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Religion Items In The News

August 20, 1999 (Vol. 3, Issue 105)

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Religion Items in the News - August 20, 1999 (Vol. 3, Issue 105)

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1. Suit calls Maryland campus cults study a 'religious inquisition'
2. Psychiatrist accused of negligently implanting false memories
3. Mississippi school board bans Star of David
4. A Symbolic Controversy (Star of David)
5. Neo-Nazis Cancel Idaho Parade
6. City rejects cultists' residency application (Aum Shinrikyo)
7. Russian Supreme Court breaks new ground in religious freedom case
involving child custody (Watch Tower press release(
8. Secular, sacred meet at ‘Buddhist Woodstock’
9. Dalai Lama offers message of hope
10. Tibetan spiritual leader addresses 40,000 in Central Park
11. New computer game takes playful steps along Buddhist path
12. Cult or not, Falun Gong is popular
13. Falun Gong leader has West's sympathy
14. Sect ban 'violates treaty pledge' (Falun Gong)
15. Britain Refuses to Ban China's Sect Leader Hongzhi, AFP Reports
16. Psycho-Sect must vacate Hamburg headquarters (Scientology)
17. Gurus to star on new-age TV network
18. Small wave of Latinos feel draw of Islam
19. Theme park of Holy Land draws criticism
20. Christ is returning, but maybe not next year, Witnesses say
21. Teachers group asks Americans to support science
22. Evolutionary Beliefs
23. Hackers reverse message on anti-gay Web site (Phelps)
24. Seeking God's touch: Pentecostal fervor jolts many churches
25. Evangelists take message to New York (Rodney Howard-Browne)
26. God Only Knows (Madalyn Murray O'Hair)
27. Turtle Confiscated From Temple
28. 40% of French pray to Mary

=== Noted
29. David Berkowitz Discusses the 'Son of Sam' Killings and His Life
30. Floyd McClung becomes Senior Pastor of Metro Christian Fellowship
31. The Psyche of A 'Gunocracy' (by Robert Jay Lifton)
32. Sect Expert Hugo Stamm: Portrait of an untiring "preacher"

=== The Church Around The Corner
33. Pastor calls Pokemon 'poison'

=== Main

1. Suit calls Maryland campus cults study a 'religious inquisition'
Nando Times, Aug. 17, 1999
A Maryland task force studying religious cults on college campuses is
violating constitutional rights and conducting a "religious
inquisition," according to Seventh-day Adventists and Unification
Church members in a new lawsuit.

The plaintiffs, which include the International Coalition for Religious
Freedom, funded primarily by Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church,
claim the Task Force to Study the Effects of Cult Activities on Public
Senior Higher Education Institutions is violating the establishment and
free-exercise clauses of the First Amendment.

"The government cannot, absolutely cannot, get involved in adjudicating
what's a right religion and what's a wrong religion," said Kendrick
Moxon, a Los Angeles civil rights attorney representing the plaintiffs.

* Note: Kendrick Moxon is a Scientologist.

2. Psychiatrist accused of negligently implanting false memories
Pioneer Planet, Aug. 17, 1999
A psychiatrist accused of giving a woman false memories of sexual abuse
and a cult testified on Monday that no doctor could implant such
thoughts into someone under hypnosis without intentionally doing it.

Psychiatrist Juan Fernandez III was not directly asked if he had
implanted such memories after he took the witness stand as a trial on a
malpractice lawsuit against him began its fourth week of testimony. His
testimony was expected to continue today.

3. Mississippi school board bans Star of David
AOL/Reuters, Aug. 18, 1999
A Jewish boy plans to file suit this week against a Mississippi school
board that declared the Star of David a gang symbol and ordered him to
remove it from his clothing, a lawyer said Wednesday.

David Ingebretsen, executive director of the Mississippi American Civil
Liberties Union, told Reuters the ACLU will file suit in U.S. District
Court in Biloxi, Mississippi, Friday on behalf of 15-year-old Ryan

``Their (school board members') argument is that some gangs use
six-pointed stars with other elements attached as a gang symbol,''
Ingebretsen said. ``They say sometimes the gang members will buy Star
of David jewelry.''

Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks U.S. hate
groups, confirmed at least one gang used a six-pointed star as a symbol
but said it was unlikely the group was operating in coastal Gulfport,
70 miles south of Jackson.

``That's outrageous,'' Potok said. ``It sounds to me like they have a
bee in their bonnet about the Star of David equaling the (five-pointed)
satanic pentacle. Presumably the school board does not boot kids out of
school for wearing crucifixes.''

4. A Symbolic Controversy
ABC News, Aug. 18, 1999
(...) The controversy over the symbol has led to an unusual alliance.
In a rare agreement with the American Civil Liberties Union, the
conservative Christian Coalition is calling on the Harrison County
school board to reverse its decision not to allow a Jewish student to
display a Star of David necklace, saying that the student’s
constitutional right to religious expression was violated.

“Christian Coalition condemns religious bigotry in all of its forms,”
Pat Robertson, the group’s founder, said in a press release.

5. Neo-Nazis Cancel Idaho Parade
Washington Post, Aug. 18, 1999
The neo-Nazi group Aryan Nations has canceled its planned Labor Day
weekend march through downtown because of the attack on a Los Angeles
Jewish center.

6. City rejects cultists' residency application
Daily Yomiuri, Aug. 18, 1999
The municipal government of Fujioka, Gunma Prefecture, refused to
process residency registration applications submitted by two members of
the Aum Supreme Truth cult, it was learned Tuesday.

Police have been on alert as cult leaders are thought to be planning to
move to the city because they are being evicted from a building in
Adachi Ward, Tokyo, and must vacate the premises by late September.

7. Russian Supreme Court breaks new ground in religious freedom case
involving child custody
Watch Tower, Aug. 16, 1999 (Press Release)
* Note source

The Russian Supreme Court has annulled three lower court rulings that
had used religion as a basis to deny child custody to a mother.

L. L. Koryagin, assistant to the Russian Prosecutor General, noted that
the issue of the mother’s religion has dominated the case. However,
Jehovah’s Witnesses are legally registered in Russia, and the mother’s
religion should not have been a factor.

"Taking into consideration that in Russia, thank God, there exists
freedom of religion, this fact [that the mother is one of Jehovah’s
Witnesses] in itself can in no way serve as proof that she does not
provide the necessary conditions, the appropriate conditions for the
child’s education and development," Koryagin said.

8. Secular, sacred meet at ‘Buddhist Woodstock’
Evansville Courier & Press, Aug. 18, 1999
(...) Tuesday was the first day of an 11-day Buddhist ritual known as a
kalachakra, an ancient Buddhist ceremony considered one of the highest
forms of prayer and meditation in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition.

Only a high “lama,” which means teacher, can lead the ritual. Its
purpose is to transform the world by creating enough positive energy
through prayer and meditation to clear a path for peace. But the event
is also public and pricey. Organizers sold 5,000 tickets for $375
each; stage seating, made available for a small group of participants,
was $1,000 a head.

The Dalai Lama, however, skipped dinner, telling guests that he went to
bed early so he could get up by 3:30 a.m. to begin his morning
meditation. By 7 a.m., he was being escorted into the tent to begin the
initiation rite of the kalachakra.

Surrounding him were security agents from the U.S. State Department.

While State Department agents wouldn’t elaborate on the reasons for
heavy security, they did acknowledge that on orders from the president,
the Dalai Lama was being provided the same kind of protection offered
to any head of state. Organizers of the event said they hoped the
security wouldn’t interfere with the reverence of the kalachakra event.

They had expected to fill the tent with 5,000 to 7,000 people, but on
Tuesday morning little more than one-third of the seats were filled and
only a handful of people were milling about the vendors’ stands.

9. Dalai Lama offers message of hope
Evansville Courier & Press, Aug. 16, 1999
The Dalai Lama came to the heart of New York City with a message for
its conscience. Speaking for nearly two hours to a Central Park crowd
of more than 40,000 on Sunday, the exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader
chided the nation's largest city for allowing a gulf between rich and
poor that helps fan ``a lot of trouble, a lot of fear, killings.''

Actor Richard Gere, a friend and disciple of the Dalai Lama, introduced
him as a man whose words transcend religion.

10. Tibetan spiritual leader addresses 40,000 in Central Park
Star-Telegram, Aug. 15, 1999
(...) Some spectators conceded the message wasn't very original, but an
enunciation of principles that the human race might do well to embrace.

