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Religion News Report

Religion News Report - May 21, 2000 (Vol. 4, Issue 206)

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Rainbow

=== Rebirthing
1. State probes 'rebirth' therapists
2. Judge lowers bail in 'rebirthing' case
3. 3 jailed in child's therapy death
4. 'Rebirthing' not a mainstream therapy
5. Video made before girl's death
6. Therapist has long ties to 'holding' treatment
7. 4 accused in 'rebirthing' death
8. Evergreen chock-full of therapists

=== Ho No Hana Sanpogyo
9. Cult used Unzen to solicit followers in Nagasaki
10. Cult falsified budget claim

=== Falun Gong
11. Falun Gong Man Dies in Custody

=== Attleboro Cult
12. Maine state park search doesn't turn up bodies of boys
13. Hunt for Attleboro cult kids to resume in Maine

=== Mormonism
14. ACLU to file amended complaint

=== Islam
15. Egyptian Party's Suspension Follows Book Banning

=== Catholicism
16. Vatican revelations: the third secret raises more questions

=== Other News
17. Religious Separatist Gets Up to Life After Wounding Deputy, Killing Dog
18. 20 Christian sect members arrested
19. Japan ministers say won't leave religious group
20. Egbesu Cult to Rid Self of Evil Doers
21. No retrial for pair in Wenatchee case
22. State Police case pits duty, religious beliefs

=== Religious Intolerance
23. Civil rights group sues Indiana over Ten Commandments monument

=== Religious Pluralism
24. A Wealth of Diversity in Faith

=== Noted
25. Ozark County has seen its share of religious sects, police say
26. Sect leavers 'have mental problems'
27. Vineyard Christian harvests fruits of major expansion
28. Psychic gives stock advice

=== Books
29. 'Mystics' offers study of cults' place in history


=== Rebirthing

1. State probes 'rebirth' therapists
Denver Post, May 20, 2000
http://www.denverpost.com/news/news0520.htmOff-site Link
May 20 - State officials are investigating two therapists arrested this week in
the death of a 10-year-old girl undergoing unconventional ''rebirthing''
therapy.

The two - Connell Watkins and Julie Ponder - are among four people arrested by
Jefferson County sheriff's deputies on suspicion of child abuse resulting in
death.

''We have initiated an investigation,'' said Amos Martinez, program
administrator for the state's mental-health licensing section. ''We do know one
thing for certain. They were practicing illegally because they are not listed as
psychotherapists in the mental-health database.'' Colorado law requires anyone
who is not licensed and is practicing psychotherapy to be listed in the
mental-health database.
(...)

The four are accused in the death of Candace Newmaker of Durham, N.C., who died
last month after being wrapped in a flannel blanket and placed under a pile of
pillows to simulate her mother's womb.

The treatment - done in Watkins' home office as part of a $7,000, two-week
therapy program - was to help Candace bond with her adoptive mother.

Instead, the girl called out for help repeatedly during the April 18 session and
said she couldn't breathe and was going to throw up, an arrest affidavit says.

She stopped breathing and died the next day at Children's Hospital. Doctors said
she suffocated.

An autopsy report, released Friday by the Jefferson County coroner's office,
also revealed the child was on two psychotropic drugs.
(...)

A young woman who identified herself as a former patient of Watkins came to her
defense Friday, saying she had undergone the ''rebirthing'' therapy weekly for
four years and that it had helped her.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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2. Judge lowers bail in 'rebirthing' case
Denver Rocky Mountain News, May 20, 2000
http://www.insidedenver.com/news/0520girl2.shtmlOff-site Link
GOLDEN — A judge Friday forbid four people arrested in connection with the death
of a 10-year-old girl from practicing the controversial ''rebirthing''Off-site Link
treatment.

But over a prosecutor's objections, Jefferson County Judge Charles Hoppin
slashed the $250,000 bail for two therapists and two assistants being held on
allegations of child abuse resulting in death.
(...)

Besides the ban on practicing ''rebirthing,'' Hoppin ordered them to conduct
therapy on children only when a parent is present.

''Rebirthing'' is used by some therapists to reconnect a troubled child to a
parent and to heal psychic scars from a traumatic birth. But other therapists
say it's an untested and unresearched practice, used on children who may suffer
from attachment disorders.

Children suffering from attachment disorder are often angry and hostile kids who
haven't bonded with their parents.
(...)

Despite Candace's cries that she couldn't breath, the session continued and
lasted one hour and 10 minutes, investigators said.

Prosecutor Steve Jensen argued against reducing bail, saying Candace's death was
hideous.

Candace told them she had to go to the bathroom and that she couldn't breathe,
but Ponder and Watkins offered no assistance and continued to ''taunt'' the
child, Jensen said.

Jensen said he saw the video, on which Watkins and Ponder say ''You want to die?
OK, then die.''

''It is one of the most disturbing things I have ever encountered,'' Jensen told
the judge.

Watkins' attorney, Dan Edwards, said she was following standard practices for
rebirthing, which has been a valid technique for more than two decades. The
therapy is the ''last hope'' for disturbed children whose parents have sought
out other treatments, he said.

''The videotape, if you're a lay person, it may shock your conscience,'' Edwards
said. ''But if you understand the technique, there was nothing that was going on
that was unusual.''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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3. 3 jailed in child's therapy death
Denver Post, May 19, 2000
http://www.denverpost.com/news/news0519c.htmOff-site Link
[Rebirthing]
(...) During the April 18 therapy session, the fourth-grader was placed in a
fetal position, wrapped ''from head to toe'' in a flannel blanket and surrounded
by pillows.

