Apologetics Index
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Religion News Report

March 2, 2001 (Vol. 5, Issue 332) - 2/3

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


» Continued from Part 1

=== Islam
15. Afghan Taliban begin destruction of ancient Buddha statues
16. Taliban Destroys Religious Statues

=== Catholicism
17. Monks fight eviction by fellow Catholics

=== Mormonism
17a. New CD-ROM to open doors

=== Jehovah's Witnesses
18. Gummer condemns 'potty' Jehovah's Witnesses
19. Abducted girl gets foster mother

=== Hate Groups
20. White supremacist denied Montana law license
21. Bertollini pleads not guilty to DUI
22. German Far-Right Crimes Up 60 Pct.
23. Furor over neo-Nazi clothes ban
24. Germany Opens an Escape Hatch for Neo-Nazis
25. He likes guns, Nazi stuff, not mom-in-law
26. Church of Nav Russia Gets White Supremacist Sect With Political
27. Dees to speak at CdA banquet

=== Other News
28. D.A. Asks Limit to Witnesses in 'Rebirth' Case
29. Therapists should have used monitor, prosecutor says
30. France Rejects U.S. Accusations in Human Rights Report
31. Crackdown On Child Exorcism
32. Alternative religious groups rally against Faith Based Initiative

» Part 3

=== Satanic and/or Ritual Abuse
33. Police discover more child abuse horror on internet
34. I was wrong about cannibalism, so now I'm eating humble pie
35. A time they'd rather forget
36. Orkney: 10 years after
37. Growing number of victims of an abuse that 'does not exist'

=== Alternative Medicine
38. Public snaps up tickets to Weil meeting on alt medicine

=== Books
39. Self-Help Nation
40. IBM's connection to Nazi Germany: the untold story


=== Islam

15. Afghan Taliban begin destruction of ancient Buddha statues
AFP, Mar. 1, 2001
http://asia.dailynews.yahoo.com/Off-site Link

Ignoring an international outcry, Afghanistan's puritanical Taliban Islamic militia began demolishing statues across the country on Thursday, including two towering ancient stone Buddhas.

Taliban Minister of Information and Culture Qudratullah Jamal told AFP the destruction of scores of pre-Islamic figures, designed to stop the worshipping of ''false idols,'' had begun throughout the country.
(...)

An edict announced Monday by the militia's supreme leader, Mulla Mohammad Omar, calling for the destruction of all statues in line with ''Islamic'' laws, has caused shock around the world.

Afghanistan is home to an array of pre-Islamic historic treasures from its days as a key stop on the ancient Silk Road and a strategic battleground for conquerers dating back to Alexander the Great and the Aryans before him.

The two massive Bamiyan Buddhas, carved into a sandstone cliff near the provincial capital in central Afghanistan, stand 50 meters (165 feet) and 34.5 meters (114 feet) tall and were built around the second century.

Appeals for their preservation have come from the United States, France, Germany, Thailand, Japan, Sri Lanka, Iran, Pakistan, Germany, Russia, India and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

Koichiro Matsuura, chief of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), said he had convened an emergency meeting of members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference to try to stop the destruction.
''They are destroying statues that the entire world considers to be masterpieces,'' Matsuura said.

''And this is being done in the name of an interpretation of the Muslim faith that is not recognized anywhere else in the world.''
(...)

The Taliban, or movement of religious students, seized Kabul in 1996 and have imposed a puritanical mix of Pashtun tribal and Sharia law in a bid to create their idea of a true Muslim state.

Their regime is recognised only by Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and is not represented at the United Nations nor the Organisation of the Islamic Conference.
(...)

Taliban officials also privately said they were not happy with Omar's decree, which is seen as absolute law in more than 90 percent of the country under the militia's rule.
''It is causing big damage to our history,'' said a senior official, refusing to be named for fear of retribution from the hardline militia.
[...more...]


