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Religion News Report

Religion News Report - January 17, 2000 (Vol. 4, Issue 156)

arrow Latest: Religion News Blog
Rainbow

=== Waco / Branch Davidians
1. U.S. Supreme Court will hear appeal from Branch Davidians
2. Deadline upheld on Davidian documents
3. Government's chief lawyer in Waco suit has critics among FBI and Davidians
4. Judge chooses British firm to stage demonstration of events at Davidian
compound
5. Armed and Dangerous

=== Aum Shinrikyo
6. Japan's Aum Supreme Truth delays reform announcement
7. Japan Doomsday Cult to Sell Assets - Media
8. Japan's Law on Sects Spurs Debate
9. Anti-Aum rightists get free, loud ride

=== Falun Gong
10. General jailed for Falun Gong links
11. Sect followers in Macau

=== Karmapa Lama
12. Teen-Age Lama Can Stay in India
13. Karmapa would revive a 300-year-old ceremony
14. Young Monk May Emerge As Leader

=== China
15. Two-year-old boy ordained as new lama by Beijing
16. Chinese politics create revolving lama-o-rama
17. More Chinese Turning to Religion
18. China losing bid to control religion

=== Scientology
19. Scientology opponent faces battery charge
20. A Danger to our Society: then and now
21. Sending Scientology a "Clear Signal"

=== Unification Church
22. South, North Korea join forces in Peace Motors

=== Hate Groups / Hate Crimes
23. Experts ponder: Whose thoughts are hate letters?
24. Hate.com expands on the net
25. ADL buys offensive Web names to curb hate
26. Germany seeks historian's extradition (David Irving)
27. Revisionist scholar with talent for controversy (Irving)
28. Danger in Denying Holocaust? (Irving)
29. Neo-Nazi accused of 'racial hatred' goes on the run
30. Man Jailed for Buying Hand Grenades
31. Cuomo Announces New Campaign Against Housing Discrimination, and Charges
Hate Group Leader With Making Illegal Death Threats
32. Bill seeks to unmask Klan
33. Alabama chapter of KKK investigated for Web site threat

=== Wicca / Paganism
34. Satan worshippers open Temple of Lucifer in Denmark
35. Wiccan teacher's removal criticized
36. Dome's designers plan to build full-size Stonehenge replica

=== Mormonism
37. Mormon Actress Is Suing U.

=== Other News
38. Deadly crash draws attention to Irish Traveler clan
39. Cult experts are alarmed by Keene prophet's case
40. Rastafarians Disrupt Court Proceedings
41. Loggers Seek To Advance 'Deep Ecology' Suit
42. Catholics Battle Brazilian Faith in 'Black Rome'
43. FCC Reassures Religious Broadcasters
44. Visiting Hindu Scholar To Test Waters for Temple in N.M.
45. Now Wenatchee girl can call parents 'mom and dad' again

=== Interfaith / Interdenominational
46. For 2002 Winter Games, Faiths Agree Cooperation Is in, Indoctrination Out
47. Unifying the Fractured Body of Christ -- Does It Have a Prayer?
48. Baha'is, others to unite in World Religion Day
49. A community of believers of all faiths

=== Science
50. Alien fruit flies spawn wealth of evolutionary theories

=== Trends
51. Americans worship less than they used to, survey indicates
52. In booming Africa, a vital Christianity that respects local traditions
53. Christianity at a Crossroads

=== Noted
54. In praise of intolerance
55. ["Christian polygamists"]

=== Books / Films
56. Review: Decent performances burned by 'Holy Smoke' script
57. Neale Donald Walsch's 'Conversations with God' books continue to create
a stir
58. Writer's books bring New Age into focus (James Redfield)

=== The Believers Around The Corner
59. Virgin reveals herself in spilled ice cream, faithful say


=== Waco / Branch Davidians

1. U.S. Supreme Court will hear appeal from Branch Davidians
Waco Tribune-Herald, Jan. 14, 2000
http://www.accesswaco.com/auto/feed/news/local/2000/01/14/947903328.10732.2153.0299.html
The Supreme Court Friday agreed to hear the appeal of five Branch Davidians
challenging lengthy prison sentences for using enhanced weapons during a gun
battle with the government at Mount Carmel. Four ATF agents and five
Davidians died in the Feb. 28, 1993 shoot-out.

The Davidians argue they shouldn't have been given longer sentences for
carrying machine guns or grenades because the San Antonio jury hearing their
cases never decided what kind of weapons they had.

Presiding juror Sarah Bain agrees with them.
(...)

Surviving Davidians had differing reactions to the court's decision. "This
is wonderful," said Sheila Martin, a Branch Davidian who left Mount Carmel
days after the ATF raid.
(...)

Clive Doyle, who was acquitted at the trial, was less enthusiastic. "We have
been pitching not to get the case reviewed or to get another trial but to get
them out, because I don't think they should even be in there," Doyle said.
"But this is a start in the right direction anyway."
(...)

Although the jury wasn't asked what weapons the Davidians used, Smith
determined they had enhanced weapons (machine guns or grenades) through use
of the so-called "fortress theory." It's based on a defendant's access and
proximity to weapons during a crime. Smith subsequently tacked 30 years onto
the sentences of the four Branch Davidians also sentenced to 10 years in
prison for voluntary manslaughter.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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2. Deadline upheld on Davidian documents
Dallas Morning News, Jan. 14, 2000
http://dallasnews.com/texas_southwest/17838_WACO14.html
In another rebuke to the Justice Department, a federal judge refused Thursday
to postpone depositions or a Friday deadline for surrender of documents
regarding the Branch Davidian siege to the sect's lawyers.

U.S. District Judge Walter Smith also issued a separate order Thursday
rejecting government arguments that the bulk of records disclosed to lawyers
for the Davidians in an ongoing wrongful death lawsuit must be kept
confidential to protect the safety and privacy of federal agents.
(...)

The judge gave government attorneys until Jan. 24 to convince him why he
should not approve a proposal by plaintiffs' lawyers for broad public access
to federal documents in the case.
(...)

Also Thursday, the office of special counsel John Danforth asked the court
for the original infrared video recordings shot by the FBI on the final,
fiery day of the 1993 standoff.
(...)

Although the request did not elaborate, it is an indication that the special
counsel's office may be planning to try to determine whether the tapes have
been altered or edited.
(...)

A former Secret Service audio and video expert hired by lawyers for the sect
has said he has found evidence that the tapes and other FBI recordings may
have been edited or partially erased.

The expert, who spent a week last year examining the original infrared
videotapes, has issued preliminary reports, saying that even infrared tapes
the FBI has said were originals appear to have been tampered with.
(...)

The judge's orders did not address Mr. Caddell's request earlier this week
for $50,000 in fines and other sanctions against Justice Department lawyers
for their failure to comply with the court's discovery deadlines.

"I think he's going to wait and see how long it's going to take them," Mr.
Caddell said. "The Justice Department has failed to meet a single deadline in
this case. The message that they've sent to the judge is loud and clear: Your
orders don't matter."

"In 20 years, I've never had this experience. I just don't deal with people
this difficult. They have forgotten who their client is," Mr. Caddell said.
"They've forgotten that their client is the American people, and they've
forgotten what their client wants is the truth. That's the whole problem."
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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3. Government's chief lawyer in Waco suit has critics among FBI and Davidians
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Jan. 14, 2000
http://www.stlnet.com/postnet/stories.nsf/ByDocId/DE3229FA90EB92CA8625686600461BD3
Branch Davidians and FBI agents agree on at least one thing about Waco: That
the Justice Department has been too slow in releasing information about the
1993 assault.

The difference is that the lawyers for the Branch Davidians see a cover-up
and think the information will prove that government agents fired shots at
the Branch Davidians. The FBI thinks the evidence will show no shots were
fired. They're worried that the reluctance of the department's lead attorney,
Marie L. Hagen, to release facts in the case is playing into the hands of
members of the public who suspect the worst.

"I'm afraid she is going to win the battle in court and lose the war," said
one FBI official who asked not to be identified. "In fact, we may already
have lost it."

The rift within the Justice Department and the chasm between the Justice
Department and the Branch Davidians helps explain several new developments in
the Waco story this week.
(...)

Any government lawyer handling the Waco case would be subject to strident
criticism. But fueling that suspicion are several episodes in which Hagen
appeared to hold back important information, in particular the FBI's use of a
pyrotechnic tear-gas device that the government had previously denied using.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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4. Judge chooses British firm to stage demonstration of events at Davidian
compound
Waco Tribune-Herald, Jan. 14, 2000
http://www.accesswaco.com/auto/feed/news/local/2000/01/14/947900759.02100.8743.0006.html
A federal judge in Waco on Friday chose a British firm to stage a
demonstration designed to determine if FBI agents fired into Mount Carmel on
the final day of the 51-day siege with David Koresh and his followers.
(...)

Smith tabbed Vector Data Research, a British firm that specializes in
infrared and thermal imaging, to conduct the re-creation, but set no date or
location for the tests.
(...)

"The test will occur, at a minimum, with the current FBI camera and
aircraft," Smith ordered. "The (Office of Special Counsel), with the
cooperation and assistance of the parties, will attempt to secure a camera
and, if necessary, an aircraft that contains a camera, of the type the FBI
used in 1993, without the upgrades that are on the current camera. If both
cameras may be procured, the test will use both cameras."

Government officials, at first, protested the notion of the re-creation,
claiming that the equipment had changed since 1993 and noting the difficulty
in approximating the exact conditions of that day.
(...)

At the court's invitation, government attorneys submitted the names of three
infrared experts in December as neutral experts to participate in the test.
Caddell, however, charged that the government's choices all had been former
colleagues of Irving William Ginsberg, who submitted an affidavit on the
government's behalf in November claiming that there are "too many unknown
variables" to accurately re-create the conditions of April 19, 1993.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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5. Armed and Dangerous
WorldNetDaily, Jan. 13, 2000
http://www.worldnetdaily.com/bluesky_bresnahan/20000113_xex_fbi_machineg.shtml
A newspaper claim that a single photo now proves federal forces did not shoot
at the Waco Branch Davidians has come under heavy criticism by a documentary
producer, as well as FBI, CIA and other officials.
(...)