Nicholas Vreeland, director of New York's Tibet Center, said Sunday's
crowd was "about what we expected." The Dalai Lama, he said, "is not
proselytizing, he is imploring people to become better people."

11. New computer game takes playful steps along Buddhist path
The Oregonian, Aug. 14, 1999
(...) A new computer game being developed by professors at Pacific
University and Reed College aims to teach college students about
Buddhism through a colorful, interactive realm on the World Wide Web.

Mixing computer technology with a 2,500-year-old religion that urges
adherents to renounce worldly ties might seem incongruous. But it is
further evidence of how the Internet is transforming education.

In the "Buddhist Palace," players wander through some 100 virtual rooms
encountering pop quizzes and situations that they must handle like
proper Buddhists. Along the way, as they rack up points, they see
Buddhist art and photos of monasteries and mountains, and they listen
to poetry and music. They also may "chat" electronically with other
players and click on Web links to find more in-depth information about
various topics.

"Buddhism is so difficult to teach because it's so complex," said
Jeffrey Barlow, a history professor at Pacific. "I mean, you have to
start out by telling students, 'You're not really here,' " he said,
referring to the Buddhist concept that individuals don't really have a
self and that the material world is all an illusion.

Brashier admitted he was at first concerned the project wasn't academic

Buddhism and the Internet are not as odd a combination as some might
think. There's a Dalai Lama Web page (www.dalailama.com, of course) and
a host of other educational and religious sites (www.buddhanet.net).

* The game is at http://mcel.pacificu.edu/mcel/omm/

12. Cult or not, Falun Gong is popular
San Francisco Examiner, Aug. 17, 1999
(...) However, even local qigong experts doubt Falun - which means "law
wheel" and was introduced in China in 1992 - is a legitimate form of
qigong. They question the followers' fervor for the ideology, devotion
to Li and renunciation of all doctors and medicine.

"Generally, qigong promotes people to be independent and to take their
lives in their own hands, not to be controlled," said Effie Chow, a
registered nurse, acupuncturist and president of the East West Academy
of Healing Arts in San Francisco. "I think it's hard to embrace a
practice that restricts people from freedom."

In May, his cousin persuaded him to try Falun. But after six weeks, he
gave up, primarily because his insomnia came back but also partly
because the followers' devotion to Li made him uncomfortable. "A lot of
Falun Gong practitioners worship Li Hongzhi too much," Hu said. "They
think he has superpowers, like God. Even my cousin said that Li is the
greatest person since the founder of Buddhism."

And although he doesn't doubt followers' claims that Falun has improved
their health, Hu is also highly skeptical of Li's writings. "He talks
about physics and the universe," said Hu, who has a doctorate in
physics. "He said the dimension of the universe is infinite. (But) we
know it's four-dimensional."

Nancy Chen, a UC-Santa Cruz professor of medical anthropology, said
Falun differed from other qigong forms by emphasizing spiritual
training over exercises and breath work.

Margaret Singer, a Berkeley psychologist and cult expert, sees cultlike
qualities in Falun, noting particularly Li's book telling followers
they can learn supernatural powers. She said 15 to 20 people from the
Bay Area and New York have called her, concerned that their relatives
who practiced Falun had become peculiarly withdrawn.

But the exercises are a small part of Falun Gong. The most important
aspect, practitioners say, is studying Li's book and applying his
teachings to becoming a better person. Followers speak breathlessly
about how it has changed their lives for the better.

13. Falun Gong leader has West's sympathy
Detroit News, Aug. 18, 1999
(...) The warrant for Li has been ignored both by the United States,
which has no extradition treaty with China, and by the international
police agency Interpol. Even if extradition had been possible, Li would
be safe since it is not against U.S. law to "spread superstition and
malicious fallacies."

At some of the Internet sites run by the group, Li claims he is able to
insert a "spiritual wheel" into the abdomens of his followers,
energizing them with spiritual power and, perhaps, the ability to
levitate. But regardless of his beliefs, Li is using Western
technology and its freedoms to oppose China's suppression, so he has
earned a sympathetic ear in Washington and other democratic capitals.

