Apologetics Index: Information about cults, sects, movements, doctrines, apologetics and counter-cult ministry.  Also: daily religion news, articles on Christian life and ministry, editorials, daily cartoon.
News about religious cults, sects, and alternative religions
An Apologetics Index research resource

 

Religion News Report

July 18, 2000 (Vol. 4, Issue 231)

arrow Latest: Religion News Blog
Rainbow


=== Waco / Branch Davidians
1. Davidians' lawyer says Waco case is 'lost cause'
2. A Texas Town Wishes Its 15 Minutes Were Up

=== Aum Shinrikyo
3. AUM cultists get death
4. Two Aum Members Sentenced to Death for '95 Sarin Attack
5. Aum members sentenced to death for subway attack
6. 2 death terms in sarin case
7. Courtroom tense before former cultists sentenced
8. Japan Cult Members Sentenced to Death for Gassing

=== Falun Gong
9. Fresh assault on sect leader
10. China Renews Attacks on Falun Gong
11. Chinese party paper calls for vigilance, resolve against Falun Gong

=== Scientology
12. Head of Germany's Scientology Task Force to Speak in Clearwater, Fla.

=== Islam
13. Group Will Abandon Mosque Plan
14. CBS Rechecking Background of 'Big Brother' Participant
15. Muslims Petition Matembe Over Pork
16. Cult leader: I'm not invincible
17. National: Monitoring of cult movement continues
18. CM tells civil servants to leave cult
19. Clerics sabotage push to reject extreme teachings
20. Police to play a role in monitoring deviant cults
21. Profile of a deviationist

=== Hinduism
22. Meditation Helps to Lower Blood Pressure
23. Girl marries dog to ward off evil spirits

» Part 2

=== Catholicism
24. Commercialization Of A Religious Icon

=== Jesus Christians
25. BBC barred over cult boy footage
26. Judge gags media over cult boy interview
27. Cult moves boy from Surrey
28. Cult holding boy offers to swap him for access
29. Cult leader denies spiriting boy away
30. Missing boy in Jesus cult fear

=== Bethel International Church
31. The sect where doubt is a sin
32. They exorcised me over my 'sinful' love for a woman

=== Paganism / Witchcraft
33. Review: Books: The lore of supply and deman

=== Hate Groups
34. Posse leader joins Aryan World Congress
35. Swastikas go to Russian church

=== Other News
36. Indian Leader Decries Abuse of Religious Practices
37. Dutch Call Off Aided Suicide For Children
38. Last Ethiopian emperor's funeral set for November
39. Greece Abolishes Religion from IDs

=== Religious Freedom / Religious Intolerance
40. Upset At Prayer Ban, Pearl, Miss., Eyes Religious Music At Ballgames
41. 'God' motto case revived

=== Noted
42. Animistic rituals run deep in Okinawa
43. Faith & Reason: Cannabis is, quite literally, good for your soul
44. Shakertown Sect's Celibate Utopia Has Become A Romantic Hideaway

=== The Communist Around The Corner
45. Was Christ a 'communist'? Castro thinks so


=== Waco / Branch Davidians

1. Davidians' lawyer says Waco case is 'lost cause'
Charleston Daily Mail, July 15, 2000
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
WACO, Texas - An attorney for the Branch Davidians says it would be ''a lost cause'' to continue trying to convince a judge that federal agents fired on sect members as they tried to escape their burning compound during a 1993 siege. An advisory jury hearing the Davidians' $675 million wrongful death lawsuit determined Friday that the government bears no responsibility for the deaths of sect leader David Koresh and some 80 followers in the final hours of the 51-day standoff.

U.S. District Judge Walter Smith will issue the final ruling, expected in the next month, and will also consider perhaps the most contentious issue - whether federal agents shot at the Davidians at the end of the siege. But Davidian lawyers, survivors and victims' family members say they aren't expecting any change.
(...)

''Given what's happened in Waco with Judge Smith, we don't see the point. It's a lost cause. Judge Smith obviously has an agenda. At some point, it simply becomes futile,'' Caddell told The Associated Press.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


2. A Texas Town Wishes Its 15 Minutes Were Up
New York Times, July 18, 2000
http://www10.nytimes.com/library/
national/071800waco-trial.html
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
WACO, Tex., July 17 --For this friendly industrial city of 100,000, whose name many people have come to associate with governmental or religious excess, or both, Friday's swift verdict by an advisory jury in the Branch Davidian civil case brought neither surprise nor relief. Waco just wants to forget.
(...)

But even with the seeming finality of the jury's decision, Waco residents sense that their deeply religious community on the banks of the Brazos River will be forever marked by the violence at the sect's compound.
(...)

Mr. Buzze, 58, complained that since the standoff seven years ago, visitors have acted differently toward Waco residents.

''People weren't curious about us before, but now when they call us they just want to talk about Koresh and the standoff and whether or not we have any more religious nuts with guns here,'' he said.