16. Taliban Destroys Religious Statues
AP, Mar. 1, 2001
http://www.guardianunlimited.co.uk/Off-site Link

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - Defying an international outcry, Taliban soldiers on Thursday began destroying all statues in Afghanistan - even targeting two soaring, ancient statues of Buddha carved into the face of a mountain.

The ruling Islamic militia said they sought to purge the nation of idolatrous images, but their closest ally - Pakistan - said the action could be a backlash against Afghanistan's international isolation, including U.N. sanctions.

Pakistani Interior Minister Moinuddin Haider told The Associated Press the Talibans' order ``may have been an act of defiance brought on by the isolation they feel.''

As troops fanned out with everything from rocket launchers to tanks to destroy statues, cultural leaders worldwide expressed horror.
(...)

The Taliban's supreme leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, ordered the destruction in an edict Monday, saying such images were contrary to Islam.

``These idols have been gods of the infidels, who worshipped them, and these are respected even now and perhaps maybe turned into gods again,'' his edict said.
The Taliban, who espouse a strict brand of Islamic law, rule about 95 percent of Afghanistan and have been battling northern-based opposition forces for years.
(...)

Islam's Prophet Muhammad demolished idols at the holy city of Mecca 1,400 years ago during the birth of the religion, said Fahmi Howeidi, a leading writer on Islamic issues in Cairo, Egypt. But ``there is a difference between statues being worshipped and statues that represent art.''

The Taliban, he said, ``represent the deep and the very conservative schools of Islam.''

Muslims have largely left undamaged the extensive amount of pharaonic antiquities in Egypt or pre-Islamic ruins in Iran.
[...more...]


=== Catholicism

17. Monks fight eviction by fellow Catholics
AP, Mar. 2, 2001
http://www.spokesmanreview.com/Off-site Link

EVEN SAPIR, Israel -- Six Melkite monks locked themselves inside a secluded monastery Thursday, frustrating Israeli officials who came to evict them.

An Israeli court had ruled that the monastery belongs to another order, the Franciscans. The Melkite monks were ordered to leave by Wednesday. Instead, they decided to resist.
(...)

The Melkite monks, members of a Greek Catholic denomination loyal to the Pope, leased the St. John in the Desert monastery from the Franciscan order in 1978, but their lease expired.

The Franciscans, who built the cluster of buildings in the hills west of Jerusalem in 1922, want the complex back. They first filed suit in 1994.
The monastery marks the area where Christians believe John the Baptist, who baptized Jesus, lived in solitude, eating locusts and honey and drinking spring water.

Father Elisha stayed outside to explain the monks' case. He said Melkites and Franciscans are both Catholics, adding ''it is a shame'' that ''we could be evicted and mistreated by a sister community.''

The Melkite sect belonged to the Greek Orthodox Church until 1724, when it became Greek Catholic. The Melkites maintain the rituals of the Eastern Orthodox religion.
(...)

The Melkites say that the complex was a run-down collection of hovels when they leased the site. They renovated the buildings and opened them to the public. About 30,000 Israelis visited the site last year, Father Elisha said.
[...more...]


=== Mormonism

17a. New CD-ROM to open doors
Deseret News, Feb. 27, 2001
http://www.deseretnews.com/Off-site Link

(...) So today's descendants of 18th and 19th century black slaves often don't have the luxury of visiting a cemetery to find the gravesites of their third and fourth generation predecessors. They have even less hope of tracing their roots in documents created before the Civil War, unless their ancestors served with the U.S. Colored Troops.

Slave merchants who stole people from their homeland didn't bother with documenting names or family heritage.

Yet a sense of who you are makes all the difference, said Paul Cobb, president of the Center for Urban Black Studies. In Salt Lake City for Monday's announcement by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Cobb said the new CD-ROM detailing black family records ''is the first opportunity to loop black history and genealogical research. This opens the door for one of every three black Americans who know they can climb the wall of 1870,'' which is the first year blacks were recorded by name in the census.
[...more...]