14. Sect ban 'violates treaty pledge'
South China Morning Post, Aug. 19, 1999
The crackdown on the Falun Gong spiritual movement calls into doubt
Beijing's pledge to uphold international human rights treaties,
Australia's deputy foreign secretary said yesterday. Miles Kupa said
Chinese moves to stamp out the meditation sect featured prominently in
three days of bilateral human rights discussions in Beijing.

15. Britain Refuses to Ban China's Sect Leader Hongzhi, AFP Reports
AOL/Bloomberg, Aug. 18, 1999
The U.K. government has turned down a request from China to ban Li
Hongzhi, leader of the Chinese Falun Gong sect, from entering the
country, Agence France-Presse reported, citing the U.K. Foreign Office.

The Foreign Office said it didn't regard the sect as an illegal
organization and disagreed with restrictions placed on individual
spiritual belief, AFP said.

16. Psycho-Sect must vacate Hamburg headquarters
Focus (Germany), Aug. 12, 1999
Translation: German Scientology News
The fast times for the Scientology psycho-sect have gone by; its
members have been running away for years. How bad its finances have
been getting is shown in the course of a rental procedure before the
Hamburg State Court which has to do with the headquarters in the St.
Georg district. The building's owner, an ex-Scientologist, had sued to
vacate for back rent in the amount of 1.6 million marks, and now
intended to settle after a months-long legal dispute: the
Scientologists have signed an agreement stating that they will move out
by the end of the year.

17. Gurus to star on new-age TV network
Sunday Times, Aug. 15, 1999
DAVE STEWART, the Eurythmics star, is to launch a new age television
network. It will be backed by Paul Allen, the third richest man in the
world. The station, Innergy, is due to air next spring. It will
feature gurus who believe that ageing is self-inflicted, that death is
optional and material success a sign of spiritual growth.

For a movement routinely ridiculed for its naive blend of eastern
spirituality and western science, the endorsement by Allen, a
multibillionaire and co-founder of Microsoft, marks an intriguing step
towards the mainstream. According to Rita Clifton, chief executive of
Interbrand, Newton & Sorrell, a marketing adviser to the channel, a
third of British adults are interested in new age beliefs.

According to Carol Wilkins, a research consultant to Innergy, new age
values have been embraced by a new international class, which has more
in common with like-minded people around the world than with other
members of their own society.

18. Small wave of Latinos feel draw of Islam
Christian Science Monitor, Aug. 19, 1999
On a Sunday afternoon, while millions in Los Angeles celebrated Easter,
Elizabeth Chawki and her brother, Benny Garcia, sat in a quiet back
room at the ILM Foundation, a small storefront Islamic center, to speak
of what had brought them from traditional Christianity to a religion
little practiced by their fellow Latinos.

This ultimately led her to become one of the tiny but growing number of
Latinos who have embraced Islam - now about 15,000 nationwide.

19. Theme park of Holy Land draws criticism
Orlando Sentinel, Aug. 18, 1999
A group that tries to convert Jews to Christianity is building a
religious tourist attraction in Orange County that already is sparking
controversy. The Holy Land Experience is being billed as a "living
museum" and will include a re-creation of Jesus' tomb and models of
ancient Jerusalem and the limestone caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls
were discovered.

Zion's Hope, the group building the $10 million attraction, denies that
the park will be used for evangelism, but Central Florida rabbis were

But Marvin Rosenthal, executive director and founder of Zion's Hope,
said the attraction was designed simply to convey the message of the
Bible while "leaving open any conclusions people have to themselves."

Rosenthal, a Baptist minister who converted from Judaism as a teenager,
said any criticism from Jewish groups is "totally inappropriate."

Last week, Arab and Muslim groups protested what they said were plans
by Disney World to mount an exhibition at Epcot, supported by $1.8
million from the Israeli government. Disney officials denied that the
exhibit would endorse Jerusalem as the political capital of Israel.

20. Christ is returning, but maybe not next year, Witnesses say
Charlotte Observer, Aug. 14, 1999
(...) This is one made-in-America religion that has survived the
date-setting prophecies of its founders to build a worldwide following
with a new message: The end is near, we just don't know how near.