''The Chamber of Commerce has a tough job now,'' he said. ''They have to reassure people that we're not going to shoot them if they come down to visit.''

Jack Stewart, president of the Chamber of Commerce, bristles at the notion that Waco has become a symbol of excessive force by the federal government or religious zealotry.

''When people refer to Waco in that way they're talking about an episode that didn't even occur here. That doesn't describe Waco, the family-oriented community, the wonderful people, the thriving businesses. That's Waco,'' Mr. Stewart said.
(...)

Before the events at the compound, Mr. Buzze said, Waco was known primarily for its 200 churches, its many Baptists, and Baylor University -- a Baptist institution -- which together earned Waco the nickname Bethlehem on the Brazos.
(...)

Though Waco residents may want to put the events of Feb. 28 through April 19, 1993, behind them, outsiders fascinated by the tragedy continue to visit the wreckage of the compound.

David Combs of Paw Paw, Mich., found touring the memorial grove of crape myrtle trees and the chapel recently erected where the Branch Davidians' home once stood, said he had had a hard time getting directions.

''People don't even want to tell you where the compound is,'' Mr. Combs said, as he surveyed the grounds today with his wife, Judy. ''The folks in Waco kept asking us: 'What do you want to go out there for? There's nothing there.' ''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


=== Aum Shinrikyo

3. AUM cultists get death
Mainichi Daily News (Japan), July 18, 2000
http://www.mainichi.co.jp/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Two former AUM Shinrikyo executives were sentenced to death on Monday for their roles in the 1995 sarin gas attacks on Tokyo subways that killed 12 people and sickened thousands, despite their pleas for lenient punishment.

Toru Toyoda, 32, and Kenichi Hirose, 36, both of whom faced charges of murder and attempted murder for the attacks, were handed the death penalty in their sentencing at the Tokyo District Court.

Also sentenced was Shigeo Sugimoto, a 41-year-old driver who helped distribute the sarin used in the attacks. Sugimoto was sentenced to life in prison.

The trial began with Presiding Judge Manabu Yamazaki reading out the reasons for his rulings on Toyoda and Hirose, an act that usually precedes a stern sentence in Japanese courts.

Yamazaki judged the actions of the pair harshly, saying that they had conspired with cult leader Shoko Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, to commit the subway attacks.

The defendants admitted to the allegations, but complained that they didn't conspire with the cult guru Asahara - arguing that their minds were being controlled by him at the time.
(...)

Toyoda and Hirose were the remaining two of five former cult members who had been directly involved in releasing the deadly gas to be sentenced in the district court.
(...)

Prosecutors said the pair had used their knowledge to develop killing weapons and had assisted in arming the cult with those weapons.

Hirose, Toyoda and Asahara are also accused of planning to illegally manufacture 1,000 rifles at cult facilities between 1994 and 1995.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


4. Two Aum Members Sentenced to Death for '95 Sarin Attack
Jiji Press English News Service (Japan), July 17, 2000
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Tokyo, July 17 (Jiji Press)--Tokyo District Court on Monday sentenced two former key members of the Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult to death for their parts in the cult's attack with lethal nerve gas sarin on Tokyo subways in March 1995.

The two are Toru Toyoda, 32, and Kenichi Hirose, 36, who allegedly released the gas in morning rush-hour trains on March 20, 1995.
(...)

Shigeo Sugimoto, 41, another former follower of the cult, was sentenced to life in prison for driving one of the members who sprayed the gas to a subway station.
(...)

In Monday's ruling, presiding judge Manabu Yamazaki rejected the defendants' arguments that they did not conspire to stage the attack with the cult's 45-year-old leader Shoko Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto.

The judge also turned down their claim that their roles in the attack should not be taken seriously because they were subject to brainwashing by Asahara, who allegedly masterminded the gassing incident and other major crimes.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


5. Aum members sentenced to death for subway attack
Japan Times (Japan), July 18, 2000
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Two Aum Shinrikyo followers were sentenced to death Monday for releasing the nerve gas sarin on the Tokyo subway system in March 1995 and for illegally manufacturing firearms.

The Tokyo District Court found Toru Toyoda, 32, and Kenichi Hirose, 36, guilty of releasing sarin on subway trains in the nerve gas attack, which killed 12 people and injured more than 5,500.
(...)

Presiding Judge Manabu Yamazaki denounced the attack as an ''indiscriminate crime in which the cultists used any means to pursue their interests'' and ''unprecedented mass murder that ignored human dignity.'' Toyoda and Hirose deserve the death penalty given the plight of the victims and their next of kin, the judge said.

The pair were also convicted for their role in the manufacturing of machineguns in 1994 and 1995 as part of the cult's efforts to build up its arsenal.

Toyoda also took part in the foiled cyanide gas attack at Shinjuku Station in Tokyo and sent a letter bomb in May 1995 to then Tokyo Gov. Yukio Aoshima, wounding a metropolitan government official, the court said.

