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Religion News Report

June 6, 2000 (Vol. 4, Issue 210)

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Rainbow

=== Branch Davidians
1. 5 Branch Davidians' sentences set aside
2. Davidian jury to serve in advisory role
3. JP plans inquest into Davidians' 1993 death

=== Aum Shinrikygo
4. Key cult figure gets life term for role in subway gas attack
5. Japan Cult Leader: Life in Prison
6. Ex-AUM bigwig pleads for life

=== Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God
7. Thousands In Namugongo Pilgrimage
8. Police hold Kibwetere son-in-law's passport

=== Scientology
9. French police raid Scientology's Paris offices: report
10. [Scientology demands end to 'sect filter']
11. Minton vs. Clinton: Alternative Charlemagne Award for Scientology
Critic from the USA
12. Travolta on junket 'Battlefield'

=== Mormonism
13. Mormon missionary beats up potential convert
14. State Is Afraid to Go After Polygamy's Kingpins

=== Attleboro Cult
15. Cops dig up man's yard for bodies

=== Hate Groups / Hate Crimes
16. Accused Killer Wrote Psychotic Note
17. Judge signals gov't can seek death for LA gunman

=== Witchcraft
18. Five Assamese tried, killed for witchcraft
19. Five of family killed in Kokrajhar dist for 'practising witchcraft'

=== Satanism
20. Our faith

=== Madalyn Murray O'Hair
21. Man acquitted of kidnapping in atheist's disappearance
22. AUSTIN, Texas: his defense.

=== Occult
23. Ramseys post vision of killer
24. Online Card-Reader Out of Luck
25. Psychic has rap quashed
26. Some high-tech success stories are in the cards

=== Catholicism
27. Parishioners flock to N.H. church to see cross `blood'
28. Town refuses to back down over ancient dove ritual

=== Other News
29. Ruby Ridge figure here for gun show
30. Cult out in the cold (Magnificat Meal Movement)
31. Crowds flock to Zim traditional healers
32. Gitari Warns Against Falling Prey To Sects
33. Strange God Wreaks Havoc In Abavo
34. Man Admits Sending Ghosts to Attack Girls
35. Mozambique's Moslem Women Oppose Polygamy
36. Britain's UFO secrets revealed

=== Noted
37. Uganda's 'Dollar' Churches
38. 'Gay Jesus' Rumor Resurrected on the Net
39. Real estate row creates religious rift (Swedenborgians)
40. The story behind Mori's `divinity' remark Shinto as Japan's soul
41. Mary Baker Eddy Unpublished Writings in New Library Dedicated
to the Betterment of Humanity

=== The Voodoo Doll Around The Corner
42. Voodoo Doll Wins Expense Contest


=== Branch Davidians

1. 5 Branch Davidians' sentences set aside
CNN/AP, June 5, 2000
http://www.cnn.com/2000/LAW/06/05/
scotus.davidians.ap/index.html
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court today set aside the lengthy prison sentences given to five Branch Davidians who survived a 1993 siege at the sect's Waco, Texas, compound. The court ruled that a federal judge misused an anti-gun law to increase their punishment.
(...)

A federal law subjects anyone who used or carried a ''firearm'' during a violent or drug-related crime to five years in prison. The term jumps to 30 years for anyone who used or carried a ''machine gun'' during that same crime.
(...)

Five Davidians were convicted in 1994 in the killings of four federal agents during a botched Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms raid on the compound outside Waco.
(...)

A federal jury acquitted the five Davidians of murder and conspiracy-to-murder charges but convicted them of voluntary manslaughter. Each was sentenced to 10 years in prison for that conviction. The jury also found them guilty of using firearms.

The presiding judge tacked on 30-year sentences for four of them and a 10-year sentence for the fifth after finding that each had used a machine gun.

Renos Avraam, Brad Eugene Branch, Jaime Castillo and Kevin Whitecliff drew the 30-year sentences; Graeme Craddock the 10-year term. Craddock also was sentenced to a consecutive 10 years for using a hand grenade.

The jury never had been asked to determine what types of firearms the five had used. The judge made that determination during sentencing.
(...)

The case presumably will return to a federal trial court where new sentencing hearings will be conducted. Today's decision did not suggest appropriate new sentences.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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2. Davidian jury to serve in advisory role
Waco Tribune-Herald, June 3, 2000
http://www.accesswaco.com/auto/feed/news/
local/2000/06/03/960089005.27395.3687.0028.html
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
While there will be a jury in the June 19 trial on the wrongful-death lawsuit filed by surviving Branch Davidians against the federal government, U.S. District Judge Walter S. Smith Jr. of Waco won't have to follow its verdict.

By statute, the jury will be a so-called advisory jury.

''It is as if the jury does not exist from a legal standpoint,'' said an attorney familiar with federal civil procedure.

The role of such a jury is solely to advise a judge. On appeal, for example, the judge's findings entirely displace those of the advisory jury.
(...)

Houston attorney Mike Caddell, the lead plaintiffs attorney, thinks having a jury will help win public acceptance of any verdict, given that Caddell expects the government to ''retry'' the 1994 criminal case. Smith was the presiding judge at the San Antonio trial of 11 Branch Davidians.

''Their approach to this whole case is that they (Davidians) were a bunch of bad people and they deserve whatever they got,'' Caddell said. ''That is the government's case in a nutshell, and I think because Judge Smith presided over the criminal trial, it was wise for him to bring in a jury.''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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3. JP plans inquest into Davidians' 1993 death
Waco Tribune-Herald, May 31, 2000
http://www.accesswaco.com/auto/feed/news/local/
2000/05/31/959817961.07954.7761.0004.html
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Justice of the Peace David Pareya of West said he still plans to hold an inquest into the 1993 death of Branch Davidian Michael Schroeder, but it won't be until after the upcoming wrongful-death lawsuit filed against the government by surviving group members.

Schroeder, a Davidian, was shot and killed trying to enter Mount Carmel several hours after a deadly shoot-out between the Davidians and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
(...)

The inquest would lead to an official ruling on the manner of Schroeder's death, Pareya said.

Pareya declined to comment on whether he would test the cap that Schroeder was wearing when he was shot and killed.

Schroeder, Woodrow Kendrick and Norman Allison were at a repair shop called the Mag Bag owned by the Davidians when the ATF raided Mount Carmel on the morning of Feb. 28, 1993. Later that day, all three men tried to sneak into the compound. Schroeder allegedly fired shots at patrolling ATF agents and was killed when they returned fire. The ATF agents who shot Schroeder maintain they identified themselves before firing. They claim Schroeder shot first.

An autopsy showed Schroeder was hit by at least seven gunshots. Two gunshots were to the head, including the right ear. The autopsy found no evidence of powder tattooing or soot deposition, which would point to a shooting at close range. No tests were conducted on a watch cap worn by Schroeder, however.

