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Religion News Report

August 12, 2000 (Vol. 4, Issue 242) - 1/2

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Rainbow


=== Catholic God's Spirit
1. 20 killed as defiant cultists, cops clash
2. 16 cultists killed in Bukidnon clash
3. 20 killed as soldiers clash with Bukidnon cultists
4. Cult clash leaves 20 dead

=== Aum Shinrikyo
5. Aum rulings set line between life and death

=== Scientology
6. Dispute about Scientology's recruitment campaign in Stuttgart

=== Unification Church
7. Moon sect intends to infiltrate youth organizations

=== Islam
8. Islamic sect hosts conference
9. Young men find way off streets and into Islam
10. Fury over Muslim book
11. Trial of Al-Ma'unah men on Sept 11

=== Mormonism
12. TV Conflict With Olympics Forces LDS Church to Delay Fall Conference

=== Catholicism
13. Priesthood 'becoming mainly gay'

=== Buddhism
14. China to rebuild temple claimed as ''evidence'' of sovereignty over Tibet

=== Paganism / Witchcraft
15. Judge cuts sentence for 'witch' in sex case
16. Witches Express Relief as Vexing Case Is Closed
17. Self-described witch accused of sex crimes involving girls
18. Witchcraft clue to massacre?
19. Want to 'Lock' Your Wife? Consult a Witch

» Part 2

=== Hate Groups / Hate Crimes
20. Nation of Islam Leader Raises the Loyalty Issue
21. ADL Backgrounder on Anti-Semitism in the United States
22. Germany bans two far-right demos, police on guard
23. Hamburg Bans Neo-Nazi Club
24. ''Heil Hitler'' - grounds for dismissal
25. Court delays ruling over Yahoo! Nazi site
26. French Yahoo! Battles Censorship
27. Two start-ups say have answer for Yahoo in France
28. 5th Circuit Upholds Texas Separatists' Convictions
29. Furrow longed to kill others, U.S. says

=== General Assembly Church of the First Born
30. 3rd baby dies after refusal of care

=== Other News
31. Kenya: Paper reports growing panic in Nairobi over alleged cult murders
32. 'Daughter of God' Gets 25 Years
33. Cult Leader Jailed in Australia for Molesting Girls
33a. A death unpunished. No jail for killer exorcist couple.
34. Cult headed by Robin's Brod in fake gold, currencies
35. Custody case shines light on church practices
36. Reform's John Hagelin, Transcending Politics
37. Oral Roberts To Help Launch Church
38. Russian builds pyramids to cure ills
39. Self-hypnosis for better health
40. Herbalife Faces Struggle After Death of Founder Mark Hughes



=== Catholic God's Spirit

1. 20 killed as defiant cultists, cops clash
Philippine Daily Inquirer (Philippines), Aug. 13, 2000
http://www.inquirer.net/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(...) Twenty people were killed in Bukidnon on Friday when members of a ''tad-tad'' cult clashed with a group of policemen, soldiers and militiamen who were trying to arrest one of the cultists, provincial police chief Supt. Edgardo Villamayor said here yesterday.

The officers went to a colony of the Catholic God's Spirit cult in Barangay Kimanait in Pangantucan, Bukidnon, to serve a warrant of arrest on cultist Roberto Madrina Jr., who was wanted on frustrated murder charges, police said.

The troops opened fire after the cultists, armed with long knives and homemade guns allegedly refused to allow the police to take the suspect and attacked them, Villamayor said.

Killed were 16 cult members, and four civilian militiamen who accompanied the policemen, he said. Two other militiamen were injured in the battle.

A day earlier, six policemen had gone to Kimanait to serve the warrant on Madrina. No other information was immediately available on the frustrated murder case.

But around 300 cult members in a compound of 70 houses surrounded by a bamboo fence refused to turn Madrina over, the police said.
(...)

When the police approached the compound, using a megaphone to tell the cultists to cooperate, the wanted man stepped through the bamboo gate, together with three cult members, carrying bolos and Muslim kris.

Warning shot?
As the policemen warned them to surrender, the four kept walking toward the cops, some 50 meters away.