Russell set 1874 as the date for Jesus' return, and 1914 for the battle
of Armageddon and the beginning of Jesus' rulership on Earth. In their
book "The New Millennium Manual," Robert G. Clouse, Robert N. Hosak and
Richard V. Pierard (Baker Books, $12.99) said that was only the
beginning of the Witnesses' date-setting.

"What's happened in recent years is they've sort of fuzzified this kind
of stuff," Pierard said in an interview. "They've downplayed this stuff

And their growth -- particularly internationally -- has been explosive,
according to the Witnesses. The organization says its membership has
increased 1.4 million in the last four years to nearly 5.9 million.
There are 1,040,000 U.S. Witnesses.

Ironically, said Clouse, Hosack and Pierard, what the failed prophecies
did was strengthen the movement "by separating the chaff from the
wheat, the true believers from the hangers-on, and thereby reinforced
in-group cohesion."

21. Teachers group asks Americans to support science
Detroit News, Aug. 17, 1999
A vote by the Kansas Board of Education to remove evolution from the
school curriculum shows how hard it is to get Americans to embrace
classroom science, the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA)
said last week. And a group of scientists urged colleagues to join
school boards to help prevent such actions in the future.

Nevertheless, the NSTA, which groups science teachers from around the
nation, said evolution is not under fullscale attack in U.S. schools.
"A review of the science standards of 40 states shows that evolution is
being emphasized in a manner unprecedented in this century," it said.

22. Evolutionary Beliefs
ABC News, Aug. 16, 1999
The decision of the Kansas Board of Education to drop evolution as a
necessary topic in the state’s science classes has raised loud protests
from scientists and science educators. But if the curriculum were put
to a popular vote, perhaps Darwin’s ideas would be in danger of being
dropped in some places.

In views that diverge widely from those in other developed nations,
about 45 percent of American adults take the Bible’s story of creation
literally. Only about one in 10 subscribe to a purely scientific
explanation of evolution.

23. Hackers reverse message on anti-gay Web site
CNN, Aug. 19, 1999
Hackers switched the message from hate to love on a notorious anti-gay
site on the Internet. A 2-year-old Web site www.godhatesfags.com put
up by Pastor Fred Phelps' Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas,
was hacked Wednesday to re-route visitors to www.godlovesfags.com,
featuring a pink and purple pro-gay banner, links to gay news Web sites
and a quote from Ellen DeGeneres.

The pro-gay site, usually visited daily by only a handful of people,
got 8,000 hits in the past 24 hours, Haight said. The pages were
written by Rich Macky of Omaha, Nebraska, Haight said. The switch did
not show up on all computers Thursday as it takes time for the
re-routing to take effect on servers worldwide.

Phelps-Roper said the 100-member church has been forced to switch
servers a few times due to all the digital attacks on the site. The
church sponsors another Web site -- godhatesamerica.com.

24. Seeking God's touch: Pentecostal fervor jolts many churches
Sacramento Bee, Aug. 15, 1999
Pentecostalism is sweeping across Northern California, rolling through
churches from Vacaville to Redding with an ardor unseen in decades.

But the recent surge in interest is part of a larger, national movement
that's making history with the latest series of revivals -- even as it
alienates many one-time members and other Christians who fear the
increased zeal is more man-made than divine.

"The churches that have gotten into it have really, in a sense, sort of
polarized the Christian community," said Everett Shropshire of the
TruthQuest Institute, an evangelical apologetics ministry based in
Rancho Cordova. "Apologetics" is a branch of theology dealing with the
defense and proofs of Christianity.

Many historians call the rise of Pentecostalism one of the century's
most significant religious trends, not just in the United States but in
Asia, Central and South America and other corners of the globe. But
sustained and widespread revivals have taken hold just a few other
times this century, said Margaret M. Poloma, sociologist emeritus at
the University of Akron.

25. Evangelists take message to New York
Charlotte Observer, Aug. 14, 1999
(...) Carmona, a Pentecostal Christian, had come to the Garden to hear
the Rev. Rodney Howard-Browne, a Tampa, Fla.-based preacher who says
God told him through a dream to have a crusade in New York four decades
after evangelist Billy Graham had a 16-week crusade at the same

But his dream of filling the 19,000-seat arena on each of 24 nights
from July 7 through Friday did not come true. Howard-Browne drew only a
few thousand each night. Howard-Browne, who said donations to his
organization helped pay the $3.2 million cost to rent the Garden, says
he's more concerned about the seats that were filled than those
remaining vacant. "I'd do it all over again," he said. "The thing is
to get the attention of the city."

