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Religion News Report

Religion News Report - Mar. 19, 2000 (Vol. 4, Issue 180) - 1/2

arrow Latest: Religion News Blog
Rainbow

=== Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God (Uganda cult murder/suicide)
1. Hundreds die in cult inferno
2. At Least 235 Die in Uganda Cult Suicide
3. Up to 230 members of doomsday sect killed in Uganda fire, police say
4. When devotion means death
5. World's worst mass suicides
6. Mass suicides a recurrent world phenomenon

=== Waco / Branch Davidians
7. Seeking Clues by Simulating Davidian Siege
8. Re-enactment of events at Waco siege is set for this weekend
9. Sunday Waco Re-Enactment Scheduled
10. Military helps re-create Waco siege
11. Waco Investigation: Results should matter more than costs
12. Church not ready for Davidians

=== Aum Shinrikyo / Aleph
13. Death cult they can't kill haunts a nation
14. Free checkups provided for sarin victims

=== Scientology
15. Big Success for Controversial Organization
16. New Church law in force

=== Hate Groups
17. Book links founder of Bob Jones U. with Alabama Klan
18. Synagogue arson charges set, sources say

» Part 2

=== Other News
19. Family fearful (Jason Lee)
20. Wife's death 'God's will' (Jason Lee)
21. Arrest in 1989 murder
22. Spiritualist Chopra Tirelessly Tangles With Courts
23. Book on Christ's 'desires' provokes unholy furore
24. ACLU files suit over Haywood County mind-readers

=== Religious Freedom

25. Activists criticize China's rule over religion as U.S. panel
gathers evidence
26. Pagan student ordered to cover up pentagram while at school

=== Noted
27. Science and religion contemplate 'the end'
28. Celtic spirituality explored
29. Religion, Politics and the Exception of America


=== Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God (Uganda cult murder/suicide)

1. Hundreds die in cult inferno
BBC, Mar. 18, 2000
http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/africa/newsid_682000/682446.stm
More than 235 followers of a religious cult in Uganda are reported to have
died in an apparent mass suicide.

The bodies of the members of the cult - known as the Restoration of the Ten
Commandments of God
- were found in their church in the small town of
Kanungu, in the southwest of the country. They had been burned beyond
recognition. Police said this made it impossible to give an exact figure for
the number of dead.
(...)

Another police spokesman, Assum Mugenyi, told Reuters news agency there were
about 235 registered cult members. He said more than that were likely to
have perished in the fire, including women and children.
(...)

Local people said there had been rumours that the leader of the cult was
urging his followers to sell their possessions in preparation for death.
Witnesses said there were signs that the cult were getting ready for a big
event in the days leading up to the fire.

Members of the cult had bought up crates of soft drinks for a large party
thrown by the group's leader, Joseph Kibweteere, in the middle of last week.

Mr Mugenyi told Reuters news agency that the wooden-framed windows of the
church appeared to have been boarded up and there was no sign of a struggle.
(...)

Mr Kibweteere predicted the world was going to end on 31 December 1999,
according to a report in The Monitor newspaper on Sunday. But, the newspaper
said, Mr Kibweteere had revised his prediction to 31 December 2000, when
nothing happened at the end of the century.

The Ugandan Government has broken up two cults in the south in the past year.
A government spokesman said it had no prior knowledge of the Kanungu cult. If
it had, it would have dispersed it too.

Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Amama Mbabazi, told the
government-owned Sunday Vision newspaper the government needed to review its
procedures towards cults.

''I think [the fire] calls on the state to review the issue of cults and see
what measures to take to protect the ordinary people from cult leaders,'' Mr
Mbabazi said.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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Sidebar:
Mass suicides

March 1997-San Diego: 39 Heaven's Gate followers poison themselves
believing UFO would pick them up

Oct 1994-Switzerland: 48 Solar Temple members found burned in chalets

Oct 1993-Vietnam: 53 hill tribe villagers die using primitive weapons, led
by blind man Ca Van Liem

Nov 1978-Guyana: 914 drink cynanide, led by Rev Jim Jones


2. At Least 235 Die in Uganda Cult Suicide
Yahoo/Reuters, Mar. 18, 2000
http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20000318/wl/uganda_cult_7.html
At least 235 members of a millennium cult, including dozens of children, are
believed to have died by mass suicide in a blazing church in southwestern
Uganda.

