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Religion News Report

July 31, 2000 (Vol. 4, Issue 236) - 2/3

arrow Latest: Religion News Blog
Rainbow

» Continued from Part 1/3

=== Scientology
16. Scientologists seek religious status under European Act

=== Unification Church
17. Parents Day shows links of Moon's church to GOP
18. Bayou La Batre residents embrace church they once called a cult

=== Waco / Branch Davidians
19. Davidian case may be fading
20. Reno says raid concern shared

=== Buddhism
21. Anointed N.Z. child lama swaps Gameboys for meditation
22. Dalai Lama Not Invited to U.N.

=== Islam
23. Islamic group celebrates growth
24. Civil rights suit filed in mosque dispute

=== Mormonism
25. BYU Suspends 'Real World' Member
26. 'Real World' Member Balks Suspension
27. Mormon Intimacy Book Is Big Hit

» Part 3/3

=== Jehovah's Witnesses
28. Religion, medicine clash

=== Hate Groups / Hate Crimes
29. SE Texas town OKs posting of sign against hate
30. Florida militia leader sentenced for terrorist plots
31. Arrests Made in Jerusalem Fires

=== Other News
32. Death by religion angers prosecutor
33. Masonry move for police
34. Search for missing Lucie 'becoming desparate', says father
35. Utes see 'spirits' in calamities

=== UFOs
36. Waiting for their first spaceship

=== Death Penalty / Human Rights Abuses
37. Clerics pragmatic in stand against death penalty
38. Amnesty group vilifies INS for asylum seeker's years of imprisonment

=== Other News
39. Life Without 'Sin' May Spell Death of Sect
40. In Russia, a fest with pagan roots comes back
41. The Bible, as History, Flunks New Archaeological Tests

=== Books
42. A bite of religion
43. Review: Is anybody out there?



=== Scientology

16. Scientologists seek religious status under European Act
The Telegraph (England), July 30, 2000
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
The Church of Scientology, described by a judge as ''corrupt, sinister and dangerous'', plans to use guidelines on religion and belief in the European Human Rights Convention to gain recognition in Britain and conduct official weddings.

It is allowed to perform official marriages in South Africa and is recognised as a religion in Sweden. Now its leaders in Britain claim it is ''just a matter of time'' before it receives similar recognition here. Liberty, the civil rights group, also says that the church has ''a viable case'' under the Human Rights Act, which comes into force on October 2.

Mona Arshi, a legal officer at Liberty, said: ''We contemplate that there will be a number of challenges from religious groups under articles 9, 12 and 14 in the Human Rights Act. I would say that they [Scientologists] have a viable case.'' The Scientologists are pinning their hopes on anti-discriminatory articles in the Act which, they say, support their move.

They are also encouraged by a Home Office project to research religious discrimination, at the University of Derby. The interim report, which considers the effects of the Human Rights Act on religion, will be completed in September. Critics of the church, however, say that it would be ''frightening'' if the organisation were to benefit from an extension of human rights.

Ian Haworth of the Cult Information Centre, which counsels people who have had difficulty leaving cults or sects, said: ''We would be very concerned if an organisation such as Scientology, described by Justice LateyOff-site Link in 1984 as 'corrupt, sinister and dangerous' should be given special consideration because of human rights issues.

''A lot of the concerns that have been expressed about groups like this are over the perceived removal of certain human rights for group members. Human rights organisations need to be careful that they are not giving rights to organisations which might then deny those rights to their members.''

Last year, the church's application for charitable status for the purpose of ''the advancement of religion'' was rejected by the English Charity Commission, which ruled that it was not of ''public benefit''. But Graeme Wilson, the public affairs director of the Church of Scientology, said recognition was now coming ''from across the globe''.

He said: ''The Government in the UK has committed itself to a policy of non-discrimination against religion and human rights. We believe that the Human Rights Act will make it much more difficult to discriminate against religion. We are a religion. It is a question of getting official recognition.'' It was then ''a matter of course'', he said, to win the right to perform marriages.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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(...)

*
Note: many people, the publisher of Apologetics Index included, do not consider Scientology to be a religion, but rather an extremist organization masquerading as a religion.

* What judges have said about Scientology:
http://www.chaos.org/clambake/archive/quotes.htmOff-site Link
(...)