The four pressed against the pillows, supposedly to simulate contractions and to
motivate Candace to push her way out of the blanket so she could be reborn and
''attach,'' or bond, to her adoptive mother, the affidavit quotes Watkins as
saying.

Ponder, who was leading the session, and the others called for help when they
unrolled the blanket and found that Candace had stopped breathing. She was taken
to the hospital and was declared brain dead the next morning.

During the videotaped session at Watkins' home, at 28753 Meadow Drive, Candace
told the therapists seven times during the first 24 minutes that she could not
breathe or needed oxygen, the affidavit says.

''You got to push hard if you want to be born, or do you want to stay in there
and die,'' Watkins and Ponder told the child, investigators said.

Six times during the first 16 minutes of the videotape, the child could be heard
saying she was going to die, investigators said.

''You want to die? OK, then die. Go ahead, die right now,'' Watkins and Ponder
told her.

Investigators said it was 30 minutes after Candace last spoke - and 20 minutes
after her last breath could be heard on the videotape - before she was
unwrapped.

Candace's mother had been asked to go into another room during the session
because she became upset that her daughter wasn't trying to be born to her,
according to the affidavit.
(...)

Ponder told authorities she had conducted the therapy more than 20 times and had
undergone it herself.

Therapy ''too traumatic'' But Watkins said she didn't like doing the therapy
because it ''does not sound like a fun thing,'' according to the affidavit.

She never went through it herself because she thought it would be too traumatic,
the affidavit states.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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4. 'Rebirthing' not a mainstream therapy
Denver Post, May 19, 2000
http://www.denverpost.com/news/news0519d.htmOff-site Link
An alternative psychotherapy technique called ''rebirthing'' that figured in the
death of a 10-yearold girl isn't part of the standard manual for treatment among
mainstream therapists, according to a mental health organization.

But rebirthing gets a lot of space on the Internet, where the alternative
treatment is touted as a way of overcoming the traumatic effects of being born.

''I've never read it in the DSM4 - the diagnostic manual psychologists and
psychiatrists use,'' said Kyle Sargent, a spokesman for the Mental Health
Association of Colorado.

And Forrest Lien, a social worker for the Attachment Center, a nationally known
facility in Evergreen for the treatment of attachment disorder, said he had
''heard of the technique but never understood or knew what it was.'' Also, he
said, he had never heard of rebirthing being used to treat children.

''It has nothing to do with attachment therapy,'' Lien said. ''I've never heard
of anybody using it.''
(...)

Material found on the Internet indicates that rebirthing involves a variety of
breathing exercises, sometimes performed in hot tubs or in water, to simulate
being born again as a treatment for a variety of mental disorders. Some photos
show patients wrapped in sheets or blankets.

According to newspaper clippings, rebirthing surfaced in San Francisco in the
1970s, the brainchild of Dr. Leonard Orr, who now is in New York state. Attempts
to reach Orr were unsuccessful.

Material from a rebirthing Web site, by one Russell J. Miesemer, says that when
a person practices the breathing exercises of rebirthing ''toxins are released
from the muscles and cells and exhaled'' and the body and cells also are
cleansed of ''emotional and mental ''toxins' that are the result of emotions and
trauma that have been suppressed and held in the body.''

This suppression, Miesemer writes, is often ''related to birth trauma'' and it
can take ''rebirthees'' 10 to 20 sessions to release enough suppression so they
can ''rebirth themselves whenever they want.''
(...)

Some sources link ''rebirthing'' philosophically to Eastern disciplines, such as
yoga.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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5. Video made before girl's death
Denver Rocky Mountain News, May 18, 2000
http://insidedenver.com/news/0518girl1.shtmlOff-site Link
A ''rebirthing'' therapy in which a 10-year-old girl lapsed into unconsciousness
and died the following day was captured by a video camera while her mother
watched on a nearby TV monitor.
(...)

Proponents of the therapy say it is effective on children who haven't bonded
with their parents, giving them an opportunity to heal from a traumatic birth.
However, in at least one previous court case involving similar therapy, the
state argued that it violates generally accepted standards of psychiatry.

Ponder and Watkins wrapped the child in a sheet and were performing the therapy
as her mother watched on a video monitor in another room, Edwards said.

In a letter to the grievance board, Edwards wrote: ''The patient is then to
struggle from the sheet as if reborn to make a loving connection with the
patient's parents.''
(...)

Edwards, in his letter, said rebirthing has been used for several decades
''without known cases of physical trauma or death.''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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6. Therapist has long ties to 'holding' treatment
Denver Rocky Mountain News, May 19, 2000
http://insidedenver.com/news/0519gsid2.shtmlOff-site Link
Evergreen therapist Connell Watkins played a role in a counseling session years
ago that resulted in the lead doctor being disciplined for what officials called
''grossly negligent medical practice.''

At the time, the Colorado attorney general's office found that an 11-year-old
boy had been verbally and physically abused, cursed and restrained for more than
30 minutes against his will while twisted into a painful position.

The attorney general's office also was concerned that the child could not
withdraw or end the ''abusive treatment'' even if in danger.

The State Board of Medical Examiners admonished well-known child psychiatrist
Foster Cline, who supervised the session, and forbid him from practicing the
treatment, known as ''holding therapy.''

But Watkins and Michael Orlans, another therapist involved, continued using the
therapy. They acknowledged that many other troubled children had received this
aggressive kind of pyschological treatment.

Now that 10-year-old Candace Newmaker has died following a session with Watkins,
authorities again are scrutinizing these techniques.
(...)