The court meanwhile sentenced Shigeo Sugimoto, 41, to life in prison for driving one of the sarin attackers to a train station and for his own involvement in the murder of two followers in January and June 1994.
(...)

With Monday's rulings on Toyoda and Hirose, all five cultists accused of releasing the gas on the trains have received their sentences.

Yasuo Hayashi, 42, and Masato Yokoyama, 36, were sentenced to death but have since appealed the rulings to higher court.

However, Ikuo Hayashi, 53, a former Aum doctor, was sentenced to life in prison, because the court took into account the fact that he voluntarily surrendered and acted in a cooperative and repentant manner during his trial.

A total of 14 cult followers, including Asahara himself, have been charged with conspiring to carry out the subway sarin attack.

Toyoda and Hirose -- key members of Aum's science team -- also played important roles in the cult's project to manufacture 1,000 machineguns between June 1994 and March 1995. Hirose had produced a prototype assault rifle based on the AK-74 by January 1995, the court said.
(...)

Sugimoto's sentence marked the third ruling in which a cult follower who drove a getaway car in the gas attack was given a life term. The other two have already filed appeals.
(...)

The defendants' lawyers claimed the three were merely following Asahara's orders and thus did not jointly conspire in the attack. The lawyers also claimed that the three were under Asahara's ''mind control'' and thus unable to refuse his orders. The judge, however, said the three spontaneously played significant roles in the crimes and thus could not escape from their grave criminal responsibility.

He also denied they were subject to Asahara's mind-control and could refuse his orders, citing the defendants' testimony that they felt a sense of guilt for carrying out the attack.

Relatives of victims of the 1995 subway gas attack on Monday called for a swift conclusion to the trial of Aum Shinrikyo leader Shoko Asahara.
Speaking at a news conference at the Tokyo District Court after the day's session, in which two former cultists were sentenced to death, a 29-year-old woman who lost her 54-year-old father in the attack said delays would fuel public fears over further criminal acts.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


6. 2 death terms in sarin case
Asahi News(Japan), July 18, 2000
http://www.asahi.com/english/asahi/0718/asahi071805.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
[Aum Shinrikyo]
(...) Presiding Judge Manabu Yamazaki said Toru Toyoda, 32, and Kenichi Hirose, 36, bore a grave responsibility for their actions.

He accepted that they felt remorse for their crimes but said this did not mitigate what they had done.

Despite their claims to the contrary, Yamazaki said the two defendants carried out the orders of cult founder Chizuo Matsumoto and acted on their own volition.

He said the defendants were fed self-righteous religious dogma and made up their minds to take part in mass murder.
(...)

Monday's death sentences bring to five the number of cultists that the court says should be executed by hanging.

The other three members are Masato Yokoyama, 36, Yasuo Hayashi, 42, and Kazuaki Okazaki, 39.

Yokoyama and Hayashi were found to have played a direct role in spraying sarin nerve gas in the subway attack.

Okazaki was convicted of killing anti-Aum lawyer Tsutsumi Sakamoto, and his wife and infant son.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


7. Courtroom tense before former cultists sentenced
Daily Yomiuri (Japan), July 18, 2000
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
The atmosphere at the Tokyo District Court was tense on Monday before presiding Judge Manabu Yamazaki sentenced two former Aum Supreme Truth cultists to death and one to life imprisonment.

The families of victims of the cult's lethal March 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system stared sternly at the three accused--Toru Toyoda, 32, Kenichi Hirose, 36, and 41-year-old Shigeo Sugimoto, the one to receive the life sentence.

The three have been codefendants since the Aum trials started in December 1995.

Toyoda and Hirose, both of whom studied graduate-level physics, and Sugimoto, an erstwhile senior cult member, have repeatedly apologized to victims and their families and denounced the cult and its founder, Chizuo Matsumoto.

Prosecutors, however, never swayed in their determination to get the death penalty for Toyoda and Hirose and a life sentence for Sugimoto, as the prosecution believed such sentences were fitting when considering their roles in the sarin gas attack.
(...)

Toyoda displayed anger toward Matsumoto in court in November last year when he was called as a witness, saying that Matsumoto was avoiding reality by seeking peace in prolonged trials. Matsumoto had been repeating ambiguous remarks.

At the closing arguments in March this year, Toyoda said that he was an accomplished villain, as was Matsumoto, who was also a ''devil.''

He said, ''I don't have the right to live as a human being since I was not able to foresee Matsumoto's crimes.''

Hirose lost his voice when he became shocked and mentally unstable after hearing the painful stories of the victims' families.

At one hearing, he said that he had to compensate by sacrificing his life.
(...)

Hirose is writing a book. He reportedly said that he would like to pay the debts from book sales.

After graduating from Okayama Shoka University in March 1982, Sugimoto worked at a securities company. However, his health deteriorated and he became a yoga enthusiast.

