their
backs on the modernist ethos that for a century has defined progressive
Judaism, a broader view shows that the embrace of old-style religious
customs is going on across the spectrum of religious life in America.

In fact, the movement to recover neglected spiritual practices has been
growing especially strong in the last two or three years, and it now
represents a distinct countercurrent to the prevailing tide that
stresses updated worship styles as the way to draw worshipers.

Today, mainline Protestants are meditating to Gregorian chants,
evangelicals are undertaking purifying fasts, and Eastern Orthodox
churches, with their deliberate, incense-infused liturgies, are gaining
a steady stream of converts.

"We call it the move from 'Gooey-Gooey-God' to 'Honest-to-God,' " said
Phyllis Tickle, an editor at Publishers Weekly and author of several
books on religion in America, including "Re-Discovering the Sacred."

22. Witches brew up protest for Barr meeting
AccessAtlanta, May 30, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
(...) The Georgia Republican fielded questions from witches, Christians
and other constituents in a packed room at a Cobb County library in
Marietta. Barr criticized the commander of Fort Hood this month for
allowing a Wiccan rite on the Texas Army base.

Barr told the crowd of 120 that Wicca threatened to erode military
discipline--a fear not uttered publicly by military commanders--and the
First Amendment needed to take a back seat to that concern.

He favored the free exercise of Wicca in civilian life or by military
personnel off their bases. He claimed officially sanctioning Wicca
would open the door to other religious practices, such as peyote use by
Native Americans. The Department of Defense is drawing up regulations
to cover the use of the hallucinogenic drug, he said.

23. Wiccan leader flies out of broom closet
Toronto Star, May 22, 1999

(Story no longer online? Read this)
(...) High priestess Phyllis is tall and blonde, long and lean,
somewhere in her 40s. She had a Jewish mother, a Scandinavian sea
captain father. Besides being a witch, she is a lawyer. In her Book Of
Shadows, A Modern Woman's Journey Into the Wisdom Of Witchcraft And The
Magic Of The Goddess (Broadway Books), you will learn that:

``When high-powered Manhattan lawyer Phyllis Curott began exploring
witchcraft, she discovered a spiritual movement that defied all

Tapping deeply into the western world's need to try to figure out what
the hell is going on, the book is into its fifth printing, soon to be
released in paperback. The front cover blazes with a stunningly opaque
blurb from mental magic-meister Deepak Chopra: ``A modern-day
Persephone myth full of magic and mystery, Book Of Shadows transcends
the bounds of its genre.''

Phyllis turned to witchcraft ``when she began having prophetic dreams
and mysterious visions of ancient female figures.''

24. For New Age action, it's hard to beat Brasilia
Dallas Morning News, May 22, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
(...) With about 5,000 members, the Valley of the Dawn is one of more
than 150 mystical religious groups that have sprung up around Brasilia
in the past few years. And the number grows every day, researchers say.

Now the government in Brasilia is hoping to cash in on the city's
mystical image as "the capital of the third millennium" by promoting
events around 2000, which coincides with Brazil's 500th anniversary.
About half of the 1 million visitors to Brasilia last year came for
mystical tourism, officials say.

"We believe we can double the number of New Age tourists as the
millennium approaches," says Marcelo Dourado, the city's tourism
secretary. "Brasilia has a mystical aura that no other city in Brazil
has. This is an excellent tourist product."

From its founding in 1960, Brasilia has billed itself as the city of
the future. Its modernist architecture, framed by an expansive blue
sky, and isolated location in Brazil's dry backlands lend the city an
otherworldly aura. Many New Age devotees believe the region lies on a
bedrock of crystal that is supposed to give it unusual spiritual power.
Built in the shape of a bird or airplane, Brasilia was the brainchild
of former President Juscelino Kubitschek.

Egon and his wife, Inti-Ra, founded the Arcadia organization based on
insights from extraterrestrial beings.

Fearing the apocalypse, Osho - a Hindu meditation group formed by the
late Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh - moved onto a spectacular patch of land
near Alto Paraiso where it runs an eco-spiritual resort.