The cap disappeared until Mike McNulty, who produced the film ''Waco: Rules of Engagement,'' reported seeing it while visiting the Texas Department of Public Safety evidence locker last year. He said the hat contained visible residues.

''They hid the hat Mike was wearing when he was shot,'' Schroeder's mother, Sandra Connizzo, wrote the Tribune-Herald in an e-mail. ''Thanks to Mike McNulty there is hope because he saw it in the evidence locker. That hat was photographed on Mike when he was on the ground and counted in his list of possessions. Then, at the medical examiner's office, it was no longer part of the effects.

''This could be a very significant cover-up because the hat was never tested to see if Michael was shot in the head from a close proximity.''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Aum Shinrikygo

4. Key cult figure gets life term for role in subway gas attack
Japan Times (Japan), June 7, 2000
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/
getarticle.pl5?nn20000607a1.htm
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Aum Shinrikyo's intelligence chief, found guilty of involvement in the March 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system and other crimes, was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison.

While prosecutors had demanded the death penalty for Yoshihiro Inoue, 30, the Tokyo District Court handed down a life prison term on the grounds that he did not take part in the act of releasing the deadly gas on the subway trains and only provided backup support.

Despite his lack of direct involvement, the court said Inoue played an important role in the gassing, which could not have taken place as planned without his contribution.

Prosecutors pointed out that Inoue, one of Aum founder Shoko Asahara's closest aides, commanded other Aum followers who actually released the sarin on morning subway trains, killing 12 people and injuring thousands.

However, presiding Judge Hiromichi Inoue determined that the defendant's role in the attack was limited to ''logistic support and coordination,'' saying that he had not been ordered by Asahara to take charge.
(...)

The court took into consideration the fact that Inoue, who joined the cult when he was 16, showed deep regret over his crimes and that Asahara controlled his mind at the time of the crimes, he said.

Despite Asahara's influence, the judge said Inoue still retained some free will and was capable of recognizing that his acts were illegal.

Inoue left Aum a few months after his arrest in May 1995 and sought guidance from Buddhism.

''(Your time in prison) should not be used for religious training or meditation but as a time to repent, apologize and reflect as a normal human being (rather than as a Buddhist trainee),'' the judge told Inoue.
(...)

Inoue also stood accused of nine other offenses, including the abduction, confinement and killing of Tokyo notary public Kiyoshi Kariya in February 1995.

Two Aum members have so far been sentenced to hang for a series of crimes carried out by the cult.

Prosecutors greeted the ruling with surprise, saying they were considering appealing the sentence.
(...)

Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, is still on trial for allegedly masterminding the subway attack and 16 other crimes.

Of the 14 cultists accused of involvement in the subway attack, one convicted of releasing the gas has been sentenced to death and another was given a life prison term.

Three others are awaiting a decision, and prosecutors have demanded they be sentenced to death. Two convicted of driving getaway cars have been sentenced to life prison terms, and another is awaiting sentencing.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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5. Japan Cult Leader: Life in Prison
AOL/AP, June 6, 2000
http://my.aol.com/news/story.tmpl?
table=n&cat=01&id=0006060835313124
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
TOKYO (AP) - A former doomsday cult leader was sentenced to life in prison Tuesday for the 1995 nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subways that killed 12 people and sickened thousands.

Yoshihiro Inoue, 30, was one of five Aum Shinri Kyo agents accused of being directly involved in the gas attack. Cultists spread nerve gas in subway trains as the trains converged on Tokyo's central government district during morning rush hour.
(...)

Defense lawyer Hiroshi Kamiyama said he expected the legal fight to continue. ``We're happy Inoue's life was spared by this court, but we're not relaxing since it looks like the battle isn't over yet,'' he told The Associated Press.

Inoue was a close adviser to former cult guru Shoko Asahara, now on trial for masterminding the gassing and other crimes.

In deciding against the death penalty, the judge accepted the defense's argument that Inoue had been brainwashed by the cult and couldn't refuse orders to take part in the gassing, national broadcaster NHK reported. Inoue joined Aum when he was just 16 years old, Kyodo News agency said.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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6. Ex-AUM bigwig pleads for life
Mainichi Daily News (Japan), June 2, 2000
http://www.mainichi.co.jp/english/news/news07.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
A former high-ranking member of the AUM Shinrikyo cult sentenced to death for the 1998 killing of lawyer Tsutsumi Sakamoto asked for leniency and requested the sentence of capital punishment be lightened during the first hearing of his appeal at the Tokyo High Court.

Kazuaki Okazaki, 39, was handed down the death penalty in the Tokyo District Court on two charges of murder, including that of lawyer Tsutsumi Sakamoto and his family.

Lawyers representing Okazaki in the first hearing of the appeal, however, labeled the ruling as unreasonable.
(...)

''Okazaki was the victim of the mind control techniques of the cult's founder, Chizuo Matsumoto (Shoko Asahara). That the (lower) court did not give a lightening of the sentence based on the defendant's mental unstableness is an illegal misapplication of the law,'' lawyers said, asking that the original judgement be quashed.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God

7. Thousands In Namugongo Pilgrimage
New Vision (Uganda)/Africa News Online, June 4, 2000
http://www.africanews.org/east/uganda/
stories/20000604/20000604_feat3.html
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Kampala - The Catholic Church has once again condemned the doomsday cult leaders who abused the freedom of worship, leading their followers to their deaths in thousands at Kanungu in March this year and in other places where mass graves were later discovered.

The main celebrant of the mass, the Rt. Bishop Adrian Kiwanuka Ddungu of Masaka described celebrations of the Jubilee 2000 as, ''special because we are being called to a deeper spiritual renewal,'' he said.

He added that Namugongo Martyrs shrine is therefore the best place where one can obtain this inspiration for a deeper spiritual renewal. ''Renewal is a painful and extremely difficult process, and to some, it means changing form one person to another.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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8. Police hold Kibwetere son-in-law's passport
New Vision (Uganda), June 5, 2000
http://www.newvision.co.ug/06_05_st5.htmOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Didas Kanyesigye, the LC5 secretary for defence Kabale district, Friday said they are holding Dr Khan Ali's passport, graduated tax tickets and other documents pending an investigation into his role in the Kibwetere doom's day cult of the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God, reports Deus Ariyo.

The Kanungu-based cult was responsible for the death of over 1,000. Dr Khan, a Pakistani, is a son-in-law to Joseph Kibwetere, the cult leader.

Kanyesigye said Khan was one of the followers of the cult and that he used to move from Kabale to join the rest of the believers at Kanungu.

He said Khan disappeared after the Kanungu inferno of March 17 in which an estimated 500 followers of the cult perished. He re-appeared on May 20.

When he reappeared in Kabale, he was taken to Police to make a statement and his documents were impounded. He denied any connection with his father-in-law's activities.
(...)