Michael McNulty is the investigator and producer of the newest documentary
about the controversial incident, "Waco: A New Revelation." He claims the
article published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is flawed in its conclusion
that federal agents did not fire on the compound prior to and during the
fire.

The article, titled "FBI photograph apparently undermines claims that
government forces fired on Branch Davidians," is an effort to discredit his
work, McNulty told WorldNetDaily by phone.
(...)

McNulty said he has already seen many similar still photos taken with normal
film from a different helicopter. "You've got to see the whole sequence of
photos to determine the time line. You can do that if you line it up against
the clock running on the FLIR tape. When I've done that there are gaps of
still photos relative to the time lines when the people were seen at the back
of the tank firing. Let's see all of these before we go jumping to
conclusions, as did the St. Louis Post-Dispatch," said McNulty.

He also pointed out that he understands the article carefully qualified the
claims, "yet the whole article comes across as a statement of fact."

The new documentary by McNulty has an extensive explanation of the
Forward-Looking Infrared, or FLIR, videos taken by the government at Waco.
The experts in the video claim the FLIR footage clearly shows gunfire,
contrary to the Post-Dispatch claim.

The video is narrated by former FBI special agent Dr. Frederic Whitehurst,
known for his involvement in exposing the improper procedures at the FBI
crime lab. The feature length documentary presents a lengthy pattern of what
appears to be lies by federal officials to cover up what actually happened at
Waco.

"After reviewing the results of a six-year investigation into the tragedy at
Waco, Texas, I am convinced that the American people have never been told the
full truth about that matter," said Whitehurst of the apparent official
deception surrounding the episode.
(...)

McNulty told WorldNetDaily that the one or two photos used in the
Post-Dispatch article do not provide any proof one way or the other.
(...)

"To sit and look at one photograph, they would call me crazy or a conspiracy
theorist. And yet the St. Louis Post-Dispatch bought it?" McNulty commented.
(...)

He accused the St. Louis Post Dispatch of a continual flow of stories on Waco
that depict only the views put forth by the "spin doctors" from the FBI.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Aum Shinrikyo

6. Japan's Aum Supreme Truth delays reform announcement
Yahoo!/AFP, Jan. 17, 2000
http://asia.dailynews.yahoo.com/headlines/asia/afp/article.html?
s=asia/headlines/000117/asia/afp/Japan_s_Aum_Supreme_Truth_delays_reform_announcement.html
Japan's Aum Supreme Truth cult postponed a news conference Monday at which it
had been expected to announce "comprehensive reforms" in the face of a
nationwide crackdown.

But the cult denied reports that it had planned to reveal its own liquidation
and big property sales to pay for compensation for victims of its 1995 poison
gas attack on Tokyo's subway.

"We had announced we would hold a press conference on January 17. However,
because of problems involving the venue and other things, we have to notify
you of a postponement," said the cult's Internet website.
(...)

But the cult's Internet site said in an earlier message posted Friday that
"although there have been rumours and press reports, we are not going to
announce a dissolution of the group at our planned press conference on
January Instead, "we will announce the outline of our comprehensive
reforms," it said.
(...)

The cult's Internet site denied reports that it would liquidate itself to
escape the new legislation and to pay for compensation to the victims of its
attacks. "We are not going to create another entity by letting all or key
followers go from the existing group so as to 'escape the new law'," said the
Aum Supreme Truth site.

"Although there is no change in our desire to compensate victims, we will not
alter our group design just for the compensation, as reported," said the
site, whose address is http://aum-internet.org
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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7. Japan Doomsday Cult to Sell Assets - Media
AOL/Reuters, Jan. 16, 2000
http://my.aol.com/news/story.tmpl?table=n&cat=01&id=2000011609295732
Japan's doomsday cult, accused of the 1995 fatal nerve gas attack on the
Tokyo subway, plans to sell its assets to offer compensation to victims and
their families, Japanese media said on Monday.

The reported sell-off by Aum Shinri Kyo, the Supreme Truth Sect, of its
assets -- a move that would be tantamount to disbanding the group -- could be
an attempt to avoid becoming a target of government surveillance under new
laws that took effect last month, local newspapers said.
(...)

Joyu is believed to have been discussing with other senior cult members the
future of the cult and ways to dodge government surveillance, including the
possibility of disbanding the cult altogether, media reports have said.

Aum has denied the reports, and said it had no plans to disband the group to
evade the new law.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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8. Japan's Law on Sects Spurs Debate
Los Angeles Times, Jan. 16, 2000
[Aum Shinrikyo]
http://www.latimes.com/news/nation/20000116/t000005054.html
(...) The issue of how to deal with the cult--which is reported to be adding
members as well as harboring $50 million from its computer retailing
business--has ignited a civil rights struggle. It has brought to the fore the
question of how to preserve the freedoms of speech, religion, assembly and
choice of residence guaranteed by the Japanese Constitution while at the same
time maintaining public safety.

It has also raised charges that law enforcement officials and legislators are
fanning fears about Joyu to bolster police powers.
(...)

Tsuguaki Hori, the Justice Ministry official charged with implementing the
new legislation, insists that it is not unconstitutional.
(...)

The public too seems squarely behind the law.
(...)

Said Yoshifu Arita, an investigative journalist who recently completed a book
called "Man of Darkness: Fumihiro Joyu": "What I'm saying will probably
horrify any constitutional experts, but sanctuary and importance of life take
precedence over any other law or right. You have to remember that this
organization had plans to unleash 70 tons of [the nerve gas] sarin."

Critics of the new law note that it comes atop one enacted last spring that
allows police to listen in on phone calls without warrants. Yasahiro
Yamazaki, editor of the weekly news photo magazine Flash, condemns that
legislation as "constitutionally defective."
(...)

In addition to being unconstitutional, Egawa and others contend, the new law
will only drive Aum members underground, making them that much harder to
monitor.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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9. Anti-Aum rightists get free, loud ride
Japan Times, Jan. 14, 2000
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/news1-2000/news.html#story7
Military marching songs and yells blasting out of rightists' black
loudspeaker trucks broke the holiday silence here Monday morning, which was
Coming-of-Age Day.
(...)

While riot policeman stand at every street corner, rightists drive around
blaring loud music and hurling verbal assaults at Joyu and his cohorts almost
daily. Rightwingers in blue uniforms swagger at the intersection where
traffic is obstructed by their trucks. The street leading to the apartment
complex where Aum is located is barricaded by police.
(...)

The upheaval in Isezaki-cho -- one of Yokohama's busiest entertainment
districts -- has dealt a serious blow to businesses here.
(...)

Representatives from the community visited the Aum office Tuesday to demand
that Joyu and his fellow cultists leave. Many residents and business owners,
however, said their immediate concern is the rightists hovering in the area,
rather than Aum itself. "Because we are scared to complain to the rightists,
we have no choice but to blame Aum for everything," one local business owner
said.
(...)

Saitama Prefectural Police have repeatedly raided Aum's Yokohama office since
Saturday in connection with an al leged forgery of official documents
regarding a car parking certificate. Police also searched six Aum facilities
around the country Thursday in connection with the case.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Falun Gong

10. General jailed for Falun Gong links
BBC, Jan. 14, 2000
http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/asia-pacific/newsid_603000/603165.stm
A retired Chinese air force general has reportedly been jailed for 17 years
for supporting the outlawed Falun Gong spiritual movement. A Hong Kong-based
human rights group said General Yu Changxin, 74, was convicted at a secret
court martial of using a cult to undermine the law.

The sentence, passed on 6 January, is among the harshest handed down to
leaders of the movement and has angered many other retired generals, a
statement from the Information Centre for Human Rights and Democratic
Movement in China said.
(...)

According to the Hong Kong group, the Chinese authorities suspected General
Yu of masterminding a gathering of 10,000 Falun Gong practitioners in Beijing
last April, and arrested him three months later.

The former Air Force Command Academy professor was also accused of helping
Falun Gong expand its membership and held responsible for the deaths of
practitioners who refused medical help when ill.

General Yu, who held a rank equivalent to a cabinet minister, is the most
senior of about a dozen people jailed for links to the movement, which was
banned by the Communist Party for being an "evil cult" last July. He is
expected to appeal.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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11. Sect followers in Macau
Yahoo!/Wise, Jan. 17, 2000
http://asia.dailynews.yahoo.com/headlines/newspapers/wisers/article.html?
s=asia/headlines/000117/newspapers/wisers/Sect_followers_in_Macau.html
(...) Whether the mainland-banned Falun Gong sect will be tolerated in Macau
hinges in the end on whether Beijing really wants to implement the ''one
country, two systems'' principle, a member of the controversial
quasi-religious group in the enclave said.

According to the member, who gave his name only as Mr Lam, a few of his
fellow practitioners _ ''about three or four'' _ have been doing their
meditation exercises in the enclave's parks without being bothered by the
authorities since last month's handover.
(...)

There was no formal Falun Gong organisaton in Macau, he said, because its
following of some 40 individuals practised exercises and read the relevant
books on their own.

He said they had entrusted the job of applying for registration of a ''Falun
Gong Institute'' in Macau to a lawyer six months ago, but the application was
turned down by the pre-handover government. ''The reason given by the
government was that 'it's too sensitive','' Mr Lam, who came to Macau with
his family from Zhejiang 20 years ago, said.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Karmapa Lama

12. Teen-Age Lama Can Stay in India
Washington Post/AP stream, Jan. 17, 2000
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/aponline/20000117/aponline102631_000.htm
The teen-age Tibetan Buddhist lama who fled to India last month is free to
stay, although he has not applied for political asylum, Defense Minister
George Fernandes said.
(...)

Minister of State for External Affairs, Ajit Panja, also said there was no
harm if the Karmapa stayed, the Press Trust of India reported. "He is not
such a person we should be actually worried about. He is a religious leader
and in India, under the constitution, if an outsider comes and professes his
religion, he is free so far as religious things are concerned," Panja said.

Both leaders said no formal application had been made for political asylum
and that his staying in India would not affect relations with China.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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13. Karmapa would revive a 300-year-old ceremony
San Francisco Chronicle/AP, Jan. 15, 2000
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/news/archive
/2000/01/15/international1120EST0517.DTL
The young Tibetan monk who fled last week to India wants to revive the Black
Crown ceremony, a 300-year-old tradition lost since the death of his
predecessor.

