Apologetics Index
News about cults, sects, alternative religions...

Religion Items In The News

June 23, 1999 (Vol. 3, Issue 92)

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

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Religion Items in the News - June 23, 1999 (Vol. 3, Issue 92)

=== Main
1. Minority Faiths Come Under the Microscope Across Europe
2. Illegal activities of sects in Europe: The Assembly gives priority
to prevention
3. Paris rejects U.S. report on religious freedom
4. Paris wants stronger controls on sects' commercial activity
5. School Censors Graduation Speech
6. Courts Encourage Voting Away the Religious Rights of the Minority
7. Majority wants tighter grip on AUM
8. Ex-Aum cultists told to pay lawyer 20 mil. yen
9. China calls for end to 'superstition' (Falun Gong)
10. Woman wins $200,000 for false memory of satanic abuse
11. 16 human skulls, bones found beneath Brazilian temple floor
12. Man jailed in spanking (Liberty and Freedom Church)
13. To beat or not to beat: Biblical quotes fly in court application
14. New call for recognition of Muslim law
15. Greater Ministries is tagged as an anti-government, hate group
16. Feds: Pious swindler worshiped mammon (Financial Serv. of America)
17. Swindler must pay back $12M (Sovereign Ministries International)
18. A&O Secures Settlement in Scientology Case
19. Scientology - what to do?
20. Repressive Methods of the Scientology Sect
21. Too Much Church (International Churches of Christ)
22. Yahweh family promotes its faith (Yahweh Ben Yahweh)
23. Will the Raelians be around much longer?
24. Polygamists fight back
25. Jehovah's Witnesses prepare for convention
26. Military OKs using peyote, Indians say
27. Wicca in the Military
28. Wiccans hold tolerance ritual
29. Starhawk: Pagen Rituals
30. Summer Solstice Clash At Stonehenge
31. Peace Among Faiths (United Religions Initiative)
32. Zen Abbot Gives a U.S. Look to an Asian Faith
33. Eastern religions captivate West
34. Court says religious doctrine and property are separate
35. Muslim leader addresses Jewish service (Elijah Muhammad)
36. Jewish temples torched in hate
37. Converts: Jews disagree on the wisdom of proselytizing
38. Jews for Jesus missionaries find their task a daunting one
39. 5 Years After Death, Messiah Question Divides Lubavitchers
40. Bizarre scenarios mark millennium
41. Many conservative Christians resisting Last Days scenarios
42. Shroud of Turin yields Mideast plant traces
43. Shroud meeting attracts hundreds / Radiocarbon dating flawed,
studies show
44. Falwell paper: Lilith Fair named for demon
45. Southern Baptists To Evangelize Cities

=== Noted
46. More Christians walking sacred, winding path
47. 'Lighthouse' prayer movement grows
48. Indian medicine men find urban clients in Colombia
49. Is the Religious Right Heading in the Right Direction? (Campolo)

=== The Church Around The Corner
50. Pilgrims flock to shrine at oak tree
51. Christian Bikers Battle Over Logo

=== Main

1. Minority Faiths Come Under the Microscope Across Europe
Salt Lake Tribune/Religion News Service, June 19, 1999
Religious-rights advocates have expanded their efforts to protect
minority faiths in what many thought an unlikely arena -- some of
Western Europe's leading democracies. The concern stems from actions
in France, Belgium, Germany, Austria and elsewhere that critics say run
roughshod over the legal rights of minority religious groups, most of
whom are relatively new, small or foreign imports.

Critics say the government actions fail to differentiate among the
targeted groups, which vary widely in beliefs, practices and mainstream
acceptance in the United States and elsewhere. Instead, they say, the
governments have cast all the groups as potentially dangerous sects in
an overzealous response to the violence of Japan's Aum Shinri Kyo cult,
Southern California's Heaven's Gate commune, and, in particular, the
1994-'95 mass suicides and homicides in France and Switzerland carried
out by Order of the Solar Temple members.

"Everyone is being lumped together," said Massimo Introvigne, director
of the Center for Studies of New Religions in Torino, Italy. "It's
reminiscent of the McCarthy era in the United States." Targeted
groups, said Introvigne, have been subjected to media attacks,
harassment, tax and other legal problems.

A sign of how widespread the "anti-cult" sentiment has become is a
proposal before the 41-nation Council of Europe's Parliamentary
Assembly to establish a central European "observatory" to monitor
"groups of a religious, esoteric or spiritual nature."

U.S. government officials concerned with religious liberty issues have
taken note of the situation, pointing out that domestic laws in many of
the affected nations as well as international treaties are supposed to
safeguard the targeted groups' religious freedoms.

Fear of new cult violence is often noted by Western European
politicians as a prime reason for the need to move against suspect
groups. However, Willy Fautre, the Brussels-based director of Human
Rights Without Frontiers, said some secular politicians, particularly
in France and Belgium, have used past cult violence as an excuse to
mask their bias against all religious faiths. Likewise, he said,
representatives of established churches, fearful of competition from
new groups, have joined with the secularists to present a united front
against the minority faiths.

2. Illegal activities of sects in Europe: The Assembly gives priority
to prevention
Council of Europe, June 6, 1999 (Press Release)
The COUNCIL OF EUROPE Parliamentary Assembly today adopted,
unanimously, a Recommendation which gives priority to the prevention
against dangerous sects. "Major legislation on sects is undesirable",
the Assembly reiterated during a debate organised during its summer

The Recommendation which was adopted following the debate pointed to
the risk that any legislation passed in this area might well interfere
with the freedom of conscience and religion guaranteed by Article 9 of
the European Convention on Human Rights.

Nonetheless, the serious incidents which had occurred in recent years
did warrant an insistence that the activities of groups referred to as
sects – which the Assembly did not feel it necessary to define – be
carried out in keeping with the principles of democratic societies.

Therefore, it was vital to have access to reliable, objective
information on these groups, directed in particular at teenagers within
the framework of school curricula and at the children of followers of
groups of a religious, esoteric or spiritual nature.

Consequently, the Assembly called on the governments of the member

- to support the setting up of independent, national or regional
information centres on sects;
- to include information on the history and philosophy of important
schools of thought and of religion in general school curricula;
- to use the normal procedures of criminal and civil law against
illegal practices carried out by these groups;
- to encourage the setting up of non-governmental organisations to
protect victims, but also;
- to take firm steps against any discrimination or marginalisation of
minority groups and encourage a spirit of tolerance and
understanding towards religious groups.