Justice Latey, ruling in the High Court of London:
''Scientology is both immoral and socially obnoxious...It is corrupt sinister
and dangerous. It is corrupt because it is based on lies and deceit and has
its real objective money and power for Mr. Hubbard... It is sinister because
it indulges in infamous practices both to its adherents who do not toe the
line unquestionably and to those who criticize it or oppose it. It is
dangerous because it is out to capture people and to indoctrinate and
brainwash them so they become the unquestioning captives and tools of the
cult, withdrawn from ordinary thought, living, and relationships with
others.''


=== Unification Church

17. Parents Day shows links of Moon's church to GOP
Mobile Register, July 30, 2000
http://www.al.com/news/mobile/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
When U.S. Sen. Trent Lott stood before his fellow lawmakers in 1993 and encouraged them to support ''True Parents Day,'' some said he was doing the bidding of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon and the Unification Church.

That holiday, reborn as just plain ''Parents Day'' and officially celebrated the fourth Sunday of July, was signed into law in 1995 by President Clinton. Children are supposed to salute their parents, as on Mother's Day or Father's Day.

Lott's Senate speech that first introduced the innocuous sounding day does seem to reveal a connection between Moon and his wife, Hak Ja Han, referred to as the ''True Parents'' by Unificationists the world over.

But Parents Day is only one example of increasing connections between the Unification Church and Republican leaders, whose party convention starts in Philadelphia on Monday.

Some have even questioned GOP presidential nominee George W. Bush's ties to the church. Since leaving the presidency, Bush's father has spoken at three Unification-sponsored events, allegedly earning millions of dollars from Moon's organization.

In an interview with MSNBC, a spokesman for the younger Bush's campaign said he has not received funds from Moon ''of any note.'' With dozens of Moon-affiliated political organizations, hundreds of businesses and thousands of American members, it is impossible to trace how much Unification money may have been contributed.

The connection to Parents Day is more tangible.

''I wish to join the Women's Federation for World Peace in celebrating July 28, 1993, as True Parents Day. I also urge my colleagues in the U.S. Senate, and all citizens of our Nation to recognize and support True Parents Day and the restoration of God-centered families in our society,'' the senator from Pascagoula said in 1993, finishing up by inviting Senate members to attend a presentation by Moon's wife, the president of the Women's Federation for World Peace.

The following day, after an introduction by Sen. Orrin Hatch R-Utah, Mrs. Moon gave a lecture on Capitol Hill, during which she revealed that she and her husband are ''the first True Parents.'' In Unification dogma, as Moon explained to the crowd, the True Parents will save humanity. The reverend himself sat in the front row during the speech, surrounded by members of both the House and Senate.

Church officials admit they lobbied for the holiday, motivated by their belief in families. They deny there is a connection between the new national holiday and one of the Unification Church's holiest days.

According to church literature, which often refers to Moon and his wife as the Messiah: ''Parents' Day is a day of hope when people can attend God on the Earth and enjoy happiness and glory. Without this day, human beings cannot go to heaven and thus to God.''

Still, despite the denial, much was made of the congressional coup in the Unification News. The church publication featured a photo of the Moons holding a framed copy of the final bill, co-sponsored in 1994 by U.S. Reps Dan Burton and Floyd Flake.

Both before and after the Parents Day triumph, the Unification Church has been courting the right wing establishment.
(...)

When conservative minister Jerry Falwell's Liberty University nearly folded, the Unification Church bailed it out with a $3.5 million loan.

Church officials say they are not trying to buy influence.

Instead, they say, the staunchly conservative slant of the Washington Times, a newspaper owned and supported by the Unification Church, earns them friends.

Those friends have not come cheap. Church officials recently announced that the paper has lost $1 billion since it opened.

The Washington Times Foundation, a non-profit group associated with the Unification Church, held an awards ceremony in February at which Moon was presented with the Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award for Freedom, Faith and Family.

The Washington Times covered the event and said a lot of movers and shakers in the Republican party were there, including Hatch and Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C., House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., and Reps. Henry Hyde and Christopher Cox. Alexander Haig, former commander of NATO forces, turned up, as did Reagan-era defense secretary Caspar Weinberger.

Critics and former members of the church say Moon uses photos and videos of himself rubbing elbows with the powerful to attract and impress new followers.

A church-owned publication, Today's World, described the 1996 Family Federation event where Bush spoke: ''The providence of God through True Parents continues to advance giant stride by giant stride... Included among the guest speakers were former presidents George Bush and Gerald Ford... Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath of Great Britain and former congressman and currently a leading figure in the Republican party, Jack Kemp.''

Unificationists say the politicians simply are attracted to the family programs the church promotes.
(...)

On Friday in Mobile, Alabama state Sen. George Callahan, R-Theodore, spoke at the American Leadership Conference, a Unification-sponsored event.

