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Religion News Report

July 8, 2000 (Vol. 4, Issue 225)

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=== Waco / Branch Davidians
1. Rangers testify of gas, torch
2. U.S. lawyers detail sect's Waco arsenal
3. Government displays Davidian weapons during trial Thursday
4. Koresh drilled women, told them to commit suicide in battle, witnesses say
5. Government says it did not try to trick Davidian into implicating himself
in fire
6. Government seeks permission to use surveillance tapes in Davidian lawsuit
trial

=== Aum Shinrikyo
7. Cultist says Asahara ordered 1,000 machineguns be made

=== Ho-No-Hana Sanpogyo
8. Ho-no-Hana collected 95 bil. yen from '84 to '99

=== Falun Gong
9. Hunger striker leaves for US
10. Chinese agency says Falun Gong violating human rights, destroying lives

=== Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God
11. Ugandan Villagers Avoiding Cult Massacre Site

=== Scientology
12. Autopsy photos' release delayed
13. Church again stalls release of photos
14. Film-studio death called accidental
15. $5b Slashed Off Nigeria's Debt

=== Islam / Brotherhood of Inner Power (Al-Ma'unah)
16. Commandos Raid Camp of Islamic Cult In Malaysia
17. Shadowy gunmen holding hostage in Malaysia give up
18. Malaysia Cult Leader Arrested
19. Authorities sound 'deviationist' alarm
20. Weapons gang linked to Islamic cult kills two hostages

=== Islam / Abu Sayyaf
21. Christian group brushes aside death threat from kidnappers

=== Transcendental Meditation
22. A Search for Serenity
23. Natural Law Party back on ballot

=== Buddhism
24. A Doctor Redefining Traditional Medicine
25. Mindfulness Medication

=== Hate Groups / Hate Crimes
26. Sect banned by rock festival (Twelve Tribes)

=== Robert Rozier
27. Surprise ending to check-fraud trial shocks California jury
28. Ex-hitman found guilty of fraud

=== Other News
29. Police hunt leader after teenage girls murder Italian nun
30. Drink advice service confronts sex abuse (AA)
31. Who's got the power in Japan? (Soka Gakkai)

=== Human Rights
32. U.S. firms silent over Chinese Net arrest

=== Religious Freedom / Religious Intolerance
33. God Motto Urged in Colo. Schools
34. School eliminates prayer policy
35. Richlands High School Principal George Brown charged ACLU with
using 'Gestapo tactics'

=== Noted
36. Charismatic Christians Get Spirits Sparked (Copeland)
37. Web site reports busy days after ABC's 'Jesus' special
38. Who Is Jesus?


=== Waco / Branch Davidians

1. Rangers testify of gas, torch
Dallas Morning News, July 8, 2000
http://dallasnews.com/texas_southwest/1
08215_waco_08tex.ART.html
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
WACO Texas Rangers said that they found a blackened torch and four fuel cans in the Branch Davidian compound's dining room and were told by a surviving sect member that the fire that consumed the building was fueled by Coleman gas.

An FBI agent who was just outside the compound on the day it burned also described Friday how he and other agents tried to rescue sect members during the blaze. At one point, the agent testified, he left an armored vehicle to extinguish the flaming clothes of Branch Davidian Marjorie Thomas, a fire survivor and a plaintiff in the sect's wrongful-death lawsuit.

FBI Agent Mark E. Tilton also acknowledged that he never saw anyone inside start a fire and never detected any gunfire in the hours before the blaze as agents assaulted the building with tear gas.

One Ranger also conceded under cross-examination that no flammable substance was detected on the torch found after the fire, and another acknowledged that some of the gas cans were found near two piles of lantern parts. Surviving Branch Davidians have said they used Coleman lanterns as a light source in the compound and also used Coleman stoves to cook their food after authorities cut their electricity.
(...)

Texas Ranger Bobby Grubbs testified that he was assigned to interview surviving Branch Davidian Clive Doyle at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas on the day after the compound fire and managed to coax some information from him about what had happened. Mr. Doyle, one of nine fire survivors and one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, had been flown to Parkland after the fire to be treated for third-degree burns on his hands.

''He told us the fire was started with Coleman fuel. He told us that Coleman fuel had been distributed throughout the compound,'' Ranger Grubbs said.

He added that the 59-year-old Branch Davidian also told how his hands ''were actually in flames'' before he managed to get out of the burning building. Mr. Doyle denied starting the fire himself, but refused to answer when asked whether it was accidental or whether he knew who might have ignited it.

''He told us he needed to talk to his attorney first,'' Ranger Grubbs said. ''I felt like he had information. He just wouldn't give it to us.''

The Ranger said he was also bothered that Mr. Doyle failed to mention anything about his 18-year-old daughter Shari, who died in the fire, but seemed particularly agitated about losing his pet dog in the blaze. ''He put a lot more emphasis on his dog than he did his daughter,'' Ranger Grubbs said. ''That made a lasting impression on me.''

Mr. Doyle's elderly mother, Edna Doyle, who lives with her son at the site of the ruined compound, was in the courtroom Friday and repeatedly muttered ''you're a liar'' during the ranger's testimony.

Mr. Doyle testified last week that his hands were burned as he was driven to the floor of the compound by the heat of the fire. He said he refused to answer the Rangers' questions when they tried to interview him at Parkland, in part because he was heavily medicated at the time.

He also testified that he knew of ''no plan'' for setting a fire and never saw anyone doing anything to start one before he escaped through a hole in the compound's chapel wall. But after Mr. Doyle acknowledged that he had worn a blue nylon jacket on April 19, a government attorney grilled him on why its sleeves were covered with flammable liquids.

''It could have come from constantly filling lanterns. ... I don't know,'' Mr. Doyle testified.

One Houston arson investigator involved in the Waco fire inquiry told Congress in 1995 that the substance on Mr. Doyle's jacket was charcoal lighter fluid.
(...)

The final ATF agent called to testify on Friday, Houston Agent Roland Ballesteros, said he had only taken one or two steps out of the cattle trailer that brought him and other agents to the compound when he heard gunshots. He added that the shots rang out steadily as he ran toward the building, and he said the sound came from the compound.
(...)

But under cross-examination, Mr. Ballesteros conceded that his testimony included notable differences from his seven previous sworn statements about the incident. Citing 10 discrepancies between his Friday testimony and his earlier statements, Mr. Caddell noted that the agent said only days after the gunbattle that he had heard a few distant, faint gunshots when he ran through a gate near the compound front door. He noted that the agent had said in his earliest statements that he believed the first gunshots he heard were from the ATF's dog team.

All of the other ATF agents who have testified in the wrongful-death trial said they did not know who started the shooting. Most said the first shots they heard were sporadic pops of semi-automatic fire that they thought were from their dog team.

Mr. Ballesteros finally conceded Friday he also didn't know where or who fired first. He also acknowledged that he and the other agents involved in the raid never tried ''a peaceful entry'' into the building. The government's opening argument asserted that the ATF was trying to peacefully serve a warrant when they were ambushed.

The agent acknowledged that he was carrying a shotgun with a barrel so short that it would be considered illegal for civilians to own without a special federal license, and he said he pointed it ''in the general direction'' of Mr. Koresh as he appeared at the doorway.

The agent also conceded that the raiding team had planned and even practiced retreating from the building if they did hear gunfire that didn't come from their agents.

''And yet, despite your training, despite your practice, you didn't retreat?'' Mr. Caddell said.

''No, sir,'' the agent responded.
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2. U.S. lawyers detail sect's Waco arsenal
Dallas Morning News, July 7, 2000
http://dallasnews.com/texas_southwest/
107725_waco_07tex.ART.html
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
WACO Government lawyers Thursday began wrapping up their defense of federal actions in the gunfight that sparked the Branch Davidian siege, meticulously detailing the sect's firepower and its absolute devotion to self-proclaimed messiah David Koresh.

A succession of Texas Rangers were called to testify Thursday about their role in recovering more than 300 guns and hundreds of thousands of rounds of ammunition from the charred wreckage of the Davidian compound.

The Texas lawmen detailed how 60 M-16 machine guns, 60 AK-47 assault rifles, about 30 AR-15 assault rifles, several .50-caliber sniper rifles and dozens of pistols were discovered after the compound burned April 19, 1993. They told jurors in the Davidian wrongful-death suit how some weapons were arrayed in what appeared to be firing positions, and 133 were recovered from the concrete room where bodies of most of the sect's women and all of its children were discovered.
(...)

Lt. Coffman also recounted how an elderly Davidian woman interviewed during the raid described seeing two other women inside the sect's compound carrying guns just before agents arrived there Feb. 28, 1993.
(...)

Davidian witnesses called to testify in the case have denied seeing women carrying guns or shooting in the gunfight.

Lt. Coffman said the Davidian, Ofelia Santoyo, also told him just after coming out of the compound in March 1993 that the sect had been tipped off before the ATF raid. He added that Ms. Santoyo described hearing one Davidian man yelling, ''The Assyrians are coming!'' a reference to Old Testament ''enemies'' of God's chosen.

''She became afraid. . . .Through his teachings ... [Mr. Koresh] said this day would come and the police would come to attack the compound,'' Lt. Coffman recalled. ''She said the Davidians were well-armed and justified in being well-armed because the Bible told them to do that.''

