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Religion News Report

May 27, 2000 (Vol. 4, Issue 208)

arrow Latest: Religion News Blog

=== Aum Shinrikyo
1. AUM still pursuing sarin studies
2. Sarin memos seized from Aum-related car
3. Tokyo Police Find Nerve Gas Recipe

=== Ho No Hana Sanpogyo
4. Fuji mayor urges ministries to dissolve Honohana cult

=== Falun Gong
5. Practitioners of meditation group tell of maltreatment by government
6. Hunger-striking Falungong member killed by force-feeding: group

=== Issa Masiya
7. Police Look For Iganga Cult Graves
8. 4 Iganga Cult Bodies Dug Up

=== Scientology
9. Scientologists reject new book
10. Odette Jaccard: Defending herself for sect victims
11. Caution: Scientology Advertising Campaign
12. Surf's Up for Scientologists
13. Planetary Disaster
14. Dianetics Boy
15. After Tom Cruise Wrist Slap, US Mag Finds Religion
16. Conspirators are among us
17. Losing his religion?

=== Attleboro Cult
18. Prosecutors vow no let-up in Attleboro cult probe

=== Other News
19. Mother Charged in 'Rebirthing' Death
20. Australian woman kills son in exorcism then tries to resurrect him
21. Escondido panel OKs planned Hare Krishna temple
22. Preacher thinks he saw O'Hair
23. Karr lawyers rest their case (O'Hair)
24. French swindler sold phone call with the dead
25. Sembabule 'healer' Nanyonga dead
26. Vatican Eyes Shroud of Turin Tests

=== Noted
27. Vampire Fans on the Track of Drac
28. When a whole lot of Goths gather in Seattle, can you call it a festival?
29. Search led speaker to convert to Orthodox faith

=== Trends / Statistics
30. Church is the place for single men

=== Death Penalty / Human Rights
31. The Shadow Over America
32. A Life or Death Gamble
33. Hurricane Carter Works for Death Penalty Moratorium

=== Books
34. Book urges Buddhism without belief

=== The Theologians Around The Corner
35. ''Jesus'' loses defamation suit against churches

=== Aum Shinrikyo

1. AUM still pursuing sarin studies
Mainichi Daily News (Japan), May 26, 2000
http://www.mainichi.co.jp/english/news/news04.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Members of the AUM Shinrikyo doomsday cult have continued to pursue their
interest in making lethal sarin gas, police said Thursday.

Cult members have admitted to releasing the toxic gas on the Tokyo subway system
in March 1995, but documents seized recently from a follower close to AUM guru
Shoko Asahara's daughter indicate the doomsday group continues to maintain its
fetish for the lethal substance. AUM has pledged to mend its evil ways, but it
appears to have even scoured overseas sources to find out how to make the toxic

''I can make sarin really easily. I worked in a sarin factory before the subway
attack,'' a friend of the follower quoted her as having said recently.

AUM officials denied any wrong-doing. They say the follower had the notebooks to
give to the lawyer of an AUM member standing trial for the subway gassing.

Police said the information outlined in the documents was of a technical nature
and not the type of knowledge that could be easily found on the streets.

They also said the doomsday cult member who had been accompanying Asahara's
daughter was knowledgeable in the sarin creation process and had written
cautionary notes in the margins of the notebooks. The notebooks seemed to have
been filled about one to two years ago.

The follower at the center of the storm left an AUM facility with Asahara's
daughter in January, but the pair went their separate ways two months later.

On April 22, a car in which Asahara's daughter was riding was searched by
police, leading to the discovery of the notebooks.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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See Follow-up story

2. Sarin memos seized from Aum-related car
Daily Yomiuri (Japan), May 27, 2000
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/newse/0527cr05.htmOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Police confiscated small notebooks containing chemical data about sarin nerve
gas last month from a crashed car in which Aum founder Chizuo Matsumoto's eldest
daughter was a passenger, it was learned Thursday.

Matsumoto's daughter was arrested for possession of a knife at the time of the

The notebooks belonged to the female driver of the car, who was a member of the
Aum Supreme Truth cult, which has now changed its name to Aleph.

She was found to have specialized knowledge of chemical science and police
confirmed that she had told friends that it was easy to produce sarin.

The Metropolitan Police Department regards the incident as proof that Aum
followers have not abandoned their interest in sarin and other weapons of
indiscriminate terrorism.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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3. Tokyo Police Find Nerve Gas Recipe
AOL/AP, May 26, 2000
TOKYO (AP) - A doomsday cult memo discovered last month contains the recipe for
sarin nerve gas, suggesting the group plans to resume production of the poison
used to kill 12 people in a 1995 attack on the Tokyo subways, police said

Police believe the memo, found inside a car belonging to the Aum Shinri KyoOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
cult, was produced within the last couple of years. It contained a list of
chemical ingredients and procedures to make sarin.

Japan's largest newspaper, the Yomiuri, said the cult member was involved in
illegal drug production for Aum, which now calls itself Aleph. Investigators
told the newspaper that the woman, who was not identified, has told friends she
was involved in the production of the nerve gas used in the subway attack and
that sarin was easy to produce.

Aum denied that the woman was involved in its nerve gas production before the
1995 attack, and said she had quit the cult.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Ho No Hana Sanpogyo

4. Fuji mayor urges ministries to dissolve Honohana cult
Japan Times (Japan), May 27, 2000
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/getarticle.pl5?nn20000527a9.htmOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
The mayor and assembly chairman of Fuji city, in Shizuoka Prefecture, on Friday
asked the government to dissolve the Honohana Sanpogyo religious cult, which is
headquartered in the city.

Mayor Kiyomi Suzuki and Fuji city Assembly Chairman Sadahiko Matsumoto visited
Fukushiro Nukaga, deputy chief Cabinet secretary, at the Prime Minister's
Official Residence and handed him a written request urging the Cultural Agency
to dissolve the cult.

