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Religion News Report

Religion News Report - Feb. 6, 2000 (Vol. 4, Issue 163)

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Religion News Report - Feb. 6, 2000 (Vol. 4, Issue 163)

=== Aum Shinrikyo / Aleph
1. Editor's note
2. Anti-Aum law searches begin
3. New powers used to search AUM sites
4. AUM members trying to defect need support

=== Waco / Branch Davidians
5. Mystery item incites debate
6. FBI plan not followed, Davidian lawyers say
7. Court urged to throw out 2 charges in Davidian suit
8. Attorneys for FBI sharpshooter at Davidian siege seek client's
dismissal from lawsuit
9. Attorney requests FBI agents be reinstated as defendants in
Davidian lawsuit
10. Rising from the ashes: Volunteers rebuilding Koresh chapel
11. McNulty, the FBI and the "Waco Syndrome"

=== Falun Gong
12. Falun Gong Members Arrested
13. Chinese Police Swarm Square As Falun Gong Protests

=== Karmapa
14. Fears for Karmapa's black hat
15. Lama's Escape Inflames Buddhist Rivalry

=== Scientology
16. Scientology loses court challenge to McPherson estate representative
17. Judge rejects Scientology arguments
18. Scientology: Attack on ARD film team
19. Violent attack on SWR TV team of the ARD in front of Scientologist
Gottfried Helnwein's house in the USA
20. The alleged good faith of the con man

=== Unification Church
21. Moonies aim to score with Brazilians
22. Moonies turn to football in Brazil's swamplands
23. Warmth on a cold night

=== Mormonism
24. 'God's Army' Shooting For New LDS Film Genre
25. Utah history always involves Mormonism

=== Hate Groups
26. In the Words of Joerg Haider

=== Nuwaubians
27. Up for sale: One Nuwaubian village
28. Nuwaubian land sale sparks little controversy

=== Other News
29. 'Queen' charged in new county
30. Will case shed light on Hearst kidnapping?
31. Woman says indictment is about her religion, not scam (Universal Life
32. Magic touch at graveside (Feng Shui)
33. Crown Health spends $20,000 on staff 'therapy' (Landmark Education)
34. Utah and its polygamists race against time to end abuses
35. Oklahoma attorney general rejects biology textbook disclaimer
36. Orthodoxy Regains Its 'Special Role'
37. Black Pentecostal leaders set trip to Vatican, hope to meet with pope
38. Pope criticised for Church errors apology
39. Magician tries to expose tears of blood trick

=== Near Death Experiences
40. Stress causes 'spirit to leave body' feeling
41. Out of body - not out of mind
42. Life after near death

=== UFOs
43. UFO lawsuit to get hearing
44. Portents from the heavens or just UFOs?

=== Noted
45. Followers say guru's breathing methods could curb violence (Ravi Shankar)
46. A healing touch to let the spirits flow (Reiki)
47. Priest spreads prayer's power ("manifestations")
48. A quest for truth: Unitarian Universalists appeal to seekers
49. Broadening church tradition pushes to personalize religion

=== Aum Shinrikyo / Aleph

1. Editor's note
Daily Yomiuri (Japan), Feb. 2, 2000
Effective immediately, The Daily Yomiuri will omit "Aleph"--the new name
adopted by Aum Supreme Truth--from the paper's reference to the cult.
Instead, the religious group will continue to be identified as Aum Supreme
Truth. This policy is in line with a recent decision by the Public Security
Examination Commission to place the cult under supervision for three years on
the grounds that "there is no reason to believe that the group will be able
to live up to 'drastic reforms' it has recently announced," including its new
[...entire item...]

2. Anti-Aum law searches begin
Asahi Daily News (Japan), Feb. 4, 2000
The Public Security Investigation Agency and police today conducted their
first inspections of Aum Shinrikyo facilities under a new law aimed at
controlling the cult's activities.

The five Aum facilities that were searched have been the scene of protests
from neighboring residents, according to the agency.

During the inspections, agency officials and police officers are permitted to
take photographs and examine account books and other documents. But they must
ask cult members for permission to open locked safes and cannot confiscate

Should the cult obstruct the inspections by refusing to open locked safes,
for example, the agency chief can instruct the commission to apply the law's
more serious provisions, including a ban on the use of Aum facilities by cult
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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3. New powers used to search AUM sites
Mainichi Daily News (Japan), Feb. 5, 2000
(...) Although police and public security officials were forbidden from
seizing materials found in the cult buildings they inspected in five
prefectures, AUM followers face up to a year in jail or maximum fine of
500,000 yen if they refuse to "voluntarily" accede to requests made by law

Top government officials justified the probes, saying that authorities are
merely trying to put at ease residents of areas inhabited by members of the
cult, which has admitted to dozens of crimes, including the 1995 lethal gas
attack on the Tokyo subway system.

On Thursday, police raided six AUM facilities in Nagano, Tokyo and Ibaraki
prefectures in connection with the abduction last month of Asahara's
7-year-old son. Police said six people, including two of Asahara's
daughters, abducted the boy on Jan. 21 from a facility in Asahi, Ibaraki

Police have obtained arrest warrants for the two daughters, aged 18 and 16,
and another AUM member in connection with the abduction. Two other male cult
members have been arrested by Ibaraki police.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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4. AUM members trying to defect need support
Mainichi Daily News (Japan), Feb. 2, 2000
Lawyers representing victims of AUM Shinrikyo crimes urged the government
Tuesday to set up a structure to support followers of the cult trying to
return to normal society, arguing that just putting the cult under legal
surveillance would resolve little and dangerously isolate its members.
The decision to put the cult, now calling itself Aleph, under constant
scrutiny for three years was made official on Tuesday, and security
authorities hoped that more AUM followers would leave the cult because of

However, there is no organization in place to accept defecting followers and
help them readjust to society. The government task force tackling AUM
decided last December to set up a panel to study the best way to help people
out of religious "mind-control" and establish consultations with legal
authorities to help cult members who decided to leave.

Taro Takimoto, a member of the group of lawyers representing victims of AUM
crimes, does not believe those measures will have the desired result.

He is also critical of the Public Security Investigation Agency, which
blatantly keeps track of former AUM members. Many former cult followers were
forced out of their jobs after their past became public knowledge after the
agency's investigations.

The cult may also be trying to "enclose" its members to prevent them from
leaving. "It is becoming increasingly difficult to know the whereabouts of
our children since the cult began to close its facilities and disperse," said
Hiroyuki Nagaoka, 61, leader of a group whose family members are AUM
followers. The group onsisted of 126 families, offspring of which are AUM
members. "We've tried to establish a dialogue with the cult, but we received
no reply," Nagaoka said.

A Buddhist temple in the Chubu region has already accepted over 60 former AUM
followers to help them to readjust to the outside world.

The priest did not reveal exactly how he helped the former members, but said
he used Buddhist teachings to make them open their minds.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Waco / Branch Davidians

5. Mystery item incites debate
San Antonio Express-News, Feb. 3, 2000
[Branch Davidians]
Volunteers rebuilding David Koresh's chapel at Mount Carmel claim to have
found a device that could solve the mystery of Mount Carmel's fiery end: an
incendiary or fire-starting device, allegedly fired by government agents into
the complex during the 1993 siege.

