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Religion News Report

August 25, 2000 (Vol. 4, Issue 249)

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Rainbow


=== Fangcheng Church of China
1. Detained U.S. Christians released from Chinese jail
2. U.S. Probes China Arrest Reports
3. China arrests 130 from banned Christian church

=== China - UN Delegation
4. Cardinal says China's religions entering ''golden age''
5. Bishop Has Mixed Feelings toward Rapid Rise of Religious Adherents
6. Chinese bishop worried over ''low calibre'' religious adherents,
''spiritual garbage''

=== Takao Wakasa
7. 'Weirdo' cult tried family suicide

=== Aum Shinrikyo
8. [Asahara children sue board of education]

=== Zhong Gong
9. Chinese sect leader waits for word on asylum in U.S.

=== Falun Gong
10. 151 Falun Gong Convictions Cited
11. Chinese religious official compares Falun Gong to harmful drug
12. China's Steadfast Sect

=== Scientology
13. Deluded Scientologists mob Ursula Caberta in Florida

=== Mormonism
14. US firm finds tech, language savvy among Mormons

=== Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
15. Couple Fight Eviction by Religious Group
16. Church Eviction Dispute in Polygamist Town Sent to Higher Court
17. Low turnout causes delay for Colorado City schools

=== Paganism / Witchcraft
18. Pagan Parenting
19. Pagan group wants to use high school field for meeting
20. Southern Illinois U. offers class on sacrifice

=== Occult
21. Lifting 'psychic' ban in stars?

=== Hate Groups: Aryan Nations
22. Attorney battling Aryans is used to winning
23. Aryan Nations Threatened by Lawsuit

=== Hate Groups: World Church of the Creator
24. Group wants white supremacist to stay out of Montana

=== Militia Groups
25. An Armed Texas Family Resists the Courts
26. Church's rally has right-wing support
27. Tax dispute simmers

=== Other News
28. Brazil voodoo priests arrested for child sacrifice
29. Vietnam police act against illegal religious sect
30. Occult link suggested in slaying
31. Suspect in Lucie Blackman case found hanged in 'shrine' to missing hostess
32. Procter & Gamble Can Pursue Devil-Rumor Lawsuit
33. Annan Fends Off Criticism Over Dalai Lama
34. Jock culture called a 'myth'

=== Religious Freedom / Religious Intolerance
35. 'Spontaneous' Prayer Sidesteps Court
36. A cover story of secular extremism

=== Films
37. 'God's Army:' Good Works Don't Always Make Good Films


=== Fangcheng Church of China

1. Detained U.S. Christians released from Chinese jail
Kyodo News Service/Associated Press, Aug. 25, 2000
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
BEIJING, Aug. 25 (Kyodo) -- Three U.S. citizens were released from police custody in central China's Henan Province after being arrested for participating in a banned Christian church, the U.S. Embassy in Beijing said in a statement Friday.

The three Taiwan-born U.S. citizens, Henry Chu, 38, Sandy Lin, 28, and Patricia Lan, 25, were released from custody Friday afternoon after the U.S. Embassy dispatched a consular official to Henan's provincial capital Zhengzhou.

They were among 130 followers of the ''Fangcheng Church of China'' arrested Wednesday in rural Xihua County. The church, labeled a sect by the government, is illegal.

The Henan Provincial Foreign Affairs Office told the consular official that the three had been detained ''for activities incompatible with the tourist status under which they entered China,'' but after their 4 p.m. release they were free to leave the province.
(...)

A Hong Kong-based human rights organization said that most of the 130 followers of the group were also released Friday after a group of them had been interrogated overnight.

One follower had been beaten by the police, the Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy in China said in a press release.

At least 10 of the arrested followers were still in jail and awaited possible imprisonment or sentencing to a ''reeducation through labor'' camp, the center's statement added.

The Christian evangelical group transmitted a written appeal to Chinese President Jiang Zemin on Friday, urging him to stop the government's suppression of the group, the Hong Kong group said.

They appealed to Jiang to release the arrested followers, noting they were a ''completely normal religious group.'' Their appeal also reminded Jiang that September's Millennium World Peace Summit at the U.N. headquarters in New York City would focus attention on China's human rights record, the report said.
(...)

Both Protestant and Catholic ''patriotic'' churches operate in China with the blessing and guidance of Beijing, but the Hong Kong group estimated that at least 5 million Chinese Christians worship in churches not recognized by the government.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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2. U.S. Probes China Arrest Reports
The Associated Press, Aug. 24, 2000
http://my.aol.com/news/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
WASHINGTON (AP) - The State Department is investigating reports China has arrested 130 members of an underground Christian evangelical group, including three U.S. citizens.

Spokesman Richard Boucher said a U.S. diplomat had been sent from the U.S. Embassy in Beijing to the area of central China where a human rights group reported the arrests.

``Certainly we find the reports deeply disturbing,'' Boucher said. ``According to the available information so far, the people arrested have done nothing more than to peacefully practice their religion.''

Boucher said that was an international right under agreements approved by China. ``If the arrests are confirmed, we would expect China to grant us consular access,'' the spokesman said.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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3. China arrests 130 from banned Christian church
CNN/Reuters, Aug. 25, 2000
http://www.cnn.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
BEIJING (Reuters) -- Chinese police have arrested 130 Christians from a banned church, three of them U.S. missionaries, a human rights group said on Thursday as Beijing's top Catholic official declared China was in a ''golden age'' for religion.

The members of the China Fang-cheng Church, including the three Taiwan-born U.S. citizens, were arrested on Wednesday and were being held in the central province of Henan, the Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights & Democracy said.

The centre said in a statement the church, an evangelical group with 500,000 members, was one of at least 14 Chinese Christian sects banned by Communist authorities as ''evil cults'' -- as they did the Falun Gong spiritual group.
(...)

Groups lumped together as cults
Like more than a dozen other Christian groups, the banned church ran afoul of Communist authorities last year for its affiliation with overseas Christians and its refusal to join the government-controlled church, the human rights centre said.

The U.S. official said China had cracked down on numerous obscure Christian movements and said Beijing appeared to be trying to ''lump together'' the various groups it had banned.

''Some of them, according to the Christian community, are not far from the mainstream and some are quite far from the mainstream,'' the official said.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== China - UN Delegation

4. Cardinal says China's religions entering ''golden age''
BBC Monitoring, Aug. 24, 2000
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Text of report by Ni Siyi entitled: ''Cardinal Fu says that the Chinese religions are entering a 'golden age''' carried by official Chinese news agency Xinhua (New China News Agency)

Los Angeles, 22nd August: Fu Tieshan, head of the Chinese delegation of religious leaders, gave a speech at the University of California in Los Angeles [UCLA] on 22nd August. He said in his speech that Chinese religions are advancing step by step and now entering a historic ''golden age'' while the religions in Europe and the United States are generally at a low tide. All this is attributed to China's 5,000-year culture and tradition that value peace and stress magnanimity, as well as its implementation of the policy of separating politics from religions and the policy of freedom of religion.

This remark was made by Fu Tieshan, chairman of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, at a ''seminar on religious development of present-day China,'' cosponsored by the US-Chinese Education Service Centre and the East Asia Research Centre of the University of California in Los Angeles.
(...)

