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

 

Religion News Report

September 3, 2000 (Vol. 4, Issue 255)

arrow Latest: Religion News Blog
Rainbow


=== Aryan Nations Trial
1. Judge will allow punitive award against Aryans
2. Aryan Nations leader denies knowing about guards' shooting
3. Trial told of paranoia at Aryan camp
4. Agent keeps up charade at Aryan trial
5. Mystery agent's cover story gets deeper
6. Aryan mailed a threat

=== Waco / Branch Davidians
7. Danforth reportedly targets Waco siege whistleblower
8. 2 More Waco Prosecutors Said to Be at Risk of Charges

=== Militia Groups
9. Texas Milita Standoff Continues

=== Aum Shinrikyo
10. Hard Legacy for Family of Japanese Sect's Leader

=== Ho No Hana Sanpogyo
11. Foot cultist admits fraud during first trial hearing

=== Falun Gong
12. Falun Gong Members Protest

=== Zhong Gong
13. U.S. postpones hearing on Chinese asylum seeker

=== Unification Church
14. Unification leader caught with extra fish

=== Catholicism
15. Aide: Catholicism Is 'Mother' Church

=== Mormonisn
16. Mormon leader sees continued growth for his church
17. Apologists band together to defend LDS Church online, in print
18. LDS Church Plans New S.L. Institute of Religion
19. An Insider's Look At Mormonism: 'God's Army' Strangely Fascinating

» Continued in Part 2

=== Attleboro Cult
20. Jailed mother gets unsolicited help
21. Lawyer fights judge's ruling vs. pregnant cult mom
22. Experts: Ruling may just open up floodgates
23. Cult expert explains Attleboro sect
24. Cultists convinced only God will provide
25. Even shunned have rights
26. Religious Freedom Vs. Unborn's Rights

=== Hate Groups
27. 400 Neo-Nazis March in Germany
28. 4 charged after FW raid; police check for ties to hate group

=== Other News
29. City to probe mercury use in certain religious ritis
30. FDA Designates Bioterrorism Antidote
31. Churches reaping harvest of residential school abuse
32. Greek Church Fights ID Card Changes
33. Fervent Calls For a New Society (TheCall DC)
34. Pin-up girl sells God to Britain (Alpha Course)

=== Religious Freedom / Religious Intolerance
35. Minute of Silence Starts
36. ACLU Doesn't Like Sound of School Silence
37. Injunction Denied On School Silence
38. Faithful hardly a whisper at epicenter of school prayer debate

=== Noted
39. Not just teaching, but ministry, too (Seventh-day Adventists)

=== Books
40. Sharper Than A Serpent's Tooth (Salinger)


=== Aryan Nations Trial

1. Judge will allow punitive award against Aryans
The Spokesman-Review, Sep. 2, 2000
http://www.spokane.net/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Coeur d'Alene _ The Aryan Nations was negligent in the operation of its security force, a judge ruled Friday. His ruling clears the way for a 12-member jury to award unlimited punitive damages in a civil trial against the white supremacy group.

If 1st District Judge Charles Hosack had ruled otherwise, the jury would have been limited to considering only compensatory damages, severely limiting an attempt by the Southern Poverty Law Center to bankrupt the Aryan Nations.

The white supremacist organization appointed a security director who was known to be unstable, dishonest and was suspected of using methamphetamine, Hosack said Friday.

He made his comments after sending the jury home for the Labor Day weekend. The defense case begins Tuesday. The case is likely to go to the jury Wednesday or Thursday.

The judge said Victoria and Jason Keenan, the plaintiffs in the civil suit against the Aryan Nations and its founder Richard Butler, have met the legal test necessary to let the jury decide if punitive damages should be awarded.

Hosack said the conduct of the Aryan Nations as described by witnesses was ''outrageous'' and an ''extreme deviation.''
(...)

The judge said he was making the finding about punitive damages without regard to the views or philosophy of the Aryan Nations. He said he'd do the same if the defendant was a ''tire factory or a bank.''

Saphire Inc., a corporation set up by Butler to control the Aryan Nations property, along with Warfield and John Yeager, are defendants in the suit.
(...)

Cohen asked Butler about his preachings that the news media, the Anti-Defamation League and the Kootenai County Sheriff's Department are controlled by Jews.

''You teach that Jews are the enemies of the Aryan Nations, don't you?'' Cohen asked.

''No, we teach that enemies are of your own household -- race treason,'' Butler said.

Then Cohen asked the Aryan founder about his frequently repeated message: ''Hatred is our law. Revenge is your duty.''

Butler said it came from the Bible, the Book of Psalms.

Defense attorney Steele later returned to that point, handing Butler a Bible on the witness stand.

Butler read a couple of passages from Psalms, but none of them seemed to match the Aryan hatred and revenge message.

Cohen asked Butler why he glorifies convicted killer Joseph Paul Franklin. Butler said it was because Franklin killed mixed-race couples.

Butler said he also honors imprisoned members of The Order, who once attended the Aryan Nations. ''These men fought in their hearts for the life of their people,'' he said.
(...)

Later, Butler said his frequent reference to being in a state of war goes to his belief that there is an ongoing conflict ''between children of light and children of dark.''

''Are you a racist?'' Steele asked.

''Yes, I'm a nationalist, and that means I'm a racist.'' Butler said there should be nothing wrong with ''being proud of your race.''

Steele asked Butler how frequently federal agents have infiltrated the Aryan Nations. ''I'd say about seven or eight times. They come in there all the time.''