Their finding, announced via Web page, would signal the end of a search for
the conspiracist's Holy Grail, if proven true. But the new device doesn't
measure up.

Though the search for a fire-starting device has produced at least three
promising objects, the plaintiffs' charges have yet to be confirmed. Last
summer, Colorado filmmaker Michael McNulty, one of the figures behind the
Emmy-award-winning documentary, "Waco: The Rules of Engagement," claimed to
have found the mystery devices.

In mid-January, while rebuilding the Mount Carmel church, volunteers found a
burned-out artifact that they took to be the remains of an incendiary device,
an illumination round, or maybe, a flash-bang grenade. They promptly posted a
photo on the group's site, "rebuildthechurch.com," identifying the object as
a "pyrotechnic grenade recently unearthed during clean up."

Last week, a technical adviser for the Eveready Battery Co. told the San
Antonio Express-News that APC is a code on its products, denoting "a
contractor that we used for subassembly." The wadding found with the alleged
incendiary includes a small strip of cloth—like the cloth strips that are
used to envelop the electrolytes in batteries today. The new incendiary
device, like others that critics of the government have found in Mount
Carmel's ruins, is as harmless as light.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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6. FBI plan not followed, Davidian lawyers say
Dallas Morning News, Feb. 3, 2000
The FBI's two lead Waco commanders violated a Washington-approved plan by
ordering tanks to begin demolishing the Branch Davidian compound in 1993, and
thus should be liable for the horrific tragedy that ensued, the sect's
lawyers argued Wednesday.

Their Wednesday plea in a Waco federal court lays out a detailed case for how
FBI commanders Jeffrey Jamar and Richard Rogers within hours diverted from
the plan authorized by top FBI officials and approved by Attorney General
Janet Reno. That written plan allowed for demolition of the sect's embattled
building only after tear gas had been sprayed into it for 48 hours, but FBI
tanks began demolishing the rear of the building less than five hours after
the gassing began.

The plaintiff's pleading came one day after the Justice Department argued
that legal limits on lawsuits against federal agencies and officials should
prevent the Branch Davidians from putting the government on trial for its
handling of the 1993 gassing operation, including its use of tanks. The
government argued that federal law prohibits using lawsuits to "second-guess"
the judgment calls of federal officials, even if those decisions have tragic

The motions from both sides come as Judge Smith prepares to make final
decisions about the size and scope of the sect's wrongful-death case.

He has set a trial for mid-May on three major questions: Did federal agents
use excessive force in the raid that began the 1993 standoff, a botched
operation that disintegrated into a gunbattle that left four agents and
several sect members dead? Did federal agents shoot at the Branch Davidians
and prevent their escape when the compound caught fire during the FBI's gas
assault? And was the FBI negligent in failing to prepare for the threat of a
fire and for refusing to let local firetrucks approach when a fire did erupt?
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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7. Court urged to throw out 2 charges in Davidian suit
Dallas Morning News, Feb. 2, 2000
Arguing that the U.S. government can't be sued even if its agents' judgment
calls prove negligent, Justice Department lawyers asked a Waco federal judge
Tuesday to throw out two key charges in the Branch Davidians' wrongful-death

If successful, the bid would leave only two major issues for trial: Did
federal agents use excessive force when they shot at sect members during the
raid that began the standoff near Waco? And did agents fire again, trapping
Branch Davidians inside their burning building, as the siege came to an end?

The federal law limits how and when citizens can sue the government, broadly
restricting actions against federal agencies and employees.

Despite those restrictions, U.S. District Judge Walter Smith ruled in July
that the case could go to trial on several allegations: the sect's charges of
excessive force in the Feb. 28, 1993, raid by the Federal Bureau of Alcohol,
Tobacco and Firearms and negligent or deadly conduct by the FBI during the
tear-gas assault and final fire.

Government lawyers argued Tuesday that most of the FBI's actions during the
April 19, 1993, tear-gas assault are immune because they involve judgment
calls protected under a legal doctrine known as the "discretionary function."
Even if the FBI "abused its discretion," Branch Davidians can't put the
government on trial, the lawyers argued.

Officials cite a government arson investigation that ruled that sect members
set the fires, and recordings from government bugs that captured voices of
sect members discussing their preparations to torch their building.

Graeme Craddock, an Australian serving 20 years for convictions arising from
the standoff, recounted in a December deposition that he saw and heard other
sect members talking about pouring fuel. Drawn by shouts of "Wait, wait.
Not inside. Outside," he said, he saw another sect member with a fuel can.
"It looked to me like they were pouring fuel on the floor." "It was a few
minutes later I heard a call from upstairs . . . 'The building's on fire,"
Mr. Craddock said. He added that he looked out the window for smoke and then
heard the same voice. "He said this time, 'Light the fire.' "

The fires broke out just after FBI tanks demolished the entire rear area of
the building and then drove deep into the structure.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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8. Attorneys for FBI sharpshooter at Davidian siege seek client's dismissal
from lawsuit
Waco Tribune-Herald, Feb. 2, 2000
Attorneys for FBI sharpshooter Lon Horiuchi, the lone individual defendant in
wrongful-death lawsuit filed by surviving Branch Davidians against the
government, asked U.S. District Judge Walter S. Smith Jr. of Waco Wednesday
to dismiss him from the suit.

The motion, filed by Department of Justice attorneys, argues there is no
evidence that Horiuchi — who in 1992 shot and killed the wife of Randy Weaver
at Ruby Ridge — fired a shot at Mount Carmel on the day of the fire that led
to the deaths of David Koresh and 75 followers.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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9. Attorney requests FBI agents be reinstated as defendants in Davidian
Waco Tribune-Herald, Feb. 1, 2000
Former U.S. attorney general Ramsey Clark filed a motion Tuesday asking that
Jeffrey Jamar and Richard Rogers be reinstated as defendants in the Branch
Davidians' wrongful-death lawsuit against the government.

In his motion, Ramsey told U.S. District Judge Walter S. Smith Jr. of Waco
that discovery in the case had given added weight to the infrared videotapes
that captured activity on the back of Mount Carmel on April 19, 1993.

Ramsey said Jamar and Rogers would have known about any shots fired at Mount
Carmel by FBI agents.

"Under the circumstances, the gunfire, if it occurred, was known to and
ordered by Rogers and Jamar and was clearly an excessive use of force and
almost surely a violation of plaintiffs' constitutional rights," Ramsey
wrote. "As the court noted in its July 1, 1999 opinion ... as to the expert
reports of Dr. (Edward) Allard and others, if such ... allegations are true,
due process would be implicated as such process would rise to a level that
would shock the conscience."

A spokesman for Houston attorney Mike Caddell, who represents the majority of
the plaintiffs, said Caddell is considering filing a similar motion.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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10. Rising from the ashes: Volunteers rebuilding Koresh chapel
San Antonio Express-News, Feb. 3, 2000
(...) The New England mason came a long way to rent a motel room and swing a
hammer at Mount Carmel, but he is in many ways typical of the mostly
Austin-based group that has gathered around the Web page,
"rebuildthechurch.comOff-site Link."