Devotees believe the black crown is the earthly embodiment of the aura that
surrounds the Karmapa, the leader of the Karma Kagyu sect of Buddhism founded
900 years ago.
(...)

Legend says that only people with spiritual insight can see the true black
crown, said to be woven from the hair of female deities. Those who can see it
at the Black Crown Ceremony are released from the cycle of life, death and
rebirth.

The black crown kept in Rumtek is believed to have been made by the
15th-century Chinese emperor Ming Chen, who saw the mystical crown hovering
over the Karmapa when the lama visited his court. Realizing that not
everyone had attained the same spiritual advancement, the emperor created a
crown that would be visible to all.
[...more...


14. Young Monk May Emerge As Leader
Excite/AP, Jan. 15, 2000
http://news.excite.com/news/ap/000115/11/tibetan-monk-future
(...) The arrival of the 17th Karmapa, leader of the Karma Kagyu sect, has
given exiled Tibetans a new and tangible leader they can embrace alongside
the 64-year-old Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of all Tibetan Buddhists.

They wonder whether the tall 14-year-old with the engaging smile and mature
demeanor will go beyond his spiritual role and join the Dalai Lama in the
struggle against China's harsh rule of their homeland.

Some hope the Karmapa might inherit the mantle of political resistance from
the Dalai Lama when he dies.
(...)

The Dalai Lama has no obvious successor. The second most powerful figure in
the Tibetan hierarchy, the Panchen Lama, hasn't been seen in public since
1995 and is believed to be under Chinese house arrest. A rival Panchen Lama
enthroned by the Chinese four years ago is rejected by most Tibetans.

Experts, however, doubt the Karmapa can replace the Dalai Lama as the symbol
of Tibet and its primary link to the rest of the world. For reasons embedded
in Tibetan history and modern statescraft, the young monk is unlikely to
attain the same public prominence. Still, some scholars say he may be better
placed than the Dalai Lama to deal with the Chinese.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== China

15. Two-year-old boy ordained as new lama by Beijing
South China Morning Post, Jan. 17, 2000
http://www.scmp.com/News/Front/Article/FullText_asp_ArticleID-20000117012322308.asp
Beijing yesterday ordained the reincarnation of a "living Buddha" in a move
that could exacerbate its already bitter relations with the Tibetan
government-in-exile.

Supported by the Religious Affairs Bureau in Beijing, the Government of the
Tibet Autonomous Region approved selection of a two-year-old boy as the
reincarnation of the Sixth Reting Lama, who died in February 1997, Xinhua
said.

The boy's head was shaved and he was given a Buddhist name in an ordination
ceremony before a statue of the Buddha in the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa.
(...)

The Reting is significant as one of the few Tibetan lamas who can act as
regent in the absence of the Dalai Lama, who held political power in Tibet
before 1949.

The boy ordained yesterday had been selected from more than 700 boys through
divination, including letting candidates choose possessions of the previous
Reting, a Lhasa government official said last week.
(...)

The installation of high lamas selected by Beijing appears to be a key
Chinese strategy in quelling separatist sentiment in Tibet and winning the
allegiance of the Himalayan region's predominantly Buddhist population.

But many Tibetan Buddhists are likely to reject the boy as a fake unless the
Dalai Lama, in exile in Dharamsala, India, accepts him as the legitimate
reincarnation.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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16. Chinese politics create revolving lama-o-rama
Denver Rocky Mountain News, Jan. 16, 2000 (Opinion)
http://insidedenver.com/jensen/0116jense.shtml
Once again, China's worried leaders are counting lamas in their sleep. For
no matter how hard the atheist government tries to tame rebellious Tibetans,
the "Living Buddhas" it chooses keep embarrassing Beijing.
(...)

One way China hopes to reassert its authority in Tibet is to ordain a
2-year-old boy as the reincarnation of the Sixth Reting Lama, who died in
1997. The Reting is of lesser rank than the Panchen or Karmapa but important
because he can act as regent in the absence of the Dalai Lama.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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17. More Chinese Turning to Religion
AOL/AP, Jan. 16, 2000
http://my.aol.com/news/story.tmpl?table=n&cat=01&id=2000011612039662
(...) Xu is part of a religious and spiritual upsurge in China that threatens
to surpass political dissent as a corrosive force on Communist Party
authority. From western China's deserts and Tibet's high plateaus to eastern
China's teeming cities, officials are beset by religious and spiritual
challenges.

Some families are building shrines to their ancestors. Millenarian sects have
attracted thousands of rural converts. Millions of Christians attend
unsanctioned religious gatherings, rather than government-registered
churches, despite the risk of harassment, fines and detention.

The past few months in particular have produced dramatic indications that the
officially atheist communist government is losing ground.
(...)

Both official and unsanctioned churches are growing, foreign experts say.
While still a small fraction of China's 1.2 billion people, Christians of all
denominations - both official and unsanctioned - could number 30 million.

Churchgoers estimate that Beijing and surrounding villages now have more than
1,000 Protestant ''house'' churches, where the faithful worship outside of
state supervision, often in people's homes. They say police raids and
harassment have become less frequent in the capital over the past two years,
partly because authorities can't keep a lid on the churches' expansion.
(...)

Anti-cult laws also have been used to target sects that are either Christian
or that draw on Christian teachings, and more than 100 members of such groups
have been arrested, Lu said. The sects include some that preach defiance of
government policies, such as family-planning rules that restrict many couples
to having only one child, he said.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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18. China losing bid to control religion
The Age (Australia), Jan. 15, 2000
http://www.theage.com.au/cgi-bin/printversion.pl?story=20000115/A26146-2000Jan14
The defection of one of Tibet's most prominent religious leaders may have
caught the world by surprise, but in recent months Ugyen Trinley Dorje, the
17th Karmapa Lama, had been dropping heavy hints that China was cramping his
style.
(...)

Now, the model monk has bitten the hand that feeds, and China is threatening
all who dare exult in its misfortune. His defection, coinciding with the
nationwide crackdown on the Falun Gong meditation movement, and the struggle
with the Vatican over the unauthorised ordination of Catholic bishops, makes
China's attempts to control religion look dangerously out of control.

"The Karmapa must have been very fed up with life in his gilded cage," said
Robbie Barnett, an authority on Tibet currently doing research at Columbia
University in New York. "China's policy of co-opting young Tibetan leaders to
break ranks with the Dalai Lama has disintegrated - the Panchen Lama is under
arrest, and the Karmapa has run away."
(...)

One danger is that the Karmapa may find life in India almost as irritating at
that in Tibet, especially the possibility that he may not be permitted to
visit the seat in exile of his Kagyu sect, at Rumtek monastery in the
north-eastern state of Sikkim. Indian authorities fear violent protests
against him from a small but vocal group of Tibetans who do not recognise him
as the real Karmapa.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Scientology

19. Scientology opponent faces battery charge
Tampa Tribune, Jan. 15, 2000
http://www.tampatrib.com/FloridaMetro/MGIVFTTQG3C.html
An outspoken critic of the Church of Scientology was formally charged with
misdemeanor battery late Friday. New Hampshire millionaire Robert S. Minton
Jr. faces a maximum penalty of one year in the county jail and a $1,000 fine
if convicted of striking Scientologist Richard W. Howd Jr. during a protest
Oct. 31 outside the church's spiritual headquarters in downtown Clearwater.
(...)

McCabe's decision to go forward comes six weeks after Minton admitted under
oath to striking Howd with a cardboard and foam placard. Minton's testimony
came during a civil court hearing that prompted a judge to conclude that both
sides needed to be restrained in an ongoing dispute between the church and a
group of anti- Scientology activists.
(...)

In the battery incident, Minton was carrying a protest sign up and down the
sidewalk outside the Fort Harrison Hotel on Halloween night while Howd filmed
him at close range with a video camera. Minton testified that he struck Howd
with his placard when Howd would not back away as Minton left the area.

That testimony came during a daylong hearing on Howd's request for court
protection from Minton. Circuit Judge Thomas Penick Jr. concluded that
''both parties must be mutually restrained'' and ordered Howd to stay at
least 20 feet away from Minton. Minton, meanwhile, must stay at least 10
feet away from 17 church- owned properties in downtown Clearwater.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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* Scientologists frequently harass their critics, through investigations of
their private lives, contacting of neighbors, parents or employers,
distributing hate flyers, invading personal space, etcetera.




2. A Danger to our Society: then and now
Saarbruecker Zeitung (Germany), Jan. 13, 2000
Translation: CISAR
http://cisar.org/000113b.htm
Question to the mayor: Isn't this campaign like using sledgehammers to kill
flies? There continues to be sentiment, even among Constitutional Security
agents, that the "expansion" of Scientology is stopped, or even that the
organization is on the downfall.
(...)

Kiesl's response included: "I personally am convinced that it has an active
totalitarian structure now as it did before, and that it presents a danger
for our society in that it makes an entrance as a religious denomination, but
in reality uses religion as protective camouflage. Like a wolf in sheep's
clothing. People who go along with that cannot differentiate between [the
needs of city] office and their organization's urge for expansion. It has
also been determined in the highest courts that Scientology does not have to
do with a church or religious congregation.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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21. Sending Scientology a "Clear Signal"
Stuttgarter Nachrichten (Germany), Jan. 14, 2000
Translation: CISAR
http://cisar.org/000114a.htm
(...) Some observers see Scientology's importance as being on the decline.
Not so Leutenbach mayor Juergen Kiesl, who has been in office for six months.
In a letter to the 120 employees, the chief "very cordially" asked them to
sign an enclosed "security statement." Kiesl referred to Constitutional
Security and "Aktion Buildungsinformation," who say that Scientology operates
"with methods contemptuous of people."

The Leutenbach community, according to Kiesl's requirement, "should not
implicitly give the impression that it tolerates the machinations of
Scientology by standing aside." The mayor does not see himself as a lone
voice in his wishes to send out a "clear signal." "Mayor Sprengel" from
Backnang already talked about such a procedure a year ago. Communities in
Rems-Murr county which have already implemented the initiative include Korb
and Aspach.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Unification Church

22. South, North Korea join forces in Peace Motors
Excite/Reuters, Jan. 17, 2000
http://news.excite.com/news/r/000117/00/auto-korea-north
The automotive arm of South Korea's Unification Church will break ground this
month on a $300 million car-making joint venture called Peace Motors in North
Korea, an executive with the company said on Monday.