Butler also said he has received direct threats from the Jewish Defense League and its leader, Irv Rubin, who's been attending the trial.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


2. Aryan Nations leader denies knowing about guards' shooting
Seattle Post-Intelligencer/AP, Sep. 2, 2000
http://seattlep-i.nwsource.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho -- Aryan Nations leader Richard Butler conceded Friday that he is the absolute authority at the white supremacist sect's headquarters, but he said he had no knowledge of his security guards' actions when they shot at and assaulted a woman and her son.

Butler has contended that the guards were renegades who violated Aryan Nations rules in racing off the group's compound to chase Victoria Keenan and her son Jason.

But under questioning from Richard Cohen, a lawyer with the Southern Poverty Law Center, Butler acknowledged that he had directed his security guards to be alert for possible harassment or attack from the Jewish Defense League or a local human rights organization before a July 1998 march.
(...)

He testified that he wasn't sure whether all Aryan Nations members were responsible to him for their actions.

But Cohen produced an Aryan Nations handbook that says Butler is the sect's absolute authority.

Cohen had Butler read from depositions taken from the Aryan Nations newsletters Butler wrote that proclaimed the group to be at war.

One passage said: ''Hatred is our law. Revenge is your duty.''

Butler acknowledged honoring people who have committed violence on behalf of the Aryans, such as Bruce Pierce, a member of The Order, a violent offshoot of the Aryan Nations. But he said he has never advocated violence.

''It's a war of ideas,'' Butler said, explaining that his interpretation of the Bible is that there are ''children of the light'' and ''children of darkness.''

Under cross-examination by Edgar Steele, the lawyer representing him, Butler was asked about an article he had written in which he said he agreed with Adolf Hitler that Jews are a virus that must be wiped out.

Butler said that the passage was ''a call to arms'' and that Hitler didn't advocate killing Jews, but only called ''for removing them from the territory of Germany.''
(...)

Butler characterized his security teams as unpaid volunteers under the direction of his second-in-command, ''Colonel'' Michael Teague.

The Aryan Nations, the political arm of the White Identity Church of Jesus Christ-Christian, doesn't have the resources to check the backgrounds of and train its security staff, Butler said.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


3. Trial told of paranoia at Aryan camp
Seattle Post-Intelligencer/AP, Sep. 1, 2000
http://seattlep-i.nwsource.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho -- On the night that Aryan Nations guards fired shots at a woman and her son, paranoia was rampant at the Aryan Nations compound.

Feeding the anxiety were rumors that Jewish Defense League leader Irv Rubin had hired mercenaries to take action against the Aryan Nations, a guard testified yesterday.

''I figured Irv Rubin paid some poor white people to come up and shoot at us,'' the former guard, John Yeager, said yesterday.
(...)

Since the trial began Monday, skinheads, many carrying Aryan Nations banners, have gathered outside the courthouse to show their support for the white supremacist sect and its leader, Richard Butler.

To make it easier for federal agents to blend in with media covering the trial, the county sheriff's officer issued press credentials to agents posing as photographers.

The move has been criticized by advocates for the news media, who maintain that it is dangerous for law officers to pose as journalists.

But Sheriff's Capt. Ben Wolfinger said he was ''surprised it became an issue.'' The credentials given to FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents have been revoked.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


4. Agent keeps up charade at Aryan trial
The Spokesman-Review, Sep. 1, 2000
http://www.spokane.net/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
COEUR d'ALENE -- An FBI agent tried again Thursday to pose as a free-lance photographer outside the civil trial attempting to bankrupt Aryan Nations leader Richard Butler.

The agent arrived even after Kootenai County Sheriff Rocky Watson late Wednesday revoked media badges from seven photographers who were actually undercover federal agents.

On Thursday, another FBI agent showed up wearing a media badge that identified him as Mike Gordon.

The same man -- dressed in a tan vest, hat and dark glasses -- had been seen all week giving photographs to Aryan Nations members in exchange for their cooperation.

He mingled with other photographers, carried a new camera and slung a long camera lens over his shoulder.

When a human-rights supporter asked Gordon which newspaper he worked for, he said was a free-lance photographer out of Seattle. He also provided the telephone number for his office.

However, that number dialed into an MCI Worldcom sales answering service.

Still, the agent insisted Thursday that he was a professional journalist.

''I'm a real photographer. Your story put me at a safety risk,'' Gordon said, referring to a front-page article in Thursday's Spokesman-Review. ''Now all the Aryans will think I am a federal agent.''

The FBI agent continued his charade, saying he studied photojournalism at the University of Miami, had photos published in the Seattle Times and Miami Herald and was working on a documentary for the Public Broadcasting System.

When a reporter told Gordon that two local law enforcement officials had identified him Wednesday as federal agent, Gordon said: ''They are lying. I'm a photographer.''

However, when Kootenai County Sheriff's Capt. Ben Wolfinger arrived at the courthouse Thursday morning, he confirmed Gordon was an FBI agent and then took his media badge away.
(...)

FBI special agent Bill Matthews in the Salt Lake City office said he was working on a statement explaining the situation, but did not expect it to be completed until today.

Aryan Nations member Shaun Winkler, who has attended the trial every day, had several interactions with the agent who went by the name of Mike Gordon.

''He told us his name was Todd. I said, `Your name tag says Mike' and the guy said, `Oh, Todd is my nickname,''' Winkler said.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


5. Mystery agent's cover story gets deeper
The Spokesman-Review, Sep. 2, 2000
http://www.spokane.net/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Coeur d'Alene _ Federal officials on Friday refused to claim the man whom local police identified as an undercover federal agent posing as a professional photographer.

Seven men had their media badges revoked Wednesday after Kootenai County Sheriff Rocky Watson learned they were federal agents posing as news photographers.