They are people of various callings and religious backgrounds whose common
bond is the belief government actions were responsible for setting the old
Mount Carmel ablaze.

On Sundays since late September, the volunteers — as many as 150 in the early
weeks of the project to as few as two dozen on Super Bowl day — have raised a
new building where the Davidian chapel once stood.

Chalox and Wooley, as were most of the project's donors and volunteers, were
drawn to the effort through its Web page and appeals by Austinite Alex Jones,
a video producer and talk show host whose program is heard on 38 radio
stations, from Texas to New York to Illinois.

Jones, 26, is a burgeoning figure on the radio scene, part hyperbole like
Rush Limbaugh, part activist like filmmaker Michael Moore, and part
gun-rights agitator. He produced a video in 1998 about Waco whose key line
was, "Those babies did not deserve to be murdered by the black ski mask

For his latest video, "Police State 2000," Jones interviewed San Antonio
Police Chief Al Philippus about the chief's 1998 refusal to cooperate with
the shadowy Delta Force, which wanted to stage urban warfare drills in the
Alamo City.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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11. McNulty, the FBI and the "Waco Syndrome"
NewsMax, Feb. 3, 2000
Mike McNulty, the intrepid film producer and journalist, tells NewsMax.com
that the FBI may be carefully tracking journalists and others who have taken
an interest in the Waco story.

Apparently the FBI is not too happy with McNulty. Last year, FBI agents
showed up at the home of McNulty's children, claiming they were doing a
background check on one of their neighbors. McNulty saw this as a subtle form
of harassment and let it be known to the FBI he didn't like the attention.

Journalists who get involved in the Waco story report similar problems with
their communications to McNulty. "Telephone lines, fax machines, answering
machines start doing strange things," McNulty said, as he described what
journalists have repeatedly told him. The phenomena happens so often that
he calls the problems "the Waco Syndrome."
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Falun Gong

12. Falun Gong Members Arrested
AOL/Reuters, Feb. 5, 2000
Chinese police tightened security at Tiananmen Square today, after beating
and detaining at least 50 members of the banned Falun Gong sect who staged a
protest timed for the start of the Lunar New Year.

The clashes began at midnight's turn to the New Year, as dozens of Falun Gong
members converged on the square under a sky crackling with holiday fireworks.
Many of the protesters pulled out red banners, and about two dozen sat
cross-legged in one of the group's typical meditation poses.

Police immediately rushed in, kicking, punching and dragging protesters away.
At least two men were knocked down, their legs kicked out from under them.
Within 25 minutes, police had stopped the protests and shut down the square.

Those detained in the midnight protest included followers from Australia and
the United States, and all were taken by bus to a detention center in the
countryside to the north of the city, protest organizer Hannah Li said in a
faxed statement.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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13. Chinese Police Swarm Square As Falun Gong Protests
AOL/Reuters, Feb. 5, 2000
Defiant members of the Falun Gong spiritual movement kept up protests in
Tiananmen Square on Saturday after the banned group marked the Year of the
Dragon with one of its biggest demonstrations on the vast plaza.

Police who have spent the past year trying to snuff out the group's repeated
protests seemed astonished and bewildered by the scale of the demonstration
on lunar New Year's Eve.

Despite the beatings, Falun Gong members kept up chants of ''Falun Dafa'' --
''Great Law of the Wheel'' -- even inside the detention center, the witnesses

The demonstration is the latest evidence that a nationwide crackdown has
failed to crush members' allegiance to the group which China's Communist
leaders banned in July last year and labeled an ''evil cult'' in October.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Karmapa

14. Fears for Karmapa's black hat
BBC News, Feb. 4, 2000
Buddhist monks in the north Indian state of Sikkim have called for an
independent commission to ensure that artefacts belonging to the Tibetan
monk, the Karmapa Lama, are still intact.

The monks say there is a danger that the famous black hat, traditionally worn
by the Karmapa Lama as a ceremonial crown, and other belongings, have either
been removed from or destroyed in the monastery where they are kept.

The case reflects the divisions among the five million followers of the Kagyu
Buddhist sect as to who their next leader should be, following the arrival in
India of the boy-lama, Urgyen Thinley.

The dramatic arrival last month of Urgyen Thinley into India from Tibet has
brought the differences among the Kagyu sect into the open. They disagree as
to whether he or another teenager in exile in India, Thaye Dorje, should be
the next Karmapa Lama.

Whoever is appointed to the position will not only wear the famous black hat,
but will also lead one of the most influential sects within Tibetan Buddhism.
The Kagyu sect has followers across the world and assets worth millions of
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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* Sidebar:

The Karmapa's artefacts
- Black hat
- Human skulls encased in silver
- Crystal balls

15. Lama's Escape Inflames Buddhist Rivalry
New York Times, Feb. 3, 2000
(...) Ancient texts describe the fifth Karmapa as a conjurer of miracles,
able to light the clouds with iridescent colors and summon flowers to fall
from the sky. But his many teachings, while a source of soothing wisdom, also
included a dark prophecy: centuries in the distance, during the time of his
own 16th and 17th incarnations, the demonic power of "perverse aspirations"
would bring the entire Karmapa lineage close to destruction.

This vision seems to have been eerily prescient, for now, as the world enters
the Tibetan year of the male iron dragon, there is not one claimant to the
title of Karmapa but two, both of them teenage boys whose mentors find the
aspirations of the other wickedly perverse.

The Karmapa is usually considered the third most revered figure in Tibetan
Buddhism, after the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama, and the newly arrived
boy had the unusual distinction of having been endorsed as the 17th
incarnation by both the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government.

But there has been significantly less joy in New Delhi, home to a rival
faction that insists it is the one with the genuine Karmapa. Shamar Rinpoche,
a high lama also known as the Shamarpa, has been championing this second
contender since 1994.

Such intrigue is hardly uncommon to the Buddhism of Tibet, which, before the
Chinese occupation in the 1950's, was a theocratic state where spiritual
passions often bumped up against worldly ambitions. The highest lamas are
believed to be so spiritually advanced that while their physical form may
perish, their superior consciousness lives on in other bodies and can be
recognized. Rival disciples sometimes disagree about which child has become
the new vessel.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Scientology

16. Scientology loses court challenge to McPherson estate representative
Tampa Tribune, Feb. 4, 2000
A judge has rejected a challenge from the Church of Scientology that could
have derailed a civil lawsuit stemming from the death of member Lisa
. The church has no legal standing to interfere with the
administration of McPherson's estate, Pasco-Pinellas Circuit Judge George
Greer ruled Thursday.

Greer did not take up the issue of whether documents in the estate case were
forged. That allegation became moot once he decided that Scientology had no
right to challenge the legitimacy of the estate's court-approved

McPherson died in December 1995 after 17 days in isolation at the church's
spiritual headquarters, the Fort Harrison Hotel in downtown Clearwater. Then
the estate case file was opened in Pinellas Circuit Court.

After taking over as representative of Lisa's estate, Liebreich sued the
Church of Scientology on behalf of the estate in Hillsborough Circuit Court.
The wrongful death lawsuit seeks unspecified damages, but at one point the
McPherson family responded to a $25,000 settlement offer from the church by
demanding $80 million.