In 1986, he joined the cult and left home. He served as Matsumoto's driver, but once tried to quit the cult.

He later returned to the cult because of his fear of Matsumoto. He was then ordered to participate in illegal acts.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


8. Japan Cult Members Sentenced to Death for Gassing
AOL/Reuters, July 17, 2000
http://my.aol.com/news/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
TOKYO (Reuters) - Two members of a Japanese doomsday cult were sentenced to death Monday for murder and attempted murder for a 1995 gas attack on the Tokyo underground in which 12 people died.

A third man, Shigeo Sugimoto, 41 who drove a getaway car, was sentenced to life imprisonment.
(...)

The two men had admitted to the charges but argued in court that their minds had been controlled by cult leader Shoko Asahara, saying he masterminded the attack.

''Even if we were to take into account the fact that their minds were controlled by Asahara, what they have done is grave and deserves the death penalty,'' public broadcaster NHK quoted Yamazaki as saying.

He said the pair bore a huge amount of responsibility for what he called a cruel and indiscriminate attack.

In addition to the gassing, Toyoda was accused of attempting to kill then-Tokyo Governor Yukio Aoshima by mailing a package bomb to the Tokyo government office.

The package exploded when Aoshima's secretary opened it, blowing off all the fingers on his left hand.

Between 1994 and 1995, Toyoda, Hirose and Asahara also planned to manufacture 1,000 automatic rifles modeled on the Russian-made AK-47 and succeeded in producing one at an AUM facility, Kyodo news agency said.
(...)

Asahara's trial, now in its fifth year, promises to go on much longer in what has come to symbolize Japan's notoriously snail-paced court system, with some legal experts saying it may well take more than 15 years for a final verdict.
(...)

Executions in Japan are by hanging, but take place only rarely with most of those sentenced spending many years in prison.

While most of Aum's leaders are behind bars, the cult remains active, prompting the government to place it under surveillance in February for three years, a move allowing authorities to inspect all its sites.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


=== Falun Gong

9. Fresh assault on sect leader
South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), July 18, 2000
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/pages/newsreal/Story.nsp?story_id=12102446&ID=newsreal&scategory=AP+Top+HeadlinesOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Authorities have renewed the propaganda war against the banned Falun Gong sect ahead of the anniversary of the national crackdown in July last year as state media slammed the group's exiled leader as ''a flunky of Western hostile forces''.
Public security departments have learned the sect plans to organise mass demonstrations to mark the start of the crackdown on the spiritual movement which started on July 22 last year. Central and provincial governments have been urged to step up surveillance to head-off possible instability, Beijing sources said.
(...)

Police are convinced of a possible ''showdown'' by ''hardcore'' followers after the group's exiled leader, Li Hongzhi, recently called on practitioners to keep up their fight to ''defend the practice'' in a Web site message to them.

Mr Li likened persecution of the group to university entrance exams. He called on followers to be ''sober-minded'' and continue to practise ''cultivation''.
(...)

Despite the year-long arrests and heavy-handed propaganda, authorities still see no end to the defiant Falun Gong struggle.

The campaign has stopped the further growth of Falun Gong but it has led to the formation of a hard core of believers who are proving hard to deal with. Beijing is concerned that Western governments have criticised the crackdown as a human rights violation.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


10. China Renews Attacks on Falun Gong
AOL/AP, July 17, 2000
http://my.aol.com/news/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
BEIJING (AP) - Anticipating protests by the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement, China renewed attacks on the group Monday, calling its founder ''a running dog'' of foreign powers who was inciting followers to resist the government.

A commentary in the ruling Communist Party's People's Daily newspaper carried some of the harshest invective in recent months in a year-old smear campaign against Falun Gong. Its publication comes just before Thursday's anniversary of the government's crackdown and ban on the sect.
(...)

People's Daily lashed out at U.S.-based founder Li Hongzhi, for ''inciting 'Falun Gong' practitioners to 'come forward' to continue resistance to the government.''

The newspaper took issue with recent comments by Li, an apparent reference to statements posted last month on Falun Gong Web sites.

In the comments - Li's first since dropping from public view shortly after July's crackdown - the founder encouraged followers to persevere through what he called ''evil-wrought tests.''

''Using extremely poisonous words to attack the Communist Party leadership and our country's socialist institutions has totally exposed his ugly face as a running dog of Western enemy forces,'' People's Daily said.

The commentary ran through a list of the government's accusations against the group: it said Falun Gong caused 1,500 deaths, cheated followers of money and harbored political ambitions. The newspaper also accused Li Hongzhi of living in a lavish new home.
(...)

People's Daily said the crackdown and public education campaign caused most practitioners to abandon Falun Gong. Li was now trying to stir up a dwindling group of hard-core followers ''to achieve his political goals of disturbing the social order and undermining social stability.''