Sheriff's Capt. Ben Wolfinger pulled the media credentials Thursday from another undercover federal employee who identified himself as ''Mike Gordon'' when he tried to pose as a photographer.

Wolfinger said that he first approached the man with camera gear on Monday outside the civil trial attempting to bankrupt Aryan Nations leader Richard Butler.

'' (Mike Gordon) said he was FBI,'' Wolfinger said Friday. ''I learned today that he was actually with the ATF.''

The seven undercover agents included those with the FBI and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

Wolfinger early in the week suggested the agents obtain media badges that the county had issued to journalists for security reasons. He then authorized the fake badges.

Bill Matthews, a special agent in the Salt Lake City Division of the FBI, confirmed FBI agents were in Coeur d'Alene but would not say if they posed as photographers.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


6. Aryan mailed a threat
The Spokesman-Review, Sep. 1, 2000
http://www.spokane.net/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Coeur d'Alene _ Former Aryan Nations security boss Jesse Warfield testified Thursday that he wrote an ominous letter to the woman whose lawsuit now threatens to bankrupt the white supremacy sect.

Warfield warned shooting victim Victoria Keenan that she might need to look over her shoulder the rest of her life if she and her son, Jason, brought a civil suit against the Aryan Nations and its founder, Richard Butler.
(...)

The Keenans are being represented by Morris Dees, co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center. He hopes the suit will deliver a financial dagger to the Aryan Nations.
(...)

Warfield and former Aryan guard John Yeager, who have confessed to the July 1, 1998, assault-rifle attack on the Keenans, testified Thursday that they had left the Aryan compound to carry out the assault.

Defense attorney Edgar Steele, in his line of questions, is attempting to convince the jury that Butler and the Aryan Nations cannot be held liable for the criminal acts of renegade guards.
(...)

Dees has been an assassination target in several plots hatched by white supremacists, including those with ties to the Aryan Nations. Aryan splinter groups called The Order and The Order II talked about killing ''race traitors'' such as Dees.

The civil rights attorney from Montgomery, Ala., asked Warfield on Thursday if he ever wrote about forming The Order III when he is released from prison in November.

''Initially, I thought about that,'' Warfield said.

He said his group wouldn't be named after Robert Mathews' gang of terrorists who committed a string of crimes in the 1980s. Instead, Warfield testified, his group would be called the ''Northwest Coalition Peoples Party.''

Dees asked Warfield if the group, like The Order, would carry out acts of domestic terrorism.

''No, it was going to be politically motivated,'' Warfield responded.
(...)

Steele asked Warfield about the numerous ''threatening letters'' he had written since his arrest to various participants in the suit.
(...)

In one of his letters, Warfield said he would join forces with the FBI and Mend to fight white supremacists in the Northwest.

He said in the same letter that he had ''been brainwashed'' by Butler at the Aryan Nations.

''Do you agree that to be brainwashed, you first have to have a brain?'' Steele asked Warfield, who got red in the face.

Blaming Butler for brainwashing and his offer to help law enforcement ''were just lies'' he concocted to get out of jail, Warfield said in answering a question from Dees.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


=== Waco / Branch Davidians

7. Danforth reportedly targets Waco siege whistleblower
Dallas Morning News, Sep. 1, 2000
http://dallasnews.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
The former prosecutor who warned last year of a possible cover-up of federal actions in the Branch Davidian siege has been told he is being targeted for prosecution by Waco special counsel John C. Danforth.

Friends and associates of former Assistant U.S. Attorney Bill Johnston say he has been told by the special counsel's office that he will soon be indicted on charges of obstruction of justice, perjury and lying to investigators.

They say he has been told that the charges stem from his withholding of several pages of pretrial notes from the 1994 federal prosecution of surviving Branch Davidians. They say that Mr. Johnston's action was a mistake driven by his concern that his notes would be misused by others in the U.S. attorney's office who were angry about his public criticism of the Justice Department's handling of the Waco tragedy.

Mr. Johnston declined to comment Thursday, referring questions to his criminal defense attorney, Michael Kennedy of New York City. Mr. Kennedy released a statement Thursday confirming that the Waco special counsel has threatened Mr. Johnston with federal prosecution. .

''This law office and Mr. Johnston believe that he was unfairly targeted for his frequent criticism of the U.S. government and for blowing the whistle on the government's efforts to mislead the public about the government's use of pyrotechnic devices against the Branch Davidians,'' said Mr. Kennedy, whose past clients include New York socialite Ivana Trump and Whitewater defendant Susan McDougal.Officials with Mr. Danforth's St. Louis office declined to comment Thursday.
(...)

Several Waco officials said U.S. District Judge Walter S. Smith Jr. was so dismayed by the special counsel's treatment of Mr. Johnston that he recently told Mr. Danforth's investigators that they faced arrest if they carried firearms into his courthouse and would be allowed access to the building only like that given to the public.

Judge Smith, who has presided over all of the litigation arising from the 1993 Davidian standoff, declined to be interviewed Thursday.

But other officials said two investigators for Mr. Danforth who had previously used offices in the courthouse have not returned since the judge told them he was ending his court's cooperation with Mr. Danforth's inquiry and told them he considered their actions against Mr. Johnston a witch hunt.

''People here who know the details are just livid,'' said Carey Hobbs, a local plant owner also raising defense funds. ''You meet somebody and talk to them about it, and tears run down the cheeks of grown men.''

Mr. Johnston was among five assistant U.S attorneys and Justice Department lawyers who prosecuted survivors of the 51-day siege, which began with a gunfight in which four federal agents died. The shootout began when federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents tried to search the sect's compound and arrest leader David Koresh on firearms charges.
(...)

