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Religion News Report

September 3, 2000 (Vol. 4, Issue 255) - 2/2

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Rainbow

» Continued from Part 1

=== 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)



=== Attleboro Cult

20. Jailed mother gets unsolicited help
Boston Globe, Sep. 2, 2000
http://www.boston.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online?
Read this]
[Attleboro Cult]
Rebecca Corneau rejects the legal system as a form of pagan justice and an affront to God. In repeated court hearings, representing herself, she has steadfastly refused to answer any questions about her current pregnancy and has spurned a court-ordered prenatal exam.

Now, whether she likes it or not, the 32-year-old Attleboro mother - who is suspected of neglect in the death of her last baby - is about to get help from a distinctly nonconservative and secular group: the women's rights movement.

The first bid to free Corneau from a prison hospital in Roxbury is coming from Wendy Murphy, a lawyer who teaches reproductive rights at New England School of Law. Hoping for action before Corneau is expected to give birth in the next few weeks, Murphy is preparing an emergency petition for the state Supreme Judicial Court.

''It's unconstitutional to jail her because she refused medical help,'' Murphy said. ''The only argument thus far is that she may have done something in the past that led to a baby's death. That's woefully inadequate. It's speculation and violation of due process.''

Murphy is not filing on behalf of Corneau, though.

On Tuesday, after seeking endorsements from the National Organization for Women and other women's groups, she'll ask the state's highest court to overturn Juvenile Court Judge Kenneth P. Nasif's decision to incarcerate Corneau on behalf of all pregnant women.

Using a little-known state law called the ''emergency superintendent provision,'' which allows independent parties to appeal lower-court decisions for individuals who can't seek relief for themselves, Murphy hopes the high court won't send her appeal back to Nasif; if it does, he could spend weeks reviewing it.

Because of her impending delivery ''it's vital the SJC steps in now,'' she said. Once Corneau gives birth, ''there is no way to give her back freedom.''

Corneau is to appear in court again Thursday, when Nasif will review the case. If medical tests show her delivery is more than a month off - and she allows daily visits from the nurse - the judge might allow her to return home.

Bristol County prosecutors, however, said yesterday they expect Corneau to give birth at the Neil J. Houston House, a medical facility run by the Department of Correction that cares for pregnant women serving jail terms.

''My understanding is that she has not been notably cooperative: She has not allowed a medical exam,'' said Walter Shea, a Bristol County assistant district attorney.

''She isn't being put in jail for a crime she might commit,'' Shea said, defending the judge's decision. ''She has been declared as an unfit mother. The issue is not religious beliefs; we need someone there capable of saving that baby.''
(...)

Lynn Paltrow, director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women in New York, said her group is also considering how to fight Nasif's ruling. For now, she said, Corneau's best hope may rest with Murphy's petition.
(...)

Still, Corneau is looking more toward divine intervention than legal aid. Her fundamentalist Christian sect, which authorities say now consists of only 13 members, shuns science and medicine as blasphemy.
(...)

Two weeks ago, Judge Nasif declared Corneau an unfit mother, taking away her three children and removing eight others from the sect.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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21. Lawyer fights judge's ruling vs. pregnant cult mom
Boston Herald, Sep 2, 2000
http://www.bostonherald.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Fearing an Attleboro judge's controversial ruling to hospitalize a pregnant cult member could result in random prosecution of expectant mothers, a lawyer - with the backing of women's and civil rights groups - is filing an emergency appeal to the state's highest court.

``There is no protection from the chilling effect of this ruling,'' attorney Wendy Murphy said of Attleboro Juvenile Court Judge Kenneth Nasif's decision to hospitalize pregnant cultist Rebecca Corneau against her will. ``What about the freedom of all the other pregnant women in the state? Who protects them? This is a very serious, constitutionally unfirm ruling with very appealable issues.''
(...)

Corneau, a member of a fringe religious sect that doesn't believe in modern medicine, is being held in the Neil J. Houston House in Roxbury, a secure hospital which specializes in treating incarcerated pregnant women.

Under the order, Corneau, 32, will be held until she submits to a medical examination or has her baby.
(...)

Murphy is filing the appeal on behalf of a ``concerned'' pregnant woman under a state law which allows SJC judges to step in in cases of judicial error or abuse. She says similar rulings in Washington, D.C., and Colorado were overtuned on appeal.

Several women's and civil rights groups are supporting the action, including the National Women's Law Center, the National Advocates for Pregnant Women, the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Organization for Women.
(...)

One of the problems with the cult's case is that they refuse legal assistance, instead taking the stand that the government has no jurisdiction in their family's affairs.

Critics of Nasif's ruling say because the group has no lawyers, the government has run roughshod over them, along the way trampling on the Constitution.
(...)

Walsh acknowledges the case raises constitutional issues and may have a ``ripple effect,'' but he contends that the judge's ruling was legally sound and necessary to protect Corneau's unborn child.
(...)

Walsh also said the case has brought out various groups seeking to skew the issues to forward their agendas.