''I've attended several of their sessions and events. They seem to want to diversify and become part of the larger religious community of Mobile,'' Callahan said. ''They aren't pushing their religion, it's more family values. That's why they invite me. My platform falls in line with theirs. I'm a pro-life, family values politician.''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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* Consumer Alert: Unification Church

18. Bayou La Batre residents embrace church they once called a cult
Mobile Register, July 30, 2000
http://www.al.com/news/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
The Unificationists splashed into town in December of 1977, plunking down $2 million in the largest land purchase in the history of the small fishing village. They announced plans to build a shipbuilding and seafood processing empire on 722 acres of undeveloped waterfront property. They also bought two existing shipbuilding businesses and a seafood processing plant.

At the time, perhaps hoping to avoid controversy, Michael Runyon, the head of U.S. Marine, the church-owned company doing all the buying, dissembled mightily about where all the cash was coming from, claiming the company received only ''spiritual support from Reverend Moon.''

The lie, described by Unificationists as a ''heavenly deception,'' didn't work.
The town went nuts.
(...)

The citizen groups rented offices, mailed letters, circulated petitions, had meetings and held a monster rally attended by much of the town's population. It was at that rally where Glass called Moon the devil.

Moon's Beverly Hills lawyer made short work of the resistance, suing the entire town council, the police chief and the town's four leading businessmen for deprivation of property rights, deprivation of rights under color of law, conspiracy to interfere with civil rights and conspiracy in restraint of fair trade.

''They sued us individually and pretty well shut us up,'' said Russell Steiner, one of the businessmen named in the church's federal court suit. ''If we agreed never to say anything about them, they agreed to drop the suit ... imagine if you lived in this little-bitty Alabama town back then and the Moonies suddenly came to town and started buying up property. Then they sue and shut everybody up.

''People were scared. All we knew about the Moonies was what we heard in the media and what we heard back then was bad.''

The media back then, in the late'70s, appeared to be whooped up to a feverish Moon-hating roar.
(...)

Not helping to smooth any feathers were press reports of young people, seduced by Moon's teachings, turning their backs on their families and church officials making stupendous pronouncements in interviews, people like Mike Runyon, who said: ''This town is only a small piece in the jigsaw puzzle. We really want to control the whole world. I'd like to do it in less than 10 years.''

So trepidation ruled in the Bayou when the first group of 40 bachelors turned a rundown motel into a commune and got down to the business of building ships and peeling shrimp. The locals feared they were going to lose their town, but the newcomers, defying all predictions but their own, slowly faded into the fabric of Bayou La Batre.

''Oh, you're gonna think I'm so science fiction,'' said Marlene Vining, once president of the Concerned Mothers group. She is one of the last people in the Bayou willing to speak ill of Moon and his followers, and even then it comes with caveats.
(...)

''I'll tell you what they did,'' she said, sitting in her kitchen, sipping water from a glass decorated with golden angels. ''They came in here and love-bombed us.''
(...)

After Hurricane Frederic in 1979, the low-lying community was devastated. Mud boiled up out of the bayou, covering the town, and fallen trees knocked out power. Unificationists came to the rescue, thanks to a ready supply of ice from the ice factory attached to their shrimp processing plant. People still talk about the time ''the Moonies brought ice to my momma.''

Slowly, the townspeople began to view the Unificationists as neighbors instead of cult members. Around this time, the city of Prichard in the northern part of the county actually solicited the Unification Church, asking it to open a business there. The church declined.

A lot of people around town said that once it became apparent the newcomers weren't out to steal babies, they quit worrying. In fact, as far as anyone can remember, only one child of the Bayou has joined the Unification Church. And her mother couldn't be happier.

''I love the Moonies. I ain't gonna say nothing bad about them,'' said Carrie Phalo, who frequently sits next to Brett Dungan, head of Master Marine, at City Council meetings. ''They treat my daughter good and them Moonies are good to me. They treat me real good. Take care of me. They are better people than most of this here town.''

Locals got jobs in the church-owned businesses. Eventually, some of the Unificationists got jobs in non-church businesses.
(...)

In July of 1982, the Bayou bachelors went to New York City for a weekend and came home married to women they had never met.

The ceremony was one of Moon's first mass weddings. It took place at Madison Square Garden and 2,075 couples were joined. Most of the unions were between people of different nationalities and often different races.

Skeptics in the Bayou said it was more evidence of mind control.

