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Religion News Report

December 5, 1999 (Vol. 3, Issue 140)

arrow Latest: Religion News Blog

=== Aum Shinrikyo
1. Anti-cult bill passes
2. 2 bills enacted to tighten grip on AUM
3. Diet passes 2 bills to crack down on cults
4. Japanese Parliament Passes Bills to Limit Aum Cult Activities
5. Anti-Aum bills' passage expedited to allay fears
6. Aum admits role in crimes
7. Crocodile tears from AUM?
8. Cult feeling the heat as crackdown laws debut
9. Apology not enough as PM moves on sect
10. Local residents say laws not enough
11. Current and archived news regarding Aum Shinrikyo

=== Ho No Hana Sanpogyo
12. Police raid foot-reading cult
13. Sole man gladhanded rich and famous
14. Guru lured members by chasing celebrities
15. Ho-no-Hana head 'told group to lie to recruits'
16. Cult leader set tough goals for followers
17. ASIA: Police raid sect that preyed on female soles
18. Current and archived news items on Ho no Hana Sanpogyo

=== Scientology
19. Church of Scientology settles tax debt, claims victory
20. Church staffer, foe told to stay apart
21. Scientology foes gather for 5th annual meeting
22. Church draws line for critics
23. Six to split $150,000 in Arlington veterinary clinic bias case agreement
24. Windows 2000 in Danger of beeing Banned
25. Current and archived news items regarding Scientology

=== Life Space / Shakty Pat Guru Foundation
26. The Corpse and the Cult
27. Current and archived items regarding Life Space

=== Falun Gong
28. Official denies Falun Gong followers gathered outside court
29. Few Members of Large Sect to Face Trial, Beijing Says
30. CHINA: Falun Gong launches plea for dialogue with Beijing
31. Current and archived news items regarding Falun Gong

=== Concerned Christians
32. Police Detain Alleged Cult Members

=== Hate Groups
33. Klan Gets Its Wish, but Fight Over Project Continues
34. Federal Charges Filed in LA Shooting
35. FBI arrests militia members for alleged bomb plot
36. Terrorism bill to cover religious or ideological acts
37. Freed Detainee, Praising Imprisoned Sheik, Plans to Revive Mosque

=== Mormonism
38. Y2K fears fuel LDS grounding
39. 2 LDS men file discrimination suit

=== Other News
40. Centre closed, leader watched
41. Couple faces charges in faith-healing death
42. Man is guilty in death of tiny son
43. Healer gets his day in court
44. Mistrial declared in Chopra lawsuit; new jury sought
45. UFO sighting one for Shanghai's X-Files
46. Internet Will Spread Dalai Lama's Message of Love and Forgiveness
47. Mexico's Church Debates Juan Diego

=== Creationism / Evolution
48. Creationist Captain Sees Battle 'Hotting Up'
49. Oklahoma's Divisive Disclaimer on Evolution

=== Interfaith / Interdenominational / Religious Pluralism
50. Parliament of Religions Under Way
51. Devotees lost for choice at religious parliament
52. And the walls come tumbling down
53. Interfaith meeting look to `mainstreaming' interreligious dialogue
54. Jordanian prince carves out role in world of interfaith dialogue

=== Religious Freedom / Religious Intolerance
55. Interfaith group's leader chides Southern Baptists for 'targeting' Jews
56. Is Christianity a 'hate crime'?
57. The Christian haters

=== Books / Films
58. Author Asks What's 'New Age' About Love and Forgiveness?
59. `Holy Smoke': A Spiritual Tug of War in the Australian Outback

=== Aum Shinrikyo

1. Anti-cult bill passes
Asahi News (Japan), Dec. 3, 1999
The Upper House passed anti-Aum Shinrikyo legislation today, which means
authorities could start monitoring the cult's activities by the end of

The cult on Wednesday admitted for the first time that its followers were
involved in a series of crimes, including the 1995 sarin gas attack in Tokyo
that killed 12. Its statement also apologized to the victims.

However, senior Justice Ministry officials said the director-general of the
Public Security Investigation Agency intends to file the documents because
Aum Shinrikyo has not abandoned its principle that justifies murder. The
officials say that Aum continues to pose a threat.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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2. 2 bills enacted to tighten grip on AUM
Mainichi Daily News (Japan), Dec. 4, 1999
Doomsday cult AUM Shinrikyo took a step toward oblivion Friday after the
House of Councillors passed into law two controversial bills aimed at
hobbling the religious group.

One of the bills - which pundits expect will be enacted by the end of the
year to counter a possible AUM resurgence led by Fumihiro Joyu, the out-
spoken cult mouthpiece due to be released from prison on Dec. 29 - will
permit law enforcers to monitor organizations implicated in serious crimes,
inspect their facilities and order them to report their activities every
three months.

The other will permit the seizure of AUM assets to use them to compensate the
victims of AUM-related crimes.

Justice Minister Hideo Usui hinted to reporters Friday that he may ask Public
Security Examination Commission (PSEC) officials to inspect AUM facilities
within 1999 now that they are permitted to do so.

Although neither of the bills mentioned AUM specifically, it was clear from
the outset when they were first presented to the Diet on Nov. 2 that they
were targeting the cult. AUM has admitted to carrying out the deadly March
1995 sarin gas attack that killed 12 and injured thousands and has been
accused of a myriad of other crimes.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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3. Diet passes 2 bills to crack down on cults
Daily Yomiuri (Japan), Dec. 4, 1999
(...) In the process of drawing up the bills, House of Representatives
members of the Liberal Democratic Party, Jiyuto (Liberal Party), New Komeito
and Minshuto included amendments to ensure that the laws are reviewed every
five years, thus making it possible to revoke them at a later date.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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4. Japanese Parliament Passes Bills to Limit Aum Cult Activities
AOL/Bloomberg, Dec. 2, 1999
(...) The legislation comes as Japanese authorities are investigating the
activities of two other religious organizations.

Earlier this week police searched the more than 70 facilities nationwide of
the Honohana Sanpogyo cult for allegedly defrauding members through high

Police last month took into custody nine children belonging to members of the
Life Space cult, following raids on the group's office and other facilities.
Investigators said the children were being kept from school, in violation of
the law.

Still, the legislation passed today is aimed specifically at the Aum cult,
through the mass murder provision.

Upper house lawmakers passed the legislation in a 197-33 vote. Another bill
to ban religious cults suspected of mass murder from acquiring land or
facilities passed in a 225-5 vote. The Lower House passed the bills Nov. 18.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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5. Anti-Aum bills' passage expedited to allay fears
Daily Yomiuri (Japan), Dec. 4, 1999
(...) The bills' quick passage resulted from an urgent need to calm anxious
residents living near Aum facilities, and both ruling and opposition parties
agreed that the cult's activities should be regulated.

However, discussions have been insufficient regarding the constitutionality
of inspecting facilities of such organizations. Although members of the
ruling parties and Minshuto (Democratic Party of Japan) enlisted the
involvement of the Public Security Examination Commission, it appears that
further regulations will be necessary before the laws are enforced since the
government itself once admitted that the procedure may violate the

However, following and regulating Aum activities may not be the answer to
solving all problems related to the cult. "The laws may prompt Aum to
increase its underground activities and further prevent followers from
leaving the organization," journalist Shoko Egawa said during a lower house

The government hopes to establish comprehensive measures to promote the
rehabilitation of former Aum members at a liaison conference of ministries
and agencies regarding Aum problems, but the government appears to be far
from reaching an effective solution regarding the issue.

"Even if followers say they have quit, we need to watch them for a certain
length of time," a senior Public Security Investigation Agency official said.
"If they contact followers and enter cult facilities, we cannot recognize
them as having quit. "It will be very difficult to distinguish between
members and nonmembers," he added.

During Diet deliberations, however, lawmakers repeatedly emphasized the need
for measures, such as counseling services, to help former members who have
truly left the cult to return to normal life.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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6. Aum admits role in crimes
Asahi News (Japan), Dec. 2, 1999
Aum Shinrikyo admitted Wednesday for the first time its involvement in a
series of crimes its members committed or were involved in, adding it will
apologize to its victims and offer them ``as much compensation as possible.''

Observers say the cult appears cornered by growing calls from communities to
oust people connected to Aum. They say that Aum was forced to make
Wednesday's statement as two bills aimed at cracking down the cult are set to
pass the Upper House in several days.