``People will try to inject constitutional issues into this case, but I don't see those arguments as pertinent,'' he said. ``For me, this was about saving a baby. It's a case, not a cause. For others getting in now, it's a cause. They don't care about the case.''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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22. Experts: Ruling may just open up floodgates
Boston Herald, Sep. 1, 2000
http://www.bostonherald.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
A court order yesterday that confines a pregnant Attleboro cult member to a prison hospital could ``open the floodgates'' for prosecutors to lock up pregnant women across the Bay State for a variety of reasons, experts say.

``Where do we draw the line?'' asked Andi Mullin, president of the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Organization for Women. ``Are we going to do this with women who drink or smoke while they are pregnant? What about women who don't wear seat belts? Where are we going to decide that the state knows what is best for women?''

Yesterday, in what some call a landmark ruling, Attleboro Juvenile Court Judge Kenneth Nasif sent Rebecca Corneau to the Neil J. Houston House, a secure health facility that specializes in treating jailed pregnant women. Corneau, who is about 8 months pregnant, is part of a fundamentalist sect that rejects science and medicine, choosing instead to put its faith in God.

The cult is suspected of burying two babies, including Corneau's last son, Jeremiah, who she says was stillborn. The other child, Samuel Robidoux, was allegedly starved to death by the fringe group.

In making the argument to commit Corneau to the hospital, Bristol County District Attorney Paul F. Walsh cited evidence that Jeremiah suffocated in the birth canal due to a lack of routine health care.

``We wanted her in a secure health facility. Today she'll be in one,'' Walsh said.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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23. Cult expert explains Attleboro sect
MSNBC, Sep. 2, 2000
http://www.msnbc.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(...) Bob Pardon is an expert on cults. He has studied the sect's diary entries, and interviewed members of ''The Body.'' Pardon believes the sect members have taken a doctrine out of the Bible that deals with an individual's withdrawl from the world in order to remain holy before God, and they've taken it to an extreme.

Those outside ''The Body'' are the non-believers. A diary entry reads: ''of 4 1/2 billion inhabitants presently breathing, only a handful, a remnant are being trained. The rest are tools of Satan to try and destroy God's anointed.'' The body believes its members are the anointed ones.
(...)

Individual decision-making isn't an option in this sect. God apparently speaks to them as a group. Pardon calls it a dangerous situation.

Pardon says the group did not start out like this. He says they would have been horrified to have someone come up to them five years ago and say; ''five years from now, you're going to be seeing your children die, and you're going to think it's God's will''.

Nine members of ''The Body'' are now in state custody, leaving only 4 women free. Those who know the Corneaus and Robidoux say they started as one big family, and evolved into one dangerous cult.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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* Bob Pardon heads the

New England Institute of Religious Research

In January this year, he was appointed guardian of the sect's children.


24. Cultists convinced only God will provide
Boston Herald, Sep. 3, 2000
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/
Two years ago, a fringe religious sect took an ill-fated road trip to Maine, leaving their Seekonk compound with no money and no food, thinking God would deliver them safely.

But when their cars ran out of gas on Route 1 in Maine, the members didn't rally together and walk to the nearest service station.

They prayed - for gas.
(...)

For three days, they stayed near their cars, eating only berries from trees off the side of the road. Finally, a concerned relative traveled to Maine and called state police, who found the group and gave them $20 for gas to get home.

The cult, at the center of a controversial ruling this week that resulted in the forced hospitalization of a pregnant member, bases much of its religion on the writings of the Home in Zion Ministries in Florida and the Old Testament.

Suspected in the deaths of two young boys, members of the Attleboro-based group denounce modern society, instead putting their faith in God to heal, guide and provide for them.
(...)

The fringe Christian fundamentalist group is the subject of a grand jury probe into the deaths of 10-month-old Samuel Robidoux, who allegedly starved to death, and Jeremiah Corneau, who is believed to have died during birth.

Prosecutors say both deaths were preventable and are seeking charges ranging from improper disposal of a body to murder.
(...)

According to former member Dennis Mingo, the sect's beliefs are rooted in denouncing ''seven systems'' of mainstream society, including education, government, banking, religion, medicine, science and entertainment.

They were heavily influenced by the book, ''Born in Zion,'' by Carol Balizet, who heads a Florida ministry. Balizet, a former emergency room nurse, advocates natural home births, claiming only prayer is needed to bring life into the world.

''The book had a profound effect on the group,'' Mingo says. ''Every week, they made little changes and became more and more radical. They were basically pulling themselves out of society and I just couldn't live that way.''

While they run their own masonry business, they do so on a cash basis and keep their own records on a computer, which has been seized by prosecutors.

They home-school their children, have unassisted home births and use herbal remedies, not medicine. While many have vision problems, they refuse to wear glasses because they are not ''God's will,'' Mingo says.
(...)

And recently, they burned up all their old photo albums, saying photos are a symbol of vanity.

The women wear cotton dresses and the men sport long beards. Completely withdrawn from society, they don't watch TV or movies, celebrate holidays or birthdays, or wear wedding bands.
(...)