The church-owned Pyongwha Motors has formed a joint venture with North
Korea's state-owned Ryonbong company to build a plant that would manufacture
100,000 Fiat cars under licence by the year 2006, Pyongwha Motors deputy
director David Yoon said.
(...)

The Unification Church, whose followers across the world are sometimes called
"Moonies," was founded in 1954 by Reverend Sun Myung Moon. A fervent
anti-communist, Moon went on to build a global business empire worth an
estimated $200 million.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Hate Groups / Hate Crimes

23. Experts ponder: Whose thoughts are hate letters?
The Huntsville Times, Jan. 16, 2000
http://www.al.com/news/huntsville/Jan2000/16-e23980.html
The letter was crude: misspelled words, apostrophes in the wrong places,
paragraphs indented in a zig-zag pattern. But the message of hate came
searing through on the smudged photocopy.
(...)

The letter went out to at least a dozen predominantly black colleges over the
last six weeks, including Alabama A&M University and Oakwood College in
Huntsville. Another version of the letter, denigrating Jews, was sent to 18
branches of the American Jewish Committee.

Was it the work of a violent cultist ready to wage racial war and bring on
Armageddon in the new millennium?
(...)

Perhaps neither. A third scenario is possible, according to an expert on
extremists on the right and left. ''It's possible that letter is phony.
Between 10 and 20 percent of hate crimes are hoaxes,'' said John George, a
professor of political science and sociology at the University of Central
Oklahoma.
(...)

The FBI is taking the letter seriously and has launched an investigation.
(...)

The letter is probably worrisome to agents because its contents suggest the
writer could be connected to some of the more violent far-right cults and
philosophies. For instance, at the top of the letter is ''RAHOWA'' - for
''racial holy war'' - and underneath that is printed, ''Hail Ben Klassen.''

Klassen founded the Church of the Creator, a Christian Identity faction whose
creed is that race is a religion. Klassen committed suicide after it was
revealed he was gay. Now known as the World Church of the Creator, the group
is based in Illinois. Its leader, Matthew Hale, claims 46 chapters
nationwide.
(...)

Mitch Hammer, an expert on threat assessment at American University in
Washington, said the agency is building a profile of the author. They are
looking just as hard at what's not in the letter as what is.
(...)

Hammer said the letter could be dangerous if it can be determined that the
letter writer was a member of a Christian Identity, militia or white
supremacy
group. If the letter reflects the group's philosophy, it could
signal an escalation from rhetoric to violence.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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24. Hate.com expands on the net
BBC News, Jan. 12, 2000
[Hate Groups]
http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/americas/newsid_600000/600876.stm
(...) And the constitutional commitment to the right of free speech means
even those on the extreme fringes of society can publish and broadcast their
views.

Don Black is an ex-Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan and webmaster of
Stormfront - a site that advocates white supremacy.
(...)

Mr Black has worked for the white supremacist movement since his youth. He
joined the KKK, as it is known, when he graduated from university. He left
the Klan during the early 1980s when he was arrested for helping to plot the
overthrow of a Caribbean island. He had hopes of setting up an all white
state.
(...)

The website provides links to more extreme organisations than his own, but Mr
Black's detractors say his is the hub of a circle of hate. After years of
struggling to spread his message, the internet gave him the power he was
looking for.

In the same computer room, his son Derek runs Stormfront for kids. It
encourages other children to engage in debates on racial awareness. Such
sites, which deliberately target young people, are causing the greatest
concern.
(...)

The murder of gay teenager Mathew Shepard from Wyoming in 1998 sent
shockwaves through America. Despite pleas from his parents, the
anti-homosexual lobby seized his funeral as an opportunity to push its
propaganda. Ever since, the homophobic website, God Hates Fags, has
displayed a vision of Matthew Shepard burning in hell.

Alongside the image, there are quotes that the group regard as biblical
back-up for their views.
(...)

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) monitors not only anti-Semitic material on
the internet - but the full range of hate sites. It is thought there are
currently around 500 of them - just a tiny proportion of the material
available on the web.
(...)

The mountains of West Virginia, barely touched by advances in modern
technology, are a retreat for many from the pressures of metropolitan life.
They are also home to a far right organisation linked to its members via the
internet. The National Alliance is regarded by many as the most dangerous in
America. It is headed by former American Nazi Party officer Dr William
Pierce
.
(...)

Dr Pierce's own novel, The Turner Diaries, is one of the bestsellers on his
list. It was written in 1975 under his pseudonym, Andrew Macdonald. The
story is a violent fantasy about a global Aryan uprising.
(...)

Dr Pierce denies that the novel incites violence. He publishes extracts from
it in several languages on his website. Because of the interest in the book
and similar material, most of the organisation's communication is now via the
internet.
(...)

By publishing their views on the internet, groups like the National Alliance
are opening themselves to greater public scrutiny than before. It has led to
calls for greater regulation of material on the net. But it is becoming
clear that any attempt to curb the right to free speech here will be met with
fierce resistance.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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25. ADL buys offensive Web names to curb hate
Jewish Bulletin of Northern California, Jan. 13, 2000
http://jewishsf.com/jb/1aadl.shtml
The national office of the Anti-Defamation League has purchased six
anti-Semitic Web domain names to prevent hate groups from using them.
ADL officials say that is the only way to keep such names out of the hands of
those who want to recruit white supremacists and anti-Semites online.
(...)

The ADL is not alone in trying to grab the names before hate groups do. The
NAACP has reportedly been shopping for potential Internet sites with
anti-black slurs in the titles.

However, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center
in Los Angeles, said the onus to keep such slurs off computer screens should
not be on agencies like the ADL or the NAACP but on the companies that form
the backbone of the Internet.
(...)

The fervor to snap up the rights to racial and ethnic slurs became public
when a Washington Post reporter discovered an unorthodox auction in progress
on eBay, the leading online auction site headquartered in Menlo Park.
(...)

In a related development, Attorney General Janet Reno introduced her vision
for a super agency to police the Internet on Monday. She spoke to an audience
of several hundred before the National Association of Attorneys General at
Stanford University.

LawNet would include a data bank of forensic information that could be shared
by local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to stop computer-related
crimes, including hate crime.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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26. Germany seeks historian's extradition
BBC News, Jan. 13, 2000
http://news2.thls.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/europe/newsid%5F602000/602367.stm
The German authorities have asked for the extradition of the controversial
British historian, David Irving. Mr Irving, 62, is currently suing an
academic in the British courts who has accused him of denying the Holocaust.

The extradition request dates back to 1996, when Mr Irving gave a talk in
Germany at the invitation of Gunther Deckert, the leader of the far-right
German People's Party (NPD). He is accused of racial incitement for denying
the Holocaust took place
, which under German law is a criminal offence.
(...)

He is suing Professor Deborah Lipstadt and Penguin Books for libel over the
"evil" claim in her book, Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth
and Memory, that he was a "Holocaust denier".
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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27. Revisionist scholar with talent for controversy
BBC News, Jan. 11, 2000
http://news2.thls.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/uk/newsid%5F599000/599057.stm
British historian David Irving has been no stranger to controversy during his
30 years on the British literary scene. He has been praised for his academic
rigour by some and vilified as an Adolf Hitler 'partisan' who distorts
history by others.
(...)

However the 62-year-old academic has a reputation as a painstaking
researcher, trawling through Nazi archives and unearthing elderly Nazis from
Alpine villages and isolated Argentine ranches as part of his work.

He has been attacked for questioning whether 6 million Jews were killed by
the Nazis - and suggesting that Hitler knew nothing of the Final Solution
until late in the war

His controversial views on the Holocaust have led to a fine in a German court
and exclusion from Canada and Australia.

As Irving's profile grew, he became a presence in extreme right wing circles
in Britain and attended conferences of the Institute for Historical Review in
the United States, the leading forum for those who deny the Holocaust ever
happened.

(...)

Mr Irving accuses Ms Lipstadt - Professor of Modern Jewish and Holocaust
Studies at Emory University in Georgia - of painting him as a neo-Nazi and
attempting to destroy his reputation as a historian. She and Penguin, which
published her book in 1995, both deny the charge.
(...)

It will take months for the High Court to decide whether Britain's most
controversial historian is the victim of libel.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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28. Danger in Denying Holocaust?
Los Angeles Times, Jan. 7, 2000
http://www.latimes.com/news/nation/updates/lat_libel000107.htm
(...) The revisionists, whose theories will be at the center of a
high-profile libel trial scheduled to begin Tuesday in London, are not
operating in a vacuum. A 1993 poll by the Roper Organization found that 22%
of Americans thought it possible that the Holocaust never happened.

The theorists contend that far fewer than 6 million Jews died in Europe
during World War II--and that most of those who died did so through
starvation, disease and ad hoc executions carried out by lower-level Nazi
officers.

That scenario has been almost universally dismissed as a flawed misreading of
history, cooked up out of deep-seated anti-Semitism. Indeed, at least two
dozen people have been prosecuted in Germany, France, Spain, Austria, Poland
and Canada since 1990 under various laws prohibiting racial hatred and the
defaming of the memory of those who died in Nazi death camps for even
questioning what has become one of the defining horrors of the modern age.

Now one of the leading deniers of the Holocaust, British historian David
Irving
, is striking back, suing the most prominent critic of the movement,
Emory University professor Deborah Lipstadt, for libel. The trial is likely
to feature many of the world's premier WWII historians weighing in on the
mechanics, logistics, chain of command and blueprints for the extermination
of millions of European Jews.

In her book, "Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and
Memory,"
Off-site Link Lipstadt accuses Irving of skewing documents and misrepresenting
data. The book quotes analysts who describe his work as "closer to theology
or mythology than to history." As a British citizen, Irving can take
advantage of British libel law, which places much of the burden on Lipstadt
to prove her book did not libel the historian. Irving says his lawsuit will
prove Lipstadt's book is part of an international Jewish campaign to
discredit him.
(...)

Lipstadt was among the first in the American Jewish community to abandon
the long-standing practice of ignoring the Holocaust deniers, choosing
instead to confront their arguments head-on.
(...)

