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Religion News Report

October 26, 2000 (Vol. 4, Issue 278)

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=== Aum Shinrikyo
1. Police raid Todai lab linked to apprehended Aum cultist

=== Falun Gong
2. Falun Gong Protest in Beijing Square

=== Scientology
3. Lisa McPherson Trust Announces Its Year 2000 Literati Contest
4. [Paris demonstration]

=== Buddhism
5. Wayward Thai monk arrested in army uniform

=== Mungiki
6. Clampdown after sect strips women

=== Mormonism
7. After serving seven years, man who wanted to be declared a prophet
will leave prison
8. LDS Church Eager to Promote Mormonism to Olympic Crowds in 2002

=== Attleboro Cult / The Body
9. Sect case may lead to murder charges
10. Charges awaited in sect case
11. DA claims strong case vs. cult: Testimony from eyewitnesses is anticipated
12. Report: Group with `benign origin' got dangerous
13. Some say religious walls crumbling
14. Future unclear for 8 children removed from cult members

=== Paganism / Witchcraft
15. Wiccans dispute Potter claims

=== Satanism
16. Man convicted of attempted murder in Satanic ritual case

=== Hate Groups
17. Lemon Grove man called 'a rising star among bigots'
18. Group urges protest of Aryan march

=== Other News
19. China probes Taoist ritual
20. Guru Heals with Holy Hugs

=== Noted
21. A Healing Touch

=== Books
22. Penn State U. holds faculty book exhibit to showcase expertise


=== Aum Shinrikyo

1. Police raid Todai lab linked to apprehended Aum cultist
The Japan Times (Japan), Oct. 26, 2000
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
An Aum Shinrikyo member under arrest was recently hired as a contract employee by a corporation affiliated with the Science and Technology Agency and had been involved in the development of computer systems at the University of Tokyo's graduate school, police said Wednesday.

Prompted by the new revelation about Atushi Ogata, 45, who was arrested Tuesday for allegedly submitting a false resident registration document to a Tokyo ward office, police searched the astronomy laboratory at the university, also known as Todai, on Wednesday morning.

Police are also analyzing some 2,000 items confiscated from the cult's facilities, they said.
(...)

An official at the corporation said the firm was not aware that Ogata, who had responded to a help-wanted ad, is a member of Aum and added that the firm will decide his status after considering further developments.

Police arrested Ogata, alleging he had submitted a resident registration document to the Bunkyo Ward office last December that stated that he would move in from Adachi Ward. Instead, he moved into a condominium in Taito Ward the following month.

Police apparently used the false registration as a pretext to search several sites linked to the cult.

These included the condo, which they believe is housing other cultists and is an office to develop personal computer software.
(...)

Aum members in the recent past had gained access to the computer systems of various government entities, including the Defense Agency.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Falun Gong

2. Falun Gong Protest in Beijing Square
AP, Oct. 26, 2000
http://news.excite.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
BEIJING (AP) - Members of the outlawed Falun Gong sect staged a brief but large protest on Tiananmen Square on Thursday, scattering leaflets and raising banners before Chinese police violently ended the demonstration.

Plainclothes police in groups of 10 or more pounced on small bands of sect members spread throughout the plaza in central Beijing. The officers pummeled and shoved protesters into police vans.

One man, thrown to the ground, was kicked in the stomach and head until blood ran from his mouth onto the gray flagstones. An elderly woman was dragged by her hair for several yards as bystanders pleaded with police to stop.

At least 100 sect members were taken away in a 15-minute flurry of activity Thursday afternoon. One witness saw 30 police vans filled with protesters driving off the square, which could put the numbers detained over several hundred.

Columns of paramilitary police marched onto the square as tourists were cleared from China's best known public monument for about 20 minutes to bring the protest under control.

The protest was the second large-scale demonstration by Falun Gong members this month. On Oct. 1 - China's National Day - followers used similar tactics, provoking a rough response and forcing police to close off the plaza, a highly embarrassing act on a public holiday that celebrates Communist Party rule.

Since then, the government has renewed a smear campaign in state media, accusing members of conspiring with alleged enemies - exiled dissidents and supporters of independence for Taiwan, Tibet and the Muslim northwest.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Scientology

3. Lisa McPherson Trust Announces Its Year 2000 Literati Contest
PRNewswire, Oct. 25, 2000
http://news.excite.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
CLEARWATER, Fla., Oct. 25 /PRNewswire/ -- In a quest for truth and better understanding of the Scientology organization, the Lisa McPherson Trust (LMT), a Scientology watchdog group in downtown Clearwater, Fla., has announced the ''2000 Lisa McPherson Trust Literati Contest.''

The topic is ''Scientology: Control, Freedom and Responsibility.'' The essay should analyze how the three factors operate together or clash within the organization and how they interface with the non-Scientology world.

''We believe that a more comprehensive understanding of the abusive and deceptive nature of the Scientology organization is the best way to educate government officials and the public,'' said Stacy Brooks, LMT president. ''This understanding is an incredibly effective way to help victims of Scientology recover from prolonged abuse they suffered within the organization.''
(...)