The family-oriented sect was formed by Jacques Robidoux' father, Roland, several years ago when he split from the World Church of Christ and started his own Bible study group.

The group feared the millennium and had ''visions'' that the world would erupt in violence and turmoil, but they would be saved.
(...)

''It's like they're on a different planet,'' he said. ''They're not a part of our world anymore. They've gone blank. They're not the people that I know them as.''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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25. Even shunned have rights
Boston Globe, Sep. 3, 2000 (Eileen McNamara - Opinion)
http://www.boston.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
[Attleboro Cult]
It is ironic that authorities should choose to confine Rebecca Corneau in a place born of compassion for this culture's pregnant outcasts.

It is hard to imagine that Neil J. Houston, the social reformer for whom the house for expectant inmates is named, would not be appalled that a woman neither accused nor convicted of a crime is being held there against her will and forced to submit to medical examinations against her religious beliefs.
(...)

Subscribing to beliefs that acknowledge no secular authority, the group has provoked the ire of Bristol District Attorney Paul F. Walsh by refusing to answer questions about the deaths last year of Corneau's infant son, Jeremiah, and his 10-month-old cousin, Samuel. The fathers of those children and six others in the sect are in jail for refusing to cooperate with a grand jury.

Walsh suspects that Jeremiah died soon after birth for lack of routine medical care and that Samuel might have suffered a slow and agonizing death from starvation. If he is right, then members of the sect could be charged with crimes ranging from illegal disposal of human remains to homicide.

The problem, of course, is that Walsh does not know if he is right. The sect is not talking and, without the bodies, there is no physical evidence. Which brings us to the current legal dilemma. Can the state incarcerate an unindicted woman on the basis of what authorities fear might happen to the fetus she is carrying?
(...)

Bethany Collins, the nurse appointed by the court to examine Corneau, found her ''very kind and gentle'' but firm in her refusal to submit to a medical exam. A Christian Scientist might be no less defiant, but would Attleboro Juvenile Court Judge Kenneth Nasif have been so quick to declare her an ''unfit mother'' and label her a member of a ''bizzare and dangerous cult?''
(...)

Walsh is being disingenuous when he claims that locking up Rebecca Corneau is not punitive. Of course it is. No doubt he has genuine concern for the safety of the baby Corneau will soon deliver. Who among us does not share it? But it is also true that the sect's refusal to cooperate has stymied his criminal investigation.
(...)

Americans love the US Constitution when we read in it protections of the rights we hold dear. We are more disdainful when those whose beliefs we revile claim the same protections.

In another Massachusetts courtroom last week, the American Civil Liberties Union said it will defend the North American Man-Boy Love Association against a $200 million lawsuit that claims the two pedophiles, who molested and murdered Jeffrey Curley, 10, from Cambridge three years ago, were inspired by NAMBLA's literature and Web site.

It is hard to imagine a less sympathetic group than NAMBLA. Committed to the repeal of laws that bar sexual contact between adults and children, it contends that boys as young as 8 are capable of informed consent. But if the First Amendment does not protect the worst among us, it protects none of us.
(...)

For pregnant inmates of Framingham State Prison, a room in the Houston house is a liberation, a chance to bond with their newborns in a more homelike setting. For Rebecca Corneau, a woman with no criminal record but too many unpopular beliefs, it is a prison cell. Neil Houston would be appalled.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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26. Religious Freedom Vs. Unborn's Rights
CBS News, Sep. 1, 2000
http://cbsnews.cbs.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(CBS) A pregnant Massachusetts woman's right to religious freedom and the state's duty to protect children are being debated because a judge ordered her into custody for refusing a court-ordered medical exam.
(...)

As CBS News Correspondent Cathy Moss reports, Corneau's Christian fundamentalist sect rejects conventional medical care, leading prosecutors to claim that she is an unfit mother.

''Rebecca Corneau is dangerous to her children. Three of her children have been taken away already - the last one died within 5 to 10 minutes of birth - choking on the contents of the birth canal,'' said Paul Walsh Jr., District Attorney for Bristol County.

She must remain in a state hospital by court order - until she gives birth - but the District Attorney says she's fighting it.

''She hasn't cooperated in any medical examination, she hasn't given any medical history,'' Walsh said.

But critics say she's being imprisoned and deprived of her rights.

''There are very legitimate things the state could do. They certainly could take the children. Once the child is born, they could take the child into custody - but nobody has the right to put a pregnant woman into custody because she is pregnant and refusing medical care,'' said Lynn Paltrow, a reproductive rights attorney.

Technically, Corneau has not been arrested. She is being committed for the purposes of evaluating the medical condition of herself and her unborn baby, and to determine exactly how far she is into her pregnancy, said Gerald Fitzgerald, an assistant district attorney.

The judge could reconsider his decision afterward and allow her to go home, he said.
(...)

The latest court order to put Corneau into custody came after a second unsuccessful attempt Thursday by a nurse to examine her at the home she shares with several other members of the sect.