Mr. Johnston wrote Attorney General Janet Reno exactly one year ago Wednesday to warn that some of her Justice Department subordinates may have withheld evidence from about the FBI's use of pyrotechnic grenades.
(...)

Mr. Johnston went public shortly after writing Ms. Reno, saying last August that he spoke out after being shown 6-year-old documents detailing the FBI's use of military pyrotechnic gas.

The documents suggested that Mr. Johnston might have attended a fall 1993 meeting where FBI agents told prosecutors about using several military gas rounds.

Mr. Johnston did not recall the meeting, and friends say Mr. Danforth's investigators recently told him that they do not believe he was there.Mr. Johnston said last August that he believed the documents were sent to him by other prosecutors to stop his efforts to help the Texas Rangers identify shell casings from the standoff that some government critics alleged were pyrotechnic government munitions.

But some friends said they immediately feared Mr. Johnston was making himself a target.

''I said, Bill, this [letter to Ms. Reno] looks like a suicide note to me. I was surprised that he was able to hang on as long as he did because they do not take kindly to that kind of criticism. The truth is not what they're after,'' said David Byrnes, a retired Texas Ranger captain who helped lead the Davidian criminal investigation.

''At this point, I don't think anybody inside the federal government except for Bill Johnston has any honor at all,'' Mr. Byrnes said. ''I think he is a victim and a scapegoat in this, and Danforth is falling right in with those people in Justice who want to exact revenge on him.''

Mr. Johnston resigned from the U.S. attorney's office in February.

But friends said he continued to be questioned, and Mr. Danforth's investigators grilled him twice before a federal grand jury. In a particularly grueling, three-day interrogation in St. Louis in July, friends said, Mr. Johnston was threatened after telling a senior investigator that an article on his role in the Davidian case was being prepared for Texas Monthly.

In September, the article, titled ''Law's good soldier,'' appeared in the magazine's annual issue on the year's 20 most influential Texans.

''They informed him that if he exercised his right to free expression by appearing in Texas Monthly, that would guarantee an indictment,'' said Rod Goble, a Waco attorney and longtime friend of Mr. Johnston. That came within less than a week after Mr. Danforth unveiled his preliminary report on the case, telling reporters that he found no major government wrongdoing and would not prosecute an FBI lawyer whom he alleged had repeatedly lied..

Mr. Goble said Mr. Johnston recounted being told he could only avoid prosecution if he pleaded guilty to a felony and acknowledged that other prosecutors had conspired to cover up the FBI's use of pyrotechnic grenades.

''Bill wouldn't lie for them,'' Mr. Goble added.
(...)

''I've known Bill Johnston for almost 20 years and have represented dozens and dozens of individuals in cases in which he was the prosecuting attorney,'' Mr. Goble said. '' His integrity is beyond question.''

''I can't figure out how Senator Danforth could spend millions of dollars, whitewash federal authorities in high places and then put everything Bill did for several years under a microscope and try to pull things out of context and go after him,'' he said. ''It makes you wonder what they're doing and what they've been smoking.''

Michael Caddell, a Houston lawyer who led a recent wrongful-death lawsuit against the government filed by surviving Davidians and their families, said the threatened prosecution of Mr. Johnston raises serious questions about the integrity of Mr. Danforth's Waco inquiry.

''Why single out Bill Johnston? He's not even in the government anymore. He basically got recused from the case, got forced out of the Justice Department, became a pariah,'' he said. ''There are going to be a lot of people shaking their heads.

''It says a lot about the misdirection of the Danforth investigation. It ignores wrongdoing by government officials and whitewashes what even Danforth admits was less than a truthful presentation of what happened at Mount Carmel, and he seeks to go after the one person who tried to get the truth out.''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


8. 2 More Waco Prosecutors Said to Be at Risk of Charges
New York Times, Sep. 2, 2000
http://www.nytimes.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
AUSTIN, Tex., Sept. 1 -- Two federal prosecutors who helped send several Branch Davidians to prison may face prosecution themselves on charges that they withheld information about government actions in the siege at the group's compound near Waco, a lawyer involved in the case said today.

The prosecutors, Ray Jahn and his wife, LeRoy Jahn, assistant United States attorneys in San Antonio who in 1994 won convictions against eight Branch Davidians in the group's deadly 1993 standoff with federal agents, have been told that they may be indicted by John C. Danforth, the special counsel investigating the government's actions, the lawyer said.

Michael Kennedy, a lawyer for the former United States attorney Bill Johnston, another Branch Davidian prosecutor and the official whose charges of a possible government cover-up led to the Danforth investigation, said on Wednesday that Mr. Danforth's prosecutors planned to indict Mr. Johnston on charges of perjury, obstruction of justice and making false statements.
(...)

Gerald H. Goldstein, a lawyer representing the Jahns, would not comment on the case, saying only, ''Unlike the Danforth commission, which issues press releases and interim reports even before they finish their inquiry, we would prefer to do our talking in the courtroom.''

The possibility of indictments is the latest development in the continuing investigation into possible government wrongdoing during and after the standoff between the Branch Davidians and federal agents outside of Waco that ended with a fatal fire on April 19, 1993, killing some 80 Davidians.

The bulk of Mr. Danforth's efforts appears to be focused on Mr. Johnston and what he knew about the F.B.I.'s use of the pyrotechnic rounds.
(...)

The threat of an indictment against Mr. Johnston appears to have caused a rift between Mr. Danforth and Judge Walter Smith Jr. of Federal District Court in Waco. Judge Smith, who is a friend of Mr. Johnston's, is overseeing the Branch Davidians' $675 million wrongful death lawsuit against the federal government.