In reply, Nukaga told Suzuki, ''We fully understand the situation in Fuji.''

The mayor and the chairman, accompanied by other officials from Fuji, made the
same request to Justice Minister Hideo Usui and Education Minister Hirofumi

The Fuji city delegation called on Usui as prosecutors are able to ask courts to
dissolve religious cults.

Suzuki, pointing out that police claim Honohana is a fraudulent group, told Usui
the cult has grown larger since setting up in the city about 13 years ago and
has become a nuisance.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Falun Gong

5. Practitioners of meditation group tell of maltreatment by government
St. Louis Post-Dispatch/Washington Post, May 25, 2000
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
NANJING - Police officials in Nanjing deny allegations that practitioners of the
exercise and meditation group known as Falun Gong have been detained, beaten and
involuntarily committed to mental institutions.

The city's journalists say there's no story.

Even sophisticated, Western-oriented professors here dismiss the controversy
over Falun Gong. They say Western critics are making far too much about a bunch
of laughably misdirected people at the far margins of Chinese society.

But if all that's true, what about the eight individuals who risked jail to meet
with a Post-Dispatch reporter and give detailed accounts of how they had been
arrested and detained, sometimes for weeks, just for protesting the government's
decision last summer to ban an exercise practice that up until then millions of
Chinese had been peacefully pursuing in public parks?

And what about Li An Nin, the retired manager for an investment company, locked
in a closed ward at the Nanjing Mental Hospital?

The meeting was arranged by a teacher in a Nanjing technical institute who has
been practicing Falun Gong for four years. The Post-Dispatch located him through
a friend who had immigrated to Canada.

''When I was given your name, I wasn't sure at first what to do,'' he said,
''but I thought it was inhumane to be forcing people in the hospital. These
practitioners aren't meeting publicly. They're not breaking any laws. It is only
for their beliefs that they are being punished.

''I hope that with your report readers in the West will know something of what
is happening here,'' he added. ''Report it to your readers as objectively as you
can. Don't exaggerate. Just tell the truth, and let them know.''

The Nanjing municipal government has sponsored an exhibit downtown, with
photographs and text suggesting that Falun Gong is similar to the Branch
Davidians of Waco, Texas, the victims of the Jonestown mass suicide in Guyana
and other ''vicious cults.'' The media here have quoted the government
denunciations but have attempted no independent investigations of alleged
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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6. Hunger-striking Falungong member killed by force-feeding: group
Yahoo/AFP, May 26, 2000
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
A hunger-striking member of the banned Falungong spiritual group died in Chinese
police detention after she was fatally injured during force-feeding, a member of
the movement told AFP Friday.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Issa Masiya

7. Police Look For Iganga Cult Graves
New Vision/Africa News Online (Uganda), May 25, 2000
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Kampala - Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officers are investigating and
digging up parts of the Issa Masiya sect headquarters in Bubago village, Iganga
district in search of suspected mass graves, reports Davis Weddi.

The sect which is led by Apostle Besweri Kaswabuli, peg their belief on the 1877
Luganda version of the Bible of Issa Masiya.

The believers, said to be more than 100,000 and who include some Kenyans and
Rwandese, have other camps in Tororo, Bushenyi, Rukungiri, Ntungamo, Mukono and
Pallisa districts.

The search in Bubago follows reports that the sect leader was assaulting some
people, defiling under-age girls, aiding and forcing abortions and burying dead
followers without informing their relatives.

Opio said the CID will need Pastor Kaswabuli to guide them during the
investigations if the report about his Bubago village camp recommends so. By
yesterday afternoon, sources at Police headquarters were saying Kaswabuli's
whereabouts were unknown and that he could have fled.

He called a New Vision journalist in Jinja last week, saying he was going to
Israel. Opio said they were not aware that Kaswabuli had fled.

Details availed to The New Vision yesterday indicate that the Issa Masiya have a
record of changing the names of all their recruits.

Statements so far recorded from some former members indicate that they were
advised to identify themselves as orphans.

The Jinja regional and Iganga district Police chiefs have been attacked for not
having done anything when informed about the sect's suspicious activities.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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8. 4 Iganga Cult Bodies Dug Up
New Vision (Uganda), May 26, 2000
http://www.newvision.co.ug/05_26_st1.htmOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
The Police have exhumed four bodies believed to be deceased followers of the
Issa Masiya sect in Bubago village in Iganga district.

The decomposed bodies, which were discovered on Wednesday, were reportedly found
buried in separate flattened graves.

They were reburied at the sect headquarters after a Police pathologist carried
out postmortem on all of them at Nsinze health centre.

The New Vision has learnt that the investigators will proceed to a village
called Naluyima where another follower, a Rwandese identified as Mukarushema,
was reportedly buried.

Detectives from the criminal Investigation Department (CID) headquarters were
yesterday reported to be searching for one Alenyoti's mother and the grave of
one Musa. Alenyoti is currently at the sect headquarters in Bubago.

The sect leader, Apostle Besweri Kaswabuli, was yesterday confirmed to have left
the country for Israel.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Scientology

9. Scientologists reject new book
The Budapest Sun (Hungary), May 18, 2000
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Hungarians are being programmed, tricked into working without pay and put at
risk from the evils of Scientology, according to a recently published book by a
Hungarian psychiatrist.

Andras Veér's Hungary in the Web of Scientology details L Ron Hubbard, the
founder of Scientology, a religious movement that aims to provide its followers
with spiritual and mental clarity, and highlights Hungarian cases.

Scientology is often referred to as a sect, although it is registered as a small
church in Hungary and as such does not receive State funding or support.

