Apologetics Index
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Religion News Report

January 13, 2001 (Vol. 5, Issue 310) - 1/3

See Religion News Blog for the Latest news about cults,
religious sects, world religions, and related issues
Rainbow


=== Attleboro Cult
1. Judge lets sect parents name baby in custody

=== Falun Gong
2. Falun Gong Groups Rally in Hong Kong
3. Sect may practise `within law'
4. Emily Lau to query hotel ban on sect
5. China Turns Up Heat on Banned Sect
6. Falun Gong Blamed for 24 Deaths, Injuries in Inner Mongolia

=== Scientology
7. Time wins approval of libel suit dismissal
8. Former medical examiner Wood snubs subpoenas

=== Hinduism
9. Naked Hindu sect shuts Hollywood crowd's camp at Ganges festival
10. Take me to the river

=== Mormonism
11. LDS Church Asks Court to Allow Spire

=== Jehovah's Witnesses
12. Bloodless Surgery program reaches Jehovah Witnesses

» Part 2

=== Paganism / Witchcraft
13. Finding strength in goddesses
14. Zambians Traumatised By Crash-landing Flying Wizards

=== Hate Groups / Hate Crimes
15. Anti-Christian Attackers Face Hate-Crimes Law
16. Aryan Nations compound goes on the block Feb. 13
17. Attack on rabbi in Berlin not what it seems
18. 15 Neo-Nazis in Custody in Germany
19. McVeigh legal appeals end

=== Anna Climbie
20. Anna: two more kids missing
21. Killer used girl to get church money
22. The church that 'drives evil from the possessed'
23. Church said it would pray for girl's 'spiritual problem'
24. Exorcism 'must be conducted with great care'

» Part 3

=== Other News
25. '80s cult killer gets 'third strike' term for passing bad checks
26. Nation of Islam Activist Charged in 10-Year-Old Murder Case
27. Suspected cult leader to face more counts
28. Judge spares drug-dealing Rastafarian because of his beliefs
29. Sect leader sues U.S. government after hallucinogenic seized
30. British national missing from Puttaparthi
31. Rift divides Brownsville revival
32. Christian religions to gather
33. Evangelists seek sex-change ban
34. Rocking monks told to stop recording

=== Noted
35. Tony Robbins: Practicing What He Preaches



=== Attleboro Cult

1. Judge lets sect parents name baby in custody
The Providence Journal, Jan. 11, 2001
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/Off-site Link

ATTLEBORO - The baby born in custody to religious sect member Rebecca Corneau was legally named yesterday when a Juvenile Court judge allowed a motion that the 3-month-old be given the name chosen by her parents.

Because the child remains in state custody, all legal matters involving her, including choosing a name, must be reviewed by the court. The baby girl and her three sisters are in the custody of the state Department of Social Services and living with an aunt.

The girl's parents, David P. and Rebecca A. Corneau, of 196-198 Knight Ave., both members of an insular religious sect, were in court yesterday for a status conference as part of the case that will decide whether the baby is returned to the Corneaus or placed for adoption. Judge Kenneth P. Nasif set a Sept. 12 trial date in the matter.
(...)

''The system wants the Corneaus to cooperate with the exit counseling and the DSS proposal for how to deal with their child,'' David Corneau's lawyer, Robert A. George, said yesterday. ''The Corneaus are not going to cooperate with that kind of demand.''
(...)

''Their lifestyle does not prevent them from being good parents to this child. I don't think there's any doubt they're caring, loving people,'' George said. ''Whether or not Robidoux's son died is a completely different issue.''

Three sect members are in jail facing charges in the death of Samuel Robidoux, who prosecutors say died of starvation in April 1999, three days before his first birthday.
(...)

Though the Corneaus were never charged in Samuel's death, prosecutors investigated what happened to their son, Jeremiah Corneau, who died in August 1999. David Corneau told investigators that Jeremiah was stillborn. Prosecutors said the baby would have lived if the Corneaus had sought medical care.
[...more...]


=== Falun Gong

2. Falun Gong Groups Rally in Hong Kong
AP, Jan. 13, 2001
http://news.excite.com/Off-site Link

HONG KONG (AP) - In a demonstration likely to infuriate Beijing, hundreds of Falun Gong followers marched on a Chinese government building here Saturday behind women in funeral colors to protest alleged torture-killings of adherents by mainland police.
(...)

''There are people dying - the numbers are rising,'' said Sophie Xiao, a Hong Kong spokeswoman for Falun Gong. ''In September, it was 50 reported deaths, and now it's 120. It's time to stop all this.''