Lt. Coffman said Ms. Santoyo told him that another Branch Davidian woman who surrendered during the siege, Ruth Riddle, was one of Mr. Koresh's 15 sexual partners. Ms. Riddle testified earlier that she considered herself only a spiritual wife of the Davidian leader and never had a physical relationship with him.

Ms. Santoyo acknowledged that her daughter was also a Koresh ''wife,'' but she refused to say whether her 13-year-old granddaughter was among his sexual partners, the Ranger recalled. ''But she would say that any woman in the compound age 12 or older was old enough to have sex with Koresh.''

Government lawyers followed the Rangers' testimony by reading deposition testimony in which a former Davidian told of Mr. Koresh's domination of his followers.

That former Davidian, Dana Okimoto, recalled being sent to California to hide after she became pregnant with the first of her two children by Mr. Koresh. She said in her deposition that she was berated for taking one of them to the hospital after he broke his arm.

''He was very upset that I took him ... because now his name was in the system,'' Ms. Okimoto testified.

She said that argument so shook her faith in Mr. Koresh that she and her children, Sky and Scooter, eventually left the group. She is now a psychiatric nurse and lives with the boys, 11 and 9, in Hawaii.

Before she left, she said, Mr. Koresh had begun showing her guns, once ordering the younger women to practice firing shotguns. She said he also taught that his wives should kill themselves if they believed they were about to be taken by enemies and raped.

She said Mr. Koresh also controlled the group's diet, first imposing kosher dietary laws from the Old Testament but later adding his own ''weird food-combining theories.''

''It constantly changed,'' she said. ''He wanted absolute control.''

Plaintiffs' lawyer Michael Caddell dismissed the government's presentation as part of a continuing effort to prejudice jurors with tales of Mr. Koresh's obsession with guns and his strange religious and sexual practices.

In questioning the government's witnesses, Mr. Caddell repeatedly pointed out that he and his clients had previously acknowledged the exact number of weapons found in the compound.

After another Ranger testified that a pistol, loaded magazines, military vests and belts and even a live grenade were dropped by some of the Davidians who fled the fire, Mr. Caddell said a number of the fire survivors were convicted in a 1994 criminal trial.

''No kiddos came out . . . did they?'' Mr. Caddell said. ''The [ammunition] vest, the web belt, none of those were child-sized, were they?''

Pointing out how weapons displayed for jurors were charred and melted in the compound fire, Mr. Caddell told one Ranger, ''You can imagine what that did to flesh, couldn't you?''
(...)

Mr. Caddell closely questioned Ranger Lt. James L. Miller about the FBI's involvement in the post-siege search of the compound. He noted that key evidence including one of the compound's front doors was never found.
(...)

Another plaintiffs' lawyer, James Brannon, pointedly suggested that and other evidence could have been removed by FBI agents who loaded objects into a U-Haul truck at the compound April 19.
(...)

But notably absent from the list of witnesses called Thursday were any of the FBI agents who helped to search the compound. Mr. Bradford also confirmed Thursday that the government will not call FBI agent James Cadigan, the FBI's chief laboratory official assigned to lead the evidence-gathering effort in the Waco case.
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3. Government displays Davidian weapons during trial Thursday
Waco Tribune-Herald, July 6, 2000
http://www.accesswaco.com/auto/feed/news/local/
2000/07/06/962932588.02993.1773.0011.html
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
The government staged its version of a gun show Thursday in Waco's federal court.
(...)

All the weapons were found in the rubble of Mount Carmel, after a fire of disputed origin led to the deaths of David Koresh and 75 followers on April 19, 1993.
(...)

Government attorney Steve Mason asked another Ranger, Lt. Ray Coffman, if he had ever seen more assault rifles in one place.

''I have not,'' said Coffman, who helped search the concrete bunker at Mount Carmel.

That included the Texas National Guard armory in Austin, Coffman said.
(...)

He said the Rangers found 10,000 rounds of live ammunition inside the bunker and 400,000 rounds of ammunition destroyed in the fire. The bunker also contained the bodies of men, women and 24 children.
(...)

Houston attorney Mike Caddell, lead plaintiffs attorney, tried to cast doubt on the number and types of weapons found by asking Miller what agency examined Mount Carmel immediately after the fire. Miller said an FBI explosives unit went through the area before allowing the Rangers to conduct their search.

Caddell also noted in questioning Miller that the Rangers determined the FBI mislabeled numerous items in compiling its list of weapons at Mount Carmel.

That became apparent last year when Mike McNulty, one of the producers of ''Waco: Rules of Engagement,'' toured the DPS' evidence room, which at that time held the Davidian evidence. McNulty found flashbangs misidentified by the FBI as silencers.

Caddell asked Miller if anything had been done to correct the FBI's mislabeling. Miller said no.

''We'll just take their word for it,'' Caddell said, sarcastically.
(...)

Several Davidians have testified the group collected weapons to sell at gun shows.

However, a former ''wife'' of Koresh's testified via a transcribed deposition that Koresh stockpiled weapons as part of ''preparing for the end.''

Dana Okimoto, 34, said she met Koresh in Hawaii in 1986. He invited her to come to Texas to study with him and other Davidians, who were living at the time in Palestine, Texas.

She said Koresh asked her to become one of his wives - or part of the House of David - in August 1987. She and Koresh had two sons, she said. One was born in Torrance, Calif., in September 1988 and the other was born at Mount Carmel in April 1991.

Okimoto said Koresh had 14 or 15 ''wives'' and had sex with some of them when they were 13 or 14 years old.

Koresh taught all the women at Mount Carmel how to shoot a shotgun as part of preparing for the end times, Okimoto testified, adding that the preparation also involved marching military-style and watching war movies on video.

She said she came to doubt her belief in Koresh about a year before leaving the Davidians.
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4. Koresh drilled women, told them to commit suicide in battle, witnesses say
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 6, 2000
http://www.postnet.com/postnet/stories.nsf/ByDocID/
92395110345D97818625691500059389?OpenDocument
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(...) The government is trying to counter the Davidians' claim that women and children were not involved in armed attacks on government agents.

Justice Department attorneys bolstered that case by reading the testimony of one of Koresh's wives, Dana Okimoto, a psychiatric nurse from Hawaii. She testified that Koresh taught all women to shoot and showed war movies, like ''Hamburger Hill,'' to prepare them for the war that he believed the Bible prophesied. He also convinced her that she should commit suicide if she were captured in that war and was about to be raped.

Koresh showed her guns on the stage of the chapel, apparently including the 5-foot-long, .50-caliber gun known as the ''Bear.''

Asked about Koresh's mental health, Okimoto testified, ''As a mental health professional, I believe he probably belonged in a hospital somewhere.''

She left the complex about a year before the siege began.
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5. Government says it did not try to trick Davidian into implicating himself in fire
Waco Tribune-Herald, July 7, 2000
http://www.accesswaco.com/auto/feed/news/local/
2000/07/07/963015906.18724.5370.0009.html
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
The government denied trying to ''trick'' a plaintiff in the Branch Davidians' $675 million wrongful-death lawsuit into implicating himself in setting the fire that destroyed Mount Carmel seven years ago.

In a motion filed with U.S. District Judge Walter S. Smith Jr. of Waco, the government said it's entitled to an adverse inference that Derek Lovelock helped start the fire at Mount Carmel because of his refusal to read alleged statements about lighting a fire that were picked up by surveillance devices planted inside the building.

Lovelock, a British resident, was one of nine Davidians to escape the fire that led to the deaths of David Koresh and 75 followers.

''... the plaintiffs were on notice of the United States' position that the Branch Davidians started the fire, and they had access to the tapes prior to the deposition,'' the government motion said. ''Thus, plaintiffs' claim of unfair prejudice and surprise or lack of notice is baseless.''

Mike Caddell, lead plaintiffs attorney, said Lovelock did not help start the fire. His refusal to say various phrases - such as, ''Spread the fuel'' and ''Light the fire'' - merely reflect his fear of the United States government, Caddell said.

Lovelock's previous experience with the government came during the siege, Caddell said.

Caddell accused the government in a motion filed two weeks ago of deliberately springing its request on Lovelock. It expected Lovelock to refuse to repeat what was on the tape, Caddell said, allowing government attorneys to ask the court for an adverse inference.

But a government motion filed Thursday claims that Lovelock could have just declined to say the words on the tape. Instead, Lovelock invoked his right not to incriminate himself.

It acknowledges the right to invoke the Fifth Amendment, the government stated. However, when that privilege is asserted during a civil case, a court has the right to draw negative inferences, according to the government motion.
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6. Government seeks permission to use surveillance tapes in Davidian lawsuit trial
Waco Tribune-Herald, July 7, 2000
http://www.accesswaco.com/auto/feed/news/local/
2000/07/07/963016515.24677.8239.0007.html
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
A motion filed Friday asked Waco's federal court to permit the playing of surveillance tapes that allegedly recorded various Branch Davidians discussing setting fire to Mount Carmel.

Government attorneys asked U.S. District Judge Walter S. Smith Jr. to let the advisory jury in the Davidians' $675 million wrongful-death lawsuit against the government hear the voices of unnamed Davidians allegedly say such things as ''Pour the fuel,'' and ''Light the fire.''
(...)