The Assembly also requested that the Committee of Ministers of the
Council of Europe set up a European Observatory on groups of a
religious, esoteric or spiritual nature, to make it easier for national
centres to exchange information. The Council of Europe should also take
action to promote the setting up of information centres in central and
eastern European countries.

A political organisation set up in 1949, the Council of Europe promotes
democracy and human rights continent-wide. It also develops common
responses to social, cultural and legal challenges in its 41 member

Press Contact
Christiane Dennemeyer, Council of Europe Press Service
Tel. +33 3 88 41 25 63 - Fax. +33 3 88 41 27 89
E-mail: PressUnit@coe.int
[...entire message...]

* Text of the adopted recommendation:


Note that the cult apologist team of Introvigne & Melton gets a

Point 2.C.6 says:

6. The second pitfall which state authorities should avoid is making
a distinction between sects and religions(2). A perfect illustration
of this potential risk, linked to the term "sect", is the attitude
of certain groups who claim religious intolerance, or even racism,
as soon as a state plans measures. These groups assert, expert
reports at the ready, that they are not sects but, in fact,
religions and that consequently the state has no right to act
against them. Confronted with such allegations, if the state enters
into the debate by trying to demonstrate that the group in question
is not a religion, it fails in its duty to maintain neutrality and
participates directly in a spiritual or religious controversy.

The note (2):

Note 2 : On the use of this false argument by or against "sects",
see in particular C. ERHEL and R de la BAUME (ed), Le procès de
l’Eglise de Scientologie, Paris 1997; M. INTROVIGNE and J. GORDON
MELTON (ed), Pour en finir avec les sectes – Le débat sur le rapport
de la Commission parlementaire, Turin, 1997.

3. Paris rejects U.S. report on religious freedom
Frankfurter Rundschau (Germany), June 16, 1999
Translation: German Scientology News
The French administration's sect commissioner has formally protested at
the U.S. Embassy in Paris about a U.S. American administrative report
on restrictions on religious freedom in Europe. Religious freedom in
France, with the exception of the German occupation, has not been
tampered with for more than a century, said Alain Vivien, the President
of the French Sect Commission, according to French newspaper reports on
Tuesday. The U.S. accusations were said to be unfounded. He said that
one of the commission delegates who reviewed religious freedom in April
in France was affiliated with the Scientology Organization.

In the report the U.S. administration called upon the governments of
Belgium, Germany, France and Belgium to no longer politically or
morally hinder "new groups and religious minorities." Just the mere
presence of the sect commissions in these countries were said to give
the public the impression that new religious categories were engaged in
illegal activities. In this way, the report said, intolerance was being
[...entire item...]

4. Paris wants stronger controls on sects' commercial activity
Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung (Germany), June 17, 1999
Translation: German Scientology News
A French National Assembly committee of inquiry has recommended
stronger control of commercial operations by sects. The considerable
economic activities were mentioned in a report which was presented on
Thursday in Paris. Some sects have budgets of many hundreds of millions
of francs and considerable wealth. The organizations of Scientology and
the Jehovah's Witnesses were mentioned by name in the report.

* The report, Les Sectes et L'Argent (French only), can be read at:

5. School Censors Graduation Speech
San Francisco Chronicle, June 19, 1999
Amador Valley High School officials may have won the first round
yesterday when they forced a 17- year-old honor student to cut short
his graduation speech, saying the message was too religious.

But Nicholas Lassonde's attorney has promised to sue the Pleasanton
Unified School District for violating the teenager's First Amendment

Lassonde, one of two salutatorians, addressed 424 graduates,
their families and friends at the Alameda County Fairgrounds during
Amador Valley High's graduation. But about halfway through his speech,
the A- plus student and devout Christian announced to the audience that
the next sequence had been censored by school officials.

Students, dressed in purple caps and gowns, erupted into boos.

``Unfortunately, the school district does not believe the rest of my
speech is appropriate,'' said Lassonde, adding that scripts of the
entire address were being passed out in the parking lot or were
available on his website www.deadmoose.com. He said he also will read
the speech in its entirety at Grace Church of Pleasanton at 10 a.m.

With that announcement, graduates and spectators cheered loudly, many
rising in a standing ovation.

Among the parts Lassonde was told to cut were an extensive excerpt from
an Old Testament psalm, a quote saying in part ``the gift of God is
eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord''; and a question by
Lassonde: ``Have you accepted the gift, or will you pay the ultimate

6. Courts Encourage Voting Away the Religious Rights of the Minority
Salt Lake Tribune, June 18, 1999
Under the grip of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, the
Bible belt has tightened a notch. For the last five years, through
delay, obfuscation and legal sleights of hand, the court has done
everything in its power to make sure that prayers have continued
unabated at public school graduation ceremonies in Duval County in

Call it judicial activism Southern style. Its most recent maneuver
was a burst of speed in agreeing to hear the case of Adler vs. Duval
County School Board as a full court, thereby vacating the ruling made
just a few weeks earlier by one of its own three-judge panels barring
prayers at public school graduations.

7. Majority wants tighter grip on AUM
Mainichi Daily News, June 18, 1999
(...) Four in five people surveyed believe that additional legal
restrictions should be imposed upon the AUM Shinrikyo religious cult,
which has become increasingly visible in recent weeks, according to a
Mainichi poll. The nationwide survey also found that nearly two-thirds
of 1,238 adults polled by telephone over the weekend think the cult
should be legally obliged to compensate the victims of a series of
AUM-related atrocities.

According to the poll, 41 percent of the respondents believe the
government should reconsider applying the Anti-Subversive Activities
Law to the cult, while 40 percent think a new law should be created to
restrict the group's activities.

In total, more than 80 percent of those polled support the imposition
of new legal restrictions on the cult.

As for relief measures for the victims of a series of AUM-related
incidents involving death or injuries, 64 percent of those polled said
a new law should be created to legally oblige the cult to provide

Under the current law, AUM Shinrikyo is regarded as a different
religious body than the one implicated in such incidents as the Tokyo
subway gas attack in 1995. Therefore, the cult in its current
incarnation is not legally obliged to compensate the victims of the
cult-related incidents.