Around 10 meters away from the police, the four allegedly raised their weapons and charged toward them, Garcinela said.

''I fired a warning shot,'' Garcinela said, but the four did not stop. ''Then I fired another shot hitting him (Madrina Jr.) in the leg.''

Garcinela said an estimated 30 cultists attacked from behind, killing the four militiamen. The cultists then seized the two garand rifles of the Cafgus then fired at them, Garcinela said.

But Peterson Bergara, an ABS-CBN cameraman who was with the team, told the INQUIRER that no warning shots were fired, although he said that the stance of the cultists was ''very intimidating.''

Bergara said Madrina's bolo was not raised when he was shot. The cameraman also said the cultist was shot not in the leg but the right shoulder.

It was only when he was shot when Madrina took out his bolo and charged toward the police, according to Bergara.
(...)

The cult was one of the ''tad-tad'' or ''chop-chop'' religious groups, Batayola said, referring to fanatical Christian cults in Mindanao who hack their enemies to death with machetes. Convicted killer Norberto Manero Jr., the infamous murderer of Italian priest Tullio Favali, belonged to a similar cult.

Most of the slain cultists wore amulets meant to make them bulletproof, provincial police said.

Known for ferocity
Tad-tad cults, known for their ferocity, first rose to prominence in the 1970s in reaction to the armed Moro separatist campaign in Mindanao. Human rights advocates charge that the government used these cults as vigilante fighters, first against Moro guerrillas and then against communist insurgents and their suspected sympathizers.

Such cults mix Christianity with folk beliefs, such as wearing T-shirts with Latin prayers scrawled upon them which they believe grant them magical powers including invulnerability to bullets and the ability to hypnotize their enemies.

Some are known to use human kneecaps as magical amulets.

As the communist insurgency waned in the 1990s, some of the cults reportedly turned to criminal activities like cattle rustling and illegal logging.

However, there have been fears that a recent upsurge in Moro separatist attacks could lead to a revival of the tad-tad cults.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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2. 16 cultists killed in Bukidnon clash
Philippine Star (Philippines), Aug. 13, 2000
http://www.philstar.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
At least 16 fanatics of a religious cult, three militiamen and a civilian volunteer were killed the other day in a clash that erupted in a remote barangay in Pangantocan town in Bukidnon as police tried to arrest a cult member wanted for attempted murder.

Two other militiamen were wounded in the fighting.

Reports reaching Manila said the policemen went to a colony of the Catholic God Spirit sect, more popularly known as Tadtad, in the hinterland village of Kimanait to serve the arrest order on Roberto Madrina Jr. But the cultists, armed with bolos and home-made guns, intervened, resulting in the clash.
(...)

The fighting ensued after the law enforcers, upon orders of their superiors, tried to arrest the cultists for illegal possession of firearms.
(...)

Tadtad groups gained notoriety at the height of the Muslim insurgency in Mindanao in the late 60s and early 70s for their role as government mercenaries to help the military fight the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) guerrillas.

The MNLF forged a peace treaty with the government in September 1996.

The cults were called tadtad because of their ritual of cutting their forearm with a sharp bolo as a test for total absolution after making a confession of sins with their high priest called Ama or Papa (Father) by his followers.

They believed that complete absolution would make them invulnerable to knife attacks.

If the knife leaves a wound on the forearm, it indicates that the devotee is not yet totally cleanse, and has to go through the same ritual all over again.

Hence, it is not uncommon to see Tadtad followers having numerous scars on their arms.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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3. 20 killed as soldiers clash with Bukidnon cultists
The Manila Times (Philippines), Aug. 13, 2000
http://www.manilatimes.net/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(...) The authorities traveled to the colony of the Catholic God Spirit, locally known as Tadtad, in Barangay Kimanait, Pangantukan, Bukidnon to arrest a member.

A fight erupted after the cultists, armed with long knives and homemade guns, refused to allow the police to take the suspect.

At least 16 cultists and four civilian militiamen who accompanied the police were killed, the military said.
(...)

The government has tolerated the organization of armed cultist groups for years because they served as vigilantes helping in the fight against Muslim and communist insurgents.