Expecting the end of the world, followers of the obscure ''Movement for the
Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God''
locked themselves in the church
in the small town of Kanungu at breakfast time on Friday, police said on
Saturday.

After several hours of chanting and singing, they set the church on fire,
taking their own lives in the world's second biggest mass suicide of recent
times.
(...)

Cult leaders, who included three excommunicated priests and two
excommunicated nuns, taught that the world would end in the year 2000. Their
followers dressed in a uniform of white, green and black robes.

''Prior to this incident their leader told believers to sell off their
possessions and prepare to go to Heaven,'' Mugenyi said, adding that the
police were treating the incident as both suicide and murder because children
were involved.
(...)

He said the wooden-framed windows of the church appeared to have been boarded
up and there was no sign of a struggle. The bodies -- burned beyond
recognition -- lay in the center of the shell of the building.
(...)

A former British colony once called the Pearl of Africa for its fertile soil
and plentiful rains, Uganda became a byword for African horrors during the
1971-79 dictatorship of Idi Amin, whose regime killed up to 500,000 opponents
and expelled 70,000 people of Asian origin.

More bloodshed followed Amin's downfall, until guerrilla leader Yoweri
Museveni won power in 1986, restoring relative peace.

But an extreme and violent Christian cult, the Holy Spirit Movement, sprang
up among northern ethnic groups in the late 1980s. Many hundreds of believers
died in suicidal attacks, convinced that magic oil would protect them from
the bullets of Museveni's troops.

Its successor, the Lord's Resistance Army, is still pursuing a guerrilla war,
kidnapping large numbers of boys and girls to serve as soldiers and sex
slaves and dodging back and forth across the border with southern Sudan,
which has a long running civil war of its own.

Since last year, the police have asked all religious sects or cults to
register their members locally. In September, police in central Uganda
disbanded another Doomsday cult, the 1,000-member ''World Message Last
Warning'' sect.

The cult's leaders were charged with rape, kidnapping and illegal
confinement.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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3. Up to 230 members of doomsday sect killed in Uganda fire, police say
CNN, Mar. 18, 2000
http://www.cnn.com/2000/WORLD/africa/03/18/uganda.cult.03/index.html
Up to 230 members of a religious sect that believed the world was coming to
an end burned to death in a fire at their church, police said Saturday.

Initial reports differed as to whether the sect members had committed mass
suicide or were lured to their deaths by their leader. There were also
conflicting reports about what day the fire occurred -- Thursday or Friday.
(...)

Reuters quoted police as saying members of the sect set themselves on fire in
a ritual mass suicide after several hours of chanting and singing.

Pius Muteekana Katunzi, an editor with the Sunday Monitor newspaper in
Kampala, told CNN International that some local reports said members of the
sect marched to the church, locked themselves inside and then set themselves
ablaze.

But a police officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Associated
Press that it appeared that the sect leader -- Joseph Kibweteere -- lured his
unwitting followers inside.

''Preliminary reports indicate that the leader of this sect lured the people
inside the church and set it on fire,'' the officer said. It was unclear
whether Kibweteere had also died.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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4. When devotion means death
BBC, Mar. 18, 2000
http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/africa/newsid_682000/682357.stm
(...)
Jungle nightmare

One of the most notorious examples is The People's Temple, founded by the
Reverend Jim Jones in 1957. Rev Jones considered himself the reincarnation
of both Jesus and Lenin, and had visions of impending nuclear holocaust.
In 1977, he led his followers to Guyana, in South America, and created his
dream community, named Jonestown, in the jungle. Two years later - his
utopia allegedly deteriorating into a nightmare - he ordered 638 adults and
276 children to drink juice laced with cyanide. Those who resisted or tried
to escape were shot, and Jones himself died from a bullet wound to the head.


Branch Davidians
David Koresh, a failed rock star turned doomsday prophet, lived with 80 of
his followers in the Branch Davidian compound on the outskirts of Waco,
Texas. He preached a messianic gospel of sex, freedom and revolution and
told his followers he was Jesus Christ. In February 1993, federal agents
tried to enter the compound, which resulted in a siege of the Davidians
lasting 51 days. It ended with the ''fiery apocalypse'' predicted by Koresh -
the compound was stormed by the police and a fire broke out which killed 86
people inside. An investigation into the cause of the blaze is still going
on.