She is considered an expert in her field — treating children with attachment and
bonding disorders. Her training in ''rebirthing,'' a technique similar to
holding therapy that resulted in Candace's death, was limited to a two-week
seminar taught by a California therapist who learned about rebirthing during his
own treatment for depression, according to the arrest affidavit.

Watkins could not recall any books she'd read on rebirthing. She had never
undergone the treatment herself because ''she felt it would be too traumatic for
her,'' the affidavit states.

Evergreen is the epicenter for the treatment generally known as attachment
therapy, which includes holding and rebirthing therapies, as well as
role-playing and verbal counseling.

The Jefferson County town is home to several counseling centers that specialize
in using the therapy on severely disturbed children, often adopted or foster
children who never bonded with a parent.

The techniques combine tight, across-the-lap holds with yelling and sometimes
tickling.

The goal is to encourage children to break down their defenses, release rage and
bond with the person who forced them to do so, according to information on one
of the center's Web sites.

Several therapists in this tight-knit community praise Watkins as highly
respected in the field.
(...)

However, a 29-year-old Littleton man who received holding therapy from Watkins
when he was 10 or 11, remembers it as frightening.

''It totally changed me from being a happy little fifth-grader to being
insecure,'' Keith Vargo said in an interview. He said he's since outgrown those
scars.
(...)

As soon as she turned him loose, he took off into the mountains, running as fast
as he could.

That was also the response of the 11-year-old whose case prompted the state
investigation that began in 1993.
(...)

The therapists told him to attempt to pull free to prove that he could not,
according to the case files. His mouth was covered some of the time. Other
times, he was told to kick his legs, tell lies and call the therapists profane
names.

He could not end the session even though he ''sobbed, cried out and appeared
scared and exhausted,'' according to the attorney general's report.

In an interview Thursday, Orlans said he was charged with child abuse after the
incident. When the boy escaped, he beat himself with rocks and told
investigators Orlans' had bruised him. The child later recanted and the charges
were dropped, Orlans said.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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7. 4 accused in 'rebirthing' death
Denver Rocky Mountain News, May 19, 2000
http://insidedenver.com/news/0519girl1.shtmlOff-site Link
A 10-year-old girl in ''rebirthing'' therapy smothered as she lay balled up and
bound inside a blue flannel blanket with four adults pushing against her and a
therapist yelling, ''Go ahead, die right now.''
(...)

Candace died April 19 at Children's Hospital in Denver, a day after she fell
unconscious during a therapy session at Watkins' office.

''It's my fault. I had no idea she stopped breathing,'' Ponder told sheriff's
investigators.
(...)

Ponder has a California therapist license. Watkins is unlicensed. St. Clair was
employed as Watkins' office manager. McDaniel was an intern who told authorities
he had 15 college credits.
(...)

Bill Goble, a child therapist in North Carolina, met Jeane Newmaker last year at
a conference in Virginia, and led her to Colorado.
(...)

Goble said he'd been told that Watkins and Ponder were performing the treatment
by proper, prescribed methods.

Several other attachment disorder experts, however, were unfamiliar with
rebirthing therapy, indicating the technique is not widespread and has even been
rejected by some therapists.

''I don't know anything about rebirthing,'' said Forrest Lien, Director of
Clinical Services at the Attachment Center at Evergreen, a pioneer agency for
treating children with attachment disorder. ''We really only want to use
techniques that have been used and are researched and have proven outcomes.''

Watkins used to work at the Attachment Center and many therapists who specialize
in the disorder live in Evergreen.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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8. Evergreen chock-full of therapists
Denver Rocky Mountain News, May 21, 2000
http://www.insidedenver.com/news/0521girl4.shtmlOff-site Link
When 10-year-old Candace Newmaker died after being bound in a flannel blanket
with pillows piled on it, her Evergreen therapists were performing a birth
simulation that their trainer said he's done 500 times with no ill effects.

California therapist Douglas Gosney spent two weeks in Evergreen last year
exchanging techniques and theories with Connell Watkins.
(...)

''It's very typical for them to say 'I'm afraid. I'm dying. I feel like I'm
dying,''' Gosney said. ''It never has happened.''
(...)

In the aftermath, the death has shed light on this alternative psychotherapy,
known as rebirthing, birth-trauma patterning or holding therapy. These
treatments are largely unregulated in Colorado, where psychotherapists can hang
a shingle with no license and start seeing patients, including young children.

While some practitioners defend birth simulation as life-saving for deeply
disturbed children, other psychologists say it's a dangerous, maverick approach
with no proven results. Even arriving at a clear definition of ''rebirthing'' is
difficult. Some therapists use the term to describe a breathing technique,
others use it as Watkins does, a birth simulation.

''The idea that they were going to put them on a blanket and sit on them is
totally absurd,'' said Phil Shaver, a University of California-Davis psychology
professor. ''There is no evidence that rebirthing would be good for you or would
make any psychological sense at all.''

Evergreen has become a mecca for desperate parents over the past 30 years. The
Jefferson County town is home to several well-known attachment disorder centers.
Children with these problems often are in foster care or adopted, like Candace
Newmaker.
(...)

Throughout the country, these therapies are constantly evolving.
Psychotherapists are encouraged to try creative techniques, and often learn from
each other at seminars or informal gatherings such as Gosney's visit with
Watkins last summer.
(...)

When questioned about her training in ''rebirthing'' or birth simulation,
Watkins cited Gosney as an ''expert.'' All of her training in the technique came
from him, according to the arrest affidavit.