That's the goal of other groups as well, from the Southern Baptist
Convention, the nation's largest Protestant denomination, to Mission
America, a consortium of about 400 evangelical groups. Both speak of
"strategic" plans to evangelize the nation's cities.

26. God Only Knows
Washington Post, Aug. 16, 1999
MADALYN MURRAY O'HAIR, once the world's most famous--and most
famously hated--atheist, disappeared in 1995 along with two of her
children. Their whereabouts are still a mystery. The police think they
were murdered, but so far GOD ONLY KNOWS

* Part 2:


27. Turtle Confiscated From Temple
Authorities have freed an endangered sea turtle that drew thousands of
worshippers to a temple on a fishing boat.

Government officials confiscated the green sea turtle last week from
the temple of Tin Hau, where it was worshipped for its supposed magical
and protective powers. The reptile was later released into the sea,
Agriculture and Fisheries Department spokesman Peter Hung said.

More than 100,000 people visited the temple each year to pat the turtle
and throw coins into its tank for good luck, he said.

Most of Hong Kong's 6.8 million residents worship some kind of Chinese
deity. Turtles are revered for their magical powers and as a sign of
longevity, and turtle shells are sometimes used in fortunetelling.

28. 40% of French pray to Mary
EWTN, Aug. 17, 1999
This past weekend, on the feast of the Assumption, the 2,000 Marian
shrines in France were the scene of record attendance. 200,000 people
came to pray, at the 50 most important shrines. What is interesting, is
that no special activity was planned; it was simply a desire to
participate in a celebration of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Lourdes alone
welcomed over 35,000 pilgrims. The Marian celebrations were even given
national television news coverage.

The French have a real weakness for Mary. According to a survey made by
"Pèlerin Magazine," 40% of the population pray regularly to the Virgin
Mary and invoke her protection; 17% regularly entrust her with their
cares; 11% state they like making group, family or private pilgrimages
to a Marian center. What is more, the private pilgrimage is a veritable
social novelty in France.

=== Noted

29. David Berkowitz Discusses the 'Son of Sam' Killings and His Life
CNN, Aug. 16, 1999
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, an interview with a man who terrorized New
York for over a year, killing six, wounding at least seven. He's the
"Son of Sam": David Berkowitz. He joins us from inside a building where
he is serving six consecutive sentences of 25 years to life.

30. Floyd McClung becomes Senior Pastor of Metro Christian Fellowship
Metro Christian Fellowship, July 4, 1999 (Press Release)
July 4, 1999, Floyd McClung officially accepted an invitation to become
senior pastor of Metro Christian Fellowship of Kansas City and senior
leader of Grace Ministries. Mike Bickle, who founded Metro Christian
Fellowship in 1982 will remain on the senior leadership teams for both
Metro Christian Fellowship and Grace Ministries.

Mike Bickle extended the invitation to Floyd McClung on behalf of the
MCF pastoral team in order to free Mike to focus on building a 24- hour
a day, citywide prayer ministry in Kansas City called the International
House of Prayer. Mike has already raised funds to release singers and
musicians for each of the 70 prayer meetings that are conducted weekly.

He has long envisioned a 24-hour House of Prayer in the spirit of the
Tabernacle of David established in every city and prison across the

* Metro Christian Fellowship is the former Kansas City Fellowship,
known for its controversial "Kansas City Prophets":


31. The Psyche of A 'Gunocracy'
By Robert Jay Lifton
Newsweek, Aug. 23, 1999
Firearms are icons of freedom and power, 'equalizers' in an egalitarian
country. Can we change our myths and break this troubling bond?

The contemporary resurgence of paramilitary groups has been accompanied
by fierce resistance to political efforts to impose the mildest kind of
gun control. And this is not surprising, since even God, as envisaged
by these groups, is gun-centered ("Our God is not a wimp" is one
popular slogan). The violence committed in his name is likely to be
performed on behalf of a "white race" supposedly endangered by Jews,
blacks and homosexuals.