When the judge heard that Mr. Johnston might be indicted, he quickly told investigators who were working for Mr. Danforth inside the federal courthouse in Waco that they could no longer carry their guns into the building, officials in the courthouse said. If the investigators tried to do so, the officials say the judge warned, they were to be arrested.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


=== Militia Groups

9. Texas Milita Standoff Continues
The Associated Press, Sep. 3, 2000
http://my.aol.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(...) For six weeks, a felony assault suspect and more than a dozen of his relatives - including seven children - have been holed up in a remote spot some 50 miles southeast of Dallas. The adults stand guard 24 hours a day.

The suspect, 51-year-old John Joe Gray, charged with trying to take a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper's gun and biting him after a traffic stop, says he won't surrender.

He has a two-year supply of food and arsenal of weapons on his 50 acres beside the Trinity River.
(...)

Henderson County Sheriff Howard ``Slick'' Alfred hasn't tried to stop anyone from delivering supplies, or set up round-the-clock surveillance. He insists there's no plan to storm the property.

``There's never been a standoff or a siege. This isn't another Waco,'' Alfred said. ``Joe Gray is just something else in the normal work day. I really think he'll get tired of all of it.''
(...)

Waco became a rallying cry for religious and militia groups, some of whom - fueled by rumors of police surveillance, federal involvement and an impending raid - are calling on members to go to Trinidad.

Of the several who have responded, Michael Treis arrived a few weeks ago from Alexandria, La., where he leads the Yahshua Messiah Seventh-day Ministry. Treis, his wife and teen-age son have been staying with the Grays ever since.
(...)

Some people want law enforcement to be more aggressive.

Keith Tarkington believes his ex-wife, Lisa, who is the Grays' oldest child, is keeping their two young sons on the property, although he was awarded full custody. Tarkington has not seen the tots since April 1999.
(...)

Alicia Gray won't say if Tarkington's children are there.

She said the family believes the government is so corrupt that people should only recognize God's authority. The Grays also were involved with the Republic of Texas, which claimed that Texas is an independent nation, until the group splintered after a 1997 standoff in West Texas involving its former leader.

An expert on militias, Chip Berlet, senior analyst with Political Research Associates in Somerville, Mass., thinks Henderson County officials are handling the Gray case appropriately.
(...)

On the Net:

Militia Watchdog: http://www.militia-watchdog.orgOff-site Link

Political Research Associates: http://www.publiceye.orgOff-site Link

Republic of Texas: http://www.republic-of-texas.orgOff-site Link

Infowars: http://www.infowars.comOff-site Link

Embassy of Heaven: http://www.embassyofheaven.comOff-site Link
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


=== Aum Shinrikyo

10. Hard Legacy for Family of Japanese Sect's Leader
New York Times, Sep. 1, 2000
http://www.nytimes.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
RYUGASAKI, Japan -- They were the child princes and princesses of Japan's most notorious religious sect, Aum Shinrikyo, which released deadly sarin gas into the Tokyo subway in 1995. Their pictures were prominently displayed next to their father's portrait above cult shrines, where thousands of Aum disciples hailed them as heirs apparent to the spiritual throne. They were considered child gods.

Then their father, Shoko Asahara, founder of Aum, was jailed for masterminding the subway attack, which killed 12 people and injured 5,000, and the children's utopia crumbled along with the doomsday cult.

Today, Mr. Asahara's six children, four young women and two boys from 6 to 22, are social pariahs. Although they have distanced themselves from the cult, which now calls itself Aleph, the children conceal their identities for fear of reprisals. They are constantly relocating, because everywhere they move neighbors conduct extensive protests.

Most public schools will not let them attend class.

Although they had no role in the subway attack, the children, some of whom are still too young to understand what occurred, are being held accountable for the worst terrorist assault in modern Japanese history.

In a rare interview, four children talked about growing up in Aum Shinrikyo and the virtually impossible task that they face in moving beyond the cult's infamy in a country where the sins of fathers are often forever visited upon children.
(...)

The children said that since the subway attack they had grown accustomed to being despised and rejected. In the last five years, they have moved at least six times, often on short notice and in the wake of large and sometimes violent protests outside their doors.

Despite the constant upheaval and emotional stress that the children have endured, they appeared happy, outgoing and well adjusted.

But the adults in charge of them said the children had been deeply traumatized but were quite skillful in masking their pain, especially in front of strangers.

Aside from one another, the one constant in their lives has been their current guardian, a 39-year-old former cult member who has cared for the children for the last decade. She is a licensed teacher and provides them with home schooling. Two other women also attend to the children's needs. The cult said it provided financial support for the children for humanitarian reasons.

''It has been very difficult for them, because everything and everyone they believed in was suddenly overturned overnight,'' the guardian said. ''The worst part is the internal struggle that is going on inside them. It's far worse than the opposition they face from the public.''

The children have few if any friends and spend most of their time indoors. Once a month, they are allowed to visit their mother, who is on trial for conspiring with her husband and a cult follower in the murder of a dissident Aum member in 1994. Their father, who is also standing trial, does not receive visitors. The oldest sister, 22, is estranged from the others, and the third daughter, 17, lives separately but visits them frequently.
(...)

The cult's legacy is highly likely to haunt the children for the rest of their lives. Major Japanese companies typically investigate the family backgrounds of prospective employees to make sure that there are no skeletons in their closets that would later embarrass them. Quite often, Japanese families hire private investigators to research the backgrounds of their future in-laws.