At different points, the commentary likened Falun Gong to a ''rat crossing the road'' and Li to a ''dog baying for his lost home.''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


11. Chinese party paper calls for vigilance, resolve against Falun Gong
BBC Monitoring/Renmin Ribao (China) July 17, 2000
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Chinese Communist Party paper 'Renmin Ribao' has warned Falun Gong founder Li Hongzhi and his followers will never willingly accept ''defeat''. In spite of the government's success in suppressing this quasi-religious movement, the paper said Li Hongzhi and hostile Western forces were working hand in glove with each other to undermine the government's authority. The paper said the party must step up anti-Falun Gong propaganda and education, and continue to expose and denounce members.

Text of article by 'Renmin Ribao' reporters Wei Shu and Liu Chengyou entitled: ''A lament of his stubborn, last-ditch struggle - on Li Hongzhi's recent remarks'', published in the 17th July edition of 'Renmin Ribao'; carried by official Chinese news agency Xinhua (New China News Agency)

[Falun Gong head] Li Hongzhi recently came out into the open in person. In the string of speeches he made, he continued to use rumours to bewitch the people and incite ''Falun Gong'' practitioners ''to come out'' and continue to confront the government. Employing deceptive and sophistic tactics, he continued to preach that ''Falun Gong'' ''has inexhaustible significance'' and has boundless magic power. With ulterior motives, he also preached: ''What is now taking place has been planned since prehistoric times. Those disciples who testified the truthfulness of the Falun Dafa without regard to pressure are great people.'' He added: Only when we ''have genuinely assimilated our entire lives with the Falun Dafa'' can we ''achieve perfection.'' The extremely vicious language he employed in attacking the Chinese Communist Party [CCP] leadership and our country's socialist system totally exposed his ugly features of being a running dog of the hostile forces in the West.

Why did Li Hongzhi act so impatiently that he had to jump out himself? He did so because he was desperate and the situation forced him to carry out a last-ditch struggle. The Chinese government, acting in accordance with the law, outlawed the ''Falun Gong'' cult and harshly censured the criminal elements that broke the law. Especially after the local authorities' deep-going and meticulous ideological education and enlightening efforts, the overwhelming majority of ''Falun Gong'' practitioners sobered up and awakened. That was a telling blow to Li Hongzhi and his ''Falun Gong.''
(...)

In his recent remarks, Li Hongzhi still employed his habitual tricks, namely deception and sophistry. Li Hongzhi claimed that the ''Falun Dafa'' was the ''supreme'' science in the universe, that those who practice ''Falun Dafa'' can afford not to take medicines or see the doctor when sick, that ''Falun Gong'' ''had no organization'' and ''had nothing to do with politics,'' and that he ''propagated the Falun Dafa'' for free. These were the fallacies Li Hongzhi employed to build his cult, but now he wanted to deny he had done so.
(...)

Li Hongzhi's purpose of disseminating all sorts of fallacies and rumours, and his recklessness in inciting ''Falun Gong'' practitioners ''to withstand pressure and come out'' was to continue to fool the extremely small number of unrepentant practitioners to act recklessly in confronting the government and the law.
(...)

Now looking like a panic-stricken homeless dog, Li Hongzhi has now become a political tool in the hands of the hostile forces in the West. Like those scum who are hostile to the motherland and the people, he can only act subserviently to the hostile forces in the West and use the lawless acts of the extremely small number of unrepentant elements at home as bargaining chips, otherwise he will not be able to beg for some scraps from his masters for his service. The hostile forces in the West are specifically using Li Hongzhi and his ''Falun Gong'' to interfere in China's internal affairs and achieve their political purpose of ''Westernizing'' and ''dividing'' us. Each and every move that Li Hongzhi and his backbone ''Falun Gong'' elements have plotted is to serve the political schemes of the hostile forces in the West. They use each other, act in collusion with each other, and work hand in glove with each other.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


=== Scientology

12. Head of Germany's Scientology Task Force to Speak in Clearwater, Fla., Announces Lisa McPherson Trust
Yahoo/PRNewswire/Lisa McPherson Trust, July 17, 2000 (Press Release)
http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/000717/lisa_mcphe.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
CLEARWATER, Fla., July 17 /PRNewswire/ -- The Lisa McPherson Trust will host a reception and press conference for Ursula Caberta, head of the Task Force on Scientology of the Hamburg, Germany, government, at 10 a.m. on July 25 at the LMT offices located at 33 N. Ft. Harrison Ave. in Clearwater.

Mrs. Caberta will discuss recent revelations that German Scientologist, Antje Victore, submitted fraudulent documents to a Tampa, Florida, judge to obtain political asylum in the United States. Scientologists have hailed Victore -- who now lives and works in Clearwater -- as a martyr of religious persecution, but evidence recently published in the German magazine, Stern, suggests she left Germany to escape tax problems.

Mrs. Caberta, who knows Victore personally, will discuss the findings of the Stern article written by Christine Kruttschnitt.