She cites accusations by prominent British historian Hugh Trevor-Roper that
Irving "seizes on a small and dubious particle of 'evidence' " and allegedly
uses it "to dismiss far more substantial evidence that may not support his
thesis."
(...)

For Irving, who is regarded in some mainstream quarters as one of the premier
documentarians of the Third Reich, it is an issue of professional
vindication. It is no accident, he says, that he has been banned from even
entering Canada, Italy, Germany and Austria because of Holocaust denial laws
in those countries. "They regard me as dangerous, and the word 'dangerous'
puzzles me," he said. "I don't go around punching people in the face. . . .
'Dangerous' can only mean dangerous to their interests, either in the long
term or the short term.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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* Mr. Irving has also made false claims about Anne Frank's diary, suggesting
it to be a forgery. On that issue, see

David Irving & the Diary of Anne Frank

http://www.nizkor.org/hweb/people/f/frank-anne/press/anne-frank-001.html

Is Mr. Irving believable?

CNN/TIME:
Holocaust on Trial, Jan. 16, 2000
http://cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0001/16/impc.00.html
(...)
GLASS (voice-over): David Irving is representing himself. His legal
experience includes convictions and fines for what he has said about
the Holocaust in France and Germany. He has sued newspapers for libel.
And Otto Frank once took Irving's publisher to court for what Irving
wrote about his doctor Anne Frank, the Dutch-Jewish girl who died in a
concentration camp.

(on camera): Did you say that the Anne Frank diary was a forgery?

IRVING: Guilty.

GLASS: Is it a forgery?

IRVING: No.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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Holocaust History Project
http://www.holocaust-history.org/

David Irving's site
http://www.fpp.co.uk/


29. Neo-Nazi accused of 'racial hatred' goes on the run
The Telegraph (England), Jan. 16, 2000)
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/et?ac=000140326706927
&rtmo=aNN8JNbL&atmo=aNN8JNbL&pg=/et/00/1/16/ncrim216.html
Germany has issued an international arrest warrant for a Holocaust
revisionist
who fled to Britain to escape a prison sentence for inciting
racial hatred.

Police here have joined the hunt for Germar Rudolf, who has been on the run
from his home in Stuttgart since 1995. If he is arrested on British soil, he
faces extradition or deportation. One source close to the case said: "Concern
about this man's presence in Britain has been raised at the very highest
level. The Home Secretary is likely to want to do all he can to help the
Germans bring this man to justice."
(...)

Rudolf, a former German air force pilot, was sentenced to 14 months in prison
in 1995 for three counts of inciting racial hatred. He was found guilty of
breaching Germany's Holocaust denial legislation after he produced a study
claiming that Jews did not die in gas chambers at Auschwitz.
(...)

David Irving, the Right-wing historian who is currently involved in a High
Court libel action against Prof Deborah Lipstadt, one of his fiercest
critics, was one of the first people Rudolf contacted when he arrived in
Britain and both men have been supportive of each other.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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30. Man Jailed for Buying Hand Grenades
Excite/AP, Jan. 15, 2000
http://news.excite.com/news/ap/000115/13/grenade-sentencing
A white supremacist who admitted buying hand grenades, which he allegedly
wanted to use as mail bombs, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison without
parole. Chris Scott Gilliam pleaded guilty in August to federal firearms
charges, stemming from the purchase of the 10 grenades from an undercover
federal agent.

When he bought the grenades, Gilliam had a cocked .45-caliber pistol on his
hip and his 20-month-old son in his arms, testified Bureau of Alcohol,
Tobacco and Firearms agent David Pasqualotto. Authorities said a search of
his home turned up an Uzi-type rifle with silencer, bomb-making instructions
and white supremacist literature, including white supremacist coloring books
for children.
(...)

"I didn't mean to hurt anybody," Gilliam told U.S. District Judge Richard
Vollmer at Friday's sentencing. Gilliam, 28, of Foley, was arrested June 10
after telling an undercover ATF agent he wanted to send the grenades as mail
bombs, according to court records. At earlier meetings with agents, Gilliam
also said he wanted to purchase C-4, a military explosive, to use in mail
bombs to send to unspecified targets in Washington.

"He said he didn't want to be like the Unabomber, who wounded several people
and killed one," Pasqualotto testified. "He wanted to kill everybody."
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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31. Cuomo Announces New Campaign Against Housing Discrimination, and Charges
Hate Group Leader With Making Illegal Death Threats
Excite/PRNewswire, Jan. 16, 2000 (Press Release)
http://news.excite.com/news/pr/000116/dc-hud-statement
U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo today announced a
public awareness campaign to help people fight back against housing
discrimination. He also charged a hate group leader in Philadelphia with
violating the Fair Housing Act for making death threats against a fair
housing advocate on his Internet web site and in a television interview.
(...)

Announcing HUD's latest fair housing case, Cuomo said that Ryan Wilson of
Philadelphia and the hate group he runs -- ALPHA HQ -- have been charged by
HUD with violating the Fair Housing Act. The charge stems from threats posted
on Wilson's Internet web site and made by him in a TV interview against fair
housing advocate Bonnie Jouhari.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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32. Bill seeks to unmask Klan
Ohio Beacon Journal, Jan. 12, 2000
http://www.ohio.com/bj/news/docs/019735.htm
With their pointed hoods and flowing white robes, members of the Ku Klux Klan
are often unmistakable. But so are the fear and discomfort that many times
accompany the masked appearance of Klan members, said state Rep. Peter Lawson
Jones, D-Shaker Heights.
(...)

He believes one way to curb Klan activity is to force marchers to show their
faces. Last month, with the support of 33 bipartisan co-sponsors, Jones
introduced a bill in the Ohio House that would give communities a new tool to
fight groups like the KKK. House Bill 521 would make it a crime for those
participating in political demonstrations to wear a mask or any other
identity-disguising items.
(...)

But some committee members questioned whether the proposal goes too far.
(...)

Other committee members worried about the effects of the proposal on other
groups -- such as gay rights activists -- who sometimes don disguises to
protect themselves from discrimination.

Jones patterned his bill after a 100-year-old New York City ordinance that
was upheld by a federal appeals court in October.
(...)

Most of the anti-masking laws date to the early half of the 20th century,
when Klan membership surged to 5 million in 1925, Potok said. As Klan
membership began to shrink, many of the laws remained but were forgotten.

With a ''minor resurgence'' in Klan activity in recent years -- though KKK
membership is only about 6,000 nationwide -- the laws are being challenged
more in the courts, Potok said.

Lawyers for Klanwatch believe that if such a law reaches the U.S. Supreme
Court, it will be overturned on constitutional grounds.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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33. Alabama chapter of KKK investigated for Web site threat
Boston.com/AP, Jan. 14, 2000
http://www.boston.com/dailynews/014/nation/Alabama_chapter_of_KKK_investi:.shtml
The Mississippi attorney general is contacting state authorities after
discovering an Alabama Klan group's Web site said he had ''earned a death
sentence.''

Michael Moore, perhaps best known for his role in suing the tobacco industry,
has recently helped to bring to trial several murder cases dating back to the
state's civil rights struggle. A group calling itself the Alabama White
Knights of the Ku Klux Klan railed against Moore in an article on its Web
site glorifying onetime Mississippi Klan chieftain Sam Bowers. Bowers is
serving a life prison term for the 1966 murder of Vernon Dahmer, an NAACP
leader and black voting rights advocate.
(...)

Moore said his office is contacting Alabama authorities and may work with
federal authorities on the matter. ''We have to take these things seriously
but, honestly, I'm not afraid of cowards who dress up in robes,'' Moore said
Thursday.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Wicca / Paganism

34. Satan worshippers open Temple of Lucifer in Denmark
Infoseek/Reuters, Jan. 15, 2000
http://infoseek.go.com/Content?arn=a1364LBY060reulb-20000115&qt=%2
A group of Satan worshippers inaugurated what they called a Temple of Lucifer
on Saturday, saying it was the first of its kind in Denmark.

"We believe in something, in some power...he (Satan) is the symbol of
nature,'' cult leader Petra Johansson said.

"We don't believe in the Satan mentioned in the Bible,'' she told Reuters in
an interview, referring to the scriptures forming the basis for the Christian
religion.

Instead, the cult's roughly 20 members, mostly Danes but also a few Swedes,
base their faith on a work called the Satanic Bible, which says disciples are
"dedicated to the acceptance of Man's true nature -- that of a carnal beast,
living in a cosmos which is permeated and motivated by the Dark Force.''
(...)

German-born Johansson, who became interested in the occult as a teenager,
underlined that she and her followers did not make any kind of animal or
human sacrifices, attributing such allegations about Satan worshippers to
"intolerant and hypocritical Christian sects.''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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35. Wiccan teacher's removal criticized
Fayetteville Observer, Jan. 15, 2000
http://www.fayettevillenc.com/foto/news/content/2000/tx00jan/n15wicca.htm
The North Carolina Association of Educators says Scotland County school
officials overreacted when they suspended a Wiccan teacher.
(...)

The NCAE's initial conclusion is that Eicher has done nothing to warrant a
suspension, Wilson said.
(...)

Eicher said she was told on Monday that she was suspended with pay. She and
her husband, Richard, are ordained Wiccan ministers and belong to a coven
based in Wagram, where they live.

A Web site run by the Eichers describes the coven and contained three
pictures of ritual nudity. Two pictures of bodies colored with paint were
removed this week. A picture of a man standing naked in a circle by a fire
remained on the Web site Friday. The Web site warns of nudity and says it is
for mature adults.
(...)

The Rutherford Institute, a national civil liberties group that handles First
Amendment, religion and free-speech cases, is also looking at the case.
"We are looking into the situation but we can't say if we're going to become
involved," spokeswoman Nisha Mohammed said.

Deborah Ross, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union of North
Carolina, said her organization is keeping up with the case, but she would
not comment further.

A group of Christian leaders in Scotland County is supporting the school
system's decision to suspend Eicher while proceeding with an investigation.
In a letter to the school board, six ministers say they are worried about
children's safety -- not Eicher's religious beliefs.