Experts on cult groups said keeping the Asahara children isolated from the rest of Japanese society was far worse than integrating them.

''At the moment, the Asahara children are being raised by their servants,'' said Shoko Egawa, an investigative journalist who is considered an authority on Aum. ''They are being brought up as special children. But I wonder if this is good. If they go to public school, they will be treated the same as other children. If they make friends, they will have contacts with those who don't have Aum values.''

Although they have disassociated from Aum, the children said they had fond memories of growing up in the cult. ''They were like my older brothers and sisters, and that's what we used to call them,'' the second oldest daughter said. ''We were like one big extended family, and I sometimes miss that.''

But the children are careful, perhaps by design, to note that although they were reared in the cult, they do not subscribe to their father's teachings. They officially left the cult this year when the group changed its name to Aleph and said for the first time that Mr. Asahara had probably been involved in the subway attack and that he would no longer be its leader.

Still, the children say they love their parents. The 19-year-old daughter said she remembered her father as an extremely gentle man who despite his many commitments nursed her through a terrible illness and was always available to help her with school work.

That depiction contrasts sharply with the image that most Japanese have of Mr. Asahara as the pink-robed head of the cult whose colony at the base of Mount Fuji included tiny torture rooms and laboratories that made poison gas. As leader of Aum, which once had 10,000 members, he is accused of ordering the attack in which members planted sarin in crowded subway cars in morning rush hour on March 20, 1995.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


=== Ho No Hana Sanpogyo

11. Foot cultist admits fraud during first trial hearing
Japan Times (Japan), Sep. 2, 2000
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
A former member of the Honohana Sanpogyo foot-reading cult on Friday admitted during the first session of her trial that she conspired with cult leader Hogen Fukunaga, 55, to defraud two women of nearly 4 million yen.

Appearing before the Tokyo District Court, Michiko Ichinose, 37, of Urawa, Saitama Prefecture, told the session that she swindled 3.94 yen million in 1996 and 1997 in conspiracy with Fukunaga and other cult members.

Prosecutors said in their opening statement that the defendant swindled 1.69 yen million from one of the women by telling her that her child would commit suicide unless she attended an August 1996 Honohana Sanpogyo seminar, which cost 2.25 million yen.

She swindled 2.25 million yen from the other woman by telling her that her health would improve after attending a February 1997 seminar, the prosecution said.

In both cases, Fukunaga and other cult members insisted that the victims' feet reflected their ominous futures. The prosecutors said fraud was committed as the cult members knew the foot reading and seminars were bogus.
(...)

Friday's session was the first of the court hearings that involve 15 cultists accused of obtaining 149 million yen by fraud.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


=== Falun Gong

12. Falun Gong Members Protest
The Associated Press, Sep. 2, 2000
http://my.aol.com/news/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
HONG KONG (AP) - About 150 Falun Gong members staged a silent march in Hong Kong on Saturday to protest mainland China's crackdown on the meditation sect.
(...)

Sharon Xu, a spokeswoman for the group in Hong Kong, said the Chinese government was believed to be intensifying its persecution of the sect ahead of China's National Day on Oct. 1.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


=== Zhong Gong

13. U.S. postpones hearing on Chinese asylum seeker
Alta Vista/Reuters, Sep. 1, 2000
http://live.altavista.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
HONG KONG, Sept 1 (Reuters) - The United States has postponed the hearing on the political asylum application made by the Chinese leader of the Zhong Gong meditation group which is banned in China, a Hong Kong human rights group said on Friday.

The hearing on Zhang Hongbao's pursuit for political asylum, scheduled to start at a court in the U.S.-administered island of Guam on Friday morning, was put off for two weeks at the request of the U.S. immigration authority, the Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy said in a statement.

It was the seventh time the authority had requested postponing the hearing under pressure from China, the Hong Kong group said.

The authority said it was asking for a postponement of the Friday hearing as it had not completed the translation of the relevant documents, according to the human rights group.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


=== Unification Church

14. Unification leader caught with extra fish
UPI (Owned by the Unification Church), Aug. 31, 2000
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
KODIAK, Alaska, Aug. 31 (UPI) - Unification Church leader Rev. Sun Myung Moon and his wife were cited last week with catching over the legal limit of fish while on a visit to Alaska, The Anchorage Daily News reported in Thursday editions.
(...)

When police stopped Moon, he had 10 fish -- twice the legal limit of five -- and his wife, Hak Ja Han, 47, had six.

Wildlife Protection Troopers received a tip Thursday that Moon and associates had been overfishing, and Friday troopers acted as if they were fishing and watched Moon fishing with about a dozen other people.

The troopers charged Moon with overfishing and issued about five verbal warnings, police said. Troopers recommended Moon be fined $250 and Han, $170. The fish were seized and donated to a Russian Orthodox school Kodiak, police said.
(...)

The Unification Church is the largest employer and taxpayer in Kodiak, a busy fishing port. It owns a fleet of fishing boats and fish processing plants, the Anchorage Daily News reported.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


=== Catholicism

15. Aide: Catholicism Is 'Mother' Church
The Associated Press, Sep. 2, 2000
http://my.aol.com/news/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
VATICAN CITY (AP) - One of Pope John Paul II's closest aides has written to bishops worldwide declaring that the Catholic church is the ``mother'' of other Christian churches, a move which could hurt Vatican efforts toward unity with other believers.

The Vatican Saturday had no comment on the document, which was reported on Friday by the Italian religious news agency Adista. In the document, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger told the bishops that it was incorrect to refer to Christian churches, ranging from Orthodox to Protestant, as ``sister'' churches of the Catholic church.