He had allowed Corneau to stay free if she submitted to daily checks by a nurse. Walsh was glad about the judge's decision.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Hate Groups

27. 400 Neo-Nazis March in Germany
New York Times/AP, Sep. 2, 2000
http://www.nytimes.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
NEUMUENSTER, Germany (AP) -- About 400 neo-Nazis marched through a north German city Saturday to protest a decision by local officials to revoke the license for a restaurant advertised on the Internet as a meeting place for far-right extremists.

About 150 protesters threw stones at the neo-Nazis and blocked their route with sit-ins, forcing the three-hour march to be rerouted. No injuries were reported.
(...)

Before the march, about 300 people gathered at a rally where local politicians and union leaders demanded the closing of the Club 88 and criticized the Constitutional Court for allowing the neo-Nazi march.

Neo-Nazis use the number eight as a stand-in for H -- the eighth letter of the alphabet -- to get around Germany's ban on using Nazi slogans in public. The 88 stands for HH, or ``Heil Hitler.''

The march in support of the 3 1/2-year-old Club 88 was organized by Christian Worch, the former deputy chairman of the since-banned National List. Worch, 42 and still one of Germany's most-active neo-Nazis, spent two years in prison for violating a ban on promoting Nazism.

Worch also had ties to the youth wing of the extreme-right National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD), which the government is considering banning as one of several initiatives to combat a recent rise in neo-Nazi violence.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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28. 4 charged after FW raid; police check for ties to hate group
Dallas Morning News, Aug. 31, 2000
http://dallasnews.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
FORT WORTH - Police charged four people with various drug and weapons crimes Wednesday as officers continued to investigate the suspects' connection to a white supremacist prison gang.
(...)

One of those arrested, Robert C. Massey, 25, has been incarcerated in a Texas prison, state officials said. During his stay from July 1997 to March 1999, Mr. Massey was not identified as a member of the Aryan Circle, a white supremacist gang he claimed to be a member of upon his arrest Tuesday, said Larry Fitzgerald, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
(...)

Police said the men said they were members of the Aryan Circle membership and had items with Aryan graffiti and tattoos representing the white supremacist group. The woman apparently had no connections to the supremacist group, officials said.

''We're still trying to figure out if they are even members or just wannabes,'' Lt. Burgess said.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Other News

29. City to probe mercury use in certain religious ritis
Chicago Tribune, Sept. 2, 2000
http://chicagotribune.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Chicago's Department of Public Health announced Friday that it will conduct a study of Hispanic households that have been exposed to mercury during religious rituals or while practicing folk medicine.

Beads of mercury--the silvery liquid metal that is toxic when inhaled or ingested--can be purchased legally in Chicago at alternative medicine shops called botanicas. The droplets are believed to ward off evil or have healing powers, and they are common to faiths such as Santeria, the West African belief system that took root in the Caribbean.

Following in the wake of the possible contamination of thousands of homes by mercury from old gas meters, health officials held a press conference Friday to bring attention to their plans to study the ritualistic use of mercury.
(...)

A 1997 University of Illinois at Chicago survey found 16 botanicas selling mercury --and only four of them had properly labeled the substance as dangerous. Mercury can be bought in vials, amulets or capsules, and it is sometimes sprinkled throughout homes, burned in candles or ingested.

Though it is used in folk medicine to combat ailments such as stomachaches, alcoholism or even nervousness, Hryhorczuk said the elemental metal is hazardous and has no proven health benefits. It can inhibit brain function and development, cause mental retardation or, in extreme cases, death.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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30. FDA Designates Bioterrorism Antidote
The Associated Press, Aug. 31, 2000
http://my.aol.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
WASHINGTON (AP) - If bioterrorists ever attack the United States with anthrax, the antibiotic Cipro will be the first line of defense for civilians who breathe the deadly bacteria, the government decided Thursday.

The Food and Drug Administration said Bayer Corp.'s popular antibiotic will help protect people exposed to inhaled anthrax from becoming infected and dying - if they take it quickly enough.

Cipro, known chemically as ciprofloxacin, has been sold for 13 years to treat a variety of infections, and many experts long believed it would fight anthrax, too.

But FDA's formal approval of Cipro Thursday makes it the nation's first medication specifically designated for use after bioterrorism, a sign federal health officials have begun taking the threat seriously.

Public health experts have warned for several years that the nation is unprepared for the growing risk of bioterrorism, the release of deadly bacteria or viruses.
(...)

It's not a theoretical risk. In 1985, a cult sickened 750 Oregonians by tainting salad bars with the food-poisoning germ salmonella. Experts say Japanese doomsday cultists tried but failed to release botulism toxin and anthrax in Tokyo in 1995, before they released nerve gas into a subway, killing 12 people and sickening thousands.

Anthrax is a spore-forming bacteria found in soil. When it is aerosolized and inhaled, it becomes incredibly deadly. It is of particular concern because it has been manufactured as a biological weapon by at least three nations, Russia, Iraq and Iran. Just a few pounds of spores released into air conditioning units or sprayed over a crowd could infect thousands.