Gosney, a licensed marriage and family therapist and past president of the Los
Angeles chapter of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists,
has been doing what he calls ''re-patterning birth trauma'' for 10 years.

Children with these issues have a high level of mistrust, often because of
harmful experiences even before they were born. ''If your own mother tries to
kill you, how can you trust anybody?'' Gosney asked.

He described how a therapist places a child in an atmosphere that simulates the
womb.

The goal is to show the child that just because they went through trauma at
birth doesn't mean they must continue reliving that pain with violent outbursts.
(...)

Gosney was skeptical that the therapy caused Candace's death.

''It makes me wonder about what pre-existing conditions the child had,'' he
said.

Another child therapist who worked with Watkins years ago has purposefully
distanced himself from these kinds of treatments.

Michael Orlans, of Evergreen Consultants in Human Behavior, got a jolt when a
child in his care complained to authorities, resulting in an investigation by
the state attorney general's office. Watkins was present for that session in
1988.

''Basically, that whole incident was a blessing in disguise for me,'' Orlans
said Friday. ''It made me really evaluate what we did, and I never did it that
way again.''

Twelve years ago, he and Watkins held a child tightly, shouted at the boy and
encouraged him to curse back at them. It's called rage-reduction therapy.

''Even though it worked, it never looked good, it never felt good, it was too
intrusive,'' Orlans said.

Now he practices more gentle, nurturing forms of therapy on troubled children
and has been a major advocate against the confrontational, restrictive
techniques.

Orlans was not even versed in rebirthing.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Ho No Hana Sanpogyo

9. Cult used Unzen to solicit followers in Nagasaki
Japan Times (Japan), May 21, 2000
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/nn05-2000/nn20000521a7.htmOff-site Link
The founder of the Honohana Sanpogyo religious group met with the governor of
Nagasaki Prefecture in the spring of 1992 and maintained that a ''voice from
heaven'' said the eruption of Mount Unzen would stop by the year's end if
prefectural residents ''awaken to the real way of life,'' it was learned
Saturday.

Police said they found evidence that Honohana was trying to set up a branch in
Nagasaki at the time.

Investigators are currently looking into allegations that the cult -- which
makes diagnoses of the health and other conditions of its followers by reading
the soles of their feet -- had defrauded followers of billions of yen.

Cult founder Hogen Fukunaga, who was arrested along with 12 other cultists
earlier this month on suspicion of fraud, approached then Nagasaki Gov. Isamu
Takada, posing as an ecologist and professor of ecological philosophy.
(...)

In the interview, Fukunaga said he read the soles of some residents of
Shimabara, a city near the volcano, and purported that they were all dirty.
''It's no wonder the heavens are angry,'' he said.

He went on to claim that ''if 7,000 residents in the prefecture find the true
path of life, the eruption will end on Dec. 29 this year.''
(...)

In the end, the cult was unable to win a substantial number of new followers in
the Nagasaki area. and abandoned efforts to create a branch there, police said.

Meanwhile, Takada told Kyodo News he did not know at the time that Fukunaga
represented a special religious group because the guru was introduced as an
ecologist.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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10. Cult falsified budget claim
Asahi News (Japan), May 20, 2000
http://www.asahi.com/english/asahi/0520/asahi052009.htmlOff-site Link
Police say the Ho no Hana Sanpogyo foot cult's claim that it spent 50 billion
yen in operating expenses was false and that the cult actually spent less than
half that for such purposes.

Investigators said cult founder Hogen Fukunaga, 55, was responsible for
administering the cult's budget totaling 87 billion yen, and they suspect he
pocketed the money for personal use.
(...)

During its peak of activity in 1994, Ho no Hana Sanpogyo had more than 500
people on its payroll, including more than 20 board members, police said.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Falun Gong

11. Falun Gong Man Dies in Custody
AOL/AP, May 19, 2000
http://my.aol.com/news/story.tmpl?
table=n&cat=01&id=0005191059488116
BEIJING (AP) - A former head of a local militia and believer in the banned Falun
Gong
spiritual movement has died in a Chinese police detention center after
refusing food and water for eight days, a human rights group reported today.

Zhou Zhichang, 45, died May 6 in the Shuangcheng No. 1 prison in northeastern
Heilongjiang province, the Hong Kong-based Information Center of Human Rights
and Democracy said. He had been imprisoned there since he was caught in Beijing
in September attempting to protest against the government ban, it said.
(...)

Unconfirmed reports by Falun Gong members and human rights groups say at least
17 Falun Gong adherents have died during detention, some from beatings and some
after hunger strikes. The government has denied that any sect members died from
mistreatment.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Attleboro Cult

12. Maine state park search doesn't turn up bodies of boys
Boston Globe/AP, May 21, 2000
http://www.boston.com/dailynews/141/region/Maine_state_park_search_doesn_:.shtmlOff-site Link
About 100 volunteer rescuers, game wardens and police and a dozen search dogs
were unable to find the bodies of two missing Massachusetts boys in Baxter State
Park in Maine on Saturday.
(...)

Authorities believe members of a strict religious sect in Attleboro, Mass.,
buried the boys in the park last year. A grand jury investigation in the boys'
deaths is ongoing.

Family and sect members have not cooperated with police. Six, including Samuel's
father, have been jailed for refusing to work with the grand jury.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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13. Hunt for Attleboro cult kids to resume in Maine
Boston Herald, May 20, 2000
http://www.bostonherald.com/news/local_regional/hunt05202000.htmOff-site Link
Massachusetts authorities traveled to Maine and were expected to take part today
in a new - and hopefully narrowed - search for two boys believed to have been
buried by an Attleboro cult, sources said.
(...)

