Apologetics Index
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Religion Items In The News

November 3, 1999 (Vol. 3, Issue 130)

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

Unlike the edition posted to the AR-talk list, items in the archived newsletters will, time-permitting, link back to entries in the A-Z Index.

As most of these items stay online for only a day or two, URLs to the original stories are provided here as inactive links. If you can not find a story online, Read this).

Religion Items in the News - November 3, 1999 (Vol. 3, Issue 130)

== Falun Gong
1. China demands arrest, extradition of Falungong leader from US
2. Diplomat Defends Falun Gong Ban
3. 4 Falun Gong leaders charged in China
4. China Charges 4 Sect Leaders
5. Falun Gong Has Irrefutable Cult Features (1)
6. Falun Gong Has Irrefutable Cult Features (2)
7. Despite a crackdown in China, group is making many believers
8. Falun Gong Reminds China of Past
9. ANALYSIS-Cult scares Chinese communist party
10. The gentle cult that has got China on the run
11. China's spiritual healing groups fear widening crackdown
12. Up-to-date Falun Gong news

=== Aum Shinrikyo
13. Diet gets fast-track bill to curb Aum
14. Bill submitted to Diet for crackdown on Aum
15. Diet urged to tread carefully on AUM bills
16. Anti-cult bills elicit mixed response
17. Japan Drafts Bill to Control Some Cults by Year's End
18. Gov't will help cultists quit AUM

=== Waco/Branch Davidians
19. Gov't Wants Delay in Waco Evidence
20. U.S. warned to release Waco siege documents

=== Scientology
21. Protester of Scientology accused of hitting member
22. Scientology opponent accused of hitting man
23. George Magazine article on Greta Van Susteren

=== Israel - Deportations
24. Israel Expels Another two Suspected Christian Millennialists

=== Cults/Hate Groups - General
25. ADL Report on Y2K Made Available to Meeting of International Association of Chiefs of Police

=== Jehovah's Witnesses
26. Jehovah's Witness recalls Nazi, communist oppression

=== Unification Church
27. Son of Unification church leader dies

=== Wicca/Neo-Paganism
28. Pop goes paganism
29. Wiccan groups gaining popularity
30. Spreading a Down-to-Earth Message
31. Pagans stripped of charity status

=== Interfaith/Interdenominational
32. Huston Smith to focus on Native Americans at Cape Town Parliament of World Religions
33. Interfaith meeting to promote justice and peace
34. Catholics and Lutherans Explore Common Ground

=== Other News
35. Evangelist Hinn shares plans for healing center
36. Punks rock to a bleak new religion (Straight Edge)
37. Nigeria Troubled By Sharia Controversy (Islam)
38. Song Prompts Controversy in Lebanon (Islam)
39. Human Rights Watch appeals on behalf of Lebanese singer (Islam)
40. [Religion in School]

=== Noted
41. Tibetan Medicine
42. Making a Case for Skepticism in a Culture of Crystals (Michael Shermer)
43. Diana Kunde: Great place to work or a cult? (Corporate cults)

== Falun Gong

1. China demands arrest, extradition of Falungong leader from US
Yahoo! Asia/AFP, Nov. 2, 1999
A senior Chinese official demanded here Tuesday that the leader of the banned
Falungong spiritual movement be arrested and sent to China from his US home.

"Li Hongzhi should be arrested and sent back to face trial in a Chinese
court," Yu Shuning, minister counselor and spokesman for the Chinese embassy
in Washington, said.

Yu, speaking at a news conference to defend Beijing's widening crackdown on
the sect, insisted Li is a cult leader who used mind control techniques to
bilk millions of followers out of money and was responsible for the deaths of
more than 1,400 Falungong practitioners whom he had convinced not to seek
medical treatment.

China has presented its case for Li's arrest and extradition from the United
States to the international police organization, Interpol, but Yu
acknowledged the group had not responded positively.

"The secretariat said we had not presented enough evidence, but we cannot
accept that," he said, adding also that Beijing did not accept Washington's
demurral of the case even though there is no extradition treaty between the
two countries.

In an effort to sway US public opinion against the movement, Yu unleashed a
blistering attack on Li and his sect, comparing it with Japan's Aum Supreme
cult, the Solar Temple in Europe and the Branch Davidians in the United

Pressed as to whether comparisons between the Branch Davidians or Aum Supreme
Truth, which was behind the 1995 Sarin nerve-gas attack on the Tokyo subway
and Falungong, which advocates breathing and meditation exercises and moral
living, were indeed accurate, Yu appeared to take umbrage.

"This is a cult which endangers the health and mental fitness of the
practitioners and destructs social order and stability," he said flatly.
"That's why the government has taken measures."

2. Diplomat Defends Falun Gong Ban
AOL/AP, Nov. 2, 1999
As a group of Falun Gong demonstrators protested nearby, a Chinese Embassy
diplomat said Tuesday that China decided to ban the spiritual movement after
its leaders caused the deaths of 1,400 followers by brainwashing them into
refusing medical treatment.

"No responsible government would ever allow the activities of a cult like
the Falun Gong to go unchecked,"' Yu said.

Yu also had harsh words for Li Hongzhi, the Falun Gong leader who lives in
exile in New York. He charged that Li has "brainwashed his people so they
can't tell right from wrong.'' He also has used doomsday prophecies "to
frighten his disciples into obedience,'' Yu said.

3. 4 Falun Gong leaders charged in China
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Nando Times, Oct. 31, 1999
Four leaders of the Falun Gong spiritual movement have been charged with
crimes including organizing a cult, the government said Sunday, a day after
the legislature tightened the nation's laws on cults.

While the government moved closer to putting Falun Gong's leading members on
trial, more ordinary adherents tried to appeal in Beijing, saying the group
was not a cult or a political threat.

Many Falun Gong practitioners have recently tried to go to the two offices
that take complaints about government mistakes - the "Letters and Calls"
offices of the Communist Party headquarters and the State Council, the
highest government body, Liu said. Police have arrested them on their way or
once they get there, she said.

4. China Charges 4 Sect Leaders
Washington Post, Nov. 1, 1999
The Chinese government said today that it had brought criminal charges
against four "principal" Falun Gong members, setting the stage for the first
trial in Beijing in the three-month-old crackdown on the popular meditation
and self-discipline movement.

The four--Li Chang, Wang Zhiwen, Ji Liewu and Yao Jie--were charged with
"organizing a cult to undermine the implementation of laws," the official New
China News Agency reported. Li, a former police official, Yao and Wang also
were charged with violating China's state secrets law, a measure often used
against political dissidents. Ji and Yao were charged with running illegal
businesses, the report said.

Beijing tonight also rejected Western criticism that it is suppressing
religious freedom. Central Television quoted Li Zhaoxing, China's ambassador
to the United States, as accusing American critics of a "double standard" in
speaking out against China's crackdown while tolerating U.S. government moves
against such groups as the Branch Davidians.

5. Falun Gong Has Irrefutable Cult Features (1)
Northern Light/Xinhua, Nov. 1, 1999
Chinese social science scholars today said that Falun Gong has all the
features of heretical cults which endanger all of society. The Chinese
Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), China's top think-tank, today organized a
special symposium for criticizing the Falun Gong sect and its founder Li

"Li concocted and disseminated fallacies on doomsday and a so- called global
explosion," said Lu Zhongfeng, researcher from the Institute of History.
Under the pretext of religion, the cult persuaded its believers to depart
from mainstream society," Lu said, "therefore, it is a kind of spiritual

6. Falun Gong Has Irrefutable Cult Features (2)
Northern Light/Xinhua, Nov. 1, 1999
(...) Hao Zhiqing, a researcher also from the Institute of History, said that
the Falun Gong sect idolized its founder, organized secret congregations, and
illegally collected money.