Initial reports reaching Camp Aguinaldo said at around 3:30 p.m. last Friday authorities led by Bukidnon Police Chief Supt. Edgardo Villamayor were on their way to Barangay Kimanait to arrest one Roberto Madrina, the Tadtad leader facing a charge of frustrated murder, when at least 16 other cultists fired at them.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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4. Cult clash leaves 20 dead
BBC, Aug. 12, 2000
http://news.bbc.co.uk/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Twenty people have been killed in a clash between a Christian religious cult and troops in the Philippines, the army said.

The troops had gone to Mindanao island, 870 miles (1,400 km) from the capital, Manila, to serve an arrest warrant on Alfredo Opciona - leader of the Catholic God Spirit cult.

The raiding party was then ambushed by about 20 members of the cult armed with knives.
(...)

Catholic God Spirit were one of several civilian organisations that battled Muslim insurgents in the 1970s, but police say it now functions as a Christian group.

Most Filipinos are Roman Catholics, but there are hundreds of small Christian sects like Catholic God Spirit, separate from the Roman Catholic Church or the established Protestant churches.

Vigilante groups
In some places these cults have a militant outlook. This is particularly so in the southern Philippines.

There, some members of the Muslim minority are fighting for independence. In response, some Christians formed vigilante groups which are often associated with religious cults.

An army spokesman denied the encounter had anything to do with the government's battle with Muslim separatists.

''There's no connection. This was a Christian religious organisation and there was just a warrant for the group's leader,'' he said.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Aum Shinrikyo

5. Aum rulings set line between life and death
Japan Times (Japan), Aug. 11, 2000
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
While the trial of Aum Shinrikyo founder Shoko Asahara continues at a snail's pace more than five years after his arrest in 1995, a series of court rulings handed down this year has drawn a clear line between who among the cult's senior figures will live and who will die.
(...)

''The decisive factor between life or death apparently is whether the accused cultist played an active role in crimes that resulted in the death of more than one person, such as the subway attack, the July 1994 sarin gassing in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, and the Sakamoto murders,'' said lawyer Masaki Kito, who is representing the Matsumoto gassing victims in a civil lawsuit against the cult.

In sharp contrast with many other senior cult figures, Yoshihiro Inoue, formerly the cult's ''intelligence chief'' responsible for many of its shady operations, was given a life sentence June 6.

He has been accused of involvement in four murder cases, including the 1995 sarin attack, but did not directly kill anyone in any of the cases.

While the district court recognized that Inoue was a top figure in the cult's crime team, it concluded that his role in the subway attack was limited to ''logistic support and coordination'' and thus deserved a lighter sentence than those who executed the murders.

The rulings are also significant in that they clearly stipulated that Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, masterminded the cult's heinous crimes and commanded his followers to execute them.
(...)

Yoshifu Arita, a journalist who has covered issues related to religious cults and brainwashing, said the district court ruling on Inoue was significant because it fully took into account that Asahara controlled his actions at the time Inoue committed the crimes.

''The ruling on Inoue, in which the judge acknowledged that he could not refuse Asahara's orders because of mind control, was the first ruling in the series of Aum trials that recognized such claims by the defense,'' said Arita, adding that other rulings on cult figures fail to properly examine the psychology of cult followers.

In determining Inoue's punishment, the court ruled that it was ''psychologically difficult for Inoue to refuse Asahara's orders.''

In the rulings on Toyoda and Hirose, however, the court rejected lawyers' claims that their responsibility should be reduced because Asahara controlled their minds. The court reasoned that the accused could have rejected Asahara's orders to commit acts that were obviously wrong.

In the ruling on Hayakawa, the court went so far as to say that his blind faith in Asahara does not deserve special consideration, noting that it is ''very common'' for a criminal to blindly follow his seniors in organized crimes.

''As memories of the cult's peculiar crimes fade away, the court, the media and the general public seem to regard Aum as merely a group of cruel criminals,'' said Arita.

''But they must not forget that what is being tried are the crimes of cult members and their peculiar psychology,'' he added.