The essay must be an original piece of writing, submitted in English, between 7,500 to 15,000 words and must provide practical resolution or approach to the Scientology issue by integrating the perspectives of both sides. Prizes will be $7,000 for first place, $2,000 for second place and $1,000 for third place. A panel of four judges will determine the winners. Entries must be submitted by 12 p.m. EST, November 30, 2000, to literati-contest@lisatrust.net as email text (not as an attachment). Complete contest rules are available on the LMT website, http://www.lisatrust.netOff-site Link .
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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4. [Paris demonstration]
Alt.religion.scientology, Oct. 25, 2000 Scientology press releases are notorious for their high fiction content. A recent one claims that ''thousands'' of people demonstrated ''at a rally for religious freedom'' in Paris.

In the alt.religion.scientology newsgroup, one Scientologist's claims were quickly dispelled:

:===Begin Quote===
Message-ID: <8t2au0$n6c$1@nnrp1.deja.com>
> them. An estimated 7,000 Scientoloigsts attended the rallies
> protesting religious discrimination in France.


Wishful fantasy. If the police had wanted to prevent anything, they
would have. They simply kept order. The estimated 7,000 is several times
the possible number of people there. The police estimated 800. Roger
Gonnet and I thought more like 1,500 total. Of course, there were some
normal Parisians just milling about, too, but they didn't have any of
those big ''Religious Freedom'' stickers.
:===End Quote===

See also these pictures at Arnie Lerma's site:

:===Begin Quote===
Message-ID: <8t8dll$20n2$1@news6.isdnet.net>
http://www.lermanet.com/misc/paris-23oct1.htmOff-site Link (general views, allowing to
determine the number of participants, that is, between 11 and 1200 max).

http://www.lermanet.com/misc/paris-23oct2.htmOff-site Link (details)
:===End Quote===
* The Scientology organization consistently terms anti-crime laws and normal law enforcement actions as ''religious discrimination.''

The publisher of Apologetics Index fully agrees with the German government's assessmentOff-site Link of the Scientology organization:

''The German government considers the Scientology organization a commercial enterprise with a history of taking advantage of vulnerable individuals and an extreme dislike of any criticism. The government is also concerned that the organization's totalitarian structure and methods may pose a risk to Germany's democratic society. Several kinds of evidence have influenced this view of Scientology, including the organization's activities in the United States.''
http://www.germany-info.org/newcontent/np.bak/np_3k.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]


=== Buddhism

5. Wayward Thai monk arrested in army uniform
Associated Press, Oct. 25, 2000
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) -- Thai police arrested a senior Buddhist monk on Wednesday on suspicion of masquerading as an army colonel to enjoy worldly pleasures barred by his religious order.

Wanchai Unsap donned a military uniform every morning so his neighbors wouldn't suspect his double life. He would then change into a monk's saffron robes before he arrived at his temple.

It is the second case in a week of wayward monks exposed by Thai media. On Friday, a senior monk left the order after a newspaper reported he had been drinking and singing in a karaoke bar.

Buddhist monks are supposed to live simple lives devoid of materialistic concerns, forswearing alcohol and sex.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Mungiki

6. Clampdown after sect strips women
BBC, Oct. 25, 2000
http://news.bbc.co.uk/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Police in Kenya have arrested hundreds of people suspected of being members of the outlawed Mungiki sect following a weekend incident in which women were stripped naked for wearing trousers.

The group beat up and stripped six women, dressed in trousers accusing them of dressing improperly.

Members of the controversial sect had been barred by police from holding prayers in a city estate on Sunday before they turned their anger on the women.

Police used tear gas to disperse the group as they broke and looted property from a nearby church.
(...)

The provincial administration in the capital, Nairobi, has vowed to deal firmly with members of the sect.

The city's provincial commissioner, Cyrus Maina, described Mungiki followers as ''a bunch of criminals'' who were subverting the administration under the guise of religion.
(...)

Followers of the sect insist theirs is a religious organisation based on traditional practises of the Kikuyus - Kenya's majority tribe.

One of their doctrines is to face Mount Kenya whenever they pray - Kikuyus believe the mountain is the sacred abode of their god, locally known as Ngai.

The group has astounded many with its advocacy of such practises as female circumcision and hooliganism.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Mormonism

7. After serving seven years, man who wanted to be declared a prophet will leave prison
Heraldnet/AP, Oct. 25, 2000
http://www1.standard.net/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
SALT LAKE CITY -- Cody Robert Judy, who threatened a Mormon apostle with a fake bomb seven years ago, could be released from prison next month.

The state Board of Pardons and Parole has granted Judy, 34, a parole date of Nov. 21.
(...)

Judy was sent to prison for up to 15 years for storming a Mormon church fireside at the BYU Marriott Center in Provo on Feb. 7, 1993.

In front of 17,000 people, Judy raised a briefcase he said held a bomb and threatened President Howard W. Hunter, then head of the Quorum of the Twelve of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Judy wanted President Hunter to read a three-page letter proclaiming Judy as prophet of the church.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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8. LDS Church Eager to Promote Mormonism to Olympic Crowds in 2002
Salt Lake Tribune, Oct. 25, 2000
http://www.sltrib.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
The icon says it all: A silhouette of the Salt Lake Mormon temple with its angel Moroni statue trumpeting through the numbers 2002.

Visitors who click on the symbol that was introduced on the LDS Church's Web site last week will learn how The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has helped the Olympics, from donations to the bid effort to becoming an official supplier by donating land for the Medals Plaza.
(...)

It is all part of the LDS Church's desire to use the Olympics to harness global media attention to publicize Mormon ideals and beliefs.
(...)