In addition, she will highlight the activities of her task force and the harassment to which she has been subjected at the hands of the Scientology organization in Germany.

''Each day, every morning, Scientologists are picketing from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. at my office. They tell my boss he has to fire me,'' she said. ''Fire her! Fire her!''

The Scientologists, she said, have also distributed flyers throughout Hamburg attacking her character.

Mrs. Caberta will discuss the case of a former German Scientologist who has brought suit against Scientology in Clearwater, Berlin and Copenhagen for lost wages and imprisonment. The suit claims he was held prisoner for two weeks in a six-foot square, windowless room in Clearwater and was subjected to ''psychological torture.''

Additionally, Mrs. Caberta will detail her extensive investigation of commercial fraud by Scientology-run companies in Germany under the direction of Scientology's secular business arm known as the World Institute of Scientology Enterprises, or WISE.

Mrs. Caberta served as an expert on the Enquete Commission of the Parliament of the Federal Republic of Germany, which conducted an investigation of cults, including Scientology, from 1996 to 1998. Prior to heading up the task force, she served as the foreign and legal affairs representative in the Hamburg Parliament.

A live audio stream will be available on the LMT website, http://www.lisatrust.net, during the conference, and an archive of the event will be available at the website after the conference. Press and/or government officials may contact Karin D. Case of the Lisa McPherson Trust at 727-467-9335 for an invitation to the conference.
[...entire item...]

* Scientologists are notorious for their harassment of Scientology's critics


=== Islam

13. Group Will Abandon Mosque Plan
Yahoo/AP, July 14, 2000
http://dailynews.yahoo.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
PALOS HEIGHTS, Ill. (AP) - A Muslim group that had planned to turn a suburban Chicago church into a mosque has decided to accept $200,000 from the city to walk away from the deal, officials representing the Al Salam Mosque Foundation said Friday.

The City Council voted last month to pay the money if the Muslim group would abandon its plan to buy the old Reformed Church of Palos Heights. Aldermen insist they want to use the church, which has been for sale for more than two years, an an annex for the city's recreation center, and say religion has nothing to do with the deal.

Rouhy Shalabi, the foundation's attorney, initially said he would recommend that the foundation reject the offer. But he now says the group would rather remove itself from the politically charged debate and allow the recreation plan to go forward.
(...)

Mayor Dean Koldenhoven, who has threatened to veto the $200,000 offer, has until Tuesday to do so. He continued to call the offer ''embarrassing'' in light of anti-Muslim comments made at a previous meeting.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


14. CBS Rechecking Background of 'Big Brother' Participant
New York Times, July 15, 2000
http://search3.nytimes.com/search/daily/bin/fastweb?
getdoc+site+site+44133+0+wAAA+%22black%7Epanther
%22%7E%22big%7Ebrother%22
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Reacting to the news that a participant in its new reality series ''Big Brother'' is a follower of the former Nation of Islam official Khalid Abdul Muhammad, CBS said yesterday that it was ''looking into'' the report but at the moment saw no reason to remove the man from the program.

In a statement, CBS said that ''we and the producers of 'Big Brother' will not tolerate nor permit any hate speech on the program.'' But the statement emphasized that ''there has been no hate speech on Big Brother.''

The statement came after The Daily News reported yesterday that William Collins, one of 10 participants in ''Big Brother'', is a follower of Mr. Muhammad, who now leads a group called the New Black Panther Party. Mr. Muhammad was ousted from the Nation of Islam for his denigration of Jews, whom he once called ''bloodsuckers.'' He has also denounced whites and has called Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani a devil.

Mr. Muhammad organized the Million Youth March in 1998 in Harlem, which ended in a violent confrontation with the police. Mr. Collins, who also uses the name Hiram Ashantee, attended that rally. The News reported that he was at Mr. Muhammad's side at a news conference during the rally.

Mr. Collins, under the name Ashantee, was quoted in The Philadelphia Inquirer after the march, criticizing the police; he made no anti-Semitic statements. As Hiram Ashantee he is well known in Philadelphia as an organizer for Mr. Khalid and an activist with black youth groups. In a biography included in CBS promotional material, Mr. Collins is called a ''youth group leader.''

The ''Big Brother'' show puts 10 strangers in a specially constructed house for three months where their every movement is on camera. Every other week one house member is voted out by viewers after being nominated for banishment by the other housemates. Mr. Collins was one of two house members nominated for ouster on Thursday. The members who chose him cited the tension and dissension he was causing.

In the first two weeks of shows, Mr. Collins has been outspoken about his racial views, but he has not engaged in anything that would have been described as hate speech.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


15. Muslims Petition Matembe Over Pork
New Vision (Uganda), July 17, 2000
http://www.africanews.org/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Kampala - Top Muslim leaders have challenged a man who claims to have been a sheikh and abandoned Islam to become a ''born-again Christian'' to produce his religious academic qualifications, reports Yunusu Abbey.