Arita, who believes that only Asahara should receive capital punishment, said that in trials of Aum figures, the court should hire psychologists who have a long history of examining cult psychology and mind control, rather than psychiatrists.

''The court hired psychologists only for Inoue's trial, whose reports functioned as one of the decisive factors in the sentence to spare his life,'' Arita said.

While the rulings on one after another of his followers are given by the court, pledging that Asahara was the mastermind of all the cult's crimes, the guru's trial itself appears to be making little progress. The parties involved continue the detailed, almost nitpicking examination of evidence and testimonies on the high number of cases in which he is accused.

So far, deliberations on 12 of the 17 charges against Asahara have started in court. None have yet to be completed, and Asahara has not officially entered a plea on any of the charges.
(...)

While the lawyers representing Asahara have frequently been criticized for dragging out the trial proceedings, victims' lawyer Kito says there is nothing wrong in their efforts to closely examine all the evidence against their client. The unprecedented massmurders certainly require thorough examination, he added.

Kito proposes that prosecutors should drop what he calls peripheral cases for which Asahara stands accused, including the cult's arms and drug production, in order to speed up the trial proceedings.
(...)

The Aum-related trials will resume in September after a one-month recess.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Scientology

6. Dispute about Scientology's recruitment campaign in Stuttgart
Stuttgarter Zeitung (Germany), Aug. 9, 2000
Translation: CISAR
http://cisar.org/000809a.htmOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Scientology is making a conspicuous effort to recruit new members in Stuttgart. This is comes out of the current Constitutional Security report. As far as SPD city council member Andreas Reissig is concerned, the city is doing too little about the controversial contact campaign.

Things have calmed down recently with the Scientologists, who say they have 5,000 members in Baden-Wuerttemberg alone. Nevertheless, the Baden-Wuerttemberg Interior Ministry, which estimates the number of adherents in the state at only 1,200, believes that continued surveillance of Scientology is necessary. All the more so because the organization, founded by L. Ron Hubbard to create a ''new civilization,'' has not let up in its efforts to establish influence in society and politics, according to Constitutional Security.
(...)

In Stuttgart, according to Constitutional Security, the Scientologists operate a so-called ''Class V Org,'' that means a major establishment with a wide variety of services. In past years the Hubbard adherents have garnered attention with exhibits and vigils. One of those recruitment operations had a legal consequence in that a young woman fell victim to a violent dispute with a Scientologist in March.

The female student, according to state attorney's office press spokesperson Sabine Maylaender, had popped a balloon with a recruitment message on it, whereupon a 44-year-old Scientologist man slapped her. Since then the doer has received a fine of the equivalent of 600 marks. The money was paid and the sentence is in effect, according to Maylaender.

The Constitutional Security report also talks about ''particularly aggressive recruitment measures.'' For instance a newspaper shop keeper was repeatedly urged to put Scientology material on display in his shop. Finally the aggressive woman was shown the door, which prompted the following comment from her, ''You'll hear more from Scientology.'' The organization, in fact, is beating its recruitment drums more loudly in Stuttgart. ''We are not dumb,'' said Maja Nuesch of the Stuttgart Scientologists. ''We would like to inform and proselytize.'' She said that in doing that her personnel always kept city ordinances.

Of course the 16-year-old female student who had the unpleasant run-in with the pugnacious recruiter on Schlossplatz does not see things that way. ''He was totally out of control and hit me on the head repeatedly,'' she said. The student was traumatized as a result of the incident and will sue the Scientologists.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Unification Church

7. Moon sect intends to infiltrate youth organizations
idea, Basis edition 93/2000 (Germany), Aug. 2, 2000
Translation: CISAR
http://cisar.org/000802b.htmOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Berlin (idea) - Apparently the Moon sect plans to systematically infiltrate evangelical youth organizations with a campaign of pre-marital chastity. That was said to the staff at ''idea'' by the Evangelical Church's commissioner for issues of sects and weltanschauung in Berlin-Brandenburg, Reverend Thomas Gandow of Berlin. The so-called Pure Love Alliance, which provides sexual information for teenagers in the USA, is in reality part of the ''Unification Church'' of Korean Sung Myung Mun. In its gatherings, the participants are to take vows which, from Moon's perspective, will let them enter the ''true family,'' the Moon sect. Also, candy is distributed which is treated with so-called ''Holy Wine'' - which former members, according to Gandow, say consists of ''diluted blood and sperm of the sect founder.'' ''When they eat this candy they become a member of the Moon Family, since, from Moon's perspective, a physical exchange of blood takes place,'' Gandow cited the sect's internal documents.

