Apologetics Index
News about religious cults, sects, and alternative religions
An Apologetics Index research resource

 

Religion News Report

January 13, 2001 (Vol. 5, Issue 310) - 2/3

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


» Continued from Part 1

=== 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

=== Paganism / Witchcraft

13. Finding strength in goddesses
Seattle Times/The Providence Journal, Jan. 13, 2001
http://archives.seattletimes.nwsource.com/Off-site Link

(...) The women are part of the Cauldron of Annwyn Pagan Society, a group of 30 or so people started by Schmidt in 1998 while she was a painting student at the Rhode Island School of Design. They are also part of a number of spirituality seekers - many of them young women disillusioned with the female role models in traditional religions - who are engaging in goddess-worship.

This sort of goddess-worship has nothing to with the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, but with the female deities that grace ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Celtic lore. It takes place, for instance, in living rooms, at the Rhode Island School of Design and in a new-age store on Wickenden Street. It spawned ''Goddess2000,'' a national art project with the slogan ''A Goddess on Every Block.''
(...)

Goddess Web sites sell bumper stickers, ''goddess tours'' take devotees to Crete and Malta, and there is a board game, called Go Goddess! Amazon.com is now touting ''The Goddess in the Office,'' which one reviewer called a breezy book on making your workplace goddess-friendly. (It includes ''spells'' to cast on the boss.)

Many of those who revere goddesses are part of Paganism, Wicca, and other ''Earth-based'' religions that link daily life with the seasons - which in ancient myths are often controlled by goddesses. Members of the Cauldron of Annwyn Pagan Society consider themselves traditional witches. They sometimes worship gods, but it's Aphrodite, Athena and Diana on which they focus.

''It's so much easier to think of a girl looking over you,'' Slater says.
Schmidt was raised in New Jersey, the daughter of a Roman Catholic mother and Reform Jewish father. Mary, the Virgin mother, seemed distant to her. She turned to paganism in her teens.

Her family had a fondness for superstition; they turned their St. Joseph statue upside down when they heard it might help sell their house.

On a recent Monday, in the East Side apartment she shares with her husband, she relies on her own prop: a goddess card deck.
(...)

Catholics revere the Virgin Mary. The feisty Lilith is the symbol for some modern Jewish women (not to mention Sarah McLachlan).

The idea of viewing divine beings as both masculine and feminine goes back centuries, but today's reverence of the figures of ancient lore is likely spawned by feminism and the rise in popularity of Wicca, says Robert Mathieson, professor of Women, Magic and Power at Brown University.

He estimates that there are 300,000 followers of branches of goddess-based spirituality.

It's very empowering, he says, for women to worship a deity that resembles them, and to feel - as they delve into the tarot-card reading and witchcraft - that they have a handle on the unknown.
[...more...]


14. Zambians Traumatised By Crash-landing Flying Wizards
Panafrican News Agency, Jan. 6, 2001
http://allafrica.com/Off-site Link

More than 30 stark naked people suspected to be wizards ''crash-landed'' on rooftops of houses owned by families, institutions and filling stations in Zambia last year, leaving the population puzzled.

The latest of these bizarre incidents occurred on New Year eve when one of such suspected wizard crash-landed in Kasanda, a mining township near the midlands central town of Kabwe, 80 km north of Lusaka, the capital. He sustained fatal body and knee injuries on impact.

The suspected wizard, believed to be in his 50's, reportedly fell on the roof of house owned by one Christopher Muwowo at about 01:15 hours Zambian time, causing pandemonium among sleeping family members.
(...)

The naked uninvited guest was taken to Kasanda Police Station.
''Cases of witches and wizards crash-landing are rare in Kabwe but very common in Lusaka,'' said one onlooker.
(...)

The suspected wizard was later taken to the Department of Social Welfare to await being taken to the Traditional Healers and Practitioners Association of Zambia or THAPAZ who had agreed to exorcise him.

Unfortunately, the wizard died before he was charged and police have appealed to the Zambian public to come forward and identify the man.

