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Religion News Report

October 13, 2000 (Vol. 4, Issue 272)

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Rainbow


=== Aum Shinrikyo
1. 4 charges dropped against Aum leader

=== Ho No Hana Sanpogyo
2. Foot-reading guru denies bilking flock
3. Ho-no-Hana cult leader pleads not guilty

=== Zhong Gong
4. China sentences members of Chinese mystical group: rights group

=== Raelians
5. Leader Emerges for Disciples of Human Cloning
6. Alarm as cult announces plan to clone humans

=== Unification Church
7. Rev. Moon, North Korea && the Bushes

=== Mungiki
8. Scores Injured In Kenya Police Battle With Sect Members

=== Islam
9. Immigrant Muslims coming to grips with domestic violence

=== Catholicism
10. 'Hate ad' in The Sun draws ire of cardinal
11. Vatican official explains consecration to Mary

=== Mormonism
12. Utah's newspapers scuffle over joint agreement

=== Jehovah's Witnesses
13. Tragedy puts church in new light

=== Witchcraft
14. Effort to Reverse Verdict Focuses on Witchcraft
15. Charges refiled in brandings

=== Hate Groups
16. Is there room for hate on the Web?
17. KKK seeks permit for Fountain Square cross
18. Holocaust denier sparks festival row
19. Germany Reports Sharp Increase in Far-Right Crime

=== Other News
20. Cult leader enters insanity plea in '98 murder
21. 'Ramtha's channeler' can't testify
22. Judge sides with Putnam on Nuwaubian permit
23. Judge Throws Out Green's Defamation Lawsuit
24. Japan police arrest man in case of missing Briton
25. Interest rises in things that go bump in night
26. Laura Schlessinger Gives Gays Full-Page Apology
27. 50 FUTO Students Renounce Cult Membership
28. Church's `splotch' is faithful's `miracle'
29. Caravan park 'Christ' draws the faithful

=== Israel
30. News from Israel

=== Hoaxes
31. Group aims to bring back Jesus

=== Noted
32. Praying to the President

=== Internet

33. Interested in religion and spirituality? The Internet has everything from
Adam to Zen


=== Aum Shinrikyo

1. 4 charges dropped against Aum leader
Daily Yomiuri (Japan), Oct. 13, 2000
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
The Tokyo District Court on Thursday approved the withdrawal of four illicit drug manufacturing charges against Aum Supreme Truth cult founder Chizuo Matsumoto, 45, better known as Shoko Asahara.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Ho No Hana Sanpogyo

2. Foot-reading guru denies bilking flock
Japan Times (Japan), Oct. 13, 2000
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Hogen Fukunaga, founder of the Honohana Sanpogyo foot-reading cult, denied in his first trial hearing Thursday that he conspired with other members of the sect to defraud 31 people out of about 149 million yen.

Fukunaga, 55, told the Tokyo District Court that he has been engaged in religious activities, which he described as authentic, for 20 years. He said this would have been impossible had he committed fraud.

''I have never heard a voice from heaven that instructed me to swindle somebody,'' he said. ''Therefore, I have never told anybody to swindle somebody else.''

In their opening statement, prosecutors said Fukunaga and his cohorts conspired between 1994 and 1997 to cheat 31 people out of about 149 million yen by telling them their health or family problems would worsen unless they attended the cult's seminars, which cost 2.25 million yen per person.

In some cases, the accused demanded more than 10 million yen, claiming their targets' problems were very serious, they said.

Fukunaga and the other defendants convinced the victims that they could predict ominous events by reading the soles of their feet, the prosecutors said.

They said Fukunaga told the victims to resolve their problems by attending the seminars or donating to the cult, as instructed by a ''voice from heaven'' only he could hear.

During the hearing, Fukunaga's lawyer said Honohana's activity did not constitute fraud because the organization is purely religious and its freedom to engage in religious activity is guaranteed by the Constitution.

Nine others charged in the case also appeared at the hearing. Four of them, including the cult's No. 2 man, Yasunori Hoshiyama, whose real name is Yasunori Lee, admitted the fraud charges in court but claimed they fully believed Fukunaga had religious power at the time.

The five others denied guilt and claimed their actions stemmed from their religious beliefs.

Five other Honohana members also accused of fraud are standing trial separately.
(...)

Fukunaga, whose real name is Teruyoshi Fukunaga, started preaching religion in 1980. He claims to be the world's final savior.

The cult, which once claimed to have 30,000 followers, collected 95 billion yen between 1987 and 1999, of which 85 billion yen was taken directly from cult followers as donations or fees for goods and seminars, police said.

The rest of the money came from the cult's affiliated companies.
(...)

During police questioning, Fukunaga admitted that he swindled money from his followers by telling them he could cure illnesses, despite knowing he has no such power.
(...)

About 1,200 people have filed lawsuits against the cult at eight district courts across the country, demanding it repay more than 5.8 billion yen.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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3. Ho-No-Hana cult leader pleads not guilty
Daily Yomiuri (Japan), Oct. 13, 2000
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Hogen Fukunaga, founder of the Ho-no-Hana Sanpogyo cult, pleaded not guilty to charges of fraud at the first hearing of his trial at the Tokyo District Court on Thursday.

The prosecution alleges that from January 1994 to August 1996, the 55-year-old cult leader and three of the other nine defendants swindled 31 people out of about 149 million yen.
(...)

Prosecutors on Thursday said that Fukunaga established a religious group to defraud people out of money by pretending he had psychic powers.
(...)

When presiding Judge Toshio Nagai asked Fukunaga to formally identify himself at the start of the proceedings, he replied in a husky voice that he was known as Hogen Fukunaga, but that his legal name was Teruyoshi Fukunaga.

When asked about his profession, Fukunaga answered that he was a leader of a ''superior religion.''
(...)

According to the indictment, the scam involved cult members examining the soles of the feet of followers who came to the group seeking counseling about diseases and other problems. After the examination, the followers were told that they were at immediate risk of contracting cancer. The defendants then charged between 1.6 million yen to 17.33 million yen per person for instruction in how to avoid cancer, the prosecutors said.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Zhong Gong

4. China sentences members of Chinese mystical group: rights group
AFP, Oct. 11, 2000
http://sg.dailynews.yahoo.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
China has sent two members of the mystical Zhonggong group to prison and labor camp, but the whereabouts of several hundred members remains a mystery, a human rights group said Wednesday.