Meanwhile, Abdoni Bishoborohire, a former member of the Kanungu doomsday cult, has denied that he got the Virgin Mary vision and that he would continue with the faith, reports Raynel Kanyambu.

Police said Thursday that Bishoborohire, who is alleged to have gathered about 70 people at his residence for indoctrination, said the people were gathered there to discuss developmental projects.

''Bishoborohire has denied recruiting people to join the Kibwetere sect, saying that he only saw Kataribaabo in a vision,'' Police said.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Scientology

9. French police raid Scientology's Paris offices: report
Yahoo/AFP, June 1, 2000
http://english.hk.dailynews.yahoo.com/headlines/
world/afp/article.html?s=hke/headlines/000601/world/afp/French_police
_raid_Scientology_s_Paris_offices__report.html
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Police raided the Paris offices of the Church of Scientology, a French newspaper revealed Thursday, the latest in a series of clashes between the French authorities and the controversial movement.

Scientology spokesmen were playing down the affair Thursday, describing it as a minor matter that had sprung from a simple administrative error.

Officers from the fraud and computer crime squad SEFTI carried out the raid on May 16, seizing computer materials from the movement's offices at rue Jules Cesar, in Paris' 12th arrondissment, said the French daily Liberation.
(...)

The raid sprang from a complaint lodged by a former Scientologist who was still receiving mail shots from the organisation despite having asked to be taken off their mailing list. The complaint was for ''invasion of privacy'' over computers files kept by the organisation.

Scientology spokesman Jean Dupuis played down the significance of the incident.
(...)

''The matter is settled and it stops there. The police noted that the people who had complained had indeed been struck off the lists. That's the reason they gave us back all our equipment.''

The files, which contained the names and addresses of about 20,000 people who had been in touch with Scientology, were updated on a daily basis, said Dupuis.

In the case of the person who had lodged the complaint, the details had been deleted from the computer files -- but not from an earlier, printed file.
(...)

This is only the latest of a series of run-ins Scientology has had with the French authorities over the years.

In November last year, a court in Marseille convicted a group of five Scientologists and former Scientologists on charges of fraud or attempted fraud.

In 1996, a Lyon court handed out suspended sentences to six members on a variety of fraud-related charges.

One of them also received a suspended sentence for involuntary homicide over the 1988 death of Scientologist Patrice Vic, who committed suicide after being pressured to take out a loan for more courses.

Back in 1978, a Paris court sentenced the founder of Scientology, Lafayette Ron Hubbard, to four years and a 35,000-franc fine for fraud.

Hubbard did not turn up for the trial and never served his sentence. Nor did he ever appeal the conviction. He died in the United States in 1986.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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10. [Scientology demands end to 'sect filter']
taz (Germany), May 31, 2000
Translation: CISAR
http://cisar.org/000531a.htmOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
According to a statement by Ursula Caberta, Director of the ''Work Group on Scientology'' (AGS) of the Interior Agency, the Scientology Organization is taking further steps against the ''Technology Statement'' of the AGS with which companies and institutions can protect themselves against doing business with other companies who operate according to the technology of Scientologist L. Ron Hubbard. Scientology's so-called ''German Office for Human Rights'' is writing to companies and association and demanding that they desist from using what they call ''sect filters.''
[...entire item...]


11. Minton vs. Clinton: Alternative Charlemagne Award for Scientology Critic from the USA
Badische Neueste Nachrichten (Germany), May 31, 2000
Translation: CISAR
http://cisar.org/000531c.htmOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
On Friday in Aachen, U.S. President Clinton will be presented with the Charlemagne Award ''for the most worthwhile contribution in the service of the European unification and community work, in the service of humanity and world peace.'' Another award, however, will be casting long shadows in the forefront of the solemn occasion. On Saturday in Leipzig, the ''Alternative Charlemagne Award'' will be bestowed - and there is a direct connection to the ''original'' for Bill Clinton. The recipient of the ''Alternative Charlemagne Award'' is Robert ''Bob'' S. Minton, a millionaire banker from the U.S. State of New Hampshire.

For years the 53-year-old man has been dedicating himself to the struggle against the controversial Scientology Organization. The arrangers of the ''Alternative Charlemagne Award,'' which consists of noteworthy sect critics called the ''European-American Citizens Committee for Human Rights and Religious Freedom in the USA'' would also like to give Clinton a sign. That he is regarded as expressly friendly to Scientology: one of the first actions which happened in his term was that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) exempted the organization from taxes because the organization allegedly had ''religious character.'' Rumors that the IRS was coerced cannot be quashed.

Clinton also received prominent U.S. Scientologists (such as the actors John Travolta and Tom Cruise) and promised them that he would urge that the rights of religious minorities be observed, mainly in Germany. By that was meant Scientology, and Clinton's actions even today still have brought diplomatic friction with them.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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12. Travolta on junket 'Battlefield'
The Hollywood Report, June 5, 2000
http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/film/index.aspOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
On a recent press junket in Barcelona, Spain, John Travolta clearly did not want any conflict over the religious interpretation of ''Battlefield Earth,'' his latest film. It was adapted from the novel by L. Ron Hubbard, founder of the Church of Scientology to which the actor belongs. Frederic Benudis, a journalist working for French pay TV channel Canal Plus, was warned off when he asked Travolta why no mention of Scientology was made in the press kit. A Gallic pressure group has charged that ''Battlefield'' contains subliminal images that promote the church, officially classified in Catholic France as a sect. When the reporter followed up with questions about the church's funding, Travolta uncharacteristically rose out of his chair in anger to protest that he was being ''trapped'' by the interviewer. The reporter had his video tapes confiscated for ''verification,'' but when they were returned to him they had been wiped clean.
[...entire item...]


=== Mormonism

13. Mormon missionary beats up potential convert
Ananova, June 2, 2000
http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_5738.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(...) The man of the church called on 29-year-old bricklayer Peter Munro hoping to convert him to the way of the righteous.

Instead the churchman smote his enemy with his fists - putting Mr Munro out like a light with five stitches and a severely bruised ego.
(...)

The missionary and a colleague had called on Mr Munro's house in rural Levin, New Zealand, the District Court heard.

Mr Munro told them he was not interested. They left and 20 minutes later Mr Munro drove into town for a haircut. But after he came home the missionaires were back, accusing him of trying to run them over as they were riding their bikes. ''I said: 'Sorry, you've got the wrong man here','' Mr Munro told the court. ''Next minute he's got me by the throat.''

When he came round the missionaries were gone and he was bleeding from the head.

He is adamant he did not try to run the pair over - telling the court he didn't even see them in town.