8. Ex-Aum cultists told to pay lawyer 20 mil. yen
Daily Yomiuri, June 22, 1999
The Yokohama District Court on Tuesday ordered six former senior
members of the Aum Supreme Truth cult to pay 20 million yen in damages
to a lawyer they tried to kill in 1994 with VX nerve gas and a deadly

In filing the civil suit, the lawyer said that he narrowly escaped
being killed by the cult members who applied pomade containing VX nerve
gas to the door handle of his car and made him drink juice containing
botulinum, a bacterium that secretes a neurotoxin.

9. China calls for end to 'superstition'
China's atheist Communist Party, apparently alarmed by a
quasi-religious sect's peaceful siege of the country's leadership
compound in April, said on Monday that "superstition" must be stamped

"Advocate science. Do away with superstition," screamed the headline of
a front-page commentary in the Communist Party newspaper.

"In order to win in the present atmosphere of fierce international
competition and overcome all difficulties and evil forces, science must
be respected and the banner of Marxist materialism and anti-theism has
to be upheld," it added.

In a show of strength that shocked the leadership, more than 10,000
members of the Falun Gong sect circled the Zhongnanhai leadership
compound in Beijing on April 25 and staged a peaceful sit-down protest
to demand official status for their faith.

Li, the sect leader, placed half-page advertisements in Hong Kong
newspapers this month asserting that Beijing was seeking his
extradition in exchange for slashing China's bulging trade surplus with
the United States by $500 million.

Li's letter, available on the Internet at http:/falundafa.org, said he
was not interested in politics but told Beijing not to mistake the
sect's magnanimity and restraint for fear.

The Communist Party circulated a document dismissing Li's assertion and
reports of a crackdown on the sect.

10. Woman wins $200,000 for false memory of satanic abuse
Sacramento Bee, June 22, 1999
A woman who said her therapist convinced her she had been raped by a
satanic cult and had killed an infant has won $200,000 in damages.

She said she spent years believing in her memories of ritual abuse and
murder, and became suicidally depressed, but realized the memories were
untrue after she left Litwin's care in 1994.

11. 16 human skulls, bones found beneath Brazilian temple floor
Nando Times, June 22, 1999
Police seeking a missing person unearthed 16 skulls and dozens of human
bones buried beneath the floor of an Afro-Brazilian spirit temple in
western Brazil, police said Tuesday. Jose Augusto dos Santos, the
priest of the temple, was arrested and charged with concealing a
cadaver, a policewoman said by telephone from Cuiaba, 1,000 miles
northwest of Rio.

Brazilian media reported that police also found jewels and three
packages with what appeared to be human brains. Dos Santos reportedly
told police the bones were supplied by a grave robber and were used in
religious rituals.

Animist religions originated in Africa and were brought to Brazil by
slaves. Over the years, some sects have incorporated elements of other
beliefs, including Roman Catholicism and witchcraft.

12. Man jailed in spanking
Daily Herald, June 18, 1999
In front of a packed courtroom Thursday an Everett-based religious
leader was sentenced to 90 days in jail for spanking a young female
church member until the paddle broke. Michael M. Follett, 49, pleaded
guilty in April to one count of third-degree assault. Follett is the
leader of a group formerly called the Liberty and Freedom Church.

The group still exists and many supporters and some opponents attended
his sentencing.

Liberty and Freedom became the focus of a criminal investigation in
1997 after some members told police they'd been beaten and otherwise

According to court papers, Follett professed to be a prophet of God and
required members of his church to work in church-run businesses or, in
the case of many female members, sell Mary Kay cosmetics.

13. To beat or not to beat: Biblical quotes fly in court application
Sunday Times (South Africa), June 20, 1999
SWOPPING biblical quotes is not the stuff of your average court case,
but this week both sides cited Scripture to prove their points in a
High Court challenge over the rights of fundamentalist Christians to
beat their wayward children.

For two days Judge Hennie Liebenberg of the Port Elizabeth High Court
presided over an application by Christian Education South Africa for
its schools to be allowed to administer what a senior official called
"biblical behaviour modification" in the form of corporal punishment to
naughty pupils.

Arguing on behalf of Cesa, Guy Richings SC quoted the Book of Proverbs
to illustrate the point: "Do not withhold discipline from a child; if
you punish with a rod he will not die. Punish him with a rod and save
his soul from death."

The National Minister of Education, against whom the application was
brought, is opposing the bid to have Section 10 declared
unconstitutional. Included among the legal books stacked in front of
the minister's counsel, Eberhard Bertelsmann SC, was a copy of the

Taking it in his hand, he read to the court from Deuteronomy, Chapter
21, which says that if parents have a stubborn and rebellious son who
will not obey them "though they chastise him", they should take him to
the elders of the city and make their complaint against him. "Then all
the men of the city shall stone him to death."

This extreme form of parental chastising showed Old Testament
injunctions were not to be taken literally today, he said.

In the middle of this examination of the Bible, Judge Liebenberg
pointed out that there were other religions in South Africa which
required that limbs be chopped off to punish misdeeds. He asked whether
these groups should be entitled to demand the right to mete out such
punishment in the name of a constitutional right to religious freedom.

14. New call for recognition of Muslim law
The Cape Argus (South Africa), June 17, 1999
Islamic religious leaders and a top academic have renewed calls for the
Government to recognise Muslim personal law in South Africa. The issue
arose when Cape Town's Muslim community honoured Abdul Kariem Toffar
with a supreme merit award.

He got his Ph.D. for his doctoral thesis "Administration of Islamic Law
of succession, adoption, guardianship, legacies and endowments in South
Africa". IUC chairman Achmad Cassiem said Dr Toffar's success was a
major step in the community's struggle to win recognition for Muslim
personal law in South Africa.

15. Greater Ministries is tagged as an anti-government, hate group
Intelligencer Journal, June 18, 1999
Greater Ministries International, the Florida church banned from
soliciting funds in Pennsylvania, has been identified by the Southern
Poverty Law Center as one of 435 "Patriot" groups operating in the
United States.

The SPLC, which monitors hate groups and those who advocate or adhere
to strict anti-government doctrines, featured Greater and its founder,
Gerald Payne, in the four-page article "Ministry of Money" in the
center's spring "Special Patriot Movement Issue."

The article identifies Greater's one-time general-counsel, Charles
Eidson, as the former head of the neo-Nazi Church of the Avenger and
the anti-government Tampa Freedom Center based within Greater's Tampa

16. Feds: Pious swindler worshiped mammon
Philadelphia Daily News, June 15, 1999
Financial consultant William R. Palmer Jr., a minister's son who
pleaded guilty yesterday to mail and securities fraud, figured that
elderly religious people would be an easy flock to fleece.