Li Xiaoning and Cheng Yaqin were sentenced to three years in prison and two years in a ''reform through labor'' camp respectively, the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy said.

The two are leaders of Zhonggong, which holds similar beliefs to the banned Falungong spiritual group.

They were arrested along with about 600 Zhonggong leaders late last year when the Chinese government launched a low-profile campaign against the group while carrying out a high-profile battle against Falungong.

Authorities also shut down 3,000 of Zhonggong's offices and businesses throughout the country.

Li and Cheng were sentenced on charges of ''disturbing social order.''
(...)

The information center said it believed the Communist Party was gearing up to ban Zhonggong as an evil cult, as it did with Falungong.

The center said the government revealed in internal documents dating back to 1995 that it considered Zhonggong a dangerous group.

The party has not adopted a public campaign against Zhonggong to avoid combatting both Zhonggong and Falungong at the same time, the center said.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Raelians

5. Leader Emerges for Disciples of Human Cloning
San Francisco Chronicle, Oct. 12, 2000
http://www.sfgate.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
A French cult leader who has revealed plans to clone a human being visited San Francisco yesterday to say his experiment will help gay couples conceive.

Rael, a race-car driver turned prophet, offered no proof of his claims -- which have made headlines in the Washington Post and Britain's Guardian -- that an anonymous American couple has offered his sect more than $1 million to clone their dead daughter from a preserved cell sample.

Margaret McLean, director of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics in Santa Clara and a member of a state commission looking into the cloning issue, said the practice is illegal in California. There is also a ban on federal funding for cloning research, but this would not affect private cloning efforts.
(...)

Rael, who has set up a Web site, clonaid.comOff-site Link, to call attention to his venture, was vague about details of the project.

Saying only that he has lined up a French scientist and 50 female followers to serve as egg donors, Rael brushed off questions about where, when or how this cloning would take place.

He also declined to discuss the ethical implications of the experiment, which would produce many defective embryos even if the experiment ultimately proved successful.

Instead, accompanied by three male and two female followers, wearing the star-shaped symbol of his sect, Rael used yesterday's news conference to explain his belief that an alien race created all life on Earth in a DNA experiment 25,000 years ago.

He said this revelation first came to him in 1973, when an alien ship landed in central France and a representative of an alien race called the Elohim explained what Rael argued is the true story of creation.

Forget the begats of the Bible and the fossils of evolution. Rael has convinced some 50,000 followers in dozens of countries -- with the largest concentrations in Japan, France and the United States --that the Elohim found Earth devoid of life and created all the plants and creatures we see through vast genetic engineering experiments.

Rael said cloning a human infant from the cells of the deceased child is only the first step in his ultimate plan. Eventually, he wants to develop an accelerated growth technique, which he witnessed among the Elohim. This would allow a clone to be grown to adulthood quickly. With advanced computing technology, he said, people could ultimately imprint their memory patterns on the clone's blank mind.

``We can reach eternal life through cloning,'' Rael said.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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6. Alarm as cult announces plan to clone humans
The Guardian (England), Oct. 11, 2000
http://www.guardianunlimited.co.uk/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
US scientists said yesterday that little could be done to stop a UFO-worshipping cult from pursuing a plan to clone a human being, after the group said it had both the money and the medical knowledge to carry out the act.

A former French sports journalist, who calls himself Rael, and his followers claim to be on the verge of cloning an embryo from cells grafted from a 10-month-old girl who died as a result of a medical mistake.

The girl's parents, whom the group have not named, are reportedly paying $500,000 (&#pound;357,000) for the procedure. It is not clear whether the Raelians have begun their attempted cloning.

Since the first successful cloning of a mammal, Dolly the sheep in 1997, biologists and ethicists have worried that a private group might attempt human cloning in the absence of clear regulations.

''This is terrible. It really starts to turn the production of human beings into a kind of manufacturing technology,'' Stuart Newman, a professor of cellular biology at New York Medical College said. ''You're creating individuals according to a prototype, but in reality you don't know what you're going to create.''

US law only prevents federal funds being used for human cloning. Don Ralbovsky, a spokesman at the national institute of health, a government research body, confirmed that there was no law to prevent a privately-funded venture. In theory, the food and drug administration (FDA) has the authority to regulate any attempt at human cloning, but that authority has yet to be tested in court.

''A cult is very well suited to do these things, because it's well suited to taking the risks involved,'' Mr Newman said.

In fact, the more fanatical the organisation the more likely it is to succeed.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Unification Church

7. Rev. Moon, North Korea & the Bushes
Consortiumnews.com, Oct. 11, 2000
http://www.consortiumnews.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
The Rev. Sun Myung Moon's business empire, which includes the conservative Washington Times, paid millions of dollars to North Korea's communist leaders in the early 1990s when the hard-line government needed foreign currency to finance its weapons programs, according to U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency documents.

The payments included a $3 million ''birthday present'' to current communist leader Kim Jong Il and offshore payments amounting to ''several tens of million dollars'' to the previous communist dictator, Kim Il Sung, the partially declassified documents said.

Moon apparently was seeking a business foothold in North Korea. But the transactions also raise legal questions for Moon and could cast a shadow on George W. Bush's presidential campaign, given the Bush family's longstanding financial and political ties to Moon and his organization.

Besides making alleged payments to North Korea's communist leaders, the 80-year-old founder of the South Korean-based Unification Church has funneled large sums of money, possibly millions of dollars as well, to former President George H.W. Bush.

One well-placed former leader of Moon's Unification Church told me that the total earmarked for former President Bush was $10 million. The father of the Republican nominee has declined to say how much Moon's organization actually paid him for speeches and other services in Asia, the United States and South America.

At one Moon-sponsored speech in Argentina in 1996, Bush declared, ''I want to salute Reverend Moon,'' whom Bush praised as ''the man with the vision.''

Bush made these speeches at a time when Moon was expressing intensely anti-American views. In his own speeches, Moon termed the United States ''Satan's harvest'' and claimed that American women descended from a ''line of prostitutes.''

During this year's presidential campaign, Moon's Washington Times has attacked the Clinton-Gore administration for failing to take more aggressive steps to defend against North Korea's missile program. The newspaper called the administration's decisions an ''abdication of responsibility for national security.''
(...)

By supplying money at a time when North Korea was desperate for hard currency, Moon helped deliver the means for the communist state to advance exactly the strategic threat that Moon's newspaper now says will require billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars to thwart.