The crackdown on the cult will not change the existing policy of religious
freedom in China, said Hao, who specializes in religious history.

According to the latest statistics, more than 1,400 people died as a result
of practicing Falun Gong. Seven medical services in Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei
and Shandong reported over 100 cases of mental disorder.

7. Despite a crackdown in China, group is making many believers
Philadelphia Inquirer, Nov. 3, 1999
(...) Millions more have seen the same light, and their stubborn faith has
deeply troubled the Communist Party. At a time when the party's ideological
pull has evaporated, Falun Gong has emerged with a message that seems just
right for the times.

It offers comfort to those left stranded by China's modern consumer economy:
the elderly, unemployed and sick. The stress on health is a big attraction in
a society where the state no longer automatically picks up medical bills. To
others caught up in the consumer frenzy, Falun Gong appears to satisfy a need
for deeper meaning.

What is even more troubling to the Communist Party is Falun Gong's
replication of many of the same structures and methods used in the party's
early years. A front-page commentary in the People's Daily last week,
examining what made Falun Gong a cult, described its use of mind control, its
hierarchical structure, its secrecy and the blind devotion of its members.
Falun Gong has also borrowed a chapter from the party's textbooks on
propaganda, and even gone one better: Its printed literature is wildly
popular in China, but unlike the party it also makes extensive use of the

8. Falun Gong Reminds China of Past
AOL/AP, Nov. 1, 1999
(...) "They've arrested the leaders and severely dealt with Beijing residents
who rented rooms to Falun Gong members. But this proves that the traditional
methods, drawn from the Chinese Communist Party's political experience, don't
work anymore,'' said Wang Shan, an author and political commentator. "Falun
Gong is not so easy to overthrow.''

"The discipline and dedication of the Falun Gong in some sense takes page
from the early history of the'' Communist Party, said Dali L. Yang, a China
specialist at the University of Chicago.

The party has indirectly acknowledged the parallels. In passing a new
anti-cult law Saturday, senior members of the legislature called the
challenge posed by Falun Gong "unprecedented'' in 50 years of communist
rule. They cited Falun Gong's organization, size and the reach of its

People's Daily, the party's most authoritative newspaper, on Monday described
Falun Gong as craftily organized into different tiers to better resist the
police and government - a description reminiscent of the secretive cell
structure the communist underground used in the 1920s and '30s.

9. ANALYSIS-Cult scares Chinese communist party
AOL/Reuters, Nov. 2, 1999
(...) But China today has no driving vision, leaving a large spiritual gap
through which the mass movement Falun Gong has burst to threaten the very
authority of the communist party. That is why, political analysts say, the
government has sustained a ferocious crackdown against a sect which has
attracted ordinary Chinese in their millions.

In the search for reasons behind the popularity of Falun Gong, many analysts
point to current President Jiang Zemin's less-than-inspiring guiding vision:
"The Three Stresses.''

At a time when many Chinese are adrift in a sea of change, fretting about
their jobs, health care and education of their children, Jiang is exhorting
the nation to "stress theoretical study, political consciousness and healthy

Analysts say it is this emptiness of modern Chinese Communism, and failed
attempts by the government to define a new legitimacy, which lie behind an
explosion of new cults and religions, and explain the ferocity of the

10. The gentle cult that has got China on the run
The Express (England), Nov. 3, 1999
(...) With a build-up like that, you would expect the cultists in question to
be wild-eyed Satanists or a secret society out to topple the government of
the world's most heavily populated country. China's official news agency,
Xinhua, talks of it in the same breath as the Japanese cult which unleashed
poison gas on the Tokyo underground. Instead, the members of the movement in
question - called the Falun Gong, or Wheel of the Law - are quiet and polite,
mainly middle-aged or elderly people who practise deep-breathing exercises
and smile and wave as they are taken away on buses by police.

Some of their beliefs enter the territory of superstition: adherents can
reach a stage of mysticism at which they can see out of the back of their
heads or reverse the menstrual cycle.

Li, a former employee of a state grain company, says that there is one Heaven
for Asians and another for Caucasians. He has been vilified in the Chinese
official press as a charlatan who has raked in money from his adherents and
puts their lives at risk by teaching that they should not accept orthodox
medical care.

One of his former followers has circulated a report saying that Li claims to
be the Supreme Buddha of the Cosmos, with a status superior to that of all
other deities, and to be presiding over the final "clean-up" of the planet.
When this has been completed, civilisation as we know it will no longer exist
and a new human race will appear, made up mainly of Falun Gong adherents.

In the meantime, according to this report, Li has claimed to have helped the
Virgin Mary reach Heaven after she had spent 2,000 years going through
various reincarnations on Earth. He is also said to attribute the progress of
computers to aliens who have given a serial number to all humans who use

Since it was first introduced into Britain three years ago, Falun Gong has
attracted hundreds of followers, most of whom have learned about the movement
from the Internet. Websites are numerous, with easy to access details of
meetings. At the moment, around 22 towns from Glasgow to Southampton host
weekly "Gong get togethers". Most are exercise sessions in community halls,
others host talks on the teachings of Master Li.

If my experience is anything to go by, the biggest threat from practitioners
is not revolution but muscle strain. But with the Internet as a quiet
conductor of Master Li's message, we may yet find there is more to Falun Gong
than arm waving in draughty community centres.

11. China's spiritual healing groups fear widening crackdown
Yahoo! Asia/AFP, Nov. 3, 1999
A crackdown on a defiant Falungong spiritual group is trying the nerves of
thousands of other sects in China touting meditation and relaxation

Groups performing Qigong and other ancient forms of Chinese exercises fear
they too may lose the freedom restored to them after a period of rigid
communist bans.

"Qigong will have no future in China. I want to go overseas," said Zhang
Douqi, founder of the Transmitting Information Gong. Like Falungong, the
group practices "qigong" -- a millennia-old breathing and meditation system
aimed at building physical and mental well-being.

There are an estimated 2,000 qigong sects in China, some claiming tens of
thousands of followers.

Zhang claims he can train people to heal their own ailments by moving to the
sound of selected melodies.

Leaders of two other qigong sects have been arrested in the past week on
charges including illegal profiteering from selling sect material.

12. Up-to-date Falun Gong news

Rather than list many repetitive Falun Gong news items, I have provided a
cross section. If you want additional items, use these pre-defined news

[Story no longer online? Read this]

=== Aum Shinrikyo

13. Diet gets fast-track bill to curb Aum
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Japan Times, Nov. 2, 1999
The government submitted a bill to the Diet on Tuesday that will clamp down
on Aum Shinrikyo by allowing the Public Security Investigation Agency to
regularly supervise and restrict the activities of the cult's followers.

It does not specifically name Aum but says the purpose of the legislation is
to impose controls on any group whose members have carried out or attempted
"indiscriminate" murders and whose leader still holds a strong sway over its

The government decided to draft the bill earlier this year after local
authorities grew fearful of the resurgent cultists and began to launch
campaigns to oust them from their communities.

"Aum Shinrikyo has been active in many parts of Japan and has shown no sign
of regret or apologized for its past serious crimes," Justice Minister Hideo
Usui said after the Cabinet meeting Tuesday. "The bill was designed to reduce
the anxiety of municipalities and residents near Aum facilities, and I
believe it will serve to do so."

