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Religion News Report

Religion News Report - February 20, 2001 (Vol. 5, Issue 327) - 3/3

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» Continued from Part 2 === Alternative Medicine / Healing
18. Report Damning Ancient Indian Medicine Draws Ire
19. Ayurveda not unscientific, aver city experts
20. Data conflicts on acupuncture's effectiveness

=== Noted
21. Ministers get hip to lure young

=== The Tax Scare Around The Corner
22. Tax numbers spark devil of a row in Church

=== Alternative Medicine / Healing

18. Report Damning Ancient Indian Medicine Draws Ire
Reuters, Feb. 19, 2001
http://dailynews.yahoo.com/Off-site Link

[...alternative medicine...]
NEW DELHI (Reuters Health) - A report from the British House of Lords Committee on Science and Technology downgrades the ancient Indian system of medicine called Ayurveda, claiming the system lacks any scientific basis. It has provoked angry protests from the Indian government and charges of racist bias from ayurvedic proponents in the UK.

Ayurveda is a holistic system of healing that has been practiced in India over several millennia and has a considerable following.

The sixth report of the Select Committee on Science & Technology of House of Lords under Lord Walton, submitted at the end of November 2000, classified various complimentary and alternative medical disciplines in three groups.
The first group embraced disciplines regulated by ''professional activity and education by Acts of Parliament'' and included osteopathy, chiropractic, acupuncture, herbal medicine and homeopathy.

The next group includes therapies used to complement conventional medicine without purporting to embrace any diagnostic skills. These include: aromatherapy, hypnosis, massage, shiatsu, transcendental meditation, yoga and healing.

The third group comprises alternative disciplines that offer diagnosis as well as treatment but for which scientific evidence is almost completely lacking, according to the report. This finds Ayurveda clubbed together with dowsing, Iridology, radionics, crystal therapy ,Chinese herbal medicine and naturopathy.

``We are indignant at the way Ayurveda has been dismissed in the report as a system for which scientific evidence was completely lacking,'' Shailaja Chandra, secretary of Indian government's Department of Indian Systems of Medicine and Homeopathy, told Reuters Health. Her department has sent a protest letter to Lord Walton.

``Nobody ever consulted us,'' she said angrily. ``Such negative publicity could also affect the growing market for ayurvedic medicines in the west,'' Chandra said.

``The negative projection internationally has worried us since Ayurveda is an age-old system with a huge infrastructure in position,'' Chandra noted. ``We have 190 teaching colleges, about 18,000 dispensaries and about 2,800 hospitals for Ayurveda supported by the government,'' she added.

``There is a tremendous growing interest in Ayurveda in the UK,'' Mr. David McAlpine, director of The Ayurvedic Company of Great Britain, told Reuters Health in a telephone interview. ''We feel that the report was a little racist in outlook in the way it dismissed Asian systems of medicine and it infuriated us.''

The Indian government is sending a delegation to London in March to make a representation before the Committee so that the erroneous views about Ayurveda are not publicized, Chandra said.

19. Ayurveda not unscientific, aver city experts
The Times of India (India), Feb. 17, 2001
http://www.timesofindia.com/170201/17mpun9.htmOff-site Link

[...alternative medicine...]
Prominent academicians, health care and ayurveda experts from the city have refuted the charges levelled against ayurveda for being ''unscientific'' and have called upon everyone in the field to counter this belief. This outburst follows the opinion in the sixth report of a select committee on science and technology of the House of Lords of England that the ayurveda was unscientific. Other alternative therapies such as hypnotherapy, flower remedies and transcendental meditation have also been dismissed as unscientific.

In an open letter released to the media, dean and professor-incharge of ayurveda department of the University of Pune Dr V. Doiphode, head of the University of Pune's school of health sciences Bhushan Patwardhan, director of the Dhanwantari research institute Dr Suhas Joshi, Dr Mandar Akkalkotkar of the Ayurved Vidnyan Manch and Dr Rajesh Pawar of the Maharashtra Council of Indian Medicine have called upon all professional organisations and ayurvedic drug manufacturers ''to make it a common cause to fight the false propaganda and dispel all the misdeeds at all levels.''

Giving a point-by-point rebuttal to the allegation, the letter stated that last year alone, more than Rs 450 crore of ayurveda medicines had been exported from India. ''Ayurvedic healing systems are gaining in popularity and the West is trying to stifle this growth as they are feeling threatened,'' the letter claimed.

20. Data conflicts on acupuncture's effectiveness
UPI, Feb. 13, 2001
http://www.vny.com/cf/News/upidetail.cfm?QID=159596Off-site Link

BOSTON, Feb. 13 (UPI) -- Despite acupuncture's growing popularity among
the American public, scientific studies conflict on whether this ancient
technique is effective, according to a new report presented earlier this
week at a medical meeting in Boston.

Acupuncture is a centuries old Chinese practice in which needles the width
of a hair are placed at various points around the body. Needles are inserted
just beneath the surface of the skin at points determined by the patient's
symptoms. They are believed to help stimulate and restore the body's energy
flow which in turn helps healing.

''The evidence right now is like throwing a coin,'' Dr. Ted J. Kaptchuk told
an audience of 400 at the Complementary and Integrative Medicine Clinical
Update and Implications for Practice meeting. Kaptchuk is the associate
director of the Center for Alternative Medicine Research and Education at
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. Kaptchuk, also a trained
acupuncturist, said since the 1970s there have been more than 500 randomized
controlled trials. He discussed those reported in the last three years.