But it was evidence of something else as well. The mass wedding was the first evidence of a gradual shift in Moon's church, a shift away from its radical early days toward the widespread acceptance and see-we're-just-like-everybody-else reputation the church now seeks.

''First Moon got everybody married,'' said Gene Davis, an ex-member who lives in Grand Bay. ''Then the church business down here bought up a bunch of homes and rented them to members, but they were still living commune style in them, several to a house. Moon was smart enough to realize if they ever wanted to become a real church, the members had to become real people, with real families.

''The church has changed a lot in the last 12 years. Now, Reverend Moon lets his people have lives, and houses, so they don't seem so weird. But make no mistake, it was Moon's decision to have his followers buy houses.''

According to Mobile County tax records, the modest houses are owned by the families living in them, not the church.

The Rev. Philip Schanker is one of the top officials in the Washington, D.C., headquarters of the Unification Church. His voice mail message sports New Age Oriental-sounding music and a silky-voiced blessing for all who call. Schanker bragged that Unificationists are buying houses all over the country.

''The movement has changed a lot, organizationally. For example, we've moved from communal-based living to single-family living. The movement has grown up,'' Schanker said. ''In the'70s, most who joined were young. They didn't have bank accounts or families ... Now, over 98 percent of our members live in their own houses and drive to church on Sunday. Just getting that info out would do a lot to dispel people's notions of our group.''
(...)

Gainey's grandson even went to the summer Bible camp held at the local Unification church, which, like all the Moon-related houses of worship, now bills itself as the Family Church.

Gainey said it was just like the other Bible camps he's been to, except for the part about Jesus failing in his mission and Moon being the messiah.

The 7-acre spread where the corrugated metal church is situated is also home to a school, the Top Garden Academy, where 45 children attend kindergarten through seventh grade in a pair of modified trailers. In each classroom, there is a color photo of Moon and his wife, referred to by members as the ''True Parents'' of humanity.

Every morning the students get down on hands and knees and bow to True Father and True Mother.

Joshua Cotter, formerly pastor of Unification churches in Birmingham and Montgomery, serves as the school principal and church pastor. He said Moon came to the Bayou in 1988 and dedicated the school. Moon visited the Bayou every few years up until 1992. His wife and children have visited as recently as 1998.
(...)

There are three other Unification Church schools in America, located in Oakland, Calif., Bridgeport, Conn., and New York City. Tiny Bayou La Batre seems an odd choice for a school.

But, as it says in the Unification News, the Bayou La Batre settlement is supposed to be a ''model community.''

Top Garden is like most church-affiliated schools, in that after the morning bowing ceremony, students have a religious training period, usually studying the Divine Principle, the church's main text. The book is a mishmash of Christianity and Eastern religions that Moon said came to him in a revelation. The rest of the day is devoted to standard subjects. The kids also study Korean. (Moon reportedly preaches that his native tongue is the official language of heaven.)
(...)

All in all, the church, the school and the thriving businesses make for a wholesome apple pie kind of picture, complete with smiling parents in minivans and compact cars picking up the kids after school and heading off to soccer practice.

Schanker said this new image of the church is just what leaders hope to project all over the country.

The church is so comfortable in the Bayou that Cotter freely admits Unificationists are actively recruiting new members at local colleges.
(...)

They have even started an outreach program to people of other faiths. Local churches have started holding prayer breakfasts and joint worship services with the bayou's Unification flock. Bishop Allen of Mobile's Word of God church said he and 14 area ministers accepted all-expense-paid trips to Korea last February to participate in a religious conference organized and funded by Moon and his church. He said they flew first class.

At a recent joint service, Unificationists filled the back rows of Allen's small church. They looked a little out of place, clapping in time to a pounding organ- and drum-fueled gospel tune that had the Word of God congregation swaying and singing. The service appeared to be a hit, but Allen declined to be photographed standing next to Cotter.

Perhaps that's because, despite popularity gains made by the Unificationists, they've got a lot of bad publicity to overcome. Much has been written about the group since they first came to prominence in the'70s, and most of it was critical.

If you were to read Moon-related press clippings from the last 25 years, you might come away with the impression that he was a Mafia kingpin rather than a world famous holy man.

Moon spent a year in a U.S. federal prison for tax evasion. His organization was investigated by Congress, caught trying to illegally buy a controlling interest in a major Washington, D.C., bank and accused of trying to manipulate the American government on behalf of South Korea. It also owns several gun-making companies in the United States and Korea.