The churchman pleaded guilty to assault - but was discharged without conviction - with the ruling he must not be identified.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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14. State Is Afraid to Go After Polygamy's Kingpins
Salt Lake Tribune, June 4, 2000
http://www.sltrib.com/2000/jun/06042000/
commenta/54688.htm
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Right or wrong, fact or myth, whether we like it or not, the Mormon fundamentalist religious movement has evolved into a bonafide subculture with its own literature, heroes, symbols and communities.

Why? Because the practice of plural marriage has been allowed to grow and flourish in Utah for nearly 50 years with impunity. Since the fiasco of 1953, when Colorado City was raided, politicians, lawmakers, law enforcement and religious leaders have turned a blind eye, tantamount to sweeping polygamy under the rug.

Anthropologists who have studied and identified the subculture, estimate that the polygamist population in Utah and surrounding states may exceed 50,000.
Self-styled pundits and dissidents with personal agendas push the population figure to 100,000 or more. No one knows for sure how many polygamists inhabit the Intermountain West. But the more outrageous the pundit, the higher the population estimated.

Within weeks after the two-year media frenzy over the Kingston belt-whipping finally subsided, Tom Green, Utah's most televised and loquacious polygamist, rekindled the fervor when he was charged with an assortment of crimes, all arising out of polygamy.

Green will go on trial for alleged violations of the Utah Criminal Code. But in the court of public opinion, the polygamist subculture will also go on trial, and it's about time, proof that the ugly head of polygamy, once reared, will not go away.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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* John R. Llewellyn is the author of the novel, ''Murder of a Prophet, The Dark
Side of Utah Polygamy.''
Off-site Link
''A fact-based riveting account of intrigue, murder, and sex. Lusting for
worldwide power, the fanatical leader of a Utah polygamist cult launches a
plan to become the ''prophet'' of all the polygamist cults, and then to take
over the entire Mormon Church. Detectives encounter a doomsday Waco-type
standoff with men, women, and children. Investigator John Llewellyn, polygamy
expert, creates a fascinating tale of fiction based on real-life events.''


=== Attleboro Cult

15. Cops dig up man's yard for bodies
Boston Herald, June 3, 2000
http://www.bostonherald.com/news/local_regional/
lnibs06032000.htm
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
SEEKONK - With a backhoe and dogs, police dug up a Seekonk man's property yesterday after a tip suggested they might find the bodies of two infants whose parents belong to a Christian sect.

The digging, which turned up no evidence, was the latest in months of futile searches - at this same Seekonk property, in Attleboro and in northern Maine - for the remains of 10-month-old Samuel Robidoux and his newborn cousin, Jeremiah Courneau.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Hate Groups / Hate Crimes

16. Accused Killer Wrote Psychotic Note
AOL/AP, June 1, 2000
http://my.aol.com/news/story.tmpl?
table=n&cat=01&id=0006011221333585
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
LOS ANGELES (AP) - A white supremacist who allegedly killed a postal worker and shot five people at a Jewish community center wrote ``a psychotic note'' to himself repeating 129 times that he should kill another prison inmate, his lawyers said in a legal document filed Wednesday.

Buford Furrow's attorneys, who are attempting to block the government from seeking the death penalty in the postman's slaying, discounted the idea that the note uncovered by jailers was a true threat on the life of the Latino inmate it named.

``On the note, defendant had written 129 times, 'You must kill (Raul) Lopez and all of his protecting angels,''' the lawyers said.

``Apparently, the number 129 was arrived at by ascribing a numerical value, one through 26, to each letter of the alphabet ... and adding up the values of the words, 'Lopez' and ``Satan,''' the document said.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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17. Judge signals gov't can seek death for LA gunman
AOL/Reuters, June 5, 2000
http://my.aol.com/news/story.tmpl?
table=n&cat=01&id=0006050906149072
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A federal judge tentatively agreed Monday to let prosecutors seek the death penalty for a white supremacist accused of shooting five people at a Jewish community center and murdering a Philippine-born postman.

U.S. District Judge Nora Manella rejected arguments by attorneys for Buford Furrow, 38, that prosecutors were unconstitutionally vague in stating their reasons for seeking to have him executed if convicted.

She said she would issue a final ruling after reviewing a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court earlier Monday that defense attorneys said could have bearing on their case.

In that ruling, the Supreme Court overturned long prison terms for five Branch Davidians for using machine guns during a shootout with federal agents in 1993 at the cult's Waco, Texas compound, saying that a federal judge had been wrong to use a federal firearms law to increase their sentences.

Attorneys for Furrow told Manella that the Supreme Court's decision could apply to sentencing factors cited by prosecutors in his case.

Furrow, who has ties to the white supremacist group Aryan Nations, has pleaded not guilty to 16 counts of murder, weapons offenses and hate crimes in connection with the Aug. 10, 1999 killing of postman Joseph Ileto and a shooting rampage at the North Valley Jewish Community Center in the Los Angeles suburb of Granada Hills.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Witchcraft

18. Five Assamese tried, killed for witchcraft
The Asian Age (India), June 1, 2000
http://www.asianage.com/asianage/
02062000/detfro08.htm
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Black magic is haunting Assam again. The police on Wednesday recovered the mutilated bodies of five persons who villagers claimed had been practising witchcraft.

The bodies, including that of a woman, were found in the Mohendrapur forest reserve, under Kochgaon police station of western Assam's Kokrajhar district. The villagers tried the deceased in a ''village court'' before they were killed.

In the first week of May, a similar incident was reported from the district, an area dominated by tribals. The tribals in the area claim these ''witches'' develop a ''magic power'' through mantras to harm their enemies and have already killed several persons, mostly children.
(...)

Such beliefs still run strong in Assam's tribal areas. Ruling out the possibility of any communal or ethnic violence, Mr Kathar said, ''The persons were earlier tried by the villagers in a local village court where they were found to have been practising witchcraft. They were then killed and their bodies were buried in the Thaigiguri forest area...''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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19. Five of family killed in Kokrajhar dist for 'practising witchcraft'
The Hindustan Times (India), June 1, 2000
http://www.hindustantimes.com/nonfram/
020600/detSTA01.htm
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Five members of a family including a five-year-old child were hacked to death by irate villagers in Kokrajhar district on Monday night on charges of practising witchcraft.
(...)

With this, the number of deaths due to witch hunting in the state this year rose to nearly 20, the past month itself witnessed 11 such deaths.
(...)

''According to preliminary investigation, local villagers harboured the belief that members of the deceased family used to practise witchcraft with the intention of causing harm to other villagers.
(...)

Last week itself, three cases of murder related to witch-hunting were reported from the Nalbari and Goalpara districts.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Satanism

20. Our faith
BBC, June 3, 2000
http://news.bbc.co.uk/
low/english/audiovideo/programmes/
correspondent/newsid_771000/771260.stm
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
[Ed Stourton investigates Satanism behind Polish deaths. This story is part of Correspondent Europe, shown on Saturday 3rd June on BBC2 at 18:50 (BST)]

Last year the charred bodies of two Silesian teenagers were found in a derelict military bunker near Ruda Slaska in Poland - victims of a brutal, Satanic sacrifice.