According to the bill, the Public Security Examination Commission, an
extra-ministerial board of the Justice Ministry, can place under surveillance
of the director general of the Public Investigation Agency any group whose
members have carried out or attempted indiscriminate murders in the past, if
the agency chief so requests. The supervisory period is limited to three

Every three months during this period, the targeted group must provide the
director general with information about its members as well as the nature of
their activities. If necessary, agency officials will be allowed to enter
the group's facilities to carry out further inspections, according to the

If the group is found to have engaged in further acts of murder, assault or
other illegal activities, the commission can stop if from obtaining or using
any land or facilities for its activities for up to six months.

The bill, if passed as expected, is expected to unveil the nature of the
cult's activities, but some journalists and lawyers who have closely watched
Aum warn that the planned law may only force followers to go underground.

Tomoyuki Oyama -- whose daughter, Miyako Sakamoto, her husband, anti-Aum
lawyer Tsutsumi Sakamoto, and the couple's baby, Tatsuhiko, were killed by
members of Aum in November 1989 -- criticized authorities for not properly
administering current laws against the cult to this point. "Had police done
their job properly," he said, "current laws could have prevented the
tragedies. So I can't approve of the bill."

Tomoo Takei, a lawyer and close friend of Tsutsumi Sakamoto, cautioned
authorities against widening the reach of the new law. "The cult invited the
law on itself," he said, "but a regulation must be made to prevent
authorities from abusing the law against other groups."

Said former cult lawyer Katsuhiko Yoshinaga: "I've told the cult numerous
times to improve its attitude, but it never did, and so I think the cult
invited this situation."

14. Bill submitted to Diet for crackdown on Aum
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Daily Yomiuri, Nov. 3, 1999
The government approved a bill for a law to control the Aum Supreme Truth
cult during a cabinet meeting Tuesday and later submitted it to the current
Diet session. The government hopes the law will come into force by the end of
the year.

The "Aum control law" is intended to control the following types of

-- Groups that committed indiscriminate mass murder in the past.

-- Groups whose leaders masterminded killings and continue to have an
influence on organization members.

The government drew up the bill after Aum ended a relatively inactive period
following members' arrests, and began to expand its presence nationwide,
prompting some local authorities to launch campaigns to expel the cult from
their communities.

15. Diet urged to tread carefully on AUM bills
Mainichi Daily News, Nov. 3, 1999
(...) However, legal experts are warning legislators against taking advantage
of the public support to open the way for the authorities to restrict
fundamental rights of those who would be subject to the laws.

Legal experts are questioning a clause in the bill aimed at restricting the
cult that allows the Public Security Investigation Agency to raid any
facilities of an organization placed under surveillance without consulting
the Public Security Commission.

16. Anti-cult bills elicit mixed response
Mainichi Daily News, Nov. 3, 1999
(...) The victims of AUM Shinrikyo's deadly gas attacks gave a restrained
welcome because it is hoped that the bills will open the way to broader
financial compensation for them, while people living in close vicinity of AUM
facilities said they would still be sleeping with one eye open until they
manage to oust the cult from their locality.

The bills are two-fold - one for restricting the activities of a "group
previously engaged in indiscriminate mass murder" and another for reclaiming
the assets of AUM to compensate the victims.

Despite the fact that AUM Shinrikyo is believed to be making millions from
its profitable computer business, the damages that have been paid to the
victims of cult's two gas attacks so far - in a residential area of
Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, and on Tokyo's subway system - have been
limited, mainly because the current organization has been dealt with
separately from the group that went bust in 1996.

17. Japan Drafts Bill to Control Some Cults by Year's End
New York Times, Nov. 3, 1999
(...) But human rights activists and legal groups criticized the bill, saying
that it impinges on personal freedoms and violates the constitution.

Shigeru Kobori, president of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, said
in a statement that while his organization understands the anxiety that many
Japanese feel toward Aum Shinrikyo, the proposed law "contains serious
constitutional problems in that it enables the authorities to take up
measures to limit basic human rights."

In August, public support for legislation to restrict Aum Shinrikyo's
activities increased sharply after a young woman told police a frightening
account of being chloroformed and abducted for 12 hours by its followers.

The 19-year-old woman said the assailants told her that she would be killed
if her family did not drop a lawsuit seeking damages from the group for the
death of her brother, who was killed in another nerve gas attack linked to
the group in 1994 in Matsumoto.

Although Aum Shinrikyo denied involvement in any attack and the police had no
evidence implicating it, the young woman's accusations were widely believed,
raising public anxiety and calls for the government to take action. But last
week the woman admitted to police that she made up the story because she
hates Aum Shinrikyo.

In another case that received widespread public attention, police arrested
two members of the group in September and charged them with confining a woman
follower against her will to a cell inside an Aum Shinrikyo building

But the two were released after the woman told prosecutors that she was not
being forcibly detained but rather was undertaking an ascetic program

18. Gov't will help cultists quit AUM
Mainichi Daily News, Nov. 2, 1999
[Note: The online version of this item is missing the first (few) line(s)]

ke special measures to help followers of the doomsday cult AUM Shinrikyo
[Story no longer online? Read this]
adapt themselves to society by providing job information and counseling, the
Mainichi has learned. The measures are needed because the doomsday cult will
still be a source of terror unless most followers quit and rehabilitate
themselves to society, the officials say.

The measures are aimed at correcting cultists' brainwashed minds by
counseling and helping them go back into normal social life.

=== Waco/Branch Davidians

19. Gov't Wants Delay in Waco Evidence
Washington Post/AP, Nov. 2, 1999
Government officials have asked a federal judge for more time to turn over
all materials relating to the 1993 Branch Davidian siege, saying they were
unable to meet their court-ordered deadline.

In a request filed Monday in federal court in Waco, the Justice Department
said it needs until Dec. 1 to complete its task of surrendering an avalanche
of documents and other materials sought by U.S. District Judge Walter Smith.

20. U.S. warned to release Waco siege documents
Dallas Morning News, Nov. 3, 1999
A Waco federal judge angrily warned Tuesday that the government faces
contempt proceedings within two weeks if its lawyers do not surrender every
federal document relating to the Branch Davidian standoff.

"The court is not unmindful that the government waits not only until the last
day, but until the last minute, to respond to every order this court has
issued. That practice causes the court to be suspect of the government's
desire to comply with its orders," Judge Walter S. Smith Jr. wrote in a
four-page order rejecting a government plea for another month to complete the

It marks the second time in two months that the judge has threatened to hold
the government in contempt for its efforts to fight the wholesale turnover of
all federal documents relating to the 1993 incident.

On Tuesday, U.S. Attorney Mike Bradford of Beaumont said federal officials
will "comply timely" with the judge's latest deadline of Nov. 15.

One day earlier, he and other Justice Department lawyers filed a motion
seeking to delay full compliance until Dec. 1. Mr. Bradford said more time
was needed because of problems with duplicating videotapes and photographs
from the Waco case for ongoing investigations by Congress and special counsel
John Danforth.

Judge Smith's Tuesday order complained that the Justice Department has
unnecessarily delayed and possibly even deliberately stalled making
arrangements for housing federal classified documents connected with the case
in Waco.

Government lawyers have told lawyers for the Branch Davidians that national
security restrictions will permit only written questioning of special forces
personnel involved in the incident.