The letter, which was prepared by a Laurinburg lawyer who belongs to the
Christian Legal Alliance, says that nudity on the Eichers' Web site could be
in violation of state child-protection laws.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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36. Dome's designers plan to build full-size Stonehenge replica
Sunday Times (England), Jan. 16, 2000
http://www.the-times.co.uk/news/pages/sti/2000/01/16/stinwenws01017.html?999
Designers of the Millennium Dome are in talks with Labour about building a
full-size replica of Stonehenge to give tourists a more "dynamic" experience.
Visitors are to be tempted with a "virtual reality" display of its history.

The proposal, part of a £125m scheme to save Britain's most important
prehistoric monument, may deter many visitors from seeing the real thing, say
critics.
(...)

The religious role of Stonehenge is disputed. The theory that the stone
circles were druidic temples has been discredited.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Mormonism

37. Mormon Actress Is Suing U.
Salt Lake Tribune, Jan. 14, 2000
http://www.sltrib.com/01142000/utah/17576.htm
For Christina Axson-Flynn, choosing between her religious beliefs and
requirements of the University of Utah's Actor Training Program was simple.
When told she would have to "get over" her objection to using offensive
language, the young Mormon student refused and was, she contends, drummed out
of the theater department's program.

Now Axson-Flynn has sued several of the program's faculty members in a civil
rights lawsuit claiming they violated her constitutional right to practice
religion.
(...)

Problems With Profanity: The university's theater program has faced other
complaints about profanity in its plays. In 1994, The Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-day Saints threatened to withdraw a $15,000 grant from Pioneer
Memorial Theatre because of foul language in productions.

McConkie, who has represented other Utahns in high-profile civil rights
cases, told The Salt Lake Tribune that requiring Axson-Flynn to use profanity
was akin to telling a Jewish person taking a cooking course that he or she
would have to eat pork prepared in the class to remain in the program.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Other News

38. Deadly crash draws attention to Irish Traveler clan
CNN/AP, Jan 16, 2000
http://www.cnn.com/2000/US/01/16/teenskilled.wanderers.ap/index.html
A clan of wandering Irish descendants known for clinging tightly to their
privacy have been dragged into the public spotlight by a recent crash that
killed five young cousins.
(...)

Some of the boys carried identification indicating they were 20 years old,
but family members said they were all 12 to 14. The county medical examiner
is still waiting to review their birth records.

The discrepancies have fueled long-held suspicions that members of the clan,
known as the Greenhorn Irish Travelers, are involved in fraudulent
activities.
(...)

He said accusations by officials and in books including "Scam -- Inside
America's Con Artist Clans" that the Travelers are accomplished scam artists
with no legitimate source of income "is just accusations and innuendoes."

About 7,000 Travelers live in the United States -- most in Texas and South
Carolina -- by some estimates and about 40,000 live in Ireland and England.
(...)

The clan's origins are uncertain, but scholars believe the Irish Travelers
may date as far back as the Picts, the inhabitants of the British Isles
before the Celts and Anglo-Saxons moved in. They began migrating to the
United States more than 100 years ago.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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39. Cult experts are alarmed by Keene prophet's case
The Keene Sentinel (New Hampshire), Jan. 14, 2000
http://www1.keenesentinel.com/archive/2000/jan%2Djun/jan12%5F02.htm
Ronald J. O'Brien is a cult leader, two experts say, and people should worry
about where he's leading his followers. Citing the tragic ends of some
cults in recent years, Rick A. Ross of Phoenix, Ariz., and Joseph Nickell of
Buffalo, N.Y. -- both authorities on cults -- say that what they've seen in
the writings, pronouncements and warnings of the 55-year-old Keene man are
cause for concern.

Less than a year ago, few in Keene had even heard of O'Brien, who rented a
small house on Victoria Street. Then, religious statues in his house began
oozing oil, and thousands of hosts, the bread wafers Catholics use in Holy
Communion, miraculously appeared in his home, he told people. Then, he
proclaimed himself a prophet, and began having conversations with God.
(...)

Ross and Nickell worry that O'Brien shows characteristics of a cult leader:

** He's a self-proclaimed prophet.
** He purports that miracles occur in his home.
** He predicts a heavenly warning, a mass healing, and Armageddon.
** He condemns those who disagree with him.
** He instructs members of his organization, Friends of the Eucharist, to
form a religious army, The Sons of Light, and hunker down in northern New
Hampshire to defend true Catholicism.

And, since his organization accepts credit cards, "he has become a prophet
for profit," said Ross, who's been qualified as a cult expert in court cases
in six states.

O'Brien is certainly not the first person to claim he's a prophet.

"Scarcely a month goes by that I don't hear about one of these," says
Nickell, who investigates and writes about religious phenomena. He's now
working for Skeptical Inquirer magazine in Buffalo.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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* Friends of the Eucharist:
http://www.chrst.com/obrien/default.asp


40. Rastafarians Disrupt Court Proceedings
Panafrican News Agency, Jan. 14, 2000
http://www.africanews.org/PANA/news/20000114/feat16.html
Chaos broke out in the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate's Court on Thursday
afternoon, when a group of rastafarians stripped naked, hurled abuse at court
officials and threatened to urinate in the court.

The group were dressed in plastic bags and blankets, and were carrying
marijuana plants which they said they were permitted to own.

According to the Natal Mercury newspaper, leader Peter Tosh, his wife Mystic
Tosh, and their children Jeffrey Tosh, Herbalist Tosh and Prince Tosh had
been charged for possessing marijuana which is a criminal offence in South
Africa.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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41. Loggers Seek To Advance 'Deep Ecology' Suit
Channel 4000/WCCO, Jan. 14, 2000
http://www.wcco.com/news/stories/news-20000114-170409.html
Loggers from Minnesota's northern forests filed into U.S. District Court
Friday morning, hoping to persuade a judge that an unusual lawsuit has merit
and should go forward.

The case is more than a battle between environmentalists and loggers over
commercial tree-cutting in Minnesota's forests. It is a fight over the
separation of church and state.

A group of loggers filed the lawsuit last fall against the U.S. Forest
Service and two environmental groups, claiming that the Forest Service has
buckled to the groups' philosophy of "deep ecology," which regards the
natural world as sacred.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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42. Catholics Battle Brazilian Faith in 'Black Rome'
New York Times, Jan. 10, 2000
http://www.nytimes.com/library/world/americas/011000brazil-religion.html
To the traditionalists who dominate the Roman Catholic Church here, the
choice is clear: the word of God versus resurgent paganism.

But to a predominantly black group of local clergy and lay people, the
doctrinal dispute that has erupted in Brazil's oldest diocese is merely the
latest round in a 400-year struggle for religious tolerance and respect.
(...)

At the center of the conflict is the African-derived faith known as
Candomblé, which has particularly strong roots in this city of two million
that the Italian writer Umberto Eco called "the Black Rome" in one of his
novels.

Like Santería in the Spanish-speaking Caribbean or voodoo in Haiti,
Candomblé merges the identities of African deities and Roman Catholic saints,
so that St. George, for instance, is also Ogum, the god of war and of metals.
(...)

So when an annual conference of black priests and bishops here in July
included a visit to the city's two principal Candomblé temples, criticism
came quickly. A French-born priest, the Rev. Pierre Mathon, announced that he
intended to celebrate a "Mass of repudiation" of religious practices that he
described as "demonic" and accused the black clergy of deviating from the one
true faith.
(...)

But the dispute here has repercussions that go far beyond Brazil. Early this
year, Cardinal Neves was promoted to a new post in Rome, prefect of the
Bishops Congregation, which put him in charge of the process of selecting new
bishops and gives him powers to see that orthodox views are enforced around
the world. The Vatican has made proselytism in Africa and Asia its top
priority for the new century, and in those places, clerical leaders
sympathetic to Candomblé note, Catholicism will encounter other religions
with animist elements.
(...)

Within Candomblé, there are also disagreements as to the proper relationship
with the Catholic Church. María Estella Azevedo dos Santos, who is the
ialorixá, or high priestess, of the Ilê Axé Opo Afonjá terreiro, or temple,
has also condemned syncretism in terms that Monsignor Majella said he
applauds with "the greatest admiration and respect."
(...)

But another influential Candomblé figure, Mäe Cleusa, who was until her death
last year the leader of the Gantois temple here, argued that since "all roads
lead to God," opposing syncretism was unrealistic.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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43. FCC Reassures Religious Broadcasters
Yahoo!/AP, Jan. 13, 2000
http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/ap/20000113/pl/religious_broadcasting_5.html
Voicing concerns on behalf of the nation's religious broadcasters, lawmakers
are accusing the Federal Communications Commission of trying to suppress
religious expression on television.

The criticism by members of Congress came Wednesday, even as FCC Chairman
Bill Kennard sought to deflect allegations that his agency is trying to
restrict the content of the programming religious broadcasters can air.

Kennard, in a letter to the lawmakers Wednesday, said the FCC was only
offering additional guidance that impacted a limited number of noncommercial
religious broadcasters who seek licenses for specially reserved educational
channels.
(...)

He noted that in order to qualify for such special educational licenses,
broadcasters have always had to show that the channel is to be ''used
primarily to serve the educational needs of the community'' and for ''the
advancement of educational programs.''
(...)

But the members of Congress who had decried the FCC ruling appeared unmoved
by Kennard's letter. In response to the FCC chief Wednesday afternoon, the
lawmakers argued that the commission action still amounts to censorship of
religious expression.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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44. Visiting Hindu Scholar To Test Waters for Temple in N.M.
Albuquerque Journal, Jan, 15, 2000
http://www.abqjournal.com/news/1hindu01-15-00.htm
Are New Mexico followers of Hinduism ready to have a permanent place of
worship? A California-based Hindu scholar hopes this weekend's speaking
engagement in Albuquerque will help answer that question. An estimated 150
families practice the Hindu religion in the state, Brahmachari Someshwar
Chaitanya said Friday.
(...)

In 1995, he was appointed the Anaheim mission's acharya, a scholar and
authority on religious observance.
(...)

He makes periodic lecture trips to the other 11 centers in the United States,
the biggest of which are in Houston and Chicago. There are about 1 million
Hindus in this country, according to recent statistics. Chaitanya said many
people of other faiths embrace Hinduism's ideas and way of life.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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45. Now Wenatchee girl can call parents 'mom and dad' again
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Jan. 14, 2000
http://www.seattlep-i.com/local/wena14.shtml
[Ritual Abuse]
(...) Last Friday, the state stopped fighting to keep the girl from her
parents, even though they were freed from prison when their criminal
convictions were overturned in 1998. And Chelan County Juvenile Court
commissioner Bart Vandegrift officially reversed the 1995 order that took
away the Everett's rights to Melinda, one of their five children.
(...)