The church has long recognized that associating with the Olympic movement might be beneficial.

According to documents from Salt Lake City's bid process that were donated to the University of Utah's Marriott Library, the church once considered applying for membership on the U.S. Olympic Committee. Church authorities noted that membership might help ''to educate the USOC about the church and its programs of sport and fitness'' and ''further break down the walls of prejudice toward the church.''
(...)

Since Salt Lake City was awarded the Games in 1995, the church has sought to be a civic supporter without being perceived as orchestrating the so-called ''Mormon Games.'' But its new Web link signals the church's willingness to acknowledge its interest in capitalizing on the 2002 Olympics.
(...)

Mark Silk, director of the Center for the Study of Religion and American Life at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., believes it is natural for the LDS Church to capitalize on the Olympics.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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* Theologically, Mormonism is a cult of Christianity. It does not represent historical, biblical Christianity in any way.



=== Attleboro Cult / The Body

9. Sect case may lead to murder charges
Boston Globe, Oct. 26, 2000
http://www.boston.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
A day after the remains of two children from an Attleboro sect were taken from a remote grave in Maine, Bristol District Attorney Paul A. Walsh Jr. said his office may bring murder charges against two to four members of the sect.

''This is a criminal investigation into a homicide,'' Walsh said shortly after arriving back from Maine yesterday. ''The rest of the group remains in consideration, but I think we're talking two, possibly four individuals, and we're talking murder.''

Walsh would not say which members of the sect are the focus of the investigation. However, a source said that charges could be brought against sect leader Jacques Robidoux and his wife, Karen, the parents of one of the dead boys. In addition, Roland Robidoux, the boy's grandfather, and Michelle Robidoux Mingo, his aunt, could face charges, the source said.

David and Rebecca Corneau, the parents of the other dead boy, have been given immunity in a deal with Walsh's office.
(...)

If charges are brought against any of the sect members, the case could raise important religious issues. Court documents have said that the Robidouxs believed they were following God's dictates when they allegedly starved 10-month-old Samuel Robidoux. The case would also be complicated by the refusal of sect members to participate in the legal system.

Walsh said information his office believes will come from David Corneau, who has promised to testify before a grand jury, together with other evidence and the discovery of the bodies has led prosecutors to believe that Samuel was purposely starved to death.
(...)

Walsh said he is not pursuing the case to break up the sect. ''I could care less what this cult does,'' he said. ''I hear comments coming out of the atmosphere that people are being prosecuted for their religious beliefs, and they're not.''
(...)

Corneau broke ranks with his fellow sect members this week by ending his silence and agreeing to cooperate with Bristol prosecutors in exchange for immunity for him and his wife.
(...)

Corneau's lawyer, Robert A. George, said the immunity agreement between prosecutors and Corneau included a request that the body of Jeremiah Corneau not undergo any medical procedure, including an autopsy.

But the defense attorney said yesterday that the medical exam and possible use of DNA testing on the remains did not violate the agreement since it was being performed by Maine authorities.

''I didn't just fall off the potato truck,'' George said. ''I know we can't bind another state to do it our way. As long as the Commonwealth didn't order it, they've adhered to the spirit of the agreement.''
(...)

Under terms of the immunity agreement signed by George, Walsh, and Corneau, David and Rebecca Corneau will be granted immunity if David testifies truthfully before a grand jury about Samuel Robidoux's death. That testimony could begin as early as next week, Walsh said.

The agreement also calls for Timothy, Roger, and Mark Daneau to be released from jail as long as they are not implicated by Corneau's testimony, though they will not be granted immunity.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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10. Charges awaited in sect case
Sun Chronicle, Oct. 25, 2000
http://www.thesunchronicle.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(...)
Bristol County District Attorney Paul Walsh Jr., who was in Baxter State Park in Maine for the search, said charges would be filed in the case but declined to speculate.

Even though sect member David Corneau, the father of one of the babies, has negotiated a deal reportedly granting him and others immunity from prosecution, Walsh said nothing has been finalized.

''He hasn't been granted immunity yet,'' Walsh said. ''It's just wrong that these kids were buried out in the forest.''
(...)

Asked why Corneau had been granted immunity after months of stonewalling the investigation, FitzGerald said: `` Finding the bodies is very important. Prosecuting persons for an intentionally inflicted death of a child is very important. Having an eyewitness is very important.''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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11. DA claims strong case vs. cult: Testimony from eyewitnesses is anticipated
Boston Herald, Oct. 26, 2000
http://www.bostonherald.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Investigators say they still have a strong case against an Attleboro cult accused of burying two boys deep in the woods of Maine, even if scientists poring over the boys' skeletal remains can't prove how they died.

''I don't know if they'll ever be able to find a cause of death,'' Bristol County District Attorney Paul F. Walsh Jr. said of 10-month-old Samuel Robidoux and his infant cousin, Jeremiah Corneau. ``But it doesn't concern me. It would bolster the case, but we have eyewitness testimony.''

The ``eyewitness testimony'' is expected to come from cult member David Corneau, and others in - and out - of the insular sect, who are expected to vividly describe how Samuel was allegedly starved to death over a three-week period last year. Jeremiah, the son of Corneau and his wife, Rebecca, died during a home birth last fall.

As part of an immunity deal struck with prosecutors, Corneau is expected to recount the grim details before a grand jury next week. His wife is also being granted immunity under the agreement.
(...)