The new evidence, which investigators hope will help determine where sect
members allegedly buried 10-month-old Samuel Robidoux and his infant cousin,
Jeremiah Courneau, is believed to have come from the home of former members, Dan
and Renee Horton. Investigators searched the Hortons' Attleboro home last month
but the results of that search have been impounded.

The Hortons testified last week before a Bristol County grand jury probing the
boys' deaths but declined comment on the case. The grand jury is considering
charges ranging from manslaughter to murder against cult members.
(...)

Authorities believe four male members of the Christian fundamentalist sect,
including Samuel's father, Jacques Robidoux, buried the boys in tiny coffins in
a makeshift grave along the trail. Samuel is believed to have starved to death
after he stopped nursing while Jeremiah is believed to have been stillborn.
Investigators combed parts of the trail last November but the search was called
off due to inclement weather.
(...)

Reputed cult leader Jacques Robidoux, and five other members, including Mingo's
wife, Michelle Mingo, are behind bars for refusing to tell authorities what
happened to the boys. All of the jailed members are being held in separate
facilities in an apparent attempt to smash the tightly knit group.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Mormonism

14. ACLU to file amended complaint
Deseret News, May 20, 2000
http://www.deseretnews.com/dn/print/1,1442,170008555,00.html?
A U.S. District judge will allow the ACLU to file an amended lawsuit that seeks
to scrutinize Salt Lake City's relationship with The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints
over the sale of a block of Main Street last year.

Despite strong opposition by the church, Judge Ted Stewart said during a hearing
Friday he would grant the ACLU's motion to amend its lawsuit in the interest of
expediting the case and in acknowledgement that the ACLU had filed its proposed
amendment within the allowed timeline.
(...)

Aside from alleging constitutional rights violations resulting from the sale of
the Main Street block between North Temple and South Temple for $8.2 million,
the amended lawsuit claims the city ''intentionally joined with the (church) in
a concerted action to create what would appear to be a public park but what
would in fact be a restricted religious enclave.''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Islam

15. Egyptian Party's Suspension Follows Book Banning
Washington Post, May 21, 2000
http://search.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/WPlate/2000-05/21/157l-052100-idx.htmlOff-site Link
CAIRO, May 20—A controversy over a 20-year-old Syrian novel has sparked a
leadership fight in one of Egypt's main opposition parties, and led Egyptian
authorities to temporarily suspend the organization and its combative newspaper.

Officials took action today against the Labor Party and its chief publication,
the biweekly Al Shaab, only days after the organization seemingly split into
three factions. The party and the newspaper are to remain suspended until the
leadership battle is settled, the Reuters news agency reported.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Catholicism

16. Vatican revelations: the third secret raises more questions
Star-Telegram/NY Times News Service, May 20, 2000
http://www.star-telegram.com/news/doc/1047/Off-site Link
1:RELIGION71/1:RELIGION710520100.html
ROME -- The Vatican's belated disclosure of the third secret of Fatima last week
was a little like the FBI announcing that Elvis is, in fact, dead.

The revelation that the long-suppressed prophecy contained a vision of something
that has already come to pass, the 1981 assassination attempt on John Paul II,
deflated decades of conspiracy theories and doomsday predictions (nowadays
broadcast on dozens of Fatima Web sites). Most third-secret devotees were
skeptical.

Fatima, revered by Roman Catholics as a place where the Virgin Mary appeared to
three Portuguese shepherd children in 1917, has long held a broader fascination
for people attracted to unsolved, spooky mysteries. Fatima addicts maintain that
the third secret was so terrifying -- their conjectures ranging from schism to
nuclear annihilation -- that no pope dared reveal it.

And, as is so often the case when the Vatican lifts a veil to appease public
opinion, it raises more questions. So many, in fact, that the Fatima mystery
lives on: The Vatican's effort to end tabloid sensationalism and cultish
obsession has already spawned new conspiracy theories.

And doubting Thomases. The Rev. Nicholas Gruner, director of the Fatima Center
in Fort Erie, Ontario, who has a quarterly magazine, ''Fatima Crusader'' and a
Web site (www.fatima.org), has been lobbying for full disclosure since 1978.
Immediately after the Vatican announcement last week, Gruner said in a press
release: ''We pray that the original will be photographically reproduced for
wide distribution.''

The ''original'' is believed to be a handwritten description of the third secret
by Sister Lucia de Santos, 93, the only surviving Fatima witness, who became a
Carmelite nun.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Other News

17. Religious Separatist Gets Up to Life After Wounding Deputy, Killing Dog
Salt Lake Tribune, May 20, 2000
http://www.sltrib.com/2000/may/05202000/utah/50669.htmOff-site Link
RICHFIELD -- Religious separatist Tony Alexander Hamilton was sentenced this
week to the possibility of life in prison for wounding a Beaver County sheriff's
deputy in September.
(...)

For Beaver County the sentencing brought an end to 15 years of conflict
involving Hamilton and the organization to which he once belonged, the Immanuel
Foundation and Fraternity of Preparation.

In 1986 the group purchased 640 acres of land in an area of western Beaver
County known as Vance Springs. Soon after, members built houses, a chapel,
underground huts, and a 7-foot-high barbwire fence surrounding the pinyon- and
juniper-covered plot of land. Thinking they were immune from secular laws, the
group filed documents with the Beaver County clerk stating that they were a
religious organization and exempt from taxation.