They have also petitioned Miria Matembe, the ethics and integrity minister, over Peter Mulinde alias Sheikh Omar Mulinde's acts that desecrate Islam.

On June 29, Mulinde donned Islamic attire, slaughtered a white- skinned pig, roasted the pork and ate it with others who claimed to have quit Islam.

The sheikhs said preliminary investigations indicated that Mulinde, a member of Kibuye Prayer Palace in Kampala, has never been a sheikh or Muslim.
(...)

''If he insists on having been a sheikh, let him come out with his papers. Had we been in an Islamic country and it is proved Mulinde was an apostate, he would have been beheaded in accordance with the Sharia (Islamic law),'' Kyazze said.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


16. Cult leader: I'm not invincible
The Straits Times (Singapore), July 17, 2000
http://straitstimes.asia1.com.sg/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
KUALA LUMPUR -- Claims that Al-Ma'unah cult leader Mohd Amin Mohd Razali possessed mystical powers to make him invincible and invisible turned out to be a hoax when he admitted he had no such powers.

''''I cannot... I am not invincible,'' Amin had said when challenged by an officer from the Special Forces of the 21st Commando Regiment to prove his prowess after the former was detained at Bukit Jenalik in Sauk, Perak, on July 6.

''''If you are such a terror and have mystical powers, now show me how you can vanish,'' the officer had said to Amin.

Amin, who looked tired, only shook his head and said that he was unable to do so.

''''I was surprised to hear his reply as many had believed he had special powers to make himself invincible and invisible,'' Army Field Commander Lt-General Datuk Zaini Mohd Said said.

At the time of their arrest, Amin and his followers were found to be wearing yellow talismans around their waists.

The general said the fact that Amin was brandishing a weapon in their face-to-face encounter clearly showed he had no special powers.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


17. National: Monitoring of cult movement continues
New Straits Times (Malaysia), July 18, 2000
http://asia.dailynews.yahoo.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
KUALA LUMPUR, Mon. - As investigations into the activities of the Al-Ma'unah group continues nationwide, more people believed to be linked to the group have been picked up for questioning by police over the past week.

The crackdown was to determine the extent of the group's activities following the Sauk incident last week.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


18. CM tells civil servants to leave cult
The New Straits Times (Malaysia), July 15, 2000
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
MALACCA, Fri. - Civil servants who are followers of the Al- Ma'unah group were today told to leave the cult or face disciplinary action.

Chief Minister Datuk Wira Mohd Ali Rustam said while the State Government would leave it to the police to act against 19 people, some of whom were Government servants identified as the group's followers, it would not compromise with those involved in deviationist teachings.

As civil servants, he said, their task was to implement government policies successfully while ensuring the country's stability.

''My advice to those who are involved is to leave the group which is using nothing but Islam to gain power by force,'' he added, when presenting excellence awards to staff of state government departments and agencies at the state hall.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


19. Clerics sabotage push to reject extreme teachings
South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), July 15, 2000
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
A move by the Government to have the extremist Islamic teachings of the Al-Ma'unah cult repudiated in mosques throughout the nation has been sabotaged by dissident clerics.

Instead of delivering an official sermon condemning ''deviant'' religious groups, the ulema, or body of Muslim scholars, denounced the authorities as un-Islamic.

Following the tense confrontation between members of the Al- Ma'unah Islamic group and security forces last week, during which two hostages were tortured and killed, the Government launched a campaign to discredit the cult and its leadership together with a nationwide sweep to track down members.

The group's founder and chief, Amin Mohamad Razali, 30, set up Al- Ma'unah in September, 1998, as a ''brotherhood'', promising to train members in martial arts and instil in them a spiritual energy that would make them invincible. His aim was to set up an Islamic state through a jihad, or holy war.
(...)

None of the clerics who refused to deliver the official sermon condemning deviant groups has openly sided with Al-Ma'unah, but their rebelliousness is causing the Government concern. Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi said Malaysia faced danger not only from deviant groups like Al-Ma'unah but also from the misuse of religion in mosques.

He said irresponsible religious officials were twisting facts to inculcate hatred of the Government and imply that ''a leader'' was not following the teachings of Islam. The leader is Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who has been a prime target of the dissident clerics, many of whom are PAS members or supporters.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


20. Police to play a role in monitoring deviant cults
The Straits Times (Singapore), July 14, 2000
http://straitstimes.asia1.com.sg/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
The police will play a major role in monitoring and taking action against deviationist cults, under a new Cabinet directive.

From now, the task of weeding out religious cults will not only be left to officers of the Malaysian Islamic Affairs Department (Jakim) but will include the men in blue.

Both departments have also been directed to monitor Islamic-based martial arts associations. These were among the measures approved by the Cabinet at its weekly meeting on Wednesday and it came in the wake of the arms heist and tense standoff between members of the Al-Ma'unah religious sect and security forces in Perak last week.