Positively identifying the bodies could take several weeks and may require taking DNA from the Corneaus because the children have no medical or dental records, Bristol County Assistant DA Gerald FitzGerald said. The tight-knit sect, dubbed ``The Body'' by cult experts, denounces seven mainstream institutions, including the medical and legal systems. Walsh said he may have to seek a court order to get DNA samples from the Corneaus.

The couple was slated to return to Attleboro Juvenile Court this morning to fight for custody of their newborn baby girl, who was taken away by the state Department of Social Services, along with their three other children. Walsh, who hospitalized Rebecca Corneau against her will while she was pregnant, was expected to withdraw from the custody case and hand it over to DSS.

``We've accomplished what we set out to do,'' Assistant DA Walter Shea said. ``Now it's DSS' issue to deal with.''

Walsh said ``it's possible'' he would intervene if any other members became pregnant, but insisted his goal is to ``prosecute a homicide case, not bust up this cult.''

DSS officials said their regulations prohibit taking action against pregnant women, which means Walsh may someday have to repeat the controversial hospitalization tactics he used against Rebecca Corneau.

While David Corneau is at odds with the tight-lipped sect, he returned to the group's Attleboro home yesterday and has not severed any ties, his attorney Robert George said. ``I don't think he has any intention to leave,'' George said.

But ex-cult member Dennis Mingo said he thinks David Corneau is ``confused'' over whether to defect from the group. ``I got the sense back when I left that he was questioning what was going on and wanted to leave,'' Mingo said. ``I don't think it's any surprise that he's the one who cracked. He's always been seen as a weaker link.''

In another sign the group is weakening, another member, Mark Daneau, made contact with the court from jail last week - possibly to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination - but ultimately did not come forward.

``My concern is that they'll just regroup and continue to go the way they've been going,'' Mingo said.

Noted cult expert the Rev. Robert Pardon, who was appointed guardian by the court for several children taken from the cult, has interviewed David Corneau extensively and thinks the recent developments have clouded the group's future. ``I don't believe any more members will defect. But it (the cult) definitely is fracturing because David has broken away,'' Pardon said.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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12. Report: Group with `benign origin' got dangerous
Boston Herald, Oct. 26, 2000
http://www.bostonherald.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
A controversial Attleboro sect had its inception nearly 30 years ago as a benign offshoot of another cult, but was eventually ``sent spiraling out of control'' with the resulting deaths of two babies, according to a watchdog organization.

``Seeds from one cult were planted in another, and these eventually took root and bore the fruit of death, and tragically, in the name of God,'' according to a report about the Attleboro cult prepared by the New England Institute of Religious Research.

NEIRR founder Rev. Robert Pardon, who was appointed by Attleboro District Court Judge Kenneth Nasif to be a guardian ad litem for the 13 children originally removed from the cult, and his associate, Judith K. Barba, have spent ``thousands of hours'' studying the Attleboro sect and its ``thousands of pages of journals'' the group kept about history.

The circumstances that led to the deaths of the two babies can be traced back to 1976 when Roland and Georgette Robidoux left the Worldwide Church of God in Mendon, R.I., because the ``WCG in those days was an extremely repressive, religious fringe group,'' according to the report.
(...)

The Daneaus, who had been part of the Catholic Charismatic Revival movement in the 1970s that included communal living and sharing possessions, began attending Bible studies with the Robidouxs and embraced some of the repressive practices of the WCG that the Robidouxs still espoused, the report states.

Now accepting the Robidouxs' practices of shunning traditional society, the group remained benign until 1997, NEIRR says, when two events took place. The first was the defection of four members, including one of Robidoux's adult daughters who was excommunicated because she bought eyeglasses, the report states.

The second was the influence on the group of Carol Balizet, who founded an organization in Florida called ``Home in Zion Ministries'' which advocates that God will lead followers through revelations and urges them to shun medical care and have babies born at home. If a child dies during childbirth, it's ``God's will,'' Balizet instructs, according to the report.

Pardon said an ensuing power struggle in the group between Roland Robidoux and his son, Jacques, matched with their strict adherence to Balizet's teachings, set the stage ``for the tragic death of Samuel Robidoux and Jeremiah Corneau.''

``This group has a benign origin but has since developed into an organization that is directly responsible for the death of at least one infant and contributed to the `stillbirth' of another,'' the report said.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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13. Some say religious walls crumbling
Boston Globe, Oct. 25, 2000
http://www.boston.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
ATTLEBORO - For years, David Corneau and the other members of his Attleboro-based religious sect assembled a wall around their lives, using bricks of absolute faith proffered by a charismatic leader. Divorced from the outside world, Corneau and his extended family relied solely on the Bible - and each other.

But yesterday, Corneau smashed the wall he worked so hard to build. And some specialists say the fundamentalist sect may come crashing down as well.

By leading authorities to the bodies of his 10-month-old nephew and his infant son, Corneau took giant strides away from the bedrock beliefs of the sect, whose members had chosen months in jail rather than tell a grand jury where the children were buried. And by acting outside the group, Corneau effectively rejected the group's leadership, a move that could have a ripple effect among its other members.

''They believe that they are God's only viable group on the face of the earth today,'' said Bob Pardon, who runs the New England Institute of Religious Research, and who has acted as the court-appointed guardian of the sect's 13 children. ''David, I can't imagine that he is being received by the group in good graces. He really broke ranks.''
(...)