The incident sent a wave of revulsion and alarm through Poland. While this incident was a special horror, it follows a rising trend of interest in sects and cult movements among Poland's disaffected youth.

Poland is Europe's most devoutly Catholic country, yet it is also a country experiencing major social upheavals in its transition to a free market economy. Unemployment has led to poverty, and once traditional forms of belief are being questioned and rejected by Poland's youth. Some are turning to Satanism and devil worship.

''There are roughly between 20,000 and 40,000 Satanists in Poland'', says Ryschard Nowak, a former MP who now leads Poland's Defence Committee against sects. ''Over time we have seen a very rapid increase in this number.''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Madalyn Murray O'Hair

21. Man acquitted of kidnapping in atheist's disappearance
Star-Tribune/AP, June 3, 2000
http://www2.startribune.com/stOnLine/cgi-bin/
article?thisStory=81848407
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
AUSTIN, TEXAS -- An ex-convict was acquitted Friday of conspiring to kidnap atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair and her family but was found guilty of extorting money from them.

O'Hair, her son Jon Garth Murray and granddaughter Robin Murray O'Hair disappeared in 1995 along with $500,000 in gold coins. Authorities think they were killed and dismembered, though their bodies were never found.

Gary Paul Karr, 52, -- convicted on four counts involving extortion but acquitted on a fifth count, conspiracy to kidnap -- faces life in prison under the so-called federal three-strikes law because of his prior convictions.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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22. AUSTIN, Texas: his defense.
Boston.com/AP, June 2, 2000
http://www.boston.com/dailynews/154/nation/
AUSTIN_Texas_his_defense_:.shtml
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
O'Hair reveled in calling herself the most hated woman in America and was involved in successful court battles in the 1960s to remove prayer and Bible-reading from the nation's public schools. Suffering from diabetes and heart disease, she was America's most prominent unbeliever a combative foe of all organized religion when she vanished at age 77.

O'Hair wasn't reported missing for a year, not until her estranged son, William Murray, called Austin police. Authorities questioned whether all three were victims of foul play or merely ran off with the money from their atheist organization, United Secularists of America.

Others suggested that O'Hair, who was ailing, had gone off to die quietly so Christians wouldn't pray over her.

Investigators suggested the mastermind behind her disappearance was David Waters, the O'Hairs' former office manager and a former cellmate of Karr. A convicted murderer, Waters pleaded guilty to stealing $54,000 from O'Hair's organizations and is now serving 60 years in prison on weapons charges.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Occult

23. Ramseys post vision of killer
Denver Post, Junew , 2000
http://www.denverpost.com/news/jon060400.htmOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
John and Patsy Ramsey have posted on their Web site a composite sketch based on a psychic's vision of their daughter's killer.

''Have you seen this man? This man may have been in the Boulder area in December 1996,'' reads a statement under the sketch at www.ramseyfamily.com.
(...)

Psychic Dorothy Allison reportedly came up with her vision of a suspect in the Ramsey murder during a television appearance about two years ago.

For decades, she had offered her services to police departments around the country. Allison, who lived in New Jersey, died in December. She was 74.

In early 1992, Allison was contacted to assist in the search for Heather Dawn Church, a 13year-old who had been abducted from her home in Black Forest, near Colorado Springs, and murdered.

Even before Church's body was found, Allison called in with information that later proved to be accurate about the suspect who eventually was charged with the girl's murder, according to police investigators. But they said Allison's information was not used during the investigation.

''In 30 years, I've never had accurate information from a psychic,'' a veteran law enforcement officer told The Denver Post in 1995. ''But the information by Dorothy Allison was right on the money.'' Neither the Ramseys nor their publicists could be reached for comment. Ironically, lawyers for the couple criticized former Boulder police detective Linda Arndt last year for substituting her ''psychic impressions'' for solid evidence during an appearance on a network television show, after Arndt had left the police force.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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24. Online Card-Reader Out of Luck
WIRED, June 3, 2000
http://www.wired.com/news/politics/0,1283,36703,00.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(...) But what goes on inside has drawn the attention of Long Beach authorities and the threat of police intervention: the reading of Tarot cards. Farrally does it for money, and that's against the Belmont Shores zoning ordinance. The tidy suburban community wants no seedy fortuneteller shops marring its Starbuckian aesthetic, Farrally says.

But there is no seedy fortuneteller shop -- just Farrally, her kids, and the computer server that hosts Tarotreading.com. Surfers pay to enter their queries for the Tarot cards through Tarotreading.com; Farrally reads the cards and emails a response. It's a small, but profitable, enterprise.

''There is no crystal ball, there is no neon sign, there is no foot traffic -- nothing but a computer,'' Farrally said. ''It's just a little Internet business.''

It's a little Internet business that's about to lose its license. Farrally was granted a license as an Internet business, but when she subsequently mentioned Tarot in a discussion with the business licensing department, the department ran up a red flag.

''She doesn't have a license for Tarot reading, she has a license for Internet sales and service. If she's reading Tarot cards, she has to go through zoning and the police department,'' said James Goodin, a business services officer for the City of Long Beach.

And Tarot, online or otherwise, is a no-go in Farrally's zone.

''There's a specific prohibition against fortunetelling, period,'' said Bob Bernard, the city's zoning officer.

Farrally has appealed to the local chapter of the ACLU for help. Lawyers for the ACLU declined comment, pending a detailed study of the case.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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25. Psychic has rap quashed
Toronto Sun (Canada), June 2, 2000
http://www.canoe.ca/TorontoNews/ts.ts-06-02-0055.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
An appeal court has overturned the conviction of a Toronto psychic charged with sexually abusing a young girl for six years under the ruse of exorcising her demons.

Hugo Llorenz, 50, was sentenced to eight years in jail in 1995 on charges of gross indecency, sexual intercourse with a girl under 14 and sexual interference.

The appeals court ruled the original judge wrongly permitted the evidence of the girl's psychiatrist, Dr. Mark Voysey, to bolster the credibility of her complaint.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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26. Some high-tech success stories are in the cards
San Jose Mercury News, June 1, 2000
http://www.mercurycenter.com/business/top/020234.htmOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Cisco Systems is one of the valley's great success stories. The Swing Shift now knows why.

``Cisco probably uses more psychics than anywhere else,'' says Carla Winter, a tarot card reader who was giving readings at the recent RealNetworks party.

In ultra-rational Silicon Valley, palm readers are presented as entertainment, a joke. But given the rocky stock market, they're serious business. People will listen to anyone who talks about the future, even with dubious authority.
(...)