=== Jehovah's Witnesses

18. Gummer condemns 'potty' Jehovah's Witnesses
Ananova, Mar. 1, 2001
http://www.lineone.net/newswire/Off-site Link

Former Tory Cabinet minister John Gummer has triggered a row with his own front bench after launching a sharp attack on Jehovah's Witnesses .

Mr Gummer first branded members of the fundamentalist Christian sect 'heretical and potty'.

He then went on to add that the sect's doctrines were 'wrong' and based on the teachings of a 'crook'.

Mr Gummer, a former member of the Church of England General Synod, said: ''Jehovah Witnesses uphold something which is probably fraudulent and wrong.
''It is perfectly right to be tolerant but not to be ignorant and Jehovah's Witnesses are based on doctrines propounded by a crook and a fraud, who was arrested and found guilty in a court.''
(...)
.
The debate on the House of Commons (Removal of Clergy Disqualification) Bill proposes to scrap a law preventing some serving and former ministers of religion from becoming MPs.
[...more...]


19. Abducted girl gets foster mother
Chicago Sun-Times, Feb. 28, 2001
http://www.suntimes.com/Off-site Link

The 15-year-old ''sat up straight in the chair, smiled at the judge and spoke clearly and convincingly'' about what she wanted--to go back to the Arizona city where she had lived on the lam with her mother.

But Cook County Judge Karen Shields, paying heed to therapists who said that could be harmful, instead on Tuesday ordered the girl placed in the foster care of a single suburban woman no later than Thursday.
(...)

The ruling temporarily ends a heated and high-profile battle over where to place the girl, who has been in limbo for months since she was discovered in Tucson with her mother, Joli Taylor. The mother took her from Midlothian nine years ago after a custody fight that ended with Taylor getting shared custody with her ex-husband, Michael Reichart.

Shields left open the possibility that the 15-year-old could return to Tucson, but for now the girl will be in the foster care of Jeanne Walsh, a licensed clinical social worker.
(...)

Taylor said she took her daughter on the run because Reichart had sexually abused her. He was investigated and cleared. Reichart claimed his wife was mentally ill and took the girl in the midst of a heated custody battle.
Taylor, who was indicted last week on a felony child abduction charge, will be arraigned March 7.
[...more...]


=== Hate Groups

20. White supremacist denied Montana law license
Associated Press, Mar. 1, 2001
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/Off-site Link

HELENA, Montana (AP) -- The leader of a white supremacist group said he would contest a decision denying him a law license in Montana.

Matt Hale, a self-described racist and anti-Semite, said the decision by the State Bar of Montana's Commission on Character and Fitness was improper and unconstitutional. Hale said he received no explanation but suspected he was rejected because of his beliefs.

Barbara Howe, a commission member, declined to comment on Hale's case or name the members of a two-person subcommittee that reviewed his application.
(...)

``Matt Hale is an organizer in the racist movement and wherever he goes, trouble seems to follow,'' said Ken Toole, program director of the Montana Human Rights Network.
[...more...]


21. Bertollini pleads not guilty to DUI
The Spokesman-Review, Feb. 28, 2001
http://www.spokesmanreview.com/Off-site Link

SANDPOINT -- Vincent Bertollini pleaded ''not guilty and innocent to all charges'' Tuesday during an arraignment in magistrate court.

Bertollini was arrested Jan. 12 on charges of driving while intoxicated. He faces a preliminary hearing on the DUI charge March 21.

Because of two DUI convictions in 1998, Bertollini faces a maximum of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine if he is convicted for the latest DUI.

Bertollini, the co-founder of the 11th Hour Remnant Messenger, a ministry preaching white separatism, has accused police of battering him during the arrest in his garage.

According to police, however, Bertollini failed to cooperate with the arresting officer and slipped on the floor while the officer tried to restrain Bertollini by holding his wrist behind his back.
(...)