Melinda's family was at the center of the storm of allegations of sexual
abuse in Wenatchee after she and her younger sister, Donna, accused dozens of
adults of molesting them. At the time, the girls were foster children in the
home of Wenatchee Police Detective Bob Perez, the chief investigator of the
allegations.

Melinda, placed in nearly a dozen foster homes and treatment centers after
leaving Perez's home in late 1995, later recanted the accusations and said
Perez pressured her to make statements.

Her recantations were subsequently found believable by a fact-finder for the
appellate court, Whitman County Superior Court Judge Wallis Friel, who was
harshly critical of Perez's investigative methods.
(...)

Background information
Wenatchee made world headlines in 1994 and 1995 when police and state social
workers undertook what was then called the nation's most extensive child
sex-abuse investigation.

By the time it was done, at least 60 adults were arrested on 29,726 charges
of child sex-abuse involving 43 children. Many of the accused were poor or
developmentally disabled.

Many cases were settled on the strength of confessions taken down by
Wenatchee Police Detective Bob Perez.

In February 1998, the Post-Intelligencer published The Power to Harm
http://www.seattlep-i.com/powertoharm/Off-site Link, a series of stories that documented
overzealous -- even abusive -- actions by Perez and social service
caseworkers, civil rights violations by judges and prosecutors as well as
sloppy work by public defenders.

Since then, many of the convicted have been freed by higher courts, largely
through the work of The Innocence Project, a group of volunteer lawyers.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Interfaith / Interdenominational

46. For 2002 Winter Games, Faiths Agree Cooperation Is in, Indoctrination Out
Salt Lake Tribune, Jan. 15, 2000
http://www.sltrib.com/2000/jan/01152000/Religion/17791.htm
Bishop William Swing, arguably the poster cleric for ecumenism, was
pleasantly taken aback by the desire for interfaith cooperation he found
while leading a two-day seminar on spirituality in the upcoming 2002 Winter
Games.

"We were surprised by the breadth of religious diversity present and the
willingness of people to rise up and make commitments to each other," said
Swing, spiritual leader of California's Episcopalians and founder of the
7-year-old United Religions Initiative (URI).
(...)

What representatives unanimously ruled out, Swing and Randle said, was
pushing any one belief system over another. Service, not indoctrination, will
hold the interfaith endeavor together during the Olympics. "We all see this.
We are all in agreement that this is not an occasion to proselytize, but to
form a common posture of faith hospitality to all people," Swing said.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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47. Unifying the Fractured Body of Christ -- Does It Have a Prayer?
Salt Lake Tribune, Jan. 15, 2000
http://www.sltrib.com/2000/jan/01152000/religion/17805.htm
It is called the 2000 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. But most
participants in the annual initiative of the World Council of Churches (WCC)
say they would gladly settle for something less Christian cooperation.
(...)

WCC General Secretary Konrad Raiser recently warned that the world can ill
afford another 1,000 years of Christian disunity, characterizing the
just-passed millennium as "a period of Christian division, strife and mutual
condemnation [that] spawned violence and war, injustice and oppression."
(...)

Such unity is unlikely ever to amount to reunification of a faith subdivided
by doctrinal disputes and politics into thousands of sects over the past
1,000 years. However, clerics agree that all who call on Christ's name should
share and act upon basic Christian principles.
(...)

Such shared arenas in Utah include the interdenominational campaign to bar
firearms from houses of worship and the interfaith coalition forming to
address spiritual needs of the upcoming 2002 Winter Games, he said.

Both efforts have drawn the support of The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints
, which claims 70 percent of Utahns as members. While
neither embracing the WCC or its campaign for unity, the church has a history
of cooperating with other faiths on humanitarian and public-morals issues.
(...)

Darlene Avery, associate pastor of Holladay United Church of Christ, praised
that desire for Christian cooperation.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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* The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a pseudo-Christian
religion.

48. Baha'is, others to unite in World Religion Day
The Arizona Republic, Jan. 15, 2000
http://www.azcentral.com/community/comstories/0115world.shtml
Arizona's World Religion Day celebration Sunday is not about debate. It's
about reminding others that although people come from different backgrounds,
they have a responsibility to be united and work together.
(...)

The Baha'i Faith began the celebration of World Religion Day 50 years ago.
The faith teaches the unity of religions and the equality of men and women,
and World Religion Day grew out of those beliefs. Today, the day is
celebrated in more than 80 countries, with some large national events.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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49. A community of believers of all faiths
USA Today, Jan. 13, 2000
http://www.usatoday.com/life/cyber/tech/cth139.htm
[Interfaith]
Steven Waldman used to be a correspondent for Newsweek and an editor for U.S.
News & World Report -- until he realized that "the most important event in
most people's lives is not a presidential election."
(...)

He also couldn't help noticing that magazine sales went up whenever cover
stories were about "religion, spirituality or morality," and that books on
those topics were also hot sellers. Now he's editor in chief of Beliefnet,
a Web site launched last week that aims to be an online spiritual community
for people of all religious backgrounds.

Waldman and co-founder Bob Nylen are gearing up to sell ads and plan to add
an e-commerce section by spring -- everything from crosses and meditation
cushions to books, music, travel and charity donations online.
(...)

Although thousands of religion sites have found a home page on the Web
(Waldman observes wryly that "God is right up there with sex" as the Net's
most popular topics), most are run by sectarian groups whose focus is on
getting the word out about their own religions, rather than trying to serve
all people of faith -- or no faith at all.
(...)

Many of the articles are by a diverse group of more than 50 columnists, top
names in religion and spirituality, from orthodox to fringe. They include
Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong, Jesus scholar Marcus Borg, Catholic
priest/sociologist Andrew Greeley, Buddhist Lama Surya Das, Rabbi Joseph
Telushkin and Margot Adler, a writer on goddess spirituality.
(...)

Even though Beliefnet's scope is broad and inclusive, "our goal is not to
create one big, bland amalgam religion," Waldman says. He expects the site to
be controversial. "It can't help but be, dealing with death and sex and
abortion and God."
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Science

50. Alien fruit flies spawn wealth of evolutionary theories
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Jan. 17, 2000
http://www.seattlep-i.com/local/fly17.shtml
[Science]
(...) The extremely rapid conquest of turf by the European fruit fly has
significant implications for how we handle invading species as well as for
Darwin's theory of evolution, he said.

An evolutionary biologist at the University of Washington, Huey and his
colleagues recently studied the invasion of the New World by Old World flies
and reported on it in last week's Science magazine.
(...)

The good news in all this, Huey said, is that some of these changes appear to
be predictable -- a finding that supports a Darwinian notion that has fallen
out of favor in modern times.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Trends

51. Americans worship less than they used to, survey indicates
Nando Times, Jan. 14, 2000
http://www.nando.net/24hour/adn/nation/story/0,1972,500153992-500189654-500806705-0,00.html
Church attendance among American adults is slipping, yet it remains higher
than in other industrial democracies, according to a newly issued survey from
the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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52. In booming Africa, a vital Christianity that respects local traditions
Star-Telegram/Cox, Jan. 14, 2000
http://www.star-telegram.com/news/doc/1047/1:FAITH3/1:FAITH30114100.html
(...) Forson, a native Ghanaian, believes that, contrary to the teachings of
some early missionaries, Christianity and Africanism are complementary. One
need not expunge from people all traces of native culture for them to become
Christians, he says. Instead, the word of Christ can dwell among the people
of Africa and find the culture to be very fertile soil indeed.

The facts bear him out. Africa, which had 9.9 million Christians at the
beginning of the 20th century, had 203 million as the century ended. Each
year, the continent has 6 million more Christians than it had the year
before, and 1.5 million of those are converts, according to a new study by
David Barret, a British clergyman who edited the first world Christian
encyclopedia.

And the rate of growth seems to be increasing. In 1970, about 12 percent of
Africans were Christian. Now, nearly half are. Put another way, in 1970,
one-tenth of all the Christians in the world were Africans. Now the continent
is home to more than a fifth of the world's Christians.
(...)

Richard Joseph, a professor of political science at Emory University in
Georgia, attributes much of the growth to the "prolonged period of economic
difficulties that most people in the continent have been experiencing."
(...)

And many people see yet another reason for the recent remarkable growth of
Christianity in Africa. In many cases, Africans are no longer being told that
they have to deny their Africanism in order to be good Christians.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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53. Christianity at a Crossroads
St. Paul (Minnesota) Pioneer Press/Religion News Service, Jan. 15, 2000
http://www.pioneerplanet.com/seven-days/2/news/docs/034179.htm
(...) For one thing, the move toward ''cafeteria Christianity'' appearing at
the end of the 20th century -- believers picking and choosing what appeals to
them in various denominations, even in other faiths -- is likely to gather
steam in the 21st.

The same goes for the tendency to expand still further the boundaries of what
constitutes religious belief. How else to explain the cyber-cult founded on
the sacred memory of Princess Diana?
(...)

While moral conservatives will decry this trend as further evidence of
religious decline, their lamentations may miss the real novelty -- and danger
-- of the coming Christianity.

In the past, religion has had a dual role of soothing the soul while doing
God's work in society. Lately, religion has become so psychologized that its
aim is often purely one of inner peace. The ancient commandment to help one's
neighbor can become an afterthought. Combine that with faddism and good old
American individualism, and we see a ''religion'' so privatized that it has
little impact on society at large.
(...)

In her 1995 book, ''Re-Discovering the Sacred,'' author Phyllis Tickle
counted up some 2,500 distinct forms of Christianity in America. Angels,
crystals and books like ''The Celestine Prophecy'' rival Jesus in the hearts
of these crossover Christians. The widening of religious choice also seems
to have brought a decline in loyalty to tradition.
(...)

''One way to understand American religion and chart its future,'' write
Richard Cimino and Don Lattin in ''Shopping for Faith: American Religion in
the New Millennium,'' their 1998 survey, ''is to see the world of faith like
any other product or service in the U.S. economy.''