Controversial groups such as Saint Daime - which uses a hallucinogenic
plant borrowed from Indians of the Peruvian Amazon to give members
visions - are as welcome in Alto Paraiso as fringe Protestant groups or

The new religions may have an otherworldly veneer, but they are firmly
Brazilian in their incorporation of other traditions and their social

25. New law would affect rights of Catholic church in Chile
EWTN, May 27, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
The bishops of the Church in Chile have signed a statement in which
they express their disagreement with some aspects of the so called "Law
of Cult" to be discussed in the country's senate. The Chilean
episcopate has questioned this law, which not only wants to create a
legal framework for all the churches that exist in Chile, but that also
includes the idea of equality among them.

Some parliamentarians have already recognized that the problem with
this law is, on one hand, that it gives constitutional level to all
religious confessions and, on the other hand, that its phrasing may
permit abusive interpretations by small religious groups that have
little representation in the national life.

26. Alternative treatments finding a following
MSNBC, May 26, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Itís the east versus the west in the ways of healing. For centuries the
Chinese relied on herbs and alternative treatments to heal everything
from arthritis to migraine headaches to injury pains. More people are
turning to these methods, but do they really work?

27. Hinckley Breaks Ground on Temple `Where It All Began,' Hill Cumorah
Salt Lake Tribune, May 29, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
At the Mormon church's birthplace, spiritual leader Gordon B. Hinckley
broke ground Tuesday at the planned site of the church's 100th temple.
"This is where it all began," said Hinckley. "From this place, this
work has spread over the Earth to more than 160 nations and to more
than 10 million people. Who could ever have imagined it?"

28. Genealogy Site Overwhelmed by Millions of Hits
Salt Lake Tribune, May 28, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Staggered by a tidal wave of would-be users, the LDS Church's new
Internet genealogy site has been forced to undergo a series of major
programming and hardware upgrades less than a week into its launch.
On Thursday, less than half of an estimated 1 million people trying to
reach FamilySearch on the World Wide Web were getting through.
LavaStorm, the Boston-based developer of the service, reported that in
addition to the 40 million hits being recorded at the site
(http://www.familysearch.org), users representing another 60 million
hits were failing to connect.

... LavaStorm contends that FamilySearch already is at least among
the top 10 most popular Web sites.

29. Bishop T.D. Jakes puts Phila. Pentecostals on their feet
Philadelphia Inquirer, May 29, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
The minute Bishop T.D. Jakes arrived on the stage, before he had spoken
one word, the crowd at the Convention Center was up and cheering.

"He's the apostle for the 21st century!" decreed his presenter, to
whistles and shouts of approval. "The man God has raised to minister,
bless, uplift and encourage."

Bishop Jakes, 41, is a media phenomenon -- part mesmerizing preacher,
part merchant savant -- who has risen rapidly to be one of the nation's
most recognized clergymen, particularly in black churches. His base of
operations is the Potter's House church in Dallas, a megachurch that
sits on 28 acres and claims 17,000 members.

Before his sermon Thursday, he promoted video series and CDs -- recent
items he has produced. Though Bishop Jakes has his church critics, who
dislike his "prosperity gospel" and his open self-promoting, they were
nowhere to be seen Thursday.

"As you go over into the 21st century, this is your year for God to
unfold the mystery of His will," he said. "You have never been healed
like you're going to be healed when God opens up these blueprints."

Bishop Jakes explained that God was not going to allow their lives to
end badly: "Things are predestined. God said, 'I fix things before
things are going to end.' God could not afford you messing up his plan.

"The reason God isn't getting upset every time you get upset is because
God has already worked it out," he said.

30. Churches agree on need for revival, differ on what it should look like
Sun Herald, May 22, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
(...) For many charismatic and evangelical Christians, what's happening
at Brownsville fulfills part of a prophecy by the Rev. David Yonggi
, pastor of the world's largest Protestant church, Yoido Full
Gospel Church in Seoul.