After walking Saturday to the Chinese government's liaison office, the sect's followers planned to reconvene Sunday for an international conference, which Hong Kong authorities have allowed to be held in the city hall - much to the consternation of pro-Beijing forces who have escalated their war of words against the ''evil cult.''
(...)

In Hong Kong, this weekend's gatherings are likely particularly grating to the Beijing authorities. The special enclave, under British rule until 1997, is under Chinese sovereignty but has autonomy. And Falun Gong remains legal.
(...)

Although it is impossible to verify all of Falun Gong's claims about abuse and death at the hands of Chinese authorities, Beijing is fighting hard to stamp out the group that follows the teachings of exiled master Li Hongzhi.
(...)

Falun Gong complained that 12 followers were stopped at the Hong Kong airport, including two Australian passport holders, seven residents of Japan and two or three U.S. residents.

At a news conference, a mobile phone was connected to a microphone and reporters could hear a woman, identified as Zhang Cui-ying from Sydney, saying she was at the airport being deported.

Falun Gong spokeswoman Hui Yee-han said Zhang was jailed for months in China and had planned to discuss it Sunday, so ''maybe that's the reason she was denied entry.''
[...more...]


3. Sect may practise `within law'
South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), Jan. 13, 2001
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/Off-site Link

Singapore's Minister for Home Affairs insisted yesterday that 15 Falun Gong practitioners arrested for holding an illegal demonstration were clearly in breach of the law.

Wong Kan Seng said, however, that there was no need to circumscribe the group's activities in the city-state provided that events organised by the local society in future conformed with Singapore's regulations.

In response to questions raised in Parliament about the arrests, Mr Wong said: ''The key point was that in this case no application was made for a permit and the police went there to clarify that with the group, and therefore they breached the law, so that's the basic point.''

On New Year's Eve, up to 80 Falun Gong followers gathered in a park to protest against alleged deaths of fellow members in Chinese prisons and police stations. The 15 who refused to disperse were arrested and charged with holding an illegal gathering and obstructing police officers.
[...more...]


4. Emily Lau to query hotel ban on sect
South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), Jan. 12, 2001
Publication date: 2001-01-12
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/Off-site Link


Legislators are to ask officials whether they were aware that certain hotels had refused to allow Falun Gong members to hold conferences.

Emily Lau Wai-hing, of The Frontier, said she had lodged a question for a Legco sitting asking whether the Government was aware of what has been branded political censorship.

She said she had raised the issue with Chief Secretary for Administration Anson Chan Fang On-sang during a recent dinner, but the response was ''neither here nor there'', Ms Lau said.
[...more...]


5. China Turns Up Heat on Banned Sect
The Associated Press, Jan. 12, 2001
http://www.washingtonpost.com/Off-site Link

BEIJING -- China's Communist Party has ordered redoubled efforts to expose and attack the outlawed Falun Gong sect, days before followers of the group gather in Chinese-ruled Hong Kong.

''Thoroughly criticize the Falun Gong cult's political nature and threat to society, and the broad masses will increase their resistance to the threat of cults,'' Propaganda Minister Ding Guangen told heads of government propaganda departments.

''They must fully recognize the duration, complexity and ferocity of our battle with Falun Gong,'' Ding said in the speech, carried Friday in the Communist Party newspaper People's Daily.

Frustrated by Falun Gong's defiance of an 18-month crackdown, China's government has recently stepped up its rhetoric against the spiritual group. China's wholly state-run media accused Falun Gong of conspiring with anti-Chinese forces in the West as well as separatists in Taiwan and Tibet.

If anything, Falun Gong's resistance may be increasing, with state media last week making the rare disclosure that hundreds of followers have protested on Beijing's Tiananmen Square each day since December.
[...more...]


6. Falun Gong Blamed for 24 Deaths, Injuries in Inner Mongolia
People's Daily (China, Communist Party paper), Jan. 12, 2001
http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/Off-site Link

The practice of Falun Gong, a notorious cult headed by Li Hongzhi, has been blamed for the death of 17 people, the physical injuries of one person and mental illness of six people in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, the latest statistics has shown.
[...more...]


=== Scientology

7. Time wins approval of libel suit dismissal
Atlanta Journal Constitution, Jan. 13, 2001
http://www.accessatlanta.com/Off-site Link

New York --- Time Inc. and another unit of AOL Time Warner Inc. have persuaded a federal appeals panel to uphold the dismissal of a libel suit brought by the Church of Scientology International. The lawsuit stemmed from a 1991 cover story in Time magazine titled ''Scientology: The Cult of GreedOff-site Link,'' which called Scientology ''a ruthless global scam.'' The 7,500-word story by journalist Richard Behar said the church survives by ''intimidating members and critics in a Mafia-like manner,'' and called Scientology a ''ruthless . . . terroristic'' cult. The church sued Behar, Time and Time Warner for libel, claiming that these and other statements were defamatory.
[...entire relevant section...]
* Please note that the ''Cult Awareness Network'' mentioned in the article has meanwhile been taken over by Scientology, which has - predictably - turned it into a hate group. Details.