THAPAZ president, ''Dr'' Rodwell Vongo, who heads a group of 40,000 local traditional herbalists, claimed in an interview with PANA that the Kabwe wizard was the only fatal case out of the over a hundred wizards who had so far crash-landed on roof-tops of houses in the country.

''They normally crash-land, giving lack of fuel as the cause of crash-landing and ending their missions prematurely,'' Vongo said.
(...)

THAPAZ's director of Information, ''Dr' Alex Kekelwa, said that exhaustion of fuel was not the only reason why wizards crash-land at times.

''Sometimes, some of these chaps fly over enemy territory, and they are shot down with traditional ground to air missiles.

''I am a traditional herbalist and my mission is to save life through healing and so THAPAZ does not recognise witchcraft. But if a wizard flew over my house, which is my territory, I will certainly respond by protecting my family and myself by shooting down a wizard.
[...more...]


=== Hate Groups / Hate Crimes

15. Anti-Christian Attackers Face Hate-Crimes Law
AP, Jan. 12, 2001
http://www.foxnews.com/Off-site Link

Three teenagers who pepper-sprayed a man because he was Christian have given the state of Wisconsin an unprecedented forum for flexing the muscles of its hate-crimes law.

Authorities believe the case may be the first incident of a victim being targeted because he or she was Christian since the Wisconsin measure was enacted in 1991.
(...)

Corey and Chartier have already been tried and convicted. Chartier, convicted of being a party to the use of mace as a hate crime, was sentenced to 15 days in jail plus two years probation and ordered to pay $70 in court costs, the Post-Crescent said.

Due to an unusual option offered by the judge, Chartier was able to cut seven days from his jail time by wearing a sign reading ''I'm convicted of a hate crime against a Christian'' for about five hours in front of the Outagamie County
Justice Center and on a busy city corner, the paper said.

Corey, who faced similar charges, received one year probation, 100 hours of community service and $70 in court fees, according to the paper.
[...more...]


16. Aryan Nations compound goes on the block Feb. 13
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Jan. 11, 2001
http://seattlep-i.nwsource.com/Off-site Link

The 20-acre Aryan Nations compound in northern Idaho will be sold at auction Feb. 13 to help satisfy a legal judgment. A U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge ruled Tuesday that bidding on the neo-Nazi compound near Hayden Lake will start at $250,000.
[...more...]


17. Attack on rabbi in Berlin not what it seems
AP, Jan. 12, 2001
http://www.bergen.com/Off-site Link

BERLIN -- An attack on a rabbi by a group of youths in a Berlin subway station prompted condemnation from politicians and the Jewish community Thursday, but the rabbi himself cautioned against overreacting.

Rabbi Walter Rothschild was hit in the face and his glasses were broken during a confrontation with three youths Wednesday night. He received four stitches.

But the attackers weren't neo-Nazi skinheads. Authorities arrested two of the three youths, a German of Lebanese origin and an Iraqi who lives in the city. Both were 15 years old.

''It's a Middle East conflict spilling over into Germany,'' said Rothschild, who is British. ''It's got nothing to do with the Holocaust and with German guilt and all the garbage that comes out in these situations.''
(...)

The Berlin city government Thursday praised the quick arrest of the first suspect. Leaders of the Berlin Jewish community ''sharply condemned'' the attack and called for a panel to examine safety on public transportation.

Rothschild's wife, Jacqueline, however, issued a statement to the media hours after the attack ''to ensure that the press coverage which will undoubtedly ensue does not get the wrong end of the stick and create more panic.''

''They were three teenagers possibly slightly drunk, certainly out of bed too late at night, excitable, too much testosterone and not enough common sense!'' she wrote.
[...more...]


18. 15 Neo-Nazis in Custody in Germany
AP, Jan. 13, 2001
http://news.excite.com/Off-site Link

BERLIN (AP) - Neo-Nazi skinheads savagely beat and kicked a Greek man early Saturday outside a Munich restaurant, then got into a street fight with 10 men who rushed to help him, police said.

Police said they took 15 skinheads into custody after the clashes. The 31-year-old victim was hospitalized with severe head injuries suffered while the jackboot-clad skinheads kicked him after he went to the ground. He was not identified by police

About 20 skinheads, some shouting ''Heil Hitler'' and ''Foreigners get out,'' clashed with the other group, formed at another restaurant by two Turks who happened to witness the beating, police said.
[...more...]