Plaintiffs opposed the playing of the surveillance tapes - picked up by tiny eavesdropping devices slipped into Mount Carmel by the government inside objects such as milk cartons - in a June 29 motion, arguing among other things that it amounted to the introduction of hearsay testimony.

The government denied the charge in its four-page motion:
(...)

Even to the extent the surveillance tapes are hearsay, they fall within applicable hearsay exceptions, according to the government motion.

''For example, statements about pouring fuel or lighting fires reveal the state of mind, intent, plan and motives of the individuals recorded,'' the motion said. ''... Some of the statements are excited utterances and present sense impressions as they recount simultaneously, or virtually simultaneously, actions and observations within the compound relating to the preparation for the fire and the fire.''

Plaintiffs' attorneys Mike Caddell and Cynthia Chapman also argued in their motion that the surveillance tapes should not be played unless the government can identify the speakers.

''Absent voice authentication, the tapes are not admissible for any purpose,'' they argued. ''At a minimum, the defendant must present testimony from one or more witnesses able to identify the speakers based on his familiarity with their voices.''

The government, however, countered in Friday's motion that the Federal Rules of Evidence allow the introduction of statements made while a declarant (the person speaking) was ''perceiving the event or condition ... regardless of the declarant.''

A government spokesman said that can mean whether an individual's identity was known or not.
(...)

Caddell said Friday that the government may present surveillance tapes that captured the voices of people not inside Mount Carmel on the day of the fire. Government officials have said some of the tapes they want to play are recorded conversations that took place before April 19, 1993.

''We don't know,'' Caddell said. ''The people on the tape may be Brad Branch and Kevin Whitecliff who were not even in the building on April 19th. They've had seven years to figure out who these people are.''

Chapman said the government wants to use the tapes to prejudice the advisory jury against all the Davidians.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Aum Shinrikyo

7. Cultist says Asahara ordered 1,000 machineguns be made
Japan Times (Japan), July 8, 2000
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/
getarticle.pl5?nn20000708a8.htm
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
A former Aum Shinrikyo member testified in court Friday that cult founder Shoko Asahara ordered him in 1994 to manufacture 1,000 machineguns.

Kenichi Hirose was speaking at Asahara's 164th trial session at the Tokyo District Court, during which the cult's alleged manufacture of firearms was brought up for the first time.

Hirose, who is being separately tried on the gun-manufacturing charge, said Asahara ordered him and Masato Yokoyama, a senior member of the cult who was sentenced to death in October, to produce 1,000 machineguns in February 1994.

''I was not surprised when I received the order, because I myself thought the weapons were necessary to fulfill (Aum's) doctrine,'' said Hirose, citing the cult's teaching that it is better for those who do not respect the cult to be killed.

Prior to giving the order, Asahara sent Hirose and four other cult members to Russia in February 1993 to study how to make the Russian Army's AK-74 as well as to purchase parts for the weapon, he said.

After numerous attempts, Hirose and Yokoyama finally built a prototype machinegun -- an imitation AK-74 -- by Jan. 1, 1995. Asahara, who, the cultist said, looked impressed with the gun, then ordered Hirose to make bullets for it, while asking Yokoyama to make bigger weapons, he said.
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=== Ho-No-Hana Sanpogyo

8. Ho-no-Hana collected 95 bil. yen from '84 to '99
Daily Yomiuri (Japan), July 8, 2000
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/newse/0708cr04.htmOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
The Ho-no-Hana Sanpogyo religious group was discovered to have amassed 95 billion yen from 1984 to 1999, of which as much as 3 billion yen was appropriated by the group's founder, Hogen Fukunaga, and his family members for private use, a source close to police said Friday.

Police had already been aware that most of the funds collected by the group were used to purchase real estate and issue loans to cult-affiliated companies.

A joint investigation squad of the Metropolitan Police Department and the Shizuoka prefectural police recently discovered that Fukunaga, 55, used group funds to pay his hotel bills and his wife's shopping expenses, according to the source.
(...)

Of the total, about 85 billion yen was accumulated through training fees and proceeds from the sales of high-priced items, such as scrolls, to followers. The remaining 10 billion yen was amassed through business profits, including sales of publications, of affiliated companies.
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=== Falun Gong

9. Hunger striker leaves for US
South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), July 8, 2000
http://www.scmp.com/News/HongKong/Article/
FullText_asp_ArticleID-20000708191031861.asp
Off-site Link
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Pregnant Falun Gong hunger striker Wendy Fang Wengqing returned home to the United States voluntarily on Saturday, ending a 11-day protest over being denied entry to the SAR and transit to Shanghai to visit her parents.

Five-month pregnant Ms Fang, 30, who resumed eating on Thursday after a court order was issued which would have allowed doctors to force-feed her, returned to the US ''out of her own wish'', a spokesman for the Immigration Department, said.
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10. Chinese agency says Falun Gong violating human rights, destroying lives
BBC Monitoring, July 8, 2000
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/pages/
newsreal/Story.nsp?story_id=11868212&ID=newsreal
&scategory=AP+Top+Headlines
Off-site Link
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A Chinese official news agency has highlighted methods used by banned spiritual group Falun Gong to ''trample'' on human dignity and infringe on human rights. The report says Falun Gong cannot cure health problems, and alienates people from society. No mention is made of Falun Gong's clandestine broadcasting to China, which began on 1st July.

Text of report by official Chinese news agency Xinhua (New China News Agency); subheadings as published

All citizens of the People's Republic of China enjoy the rights stipulated in the ''Constitution of the People's Republic of China'', including the rights of survival, health, and freedom of religious belief. However, Li Hongzhi has used deceptive tactics to attract people, encourage them to practice ''Falun Gong'', and spiritually control those practitioners in order to organize and use the ''Falun Gong'' cult organization to achieve his ulterior political purpose. He has seriously infringed upon citizens' legitimate rights and interests as provided by the law. Let us see how Li Hongzhi and his ''Falun Gong'' have infringed upon human rights.

1. ''Falun Gong'' mentally controls people and tramples on human dignity.

In order to make practitioners obey Li Hongzhi in every way, Li Hongzhi and his ''Falun Gong'' organization have used deceptive tactics. They claim that ''Falun Gong'' can eliminate diseases and improve health and that practitioners must rely on ''zhen, shan, ren'' [truthfulness, benevolence and forbearance] to eliminate diseases and ''expel evils''. In order to ''expel evils'', one must ''expand the teachings'', ''protect the teachings'' and ''ascend to a higher level'' to seek ''completion''. Otherwise one's ''body and spirit will perish forever''. Through his meticulously designed fraud, he lured practitioners of ''Falun Gong'' into turning imperceptibly from their initial good desire of eliminating diseases and improving health to a lifetime pursuit of ''expelling evils'', ''repaying debts'' and eventually ''becoming immortal'' and a ''Buddha''. Some of the practitioners are afraid to turn around even when they have somewhat awakened.
(...)

Some practitioners of ''Falun Gong'' are willing to follow Li Hongzhi's orders and are even not afraid of contending with the government and society. They consider the observance of law as bizarre - because Li Hongzhi has told them: Laws formulated by the people are mechanically restrict and enclose people and leave people no way out, while ''disciples'' of Li Hongzhi are not common people because they observe ''Falun Dafa'' or the ''great law of the universe''.
(...)

2. ''Falun Gong'' destroys people's health and pays no attention to people's lives.

Going contrary to what has been claimed by Li Hongzhi, he and his ''Falun Gong'' cult have totally disregarded the practitioners' health. In order to make practitioners have a blind faith in ''Falun Gong'' and at the same time to examine whether those practitioners ''truly have faith in cultivating themselves according to his teachings'', Li Hongzhi has used methods of temptation and threat to coerce practitioners into believing his theory of curing diseases by ''expelling evils'', ''cultivating energy to automatically eliminate diseases'' and ''expelling evils'' to ''ascend to a higher level'' and achieve ''completion''. On the other hand, he has warned practitioners that visiting physicians and taking medicine will bring ''evils'' back and will eventually be ''hopeless'' and ''totally destroyed''.
(...)

According to a statistical report, more than 1,500 ''Falun Gong'' practitioners died or were disabled due to listening to and believing in Li Hongzhi's fallacies and evil teachings and refusing to visit doctors and take medicine when they suffered from diseases. The sad thing was that those people received no sympathy from Li Hongzhi and his ''Falun Gong'' organization. Li Hongzhi said that those people insisted in practising ''Falun Gong'' without his knowledge and were not his disciples. Li Hongzhi even said that some people practised ''Falun Gong'' for the purpose of ''undermining Falun Gong'' and so they suddenly died.
(...)

3. ''Falun Gong'' runs counter to the common practice of human relationships and destroys human feelings.

In order to make practitioners have blind faith in ''Falun Gong'', Li Hongzhi and his ''Falun Gong'' organization have done their best to separate practitioners from their normal family and social life. Li Hongzhi claimed that now there are ''all kinds of evil things'' in human society and that ''people have turned into deviate evil beings''. He said that mankind would be exterminated and only by ''practising Falun Gong'' could people escape from this. He said all those who forbid the practice of ''Falun Gong'' are devils. He said practitioners of ''Falun Gong'' could return to help damaged life after ''successfully becoming deities''. Controlled by Li Hongzhi's evil teachings, ''Falun Gong'' practitioners separated themselves from the society and were divorced from normal family life. Many ''Falun Gong'' practitioners abandoned their responsibility for family and relatives and showed no concern for their living and work.
(...)