8. Former medical examiner Wood snubs subpoenas
St. Petersburg Times, Jan. 11, 2001
http://www.sptimes.com/Off-site Link

Former Pasco-Pinellas Medical Examiner Joan Wood is refusing to respond to subpoenas to give a deposition considered critical to the defense in a murder case.

Wood, who retired Sept. 30 after she was harshly criticized for her role in the collapse of the high-profile criminal case against the Church of Scientology, skipped a Nov. 1 deposition at which she was to testify about the suspicious death of a 7-month-old girl.

She was served with a subpoena on Sept. 28, but as the date for the deposition approached, Wood's associates said she was too ill to testify.

Defense attorneys for David Long, who is charged with shaking his infant daughter to death in New Port Richey in 1998, rescheduled the deposition for Jan. 8, but the lawyers said they were again frustrated when Wood wouldn't accept service on a subpoena delivered to her Pinellas home.
(...)

Wood, 56, served as the circuit's chief medical examiner for 18 years, but the end of her career was tarnished by the case of Scientologist Lisa McPherson, who died in 1995 after 17 days in the care of church staffers.

Wood originally concluded that the 36-year-old McPherson died from a blood clot caused by ''bed rest and severe dehydration.'' Wood's finding prompted prosecutors to file two felony charges against the Church of Scientology: abuse of a disabled adult and practicing medicine without a license.

But last year, Wood changed her mind, concluding that McPherson's death was an accident. As a result, prosecutors dropped the charges against the church and, in a strongly worded memo, blamed Wood for botching the case.

''The actions and testimony of Dr. Wood, a forensic witness essential to the state's case, has so muddled the equities and underlying facts in this case, however, that it has undermined what began as a strong legal position,'' the memo said.

In June, Wood abruptly announced her resignation, saying in a letter to Gov. Jeb Bush that ''the stress and physical toll have become more than I can handle.''

Local defense attorneys predicted at the time that if Wood ever testified again, she would be attacked for her work in the McPherson case.
[...more...]


=== Hinduism

9. Naked Hindu sect shuts Hollywood crowd's camp at Ganges festival
National Post/The Daily Telegraph/Reuters, Jan. 12, 2001
http://www.nationalpost.com/Off-site Link

NEW DELHI - An 800-year-old sect of naked Hindu mendicants forced tour operators yesterday to close down a luxury tent camp for Western tourists and Hollywood celebrities at Hinduism's largest festival on the River Ganges.

Officials of the Kumbh Mela, or Grand Pitcher Festival, said travel agency Cox and Kings, had been asked to pack up its 74 cottage-style tents and leave the 2,430-hectare site in the northern Indian city of Allahabad, leaving pop diva Madonna and screen icons Sharon Stone, Demi Moore, Pierce Brosnan and Richard Gere to find other accommodation.

Sadakant, Allahabad's city's commissioner, said the decision came after pressure from militant Naga sadhus, or holy men, who oppose a ''five-star invasion'' and fear Western visitors will consume meat and liquor at the festival site.

''There is a fine balance because of the faith, and feelings of the people cannot be ignored,'' Sadakant said.
(...)

The Naga sadhus -- who wear no clothes, have shoulder-length hair and long beards, smear their bodies with ash and openly smoke marijuana -- said the luxury camp sullied traditional Hindu values. The sect was founded to protect Hinduism from the influence of Islam and Buddhism.

''The anti-foreigner feeling at the festival is high,'' said Pratap Somvanshi, of Webduniya.com, the festival's official Web site.
(...)

Pilgrims feel the outsiders are defying Indian traditions with their Western lifestyles. They were outraged when a Mexican stripped and jumped into the Ganges for a dip earlier this week, and frowned at scantily clad Western women at the festival.
[...more...]


10. Take me to the river
The Guardian (England), Jan. 10, 2001
http://www.guardianunlimited.co.uk/Off-site Link

Every 12 years Hindus gather for the Kumbh Mela festival and a temporary city is born. It covers 50 square miles, has 12 hospitals, 35 police stations and employs 8,000 'turd-pickers'. But, reports Luke Harding, this year's event isn't just about religion - at stake could be India's political future
(...)