Eighty percent of inhaled anthrax victims die within days if they go untreated.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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31. Churches reaping harvest of residential school abuse
Toronto Star (Canada), Aug. 26, 2000
http://www.thestar.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Aboriginals who suffered silently during the residential school era are fighting back with an avalanche of lawsuits.

A minimum of 6,200 people are seeking billions of dollars in damages for abuse and cultural deprivation.

Nine class-action lawsuits have been filed, several dioceses are on the verge of collapse, and at least one national church believes it may go broke.

``We said to the federal government . . . in May that we'll run out of money next year,'' says Archdeacon Jim Boyles, general secretary of the Anglican Church of Canada.

On Thursday, the church confirmed it's well on track to fulfilling that prediction.
(...)

At best, the schools operated by the church and federal government could be described as ethnocentric paternalism; a misguided effort to assimilate aboriginals by stripping them of their language and culture, by teaching them the ``right'' way to live.

At worst, it was institutionalized child labour, sadism and pedophilia.

The Department of Indian and Northern Affairs is projecting that the number of lawsuits could reach 15,000 within the decade.

The Anglican and United churches say they could be broke well before then. And, if things proceed apace, they will be.
(...)

The church is currently involved with roughly 350 cases involving 1,600 claimants. And that's not counting the class-action suits, which could yet proceed if a court certifies them.

The United Church, which operated 10 schools (the Anglicans were involved with 26), is only slightly better off. Because it's a more centralized church, it has more resources at the national level. And because it was affiliated with fewer schools, it will ultimately face fewer lawsuits.

Nonetheless, some 450 claims have been filed and the church is facing potentially serious financial troubles.
(...)

The Roman Catholics, who operated at least 51 of the schools, are in an entirely different situation, because - unlike the Anglican or United Churches - the Roman Catholic Church of Canada says it does not exist.

``The Catholic church exists in Canada as a community of communities,'' explains Gerry Kelly, native policy adviser to the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. ``From the legal point of view, it exists as a network primarily of independent episcopal corporations. It exists as a network, if you will, of dioceses. There isn't a legal entity over that network.''

As a result, there's no Canadian ``headquarters'' that plaintiffs can sue, nor major central assets the Catholics say could be claimed. Yet they were involved with more residential schools than any other church - and Catholic dioceses or missionary orders have been named by 3,500 claimants.
(...)

At least 100,000 aboriginals went through Canada's residential school system between 1874 and 1996, the year the final school closed.

Some received a solid education and have positive memories of their experience; many others did not. They tell of being removed from their families only to be beaten, molested and raped.

In Charles Baxter Sr.'s case, so strictly was assimilation enforced that his name was replaced with a number.
(...)

Speaking from Constance Lake First Nation, some 350 kilometres north of Sault Ste. Marie, the 49-year-old's phrases emerge in painful fragments - much like the memories of his childhood. The physical abuse was one factor. But it is when he addresses his other losses that he becomes most emotional.
(...)

Baxter is now a plaintiff in a $10 billion class-action lawsuit filed against the churches and the federal government. The statement of claim not only mentions physical and sexual abuse, but - in a litany of allegations - charges that the defendants ``deprived (students) . . . of their languages, as well as their religious and cultural beliefs and practices . . . ''
(...)

This is an issue, say some observers, headed straight for the Supreme Court.

``We firmly believe that the federal government is ultimately responsible for their plan to assimilate the aboriginal people of this country,'' says Craig Brown, a partner in the Toronto law firm Thomson Rogers, which recently filed the $10 billion class-action suit. ``They planned it, they funded it, they chose their partners to execute their plan, they supervised those partners.''

Ottawa's view, however, is that culture is not on the table. The cases are about abuse - no more, no less.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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32. Greek Church Fights ID Card Changes
The Associated Press, Sep. 1, 2000
http://my.aol.com/news/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
ATHENS, Greece (AP) - The Greek Orthodox Church gave the government a two-week deadline Friday to begin talks on keeping religion on state ID cards or face a mass petition drive to force a referendum.

The country's Socialist leaders appear poised for a showdown.
(...)

The issue has the potential to open serious rifts in Greek society.

The powerful church, which portrays itself as the caretaker of the national identity, organized two anti-government rallies in June that drew a total of nearly 300,000 people.

In his harshest comments so far, Premier Costas Simitis accused the church of trying to mislead Greeks.

``The identity card ... is totally irrelevant to our religious beliefs, our historical identity and our standing as Greeks,'' Simitis said in a nationally televised annual state of the nation address.

He added that any efforts to impose an ``identity'' on Greeks had ``specific objectives and mainly the wielding of power.''

A petition drive would place the church directly into the political process - a question that sharply divides Greeks. Reppas called it ``destabilizing.''

More than 97 percent of the native-born population is baptized into the Greek Church and Orthodox Christianity is the official religion. But a large number of Greeks object to overt politicking by clergymen, according to polls.
(...)

The church has said it would like to collect nearly 5 million signatures - about half the total population - to force a referendum. According to the constitution, only the government can call a referendum.
(...)

Simitis said religion was abolished on ID cards because it ran counter to Greece's modernization efforts and European outlook. Greece's religious minorities, including Jews, Muslims and Roman Catholics, welcomed the decision as a way to limit religious discrimination.