Solar Knights
The Order of the Solar Temple was founded in 1987 by Luc Jouret and Joseph di
Mambro, after the two were expelled from another cult. Its motto was ''Money,
Sex and Joy'', and Jouret quickly attracted a large gathering of wealthy,
professional followers. The cult appeared to place great importance on the
Sun - their fiery murder-suicides were meant to take members to a new world
on the star 'Sirius'. The Temple came to prominence when police found the
charred bodies of 48 members in a farmhouse and three chalets in Switzerland,
and several more in Canada. Not all the deaths were voluntary; some of the
victims had been shot or asphyxiated. Jouret, 46, was amongst the dead.
More Solar Temple deaths were discovered in 1995 and 1997.

Alien Rescue
One of the most unusual mass suicides of the last decade was the
Californian-based cult Heaven's Gate, who believed that a spaceship flying
behind the Hale-Bopp comet was coming to pick them up. Thirty-nine members
died in their mansion in San Diego after eating poisonous pudding or apple
sauce, washed down with vodka. The bodies were discovered lying in bunk beds
covered in purple shrouds, each with a five-dollar bill in their pocket and a
small suitcase beneath the bed. Founders Marshall Applewhite and Bonnie
Nettles wrote on the cult's website that in their suicide they were
'graduating' to a higher level of life.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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5. World's worst mass suicides
Yahoo/AFP, Mar. 19, 2000
http://sg.dailynews.yahoo.com/headlines/world/afp/article.html?
s=singapore/headlines/000319/world/afp/
World_s_worst_mass_suicides.html
The world's worst mass suicides following the death of about 200 people from
a doomsday cult in Uganda:

-- Nov 18, 1978: 912 members of the People's Temple sect founded by Jim Jones
die in the jungle of Guyana in a ceremony of collective suicide and murder.
The victims, who drank or were forced to swallow a poisoned fruit drink,
included 294 children aged under 18. Prior to the killings a group of
Jonestown men shot and killed US representative Leo Ryan and five others who
had visited the site to investigate the group.

-- April 19, 1993: More than 80 members of the Branch Dravidian sect die when
their wooden fortress at Waco, Texas, is stormed by federal agents after a
51-day siege. The siege ends in a fiery blaze in which sect leader David
Koresh
died along with many of his followers. The circumstances of the deaths
remain largely unexplained, and investigators said that some of the dead had
been shot in the head.

-- Sept 19, 1985: 60 members of the Ata tribe on Mindanao island in the
Philippines are found dead, having apparently taken poison on the orders of
their guru Datu Mangayanon ''so that they can see the image of God.''

-- March 26, 1997: 39 members of the Heaven's Gate cult at San Diego,
California, commit mass suicide by poison in the belief that the arrival of
the Comet Hale-Bopp is a sign for their exit from Earth.

-- Aug 1987: 32 disciples of the Korean priestess Park Soon-Ja are found dead
at Yongin, near Seoul. Police said most of them had had their throats cut
after absorbing a non-fatal dose of poison.

-- Oct 5, 1994: The bodies of 23 members of the Solar Temple are found at
Cheiry, in the canton of Fribourg in Switzerland, and those of 25 others,
including sect leaders Luc Jouret and Joseph di Mambro, are found in Salvan
in the southern Swiss canton of Valais. Letters found at the scene said the
deaths were due to a mass suicide, but investigators said as many as two
thirds of the dead, including some children, may have been murdered. Five
members of the sect died in Montreal, Canada, the same day.

-- Dec 23, 1995, the charred remains of 16 members of the Order of the Solar
Temple
cult were found in a forest in the Vercors region of France, and on
March 23, 1997 five people close to the sect were found dead at
Saint-Casimir, in Quebec.

-- Nov 1, 1986: The burnt remains of seven women are found on a beach at
Wakayama, in western Japan. The women, members of the Church of the Friends
of Truth, left letters explaining their intention to kill themselves after
the death of their spiritual leader Kiyoharu Miyamoto.
[...entire item...]