19. McVeigh legal appeals end
Denver Post, Jan. 12, 2001
http://www.denverpost.com/Off-site Link

Jan. 12, 2001 - An execution date for Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh is expected to be set within days after the 32-year-old McVeigh declined Thursday to pursue further court appeals.

U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch had given McVeigh until 5 p.m. to reconsider his decision made early last month to end the appeals process.

His lawyers, Nathan Chambers and Dennis Hartley, who earlier urged McVeigh to continue his appellate fight, met with McVeigh on death row at the federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind., on Wednesday. They said McVeigh wanted the court appeals to end.
(...)

McVeigh still has the right to ask for executive clemency from the president but must file the request within 30 days after the execution date is set.
(...)

Federal prosecutor Sean Connelly said McVeigh's decision means ''the legal proceedings are irrevocably over.'' He said Congress provides one last avenue of appeal for inmates. But they can pursue it only if they're able to produce new evidence showing they're innocent, said Connelly.
[...more...]


=== Anna Climbie

20. Anna: two more kids missing
The Sun (England), Jan. 13, 2001
http://www.the-sun.co.uk/Off-site Link

An evil aunt jailed yesterday for murdering eight-year-old Anna Climbie could have killed TWO other children.

Adoption papers for a teenage boy and girl were found at the flat where Marie-Therese Kouao lived with toyboy Carl Manning.

But the youngsters have vanished. And cops fear they were adopted by Kouao in 1993 and 1996 as part of a benefits scam - then murdered.

The revelation came as Kouao, 44, and bus driver Manning, 28, started life sentences for torturing Anna to death in Tottenham, North London.

The little girl had been starved and tied up in a binbag in a bath for four months and had 128 scars, burns and bruises on her emaciated body.
[...more...]


21. Killer used girl to get church money
The Times (England), Jan. 13, 2001
http://www.thetimes.co.uk/Off-site Link

KOUAO dragged Anna around various fundamentalist churches, trying to elicit money by getting her to repeat a story that she was possessed by demons.

Last summer they visited the Joy Baptist Church in Harlesden, northwest London, where they were given about £250 from a charity fund. Pastor Pat Mensah said that he offered to pray for Anna.

A few months later the pair went to the Mission of Christ Church in Borough, South London. Pastor Pascal Orome said he thought her story of being possessed might be true, but lost contact with the family because of the distance they lived from the church.

A week before Anna's death last February, she was taken to the Brazilian-run Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, in the former Rainbow Theatre in Finsbury Park, North London. It advertises a redemption service for those troubled by spirits.
[...more...]


22. The church that 'drives evil from the possessed'
The Independent (England), Jan. 13, 2001
http://www.independent.co.uk/Off-site Link

At times, evidence in the trial of Marie Therese Kouao and Carl Manning seemed to have come straight from the film The Exorcist. One pastor from the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG), in north London, said eight-year-Anna was ''possessed'' and ran down the aisle during a service, screaming: ''Prayer doesn't help''. Manning told the Old Bailey that Kouao had coached Anna to make the run.

Another pastor, Alvero Lima, 21, told the Old Bailey that Anna had said a snake came to her in her dreams and told her to wet and soil herself and injure her own body. ''She named this snake,'' he said. ''She said it was Satan.'' Anna also said she hated him because he was going to pray for her.

Mr Lima admitted he thought the child, subjected to months of brutal abuse by Kouao and Manning, was ''possessed''. He offered to drive the Devil out at one of the UCKG's weekly Friday ''deliverance'' services, where the church offers strong prayer to ''destroy witchcraft, devil possession, bad luck, bad dreams and spiritual problems''.

Mr Lima claimed he had driven out evil before. He just could not remember how many times, he told the court. He said he felt no responsibility for Anna's death.