In her Wednesday statement, Muraoka said the cult would discuss the details
of compensation with its bankruptcy administrator. The cult was declared
bankrupt in March 1996.

But Saburo Abe, Aum Shinrikyo's bankruptcy administrator, criticized the
offer of compensation by pointing out that Aum members do not have any
personal assets, so it is ``nonsense'' to say each member will honestly offer

Aum's statement-issued after being discussed by its most senior
decision-making body-said nothing about the cult's current relationship with
Aum founder Chizuo Matsumoto, who faces 17 indictments for some of the Aum's
worst excesses.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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7. Crocodile tears from AUM?
Mainichi Daily News (Japan), Dec. 4, 1999
The AUM Shinrikyo cult has kept a low profile since announcing a halt of
religious activities in September, but it's still organizing meetings and
maintains most of its practice halls across the nation, public-safety
officials said on Friday.

In the midst of public criticism, AUM Shinrikyo announced on Sept. 29 that
they would close practice bases, stop holding seminars and study meetings,
and suspend the propagation of its dogma and invitations to join the group.

On top of that, the cult for the first time admitted earlier this week that
it committed the sarin gas attacks on the Tokyo subway system.

Officials regard these moves as simply tactical. "Their announcement to halt
activities and acknowledgment of subversive activities using sarin nerve gas
are only a gesture designed to evade a crackdown under new laws" that target
the cult, a public safety official said.

AUM Shinrikyo had closed only four of 15 main practice halls as of the end of
November, according to the unnamed official. Eleven other facilities,
including the "truth library" in Tokyo's Suginami-ku, have not yet been

Residents of areas where cult members live are casting doubt on the
effectiveness of tightened regulations under the new laws. "What we face is
AUM's dogma, which we believe doesn't hesitate to include murder," said
Takashi Masegi, deputy mayor of Fujioka, Gumma Prefecture, and the head of
the city's task force handling AUM-related issues. About 90 AUM members live
in the city. "Are these laws going to be able to regulate AUM, which still
intends to increase membership?" he asked.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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8. Cult feeling the heat as crackdown laws debut
Japan Times, Dec. 3, 1999
Friday's enactment of two laws specifically targeting Aum Shinrikyo may give
investigative authorities new ammunition with which to battle the cult, and
Aum's leadership will have to perform a balancing act between
self-preservation and public acceptance.

But despite the accelerated deliberations, some lawyers and scholars continue
to voice concern over the new laws, warning they may be unconstitutional.

However, the creation of anti-Aum legislation was to some extent inevitable
to put an end to the situation communities were facing, where many local
governments refused to accept residency applications of Aum members while
residents launched campaigns demanding that the followers move out.

In addition, supporters say, if law enforcement bodies continued to restrict
the cult's activities by applying existing laws alone, they would have to
keep arresting followers on minor charges such as trespassing -- a move that
could be criticized as abuse of state power.

Aum itself has not been blind to the mounting public criticism. Over the past
few months its leaders have been trying to keep a low profile while plotting
a course of action.

"It is a step forward that the cult offered apologies," said Shoko Egawa, a
journalist who has extensively covered Aum. "But we'll have to wait until the
end of January to see what (Aum's) real intention was (in making these
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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9. Apology not enough as PM moves on sect
South China Morning News/AFP, Dec. 3, 1999
Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi yesterday vowed to crack down on the Aum Shinri
cult, despite the sect's apology for spreading lethal sarin gas in
Tokyo's subway system in 1995.

"No matter what, the sect is being judged by the law as a religious group
that caused the sarin incident, indiscriminately targeting many innocent
people," said the premier. "We should never allow such a crime to happen
again and now we are going to deter it by enacting two Aum laws."

Mr Obuchi said "the purpose of the law" was to deter Aum Shinri Kyo from
committing deadly crimes like the sarin gas attack, and added that the
Government would do its utmost to secure public safety and property against
the cult. "We will take appropriate action so that we won't see such a crime
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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10. Local residents say laws not enough
Daily Yomiuri (Japan), Dec. 4, 1999
A resident in Fujioka, Gunma Prefecture, who keeps watch on a former printing
facility that is currently inhabited by about 100 Aum followers, said that
simply passing the anti-Aum laws will not ease public anxiety.

"It is a step forward to restrict the activities of the followers," Toshiharu
Arai, 67, said. "But public fears will not subside as long as the cult
continues its activities," he said.

Senior Aum members visited the facility late last month to explain and
discuss the new laws with followers, local residents said.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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11. Current and archived news regarding Aum Shinrikyo:


=== Ho No Hana Sanpogyo

12. Police raid foot-reading cult
Mainichi Daily News (Japan), Dec. 2, 1999
(...) Investigators from the Metropolitan Police Department and the
Shizuoka Prefectural Police conducted the crackdown on 70 cult facilities in
Tokyo and eight other prefectures, police said. They were searched on
suspicion that the cult swindled three housewives out of 22 million yen
between November 1994 and the following June.

The residence of the cult's guru, Hogen Fukunaga, in Tokyo's Shibuya-ku - an
exclusive apartment with a rent of 2 million yen per month - was also
searched, but his whereabouts and that of other senior cultists were unknown.

Fukunaga claims to be able to cure or prevent any serious illness with his
tengyo-riki, or heavenly powers.

Police believe that Fukunaga and other high-ranking cult members cheated
thousands of people by saying that the guru possessed supernatural healing
power. Investigators also confirmed that claims of miraculous cures of
terminal illnesses printed in the cult's book were all sham.

It was revealed during earlier court proceedings that a manual for examining
the soles of the feet advised cult examiners to scare people by promptly
concluding that they would suffer cancer, die young or go bankrupt. As a
result, the cult was able to prey upon troubled people. They attended
training sessions and bought scrolls or ornaments priced at millions of yen
that supposedly brought fortunes to their buyers.

However, a 58-year-old cult follower who arrived at the Fuji headquarters
during the raid remained unmoved. "We have never committed any questionable
action," the unnamed man says. He said that Fukunaga had prophesized the
police crackdown to some 500 followers three weeks ago.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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13. Sole man gladhanded rich and famous
Mainichi Daily News (Japan), Dec. 3, 1999
Ho no Hana Sanpogyo leader Hogen Fukunaga, who allegedly defrauded thousands
of people through his dodgy foot-readings, had set up meetings with
international celebrities, including Pope John Paul II, in an attempt to add
some luster to the cult's image, the Mainichi has learned.

The whereabouts of Fukunaga, 54, are still unknown following Wednesday's
nationwide raids on the foot-reading cult's facilities by police.

Fukunaga held talks with former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in
October 1991, and former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev four years
later to discuss global environmental issues, according to magazines
published by Ho no Hana.

The guru then made trips to the Vatican and India in the autumn of 1995,
where he met the pontiff, the late Mother Theresa, and Sathya Sai Baba, a
religionist who once appeared frequently on Japanese television.

Ho no Hana magazines also had regular columns devoted to Fukunaga
interviewing domestic celebrities such as television personalities and sports

Stories of those high-profile meetings were mentioned in numerous books
written by Fukunaga, many of which were distributed free of charge near
hospitals, to impress and lure people to undergo "sole-examinations" and
attend training sessions, police said.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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14. Guru lured members by chasing celebrities
Daily Yomiuri (Japan), Dec. 3, 1999
The leader of the Ho-no-Hana Sanpogyo religious group, whose offices and
facilities were searched by police Wednesday on suspicion of fraud,
publicized his meetings with prominent figures such as U.S. President Bill
Clinton and former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev to attract
followers, it was learned Thursday.

Investigators suspect the publicity campaigns are an example of the group's
fraudulent tactics as one former group member said he had joined the group
because he felt he could trust someone who was connected with such prominent

In September 1995, the acquaintance asked a friend scheduled to meet with the
pope to introduce Fukunaga to the religious leader. During the meeting,
Fukunaga presented the pope with two rings purchased in Rome beforehand and
asked the pope to wear one of them while he wore the other. According to the
acquaintance, Fukunaga looked very pleased during the meeting. Ho-no-Hana
Sanpogyo played up the meeting and published a false story that was carried
with a photograph of the meeting.

"The pope presented two rings, giving one to our leader while wearing the
other as an expression of solidarity in efforts to achieve world peace," the
story read. "Our leader then heard the voice of God say that the spirit of
Jesus Christ's salvation dwells in the ring."