6. Mass suicides a recurrent world phenomenon
CNN, Mar. 18, 2000
http://www.cnn.com/2000/WORLD/africa/03/18/uganda.suicide.also.reut/index.html
(...) Following is a list of some of the previous mass suicides over the
past quarter century.
(...)

November 18, 1978 - Paranoid U.S. pastor, the Rev. Jim Jones, led 914
followers to their deaths at Jonestown, Guyana, by drinking a cyanide-laced
fruit drink. Cult members who refused to swallow the liquid were shot. Jones
had carved a sign over his altar at Jonestown, reading ''Those who forget the
past are doomed to repeat it.''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Waco / Branch Davidians

7. Seeking Clues by Simulating Davidian Siege
New York Times, Mar. 18, 2000
http://www10.nytimes.com/library/national/031800waco-experiment.html
Early this Sunday, a select group of government officials and private lawyers
will meet at nearby Fort Hood, the nation's largest military base. For
several hours, maybe longer, they will watch an extraordinary simulation
intended to answer a question that has raged from Internet chat rooms to the
halls of Congress:

Did federal agents fire gunshots into the Branch Davidian compound occupied
by David Koresh and his followers shortly before it burned to the ground on
April 19, 1993, claiming the lives of about 80 men, women and children?
(...)

Since the fall, former Senator John C. Danforth has been leading an
investigation into the episode near here, and Sunday's test could be
important in his efforts to determine whether the government was truthful in
its account of how it carried out the siege.

That such an exercise will occur is another reminder that the furor over the
incident remains one of the most vexing issues still facing the Department of
Justice in the waning months of the Clinton administration.

Some experts question how far even Sunday's test will go in answering the
most troubling questions.
(...)

''If we are right, and if we prove there is gunfire, the implications go far
beyond the whole issue of just whether the Davidians were killed or not,''
said Michael Caddell, the lead lawyer for the Branch Davidians.
(...)

Various news organizations, including The New York Times, had sought access
to the test, but Judge Smith denied it.

Mr. Caddell, however, said he planned to release copies of the video as soon
as Monday so that the public can draw its own conclusions.

''The reality is that people are going to make up their own minds on this,''
Mr. Caddell said. ''Do you have to have an expert tell you the difference
between the sun and the moon?''

Mike Bradford, the United States attorney for the Eastern District of Texas
and one of the lead government lawyers in the case, said he was concerned
that the experiment could simply create more confusion.
(...)

Government officials describe Mr. Koresh as a madman. In past Congressional
hearings, they have presented evidence that he ordered his followers to set
the compound on fire as part of a suicide pact.

But the role played by federal agents has continued to draw scrutiny. In
September, Attorney General Janet Reno appointed Mr. Danforth as a special
counsel to re-examine the April 19 F.B.I. raid after disclosures that F.B.I.
agents fired at least one flammable tear-gas canister at a concrete bunker
near the Davidian building. The F.B.I. had previously maintained that it had
not fired any device capable of starting a fire.
(...)

Government lawyers initially tried to prevent the Sunday field test by
telling the court that the FLIR camera used on April 19 no longer existed, a
position they retracted after Mr. Danforth's staff located the device in
England. When it became clear that both Mr. Danforth and Judge Smith favored
the test, the government reversed course and agreed to participate.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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8. Re-enactment of events at Waco siege is set for this weekend
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Mar. 18, 2000
http://www.postnet.com/postnet/stories.nsf/ByDocID/C26F18C74D3169A5862568A6006262B6?OpenDocument
(...) The test at Fort Hood will re-enact the conditions of the government's
siege, using gunfire and tank maneuvers. It could determine if gunfire shows
up as flashes on infrared video like the flashes on an FBI infrared
surveillance tape recorded April 19, 1993.

The flashes in 1993, as interpreted by experts, are the only indication that
FBI agents shot at the rear of the complex. About a dozen agents and their
commanders - in depositions, public statements and appearances before
Congress - have consistently denied that anybody fired.

If the test records flashes that are similar in intensity, duration and
frequency to those on the April 19 tape, it could mean that government agents
fired their guns and then lied about it, two key issues Danforth's
investigators are exploring. A match-up of the flashes could lead Danforth to
re-question, this time under oath, the agents who have denied firing guns or
seeing others firing.