Two studies published last year, he said, found acupuncture to be
ineffective in treating chronic pain, lower back pain and neck pain,
contradicting a widely held perception that acupuncture treated pain. Other
studies released last year found acupuncture to be useless in treating
chronic asthma or tinnitus and a 1999 study found acupuncture did not help
patients trying to quit smoking.

However, studies released in 1998 and 1999 found acupuncture to show
promise in treating pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting, fibromyalgia,
recurrent headaches, and dental pain. But researchers concluded in these
studies that ''evidence was not fully convincing,'' Kaptchuk said. The
problem, he said, is that it is difficult to quantify acupuncture's
effectiveness since its mechanism remains a mystery. Applying the Western
research standard of a randomized, double-blind controlled placebo study may
not be the best way to ascertain whether acupuncture works.

=== Noted

21. Ministers get hip to lure young
Detroit Free Press, Feb. 16, 2001
http://www.detnews.com/2001/religion/0102/20/a01-188978.htmOff-site Link

PONTIAC -- Every Sunday morning in one part of downtown Pontiac, it's as if the late-night party never ended.

Inside the old Pontiac Masonic Temple, a rock-and-roll band is playing. Young people are sitting at tables socializing.

After the band stops, the lights are dimmed and a video begins with a woman talking about -- wait a minute! -- God?

Welcome to The Bridge, a Gen X church that is being replicated in Metro Detroit.

It is attracting hundreds of young people who have fallen away from the church and are now searching for someplace to find a connection.

''It's a place that fits our generation more,'' said Courtney Pecoraro, 23, of Auburn Hills. ''The style of the worship and the style of the people. It's just more relative to me.''

As the congregations of religious institutions begin to gray, scenes like this are being played out as many faiths try to reach younger generations.

From theology sessions at taverns to special services appealing to a hip crowd, the outreach efforts are going all-out to lure young people who can't relate to the style and traditions of age-old worship houses.

Many studies have shown that Generation X processes information differently, distrusts institutions and is a generation of which many have no strong connection to a church.

Although young people say spirituality is important, only a fraction attend church on a regular basis. The Barna Research Group reported last year that only 28 percent of 17-35 year-olds attended church regularly, compared with 40 percent of the general population.

Books examining this phenomenon and the changes resulting from it have dominated the Christian publishing industry in the last five years.

Their advice: make churches more participatory, interactive and communal.
So instead of formal messages and solemn hymms, these outreach styles are more relaxed, more relevant and, some might say, more fun. Most of the churches have slick web sites. Gatherings often feature gourmet coffee, or in some cases imported beer. Informal seating is common and the music is so upbeat that it's hard not to dance and sing.

Matt Klein, on staff at Kensington as the ''church planter,'' plans to open Mosaic, a church similar to The Bridge, next September in the Livonia-Farmington Hills area.

Besides offering a special worship place for Gen Xers, Klein, 33, intends to emphasize new technology. Instead of using the Web site simply as the church's brochure, like so many do, Klein plans to create an Internet community with live chat rooms, discussion boards and e-mail newsletters. Klein also plans to offer activity information that people can download into their Palm Pilots.

''We are going full blast with it,'' Klein said. ''It really is an integral part of our philosophy.''

Meanwhile, Genesis: The Church, another project of Kensington, is really taking off. Based in Royal Oak, one of the hottest cities for young people, Genesis features two weekly services: one on Thursday night for young seekers and a Sunday night service for those further along their spiritual journey.

Although the church has been open only since October, it draws hundreds of young people every week, which support nearly half of the church's budget.

Pastor Steve Norman, 26, believes the church is meeting such a vital need that he and other leaders have decided to add a second service both nights starting in March, complete with child care services.

''Our hope is to create a safe place for people to take the next step in their spiritual journey,'' said Norman. ''Hopefully our church will set the stage for a meaningful encounter with Jesus Christ. We're seeing it happen all the time.''

Although these churches are reaching young people, they're doing it without compromising their values. They frown on sex before marriage, profanity and excessive drinking, though it is phrased in a way that doesn't sound like a set of rules.

The special church service is not the only unorthodox way that young religious leaders are attempting to reach out.

Faiths such as Judaism and Catholicism are trying to round up young people at bars and restaurants, encouraging them to have a bite to eat along with a beer or glass of wine. The gatherings eventually lead to a discussion about faith and issues surrounding it.

=== The Tax Scare Around The Corner

22. Tax numbers spark devil of a row in Church
The Daily Telegraph (England), Feb. 20, 2001
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/Off-site Link

[...more offbeat news...]
Senior clerics and theologians of the Orthodox Church met in extraordinary conclave yesterday to decide whether changes to Russia's tax system heralded the coming of the Antichrist.

Held in one of Russia's most venerated monasteries, the conference sought to allay fears of an imminent apocalypse and prevent a schism over how to respond to the tax reforms.

The enemies of the reforms denounce the code as the mark of Satan and ''a humiliation of man's dignity incompatible with the holy design of man in God's image and form''. They cite the passage in the Book of Revelation before the verse identifying the number of the beast as 666: ''He causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand or in their foreheads.''

In the Russian provinces, many seem to believe that their individual tax number (INN) really will be engraved on their hand or on their face. Others have been ordered by their priests to resign their jobs and even move house to avoid having to sign up for an INN. The zealots, many of them senior monks or holy men from Russia's monasteries, have also appealed for a boycott of credit cards and smart cards of any sort programmed with individual codes.

Patriarch Aleksiy, the head the Church, has pleaded with believers to co-operate with the taxman. ''One might almost think that people just don't want to pay their taxes,'' he said recently.

But the Patriarch's authority has not been enough to resolve the crisis, hence yesterday's session of the Synod's Theological Commission at the Sergeyev Posad monastery near Moscow.

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