Monday's filing by the Justice Department suggested that the White House is
also considering asserting executive privilege to withhold some of its Waco

=== Scientology

21. Protester of Scientology accused of hitting member
Tampa Tribune, Nov. 2, 1999
(...) The researcher, Richard Howd, 33, of Clearwater, had been following and
videotaping Minton, as often happens to protesters outside its headquarters
and hotel at 210 S. Fort Harrison Ave.

According to a jail affidavit, Minton turned and shouted at Howd to stop
following him. Then Minton shoved the sign into Howd's face, slightly cutting
him above the left eye and leaving an abrasion below it, the affidavit
states. Howd was treated at Morton Plant Hospital and released.

The sign was 20 by 30 inches, said Clearwater police spokesman Wayne Shelor.
On one side was written, ``Lisa's Blood On Scientology Hands,'' and on the
other, ``Scientology ... Spiritual Death,'' with the words surrounded by
pictures of skeletons.

Minton has paid the bills of an attorney representing the McPherson family in
a wrongful death lawsuit in Hillsborough County.

22. Scientology opponent accused of hitting man
St. Petersburg Times, Nov. 2, 1999
A New England millionaire leading a campaign against the Church of
Scientology was arrested late Sunday and accused of striking a Scientologist
who he said had followed him most of the day with a video camera.

Robert S. Minton, 53, was charged with misdemeanor battery and taken to
Pinellas County Jail where he was released early Monday on $250 bail. A
videotape provided to police by Scientology officials shows Minton and
another Scientology critic, Stacy Brooks, in front of the Fort Harrison.
Brooks is training a video camera on Scientology staffer Richard W. Howd,
just a few feet away. Howd, in turn, is pointing a video camera at Minton and

Minton is visiting Clearwater to picket the church and find office space for
a new organization that will seek to educate the public about what he calls
the abuses of Scientology and to help people who want to leave the church.

Monday, that effort to find office space sparked a second incident in as many
days between Minton and church members.

Shortly before noon, Minton met accountant Scott Brauer at Brauer's downtown
office to discuss buying the property as headquarters for his new
anti-Scientology group. The building at 33 N Fort Harrison Ave. is adjacent
to the old Clearwater Bank building on Cleveland Street, one of Scientology's
prime properties in Clearwater.

Brauer said a group of about five Scientologists walked into the building and
interrupted his talk with Minton. "They were saying Mr. Minton is a terrible
fellow and wanted to make sure I knew all about him," Brauer said.

He said the Scientologists took pictures of one of his clients, and he asked
them to leave twice before calling police. When officers arrived, they found
the church members picketing against Minton on the sidewalk and violating no
laws, police said.

Rathbun, who was in Clearwater on Monday, said Howd, 33, is a "researcher" in
Scientology's Office of Special Affairs, which deals with threats to the

Minton, meanwhile, issued an apology over the Internet on Monday to the
Scientology critics who follow his activities and sometimes join him at
pickets. But his statment also said: "I am not the first person to go to jail
by being willing to stand up to a bigoted organization who stomps on the
civil and human rights of its members and the public at large."

In an interview Monday, Minton said his arrest followed an eventful week.

He said all 4,000 people in the town of Sandown, N.H., where he lives, were
mailed packets criticizing his use of profanity on the Internet. The same
fliers were sent anonymously to some of his associates in Boston and to the
school his two daughters attend.

He said two Scientologists greeted him and Brooks on Sunday afternoon at
Tampa International Airport, saying: "Bob Minton, what are you doing in our

Minton said he responded: "Maybe this used to be your town, but we're taking
it back."

He said he and Brooks were followed all day Sunday by a group of
Scientologists and private investigators.

Minton said he "got fed up" with Howd following him too closely and "I turned
around and I pushed the sign at him."

Rinder complained that Minton was trying to justify his attack on Howd by
making Scientologists out to be sinister.

"The level of hypocrisy here is rising by the day," he said.

* Many Scientology critics see Rinder's remark as a Freudian slip, because
the Church of Scientology is know for its harassment tactics.

[Story no longer online? Read this]

23. George Magazine article on Greta Van Susteren
From: Ted.Mayett@worldnet.att.net (Ted Mayett)
Newsgroups: alt.religion.scientology
Subject: Re: George Magazine article on Greta Van Susteren
Date: Wed, 03 Nov 1999 06:26:03 GMT
Message-ID: <381fd4ae.1349614@enews.newsguy.com>

(...) In the November 1999 issue of GEORGE magazine, there is a very
revealing article on Greta Van Susteren and her husband John Coale,
her work as a CNN commentator, the legal problems they have
encountered in their practice, Coale's work with Hugh Rodham, Hillary
Clinton's brother, and Coales financial contributions to the
Democratic Party.

Here's what the article says about Van Susteren's relationship to

If Van Susteren's connections to the Clintons is not something she talks
about on 'Burden of Proof', she is even more circumspect about another
relationship: her involvement with the Church of Scientology. Raised as a
Catholic, Van Susteren apparently left the church after marrying Coale, who
was already a Scientologist, and she converted to his faith.

Both Van Susteren and Coale have reached senior levels in the Church of
Scientology, having passed a stage called "The Bridge to Total Freedom" some
time ago. But for Coale, Scientology is not just a church; it is a business.

He has represented fellow adherent Lisa Marie Presley in her divorce from
Michael Jackson. His firm, Coale, Cooley, McInerney & Broadus, has employed
Loretta Miscavige, the mother of David Miscavige, who is currently the head
of the church.

But one aspect of Scientology is relevant to Van Susteren's work as a legal
commentator: that church adherents have profound philosophical disagreements
with the U.S. judicial system.

Wog courts weren't entirely useless, however. "The purpose of the (law)suit
is to harass and discourage, rather than to win," Hubbard wrote. Scientology
has put that principle to good use. In 1991, Time magazine published an
exhaustive article on the church and some of its practices, including hiring
private detectives to investigate detractors and filing drawn-out lawsuits
against church critics. The church, reporter Richard Behar wrote, paid 100
lawyers some $20 million annually to pursue such litigation. Following
publication of the article, the church sued Time, which spent $7 million
successfully defending itself.

To spare the faithful the vagaries of the wog courts, the Church of
Scientology offers arbitration through the World Institute of Scientology
Enterprises (WISE), which keeps Scientologists' internal conflicts private.

Van Susteren refuses to say whether she endorses the church's legal
theories or the lawsuit against Time magazine, which is owned by CNN's
parent company, Time Warner. Although she may not endorse Scientology's
legal system publicly, she has relied upon it privately. In 1994, Van
Susteren and Coale used WISE to arrive at a settlement for their
ex-partner Phil Allen.

GEORGE obtained documents relating to the Allen separation that show
Van Susteren can slip easily into the strange jargon of WISE arbitration.
Participants file "knowledge reports," counterfile "false reports," and
disclose information about each other in "Things That Shouldn't Be" reports.
The detail in these documents is remarkable: In one of them, Van Susteren
reports that a colleague at the firm, a man only tangentially related to the
arbitration but a new adherent to Scientology, induged in pornography and
that she had found women's lingerie under his desk. True or not, neither
claim appears to have much relevance to the dispute with Allen.

=== Israel - Deportations

24. Israel Expels Another two Suspected Christian Millennialists
ABC News/AP, Nov. 3, 1999
Israel today deported two American Christian women who police suspected of
planning violent acts to hasten the Second Coming of Christ during the
millennium year. The women -- identified as Sister Karen and Sharon Peterson
-- were put aboard an El Al flight bound for New York, police spokeswoman
Linda Menuhin said. She did not know their hometowns.