Meantime, in late 1998, the Pasco-Pinellas State Attorney's Office charged
the church's Flag Service Organization with one count each of abuse of a
disabled adult and practicing medicine without a license in connection with
McPherson's death.

The church has responded on all fronts with teams of lawyers and reams of
legal filings.

In the case ruled on Thursday, Greer was asked to remove Liebreich as
representative of the estate. Had he done so, the estate's lawsuit in
Hillsborough Circuit Court might have been jeopardized.

Ken Dandar, the Tampa lawyer handling the estate and its lawsuit, said
Thursday that the battle in probate court was nothing more than a church
tactic designed to use up his time and distract him from pursuing the
Hillsborough case.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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17. Judge rejects Scientology arguments
St. Petersburg Times, Feb. 4, 2000
The Church of Scientology said it was being sued by people who had gone too
far. It said a 70-year-old woman from Texas had allowed the lawsuit over the
death of her niece, Lisa McPherson, to be "hijacked" by church critics bent
on destroying Scientology.

It asked a Pinellas probate judge to remove the aunt as head of McPherson's
estate, which brought the death suit. It said the aunt engaged in fraud, and
it urged the judge to replace her with someone with no ill will toward

But Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge George W. Greer rejected those arguments
Thursday, ruling that Scientology has no legal interest in the estate of Lisa
, the Scientologist who died in 1995 while under the care of church
staffers in from Clearwater.

In a written order, Greer said he found no evidence that the aunt, Dell
Liebreich of Yantis, Texas, had acted against the interests of the estate. He
noted that the estate's beneficiaries, who also are relatives of McPherson,
had no objections to Liebreich.

Under state law, only an "interested person" has standing to contest the
administration of a probate case. The law defines such a person as anyone who
"may reasonably expect to be affected by the outcome of the particular
proceeding involved."

The church said it was affected because Liebreich, as head of the estate, had
filed a wrongful death suit against Scientology and improperly delegated that
suit to Robert S. Minton, a New England millionaire. Minton recently opened
an office in Clearwater and says he has spent more than $3-million on a
crusade to reform Scientology.

Tampa lawyer Ken Dandar, who represents the estate, said of Greer's ruling:
"It shows that the actions of Scientology are so desperate because of the
overwhelming evidence of their causing the death of Lisa McPherson."

Mike Rinder, a top Scientology official, said the church now will pin its
hopes on the state attorney's office, which has been asked by the church to
consider a felony charge of fraud against Liebreich.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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18. Scientology: Attack on ARD film team
Mittelbayrische Zeitung/dpa (Germany), Feb. 4, 2000
Translation: CISAR
(...) As "Suedwestrundfunk" (SWR) broadcasting reported yesterday in Mainz,
camera man Mark Bunker was hit twice during the incident and his camera was
damaged. He himself was said to be unharmed. According to the broadcast
statement, the report team was researching the Scientology background of the
artist before the next Helnwein proceeding at the Frankfurt Superior State
Court. Helnwein was said to have been staying in the vicinity of the
Scientology Center in Clearwater. The renowned painter had been described as
a Scientologist by two associations critical of Scientology in 1994. Among
other things, they accused him of being a "clergyman" of a group "which uses
coercive hypnotic procedures with the help of a lie detector to destroy
people's psyches to control them.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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19. Violent attack on SWR TV team of the ARD in front of Scientologist
Gottfried Helnwein's house in the USA
Peter Reichelt (Germany), Feb. 3, 2000
A dramatic incident occurred while filming an ARD show in REPORT about
Scientologist Gottfried Helnwein on February 1, 2000 in front of his villa in
Clearwater. Reporters Hans Michael Kassel, Peter Reichelt and their American
camera man, Mark Bunker, were violently ambushed by a man who suddenly
stormed out of Helnwein's villa, without warning, with a hammer in one hand
and a knife-like object in the other. Even though Mark Bunker tried to block
the blows, he was still hit repeatedly with the hammer. The hammer attack was
filmed by Bunker and Reichelt as much as was possible. As a result of the
hammer attack, Mark Bunker suffered from shock and his camera was damaged,
but by a miracle, he was unhurt.

Scientology secret police chief Michael Rinder, who appeared in Clearwater
shortly after the attack, expressed his regrets about the attack on the
German television team in a midday interview with US television NBC channel 8
reporter Mark Douglas. He disputed that the hammer man, Bernard, was a member
of the Scientology organization. According to the NBC reporter, Rinder had a
lengthy discussion with Helnwein in his house about the incident. Rinder also
disputed Helnwein being a member of Scientology's business management, but
explicitly confirmed that Gottfried Helnwein was a long-term, active member
of the Scientology organization, and was just staying in Clearwater for the
purpose of "religious activities."

Up-to-date information on this case can be found on the internet at:
[...entire item...]

20. The alleged good faith of the con man
Neue Zuercher Zeitung (Switzerland), Feb. 3, 2000
Translation: CISAR
Zurich district court has sentenced a 55-year-old businessman, who juggled
business investments around on American banks which existed only on paper, to
2 years and 9 months imprisonment.

The motive for the crime, according to the judgment, was the "extremely
stressful situation" the accused was experiencing after he had a terrible
business failure and himself was the victim of fraud; he had also expended
much capital to gain the higher ranks of the Scientologists.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Unification Church

21. Moonies aim to score with Brazilians
BBC, Feb. 3, 2000
The head of South Korea's Unification Church, Reverend Sun Myung Moon, has
decided to set up his own professional football team in Brazil.

Over the past five years, he has spent $30m on a closed religious community
on the edge of the Pantanal swampland. He is also trying to attract
international funding for programmes designed to protect the local
environment and, finding himself in the country which has won the World Cup
four times, he has been unable to resist the temptation to move into football
as well.

The team is called "New Hope", the same name as the religious community, and
assuming it wins approval from the football authorities, it appears to stand
a reasonable chance of success.

Followers of the millionaire religious leader say he has talked about
building a giant stadium in the New Hope community which could be used for
football and for his famous mass weddings.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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22. Moonies turn to football in Brazil's swamplands
The Times (England), Feb. 4, 2000
(...) His aim is to boost the following of his controversial religious sect
in Brazil. Faced with growing rejection in South Korea and tax evasion
problems in the United States, where his sect has been based, the 80-year-old
Mr Moon has in the past two years focused on building his utopian vision of
"heaven on earth" on the edges of the Pantanal swamps in the southwest of the

He has already spent $30 million (almost £20 million) on a 100,000-acre ranch
for his Moonie sect, formally known as the Unification Church, in a
cattle-ranching area. Thousands of devotees, mainly from Japan, South Korea,
the US and Spain, live on his New Hope Ranch working on turning a deforested,
unfertile plain into arable land and a breeding ground for ostriches and rare

Wearing wide-brimmed straw hats, they brave long afternoons by
mosquito-infested muddy rivers to create a Garden of Eden dreamed up by their
messianic leader.

23. Warmth on a cold night
Washington Times, Feb. 4, 2000
[Note: Source is a Moonie-owened entity]
Faith, family, freedom and community service were the shared values that
brought more than 300 persons together at The Washington Times Foundation's
American Century Awards on Wednesday night.