To cope with the millions expected to arrive daily in Allahabad, the authorities have constructed a giant tent city. It is on a truly epic scale - stretching across 50 square miles of sandy floodplain. Some 8,000 ''turd-pickers'' have been employed to maintain hygiene, 6,000 public lavatories have been erected, and 12 pontoon bridges built. There are 35 police stations, 12 hospitals, and half a million tents.

The world's largest public address system, with 4,500 speakers, has been employed to prevent a repeat of the last Kumbh Mela in 1989, when 3,000 people were separated from families and permanently lost. Included in this number were 252 children who have never been seen again by their parents. They are rumoured to have been kidnapped and auctioned off to labour contractors to work in city sweatshops.
(...)

The first Kumbh Mela of a new millennium is not, though, just about religion. It is also about politics - and about India's increasingly uncertain future as a secular country. It is about whether Hindus and Muslims can live peaceably together.

On January 21, a group of rightwing Hindu extremists will meet at the Kumbh Mela to decide when a controversial Hindu temple will be built in the north Indian town of Ayodhya. Hindu zealots destroyed the Babri Masjid, a medieval mosque, on the same site there in 1992, prompting the worst communal riots in India since partition. Thousands - mostly Muslims - died.

The destruction of the Babri Masjid catapulted the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) into power and ended decades of Nehruvian Congress government. India's BJP prime minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, has tried to distance himself from his hardline Hindu revivalist supporters.

But, facing the prospect of defeat in crucial local elections later this year, he recently appeared to ditch his moderate image and back the construction of a Ram temple at Ayodhya. The issue now ticks like an unexploded bomb at the heart of India's fragile polity.
(...)

The sadhus are ready to intervene to save Hindu religion if the army let the country down, he adds. On display in the tent of the extremist World Hindu Council is a 21ft model of the proposed temple, complete with dinky flashing lights.

While the stage is being set for a bloody Hindu-Muslim confrontation, this year's Kumbh Mela will probably be remembered more for the foreign media who have descended on the festival for the first time to broadcast it to a global audience.
[...more...]


=== Mormonism

11. LDS Church Asks Court to Allow Spire
AP, Jan. 13, 2001
http://www.sltrib.com/Off-site Link

BOSTON -- The Mormon church is asking the state's highest court to allow the construction of a towering spire on its newly completed Belmont temple, calling it an integral part of the design and religiously inspired.

The temple opened in October without the spire. Neighbors have objected to construction of a massive steeple towering over the property.

Neighbors say the church could have built a smaller temple and steeple and still complied with local zoning codes. They say the church is trying to take advantage of a 1950 state law.
(...)

The town's Board of Appeals approved the steeple. But in February 2000, a Superior Court judge reversed that approval.
(...)

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court, rejected a challenge to the Dover Amendment. Opponents say the law gives unfair advantages to religious groups and violates the constitution's ban on government establishment of religion.
[...more...]


=== Jehovah's Witnesses

12. Bloodless Surgery program reaches Jehovah Witnesses
Metro (Web Extra), Jan. 11 - 17, 2001
http://www.metroactive.com/Off-site Link

Los Gatos--When Desmond Ramirez was wheeled into major surgery last year his blood level was perilously low, despite weeks of blood-building therapy.

''It was still low enough that any wrong move and I could have died,'' Ramirez, who asked that his real name not be used, says. Extra bags of blood were readily available, but for the 21-year-old Jehovah's Witness, taking blood was not an option. ''It wasn't even a thought,'' he says. ''I could have died either way.''

But thanks to a Community Hospital of Los Gatos surgeon and cutting-edge blood-saving technology, Ramirez's ulcerated intestines were repaired, and the Sunnyvale retail clerk was out of the hospital a few weeks later.

Ramirez, as the majority of Jehovah's Witnesses, believes the Bible forbids ingesting blood. Citing passages from both the old and new testament that prohibit the ''partaking of blood,'' Jehovah's Witnesses refuse transfusions. They believe that, since IV's are also used to deliver food to the sick, blood transfusions are akin to eating blood.

Unlike Christian Scientists who avoid medical care in favor of religious practitioners, Jehovah's Witnesses do seek out medical treatment. While the medical establishment may have taken a ''take it or leave it'' attitude toward methods of treatment in the past, places such as Community Hospital of Los Gatos have begun to redesign their surgical techniques to satisfy patients' beliefs.

''We're here basically because of the Jehovah's Witness community,'' Bloodless Program Coordinator Glenna Aitken says. ''They want good medical treatment; they just don't want to use blood.''
[...more...]


» Part 2