The two were among 21 members of two Christian groups that Israel arrested
last week. This is the third deportation from the group, which included 18
Americans, two Britons and an Australian. Twelve Americans were deported
Friday, two Britons were deported Thursday, and three Americans were deported
Monday. The Australian was released when she showed police that she already
had an airline ticket home.

The only remaining American is Brother David, a former Syracuse, N.Y.,
trailer park operator who came to Israel nearly 20 years ago. Police say he
will be deported when there is room on a flight.

The Christians, who were members of groups called House of Prayer and
Solomon's Temple, lived on the Mount of Olives, across from the Old City of
Jerusalem. They said all they did was provide housing to needy Christians and
guided tours around the Old City.

But police say they were suspected of laying the infrastructure for
apocalyptic groups to take root on the Mount of Olives, where tradition says
that Jesus will arrive in the Second Coming.

=== Cults/Hate Groups - General

25. ADL Report on Y2K Made Available to Meeting of International Association
of Chiefs of Police
Northern Light/U.S. Newswire, Nov. 1, 1999
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has made available to participants of the
International Association of Chiefs of Police meeting in Charlotte, N.C., its
report on the potential for violent reactions in response to the year 2000.

The ADL report, "Y2K Paranoia: Extremists Confront the Millennium," examines
the varied reactions and expectations of elements on the fringes of society
and warns of the potential for violence. The report focuses on
anti-government militia and "Patriot" groups with theories of a government
conspiracy, certain religious fundamentalists and cults predicting an
apocalypse with Jews playing a conspiratorial or Satanic role, and far-right
extremists seeking to blame the so-called Y2K bug on Jews and the federal
government. Many of the groups are disseminating hate-filled propaganda on
the Internet.

* The article lists various "Extreme Right Hatemongers," "Militia and
'Patriot' Groups," groups "Predicting The Apocalypse."

=== Jehovah's Witnesses

26. Jehovah's Witness recalls Nazi, communist oppression
San Antonio Express-News, Nov. 1, 1999
Nazi and communist efforts to intimidate Jehovah's Witnesses by jailing them
only made them stronger, a survivor of prisons under both regimes in his
native Germany says.

Graichen is to speak at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 10 at Laurie Auditorium as part of
"Stand Firm: An Untold Story of the Holocaust" sponsored by the Jehovah's

Participants are to include Sybil Milton, former senior historian at the U.S.
Holocaust Memorial Museum; David Hackett, chairman of the University of Texas
at El Paso department of history; and John Weiss, former professor at Lehman
College and the Graduate Center of the University of the City of New York.

* Related website: www.stand-firm.org

=== Unification Church

27. Son of Unification church leader dies
MSNBC, Nov. 1, 1999
The son of Unification church leader Reverend Sun Myung Moon leaped to his
death from the 17th floor of Harrah's last week.

Reno police say Younjin Phillip Moon, 21, checked into Harrah's Hotel last
Wednesday morning and spent much of the day inside. But sometime Wednesday
night or early Thursday, he took his own life. Authorities say Moon
apparently jumped from the 17th floor of Harrah's and landed on the skywalk.
He died instantly from multiple injuries and blunt force trauma.

Younjin Moon was one of Reverend Moon's 13 children. Reverend Moon tells
followers he and his children are "sinless" and that he is ten times greater
than Jesus Christ. Reverend Moon has many followers and also many critics.

Steven Hassan, a former member of the church commonly called "Moonies," is an
outspoken critic of Reverend Moon. He says Reverend Moon is a master of
propaganda and deceit but says he feels only sorrow for the family after the
suicide of Moon's son. "I feel tremendously sad and great pity for all
victims of his delusions of grandeur. It must be tremendously tough to be a
child of his," says Steven Hassan. Hassan also says that the church doesn't
publicly condone suicide but he says some followers have said that the church
does teach that suicide is preferable to betraying Reverend Moon.

Younjin Moon had been traveling around the country and was in Reno no more
than a day before committing suicide.
[...entire item...]

=== Wicca/Neo-Paganism

28. Pop goes paganism
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Dallas Morning News, Oct. 30. 1999
(...) A flood of recent Hollywood offerings has borrowed images, themes and
stories from alternative spiritualities - Wicca, paganism, New Age practices
and the occult among them.

Like most Hollywood products, the largest audience for this kind of
entertainment is young people, particularly teens. Television ratings, box
office receipts and book sales testify to the attraction of these themes. But
are they having much impact on teens' beliefs? Some worry that they are.

But many observers of religion and culture don't think these media images are
drawing kids into alternative religions.

First, the numbers are just not there to support that kind of movement, with
"maybe one or two percent that flirt with paganism during their teen years,"
said J. Gordon Melton, director of the Institute for the Study of American
Religion in Santa Barbara, Calif.

And the number of people who say they practice these alternative
spiritualities is so small that the Barna Group, a nonprofit organization
dedicated to religious demographics, can't even measure them.

Mr. Melton said he thinks the attraction of Hollywood and today's youth to
alternative spirituality is merely the 1990s version of a much older
phenomenon, which included films like Rosemary's Baby and The Exorcist.

"It is 20th-century secularism coming to the fore," he said. "You saw the
same thing in Bewitched," a late 1960s television sitcom about a suburban
housewife-witch. "There was no religion in Samantha's world, and when you go
to these kinds movies today it is very, very rare."

The Rev. David Bruce - webmaster of www.hollywoodjesus.com, a Web site that
reviews movies and television for religious content - has a different take.
He said he thinks the current movie and television hits tap into an increase
in all kinds of inspirational themes in the media - not just the

Mr. Bruce lays the popularity of such entertainment among youths to their
quest for spiritual answers common to all generations - questions like, "Who
am I?" and "Where am I going?" And he said he believes that organized
religion, once a major waystation on that quest, has abdicated that position
with the current generation.

"The old way of doing things is over," Mr. Bruce said. "The church has failed
to speak to the culture. And where is the culture going to go to find the
answers to the questions? To popular media. The church is out of the loop."

Dave McPherson, youth pastor at West Bowles Community Church in Littleton,
Colo., argues that the church is not "out of the loop." But he does know what
teens are watching.

Of the 250 teenagers enrolled in his church's high school program, he
estimates that 5 to 10 percent have had some exposure to witchcraft and the
occult. And he believes that "negative images" do influence kids - 50 of his
students were present when two black-clad boys influenced by Hollywood movies
shot up Columbine High School in April, killing 11.

The attraction, Mr. McPherson said, seems to stem from a sense of power they
find in the occult, and from the attention bestowed upon them when they say,
"Oh, yeah, I am a witch," he said. "I think so many kids are insecure and
starved for attention," he said. "It is the church's responsibility to fight
those negative images wherever and whenever it can."

In his 20 years of teaching, Bruce Forbes, a professor of religion and
popular culture at Morningside College, said he has noticed a recent increase
in students who practice an alternative spirituality.

"When I first got here, you would not see anyone in my classes who identified
as Wiccan or anything else alternative," he said. "Now I would say in the
average course, I will have one Wiccan. That doesn't mean the whole campus is
into it, but they are present and they are present in a way that they have
not been present before, even in the rock-solid Midwest."

There are a number of factors behind that shift, Mr. Forbes says, from
youthful rebellion, a quest for feminine empowerment in a male-dominated
society and the maturation of the 1960s-revived pagan traditions.