"You look younger," a congratulatory Alexander Haig exclaimed as he greeted
Rev. Sun Myung Moon and his wife, Hak Ja Han Moon, in the receiving line at
the Cannon House Office Building Caucus Room.

Among the other VIPs in the crowd were former British Prime Minister Edward
Heath. Mr. Heath expressed delight at the proceedings as he surveyed a room
sprinkled with more than 60 persons honored for outstanding achievements in
advancing the cause of freedom; pioneering faith-based services for the good
of the community, state or nation; encouraging and protecting the traditional
family or encouraging community-building and racial harmony.

For those who didn't receive prizes, there was time to talk about politics
with other guests: Sens. Strom Thurmond and Orrin G. Hatch, Chinese dissident
Harry Wu and members of the House of Representatives (led by Speaker of the
House J. Dennis Hastert), including Reps. Henry J. Hyde, Floyd D. Spence,
John Thune, Christopher Cox, Gil Gutknecht, Anne M. Northrup, Tom Tancredo
and Dennis J. Kucinich.

The number of guests from Capitol Hill was impressive because many members of
Congress were across town at the annual dinner of the Washington Press Club

Special recognition awards also went to Charles and Frances Ballard,
co-founders of the responsible fatherhood movement in America; the Rev. Jerry
Falwell, chancellor of Liberty University, for his religious work; Sen.
Thurmond, the senior member of the Senate; Mr. Weinberger, for his
distinguished career of public service; and Robert Woodson, founder of the
National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise.

The Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award for Freedom, Faith and Family
went to Rev. Moon. "I have lived my entire life with the earnest desire to
solve the many problems related to manifesting God's ideal of creation," Rev.
Moon said. "When I came to America in 1972, I saw that this country was
facing a severe crisis that affected the world. On my first evangelical tour
of all 50 states, I declared that America must take responsibility to solve
God's three major headaches: the threat of communism, the lack of cooperation
among religious people against evil, and the moral crisis afflicting youth.
Our responsibility as human beings requires that we meet God halfway and
fulfill what God has asked us to do in the areas of freedom, faith and
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top

* Related item:
St. Charles Shelter Turns Down Award

See also:
What's wrong with this picture?
The financial friendship between Jerry Falwell and Sun Myung Moon

=== Mormonism

24. 'God's Army' Shooting For New LDS Film Genre
Salt Lake Tribune, Feb. 5, 2000
(...) "God's Army," which Dutcher wrote, directed and stars in, is the first
feature film about contemporary life among Mormon missionaries.

"As soon as the audience realizes it's about Mormon missionaries, people go
completely silent and stare at the screen," Dutcher said this week. "They
don't know what to think of it. They're afraid it's going to be anti-Mormon
or just a bad seminary film."

No wonder. "God's Army," with excellent production values and snappy
dialogue, is a departure from traditional fare where Mormons are almost
invisible or at the most, the object of scorn or spoof (as in Trey Parker's

"I've always been irritated by the way Mormons are portrayed in the movies,"
Dutcher said. "So negatively and one-dimensionally, if at all. We never see
real, true, flesh and blood Mormon people in a film."

Dutcher hopes "God's Army" will help launch a whole new genre of films, aimed
primarily at members of the nearly 11-million member Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-day Saints.

Eventually, he hopes to show the film throughout Latin America, parts of
which have high concentration of Latter-day Saints.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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25. Utah history always involves Mormonism
Standard-Examiner, Feb. 5, 2000
Mike Barton's seventh grade Utah history class recently studied the Mountain
Meadows Massacre.

Barton said teaching about the event, like just about every other event in
Utah history, forces religion into the classroom. But teaching "about
religion" and its role in history is permissible, Barton said.

The Supreme Court in 1948, based on the case McCollum vs. the Board of
Education in Illinois, prohibited the teaching of religious courses in public
schools, but does not prohibit the teaching about religion.

But Diane Grisby of Syracuse thinks sometimes even teaching about religion is
too much. She said her seventh grader, a black student, does not talk much
about what she is learning in her Utah history class. But Grisby, who grew up
in Utah, knows her daughter is getting a heavy dose of Mormon history.

Clara Bigler, who recently retired from North Layton Junior High, said she
would tell students just because they talked about the Mormons didn't mean
she was trying to convert them.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Hate Groups

26. In the Words of Joerg Haider
International Herald Tribune/Reuters, Feb. 1, 2000
[Hate groups / Neo-Nazis]
The leader of the Freedom Party, Joerg Haider, has caused controversy
repeatedly with remarks appearing to play down the crimes of the Nazis, who
made Austria part of the Third Reich in 1938. Some of his comments:
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Nuwaubians

27. Up for sale: One Nuwaubian village
Macon Telegraph, Feb. 3, 2000
The United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors has put its 476-acre village in Putnam
County on the market.

The Nuwaubians have erected two pyramids, a sphinx, numerous Egyptian-style
statutes, manufactured homes and other structures on the property since
moving from New York to Eatonton in 1993.

The Nuwaubians and Putnam County officials have been at odds since 1998 about
zoning and building permit issues.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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28. Nuwaubian land sale sparks little controversy
Macon Telegraph, Feb. 4, 2000
(...) In fact, most people didn't care one way or another that the United
Nuwaubian Nation of Moors
has put a hand-painted sign on the front gate of
its 476-acre village offering "Land for sale."

Woodall said the property's nine owners are not ready to make any public
comment about their decision to put the land on the market. And he said a
price for the property has not been disclosed .

Malachi York, the founder of the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors, bought the
property for $975,000 in 1993. The village has become home to about 150
members of the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors, and hundreds of other
Nuwaubians live in the surrounding communities of Eatonton and Milledgeville.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top

=== Other News

29. 'Queen' charged in new county
St. Petersburg Times, Feb. 3, 2000
Richell Denise Bradshaw now has been charged with benefiting from robberies
in Manatee County.

Just like in the other robberies, "Queen Shahmia" is believed to have ordered
three of her manservants to rob a grocery store and three restaurants in
Manatee County the week after Christmas.

On Wednesday, Manatee detectives charged the queen, whose real name is
Richell Denise Bradshaw, with four counts of being a principal to a robbery,
meaning she knew about the crimes and benefited from them.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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30. Will case shed light on Hearst kidnapping?
Deseret News, Feb. 5, 2000
Lawyers in a California conspiracy and attempted murder case are trying to
introduce testimony that may shed new light on the kidnapping of newspaper
heiress Patricia Hearst.

The testimony, the lawyers say, will indicate that Hearst planned her own
kidnapping and willingly collaborated with her captors, the Symbionese
Liberation Army.

Lawyers for Sara Jane Olson — formerly known as Kathleen Ann Soliah — say
they want to introduce testimony from Jack Scott, a former sports writer and
a sympathizer with the radical movements of the 1970s.

Scott told the FBI that Hearst said she had arranged her own 1974 kidnapping
as a way of breaking up with her fiancee, Steven Weed, without having to
admit to her parents, who opposed the relationship, that they had been right
in their judgment of the man.