Following the publication of a similar story in its newsletter, Sakura
Shimbun, the Catholic Bishops Conference of Japan lodged a protest against
the group, claiming that the pope had simply been photographed with Fukunaga
and did not have any connection to him.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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15. Ho-no-Hana head 'told group to lie to recruits'
Daily Yomiuri (Japan), Dec. 5, 1999
Hogen Fukunaga, leader of the Ho-no-Hana Sanpogyo religious group, who is
under suspicion of committing fraud, told his staff to lure participants to
special training sessions by any means, including lying, sources close to the
group said Saturday.

Staff members eagerly studied Fukunaga's methods of threatening people to
make them enroll in special training sessions, the sources said.

At these meetings, Fukunaga repeatedly said that lying was acceptable to lure
people to enroll in the special training. "You should use your 'wisdom' and
say things, even if they may not actually be true," Fukunaga reportedly said.
He explained that lies were acceptable as people would learn reason once they
began the special training, the sources said.

The group prepared a manual to train people to inspect people's feet that
included such examples of wisdom as: "Your life will be taken if you do not
act now" and "You will go bankrupt in two months' time" (unless you
participate in the training sessions).

In connection with alleged fraud by its leader and officials of the
Ho-no-Hana Sanpogyo religious group, police searched 32 facilities related to
the group in Tokyo and 11 prefectures Saturday.

This is the second nationwide raid by the Metropolitan Police Department and
the Shizuoka prefectural police, following a similar raid Wednesday. A total
of 106 facilities have been searched so far.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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16. Cult leader set tough goals for followers
Daily Yomiuri (Japan), Dec. 4, 1999
The leader of the Ho-no-Hana Sanpogyo religious group, whose offices and
facilities were searched by police Wednesday on suspicion of fraud, set cult
members strict recruitment goals in a bid to swell the group's ranks, a
source said Friday.

The goals included having a book on the group read by 10 million people, and
having 3,000 people a month attend the group's religious training program,
according to a former follower. Hogen Fukunaga, 54, also ordered his
followers to try to entice 300,000 visitors to the group's headquarters in
Fuji, Shizuoka Prefecture, the source said.

The recruitment performances of followers were reported to the self-styled
guru, who was reportedly outraged when goals were not met.

Fukunaga reportedly said that the figure of 300,000 was given to him by a
heavenly voice.

In 1992, Fukunaga visited Nagasaki Prefecture--the year after the Fugen
volcano in the Unzen Mountains erupted --and told local followers, "If 7,000
people in the prefecture underwent training for one year, there would be no
more eruptions."
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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17. ASIA: Police raid sect that preyed on female soles
Yahoo! Asia, Dec. 2, 1999
(...) Separately, about 1,100 former followers are suing the cult for a total
of 5.4 billion yen in damages.

Cult leader Teruyoshi Fukunaga and his disciples do not have licences to
practise medicine. But they say they can diagnose people's health and predict
their future by examining their feet.

Fukunaga describes his belief as a "super religion" and insists he is the
next saviour after Christ and Buddha. "Human beings on the Earth and the
planet will experience a major evolution in 2013," he says in a booklet.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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18. Current and archived news items on Ho no Hana Sanpogyo:


=== Scientology

19. Church of Scientology settles tax debt, claims victory
AP Worldstream, Dec. 3, 199
The church of Scientology has settled a decade-old tax debt with Sweden.
According to the settlement, the church will pay 630,000 kronor (dlrs 74,000)
by April 30 for outstanding taxes from 1986 to 1989. Another 660,000 kronor
(dlrs 78,000) in fees and interest were waived by authorities.

The church, which started in Sweden 30 years ago, accepted the agreement with
the Stockholm Tax Authority after an appeals court determined the authority
had the right to levy taxes for the period in question.

A key issue was the church's bookkeeping practices, which now conform to
state standards, Scientologist attorney Lars Engstrand said.

''We have gotten a tremendous victory here. We have struggled for 20 years
with this,'' said Tarja Vulto, a church spokeswoman.

However, Per Johansson at the tax authority said Thursday the church has been
officially viewed as a nonprofit organization with a religious purpose since
the 1980s.

The authority evaluates such groups' activities each year to determine
whether they are to be taxed that year, Johansson said. The church of
Scientology hasn't had a taxable income during the 1990s, he added.
[...entire item...]

* Note: a CoS press release made it look like the tax settlement was a
victory in its fight to be recognized as a religious organization.
However, the official adjudication states

The Tax Office made a fiscal adjudication in October 1999 that the
Church of Scientology is to be considered as an idealistic association
for the public benefit which carries out an economic activity.

20. Church staffer, foe told to stay apart
St. Petersburg Times, Dec. 3, 1999
A judge has called for an end to "picket chicken" in Clearwater, the
taunting, red-faced, nose-to-nose encounters that have flared in recent
months between Church of Scientology staffers and their nemesis, New England
millionaire Robert Minton.

In an order Thursday, Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Thomas E. Penick Jr. said
Minton and Richard Howd, a Scientology staffer, "must be mutually restrained"
after an altercation Halloween night. Minton must stay at least 10 feet away
from 17 Scientology properties in Clearwater. And Howd must stay at least 20
feet from Minton.

But afterward there was confusion on several points. For example: Did the
judge mean to ban Minton from all public sidewalks in front of Scientology

Attorneys for the church and Minton left the county courthouse in St.
Petersburg with different interpretations of Penick's order, all on the eve
of anti-Scientology protests planned this weekend in Clearwater.

Penick said both sides have "engaged in the dangerous and threatening
practice of seeing how close one can get to the other while each is
exercising his respective constitutional rights."

Penick's order is good for six months, but may need to be readdressed.
Minton, who has homes in Boston and New Hampshire, says he is moving his base
of operations to Clearwater. He says he has a contract to buy an office
building next to church facilities downtown and plans to set up an
organization that will challenge Scientology.

There was disagreement Thursday on how far Penick went. His order that
Minton stay 10 feet away from church properties was interpreted by
Scientology to mean Minton could not use sidewalks in front of church
buildings. But Minton's attorney, Denis deVlaming, said there was room on the
sidewalks for him to picket.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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21. Scientology foes gather for 5th annual meeting
Tampa Tribune, Dec. 4, 1999
An annual convention of sorts for Church of Scientology critics officially
gets under way today.

The conference, now in its fifth year, has met with varied reaction from
Scientology officials in the past - from angry confrontations to a
counterpicket staged by Scientologists two years ago at the Clearwater Police

This year, the church's critics won't be able to protest anywhere around the
perimeter of the hotel. Scaffolding and a green mesh curtain completely
block the sidewalk directly in front of the hotel. A scaffold tunnel recently
was erected across the street from the hotel to protect pedestrians walking
alongside a six-story Scientology training complex under construction since
February. An overhead walkway will link the hotel and training center.

The timing of the work has nothing to do with the annual protest, Scientology
spokesman Michael Rinder said Friday. Church foes, however, say the
construction's timing is intended to shield Scientology members.

The vigil honors church member Lisa McPherson, who died Dec. 5, 1995, after
17 days in the care of church staffers in their headquarters hotel. The
church is facing charges of aggravated abuse of a disabled adult and
practicing medicine without a license in McPherson's death.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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22. Church draws line for critics
St. Petersburg Times, Dec. 4, 1999
(...) The Church of Scientology has taken the liberty of showing its leading
critic where he may and may not walk with a picket sign this weekend.

Hundreds of bright orange dots decorated the public sidewalks and streets
surrounding Scientology buildings in Clearwater on Friday, the work of church
staffers with spray paint cans and measuring tapes.

The painting was done in response to a judge's order Thursday that
Scientology critic Robert Minton stay at least 10 feet away from 17 church
buildings in Clearwater. By Friday morning the orange markings appeared like
an overnight snow, showing lines of demarcation 10 feet from each property.

In some places, the dots were connected by orange chalk lines. At Hacienda
Gardens, a residence for Scientology staffers, the church had installed long
rows of tiny orange survey flags that told Minton he was welcome to walk on a
narrow strip of grass near the curb on Saturn Avenue. Minton's attorney,
Denis deVlaming, compared the spray-painted markings to graffiti.

Police Chief Sid Klein said the markings were "defacing public property." A
short time later, Scientology officials told Klein they would remove the
markings. They also gave him detailed drawings of Scientology buildings,
complete with marks showing the 10-foot boundary.

The judge's 10-foot order resulted from an incident the night of Oct. 31 in
front of the Fort Harrison. Minton was carrying an anti-Scientology picket
sign while a church staffer, Richard Howd, followed him with a video camera.