"Jesus paid a debt he didn't owe, because we had a debt we couldn't
pay," proclaimed Palmer's advertisement in the Christian Business
Guide, offering "estate planning from a Biblical perspective." His
pious manner reaped financial rewards but not for those who saw his
ad or heard him on his self-promotional talk-radio show.

Within four years, Palmer, operating a business called Financial
Services of America, swindled $1.4 million from 32 victims, many of
whom were churchgoing folk, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary E.

17. Swindler must pay back $12M
Bergen Record, June 19, 1999
A businessman was ordered Friday to repay $12 million he swindled from
Christian groups. Jonathan Strawder had told the groups that profits
from an investment scheme would be used to build churches and educate
the poor.

Strawder, the 26-year-old founder of Sovereign Ministries
International, also got five years in state prison, but the term will
be served concurrently with a five-year federal sentence he received
last week.

With his clean-cut good looks and his knowledge of the Bible, Strawder
persuaded at least 2,200 church groups and individuals to entrust their
money to him.

18. A&O Secures Settlement in Scientology Case
Allen & Overy (Law Offices), June 16, 1999 (Press Release)
Allen & Overy advised Bonnie Woods (the plaintiff) in her high profile
libel action against the Church of Scientology and three other
defendants. The battle culminated yesterday in the High Court, with the
lawyers for the defendants reading out a statement in open court
regretting the cult's actions and agreeing to pay £55,000 damages and
legal costs.

In June 1993, the Church of Scientology produced a leaflet showing a
photograph of Mrs Woods above the words 'Hate Campaigner Comes to
Town'. The leaflets were put through the letterboxes of those living on
the Woods' road. The leaflet described Mrs Woods as a 'hate
campaigner', that is, someone motivated by hatred and religious
intolerance, and as a 'deprogrammer' who tried to force people away
from their chosen faith. It also cast doubt on the sincerity of her
claims to be a born-again Christian.

As well as acting in Mrs Woods' claim for libel, Allen & Overy acted
for her in the defence of two libel actions brought against her by the
Church of Scientology. The Church of Scientology claimed that the 'What
The Scientologists Don't Tell You' leaflet, and a further leaflet
handed out by Mrs Woods in 1995, were defamatory. Mrs Woods defended
the claims on the ground that the leaflets were true. The Church of
Scientology abandoned these claims in 1998, rather than disclose
documents that the court believed were necessary for a fair trial.

Comments Ian Thomas, "This was a great result for both Bonnie and her
husband. Not only have the Defendants paid her damages, but her
reputation has been vindicated by the Defendants public apology. They
have undertaken to the court not to repeat these untrue allegations
against Bonnie. Breach of this undertaking would be contempt of court."

19. Scientology - what to do?
Die Presse (Austria), June 18, 1999
Translation: German Scientology News
Buying a good program is a virtue, Wednesday evening on Hotpoint it was
the virtue of the ORF broadcasting company. The true laurels, however,
were earned by the producers of the broadcast, Southwest Broadcasting
(Suedwest-Rundfunk). What Ina Brockmann and Peter Reichelt were able to
put together about the Scientology "rehabilitation centers" left the
audience shaking their heads in confused disbelief by the end of the

Labor camps, rehabilitation centers, brainwashing, undercover methods -
this was how "Missing in Happy Valley" presented the experiences of any
person who turns against Scientology after having joined it. It had a
credible effect, it was also good that the Scientology press
spokesperson also had her say. Even if there was nothing she could do
to lessen the message of the broadcast - that there is a totalitarian
organization with a deluded person at the peak of its power. On the

* English transcript of the program:

20. Repressive Methods of the Scientology Sect
Salzburger Nachrichten (Austria), June 16, 1999
Translation: German Scientology News
(...) In the Scientology manner of speaking they are called
"Rehabilitation Projects." Representatives of the sect assert that the
people are there voluntarily. Nevertheless, Ina Brockman and Peter
Reichelt document in their "Hotpoint" report thoroughly repressive
methods [in use] against staff workers who have fallen out of favor.

That is how Jesse Prince, former number two man in the Scientology,
describes the conditions in "Happy Valley," which is barely a two hours
drive from Los Angeles on the edge of the desert.

Another camp has been established in Copenhagen, the Europe
headquarters for Scientologists. There is offered, according to the
official position, "a program for reconciliation" if serious mistakes
have been made. Anywhere else one would simply be thrown out, says
Marlene Getanes, Scientology spokesperson for Europe.

21. Too Much Church
A Green Mountain High School Student finds out there's the church of
christ, and then there's the Denver Church of Christ
Wesword, June 17, 1999
(...) The youth minister told the students they needed to be baptized
in the church in order to be saved. But the kids had to complete a
certain number of Bible studies before they could be baptized, and they
were urged to finish them as quickly as they could. "They would say,
'What would happen if you were doing a Bible study and Jesus came right
now and you weren't done with it? Would you go to heaven or hell?'"

Donald had finished eight Bible studies when the church leaders started
pressuring him to get baptized. "I kept putting it off because I didn't
want to go against my mom's wishes," Donald says. "She didn't
understand what the point was of getting baptized again."

It wasn't enough to just believe in God, Donald says; they had to bring
in new members or they'd risk losing their salvation.

They even had answers for him to give his mom when she asked questions
-- he would answer that his salvation was dependent on being baptized
in their church. Donald also began to wonder why he had to confess his
sins to the youth minister, to whom he was to answer until he got
baptized and assigned a "discipler," another member of the church who
would hear all of Donald's confessions and give him advice. Donald says
the youth minister used his confidences against him, like the time he
mentioned that his stepdad used to smoke pot and that both of his
parents smoke cigarettes. "They said my parents are impure and that
they're leading me astray," Donald says. "I thought it was weird when
they said we were the only ones going to heaven and that everyone else
was going to hell. I couldn't accept that."

When she rebooted her computer and brought up her Web browser, she
typed in "International Churches of Christ" so she could immediately
get to its Web page. But the first link that showed up was for
R.E.V.E.A.L., a Web site with pages of testimonies from former members
who claim the church is a cult that manipulated them, used
thought-reform techniques to control them and left them emotionally and
spiritually abused. The site also has links to cult awareness
organizations that characterize cults as groups that have single
charismatic leaders, deceive members into joining, make members feel
guilty for not being good enough, alienate members from their family
and friends outside the group and intrude into members' privacy to
learn things that can later be used against them.