``Cisco sucks up a lot of psychic energy,'' the psychic Winter says. How much, she didn't say. For the record, a Cisco spokeswoman, Katie Efstratis, says Cisco has palm readers and fortune tellers for its Halloween event and its health fair.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Catholicism

27. Parishioners flock to N.H. church to see cross `blood'
Boston Herald, June 4, 2000
http://www.bostonherald.com/news/
local_regional/chur06042000.htm
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church in normally quiet Berlin, N.H., is under a crush of attention from pilgrims and parishioners who suspect blood is oozing from a 40-year-old crucifix.
(...)

The Rev. Richard Roberge was called to the scene. Joined by two police officers, he took a sample of the liquid to a nearby hospital for analysis in its laboratory.

``(It) did not prove to be blood,'' a police news release states.

Nonetheless, hundreds of people showed up at the church the next day - so many that they had to call the police to direct traffic.
(...)

While the phenomenon is new to Berlin, a community nestled in the White Mountains, Christian history is full of reports of religious statues exuding oil or blood.

``I think a lot of those instances are a matter of what psychologists would call projection - that people have a powerful experience or powerful conviction of some type within their own minds or hearts,'' said Joseph T. Kelley, a psychologist and professor of theology at Merrimack College in North Andover.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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28. Town refuses to back down over ancient dove ritual
National Post (Canada)/Sunday Telegraph, June 5, 2000
http://www.nationalpost.com/printer.asp?
f=000605/308539.html
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
An Italian town says it will ignore the protests of animal rights campaigners on Sunday and go ahead with an ancient ritual in which a live dove is bound to a wooden frame and sent hurtling down a wire from a church roof.

With firecrackers exploding around it, the bird drops 300 metres down the wire running from the roof of St Francis' church to the foot of the Duomo across the square in Orvieto. It is strapped to the frame by its wings and claws.

If the bird survives the ritual, which is said to symbolize the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles, it is taken as a sign that the coming wheat and grape harvests will be good. The bird is then presented to the couple most recently married in the Duomo.

Although an annual event, the ritual has only recently become known to international animal rights campaigners, and could become the focus for protests similar to those provoked by the ill-treatment of donkeys in Spanish festivals.
(...)

Locals are just as indignant at attempts to interfere.
(...)

Introducing a replica dove, locals added, would destroy the hidden but essential element of the practice -- the pagan harvest prediction provided by the bird afterward. In any case, the chosen dove is regarded as fortunate it does not end up in a cooking pot.

But animal lovers in Italy and abroad say they are horrified at the treatment of the dove, especially in a religious context.

Deborah Jones, the general secretary of the Catholic Study Circle for Animal Welfare, said she had not been aware of the event until recently.

She said: ''I know people who are so disgusted that they are considering leaving the Catholic Church if it is not stopped. This is absolutely deplorable and totally unjustifiable. It mars the image of God.''

Anne Widdecombe, a Conservative member of parliament and the patron of the Roman Catholic animal rights group, is among those calling for a ban on the event.

''The Catholic Church has no business participating in something so barbaric and they should remember the spirit of St Francis of Assisi. It is hideous,'' she said.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Other News

29. Ruby Ridge figure here for gun show
The Witchita Eagle, June 2, 2000
http://www.wichitaeagle.com/news/local/community/wichita/docs/weaver0602_txt.htmOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
A reputed white separatist who became an icon of the militia movement after his wife and son were killed by federal agents is coming to Wichita this weekend on a book-signing tour.

Randy Weaver is scheduled to appear during a gun show at the Cessna Activity Center to sell and sign ''The Federal Siege at Ruby RidgeOff-site Link,'' a book he co-wrote and self-published with his daughter, Sara.
(...)

''Weaver has been at a great many of these events,'' said Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks militia and white supremacist activity nationwide. ''He's kind of ferried around more really as an emblem of anti- government sentiment than as a leader. He's really kind of an icon.''
(...)

Weaver first came to the nation's attention in 1992 when his wife and son were killed by federal agents who were trying to arrest him at his mountain cabin at Ruby Ridge, Idaho. Weaver was facing charges that he sold sawed-off shotguns to an undercover agent posing as a white supremacist.

Weaver's son, Samuel, and Deputy U.S. Marshal William Degan were killed in an exchange of gunfire near Weaver's cabin, touching off an 11-day siege involving hundreds of officers and widespread media attention. Weaver's wife, Vickie, was shot in the head by an FBI sniper while she held the couple's baby near the door of their cabin.

Murder charges against Weaver were dropped, and he and the family's three children won more than $3 million from the government in a lawsuit in which they charged that their civil rights were violated in the raid.

In the cover notes on his book, Weaver disputes his portrayal by the government.

''I have been labeled a murderer, white supremacist, Aryan Nations gun runner and more,'' Weaver wrote.

''Ridiculous! None of these accusations are true. They are lies created by, or at least condoned by, the federal agencies involved.''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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3. Cult out in the cold
The Courier-Mail (Australia), May 19, 2000
http://search.ft.com/search/multi/globalarchive.jspOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
The landlords of Helidon's Magnificat Meal Movement have decided not to renew the cult's lease, which expires 31 May 2000. The mid-May 2000 move is a major blow to cult founder Debra Geileskey, who has claimed Helidon will be the site of the second coming and that the property was the shrine of the Virgin Mary.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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31. Crowds flock to Zim traditional healers
Daily Mail and Guardian/AFP (South Africa), May 31, 2000
http://www.mg.co.za/mg/news/2000may2/31may-zim.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Some 10km from Chivu, a rutted road leads across the deserted Midlands region in central Zimbabwe, to the hut of Kadenge, a traditional healer who claims he can cure all ills including Aids.
(...)

Professing the Mwari cult, based on animist beliefs, the N'anga healers consult the spirits via the ancestors, carry out divination from bones or roots and exorcism, and then prescribe treatment.
(...)

''The spirits and the plants enable me to cure everything, from colds to Aids,'' he said.

In Zimbabwe the HIV infection rate is one of the highest in the world - one out of four in a total population of 12,5 million - and few can afford to pay for the treatments developed by western drug companies.
(...)

Accused of being charlatans by western-trained doctors, the healers of the Zimbabwe National Association of Traditional Healers (ZINATHA) claim they have truly developed a remedy to fight Aids.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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32. Gitari Warns Against Falling Prey To Sects
The Nation (Kenya)/Africa News Online, June 1, 2000
http://www.africanews.org/east/kenya/stories/
20000601/20000601_feat8.html
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Christians were yesterday warned against blindly following splinter religious groups.

The head of the Anglican Church, Archbishop David Gitari, said the sects placing big advertisements in the print and electronic media were commercially motivated.

He said the publicity-hungry sects were exploiting unsuspecting worshippers in their mistaken belief that all their problems could be solved. He said the groups, mostly imposed on Kenyans from foreign countries, were suspicious in their approach to the Christian doctrine, and he warned Kenyans against following them blindly.