The property was ultimately sold in 1994 at public auction for back taxes, but
not all group members relinquished their ties to the area. In June 1996 Beaver
officials peacefully evicted some members who continued to live on the land.

But in late July 1999, Hamilton and two others moved back into the compound.
On the morning of Sept. 9, 1999, Yardley, Chambers, and other officers went to
the property to evict Hamilton. In an ensuing standoff, Hamilton shot Chambers
in the leg, killed the police dog and threatened Yardley.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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18. 20 Christian sect members arrested
South China Morning Post/AP (China), May 20, 2000
http://www.scmp.com/News/China/Article/FullText_asp_
ArticleID-20000520032035797.asp
Twenty members of an unorthodox Christian group were arrested in the southwest
and one of their leaders sentenced to a year in a labour camp, a human rights
group reported yesterday.

Since late March, police in Sichuan's Yanting county had detained at least 20
members of the Society of Disciples, known in Chinese as the Mentuhui, the Hong
Kong-based Information Centre of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China
said.

On Wednesday, police sentenced a leader of the group, Li Xueqing, to a year in a
labour camp for the offence of ''using an evil cult'', it said. Mainland police
can legally sentence detainees to up to three years in labour camps without
trial.
(...)

According to Hong Kong media reports, the Society of Disciples was founded in
1989 by a farmer in central Shaanxi province who, styling himself after Jesus,
had initially recruited 12 disciples.

The group's close-knit, secretive network of house churches enabled it to
flourish throughout central and western China, where it claims as many as
500,000 members, the information centre reported.

The group cited local sources as saying there were about 2,000 followers of the
movement in Yanting.

Angered by its preaching that the world would end in 2000, and its opposition to
state-run churches and strict government birth-control policies, authorities
started trying to wipe out the sect in 1995.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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19. Japan ministers say won't leave religious group
AltaVista/Reuters, May 19, 2000
http://live.altavista.com/scripts/editorial.dll?
ei=1815157&ern=y
TOKYO, May 19 (Reuters) - Japanese cabinet ministers said on Friday they will
not follow their prime minister's example and quit a lawmakers group related to
Shinto, an indigenous religion linked with the country's war-time imperialism.

The group came under the spotlight this week after Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori
drew a storm of criticism by telling the group that Japan was a divine country
centred on the emperor -- remarks that brought back unpleasant memories of
Japan's war years.

Mori offered a partial apology on Wednesday and quit the group on Thursday after
the comments ignited cross-party anger at home and upset Asian neighbours,
including China.

But at least four ministers in Mori's cabinet who are members of the group, said
they had no intention of leaving.
(...)

The aim of the group is to reflect the ''spirit of Shinto'' in politics, rather
than to spread the religion, an official at the group's secretariat said.
(...)

Shinto teaches that the world is full of gods called kami, dominated by the sun
goddess Amaterasu -- from whom the Emperor is said to be descended.

The religion became a tool of nationalists early in the 20th century and was the
official religion of the Japanese armies which attacked and conquered much of
Asia in the name of the emperor in the years 1937-1945.

After World War Two, Shinto was stripped of most of its nationalistic
connotations and the emperor ceased to be divine. Japan's constitution now
prohibits any link between religion and the state.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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20. Egbesu Cult to Rid Self of Evil Doers
Post Express/Africa News Online (Nigeria), May 20, 2000
http://www.africanews.org/west/nigeria/stories/20000520/20000520_feat6.htmlOff-site Link
Lagos - The supreme Egbesu assembly, the highest ruling body of the Egbesu cult,
has announced its preparedness to eliminate those who allegedly used its powers
to perpetuate evil in the Niger Delta.

The first category of blacklegs to taste the Egbesu wrath include, those who
practice piracy with the use of the sacred white cloth especially at the sea and
creeks.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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21. No retrial for pair in Wenatchee case
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, May 19, 2000
http://www.seattlep-i.com/local/dogg19.shtmlOff-site Link
[Ritual abuse]
WENATCHEE -- Mark and Carol Doggett, key figures in the Wenatchee child sex-ring
investigations, will not face a new trial on charges they raped their children.

Chelan County Prosecutor Gary Riesen said his office won't retry the couple, who
were released from jail in 1998.

The decision came six weeks after the state Supreme Court declined to review
prosecutors' contentions about errors when the Doggetts' 1995 convictions were
thrown out.

Riesen said the court ruling meant prosecutors wouldn't be able to enter some
evidence.

''There have been recantations by the kids as well,'' Riesen said.

The Doggetts, who now live in Bothell, said they aren't surprised by the news.

''Actually, we expected this after we were first arrested,'' Carol Doggett said.
''This is far from over. That was only the top of the inning. Now it's our
turn.''

Since their 1998 release from prison, the Doggetts have been reunited with four
of their five children and are working at being reunited with the fifth, who
remains in foster care in the Wenatchee area.
(...)

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

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

In February 1998, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer published ''The Power to
Harm,'' a series of articles that documented overzealous -- even abusive --
actions by Perez and social service caseworkers, civil rights violations by
judges and prosecutors as well as sloppy work by public defenders.

Since then, many of the convicted have been freed by higher courts, largely
through the work of The Innocence Project, a group of volunteer lawyers.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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* Includes links to the following archives:

Developments continue in the wake of the P-I's February 1998 investigation
into civil rights violations during the Wenatchee sex ring prosecutions:
http://www.seattlep-i.com/powertoharm/Off-site Link

See more followups: http://www.seattlep-i.com/powertoharm/aftermath.htmlOff-site Link


22. State Police case pits duty, religious beliefs
The Indianapolis Star, May 20, 2000
http://www.starnews.com/news/citystate/0520st_gamb.htmlOff-site Link
BREMEN, Ind. -- Former Indiana State Trooper Ben Endres won a lottery earlier
this year, but he's not celebrating.