Bertollini's arraignment on the resisting arrest charge was postponed earlier this month because he has been unable to retain an attorney.

On Tuesday, he was again without an attorney.

''I can't find an attorney in Idaho who can handle my case without prejudice,'' Bertollini told Magistrate Judge Debra Heise.
[...more...]


22. German Far-Right Crimes Up 60 Pct.
AP, Mar. 2, 2001
http://news.excite.com/Off-site Link

BERLIN (AP) - Far-right offenses in Germany jumped by 59 percent last year to their highest level since the end of World War II, among them brutal attacks on foreigners and minorities that have spurred renewed action against extremists, the government said Friday.

In the most-watched development, the Interior Ministry's figures showed that violent far-right crime leapt by a third - confirming a trend that has worried politicians and Jewish leaders.

Authorities registered 998 violent crimes with a far-right motivation last year - a jump of 34 percent from 1999 and the highest figure since 1,485 such offenses were registered in 1992. Three people were killed.

''The figures make clear that extreme right crime in Germany increased in 2000 not only in quantity, but also in its nature,'' Interior Minister Otto Schily said.

Anti-Semitic crimes surged by 69 percent to 1,378, while crimes aimed against foreigners rose 57 percent to 3,594, the ministry said.

When other offenses such as displaying neo-Nazi symbols or distributing propaganda were included, the total was 15,951 - an increase of 59 percent over the previous year. That was the highest overall figure in the postwar era, the Interior Ministry said. The highest previous total was in 1997, when 11,700 offenses were registered.
(...)

The ministry said some of that increase probably was a result of increased reporting by authorities and citizens.
(...)

The surge in violence has prompted measures from public awareness campaigns to a government drive to outlaw the far-right National Democratic Party and a government plan to assist neo-Nazis who quit the scene.

In a decision released Friday, Germany's highest court declined to hear appeals from several local offices of the National Democratic Party against banks' closing their accounts in an effort to hinder their actions.

The Federal Constitutional Court said the party, blamed for helping fuel the rise in hate crimes, hadn't proven that they couldn't open accounts at other banks and hadn't exhausted all other legal means.

Germany's well-documented surge in rightist crime comes amid concern in other European countries.

A black teen-ager was stabbed in Norway in late January, sparking debate about neo-Nazis and protests against racism in Scandinavia. Recent figures from Swedish security police showed 2,363 crimes classified as xenophobic, racist, anti-Semitic or homophobic in 1999, up from 1,752 in 1997.
[...more...]


23. Furor over neo-Nazi clothes ban
AP, Mar. 1, 2001
http://dailynews.philly.com/Off-site Link

BERLIN - A government minister's praise of a school ban on neo-Nazi clothing such as jackboots and bomber jackets set off criticism yesterday from politicians and police who said extreme-rightists need to change their mindsets, not their clothes.

Clothing bans are just one of the measures being considered as German officials try to stem a rise in hate crimes, the worst since a surge following reunification in 1990. The German government is also hoping to ban the extreme-right National Democratic Party, whose rallies regularly draw crowds of jackbooted skinheads.

Earlier this week, Family Minister Christine Bergmann praised the restrictions on neo-Nazi clothing at a school in western North Rhine-Westphalia state. A school in Brandenburg state also has already banned the glossy black, high-topped leather jackboots.
(...)

Germany already has broad bans on Nazi propaganda and symbols, including the swastika and other wartime insignia.

Courts also have at times imposed restrictions on wearing jackboots and bomber jackets during neo-Nazi demonstrations, along with bans on beating drums or marching in columns.

However, neo-Nazis have found ways of getting around restrictions. Banned from saying ''Heil Hitler!'' at rallies, they instead greet each other with ''Heil-O!''
[...more...]


24. Germany Opens an Escape Hatch for Neo-Nazis
Los Angeles Times, Mar. 2, 2001
http://www.latimes.com/Off-site Link

BERLIN--With right-wing crimes rising 40% last year and nearly half of German youths brooding over the presence of foreigners in their country, authorities have recognized that they need to do more than urge those attracted to neo-Nazi circles to ''just say nein.''