''I would predict that if David is making an immunity deal to get others out that the whole thing is crumbling,'' said author Steven Hassan, a cult survivor who is also director of the Freedom of MindOff-site Link resource center in Somerville. ''At the point when they get out [of jail], it's over. We can hopefully get them some counseling and reunite them with their children.''

A former member of the Attleboro sect was not so optimistic.

''David has only taken a baby step out of this,'' said the former member, who would speak only on the condition of anonymity. ''I'm concerned that it's not going to fall apart.''
(...)

It is unclear why Robidoux broke with the church.

''When you leave a cult, as Roland did, there are four things you can do,'' Hassan said. ''You can re-join, find a new cult, become a dysfunctional isolationist, or create your own cult. Roland created his own.''
(...)

Today, Hassan said, Jacques Robidoux still controls the group from his jail cell.

Eventually, the group was planning to move from Attleboro to Baxter State Park in Maine, where the two young boys' bodies were exhumed yesterday. The park, which is largely devoid of roads, housing, and electricity, is considered sacred ground, Pardon said.

''We read in their journals that some of them took a trip up there and loved the area,'' Pardon said. ''They decided that it was hallowed ground. ... It was like New Jerusalem. That's why they buried the children there.''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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14. Future unclear for 8 children removed from cult members
Boston Herald, Oct. 25, 2000
http://www.bostonherald.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Now that investgators have recovered the remains of two babies who allegedly died in the care of an Attleboro cult, it remains unclear if eight children permanantly removed from cult members will ever be returned to their parents. Attleboro Juvenile Court Judge Kenneth Nasif will conduct a custody hearing tomorrow on a ninth child - the infant daughter of David and Rebecca Corneau who was born last week.

The Corneaus' three other daughters were permanantly taken from them in August when Nasif also terminated the parental rights of cultists Jacques and Karen Robidoux and Mark and Trinette Daneau.

``We have no indication of any change,'' said Carol Yelverton, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Social Services which has permanant custody of eight of the nine children.

``They were removed last November and placed in foster care last August. The Juvenile Court terminated parental rights of (three) different families and the kids are free to be adopted.''
(...)

Only Dennis Mingo, who left the cult several years ago after disagreeing with the sect's fundamentalist Christian ways and underwent cult deprogramming, has been able to regain custody of his five children.

Mingo's wife, Michelle Robidoux Mingo, is also being held in contempt of court and could face prosecution in connection with Samuel Robidoux's death, sources said.

Yelverton said there is a legal process where the parents could attempt to regain custody of their children.

She declined to speculate on what kind of conditions they would have to meet to get their kids back, but pointed to Dennis Mingo's case without additional comment.
(...)

The Corneaus' attorney, Robert A. George, indicated yesterday his clients will try to regain custody of their four children now that David Corneau has led investigators to the Maine site where the two babies were buried.

``David Corneau's main concern is the preservation of his family unit and the return of his children,'' said George.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Paganism / Witchcraft

15. Wiccans dispute Potter claims
The Citizen, Oct. 25, 2000
http://www.citizen.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
BRISTOL - While an Alexandria woman is trying to ban the reading aloud of Harry Potter books at Bristol Elementary School because she says they promote Wicca, practicing members of the religion disagree.

Local Wiccans have come out against the claim the books promote their religion. They said the book is fiction, and does not represent their beliefs in any way.

''It really doesn't have anything to do with us,'' said Peter Mather, an initiated Wiccan priest who lives in Plymouth.

Mather said he has examined the books and found nothing having to do with his religion.
(...)

''I've read these books, since I wanted to see what was in them before I gave them to my kids, and I must say that these books no more promote witchcraft than 'Anne of Green Gables' promotes moving to Nova Scotia,'' Mather said.

Wicca draws from many pagan traditions, with the result that the distinctions between witchcraft, occultism, neopaganism, and various strands thereof have become blurred. Modern witchcraft is entirely different from Satanism or the diabolical witchcraft imagined by the persecutors of past centuries, according to Encarta Encyclopedia Online.

Major Wiccan themes include love of nature, equality of male and female, appreciation of the ceremonial, a sense of wonder and belief in magic, and appreciation of the symbolism and psychological realities behind the goodness of antiquity.

Kimberly Beaupre, the New Hampshire state director of Witches Against Discrimination, echoed the opinions of Mather. She said she also did not think the books promoted anything except reading.

''The general consensus (among Wiccans) is it is fiction and in no way represents our true beliefs,'' Beaupre said.

She found it offensive that people come out against something like Harry Potter, but have no problems with the usual negative portrayals of witches. She said nine out of 10 times Hollywood portrays witches as evil.

''I guess it's OK if we are portrayed as ugly and evil,'' Beaupre said.

Another Wiccan from Concord, who wished to remain anonymous, also found the claims that Harry Potter promoted witchcraft and Wicca ridiculous.
(...)

All three were surprised at the lack of tolerance shown by some people in the name of their religion.

They all agreed a fictional work should not be banned because one person fears it could promote a religion. Especially when people from that religion say there are no similarities.

''I don't believe in the Bible, but I don't want to ban it,'' said the Wiccan from Concord.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Satanism

16. Man convicted of attempted murder in Satanic ritual case
Miami Herald, Oct. 25, 2000
http://www.herald.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
An 18-year-old Sunrise man was convicted Tuesday of trying to kill an acquaintance during a Satanic ritual in which participants carve a pentagram into the floor and try to make their fingers disappear.
(...)