The ex-wife of his eldest son, a lifelong Unificationist who said she was hand-picked by Moon and forced to marry the would-be Messiah's son when she was 15, has written a tell-all book about the Moon family. She calls the church a cult and accuses Rev. Moon of adultery, domestic violence, child abuse, gambling and being a flat-out mean person. The book also states that the elder Moon held an elaborate ceremony during which he declared himself ''Emperor of the Universe.''

The eldest son, Hyo Jin, has been arrested for drunken driving and entered several rehab programs for cocaine addiction. Moon's youngest son died after falling 17 stories from the balcony of a Las Vegas hotel. Newspaper accounts called it a suicide.

A slew of other tell-all books written by ex-members accuse the group of brainwashing and controlling members by governing where they work, whom they marry and how much contact they have with family members.

''You know what they say about the preachers' kids,'' said Steve Wilson, the shrimp plant manager, explaining away the rumors. ''Well, imagine if your dad was the messiah. They have a hard life. And that other boy, he didn't kill himself. It was an accident. He had been exercising and he just fell over the balcony. You know, he was tired...
(...)

Sociologists who study the church say there are probably fewer than 3,000 hard-core members like Wilson left in America. Church officials say there are more, but their visibility is down because the church is making so much money these days that the infamous roadside flower peddling of the'70s is pretty much over.
(...)

The Unification Church is not guilty of brainwashing, according to David Bromley, a sociologist at Virginia Commonwealth University. ''I don't approve of the Moonies, but I don't think they are harmful,'' he said. ''I mean, this isn't like they are Aum Shinriyko making sarin gas down in the Bayou. Moon preaches love.''
(...)

Schanker thought of leaving the church for a time but said recent changes renewed his faith.

''There's a major transition that's taking place,'' he said. ''It will finish when Reverend Moon passes into the spiritual realm. We are just now transitioning from living in a spiritual wilderness. We have been a movement led by a prophetic leader.''

Asked if the Unification Church was a cult, Schanker said, ''The test of our organization is how it handles Moon's death. If it's just a cult, it will end when he does. But I don't think that will happen.''

As for what will happen, Schanker said Moon's Harvard-educated third-born son, Hyun Jin, is next in line to head the church.

Another Moon child, Kook Jin, also a Harvard graduate, has been cutting his management teeth as president of Kahr Arms, a handgun manufacturing company in Massachusetts that produces about 8,000 guns a year. It recently took over the company that makes Thompson submachine guns.

Schanker said the plan for the future calls for increasing church membership and getting more members into political office.

At least three Unificationists have been elected to state legislatures in New Mexico and New Hampshire, including the brother of figure skater Brian Boitano. Schanker hinted that there might be more in other states and promised that many more Unificationists will be running for office in coming elections.

The head of Master Marine in the Bayou, Brett Dungan, who refused to be interviewed for this story, is running for City Council in this year's municipal elections. Many say he will win.

Unificationists say their movement nears the end of a long, hard scramble for recognition and respect. That scramble was complicated, they say, by the tools the church had to use to stay alive.
(...)

Schanker likens all the church business interestsOff-site Link to the Marriott hotel chain.

''Back in the'70s, Reverend Moon encouraged us to begin building businesses, to support the church,'' Schanker said. ''To me, it's just like J.W. Marriott going out as a good Mormon and building an empire. He gives tons of money to the church, but nobody would call Marriott a Mormon hotel.''

Bromley, the professor, said the parallel to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is an apt one.

Both groups were founded by prophetic leaders. Both groups had radical and troubled pasts and both eventually sought mainstream acceptance.

Today, the Mormon Church is one of the world's largest religions, sending missionaries all over the world.

''A century ago, the Mormons were still radical,'' Bromley said. ''Then they settled down and began to grow. Isn't it interesting to wonder where the Unification Church might be in a century? Could they have settled down? Could they be a major religion?''

Pastor Cotter says yes, and the nearly 200 ministers and politicians gathered Friday night at a Mobile hotel seemed to agree.

The American Leadership Conference in Mobile was sponsored by the Washington Times Foundation and the American Constitution Committee, both associated with the Unification Church. The Mobile event is one of 40 national multi-faith conferences staged by Moon's organization this month.
(...)

Standing at a podium in front of an assemblage of Baptists, Catholics, Pentecostals, Jews and Muslims, the Rev. Cotter, Moon's man in the Bayou, yelled, ''Freedom! Faith! Family! That's what it's all about.''