But many Orthodox church leaders are wary of the government's drive to bring Greece into the EU mainstream, seeing it as a threat to the nation's Christian Orthodox character.

Earlier this week, the church condemned proposals to abolish exams for religion classes in the last two years of high school. Reformers say passing a religion exam should not be a prerequisite for acceptance at state universities.

The church considers it another step toward what it fears most: a formal separation of church and state.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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33. Fervent Calls For a New Society
Washington Post, Sep. 3, 2000
http://www.washingtonpost.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Tens of thousands of Christian youths gathered on the Mall yesterday in a dawn-to-dusk prayer rally that called for reconciliation between children and parents, an end to abortion and sexual immorality, and the return of school-sponsored prayer.

TheCallDC, drew teenagers, youths, adult leaders and parents from as far away as Australia. Organizers envisioned the event as the beginning of a ''new spiritual revolution,'' and participants responded with the energy and explosive outbursts associated with such a revival--crying, dancing, singing and shouts of joy.

The rally, spearheaded by Che Ahn, 44, pastor of Harvest Rock Church in Pasadena, Calif., presented a nonstop procession of speakers, preachers, singers and dancers.

Among the speakers was Bill McCartney, president of Promise Keepers. In 1997, the Christian men's movement drew more than 600,000 men to the Mall, where they pledged to be better fathers and husbands. That event, Stand in the Gap, helped inspire yesterday's gathering.

But although family reconciliation was a major part of TheCallDC's agenda, more prevalent were the pleas for renewal of American society, with a new generation of Christians fighting for what it perceives as the religious values and intent of the Founding Fathers.

''A demonic decree has been released on your generation and mine!'' shouted Lou Engle, an associate pastor at Harvest Rock Church. ''You're a hated people by the power of darkness.''

Engle and others also prayed for President Clinton and other government leaders, decried the influence of ''mystery religions'' and demanded that Christians be allowed to exercise their faith more freely.
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34. Pin-up girl sells God to Britain
The Guardian (England), Sep. 3, 2000
http://www.guardianunlimited.co.uk/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
It is the evangelical movement with more money and enthusiastic followers than any other in Britain - and now it has its own pin-up girl.

This weekend, posters promoting the controversial Alpha induction course into Christianity are going up across the nation in a £1 million recruitment drive. And the campaign is also likely to turn the face of a young Sunday School teacher from west London into a symbol of religious fervour.

Alpha has advertised before, but this year is different. For the first time, organisers of the highly successful ecumenical evening courses have paid marketing consultants for advice on 'brand identity'.
(...)

'Alpha encouraged us to personalise their image and so we decided to use a pretty, almost girl-next-door-face.'

These tactics play into the hands, however, of those who condemn Alpha for deliberately appealing to the lonely by stressing the social, and even sexual, advantages of its famed 'happy clappy' approach and weekends away. Liberal Christians dislike the stated Alpha position against homosexuality, divorce and abortion.
(...)

The course itself has been around for 20 years, but its latest renaissance is chiefly the work of the Rev Nicky Gumbel and his vicar at HTB, Sandy Millar.

The Alpha programme was originally designed by Anglicans to attract non-churchgoers, and has extraordinary global popularity. It runs in more than 100 countries and 15,000 churches, from Lutheran, Baptist, Methodist and Pentecostal to Catholic.

Organisers say that 3.5 million Britons have had contact with Alpha. The are courses run in universities and in 122 of the country's 158 prisons, and the new 'initiative' will be launched outside Dartmoor Prison in recognition of its large Alpha membership.

The course, which emphasises the importance of everyday miracles and coincidences, has the backing of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, and those who embrace Alpha's teachings often fall down in a shaking fit. This demonstrative entry to the faith is known as 'the Toronto blessing'.

The last advertising campaign more than doubled the number of applicants to the courses, organisers claim.
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=== Religious Freedom / Religious Intolerance

35. Minute of Silence Starts
Washington Post, Aug. 28, 2000
http://washingtonpost.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
[Religious Freedom / Religious Intolerance]
A 16-year-old Loudoun County student walked out of class yesterday to protest the new minute of silence required in all Virginia public schools, leaving school officials unsure of how to handle the incident.
(...)

E. Wayne Griffiths, the principal at Potomac Falls, said Kupersmith would not be disciplined because his conduct was not disruptive. ''If I had 50 kids walk out of class, that's a problem,'' Griffiths added.

But Loudoun School Superintendent Edgar B. Hatrick III said he believes Kupersmith should be disciplined, although he said that decision is up to the principal. Students are expected to stay in the classroom unless they have the teacher's permission to leave, Hatrick said.
(...)

Kupersmith has made no secret of his opposition to the law. He is one of eight student plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia that seeks to overturn the law on the grounds that it violates the separation of church and state.

Earlier this month, at the request of Kupersmith's father, Hatrick met with Kupersmith and his parents to discuss the student's plans to walk out of class during the daily minute of silence.