The church was born into an ancient world where casting out devils,
raising the dead and prophesying future events were the norm. Today's
believers can't agree on whether they should be experiencing the same
things their forefathers did.

"They (the early Christians) had a power that died with them," said
Stewart Custer, a writer and professor at the conservative Bob Jones
University in Greenville, S.C. Custer said similar modern-day events
like the Brownsville revival are evil counterfeits that dupe the masses
into believing that God has touched them.

"There are 5,000 Anglican parishes (in England) that are caught up in
the current renewal," Kellner said. "There weren't that many in the
Wesleyan revival."

"There's a lot of religious activity, but I'm not certain that all the
religious activity is aimed at changing people's lives and pointing
them to Scripture," said the Rev. Bill Safley, pastor of Michael
Memorial Baptist Church in Gulfport. "Revival changes a society."

31. LWF, Roman Catholics ready to sign 'Joint Declaration'
WFN, May 28, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Following positive conclusion of deliberations between the Lutheran
World Federation (LWF) and the Roman Catholic Church (RCC), the Joint
Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification between the RCC and the
LWF is now ready for a joint action of confirmation.

"Now it can be declared without reservation that the doctrinal
condemnations which were set forth mutually by the Lutheran and
Catholic sides at the time of the Reformation, do not apply to the
teaching on justification by the two parties expressed in the Joint
Declaration,"he added.

A joint press conference by Dr. Noko and Cardinal Cassidy will take
place here on 11 June 1999.

=== Noted

32. A Path to the 12 Steps: How Alcoholics Anonymous Began
Fox News, May 26, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
(...) The buddy told Wilson he could also fully recover from alcoholism
if he were willing to believe in some concept of God ó some power
greater than himself. Wilson believed him and experienced, by his own
account, a sudden spiritual awakening.

Even with its Switzerland-like position of neutrality, AA has not
escaped criticism. AA's discussion of God has prompted numerous people
to contend that it is a religion or a cult which fosters dependence on
support groups.

"The phenomenal success of AA is largely the result of its twelfth-step
evangelical outreach, which catapults members into cult proselytizing
activities," claims an online pamphlet published by Rational Recovery,
a rival group.

33. Chuck Colson's Miracle
Washington Post, May 30, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
(...) Coming soon to a neighborhood near yours: 50 percent of the 1.2
million inmates of America's prisons. Such is the churning of the
prison population, that many will be outside within a year. Many will
be outside only temporarily. The re-arrest rate for former prisoners is
68 percent.

That should quicken your interest in the Prison Fellowship, which runs
the InnerChange program. The low re-arrest rate for graduates of the
fellowship's many programs indicates that those programs can help make
incarceration a little less a recycling of repeat offenders at a time
when the prisoner population is increasing by more than 1,000 a week.

Prison Fellowship's aim, he says, is not rehabilitation, which implies
getting people back to the way they were, but regeneration, making them
what they never were. Considering the records of the men in question,
skeptics say regeneration would be a miracle. The fellowship says,
there are precedents. The evidence says it's working.

34. Hits and Myths: For some, the spiritual effects rival the special effects in movies such as 'Star Wars' and 'The Matrix'
Sacramento Bee, May 22, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
(...) Are these movies genuinely spiritual? Are their mythic and
biblical references more than window-dressing? Do phrases such as "Stop
trying to hit me and hit me" ("The Matrix") really impart the essence
of Zen Buddhism? And does anyone really get, let alone care about, the
Jungian archetypes that scholars have found in "Star Wars" or ponder
the messianic journey of Neo Anderson of "The Matrix"?

Even Karen McKinley of Rancho Cordova, who describes herself as an
evangelical Christian, says that the religious allusions "don't really
have an impact on me. It's not Christianity, and I don't go to the
movies to see religious ideas played out. I came for the fun of it."