Starhawk, the author of The Spiral Dance, a history and how-to book about
Wicca, said she knows of some people who came to the practice of Wicca
because of media images.

And while it's fun being cool, she is less than thrilled with Hollywood's
depiction of Wiccan beliefs. "Our perspective is that ... [movies and TV]
don't glorify our beliefs but are misleading" about them, she said. "When you
frame nature rituals as dangerous, scary things, it makes it a lot harder for
those of us who are practicing them to really honor the earth and recognize
our dependence on it."

29. Wiccan groups gaining popularity
Lexington Herald-Leader, Oct. 31, 1999
(...) Encouraged by federal court rulings recognizing witchcraft as a legal
religion, an increasing number of books related to the subject and the
continuing cultural concern for the environment, Wicca as one form of
contemporary witchcraft is often called has been growing in the United States
and abroad. It is a major element in an expanding ``neo-pagan'' movement
whose members regard nature as charged with divinity.

Given the movement's diversity without essential texts, no central
authorities and many solitary practitioners estimates of how many people fit
under the pagan umbrella vary widely, from 100,000 to three or more times
that number. Some have found historical antecedents for their beliefs and
work to re-create ancient Egyptian or Greek religions; some call themselves

Witches can be found at Pagan Pride Days in various cities and at an October
festival in Washington. The Witches' Voice Web site (http://www.witchvox.com)
lists nearly 900 covens and other Wiccan groups.

Fritz Jung, who created the site with his wife, Wren Walker, said nearly
17,000 people had listed themselves on it. "These are people who say, 'I
want to come out, be identified as a witch and talk with other witches,' ''
Jung said.

Sulyma-Masson wrote Barr, discussing Wicca's legal status and saying that
contrary to rumor, witches do not conduct sacrifices. She identified herself
as chairwoman of the Witches League for Public Awareness, a non-profit group
formed to challenge stereotypes, a task that has her telling people that
witches neither worship a devil nor believe in one. Still, the uproar
illustrates a point: One need not travel to Massachusetts to encounter

30. Spreading a Down-to-Earth Message
Washington Post, Oct. 31, 1999
(...) One purpose for gatherings such as this weekend's, several pagans said,
is to give private Pagans the courage to "come out of the broom closet."

"That time is past," said Jim Higginbotham, 40, a member of Blessed Be's
organizing board and an aerospace engineer from St. Louis who works on Boeing
F/A-18 fighter planes. "It's time to step out into the daylight and tell the
public about who they are." He became an eclectic Pagan eight years ago after
becoming disenchanted with organized Christianity.

Many are professionals--lawyers, accountants, doctors--or homemakers who
practice one of many strands of "earth-centered traditions," Higginbotham
said. According to a 1996 poll taken at conventions and festivals, there are
more than 300,000 Pagans in the United States, he said.

And not all are "pagan" in the strictest sense of the word, said Charles
Sullivan, a Wiccan priest who coordinated yesterday's rituals beside the
Reflecting Pool. Sullivan also is an ordained pastor in Ecumenicon
Fellowship, a national multifaith movement with member groups in Beltsville,
Lanham and Baltimore. Another is forming in Falls Church.

Born in Brazil to Presbyterian missionaries, Sullivan says he is a Christian
and attends Silver Spring Presbyterian Church, where the members accept his
various religious pursuits.

"They know my journey is wide," he said, just minutes before leading a prayer
circle invoking the divinity "by whatever name you call It" to be with the
Pagans on this day. Behind the memorial, a partial moon hung in the bright
blue sky.

31. Pagans stripped of charity status
The Times (England), Oct. 31, 1999
For British pagans, it is a Halloween horror. The country's fastest-growing
religion has been stripped of its charitable status by the Charity Commission
and has consequently lost lucrative tax perks.

Paganism, which embraces a colourful mix of druids, witches and followers of
the Viking god Odin, is recognised as a "faith" by the Home Office. The
Heritage Lottery Fund also takes its believers seriously: it is considering a
pagan-backed bid to restore the Rollright Stones in Oxford, an ancient site
of worship.

The Charity Commission, however, has decided - 10 years after it first
granted charitable status to a openly pagan trust - that paganism does not
constitute a religion "in the charitable sense".

"Paganism has many strands and there is a difficulty in its definition and
identifying teaching which it promotes," a commission spokesman said last
week. "In addition, any charity must be established for public benefit. This
is not apparent in the case of paganism."

The move comes despite a sudden burst of popular interest in pagan beliefs.
In 1990 there were 5,000 practising British pagans; now, according to a study
by Newcastle University, there are 100,000 - outnumbering Britain's 80,000

Among charities deregistered after the Charity Commission changed its policy
is Odinhof, a foundation set up in 1989 "to promote the ancient teachings and
philosophy of Odin and to advance education". Odin, worshipped as Wotan in
Britain, is a favourite subject of pagan worship. The charity was created to
raise money to buy threatened woodlands associated with ancient rituals. The
commission said: "While the academic study of Odinism might be capable of
being a charitable activity, the promotion of Odinism is not."

=== Interfaith
[Story no longer online? Read this]

32. Huston Smith to focus on Native Americans at Cape Town
Parliament of World Religions
Northern Light/PRNewswire, Nov. 2, 1999
Huston Smith, an authority on comparative religions, will lead a six-day
symposium during next month's Parliament of the World's Religions in Cape
Town, South Africa. The author of the classic "The World's Religions," that
expounds primarily on the wisdom of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, and
Islam, will focus solely on Native American beliefs and causes at the Dec.
1-8 meeting. With six Native American spokespersons, Smith will explore
aspects of "Native America and Religious Freedom."

The non-legislative Parliament of the World's Religions is expected to draw
some 6,000 religious leaders and practitioners for seminars and celebrations.
An Assembly of leaders there will discuss ways that religious and secular
spheres of influence might pursue together a "just, peaceful and sustainable
world" as outlined in the Parliament's consensus document, "A Call to Our
Guiding Institutions."

Smith said that Native American leaders are participating in the
international gathering for both religious and ethical reasons. "Tribal, oral
peoples have religions which are fully deserving of the world's attention,"
according to Smith. The panels will explore how these traditions have
suffered from a non-comprehending government.

Smith co-edited with Reuben Snake "One Nation Under God," published in 1996.
The book explored in part the struggles of the Native American Church, known
for its peyote-ingesting religious rites, to protect the legal rights of
practitioners. "This is the only book I have written on a single religion,"
said Smith, "I gave two years to the project and it has enriched me no end."

* Related web site: http://www.cpwr.org

33. Interfaith meeting to promote justice and peace
Star-Telegram, Nov. 1, 1999
(...) Adherents of major world faiths -- and many smaller faiths -- will
travel to Cape Town, near the southern tip of the African continent, for the
third Parliament of World Religions, one of a host of current interfaith
efforts to promote tolerance and religious understanding if not agreement.

On Oct. 18, representatives of 20 Christian and non-Christian religious
faiths gathered at the Vatican for a four-day meeting exploring ways of
cooperating in the next millennium.

Participants at the South Africa meeting will include Christians, Jews,
Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains and adherents of other faiths and
spiritual groups. Representatives of each major faith group are included on
the council sponsoring the parliament and planning the events.

Earlier this month (Oct. 20), parliament leaders unveiled a 50-page document,
"A Call to Our Guiding Institutions," detailing the meeting's focus -- a
challenge to religious people and to those involved in what organizers called
seven "secular spheres of influence" to cooperate in working for peace and
justice in the new millennium.