The story of Hearst's kidnapping centered on her alleged "brainwashing" by
her captors.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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31. Woman says indictment is about her religion, not scam
Minneapolis Star Tribune, Feb. 4, 2000
Merna Jean Sunde doesn't want to talk about any of "this government garbage"
about hexes and spells and scams allegedly operated from her house in Albert
Lea, Minn.

But in a federal indictment unsealed Wednesday, Sunde, 65, was accused of
working with a 36-year-old Mankato man to bilk more than 100 people out of at
least $310,000.

Sunde prefers to be addressed as "reverend" and said she is an ordained
minister in the Universal Life Church of Modesto, Calif., which "will ordain
anyone for the asking," according to its Internet site.

The Universal Life Church said it ordained the Rev. Merna J. Artz Martin in
1977. The federal indictment said Sunde also has been known as Carol Martin,
the Rev. M. Artz, Azia, Unique and Aaron.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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32. Magic touch at graveside
Sydney Morning Herald, Feb. 5, 2000
Two of the main candidates in Taiwan's presidential election next month have
become embroiled in a row about their fathers' graves, in which intriguing
overtones of magic have surfaced. The Taiwanese media have been fascinated
by an attempt to destroy the feng shui, or "favourable atmosphere",
surrounding a family tomb of one political aspirant, and transfer it to

Mr Li says he detected a black miasma, an unwholesome or foreboding
atmosphere, emanating from a tomb belonging to the family of Mr James Soong.
He is the breakaway Nationalist candidate who, despite some questionable
financial dealings, is more popular than Mr Lien among voters.

Mr Li says he dealt with the miasma by putting nine iron nails around the
tomb of Mr Soong's father. In Asia, iron is used in shamanistic folk magic to
repel evil influences.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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33. Crown Health spends $20,000 on staff 'therapy'
The Press (New Zealand), Feb. 1, 2000
A Crown health entity has spent more than $20,000 on a controversial brand of
self-help training that some liken to brainwashing. Thirty-eight staff from
Crown Public Health Ltd in Christchurch have done courses with the Landmark
in the last 12 months.

The New Age group therapy has been likened by one admirer to a cross between
scientology and Amway, and has taken a hold in the corporate sector as a form
of "leadership" training.

A sociologist said the forum appealed to people with social or confidence
problems. Participants were encouraged to deconstruct their personality in a
group setting. They were left "very open and vulnerable".

Landmark, a multi-million dollar outfit based in San Franciso, is run in more
than 20 countries and is based on the 1970s teachings of guru Werner Erhard.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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34. Utah and its polygamists race against time to end abuses
USA Today, Feb. 2, 2000
(...) Around this mountainous, snow-dusted wonderland, founded 153 years ago
by a revered Mormon and polygamist named Brigham Young, Allred, 86, who's
married to eight women between the ages of 68 and 97, is the granddaddy of
modern-day polygamy. He prefers calling it ''plural'' or ''celestial''
marriage. Makes a felony sound less damning.

In what some say is a rushed effort to polish Utah's image before the 2002
Winter Olympic Games here, state lawmakers are attempting to clean up a
thriving practice about which proponents and critics alike complain.
Polygamy, long ago popular for procreation among Old Testament prophets and
elders of the Mormon Church, is today described as a cesspool of spousal
abuse, sexual abuse, forced marriage, child neglect, and tax and welfare

This month, state Sen. Ron Allen, D-Stansbury Park, will reintroduce a bill
that would give the state attorney general's office $500,000 to ferret out
abuses and establish a telephone hotline and emergency shelter for women and
children who want out of polygamy.

Six years before Utah was granted statehood in 1896, the Mormon Church voted
to conform to U.S. law and forbid polygamy. Today, the Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-day Saints excommunicates members who remain loyal to its
fundamentalist roots and enter plural marriages -- usually in stealth
ceremonies and with no legal documents.

Polygamy was flourishing quietly in a climate increasingly tolerant of
diverse lifestyles when a sensational case of incest attracted national
attention two years ago.

David Ortell Kingston, a 33-year-old Salt Lake City accountant, was convicted
of incest and unlawful sexual conduct with his 16-year-old niece -- his 15th
wife. He was given the maximum sentence of up to 10 years in prison.

His older brother, John Daniel Kingston, pleaded no contest to child abuse
for belt-whipping his teenage daughter after she fled the marriage. He
received a 28-week sentence. The union had been blessed by the Kingstons'
Latter Day Church of God, an affluent Mormon splinter group with about 1,000

An investigation that year by The Salt Lake Tribune revealed several cases of
Kingston-sect leaders marrying half-sisters, first cousins, nieces and aunts
under the guise of religion.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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35. Oklahoma attorney general rejects biology textbook disclaimer
CNN/AP, Feb. 2, 2000
Olahoma's attorney general ruled Wednesday that a state committee had no
authority to require that biology textbooks carry a disclaimer saying
evolution is a "controversial theory."

The disclaimer approved by the committee for all new biology books stated
that evolution is a "controversial theory" that can refer "to the unproven
belief that random, undirected forces produced a world of living things." It
was unanimously adopted November 5.

Committee member John Dickmann, who introduced the disclaimer, has said it
was added because biology texts do not devote enough space to alternate
explanations of how life began.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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36. Orthodoxy Regains Its 'Special Role'
Russia Today/Norasco-Russia Journal, Feb. 2, 2000
(...) It has been a decade of extraordinary transformation and renewal for
the Orthodox Church in Russia, one that has seen it cast off the shackles of
Soviet suppression to achieve a degree of independence unknown throughout its
1,000 year history. Since 1990, 13,000 parishes have been re-established and
460 monasteries re-opened, about 20,000 clergy given official posts and 22
new seminaries established; 50 percent of Russia's population now declares
itself to be Orthodox, the largest congregation of any Eastern Christian

This burgeoning sense of self-confidence has coincided with the rise, within
church ranks, of a growing tendency toward anti-liberalism and an alarming
level of aggressive chauvinism toward other religions.

The most sinister consequence has been a controversial new law, pushed
through the Russian parliament in 1997, mostly as a result of Orthodox
support. Human rights groups claim it has triggered a "secret offensive" by
the state services against "nontraditional" religions in Russia, with tactics
from bureaucratic obstruction to alleged beatings.

In the first court case brought under the new law, Jehovah's Witnesses are
now being threatened in Moscow for "instigating religious enmity" by doing no
more than claiming to be the only true faith — and "causing family breakdown"
by demanding that believers make religious work their first priority.
Scientology has been regularly raided by the police; church members claim
staff have been physically attacked.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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37. Black Pentecostal leaders set trip to Vatican, hope to meet with pope
Chicago Tribune, Feb. 2, 2000
Black Pentecostal church leaders say that with the turn of the century, the
time has come to recover some of the ancient Christian traditions embodied in
the Roman Catholic Church, and they are going to the Vatican next week for
some first-hand study.

Bishop Larry Trotter, senior pastor of Sweet Holy Spirit Full Gospel Baptist
Church on Chicago's South Side, will lead a delegation of more than 50 black
Pentecostal church leaders from around the nation in an unusual pilgrimage
that he said could include a meeting with the pope.