Angered at Howd's closeness, Minton pushed his sign in Howd's face and was
arrested on a charge of misdemeanor battery.

The chief met with both sides Friday, telling them his officers will focus on
Minton and Howd, and that if anyone else in either camp engages in "picket
chicken," there will be one warning.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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* The harassment practices of Scientologists, who claim Scientology leads
to higher ethics, are well-documented:


23. Six to split $150,000 in Arlington veterinary clinic bias case agreement
Star-Telegram, Dec. 3, 1999
An Arlington veterinary clinic has agreed to end a federal job
discrimination lawsuit by splitting a $150,000 settlement among six former
employees who said that their advancement was linked to participation in
Church of Scientology training sessions.

The former employees of the clinic in the 5800 block of West Interstate 20
said that they were pressured to participate in employee training programs
developed by the World Institute of Scientology Enterprises. Promotions,
raises and bonuses were tied to participation in the activities, and
employees who did not take part suffered retaliation, the employees charged
in their complaint.

The lawsuit was filed against the veterinary clinic and not the church
organization. It sought back pay for the former employees and punitive
damages for discrimination.

"It's not about Scientology," said Robert Canino, regional attorney for the
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. "This was about the imposition of a
particular belief for people who did not want to be subjected to it."
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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24. Windows 2000 in Danger of beeing Banned
Heise Online/C't (Germany), Dec. 3, 1999
An integrated component of Windows 2000 is made by a Scientology company. The
connection between the psycho sect and the software giant is annoying
representatives of the major churches in Germany. Microsoft risks a boycott
of its flagship product by churches and government agencies.
Windows 2000, the successor of Windows NT shipping in February, contains a
defragmentation program called Diskeeper. The manufacturer is the company
Executive Software Inc. (http://www.execsoft.com/) of the professed
scientologist Craig Jensen. Founded in 1981 the enterprise offers
defragmentation and data storage tools to "enhance the speed and performance
of Microsoft Windows NT".

By integrating the Executive product into Windows 2000 Microsoft created a
situation that at least a few large potential customers see as a serious
problem. A employee of the German catholic church who did not want his name
mentioned told c't that the origin of the software is "highly disturbing". It
is "a genius move" of the Scientology organization if soon such a program
that has direct and active access to all data is working principally on every
company desk and in government and church institutions as an integrated part
of a widely used operating system.

The underlying reason for these kinds of worries is the philosophy of the
Scientology umbrella organization WISE, Executive being a member of the
latter. WISE stands for World Institute of Scientology Enterprises and forms
the "most important money-generating apparatus of the psycho sect" according
to the German news magazine Focus. Up to 15 percent of the revenues are paid
to Scientology. The participating companies are "exclusively managed with LRH
technology" describes WISE itself; LRH are the initials of Hubbard.
Guideline 1 of WISE says to "utilize the administrative technology in every
business of the world". WISE further demands: "Conquer the key positions, the
position [...] as companies' director of human resources, [...] as secretary
of the director, [...]. The manufacturing plants, the trade centers, the
counties, these are the places where we want trained scientologists."

At the end of August the Bavarian secretary of state Hermann Regensburger
pointed out that Scientology wants to extend the administration technologies
in its enterprises, resulting in a total control of the employees, to
government and society as well. Scientology engages espionage to
systematically gather information about enemies and uses psychological
intimidation. For this the organization is operating its own secret service
called Office for Special Affairs (OSA).

Churches, government departments and the large political parties in Germany
want to distance themselves from the power-hungry psycho sect. It is more and
more the practice to demand a protection statement from employees, members
and business partners. With this the signing party commits to "completely"
reject Hubbard methods, not to organize or allow any Scientology seminars in
the company, not to do any business with persons, companies or organizations
that support Scientology and - important in Microsoft's case - not "knowingly
support companies that are managed or influenced with a L. Ron Hubbard

Meanwhile the protection statement has become a deciding criterion for
employment in many government institutions and is slowly gaining ground in
the economy as well. Assuming that the Scientology company Executive is
earning royalties from Windows 2000 everybody who signed the statement could
not buy the operating system.

On top of that as a potential business partner Microsoft Germany will have to
confront joining the protection statement.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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25. Current and archived news items regarding Scientology:


=== Life Space / Shakty Pat Guru Foundation

26. The Corpse and the Cult
Newsweek International, Dec. 6, 1999
(...) There the Life Space guru, 61-year-old Koji Takahashi, began treating
Kobayashi with gentle touches called "shakty pats." Police say the old man
died soon thereafter, but the Life Space leader claims his patient was alive
until the coroner performed the autopsy. "I'm not as crazy as someone who
would treat a dead man," Takahashi told NEWSWEEK during a rambling,
three-hour interview. "Do you think I'm that crazy?"

Police in Japan don't buy the guru's explanation. Last week, they raided four
Life Space facilities looking for the proof they need to prosecute group
leaders for Kobayashi's death. They netted material that could implicate the
guru directly. The gold nugget: a five-volume, 2,000-page account, authored
by cult members under Takahashi's direction, of the guru's lengthy effort to
help Kenji "revitalize" his father.

His "treatment" is administered by touching palms on the patient's head and
body. The technique is borrowed from Indian guru Sai Baba, a healer whom
Takahashi claims to have followed for 6,000 years through countless

Written to vindicate the group in Kobayashi's death, the books appear to
accomplish just the opposite. They show how the elderly man's son, acting
largely at the urging of his guru, ushered an invalid away from quality
medical care and made him, in effect, a cult guinea pig.

A concluding volume, which the group says is due out soon, will explain the
cult's version of events through the autopsy. Police aren't waiting around.
Investigators say they are rapidly amassing evidence against the Life Space
guru and his followers. In Kobayashi's case, possible charges range from
"abandonment of a corpse," a relatively minor offense, to "abandonment
resulting in death," or even murder, according to Japanese legal experts.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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27. Current and archived items regarding Life Space:


=== Falun Gong

28. Official denies Falun Gong followers gathered outside court
Yahoo! Asia/AFP, Dec. 4, 1999
A major trial of the alleged ringleaders of the outlawed Falun Gong spiritual
group here has been postponed as hundreds of group members gathered around
the Beijing Intermediate People's Court. It was the second time authorities
postponed the trial.

A court official confirmed the trial had been postponed but denied there was
a large gathering outside the courthouse.

Arrested on 20 July, the four were also accused of organising a May 1998
protest outside Beijing Television Station, when the group demanded an
apology for a program which called Falun Gong a ``sect''.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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29. Few Members of Large Sect to Face Trial, Beijing Says
New York Times, Dec. 2, 1999
More than 150 people have been formally arrested in connection with the
crackdown on the Falun Gong spiritual movement, a government official said

He also acknowledged that Falun Gong followers have had more than 35,000
run-ins with the police in the past five months, the first official public
tally of the government's intense effort to damp a stubborn group it has
labeled "an evil cult."

But Qian Xiaoqian, an official with the news office of China's state council,
dismissed as a "total fabrication" reports from a Hong Kong-based human
rights group that 35,792 Falun Gong practitioners had been detained since the
government banned the group in July.

Qian said that number represents "the total number of times individuals who
attempted to assemble illegally in public places in Beijing since July were
persuaded to leave or were taken away from the site." He said the number of
individuals involved was in fact lower because some people had to be
dispersed again and again.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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30. CHINA: Falun Gong launches plea for dialogue with Beijing
Yahoo! Asia, Dec. 1, 1999
Members of the outlawed Falun Gong launched a global appeal in Seattle for
dialogue with Beijing as Chinese officials were due to arrive for the World
Trade Organisation (WTO) ministerial conference yesterday.

US-based members denied the move was timed to make an impact on the WTO
conference or the mainland's bid to enter the body.

In a symbolic gesture on Monday, Seattle Mayor Paul Schell officially
declared the seven-day period that covers the giant WTO event "Li Hongzhi and
Falun Gong week" in the city.

But China's ambassador to the United States, Li Zhaoxing, quoted the mayor as
saying he would not have approved the event "if he knew that Falun Gong was a
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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31. Current and archived news items regarding Falun Gong:


=== Concerned Christians

32. Police Detain Alleged Cult Members
New York Times/AP, Dec. 3, 1999
Special security forces rounded up at least 16 suspected members of an
alleged American doomsday cult Friday, as part of a larger crackdown on the
group before the turn of the millennium.