Howard A. Sulkin, president of Spertus Institute in Chicago and chair of the
Council for the Parliament of the World's Religions, called the document a
"significant blueprint" for the world's future.

(The document is available online at www.cpwr.org).

As of Sept. 22, registration stood at 1,900. Relying on their experience with
the 1993 event, planners said participants tend to register at the last

34. Catholics and Lutherans Explore Common Ground
New York Times, Oct. 30, 1999
(...) But this Sunday, Lutheran and Catholic officials will declare that,
after four and a half centuries, they can affirm a consensus on the basic
truths about justification, and that the solemn condemnations of one
another's positions issued in the 16th century no longer apply to the
teachings of the churches as currently understood.

The joint declaration announces a "common understanding" of justification:
"By grace alone, in faith in Christ's work and not because of any merit on
our part, we are accepted by God and receive the Holy Spirit, who renews our
hearts while equipping and calling us to good words."

But the declaration also recognizes that Lutherans and Catholics explicate
this common understanding in different ways, regarding, for example, whether
people can be said to "cooperate" with God's justifying grace, or in what
sense the justified person should still be thought of as a sinner, as in the
famous Lutheran formula "simul justus et peccator" ("at once justified and
sinner"), or whether God will judge and reward people on the basis of their
good works.

In each case, the declaration presents the common ground and then examines
the different Lutheran and Catholic formulations, spelling out exactly what
they are intended to emphasize and what they are not trying to deny. By
carefully paring away the more polarized interpretations that may have arisen
from past theological polemics, the declaration proposes that, in some cases,
the differences are largely a matter of language and emphasis, while in other
cases, although real differences remain, they can coexist within the
framework of the common belief and do not merit the 16th-century

This is subtle stuff, and not everyone agrees with it. The 2.6 million-member
Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, the largest American Lutheran body outside
the 5.1 million-member Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the 58.1
million-member Lutheran World Federation, has called the joint declaration
"woefully inadequate and misleading" and "a betrayal of the Gospel."

If the declaration achieves greater unity between Lutherans and Catholics, it
will be spiritual and not yet structural. Although the declaration finds that
the remaining differences about justification are not "church-dividing," it
recognizes other basic questions that remain unresolved. The declaration
simply clears the path so that those topics can be addressed.

Finally, by drawing attention to what Catholics and Lutherans hold in common,
the declaration not only forces both groups back to Christian basics, but may
encourage believers in each tradition to explore more deeply the spiritual
riches of their own theological heritage.

"Stated in simple terms," Noko said, "the doctrine of justification refers to
the faith that we are accepted by God as persons, not because we are good,
but because God is good.

=== Other News

35. Evangelist Hinn shares plans for healing center
Dallas Morning News, Oct. 30, 1999
Flamboyant television evangelist Benny Hinn offered a packed Reunion Arena
his ambitious vision for Dallas on Friday: a $30 million spiritual healing
theme park near Texas Stadium. "Our generation does not really know who the
great healing evangelists are," he said. "You will, you will."

Mr. Hinn is famous for his trademark white suit and healing crusades where he
and his followers say miracles are routine. The "World Healing Center" would
become a place, he said, where such miracles also would be easily found.
"In these gardens, an atmosphere will be built," he said.

Those who didn't get in missed a computer-generated tour of the proposed
park. Mr. Hinn said that if donors come up with $30 million in the next two
years, they would see a multimedia center built like no other.

Located near Texas Stadium and the University of Dallas, it would cover about
50 acres. It would include a sculpture garden of life-size bronze statues
depicting scenes of healing from the Bible, including piped-in music and

It also would have a two-story "hall of faith" with small theaters that would
feature re-creations of the services of famous evangelists, two chapels of
theaters for children, a "prayer healing chapel" where people would be
available for prayer 24 hours a day and a prayer tower where prayer requests
would be prayed over all the time.

Donor cards distributed Friday night had donor blocks pre-printed for amounts
that started at $100,000 and went down to $1,500. Mr. Hinn's ministry has
raised more than $50 million a year. Critics say this plan is just a way to
get more money.

"It's just another gimmick," said Ole Anthony, head of the Dallas-based
Trinity Foundation, a group that has investigated televangelists Robert
, W.A. Grant and others. "People are desperate, and he's just selling
them false hope."

But Mr. Hinn offered a different explanation. The garden will be a place
where God's people "can come and see his miracles for generations to come,"
he said.

Detractors, including Mr. Anthony, compare Mr. Hinn to a snake-oil salesman.

"We just want to be a part of the experience,," said the Rev. Anthony Ray of
Houston. "It's the anointing that's on his life." He had no doubts that Mr.
Hinn was for real, he said. "You'll know a tree by the fruit it bears," he
said, then stretched his arms out toward the packed throng.

Mr. Hinn had said in June that he would continue to preach in Orlando at his
World Outreach Church, a church that drew about 12,000 worshipers a week. But
last week, a spokesman announced that Mr. Hinn's church had been sold to and
merged with an neighboring church. A spokesman said that Mr. Hinn does not
plan to start a new church, either in the Dallas area or in California.

36. Punks rock to a bleak new religion
The Express, Oct. 31, 1999
At first sight, what happened last Friday night in a small room above one of
Newcastle's central pubs was unremarkable. Indeed, it would have been hard to
have identified in this claustrophobic venue the genesis of a new British
youth cult.

Most peculiar of all, however, was the complete absence of alcohol or
cigarettes. It felt almost like a religious gathering where the more basic
pleasures were banned.

But then that's roughly how it is supposed to be. This was a night out with
Straight Edge, a movement that demands to be known not as a cult but a
lifestyle. It stands for the rejection of everything youth cultures normally
build their churches on - drink, drugs and casual sex. Straight Edgers want
none of it and it is their essence. Its militant puritanism has been around
for a while but in nascent form, and is now gathering strength from the huge
popularity it has developed in America.

To its more innocent flock, it is simply a rejection of nihilism and the
paths that lead to self-destruction. It's about taking care of yourself. But
there are others who talk about being "clean for the revolution", and in
America - typically - there are swathes of Straight Edgers who have decided
this is the only way to be. A more sinister form is found in the US -
non-subscribers that the new radicals have failed to convert have paid with
their lives. Many are fearful of it, sensing a kind fascism in its ideals and
wary of its youthful fervour.

"What is critical is to point out there are no religious connotations to
Straight Edge," he says. "Historically, it was a backlash against the
no-future ideals of punk rock and mindless hedonism. But it's also open to
interpretation and is very splintered. To most, it is about creating a
community where people feel they belong. But there will always be those who
use it as a vehicle for hatred.

He added: "In the States, white power groups have tried to recruit Straight
Edgers, but most of the aggression is channelled into political activity -
fighting homophobia, animal rights, drug abuse and alcoholism. Some Straight
Edgers have suffered domestic abuse or been into drugs at an early age. They
may have seen first-hand the damage alcohol can have on families. But it's
not like Socialist Workers with some great campaign. It's how people want to
handle themselves."

Salt Lake City, the Mormon capital of Utah, was once known only for its
religious fervour; physical aggression had no part in its culture. But since
the Straight Edgers arrived, it has become home to some of America's most
violent gangs.

Adopted from its birth state of Washington, Straight Edge has become a cult
in the city and is responsible for some of its worst crimes. A spate of
related murders two years ago finally won it the ultimate accolade - an
entire police unit was set up to monitor the gangs, much in the manner of Los

The Straight Edgers in Utah insist everyone should embrace their puritanical
creed. To "persuade" non-believers, they arm themselves with chains, razors,
knuckledusters, pepper sprays and clubs.