Veér told The Budapest Sun, ''L Ron Hubbard had the same personality as Hitler,
wanting to conquer the world.''

Veér said that the Scientology economic network was in many ways ''smarter than
Bill Gates'', because as a secret association it couldn't fall foul of
anti-trust laws. ''I don't want to use the word brainwashing, but they program
members and make them dependent on the organization's philosophy and sentiments,
making you psychologically and materially dependent on them,'' he said.

Veér also claimed the religion is harmful because it carries out criminal deeds:
taking people abroad to work without pay, benefits or work visas.

The Church of Scientology in Hungary was quick to answer the allegations. Jura
Nanuk, secretary for the Church, said, ''It is always hard to defend yourself
against irrational accusations.

''Veér is actually accusing Scientology of brainwashing. It is absurd because
the only profession that invented and was using brainwashing techniques was
psychiatry. He is attacking Scientology for something his own profession was
doing.'' Nanuk firmly denied the charges Veér has made in his book, saying
members who travel abroad do so for religious training and that there is no
political or economic organization with a hidden agenda.

''The Aims of Scientology, as stated by L Ron Hubbard, state Scientology is not
a politically motivated organization and it is not trying to influence political
decisions.'' The claim that Hubbard had the same mindset as Hitler is something
Nanuk found ridiculous.

''He is again accusing us of something he is doing. The same accusations that
Veér is pushing can be found in Mein Kampf where Hitler was accusing the Jews
saying they want to achieve world domination,'' he said.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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* The Church of Scientology hates psychiatry:

http://sloth.rpi.net.au/~marina/latimes/la90-6b.htmOff-site Link

but L. Ron Hubbard himself once asked for psychiatric help:

http://www.xs4all.nl/~kspaink/cos/LRH-bio/psychbeg.htmOff-site Link

* The Church of Scientology also has a bad habit of trying to compare critics
with Nazis. But those who know their history take a better approach:

''A German Embassy statement on Scientology said that ''because of its
experiences during the Nazi regime, Germany has a special responsibility to
monitor the development of any extreme group within its borders.''
- U.S. Challenges Germany on Scientology, Washington Post, May 4, 2000
http://www.apologeticsindex.org/news/an200506.html#9Off-site Link

10. Odette Jaccard: Defending herself for sect victims
Beobachter (Switzerland), May 24, 2000
Translation: CISAR
http://cisar.org/000524c.htmOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
[Ms. Jaccard was nominated for the Prix Courage]

Even the federal district attorney sympathized with the sect critic. ''[Swiss
District Attorney] Carla Del Ponte was very nice at my hearing,'' Odette Jaccard
recalls. ''She said that I would be able to continue my work. She just could not
help me with it.'' And the police officer who searched her apartment for
incriminating material encouraged her, ''Go to the press about this.''

In April 1998, Jaccard was arrested because she had handed over information on
Swiss members of the Scientology psycho-sect to a German Constitutional Security
agent in Basel in an operation that looked like it came out of the movies. That
was ''political intelligence work.'' And Odette Jaccard was sentenced to ten
days imprisonment suspended in November 1999. An absurd verdict. ''But it didn't
stop me from continuing to to distribute information about the unholy works of
sects.'' Her attorney appealed the judgment and a decision on it is supposed to
be made this summer.

Jaccard had previously been sued by Scientology for ''infringement of respect.''
The court decided in her favor, though, even when it went all the way up to the
federal court. She has been disparaged repeatedly in the sect's publications.
''That doesn't bother me, either. Because I am doing work for people affected by
sects.'' She knows dozens of sect victims who fell into psychic dependency,
financial ruin or who were even driven to attempted suicide. ''That is
criminal,'' she believes, ''one must say that loudly and clearly.''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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* The Church of Scientology is notorious for its harassment of critics:
http://www.apologeticsindex.org/s04.html#cosharassOff-site Link

11. Caution: Scientology Advertising Campaign
No source mentioned. Germany, May 25, 2000
Translation: CISAR
http://cisar.org/000525a.htmOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Stuttgart - State politicians of the major parties have issued warnings of a new
advertising campaign by the Scientology Organization. The organization is
putting on more exhibitions and anniversary celebrations, believes the
trans-partisan ''Aktion Bildungsinformation'' (ABI) in Stuttgart. It was said
that the group tries to position itself at these events as a religious community
with social goals.

''Scientology is not a church, but a commercial enterprise with criminal
tendencies,'' said SPD State Assembly Representative Carla Bregenzer. With her
political colleagues from the FDP and CDU, she plans on giving increased support
to the ''Odenwaelder Wohnhof'' pilot project. Former members of the sect can
receive help there. lsw
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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* For more on Scientology vs. Germany, see:

12. Surf's Up for Scientologists
LA Weekly, May 26, 2000
http://www.laweekly.com/ink/00/27/offbeat.shtmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Admirers of L. Ron Hubbard have launched a major environmental and morality
offensive in Southern California's beach cities, rankling critics who say the
proselytizers have been less than forthcoming about their ties to the Church of

The controversy first flared when Scientology Surf Club president Rob Hoover
asked the city of Malibu to proclaim March 13 L. Ron Hubbard Day, in honor of
Scientology's founder. The request made the City Council agenda, but was
withdrawn by Hoover when March 13 came and went with no action.

''I was shocked when I saw [the proclamation request] on the agenda,'' said
longtime Malibu resident Ruby Fader. ''I don't see any reason to promote the
Church of Scientology. To me, it is a cult.''

Both the ACLU and the Malibu city attorney said the proclamation would have
violated the constitutional separation of church and state. That didn't stop the
San Diego County city of Encinitas, however, which in March issued a Hubbard Day
proclamation - without realizing that Hubbard was Scientology's founder,
according to Encinitas Mayor James Bond. Bond said Hoover told him only that
Hubbard was a writer and surfer who lived in Encinitas in 1934.