There are now 150 International Churches of Christ worldwide, with
approximately 150,000 members.

The International Churches of Christ have long had teen members, but
leaders have been stepping up their efforts to target high-schoolers in
the last year. John Lusk, an evangelist at the Denver International
Church of Christ, recently posted a response to the Columbine High
School shootings on the ICOC's Web site (www.icoc.org). In it, he
mentioned that two young disciples at Columbine survived the rampage
and that because of the tragedy, "we are all sobered and more urgent in
our mission to save our city -- especially on the high school

"They're trying to hitchhike on this tragedy, but it's not just about
the Columbine shootings. They'll hitchhike on all kinds of societal
things, whether it's teen pregnancy or school violence," says Hal
Mansfield, director of the Religious Movements Resource Center, a
partnership of the United Campus Ministry at Colorado State University
and the Fort Collins Area Interfaith Council, which has been providing
the public with information on cults and hate groups since 1981.

Mansfield says he's gotten more calls this year than ever before from
people concerned about high school students involved in the ICOC.

"The ICOC has so distorted any biblical version of the church and what
it means to be a disciple that I advise people to get out of there as
quickly as they can," Henderson says. "Where their church becomes a
cult is in the emphasis they place on control within the membership. A
new member is matched up with someone inside the church -- not as a
peer, but as someone you have to report to."

22. Yahweh family promotes its faith
Miami Herald, June 20, 1999
(...) In South Florida, the reputation is notorious: A killer cult led
by self-proclaimed Black Messiah, Yahweh Ben Yahweh.

Are they back? Not exactly. But at least two, Hadad Baraq Ben Yahweh
and his wife Kebar Te'Miymah Bath Yahweh, believe it's time for fellow
Yahwehs to ``finally stand up again'' to extol the kinder, gentler side
of the sect depicted in the billboard's family-values image.

Yahweh Ben Yahweh, projected for release from federal prison in Ray
Brook, N.Y., in January 2002, ranks among South Florida's most
controversial figures.

In 1992, a federal court jury convicted him and six followers for
conspiracy in a string of slayings of former followers, one found
beheaded in the Everglades, business competitors, critics and ``white
devils'' picked at random.

One group called P.E.E.S.S., based in Seguin, Texas, outside San
Antonio, produces both a radio show and television show, The Universe
of Yahweh, which plays Sunday evenings on the public access channel of
at least one South Florida cable outlet. The group also operates the
Yahweh Ben Yahweh web page, which argues that the jailed leader is the
innocent victim of government persecution and, like Jesus Christ, was
betrayed by a Judas follower -- star witness Robert Rozier, a former
football player and confessed murderer of seven men, who cut a deal to
testify. They did not return calls or e-mail inquiries.

23. Will the Raelians be around much longer?
Tages-Anzeiger (Switzerland), June 19, 1999
Translation: German Scientology News
The apocalyptic Raelian sect is preparing for the Big Bang and has
conducted a public meeting on Sunday in the Volkshaus. The ideas
distributed by its founder and guru, Claude Vorilhon alias Rael, are
reminiscent in a fatalistic way of groups which stage collective sect
drama. Concerning the extraterrestrial being of Elohim, who is supposed
to save us, Rael wrote in an apocalyptic style, "To die for Elohim,
that is the most beautiful thing that this planet has to offer. It is
the key to Allah's garden or to the planet of perpetuity."

The adherents of the UFO sect, which is active worldwide, believe that
the cosmic super-being of Elohim will soon arrive with UFOs and
liberate people who have the proper awareness from their earthly valley
of sorrow. So it is no coincidence that the magazine in which Rael
makes his revelations bears the name "Apocalypse" (Nr. 101). The title
and the program are the same.

The Raelian movement is represented in 50 countries on all five
continents and has been especially active in Zurich for several years.
The UFO sect made headlines in Summer of 1997 because it announced that
it would soon clone people. Whoever wants a duplicate of himself can
order one for $200,000.

24. Polygamists fight back
Deseret News, June 18, 1999
Polygamist Thomas A. Green erected his own isolated trailer community
in the desert about 100 miles west of Delta so he could live quietly
with his five wives and 25 children.

To fight what he calls religious persecution, Green says it's time to
defend his lifestyle. The 51-year-old former LDS Church missionary says
the recent threat of prosecution and the public opposition being
incited against him by antipolygamy groups are interfering with his
ability to practice his new fundamentalist religious beliefs, raise his
family and earn a living.

"I've never been ashamed to defend my beliefs," he said. Green and
his five wives filed a lawsuit Thursday in 3rd District Court against
the antipolygamy group Tapestry of Utah, claiming members of the group
have defamed him by saying he used the guise of Jesus Christ and God to
seduce young women. He said they also accused him of incest and labeled
his wives as junior high dropouts.

The Greens are seeking about $60,000 in damages, which, if
victorious, would be used to start up a polygamists' legal defense

* Tapesty of Polygamy

25. Jehovah's Witnesses prepare for convention
The Billings Gazette, June 18, 1999
(...) All told, Jehovah's Witnesses will hold 201 district conventions
in 70 cities in the United States between now and September. Attendance
is expected to total more than 1.4 million people.

The number of Jehovah's Witnesses throughout the world is about 5.8
million in 233 countries, according to Ernie Clark, a local spokesman
for the denomination.

"Around 1960, there were 1 million members," Clark said, standing
inside the arena. "So there's been a significant increase."

26. Military OKs using peyote, Indians say
Dallas Morning News, June 21, 1999
American Indian church leaders say the Defense Department has approved
a proposal to allow the use of peyote by church members who serve in
the military.

Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Mike Milord said Sunday that he was unaware
of the church group's proposal.

Peyote, a button-shaped nodule that grows on cacti found only in parts
of Mexico and Texas, is used during religious ceremonies by members of
the Native American Church. Believers see it as a magical plant that
can evoke visions of truth and allow them to commune with God.

Congress already had recognized the beliefs by giving church members an
exemption under the Native American Religious Freedom Act to continue
practicing their religious ceremonies the same way they have for

27. Wicca in the Military
New York Newsday, June 18, 1999
(...) An estimated 50,000 Americans practice Wicca, a form of
polytheistic nature worship. Its core ethical statement, the "Wiccan
Rede," states that if "it harm none, do what you will."