37. Nigeria Troubled By Sharia Controversy
Northern Light/ANS, Nov. 2, 1999
The introduction of controversial Islamic Sharia law in Nigeria's Zamfara
state last week has continued to elicit a sharp reaction from non- Muslims
with legislators in one state in the south threatening to adopt Christianity
as its own religion.

Christian leaders, including members of the Christian Association of Nigeria
and the Bishops Conference of Nigeria, have denounced the Zamfara move as
capable of sowing the seed of sectarian violence in the multi-religious
country, which is secular by constitution.

38. Song Prompts Controversy in Lebanon
Northern Light/AP, Nov. 1, 1999
By putting a Koranic verse to music, a Christian with communist views has
landed in a legal battle over blasphemy. Some Muslims consider singing star
Marcel Khalifa's ``I am Yussef, oh Father,'' offensive because it borrows
lyrics from their holy book. Politicians, lawyers and intellectuals have
rallied to his defense, saying he broke no law.

Khalifa's trial on blasphemy charges, which opens Wednesday, could drag on
for months. He faces up to three years in jail if convicted.

Some in Lebanon see the controversy as a sign of growing intolerance in the
multi-sectarian, politically diverse nation of 3.5 million people, which has
prided itself as a liberal beacon in a largely conservative region.

The lyrics borrow from the Koranic version of the biblical story of Joseph,
or Yussef, and his ill-treatment by his brothers. The only words from the
Koran are ``I saw 11 stars and the sun and the moon, I saw them kneeling in
prayer before me.'' Islamic rulings dictate that Koranic verses be ``read,''
or chanted, according to conventional styles known as ``Tajweed.'' Any
improvisation is considered blasphemous.

39. Human Rights Watch appeals on behalf of Lebanese singer
Yahoo! Asia/AFP, Nov. 2, 1999
The international human rights body Human Rights Watch (HRW) Tuesday joined
the chorus of appeals to the Lebanese authorities in favour of singer Marcel
Khalife, who faces prosecution Wednesday for "insulting religious values" in
one of his songs. "This case is a direct legal challenge to the right to
freedom of expression in Lebanon," said HRW in a statement received here.

The song, which was released as part of a 1995 collection, tells the story of
Joseph and his 11 brothers in a text written by Palestinian poet Mahmud
Darwish and published in 1992.

The human rights watchdog Amnesty International last week called on Lebanon
to stop the prosecution.

40. [Religion in School]
Washington Post/AP, Oct. 28, 1999
A New Jersey school did nothing wrong in refusing to let a 6-year-old read a
Bible story out loud in class, an appeals court has ruled.

An appeal of the Oct. 22 ruling is planned, according to the boy's attorney,
Eric Treene of the Washington, D.C.,-based Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.
Treene said he would ask the entire 12-judge court to hear arguments, instead
of just the panel.

In the 1996 incident, first grade teacher Grace Oliva was rewarding students
for their reading skills by allowing them to read a story of their choice to
their classmates.

The boy chose a story about Jacob and Esau from "The Beginner's Bible:
Timeless Children's Stories," to read aloud. Oliva told him the story was
inappropriate because of its religious content and origin. She allowed him
to read it to her in private, but would not let him do so in front of the

Writing for the appeals court, Judge Walter K. Stapleton said Oliva was right
to prevent Zachary from reading the story. Otherwise, the students might have
believed that Hood's religious beliefs were sanctioned by the school,
Stapleton said.

=== Noted

41. Tibetan Medicine
Los Angeles Times, Oct. 30, 1999
Dressed in flowing robes of rich red and saturated yellow, Tibetan monks of
the Gaden Jangste Monastery have returned to Orange County. Over the course
of a six-month cross-country tour they will ask for donations--and, for the
first time, offer a unique form of physical and spiritual healing to

Among them was the Venerable Dorjee Wangchuk, a Tibetan healer known among
Buddhists for his medical and spiritual accomplishments. Wangchuk has been
seeing patients informally for several days and will be available to the
public through Nov. 6 at Viet Bao Kinh Te Hall, 201 N. Sullivan Ave. in Santa

Now 32, the stocky man with gentle eyes and a perpetual smile is in great
demand. He has seen more than 20,000 patients all over the world since
graduating at 18, and many are still waiting to meet him.

Meeting them in a small room, he sits facing his patients. He carefully
places his fingers on their wrists, and a wave of concentration transfixes
his features. He turns his head momentarily, as if searching for something.
Without a sound, he shifts from one wrist to the next, and then feels both
wrists at once. He is listening to the pulse of human life.

This focus on the pulse is at the heart of Tibetan medicine. Tibetan doctors
are taught to feel and listen to the blood flow of the human body. From
there, they say, they determine the cause of the illness or pain.

While the Tibetan monks believe some diseases can be cured by medication,
there are illnesses that can be helped only by "accumulated virtues." These
diseases, they said, are caused by "bad karma" or the burdening of one's soul
because of negative acts or doing things without good motivations.

42. Making a Case for Skepticism in a Culture of Crystals
Los Angeles Times, Oct. 31, 1999
(...) what seems to get under the skin of Michael Shermer's critics most is
that he has stood in their shoes, or, more precisely, their baptismal robes.

The 7-year-old quarterly magazine has a circulation of 40,000. The Skeptic
Society, which maintains a Web page at http://www.skeptic.com, sponsors
monthly Caltech lectures, and Shermer, afloat from the success of his book,
"Why People Believe Weird Things," now has "How We Believe: the Search for
God in an Age of Science," on the nature of American religion.

43. Diana Kunde: Great place to work or a cult?
Dallas Morning News, Nov. 3, 1999
(...) But to Dave Arnott, associate professor of management at Dallas Baptist
University, it sounds suspiciously like a cult. He argues that some of us
develop cultlike allegiances to the places where we work, allowing our jobs
to take over the "meaning-making" in our lives that was once provided by
family and community.

Mr. Arnott outlines his theories in a new book titled Corporate Cults: The
Insidious Lure of the All-Consuming Organization
, recently released by
Amacom, the publishing arm of the American Management Association.

Comparing modern workplaces to religious cults - with their devotion to a
charismatic leader and cause and their separation from community - Mr. Arnott
critiques Americans' end-of-millennium tendency to be consumed by work.

In the process, he adopts what's bound to be a controversial stance by taking
potshots at corporate icons such as Dallas-based Southwest Airlines Co. and
Mary Kay Inc., both of which have made several lists of the best U.S.
companies for workers.

Despite the attention-getting cult metaphor and jabs at popular employers,
Mr. Arnott isn't alone in suggesting that today's working men and women may
be willingly buying into an unhealthy dependence on work.

Ed Lawler, who heads the Center for Effective Organizations at the University
of Southern California, said he first heard the term cult used in connection
with People Express, which was launched in 1981 and eventually was absorbed
by Texas Air Corp., then parent of Continental Airlines.

"People internally and externally used that word with positive and negative
connotations," he said. "Some people talk about the importance of a clear,
strong culture. Other people call that a cult. To some extent, it depends on
the label."

Robert Levering, a California consultant who puts together Fortune's list of
best workplaces and has co-written a book on the subject, said Mr. Arnott
raises a "very legitimate concern" and one that he raises in the employee
interviews he conducts to select the top U.S. workplaces.

* Corporate Cults: The Insidious Lure of the All-Consuming Organization
by Dave Arnott

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