Speaking at the Kiriithiru Anglican Church, Murang'a District, he said most of the new sects claimed to possess miraculous power to heal and solve economic hardships.

Dr Gitari asked: ''If they can really cure diseases, why can't they emulate Jesus when he healed the leper and told him to go and not to tell anyone?''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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33. Strange God Wreaks Havoc In Abavo
P.M. News (Nigeria)/Africa News Online, June 2, 2000
http://www.africanews.org/west/nigeria/
stories/20000602/20000602_feat48.html
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
A mysterious breeze has swept through Oyoko-Abavo in Ika South Local Government Area of Delta State, destroying several buildings, thereby rendering seventy per cent of the inhabitants homeless.
(...)

Chief J.C. Gbenoba, a prominent indigene of the Oyoko quarters in Abavo community said the unprecedented storm has been traced to the presence of a strange god, a development which has elicited the fury of Ogbomidu god, the ancestral god of the whole town.

The strange god, he said, was mounted by members of the dreaded Isokpekan cult which membership cuts across all age groups.

Chief Gbenoba at the weekend told P.M. News at Abavo-Agbor that the oracle warned that ''two kings cannot rule in the same land.''

The Isokpekan cult which has its ancestry in Benin Kingdom had previously ravaged places like Abavo, Agbor, Umunede, Owa-Oyibu and other communities in the two local governments that constitute Ika Kingdom in Delta State.

Members were said to have been conscripted with the promise of winning all land disputes and getting protection through charms and amulets.

The members decided to exert their influence by taking their revered god to the community.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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34. Man Admits Sending Ghosts to Attack Girls
Excite/Reuters, June 5, 2000
http://news.excite.com/news/r/000605/12/odd-kenya-ghostsOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
A businessman has confessed to sending ghosts to attack schoolgirls in eastern Kenya, a newspaper reported on Monday.

The unnamed businessman was arrested over the weekend after the pupils of Itokela Girls Secondary School marched to the district commissioner's office to protest against an invasion of ghosts at the school, the East African Standard said.

The girls said the man had hired the ghosts to torment them after his daughter left the school.

The man apparently agreed to meet the cost of exorcising the spirits -- who seem to delight in pushing the girls to the floor -- and hired a ghost buster named Ntingili who ''retrieved shells and other witchcraft paraphernalia'' from the school grounds.
[...entire item...]


35. Mozambique's Moslem Women Oppose Polygamy
Panafrican News Agency, May 18, 2000
http://www.africanews.org/south/mozambique/stories/
20000518/20000518_feat3.html
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Mozambican women from the Moslem community in Maputo have expressed their strong disagreement with the practice of polygamy despite the fact that prominent Moslem men in the country vehemently defend the practice.

The debate on polygamy arose after a draft family law was put under a nation- wide debate recently. The law would recognise traditional and religious marriages as well as civil ones - but only if they are monogamous.

Moslem men, in the name of religion, have been arguing that polygamy should be recognised by law as well.

The men, however, do not extend this recognition to polyandry, the practice whereby a woman takes more than one husband.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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36. Britain's UFO secrets revealed
The Observer (England), June 4, 2000
http://www.observer.co.uk/Print/0,3858,4025458,00.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(...) Although the two incidents were unrelated, both were reported to a little-known department in the Ministry of Defence, known as Secretariat (Air Staff) 2a. This is the secretive section in Whitehall which collates reports of unidentified flying objects that cross British airspace.

Whitehall has traditionally treated reports of UFO sightings as highly classified and only released information to the public after 30 years. But the parliamentary Ombudsman insisted that the MoD hand this information to Colin Ridyard, a research chemist from Wales.

Dr Ridyard had been seeking information relating to UFO sightings by pilots or radar operators between July 1998 and July 1999. Initially the MoD refused on the ground it would be too expensive. But after the intervention of the ombudsman, Michael Buckley, the MoD agreed to release the information as a one-off exercise for £75. The Ministry handed two reports to Ridyard, yet official information from the Civil Aviation Authority suggests there had been additional sightings. During the same period the CAA said it reported two more UFO sightings to the MoD, neither of which the Ministry disclosed.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Noted

37. Uganda's 'Dollar' Churches
The East African (Kenya)/Africa News Online, June 2, 2000
http://www.africanews.org/east/uganda/stories/
20000602/20000602_feat13.html
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(...) A new breed of gospel preachers has sprung up in Uganda, the cradle of the East African gospel revival of the 1930s. Aged anywhere between 20 and 40, they are responsible for the explosion of gospel enthusiasm sweeping the country today.

They head the mushrooming ''new'' churches and lead open-air gospel and faith- healing crusades that regularly ''storm'' neighbourhoods throughout the land.
(...)

Their favourite beat is the United States, where many have partner churches that support them with cash for their buildings and music equipment for their choirs.
(...)

Traditional churches - both the Anglican and the Catholic - in fact owed most of their church attendances to loyal family heads who ensured that all their offspring cleaved to the faith. But many a parent soon found their children came home from boarding school with all zeal for churchgoing gone.

''That left a gap that cried out to be filled,'' said Makoko, who, like most of the ''new-look'' pastors, is a university graduate. ''And so many pastors of my ilk, of the Pentecostal persuasion, sprang up, and there has been no turning back.''

And when they came, the new men of God arrived in style. They by and large shunned the old teaching, instead celebrating the values of material gain alongside spiritual purity.

They came armed with chapter and verse that emphasised prosperity alongside the older, spiritual virtues, and they were a hit. They quoted passages from the scriptures such as the Third Epistle of John, in which he exhorts the faithful: ''Beloved, I wish, above all things, that you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers.''
(...)

Such messages found a ready resonance, not only with the young and hip Kampala urbanite and his rural imitator, but also with the country's rulers.

President Yoweri Museveni in fact never loses an opportunity to urge the new-look pastors on, saying he prefers them to the old teachers with their rich man/camel/eye-of-the-needle philosophy.
(...)

Given Uganda's recent experience with cults, including the ritual murders of more than 1,000 followers of the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments at Kanungu in Western Uganda in March, what was needed, said Lwanga, was an organised way of policing these churches, preferably through an internal mechanism generated by the churches themselves.

Ugandan churches, he added, can draw from the example of American church leaders such as Billy Graham (who has the world's oldest Pentecostal following), Oral Roberts, and Robert Schuller.

''These people began their ministries when they were young, but they embraced the need to build them along team lines, rather than around individuals. It is the same principle that Jesus Christ used - first he developed a vision, then straightaway he built up a team,'' said Lwanga, an MA who has lived in the US for six years.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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* Oral Roberts is, in fact, a prominent word-faith (health & wealth) teacher.

