Apologetics Index
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Religion Items In The News

May 20, 1999 (Vol. 3, Issue 86)

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1. Cult awareness conference courts protest, debate
2. Prosecutor defends Scientology charges
3. Amazon Drops Controversial Book (Scientology)
4. Celebrity Scientologists protest use of psychiatric drugs on youths
5. Scientology very weak
6. Japanese cult buildings raided (6 - 11: Aum Shinrikyo)
7. Police search Aum facilities, seize forgery-related items
8. Police swoop on Japanese cult
9. Japan Says It May Try To Outlaw Doomsday Cult
10. The Asahara Trial: Endo 'shocked' that sarin killed people
11. Murder cases highlight odd feature of Japan system
12. Cult kids won't be returned to facility (Apostles of Infinite Love)
13. Liver transplant for Jehovah's witness
14. Liver Transplant Performed Without Blood Transfusion
15. 'Bloodless' surgery: New techniques mean peace of mind...
16. U.S. Doctors Urged to Study Alternative Therapies
17. Fed. Court Doesn't Buy Into Plaintiff's Repressed Memory Claim
18. Delegates to attend sect's anniversary celebration (Falun Gong)
19. Hare Krishnas denied charter school
20. [New Bethany]
21. Soap Operas Promote Sects And Magic In Brazil
22. Nations of Islam at War
23. SLC to ACLU: Block Is LDS Church's
24. Witches get US Army behind them (Wicca)
25. Barr blasts Army for allowing Wiccan celebration at Texas base
26. Students 'degraded' for 'spells' (Wicca)
27. Caught up in the craft (Wicca)
28. When teens venture to the Dark Side (Wicca; Satanic Cults)
29. Judge Tosses P&G's Lawsuit
30. Peyote distributors dwindling
31. Adherents from across globe mark birthday of Buddha
32. Unholy row over Thai Buddhist sect
33. Los Angeles emerges as second center of U.S. Judaism
34. A Town Whose Charter Would Be the King James Bible

=== Noted
35. "I smell the presence of Satan" (Columbine aftermath)
36. All God's Children (Racism)
37. Lawlessness threatens Russian mission work
38. Why east German teens seek secular rite of passage

=== Books
39. Rebel theologian: It's hardly retirement for John Crossan
40. A Buddhist copes with the workplace
41. `Wounded healer' grows in popularity 3 years after death (Nauwen)
42. Profits of doom (Y2K)

=== Internet
43. Hatemongers of every kind find a ready forum on the Internet

=== The Church Around The Corner
44. Sacred Oxen Are Bullish

=== Main

1. Cult awareness conference courts protest, debate
Minnesota Daily, May 18, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
(...) Meanwhile, inside the student center, about 150 people convened
for the weekend-long American Family Foundation Cult Awareness
Conference, where prominent psychologists, sociologists and writers
from all over the world discussed issues of mind control.

A public contact secretary for the Church of Scientology, Dickerson and
a handful of cohorts came to decry the conference's stance on freedom
of religion.

The small protest was a microcosm of a bigger war between the Church of
Scientology and cult awareness groups such as the AFF. Scientology
wages war on cult-watchers. Two days before the conference,
scientologists released literature denouncing the AFF and discrediting
many of the speakers. The release, however, did not contain the word
"Scientology." Instead, the writers of the release referred to
themselves as the Cult Awareness Network.   [NOTE: This is the fake,
Scientology-operated "Cult Awareness Network," not the real CAN - (AWH).]

Speaker Ron Enroth, professor of sociology at Westmont College in Santa
Barbara, Calif., said the letter was a product of the church's legal
strategy to combat anti-cult groups.

"These guys have unlimited funds," Enroth said. "And they use them to
pay good lawyers to wage war on groups they hate."

According to the release, the conference was held at the University
solely to "borrow the University's standing in the community, and for
no other reason."

The conference provided information on how families of cult members can

hire psychologists affiliated with the American Family Foundation to
reclaim their loved ones through a psychological process called
"thought reform" - a concept that has spawned animosity among groups
like the Church of Scientology.

But the protesters didn't refer to the concept as "thought reform."
Instead, they used the word "deprogramming."
[Story no longer online? Read this]

Enroth said Bible-based fundamentalist groups like The Apostles of
Infinite Love
are on the rise. "In fact, one of the most controversial
groups in the U.S. is the International Church of Christ, which has a
Minneapolis location," he said.

In 1993, Free Minds examined the Minneapolis-St. Paul Church of Christ
and deemed it a cult because of the deception it employs to attract

The Church's tendency to minimize the importance of the individual is
another one of the Church's cult-like attributions, Enroth said.