The suspected members of the Concerned Christians -- 11 adults and five
children -- were taken into custody in and around the seaside town of Rafina,
15 miles east of Athens. All those detained were U.S. citizens with expired
resident permits, police said. They likely face deportation.

Authorities said a sweep was under way for a total of up to 60 possible
members of the group, which was founded in Denver, but reportedly has used
Rafina as a base since 14 members were expelled from Israel in January.

Greek officials fear group members could be contemplating violence or
suicides on the eve of the millennium, police sources said. Greek media
reported that residents complained some of the followers were preaching about
the end of the world.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Hate Groups

33. Klan Gets Its Wish, but Fight Over Project Continues
New York Times, Dec. 4, 1999
(...) The K.K.K. has won a round in its five-year battle to pick up litter
along highways in Missouri. Two small brown signs went up on Tuesday,
implementing a federal district court ruling this spring that the First
Amendment bars the Missouri Department of Transportation from excluding
groups whose views it finds objectionable.

By Wednesday evening, the signs were gone. Vandals had cut one with a chain
saw, and the other had been pulled out of the ground, post and all. The
highway department said that it would replace the signs but that it would
take at least six weeks.

Meanwhile, the court fight continues. The United States Court of Appeals for
the Eighth Circuit will hear arguments in January. Last month the appeals
court denied Missouri's request for a delay in enforcement of the district
court's ruling that required the state to put up the signs.

If the state loses its appeal, officials have warned that they may cancel the

"We are, in fact, vehemently and adamantly opposed to the K.K.K.'s
participation in this program because the K.K.K. is known to unlawfully
discriminate and has a history of violent criminal activity," said Henry
Hungerbeeler, director of the State Transportation Department. "We are very
concerned that this would appear that we are providing a forum for the
K.K.K., which is not the intention of the Adopt-A-Highway program."

Klan leaders around the country have looked for public ways to soften their
image for violence and discrimination. In Pittsburgh, a Klan group delivers
food to the poor. In Maryland, Anne Arundel County dropped its highway
cleanup program in March rather than allow a Klan group to participate.
Officials in Florida, Ohio, North Carolina and Texas have also tried to bar
the Klan from highway programs.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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34. Federal Charges Filed in LA Shooting
New York Times/AP, Dec. 3, 1999
Federal charges against a white supremacist accused of killing a mail carrier
and rampaging through a Jewish community center represent a strong statement
against hate crimes from the government, experts say.

The 16-count government indictment disclosed Thursday supersedes old charges
and adds new firearms counts and details of Buford Furrow's alleged spree at
the North Valley Jewish Community Center in August.

Furrow allegedly told authorities when he was arrested that he had wanted to
send ``a wake-up call to America to kill Jews.''

The Justice Department indictment alleges Furrow, 37, killed Ileto because of
his race and wounded three boys, a teen-age girl and a receptionist at the
center because of their religion.

The grand jury that indicted Furrow heard testimony last month from the
leader of a white supremacist organization as prosecutors focused on his
affiliations with hate groups.

Richard Butler, 81, founder and head of the Aryan Nations in Hayden Lake,
Idaho, said he was questioned about his relationship with Furrow and about
Christian Identity beliefs, which hold that whites are the true children of
God, the real Israelites.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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35. FBI arrests militia members for alleged bomb plot
CNN/AP, Dec. 4, 1999
Federal agents have arrested two anti-government militia members in
connection with an alleged plan to blow up a huge propane storage facility,
federal officials said Saturday.

The arrests on Friday came after a nearly yearlong investigation by the FBI
Joint Terrorism Task Force into a potential threat against the Suburban
Propane facility in Elk Grove and other targets in the Sacramento area, the
U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement. The other threatened sites were
not identified.

The newspaper said both men were members of a San Joaquin County militia
group and had been stockpiling large amounts of illegal weapons.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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36. Terrorism bill to cover religious or ideological acts
Yahoo! UK & Ireland/Reuters, Dec. 2, 1999
Sweeping new anti-terrorism laws, broadened to cover acts inspired by
religion or ideology, have been unveiled. Plans to update laws originally
framed to tackle terrorism related to Northern Ireland were published by the
government the day the province's new home rule government of Protestants and
Catholics met for the first time.

Government officials said the bill, to be passed next year, will include a
more modern definition of terrorism which includes ideological and religious
motivation for terrorist acts.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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37. Freed Detainee, Praising Imprisoned Sheik, Plans to Revive Mosque
New York Times, Dec. 1, 1999
After spending three years in detention on the basis of secret evidence,
Nasser K. Ahmed said Tuesday that he planned to use his freedom to revive the
Islamic movement that federal investigators say was a haven for the
terrorists who carried out a bomb attack on the World Trade Center.

Ahmed was released from the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Lower
Manhattan on Monday night after Attorney General Janet Reno decided against
intervening to keep him in custody. The decision went against the wishes of
F.B.I. officials who had linked Ahmed, and the Brooklyn mosque he was
affiliated with, to terrorists.

"The F.B.I. broke the Abu Bakr Mosque just as it broke David Koresh's
church," he said, referring to the mosque he administered before he was
jailed in April 1996. "They brought in new leaders and tried to take over
while I was in jail. They turned the community against each other."

The mosque, on Foster Avenue, was once used as the pulpit for Sheik Omar
Abdel Rahman, who was convicted in 1995 of plotting to blow up New York City
landmarks. Ahmed praises Abdel Rahman as "a great and fearless scholar whose
sermons made me realize that we were all sleeping."

Ahmed had been a legal assistant to Abdel Rahman, but he has denied being
involved in terrorism. Colleagues describe him as a central figure in the Abu
Bakr Mosque's operation when Abdel Rahman was delivering sermons there.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Mormonism

38. Y2K fears fuel LDS grounding
Deseret News, Dec. 1, 1999
The LDS Church has effectively grounded all employees, missionaries and
general authorities from any air travel between midnight Dec. 30 and midnight
Jan. 5, citing Y2K uncertainties.

The church has some 60,000 missionaries worldwide, most serving for two-year

Brigham Young University has also restricted air travel by staff and faculty
members during that time period, said spokeswoman Carri Jenkins.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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39. 2 LDS men file discrimination suit
Deseret News/AP, Dec. 3, 1999
Two workers at the U.S. Energy Department's Idaho Operations Office have
filed a discrimination suit against their employer, arguing they were passed
over for promotions because they are LDS men in their 50s.

Their complaint was investigated by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission, which found no evidence of discrimination. Workers who disagree
with the agency's findings can sue in court.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Other News

40. Centre closed, leader watched
Yahoo! Asia, Dec. 5, 1999
Police in the mainland's northwestern Shaanxi province have shut down the
largest base of Zhong Gong, a spiritual movement similar to the outlawed
Falun Gong and dispersed around 2,000 practitioners, a Hong Kong-based rights
group said yesterday.

The Information Centre of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China said
this could mean the government had branded Zhong Gong as an ``evil cult''.

Until over 10,000 Falun Gong disciples launched silent protests around
Zhongnanhai on 25 April, authorities had been more concerned about, and kept
a closer watch over, the activities of Zhong Gong than the other self-claimed
qigong schools, of which there were a wide variety. The official media's
criticisms had also previously concentrated on Zhong Gong.

Shortly after authorities launched a nationwide crackdown on the Falun Gong
on 22 July, Shaanxi police also searched the Zhong Gong base but made no
arrests. But in early October the base was ordered to close down. It then
moved to Xi'an, the provincial capital of Shaanxi.

Zhong Gong, which claims to have about 20 million followers, was founded in
the early 1990s by qigong master Zhang Hongbao, now 40. He is under close
watch in Xian city, according to Frank Lu, founder of the rights group.
Zhong Gong translates as ``Chinese way to keep healthy and clever''.

The movement combines classical qigong, a traditional deep breathing exercise
with elements of traditional Chinese culture.

It has eight levels of development, stressing the diagnosis and treatment of
disease. Those who reach the fourth level are said to acquire powers such as
greatly enhanced vision and hearing.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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41. Couple faces charges in faith-healing death
The Oregonian, Dec. 3, 1999
Prosecutors in Canada's Alberta province have charged a faith-healing couple
in the death of their son because they failed to seek medical help, citing
their religious objections to doctors.

The parents, Steve Paul Shippy, 44, and Ruth Anne Shippy, 37, are members of
the Followers of Christ Church, said Crown Prosecutor Ian Frazer of
Wetaskiwin, 50 miles south of Edmonton.