Manning's defence barrister, Nigel Rumfitt, questioned another pastor, Pat Mensah, from the Joy Baptist Church in Harlesden, north-west London, about her response when Kouao told her Anna's ''witchcraft'' made her wet herself. ''This was London 1999 and a woman was talking about a child behaving like this because of witchcraft,'' he said. ''Why didn't you say that is ridiculous, see a doctor?''

Ms Mensah said she did not believe it was nonsense. She told the unstable, violent Kouao to pray, and believe in God, and eventually recommended she attend the UCKG.
(...)

The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God is controversial in its home country, Brazil, where it has millions of followers. Its founder, self-proclaimed ''Bishop'' Edir Macedo, was briefly jailed in 1992 on charges of fraud and illicit enrichment.

In 1995, Brazil's attorney general, Geraldo Brindeiro, ordered an investigation of the church and Mr Macedo, for alleged tax fraud, extortion and links with Colombia's cocaine barons.

Mr Macedo's former deputy, Carlos Magno, had also made a videotape of Mr Macedo and other pastors mocking their congregations as suckers and making obscene gestures.

More than £1.3m a day is believed to pour into the coffers of the church, founded in 1977, and in more than 30 countries. It has extensive media, business, banking and sporting interests and is often spoken of as a business empire, rather than a religious organisation.

Mr Macedo is believed to live mostly in America. The church focuses heavily on healing and exorcism, and has gathered a large following since setting up in Britain. Its main church was in the Rainbow theatre, a former rock venue in north London, which the church bought for £2.35m in 1995.

That year, the Advertising Standards Authority criticised it for advertising its services as combatant against demonic possession.

In a magazine advertisement, the church had claimed that headaches, depression, insomnia, back luck and disease were caused by demons. The ASA decided such claims could exploit ''vulnerable people''.

Ian Haworth, of the Cult Information Centre, says he has had complaints about the way the church operates. ''It is a group about which we remain very concerned,'' he said.
[...more...]


23. Church said it would pray for girl's 'spiritual problem'
The Guardian (England), Jan. 13, 2001
http://www.guardianunlimited.co.uk/Off-site Link

Marie Therese Kouao, who clutched a Bible as she was taken from the dock to begin her prison sentence, appeared to believe that Anna was possessed by evil spirits.

This belief, which served as an excuse for the girl's brutalised condition, was allowed to flourish by a series of evangelical churches Anna was taken to by her abuser.

Anna was made to repeat the story that she was possessed by demons and that Satan was making her injure herself.

The church that played a crucial role in this was the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, a global Christian sect which tells its followers that diseases are caused by demons.

The sect, which last year bought the London-based Liberty Radio from Mohamed Al Fayed, is surrounded by controversy; its Brazilian founder is at the centre of corruption allegations.
(...)

It claims 4,500 regular members in Britain and has established a headquarters at the Rainbow Theatre in Finsbury Park, north London.
(...)

A spokeswoman for the Universal Church said that medical studies had acknowledged the positive effects of prayer on health.

The Evangelical Alliance described Anna's death as tragic and warned churches to take great care in dealing with people who believe they are possessed.
[...more...]


24. Exorcism 'must be conducted with great care'
The Daily Telegraph (England), Jan. 13, 2001
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/Off-site Link

The case of Anna Climbie prompted the leaders of one million evangelicals in Britain to warn churches to seek medical opinion before performing exorcisms.

Kouao tried to blame the child's injuries on demons. In the week before Anna died, she took her to a north London evangelical church for exorcism on the pretext that she was possessed. The Evangelical Alliance, an umbrella group, said that the child's death might have been prevented if the church had sought medical advice.
(...)

''The alliance therefore strongly recommends that churches only initiate deliverance activities after the individual has been fully examined by a doctor. In the case of a child, that examination should be carried out by a paediatrician.''

The pastor who runs the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God in Seven Sisters Road, Holloway, north London, where Anna was taken in the week before she died, issued a statement yesterday.

Pastor Alvero Lima, 22, a Brazilian, who is not a member of the Evangelical Alliance, explained why he had failed to realise Anna was being abused. A week before her death on Feb 25 last year, Anna was removed from a deliverance service at the Universal Church because she shouted out that prayers could not help her.
[...more...]


» Part 3