In pitching the Hubbard Day idea to Malibu, Hoover presented the City Council
with a copy of Hubbard's 1981 ''Way to Happiness'' moral code. The code is
disseminated worldwide by the Way to Happiness Foundation. The foundation claims
to be separate from the Church of Scientology. But executive director Joni
Ginsberg and celebrity spokeswoman Nancy Cartwright (the voice of Bart Simpson)
are both Scientologists. Bridge Publications prints both the ''Happiness'' code
and Hubbard's religious and science-fiction writings.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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* The Church of Scientology uses many front groups in its fight for recognition
and influence. See, for, example, this list:
http://wpxx02.toxi.uni-wuerzburg.de/~krasel/CoS/frontgroups.htmlOff-site Link

13. Planetary Disaster
Spiegel (Germany), May 23, 2000
Translation: CISAR
http://cisar.org/000523a.htmOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Hollywood's leading Scientologist John Travolta fulfilled his life's dream by
filming a space thriller from his sect guru - and made a terrible fool of

The film catastrophe had only one redeeming value: hardly had the movie started
in the USA than the hysterics in the editorial department were called off and
the annihilation writers took the command. A ''planetary disaster'' judged Time,
''probably the worst film of the century,'' wrote the New York Times.

In vain one waited for just one statement from Scientology. Probably for a good
reason. Until now the psycho-association enjoyed the fact that it was feared by
many people who would not break out in derisive laughter as soon as its name was
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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14. Dianetics Boy
New Times LA, May 25, 2000
http://www.newtimesla.com/issues/2000-05-25/finger_p.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
The Finger was counting on John Travolta to talk candidly about Battlefield
Earth, his colossal summer disaster -- er, blockbuster -- but the glad-handing
star was suddenly nowhere to be found after weeks of high-profile pimping for
the L. Ron Hubbard epic. Instead, his 11-inch-tall counterpart, the
action-figure Terl, agreed to answer questions about how the box-office flop
might affect Hubbard's wacky religion, Scientology.

Anyway, this appendage noticed that some movie critics were unsure about the
connection between Hubbard's science fiction tale and his notorious science
fiction cult, and many were downright stupid about Scientology. Some of them
seemed unaware that the Commodore, who died in 1986, loved making movies of his
own out at his Hemet compound, and that he dreamed of promoting Scientology
through the mass appeal of Hollywood. Trouble was, Hubbard never could get
studios to bite on a science fiction screenplay he wrote, which was based on the
beliefs of Scientology itself. The cult is normally very secretive about its
core tenets which, court records show, involve an evil galactic overlord named
Xenu who supposedly blew up Earth's volcanoes 75 million years ago to vaporize
surplus aliens whose disembodied spirits now live in clusters inside unwitting
human beings. (Dianetics is the process by which, for a very high fee,
Scientologists can purportedly free you of your inner alien horde.)

In his 1977 screenplay, Revolt in the Stars, Hubbard planned to come clean about
Scientology's wacky origin myths in a Star Wars-like space opera. But Hollywood
execs wouldn't touch it with a 10-foot pole. Instead, Hubbard pinned his hopes
on Battlefield Earth, a novel he wrote in 1982 that rips off just about every
science fiction story that came before it.

But Battlefield Earth made no mention of Xenu or other Scientology secrets, and
some morons have made the mistake of thinking that the story has no connection
to Hubbard's religion. The most surprising gaffe appeared in a piece by Lynn
Hirschberg in the May 14 New York Times Magazine.

Hirschberg asserted that Scientology would not benefit financially from the
movie since the rights to Hubbard's book had been acquired in the 1990s from
Author Services, Inc., ''a Los Angeles agency that handles Hubbard's fiction and
is not affiliated with the church.'' But The Finger checked with one of the
church's most high-ranking members ever to defect, Stacy Brooks, and she says
that's a stupid blunder for a good newspaper to make. Brooks should know -- she
worked for Author Services and was once one of the top people in Scientology's
public relations force. Brooks says only the most trusted members of
Scientology's Sea Organization get to work at Author Services. Declarations
filed in court, meanwhile, show that Author Services is not only made up of
church officials but at one time actually ran the Hubbard empire and religion.
Recognizable for the curious quasi-naval outfits they wear, Sea Organization
members are among the most dedicated of Hubbard's believers.

Besides selling the rights to the movie, Scientology also gets a cut of toy
sales generated by Battlefield Earth. The Terl figure and several other
characters from the movie were produced by Trendmasters, a company that also
produced toys for Independence Day and Godzilla. In fact, alert toy experts tell
this protruberance that the jet fighter and tank being sold under the
Battlefield Earth logo -- neither of which show up in the film -- are really
leftover toys from the Godzilla line with a new coat of paint. After Battlefield
Earth's opening, Trendmasters may have to figure out a way to recycle a lot more
toys. Battlefield Earth's dismal first weekend resulted in an $11.5 million
box-office take the third-worst result for a film opening in 3,000 theaters in
movie history. The movie has a long way to go to recoup the $70 million spent to
produce it (which includes $5 million put up by Travolta himself). The film's
flop also puts a dent in Scientology's attempt to convince the world that
Hubbard was not the crackpot that military, government, and court documents make
him out to be.

Make no mistake, says Brooks, who once handled some of the most sensitive
publicity affairs for the church: Battlefield Earth was very deliberately
intended by Travolta and the church as a public relations campaign to promote L.
Ron Hubbard and, by extension, his religion.