Hatrick told the family that Kupersmith would face the same sanctions as other students who walk out of class without permission. A student who continually leaves a classroom receives an oral warning, Hatrick said. If the behavior persists, the student must attend detention and then faces suspension.

Roy Kupersmith, the student's father, said Hatrick suggested that the teenager instead protest by standing silently by his desk. The state law requires that ''all pupils remain seated'' during the silent minute. But the student said he felt he needed to leave the room to avoid participating.
(...)

Rebecca K. Glenberg, legal director of the Virginia ACLU, said Loudoun school officials would violate Kupersmith's rights if they disciplined him. ''The minute of silence itself is unconstitutional, so therefore disciplining a student . . . would be as well,'' she said.

On Friday, attorneys for the ACLU will go to federal court in Alexandria to seek a preliminary injunction against the law. Until that hearing, Kupersmith said, he plans to continue leaving the classroom while other students observe the silent minute.
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36. ACLU Doesn't Like Sound of School Silence
Fox News, Sep. 1, 2000
http://www.foxnews.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
[Religious Freedom / Religious Intolerance]
With so much controversy swirling around school prayer, the state of Virginia decided a nice alternative would be a mandatory moment of silence, in which students could meditate as they saw fit.

But the American Civil Liberties Union said school silence must stop, too. The ACLU asked a federal judge to stop the measure, saying even silence in schools violated the Constitution if students saw it as an encouragement to pray.

Virginia's attorney general said the moment of silence policy didn't limit students' freedom, but protected it.

''A moment of silence will contribute to maintaining order and discipline in our classrooms and allow students time to thoughtfully prepare themselves for the upcoming educational activities of the day,'' Attorney General Mark Earley said in a statement.

While the state has had an optional silent moment since 1976, a law enacted July 1 required schools to conduct a minute of silence each day so students could ''meditate, pray or engage in other silent activity.''

Arguing that the practice was an unconstitutional violation of the separation of church and state, the ACLU of Virginia filed a lawsuit on behalf of eight families. The ACLU asked for a preliminary injunction - to suspend the moment of silence policy until the lawsuit's resolution - but U.S. District Judge Claude M. Hilton denied that request on Thursday.
(...)

The state maintains the law is fine as it stands. In a statement released after the denial of the ACLU's request to temporarily suspend the policy, Virginia Attorney General Early said, ''Today's decision affirms the constitutional guarantees of religious tolerance and freedom for Virginia students.''
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37. Injunction Denied On School Silence
Washington Post, Sep. 1, 2000
http://washingtonpost.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
[Religious Freedom / Religious Intolerance]
A federal judge ruled yesterday that Virginia public schools can continue requiring students to observe a moment of silence until he decides whether the law that mandates the practice is constitutional.

U.S. District Judge Claude M. Hilton declined to issue the temporary injunction requested by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of 10 students and their families. But he specifically said he was not ruling on whether the law, which requires students to stay silent for one minute at the start of each school day, violates the First Amendment's ban on state-supported religion.

''This Virginia statute . . . permits a student to do whatever he wants as long as he remains silent,'' Hilton said at a hearing in Alexandria. ''Whatever bit of coercion could possibly be, there is not going to be irreparable harm between now and when I resolve this case.''
(...)

Hilton's decision disappointed the student plaintiffs yesterday.

''People are going to face persecution,'' said Mia Magruder, 13, of Amherst County. ''If you see everyone in the room is praying and you're not, you're going to face people who [say] . . . 'Why aren't you praying? You should believe in this.' ''

But Del. Richard H. Black (R-Loudoun), who co-sponsored the legislation, called the judge's ruling ''very encouraging. . . . Those who opposed the moment of silence have an antagonism toward religion, and they'd like to prevent people from having religious thoughts.''
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38. Faithful hardly a whisper at epicenter of school prayer debate
The Associated Press, Sep. 1, 2000
http://my.aol.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
[Religious Freedom / Religious Intolerance]
SANTA FE, Texas (AP) - Football returned to Santa Fe High School with all the pomp and circumstance of Texas' Friday night football passion, but without the usual prayers.

At the public school where the seeds for the Supreme Court's landmark ruling banning school-sanctioned pregame prayer were sown, fewer than 200 in a crowd of about 4,500 prayed out loud before the game in protest.

The bold predictions of 10,000 Christians converging on the season opener to recite ``The Lord's Prayer'' never materialized.

The Texas-based group No Pray No Play, from the town of Temple, led a statewide movement to encourage Christians to pray as soon as the National Anthem was finished at their respective games Friday.

But when the moment came in Santa Fe, the loudspeakers - which the high court said could not be used for religious speech - drowned out the handful of praying fans with the announcement of the opposing team's arrival on the field.
(...)

The prayer advocates had an unusual ally in their argument that the First Amendment gives them the right to free speech, including prayer: the American Civil Liberties Union, which helped successfully argue against the district.

``That is exactly the kind of freedom we're fighting for. The only place we have a concern is if the groups are going to try to get an official place in the program, or use the public address systems,'' said Martin Mayne, president of the Houston chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

``The simple act of any group deciding they want to voice any opinion, that's speech we fight 100 percent of the time to protect,'' Mayne said.