That money bought Moon influence inside North Korea. It is less clear how much influence Moon and his associates will have inside a George W. Bush White House, given Moon's longstanding -- though little known -- support for the Bush family.

Robert Parry is a veteran investigative reporter, who broke many of the Iran-contra stories in the 1980s for The Associated Press and Newsweek.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Mungiki

8. Scores Injured In Kenya Police Battle With Sect Members
Africa News Service, Oct. 11, 2000
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Nairobi, Kenya (PANA) - Scores of people were injured, some seriously, when riot police and members of the outlawed Mungiki sect fought running battles at Huruma and Mathare slum villages on the northern outskirts of Nairobi Monday night, the People daily reported Wednesday.

According to the paper, trouble started when the police moved in to disperse a Mungiki prayer meeting in the area next to the headquarters of the para- military police general service unit.

It quoted an unnamed police source as saying that the police had ordered several hundreds of sect members to disperse, on grounds that the meeting was illegal.

But the members reportedly declined to disperse, forcing the officers to use force.

Enraged by the police action, the members stormed the nearby Bethany Christian college and damaged a church building and a number of classrooms on the compound.

The riotous sect members reportedly went on the rampage, beating up people on sight on the compound.

They smashed the church and classroom windows and the windscreens of two vehicles parked on the compound.
(...)

The Mungiki, a highly traditional sect whose teachings include the circumcision of girls and the consumption of snuff, was formed about three years ago. But it remains banned, with the government and the general public accusing it of all manner of ills, including devil worship.

The sect, which is said to be sponsored by an American organisation, claims to be offering college studies and is said to have been started to cater for Christians who wanted, at the time of its inception, to increase their religious knowledge and values.

But it has since been taken over by unkempt, dread-locked traditional fanatics, who have made a career out of defying law and order.

Despite the ban, the members still practise their faith all over the country.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Islam

9. Immigrant Muslims coming to grips with domestic violence
The Indianapolis Star/AP, Oct. 12, 2000
http://www.starnews.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
PLAINFIELD, Ind. (AP) -- Imam Abdul Khan says some men at his mosque in Rockford, Ill., have asked him not to speak out against domestic violence during Friday prayers. But he speaks out anyway.

Khan estimates about 1 in 6 families of the 200 that belong to his mosque have experienced such violence. Both men and women are victims.
(...)

Muslim immigrants from the Middle East, Asia and elsewhere are beginning to address the domestic violence that occurs as often in their midst as among other faiths and segments of U.S. society. Now that awareness of the problem is growing, activists hope they can educate fellow adherents to overcome cultural traditions that foment violence.

About 50 such activists from across the country, including Khan and several other imams, met last weekend for a workshop at the offices of the Plainfield-based Islamic Society of North America, an umbrella group representing several million Muslim immigrants.

The meeting marks a coming-of-age for U.S. Islam, confronting publicly a troubling social issue.
(...)

Men and women attending the workshop sat separately from each other in a small conference room but shared a belief that Islam does not permit domestic violence -- not even in the case of a scripture from the Quran -- Sura 4:34 -- that is sometimes cited as a sanction for it.

In the latter half of the verse, Allah directs men who fear misconduct by women to ''admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them; then if they obey you, do not seek a way against them.''

''This is misconstrued,'' said Dr. Basheer Ahmed, past president of the Islamic Medical Association. The Arlington, Texas, psychiatrist said Muslims who use the verse to justify violence against women are mistaken.

A widely used 1934 English translation of the verse by A. Yusuf Ali includes interpretive phrases in parentheses: ''As to those women on whose part ye fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (next), refuse to share their beds, (and last) beat them (lightly).''

Sharifa Alkhateeb, president of the North American Council for Muslim Women, said the verse speaks specifically of public lewd behavior of women, and to ''beat'' means to insult the women, not to harm them. She condemns those who hold up the verse as Quranic permission to commit domestic violence.
(...)

Alkhateeb said the council in 1993 surveyed 67 Muslim leaders and found a 10 percent average incidence of domestic violence among U.S. Muslims, reflecting society in general. ''We were shocked: We thought it would be much lower than that,'' she said.

She, like Ahmed, blamed cultural traditions imported from homelands for attitudes that men are superior or privileged. For instance, nothing in the Quran says men must eat first, but in 90 percent of cases that's the norm in immigrant Muslim homes, she said.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Catholicism

10 'Hate ad' in The Sun draws ire of cardinal
The Baltimore Sun, Oct. 11, 2000
http://www.baltimoresun.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
On Sunday and Monday, The Sun published a full page advertisement that ran beneath the words ''Earth's Final Warning.'' Since the advertisement appeared, many of our readers have complained it contained material that was highly offensive, insulting and disrespectful to several religions, especially the Catholic religion. When staff members of The Sun reviewed the advertisement last week, they did not realize the material was offensive to the religious community.

In light of the complaints The Sun has received in the last two days, we have decided that we erred in accepting the advertisement. We apologize to our readers for its publication. We will donate the profits from the advertisement to the United Way, which supports community agencies that serve all religious denominations. We will not accept advertisements like this in the future.
(...)

The ad, headlined ''Earth's Final Warning,'' is a five-column, single-spaced attack on Catholic and Protestant churches that observe the Sabbath on Sunday. The Eternal Gospel Church, based in Palm Beach, Fla., was formed by former members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, which holds that the Bible mandates observance of the Sabbath on Saturday, the seventh day of the week.

The ad identifies the Catholic church as the biblical ''whore of Babylon'' and warns of its ''false doctrines and traditions.'' A drawing shows Uncle Sam looking in a mirror and seeing a reflection of Pope John Paul II.
(...)

The Eternal Gospel Church placed 73 similar ads in newspapers across the country over the past nine years, said the Rev. Raphael Perez, pastor of the church, which he said has fewer than 300 members. In addition to The Sun, the ad appeared last weekend in four newspapers in Ohio, and in a newspaper in Montgomery County.

Perez's church has been disavowed by the Seventh-day Adventist Church, which won a court decision in April that prohibits the Eternal Gospel Church from using the denomination's name.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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11. Vatican official explains consecration to Mary
EWTN, Oct. 5, 2000
http://www.ewtn.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
VATICAN, Oct. 5, 00 (CWNews.com) -- The consecration of the world to the Virgin Mary, which will be formally pronounced by Pope John Paul II as the Jubilee for bishops concludes in Rome on October 8, is not a new step but the renewal of previous consecrations, according to a Vatican official.

Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, the secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, pointed to the previous consecrations, including the rite performed by Pope Pius XII on December 8, 1942, and the one led by Pope John Paul II on March 25, 1984.

The archbishop also pointed out that Pope John Paul has used a different term for this ceremony. Rather than ''consecrating'' the world to Mary, the Holy Father has chosen to ''place under Mary's protection'' the Church, her bishops, and the pastors of the world.

The word ''consecration,'' Archbishop Bertone went on to say, is traditionally used-- most notably by St. Louis-Marie Grignon de Montfort-- to convey the desire of the faithful to ''participate in the consecration that Christ himself made to his Father before his death on the Cross.'' The plea for Mary's ''protection,'' he added, conveys the humble realization that we humans need help from God, and therefore ask Mary's intercession. When asked why the Fatima statue is being used for this ceremony, Archbishop Bertone readily acknowledged that the cult of Our Lady of Fatima is a ''private devotion,'' which Catholics are not required to accept. Nevertheless, he said, the Fatima apparitions and devotions have won the explicit approval of the Church, and the message of Our Lady of Fatima ''remains valuable for the Christians of the 21st century.''
[...entire item...]


=== Mormonism

12. Utah's newspapers scuffle over joint agreement
Reuters, Oct. 12, 2000
http://my.aol.com/news/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
DENVER (Reuters) - A media war has erupted in Utah with an all-star cast of characters: the Mormon Church, Utah's largest newspaper, its most powerful politician and AT&T, the phone company that finds itself owning a newspaper it does not want.

The secular Salt Lake Tribune, with a circulation of almost 134,000 daily, says its future is at stake if the Deseret News, its smaller Mormon Church-owned rival, ends up with more power in the joint operating agreement under which they operate.

The two papers have been publishing under the JOA since 1952, but the relationship has grown tense and both have gone directly to their readers with Page One appeals.

``Tribune seeks to keep paper from Deseret News,'' the Tribune said last week on its front page. The Deseret fired back the next day with ``Deseret News seeks 'level playing field.'''

A spokesman for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormon Church's formal name, said it had no comment and was leaving the dispute to be settled by the two papers.

The unlikely corporation in the middle is telephone giant AT&T Corp., which inherited the Tribune when it acquired the paper's owner, cable giant Tele-Communications Inc.

Utah's powerful Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch has also been pulled into the fray, with the Tribune accusing him of trying to help the church, a charge denied by his staff.

AT&T reportedly is interested in selling its share of the joint operating agreement called the Newspaper Agency Corp. or NAC, under which the papers operate. The agreement handles printing, advertising and distribution of both papers.

Tribune management says it has an option to buy the share and wants to but fears its rival may be interested in bidding.

``In a state characterized and sometimes divided by religion, the possibility of church control of the Tribune raises fears that the lively discourse fostered by competing newspapers in Salt Lake City might be at risk,'' the Tribune said last week.

The Tribune was established in 1871 by dissident Mormons who were later excommunicated -- not easy in a state that is still 70 percent Mormon today. The 150-year-old Deseret was founded three years after Mormon pioneers arrived in Utah, seeking refuge from religions persecution.

AT&T spokeswoman Eileen Connolly said the company's policy is not to comment on rumors or speculation about acquisitions, sales or mergers. But she added, ``AT&T does not see owning a newspaper as a long-term strategic goal.''

A source close to the negotiations said AT&T would be willing to sell its interest to the Tribune management group.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Jehovah's Witnesses

13. Tragedy puts church in new light
The Beacon Journal, Oct. 12, 2000
http://www.ohio.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
One of the unexpected developments in the wake of the Theresa Andrews tragedy is the way it has opened the door, so to speak, to Jehovah's Witnesses.
That's the religion embraced by the Andrews family, and the religion whose members have, in turn, embraced the family since the news first broke of Andrews' bizarre murder and the theft of her unborn child.

It seems strange to call a religion that has such a public aspect ``mysterious,'' but that's generally the case. Most of us know them as the strangers who knock on our doors; most of us have turned them away and are left wondering what they're about.

So, although it's certain that any religion would have responded with equal compassion, there has been something very specifically Jehovah's Witnessesque about how this has been carried out:

The fact that, even though the family has been in relative seclusion, a public funeral, open to the media and all comers, was held Sunday.

The way church members worldwide have mobilized, almost as a family, in support.

The number of Jehovah's Witnesses, all carrying their trademark compact Bibles, in the crowd of approximately 2,000 who turned out at the memorial service.

The way the parking lot attendants and ushers, all church members, organized on short notice into a well-oiled crowd-control machine.

I had noticed these things, but it wasn't until Monday, when the story I wrote about the service appeared in the newspaper, that I began to realize the network behind it.
(...)

Although the circumstances in this case were anything but normal, church members are routinely trained in such mobilization efforts. There is an instructional video called Organize to Accomplish Our Ministry, and there are regular district conventions where such things are discussed.

When the decision was made to have a public funeral, ``We said, `OK, let's do what we do best,' '' Dryhurst said.
(...)

He was also very aware that the service, being so public, would be educational for people who knew little about this religious group.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Witchcraft

14. Effort to Reverse Verdict Focuses on Witchcraft
Los Angeles Times, Oct. 12, 2000
http://www.latimes.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
VENTURA--After more than a year of legal research and careful preparation, arguments over whether Diana Haun's 1997 murder conviction should be reversed boiled down to five minutes of discussion Wednesday on one lurid topic.

Witchcraft.

Attorney Barry O. Bernstein told appellate justices reviewing the murder case that allegations his 39-year-old client practiced witchcraft were gratuitous and inflamed the jury during her trial.

But Deputy Atty. Gen. Lawrence Daniels argued that the evidence was relevant because it showed Haun methodically plotted the killing of Ventura homemaker Sherri Dally as a gift to her lover, Michael Dally.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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15. Charges refiled in brandings
Tulsa World, Sep. 27, 2000
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
CLAREMORE -- Three counts of child abuse have been refiled against a self-proclaimed medicine man who is accused of branding two teenage girls as part of a neopagan religion.

Richard Elwood Swinney, 48, is accused of grabbing the buttocks of a then 15-year-old girl and branding two 16-year-old girls on their breasts with a piece of hot metal as part of the ritual for the ancient religion Wicca.
(...)