The federal ministers for police and social affairs launched ambitious programs this week to lure disgruntled youths away from the radical right. Included are an ''exit'' option that provides witness protection for those willing to turn on the ringleaders and jobs for those who simply want out.
(...)

The government's political rivals say the new programs are too little too late.

But justice officials and social scientists see much merit in the initiatives, arguing that any move against xenophobia, bigotry and anti-Semitism is money and energy well spent.
(...)

A nationwide hotline is to be established within the next few days to provide information on how to swap a life of crime for a job, impunity--even police protection and a new identity--if participants are willing to provide evidence against radicals wanted for serious offenses.

Schily's efforts are being augmented by a wide-ranging program of education and training and support for victims of right-wing violence laid out by the federal minister for family and social affairs, Christine Bergmann. Her ministry and a social development fund of the European Union earmarked an extra $30 million this year for regional programs to encourage tolerance and integration.

''The idea is to weaken and destabilize the right-wing scene,'' Schily said, rejecting claims of some eastern political leaders that his program rewards those who have responded to hardship by breaking the law. One eastern state governor from the opposition Christian Democratic Union, Bernhard Vogel of Thuringia, said the lure of housing, work and welfare for giving up the radical scene could become an inducement to enter it in the first place.

Justice officials, however, laud the assault on the extremism, which has demoralized the upright majority, sapped police resources and cast aspersions on Germany's democratic credentials.

''When you consider the very important fact that seven out of 10 on the rightist scene are not very committed to the ideology, this could be a good method of breaking the power the hard-core radicals have over them,'' said Geert Mackenroth, vice president of the German Federal Assn. of Judges.
(...)

Sociologists tend to welcome any effort to thin the ranks of right-wing rabble--54,000 neo-Nazis by official estimate. But some see deeper causes for the social illness that cannot be cured with what they see as the baby steps being taken.
[...more...]


25. He likes guns, Nazi stuff, not mom-in-law
Associated Press, Mar. 2, 2001
http://dailynews.philly.com/Off-site Link

NEW YORK - A Brooklyn man who allegedly took target practice in a city park was being held on weapons and other charges yesterday after a cache of illegal, high-powered guns and Nazi memorabilia was discovered stashed in his home and a storage area, police said.

Among the items seized from the suspect, Michael Kneitel, 38, were photos of his 6-month-old daughter draped with an adult Nazi uniform with ''Der Fuhrer'' stitched on the sleeve, and one with her finger on the trigger of a handgun. In other photos, he was wearing the uniform himself.

Kneitel was arrested Wednesday following a struggle with an off-duty detective who discovered him taking target practice in a Brooklyn park. His targets, police said, were photocopies of his mother-in-law marked with a bull's eye and attached to trees.
(...)

Kneitel was awaiting arraignment on charges of criminal possession of weapons, endangering the welfare of a child and resisting arrest. His daughter was in the custody of his wife, who was not charged.
(...)

Detectives were investigating whether Kneitel was involved with a neo-Nazi group. But so far, Kerik said, his only explanation was that ''he likes guns and he likes Nazi paraphernalia.''
[...more...]


26. Church of Nav Russia Gets White Supremacist Sect With Political
The St. Petersburg Times (Russia), Mar. 1, 2001
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/Off-site Link

Of all the strange sects in Russia today, the Church of Nav-also known as the Society of Nav, or as the Sacred Church of the White Race-is perhaps the strangest.

Its founder, Ilya Lazarenko, began his political career in 1990, when at the age of just 16 he joined one of the many splinter groups of Pamyat, the Russian Gathering Pamyat of taxi-driver Igor Shcheglov. In November 1991, La za ren ko proceeded to set up an organization of his own, the Union of Russian Youth. I happened to pick up the first issue of its journal, Nash Marsh (Our March) at a red-brown rally in Moscow's October Square. Most of the four pages of smudged typescript were about Benito Mussolini.