Brooks was relieved that the film was taking such a nosedive: ''What they have
on their hands is something that is going to set back their recruitment very
severely, thank God.'' And she added that the setback couldn't have happened at
a worse time for the church. In Germany, France, and other European countries
less squeamish than the United States at looking at how religions operate and
how they treat their believers, politicians have labeled Scientology a
money-making scam and are considering severe restrictions on it.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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15. After Tom Cruise Wrist Slap, US Mag Finds Religion
Inside Media, May 18, 2000
http://www.inside.com/story/Premium_Story?art_id=4675Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
A May 8 gossip report in US Weekly had Tom Cruise dumping Scientology and
dissing Battlefield Earth, John Travolta's space alien drama based on a book
written by the church's founder, L. Ron Hubbard. A week later, the magazine
backed off -- and then some -- after Cruise's powerful celebrity gatekeepers

The story of Cruise's crisis of faith started to change soon after the issue
appeared. PMK's Pat Kingsley, Cruise's publicity agent, called the editors at
US. In the May 15 issue, the magazine retracted the story in a prominent and
very aggressively stated ''For the Record'': ''US weekly has found that,
contrary to our report last week, Tom Cruise remains an active and committed
member of the Church of Scientology and that he has neither said nor hinted at
anything negative about Warner Bros.' forthcoming film Battlefield Earth. We
stand corrected.''

Given the rococo extent of the fix, it seemed as if some lawyers might have been
involved, and sure enough Bert Fields, Cruise's lawyer, contacted owner Jann
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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16. Conspirators are among us
The Universe as Delusion and Science: Scientology in the Movies
Sueddeutsche Zeitung (Germany), May 20, 2000
Translation: CISAR
http://cisar.org/000520b.htmOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
John Travolta is an Operating Thetan of the highest level of clearing, which
means, according to the teachings of the Church of Scientology, that Travolta is
capable of controlling material, energy, space, time, form and life on the
planet earth. Not only that but, as a member of the sect since 1975, the actor
has worked had to liberate himself from all negative influences of
extraterrestrial powers and reach the stated goal of all Scientology adherents.

Hubbard recognized the effect which Hollywood stars had upon publicity early on.
In 1955, he started ''Project Celebrity.'' The first attempt to win celebrities
like Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo, Walt Disney and Groucho Marx for the sect
failed. It was not until Hubbard's successor, David Miscavige, established the
''Celebrity Center,'' that a department of the church dedicated exclusively to the
task succeeded in tending to and recruiting stars - besides John Travolta,
actors like Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman and Kirstie Alley, and musicians like
Chick Corea, Isaac Hayes and Al Jarreau belong to Scientology.

The ''Celebrity Center developed into an extremely effective technique. First the
recruiters research the psychological and emotional weak points, the circle of
acquaintances and the past of the target person. Then non-obligatory contacts
are made. A discussion does not even occur until the ''Admiration bombing'' phase
begins - the complete overwhelm of the star's fragile ego with admiration and
attention. The perfect bait for a race of people who are plagued by permanent
self-doubt and are on a search for meaning in life. Once the prominent members
are won, they are held with therapies, professional counseling and luxurious
care. The Church of Scientology has created a position of power with these stars
in Hollywood which is to be taken seriously. When the German state attorney's
office and Constitutional Security began to investigate Scientology, the sect
launched a human rights campaign and wrote a letter to Chancellor Kohl which was
even signed by non-members Dustin Hoffman, Goldie Hawn and Oliver Stone.

According to L. Ron Hubbard's plan to gain key positions in society with
Scientologists, ''Battlefield Earth'' is a success. Even if it can be doubted that
the film so moved someone that they would seek spiritual salvation in the
teachings of Hubbard, John Travolta still provided a $65 million dollar
testimony to faith. There he stood in the MTV studio and the moderator boldly
asked him about the book's circumstances. Travolta responded briefly with
something about Hubbard, the best seller author and spiritual prophet; that was
followed by a change of subject, film clips, commercial break and his appearance
was over. That is marketing: it is not about praising the message or the
product. As long as the Coca-Cola signs are posted along the street, the
trademarks will lodge in peoples' minds.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top

17. Losing his religion?
LA Weekly, May 26, 2000
http://www.laweekly.com/ink/00/27/offbeat.shtmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
In other Scientology news, OffBeat was amazed to read in US weekly earlier this
month that Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman had begun severing their ties to the
Church of Scientology. US also reported that Cruise, while filming the Warner
Bros. film Eyes Wide Shut, had ''hinted'' to the studio that releasing the John
Travolta project Battlefield Earth would be a mistake. A week later, however, US
Weekly ran a ''For the Record'' notice declaring that the magazine had
subsequently ''found'' that Cruise remains an ''active and committed member of the
Church of Scientology'' and that the actor had never said, much less ''hinted,''
anything negative about Battlefield. Nevertheless, the widely panned sci-fi
groaner, based on Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard's novel, appears to be
going down as a colossal box-office failure. OffBeat, which has been the object
of Scientology's none-too-tender PR ministrations, would love to know what went
on behind the scenes of the correction .
[...entire item...]

* To learn more about Scientology's ''Public Relations'' department, see:L
http://www.apologeticsindex.org/o00.html#osaOff-site Link

=== Attleboro Cult

18. Prosecutors vow no let-up in Attleboro cult probe
Boston Herald, May 26, 2000
http://www.bostonherald.com/news/local_regional/attl05262000.htmOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Frustrated Bristol County investigators are vowing to bring to justice members
of an Attleboro cult who allegedly buried two little boys, despite last
weekend's unsuccessful search of a Maine forest.

''These people are not nice people. They're not the Amish. These are people with
very strong feelings of anger and hatred,'' a source close to the investigation
said of members of the Christian fundamentalist sect.