Hence, the megachurches that model themselves on shopping malls and corporate
offices so as to lure ''clients,'' as worshipers are now called.
(...)

In other words, what you believe matters less than ever. This phenomenon is
especially prevalent among the baby boomer generation -- the 76 million
Americans who began turning 50 in 1996 and started looking for God, but on
their own terms.
(...)

According to one survey, eight in 10 Americans already say the Internet plays
a role in their spiritual lives, and in another close to 20 percent say they
will rely ''primarily or exclusively on the Internet for religious input'' by
2010.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Noted

54. In praise of intolerance
News & Observer, Jan. 14, 2000 (Commentary by Terry Mattingly)
http://www.news-observer.com/daily/2000/01/14/faith03.html
[Religious Freedom/Religious Intolerance]
As they lurched through a blinding snowstorm over Tokyo, the Rev. Billy
Graham watched as the nervous pilot focused single-mindedly on his cockpit
instruments. When it came time to land that plane, the pilot and the
air-traffic controllers followed a dogmatic set of rules. They were
intolerant of errors, and Graham was thankful for that.

"I did not want these men to be broad-minded," he said, in a sermon that is
currently circulating on the Internet. "I knew that our lives depended on
it."

There are times, said the evangelist, when tolerance is bad. For centuries,
Christians have proclaimed that the journey from earth to heaven is like any
other difficult journey. It is crucial to have accurate directions and a
trustworthy pilot, when souls are at stake. Thus, Jesus said: "I am the way,
the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

Jesus is intolerant, said Graham, when it comes to matters of salvation.
Try defending that stance on CNN. By the end of 1999, pundits and politicos
were starting to suggest that evangelism equals hate speech. The anonymous
person who launched this text into cyberspace, with the title "Jesus was not
tolerant," has a good memory and a nose for news. The Billy Graham
Evangelistic Association's records indicate that this sermon was delivered in
1956, before being published as an evangelistic tract in 1957, 1984 and 1996.

The bottom line: If the world's most famous evangelist preached the same
sermon today, it would make headlines and draw flak on the evening news. It
would be hard to imagine anyone making a more inflammatory statement than the
one attributed to Jesus in the Gospel of John: "He who believes in the Son
has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life,
but the wrath of God abides on him."
(...)

There is no question that the First Amendment protects the free speech of
non-Christians and others who are offended by intolerant, narrow-minded
Christians who proclaim that Jesus is the only savior for all of humankind.
Right now, the question appears to be whether Christian evangelists will
retain their right to preach that message in the public square.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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55. ["Christian polygamists"]
AOL/Reuters, Jan. 13, 2000
http://my.aol.com/news/story.tmpl?table=n&cat=01&id=2000011312022481
A decade ago, Stephen Butt says he was happily married, busy with his church
and working as a cult exit counselor in Maine. His work with a young woman
who had been abused by a cult took an unexpected direction. She became his
wife.

Now Butt lives in Utah with three wives and five children, ministering to
nearly 1,000 people around the country who call themselves Christian
polygamists.

Unlike the estimated 25,000-35,000 polygamists living in the West who trace
their roots to historical Mormonism, Butt and his Protestant peers say plural
marriage comes straight from the Old Testament.
(...)

They intend to take their message to the polygamist families living in
southern Utah, and expand into California, the Southeast and then abroad to
countries with polygamous cultures. It will be easier to convert cultural
polygamists to Christianity, Butt figures, than to persuade mainstream
Christian churches to accept plural marriage.
(...)

A growing number of people are living with more than one partner - and
acknowledging it, according to Brett Hill, editor of Loving More, a magazine
for people with multiple partners.
(...)

Many practitioners, rejected by their churches for abandoning monogamy, are
trying to reconcile their lifestyle and their faith, said Dave Hutchison, who
organized a Phoenix-based group called Liberated Christians. ''You have a
lot of Christians feeling this way, then feeling guilty they're feeling this
way, so they come to us and see the Biblical basis,'' he said. ''And all of a
sudden they become liberated.''

Many find freedom on the Internet, where a half-dozen Web sites trumpet
Christian polygamy and underground practitioners make contact.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Books / Films

56. Review: Decent performances burned by 'Holy Smoke' script
CNN, Jan. 14, 2000
http://www.cnn.com/2000/SHOWBIZ/Movies/01/14/review.holy.smoke/
(...) The result is "Holy Smoke." The moral of this story: Never make a film
deal while flushed with victory and three Oscars staring you in the face. It
clouds your judgment.
(...)

Unbeknownst to Ruth, her family has hired a hot-shot American expert in
dealing with people trapped in religious cults. Harvey Keitel (who also
starred in "The Piano") plays the role of P.J. Waters, the man who has come
to deprogram Ruth. He arrives in Sydney sporting starched jeans, shiny cowboy
boots and dark sunglasses to the strains of Neil Diamond singing, "Did you
ever read about the frog who dreamed he was a king and then became one," from
Diamond's hit song "I Am -- I Said."

This is a great musical setup, and basically it's all you need to know about
Keitel's character. Unfortunately, the film continues.

After a family intervention, Waters proceeds to haul Ruth out to a so-called
"halfway hut" in the middle of the Australian outback. There he begins what
he describes as "an intense three-day session" designed to bring her reeling
back to her senses. This is where Campion's film really begins to fall apart.
(...)

As long as films as bad as "Holy Smoke" continue to be made, the whole
creative process will continue to remain a deep and dark mystery. Halfway
through this sloppy mess of a movie, Ruth moans, "I want to go home." You'll
feel the same way. Just when you think this film can't possibly get any more
scrambled or make any less sense, it does.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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57. Neale Donald Walsch's 'Conversations with God' books continue to create a
stir
Star-Telegram, Jan. 12, 2000
http://www.star-telegram.com/news/doc/1047/1:RELIGION41/1:RELIGION410112100.html
(...) His "Conversations With God" trilogy has sold more than 3 million
copies, with 91 printings in 25 languages, since the first volume was
published in 1996.

His fourth book, "Friendship With God," published in October, is already a
New York Times best seller and the start of a second trilogy.
(...)

For his With God books, he has said, he simply wrote questions on a yellow
legal pad, then took down whatever came to mind, believing they were godly
answers. Whenever he felt confused, or thought the words weren't from God, he
put the pen down for awhile, until he felt inspired again. He compares the
process to transcribing or taking dictation.
(...)

Q. Do these books make a Bible more reliable than the Bible itself?

A. No, the trilogy states that there is no reliability to this material. It
is my best human effort to bring through the messages of the deity.

But it's probably riddled with error. To take it literally would be the
biggest mistake. To be inspired by the contents to seek your own truth would
be the biggest gift.

Q. In reading the first "Conversations with God," I recognized much from
James Redfield, Marianne Williamson, Wayne Dyer and other authors. I could
imagine some people saying you simply adapted their materials, then added
your own.

A. They're right. Marianne and James Redfield got it from God, too. It's not
unusual that we say the same thing. And I wouldn't be surprised if some
priest said, "Hell, that's what I told him in a sermon as a boy." God made it
clear that he has been teaching me all along.
(...)

Q. Are we all gods? Or all part of God? Or are we all collectively God?

A. Yes, to all of the above.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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58. Writer's books bring New Age into focus
St. Petersburg Times, Jan. 15, 2000
http://www.sptimes.com/News/011500/NorthPinellas/Writer_s_books_bring_.shtml
(...) The author's success is easily explained, Rowbotham believes. Redfield,
he said, has taken the sometimes esoteric metaphysical principles of what
generally is described as New Age thought and incorporated them into a highly
readable format.
(...)

Redfield's latest work is the third in a four-part adventure series that
reflects what the author describes as a worldwide spiritual rebirth.

"I really believe that there's a very quiet spiritual renaissance happening
in the world," Redfield said in a telephone interview from his Alabama home
this week. "It is very global, but it is particularly happening in the
United States," he said. "It certainly crosses all different religious
traditions. It is happening within every church."
(...)

There are several forces working in Redfield's favor, deChant said. "Since
probably from the 1950s on, we have seen a growth in what can be termed
alternative religion and alternative spirituality that stress the idea that
life is a spiritual journey and a quest for the inner realization of
divinity, the sacred," said deChant, an expert in contemporary and New Age
religions.

"This impulse, if you will, that has been growing in Western culture and
especially the United States, has also taken institutional embodiments," he
said, mentioning for example the Church Universal and Triumphant, the
Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness, the Forum and Astara.

But books like The Celestine Prophecy appeal to mainstream readers as well,
deChant said.
(...)

The Secret of Shambhala, Redfield said, seeks "to describe an 11th insight
that we're having out there . . . that is, that this power that has always
been described as positive thinking or prayer is a very broad and deep
ability that humans can discover and develop within themselves. This ability
gives us a stronger creative power in our world." The kind of prayer of
which he speaks extends "beyond the traditional, reverent asking," even
though that type of prayer works, Redfield said.
(...)

The author is uncertain when the fourth in the Celestine series will be
published, but he is willing to give a hint of what the next volume will
cover. "I'm trying to describe shifts in spiritual awareness that are
already happening. I think the 12th insight is emerging out there. . . . I
think it's about using this prayer power in building communities based on
this level of spiritual knowledge."
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== The Believers Around The Corner

59. Virgin reveals herself in spilled ice cream, faithful say
Star-Telegram/AP, Jan. 14, 2000
[URL removed because it currently refers to inappropriate content]/news/doc/1047/1:STATE58/1:STATE580114100.html
They've come from far and wide, clutching rosaries and cameras, jostling to
peer through the afternoon heat at an improbable shrine on the cement floor
of a Houston apartment complex.

In the midst of wilting roses, candles and crosses, they say, the Virgin of
Guadalupe reveals herself to the faithful in an amorphous stain of melted ice
cream.

To unfaithful eyes, the crusty smear looks about as earthshaking as, well, a
melted popsicle. But ecstatic believers swear they can discern the form of
the beloved Mexican idol.
(...)

The uproar began Monday, when residents picked out the brilliant robes of the
Mexican saint in the sticky swirls at the foot of a soda machine. Word
spread, and there have been 500 to 800 onlookers from as far away as Miami,
Seattle and Canada, Ms. Cervantes said. Some stay at the shrine all night
long, absorbed in meditation.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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