In 1993, Lazarenko's organization was renamed the Front of National-Revolutionary Action. In 1994, it became the National Front Party. Its doctrine was fascist in the classical sense, envisaging a ``Great National-Socialist Russian Empire'' under a ``national dictatorship.''

Lazarenko's party soon went into rapid decline. Many members left to join rival fascist organizations. So La za ren ko looked for a way of holding his remaining members together, and hit upon a novel idea. He would enroll them in a new church, a ``military-spiritual occult brotherhood'' of devotees of Nav. And so the Church of Nav was inaugurated-on Hitler's birthday, April 21, 1996.

Meanwhile, the Party ``National Front'' continued to exist, with the same leader and the same members. On Feb. 14, 1998, it staged a rally at the United States embassy under the stirring slogan: ``Freedom for Texas!''

But who on Earth-or rather, in Heaven-is Nav?

Lazarenko and his followers are pagans, but of a special kind. Most Russian pagans believe in the gods that the Slavic tribes used to worship before they adopted Christianity. The most important ones were Perun, the god of storms, thunder, and lightning, and Svarog, the god of fire and the sun. The Church of Nav despises such ``primitive peasant cults'' for having ``no serious occult-magical content or coherent theology.'' Its members regard themselves not as pagans, but as Ariosophists. Ariosophy-Greek for ``wisdom of the Aryans''-was a mystical racist doctrine that grew up in Central Europe 100 ago and influenced the early Nazis.

Nav is the supreme deity to whom the devotees of the Church of Nav pay homage, the ``father-of-all'' (vsyo-otets). They also revere the ``Shining Gods'' and the avatars-earthly incarnations of deities in Hindu mythology-who constitute a divine hierarchy under Nav. The Book of Genesis tells us that the material universe was created out of the primeval void by a god called Jehovah, which is an anglicized variant of the Hebrew Yahweh [''I Am Who I Am'']. Then, one of Jehovah's sidekicks, an angel called Satan, or Lucifer, had the temerity to rebel, for which he was cast out of Heaven. Satan took up the position of Lord of Hell and master of the evil forces of the universe.

The Ariosophists add an intriguing twist to the story. Jehovah-whom they call Yav-is still the creator of the material universe. But he is no longer the supreme deity. That honor belongs to Nav. Before the material universe came into being, there existed not a mere void, but a perfect, self-sufficient, and purely spiritual universe, the creation and realm of Nav. But the ``criminal'' Yav somehow captured the energies of Nav's universe, and used them to form the material universe, which was imperfect and therefore subject to corruption and degradation.

Thus the role of the good and rightful supreme god is taken by Nav, while Jehovah becomes the rebellious and malicious angel-that is to say, Satan. To combat the disease set loose by Yav's crime, Nav created a race of people, the Aryans or Whites, who were to carry his spirit into the material universe. For their earthly homeland, Nav gave the Aryans a large island near the North Pole called Hyperborea. Later, the Aryans migrated south to Eurasia, taking with them their high culture, and founded there all known civilizations.

But racial mixing and spiritual decline brought them to their present sorry condition, their native gods forgotten and their race dying. A crucial role in their downfall was played by the plague of Judeo-Christianity, cunningly invented to break their magical tie with the Aryan gods and enslave them to Jehovah. The Aryans must recognize themselves as part of the divine hierarchy, and return to the faith of their ancestors.
(...)

Do sects like the Church of Nav matter? Why not let them enjoy the rituals that give their lives a grandiose ultimate meaning and divert their attention from the uninspiring reality of Russia in decay?

The trouble is that the religious rituals are not ends in themselves. Lazarenko is a politician. He created his church as a political-and paramilitary-instrument. An instrument to be used when the time is right.
[...more...]