The course of deceiving, poisoning, and intimidating practitioners by the ''Falun Gong'' cult organization is precisely a course of committing crimes in violation of law by constantly infringing upon human rights and destroying human feelings. Li Hongzhi and his company, in order to cover up the nature of the ''Falun Gong'' cult, seek refuge with international anti-China forces to prolong their increasingly weakening life, resorting to the tactics of playing the trick of a thief crying ''Stop thief!'' They energetically described our government's cracking down on the ''Falun Gong'' cult organization in accordance with the law and protecting the legitimate rights and interests of ''Falun Gong'' practitioners as ''violating human rights''.
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* Xinhua is China's official press agency.

BBC Monitoring covers reports from radio, television, news agencies, press
and new media in over 150 countries, in over 100 languages, providing a
distinctive foreign news and information service from open sources



=== Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God

11. Ugandan Villagers Avoiding Cult Massacre Site
New York Times, July 6, 2000
http://www.nytimes.com/library/world/
africa/070600uganda-cult.html
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(...) It looks the same as it did nearly four months ago when 330 bodies, only the first, were found incinerated here. The stench from the pit latrine is still fresh and terrible, so much so that people believe there are many more bodies down there.
(...)

The Ugandan police said they had looked again in the latrine, where six corpses were found in March, but it was empty. The smell remains a mystery, like nearly everything about the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God, which promised the end of the world but delivered only for its 780 victims.
(...)

Almost four months after the first bodies were found, shaking this nation still scarred from a past bloody from wars and dictators, hard facts are few. No one knows for certain how so many could die, apparently over several weeks, without the slightest suspicion. No one knows if the group's leaders are dead or alive.

One of the few certainties is that this was not the largest cult killing ever, as was widely reported a few months ago. As new graves were being discovered every few days, the police and government officials said the death toll was over 1,000, and thus more than the 913 who died in Jonestown, Guyana, in 1978. The final toll of 780 -- in six graves in southwestern Uganda and one in the capital -- is still huge. But it is based on an actual body count.

The confusion at the time grew from estimates of how many bodies had been burned in the old church here, with the reports as high as 530. The actual number is 330, said Assuman Mugenyi, a Uganda police spokesman.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Scientology

12. Autopsy photos' release delayed
St. Petersburg Times, July 6, 2000
http://www.sptimes.com/News/070600/
TampaBay/Autopsy_photos__relea.shtml
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
CLEARWATER -- A Pinellas judge ruled Wednesday that autopsy photos of Scientologist Lisa McPherson should be made public, but the photos remained under seal after the Church of Scientology quickly asked for a delay.

Attorneys for the St. Petersburg Times, one of several news organizations requesting the photos, will request an immediate hearing today.

McPherson, 36, died in 1995 while in the care of Scientology staffers in Clearwater. A three-year investigation followed and the church's Clearwater operation was charged with two felonies.

Last month, when prosecutors dropped the charges because of problems with the testimony of Medical Examiner Joan Wood, thousands of records in the case became public.

However, the church has argued that releasing the autopsy photos could prevent a fair trial in Hillsborough County, where it is fighting a wrongful-death lawsuit filed by McPherson's estate. The church says it fears the photos will be published by newspapers and by its critics on the Internet, thus inflaming potential jurors.

But in his ruling Wednesday, Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Crockett Farnell wrote that the church ''has not shown the likelihood of irreparable harm'' if the photos are released. ''Even if the photographs are published extensively,'' he added, ''that does not mean that the Hillsborough County court cannot seat an unbiased jury.'' Courts are equipped to handle such matters, he wrote.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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* One of the autopsy photos can be seen at this site:

Occupied Clearwater
http://www.xenu-city.net/Off-site Link

Also available at that site:

STILL UPLOADING: The Scientology Greatest Hits CD
http://www.xenu-city.net/CPDOff-site Link
The dismissal of the criminal case against the Scientology crime syndicate
in the death of Lisa McPherson has caused the Clearwater Police
Department's investigative file to become public record. CPD apparently
anticipated the world-wide demand for these documents, as they have
scanned all 6719 pages and made them available on a CD-ROM. Currently in
TIF format, these files can be viewed at www.xenu-city.net/cwpdOff-site Link. (They've
been grouped in directories of 100 files each, for those of you whose web
browsers were malfunctioning when trying to download the whole directory
list.)

* About Lisa McPherson:
http://www.lisamcpherson.orgOff-site Link


13. Church again stalls release of photos
St. Petersburg Times, July 7, 2000
http://www.sptimes.com/News/070700/
TampaBay/Church_again_stalls_r.shtml
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
CLEARWATER -- The Church of Scientology has again blocked the release of autopsy photos of Scientologist Lisa McPherson.

In a motion filed Thursday, the church asked Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Crockett Farnell to reconsider two previous rulings this week in which he cleared the photos for public release. The motion prompted the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office to delay the release for the second time this week. It was the third time Scientology has successfully kept the records secret since June 12, when prosecutors dropped two criminal charges against the church in McPherson's death.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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14. Film-studio death called accidental
The Press Enterprise, July 7, 2000
http://www.inlandempireonline.com/
news/stories/070700/folo.shtml
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
The death of a woman who fell in a transformer vault at Golden Era Studios was an accident, sheriff's investigators have determined.

Stacey Myer, 20, died June 25 when she slipped as she climbed into the vault at the Church of Scientology complex near San Jacinto. Education and training films for the church are produced at the studio.

''She was someplace she should not have been,'' said Lt. Darryl Birney. ''We have investigated this thoroughly, looked at the evidence, and concluded that it was an accident.''

Birney said it appears Myer slipped or lost her balance and fell from a ladder leading into the vault, then grabbed a wire as she fell. Myer died instantly when she touched a 7,200-volt wire connecting two transformers in the 10-foot-by-10-foot vault, authorities said.
(...)

Investigators received numerous calls, mostly from critics of Scientology, who suggested Myer's death was not an accident, Birney said. About six sheriff's employees, from detectives to evidence technicians, were involved in investigating the death, he said.

''We are confident this was nothing more than an accident,'' he said.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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* Scientology-related deaths:

Why Are These People Dead Scientology?
http://www.xenu.net/archive/deaths/Off-site Link


15. $5b Slashed Off Nigeria's Debt
The Guardian (Nigeria), July 2, 2000
http://nigeriaworld.com/news/source/
2000/jul/3/4.html
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
ABOUT five billion dollars may have been slashed off Nigeria's debt by a 1988 debt buy-back deal going by the findings of the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts which investigated such past transactions.

The committee which was until recently led by Senator Idris Abubakar concluded in its yet to be debated report that contrary to speculations, the debt buy back deal believed to have been fraudulently executed was somewhat beneficial to the country.

The committee's findings which runs against the recent campaign of looting by former football star, John Fashanu, draws largely from submissions of the Ministry of Finance, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and other principal witnesses to conclude that one ''Greenland Company'', role in the business was transparent.
(...)

Greenland company reportedly formed by government on expert advice and managed by Bob Minton carried out the transaction in accordance with set rules.
(...)

While Fashanu insists that his discovery was borne out of patriotism, one of those linked with the transaction, Mr. Bob Minton has accused him (Fashanu) of working for the Scientologist, a controversial United States group, in the bid to run him down.

Minton stressed that he has consistently taken on the group's disputed objectives to the level where they would work on any thing to either distract him or discredit his person.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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* For a running record of Scientology's battles against Bob Minton,
including details of the Nigeria buy-back deal, see:

The Unofficial Minton Papers
http://holysmoke.org/minton/minton.htm
* For details of Scientology's practices with regard to critics, see:

Dead Agenting
http://www.apologeticsindex.org/d05.html

* For details about Scientology, see:

Consumer Alert: Scientology
http://www.apologeticsindex.org/s04.html


=== Islam / Brotherhood of Inner Power (Al-Ma'unah)

16. Commandos Raid Camp of Islamic Cult In Malaysia
International Herald Tribune, July 7, 2000
http://www.iht.com/IHT/TODAY/FRI/IN/malay.2.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
SAUK, Malaysia - Anti-terrorist commandos on Thursday raided the jungle camp of a heavily armed Islamic cult, capturing 27 men and ending a bizarre and violent episode that was one of Malaysia's worst security threats in decades.
(...)

Two hostages held by the group, an undercover police officer and a soldier, were killed by their captors well before the raid, the police said.
(...)

The standoff also brought to light details of the previously unknown Islamic cult, Al Ma'unah, or Brotherhood of Inner Power, that the police say has several hundred members in Malaysia. The group's Web site, al_maunah.tripod.com, speaks of seeking spiritual enlightenment through martial arts and claims membership of 1,000 people.

''Jihad is our way! Islam will be victorious!'' says the Web site, which also includes photos of believers putting their hands in cauldrons of hot oil, having logs rolled over their chests and coming into contact with a flaming torch.

The police began a nationwide crackdown of the cult Thursday. Fifteen members of the group were arrested and the country's chief of police, Norian Mai, said more arrests would follow.

''No religion says you should kill or kidnap,'' Mr. Najib said. ''This is the face of Islam we don't want to portray.'' About 60 percent of Malaysia's 22 million people are Muslim.