Killers like Furrow and McVeigh have long since upgraded their arsenals
from flintlock rifles and Colt pistols to assault weapons and
fertilizer bombs. The latter are lethal enough, but we should not
delude ourselves into believing that weapons worship stops there. Aum
Shinrikyo, the fanatical Japanese cult that released sarin gas in the
Tokyo subways in March 1995, killing 12 people and injuring 5,000, has
another lesson to teach us. Its guru and his disciples had no
equivalent tradition of gunocracy to draw upon. They turned quickly to
weapons of mass destruction, producing chemical and biological
stockpiles and trying to acquire nuclear weapons, as well. Such
ultimate weapons are in no way outside the imagination of the American
racial right: all are embraced in "The Turner Diaries," in which the
destruction of most of the world's population is achieved by nuclear
"cleansing." In other words, the worship of the gun can be extended to
weaponry of any kind, including that which may destroy everything.

Robert Jay Lifton, M.D., is Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and
Psychology at John Jay College of the City University of New York. His
new book, "Destroying the World to Save It: Aum Shinrikyo, Apocalyptic
Violence, and the New Global Terrorism," will be published by
Metropolitan Books in October.

32. Sect Expert Hugo Stamm: Portrait of an untiring "preacher"
Beiler Tagblatt (Switzerland), Aug. 13, 1999
Translation: German Scientology News
For events like the solar eclipse or the change of the millennium,
elf-proclaimed prophets strongly stoke the fires of world doom. During
hese times sect expert Hugo Stamm is particularly sought after. Who is
his preacher against the "soul-trappers"?

For almost 25 years the "Tages-Anzeiger" newspaper editor has fought
against self-proclaimed gurus of every flavor. His book which appeared
in Fall 1998, "Under the Spell of the Apocalypse," and numerous media
articles have given him great publicity.

Sect, cults and new religious movements are currently experiencing a
dangerous prosperity. There are about 1,000 groups and sub-groups in
Switzerland; it is said to be somewhat more in Germany. Stamm places
responsibility for many people being driven into the arms of prophets
of salvation on a "deficiency in common sense, security and
orientation." "In these times of radical pluralism, we are no longer
capable of recognizing indoctrination mechanisms to find our own way
between false gurus and groups. Tradition, the faith of our parents and
society no longer contribute adequate values." On top of that the
upcoming turn of the millennium, wars and natural catastrophes are
interpreted as signs of impending world doom. "Behind the prophecies,
though, are mostly the entirely personal needs of the prophets."

Today, Hugo Stamm is among the most renowned sect experts in Europe. He
has published several books on the theme [in German], among them:
"Scientology. Soul in a Stranglehold" (1982, Gegenverlang), "VPM. The
Soul Trap" (1993, Werdverlang), "Sects. In the Spell of Passion and
Power" (1995, Kreuzverlag), "In the Spell of the Apocalypse" (1998,
Pendo Verlag). His next book is to appear in the coming year. Stamm
does not want to reveal anything else about it. In 1996, Hugo Stamm was
given the Award for Civil Courage by the Christian Business
Association. Hugo Stamm's work offers extensive information and
analyses into the problems of sects. For people who have been affected
by sects, Stamm's books can be of useful argumentation and immediate

=== The Church Around The Corner

33. Pastor calls Pokemon 'poison'
Denver Post, Aug. 14, 1999
A minister used a blowtorch and a sword during a church service this
week to drive home his belief that Pokemon games and toys are only
sugar-coated instruments of the occult and evil.

To make his point, Juvera burned Pokemon trading cards with a blowtorch
and struck a plastic Pokemon action figure with a 30-inch sword.
Juvera's 9-year-old son then tore the limbs and head off a Pokemon
doll. During the demonstration, the children chanted: "Burn it. Burn
it,'' and "Chop it up. Chop it up.''

Manufacturers of the hugely popular Pokemon products, including
Nintendo and Hasbro Inc., said they've never heard of Pokemon being
associated with the occult. And the national Christian Coalition told
The Denver Post on Friday that it will stay out of the fray over

At Grace Fellowship Church, pastors learned of the occult angle after
receiving an e-mail of an Internet essay written by a California woman.
The essay says Pokemon encourages role-playing that elevates children
over God to the position of master and that the games and toys are
laced with dark references.

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