Fu Tieshan said that the Chinese constitution provides that citizens can freely choose their religions. Incomplete statistics show that China has more than 100 million religious followers, more than 3,000 religious communities, more than 85,000 places of worship, and more than 300,000 clergy.

Of the five large religions in China, Buddhism, which has the greatest influence, has a history of more than 2,000 years; Taoism, native to China, has a history of more than 1,700 years. Islam was introduced to China in the seventh century. Catholicism and Protestantism boomed in China along with the Opium War; they currently have 4.5 million and 10 million followers, respectively.

Fu Tieshan said that religious communities in China handle their affairs independently. According to their own needs, they set up religious institutes, publish religious classics and periodicals, and establish undertakings of public welfare.

Fu Tieshan said: ''Clergy, religious communities, and their followers may conduct normal religious activities in places of worship or at home, such as worshipping the Buddha, reciting scriptures, going to churches, praying, preaching, celebrating Mass, receiving baptism, being initiated into monkhood or nunhood, fasting, and celebrating religious festivals. Their normal activities are protected by the law and not interfered in.''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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5. Bishop Has Mixed Feelings toward Rapid Rise of Religious Adherents
Xinhua News Agency, Aug. 22, 2000
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
The Chinese religious population has witnessed a sharp increase over the years, but Michael Fu Tieshan, bishop of the Chinese Catholic Council, still said here Tuesday that he has mixed feelings, because the ill- educated are always prone to fall pray to cults and heresies.

Fu, chairman of the visiting Chinese delegation of religious leaders, made the remark at a forum held at the University of California at Los Angeles, attended by 100 local religious leaders and scholars.

He didn't provide an exact overall numbers of how fast the increase of religious followers in China is, but cited the case of Protestant churches saying that it has followers 10 times more than in 1949.
(...)

According to Fu, all the religions in China, Buddhism, Taoism, Islamism, Protestantism and Catholicism, are busying re-editing their theology to better adapt to the society and training more their young clergymen.

He also proposed that all religions in China as well as across the world to guard against heresies and cults for the healthy development of legitimate religions.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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6. Chinese bishop worried over ''low calibre'' religious adherents, ''spiritual garbage''
BBC Monitoring, Aug. 25, 2000
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Text of report by official Chinese news agency Xinhua (New China News Agency)
Los Angeles, 22nd August: In a speech delivered at the University of California at Los Angeles on 22nd August, Fu Tieshan, chairman of a visiting Chinese delegation of religious leaders and president of the China Patriotic Catholic Association, pointed out: We are pleased that because China has implemented its policies on religious beliefs, various religious groups have expanded relatively rapidly in China. However, at the same time, we are also very worried that some ill- educated religious believers who cannot differentiate between religions and heresies can easily be misled.

Fu Tieshan made the above remarks while briefing major religious groups and relevant scholars in southern California of the United States on ''The Current Conditions of China's Religions and Their Challenges.''
(...)

Fu Tieshan said: ''Purely from a religious viewpoint, the increase of religious believers is a pleasant event. But after carefully analysing it, Chinese religious circles regard it as a challenge.''

He said: ''Our Chinese religious leaders' concerns are: The disciples are very enthusiastic towards their religions. But the mix of religious disciples has problems. For example, most of them are female, elderly, ill-educated, and low-calibre. They lack the most basic training on religious beliefs and religious knowledge, and are unable to differentiate between religious truths and heresies. Consequently, they can very easily be mislead.''

Fu Tieshan said: ''Facts tell us: As the status of religion in China has been rising, we have discovered that a certain number of people have misused the name of religion, attained their personal gains under the pretext of religion, and misled and misguided a large number of disciples without correct religious guidance. We feel very sad about this.''
(...)

Fu Tieshan pointed out: Based on a harmonious coexistence with one another, various Chinese religions should jointly guard against heretical impacts on orthodox religious beliefs. He specifically pointed out: Foreign religious circles are quite concerned with Chinese religious conditions. However, most of the time, such concerns make him feel that China needs to intensify its exchanges with them.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Takao Wakasa

7. 'Weirdo' cult tried family suicide
Mainichi Daily News (Japan), Aug. 24, 2000
http://www.mainichi.co.jp/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
SENNAN, Osaka - An elderly man and his sister here, who apparently let her five adult children starve to death, implied they intended to die in a family suicide by starvation, police said.

There was no money or food, and we thought everyone in the family should starve to death, Takao Wakasa, 66, and his 64-year-old sister Akiko, were quoted by police as saying.
(...)

Police are poised to lay charges on the Wakasas, who were known locally as ''religious weirdos,'' for abandoning corpses.
(...)

Investigators suspect that Wakasa's four daughters and one son, ranging from 27 to 41 years old, had been ''brainwashed'' over 30 years by their mother. Akiko reportedly told police that her children would obey her every order.

The five siblings were barely allowed to go out after they graduated from junior high school, as Akiko claimed they would be plagued by the karma of other people.

Investigators are also suspicious as to why the two elderly survived while younger members died, and will probe further how the Wakasas, who are reported to have their own religious beliefs, perceived death.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Aum Shinrikyo

8. [Asahara children sue board of education]
Mainichi Daily News (Japan), Aug. 24, 2000

Three children of ex-AUM Shinrikyo guru Shoko Asahara sue the Ryugasaki Board of Education in Ibaraki Prefecture for not admitting them to a local school.
[...Entire item...]


=== Zhong Gong

9. Chinese sect leader waits for word on asylum in U.S.
CNN, Aug. 24, 2000
http://www.cnn.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
HONG KONG (CNN) -- While the Chinese government extended its crackdown on religion to Protestant churches, the leader of a banned meditation group waited in Guam for a ruling on his request for political asylum in the United States.
(...)

Zhang Hongbao, the 46-year-old founder of Zhong Gong, has been held at a U.S. immigration detention center in Guam since February, when he arrived after fleeing a massive police hunt for him in China.

The Chinese government, claiming Zhang is a criminal who engaged in illicit sex with his followers, wants him back to stand trial. But Zhang, whose group ran a network of schools and healing centers while claiming millions of devotees, denies all the charges.

''The Chinese government is trying to destroy me, not because our group commits any illegal acts, but because we are a political threat,'' he said, adding that the government ''fears our large numbers.''

''The government is worried that if we form a political party, it will be the largest opposition party in China ... because my beliefs are diametrically opposed to Marxism-Leninism.''
(...)

Human rights advocates say extraditing Zhang to China would guarantee a death sentence.
(...)

But Zhang's fate poses a dilemma for U.S. President Bill Clinton's administration, which is trying to improve strained relations with Beijing. U.S. immigration authorities have delayed a final decision on Zhang's appeal for asylum.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Falun Gong

10. 151 Falun Gong Convictions Cited
The Associated Press, Aug. 25, 2000
http://my.aol.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
BEIJING (AP) - Chinese courts have convicted 151 leading members of the Falun Gong spiritual movement since it was banned last year, a Chinese religious official was quoted as saying Friday.

The figure given by Ye Xiaowen, however, did not include as many as 5,000 Falun Gong adherents who human rights groups estimate have been sent to labor camps without trial during the government's 13-month crackdown on the group.

Ye, China's senior official in charge of religious affairs, said 22 of the 151 Falun Gong adherents were sentenced to up to five years imprisonment, the official newspaper China Daily reported. It did not say whether Ye detailed the punishments for the remaining 129 adherents.