Mr. Najib said that security forces had captured the mastermind of the armed group, Amin Mohammed Razali, a former army private in his 30s, who was described as mentally ''unstable'' by Mr. Norian.

Mr. Amin is called a master of ''inner power'' on the Al Ma'unah Web site, capable of making enemies ''drop to their knees or fall down with the blink of an eye.''
(...)

Mr. Najib said security forces had recovered the group's cache of weapons - more than 100 assault rifles, 10 machine guns, 60 mortar shells and several thousand rounds of ammunition - that were stolen Sunday in a daring raid on two army depots.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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17. Shadowy gunmen holding hostage in Malaysia give up
AOL/Reuters, July 6, 2000
http://my.aol.com/news/story.tmpl?
table=n&cat=01&id=0007060952483444
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
KATI, Malaysia (Reuters) - Shadowy gunmen who raided two army weapons depots before killing two hostages surrendered Thursday after Malaysian security forces issued an ultimatum to end the five-day standoff.
(...)

The gunmen, believed to be members of a mysterious martial arts cult that professes to have supernatural powers, had seized three hostages after stealing a large cache of weapons from two army camps in Perak Sunday.
(...)

Little was known about the gunmen but the federal police chief Norian said their leader was ''mentally unstable.'' Abdullah said several of the gunmen were highly qualified professionals -- accountants, auditors, engineers and multimedia people.

Norian said authorities had arrested 15 members of the Al-Ma'unah martial arts group under the Internal Security Act, which allows indefinite detention without trial.
(...)

On its website (http://al-maunah.tripod.comOff-site Link), the group describes itself as a non-governmental organization ''involved in the teaching of martial arts, particularly the development of one's inner power and the practice of Islamic traditional medicine.''

Al-Ma'unah currently has more than 1,000 members in Malaysia and overseas in Brunei, Singapore, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, it said.

The group said followers can make enemies hurl backward without touching them, are ''invincible from'' weapons, fire or sharp objects and can tie enemies without using rope.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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18. Malaysia Cult Leader Arrested
AOL/AP, July 7, 2000
http://my.aol.com/news/story.tmpl?
table=n&cat=01&id=0007070804526047
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) - At home, he was the beloved son. But as a teen-ager meditating on the Koran in the jungles of northern Malaysia, Mohamed Amin Mohamed Razali harbored a grander vision of martyrdom and holy war.

After triggering Malaysia's biggest security crisis in years, the former army private is likely to see only a part of his dream fulfilled. He could face a death sentence.
(...)

Authorities say Amin was discharged from the army for a drug-related offense and served 18 months in prison until 1998. But his family doesn't mention it.

If they had been able to log on to their son's Web site, events of this week may not have surprised them.

''Jihad is our way! Islam will be victorious!'' is splashed in scarlet against a white background on the home page. ''God is great! God is great! God is great!''

''Are you willing to see Muslims being trampled on and oppressed?'' says the site, which has more than doubled its hit rate to more than 18,000 in one day. ''If not, what are you willing to do to prevent it?''

The Al-Ma'unah, with a sizable number of ex-military men, claims a membership of 1,000 worldwide. It recommends martial arts training and obedience to Islamic teaching.

It describes itself as a non-governmental organization formed in September 1998, the month political turmoil erupted in Malaysia following the sacking and arrest of popular deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim.

Images on the Web site show group members practicing rituals that include being burned by fire, scalded by boiling oil and having tree trunks hurled on their chests.

The site says that proponents of the Al-Ma'unah adhere to the teachings of the Koran and a Muslim cleric named Amin Razali who, it claims, received enlightenment after spending five years studying paranormal sciences in a hut in Indonesia.

The violence raised concerns about Islamic militancy in this predominantly Muslim Southeast Asian country, which has little experience with sectarian strife or terrorism. On Friday, authorities said they are going to prosecute the leaders of the cult for murder, and Malaysian Defense Minister Najib Tun Razak said security at all military bases would be stepped up to prevent intrusions.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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19. Authorities sound 'deviationist' alarm
South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), July 8, 2000
http://www.scmp.com/News/Asia/Article/
FullText_asp_ArticleID-20000708174734578.asp
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Malaysia has identified 44 Muslim-based ''deviationist'' cults in the country, including the shadowy Al-Ma'unah whose members were linked to a daring arms heist this week, media reports said on Saturday.

The New Straits Times reported the Islamic Development Department as saying Al-Ma'unah, which pulled off the heist to cause one of Malaysia's most serious security threats in years, was among 44 groups in the country whose Muslim teachings deviated.

''Of the total, 17 deviationist groups claimed to possess mystical powers and invincibility by reciting Koranic verses for specific purposes as well as to enhance the status of their spiritual leaders,'' the newspaper said.

The reports gave no further details on the cults or how many followers they had.
(...)

The official Bernama news agency on Saturday quoted Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi urging followers of deviationist teachings to stop their activities.

''We do not want them to continue to be misled and probably get involved in violent and extreme activities,'' he said in the royal capital of Kuala Kangsar in Perak. ''The government is waiting for a full report on the activities of such groups.''

Mr Abdullah said the government would continue to monitor the cult activities and take appropriate action to ensure national security, peace and stability.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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20. Weapons gang linked to Islamic cult kills two hostages
Yahoo/AFP, July 6, 2000
http://english.hk.dailynews.yahoo.com/headlines/
asia/article.html?s=hke/headlines/000706/asia/afp/
Weapons_gang_linked_to_Islamic_cult_kills_two_hostages.html
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
The gang which looted a military armoury and is trapped on a jungle hilltop in northern Malaysia has murdered two of its three hostages in a revenge attack, police chief Norian Mai said Thursday.

The information came from two gang members who gave themselves up early Thursday after tearful loudhailer appeals from wives and children of the group.

Norian said the gangsters -- encircled by hundreds of heavily-armed troops and police -- are members of an Islamic martial arts group dedicated to setting up an Islamic state.

He said 15 other members of the Al-Ma'unah group had been detained in four states under the Internal Security Act, which allows detention without trial.
(...)

The reported Islamic connection surprised analysts, who had previously speculated that the gang was stealing weapons for sale to criminal or guerrilla groups in the region.

Asked if Al-Ma'unah was affiliated to any political party, Norian told a press conference: ''So far there is no indication.''

He said its aim was ''to set up an Islamic government according to their interpretation.''

Authorities say they have found no foreign link to the weapons gang but Norian said Al-Ma'unah's form of self-defence is believed to have originated in Indonesia.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Islam / Abu Sayyaf

21. Christian group brushes aside death threat from kidnappers
Yahoo/AFP, July 6, 2000
http://english.hk.dailynews.yahoo.com/headlines/a
sia/article.html?s=hke/headlines/000706/asia/afp/
Christian_group_brushes_aside_death_threat_from_kidnappers.html
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Death threats against 13 Christian preachers from their Muslim extremist captors are not a concern as the evangelists are confident God will protect them, a member of the Christian ministry said Thursday.

The kidnapped head of the Jesus Miracle Crusade, fiery televangelist Wilde Almeda, particularly has special powers that will protect him from bullets, said Robert Chua, a member of the group.

Almeda and the 12 other members of his ministry went to the camp of the Muslim extremist group Abu Sayyaf in southern Jolo island on Saturday to pray over 20 mostly-foreign hostages seized by the rebels from a Malaysian resort on April 23 and to convince the kidnappers to free their captives.

The military says they together with a German journalist, Andreas Lorenz, are also now being held hostage by the notorious Abu Sayyaf.

Chua, speaking in Jolo town while awaiting the return of his 13 fellow preachers from the guerilla camp, said: ''Our strong faith in God will save us from danger.
(...)

Chua said that Almeda had told him they would only be in the kidnappers' lair for three days. However, despite their absence, he said he did not believe they had been kidnapped.

''We do not believe the rebels are holding our group and our beloved pastor captive because Islam means peace, it means love, it means submission, it means God and we were sent by God to resolve problems,'' Chua said.

He said there had been no demands for any ransom for Almeda and the other preachers.

''We believe that he has powers and he will not be hit by bullets even if he is shot,'' he added.

Andang has denied holding Almeda's group, saying in a message that they were staying in the camp on their own free will for a 40-day fast.

A Filipino journalist who visited an Abu Sayyaf hideout in the village of Tiis Kutong told colleagues Wednesday that he took photographs of Almeda and his 12 followers with their hands tied behind their backs.
(...)

The Abu Sayyaf, a coalition of various armed groups who style themselves as independence fighters, has made political demands and sought a ransom of a million dollars for each of the 20 original hostages.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Transcendental Meditation

22. A Search for Serenity
Washington Post, July 6, 2000
http://washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/
articles/A54926-2000Jul6.html
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(...) Steben and dozens of other Washington area residents often gather on weekends and weekday evenings at the Maharishi Vedic Medical Center, which opened in October in a gleaming $1.8 million building in North Bethesda.

The center announced recently that it is one of five research facilities across the country to take part in a National Institutes of Health study on the effect of alternative medicine, including transcendental meditation, on cardiovascular disease. The Maharishi University of Management in Iowa will guide the study, which NIH funded after a scientific review of the university's application.

More than 30 years since flower children were inspired by the Beatles' flirtation with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in India and his method of self-relaxation, transcendental meditation these days is being pitched at professionals looking for relief from the nerve-racking stresses of modern life.