Robert Schuller is known to many as the ''evangelist without a gospel'':
http://www.apologeticsindex.org/s09.htmOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]


38. 'Gay Jesus' Rumor Resurrected on the Net
About.com - Urband Legends and Folklore, May 31, 2000
http://urbanlegends.about.com/science/urbanlegends/
library/weekly/aa053100a.htm
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(...) There are several long-running legends of this kind among Christians. One is the allegation that Procter & Gamble, the household products manufacturing giant, is owned by devil-worshippers and tithes a portion of its profits to the ''Church of Satan.'' Nothing seems to be able to quell this rumor, not even the accumulation of twenty years of disproof.

Another is the claim that the infamous atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair is lobbying the Federal Communications Commission to ban all religious broadcasting in the United States. Petitions expressing Christians' moral outrage over this nonexistent affront have circulated for a quarter-century in spite of the best efforts of the FCC and others to debunk the misinformation.

Yet another Christian urban legend more than a decade old but making the email rounds for the first time this year contains the allegation that there's a film being made which portrays Jesus Christ and the disciples as homosexuals.
(...)

Granted, this is a rumor that could come true at any moment, but as it stands there is no evidence anywhere - not in the trades, nor the entertainment magazines, nor the many film news sites available on the Web - that such a movie is in production or slated for production. It's an urban legend, and an old one at that.
(...)

Returning to the current version, I'm obliged to point out that there's one noteworthy morsel of truth in it - the claim that a stage play exists which portrays Jesus and the disciples as homosexuals. Written by Terrence McNally, the play is called ''Corpus Christi'' and was first produced in 1998. No plans to make it into a film have been announced.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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39. Real estate row creates religious rift
Boston Globe, June 2, 2000
http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/154/living/
Real_estate_row_creates_religious_rift+.shtml
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
It is true, as historian Eugene Taylor says, that any educated man or woman of the 19th century knew the teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg. The Swedish mystic profoundly influenced Henry Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and the James gang: father Henry Sr. and his two sons, Henry, the novelist, and William, the philosopher/psychologist. Helen Keller's book ''My Religion'' describes her commitment to Swedenborgianism. In his history of spirituality in America, ''Shadow Culture,'' Taylor calls Swedenborg ''one of the most widely read authors of the nineteenth century in American popular culture.''

Swedenborg never intended to found a religion. Nonetheless, the Church of the New Jerusalem sprang up over 200 years ago and took root in North America. The General Convention, with about 2,000 members, is headquartered in Newton (a larger, rival denomination works out of Philadelphia). Although its communicants, like Swedenborg, may have found peace in the natural universe, they have not found peace among themselves.

The trouble started about a year ago when the Convention's only seminary, the Swedenborgian School of Religion, tried to sell its church on Quincy Street, smack in the middle of the Harvard University campus.
(...)

Earlier this year, it sold its small Newton campus for $2.7 million, and is hoping to merge its program with the University of California,Berkeley's Pacific School of Religion. ''We're so small that we need to be part of a larger seminary,'' says school chair Jane Siebert. ''We're changing our philosophy from tying up our money in buildings to putting it to use.''

Pshaw! says historian Taylor, who is a member of the Cambridge congregation. In a lengthy and spirited ''Open Letter to Swedenborgians'' written earlier this year, he charges that the school has been hijacked by non-Swedenborgians ''advocating a mail order church devoted to New Age teachings ... [and] the perception of Swedenborgianism as a cult is being reinforced by the constant comparison of Swedenborg's ideas to the New Age.''

It is true that the SSR will soon offer its first course on its Web site (swedenborg.org), but generally speaking, Siebert - herself a church member in Kansas - calls Taylor's charges ''off the wall.'' In a lengthy rebuttal, she says the school ''has been trying to work out an equitable arrangement with the Cambridge Society for over 10 years,'' so far in vain.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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40. The story behind Mori's `divinity' remark Shinto as Japan's soul
Asahi News (Japan), June 2, 2000
http://www.asahi.com/english/asahi/0602/asahi060201.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Although Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori is under fire for his Japan as a ``divine nation'' remark, he may not actually have been that far off the mark in terms of how many Japanese view the mystic side of their culture.

After all, Japan has been deeply rooted in Shintoism for centuries and the imperial family supposedly are descendants of the sun goddess Amaterasu.

But such widespread pro-Shinto sentiment may prevent many Japanese from recognizing the real danger behind Mori's controversial statement, experts warn.
(...)

About half of all Japanese who claim some religious affiliation are Shintoists, according to the Education Ministry.
(...)

Because it is so prevalent, Mori's ``divine nation'' remark has had little effect on some district races for the June 25 Lower House election. The No. 5 constituency in Mie Prefecture, which covers Ise, is one such district.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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41. Mary Baker Eddy Unpublished Writings in New Library Dedicated to the Betterment of Humanity
Yahoo/PRNewswire, June 6, 2000 (Press Release)
http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/000606/ma_new_lib_2.htmlOff-site Link
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BOSTON, June 6 /PRNewswire/ -- At a press conference held today, The Christian Science Board of Directors announced plans for a new multi-million dollar library and program center, The Mary Baker Eddy Library for the Betterment of Humanity. The new Library's purpose is ``to further the universal quest for spirituality and the science of being -- and their effect on health and human progress.'' It will house the largest, multi-disciplinary collection of an American woman -- her life, ideas and achievements.

Upon completion, the Library will provide general and academic audiences open access to the collections and over 500,000 pages of unpublished writings and documents of Mary Baker Eddy. Best known as the discoverer of Christian Science, she is also the author of the still best-selling book, ``Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures'', and founder of the daily newspaper, ``The Christian Science Monitor''.
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=== The Voodoo Doll Around The Corner

42. Voodoo Doll Wins Expense Contest
AOL/AP, June 4, 2000
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http://my.aol.com/business/story.tmpl?table=n&cat=02&id=0006040511977230Off-site Link
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DANVILLE, Calif. (AP) - On a business trip to New Orleans, Dan Wolff was griping about industry analyst when he came up with an unconventional business plan: Buy a voodoo doll and curse the critic.

A vice president of the software company where Wolff worked decided the idea was a good one and offered, ``Expense it.''

Wolff eventually wrote off not one but two voodoo dolls - and won a contest for most outrageous expense judged by the creator of the cartoon ``Dilbert.''
(...)

Cartoonist Scott Adams, the lone judge, called Wolff's expense ``a wonderful blend of inappropriate spending and malicious intent.''

``I expect Dan Wolff to go far in management,'' Adams added.
(...)

Wolff, of Lake Oswego, Ore., spent about $70 dollars on the voodoo dolls. One was going to be used to ``curse'' the analyst, and the other was sent to the beleaguered public relations manager who had to deal with the analyst.

Wolff, however, chickened out when it came to the actual curse.

``A friend of mine from New Orleans wouldn't even touch it,'' he told the San Francisco Examiner. ``He told me, `We don't mess around with voodoo.' It sort of made us feel odd about it.''
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