Falun Gong organizers have been sentenced to up to 18 years in prison, Chinese official media have previously reported.
(...)

Ye, who spoke Wednesday in Los Angeles, is part of a delegation visiting the United States ahead of the U.N. Millennium World Peace Summit, a gathering of religious leaders in New York Aug. 28-31. The U.N. Millennium Summit of world leaders will follow, Sept. 6-8.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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11. Chinese religious official compares Falun Gong to harmful drug
BBC Monitoring, Aug. 23, 2000
http://beta.yellowbrix.comOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Text of report in English by official Chinese news agency Xinhua (New China News Agency)

Los Angeles, 23rd August: Chinese courts nationwide, by 15th August, convicted and meted out criminal penalties to 151 hard-core Falun Gong practitioners who committed crimes, said Ye Xiaowen, director-general of China's State Administration of Religious Affairs, at a press conference here Wednesday [23rd August].

Of the convicted, 22 were given sentences up to five years in prison, according to Ye, who also serves as an adviser to the visiting Chinese delegation of religious leaders.

He stressed that ''the convicted are those who either leaked state secrets, or making use of Falun Gong to create social chaos, or committed other crimes''.

Of the 2.1 million people practising the Falun Gong cult in China, those prosecuted are only a tiny fraction, and the majority, or more than 98 per cent, have been converted to normal life after persuasion and education for over a year, according to the most senior official in charge of religious affairs in China.

In response to local reporters' question on the stance of China 's religious circles on the government crackdown upon the Falun Gong cult, Buddhist master Sheng Hui said today that the Falun Gong cult is just as harmful as narcotics, who ''has no difference from drug traffickers'' [as received].

''Due to its strong capability to control the mind of practitioners, more than 1,600 have committed suicide or been killed as a result of indulging in practising the Falun Gong cult, and 650 people have serious mental problems, of whom 14 perpetrated the felony of homicide,'' he said.

The Buddhist master, who is vice-president of the China Buddhist Association, said that Buddhists were the first who identified Falun Gong as an evil cult as early as 1996, three years ahead of government crackdown, because the cult ''stole'' many concepts of Buddhism and distorted them for evil purposes.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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12. China's Steadfast Sect
Washington Post, Aug. 23, 2000
http://www.washingtonpost.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
QINGDAO, China -- On the day last October when China's government issued a sweeping order declaring Falun Gong an ''evil cult,'' the main state-run television station brought Wang Peisheng onto its nightly news program and identified the 68-year-old retired hardware store worker as a reformed practitioner. ''Falun Gong is dangerous,'' the nightly news quoted Wang as saying. ''Banning it is a good move.''

But in the wee hours of July 12, Wang died in a jail here in Shandong province, on the Yellow Sea about 200 miles south of Beijing. He had been arrested a few weeks before in Beijing, where he had gone to plead with the government to legalize the Buddhist-like spiritual movement. After rejecting Falun Gong on state-run TV, Wang had resumed practicing it. Two close associates say he never really abandoned the movement but was forced to appear on television by local police who threatened his children with unemployment if he did not play along.
(...)

Wang's attachment to Falun Gong is not unusual. Thirteen months into the ban, the largest campaign of government repression since the 1989 crackdown on student-led protests in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, China's attempts to crush the spiritual movement still have not succeeded. And now in several parts of China, practitioners of Falun Gong's breathing and spiritual exercises say their campaign of civil disobedience, unprecedented in the history of Communist China, is yielding results.

In several regions, including Weifang, a mid-size city in central Shandong province, adherents say they now can practice their faith at home. Public practice of Falun Gong still means jail time and an almost guaranteed beating. Other Chinese regions continue to enforce the ban with apparent brutality. But winning, at least in some places, a measure of freedom to follow their beliefs marks a major victory over the Communist Party, which declared earlier this year that Falun Gong constituted an unprecedented threat to Communist rule and that its members would be treated with a ''firm hand.''

The significance of the party's failure to crush Falun Gong is as simple as it is profound. It illustrates the increasing inability of the party and government to carry out their will in the face of concerted and determined opposition.
(...)

Sun, who was a schoolteacher before she was fired from her job this summer because of her beliefs, is another example of someone who apparently accepted the crackdown only to return to the Falun Gong fold.
(...)

''People are asking what kind of power can resist the power of the party,'' she said. ''People who were not interested before are interested. In the beginning, they believed the TV propaganda. Now they are asking us.''
(...)

Part of Falun Gong involves practicing traditional Chinese breathing exercises, known as qigong, which seek to strengthen something Chinese call qi, the body's vital energy. Falun Gong preaches that people are born with a wheel of energy in their bellies and teaches its followers how to control and strengthen this ''energy wheel.''

But Falun Gong also has a supernatural and strongly ideological side. Li, the movement's mastermind, has claimed he can fly. He has said the earth is being infiltrated by aliens. He has preached that each race has its own paradise and that intermarriage is dangerous because mixed-race children would be without a paradise. He says women should serve their husbands like masters. And he has spiced his catechism with ancient Chinese animist deities, such as fox and weasel spirits, making it attractive to the Chinese.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Scientology

13. Deluded Scientologists mob Ursula Caberta in Florida
Hamburger Morgenpost, Aug. 23, 2000
Translation: CISAR
http://cisar.org/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
A Hamburg Scientology chief had warned Ursula Caberta against flying to Florida because, she said, it would be unpleasant for her. But the director of the ''Work group on Scientology'' flew there anyway - and will not quickly forget her trip to the home of the monster cult.

About 30 Scientology disciples were waiting at the Tampa, Florida airport for the visitor from Hamburg. Ursula Caberta was wildly mobbed, heckled and spat at. The wild chase scene in the Sunshine State is shown on a video sent to MOPO [this newspaper] by U.S. Scientology opponents. [The video is also on the net: http://www.lisatrust.net/Ursula-072200.htmOff-site Link]

Caberta, who had traveled to the USA at the invitation of the Lisa McPherson Trust, which helps Scientology victims, had to listen to malicious insults. Scientologists screamed over and over at the top of their voices, ''Nazi go home!'' and ''Nazi criminal, go back to Germany!'' German Scientologists were also in the ''Welcoming Committee.'' One German woman shorted, ''You are a killer, you are. You're killing people in Germany!''

When the staff member of the Hamburg Interior Agency picked up her baggage after the first three minutes of the vicious tirade, leaving the cult mob behind, they broke out in howls and laughter. One woman called, ''Hey that was great, we really got her. That'll show her!''

The courageous combatant also reported that she was hounded and insulted by Scientologists in restaurants and in her hotel. Over and over - as can also be seen from the videos - Scientologists appeared with posters. The cult adherents had written ''Nazi go Home'' and ''Take fascism back to Germany!''

Caberta ended up leaving Florida one daily earlier than planned. ''It was getting too hot for me there. I was happy to get back to Germany,'' she said. What had been especially surprising about the type of treatment she had received, said Caberta, was that the German Scientologists always claim they are being hounded here. Caberta, ''But no Scientologist in Germany has ever been treated like I was in the USA.''

Mike Rinder, one of the top Scientologists in Clearwater, Florida, even repeated the accusations on local TV, that Caberta was a Nazi and had fascistic ideology.

The sect commissioner would really have like to have laughed about this ''insanity,'' ''but the matter is much too serious for that!''
[...entire item...]