The Followers of Christ is a fundamentalist sect whose members put all their
faith in the healing power of God, professing to refuse medical care to the
point of death. There are Followers churches in Oregon City; Caldwell, Idaho;
and Fairview, Okla., to name a few cities.

Faith healing made headlines in Oregon in 1998 after the deaths of three
children in the Oregon City congregation from medical complications. In each,
the parents took no steps to save the children beyond their prayers and other
religious rituals. An investigation by The Oregonian found that the Oregon
City church had amassed one of the largest clusters of child deaths recorded
among the nation's faith-healing churches.

The Oregon Legislature this year revised the law to require faith-healing
parents to seek medical care for their sick or injured children or risk
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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42. Man is guilty in death of tiny son
San Diego Union-Tribune, Dec. 3, 1999
David Mayer, an El Cajon man who said God did not like fat children and sat
idly by while his toddler son slowly starved to death, was convicted of
first-degree murder yesterday.

David Mayer's attorney, Jesse Gilbert, argued that his client suffered from
profound delusions that he was an instrument of God, and that God would take
care of the child. Mayer once told a social worker that fat children were
"carnal" and disliked by God.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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43. Healer gets his day in court
San Diego Union-Tribune, Dec. 1, 1999
It shapes up as one of San Diego's strangest lawsuits: a case that involves
internationally known writer and mind-body healer Deepak Chopra and
allegations of greed, illicit sex and stolen garbage.

Chopra is suing a woman he alleges tried to blackmail him for $50,000 in
return for not exposing allegations that Chopra had trysts with a prostitute,
which Chopra denies.

DiMare said that Joyce Weaver, who worked with Chopra, tried to blackmail him
and falsely contended that Chopra had sexually harassed her.

Weaver's attorney, Peter Friesen, said Chopra did not file his lawsuit
against Weaver until after she had filed a claim against him accusing him of
sexual harassment. Friesen said that before Chopra made the allegation in his
lawsuit he never told any of his business associates of his contention that
Weaver tried to blackmail him.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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44. Mistrial declared in Chopra lawsuit; new jury sought
San Diego Union-Tribune, Dec. 2, 1999
A mistrial was declared yesterday in the second day of a civil trial
involving New Age healer Deepak Chopra and a woman he contended tried to
extort $50,000 from him.

Weaver's attorney, Peter Friesen, said Superior Court Judge Thomas Murphy
granted his request for a mistrial and dismissed jurors after Chopra's
attorney, Carla DiMare, repeatedly referred to evidence that had been
excluded by the judge.

"We have rules designed to ensure fair trials," Friesen said. "(DiMare)
really wasn't paying attention to the rules and was violating them."
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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45. UFO sighting one for Shanghai's X-Files
South China Morning Post, Dec. 4, 1999
The usually staid state media in Shanghai carried reports yesterday that an
unidentified flying object had been sighted in the city. In a front-page
story, with colour photographs of an object resembling a meteor, the Wenhui
Daily said the UFO was spotted over western Shanghai on Thursday afternoon.

A former researcher at the Shanghai Observatory, Professor Jiang Xiaoyuan,
was among the witnesses but he could not offer any explanation. The UFO
hovered over Shanghai for 1.5 hours, reports said. The city's aviation
bureau and Hongqiao airport said their radar did not detect anything.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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46. Internet Will Spread Dalai Lama's Message of Love and Forgiveness
Salt Lake Tribune, Nov. 27, 1999
(...) His books are best-sellers in the West, his travels major media
events. And yet the Dalai Lama's message and the cause of Tibetan freedom
remain largely unheard in the country whose opinions matter the most: the
People's Republic of China.

That is about to change, says Ed Firmage, a University of Utah law professor
who has enlisted son and Internet entrepreneur Joe Firmage in creating the
Dalai Lama's official Web page. The Chinese-language site, expected to debut
in mid-January, will finally give a quarter of the world's people a
cyberspace portal to His Holiness' teachings -- and unsanitized Tibetan

Understanding is the first step toward freedom, the Dalai Lama has told the
Firmages during recent meetings in Dharamsala and Los Angeles.

It struck the professor, who confesses to a lifelong fascination with the
Apostle Paul, that what the Tibetan Buddhists were experiencing had echoes
some 2,000 years old in the early Christian church.

Firmage, who was raised Mormon but now considers himself an ecumenical
Christian, says he "would give my life to be able to go back and talk to
Paul. And I can, by talking to the Dalai Lama, because I'm talking to the
first century [of a faith's diaspora]."

While Joe Firmage works out the details, father Ed tries to define the
vision, guided by his conversations with the unassuming, bespectacled monk in
simple maroon robes who embodies the "Living Buddha" to the faithful.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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47. Mexico's Church Debates Juan Diego
AOL/AP, Dec. 4, 1999
Attempts to canonize Juan Diego, the Indian who reportedly saw the Virgin of
, have led to a public spat inside Mexico's Roman Catholic church.

A letter to the Vatican objecting to sainthood caused an uproar this week in
Mexico, where national identity is closely linked to veneration of the
olive-skinned Virgin
who reportedly appeared to Juan Diego on Dec. 12, 1531,
at Tepeyac in what is now northern Mexico City.

The newspaper Reforma revealed on Thursday that the former abbot of the
Basilica of Guadalupe, Guillermo Schulenburg, had written the letter, which
argued that evidence for Juan Diego's existence was unclear.

The new debate comes a week before mass celebrations in the broad plaza in
front of the basilica that houses the image of the virgin on a cape of cactus
fibers that, according to tradition, she gave to Juan Diego. Millions gather
at the shrine every Dec. 12 amid songs, fireworks, prayer and Indian dancing.

That dancing hints at one of the oldest objections to the cult of the Virgin:
Some clergymen at the time claimed that the story of her apparition was a
device cooked up by local Indians to continue worshipping an Aztec goddess,
Tonantzin - ``Our Mother'' - whose shrine was located at Tepeyac.

Critics note that church officials at the time virtually ignored the
apparition and the first detailed historical accounts occurred about 120
years later.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Creationism / Evolution

48. Creationist Captain Sees Battle 'Hotting Up'
New York Times, Dec. 1, 1999
Since dedicating himself to creationism 20 years ago when he was a
disillusioned science teacher in Australia, Ken Ham has found that progress
can generally be slow, but hardly as slow as his evolutionist adversaries
would have the world believe.

After moving to the United States five years ago, Ham, a dedicated Christian
fundamentalist with an Abe Lincoln gaze to his musings about the origin of
life, now directs a $5-million-a-year enterprise and claims to have 110
"creation clubs" in schools across the country.

This would seem an uphill struggle, but Ham takes comfort that the phones and
Web site of his nonprofit organization, Answers in Genesis Inc., are still
busy with the stir created by creationism's biggest victory to date -- the
Kansas Board of Education's decision last August to yield to growing pressure
and delete virtually any mention of evolution from the state's science

"I see a culture war hotting up in America between Christian morality and
relative morality, which is really the difference between a creation-based
philosophy and an evolution-based one," said Ham, who argues that if the word
"day" in Genesis's account of creation is allowed to be taken metaphorically
to encompass eons and to blur divinity's role, then the Bible is made
fallible and morality reduced to human whim.

Whether or not the United States is ready for such a culture war of words,
Ham is. His group claims 140,000 on its mailing list and more than 3,000
visitors a day to its Web site at www.answersingenesis.org.

"I'm very encouraged," said Ham, the director of one of the nation's two
dominant creationist groups. The other is the Institute for Creation Research
in San Diego, where Ham once worked. He decided to strike out on his own into
what he says is a growing field of intellectual challenge, but what his
critics say is a fundamentalist protest niche far more lucrative than
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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49. Oklahoma's Divisive Disclaimer on Evolution
Washington Post, Dec. 1, 1999
Oklahoma Gov. Frank A. Keating (R) has found himself in the middle of an
education firestorm--not entirely of his making but which has nevertheless
become a political embarrassment for him.

The brouhaha started last month when the Oklahoma State Textbook Committee
mandated that publishers wishing to do business with the state place an
unusual disclaimer on all new biology books, stating that evolution is a
"controversial theory" that refers to the "unproven belief that random,
undirected forces produced a world of living things."

The action by the committee--11 Keating appointees empowered by statute to
select public school books--was immediately excoriated by scientists and
academics as misleading, and an attempt by religious conservatives in this
Bible Belt state to promote a thinly veiled creationist agenda over science.