Swinney is accused of seizing on the girls' interest in witchcraft and Wicca by passing himself off as an authority on the ancient religion, Norris said. Swinney allegedly also convinced the girls that he could tell their future.

According to information Norris found on the religion, Wicca is neither a cult nor synonymous with Satanism. The Wiccan belief is that if you do good for others, good will come to you, he said.

Wicca, a form of polytheistic nature worship, has the Wiccan Rede as its core ethical statement. It states that if ''it harm none, do what you will.''

Among the religion's other beliefs are the divinity of all things and that people are one with nature.

Touting knowledge of the religion, Swinney allegedly encouraged the girls to meet with him at his home after school hours.

Norris said some of the things Swinney allegedly required of his followers was that they have a notebook bound with red thread and that the first page of the book be signed with his blood. According to an affidavit for a search warrant, one of the girls told authorities that she and another girl were at Swinney's house when he and the other girl started talking about Wicca.

Shortly thereafter, according to the affidavit, Swinney and the other girl left the room. When they returned, they asked her if she wanted to get branded. The girl stated that she allowed Swinney to brand her even though she didn't want to.
(...)

Norris said one of the girls became suspicious when Swinney kept changing the rules for new members. The girl researched Wicca and found that Swinney was not following the Wicca way. Norris said.

Basically, Norris said, ''he bent the religion to match his needs.''
(...)

While executing a search warrant at Swinney's apartment in April, police seized candles and books with titles such as ''Words Talking Spiritual Life,'' ''Navaho Witchcraft,'' ''Reading Tea Leaves,'' ''Voodoo,'' ''Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe'' and ''Shamanism.''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Hate Groups

16. Is there room for hate on the Web?
Excite/ZDnet, Oct. 12, 2000
http://news.excite.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
The freedom of speech debate is heating up Down Under, with an Australian-based web site being told to take down racist, offensive material relating to the Holocaust. However, Electronic Frontiers Association believe banning the site is counterproductive.

''The EFA doesn't believe the site should be banned, it just results in the further publication of the views of the Adelaide Institute. It gives them a platform over and above the web site,'' EFA chairman Irene Graham told ZDNet Australia.

However, Jeremy Jones from the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, which lodged the complaint, believes what is illegal outside the Internet should be illegal on the Internet.

The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission found content published on the Adelaide Institute web site by Dr Federick Toben relating to the Holocaust denial to be offensive both to the Jewish community and the public at large, and in breach of section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.

As a consequence, Toben has been asked by the Commission to remove content on the web site relating to the Holocaust denial and apologize to the public.

However, Toben has not removed any material on the site or made a public apology as the judgement is unenforceable under the legislation of 1996 when the complaint was lodged. According to Jones, the Commission will take the judgement to the Federal Court by the end of the year where a decision will be made on whether the content should be removed or not.
(...)

According to Graham, the EFA doesn't support the views of Toben, however they do believe that there needs to be a line drawn between speech that incites imminent violence and crime and speech that is merely offensive.

''Banning a web site that doesn't comply with Australian law will only divert the situation somewhere else,'' Graham said. Furthermore, Graham believes that the ruling is opening the door to vast amounts of information on the Internet to be banned.
(...)

''They should set up their own web site which actually puts out the facts,'' she added.

A conference will be held in Sydney in November where Jones and international guests will speak on the subject of Cyberhate.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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17. KKK seeks permit for Fountain Square cross
The Cincinnati Enquirer, Oct. 11, 2000
http://enquirer.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
The Ku Klux Klan has a request in for its Christmas cross display on Fountain Square.

But the Cincinnati Human Relations Commission says the city should reject the permit because the Klan incited violence during a rally in January.

The Rev. Jeffery Berry, KKK national imperial wizard, said Tuesday the Christmas display is a peaceful one.

''This here has nothing to do with a rally,'' he said in a phone interview from his Indiana home. ''This is not a racially motivated thing. This is about Christian values. It's a cross to say the Lord Jesus Christ died for our sins, no matter what color you are.''

He said the Klan is a religious group and if officials try to stop the display, he will file a federal lawsuit against the city.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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* Theologically the KKK is, at best, a cult of Christianity. It does not represent biblical Christianity is any way.


18. Holocaust denier sparks festival row
Scotland on Sunday, Oct. 8, 2000
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
A bitter row has broken out over a decision by the St Andrews University poetry festival to invite a performer who the organisers admit is a Holocaust denier and an apologist for the deposed Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.

The controversy is an embarrassment for the StAnza festival, one of Scotland's biggest poetry events, and the Scottish Arts Council, its main funders.

Leading academics last night condemned the decision to invite Adrian Paunescu, a Romanian politician and poet who was the favourite bard of Ceausescu. They claim that the poet has links with a movement which belittles the suffering of Jews in Romania during the Second World War and that he was an apologist for one of the most repressive dictators in the world.

Paunescu has been linked to the revisionist cult of Marshall Ion Antonescu, a movement which plays down or ignores the suffering inflicted on Jews during Antonescu's regime in the 1940s.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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19. Germany Reports Sharp Increase in Far-Right Crime
Reuters, Oct. 11, 2000
http://news.excite.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
BERLIN (Reuters) - Germans reported a surge in far-right crime in August after a spate of racist attacks triggered a pained national debate over xenophobic attitudes, official figures showed on Wednesday.

The German Interior Ministry said 1,112 crimes with far-right, xenophobic or anti-Semitic links were reported in August, almost double the average of 668 reported for the first seven months of the year.

For the year as a whole, such crime -- covering everything from attacks on property and the wearing of banned Nazi insignia to actual physical violence -- rose nearly a fifth on the first eight months of last year.

The ministry said the reasons for the sharp increase were not yet clear but cited the problem of copy-cat crimes and the fact that public debate over right-wing extremism had led to an increased sensitivity among the population to such crimes.
(...)

In another development on Wednesday, a poll by the Forsa institute published in Die Woche news weekly showed 78 percent of Germans believed authorities were not doing enough to combat the far-right, whose hard core is made up of Germany's small skinhead and neo-Nazi scene.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Other News

20. Cult leader enters insanity plea in '98 murder
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Oct. 13, 2000
http://seattlep-i.nwsource.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
A religious cult leader accused of first-degree murder in the 1998 death of a Mountlake Terrace man has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
(...)