* Though it claims to promote ethical behavior, the Church of Scientology
increasingly behaves like a hate group. It's harassment practices are
well-documented

Ms. Caberta is, of course, not a Nazi. Lying is simply something
Scientologists learn to do. After all, Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard
declared that the cult's enemies may
''be deprived of property or injured by
any means by any Scientologist without any discipline of the Scientologist.
May be tricked, sued or lied to or destroyed.''


''The purpose of the suit is to harass and discourage rather than to win. The
law can be used very easily to harass, and enough harassment on somebody who
is simply on the thin edge anyway, well knowing that he is not authorized,
will generally be sufficient to cause his professional decease. If possible,
of course, ruin him utterly.''

- L. Ron Hubbard, A Manual on the Dissemination of Material, 1955

Those kind of practices do not go unnoticed:


''Scientology is both immoral and socially obnoxious...It is corrupt,
sinister and dangerous. It is corrupt because it is based on lies and
deceit''

- Justice Latey, ruling in the High Court of London, as quoted at
''Scientology Lies''Off-site Link


Consumer Alert: What Scientology Is - The Rest Of The Story


=== Mormonism

14. US firm finds tech, language savvy among Mormons
Reuters, Aug. 24, 2000
http://my.aol.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A small Web-based customer support firm has found an unlikely hotbed of tech savvy and foreign language fluency for its multi-lingual operations: the high desert of Utah.

Privately held Brigade Corp., based in the better-known technology mecca of San Francisco, has begun recruiting among the many Mormons who have returned to Salt Lake City from their church's customary missionary work around the globe.

``The Mormon Church teaches some 59 to 60 languages, and we found this just an hour and fifteen minutes from San Francisco,'' said Brigade Chief Executive Henry Autry in a telephone interview. ``Many of these missionaries return to live in Utah and provide a broad pool of foreign language proficiency from which to draw.''

Brigade, which counts Compaq Computer Corp., Priceline.com Inc. and Palm Inc. as customers, opened a new multi-language Internet response center in Salt Lake City earlier this month.
(...)

Salt Lake City ranks as the city with the highest per capita users of personal computers, according to research firm Scarborough Research. Also, Utah is listed fourth among the 50 states in connections to the Web.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

15. Couple Fight Eviction by Religious Group
The Salt Lake Tribune, Aug. 23, 2000
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Moccasin, Ariz. -- A woman who would not give permission for her 16-year-old daughter to marry a 39-year-old polygamist will learn today whether religious leaders can evict her family from the home they have lived in for 24 years.
(...)

Holm and her husband, Milton, were served an eviction notice on June 21, within weeks of the couple's decision to oppose the marriage. They refused to leave and were summoned to precinct court - - a double-wide trailer on the outskirts of the Kaibab Indian Reservation-- along with Daunt Hammon and Lucas Hammon, who also were told to vacate a home in Colorado City, Ariz., and also refused.

The plaintiff in both cases is the United Effort Plan, the organization that owns virtually all the property in the twin polygamist communities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., on the Utah-Arizona border. The UEP is the financial arm of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
(...)

While all four were called to court on a complaint alleging ''forcible entry and detainer of property,'' their cases are different. Milton and Lenore Holm say they do not practice polygamy, but were faithful members of the FLDS Church until they disagreed with church leaders who wanted Lenore's daughter to marry.

''All I asked is that they wait until she turns 18. I've never forgiven my mother for letting me get married young. I was 17 and it ruined my life,'' Lenore Holm said.

Her daughter is from her earlier marriage to a polygamist man who eventually left the faith and left her and her children with nothing, she said. She married Milton Holm in 1996 after his wife died of cancer.

Milton Holm purportedly has been barred from priesthood meetings, a serious reprimand since the sect's faithful male members are allowed to miss only three meetings before being disfellowshipped, Lenore Holm said.

Wake-Up Call: Daunt Hammon said his nephew, Lucas Hammon, is living in his Colorado City home as his guest, though he still pays the residence's property taxes and utility bills.

''I'm not in disagreement with their church,'' Hammon said. ''I just want to wake up the people to the wrongs being committed by the people in charge.''

Hammon declined to say whether he is a polygamist, saying he wants to keep his family out of the court case.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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16. Church Eviction Dispute in Polygamist Town Sent to Higher Court
The Salt Lake Tribune, Aug. 24, 2000
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
MOCCASIN, Ariz. -- Saying the issues involved are beyond his purview, a justice court judge has refused to rule on eviction cases involving two families who live in Colorado City, a town founded by polygamists just across the Utah border in Arizona.

On Wednesday, Judge McKay Heaton ordered the cases transferred to Arizona Superior Court in Kingman, five hours away. He said the complicated property ownership issues the cases raise must be handled by a higher court.

A date for arguments in Superior Court has not yet been set. Meanwhile, the two families remain in their homes.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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17. Low turnout causes delay for Colorado City schools
The Arizona Republic, Aug. 23, 2000
http://www.azcentral.com/news/education/0823polygamy23.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
School officials in Colorado City have delayed starting the fall semester for a week as they plan for the withdrawal of hundreds of students by polygamous religious families.
(...)

More than 1,000 students attended schools in Colorado City during the last school year, and File said school officials estimate that between 450 and 500 students will be on hand next week when classes begin.

Leaders of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who broke from the mainstream Mormon Church in the late 1800s over the question of multiple wives, demanded in late July that all its congregation school their children at home or in private schools sanctioned by the church. The church also told its followers to quit dealing with outsiders who don't believe in the religion.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Paganism / Witchcraft

18. Pagan Parenting
Fox News, Aug. 21, 2000
http://www.foxnews.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
SANTA CRUZ, Calif. - Imagine your child growing up to become a witch, to hold pagan ceremonies and embrace ancient Wiccan rituals that idolize nature and the cycles of life.

Now, any family can ''circle round'' a pagan version of Dr. Spock to raise their tot as a proper witch or warlock.

''Our book is meant to show families how we do it, show families how other families do it and then invite them to exercise their own creativity, create their own rituals,'' said Diane Baker, the co-author of Circle Round: Raising Children in Goddess TraditionsOff-site Link.
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19. Pagan group wants to use high school field for meeting
Asheville Citizen-Times, Aug. 22, 2000
http://www.citizen-times.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
ASHEVILLE - A local pagan group has asked Buncombe County Schools for permission to hold an ''interfaith pagan gathering'' at Reynolds High School in response to a Christian prayer rally held last week.

The Appalachian Pagan Alliance hopes to stage a ''We Still Work Magic'' rally at the high school's football stadium on Sept. 22, the date of the autumn equinox and a sacred day for pagans. The group plans to cast blessing spells asking for acceptance and call for the earth to be healed, said group leader Ginger Strivelli.

''It would probably be the same stuff the Christians do. It's just that we have more gods than they do,'' Strivelli said. ''We wouldn't be up there sacrificing cattle or anything.''

Thousands of people filled the Reynolds stadium Thursday to attend the We Still Pray event, sponsored by a group formed in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling earlier this year reaffirming a decision that prayer in public schools be done privately by individual students.
(...)