Nancy K. Lonsdorf, a doctor who is the Maharishi Vedic Center's medical director, said the center is particularly popular among Washington's baby boomers.
(...)

Such results are modest compared with some of the things longtime meditators claim TM can accomplish if enough people do it: lowering the crime rate, for example, or even putting an end to war. All this by just sitting down twice a day, closing your eyes for about 20 minutes and following the TM method into a state of deep rest.

In the early '90s, 4,000 of the Maharishi's followers spent eight weeks in Washington holding large-scale group meditations. They claimed they helped reduce crime during that time. But the District's police department was unconvinced.

In fact, the TM movement has inspired skepticism over time, and some former meditators have voiced disappointment with TM. Over the years, some have even likened the movement to a cult, a comparison practitioners dismiss. A plan by the Institute of World Peace--which is tied to the Maharishi University of Management--for a 38-acre ''think tank'' retreat in Calvert County has concerned some residents there.

Several studies have shown that meditation can have positive health effects, though many of those studies were conducted by Maharishi supporters and not everyone believes that TM is superior to other relaxation methods.

James S. Gordon, a psychiatrist who is the director of the Center for Mind-Body Medicine in the District and a professor at Georgetown University School of Medicine, said that TM is just one among a variety of relaxation therapies that have been shown to reduce stress. ''We find that different kinds of relaxation techniques are good for different people.''

Still, TM practitioners believe their method is unique. Lonsdorf says well-educated city dwellers are often drawn to transcendental meditation as a way to relieve urban stress--from work, traffic, crime, the battle to find a parking space.

What better location, then, for the 8,000-square-foot, Maharishi Vedic Medical Center than the Washington suburbs, which have plenty of residents who can afford the $1,000 one-time cost of learning TM? Spokeswoman Kathleen Skevington said that fees are used to cover expenses and that the center operates as a nonprofit organization. Another center is in a rented commercial town house in Falls Church. There are more than 100 across the nation, and others internationally.

Lonsdorf said the North Bethesda center attracts 500 to 1,000 regulars, who come for meditation or consultations or to purchase herbal medicine, skin care and other products. The center has about 6,000 Washington area residents on its mailing list, which largely consists of people who've taken meditation classes over the years.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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23. Natural Law Party back on ballot
The Oregonian, July 3, 2000
http://www.oregonlive.com/news/oregonian/index.ssf?
/news/oregonian/00/07/lc_21folo03.frame
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
After solving the Case of the Disappearing Petitioner, the Natural Law Party will be back on the ballot in Oregon this year.

The party, first formed by adherents of transcendental meditation, was ready in April to turn in 27,000 signatures, well beyond the 16,697 needed to win a spot on the ballot.

But then party officials ran into a very unmellow bureaucratic problem. They couldn't find Spencer Burton, a party activist from Northwest Portland who had filed the papers to begin the signature drive.
(...)

After an April 27 story in The Oregonian and weeks of asking around, Campbell finally heard from Burton. He had been in France for several months.
(...)

With Burton back and the signatures in, the secretary of state last week ruled that the party was back on the ballot. That means the party's presidential candidate, physicist John Hagelin, will once again have his name placed before Oregon voters. He ran in 1996 and picked up 2,798 votes in the state.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Buddhism

24. A Doctor Redefining Traditional Medicine
New York Times, July 4, 2000
http://www10.nytimes.com/library/national/science/
health/070400hth-book-cancer.html
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
''The Journey Through Cancer'' by Dr. Jeremy Geffen (Crown Publishers, 2000).

With thousands of cancer patients seeking alternative and complementary medicine, ''The Journey Through Cancer'' seems a timely addition to the medical bookshelf.

Dr. Jeremy Geffen, a board-certified oncologist and a self-described student of Buddhism and Ayurvedic and Tibetan medicine, lauds the benefits of complementary practices in treating the person as a whole. But he does not advocate swallowing these notions and potions instead of proven treatments. The book may actually have the effect of bringing those who have put all their hope into alternative practices back into the traditional fold.

At his Geffen Cancer Center in Florida, Dr. Geffen and his staff try to address the emotional and spiritual needs of his patients and provide traditional care. These efforts will sound refreshing for cancer patients, many of whom feel they are simply cases being run through a treatment mill.
(...)

In the ''life assessment'' phase, he moves to the spiritual, asking questions like ''Why do you want to live?'' and ''What is the real meaning and purpose of life?'' Since many patients say that having cancer helped them see what was important in life, this chapter may help guide those who are ready to consider such philosophical questions.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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25. Mindfulness Medication
ABC News, July 5, 2000
http://abcnews.go.com/sections/living/
DailyNews/mindfulness0705.html
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
[Alternative Healing]
N E W Y O R K, July 5 - Many moons ago, a wandering Nepalese prince sat under a tree, vowing not to rise until he attained enlightenment.

After a long night of deep meditation, Siddhartha Gautama, better known as the Buddha, saw the light and declared that suffering is subjective, and can be reduced through self-awareness.

Today, 2500 years later, a growing number of American doctors and healthcare workers are teaching people who are ill how to apply Buddha's epiphany to their lives.

In hospitals, businesses and community centers around the country, meditation is increasingly being offered as a method of stress reduction, and to help patients better cope with the physical pain and mental strain associated with many medical conditions, including heart disease and HIV infection.

Recent research shows meditation's soothing effects can be detected in arterial walls and in the brain. Once considered outside the mainstream, today more insurers are paying for meditation, both as a form of medication and as preventive medicine.

''Meditation is the act of disidentifying from inner thought flow and concentrating on calming and healing,'' explains Robert Thurman, Ph.D., a professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies at Columbia University in New York and the first American to become a Tibetan Buddhist monk. Through meditation, doctors help patients detach from their pain and anxieties and cultivate a connection between the mind and the body, he says.

While there are many kinds of meditation, the mindfulness approach, used widely in hospitals around the country, focuses primarily on breathing. Practices vary, but the basic idea involves sitting comfortably, with eyes closed, spine straight and attention focused on breathing.

Practitioners aim to maintain a detached, calm awareness of their thoughts and sensations. Through mindfulness, experts say, meditators learn to pay attention to the present and cultivate clarity of mind, equanimity and wisdom.

All of which may sound very abstract. Unless, points out Jeff Brantley, Ph.D, Director of the Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Program at the Duke Center for Integrative Medicine in Durham, N.C., you are a patient who is suffering.
(...)

While the National Institutes of Health says it is too soon to quantify the medical benefits of meditation, Anita Greene, spokeswoman for the Institute's Complementary and Alternative Medicine division, concedes, ''It is a therapy worthy of further scientific investigation to refute or support the health claims being made.''

In fact, in 1999, the NIH granted Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa, $8 million during a five-year period to study the effects of meditation in African Americans with cardiovascular diseases.

Researchers at Maharishi say that relaxing and reducing stress through transcendental meditation may reduce artery blockage and the risk of heart attack and stroke, according to a study released in the March issue of the American Heart Association's journal Stroke (see related story).
(...)

But, Thurman points out, meditation is for more than just health benefits: It is a tool for seeking inner transformation. Meditation practices in the health field are secular, however.

''We get everyone from born-again Christians to avowed atheists. We tell people we are not trying to make anyone into anything,'' Duke's Brantley reassures. No matter what their religious persuasion, he says, patients find an increased awareness and appreciation of their lives.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Hate Groups / Hate Crimes

26. Sect banned by rock festival
The Guardian (England), July 5, 2000
http://www.guardianunlimited.co.uk/religion/
Story/0,2763,339952,00.html
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
A Christian fundamentalist sect has been banned from attending this year's Reading festival after the Guardian revealed that the sect was using rock events to distribute anti-semitic literature.

The festival organiser, Mean Fiddler, yesterday turned down an application from Twelve Tribes to bring its mobile cafe, The Common Ground, to Reading.

The cafe was a popular meeting point at this year's Glastonbury festival, where sect members gave out literature attacking multiculturalism and blaming Jews for the ''murder'' of Jesus.

A spokesman for the organiser of the Reading event, which takes place over the bank holiday weekend August 25-27, said: ''The Mean Fiddler has always believed that music events should not be used by organisations to preach religious or political beliefs at attendees, regardless of the content of those beliefs.

''In accordance with this policy, both the Twelve Tribes and Common Ground cafe have had their application for the festival rejected.''

While all religious preaching is prohibited at Reading, the content of Twelve Tribes' literature ''made the decision to ban them much easier'', a spokesman said.

Artists playing the Reading weekend include Oasis, Primal Scream, Stereophonics and Beck.
[...Entire item...]


=== Robert Rozier

27. Surprise ending to check-fraud trial shocks California jury
Nando Times/Scripps McClathy Western Service, July 7, 2000
http://www.nando.com/noframes/story/0,2107,500225252-500323534-501829679-0,00.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Some jurors gasped. One jerked backward in her chair. Others appeared flushed with surprise as they learned more about the man they had just convicted in a mostly routine case of check fraud.

Just moments after convicting Robert Rozier, a former Cordova High and University of California, Berkeley, football star, of passing bad checks in El Dorado County, the jury was finally told about the murders he committed as a hit man for a Miami cult.