Friday's recitation paled in comparison to other pregame expressions of faith at football games around the country since the high court's ruling.

High school football began last week in some states, and prayer demonstrations already have occurred, most notably in Hattiesburg, Miss., when 4,500 stood to pray before a game. In Asheville, N.C., 25,000 people gathered at a football stadium for a rally sponsored by a group urging the recitation of ``The Lord's Prayer'' at football games.

In Spring Valley, W.Va., one high school football player and radio station believed they found a way around the Supreme Court ruling. From the high school's field Friday, Dave McCallister recited a prayer over WRVC-FM/AM.

Offering to broadcast a prayer doesn't violate the court ruling because it gives people a choice, said Spring Valley Principal Barry Scragg. ``If they don't want to hear the prayer, they can turn the radio off.''

On the Net:

The decision in Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe: http://supct.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/99-62.ZS.htmlOff-site Link

http://www.nopraynoplay.orgOff-site Link
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=== Noted

39. Not just teaching, but ministry, too
Dallas Morning News, Sep. 2, 2000
http://www.dallasnews.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(...) Across North America, and the world, the Seventh-day Adventist Church is quietly going about the education of hundreds of thousands of children. Only the Catholic Church has a larger religious education system, and yet the Adventist system is nowhere near as well-known.

''We've not done a lot of marketing because the schools were originally designed for church members,'' said Richard Osborn, vice president of education for the church in North America. ''But in recent years, we have been reaching out to the general public.''

Seventh-day Adventists are distinguished from other churches by their belief that Christians should worship on Saturday. ''Adventist'' refers to their belief that Christ's coming is near.
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=== Books

40. Sharper Than A Serpent's Tooth
Washington Post, Sep. 1, 2000
http://washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/print/style/A59395-2000Aug31.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
DREAM CATCHEROff-site Link
A Memoir
By Margaret A. Salinger
Washington Square Press. 436 pp. $27.95

Like father, like daughter. J.D. Salinger wrote fiction--back in those distant days when he still wrote and sometimes even published it--as therapy; ''my father,'' Peggy Salinger says, ''for all his protestations and lectures and writing about detachment, is a very, very needy man'' who wrote with ''the intense, borderline neediness of a cliff walker.'' His daughter, for her part, writes memoir as therapy; her ''neediness'' is as transparent as her father's and is no more attractive.

''Dream Catcher'' is indeed in almost all respects an unattractive and unwelcome book. Had its author been anyone except the only daughter of this country's most famously reclusive novelist--yes, even more famous than if not quite so reclusive as Thomas Pynchon--it certainly would not have been published. It is too long by at least 200 pages, it is almost indescribably self-indulgent, and it invades the author's father's cherished privacy to the point of disloyalty and exploitation.

Salinger pere has defended that privacy with a tenacity that at times has spilled over into something more like lunacy.
(...)

Salinger has married three times: a German war bride (the marriage was short), Claire (who was a decade and a half his junior when they married) and now Colleen (''nearly 50 years younger than my father''). None of his wives has written about the experience, at least for publication, but Claire talked extensively with Peggy as this book was in preparation. Salinger doted on her at first, but became aloof and verbally abusive--saying she was filthy and undesirable--when she became pregnant. He isolated Claire from the real world, exposed her to (though did not necessarily force her to participate in) a succession of religions and health fads--Zen Buddhism, Vedanta Hinduism, Kriya yoga, Christian Science, Scientology, homeopathy, acupuncture, macrobiotics, ''drinking urine or sitting in an orgone box.'' At one point, Peggy claims, Salinger drove Claire to consider killing her daughter and herself.

To the extent that ''Dream Catcher'' re-creates and attempts to explicate this outre world in which her family lived, it may have some limited value.
(...)

It is also helpful to have a detailed account of Salinger's divided identity--his father was Jewish, his mother Irish Catholic--and an examination of its pervasive influence upon him. It must be said, though, that the usefulness of this portion of ''Dream Catcher'' is considerably diminished by the author's astonishing ignorance of and naivete about the larger subject of antisemitism in America. Knowing nothing about it herself, she insists on researching it at length and then regurgitating everything she has learned. To anyone reasonably well informed about American history and society, this will seem an interminable exploration of tediously familiar territory.

But then Peggy Salinger gives the impression of being a compulsive autodidact who cannot resist putting any knowledge on parade, no matter how trivial or irrelevant. The pages of ''Dream Catcher'' are littered with footnotes--two or more on many pages--that not merely cite sources but add gratuitous and mostly meaningless clutter to a narrative that already has far more than it needs.
(...)

It may seem a bold gesture for Peggy Salinger to say that she meant ''to defy his cult of secrecy by writing this book,'' but it remains that her father is entitled to his secrecy, or privacy, and that this book is a willful violation of it. That being the case, ''Dream Catcher'' must be seen not as an attempt at self-exploration and self-understanding but as an act of revenge and betrayal: a blow beneath the belt.