The prize was a tour of duty as an Indiana Gaming Commission agent on the Blue
Chip Casino in Michigan City.

To Endres, the assignment violated a long-held religious conviction against
gambling. He refused to report for duty, a decision that cost him his job and
put the state in the middle of a controversy about how far it should go to
accommodate the religious beliefs of its employees.

State Police Superintendent Melvin Carraway charged Endres with insubordination
and refusing to comply with a written order. He fired Endres in late April, a
decision Endres is appealing to the State Police Review Board.
(...)

A national conservative civil liberties group, the Rutherford Institute, has
rallied to Endres' cause, asking the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to
intervene.

Endres is a member of the Community Baptist Church in Bremen. One of the
congregation's articles of faith states: ''We believe that each member must
remain separate from such ungodly practices as . . . gambling.''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Religious Intolerance

23. Civil rights group sues Indiana over Ten Commandments monument
Freedom Forum/AP, May 19, 2000
http://www.freedomforum.org/news/2000/05/2000-05-19-02.aspOff-site Link
[Religious Intolerance]
INDIANAPOLIS — Gov. Frank O'Bannon and a state lawmaker say that plans to place
a monument inscribed with the Ten Commandments on the Statehouse lawn should
clear a legal challenge filed yesterday by the Indiana Civil Liberties Union.

''The principle of separation of church and state was originally designed to
protect religion from government interference, not wipe out any reference to our
religious heritage,'' said state Rep. Brent Steele, R-Bedford.

Steele has been working with a local limestone company to construct the
monument, which also will be inscribed with the Bill of Rights and the preamble
to the U.S. Constitution.

Several clergy members of different faiths joined the ICLU in filing a lawsuit
yesterday in U.S. District Court. It claims the monument would violate the
Constitution by representing establishment of religion by the state.

''The state of Indiana is taking a document which we all recognize is a holy
document to a particular faith and putting it in a place of supreme, secular
importance, that is the lawn of the Statehouse,'' said ICLU attorney Kenneth
Falk.

''That represents the endorsement and establishment of religion by the state of
Indiana.''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Religious Pluralism

24. A Wealth of Diversity in Faith
Los Angeles Times, May 20, 2000
http://www.latimes.com/news/state/20000520/t000047677.htmlOff-site Link
[Religious Pluralism]
Il-Koo Cho represents the future face of religious studies in America. The
engaging Korean scholar and Christian minister is pursuing a doctoral degree in
the history of Christianity at Claremont Graduate University. But he knows that
Christianity cannot be accurately understood in isolation from other faith
traditions--not in today's global village, certainly not in Southern California,
the most religiously diverse place on earth
(....)

As the joint program in religion between Claremont Graduate University and
Claremont School of Theology celebrates its 40th anniversary, faculty members
aim to make comparative religious research like Cho's the wave of Claremont's
future.
(...)

The scramble to study America's growing religious diversity is not confined to
Claremont. USC is ''desperately hoping to hire a Buddhologist knowledgeable
about Buddhism in America,'' according to John Crossley, director of the school
of religion there. Crossley said the school intended to increasingly focus on
Asian religions, in part because of student interest. Its ''Religion of East
Asians'' course consistently draws capacity enrollments of 150; it's the most
popular religion course in its general education program.

Some East Coast schools report similar trends. At Trinity College in Hartford,
Conn., Mark Silk of the Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life said
that non-Christian religion courses are attracting the most student interest
''by orders of magnitudes.''

''Students don't feel drawn to basic Christian stuff,'' Silk said. ''There is
steady growth of interest in Islam and Eastern religions. . . . It strikes
students that Eastern religions are somehow less institutional and more about
spirituality.''
(...)

But the religion program--which has doubled its student body to 70 and doctoral
programs to six in the last 10 years--is renowned for its Christian scholarship.
Among other things, Claremont is internationally recognized for its biblical
studies research, with scholars such as James Robinson directing the bulk of the
translation and editing of the Nag Hammadi Library.
(...)

The pluralistic teachings are beginning to reshape the religious assumptions of
America's dominant Christian past in major ways.

''They are bringing a tremendous paradigm shift: We no longer take for granted
that there is an objective truth that resides in a particular religious
system,'' said Zane Kassam, a Pomona assistant professor who teaches about Islam
and comparative religion. ''There may in fact be many truths.''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Noted

25. Ozark County has seen its share of religious sects, police say
St. Louis Post-Dispatch/AP, May 20, 2000
http://www.stlnet.com/postnet/news/wires.nsf/
StateRegion/331262FA98DED40A862568E50080C031?OpenDocument
Off-site Link
GAINESVILLE, Mo. -- The remote and rugged Ozark hills blanketed with dogwoods
and oak trees provide an ideal backdrop for hunters, hikers and others wanting
to get away from bustle of larger cities.

But it also draws more than its share of religious sects and hate groups,
authorities say.

This past week, police arrested the Rev. Gordon Winrod -- a man who preaches
that Jews should be killed -- for allegedly kidnapping six of his grandchildren
in the mid-1990s and hiding them at his tiny farmhouse in the hills since then.
(...)