* About the Scientology-run "Cult Awareness Network"
[Story no longer online? Read this]

About the real Cult Awareness Network:
[Story no longer online? Read this]

2. Prosecutor defends Scientology charges
St. Petersburg Times, May 14, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Filing criminal charges against the Church of Scientology in Clearwater
was an unusual step, a top Pinellas prosecutor conceded Thursday. But
he added the charges were made necessary by the unique circumstances
surrounding the 1995 death of Scientologist Lisa McPherson while in the
care of church staffers.

"This is the first time in my 23 years that I've seen anything quite as
bizarre or disturbing as the way this decedent was treated,"
Pinellas-Pasco Assistant State Attorney Doug Crow said.

His remarks came during the first of many hearings in a case that began
Nov. 13, when the Church of Scientology's Clearwater branch was charged
with abuse of a disabled person and practicing medicine without a

A trial has been set for March 6 next year, and is expected to last two
to five weeks.

Crow was responding to statements by Scientology lawyer Sandy Weinberg,
who suggested to Chief Judge Susan F. Schaeffer that the charges by
Clearwater police were "religiously motivated." The department has
investigated Scientology off and on since the church made Clearwater
its spiritual headquarters in 1975.

3. Amazon Drops Controversial Book
Wired, May 20, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Amazon.com has removed a controversial book from its listings, a book
well known for angering the Church of Scientology. A Piece of Blue
Sky, by UK writer Jon Atack, is an exposé of the Scientology movement
from its creation in 1959 until the death of founder L. Ron Hubbard in
1986. The book disappeared from Amazon's site only recently.
[NOTE: The book has returned... See this follow-up news item]

Amazon spokeswoman Lizzie Allen would only say that "under certain
circumstances, for legal reasons, we need to stop selling a book. I
really just can't comment any further." Publishers of the book, Carol
Publishing Group, were similarly tight-lipped about the removal of A
Piece of Blue Sky from Amazon.com, declining to provide any details
about matter.

A Piece of Blue Sky has raised the ire of Scientologists since before
it was published in 1990. The religious group, notoriously litigious,
sued Atack for reprinting portions of church principles in his book.
Scientologists claimed that since the church had published the
principles, Atack was violating its copyright.

Officials at the Church of Scientology said they have had nothing to do
with the removal of the book from Amazon's site. One woman told Wired
News that the book was illegal to sell in the United Kingdom, and that
was why Amazon had removed the book.

"It was declared defamatory because it contained false statements,"
said church spokeswoman Linda Peters. "Amazon didn't know about it. We
don't really know who alerted them. There are a lot of Scientologists
around the planet." Peters said the ruling took place "four or five
years ago."

According to scientology newsgroups, the church won a 1995 lawsuit
against Atack in the United Kingdom. A court ruled that no copies of
the book containing a certain paragraph could be distributed in
Britain. That order does not stretch to the United States, however, and
only one paragraph in the book was declared defamatory.

Amazon's Allen said she was surprised that the church would speak for
Amazon, but she still couldn't say what had prompted the bookseller to
remove the book. But the "legal reasons" can't be very far-reaching,
since both barnesandnoble.com and Books.com still offer it for sale.

* For more info about John Atack, see:

4. Celebrity Scientologists protest use of psychiatric drugs on youths
Nando Times, May 15, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
About 1,000 protesters, dressed in black and many carrying black
balloons, picketed a convention of psychiatrists Saturday calling on
the profession to stop prescribing mind-altering medications to young

The demonstration, organized by the Church of Scientology's Citizens
Commission on Human Rights
, targeted the annual meeting of the American
Psychiatric Association in downtown Washington.

5. Scientology very weak
Trierischer Volksfreund (Germany), May 15, 1999
Translation: German Scientology News
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Sects and new religious movements present a challenge for the
churches. So states the 1998 activities report presented by the speaker
on sects and weltanschauung issues of the Trier diocese.

The advertisement for unprofessional forms of practical life assistance
in psychological and medical areas is also expanding and can hardly be
overlooked. In contrast, the German division of Scientology has been
greatly weakened by departures and a decrease of course participants
and sales of materials, but Scientologists continue to be active in

The Trier diocesan speaker on sects and weltanschauung issues reacted
to the challenges by sectarian groups with an extensive offering of
information and advice on all media, and enjoyed plenty of feedback in
the past year.

* Referat für Weltanschauungs und Sektenfragen im Bistum Trier
http://www.sekten.dioezese-trier.de/ (German language only)

6. Japanese cult buildings raided
Australian Broadcasting Corporation, May 18, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Japanese police today raided two buildings occupied by members of the
Aum Supreme Truth Sect.

Police raided the buildings at Kawakami in central Japan to gather
evidence in relation to a forgery investigation. It is alleged a long
standing member of the Aum Supreme Truth Cult used forged documents to
buy land.