In the past, the job of tackling deviationist sects was left entirely to Jakim and state religious authorities.

But without the manpower or investigative expertise, their results in tackling cults were patchy.

As such, Jakim had been criticised for being too slow in taking action against deviationist groups.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


21. Profile of a deviationist
The New Straits Times (Malaysia), July 17, 2000
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
It is quite disheartening to ponder over the recent arms heist involving the so-called religious group of deviationists. Civilised society cannot accept such anarchist acts as they lead to a lawless society.

The incident raises several questions about the nature of our society. These include the process of modernisation and its impact. Why does a literate society succumb to irrational beliefs in pseudo- supernatural power that could lift a person to the `superman' level?

The radical and militant approaches always cost human lives. This happened in the case of David Koresh in the United States and the Japanese cult led by Asahara. In Malaysia, the human costs came into the picture when the group began to include political sentiment into the framework of action.

The central thesis of deviant teachings is apocalyptic, with a blend of popular folk belief. This is something to do with the syncretic teachings of religion.

In this part of the world, since tradition and local culture are well embedded, members of deviationist groups always find affinity between mainstream religion and local culture. As a result, there arises the kebatinan trend.

This kebatinan slowly developed into a total belief system. Either consciously or unconsciously, the members of kebatinan always misinterpret the Islamic belief system. The age-old practices such as visiting the keramat still exist as part of the revitalisation of the mystico-religious spirit.

This brings us to the fact that members mostly are not well equipped with religious knowledge. The professionals and the ''born- again Muslim'' are emotionally attached to what they believe. Their leader in turn always emphasises the self-redemption act for new members. The sense of guilt makes them submit in toto to the instructions and teachings of the leader.

The promise of self-exaltation further strengthens their belief that by being a member of the pantheistic group, they can improve their present position. The stress on the magical prowess of the leader always attracts them to that magical power.

Another phenomenon of our society is the ability of certain individuals to build a cult. The individual of charismatic appeal will formulate the system that eventually validates his existence as the founder and venerated leader of his commune.

With certain prescribed rituals and their seeming conformity with Islam, the cult leader then justifies every action from the religious perspective. As a result, the members are obliged to follow all instructions.

Another way of looking at it is as a study in political psychology. This is called the psychopolitics of hatred, and commonly known as political paranoia.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


=== Hinduism

22. Meditation Helps to Lower Blood Pressure
Yahoo/Reuters, July 17, 2000
http://dailynews.yahoo.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Taking part in programs designed to modify behavior, such as anger management training and transcendental meditation sessions, seems to have a measurable impact on blood pressure in African Americans, according to preliminary results of the Health Education and Diet, Stress Management and Anger Reduction Therapy (HEAD SMART) study.

The findings were presented Sunday at the 15th International Interdisciplinary Conference on Hypertension and Related Risk Factors Among Ethnic Populations, currently being held in Las Croabas, Puerto Rico.
(...)

In this study, the researchers had specially trained certified health educators, a mental health therapist, and a certified transcendental meditation (TM) instructor, study co-author Dr. Kofi Kondwani, administer the various interventions. Study participants spent 13 weekly sessions learning anger management skills, or health behavior modifications, or TM.
(...)

There are misconceptions about TM, Lollis said. And one of them is that TM is some sort of religion. It is not, nor does it require any religious involvement, she emphasized. ''It's a simple mental technique...to achieve a restful state of alertness, kind of the art of doing nothing,'' she noted wryly.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top

* ''TM is often referred to in our culture as a relaxation 'technique' that
consists of controlled breathing, emptying one's mind of thoughts, repeating
a mantra, sitting still in a certain position, among other things. In
actuality, it is Hinduism and Eastern Mysticism repackaged for a Western
culture as a methodology for relieving stress.''
- Transcendental Meditation - Christian PerspectiveOff-site Link


23. Girl marries dog to ward off evil spirits
Ananova, July 14, 2000
http://ananova.com/news/story/sm_10850.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
An Indian man has married off his four-year-old daughter to a stray dog - to ward off evil spirits.

Subal Karmakar, of Haringhata, made his youngest daughter Anju marry the mongrel to transfer the evil effects of the planet Saturn from the girl to the dog.

Villagers said they enjoyed the sight of the girl garlanding the dog the way a Hindu bride does. They helped the dog put a garland around the bride with its paws.
(...)

Anju was married with Hindu priests chanting hymns in front of 150 of the 250 residents in a village 40 miles north of Calcutta.

Residents of the village enjoyed the feast but ridiculed the ceremony, reports the Hindu Newspaper.

''He is superstitious, but why should I care if he wants to waste money and give us a feast? I enjoyed the rice, meat, curd, lentils and sweets,'' said Fakir Chand Durlab, Karmakar's neighbour.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top
* Follow-up

» Continued in Part 2