The We Still Pray group has gathered momentum in recent weeks, with organizers calling for people attending high school football games to spontaneously break into the Lord's Prayer immediately following the singing of the National Anthem. The group, which hopes to spread its message nationally, has organized a petition drive urging Congress to pass legislation seeking a constitutional amendment overturning court decisions that disallow organized prayer in public schools.
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20. Southern Illinois U. offers class on sacrifice
Daily Egyptian/U-Wire, Aug. 22, 2000
http://news.excite.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(U-WIRE) CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Flaying, ritual consumption and ritual killing are some of the things you can expect to find in professor Erica Hill's ''Human and Animal Sacrifice'' course this fall.

''If you can't handle ER this class is not for you,'' said Hill, a Southern Illinois University visiting assistant professor in anthropology. ''This class is not for the faint of heart.''

Hill said the appeal of her course centers around the mystique of violence.

''We all intrinsically fear violence and so we desire to understand it,'' Erica Hill said. ''If you're bloodthirsty, you'll enjoy it.''

The course will study sacrificial practices from ancient Israel, dating back to the Old Testament, up to modern Miami and the practice of Santeria.

The course will focus on how and why humans sacrifice other humans and animals. Aztec Mexico, the Incas of Peru, ancient Greece, Northern European Celts, child sacrifices from ancient Carthage and theoretical issues explaining why cultures practice sacrifice are also covered.

Hill received her doctorate from the University of New Mexico specializing in archaeology and did her dissertation on sacrificial practices of the Moche of Peru. She taught Human and Animal Sacrifice at the University of Iowa last year and students found it to be an excellent experience.

''It was the best class I have ever had in college,'' said former student Lucy Sonnamaker. ''The greatest part of the class probably came on the first day when (professor Hill) had us make up our own sacrificial ritual.''
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=== Occult

21. Lifting 'psychic' ban in stars?
Denver Post, Aug. 24, 2000
http://www.denverpost.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Aug. 24, 2000 - The future of Denver's fortune-tellers, clairvoyants and palm readers looked a bit brighter Wednesday.

City Councilwoman Cathy Reynolds said staff members are drafting a bill repealing the decades-old ban on fortune-telling for money. The move came a day after The Denver Post reported on complaints of police brandishing the ordinance and warning spiritual bookstores about the ban over the past few weeks.
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=== Hate Groups: Aryan Nations

22. Attorney battling Aryans is used to winning
The Spokesman Review, Aug. 23, 2000
http://www.spokane.net/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Civil rights attorney Morris Dees likes to take on racists in legal brawls.

''Put them out of business -- that's what we try to do,'' he says.

Dees and his Southern Poverty Law Center haven't had a good fight since 1990, when they won a $9 million judgment in Portland against the White Aryan Resistance and its founders.

Now, Dees rolls into Coeurd'Alene on Monday for a civil trial involving Richard Butler and the Aryan Nations.
(...)

It will be the sixth major case of its kind brought by Dees against hate groups in various parts of the United States.

He hasn't lost such a fight yet.

''Morris Dees has done more for human rights than anybody since Martin Luther King Jr.,'' said Coeur d'Alene civil rights activist Marshall Mend.

Mend, who has been a target of Aryan violence and bigotry, was almost gleeful about the upcoming trial.

He and others in the human rights community say they hope Dees' legal strategy will deliver a financial knockout blow to the Aryan Nations.

Dees will work with Coeur d'Alene attorneys Ken Howard and Norm Gissel. Gissel is a co-founder of the Kootenai County Human Rights Task Force.
(...)

The case is ''the Aryans' nightmare come true,'' says former Aryan insider Floyd Cochran.

Civil rights activist Bill Wassmuth says the suit will target ''Aryan vigilantes who believe they are above the law.'' And Dees is the perfect guy to take the case, Wassmuth said.

Vince Lemus, a human rights specialist for the city of Spokane, said, ''This brings national attention to a local problem'' that some people would prefer to ignore.

Many people didn't comprehend the ''severity of the problem of hate groups in this area until Dees decided to take on the Keenan case,'' Lemus said.

Cochran lived at the Aryan Nations compound and was the group's spokesman for two years before he defected from the white supremacy movement in 1992 and became a human rights activist.

He now heads the Education and Vigilance Network, an anti-racist information and resource center in Pennsylvania.
(...)

When he lived at the Aryan compound, Cochran recalled, Butler talked about the jury in Portland awarding $9 million to the family of a black man, Mulugeta Seraw, who was beaten to death by neo-Nazi skinheads.

Dees brought that lawsuit, which in some ways is similar to the one facing the Aryan Nations.

The 1990 suit alleged that the founders of White Aryan Resistance (WAR), Tom and John Metzger, were responsible for inciting the skinheads who committed the murder.

The victim's son now gets a portion of any money raised by WAR, whose operations have been largely curtailed.

''I remember Butler talking back then that he was worried that Aryan Nations was going to be next on Dees' list,'' Cochran said.

''It's cases like the one in Portland and the one coming up that make Dees archenemy No. 1 in the white supremacy groups,'' Cochran said.

His Southern Poverty Law Center can't stop racist acts from occurring, Dees said, but it can go after leaders of groups tied to violence.
(...)

Cochran said many dismiss the Aryan Nations as a small group of racist extremists.

''Richard Butler may not be all-powerful by himself, but he is viewed as a godfather or patriarch in the racist movement,'' Cochran said.

''His Aryan Nations has a reputation as a revolutionary, neo-Nazi group, based upon its ties with people like Robert Mathews, Randy Weaver and Buford Furrow,'' Cochran said.
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23. Aryan Nations Threatened by Lawsuit
The Associated Press, Aug. 24, 2000
http://my.aol.com/news/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho (AP) - A lawyer who specializes in bankrupting hate groups is going after the Aryan Nations, whose compound in the Idaho woods has served as a clubhouse for some of America's most violent racists.

In a lawsuit that goes to trial Monday, attorney Morris Dees of the Southern Poverty Law Center is representing a mother and son who were attacked by security guards for the white supremacist group. The victims are suing the Aryan Nations and founder Richard Butler.
(...)

Butler said the lawsuit was brought by enemies of the white race.
(...)

Dees has long used lawsuits to destroy the finances of hate groups. In six such lawsuits, the Montgomery, Ala., lawyer has never lost.

In 1987, Dees won a $7 million verdict against a Ku Klux Klan organization over the slaying of a 19-year-old black man in Mobile, Ala., forcing the group to turn over its headquarters building. In 1990, he won $9 million in Portland, Ore., against the White Aryan Resistance in the beating death of a black man by neo-Nazi skinheads.

The Portland case is similar to the Keenan lawsuit, in that Dees argued that White Aryan Resistance founders Tom and John Metzger incited the skinheads to commit murder.

Dees has received death threats in the past, so the Southern Poverty Law Center will have its own security force to augment the tight security promised by Kootenai County authorities.

Butler is pastor of the Church of Jesus Christ Christian, which holds that whites are the true children of God, that Jews are the offspring of Satan and that blacks and other minorities are inferior. He presides over weekly services in a chapel where an Israeli flag is used as a doormat.

Over the years, his disciples have included some of the most notorious figures in the white supremacist movement, such as Robert Mathews, Randy Weaver and Buford Furrow, a former security guard at the Aryan Nations compound who is awaiting trial in Los Angeles on charges of killing an Asian-American postal carrier and shooting up a Jewish day care center last summer.

Butler, however, has been largely able to escape jail time.
(...)