It is the first such effort for the Joint College of African-American
Pentecostal Bishops, an interdenominational body formed in 1993 to promote
Christian unity and study church traditions. While the group does not include
representatives from the largest black Pentecostal denomination, the Church
of God in Christ, it does count leaders of 27 smaller denominations among its
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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38. Pope criticised for Church errors apology
The Times (England), Feb. 4, 2000
There was a growing backlash yesterday against the Pope's plans to issue a
"comprehensive apology" for the "past errors" of the Roman Catholic Church.
Senior churchmen questioned the Pope's intention to apologise for such
episodes as the Inquisition, the Crusades and treatment of the Jews. They
said that excessive penitence and self-questioning could undermine faith in
Christianity and its institutions.

But Mgr Alessandro Maggiolini, the Bishop of Como and a member of the Vatican
commission formulating a new Catechism, said that the Pope should be more
careful. "In whose name, exactly, is the Holy Father asking pardon?" Mgr
Maggiolini asked. "He is relying on a group of experts, but tomorrow another
group of experts might come up with quite different ideas."
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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* See also
Apologizers embark on sorry crusade

39. Magician tries to expose tears of blood trick
The Times (England), Feb. 3, 2000
Thousands of believers gathered near Rome yesterday in the hope of seeing a
statue of the Madonna cry tears of blood, five years after it was first seen
to "weep". But a magician acting on behalf of a group campaigning to expose
occult frauds staged a demonstration designed to show how tears of blood
could be faked.

He said he had aimed a red laser beam at the eyes of the statue from a
gallery high in the church, making the eyes appear to be weeping. A woman
praying in front of the statue fainted, he said. Yesterday he performed more
"tricks", including covering a statue with an acetone-based substance that
was activated when placed near ammonia.

The controversy goes back five years to when Jessica Gregori claimed to have
seen the statue's tears in the garden of her home in the rundown port of
Civitavecchia, 40 miles north of Rome on the Lazio coast. Her father, Fabio,
who had brought it from the shrine to the Virgin Mary at Medjugorje, told the
local priest that he also had seen the blood. "I wiped it with my
handkerchief, but it left no trace," he said at the time.

When an Italian consumer organisation complained that "gullible people" were
being hoaxed "in an atmosphere of hysteria" the statue was seized by police
and subjected to laboratory tests, which showed that the blood was "human and

Monsignor Girolamo Grillo, the local bishop, who held a mass before the
"weeping statue" yesterday, said: "If the blood is male it must be Christ's."
He said the tests had shown that the statue contained "no mechanism or
trickery". It was handed back to the local church, where it is kept behind
bulletproof glass. The Vatican has yet to decide whether the alleged miracle
is authentic.

Signor Pannunzio, who runs an "anti-religious fraud hotline" said that he was
not trying to undermine faith. "On the contrary, we are trying to show that
tricks like this devalue religion, making it look like a cheap form of
superstition." He said his organisation, founded six years ago, had examined
5,000 cases of "religious and occult fraud and extortion", 200 of which had
been taken up by police investigating extortion by fraudulent healers and
fortune tellers.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Near Death Experiences

40. Stress causes 'spirit to leave body' feeling
The Guardian, Feb. 4, 2000
Near-death experiences, when patients on the operating table or close to
drowning say they feel their spirit leaving their body, are caused by a
normal psychological response to an intensely stressful experience, according
to scientists.

This perceived foray into an unearthly realm is not a psychiatric illness,
say Bruce Greyson and colleagues from the university of Virginia in the US,
writing in this week's Lancet medical journal.

"The unrelated question of the personal meaning of NDEs, of whether they
permit a personal or mystical insight into the afterlife, is beyond the scope
of this study," they said.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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41. Out of body - not out of mind
BBC, Feb. 4, 2000
(...) NDEs occur when a patient has been brought back from the brink of
losing their life. Typical experiences that have been reported include the
sensation of leaving the body and looking down on it from above.

Another common experience is the sensation of travelling through a tunnel
towards a light source, or being enveloped by light. Many also report having
encountered deceased relatives.

Report author Dr Bruce Greyson, whose work is published in The Lancet medical
journal, said that other experiences reported by patients included:

- Accelerated thought processes
- A "life review"
- Intense feelings of peace and joy
- The feeling of being in an unearthly realm

He added that while most NDEs were viewed as a positive experience, some
people may develop emotional problems trying to make sense of what they had
experienced. Dr Greyson believes more research into this area could also
unlock the psychological secrets of mystic and transcendental experiences.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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42. Life after near death
BBC, Feb. 4, 2000
From the corner of the room, Christine Ellingham says she could see emergency
medical staff crowding around an unconscious body. They were desperately
trying to revive the woman, and to save her unborn baby. "I knew that it was
me lying on the table. But I was outside of my body, floating in the corner
of the room.

Professor Paul Badham of Lampeter University - who studies the philosophical
implications of near death experiences - said that despite media hype, the
phenomenon is quite rare. However, he says the reports of people who have
had near death experiences tend to contain similar elements.

"It is very common for people to report going out of their body and looking
down on their body," he said "Going through a tunnel is also a common
experience, as is being surrounded by light. The meeting of deceased
relatives or friends is also commonly reported.

"People will also say that they feel they are in the presence of a spiritual
reality. A Christian may interpret this as Jesus. One atheist who had an out
of body experience said that he later realised that this presence was
responsible for the governance of the universe."

Prof Badham said that the numbers of people experiencing the phenomena are
rising, as medicine improves and pulls more people back from the brink.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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* Links includes:

Virginia Health System, personality studies
http://hsc.virginia.edu/personality-studiesOff-site Link

The Lancet
http://www.thelancet.com/Off-site Link

=== UFOs

43. UFO lawsuit to get hearing
Arizona Republic, Feb. 4, 2000
The UFO, triangular and big as a football field, flies so low that the
Department of Defense surely must know about it, Scottsdale lawyer Peter
Gersten suspects.

Gersten will have his day in court Monday when a federal judge in Phoenix is
to hear motions in a lawsuit he filed seeking any public documents about the
suspected UFO, which was reported over the Valley three years ago and in
Illinois just last month.

Gersten, 57, executive director of Citizens Against UFO Secrecy, filed the
suit Jan. 22, 1999, under the Freedom of Information Act.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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44. Portents from the heavens or just UFOs?
The Age (Australia), Feb. 5, 2000
(...) From Tiananmen Square in Beijing to the far-flung Xinjiang Autonomous
Region in the far north-west of the country, reports have been flowing in of
strange objects in the sky since last September. The accounts reached their
peak in December with a number of sightings over Beijing and Shanghai.

Such has the been the flurry of UFO sightings in recent weeks that
astronomers from a state scientific research institute were moved this week
to issue a statement dismissing the extra-terrestrials as "the result of
human activities or atmospheric movement" or even a combination of both.

The UFO phenomenon has attracted serious attention in China where reports of
the sightings have been carried in the state-controlled media and also in the
semi-official Journal of UFO Research, which boasts a circulation of 400,000
and is backed by the China UFO Research Association.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Noted

45. Followers say guru's breathing methods could curb violence
Dallas Morning News, Feb. 5, 2000
Internationally known mind and body relaxation guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
offers a sly smile when explaining why breathing is so important. "Because
without it," he quipped while greeting dozens of followers recently at the
D/FW Hindu Temple in Irving, "you would die."