The cult described the raid as a carefully engineered act of religious

7. Police search Aum facilities, seize forgery-related items
Daily Yomiuri (Japan), May 19, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
(...) The facilities, including two prefabricated houses in
Kawakamimura in Nagano Prefecture, were searched. Police suspect that
one 39-year-old cult member contracted to purchase land in a mountain
forest near the village using forged documents.

According to police, the cult member purchased the 17.6-hectare
mountain forest land for 17 million yen from a resident of the Nagano
Prefecture village in September 1996, falsely representing himself as
the president of a Tokyo campsite management firm.

Before making the purchase, the cult member allegedly obtained a Tokyo
man's seal impression registration certificate and registered himself
as the firm's president. The cult member obtained the certificate from
a 35-year-old company president, who police arrested later in the day
on suspicion of fraudulently obtaining the certificate.

Passing himself off as the president, the cult member used an illegally
made seal and the certificate to conclude the contract, according to
police. In addition, the cult member allegedly used the same seal on
documents submitted to the village office regarding the purchase of the
forest land.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiromu Nonaka on Tuesday said he would consider
new legislation to restrict the activities of the Aum Supreme Truth
[Story no longer online? Read this]
cult, as the group has caused many problems nationwide.
"I want to carefully discuss new legislation and laws with concerned
authorities," Nonaka said. "I have instructed them to carefully examine
what legal measures would be possible."

8. Police swoop on Japanese cult
BBC, May 18, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Japanese police have raided facilities belonging to the Aum Shrini Kyo
[Story no longer online? Read this]
[sic] cult - the group which released Sarin gas on the Tokyo
underground in 1995, killing 12 and injuring 5,000.

Members of the cult, including the leader, Shoko Asahara, are still on
trial for murder, in connection with the gas attack on Tokyo commuter
trains in 1995 and other crimes.

On Tuesday, the Home Affairs Minister, Takeshi Noda, said he regretted
that the cult had not been outlawed.

Aum issued a statement following the raids, saying it was only seeking
a place to live and that its members were victims of religious

* The BBC web site provides a link to:
Japan Times Aum Chronology

9. Japan Says It May Try To Outlaw Doomsday Cult
Fox News, May 18, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Japan's Home Affairs Minister Takeshi Noda said Tuesday that the
government should consider invoking a draconian subversion law to
outlaw the doomsday cult accused of the 1995 deadly nerve gas attack on
Tokyo subways.

"At the time when the decision was made not to apply the Antisubversive
Activities Law, we decided to wait and see for a little while whether
there remained fears that the cult could commit more crimes,'' Noda
told a news conference.

"But since then they have insisted that they remain the same as before.
Therefore, it is worth seriously considering this issue again,'' he
said. The harsh law, promulgated during Japan's labor and leftist
turmoil after World War Two, was considered so controversial that it
has never been applied to a group.

10. The Asahara Trial: Endo 'shocked' that sarin killed people
Japan Times, May 14, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Former senior Aum Shinrikyo member Seiichi Endo claimed Friday that he
did not know sarin could kill people when he and several other cultists
released the nerve gas in 1994 in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, killing
seven locals.

"I was shocked when I heard that people died from the attack," said
Endo, a biologist, at a hearing in the trial of cult founder Shoko
Asahara before the Tokyo District Court.

Endo added that he was shocked that Masami Tsuchiya, Aum's chemical
chief who produced the sarin, seemed glad to learn that the gas attack
succeeded when Endo returned to a cult facility in Kamikuishiki,
Yamanashi Prefecture, after the attack. "Tsuchiya said he was sure
everything would turn out well when he learned that several people died
from the attack," Endo said.

11. Murder cases highlight odd feature of Japan system
CNN, May 18, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Two high-profile murder trials that seem likely to drag on for years
highlight a curious aspect of Japan's justice system -- the heavy
reliance on confessions to solve crimes. The cases, stemming from the
Tokyo subway gassing and a mass poisoning at a village festival, appear
to be stuck simply because the defendants have refused to say: "I did

The problem facing the legal system is that the main tactic used by
Japanese police and prosecutors to earn convictions in criminal cases
is to pressure suspects during lengthy detention sessions to confess to

Human rights group Amnesty International and the U.N. Human Rights
Commission have criticised Japan's detention system and have called for
reforms to allow state-appointed counsel to be present at questioning.

Aum Shinri Kyo cult leader Asahara marked the start of his fourth year
in court last week involved in 17 cases, including charges of being the
mastermind of a March 1995 nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway system
that killed 12 and sickened more than 5,300 others.

He did not offer a confession, but for 16 of the 17 cases against
Asahara, courts have handed down guilty verdicts against other cult
members and alleged accomplices.