For the Branch Davidian survivors who have sued the government, a favorable
comparison could become the keystone of their arguments at a coming trial.
The Branch Davidians claim that government conduct contributed to the deaths
at Waco, and FBI gunfire could mean agents killed people in the complex.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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9. Sunday Waco Re-Enactment Scheduled
AOL/AP, Mar. 17, 2000
http://my.aol.com/news/story.tmpl?
table=n&cat=01&id=0003170247451603
The government's credibility will be put to the test this weekend when
critical portions of the 1993 assault at Waco are re-enacted at a military
base with tanks, a helicopter and camouflaged gunmen.
(...)

The two-hour demonstration, scheduled for Sunday if the weather is favorable,
is designed to answer a question central to the investigations being
conducted by Congress and a special counsel: What caused the dozens of
rapid-fire bursts of light that appear on FBI infrared surveillance footage
taken during the siege's final moments?

Infrared experts hired by the plaintiffs, as well as one retained by a House
committee, contend the flashes represent gunfire from government positions
and a smattering of return fire from the Davidians.

FBI officials are adamant that the Davidians died by their own hands, and
have suggested that the flashes came from sunlight glinting off pools of
water, metal or other debris on the ground.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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10. Military helps re-create Waco siege
USA Today, Mar. 17, 2000
http://www.usatoday.com/usatonline/20000317/2044799s.htm
Radar-laden military aircraft and hundreds of camouflaged soldiers are
assembling here in an unusual crime-scene re-creation to determine whether
FBI sharpshooters fired on the Branch Davidian compound the day it burned to
the ground in 1993.
(...)

With the assistance of the British navy, several U.S. Army platoons and
others, Waco special counsel John Danforth hopes to re-create the conditions
that existed at the compound the day Davidian leader David Koresh and more
than 80 adults and children died.

The Waco re-creation is the product of a series of events, beginning last
August, which raised serious questions about the government's conduct in the
final hours of the 51-day siege. After years of denials came disclosures that
federal authorities did use potentially flammable tear-gas canisters in the
final assault.
(...)

Whatever the result Sunday, it is expected to have implications in Danforth's
inquiry and the civil lawsuit, scheduled for trial in May. The lawsuit
alleges that government actions and negligence caused the tragedy.
(...)

The film will help determine what caused more than 100 flashes to appear on
an FBI infrared tape taken during the siege's last hours. Soldiers on the
ground will wear body suits, camouflage and other types of sniper suits
similar to what FBI sharpshooters wore that day.
(...)

''After this test, people will know definitively and quickly, without
sophisticated computers or experts interpreting algorithms, whether those
flashes were gunfire or not,'' says Mike Cadell, a lawyer for plaintiffs in
the civil lawsuit.
(...)

Some members died from gunshots in the siege's final frantic hours. Others
died in the fire, which Cadell blames on tear-gas pyrotechnic grenades
launched by a 60-ton FBI tank. Officials have claimed the gunshots were
self-inflicted.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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11. Waco Investigation: Results should matter more than costs
Dallas Morning News, Mar. 16, 2000 (Editorial)
http://dallasnews.com/editorial/49725_edit3waco.html
The pattern is familiar. Attorney General Janet Reno receives a political
hot potato. She names a special counsel to conduct an investigation. And then
stories start coming forth about how much the probe will cost taxpayers.

The same phenomenon has now hit former Sen. John Danforth's investigation of
the federal government's actions during the Branch Davidian compound siege in
1993. Reports released in Washington this week indicate costs for Mr.
Danforth's probe will exceed $10.8 million by year's end.
(...)

The public may react negatively to this report about cost as Mr. Danforth
attempts to answer what he calls ''the dark questions'' from the ill-fated
siege. But this investigation should not be judged by the money spent on it.
Had Ms. Reno acknowledged earlier that something appeared wrong, the probe
could have been considerably more simple.
(...)

It is unfortunate that so much money has been invested in special
investigations during the Clinton administration. But an independent probe
appears the only way to finally resolve what really happened at the Branch
Davidian compound.