``It must be always clear that the one, holy, catholic and apostolic universal church is not the sister, but the mother of all the churches,'' Ratzinger was quoted as saying.

The term ``sister churches'' often is used in dialogue aimed at fostering closer ties among Christians. John Paul has made steps toward unity with other Christians, a key goal of his papacy in Christianity's third millennium.

But Ratzinger, the Vatican official in charge of ensuring doctrinal correctness, appeared to be putting the brakes on such expansive terminology.

``It's evident that it would go against the faith to consider the (Catholic) church as `one' way of salvation `alongside' those represented by other religions,'' Ratzinger was quoted as saying.

The cardinal is scheduled to appear at a Vatican news conference next week about the subject.
[...entire item...]

* Cult experts John Weldon and John Ankerberg note that ''issues surrounding Catholic belief and authority are compounded by the fact there are some ten categories of Roman Catholicism around the world.'' They also note that Catholicism has ''denied, altered, or confused all but one or two'' key Bible doctrines. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that most evangelical Christians would not recognize the claim that the Catholic church is the ''mother''' of other Christian churches.


=== Mormonisn

16. Mormon leader sees continued growth for his church
Boston Globe, Sep. 2, 2000
http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
In anticipation of the opening of the Mormon temple in Belmont, Gordon B. Hinckley, the 90-year-old president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sat for an interview with the Globe in his office in Salt Lake City.

Hinckley, who is revered as prophet, seer and revelator by the world's 11 million Mormons, talked of the importance of the Belmont temple, the growth of Mormonism, and various challenges facing the church.

Here are annotated excerpts from the interview:
(...)

We've been building temples furiously. I made a statement in conference in '98 that I hoped we could reach the construction of 100 working temples in the year 2000, and we've been building them furiously, but without any sacrifice of quality. ... We build a great many meetinghouses - we have over 12,000 of them scattered across the world, and we'll have 100 working temples when the Boston temple is dedicated.
(...)

The Mormon temple has attracted the opposition of a handful of neighbors, who are waging two legal battles against the church.

It's rankled some of our neighbors, we're sorry to say. We don't mean to offend anybody. We think that when the temple's up and running that that antagonism will largely disappear. That's been on our experience in very many places.
(...)

Where is the church heading?

It's heading upward, nearly 11 million strong now, and that will continue. There's no doubt in my mind at all concerning that.
(...)

Why is the church growing?

Because it's true.

The reason is that it appeals to people, it provides people an anchor of faith and certainty in a changing world that for the most part is going downhill.

The family, for instance. You can't deny the fact that the family across the world is falling apart. It's a tragedy. It's a terrible thing.

This church puts great emphasis on the family. We teach of the sanctity of the family, we teach the sanctity of marriage, we teach the sanctity of children, of the importance of parents who love and nurture their children.
(...)

How do you explain the belief in God and Jesus as separate individuals?

We believe in God, the eternal father, and in his son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost. ... Three distinct individuals, working together for the accomplishment of the grand purpose of the Almighty, to bring to pass the immortality and the eternal life of his children.

Are Mormons becoming a part of mainstream religion in America?

We haven't lost our distinctiveness. We have not set aside the uniqueness of our doctrine, our organization, or our practices. We, I, think are probably doing a better job of communicating with others, which I think leads to that perception.

Will there ever be women priests in the Mormon church?

I don't know what's going to happen in the future, but insofar as I can see, no. (...)

What about the treatment of church dissidents?

We don't have serious difficulties with these things. One year I think there were four or five people excommunicated and to read the papers you'd think the whole church had come down. Actually, while there were four or five excommunicants here in Utah, there were about 5,000 convert baptisms here in Utah, so those things become minuscule when you put them in context.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top

* Mormons are not Christians, and do not represent Biblical Christianity.
Theologically, Mormonism is a cult of Christianity.


17. Apologists band together to defend LDS Church online, in print
Deseret News, Sep, 2, 2000
http://www.deseretnews.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Their methods vary widely, but a group of Mormon faithful are using the Internet to defend their beliefs from naysayers.

And while they have no official sanction from their church, members of the Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research (FAIR) say they are committed to pointing out errors of fact and scholarship perpetuated in religious message boards on the World Wide Web, as well as in printed literature of avowed anti-Mormons.

Speakers during the group's second annual Mormon Apologetics Symposium held at Alta recently described their own ways of defending LDS beliefs.

Kerry Shirts, director of research for the group, opened the event on Thursday by picking apart what he said are fallacies in one anti-Mormon scholar's reconstruction of Facsimile No. 1 - a drawing church founder Joseph Smith said was part of the writings found on some Egyptian papyri that he translated. The drawing now appears in the Book of Abraham as part of the LDS Church's Pearl of Great Price, one of four books of scripture used by Latter-day Saints.

Speaker Mike Ash used the forum to present his research, titled ''Up In Smoke,'' which challenges criticism by anti-Mormons Gerald and Sandra Tanner to the LDS Word of Wisdom, which Joseph Smith said he received as a revelation from God.

Robert Vukich, a local telecommunications specialist and admitted non-scholar, questioned whether the Tanners are ''credible historians'' in his presentation, which focused on a series of communications between himself and Sandra Tanner over her ''editing'' of material written by Joseph Smith's mother, Lucy Mack Smith. He argued that one passage describing Smith's early characterizations of the early inhabitants of the Americas was taken out of context, deleting reference to the stories' divine origin.

Vukich said he is disturbed enough by some of the Tanners' characterizations that he carries a photocopy of a passage from one of their books with him when he visits Temple Square during LDS General Conference, looking for critics of the church. ''I try to be led by the spirit in trying to find anyone who is approachable,'' he said of his visits.