12. Cult kids won't be returned to facility
National Post (Canada), May 18, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
A dozen children who were removed from a cult headquarters during a
massive police raid last month will not be returned to the St. Jerome

Yesterday's court order ensures that all 20 children who were found at
the Apostles' orphanage during the police raid will now be raised
outside cult headquarters.

In April, Quebec's provincial police swept down on the Apostles' St.
Jerome compound, seeking to arrest four members on charges of abusing
children at the monastery between 1966 and 1985.

13. Liver transplant for Jehovah's witness
BBC, May 14, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Doctors have performed a liver transplant on a Jehovah's witness
[Story no longer online? Read this]
without the use of any blood products.

Dr Olivier Detry and co-workers, from the University of Liege in
Belgium, report in the medical journal The Lancet how they successfully
performed the procedure.

Paul Gillies, national press officer for the Jehovah's witnesses, said
representatives from the church worked closely with the medical
profession to find alternatives to blood transfusion.

14. Liver Transplant Performed Without Blood Transfusion
Fox News, May 17, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
(...) The new transplant procedure "may allow successful liver
transplantation in Jehovah's witnesses who should not necessarily be
excluded from this life-saving procedure," write Dr. Olivier Detry of
the University of Lige, Belgium, and colleagues, including Drs. P.
Honor, N. Jacquet, and M. Meurisse.

The Belgian researcher cautioned that "this patient was very well
selected and prepared. Liver transplantation without blood products is,
and will be, an exception to a rule."

15. 'Bloodless' surgery: New techniques mean peace of mind to many patients
Lincoln Journal Star, May 11, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
(...) Thorpe, chief of vascular-interventional radiology and
endovascular surgery, is part of a growing team of physicians at Saint
Joseph who do "bloodless" surgery for patients who refuse transfusions.
Following Pieper's successful operation, the hospital worked with
Creighton University Medical School to establish a Bloodless Medicine
and Surgery Program.

It was the 24th such program started in the United States. Today, more
than 80 transfusion-free surgery programs nationwide receive research
assistance from the Hospital Information Services, an organization
supported by the Jehovah's Witnesses in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Bloodless surgery programs have helped reduce legal hassles for
Jehovah's Witnesses and others who refuse transfusions. In the past,
doctors often obtained court orders to transfuse patients against their
will, Kurth said. "Now many judges refuse to mandate transfusions until
all bloodless approaches have been exhausted."

Hospital Liaison Committees, made up of volunteer Jehovah's Witnesses,
advocate for church members seeking transfusion-free medical care.
There are more than 130 Hospital Liaison Committees in the United
States and Canada and more than 1,000 worldwide. More than 30,000
physicians in the United States and more than 70,000 worldwide now
perform transfusion-free medicine, largely due to the efforts of
Jehovah's Witnesses.

16. U.S. Doctors Urged to Study Alternative Therapies
Fox News, May 17, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Americans are flocking to alternative and complementary therapies for
cancer and doctors had better catch up on what they are and whether
they work, cancer specialists believe.

From Chinese medicine to "quartz crystal singing bowls," the U.S.
public has become enamored of alternative therapies, experts on Friday
told a session at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual
meeting in Atlanta.

"Physicians ought to make some effort to find out what their patients
are using and learn something about the treatments," said Dr. Arnold
Relman, a retired professor of medicine at Harvard University and a
former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Although there is still a wide range of opinion about the value of such
treatments -- one doctor calls them "bizarre" while another thinks they
are promising -- all the specialists agreed that it is imperative to
find out what does work and what does not.

* RIN's suggested resource:
Quakwatch - Your Guide to Health Fraud, Quackery,
and Intelligent Decisions

17. Fed. Court Doesn't Buy Into Plaintiff's Repressed Memory Claim
Law News Network, May 14, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
The 3rd Circuit has essentially told a plaintiff to forget about
pursuing her 20-year-old claim against the psychiatrist she said abused
her in therapy sessions for 19 years.

The plaintiff claimed the discovery rule applied to toll the statute of
limitations because she did not remember that the doctor sexually
abused her until years later, nor did she realize until after she left
the doctor's care how inappropriate his treatment was.

But the court said it did not believe that argument because the
plaintiff openly admitted through the years that the doctor was hurting
her and many other people the woman had contact with alerted her to the
same problem.

Just last year, the Supreme Court stepped back from its harsh view on
repressed memories and ruled that a man's testimony about his repressed
memory of a murder was admissible.

The justices in Commonwealth v. Crawford allowed the evidence in a
criminal case because the Commonwealth didn't try to persuade the jury
that the "phenomenon of revived repressed memory" was accepted by the
scientific community but instead allowed the testimony to stand on its

Based on his evaluation, Himmelhoch said Reed's memory was unreliable.
Most repressed memories from more than 10 years in the past are wrong,
he said.