27. Dees to speak at CdA banquet
Lawyer won judgment against Richard Butler, Aryan Nations
The Spokesman-Review, Mar. 2, 2001
http://www.spokesmanreview.com/Off-site Link

Coeur d'Alene _ The attorney who bankrupted the Aryan Nations will be the keynote speaker at the annual Human Rights Banquet next month.

Morris Dees, co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, succeeded with the help of Coeur d'Alene attorneys in winning a $6.3 million judgment against Richard Butler and his racist group in September. Butler and the Aryans were found responsible for an assault on Victoria and Jason Keenan, who were attacked after their car backfired outside the Aryan compound in 1998.

Dees will speak at 7 p.m. April 6 at the Coeur d'Alene Inn in an event sponsored by the Human Rights Education Foundation, the nonprofit fund-raising arm of the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations.

''It's going to be a banquet of victory, for the trial, for the Keenans, and for anyone who believes there's not a place for violence in our society,'' Tony Stewart, secretary of the task force, said in a news conference Thursday morning.
(...)

Stewart also said a ''major announcement'' about a human rights project in Idaho will be made within the next few weeks. He said the announce-ment has something to do with millionaire philanthropist Greg Carr, an Idaho native who donates money to human rights causes. Carr, who now directs a human rights institute at Harvard University, donated $500,000 toward the Anne Frank memorial in Boise and another $500,000 toward human rights education in the state.

One unresolved question is who will buy the Aryan Nations land and memorabilia that now belong to the Keenans, who acquired it as part of the $6.3 million judgment. The Keenans expect to sell the land to a civil rights philanthropist.
Stewart would only smile when asked Thursday if that philanthropist is Carr.
[...more...]


=== Other News

28. D.A. Asks Limit to Witnesses in 'Rebirth' Case
Reuters, Mar. 2, 2001
http://www.latimes.com/Off-site Link

GOLDEN, Colo.--Clients of two therapists charged after a 10-year-old girl who was wrapped in a blanket suffocated during a psychotherapy session should not be allowed to testify as character witnesses at the March 29 trial of the accused, prosecutors urged Thursday.

Jefferson County District Judge Jane Tidball said she would rule on the matter if it comes up at the trial of Connell Watkins, 53, and Julie Ponder, 40.
[...more...]


29. Therapists should have used monitor, prosecutor says
Denver Rocky Mountain News, Mar. 2, 2001
http://www.insidedenver.com/Off-site Link

GOLDEN -- The two therapists accused in the ''rebirthing'' death of Candace Newmaker should have used a mechanical monitor to check on her breathing, a prosecutor said Thursday.

Jefferson County Deputy District Attorney Steve Jensen said the two Evergreen therapists, Connell Watkins and Julie Ponder, could have used a ''pulseoximeter,'' which would have kept track of Candace's pulse and blood oxygen levels.

A pulseoximeter can be clipped onto a child's earlobe or finger and shows the child's response to physiological stress, Jensen said. ''There is an absolute obligation on the part of the therapist to monitor the child,'' he said.

Watkins, 54, and Ponder, 40, are charged with child abuse resulting in death in the April 18 rebirthing session with Candace, a 10-year-old from Durham, N.C. Candace was wrapped head-to-toe in a blue flannel sheet and placed under pillows while four adults pushed against her in hopes she would emerge, or be ''reborn.''
But Candace was found unconscious after she was unwrapped following the 70-minute videotaped procedure. She died the next day at Children's Hospital in Denver.

Ponder's lawyer, Joan Heller, argued Thursday that a pulseoximeter is only used in medical procedures, not therapy. Candace didn't have any respiratory problems that would have required such a monitor, Heller said. ''This is not a medical malpractice case,'' she said. ''This is a criminal case.''
[...more...]


30. France Rejects U.S. Accusations in Human Rights Report
Xinhua, Feb. 28, 2001
http://www.individual.com/Off-site Link

PARIS, Feb 27, 2001 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- France Tuesday rejected the accusations made by the United States in its annual human rights report on year 2000 published Monday, which sharply criticized France for ''religious intolerance'' against cult groups.