People who study hate groups consider Butler a godfather of the white supremacist movement.
(...)

Vincent Bertollini, a wealthy former computer executive who lives in nearby Sandpoint, Idaho, sent a mailing to thousands of Idaho households last week attacking Dees as an ``anti-white, Jew supremacist.''

``Just think about it,'' Bertollini's mailing said. ``A Jew team of lawyers trying to destroy a white Christian church.''

Dees is not Jewish.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Hate Groups: World Church of the Creator

24. Group wants white supremacist to stay out of Montana
Religion News in Brief,
The Associated Press, Aug. 24, 2000
http://my.aol.com/news//a>Off-site Link
[Story no longer online?
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BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) - The Montana Human Rights Network is urging the leader of the whites-only World Church of the Creator not to relocate to Montana.

Matt Hale, 29, of Peoria, Ill., is considering settling in Montana or another state that will allow him to practice law.
(...)

While Hale ponders his options, the Human Rights Network is circulating petitions against a move to Montana.

``He's the national leader in a hate movement,'' said Ken Toole of Helena, the network's program director. ``They're the worst of the bad. This group is consistently associated with violent behavior.''
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=== Militia Groups

25. An Armed Texas Family Resists the Courts
New York Times, Aug. 25, 2000
http://www.nytimes.com/library/national/082500tx-resist.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
TRINIDAD, Tex., Aug. 24 -- With a revolver and a bowie knife strapped to his hip and a semiautomatic rifle resting next to him on a barbed wire fence, Jonathon Gray pondered the question: Just what would happen if law enforcement officers tried to enter his father's 47-acre homestead?

''I can tell you one thing,'' he said. ''They ain't coming in.''
(...)

For more than 15 months, Mr. Gray and his father, mother and five adult siblings have defied a court order to turn over the 2- and 4-year-old sons of his sister Lisa, who lost custody of them to her former husband by default when she failed to appear at a hearing in divorce court. Mr. Gray's father, John Joe Gray, 51, is also wanted by local officials for failing to show up in court to face charges that he assaulted a police officer in nearby Anderson County last December.

The family, believed to be heavily armed, has resolved not to participate in court proceedings or any other government activities, because, Mr. Gray said, its religious and political beliefs do not permit doing so.

''The secular courts don't have any authority over us,'' he said. ''We go by the Bible and the Constitution, and I don't see anything in either one about child custody cases. We don't want anyone to get hurt, but we're not giving up them kids.''

The local authorities are proceeding with caution.
(...)

Mr. Brownlow said that because of John Joe Gray's past associations with right-wing groups, including the secessionist Republic of Texas, which engaged in a standoff with law-enforcement officers three years ago, the authorities here had informed the Federal Bureau of Investigation about the case.

Jonathon Gray said the family belonged to the Sabbatarian sect, a derivative of the Seventh-day Adventists that strictly interprets the Bible.
(...)

Asked today whether he or his father was a member of a militia group, Jonathon Gray only smiled and said, ''No comment.''

But last weekend, by the account of both Mr. Gray and the local press, members of various militia groups as well as religious fundamentalists -- more than two dozen people in all -- visited the family to offer support, many bringing food and other supplies.
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26. Church's rally has right-wing support
Indianapolis Star, Aug. 23, 2000
http://www.starnews.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
One by radio, two by Internet. The Indianapolis Baptist Temple's clarion calls are expected to bring several hundred fundamentalists, tax protesters and other supporters to a rally today protesting the government's request to seize the church.

The church's feud with the Internal Revenue Service has attracted the attention of the conservative, largely religious Patriot movement across the country.

James ''Bo'' Gritz, a former Green Beret colonel who is leader in the movement, spoke out against the IRS at a Tuesday night prayer service at the church.

U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker is holding a 2 p.m. hearing today on the government's $6 million judgment against the church for unpaid employee withholding taxes, penalties and interest.

The Justice Department has asked Barker to appoint receivers to sell the buildings. IRS officials could not readily cite another instance in which they have seized a church.

The temple's senior pastor, the Rev. Greg A. Dixon, promised again that church members will not give up their buildings willingly.

''We will not allow someone to come in and steal God's property from the people. They're going to have to take it. We're not going to turn over the keys.''

Dixon insisted there will be no violence. The word has been passed, he said. ''No weapons. No uniforms. No violence.''

Few people expect Barker to issue an order immediately to seize the church complex at 2711 S. East St.
(...)

The rally might be only the rehearsal for a showdown brewing since 1984, when Dixon's father, the Rev. Greg J. Dixon, redefined his church as an ''unregulated'' church, which later stopped paying taxes.

It was a break in ranks not just with the Internal Revenue Service but with the country's established religious right.

The elder Dixon, who was one of the initial directors of Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority, gradually moved his church into the Christian Patriot movement, said Chris Berlet, senior analyst with Political Research Associates, a Massachusetts group that tracks right-wing groups.

The Patriot movement is largely identified by its concerns: worries about one-world government, erosion of individual rights and an overbearing , conspiratorial federal government.

In the Dixons' views, the church severed its connections with government -- and its tax obligations -- by not organizing itself under government laws.

And that freed the church from regulations accompanying non-profit status, such as not engaging in politics, they have argued.

''It doesn't matter what major religious-right group you want to name. They have allowed themselves to be controlled,'' said the younger Dixon. ''That's why, on January 1st, 1984, we voluntarily untangled ourselves.''

The church has claimed that the people who work at the church are self-employed ministers, and that all have paid their personal taxes. ''The government is going to come and shut down the church not because church taxes weren't paid but because of how the church taxes were paid,'' he said.

The immediate worry of local officials, however, isn't about taxes, but about whether the tax dispute remains peaceful.

Although Dixon has pledged not to start a fight, he acknowledges that he can only ask supporters to abide by his wishes.

So far, it appears they have.
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27. Tax dispute simmers
Indianapolis Star, Aug. 24, 2000
http://www.starnews.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Both sides in the tax dispute between the Internal Revenue Service and the Indianapolis Baptist Temple probably could relate to the tableau Wednesday outside the Federal Courts Building:

A protester, armed with a hand-lettered sign decrying the attack of ''Washington's Masonic Roman Empire,'' appeared in front of pastor emeritus Rev. Greg J. Dixon as he prepared for a prayer rally prior to a hearing in the case.

Dixon would have none of it. During a finger-wagging tongue-lashing, Dixon told the protester that his sign didn't have anything to do with the tax dispute and ordered him to leave. When the protester complained that Dixon was interfering with his First Amendment rights, the semiretired pastor suddenly reached out his right hand and shredded the man's sign.

''That's not what this is all about,'' Dixon said. ''We're trying to hang onto our property here. We're out here fighting for religious liberty.''

For the federal government's part, it wants to keep the focus of the case as tight as possible, too. Officials have no interest in stirring up any more trouble on the right wing.

However, the government does want the millions of dollars two courts have said the Baptist Temple owes in taxes -- the fruits of a dispute that began in 1984 when Dixon redefined the Baptist Temple as an ''unregulated church'' and later stopped withholding taxes from church workers. The move, Dixon said, was made on religious principles: His church owed its allegiance only to God, not government.
(...)

The two sides crawled toward a temporary compromise Wednesday in U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker's packed second-floor courtroom, where about 100 of Dixon's supporters had gathered.