The Open Circle has been meeting at Fort Hood for about two years.

The military has since sanctioned similar groups at Fort Barrancas in
Florida, Fort Wainwright in Alaska, Fort Polk in Louisiana and Kadena
Air Force Base on Okinawa.

Ms. Palmer, a former military policewoman who now is a civilian Army
hospital nurse, drills the class on Wiccan principles. She talks about
the fine points of summoning spirits and how to design rituals. She
discusses casting spells, by which Wiccans mean enlisting "psychic
energy" to heal, protect or aid members in various endeavors.

Such practices are forbidden by the Bible, according to those who want
the Fort Hood covens curtailed. "There are 112 verses where God calls
this not just sin but ... abomination," said the Rev. Jack Harvey,
pastor of the Tabernacle Baptist Church in Killeen, just outside Fort

28. Wiccans hold tolerance ritual
American-Statesman, June 19, 1999
Witches burning herbs in a black, cast-iron cauldron may seem like
something out of folklore, but on Friday night a group of Wiccans did
just that in a ritual to promote tolerance for their unconventional

The witches said they hope the ritual, the equivalent of a prayer
service, helps bring a change of heart to U.S. Rep. Bob Barr, R-Ga.,
and the Washington-based Free Congress Foundation that is leading the
charge for the Army boycott.

Bill Murray of the Religious Freedom Coalition in Washington, one of
the groups supporting the boycott, said there must be limits on the
conduct of people in the military.

"Wicca, unlike Christianity and Judaism, prescribes no personal limits
of behavior. . . . (It) teaches that each individual must determine his
patterns of behavior and may use the gods of Wicca to obtain any
personal goal," Murray said. "An Army based on Wicca would be willing
to do anything."

29. Starhawk: Pagen Rituals
UnderWire, June 17, 1999
(...) Read on to discover how Starhawk, who lives in the country north
of San Francisco, feels about Y2K, doomsday prophecies and grief
rituals. Among her many books is The Pagan Book of Living and Dying:
Practical Rituals, Prayers, Blessings, and Meditations on Crossing

30. Summer Solstice Clash At Stonehenge
New Age travelers invaded Stonehenge Monday, spoiling Summer Solstice
celebrations before British riot police moved in to clear the ancient
stone circle and arrested 22 people. Under cover of darkness, hundreds
of travelers stormed through the fence surrounding the prehistoric
monument and police in riot gear, backed by dogs and horses, responded
by evicting some 1,000 people from the site.

The travelers have been angered by tough new laws that enable police to
crack down on mass gatherings in the name of maintaining public order.
They believe police use the laws to victimize them and punish them for
leading a non-conformist life.

The storming of the circle, which had been signaled in underground
magazines and on the internet, prevented druids from celebrating the
Summer Solstice, the time at which the sun strays farthest from the

31. Peace Among Faiths
San Jose Mercury News, June 19, 1999
When Bishop William J. Swing began field-testing his idea for a United
Religions organization several years ago, he imagined an impressive
headquarters in San Francisco's Presidio.

Now as the United Religions draws close to signing its charter, the
blueprint looks different. Forget the bricks and mortar. After years of
conferences and white papers and consultation with the founder of Visa,
the United Religions is taking on the look of late '90s corporate
culture: flat and Web-based, with myriad satellite groups around the
globe and meetings held here, there and everywhere.

That concept will be fine-tuned by about 100 delegates -- rabbis, Sufis
and Franciscan sisters; Buddhists, Hindus and laypeople -- who convene
Sunday at Stanford University for the Fourth Annual United Religions
Initiative Summit Conference.

The United Religions won't formally exist until its charter is approved
in June 2000; that's when founding members around the globe are
scheduled to sign the document. And preparing the charter for that vote
is much of what the six-day Stanford conference is about.

For information on the United Religions Initiative, visit
www.united-religions.org or call (415) 561-2300.

32. Zen Abbot Gives a U.S. Look to an Asian Faith
Los Angeles Times, June 19, 1999
(...) Last week's formal ascension of Wendy Egyoku Nakao, an American
of Japanese and Portuguese descent, signifies a transition for one of
the nation's most prominent Zen centers--from its Japanese roots to a
more American combination of social action, interfaith work and
egalitarian exchange.

The quest to separate Buddhist teachings from Japanese cultural
wrappings has challenged other American followers of Japan-based
religious organizations, such as the lay Buddhist group Soka Gakkai
International in Santa Monica, but Nakao is being closely watched as
one of the more daring innovators on the American Buddhist scene.

33. Eastern religions captivate West
The Oregonian, June 14, 1999
(...) According to Shuddhananda, the West is the most spiritual of
places in the United States, open to Eastern religious practices as no
other region in the country. Perhaps that's why a growing number of
gurus are making regular visits to the West, with Portland becoming a
hot spot along with Seattle, San Francisco and Boulder, Colo.

The gurus guide people eager to walk their own spiritual paths where
there are no dogmas or duties; where individual seekers, not
institutions, make the rules; where people can accept or reject as they

This pick-and-choose, smorgasbord spirituality contrasts with an
approach where established denominations have traditionally set the
table and served the spiritual meals, take them or leave them.

J. Gordon Melton, an expert on religious groups and the author of the
Encyclopedia of American Religion, says U.S. followers of Eastern
practices are hardly a blip on the screen when tracking religious
groups that count thousands and even millions of adherents.

"But they weren't even here a generation ago," says Melton. "So, it's
spectacular growth when you think there was no base to start from. Now,
there are 200 or 300 gurus who either make regular stops here or live
here. I liken it to establishing a beachhead. A beachhead isn't much,
but it's where you land and branch out from."

34. Court says religious doctrine and property are separate
Contra Costa Times, June 18, 1999
Courts can't decide who is the rightful leader of a religious group,
but they can judge property disputes within a church, such as theft and
trademark infringement, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated part of a lawsuit by
an order of the Sufi form of Islam and its leader against dissidents
who claimed to be the true successors of the group's late spiritual

By applying "neutral secular principles," a judge may be able to decide

some property-related claims in the suit without straying into disputes
over religious doctrine, the court said.