The Oklahoma State Textbook Committee has mandated that publishers who wish
to do business with the state must include a disclaimer in their biology
textbooks stating evolution is unproven.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Interfaith / Interdenominational / Religious Pluralism

50. Parliament of Religions Under Way
ANC.org, Dec. 1, 1999
The Parliament of the World's Religions (PWR), which has drawn some 6000
delegates from across the globe, got under way in Cape Town on Wednesday amid
tight security and protests from fundamentalist groups.

Executive director of the PWR's Chicago-based council, Rev Dirk Ficca, said
the PWR was about religious and spiritual harmony, not unity. "We are not
out to create one religion," he said. "We want convergence of purpose, not

Religious diversity was not a problem to be solved, but something to be
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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51. Devotees lost for choice at religious parliament
Yahoo! Asia/AFP, Dec. 2, 1999
With more than 800 spirit-enriching events to choose from, devotees attending
the Parliament of the World's Religions are relying on divine guidance to
help them decide how best to use their time.

Five different halls in and around Cape Town offer a kaleidoscope of
seminars, symposia, performances, concerts, workshops, presentations and
interreligious celebrations.

At 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, for instance, delegates -- organisers expect up to
10,000 people to attend at least one of the events -- had a choice of no
fewer than 35 simultaneous lectures.

Among these were "A day in the life of a Navajo healer", "The psychology of
Taoism", "Christ, Gandhi and King in dialogue", "Islamic law in a pluralist
society", "Turn the other cheek but make sure it's a kiss", "Human instinct
-- a way to experience God" and "World peace and Tamil Siva Yoga Siddhatham."

By the time the parliament, which aims to highlight diversity and unity in
religion, is closed by the Dalai Lama next Wednesday, devotees will have been
exposed to the teachings of the major religions as well as many lesser known
ones, such as Zoroastrianism, Aumism, The Way of Adidam, Avator Adi da Samraj
and Brahma Kumaris.

With each claiming to possess the "truth", however, the question left
unanswered for the sceptic is, just whom does one believe at the end of the
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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52. And the walls come tumbling down
Globe and Mail (Canada), Dec. 1, 1999 (Commentary)
More than 10,000 people are expected to gather in Cape Town today for the
Parliament of the World's Religions. The meeting marks the end of a century
of increasing global interfaith co-operation and the promise of a new
relationship among the world's religions.

The future, at least for Christianity, will be postdenominational. We can see
it already. Young people now go wherever their spiritual needs are met, not
to the place their parents went. Scholars and theologians are finally
resolving centuries-old dogmatic differences, but faithful and dedicated
people have long ago decided such differences were meaningless. People
frequently find greater companionship with others across the old
denominational lines than within them.

So too with religions themselves. The big emerging movement of the future --
still young but now unstoppable -- will be global interfaith consciousness.

Bishop Bill Swing of San Francisco, founder of the United Religions
(inspired by the original vision of the United Nations), says the
big question of the next millennium for believers will be "how generous can
you stand God to be?" In the past 1,000 years we have fought hard for the
belief that God is on our side, a member of our tribe, a sponsor of our
interests (whichever "our" side happens to be). The next question is, can we
see God -- by whatever name -- in our neighbour's tribe and in our
neighbour's interests? Can we believe the God we know to be equally generous
in self-disclosure to others as well as to us?

I can imagine a world where people of faith finally turn their backs on the
old competitive ways and live together in mutual courtesy and respect. I can
imagine a time when the founders and saints of all the traditions -- Moses,
Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, Guru Nanak and so on -- are honoured and cherished
in all of them.

Many Christians today find this frightening. Yet if we really believe in the
sovereignty of God in creation, and the power of the Holy Spirit in human
affairs, we will go forward unafraid.

Michael Ingham is the Anglican bishop of New Westminster B.C. His most recent
book is Mansions of the Spirit: Religion in a Multi-Faith World.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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* (2 Timothy 4:2-4 NIV) Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of
season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful
instruction. {3} For the time will come when men will not put up with
sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather
around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want
to hear. {4} They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside
to myths.

53. Interfaith meeting look to `mainstreaming' interreligious dialogue
Star-Telegram, Nov. 30, 1999
(...) The Jews from Israel, Europe and elsewhere were among the 600 delegates
from over a dozen religious streams gathered here for another encounter
between traditions of the East and West, as well as between rival religious
factions in conflict-ridden regions such as Bosnia, Sri Lanka, Sierra Leone
and the Middle East.

Here, international representatives of the three major monotheistic religions
met for what organizers said was the first time on Arab soil along with a
host of other traditions, including Buddhists, Shintos, Hindus and Jains as
well as a smattering of indigenous religious people from Australia and Latin

"All of the religious communities are now very rapidly mainstreaming the
issue of multireligious cooperation," said the Rev. William Vendley,
secretary general of the World Conference on Religions and Peace, sponsors of
the gathering which ended Monday (Nov. 29).

"Now, in particular, this conference represents a profound signal of Islamic
confidence that Islam can assume a leadership role in interreligious

That new spirit was evident in the high-profile treatment accorded the event
by Jordan's Hashemite regime, which not only cosponsored the gathering but
used it as a platform for a major policy address on Jerusalem by Jordan's new
King Abdullah.

In yet another ceremonial gesture laced with symbolism, the Israeli Orthodox
Jewish Rabbi David Rosen of the Anti Defamation League, shared the podium
with top Egyptian Muslim figure, Grand Sheikh Tantawi of Al Azhar University,
and new Indonesian president Abdurrachman Wahid, a rising Islamic star.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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54. Jordanian prince carves out role in world of interfaith dialogue
Star-Telegram, Nov. 30, 1999
When the dying King Hussein abruptly dismissed his brother, Crown Prince
Hassan, as heir to the Jordanian throne last year, Middle East analysts
wondered how the Oxford-educated prince would carve out a new niche for
himself in the small, family-controlled kingdom.

In the wake of Hassan's role as host of an international interreligious
conference here last week, it now appears the prince, whose royal Hashemite
family is descended from the 7th century prophet Mohammed, has decided to
devote a considerable portion of his talents to religious peacemaking among
contemporary adherents of Islam, Christianity and Judaism -- in the Middle
East and elsewhere.

"When we first began to engage in interfaith dialogue two or three decades
ago, many tended to regard the exercise as a luxury," the 52-year-old prince
told the conference, which ended on Monday (Nov. 29). "Today it has become
more and more of a necessity," he added. "Modernization is imposed globally.
Globalization is defining our transition into the millennium, leaving
traditional societies with no choice but to accommodate themselves somehow,
or perish."
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Religious Freedom / Religious Intolerance

55. Interfaith group's leader chides Southern Baptists for 'targeting' Jews
CNN/AP, Dec. 3, 1999
The head of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews called Friday
for a break in relations with the Southern Baptist Convention over what he
calls its growing commitment to converting Jews.

"Unfortunately, it has become necessary for me to reassess our relationship,"
said Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, president of the fellowship and one of the few
Jewish leaders who has consistently worked with Southern Baptists to promote
Christian-Jewish understanding.

Southern Baptist Convention officials responded that an evangelical campaign
planned in six U.S. cities has been misunderstood, and that they only seek to
spread their faith, not target particular groups.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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56. Is Christianity a 'hate crime'?
WorldNetDaily, Dec. 3, 1999
Chicago's rebuff of the Southern Baptist Convention's plans to meet in the
Windy City next summer, on the grounds that the large Christian group might
foment "hate crimes" against minorities, is sounding alarm bells among
Christians who fear that merely speaking openly about their core religious
beliefs will soon be considered a crime.

It seems Chicago's council leaders -- representing 40 mainline denominations,
Jewish synagogues, and African-American denominations -- believe the outreach
might spark violence and hate crimes against minority religious groups in the

The council also includes Cardinal Francis George of the Catholic Archdiocese
of Chicago, the Rev. Paul Rutgers, a Presbyterian minister and Bishop C.
Joseph Sprague of the United Methodist Church's Northern Illinois Conference.

The Southern Baptist campaign "smacks of a kind of non-Jesus-like arrogance,"
said Sprague, according to an Associated Press report. "I am always fearful
when we in the Christian community move beyond the rightful claim that Jesus
is decisive for us, to the presupposition that non-Christians ... are outside
God's plan for salvation."