Robert Menendez, 23, said he went to an abandoned Fort Lauderdale nursery with Harris, Harris' girlfriend and another man in April 1999 to take part in a Satanic ritual.

The group brought a Satanic book to a gazebo. Harris and Menendez went for a walk around the property, then returned to carve a pentagram on the floor of the gazebo, the victim testified.

Menendez, who told jurors he got involved in Satanism out of ``curiosity,'' said he allowed his finger to be cut, then was told to sit, Indian-style, on the floor with his hands inside the pentagram.

As he stared at his hands, Menendez told police, his fingers started to disappear and reappear.

As he was concentrating on his fingers, he was stabbed near the jugular vein in his neck, then in the back, Menendez said.
(...)

Harris denied he was a follower of the devil. He told police he was an atheist and that he stabbed Menendez in self-defense after the older man started acting strangely.
(...)

After the bloody ritual, a threatening e-mail was sent from Harris' account to Menendez. Harris' e-mail address was Natas6661, which he told police was Satan spelled backward and the year upside down.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Hate Groups

17. Lemon Grove man called 'a rising star among bigots'
San Diego Union-Tribune, Oct. 25, 2000
http://www.uniontrib.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
The two classrooms at Helix High were thoughtfully decorated by teachers who wanted the walls to complement their lessons on literature and history, particularly the often-forgotten contributions of nonwhite writers and soldiers.

Somebody didn't like it.

The rooms were ransacked and vandalized. A poster of two babies, black and white, was defaced. Walls were spray-painted with swastikas. Notes were left in drawers.

''The Ku Klux Klan is watching,'' one said, ''and we're not happy about what we see.''
(...)

No one suspected Alex Curtis, a skinny kid in preppie clothes who had few friends. Never said much in class. Kind of invisible.

That was 1993. Eventually, school officials linked Curtis to the break-ins and expelled him. Four years later, he was convicted of using a La Mesa police insignia on hate literature.

Curtis is still mostly invisible to anyone unfamiliar with organized racism. But, in the netherworld of hate, he is a giant.
(...)

But from the laundry-turned-office in this working-class, racially diverse neighborhood, Curtis has carved a niche in the hate movement that sets him apart from traditional racists.

Forget shaved heads and tattoos, white hoods and fiery rallies.

Curtis toils in isolation, spewing racism through a Web site, a magazine and a telephone hotline.

At 25, Curtis is among a new generation of leaders shaping hate in modern ways. They recruit through cyberspace and music, shun big meetings and encourage lone violent attacks to create an all-white nation.

Curtis is considered ''a rising star among bigots'' by the Anti-Defamation League. The Southern Poverty Law Center, a watchdog group based in Montgomery, Ala., recently named him as one of the nation's six most prominent young hate leaders on the basis of its analysis of hate groups across the country.

The center also identified six pillars of the old guard, which included Neuman Britton of Aryan Nations and Willis Carto of Liberty Lobby, both of Escondido. San Diego County's most famous racist, Tom Metzger of White Aryan Resistance, came close to making the list.

The designations mean that San Diego County can count itself among the top producers of influential racists. All but Carto appear to be active locally.

Some insiders say Britton, 74, in line to take over the national leadership of Aryan Nations, could move the group's headquarters to his family's Escondido home. The group recently was ordered to pay $6 million to victims of a beating by Aryan Nations security guards and is likely to be forced out of its Idaho compound at the end of the month.

Britton, who has melanoma skin cancer, has said that if the group moved to Escondido it wouldn't happen right away. Law enforcers dismiss him as too old and sick.

Metzger, who is 64 and lives in Fallbrook, still spreads his message and slam-dances with skinheads at white power rock concerts, even though he was bankrupted by a $12.5 million civil judgment for the beating death of an Ethiopian man by skinhead followers.

On the rise
Although it is difficult to measure whether these leaders are having any impact in San Diego, statistics show that either more hate crimes are being committed or more are being reported.
(...)

Why are there so many hate leaders here?
''San Diego is a nice place to live,'' said San Diego police Detective Jerry Stratton, the department's hate-crime specialist. ''It's also one of the most diverse cities I know of. If you wanted to target an area, there are a lot of targets here.''

Southern Poverty Law Center spokesman Mark Potok, who helped create the list of national leaders, points to this region's rapid population shift.

''Southern California has always been extremely high in terms of hate group numbers and strength of movement in general,'' Potok said. ''Southern California for years was very, very white and very conservative.

''Add to that immigration pressure from Mexico, and it raises the heat. There's clearly a lot of ethnic mixing and conflict in California, more so than other places.''

Proximity to the border could also be a factor.

''There is an inordinate amount (of hate leaders) from Orange County down,'' said Lawrence Baron, a Holocaust expert who chairs the Jewish studies department at San Diego State University. ''Border towns, because of immigration, may attract more of this anti-immigrant sentiment.''
(...)

Curtis is a staunch advocate of terrorism by single attackers. He praised last year's shooting spree at a Los Angeles Jewish Community Center on his Web site.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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18. Group urges protest of Aryan march
The Spokesman-Review, Oct. 26, 2000
http://www.spokesmanreview.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Coeur d'Alene _ Hundreds of local residents are expected to turn out in protest at the Aryan Nations march Saturday.