New Mission Objective: Germany
While the ''Unification Church'' is banned from some schools in the USA, such as in Chicago, the Moon missionaries are now directing their attention to other countries, such as Great Britain, France and Germany. Gandow is concerned that any Christian group can be infiltrated which has as a goal the promotion of sexual abstinence before marriage. In the meantime, the Moon sect has already gotten a toehold in certain evangelical circles in the USA. For instance, conservative preacher Jerry Falwell openly cooperates with Moon organizations.

Gandow: serious chastity campaigns at risk
''It's good there are groups which support chastity before marriage,'' Gandow told ''idea.'' ''But all these serious campaigns are currently at special risk of being infiltrated by the Pure Love Alliance.'' Gandow continued, ''I can't imagine that any evangelical Christian could reconcile with their beliefs the idea of their own children at a gathering focusing on sexual abstinence where they become members of the Moon sect, whose leader has declared that genitals are the center point of the universe.'' For that purpose he has written a letter to warn the organizers of the Christian campaign ''True Love waits'' [''Wahre Liebe wartet'] and of the CVJM, ''neither of which are suspected of any cooperation with the sect'' of the Moon campaign.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Islam

8. Islamic sect hosts conference
Chicago Tribune, Aug. 10, 2000
http://chicagotribune.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
A bizarre moment in Zion history nearly 100 years ago is the impetus behind an Islamic sect's decision to host a two-day interfaith conference in the Lake County suburb and Kenosha this week.

Hassan Hakeem, president of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam in Lake County, said the first day of the conference will be held Friday in Zion because its Christian founder, Rev. John Alexander Dowie, was challenged to a ''prayer duel'' in the early 1900s by the founder of the Ahmadiyyas in India.

At the turn of the 20th Century, Dowie left Chicago to start a self-proclaimed Christian utopia in Zion, where sin was outlawed and followers believed they lived in heaven on Earth.

But, in 1903, that same religious fervor took an ugly turn when Dowie lashed out at Islam, calling for its destruction, in his publication Leaves of Healing. In it, Dowie wrote: ''How can anyone who knows exactly what Mohammedanism is, for one single moment, imagine that God or man can forever stand that abomination?''

News of Dowie's outburst made its way to Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, founder of the Ahmadiyyas, in Qadian, India, who then challenged Dowie to a ''prayer duel.''

''Pray to God that of us two whoever is the liar may perish first,'' Ahmad reportedly said.

Dowie, who never officially responded to the dare, died in 1907 at the age of 59 while Ahmad, who was older, died a year later, according to newspaper accounts of the incident.

''We don't look at [the confrontation] as an ugly link,'' Hakeem said.

''We look at it as a lost link in Zion history. We see it as an opportunity to talk about intolerance and hate.''

That is why Hakeem and other followers of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam sought to attract mostly non-Muslims to their conference, which they expect about 2,000 people to attend, he said.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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9. Young men find way off streets and into Islam
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Aug. 4, 2000 (Aug. 7, print edition)
http://www.jsonline.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(...) Ali Ibn Nathaniel, 24, and Yacub Elkin, 26, have spent time in jail, where they converted to Islam. The Muslim faith has been a sustaining force redirecting their lives from paths of destruction to ones in total devotion to Allah.
(...)

New to the faith, the two have joined thousands of converts who have helped make Islam one of the fastest-growing religions in this country.
(...)