An ongoing grand jury probing the case has heard 14 days of testimony from
witnesses and could hand down indictments against cult members for charges
ranging from improper disposal of a body to murder.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top

=== Other News

19. Mother Charged in 'Rebirthing' Death
Excite/Reuters, May 26, 2000
http://news.excite.com/news/r/000526/13/odd-childOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
GOLDEN, Colo. (Reuters) - A North Carolina mother who watched her 10-year-old
daughter struggling for breath during a ''rebirthing'' psychotherapy session has
been charged with child abuse resulting in death, officials said.

Newmaker, who adopted the girl in 1996, was in the room during the first part of
the procedure and then watched the rest in a nearby room on closed-circuit TV.

Newmaker was charged Wednesday with one count of criminally negligent child
abuse resulting in death, which carries a prison sentence of 4-16 years, the
Jefferson County District Attorney's office said.

Denver clinical psychologist Albert Magliolo said charging the mother may be
more of a ''social statement'' because ''you go to an expert who will take the
responsibility for you.''

The desperate mother had sought other traditional therapy for the girl with no
success when she turned to Connell Watkins who operated a counseling center out
of her Evergreen, Colo. home.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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20. Australian woman kills son in exorcism then tries to resurrect him
Yahoo/AFP, May 24, 2000
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
A delusional woman who believed her five children were possessed by the devil
killed one son during an exorcism and then tried to resurrect him, a judge heard

After attacking his four siblings, the woman drowned her three-year-old son by
pouring litres of water into his mouth and standing on him to ''reek him of

She later tried to resurrect him by placing his body in a scalding bath and
pouring boiling water over him, the New South Wales Supreme Court heard.

The 36-year-old pleaded not guilty, by reason of mental illness, to manslaughter
and assault in Sydney on June 17 last year.

After considering psychiatric reports and other evidence, Justice Greg James
dismissed the five charges on the basis of her psychotic mental illness which
made her, in law, not responsible for her actions.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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21. Escondido panel OKs planned Hare Krishna temple
San Diego Union-Tribune, May 25, 2000
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
ESCONDIDO -- The Hare Krishnas may have cleared one hurdle with the Planning
Commission's approval of a proposed temple.

But residents living near the north Escondido site are considering an appeal to
the City Council, so the battle could be far from over.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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22. Preacher thinks he saw O'Hair
San Antonio Express-News, May 25, 2000
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
AUSTIN - The world's most famous atheist was spotted in a restaurant in Romania,
stuffing herself with pasta more than two years after federal agents claim she
was murdered in Texas, a Baptist preacher said Wednesday.

''I believe the person I saw was Madalyn Murray O'Hair. She looked overweight,
sickly and in her 70s,'' said William Gordon, who testified for the defense in
the trial of Gary Karr, 52, an ex-con who is accused of kidnapping and robbing
O'Hair, her son Jon Garth Murray and daughter Robin Murray O'Hair.

Gordon, a Georgia resident who works for the Southern Baptist Convention's
interfaith evangelical team, said he made the sighting in late November 1997.

Federal authorities believe the O'Hairs were kidnapped in late August 1995 and
later were killed for $500,000 in gold coins. No one has been charged in their
deaths, and their bodies have not been found.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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23. Karr lawyers rest their case
San Antonio Express News, May 25, 2000
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
AUSTIN - In a surprise move, lawyers defending Gary Karr, accused of kidnapping
and robbing atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair, rested their case Thursday after
calling only four witnesses.

''In my opinion, the government didn't make their case, and we hope the jury
shares our view,'' Karr attorney Tom Mills of Dallas said.

The defense's strongest witness was a Baptist preacher who testified Wednesday
he saw O'Hair alive and well in Romania in 1997.

Throughout the eight-day trial, the defense argued the O'Hairs are either alive
and hiding overseas or, if dead, were killed by someone else.

Prosecutors presented 68 witnesses over seven days to present an extensive
circumstantial case that in 1995, O'Hair, her son Jon Garth Murray and daughter
Robin Murray O'Hair were abducted and murdered for $500,000 in gold coins.

They claim David Waters, the O'Hairs' former office manager, organized the plot
and had nursed a grudge against O'Hair after he was convicted of stealing
$54,400 from her in 1994.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top

24. French swindler sold phone call with the dead
Yahoo/Channel NewsAsia, May 26, 2000
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
A Frenchman who persuaded a woman to pay 470,000 francs (US$64,430) to his
company Divinitel for a phone conversation with her dead son received a
three-year jail sentence in absentia in a Paris court on Thursday.

The fugitive swindler, Claude Tetu, led Annette Gervais to believe in 1991 that
she would talk to her only son who had died five years earlier if she submitted
to macabre ceremonies including lying in a coffin, the prosecution said.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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25. Sembabule 'healer' Nanyonga dead
New Vision (Uganda), May 27, 2000
http://www.newvision.co.ug/05_27_st14.htmOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
THE Ssembabule 'miracle healer', Yowanina Nanyonga, has died after a long
illness, reports Eddie Ssejjoba.

Nanyonga pulled hundreds of people to her home in Lutunku, Lugusuulu sub-county
in Ssembabule in the late 1980s where she gave out her ''miracle earth'' to Aids
patients, claiming it could cure the disease

She claimed to have had a vision from the Virgin Mary, who allegedly blessed
the earth and instructed her to distribute it as a cure for ailments. The earth
was believed to have been blessed by the Virgin Mary.

Her concoction was also found fake stances most of the patients who used her
earth did not get better and finally died. Her believers had formed a cult but
later abandoned her.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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26. Vatican Eyes Shroud of Turin Tests
Discovery.com News, May 24, 2000
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
May 24, 2000 - The Vatican may allow new scientific tests on the Shroud of
Turin, the archbishop of Turin announced Monday.

In the effort to solve the mystery shrouding one of the most controversial
relics in Christendom, the Roman Catholic Church is taking into consideration
further investigations it had previously ruled out.