"We did not in any sense want to suggest that we did not want them to come to
this area. They are welcome to come," said Sprague, "if they're coming to
join with us in acts of mercy and justice on behalf of this community in
general, and specifically on behalf of the marginalized and dispossessed."
But Sprague makes it clear that traditional Christian evangelism is not
acceptable or welcome. "We are not interested in their coming to proselytize
or to suggest, however well intentioned, that Jews, Hindus, or others are
second class."

Sprague is far from alone in his view that Christians should not criticize
the homosexual lifestyle. According to the Women's Division of the United
Methodist Church, "An example of giving societal permission to engage in
violence against gay and lesbian people is the recent media campaign with the
misleading slogans of 'Truth in Love' and 'Hope, not Hate.' Such slick
campaigns, though couched in seemingly kind and Christian words, promote
bigotry," the Women's Division wrote in a 1998 report.

Commenting on the women's division policy, Faye Short, a conservative
Methodist, asks, "Are we fast approaching the point within our society when
Christians can no longer make public statements that convey principles of
biblical morality? Will we be disallowed from upholding the biblical model of
marriage and family," she said in Good News Magazine. "And, shall we, as
women of the church, allow ourselves to be co-opted into unwittingly
supporting public opinion and homosexual advocacy opposing Christian
organizations that dare to proclaim the biblical standard?"

"I think it is instructive that those who criticize Southern Baptists'
efforts to evangelize cities or groups always preface their criticism by
acknowledging Southern Baptists' right to express our beliefs, Land
continued. "It seems they affirm our right to express our beliefs as long as
we agree not to do so."

R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
in Louisville, Ky., agrees: "To link New Testament evangelism with hate
crimes is cowardice posing as compassion. This is political posturing, not a
serious argument. It saddens me to see so many supposedly Christian leaders
who are determined to avoid evangelization at all costs."

Is it true, as conservative religious groups and commentators have been
contending for years, that there is a rising tide of anti-Christian bigotry
in our culture?

Southern Baptist Convention spokesman William Merrell observes, "I believe
there is a growing climate of hostility that is directed against Christians
... who find themselves as the targets of a great hostility in this culture."

Focus on the Family founder Dr. James Dobson contends that if such
anti-Christian trends continue in the U.S., Christians will face the same
kind of restrictions on their free speech and faith as believers currently do
in Canada.

"In Canada," says Dobson, "certain portions of Scripture can no longer be
read on radio or television. If broadcasters chose to elaborate on Romans 1,
for example, or other Scriptures that address the subject of homosexuality,
they would be charged with unethical practices because officials would
interpret the comments as hateful. Focus couldn't even cite certain medical
information related to AIDS on a recent broadcast because, again, it might
have offended the homosexual community. That's where I believe gay and
lesbian activists in this country are taking us."
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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57. The Christian haters
WorldNetDaily, Dec. 3, 1999 (Commentary)
(...) Standing inside your own church and saying, "The Bible teaches that
homosexuality is a sin," is now considered a hate crime by some.

Chicago's Methodist Bishop C. Joseph Sprague told WorldNetDaily that
preaching against homosexuality "certainly can" be considered a hate crime.
"It creates a climate in which hate can fester," said the good Bishop.

There is a big problem here. Evangelical Christians -- and more Americans
claim this label than any other -- are called "evangelical" because their
religious worldview impresses on them the need to "evangelize."

Christians believe that mankind is "born in sin," that is, of the lineage of
Adam and Eve, and that mankind has need of something called salvation.
Christians also believe the Holy Bible is the inspired Word of God and that
salvation comes through a process of repentance, or regret and turning away
from one's former sins, and consciously giving one's life over to God -- a
mystical act made possible by the substitutionary death of Jesus 2,000 years

Now, here's the part causing all these problems. Christians believe that the
Scriptures as laid down by the Hebrew patriarchs and recorded in the Old
Testament -- and as reiterated largely intact in the New Testament --
constitute the objective and immutable standard by which morality, sexual or
otherwise, should be measured. And they believe that sex, other than
monogamous, heterosexual sex within the confines of holy matrimony, is
immoral and sinful.

If you remove that -- all that stuff in the last paragraph -- from
Christianity, you destroy the religion. For Christians, you are literally
perverting God's law.

However, let's now take this beyond the comfortable pluralistic realm of
"what Christians believe."

I just know some of you will hate reading this.

Historically, when the cultural condemnation -- not hatred -- of homosexual
behavior has eroded to the point that homosexuality has been accepted and
widely practiced as though it were normal, that culture has either fizzled
out, or changed dramatically for the worse.

This religion is about to be silenced, if the haters of traditional morality
have their way.

You might say, well, I thought it was to protect the most unpopular voices in
our society. Exactly, and what is more unpopular than the truth?

If the recipient of the message, like the angry abortion clinic customer, is
not open to hearing the truth, that person will want to do the same thing to
you that they have tried for so long to do to their own conscience --
annihilate it.

We are coming very close to stamping the light out of this world. And you
know what? It matters not that a large number of Christians are imperfect,
some are exasperatingly prideful and confusing, and a few are double agents.
It doesn't matter that many parroted things they don't really understand, and
far too many, in fact, drive good people crazy with their hypocrisy. That's
another subject.

But the core message, and this is the part those who want to silence
Christians really hate -- and I do mean hate -- is not their imperfections.
It's the truth of the message that they're at war with.

What can you do? I don't know. Do what God has asked you to do: Repent of
your sins, don't be a hypocrite, appreciate His love for you, especially in
the manifestation of the sacrifice and suffering of his Son, rejoice in His
resurrection and boldly speak the truth to those who will hear.

And if they won't hear you, leave that city, and shake the dust off your
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Books / Films

58. Author Asks What's 'New Age' About Love and Forgiveness?
Salt Lake Tribune, Nov. 27, 1999
Marianne Williamson wants to guide the country to a new spiritual frontier.

The 47-year-old Houston native bristles at the label that usually forms on
lips upon hearing words such as "inner strength" and "spiritual frontier."
"New Age priestess," she says with irritation in her voice, "simply gets me
going. What is 'New Age' about the very ancient concepts of love and
forgiveness? They are a universal part of every major religion. That label
just says people like me should not be taken seriously. I don't accept that."

With three previous books that have topped The New York Times' best-seller
list, sold-out lectures and the respect of high-profile folks, she really
doesn't have to accept any label. But this one sticks anyway. It is one of
the first issues she usually deals with.

And with that out of the way, Williamson settles into an interview about her
latest book, Enchanted Love: The Mystical Power of Intimate Relationships
(Simon & Schuster, $24).

"A child of the '70s," she deprived herself of nothing: sex, drugs, rock 'n'
roll. She dropped out of college, dated rock musicians, waited tables, sang
in nightclubs and twisted herself into a nervous breakdown. She came out of
the '70s and through "a very dark period in my life" with A Course in
Miracles, psychologist Helen Schucman's three-volume, self-study guide based
on Christian principles.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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* The 3-volume, "A Course in Miracles" - channeled by a spirit entity to
atheist Helen Shucman - misuses Christian terminology, generallly defining
it to mean the opposite of what the Bible teaches.

About A Course in Miracles

59. `Holy Smoke': A Spiritual Tug of War in the Australian Outback
New York Times, Dec. 3, 1999
"Holy Smoke" was shown as part of this year's New York Film Festival.
Following are excerpts from Janet Maslin's review, which appeared in The New
York Times on Oct. 8. The film opens Friday in Manhattan.

But all is not well in the Sydney suburb of Sans Souci, where Ruth's
relatives are wringing their hands about her spiritual awakening.

Ruth accompanies her mother back to Sydney, and it is here that the film's
battle of wills begins. Ruth's family has hired a self-styled "cult exiter,"
played by Harvey Keitel in cowboy garb, to wean Ruth away from her Indian
guru. Retreating to the outback, the two of them square off for a mighty
struggle. Assorted emus and oddball relatives are assembled there to keep the
film fizzing as they watch Ruth come around.

But as "Holy Smoke" moves from its early mix of rapture and humor into this
more serious, confrontational stage, it runs into trouble.

And it doesn't help that the screenplay, by Ms. Campion and her sister, Anna
Campion, threatens to become heavy-handedly ideological beneath its outward

Ms. Winslet's powerfully carnal presence dominates their scenes together to
the point where P.J. is eventually drawn to violate whatever code of ethics
cult exiters have. "I was trying to be comforting," he explains later. As a
smart, outspoken heroine of Ms. Campion's, Ruth is not about to fall for
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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