Turgeon was returned to Snohomish County from California to stand trial in the death of Dan Jess, 40, once a member of Turgeon's Gatekeepers cult.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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21. 'Ramtha's channeler' can't testify
Seattle Post-Intelligencer/AP, Oct. 10, 2000
http://seattlep-i.nwsource.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
YELM -- The woman who claims to channel a 35,000-year-old warrior spirit called Ramtha says she can't take the witness stand against a couple accused of sexual misconduct with a 15-year-old girl.

J.Z. Knight said she doesn't remember the confession of voice instructor Wayne Allen Geis and his partner, Ruth Beverly Martin; the confession is said to have occurred about a year ago in front of about 800 stunned students at Ramtha's School of Enlightenment on Knight's Yelm estate.

Knight said she was in a trance at the time -- that it was Ramtha who questioned the couple and elicited the confession.

''There is a being outside of me which is him,'' Knight said.

Geis, 55, and Martin, 37, are charged with 10 counts of first-degree sexual misconduct with a minor. They pleaded not guilty at their September arraignment.

Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Andrew Toynbee said he doesn't think Knight will be called to testify because she doesn't recall the confession.

''The issue is not whether Ramtha was there,'' he said yesterday. ''This is really a rape case. I want to keep the trial focused on that aspect.''
(...)

Knight -- born Judith Darlene Hampton of Roswell, N.M. -- has said Ramtha first appeared in her Tacoma kitchen 20 years ago. She has parlayed the experience into a multimillion-dollar business including a publishing company, bookstore, clothing store and catalog operation.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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22. Judge sides with Putnam on Nuwaubian permit
The Macon Telegraph, Oct. 12, 2000
http://web.philly.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
EATONTON - A Superior Court judge Wednesday denied a request from the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors to allow the group to use one of its buildings as a hunting lodge.

Ralph Goldberg, the attorney representing the Nuwaubians, argued that the building was grandfathered in under current Putnam County zoning laws.

But Frank Ford, representing the county, countered that the building was not legal when it was built and therefore cannot be grandfathered in.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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23. Judge Throws Out Green's Defamation Lawsuit
Salt Lake Tribune, Oct. 11, 2000
http://www.sltrib.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
A judge has thrown out polygamist Tom Green's defamation lawsuit against an anti-polygamy group and ordered him to pay the organization's legal fees.

Green and his five wives filed the suit in 1999 in 3rd District Court against Tapestry of Polygamy (now known as Tapestry Against Polygamy) claiming the group slandered them on television. Green, representing himself and his wives, said the group unfairly labeled him as abusive and incestuous.

The suit was dismissed last month because the Greens failed to provide Tapestry lawyers with information concerning their personal family history. Those materials included marriage, divorce and birth certificates, and information regarding the Greens' financial and business activities, said Tapestry lawyer Douglas F. White.
(...)

Green -- who says he earns a living selling magazines and working as a paralegal -- filed the lawsuit in June 1999 against Tapestry, a nonprofit support group for former plural wives. He claims the group slandered him in a television interview with KUTV's Rod Decker on his ''Take Two'' program.

Besides Tapestry, the suit also named as defendants White and group member Carmen Thompson.

Next month, Green is scheduled to stand trial in Juab County's 4th District Court on four charges of bigamy and one count of criminal nonsupport for more than $50,000 in state support for 25 of his 29 children.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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24. Japan police arrest man in case of missing Briton
Reuters, Oct. 12, 2000
http://my.aol.com/news/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
TOKYO (Reuters) - Police have arrested a Japanese man they believe may have links to the disappearance of former bar hostess Lucie Blackman, Japanese media reported Thursday.

The reports said the man, 46, was arrested on charges that he molested a Canadian woman in March 1996. They said the man was a frequent visitor to hostess bars such as the one where Blackman, a Briton, worked in the Roppongi night life area of Tokyo.
(...)

Blackman, a former British Airways flight attendant working as a bar hostess in Tokyo, has not been seen since failing to return from a day out with a client on July 1.

After her disappearance, a man telephoned Blackman's flatmate to say she would not be coming back for some time, according to Japanese media reports.

Subsequent calls suggested Blackman had been taken for training in a new religious cult -- a claim her family has denied, saying she was a devout Catholic.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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25. Interest rises in things that go bump in night
Detroit News, Oct. 8, 2000
http://detnews.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
WESTLAND -- Ghost-busting is back big time in Metro Detroit, as reports of haunted spirits rise and barriers between science and faith fall.

Armed with video cameras, sophisticated recording equipment and an undying belief in the inexplicable, at least five ''ghost hunting'' clubs have sprung up in the last few years seeking documentation of the stuff that still elicits snorts from skeptics.

Many of the true believers -- and some with more questionable motives -- increasingly are turning their attentions to William Ganong -- or Butler -- Cemetery in Westland, which is touted as one of the most haunted spots in Michigan.

And the ranks of phantasmal fans could rise as mainstream society inches ever closer to embracing phenomena that science can't answer, suggested Richard Mann, a psychology professor at the University of Michigan who specializes in the unordinary.

''There's more of an interest now than skepticism,'' said Scott Hattis of River Rouge, a member of Ghost Hunters of Southern Michigan. ''It used to be that people would never believe in it, but there's so much happening now, you can't help but have a revival. I get e-mails every day from people experiencing spirits in their homes.''

Indeed, while ghosts and other apparitions once were dismissed as laughable fodder from the Middle Ages, respected academic publications such as the Journal of Scientific Exploration now treat the paranormal with as much respect and analysis as physics or the chaos theory.

Too much evidence has existed for too long to deny the existence of something out there that modern science can't identify, he said. Once the province of cranks, brushes with UFOs or spirits now happen to credible sources, Mann said.

''The reason this stuff is spreading is because there's a whole lot of people who are experiencing it,'' he said.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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26. Laura Schlessinger Gives Gays Full-Page Apology
Washington Post, Oct. 10, 2000
http://www.washingtonpost.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
LOS ANGELES, Oct. 10 -- First came the apology. Now comes the groveling.

Laura Schlessinger, the usually pugnacious radio advice guru with a new television show, has issued a ''heartfelt'' apology to the gay community in a full-page advertisement in Variety--her second mea culpa this year.

''While I express my opinions from the perspective of an Orthodox Jew and a staunch defender of the traditional family, in talking about gays and lesbians some of my words were poorly chosen,'' ''Dr. Laura'' says in the back-page ad, running in Wednesday's editions of the entertainment industry trade paper. ''Many people perceive them as hate speech. This fact has been personally and professionally devastating to me as well as to many others.''