''The Tanners are almost worshiped in the anti-Mormon community for the volume of the garbage they have produced, rather than the quality of it.'' When he points out the editing discrepancies in the Tanners' writings to critics of the church who gather outside Temple Square, he said none is able to explain why the material is presented in such a way.
(...)

Daryl Barksdale, president of FAIR, said his organization is committed to a ''Christ-like'' approach, even though many of the attacks include claims that Mormons aren't Christians.

''I don't believe we take an adversarial stance. I think we go out of our way to try to avoid bashing or attacking another religion. Many of us focus on certain opponents of the church who, in fact, have established entire ministries with the sole purpose of challenging our beliefs,'' he said.

''Our mission is simply to address the issues themselves and not the personalities behind those who address those criticisms.''

Even so, he acknowledged that there are those who defend Mormonism with a ''sharp sense of humor'' that ''oftentimes is misconstrued to be more evil than it really is.'' In most cases, it comes of ''simply being tired of the level of misrepresentation we often encounter.''
(...)

Barksdale said LDS leaders ''tend to view an organization like ours as a loose cannon, but I think we've kept our noses clean, and we're doing a good job at what we're doing.''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top

* For a look at the debate over Mormon vs. Christian scholarship, see:
http://www.apologeticsindex.org/counterpoint.html#ldsmenuOff-site Link

For examples of what is claimed to be a ''sharp sense of humor'' on the part
of some Mormon apologists, see the items cited by Christian apologist
James White:
http://www.aomin.org/Mormonism.htmlOff-site Link

For a look at the copiously documented research of the Tanners, see
http://www.utlm.orgOff-site Link

For a look at FAIR - the cult apologists organization described in this news
item - see
http://www.fair-lds.org/Off-site Link


18. LDS Church Plans New S.L. Institute of Religion
Salt Lake Tribune, Sep. 3, 2000
http://www.sltrib.com/09032000/utah/18884.htmOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
In its expansion effort, resulting in the construction of myriad new temples worldwide, the LDS Church hasn't forgotten its own back yard.

Construction begins this spring on a new 114,000-square-foot Salt Lake Institute of Religion building adjacent to the University of Utah. The facility will replace the existing institute, a cluster of aging buildings east of the Rice-Eccles Stadium on 500 South that will be demolished this fall.
(...)

Much like seminaries found near secondary schools throughout the state, church institutes cater to college-age students, offering courses in church doctrine and history.
(...)

Designed to accommodate an enrollment of up to 10,000 students -- some 5,000 U. students participate in the institute now -- the new facility is one of at least three planned in Utah.
(...)

The church also operates 321 institutes worldwide.
(...)

The institute offers about 70 different day and evening classes covering topics like world religions and Mormon doctrine. Many of the courses, such as one on interpersonal relationships, are geared for single students who make up about 90 percent of the clientele, Browning said.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


19. An Insider's Look At Mormonism: 'God's Army' Strangely Fascinating
The Commercial Appeal Memphis (TN), Sep. 2, 2000
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(...) God's Army is a dramatic feature film about the young men who knock on your door, uninvited, in hopes that you'll let them inside to talk to you about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, more commonly known as the Mormons.

God's Army is not a great movie, but it's a fascinating one, especially for people who know these missionaries only as occasional doorbell-ringing annoyances.

The film is a dispatch from the other side of the door. Like a foreign-language film from Iran or China, God's Army illuminates a culture and lifestyle that will be alien to most movie-goers. It opens a door to an otherwise hidden world, revealing a group that is no more oddball and no less worthy of understanding than any other.

(...) Mormon writer-director Richard Dutcher, who also appears in the movie, reportedly spent four years raising his production budget, and then shot the film in 18 days - a remarkable accomplishment, considering the movie's technical achievement and the quality of the performances. Thanks in part to its popularity in Utah, the movie already has made a profit, earning about $2 million so far at the box office.

Until a final twist that stretches credulity for the non- believer, God's Army is remarkably straightforward and nonproselytizing, even if many of the stock characters and situations would be less interesting in a more familiar context.
(...)

The focus in particular is on 19-year-old Elder Allen (Matthew Brown), who arrives in L.A. from Kansas to join a group of missionaries led by veteran Elder Dalton (Dutcher), who, at 29, is known as ''Pops'' by his college-age colleagues.

In Los Angeles, Elder Allen is startled to see prostitutes and hoodlums. He's not sure if he's committed enough to his faith to knock on strange doors and be rewarded more often than not with insults and threats. But as one church leader tells Elder Allen: ''You're not here to do good for yourself. You're here to do good for other people. Your job is to help people make some right decisions.''

The film is filled with casual lines that may startle those unfamiliar with tenets of Mormonism, as when Elder Dalton says to a prospect: ''Did you know that Christ came to the Americas after his Resurrection?''

As a writer, Dutcher doesn't skirt controversy. The secondary status of women in church life is acknowledged. A black Elder struggles with the awareness that the church didn't allow black priests until 1978.
(...)

Unfortunately, the cancer-stricken Elder Dalton - the film's Christ figure, a sometimes short-tempered leader who has battled temptation to devote the rest of what could be a short life to his disciples and humanity - becomes increasingly self-righteous. As the story progresses, the movie's candid and disarming atmosphere begins to succumb to the judgmentalness suggested by the certainty of its title.

Some viewers may object to a subplot involving the conversion of a Catholic. But at least God's Army is honest enough that it offers grist for those who would condemn Mormonism even as it seeks to increase interest in the faith.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top

» Continued in Part 2