The Vatican remains agnostic on the authenticity of the shroud, considering it
mainly a symbol of faith. The shroud has survived several blazes since its
existence was first recorded in France in the 14th century, including a
mysterious fire at Turin Cathedral in 1997.

The shroud will be displayed again in Turin from Aug. 12 to Oct. 22, before
being rolled up and stored in a fire-and-bomb-proof container. Then 21st-century
science could add a new twist.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top

=== Noted

27. Vampire Fans on the Track of Drac
Fox News/Reuters, May 26, 2000
http://www.foxnews.com/etcetera/0526/e_rt_0526_13.smlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
POIANA BRASOV, Romania (Reuters) - Six hundred years after he earned the
nickname ''Vlad the Impaler'' for disposing of victims on stakes, the warrior
who inspired Bram Stoker's horror novel Dracula still has bite.

Scholars, artists and fans from around the globe gathered in Romania Thursday
for the Second World Dracula Congress, four days of lectures and debate on the
blood-sucking legend.

''Romania is the spiritual home for people interested in ghosts, vampires and
the paranormal,'' said Alan Murdie, head of Britain's Ghost Club, as the event
got under way in a dim, communist-era conference hall in this Transylvanian
resort in forested mountains 105 miles north of Bucharest.

Local organizers from the Transylvanian Society of Dracula (TSD) are trying to
use the Dracula legend to draw tourists to Romania.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top

* Cult apologists Massimo Introvigne and J. Gordon Melton lead, respectively,
the Italian and American chapters of the Transylvanian Society of Dracula:
http://kelebek.mond.at/cesnur/txt/vamp2.htmOff-site Link

28. When a whole lot of Goths gather in Seattle, can you call it a festival?
Seattle Times, May 25, 2000
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
How could you tell if a gothic convention came to Seattle? People wear so much
black clothing here, your typical goth might just blend right in.

Still, the weekend forecast calls for gloom, as a cloud of more than 800
descends on the city for Convergence, Friday through Sunday.

Now in its sixth year, Convergence has drawn together morose types in such
festive cities as New Orleans, Toronto and San Francisco.

The outward trappings of gothdom may be different from other subcultures -
downbeat music, funereal dress and the morbid, disaffected attitudes that jelled
in the post-punk early '80s with groups like Siouxsie and the Banshees, Bauhaus
and the Sisters of Mercy. But what's the essential difference between a goth
convention and, say, a Trekkie convention or a Renaissance fair?

For one, Convergence is more of a chance for a community of people who already
know each other to some extent through the Internet and usenet places like
alt.gothic to meet in the flesh, as opposed to total strangers gathering because
of a common interest, organizers say.

Most of the gathering will be at Town Hall, the former Scientology church on
Eighth Avenue and Seneca Street.

Nationally, Seattle has one of the livelier (if that word applies) goth scenes,
according to Alienikoff.

''You're dealing with a demographic that's very press-wary,'' Brian notes.

And that's not because the light from flashbulbs hurts their eyes. Goth
subculture has always lent itself to jabs (return your copy of ''The Crow,''
move out of your parents' house, you look like Eddie Munster, etc.). But there's
a prevailing feeling within the subculture that a large karmic debt was incurred
from last spring's embarrassingly clueless treatment by media grasping to make
sense of the Columbine massacre - if not find a scapegoat for it.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top

29. Search led speaker to convert to Orthodox faith
Spokeman Review/Spokane.net, May 20, 2000
Spokane _ It's not unusual for people to examine what they believe and decide to
convert to a different faith. It is unusual for 2,000 people to do so together.

The Rev. Peter Gillquist, a former regional director of Campus Crusade for
Christ, was part of a mass conversion to the Orthodox faith more than a decade

Gillquist, who now serves as the chairman of missions and evangelism for the
Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, is coming to Coeur
d'Alene to speak on the Orthodox faith.

He began his journey to Orthodoxy with several other men who were part of Campus
Crusade for Christ. Most had graduated from seminary or attended one.

Gillquist, brought up in the Lutheran faith, spent a year at Dallas Theological

Dissatisfied with what they were doing, the group decided to search for what
they hoped to be the one true church of the New Testament. They researched and
debated their findings extensively.

''In the process of the study, most of us had begun churches,'' says Gillquist.
They promised their congregations a true New Testament faith and called
themselves the Evangelical Orthodox Church.

''Our goal was to try to find that ancient church,'' he says.

They wanted to find out which church that exists today is the same as the
original church described in the New Testament. In the course of their research,
they realized they were looking for the Orthodox Church.

Members of the Orthodox Church believe that their church is directly descended
from the church of the apostles.

It isn't unusual for entire congregations to convert to Orthodoxy. In Spokane, a
majority of the congregation of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church converted to
Orthodoxy in 1995 and formed St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Church.

The trend is continuing, says Gillquist.

''In the last 10 years, we've brought in 65 new churches,'' he says.

In addition, Gillquist revealed that while he is in the area he will meet with
representatives of a Protestant church considering a conversion to Orthodoxy. He
declined to name the church.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top

=== Trends / Statistics

30. Church is the place for single men
Ananova, May 24, 2000
http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_4935.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Single men looking for love should forget dating agencies and singles bars -
they should go to church, according to a new report.

But for church-going women, who outnumber their male counterparts massively,
it's a different story. They find it hard to find a man and even tougher to hang
on to him.

The report, Looking for Mr Right, says women outnumber men by more than
two-to-one in the average congregation.

The ratio increases to four-to-one among people in their 40s and six-to-one for
churchgoers in their 60s.