Al-Amim said many of the local converts to Islam were once incarcerated. ''We reach the person through his mind and intellect and try to explain to him who his creator is and for what purpose he was created,'' Al-Amim said. ''We don't go into attacking his way of life. If it's a life of crime, we try to show him the good of Islam. The moral aspect of Islam is what attracts people.''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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10. Fury over Muslim book
Telegraph (England), Aug. 12, 2000
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
A handbook published by a state-funded religious foundation which prescribes wife-beating, polygamy and shunning contraception has unleashed a wave of public anger in Turkey.

The Muslim's Handbook advises its readers ''not to strike the woman's face'' but to hit her ''gently'' elsewhere ''just as a warning''. It also says a man can take a second wife if his current spouse is ill and he cannot afford a maid. Ferda Cilalioglu, a feminist activist and senior member of the pro-secular Republican People's Party, said: ''This is scandalous for a government which says that it wants to join the European Union. It borders on the insane.''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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* This case mirrors that of another Muslim wife-beating proponent:

Spanish women outraged by book that gives advice on beatings
CNN/AP, July 26, 2000


11. Trial of Al-Ma'unah men on Sept 11
The New Straits Times (Malaysia), Aug. 10, 2000
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
KUALA LUMPUR, Wed. - The trial of 29 members of the Al-Ma'unah group who are charged with waging war against the Yang di-Pertuan Agong will begin in the High Court on Sept 11.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Mormonism

12. TV Conflict With Olympics Forces LDS Church to Delay Fall Conference
The Salt Lake Tribune, Aug. 10, 2000
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Rather than interfere with television coverage of the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, the LDS Church opted to move the dates of its October General Conference.

By tradition, the church's 170th Semi-Annual General Conference should be held on Saturday, Sept. 30, and Sunday, Oct. 1. But KSL- TV, the Mormon-owned television station and NBC affiliate which broadcasts the two-day conference, will be telecasting the final days of the Olympics from Australia that weekend.

To avoid a conflict, this year's fall conference has been moved to Oct. 7-8.
(...)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints holds two conferences each year, one in April and the other in October. This year's October conference comes at a particularly significant time: The church will dedicate its 21,000-seat Conference Center in Salt Lake City, which was unveiled last April before it was finished.
(...)

General conferences, which began shortly after the church's founding April 6, 1830, have been canceled or postponed because of travel, weather conditions or flu epidemics, but never for a scheduling conflict, historians say.

LDS Church founder Joseph Smith said that God wanted them to meet often and so Smith called for conferences whenever he felt the need to gather the Saints.

''This commenced a vital and enduring tradition,'' writes Dallas Burnett in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism.

In the conferences between 1830 and 1837, Smith and other leaders conducted business, announced new revelations and approved leaders and doctrine.

Beginning in 1838, the semiannual schedule of conferences was established in April and October; in those years the three- or four- day sessions always incorporated the sixth day of the month, writes LDS historian Kenneth Godfrey in ''150 Years of General Conference,'' published in the church's official magazine. April 6 holds special significance since it marks the church's founding and the Mormon belief that it also is the literal birth date of Jesus Christ.
(...)

More than 2,600 church satellite dishes in North America now receive General Conference twice each year. Last year marked the first broadcast over the Internet.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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* Theologically, Mormonism is a cult of Christianity. It does not represent
the Christian faith


=== Catholicism

13. Priesthood 'becoming mainly gay'
The Guardian (England), Aug. 10, 2000
http://www.guardianunlimited.co.uk/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
A book which claims that the priesthood is becoming a gay profession has divided the 60m Roman Catholics in the United States and led to calls for the priest who wrote it to be thrown out of his post as rector of one of America's leading seminaries.

What has added insult to injury is that the author of The Changing Face of The Priesthood, Donald Cozzens, 61, cannot be dismissed as a crank or a radical. He is president-rector and professor of pastoral theology at St Mary Seminary and Graduate School of Theology in Cleveland, Ohio, and has a doctorate in psychology.
(...)

His book claims that seminaries are becoming ''significantly gay''. About 20,000 of the US's 32,000 priests have left the clergy to get married in recent years, and many of those who remain are gay (more than half in some estimates), he says.

The revelation, in a sober religious work, could not have come at a worse time for the Vatican, which has hardened its attitude to gays.
(...)