18. Delegates to attend sect's anniversary celebration
South China Morning News, May 17, 1999

(Story no longer online? Read this)
A group of Falun Gong followers will represent the SAR chapter and meet
the elusive founder of the controversial worldwide qi gong movement at
the seventh anniversary of the movement's founding in Toronto.

Founder Li Hongzhi is expected to attend the event next Saturday which
will include mass exercises by about 1,000 practitioners.

The large-scale celebration in the Canadian city is part of a series of
worldwide campaigns to counter negative publicity in the press
following a mass rally by 15,000 followers in Beijing last month.

19. Hare Krishnas denied charter school
Florida Time-Union, May 17, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Tom Allin doesn't have a shaven head, he doesn't wear long robes to
work and he doesn't ask people for money at airports. Make no mistake,
Allin, 49, is a practicing member of the Hare Krishna faith. But Allin
says he and members of the other 200 Krishna families that live in and
around this small town 15 miles north of Gainesville aren't trapped in
stereotypical images of a religion that few Americans understand.

And now, Allin and a handful of other Krishnas want to open an
80-student public charter school, one with low student-teacher ratios,
mandatory parental involvement and other ideas they believe will help
kids learn.

But the proposed school - the Alachua Learning Center - was denied
recently by the Alachua County School Board, which Allin and his lawyer
claim has been influenced by ''religious scare tactics'' perpetuated by
people who don't understand the Krishna religion.

20. [New Bethany]
Yahoo/Reuters, May 13, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
For almost 30 years, parents have sent their teen-agers to a Baptist
boarding school ringed by razor-wire-topped fences in the rugged hill
country of north Louisiana.

Students at the New Bethany school spend much of their time praying and
memorizing Scripture. Their monthly contact with the outside world is a
single, monitored five-minute call to their parents, say former
students. They tell of being struck with wooden paddles if they swear
or talk about running away.

Even so, youths sometimes flee four miles through pine forests and
brambles to the local sheriff's department, where deputies let them
call their parents and plead to come home. Some escapees allege abuse
or neglect by their keepers or beatings by fellow students in the name
of God.

But the Rev. Mack Ford, a former missionary who founded New Bethany in
1971, has repeatedly tried to keep child abuse investigators and fire
inspectors away, saying state officials oppose the school's
fundamentalist religious approach and want to shut it down.

Now Ford is trying to further insulate the school by seeking a federal
court order that would make it more difficult for state social workers
to make unannounced school visits. Ford also is seeking at least
$250,000 in damages.

Kimberly Birch, who was at New Bethany from 1994 to 1996 and is now a
20-year-old nursing student at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas,
said in an interview that she was among students encouraged to beat
other young women who disobeyed rules.

``When one girl said she didn't believe in God, we smashed her face
into a wall,'' Birch said.

One teen who tried to escape was forced to wear a dog collar and was
led on a leash by another student, Birch said. She also read students'
outgoing mail, discarding pages that complained of mistreatment.

21. Soap Operas Promote Sects And Magic In Brazil
EWTN, May 14, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
A book has just been published by EMI in Italy entitled 'Mission and
Communication,' which brings to light the connection between
soap-operas and sects. Father Claudio Pighin, author of the book, is
an Italian missionary and media expert, who has worked for fifteen
years in Amazonas, Brazil.

Father Pighin dedicates one of the chapters of his book to an study he
conducted in 1992 with a group of 30 young people from the diocese of
Macapa in Brazil.

"We have evidence that very often, when the Catholic Church was
referred to, the shots were from above. Whereas, when the discussion
focused on the different evangelical sects, the takes were from below.
It is a way of highlighting the new religious movements and minimizing
the role of the Church."

22. Nations of Islam at War
Village Voice, May 19-25, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
When firebombers lobbed an arsenal of molotov cocktails into a tiny
mosque in Washington, D.C., last month, officials in the Atlanta-based
Lost-Found Nation Of Islam-- a splinter group vying for control of the
black Muslim movement-- feared the worst. A battle over a newspaper
route between followers of Lost-Found leader Silis Muhammad and members
of the rival and more powerful Nation of Islam led by Minister Louis
Farrakhan had erupted in all-out war.

Black Muslim insiders, however, speculate that Silis, the reclusive
59-year-old publisher of Muhammad Speaks, the Lost-Found's official
organ, has been attempting to boost sales in black neighborhoods since
it was rumored two months ago that the cancer-stricken Farrakhan-- who
publishes the more popular Final Call newspaper-- was dying. Farrakhan's
failing health has reignited a power struggle among splinter groups
such as the one led by Silis.

But the roots of the current conflict are much deeper. A controversy
surrounding an extraordinary meeting 20 years ago between Silis and
Farrakhan still rages. Some say a defeated Silis left a faceoff in
disgrace. And that, in addition to Silis's relentless quest for
political rehabilitation, remains the catalyst for tension between the
two sects.