His cobbled-together congregation shouted back: ''Amen! Amen! Amen!''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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* Consumer Alert: Unification Church

Theologically, the Unification Church is a cult of of Christianity.
About Interfaith Activities and Interreligious Dialogue
http://www.apologeticsindex.org/i06.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]

David Bromley is a cult apologist. See:

Cult Apologist FAQ
http://home.snafu.de/tilman/faq-you/cult.apologists.txtOff-site Link
(Item 5d)


=== Waco / Branch Davidians

19. Davidian case may be fading
Dallas Morning News, July 27, 2000
http://dallasnews.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
WASHINGTON - The appetite for more Senate investigation of the government's conduct surrounding the 1993 Branch Davidian siege may be waning, lawmakers acknowledged, now that the special counsel has exonerated federal agents of ''bad acts.''

John Danforth, the former Republican senator from Missouri, appeared Wednesday before his one-time Senate colleagues to discuss an interim report he issued last week concluding that federal agents neither fired on the barricaded sect members nor contributed to the fire that ended the 51-day standoff and killed about 80 Branch Davidians near Waco.

''The evidence is absolutely overwhelming,'' said Mr. Danforth, appointed last year by Attorney General Janet Reno to examine lingering Waco questions. ''The government did not start a fire. The government did not direct gunfire at the Branch Davidians. The government did not improperly use the military. And there wasn't any broad cover-up.''

Emerging from the hearing, several senators said the special counsel's comprehensive findings and the respect he commands on Capitol Hill may effectively mean the end of the Senate's inquiry. The House Government Reform Committee has been conducting an investigation but has yet to decide whether to hold hearings.

''Senator Danforth has a great deal of personal credibility, and the report appears exhaustive,'' Sen. Robert Torricelli, D-N.J., said when asked about the Senate investigation.

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, agreed, saying Mr. Danforth's credibility ''will make it very, very difficult for anything to be followed up on.'' The caveat, he said, would be if new revelations emerge from the unfinished part of Mr. Danforth's investigation.

The question of possible minor cover-ups remains a part of Mr. Danforth's 10-month, $12 million probe, initiated last fall after the government was forced to recant years of denial that its agents had fired pyrotechnic tear gas devices in the hours before the fire.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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20. Reno says raid concern shared
Dallas Morning News, July 28, 2000
http://dallasnews.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
WASHINGTON - Confronted with President Clinton's statement that he ''gave in'' to the Justice Department when he permitted the FBI assault on the Branch Davidian sect near Waco in 1993, Attorney General Janet Reno said Thursday that both she and the president required assurances about the operation's necessity.

''I think we both had to be convinced, if you will,'' Ms. Reno said at her weekly news briefing.
(...)

''I gave in to the people in the Justice Department who were pleading to go in early, and I felt personally responsible for what had happened, and I still do,'' Mr. Clinton said in his bluntest public comments yet about Waco. ''I made a terrible mistake.''

The president's statement came during an April interview with federal investigators who are examining campaign fund-raising controversies. The issue arose when Mr. Clinton explained that his memory of an April 19, 1993, White House visit by political supporter James Riady is blurred because of the unfolding Waco drama.

Asked her reaction to his comments, Ms. Reno said: ''I think everybody who has been touched by Waco would like to be able to undo it.''

During a phone conversation on the eve of the assault, Ms. Reno said, she and the president discussed the questions she had presented to the FBI before recommending the operation go forward.

''My recollection was that we had a very difficult situation, that there were many issues. I went over those issues with him,'' she said. ''He wanted to make sure my questions had been answered.''
(...)

As to whether she feels vindicated, Ms. Reno said: ''One doesn't think in terms of exoneration when you look at something like that. That was a terrible tragedy. And what I have always said was we have got to look to the future to see what we can do, what we can learn about human behavior to avoid tragedies like that.''

But Ms. Reno, who pledged ''total openness and independence'' when she appointed Mr. Danforth last fall, declined comment Thursday on his complaint about Justice Department stonewalling during his investigation.

He reported that he had encountered ''substantial resistance'' to his inquiry within the Justice Department - in some cases resulting in a ''tug of war'' over requested evidence that required intervention by Ms. Reno's top deputy.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Buddhism

21. Anointed N.Z. child lama swaps Gameboys for meditation
Source: Kyodo News Service/Associated Press
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
SYDNEY, July 28 (Kyodo) -- By: Jackie Woods Like many seven-year-olds, Karma Kunzang has chubby cheeks, a missing front tooth and loves spaghetti, cricket and computer games, but on Friday he traveled to India to begin a whole new life as a prospective leader of Tibetan Buddhists.

They believe this New Zealand-born boy is a rare being who could bring spiritual rejuvenation to the world.