35. Muslim leader addresses Jewish service
Nando Times, June 18, 1999
In a rare address by a Muslim leader during a Jewish service, the son
of Nation of Islam founder Elijah Muhammad, who disbanded his father's
group after finding it too militant, told a Jewish congregation Friday
night that he felt "very much at home in soul" with them.

Imam W. Deen Muhammad visited the Temple Israel of Greater Miami to
deliver his message of unity and understanding.

Elijah Muhammad led the Nation of Islam to prominence by preaching
militant black nationalism. After his death in 1975, his son took over
and soon disbanded the group upon rejecting racial separatism. He since
has worked to support interfaith dialogue between Muslims, Christians
and Jews.

Louis Farrakhan revived the Nation of Islam in 1978 and has been
criticized for driving a wedge between blacks and whites.

36. Jewish temples torched in hate
Contra Costa Times, June 19, 1999
Arsonists struck three local synagogues early Friday, destroying one
temple's library and shocking Sacramento's close-knit Jewish community
with leaflets left behind that blamed Jews for "manufacturing" the war
in Kosovo.

37. Converts: Jews disagree on the wisdom of proselytizing
JournalNow, June 19, 1999
Tradition says that when someone interested in converting to Judaism
knocks on a synagogue's door, the rabbi should turn him away -- not
once but three times, to test the seriousness of the person's intent.
Unlike Christianity, Judaism emphatically shuns proselytizing.

But even if many rabbis today are not so discouraging as that, what
would happen if they took a really different tack and encouraged
spiritual seekers to embrace Judaism?

That idea is gaining attention -- and some hot criticism.

Converts are already a presence in American Jewish life. Most who
convert are married or engaged to Jews. Of the nation's 6 million Jews,
about 180,000, or 3 percent, identify themselves as converts, or ''Jews
by choice.''

38. Jews for Jesus missionaries find their task a daunting one
Toledo Blade, June 19, 1999
They call their gospel tracts "broadsides," and their mission is making
Jesus an "unavoidable issue" to Jews. With a style that predates the
phrase "in your face," it's not surprising the evangelistic group Jews
for Jesus hasn't made a lot of Jewish friends for their namesake in the
last 25 years.

Although they handed out about eight million broadsides last year, they
typically see only about 1,000 of the world's 13.5 million Jewish
people profess faith in Jesus Christ through their efforts annually.
Three times as many non-Jews become Christian believers as a result of
their work.

39. 5 Years After Death, Messiah Question Divides Lubavitchers
Washington Post, June 20, 1999
(...) On the fifth anniversary of his death, Schneerson's presence has
not diminished, but one question has divided the Lubavitch community:
Is he or isn't he the messiah?

Schneerson -- known to Lubavitchers simply as the "Rebbe" -- inspired
such devotion during his lifetime that some quietly believed he was the
messiah promised by the prophets.

When Schneerson died in 1994, some predicted the movement would crumble
without him at the center. Many outsiders and Lubavitch officials
assumed messianic beliefs would fade as well. Five years later, neither
has happened.

40. Bizarre scenarios mark millennium
Boston Herald, June 20, 1999
(...) ``There are certainly those who are expecting all types of
bizarre things to happen come the year 2000,'' said David Kessler,
executive administrator of Boston University Center for Millennial

The approach of 2000 has proved that the coming millennium is not just
about computers. It's also about New Age religious radicals, fringe
scientists, UFO worshipers and doomsday hopefuls.

``We probably won't see the end of the world in 2000, but we'll see
lots of groups who say it will be the end of the world,'' said Philip
Lamy, a sociologist at Castleton State College in Vermont and author of
``Millennium Rage.''

Richard Landes, director of the Center for Millennial Studies, agreed.

Steven Greer, a North Carolina emergency-room physician and founder of
the Center for Study of Extraterrestrial Intelligence, has organized
teams of followers to help him scour the country bearing high-powered
flashlights and walkie-talkies to garner the attention of aliens who,
they believe, will pick them up in a spacecraft as the millennium

``With the coming of the next millennium, some religious-apocalyptic
groups or individuals may turn to violence as they seek to achieve
dramatic effects to fulfill their prophesies,'' FBI director Louis
Freeh has said.

Freeh also said that pseudo-religion motivated by hate, such as the
white-supremacist Christian Identity movement, are picking up steam.

41. Many conservative Christians resisting Last Days scenarios
Star-Telegram, June 18, 1999
(...) "Premillennialist" speakers lead the way. Through books,
conferences and media ministries, they describe intense scenarios
unfolding that will include the Great Tribulation, the Rapture of the
saved, the emergence of the Antichrist, Jesus' Second Coming,
Armageddon and judgment day.

The general public and even moderate Christians may deride such visions
as fear-mongering folderol. What may not be known, though, is that the
scenarios are being fiercely resisted by thousands of conservative
Christians as well.

These internal critics parse the same prophetic verses as end-timers
and find a fundamentally different message. Their message, simply put:
Calm down; Bible prophecy points to events already fulfilled in
history; Jesus came again and has established His kingdom of grace, a
spiritual kingdom; and the "futurists" are frightening people without

These critics go by the names "preterists" and "historicists."

Bearing upbeat messages, the critics have formed fellowships and
programs to counter futurism. Weston Bible Ministries, of
Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y., generates books and speakers to "navigate
people away from the alarmism and shoddy literalism of the futurists
and back toward a theology that focuses on spiritual, not physical

It's risky work, they argue. Several spokesmen said preterists are
scattered through most Bible churches but have to stay closeted. Though
the movement recently gained a prominent supporter, Reformed scholar
R.C. Sproul, other preachers have been dismissed and professors
reprimanded for advocating preterism, King said.

42. Shroud of Turin yields Mideast plant traces
Contra Costa Times, June 16, 1999
Plant imprints and pollen found on the Shroud of Turin, revered by many
as Jesus' burial shroud, support the premise that it originated in the
Holy Land, two Israeli scientists said Tuesday.

The botanists did not address the age of the linen cloth, which was
brought to France by a 14th century crusader and has been enshrined
since 1578 in a cathedral in Turin, Italy. About 13 feet long and 3
feet wide, it bears the image of a man with wounds similar to those
suffered by Jesus.

Danin and Baruch both refused to discuss the authenticity of the
shroud, but said their findings show that it was very probably from the
Holy Land.