There have been calls for the book to be banned and complaints from the parents of some trainee priests. But the book has already sold out its initial print run of 20,000 copies, making it a best-seller for its publisher, the Liturgical Press.

Dean Hoge, a sociologist and specialist on priesthood at the Catholic University of America, said: ''It is the most important book on Catholic priests . . . for years. These topics are being talked about openly by the laity and the academic research community, but they are not being talked about openly by the Catholic leadership; and that's a tragic situation because these are real problems and should be discussed.''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Buddhism

14. China to rebuild temple claimed as ''evidence'' of sovereignty over Tibet
BBC Monitoring, Aug. 11, 2000
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Text of report in English by official Chinese news agency Xinhua (New China News Agency)
Wuwei (Gansu), 11th August: China is considering to restore an ancient Tibetan temple damaged in an earthquake 73 years ago.

The Banta Temple, located 20 kilometres southeast of Wuwei in northwest China's Gansu province, can serve as an evidence that Tibet has been a part of China since Yuan dynasty (1271-1368).

In 1247, a historic meeting was held between the Chinese government and a Tibetan religious and political leader [Sakya Pandita, head abbot of the Sakya sect, who met Genghis Khan's son Godan and established a relationship with the Mongol rulers], who later declared from that time on that Tibet was under Chinese sovereignty.

A pagoda was built in the temple to preserve the body of the leader, who died in 1251.

However, a strong earthquake in 1927 destroyed the 42.7 metre- high pagoda. At the request of scholars and local people, the central government will restore the temple and the pagoda and set up an exhibition hall and other facilities.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Paganism / Witchcraft

15. Judge cuts sentence for 'witch' in sex case
New Haven Register/AP, Aug. 10, 2000
http://www.zwire.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
BRIDGEPORT - A female bus driver and self-proclaimed witch who was convicted of having sex with a 14-year-old boy has persuaded a judge to chop a year off her six-year sentence.

Kerri Lynn Patavino, 32, of Monroe was convicted of having ritualistic sex with the teen more than 50 times while she was his bus driver in 1995.

Patavino, who had vigorously denied the charges, has served one year of her sentence so far.

On Tuesday, a judge agreed to shave a year off her sentence after she publicly apologized for her crime for the first time.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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16. Witches Express Relief as Vexing Case Is Closed
New York Times, Aug. 12, 2000
http://www.nytimes.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
BRIDGEPORT, Conn., Aug. 11 -- To the relief of witches throughout Connecticut, the case of Kerri Lynn Patavino appears to be closed once and for all.

In the case's final chapter, Mrs. Patavino, a 32-year-old former school-bus driver and follower of Wicca, the witchcraft religion, who was convicted in 1996 of having a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old boy, returned to court this week to admit her guilt and to request that her prison sentence be reduced.

The admission meant one last round of headlines in Connecticut newspapers about witchery and of stories recounting the prosecution's allegations that Mrs. Patavino, a mother of two, had used a boy on her bus route in rituals of sex and blood-drinking on a bed atop a large pentagram in her home in Monroe, Conn.

Witches, who say their religion has more to do with nature worship than with dark, occult practices, say it is time for the case to fade away.

''Whatever religion somebody is doesn't change the fact that you have folks who do rotten things,'' said Dawn Debbe, a witch in Hamden who teaches classes in Wicca and magic, including spell casting.

''I don't think that the emphasis should have been on the fact that she is a witch,'' Ms. Debbe said. ''One of the things that bothered me a lot was that they had declared her in the headlines here as an alleged witch, which cracked me up because you never hear of an alleged Catholic or an alleged Lutheran.''
(...)

Although for a while Mrs. Patavino and her supporters asserted that she was being persecuted for her religion, Mr. Beck said that the state's evidence was strong and that she probably would have been convicted ''whether she was a witch or a werewolf.''

After her arrest, several witches set up a defense fund and argued her cause in various online Wicca newsletters, one of which, ''Jane's Tidings,'' criticized the ''lurid publicity'' around the case ''that emphasized and cheapened her religion.''