Costs shouldn't be the issue in the Danforth investigation. Results should.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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12. Church not ready for Davidians
Chicago Tribune, Mar. 17, 2000
http://www.chicago.tribune.com/version1/article/0,1575,SAV-0003170270,00.html
Due to lagging donations and lack of volunteer labor, the remaining Branch
Davidians
won't have a new church ready for the seventh anniversary of their
fiery standoff with federal agents.

The group plans to worship at the site of the tragedy April 19, but builders
said the new church will probably lack seating, flooring and plumbing.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Aum Shinrikyo / Aleph

13. Death cult they can't kill haunts a nation
Sydney Morning Herald (Australia), Mar. 18, 2000
http://www.smh.com.au/news/0003/18/world/world05.html
(...) Isopropyl methyl phosphonfluoridate, or sarin as it is more commonly
known, is a nerve gas invented by the Nazis.

It is regarded as one of the most toxic substances known to science. A tiny
drop can cause devastating damage to anyone inhaling its evaporating mist. It
is also a perfect terrorist weapon - odourless, colourless and relatively
cheap to manufacture.

Aum's ''hit squad'' of five men placed 11 bags of sarin solution on five subway
lines converging on Kasumigaseki station, the bureaucratic heart of Tokyo.

Twelve people were killed and more than 5,500 injured in the ensuing macabre
drama.
(...)

Yoshimi's agony is indicative of the enormous damage wrought on Japan by the
gas attack that was Aum's final, insane assault on the establishment forces
it believed were plotting its destruction. For her, and many others who
breathed the toxic fumes, there is enduring physical pain and lingering
emotional trauma.

Despite its horrific crimes, Aum Shinrikyo remains intact, sustained by the
funds flowing from a number of business ventures operated by its members.
(...)

The victims' group wants the Government to make ex gratia payments to
families who lost members in the attack or have suffered hardship in caring
for those injured.

A spokeswoman, Ms Shizue Takahashi, whose subway attendant husband died after
trying to clear the deadly gas from Kasumigaseki station, said: ''The
investigative authorities should have done more. There was ample evidence
before the attack that Aum could do something terrible.''
(...)

Experts offer a range of explanations for the stubborn appeal of Aum and
similarly weird outfits.

Japan's education system, with its emphasis on group order and discipline at
the expense of independent thinking, is cited as a culprit.

Many argue that the dismantling of state-based Shintoism after World War II
has left Japan without a spiritual core.

A lecturer in sociology at Shizuoka University, Dr Kimiaki Nishida, said
Japan's disaffected youth had become easy prey for slick recruiting tactics,
such as Aum's use of rock concerts and animated videos. The young have also
disconnected from mainstream media, so they do not regard the cult as a
threat.

Dr Nobutaka Inoue, an expert in religious studies at Kokugakuin University,
pointed to other factors: a move by young Japanese from established religions
and their increasing interest in the occult, doomsday and death.
(...)

While this may explain how Aum was able to build its membership to more than
10,000, it does nothing to justify the callous crimes committed under
Asahara's name.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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14. Free checkups provided for sarin victims
Daily Yomiuri (Japan), Mar. 19, 2000
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/newse/0319cr04.htm
Free medical examinations started Saturday morning at Tokyo's Adachi Ward
Office for those suffering from the aftereffects of the 1995 sarin gas attack
by the Aum Supreme Truth cult on the Tokyo subway system.

Five years after the attack, a fund to support the sarin gas attack victims
is offering the medical examinations with the cooperation of doctors and
nurses. The fund will pay for the medical examinations.

Checkups will also be offered in Koshigaya, Saitama Prefecture, and Meguro
Ward, Tokyo. About 300 people are estimated to be seeking such examinations.
[...entire item...]


=== Scientology

15. Big Success for Controversial Organization
NLZ (Germany), Mar. 15, 2000
Translation: CISAR
http://cisar.org/000315b.htm
On Monday an administrative agency, called a ''Kammerkollegiet,'' made a
decision to give Swedish Scientology the status of a religious denomination.
Since January 1 of this year, the church in Sweden is no longer a fixed part
of the state. The new church law made it necessary for all churches to
register as religious denominations. The reformed state churches have to also
do that, and besides the state church, ten other church have asked for this
status so far.