''Folks, you have one other task to perform here,'' prosecutor Paul Sutherland said as soon as the verdict was read. ''... The defendant is an individual who previously has been convicted of four counts of murder.''

Southerland then asked the jurors to certify documents for Rozier's past convictions. They returned a second, crucial verdict later in the day - one affirming that Rozier's Florida murder convictions make him eligible for a 25-year to life prison term under California's ''three strikes'' sentencing law.

Normally, Rozier's felony check fraud offense - he bounced 27 checks totaling more than $2,000 - would net no more than two years in jail. A sentencing hearing is to be scheduled at a later date.
(...)

After the verdict, they had heard of his convictions in the stabbing and shooting deaths of four men in Florida in the 1980s. Sutherland even didn't mention that Rozier had confessed to three other murders as a member of the Yahweh Ben Yahweh religious sect, a Miami cult that federal authorities blamed for 23 killings and a series of firebombings.

Rozier was arrested for passing bad checks in February 1999. At the time, he was living in Cameron Park under the name Robert Ramses, his once-secret identity in the federal witness protection program.

Rozier entered the program after testifying against members of the Yahweh sect, but he was kicked out after reconnecting with family members in Sacramento and Oakland.
(...)

Rozier was returned to the courtroom handcuffed and shackled at the waist for the jury's ruling to affirm his Florida convictions. After the second verdict was read, he turned to a reporter and said: ''It's not over.''

In court Thursday, Rozier said he has other attorneys working on a federal case to argue that his plea bargain with federal officials prevents his past from being used against him under the ''three strikes law.''

A similar motion had been rejected earlier by an El Dorado County judge.
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28. Ex-hitman found guilty of fraud
Sacramento Bee, July 6, 2000
http://www.sacbee.com/news/beelive/
show_story.cgi?hitman
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
A jury on Thursday found former hitman Robert Rozier guilty of bouncing 27 checks in El Dorado County.

In a second step, the panel -- under California's ''three strikes'' sentencing law -- will be asked to determine whether he was the same person who pleaded guilty to four murders -- while confessing to three more -- as a member of a Miami religious sect in the 1980s.

If the three strikes law applies, he would automatically get a 25-year-to-life sentence.

His messiah had given the order: Kill a ''white devil'' to affirm yourself as a son of the Yahweh god. So, federal prosecutors say, Robert Rozier set out to become an angel of death, an executioner for a Miami cult leader, Yahweh Ben Yahweh.

It was the spring of 1986. The brief pro-football career of Rozier - a former star at Cordova High and the University of California, Berkeley - had flamed out by then amid allegations of drug use and petty crime. But he had been reborn as Neariah Israel, ''Child of God.''

To prove himself to Yahweh, he descended into Miami's Coconut Grove district and followed an intoxicated man to a nearby apartment, authorities said. When the victim turned to face him, Neariah drew a sword. ''I am the angel of Yahweh,'' he announced. ''I am here in Yahweh's name.''

In his eventual confession, Rozier said he repeatedly stabbed the man and his roommate until they died. He ultimately pleaded guilty to four other murders in Florida and confessed to three more, including the two in Coconut Grove.
(...)

El Dorado authorities say the Rozier case raises troubling questions about the ultra-secret witness protection program.

In an earlier interview , Rozier disavowed his past. He spoke of ''total remorse'' for his actions as Neariah Israel and claimed he rebuilt his life in an intense spiritual and intellectual transformation. ''That person is long, long dead,'' he said. ''I don't know how else to explain it, but that person is gone.''

After 10 years in an undisclosed federal prison, Rozier was set free with a new identity in 1996, his payoff for testifying as a key witness against Yahweh Ben Yahweh and other leaders of a sect blamed for at least 23 killings and a series of firebombings in the 1980s.

''He is probably their most hated enemy,'' said Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Scruggs, who prosecuted the Yahweh case in Miami. ''He is their Judas, their enemy number one.''

After his Feb. 5 arrest, Rozier said, El Dorado authorities should have let him quietly return to his life as Robert Rameses.
(...)

Rozier's attorneys, William T. Yankey and Charles Bloodgood, said their client paid his debt by risking his life to testify against a violent sect that now wants him dead. Yankey said El Dorado authorities should have prosecuted Rozier on a misdemeanor charge.

El Dorado prosecutors contended Rozier's past as cult henchman for a sect that advocated a race war against ''white devils,'' but mostly targeted African Americans who resisted its influence, was simply too horrendous to ignore.

As part of a plea bargain in Florida, Scruggs said Rozier confessed - but wasn't charged - in the killings of the two Coconut Grove victims and the fatal stabbing of another man near Miami's Orange Bowl. He pleaded guilty to four second-degree murders for joining other ''death angels'' in fatally stabbing a man who had argued with a Yahweh woman, shooting two apartment residents who resisted a Yahweh takeover, and killing and slicing the ears off a man sleeping in a car.

Rozier's version is that he was mesmerized into violence by Yahweh Ben Yahweh, a charismatic leader -- born Hulon Mitchell Jr. -- who called himself ''God the son of God.'' Rozier said he was ordered to kill by ''a very intelligent Hannibal Lecter'' who claimed he was ''God on planet Earth.''
(...)

He insisted he performed his duty as a government witness and argues he was freed by authorities who determined he ''was ready to be released into society without harming anybody.''

Yet, he was kicked out of the program, into which he was placed in Washington state, for failing to follow its rules. The government refuses to give details. But Rozier said he was dropped for leaving the state to be with his dying mother in the San Francisco Bay Area.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Other News

29. Police hunt leader after teenage girls murder Italian nun
The Independent (England), July 2, 2000
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/World/Europe/
2000-07/nun020700.shtml
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Italian police were seeking a suspected male ''puppetmaster'' yesterday after three teenage girls confessed to the horrific murder of a nun in the northern town of Chiavenna.

Three girls, two aged 17 and one 16, said last week that they killed Sister Maria Laura Mainetti ''for a game'', but the chief of the local public prosecutor's office, Gianfranco Avella, said that while the girls had been charged, he was not convinced by the stated motive.

He intimated that the girls may have been influenced by an older man.
(...)

The murder of a religious figure, occult scribblings in the girls' schoolbooks and the date of the murder 6.6.2000, one short of 666, the numeric symbol for the devil, has sparked the theory that the girls may belong to a Satanic sect.
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30. Drink advice service confronts sex abuse
The Guardian (England), July 5, 2000
http://www.guardianunlimited.co.uk/Archive/
Article/0,4273,4036900,00.html
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Vulnerable alcoholics seeking help for their addiction are being subjected to sexual and other abuse at the hands of long-serving volunteers from the world's largest alcohol support group.

An internal memorandum circulated to every Alcoholics Anonymous group in the country reveals that volunteer members are increasingly being investigated by police forces examining allegations of sexual abuse.

It is impossible to quantify the allegations since AA is committed to anonymity and will not be drawn on any aspect of its work. But the document makes it clear the group's general service board has known of the problem for some time and feels it must be tackled at a national level.

According to the memo, leaked to the Glasgow-based Herald newspaper, within AA ''there is a small minority of men and women who operate with sick but hidden agendas, and, no matter what they may say, they seek self-gratification often at the expense of other members or potential members''.

Public exposure of the memo is embarrassing to AA, but the document itself was being interpreted yesterday as an attempt by the group to confront the ills which have long dogged other voluntary organisations.
(...)

Although AA holds its creed of anonymity sacrosanct, there is admission of a general acknowledgement of abuse within AA, and that the organisation will be unable to duck exposure of such abuse. The organisation says it will not protect members from the law.

A spokeswoman for AA yesterday confirmed the leaked document was genuine, but refused to comment further.
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31. Who's got the power in Japan?
Sydney Morning Herald, July 1, 2000
http://www.smh.com.au/news/0007/01/text/world06.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Not the PM. It's New Komeito, but voters are deeply suspicious of the party's cult origins and agenda. MICHAEL MILLETT, in Tokyo, reports.

Who runs the world's second-richest country?
(...)

New Komeito, a group of largely nondescript MPs, has emerged as the most important element of the Mori Government as a result of the shakeout from last Sunday's national election.
(...)

To its fanatical supporters, it is the only entity in Nagatacho, Tokyo's political headquarters, capable of delivering policies that directly improve the lot of ordinary people.

To its critics, and they are legion, it is a stain on the political system, flouting the strict constitutional separation of state and religion.

The deep conflict arises from New Komeito's relationship with Soka Gakkai, a giant lay Buddhist organisation dominated by its spiritual leader, Daisaku Ikeda.

Soka Gakkai (the name means Value-Creation Society) was set up by two teachers in the 1920s to further the beliefs of an influential Buddhist sect, Nichiren Shoshu. One of its founders, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, died in prison during World War II for refusing to bow to state-enforced Shintoism.

But it is a postwar boom that has given Soka Gakkai its clout (and its notoriety). Using the massive funds generated by its 8 million members, mostly housewives and small business people, Ikeda has been able to build Soka Gakkai into a giant global organisation, aimed at ''promoting peace through culture and education''.

The expansion has not done much for its domestic image. Despite its lofty goals, some heavy-handed recruiting tactics in the 1970s and 1980s and its intolerance of criticism have left many Japanese deeply suspicious of the body and its leadership.