But there are those who have spent a lot of time thinking about the
symbolic underpinings of the movies. Books and master's theses have
been written on the Jungian archetypes of the original three "Star
Wars" movies, and "The Matrix" has received some impressively complex
analysis on Web sites such as www.aboutfilm.com.

Steven Galipeau is a Jungian analyst in private practice in Los Angeles
who has written a book, not yet published, titled "Myth and Symbol in
the Adventures of Luke Skywalker." It is, he says, a psychological
interpretation of the first three movies. Doing so is important, he
says, because the movies "convey a lot of important spiritual
understanding that has been lost from traditional religions."

The opinion that "Star Wars" in particular is providing a valuable
psychological or religious education is not universally held.

"It's so American," he says. "In both of these movies, it's all a
matter of attitude, of 'digging the spiritual vibe' sort of thing,
rather than good works or acts. And they don't take it any further.
It's spirituality as a lifestyle choice.

"But in the end," he says, referring to Yoda, "The truth is not going
to come from a muppet with Frank Oz's voice.

35. For Some, Doom Is in the Digits, in the Web
San Francisco Chronicle, May 24, 1999

(Story no longer online? Read this)
Past candidates have included the Emperor Nero, various popes, Adolph
Hitler and Saddam Hussein. Now, at the approach of 2000, a new suspect
has emerged in the centuries-long search for the great satanic beast of
the Book of Revelation.

It is the World Wide Web. Robert Barber, a free-lance Bible sleuth
from Oceanside, reports that an obsolete Greek letter, the digamma,
representing ``six'' in the ancient Greek alphabet, is pronounced in
English as ``W.'' Thus, 666=WWW.

Barber is just the latest in a long line of numerologists and amateur
Bible buffs to think they have deciphered the mysteries of the
Christian apocalypse.

=== Books

36. Millennialism thrives at the end of the millennium
Star Democrat, May 21, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
(...) Those intrigued by eschatology, study of the End Times, can learn
something from "Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond" (Zondervan
paperback, $16.99), edited by Darrell Bock of Dallas Theological

The book benefits by having three writers in a format that provides
unusually balanced overview. Each writer presents major competing
views, followed by replies from the other two. All three writers are
conservatives who believe Christ will return, literally and visibly, to
establish his kingdom. The authors and their camps:

Craig Blaising, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville,
represents the premillennialists, who take Revelation 20 literally.

Kenneth Gentry, Bahnsen Theological Seminary, Placentia, Calif., speaks
for the postmillennialists.

Robert Strimple, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, speaks
for the amillennialists, who see Revelation 20 as symbolizing the
church's struggles in the first century and ever since.

37. Author disputes end-of-the-world theology
Charlotte Observer, May 29, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
(...) Now she [Grace Halsell - awh] has plunged herself into
end-of-the-world biblical prophecy in researching her latest book,
``Armageddon: Understanding God's End Game.''

Her latest book, which is to be released this year, expresses her fears
about the end-times theology of many Christians.

Another of Halsell's books, ``Prophecy and Politics: the Secret
Alliance Between Israel and the U.S. Christian Right'' (Lawrence Hill,
$9.95), published in 1989, also explores her concerns about Armageddon

Armageddon theology is preached by much-admired evangelists, such as
Billy Graham and Luis Palau. But as the year 2000 approaches, Halsell
said she is alarmed by end-of-the-world comments being made by many,
particularly Falwell and Pat Robertson, president of the Christian
Broadcasting Network. ''Their sermons are filled with scary stuff,''
Halsell said.

Halsell bases her views solely on her own research and experiences as a
professing Christian and not on any credentials as a biblical scholar.
She argues that those who preach Armageddon theology replace Christ's
teachings about universal love with a God of war.

=== The Church Around The Corner
[Story no longer online? Read this]

38. God makes it all happen
Religion News Service:

"God makes it all happen. If He doesn't, who the [h***] does? I'd like
them to tell me that."
-- Mary Giovani, 83-year-old resident of Cranford, N.J., asked by
USA Today her opinion of American Atheists moving its headquarters
to Cranford.

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