Now known by his title, the Pong Re Tulku Rinpoche, the boy has been officially recognized as the first reincarnated lama to be born in the southern hemisphere in the 1,500-year history of the religion.

Born to Tibetan parents in Auckland in 1992, Rinpoche was late last year recognized by the head of the Kagyu sect -- one of the four main schools of Tibetan Buddhism -- as the reincarnation of a venerated high monk who died in Tibet in 1951.

After spending a week in Australia, Rinpoche left for India to start a new life of rigorous study and meditation at a monastery where all his needs will be met by personal attendants.
(...)

According to Tibetan Buddhist theology, spiritually advanced beings known as boddhisatvas are said to choose the circumstances of their births so they can do the most good for others.

''From a Buddhist point of view, he was born in New Zealand because...in Western countries they have a lot of mental suffering, not particularly physical or economic suffering,'' said Samten, who has worked as a monk in New Zealand for 20 years.

''Buddhist teaching is good medicine for that...this is his basic purpose.''
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22. Dalai Lama Not Invited to U.N.
New York Times/AP, July 28, 2000
http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
NEW YORK (AP) -- More than 1,000 religious leaders have been invited to attend a Millennium World Peace Summit at the United Nations next month, but the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Buddhist leader, was not asked, for fear of offending China.

''China would object vehemently to his presence here because they consider Tibet their territory and the Dalai Lama challenges that,'' said U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard.

The Dalai Lama, who was awarded the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize, fled Tibet in 1959 with thousands of supporters after a failed revolt against Chinese rule of the mountain region.
(...)

Conference organizers this week did invite the Dalai Lama to attend the last two days of the conference, which are not being held at the United Nations, and asked him to give the closing address at a New York hotel.

The Office of Tibet, the U.S. representative of the Dalai Lama, said he has not yet responded to the invitation.
(...)

Another Nobel Peace laureate, Desmond Tutu, wrote to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Friday, protesting the ''totally bizarre and quite unbelievable'' treatment of the Dalai Lama.
(...)

The gathering, scheduled for Aug. 28-31, will bring together leaders of religious groups worldwide to discuss conflicts and initiate religiously based efforts to resolve them.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Islam

23. Islamic group celebrates growth
The Times (England), July 31, 2000
http://www.the-times.co.uk/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
More than 25,000 members of an Islamic sect derided as a cult by mainstream Muslims have arrived in an English village to renew their vows.

The Ahmadiyya Muslims, who claim more than 90 million adherents worldwide - a figure disputed by other Muslim organisations - met in Tilford, Surrey, yesterday for the ceremony.
(...)

Their views about Jesus Christ, the Prophet Muhammad, and their own founder, whom they regard as the Messiah, have placed them at odds with the rest of the Muslim world. They have been barred from membership of Britain's Muslim Parliament and of the Muslim Council. Iqbal Sacranie, of the council, said that the Muslim world saw the group as ''a cult operating outside the fold of Islam. The most serious point is that this cult does not recognise the finality of the Prophet Muhammad as the last and final messenger.''

Ahmadiyya Muslims believe that Ghulam Ahmed, who founded the sect in 1889, was the fulfilment of the messianic expectations of Christianity, Judaism, Islam and other religions. In other words, they believe that this was the Second Coming of Christ. They believe that Jesus survived the Crucifixion and that His tomb can be found in Kashmir.

The sect is against violence and fundamentalism and combines orthodox practice with modern thought. It is attracting Westerners as well as people in Africa and Asia. Basharat Nazir, a spokesman, said that there had been a ''phenomenal number of converts'' in the past year in India and Africa. The movement's television station, which broadcasts in eight languages, had helped to achieve the figures.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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24. Civil rights suit filed in mosque dispute
Chicago Tribune, July 29,2000
http://chicagotribune.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Saying it wanted to send a strong message against religious discrimination, the Al Salam Mosque Foundation on Friday filed a civil rights lawsuit in U.S. District Court seeking $6.2 million from the City of Palos Heights and its officials.

Foundation representatives also announced that because of the city's interference and delays, they were forced to terminate their four-month-old real estate deal to buy the Reformed Church of Palos Heights.
(...)

The announcements ended two weeks of speculation over whether the Muslim group would make good on its threat to sue Palos Heights after the mayor vetoed a controversial offer to buy out the foundation's real estate contract so the city could buy the building instead.

The damages being sought in the suit include the $200,000 the mosque had said it would accept from the city so it could set its sights on a more welcoming community.