23. SLC to ACLU: Block Is LDS Church's
Salt Lake Tribune, May 18, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
You can't carry a boombox blaring rap onto the LDS Church's new Main
Street pedestrian plaza. But the church can send conference speeches
and Mormon Tabernacle Choir performances wafting over the block.

You won't be able to pass out fliers with pictures of your lost dog,
notice of a yard sale or even vegetarian propaganda. But The Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can distribute copies of The Book of
Mormon and brochures on the Word of Wisdom.

And before you get any ideas of protesting those rules with a public
rally -- don't. Church security guards will take your signs and send
you packing. If you come back, you can be banned for life from the
plaza. But church signs and groups are just fine.

That's the deal Salt Lake City attorneys worked out with LDS Church
officials. And they are sticking by it.

On Monday, City Attorney Roger Cutler answered the American Civil
Liberties Union of Utah's challenge of city-sanctioned restrictions of
free speech on the block.

24. Witches get US Army behind them
Sydney Morning Herald, May 15, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
The United States Army has recognised white witchcraft as a religion
and has appointed chaplains to oversee pagan ceremonies on at least
five bases.

So respectful has the army become of the pagan rites that security was
increased at Fort Hood's Boy Scout camp, where covens are held. The
move is to deter members of Christian groups from intimidating the
group. The pagans, called Wiccans, are accorded the same privileges as
practitioners of Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

Lieutenant-Colonel Donald Troyer, the Seventh Day Adventist army
chaplain who has been given responsibility for Fort Hood's coven,
admitted he was not overjoyed with his job because fellow Christian
pastors disapproved and had been "cool" towards him. "It's such a
volatile subject," he said. "It just sparks a fury." But the Pentagon
said: "We are obliged by the Constitution to respect and make
provisions for the religious needs of members of the military and not
to pass judgments on their beliefs."

25. Barr blasts Army for allowing Wiccan celebration at Texas base
CNN, May 18, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Georgia Rep. Bob Barr asked top Army officials Tuesday to stop
sanctioning the practice of witchcraft on military bases by contending
it's a religion for some soldiers.

The Smyrna Republican fired off letters to Army Secretary Louis Caldera
and Lt. Gen. Leon S. LaPorte, commander of Fort Hood, Texas, after
seeing a newspaper report about a Wiccan celebration of the vernal
equinox by soldiers at Fort Hood.

Barr said allowing such celebrations sets "a dangerous precedent" that
could lead to "all sorts of bizarre practices being supported by the
military under the rubic of religion."

"If military personnel who consider themselves witches want to practice
such nonsense outside of their military service, the Constitution may
be construed to allow them to do so," he said.

"The military, however, does not operate under the same restrictions as
society in general and it is difficult, if not impossible, to make the
case that encouraging the practice of bizarre rituals makes a positive
contribution to combat readiness," he said.
[...entire item...]

26. Students 'degraded' for 'spells'
Denver Rocky Mountain News, May 15, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Parents of sixth-graders disciplined for casting imaginary spells on
classmates say a school official verbally abused and intimidated the

"They were degraded for their grades, which are A's and B's," said
Heidi Hazlett, whose daughter, Ashley Pederson, was one of the nine
girls involved. "They were called trash and garbage. They were crying.

Problems began after one girl checked out a book about two months ago
from the library at Panorama Middle School in Colorado Springs about
the 1692 Salem witch trials. She became enthralled and began reading
the book to her friends.

Ashley said other students began teasing the girls about being witches,
and they responded by casting pretend spells on them.

Some of the students became frightened, so on May 4, vice principal
Joan Abrahamsen twice talked to them about the spells.

27. Caught up in the craft
Bergen Record, May 13, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
It used to be that when girls watched "The Wizard of Oz," they wanted
to be Dorothy. Now they want to be the witch.

"It's not a fad. It's a social movement," said Phyllis Curott, a
44-year-old Manhattanite and nationally known high priestess of Wicca.
An Ivy League-educated lawyer, Curott is a lecturer and author whose
1998 memoir of her journey to Wicca, "Book of Shadows," is already in
its fifth printing.

Other omens of Wicca's popularity among girls abound. Sales of
witchcraft books and paraphernalia have skyrocketed. Llewellyn
International, a St. Paul-based publishing house that specializes in
titles on topics such as astrology and neo-paganism, has seen sales of
a book called "Teen Witch" take flight.

"In places where witchcraft had not been hot, suddenly it's hot," said
Von Braschler, Llewellyn's director of trade sales. The chief market
for the book, which may sell 125,000 copies by year's end, are 12- to
15-year-old girls, he said. "They found us. We didn't go looking for

In fact, a poll of the top 60 interests of teenage girls showed
witchcraft at No. 1. ABC's "Sabrina" is the second-rated show on
television among youngsters 12 to 17, with young girls making up the
bulk of the audience.