But for more than a million people around the world, Sri Sri's teachings on
the art of proper breathing are a very serious matter. They say his technique
is so effective at reducing stress that it may offer a key to curbing teen
violence, promoting international understanding, even averting wars.

What does matter is that Sri Sri - a native of India who says he embraces all
faiths but practices none in particular - has a growing legion of followers
who believe that his esoteric teachings make a concrete difference in an
increasingly chaotic world.

He has spoken at the United Nations, and employees there have taken his
course. Los Angeles County uses Sri Sri's techniques to help officials better
control incorrigible juvenile offenders. A Detroit trial court offers his
course as an employee benefit and gives workers time off to take it. And Yale
University's Divinity School has used him as an adviser.

In 1982, after spending 10 days in seclusion and silence, he emerged with his
new teaching - the Sudarshan Kriya technique.

The practice uses rhythmic breathing to help calm the mind and cleanse the
body of toxins. The $250 basic course ($125 for students) is taught over a
six-day period for three hours each day.

Most of Sri Sri's teachings are done under the auspices of the Art of Living
Foundation, which he started in 1982. The nonprofit foundation, which has
centers around the world, teaches Sri Sri's mind and body relaxation
techniques. Its U.S. headquarters are in Santa Barbara, Calif.

Tom Duffy, president of Prison SMART (Stress Management And Rehabilitative
Training), an offshoot of the Art of Living Foundation, said his organization
uses Sri Sri's teachings to help correction officials control inmates.

Sri Sri said he believes his teachings could be particularly helpful in
reducing teen violence. He helped start ART Excel (All 'Round Training for
Excellence), a personal development and empowerment program for children and

Sri Sri said that teaching young people just to "tolerate" the beliefs of
others isn't really helpful. "We don't need to tolerate other religions," he
said. "We need to learn to love all people. You only tolerate those things
which in reality you do not like. That's why you say you can tolerate
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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46. A healing touch to let the spirits flow
The Telegraph (England), Feb. 1, 2000
Reiki, an ancient Buddhist therapy, claims to restore physical health by
channelling energy. Belinda Richardson tries it

Reiki (from the Japanese word in which rei means spirit and ki means energy)
works like a flood of energy, she tells me, moving blockages, increasing the
circulation, balancing the system and ridding the body of toxic waste. It
worked. Within half an hour I was as good as new.

Krishni tells me that experiences during initiation vary from having visions
to seeing colours, feeling energy going through the body, being emotionally
moved or feeling not much at all. Unfortunately, during my two minutes on the
stool, I don't feel much at all, but she assures me that the reiki will work

"Reiki is a very democratic system," she says, leading me into her sunny
yellow treatment room. "Since it has nothing to do with the mind, everybody
can learn it. Even children as young as four can have the initiations. "What
you won't get out of reiki is an encounter therapy, in which you tell people
what is wrong with them and what they should do about it."

Her initial scepticism made me wonder what other therapists might make of the
practice. David Needleman of the Homoeopath Helpline said: "I think it is a
very badly understood therapy, but one which has an enormous amount to offer
in the field of energy."

* Includes:

There are 17 reiki masters in this country; a list can be obtained from
Reiki Alliance, PO Box 41, Cataldo, Idaho, 83810 1041, USA; 001 208 682
3535; www.reikialliance.org.ukOff-site Link

For practitioners, contact the Reiki Association, 2 Manor Cottages,
Stockley Hill, Peterchurch, Hereford HR2 0SF; www.reikiassociation.org.uk

47. Priest spreads prayer's power
St. Petersburg Times, Feb. 2, 2000
Barely touched by the priest, they fell back into the arms of "catchers," who
lowered them with care to the red carpet. They lay there, arms stretched out
at their sides, "resting in the spirit." Others, clutching rosaries in their
hands, stepped around the still bodies to await their blessings and anointing
from the black-clad Roman Catholic priest.

That was the scene last Saturday, as the Rev. Peter M. Rookey, a member of
the Order of Servants of Mary, conducted a healing service at St. Mary's
Parish, a Polish National Catholic Church, which is not affiliated with the
Roman Catholic Church.

Mrs. Dwyer said ushers had been warned that people would be "slain by the
spirit," an expression that Father Rookey's literature explains as "not
fainting," but similar to letting in "the sun of the Holy Spirit."
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48. A quest for truth: Unitarian Universalists appeal to seekers
Houston Chronicle, Feb. 3, 2000
(...) People like Hernandez often seek out one of the nation's 1,010
Unitarian-Universalist congregations. The Houston church at 5200 Fannin does
not use Universalist in its name but is part of the 216,000-member national
denomination, which unites people of diverse beliefs, including even
agnostics and atheists.

Across the vast expanse of American religion, Unitarianism is as far removed
from mainstream Christian orthodoxy as Iceland is from the equator.

Yet a typical Unitarian-Universalist service often follows the familiar
Protestant rhythm of hymns, reading, meditation or prayer, singing by a choir
and a sermon.

But while the format is similar, the content of the service is quite
different. Readings come from the Bible, the Koran, Hindu Vedic scriptures or
other sacred or secular sources. Hymns may be religious or humanistic.

In the congregation only a few worshippers may profess belief in a Supreme
Being. Most Unitarian-Universalists also don't believe in an afterlife,
according to church leaders, but they would honor the truth in all the
world's religions.

Like their counterparts nationwide, local Unitarian-Universalist
congregations are growing, mainly because they offer the freedom of thought
and tolerance of diversity that many seek.
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49. Broadening church tradition pushes to personalize religion
Detroit News, Jan. 28, 2000
Religion in America is more than a melting pot - it's a smorgasbord.
During the next 100 years, clergy and scholars say, Americans are expected to
increasingly feast on faith through a combination of religious ideas. They
will mix parts of Buddhism with parts of Christianity and Judaism and create
a hybridization of doctrine.

Rumors of secularization, or at least widespread secularization, are
unfounded, religious experts say. Roots of Christianity and mainstream
religion run deep through American society, but people seem to be seeking
spiritual guidance outside the realms of mainstream religion - dabbling in
Eastern philosophy and New Age belief systems.

Tim LaHaye, co-author of the "Left Behind" (Tyndale House) series of novels
containing fictional accounts of the Book of Revelations, thinks that
changing traditions within liberal churches are pushing parishioners out to
the fringes in search of something more grounded in tradition.

In effect, he says, the liberal churches attempt to soften religion for
younger generations is backfiring. "Many of the liberals are falling on their
own swords," says LaHaye, referring to a growing number of female pastors and
an acceptance of homosexual unions. "It's not working."

With more New Age beliefs emerging in America, the Rev. Paul E. Miller of
Christ Lutheran Church of Desert Hot Springs, Calif., says "It's going to be
even tougher to be truly spiritual in a Christian sense."

Gerald Celente, director of Trends Research Institute in Rhinebeck, N.Y.,
says many churches seem to be straying from spiritual themes and moving into
moral grounds, pushing parishioners away in search of something more