Schlessinger said that Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement, which fell on Monday, was the occasion for her renewed reflection, even though she had already apologized to gays in March, saying, ''Some of the words I've used have hurt some people, and I am sorry for that.''

Gay activists have been unrelenting in their criticism of Schlessinger for her negative comments about gays on her radio show. She has called homosexuality ''deviant'' and ''a biological error'' and has often recommended ''reparative therapy'' to modify the sexual orientation of homosexuals.

But activists were not receptive to the Yom Kippur apology either.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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27. 50 FUTO Students Renounce Cult Membership
Africa News Service, Oct. 11, 2000
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Lagos - No fewer than 50 cult members of the Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO) have renounced their cult membership following the institution's war against cultism on campus.

The number is however less than the over 200 cultists who had earlier filled a form never to partake in cultism in the institution.

Speaking at the deliverance day of the tertiary institution, the Vice- Chancellor Professor J. E. Njoku described the exercise as unique in the history of FUTO, since those deceived into membership of various cult groups have come out to put the devil to shame.

Stressing the negative and unpleasant effects of cultism on the Nigerian universities, Njoku said the drastic measures employed by both government and tertiary institutions appears to be the only way to stem the cancerous monster in the ivory towers.

The vice-chancellor applauded the stand of President Olusegun Obasanjo against cultism and cult activities in higher institutions and stated that ''this is a battle both the university system and the nation cannot afford to lose, if the right atmosphere conducive for learning will be ensured in the system.''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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28. Church's `splotch' is faithful's `miracle'
Star-Telegram/Knight Ridder Newspapers, Oct. 11, 2000
[URL removed because it currently refers to inappropriate content]/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
PERTH AMBOY, N.J. -- Faith and reason are in conflict on Washington Street in this old port town, and it looks like faith has the edge for now.

Even though Roman Catholic church officials have determined that the splash of color in which some see the Virgin Mary in the second-floor window of a modest home here is caused by a defect in the glass, believers believe that a greater power is at work.

''It's a miracle,'' Anna Herczeg said. ''It's a miracle.''

The image, which has a sheen like oil on water, appeared about three weeks ago, and hundreds if not thousands have trekked to Washington Street, three blocks up from the Arthur Kill, to look, study and pray.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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29. Caravan park 'Christ' draws the faithful
BBC, Oct. 11, 2000
http://news.bbc.co.uk/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
To some it is just a mottled shadow cast on the fence of a caravan park - to others it is the face of Jesus Christ himself.

For the town of Port Germein in South Australia, the nightly apparition - resulting from the combination of a street light, a wooden fence and a conveniently placed tree - is providing a much-needed boost to the local tourist industry.

Newspaper reports about the ''miraculous'' vision have brought hundreds of visitors from across Australia to the small coastal resort and local officials say they will consider some sort of protection for the image.

The owners of the caravan park which plays host to the Christ shadow say they are booked solid for weeks ahead with people eager to witness the shadow's nightly appearance for themselves.

The face, replete with crown of thorns and beard, was first spotted about five months ago by Port Germein business owner Shelly Brooks.
(...)

Now the Port Germein Christ shadow looks set to join a growing list of otherwise everyday objects that have acquired a religious significance.

In 1997 the famous nun bun - a Cinamon bun with a striking resemblace to the late Mother Theresa - made its miraculous appearance at a Nashville bakery.
And last year a Muslim housewife in Yorkshire, England, was surprised to find a message from Allah inside a tomato.

For Port Germein, whose only other claim to fame to date is that it is home to the southern hemisphere's longest wooden jetty, the Christ shadow has added another - some would say much needed - attraction.

In response to public pressure, the local council has said that routine trimming of the tree will not now take place.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Israel

30. News from Israel

Comment from RNR's publisher:

For news from Israel that is not filtered though the perspective of CNN, see:

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Off-site Link

That news is provided by Arutz Sheva, an offshore radio stations broadcasting off the coast of Israel. It is hugely popular in Israel, and provides the kind of news items CNN doesn't allow its viewers to see (e.g. check the video gallery for a feature called ''Jihad for Kids,'' documenting how the Palestinians indoctrinate kids into becoming terrorists). About the stationOff-site Link


=== Hoaxes

31. Group aims to bring back Jesus
Chicago Sun-Times, Sep. 29, 2000
http://www.suntimes.com/output/health/dna29.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
[...hoaxes...]
A California group says it plans to clone Jesus, using DNA obtained from a relic.

They have little money and as yet no relic of Jesus, but they hope to perform the cloning early next year, in time for a birth by Dec. 25, 2001.

''We need Jesus in the flesh to save the world from sin,'' says the Web site of the Second Coming Project. ''We have the technology to bring him back right now, and there is no reason, moral, legal or biblical, not to take advantage of it.''

A spokesman for the group said it is negotiating with European churches and private individuals to obtain an item associated with Jesus.

Religious and scientific authorities dismissed the effort, saying only a miracle could return Jesus to the world. It's unlikely that any true relics containing DNA from Jesus' body remain, said Thomas Nairn, associate professor of Christian ethics at Catholic Theological Union.

The practice of saving remains of holy figures began ''centuries after the time of Christ,'' Nairn said. He added that churches that have relics would not part with them because the church does not condone human cloning.

Even if the cloning were successful, ''It might be Jesus' twin brother, but it wouldn't be the divine Christ,'' Nairn said.

A bigger barrier is science. The only cloning so far has started with DNA from live cells.
(...)

The spokesman asked that his name not be used because of threats his group has received. He conceded that if successful, they might not get the real Jesus. ''It may very well be this child picks his nose, gets in fights on the playground and grows up to be a truck driver,'' he said.

On the Web: www.clonejesus.comOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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Note: this appears to be a hoax meant to sell the book ''Apocalypse Culture II,'' edited by Adam Parfray, founder and publisher of Feral HouseOff-site Link. Parfray also sells books by the late Anton LaVey, founder of the Church of Satan, and lots of other trash.