Winrod, 73, and his followers had gained a reputation in Ozark County for his
mass mailings of hate literature, which calls law enforcement officers and
prosecutors ''Jewdicials'' -- a play on the word judicial -- and claims they
cover up Jewish ritual murders of ''whites.'' He calls anyone who disagrees with
him ''a Jew,'' Bartlett said.

While the mailings are disturbing, residents say, it's not uncommon to find that
kind of sentiment in some areas of the Ozarks, known for drawing hate groups and
people connected to the Christian Identity movement -- a loose group of churches
which considers whites superior to Jews and nonwhites.

The movement has more affiliations in Missouri than any other state, primarily
in the Ozark region, the FBI and state officials have said.
(...)

Many residents say they have felt intimidated by groups like the CSA and
Winrod's. Most residents decline to be interviewed, and those who do ask not to
be identified for fear of retaliation.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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26. Sect leavers 'have mental problems'
BBC, May 20, 2000
http://news.bbc.co.uk/low/english/health/
newsid_755000/755588.stm
Off-site Link
[See ex-cult support resources]
Children brought up within a religious sect may suffer mental problems if they
leave to live in the outside community, a researcher says.

Jill Mytton, a former member of a religious group called the Exclusive Brethren,
questioned more than 200 other former members, asking them general questions
about how they had coped with the change.

And although most still felt loyalty rather than resentment towards the
movement, they were suffering from a variety of other psychological symptoms.

Foremost of these was a feeling of alienation from society, and a lack of
interpersonal skills.

Former sect members found it hard to form relationships with other people, said
Ms Mytton.

And up to 30% of those who had returned questionnaires would benefit from some
form of counselling or other help, she said.

The research was presented at a British Psychological Society meeting in
Liverpool on Saturday.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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27. Vineyard Christian harvests fruits of major expansion
Columbus Dispatch, May 19, 2000
http://www.dispatch.com/news/newsfea00/may00/285088.htmlOff-site Link
You couldn't miss it before, when Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Columbus was
only 55,000 square feet.

You definitely can't miss it now after a 78,000-square-foot expansion of the
church at 6000 Cooper Rd., off Westerville Road north of Rt. 161.

Enough of the $9 million, 18-month job has been completed for the first services
inside it to be held this weekend, said Bill Christensen, 48, executive pastor.
He is one of a dozen full-time pastors on the 50-person staff, where informality
rules and the title the Reverend is rarely heard.
(...)

Vineyard sprang up from the 1970s' house-church movement, in which small
gatherings met in homes. Based in Anaheim, Calif., the fellowship has about 700
churches in 35 countries, including five in the Columbus area. A sixth is
expected to be added in the Reynoldsburg-Pickerington area by early next year.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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28. Psychic gives stock advice
Cincinnati Enquirer, May 20, 2000
http://enquirer.com/editions/2000/05/20/fin_psychic_gives_stock.htmlOff-site Link
Rhonda Mathers will be the first to tell you: She doesn't know anything about
stocks. But that doesn't stop people from asking her about them - or the
Covington psychic from doling out financial advice.
(...)

No longer just advisers for the lovelorn, psychics and tarot card readers like
Ms. Mathers are increasingly seeing clients asking for true “fortune” telling.
And nowadays, fortunes are made in the stock market.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Books

29. 'Mystics' offers study of cults' place in history
Seattle Times, May 21, 2000 (Book Review)
[About cult defenders]
http://www.seattletimes.com/news/entertainment/html98/myst21_20000521.htmlOff-site Link
Mystics and Messiahs: Cults and New Religions in American HistoryOff-site Link
by Philip Jenkins
Oxford University Press, $27.50

Jonestown. Waco. Aum Shinrikyo. Heaven's Gate. And then we hear reports from
Uganda. First of mass suicide, then of mass murder. We watch the death toll rise
until it includes nearly a thousand men, women and children.

Questions abound. How could this happen? Who is responsible? But no one ever
questions whether or not we should expect this sort of behavior from cults.
Such concepts have been woven into the very word we use to describe fringe
religious movements: Cult.

In ''Mystics and Messiahs: Cults and New Religions in American History,'' Philip
Jenkins offers a different picture.

He argues that these are the horrific exceptions, and that there is more to the
religious fringe than sensationalist media portrayals lead us to believe.
Jenkins traces three separate ''cult booms'' - one in the 1880s, one in the
1920s and the most recent one in the 1970s - and the corresponding anticult
backlashes that came like clockwork about ten years after each boom.

He shows that concern about fringe religions is generally more indicative of
contemporary societal values - particularly those that have come under threat -
than actual cultish activity.

Early cult backlashes concerned themselves with theological questions.

Those of the more recent past have been known to fabricate allegations of fraud
and child abuse. What sets feathers aflutter may change with time; the ruffling
process remains much the same.

Not surprisingly, elements of racist and gender fears often underlie anticult
rhetoric.
(...)

The style of ''Mystics and Messiahs'' is a bit stilted, often leaving popular
nonfiction behind to enter the realm of the textbook. (Jenkins undoubtedly could
have learned a pointer or two on keeping the reader hooked from the writers
mentioned above.) But for those willing to bridge the gap, he offers a
fascinating study of American history, one that shows that cults have always
been a vital part of our society.

Or as Jenkins writes: They have ''succeeded remarkably in defining popular
attitudes towards the outer reaches of American spiritual life.'' They also have
helped define the boundaries of our legal system, and allowed many otherwise
offensive ideas to filter into the mainstream. Heard of the New Age movement?
With roots that can be traced back to cults of the early 20th century, it's
nothing of the sort - and but one of many popular belief systems that has gained
acceptance, thanks to those fanatics in colorful robes.