''To me, New Komeito is little more than a cult, like Aum [Shrinrikyo, the doomsday organisation behind the 1995 Tokyo subway gassings],'' one conservative voter in central Japan complained during the election campaign.

While it strenuously denies being manipulated by Soka Gakkai, New Komeito openly acknowledges that the religious body provides it with the bulk of its electoral support.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Human Rights

32. U.S. firms silent over Chinese Net arrest
San Jose Mercury News, July 6, 2000
http://www7.mercurycenter.com/premium/
world/docs/chinanet06.htm
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
BEIJING -- U.S. Internet companies, which often cite information technology as the key to promoting free speech in China, have responded with resounding silence to an urgent call for help from a human rights group concerned about the detention of a Chinese Web site operator.

New York-based Human Rights Watch asked foreign companies involved in developing China's Internet to protest the detention of Huang Qi, who faces a long prison term for posting on his web site information that offended the government.

Before he was arrested June 3, Huang ran a Web site in the southwestern city of Chengdu that posted unauthorized articles about government corruption and human rights violations in China, including the 1989 massacre of pro-democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square. He is awaiting trial for ''subverting state power,'' and faces a prison sentence of 10 years or more.

''The Internet is supposed to help bring freedom to China,'' Mike Jendrzejczyk, Washington director of Human Rights Watch's Asia division, said in a recent news release. ''But that's more likely to happen if foreign companies object to the punishment of Internet users trying to advance freedom.''

If any Internet companies have complained about Huang's arrest, however, they have done so discreetly. A check with more than a dozen American Internet-related businesses here failed to find a single one willing to comment publicly on the Chinese government's efforts to restrict the free flow of information on the Internet, though their industry often cites free speech as an inevitable byproduct of information technology.
(...)

Rapid expansion of the Internet in China, which now has more than 10 million users, unquestionably has created a new conduit for communication. But critical comments so far can be found mostly in the peripheral zones of e-mail and chat rooms. Police monitor these areas to weed out comments that contradict government policy on such sensitive topics as Taiwan, Tibet and the outlawed Falun Gong spiritual sect. All foreign-generated news and commentary is banned, and the newly formed Internet Propaganda Administrative Bureau works hard to assure that only government-generated news and commentaries appear on Web sites.

Huang, who forecast his own arrest in an interview with the Mercury News in April, is not the first person in China to face punishment for challenging Internet censors. The U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists reported in its latest publication that six of 19 journalists jailed last year in China were imprisoned for offenses related to the Internet.

The report noted that freelance writer Qi Yanchen was arrested last September after posting excerpts from his unpublished manuscript, ''The Collapse of China,'' on the Internet. Two months later, it said, a student named Zhang Ji was charged with ''disseminating reactionary documents via the Internet'' because he had e-mailed reports about the crackdown on Falun Gong to readers abroad.
(...)

If the committee's analysis is correct, it raises a disturbing question: Will U.S. Internet companies expand free speech in China, or will they create a huge new pipeline for government propaganda?

The answer may be both. The Internet may challenge the government's ability to effectively police the growing millions of online conversations and bulletin-board postings, but it also gives the government access to a youthful audience that tends to ignore the traditional government-controlled media.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Religious Freedom / Religious Intolerance

33. God Motto Urged in Colo. Schools
New York Times/AP, July 7, 2000
http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/a/AP-Religion-Schools.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
DENVER (AP) -- Colorado's Board of Education voted Thursday to urge schools to post the words ``In God We Trust'' -- the motto that has been on U.S. currency since the 19th century -- in a provocative move that could lead to a court battle over the separation of church and state.

Board Chairman Clair Orr said he proposed the recommendation as a way to celebrate national heritage, traditions and values. ``How long can we remain a free nation if our youth don't have civic virtue?'' he asked.

But critics accused the board of using a familiar and generally accepted phrase as a way to inject religion into the public schools.

The resolution calls for the State Board of Education to ``encourage the appropriate display in schools and other public buildings of the national motto `In God we trust.'''

It was adopted in a 5-1 vote after a meeting that began with a prayer.
(...)

Sue Armstrong, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado, said she will wait for schools to post ``In God We Trust'' before deciding whether to take any legal action against it.

``The arguments go back to religious motivation,'' Armstrong said. ``If we're talking about teaching a heritage to our students, than let's put it in our history lessons.''
(...)

A Washington-based watchdog group called Americans United for Separation of Church and State sent a letter to the Colorado school board members urging them to reject the resolution.
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34. School eliminates prayer policy
Dallas Morning News/AP, July 7, 2000
http://dallasnews.com/texas_southwest/107825_prayer_07tex.A.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
[Religious Freedom / Religious Intolerance]
GALVESTON Santa Fe school trustees voted unanimously Thursday to eliminate the policy that allowed student-led prayer before football games, declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court last month.

''Although we along with most of the people across the nation are disappointed with the ruling, in keeping with the district's pattern, we will comply with the ruling,'' school board President Denise Cowart said in a brief statement afterward, according to The Galveston County Daily News.

The policy had allowed students to deliver a brief invocation or message over a speaker before football games.
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35. Richlands High School Principal George Brown charged ACLU with using 'Gestapo tactics'
Roanoke News, July 8, 2000
http://www.roanoke.com/roatimes/news/story96264.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
RICHLANDS - This little Southwest Virginia mountain town sure doesn't look like a hotbed of Wiccans.
(...)

But a Richlands High School student, who says he is not a Wiccan, has enlisted the aid of the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia in his fight to display a Wiccan symbol on his clothing at school. He'll defend that right at Monday night's Tazewell County School Board meeting.

Christopher Aaron Henkel, a 17-year-old rising senior, contends that he and a group of friends were threatened with suspension if they wore T-shirts bearing a pentagram - an inverted five-pointed star - and the word ''Equality'' to school.

It was a reflection, the ACLU wrote in a letter to Richlands High Principal George Brown, of ''a disturbing trend of suppression of students' First Amendment rights.''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Noted

36. Charismatic Christians Get Spirits Sparked
Los Angeles Times, July 6, 2000
http://www.latimes.com/editions/
orange/ocnews/20000706/t000063607.html
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Drawing charismatic Christians from Seattle to San Diego, the West Coast Believers' Convention in Anaheim this week is a testament to the phenomenal growth of a movement once viewed skeptically as a fringe element.

The weeklong event at the Convention Center has more than 2,000 registered participants and drew more than 5,000 Tuesday night to hear Texas-based minister Kenneth Copeland preach.

High-profile preachers like Copeland and his wife, Gloria, who head Eagle Mountain International Church in Fort Worth, have spent decades appealing to mainstream Christians by making charismatic worship more accessible.

With their emphasis on direct divine inspiration, healing powers and speaking in tongues, charismatics historically have made many mainstream Christians uncomfortable. But the emphasis on the benevolence of God, the power of forgiveness and the benefits of optimism is a strong draw.

''It's the segment of Christianity that is growing fastest around the world right now,'' said Lee Grady, editor of Florida-based Charisma magazine, with circulation of 250,000. ''While the mainline churches are declining, charismatic and Pentecostal churches are growing and are healthy. It's where the action is.''
(...)

Whereas charismatics historically have been members of Pentecostal congregations--fundamentalist Protestant churches emphasizing direct inspiration by the Holy Spirit--high-profile leaders like the Copelands have a broader appeal. Those who track the charismatic movement say it increasingly includes people who are members of large nondenominational churches and some mainstream congregations.

Global Evangelization Movement Research, an organization based in Richmond, Va., estimates that charismatic Christians now number more than 523 million worldwide.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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* The Copelands promote the heresies of Word-Faith theology.

While adherents of the Word-Faith movement are charismatics, not all
Charismatics subscribe to Word-Faith teachings and practices.


37. Web site reports busy days after ABC's 'Jesus' special
New York Times/AP, July 6, 2000
http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/a/AP-Religion-Briefs.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
[One of several items in AP's ''Religion News in Brief'']
NEW YORK (AP) -- Business boomed after ABC News promoted discussion of its high-rated Peter Jennings special, ''The Search for Jesus,'' on the interfaith Web site www.beliefnet.comOff-site Link.

The Jennings show reported on questions about the historical accuracy of the New Testament accounts of Jesus.

Beliefnet says it recorded 72,000 visits, compared with the normal 8,000 to 10,000, during the two days following the broadcast. The number of pages viewed increased ninefold, from 60,000 to 546,888.
[...entire item...]

* Beliefnet.com promotes religious pluralism.

''The Search for Jesus'' relied mostly on information from scholars associated
with the Jesus Seminar.


38. Who Is Jesus?
CNN, July 6, 2000
http://www.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0007/06/lkl.00.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
HUGH DOWNS, GUEST HOST: Tonight, on LARRY KING LIVE, who is Jesus? And why is there such a fascination with that question now? Joining us tonight to discuss it, in Ft. Myers, Florida, Albert Mohler, who's president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; in Raleigh, North Carolina, Anne Graham Lotz, whose daughter of the Rev. Billy Graham and author of ''Just Give Me Jesus;'' in Boston, Rabbi Harold Kushner, who's author of ''When Bad Things Happen to Good People;'' in New York, Rabbi Boteach, who's the dean of the Oxford L'chaim Society; here with me in Los Angeles, Father Michael Manning, who is seen frequently as the host of ''The Word in the World.'' And welcome to all of you. That's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
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