Cunningham wants a delay in appointing a receiver to auction off the church's complex at 2711 S. East St. until the U.S. Supreme Court either declines to hear the case or rules against the church. If the property is seized now, Cunningham reasons, the Baptist Temple would be badly damaged if the Supreme Court were eventually to rule in its favor.

Federal tax attorney Douglas Snoeyenbos argued that each week that passes adds to the Baptist Temple's debt and makes the government less likely to collect all that it's owed.

So Snoeyenbos offered a compromise: The Baptist Temple would deposit $21,000 per month -- the estimated amount that church workers should be paying in withholding taxes -- into an account at the bank that holds the church's mortgage.

If the Supreme Court overturns the decisions that went against the Baptist Temple, the money would be returned to the church, untainted by contact with the IRS. If the decisions are upheld, the government is no further behind.
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=== Other News

28. Brazil voodoo priests arrested for child sacrifice
Reuters, Aug. 25, 2000
http://my.aol.com/news/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazilian police said Friday they arrested two self-proclaimed voodoo priests for the murder of a 6-year-old boy who bled to death in a black-magic ceremony.

In statements to police, Joaquim Alves, 71, and his girlfriend Priscila Souza Ferreira, 22, blamed each other for the murder of Carlos Andres de Jesus Barros, who disappeared last Thursday in the impoverished Brazilian state of Bahia. Police said the pair was suspected in other child killings.

The boy was found dead at the bottom of a well with his clothes removed, his hands and feet bound and two puncture wounds in his stomach, authorities said.
(...)

Enraged after learning of the murder, townspeople Friday destroyed Alves' makeshift home in the tropical city of Vitoria da Conquista.

Bahia is the center of the country's rich Afro Brazilian religious culture, where followers often are ``possessed'' by spirits during religious ceremonies. Animal sacrifice is practiced on special occasions, but human sacrifice is not allowed.

Soares said the two voodoo priests killed the boy after Alves' 10-year-old son led him to the house. Alves told police that his girlfriend has tried to kill other children as well.

``We are investigating the possibility they have killed other children. This, unfortunately, is a possibility, but I am not able to say more at this time,'' Soares said.

Some leaders of the Afro Brazilian religious culture tried to distance themselves from the slaying.

``These people, these are witch-doctors. They have nothing to do with any houses of worship here,'' said Antonio Bispo, an official at the Bahian Federation of Afro Cults.

Last year, Brazilian police arrested a witch doctor on charges of murder and grave robbing after finding 16 skulls and other bones buried beneath his home. The remains of a small child also were found, as was a photo of an infant with the words ``Para Morrer,'' or ``To Die,'' written on the backside.
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29. Vietnam police act against illegal religious sect
Reuters, Aug. 25, 2000
http://live.altavista.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
HANOI, Aug 25 (Reuters) - Police in central Vietnam have taken action against an illegal religious sect accused of promoting superstition and practising illegal medical treatment, state-run media reported on Friday.

Nguyen Trung Thanh, the head of the Tam Giao Tuyen Duong sect, was fined the equivalent of $14 for providing illegal medical treatment, the Cong An Nhan Dan (People's Police) newspaper reported.

The report said Thanh had told followers to drink water from a shrine and pray as a treatment for their illness, the newspaper said.

Police in central Quang Binh province had confiscated nearly 100 illegal religious books, and forced sect followers to destroy altars and sign a promise to leave the group, the newspaper said.
(...)

The newspaper cited a police officer as saying new sects were springing up despite action to suppress them.

Better education and reinforcement of poverty reduction measures were needed to help the campaign against sects, the newspaper said.
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30. Occult link suggested in slaying
Charleston Daily Mail, Aug. 23, 2000
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
LEWISBURG - Melba Fitzgerald had been missing four days when three of her friends, using a Ouija board, found her nude, decapitated body floating in a well on the property she and her live-in boyfriend of 10 years used for a country retreat in remote Pocahontas County. By the end of that day - Sept. 11, 1999 - Fitzgerald's boyfriend, Roger Gelis, 57, had been charged with her murder. Now, Gelis is standing trial and faces a possible sentence of life in prison without parole.
(...)

What the six men and six women of the jury will have to decide is whether the case is as straightforward as prosecutors say or might involve the occult as Gelis' defense attorneys are suggesting.

Pocahontas County Prosecutor Walt Weiford is presenting the murder as the end to an abusive relationship between Gelis and Fitzgerald.
(...)

Defense attorney Eugene Simmons is suggesting, though, that Fitzgerald's death may have been the result of satanic or occult activities.
(...)

Simmons will probably begin his defense Thursday. He says the involvement of the occult must be considered by anyone looking for the truth about the crime - whether or not his client was involved.

''You look at the circumstances and you have to consider the possibility that this may have been a cult killing,'' Simmons said. ''There is too much just to simply overlook.''

Simmons points not only to the Ouija board but also to the sinister and bizarre items found inside the unfinished A-frame building on the property where Fitzgerald's body was found.

On the walls of the structure, there were pictures of mutilated women, including one with a ax through her head, State Trooper L.M. Barlow testified Tuesday. He said there was graffiti on the wall of a cryptic and occult nature that Simmons has promised to delve deeper into with jurors as the trial progresses.
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31. Suspect in Lucie Blackman case found hanged in 'shrine' to missing hostess
The Scotsman, Aug. 24, 2000
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
A Japanese man questioned over the disappearance of a British hostess, Lucie Blackman, has been found hanged in an apartment decorated with her photographs, it was reported last night.

Miss Blackman, 21, of Sevenoaks, Kent, vanished seven weeks ago while working as a hostess in a bar in Tokyo.

A report published on Tuesday in a Japanese magazine said police believe her disappearance was connected with the death of a 52-year- old man earlier this month in Kanagawa, a suburb south of Tokyo.

Friends, neighbours and relatives of the man, who has not been named by the magazine, said he lived a double life. Outwardly he was a respectable and happily married Japanese ''salaryman'', but he also kept a secret flat filled with hardcore sadomasochistic pornography featuring Western women.

The Weekly Jewel said that he was interviewed by police investigating Lucie's disappearance on 5 August. Three days later his body was found in the apartment, half-naked and apparently smeared with excrement.

The single-room flat contained police posters featuring Lucie's photograph used to appeal for information about her disappearance.
(...)

Lucie disappeared on 1 July after meeting a man believed to be a customer at the Casablanca bar where she worked.

Her best friend and fellow hostess, Louise Phillips, of Orpington, Kent, received a phone call the next day from a Japanese man who claimed Lucie had joined a religious cult.

Mr Blackman has said he believes his daughter was abducted for criminal or sexual purposes.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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32. Procter & Gamble Can Pursue Devil-Rumor Lawsuit
Bloomberg News, Aug. 24, 2000
http://my.aol.com/news/story.tmpl?table=n&cat=01&id=0008240640393953Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Denver, Aug. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Procter & Gamble Co. can pursue its business-defamation lawsuit against independent distributors of Amway Corp. products who are accused of spreading a rumor linking the largest U.S. maker of household products to Satanism, a federal appeals court ruled.

Several Amway distributors are alleged to have used an Amway electronic voice mail system to disseminate gossip tying Procter & Gamble to the Church of Satan. The messages allegedly were part of an effort to get people to buy Amway products instead of Procter & Gamble goods.

Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble sued the Amway distributors and Ada, Michigan-based Amway in federal court in Salt Lake City. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver yesterday reversed U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball's March 1999 decision dismissing all claims in the case.
(...)

``Given the common association of Satan and immorality, a direct affiliation with the church of Satan could certainly undermine a corporation's reputation,'' Judge Carlos Lucero wrote for the court.

While the appellate panel reinstated the claims against the distributors, it found there was no case against Amway. The appeals court said Procter & Gamble provided no evidence that closely held Amway told distributors to spread the rumor.

`Decisive Victory'
``The court's ruling is a decisive victory for Amway,'' said Mike Mohr, the company's general counsel.

Procter & Gamble ``used Amway and the distributors as publicity scapegoats for a rumor that they haven't been able to stop for 20 years,'' Mohr said.

Procter &' Gamble said it was pleased that the appeals court allowed it to pursue its case.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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33. Annan Fends Off Criticism Over Dalai Lama
Reuters, Aug. 24, 2000
http://my.aol.com/news/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Fending off criticism over the exclusion of the Dalai Lama from a conference of religious leaders due to Chinese pressure, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said on Thursday U.N. headquarters was ``a house for the member states and their sensitivities matter.''
(...)

About 1,000 religious figures representing most faiths will take part. But the organizers did not invite the Dalai Lama after being told by U.N. officials that his presence at the United Nations would raise problems with China, which took over Tibet in 1950.

Annan said he understood that ``many people are understandably and deeply disappointed that the Dalai Lama will not be here.''

``But let me also say that this house is really a house for the member states and their sensitivities matter,'' he said. ''This is an issue that the organizers of the meeting have known all along.''
(...)

``And I personally believe that having 1,000 religious leaders here next week talking about peace, talking about our world and praying for all of us and praying for peace is progress.''

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher expressed deep disappointment last Friday that the Dalai Lama had not been invited.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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34. Jock culture called a 'myth'
Denver Post, Aug. 25, 2000
http://www.denverpost.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Aug. 25, 2000 - Columbine High School principal Frank DeAngelis told a state panel Thursday that it is a ''myth'' that a so-called jock culture prone to bullying may have prompted the deadly rampage by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold last year.

DeAngelis, speaking before the Governor's Columbine Review Commission, said that there was really no ''Trench Coat Mafia'' and that Klebold and Harris didn't associate with the people who wore such clothing.

He strongly suggested that the commission review all the videotapes made by Harris and Klebold and draw its own conclusions.
(...)

DeAngelis, other school district officials and law enforcement agencies have been sued by the families of slain and injured students. The families allege authorities should have heeded warning signs the two students were going to take action and that they mishandled the rescue.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Religious Freedom / Religious Intolerance

35. 'Spontaneous' Prayer Sidesteps Court
The Associated Press, Aug. 24, 2000
http://my.aol.com/news/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
BOGUE CHITTO, Miss. (AP) - Wide receiver Scott Edwards says high school football and prayer go hand-in-hand on Friday nights and no court can change that.

The 16-year-old son of a Baptist preacher and many of his classmates at Bogue Chitto High are counting on fans in this little Mississippi community to restore prayer to the stadium legally - with individuals deciding, on their own, to join hands and recite the Lord's Prayer.

The students' effort is part of a grass-roots movement, mainly in communities across the South, to encourage ``spontaneous'' prayer as a way to get around a U.S. Supreme Court ruling barring school officials from letting students lead stadium crowds in prayer.

The high court ruling in June came in a Texas case brought by two families - one Catholic and one Mormon - who challenged a school policy of letting students elect someone to lead the benediction.

``We have a very strong Christian atmosphere here,'' Scott said of the town, which has a Baptist church directly across from the 500-student school. ``I feel like people have a right to express their Christian views. This is a community thing.''

Football fan John Hart, who plans to attend Friday night's game, said people who don't want to pray have two options: ``They can shut their ears or go somewhere else.''

David Ingebretsen of the American Civil Liberties Union said what is being planned is illegal.
(...)

On the Net:

Listen to the Eagle: http://www.listentotheeagle.comOff-site Link

ACLU: http://www.aclu.orgOff-site Link
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36. A cover story of secular extremism
Boston Herald, Aug. 23, 2000 (Editorial)
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
[Religious Intolerance]
There is evil afoot in the land. Would-be theocrats are at large. Like the walls of Jericho, the wall of separation 'twixt church and state is about to come tumblin' down - at least according to First Amendment hysterics.

In Chicago, a group is distributing Ten Commandment book covers and, shockingly, the head of the public schools approves.

''I am enthusiastically supportive,'' says Chicago schools CEO Paul Vallas. ''I view the Ten Commandments as history's value statements.'' Vallas is commending the Total Living Network for distributing 100,000 of these book covers to schoolchildren.

Vallas' words enraged Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. The schools CEO ''has no business taking a position on whether the Ten Commandments or any other religious document is good, bad or indifferent,'' fumes Barry Lynn, the group's executive director.

Not to be outdone, People for the American Way warns that, based on Vallas' comments, some children might be intimidated into using the covers for fear of ''disappointing school officials.'' PAW inhabits a universe where students live in dread of hurting the feelings of school officials.

Americans United, PAW and the ACLU are determined to expunge any expression of God or God-based morality from the public domain, as a trip to the Web site of Americans United confirms.

Ohio's motto (''With God, all things are possible'') is currently under judicial assault. A House resolution supporting the slogan is ''outrageous'' and ''deplorable,'' the organization charges. Government funding of faith-based programs to fight addiction is ''misguided and constitutionally dubious.''

And the National Day of Prayer, officially established by an act of Congress, is ''little more than a propaganda vehicle for the Religious Right to ... attack church-state separation.''

There is a relentless escalation of the campaign to evict God from our national life. First, school prayer was forbidden. Then, a moment of silence was rejected. Holiday decorations were removed from classrooms and creches expelled from public parks. In its latest move, the Supreme Court's establishment ayatollahs decided that student-initiated prayer at football games is unconstitutional.
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=== Films

37. 'God's Army:' Good Works Don't Always Make Good Films
New York Times, Aug. 25, 2000
http://www.nytimes.com/Off-site Link
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Good works don't necessarily make good films.

So while it is possible to admire ''God's Army'' as an act of piety, and for its unusual subject and unpretentious performances, this film about Mormon missionaries eventually becomes preaching that is likely to tax the credibility of the unconverted.

Written and directed by Richard Dutcher, who is also one of its stars, ''God's Army'' tells the story of Brandon Allen (Matthew Brown), a 19-year-old Mormon missionary assigned to Los Angeles under the tutelage of Marcus Dalton (Mr. Dutcher), a dedicated 29-year-old member of the faith.

With a few other young missionaries, they share an apartment where college dorm pranks are commonplace.
(...)

Among themselves, the missionaries study, pray and are subject to crises of faith.

Brandon himself stuggles with his faith but is less troubled than Elder Kinegar (Michael Buster), who reads voraciously in literature that attacks the tenets of Mormons. The steadfast, uncompromising member of the community is Elder Dalton (Mr. Dutcher in a convincing performance), a former medical student who is dying of cancer.
(...)

''God's Army'' is rated PG (Parental guidance suggested). It has some hospital scenes and bathroom humor. Directed by Richard Dutcher. 108 minutes.
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