For all of this mainstreaming, however, girls who follow Wicca can face
tough times.

Apart from the social stigma, Wicca practitioners say the churches
remain their biggest foes.

The animus toward witches, they say, is the result of age-old
stereotypes perpetrated by Christianity and propagated by the media.

Wicca, they say, is an ancient, earth-based religion, one of the
neo-pagan religions based on the natural cycles of life.

In truth, contemporary witchcraft is an amalgam of many pre-Christian
practices, a modern-day reinterpretation of older myths, beliefs, and
rituals that today takes many different forms.

28. When teens venture to the Dark Side
CNews (Canada), May 16, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
(...) Sociologists say teen rebellion is a part of what draws some
teenagers to satanic cults.

"Some are experimenters looking for something different. They're bored
or they want to do something to get their parents' attention, and this
certainly shakes up people," says Linda Maxwell, a Toronto social
worker with experience investigating satanic ritual abuse of children.

"You've got alienated kids who don't fit in with teen peer groups. And
sometimes it turns into violence and revenge," says Stephen Kent, a
sociologist at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. "Peer groups have
enormous influence over kids. We must be careful about blaming

"One study reported 3% of young adults involved in satanism. In another
study of Utah social workers, 20% reported cases of teenage satanic
activity," says Dr. Michael Langone, a psychologist and executive
director of the American Family Foundation, which provides information
on religions and cults.

People have been turning away from mainstream religion since the '60s
and the Death of God movement, says David Reed, professor of theology
at Wycliffe College/U of T. Through the whole New Age movement of the
last three decades, people have searched for alternative religions to
fill the spiritual void and gain more control over their lives.

To help clear up confusion parents might have about another
controversial religion, Wicca, Reed says it's essentially a benign
earth-based religion which is attractive to young women because of its
focus on a feminine deity.

"While white Wicca is okay, people can open up to a dimension of the
spiritual that is demonic. There is black magic alongside white magic.
There is a concern that some teens, particularly males, will go from
one to the other to feel the power they don't have in the social area,"
he warns.

The whole notion of satanism as a philosophy, a practice or a religion
is highly debatable.

Bruce Robinson of the Centre for Religious Tolerance, which is an
information resource on religions and cults, divides satanism into four

* Note: The article then lists *five* categories.

About the "Centre for Religious Tolerance":
[Story no longer online? Read this]

29. Judge Tosses P&G's Lawsuit
ABC News, May 16, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Procter & Gamble said its lawsuit charging Amway Corp. with fomenting
satanic rumors about P&G, costing it millions of dollars in lost sales,
was dismissed Saturday on a legal technicality.

P&G will appeal the ruling, she said, and hopes for a new trial. The
dismissal was surprising, Plummer said, because U.S. District Judge
Vanessa Gilmore ruled Thursday that P&G had presented sufficient
evidence of Amway's liability and that the case could go to the jury.

30. Peyote distributors dwindling
Arizona Republic, May 17, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
(...) The visitors come to buy peyote - a drug that could cost them
years in prison if they were non-Indian or if they were not members of
the Native American Church.

But now leaders of the church say that times are changing. The number
of distributors has been decreasing and the recent Texas droughts have
reduced the number of cactuses from which the sacred peyote buttons are

In addition, Texas officials are considering changing the law - a move
that some church supporters welcome, but which others fear may drive
even more of the remaining distributors out of business.

"We're not trying to make it harder for NAC members to purchase the
buttons," said Tracie Svehlak, supervisor in the Texas registration
office. "We want to make sure that members do not have problems with
law enforcement officials when they are returning home or purchasing
the buttons through the mail."

31. Adherents from across globe mark birthday of Buddha
Orange County Register, May 17, 1999
Buddha couldn't have fielded a more global audience for his 2,543rd
birthday than the one assembled Sunday at Santa Ana College.

At least 20,000 people of various ethnicities gathered at the daylong
event, the largest of its kind in Orange County.

They championed two goals: to celebrate Buddha's birth and to solemnly
call for religious freedom in nations like Vietnam.

32. Unholy row over Thai Buddhist sect
Sydney Morning Herald, May 15, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
(...) Not only is there an unholy row over attempts to disrobe the head
of a dubious Buddhist sect, but the ethics of the mainstream clergy are
facing increasing public criticism.

Problems range from so-called "naughty monks" indulging in alcohol,
drugs, gambling and fornication, to downright rotten monks convicted
of extortion, rape and murder. Monks have been convicted of molesting
children. Abbots have paid bribes to be transferred to more profitable
temples. There has even been over-charging for funeral rites.

It is against this backdrop that Buddhist leaders are struggling with
the largest of many new cults. The Dhammakaya Foundation employs modern
marketing techniques, including direct-mail soliciting, to promote
Buddhism as a revamped product.