Human rights organizers have invited residents to stand vigil to denounce bigotry and prejudice with songs, which will be sung during the 11 a.m. march.
(...)

The Seattle-based United Front Against Fascism has encouraged protesters from around the region to be in Coeur d'Alene.

That plan highlights a difference in approach to combating the Aryans' racist views.

For example, the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations does not encourage people to show up and protest at Saturday's Aryan Nations march through downtown.

However, the group has launched a campaign to give the state a new motto -- ''Idaho: the Human Rights State.''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Other News

19. China probes Taoist ritual
BBC, Oct. 25, 2000
http://news.bbc.co.uk/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
The authorities in China have launched a disciplinary investigation after officials at a local court hired a Taoist priest to perform ceremonies to exorcise evil spirits.

Local Communist party officials at the People's Court in Shuangfeng County called the priest to perform a five hour ceremony, after a guard fell to his death from a window. The cost of the ceremony was charged to the court. State news reports said the case undermined the government's campaign to combat superstitious practices.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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20. Guru Heals with Holy Hugs
Reuters, Oct. 25, 2000
http://news.excite.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
LONDON (Reuters) - Some 2,000 people thronged to a London sports hall Tuesday evening to be hugged by an Indian holy woman described by followers as a living saint.

Mata Amritanandamyi MathOff-site Link, better known as ''Amma'' or ''mother,'' spends most of her time wrapping her arms around crowds of devotees who line up to tap into her spiritual ''energy'' and has hugged an estimated 20 million people to date.

Tuesday's event in South London was part of Amma's European tour, taking in nine cities, which she hopes will help her take her message of love and spiritual healing to the world.
(...)

Followers bridge race, religion, class, age and sex and hail from afar afield as India, the United States, Japan and all over Europe. But as they kneel crying at her feet, they agree on the power of this tiny white-robed woman's hug.
(...)

The 47-year-old guru made her first trip to the West in 1987, when only a handful of people would gather to nestle their heads in her lap as she whispered blessings.

But press officer Rob Sidon, who quit his job in marketing to spend more time with Amma, said the guru, who sleeps just two hours a day, draws audiences in India of around 18,000 a day.

''She makes no claims, but she is a living saint,'' he said. ''She is a God-awakened being...no-one's ever seen her yawn -- that's a miracle,'' he added.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Noted

21. A Healing Touch
Washington Post, Oct. 24, 2000
http://www.washingtonpost.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
[...Alternative healing...]
(...) The woman has a weakness in her adrenal gland, Lusson declares, and with a little more probing she designates her as having the personality associated with Venus, a goddess known for beauty and laughter. She gives the woman a package of incense and a handout describing how a Venus can improve her mind, body and soul.

The woman returns to her chair in the all-purpose room of Alexandria's Ladrey public housing complex. Most of the 20 observers are older women. One uses a wheelchair. Canes and walkers are scattered about. Some of the women have been typed Athenas, others Dianas or Aphrodites.
(...)

Some officials at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and various Washington area social service and housing agencies agree. Under a contract worth up to $840,000, HUD is funding a program by the National Institute for Medical Options (NIMO), a nonprofit spinoff of Creative Wellness Inc., to help public housing residents improve their lives by managing stress, preventing chronic illness and stopping self-destructive conduct.

The goddess-typing? It's just part of the program - along with incense, candles and gemstones. But we get ahead of ourselves.

Personality Types
In six two-hour sessions, Lusson's program, Creative Wellness H.E.L.P. (Health, Education and Lifestyle Program), determines a participant's ''personality type'' by assessing the function of the adrenal, thyroid and pancreas glands. Each personality, Lusson says, has a unique set of emotional strengths and weaknesses. Participants are given a type-specific ''wellness plan'' that includes diet and exercise. They also learn how to focus on their type's positive attributes and examine its weaknesses to understand behaviors that may undercut their physical and mental health.

Each wellness plan includes ''healing affirmations,'' in which an individual pledges to see herself as a ''perfect image of the Divine Creator.'' Residents are taught to reduce stress through meditation and candle-burning. They're given ''natural supports'' that Lusson says have inherent healing powers, such as gemstones, colors and incense.

Though Lusson's techniques are highly unorthodox - she is hardly the typical federal contractor - the program is turning many public housing residents into incense-burning, gemstone-toting believers. Surveys of residents taken before and after the sessions indicate they feel less pain and have more energy. Social service providers who work with the residents are enthusiastic.
(...)

Alternative Roots
At the program's core is a tenet that the American population and - with considerable reluctance - the U.S. medical establishment have begun to embrace in recent years: A person's emotional well-being can affect physical health, and physical health can affect mental outlook. According to practitioners of complementary and alternative medicine who espouse this view, stress and depression contribute to chronic disease, while optimism and self-esteem can act as health tonics. Meditation, imagery, biofeedback, training in coping skills and music therapy are commonly prescribed, even at major medical centers.

During the past decade, complementary and alternative medicine has moved from the fringe of medical practice toward the mainstream. In 1997, according to a Harvard study, more than 40 percent of Americans sought complementary therapies of some sort to reduce stress, prevent illness or ameliorate the effects of chronic disease.