Eva Uerbrandt from the KammerKollegiet emphasized that any church is subject
to a purely rote review in obtaining status as religious denomination. Things
checked, for instance, include whether the applying organization would be an
idealistic association, whether it has a board of directors, whether it held
church services thereby acting like a church. All those conditions were
filled with Scientology, and therefore the Kammerkollegiet granted it the
status of religious denomination. ''This, however, is not at all a qualitative
assessment of the Scientology Church, neither does it give it any special
rights,'' said Uerbrandt to our newspaper. She said the administration has not
yet decided whether Scientology will receive state support.

In addition, the status of religious denomination does not automatically mean
protection against legal prosecution in the event that Scientology were to
transgress any Swedish law in force, opined Uerbrandt. There is currently a
legislative proposal in progress which, among other things, is meant to more
severely punish ''illicit'' practice of religion. What is also important is
that the churches registered as religious denominations will be required to
have a certain degree of openness which would simplify governmental review.

By November of last year, the Scientology Church was recognized by the
Stockholm revenue agency as a ''charitable idealist'' association without
intentions of profit, resulting in tax exemption.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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*
Note: in a press release regarding last year's tax office decision, the
Church of Scientology claimed it was recognized as ''a nonprofit
association with a religious purpose.'' However, the tax office decision,
stated:

The Tax Office made a fiscal adjudication in October 1999 that the
Church of Scientology is to be considered as an idealistic association
for the public benefit which carries out an economic activity.

This is again confirmed by current news reports.

* Explanation regarding the Church and State in Sweden




16. New Church law in force
ORF (Austria), Mar. 15, 2000
http://www.orf.at/orfon/000314-26322/
Translation: CISAR
http://cisar.org/000315a.htm
(...) A spokeswoman of the government agency responsible said on Tuesday
that Scientology has the same legal basis as do the Roman Catholic Church and
other non-Swedish churches.

There are no special rights associated with that; the organization was
acknowledged only as a legal entity and registered as an association. Only
the Lutheran Church is officially recognized by the government in Sweden as a
religion.

Sweden's tax agency recognized Scientology as a charitable, idealistic
association last November, thereby exempting it from both income and luxury
taxes.

Besides that, Scientology won a legal process over investment restrictions
against France before the European Court [''Europaeischen Gerichtshof'']
(EuGH). In a judgment released Tuesday afternoon, an alternative was objected
to by which French law could be used to stop foreign investors for
''disturbing the public order, health or safety.''
(...)

In France, the actions of the Scientologists are closely followed. There is
fear that political and commercial key positions will be infiltrated by means
including targeted purchase of companies. More can be read in ''Frankreich
'entschlossen'.''
(...)

French Justice Minister Elisabeth Guigou intends to increase the effort in
the fight against dangerous sects. ''We can, without doubt, still develop the
available legal arsenal,'' said Guigou recently in Paris. She confirmed the
''utmost decisiveness'' by the government to take action against organizations
which are ill disposed toward law.

The representatives are currently involved with legislative proposals which
should make it easier to dissolve associations which are regarded as
dangerous. The administration is reviewing this proposal from the
conservative camp ''with great interest,'' said the socialist Minister
[Guigou].

The French administration's sect report has recommended new laws against
''undemocratic sects'' and a possible prohibition. The Scientology Organization
and the Order of the Solar Temple were classified as particularly dangerous
sects.
(...)

Scientology opponents, who refer to a series of studies and judgments,
emphasize that, in reality, the organization deals neither with spiritual
consolation nor with unselfish help in managing personal problems.

Scientology only pursues the goal of getting people's confidence in the
movement's teachings and assimilating them for themselves. Under the cloak of
a religious denomination, the organization operates oriented to profit and in
a totalitarian manner, say opponents.

According to Berlin Constitutional Security, Scientology has a strictly
hierarchical structure with many branches in a large number of countries. The
supreme management organ is the Religious Technology Center (RTC), which has
its offices in Los Angeles. Within the structure are a number of elements of
surveillance.

Besides that, Scientology uses its own intelligence agency, the Office for
Special Affairs (OSA)
. According to credible statements by former members,
the organization even runs its own prison camps, Constitutional Security
emphasized.