Although the suit had been predicted, Palos Heights Mayor Dean Koldenhoven and other officials and residents said they were shocked because they thought the mosque would go ahead and move in.
(...)

But in the strongly worded lawsuit, the foundation alleges religious prejudice and racial hatred toward Muslims and states that the foundation's constitutional rights were violated when the southwest suburb interfered with its real estate contract.
(...)

The controversy drew national attention after residents began complaining about the mosque in meetings and the city took a sudden interest in the property as a recreation site, even though it had been for sale for two years.

The lawsuit seeks $3.2 million from the city--including the $200,000 buyout offer and $1 million in damages under the Illinois Religious Freedom Restoration Act--and $3 million from the mayor and aldermen.

The suit alleges a conspiracy between Koldenhoven and the aldermen, charging they had numerous conversations and meetings to prevent the plaintiffs from buying the church and worshiping.

The city had no right to interfere in the contract, the suit says, and Palos Heights breached its contract with the foundation when it refused to honor the buyout deal.

The city prevented the free exercise of religion by its actions, violating the state Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the suit alleges.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Mormonism

25. BYU Suspends 'Real World' Member
AOL./AP, July 29, 2000
http://my.aol.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
PROVO, Utah (AP) - As Brigham Young University student who appeared on MTV's ''Real World'' has been suspended from the school.

Julie Stoffer, a business major from Delafield, Wis., spent five months being filmed for the reality TV show in which she lived with four men and two other women in New Orleans.

She was suspended for the fall semester because she broke the school's honor code. The Mormon school prohibits single students from living with members of the opposite sex.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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* Mormonism is a cult of Christianity - not a Christian denomination.


26. 'Real World' Member Balks Suspension
AOL/AP, July 31, 2000
http://my.aol.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(...) Julie Stoffer, a business major from Delafield, Wis., was suspended for the fall semester for breaking the school's honor code. The Mormon university prohibits single students from living with members of the opposite sex.

Stoffer lived with four men and two other women in New Orleans during the show's filming, which lasted five months.

In a statement issued Saturday, Stoffer said that to ''insinuate that I was sleeping with a guy, or having sex, is totally false and slanderous.''

She said TV footage proves she didn't have sex and she can no longer respect the school's Honor Code office.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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27. Mormon Intimacy Book Is Big Hit
New York Times/AP, July 29, 2000
http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Krystal Pease thought she had tried everything to fix her 10-year marriage.

She and her husband spent six months in counseling. They talked about their problems. And Pease, an active Mormon who lives in Beaverton, Ore., brought home armloads of books from the local religious bookstore. Nothing helped.

Then she stumbled across a new book written for Mormons with marital problems -- particularly in the bedroom. She insisted her husband read it with her.

''We were able to resolve about 90 percent of problems we were having in about a month's period,'' Pease said. ''In fact the counselor we were seeing saw our progress and told us we didn't need any more help. Then he bought a copy of the book.''

''Between Husband & Wife: Gospel Perspectives on Marital Intimacy,'' published in March by Covenant Books, has been a surprise best seller and is flying off the shelves in Mormon bookstores across the West. The publisher hopes that even non-Mormons will be able to see past the book's doctrine and embrace its principal message: that sex shouldn't be a source of guilt or conflict for religious couples.

The book's initial printing of 6,000 copies sold out in about two weeks, according to the MaryAnn Jones, who represents the book for Covenant. A second printing of 20,000 disappeared in 15 days, and a third round of another 20,000 books arrived earlier this month.

Those figures propelled it to the top of the best seller list at Deseret Books, which is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and has 35 stores around the West.
(...)

No one could mistake ''Between Husband & Wife'' for erotica. The book -- tastefully covered with a photo of calla lilies and devoid of pictures or diagrams -- sprinkles quotes from Mormon general authorities in among textbook descriptions of human anatomy and general marital advice.

One theme runs throughout: intimacy should be an outgrowth of a healthy, trusting relationship. If there's something wrong with your sex life, the authors suggest, something may be wrong with your marriage. And without a good marriage, sex isn't worth much.

Both authors and the publisher say that idea is such a universal truth that non-Mormons may find the book useful despite a heavy emphasis on Mormon theology in the first three chapters.

Some booksellers seem convinced: Wal-Mart is selling ''Between Husband & Wife'' in 10 Utah stores. Barnes & Noble and Media Play have picked it up regionally, and it is available on Amazon.com.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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* For Christians interested in this subject, there is no need to purchase
Mormonism's theological lies. There are plenty of alternative books, written
from a Christian perspective instead


» Continued in Part 3

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