43. Shroud meeting attracts hundreds / Radiocarbon dating flawed,
studies show
Richmond Times-Dispatch, June 19, 1999
A swath of linen that has aroused passions and raised questions for
centuries has drawn 300 people from 22 states and seven countries to
Goochland County this weekend.

Yesterday, researchers and scholars began presenting the latest
findings about the shroud's history and authenticity. The three-day
international conference has convened at the Mary Mother of the Church
Abbey on River Road.

In 1988, scientists who conducted radiocarbon tests on small sections
of the cloth announced that their findings suggested the cloth was only
700 years old, far too young to be Christ's burial cloth. "Everybody,
when they read that, said, 'Oh, the shroud is a medieval fraud,'
because they accepted the date," Walsh said.

Since then, he said other scientists and scholars have questioned the
validity of the radiocarbon dating. And that will be the focus of much
of the research presented at the Goochland conference.

"The outcomes of their papers will indicate that the radiocarbon dating
is significantly flawed," Walsh said.

44. Falwell paper: Lilith Fair named for demon
Daily Southtown, June 10, 1999
The Rev. Jerry Falwell's newspaper, which previously claimed that a
popular "Teletubbies" character is a gay role model, now asserts that
the all-female Lilith Fair concert tour is named for a demon.

"Many young people no doubt attend the Lilith Fair concerts not knowing
the demonic legend of the mystical woman whose name the series
manifests," says the Parents Alert column in the June issue of National
Liberty Journal.

According to ancient Jewish literature, Lilith was created by God as
Adam's first wife, but left Eden after refusing to be submissive to
Adam. The Lilith Fair got its name from the character's original
aspect, a woman seeking equality and independence, tour publicist
Ambrosia Healy said Friday.

But the column in Falwell's conservative Christian newspaper says there
are many conflicting accounts of the Lilith character.

"This Lilith Fair alert is certain to draw more fire, but we are
willing to take the heat in order to document the truth behind the
benign appearance of this music festival," said the article by senior
editor J.M. Smith.

* The editorial can be read at

National Liberty Journal, June 1999

45. Southern Baptists To Evangelize Cities
Washington Post, June 19, 1999
The Southern Baptist Convention this week announced plans to evangelize
major cities outside the South and rebuked President Clinton, a
Southern Baptist, for proclaiming June "Gay and Lesbian Pride Month."

=== Noted

46. More Christians walking sacred, winding path
Bergen Record, June 17, 1999
(...) The labyrinth, a circular path laid out for worshipers to follow,
dates back to pre-Christian times and spans all cultures. It is once
again gaining popularity -- including in many Christian denominations
-- as a tool for modern-day spiritual seekers.

47. 'Lighthouse' prayer movement grows
Bergen Record, June 20, 1999
(...) The lighthouse movement has beamed north from its base in
Argentina over the last decade.

The campaign has been incorporated into the work of Mission America, a
consortium of 69 denominations and 200 parachurch ministries including
Promise Keepers, Campus Crusade for Christ, and Billy Graham
Evangelistic Association. Promise Keepers aims to have each U.S.
household prayed for -- by name, if possible -- each day, by one of the
3 million lighthouses it hopes to have in place by Jan. 1.

Prayer evangelism builds on the age-old practice of intercessory

48. Indian medicine men find urban clients in Colombia
(...) Nearly a half-century later, the shamans are reaching out to the
West, taking their healing rites to urban living rooms. In Bogota,
they've built a following among artists, intellectuals and
professionals as well as some doctors who believe in the tea's
potential for treating maladies.

Colombia's leading news magazine, Semana, has declared the shaman-led
yage sessions a Bogota "fashion."

Shamans using yage have spread beyond South America, holding frequent
sessions in California, Colorado and the southwestern United States,
said Dr. Andrew Weil, the U.S. alternative health guru, who tried the
beverage in Colombia during the 1970s. "There's tremendous usage of it
in North America," he said. But with side effects including severe
vomiting and diarrhea, yage isn't likely to spread as a street drug.

"For some people the experience is too strong," said German Martinez, a
33-year-old publicist who, like many yage enthusiasts, calls the bodily
purging a vehicle for opening up the mind. Many people try it just
once, he said.

49. Is the Religious Right Heading in the Right Direction?
CNN Crossfire, June 15, 1999 (transcript)
ANNOUNCER: Live from Atlanta: CROSSFIRE. On the left, Bill Press; on
the right, Robert Novak. In the crossfire, Reverend Jerry Falwell,
founder and chancellor of Liberty University; and in Philadelphia,
Reverend Tony Campolo, spiritual adviser to President Clinton and
sociology professor at Eastern College.

FALWELL: Tony, I'd like to ask you this question -- you're an
evangelical preacher.


FALWELL: Do you believe anyone has ever gone to Heaven, apart from
Christ -- yes or no?

CAMPOLO: I go with the scriptures.

FALWELL: Is that a yes or no?


FALWELL: Come on now, Tony, quit compromising.

CAMPOLO: I've got to say that the book of Romans.

PRESS: I'm going to let you off the hook, Tony, because we are out of

CAMPOLO: You've got to let me say one thing. The Apostle Paul says that
there are people who have light that is not Christian light, and they
will be judged on that basis.

=== The Church Around The Corner

50. Pilgrims flock to shrine at oak tree
Contra Costa Times, June 19, 1999
(...) Hundreds of devotees of the Virgin of Guadalupe gathered to
worship at an oak tree on the shores of a fishing lake this week,
honoring an image found in the bark six years ago.

"For those who believe, no explanation is necessary, and for those who
don't believe, no explanation is possible," said the Rev. Roman Bunda,
a Roman Catholic priest who celebrated Mass at the site.

Anita Contreras, a mother from Watsonville, said the Virgin Mary
appeared to her at the tree when she knelt to pray for her children on
June 17, 1993. Then the foot-high image appeared to her in the bark,
she said.

51. Christian Bikers Battle Over Logo
Washington Post, June 17, 1999
A court battle between bikers may require divine intervention.

The Sons of God Motorcycle Club Ministry Inc. is suing the Chosen Sons
of God Motorcycle Club Ministries for allegedly trying to take over its
corporate identity through use of the name, and a logo showing Christ's
head with a crown of thorns and the words ``New Jerusalem.''

``It symbolizes our identity and who we are,'' Sons of God President
Thomas Douthat testified Thursday before U.S. Magistrate Michael Merz.

``We've chosen New Jerusalem as our territory, which is a future
place,'' he said.

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