The French Inter-Ministerial Mission of Fight Against Cults, or MILS, said that there is nothing new in the U.S. report as compared with that on 1999 and it ''just took the terms of last year's report word by word.''

The MILS also said that the report ''talked about human rights everywhere in the world except the United States.''

It said that the report cited many times the U.S.-based cult group ''Scientology'' which is gaining influence in Europe and some other continents.
(...)

While not banning the Scientology, the French Ministry of Justice has demanded all governmental institutions to be vigilant against possible abuses that cults like that could commit.

The ministry has also presented an anti-cult law to the Parliament, which is still under debate.

The U.S. report said that the proposed law ''could strengthen restrictions against religious organizations and others.''
[...more...]

Many countries and human rights organizations have noted the fact that the USA fails to address America's own human rights violations, ranging from the use of the death penalty in a several flawed justice system to the export of torture machines.

» Amnesty International report on US human rights violationsOff-site Link
» Details about France's proposed cult-crimes law


31. Crackdown On Child Exorcism
Sunday Mercury (England), Feb. 25, 2001
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/Off-site Link

Hellfire and damnation churchmen may be jailed if they carry out exorcisms on 'possessed' children under the age of 16.

The crackdown will be demanded by MPs next week in the wake of the Anna Climbie tragedy, in which the eight-year-old girl died at the hands of relatives who believed she was possessed.

And it coincides with plans by Channel 4 to screen The Exorcist on prime-time television, sparking fears that the movie could have a damaging effect on susceptible fanatics.

Under the Exorcisms of Children (Prohibition) Act 2001, due to come before Parliament on March 9, anyone found guilty of performing a 'rite or ceremony' to rid someone of 'a menacing or oppressive condition or thing' could be jailed for six months.
(...)

Little Anna, aged eight, died of hypothermia after being made to sleep in a bath for four months. Her great-aunt, Marie Therese Kouao, had told her boyfriend, Carl Manning, that the girl was possessed by witchcraft.

The obsessive pair took Anna to the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God in North London where they asked the priest to expel her 'demons'.
(...)

The Universal Church for the Kingdom of God has denied any wrongdoing - and claims it alerted authorities to Anna's plight. It denies that it performs 'exorcisms', but admits to 'praying for people who are afflicted by evil spirits'.

Graham Baldwin, director of Catalyst, a counselling service for people traumatised by religious organisations, said any Bill that could clamp down on potential abuse during exorcisms would be welcome.
[...more...]


32. Alternative religious groups rally against Faith Based Initiative
Independent Media Center, Feb. 28, 2001 (Press Release)
http://www.indymedia.org/Off-site Link

Within the first month of his administration, President Bush has taken a bold step to fill the gaps between the sacred chasm of Church and State. Many alternative faith based minority groups are uniting and speaking out against this attempt to fund selected faith groups with taxpayer money.

One of these groups is the Alternative Religions Educational Network, also known as AREN. On February 19th the board and members of AREN drafted a public letter explaining their concerns about this proposed marriage of Church and State.

The letter addressed two main concerns. The first concern questions giving tax dollars to faith groups while witholding funds from secular organizations. Concerns also revolve around publically funding religious organizations that may promote hate and intolerance associated with religious, race and ethnic supremacist ideals. There is a fear of how these religious groups will utilize the funding, and they don't want taxpayer money to support discriminatory and exclusionary ideals or theology.

The second main concern is with equality. It's noted how the public has been cushioned by reassuring pillowtalk that there won't be any discrimination or civil rights violations related to the initiative, however the actions and words coming from government officials and representatives have cast Wicca out of the running for funding consideration.
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AREN (http://www.aren.orgOff-site Link) is ''a religious freedom organization for earth centered religious and spiritual traditions.''


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