These treatments, the study found, have been used mostly by people who are well-educated, well-off and non-black. But the poor and minorities may have much to gain from such approaches, Lusson and others argue. Bad health habits and high stress leave low-income individuals facing above-average risks for preventable illnesses and conditions. Hypertension, obesity, allergies, diabetes and substance abuse are prevalent among low-income populations.

It was the potential of the Creative Wellness approach to address this hard-to-reach population with lifestyle improvement tools that intrigued federal housing officials. For several years, Lusson's Creative Wellness Inc. had worked with tenant groups and conducted stress management workshops for nonprofit organizations and small companies.
(...)

Lusson is not a health professional. She is a doctor of divinity, ordained by a Florida Episcopal church, who says she was called to the ministry close to 40 years ago when she almost died in childbirth. She says she had ''one of those near-death experiences where you go into the light and a voice says, 'Go back.'?'' This voice, Lusson says, told her, ''?'You're going to help thousands, Michelle, help themselves.' It's something you can't toss off.''

Her journey led her to study healing in ancient cultures. She learned they shared the belief that the spirit is housed in the body and that both must be addressed for optimum health.
(...)

Lusson is still the pastor of the ministry, the Community Center for Wholistic Healing in Herndon. According to its Web site (www.ccwh.orgOff-site Link), Lusson is a ''metaphysician'' who ''channels Cosmic Cycle Updates that provide valuable information on the spiritual awakening and transformation of the global world body and of the individual.'' The center offers workshops in Usui Reiki, described as a ''hands-on healing technique using spiritually guided life force energy.''

Besides NIMO and her healing center, Lusson continues to run her for-profit company. According Creative Wellness Inc.'s Web site, the firm offers workplace programs to help motivate staff, enhance employee relations and improve job performance. Individuals can take workshops in weight control, stress management and ''color and wardrobe design.'' The Web site also sells gemstone jewelry, beeswax candle kits and incense.

What Color Is Your Goddess Toga?
During her research, Lusson says, she became convinced that one of the main bridges between the mind and the body is the endocrine system. She argues that if a person is subject to chronic stress, the thyroid, pancreatic and adrenal glands produce either too many or too few hormones, leading to symptoms of physical or psychological illness. (Mainstream medicine acknowledges the effect of stress on the adrenal system, but not on other glandular activity.) What's more, Lusson says, each person has a dominant gland that is most affected by stress. Each gland has a corresponding psychological characteristic, so individuals with the same glandular weaknesses share many personality traits.

To discover one's glandular personality type, Lusson uses ''applied kinesiology,'' or AK - of which the arm-held-out exercise is one example. AK is used by a few chiropractors but is not widely practiced by alternative clinicians. According to AK practitioners, one can detect a disorder in a gland or organ by testing for muscle weaknesses. For example, a weak arm when the base of the throat is touched shows a thyroid personality. Lusson came up with 14 personality traits to match glandular weaknesses, naming each for a Greek or Roman god or goddess.
(...)

Where's the Science?
For years, practitioners of complementary and alternative medicine have fought to become accepted by traditional medicine. But even by the standards of alternative therapies, Lusson's endocrine-based personality typing is on the fringe. The personality profiles are somewhat like reading your horoscope - any number of them can seem to fit. Several leading complementary and alternative medicine professionals dismissed applied kinesiology and personality typing. None had heard of Creative Wellness or Lusson.

Adriane Fugh-Berman, who teaches alternative medicine in the School of Health Sciences at the George Washington University School of Medicine and edits a newsletter on alternative therapies in women's health, is skeptical. She doesn't dispute that there is a mind-body connection, but she says no data have shown that stress affects pancreatic or thyroid hormone levels.
(...)

James S. Gordon, director of the Center for Mind-Body Medicine in Washington, says mind-body techniques are ideal for high-stress, poor populations. Until a year ago, he taught mind-body methods such as relaxation techniques to students, teachers and support personnel in three District public schools. He said the youths reported that they found it easier to concentrate and control their anger. Some reduced the use of asthma inhalers. A year ago, the school system cut the funding.

But Gordon says there is ''nothing in the scientific literature'' to support endocrine-based personality typing. As for applied kinesiology, Gordon says, ''there is no hard evidence of its effectiveness.'' Gordon is a professor in the departments of psychiatry and family medicine at the Georgetown University School of Medicine and chairman of the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy.
(...)

Thomas M. Coughlin, deputy director of the division of programs for special populations at the Health Resources and Services Adminsitration at HHS, said government officials have several questions about the program. ''Creative Wellness purports to be based on a lot of research. We weren't sure that was true.'' He said the agency also has concerns that the program did not appear to have a system to direct truly sick individuals to a physician and about the safety of candle-burning.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Books

22. Penn State U. holds faculty book exhibit to showcase expertise
U-Wire, Oct. 25, 2000
http://news.excite.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(U-WIRE) UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Pennsylvania State University students have a chance to get acquainted with professors' expertise and interests with the book exhibit, ''Faculty Scholars of Penn State's Commonwealth College.''
(...)

Raising the DevilOff-site Link is another work on display that just came out this month.

The author, Bill Ellis, is an associate professor of English and American Studies at the Hazleton campus. His book discusses the panic that occurred in Great Britain during the 1980s involving the Christian Pentecostal movement and the Satanism scare caused by crime rituals.
(...)

Ellis also discusses the L.A. McMartin pre-school case in which a teacher was charged with 35 counts of assault.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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