New Times LA published a story about Parfray:

The anthology Apocalypse Culture, which came out in 1987, set a new agenda for young pop-cultists and helped spark interest in topics -- body piercing, the writing of schizophrenics, the art of mass murderers, porn, violent shock rocker G.G. Allin -- that still burn through the Web and the youth underground: It's the book that launched a thousand 'zines.
Prince of DarknessOff-site Link : Adam Parfrey, publisher of the troublemaking press Feral House, has made it his life's work to propagate the apocalypse, New Times LA, Aug. 26, 1999


=== Noted

32. Praying to the President
UPI (Unification Church owned), Oct. 11, 2000
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Washington, Oct. 11 (UPI) - There are new products for sale in Venezuela's 5,000 shops specializing in esoterica: they are idols bearing the feature of President Hugo Chavez.

Wood carvers all over this South American nation are churning them out by the hundreds of thousands, to be placed on altars in private homes and the temples of a syncretistic sect called Marialionza.

Perhaps one-third of Venezuela's population of 22 million is at least passively linked to this cult named after a mythical Indian princess, according to an estimate by Rainer Mahlke, a German scholar.

Marialionza followers believe that Chavez is the reincarnation of Simon Bolivar (1783-1830), the liberator of South America.

That is also the opinion of Hans-Dieter Nassall, an internationally known German-Venezuelan warlock. Nassall recently flew to Caracas from Munich and proclaimed that Bolivar, in the shape of Chavez, would do marvelous things for his country.

This in turn seems to confirm a 1967 prophecy by Beatriz Veit-Tane, the self-proclaimed high priestess of Marialionza.

She predicted that in the year 2000 a ''messenger of light'' would resurrect Gran Colombia, Bolivar's short-lived empire that included present-day Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama and Bolivia and collapsed just before his death.

And indeed, Chavez often speaks of a need to recreate this vast political entity. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), that country's largest left-wing guerrilla force, thinks so, too.

On its Web site, FARC has already named this new federation after the Sarare River straddling the border between the two nations.
(...)

A Roman Catholic professor of theology in Caracas, speaking on condition of anonymity, blamed his own church's past complacency for the rise of this explosive mix of superstition and populist politics.

''We were lazy evangelizers,'' he admitted, ''as a result more than 3,000 religious groups (have) taken root here, some of them perfectly honorable evangelical denominations, others outlandish sects.''

Of the latter, none has a stranger theology than Marialionza whose roots reach back to the writings of Alan Kardec, the founder of the 19th-century spiritist movement in Europe. Kardec was the nom de plume of Leon Denizarth Hippolythe Rivail (1804-64) who taught that some peoples' souls can be called upon for guidance as they are in transit from one incarnation to the next.

Some New Age groups in North America, Western Europe and Australia have recently rescued Kardec's thought from oblivion by publishing his most famous work, The Spirits Book, on the Internet.
(...)

Kardec claimed that when you appeal to one spirit, a ghost of equal strength might show up in a medium. In a similar vain, ''when a medium appeals to John F. Kennedy, Hitler or Stalin could take possession of the celebrant's body.''
(...)

What worries political and religious observers in Caracas, though, is the perilous blend between populist politics and what to some may seem a whacky faith.

This is not new in this region. Before Chavez' ascendancy to the presidency, Venezuelan military intelligence officers reported that FARC guerrillas appealed to the religion of Venezuelan peasants in order to recruit them to their cause.

''They told members of apocalyptic sects, 'The Battle of Armageddon has started. We represent the forces of Christ fighting the evil forces of the princes of this world, the United States and its puppets. Therefore you must join us,''' a Venezuelan colonel said.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Internet

33. Interested in religion and spirituality? The Internet has everything from Adam to Zen
Star-Telegram/Knight Ridder Newspapers, Oct. 11, 2000
[URL removed because it currently refers to inappropriate content]/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(...) Although learning about faith on the Web is fascinating, the Web also is a confusing maze with conflicting viewpoints. Often, it is impossible to guess the true purpose of religious Web sites until you're deep inside them.

An example is www.christianity.comOff-site Link --

http://www.christianity.com/Off-site Link

-- which sounds like a generic portal for the faith.

There's virtually no sign on the opening pages that this actually is part of TV evangelist Pat Robertson's push onto the Internet. It's only after immersing yourself in the site that clues pop up, including angry commentaries bashing Democrats and ''radical homosexuals'' and articles disputing the theory of evolution.

This may be Robertson's brand of Christianity, but it's not a place where all Christians will feel welcome.
(...)

The hottest trend in the church-growth movement is building so-called megachurches to attract faith seekers by the thousands -- and spiritual Web designers have the same idea.

The two best megasites are

http://gospelcom.net/Off-site Link

for evangelical Christians and

http://www.beliefnet.com/Off-site Link

for more eclectic seekers.

The former is a gargantuan Web site that launched from Muskegon, Mich., and combines the resources of nearly 200 evangelical ministries. The free offerings range from more than a dozen different daily devotional messages to Reverend Fun cartoons.

The site's most popular section is a complete, searchable text of the Bible at http://bible.gospelcom.net/Off-site Link

-- which has been attracting a whopping 6 million pageviews per month. The team that runs the Web site expects that number to shoot even higher because the Bible software has just been upgraded to make it even easier for visitors to find the exact passage they want.

In contrast, at the interfaith www.beliefnet.comOff-site Link, seekers can jump off the opening page into sections on Christianity, Judaism, Islam and a host of other faiths.

The new site was launched by a group of secular journalists, spearheaded by former U.S. News & World Report national editor Steven Waldman. So it's not surprising that they include an impressive amount of objectively reported religion news. In addition, the site features short takes from top religious authors like Andrew Greeley, the Dalai Lama and even the noted pagan writer Starhawk.
(...)

The most annoying spiritual strip mall is

http://www.ibelieve.com/Off-site Link

where the motto of ''Come, experience and grow,'' really should be: ''Come, experience and buy.'' Frequently, links that appear to offer free access to inspirational materials turn out to be dead-end pitches to buy something.

If you're bedazzled by the megasites and want to steer your search into some smaller oases, try exploring sites sponsored by individual religious groups.
(...)

The world's major faiths all are represented on the Web.
(...)

Countless sites are devoted to individual spiritual disciplines.

Feng-shui's Web presence is growing, mainly because this ancient Chinese practice of seeking harmony through the placement of objects is custom made for retailers. Need a new chair to promote harmony? Well, buy one right now! Of the many sites --

http://www.worldoffengshui.com/Off-site Link

is an intriguing one-stop guide.
(...)

New religious reference works are added to the Web each year. One of the most impressive is

http://pantheon.org/mythica/Off-site Link

-- which holds 6,000 entries in the Encyclopedia Mythica -- from unicorns to ancient Greek gods.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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