Local witches were equally critical this week. ''They emphasize the witch part all the time, which hurts any positive accomplishments that others have made,'' said Beverly Safko, the owner of The Magik Mirror, a witchcraft store in Milford.

The total number of witches in Connecticut is not known, but Ms. Safko said she herself maintained a mailing list of about 800 people. And the Connecticut Wiccan Resource page lists more than two dozen covens and other witch groups in addition to the Pagan Community Church in Bridgeport.

Prosecutors had alleged that Mrs. Patavino used the 14-year-old boy to celebrate ''The Great Rite,'' an act of ritual sex that is a central tenet of Wicca, symbolizing the male-female polarity in the universe. Witches say participation in the rite is always voluntary.

But Ms. Debbe, not inclined to automatically approve the behavior of a fellow witch, noted that since ''children can't give consent,'' voluntary participation by the teenager was impossible.

''I don't care if you are going to call it the Great Rite or what you are going to call it,'' she said. ''But religions also have to work within the guidelines of the law and the guidelines of the age of reason.''
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17. Self-described witch accused of sex crimes involving girls  [Update]
The Arizona Republic, Aug. 9, 2000
http://www.azcentral.com/Off-site Link
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Police say a self-described witch lured young girls into his home to practice witchcraft but ended up playing inappropriate games of ''Truth or Dare'' with them.

Jamie Vernon Benton now sits behind bars, accused of 17 felony sex-related offenses.

On occasional Sunday afternoons since January, police say, the 25-year-old Phoenix resident gathered nearly a dozen girls at a west Phoenix park to hold rituals. Wearing a puffy white shirt, pants and boots, Benton led the girls in praying, chanting and humming, Detective Bob Ragsdale said.

After the rituals were over, Benton brought some of the girls back to his apartment near 43rd Avenue and Thomas Road, where they played ''Truth or Dare,'' which involved sexual contact, police said.

Benton's wife, Spring Benton, vehemently denied the accusations Tuesday, saying that the arrests stem from false accusations.

''This is all a lie. It's retaliation,'' she said. ''My husband is innocent. He did not deserve this. I am behind my husband 100 percent, and I have a lot of proof that he did not do this because I was always there.''

Spring, who has two children and is pregnant with a third, said she and her husband practice Wicca, a nature-based religion. Those who follow Wicca practice god and goddess worship and the use of magic defined by the belief, ''An ye harm none, do what ye will,'' according to the Dictionary of Religion.

She said that they occasionally have held gatherings, but that those included only adults.
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18. Witchcraft clue to massacre?
News24 (South Africa), Aug. 10, 2000
http://livenews.24.com/Off-site Link
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Durban - Involvement in witchcraft could be behind the armed attack on the Mbhata family in Mahlabatini over the weekend in which five people were shot dead and seven others seriously wounded, KwaZulu-Natal police said on Thursday.

Captain Vishnu Naidoo said police believed that the motive for the attack was related to witchcraft. ''One of the woman had apparently being accused of performing witchcraft in the area and she has been attacked twice before this year,'' Naidoo said.
(...)

Police area commissioner Vuka Dube told Sapa there had been a number of attacks related to witchcraft in the Mahlabatini/Nongoma area before, but usually only the person accused of witchcraft was killed.

''Never before has there been an attack on a whole family.''
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19. Want to 'Lock' Your Wife? Consult a Witch
The EastAfrican, Aug. 7, 2000
http://www.nationaudio.com/Off-site Link
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(...) In northern Mwingi and Tharaka areas of Kenya's Eastern Province, belief in witchcraft is strong. The harsh environment means that food production is low and cannot sustain the people, making hunger a seasonal phenomenon and poverty a perpetual state that society has to contend with.

Material inadequacy has led to insecurity and fear, envy for those who are well-to-do, and a feeling of helplessness among the poor. Most residents seek mystical redress to the many problems that afflict them and for others that arise from their day-to-day activities.

Witchcraft in these areas revolves around the preparation of magical medicine by a witchdoctor.
(...)

Magical medicine is either made to kill or to subject its victims to prolonged suffering and misery.
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» Continued in Part 2