While the numbers are good news for church-going men, they are a disaster for
their female counterparts as the males conduct affairs, leaving a string of
broken hearts in their wake, according to the report in Christianity magazine.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top

* Looking for Mr. Right ...
Christianity Magazine, May 24, 2000
http://www.premier.org.uk/content/mag/cover.htmlOff-site Link

=== Death Penalty / Human Rights

31. The Shadow Over America
Newsweek, May 29, 2000
http://newsweek.com/nw-srv/printed/us/na/a20099-2000may21.htmOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
After New York investment banker Felix Rohatyn became the U.S. ambassador to
France nearly three years ago, he was surprised to encounter bitter criticism of
the American death penalty in his new post. Newsweek asked Rohatyn to gauge the
importance of the issue abroad. His comments:

People in France admire the United States, and much of what passes for
anti-Americanism is limited to the intellectual milieu of Paris. Not so in the
case of the death penalty. I travel a lot. You hear opposition to the death
penalty in Bordeaux, you hear it in Toulouse, everywhere. When I speak to
audiences, the question always comes up. And I don't believe this is just a
French phenomenon. I recently spoke to John Kornblum, our ambassador to Germany,
and he told me the death penalty is the single most recurring question there.

The issue goes beyond a difference over laws. We are viewed in France and in
other parts of Europe as having a hegemony of power, with an almost suffocating
presence in many areas, whether military, economic or cultural. Our position as
the lone superpower is not unquestioned. And one of those questions challenges
our moral leadership, which is very important.

All 15 members of the European Union have outlawed the death penalty. The
accession of new members -Turkey for instance -is conditioned in part on their
abolition of capital punishment. In France, the death penalty was abolished in
1981 by President Francois Mitterrand, after a lot of discussion; at the time,
the guillotine was still used. Now Europeans are extremely passionate about the
issue. The death penalty is viewed as a violation of human rights. In America it
is seen as both racist and discriminatory, affecting a disproportionate number
of minorities who often are represented by attorneys pictured as incompetent or
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top

32. A Life or Death Gamble
Newsweek, May 29, 2000
http://newsweek.com/nw-srv/printed/us/na/a20098-2000may21.htmOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
You would think that if technology is available to prove absolute guilt or
innocence, prosecutors and politicians would all be quick to embrace it, if only
to sleep easier at night.

You would be wrong.

In recent years, DNA testing has freed 72 inmates from prison -eight from death
row. Each year brings new advances that expand the universe of cases where DNA
analysis can help. But the political and legal systems are just now waking up to
the potential of this rapidly improving technology. Only two states -Illinois
and New York -give inmates the right to use the latest DNA testing. Bills to do
the same nationally are still languishing.

And the machinery of death grinds on.

There are signs the climate may be changing. For the first time in a generation,
the death penalty, legal in 38 states, is on the defensive -mostly abroad, but
increasingly at home, too. The New Hampshire Legislature voted last week to
become the first state to abolish the practice since the Supreme Court allowed
its reinstatement in 1976 (although Democratic Gov. Jeanne Shaheen vetoed the
bill). An important new book, ''Actual Innocence,'' by Barry Scheck, Peter
Neufeld and Jim Dwyer, and a searing PBS ''Frontline'' documentary about the
Criner case, ''The Case for Innocence'' (to be rebroadcast June 6), are helping
explain that gross injustice is not as rare as many Americans would like to
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top

* Actual Innocence
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/038549341X/christianministrOff-site Link

33. Hurricane Carter Works for Death Penalty Moratorium
AOL/Reuters, May 26, 2000
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - With former middleweight boxing contender Rubin
''Hurricane'' Carter by his side as a symbol of justice gone wrong, a Democratic
congressman on Friday called for a moratorium on executions to give death row
inmates a chance to clear themselves.

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. of Illinois also urged President Clinton and Texas Gov.
George Bush, the presumed Republican presidential nominee, to intervene in the
scheduled June 22 execution of a Texas man who Jackson said has been barred from
offering evidence to clear himself of a murder committed nearly 20 year ago.

''The system by which we impose the sentence of death is rife with errors, with
inadequate legal representation of defendants, with corrupt police officials,
with blindly ambitious prosecutors and with racial disparities,'' Jackson said
at a Capitol Hill news conference.

''We cannot ask for a perfect punishment coming from an imperfect system,'' said
Carter, an African-American who spent nearly 20 years in prison on a murder
conviction that a federal judge ultimately determined was based on racism rather
than evidence.

His bill calls for a moratorium of at least seven years on executions until all
inmates currently on death row have a chance to explore DNA and other evidence
that may have not been presented in court, or circumstances such as inadequate
defense lawyers.

In Jackson's home state of Illinois, Republican Gov. George Ryan declared a
moratorium on executions, citing 13 death row prisoners who have been released
since 1977 after their convictions were overturned.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top

=== Books

34. Book urges Buddhism without belief
Star-Telegram/Religion News Service, May 23, 2000
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Explaining the existential complexities of Buddhism is a bit like trying to nail
down mercury. But with simple language and a straightforward approach, Stephen
Batchelor demystifies some of the faith's baffling paradoxes and strips away
much of its dogma.

Batchelor, who claims the unusual distinction of having been a monk in both the
Zen and Tibetan traditions, examines his practice with the skeptical eye of the
agnostic in his new book ''Buddhism Without Beliefs'' (Riverhead Books). In
fact, he'd prefer Buddhism not be regarded as a religion, nor does he believe
its founder intended it to be one.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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* Buddhism Without Beliefs
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1573226564/christianministrOff-site Link

=== The Theologians Around The Corner

35. ''Jesus'' loses defamation suit against churches
AOL/Reuters, May 24, 2000
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
MUNICH, Germany (Reuters) - Three theologians representing Jesus Christ sued the
Protestant and Roman Catholic churches for bringing his name into disrepute --
and lost in a German courtroom Wednesday.

The theologians, calling themselves ''brothers in spirit'' of Christ, sued under
a law that lets people defend their dead relatives' reputations. They argued
that the churches' role in wars had disqualified them from calling themselves