According to experts, Scientology has ''declared ruthless striving for profit
to be its operating maxims.'' To infiltrate business, it uses the Word
Institute of Scientology Enterprises (WISE), a worldwide association founded
in 1979. This directs an entire empire of commercial enterprises.
(...)

The Scientologists are controversial in numerous European nations. In the
USA, their country of origin, the organization has been acknowledged as a
religious denomination since 1993 - with corresponding tax privileges.
Scientology, which operates many sub-organizations under names like ''Center
for Applied Philosophy,'' is striving for that same status in other countries,
as well.

In Austria, Scientology is recognized as a registered association, but not as
a religious denomination.
(...)

According to the ''Federal law on religious denominational congregations'' -
''sect law'' for short - nine groups have been acknowledged so far. Scientology
withdrew its application, Sahaja Yoga was turned down.

A Scientology spokesman explained that ''the recognition as a denominational
congregation was not a real acknowledgment, instead the new law was being
used to declare groups second-class religions.'' Scientology withdrew its
application since then.

The nine denominational congregations are: Jehovah's Witnesses, Bahai'
Religion, Alliance of Baptist Congregations, Alliance of Evangelical
Communities, Christian Association - Movement for religious revival,
Independent Christian / Pentecostal Congregations, Church of Seven Day
Adventists, the Coptic Orthodox Church and the Hindu Religion Society.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Hate Groups

17. Book links founder of Bob Jones U. with Alabama Klan
Alabama Live/AP Stream, Mar. 17, 2000
http://flash.al.com/cgi-bin/al_nview.pl?
/home1/wire/AP/Stream-Parsed/BAMA_NEWS/j7069
_AM_AL--BobJones-KKK
The founder of Bob Jones University was a Ku Klux Klan mouthpiece who
preached against Catholics and foreigners in Alabama decades before his
school's policies became an issue in presidential politics, the author of a
new book said Friday.

Bob Jones Sr., the son of Alabama sharecroppers, actively campaigned for
Klan-backed political candidates in the 1920s, says the book, ''Politics,
Society and the Klan in Alabama: 1915-1949.''
(...)

Jones, a fundamentalist preacher, traveled the state espousing Klan views and
once accepted a $1,600 donation from a south Alabama Klan group after
speaking, the book says.

A moderate judge of Jones' time ''compared the preacher to Judas Iscariot and
accused him of selling out his party, perverting his religious mission,
fomenting intolerance and prostituting his frock for Klan silver,'' states the
book.

''He made money off it, but I think he was also a true believer,'' said
Feldman, who did not look for evidence that Jones was a Klan member.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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18. Synagogue arson charges set, sources say
Sacramento Bee, Mar. 17, 2000
http://www.sacbee.com/news/news/local01_20000317.html
After a nine-month wait, federal officials are expected to announce today
that Matthew and Tyler Williams have been indicted on arson charges in the
attack on three Sacramento-area synagogues and a building housing an abortion
clinic.

Officials planned to announce in a press conference at the U.S. Attorney's
Office that Benjamin Matthew Williams, 31, and James Tyler Williams, whose
30th birthday is Sunday, have been charged with setting the synagogue fires
in the predawn hours of June 18, sources say.

The pair also will be charged in the July 2 arson at the Country Club Medical
Center, which houses the Choice Medical Group abortion clinic, the sources
say. In addition to the arsons, the brothers will be charged with violating
federal hate crime statutes.
(...)

The two brothers, white supremacists who owned a small landscaping business
in the Redding-area community of Palo Cedro, have been in the Shasta County
Jail since their arrest in July on charges of murdering Gary Matson and
Winfield Mowder, a prominent Redding-area gay couple.
(...)

Officials believe the trials of the Williams brothers have the potential to
be explosive, particularly because of the strategy Matthew Williams has been
following. Although his younger brother has said nothing publicly since their
arrests, Matthew Williams has been outspoken in professing his anti-Semitic,
anti-gay, white supremacist beliefs.

He recently has grown a Hitler-style mustache while sitting in jail, and has
talked in the past of wanting to wear a Nazi-style uniform in court.

Williams has made it clear that he wants to use his murder trial as a
platform to espouse his views, and has said his defense in the murder case
will be based on his belief that the Bible condemns homosexuality and that
killing gay people is not a violation of God's law.
[...more...]

» Part 2