Rather than emphasising self-enlightenment and detachment, Dhammakaya
backs self-interest all the way. Miracles and prosperity are promised
in return for big donations, and there are theatrical religious events
attended by tens of thousands of people at the Dhammakaya Temple on the
outskirts of Bangkok.

Abbot Phra Dhammachayo is the 53-year-old head of what many see as the
moral equivalent of the tackiest empires created by United States
Christian "television evangelists".

33. Los Angeles emerges as second center of U.S. Judaism
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Sacramento Bee, May 18, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
For the first time, students from a West Coast rabbinical school
affiliated with the Conservative movement will be ordained in Los
Angeles, signifying that another center of Jewish influence has emerged
in America.

34. A Town Whose Charter Would Be the King James Bible
Washington Post, May 17, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
(...) The Rev. James Henderson looked up at that same patch of earth
and saw a Promised Land, a chance to create a shining city on a hill.
To make his vision real, Henderson and about 200 of his neighbors will
submit to an Alabama court next month a petition to incorporate the
community of Brooksville as an official town run solely on Christian

Their plan is so simple it barely needs writing down: The town charter
will be the King James Bible
, its ordinances the Ten Commandments. "It
is our intent to conduct the community's business according to the
teachings of Jesus Christ," reads the charter, typed in all capitals.
The rest of its rules follow naturally. For example: Observe the
Sabbath day and keep it holy, you shall not murder, and you shall not

In his most hopeful estimate, the dream is only a few weeks away. In
April a local probate judge rejected the petition to incorporate on
technical grounds: There were too few signatures--160--for the proposed
boundaries. After the hearing, the petitioners redrew the boundaries to
a third their original size, collected about 80 more signatures and
hired a lawyer.

When they go back to the judge next month, though, the objections will
not be so technical. The first time around, the judge never got to the
question of whether a town could incorporate on Christian principles.
Already the local American Civil Liberties Union, the mayor of
Priceville and the Alabama League of Municipalities have let it be
known that if the effort gets any further, they have a legal lesson
prepared on the separation of church and state.

=== Noted

35. "I smell the presence of Satan"
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Is Littleton's evangelical subculture a solution to the youth
alienation that played a role in the Columbine killings, or a
reflection of it?

While that strong Christian faith proved invaluable in comforting this
community after the killings, it also ignited simmering tensions in
Littleton. Those tensions briefly rose to a boil after the memorial
ceremony on April 25, which drew Vice President Al Gore and 70,000
mourners, packed in more witnessing for Jesus than any Sunday sermon at
the local evangelical churches. The Rev. Don Marxhausen, pastor of St.
Philip Lutheran Church in Littleton, was quoted by the Denver Post as
feeling "offended," and "hit over the head with Jesus." Marxhausen
serves as de facto leader of local Protestant churches, and officiated
over the small, private funeral for Dylan Klebold. Non-Christians felt
excluded, too, and the memorial's lily-white lineup offended many

In the first days after the Columbine shootings, local religious
leaders were a model of civility, setting aside differences and
welcoming one another into their services.

But early rumblings of a conflict began to emerge with within hours of
the tragedy, playing out far from public view.

Perhaps less foreseeable was the instinct of the politicians to grab
ahold of God with both hands while the grabbing seemed good. Al Gore
suddenly found his Southern Baptist roots, quoting the Scripture more
than any clergy on the panel.

Watching the memorial at home on TV, Rev. Schrom gasped when Nelson
began proselytizing.

Schrom described Nelson's choice as the moral dilemma evangelicals face
every day: the conflict between respect for others' beliefs and the
moral obligation of "standing up for a belief in Jesus Christ as the
only way." He said he would have tried to be more sensitive to a
diverse audience, but he too, would have had to use that valuable
opportunity "to witness to what I believe."

Yet he bristled at some "spiritual headhunters" less interested in
spreading love than "just racking up another scalp. The Bible was never
meant to be a club," he said. "If I'm using it as a weapon, that's
really sad." He said he tries to keep one thought in mind as he
struggles with that dilemma: "Jesus never said 'I came to make you more
religious.' He said 'I came to give you life; that your joy may be

But the remarkable youth ministry among evangelicals in and around
Littleton is part of a national story, with repercussions beyond the
Columbine tragedy. The transformation of Cassie Bernall represents,
perhaps, the best these churches have to offer teens. Two years ago she
was strung out on drugs, deeply involved in witchcraft, and began
writing hateful letters to her parents. "She said she wanted to kill
them," said Pastor Kirsten. "She was going down the road of Dylan and
Eric." Youth pastor Dave McPherson described her then as "lifeless,
callused and cold."

Then something mysterious happened on a weekend youth ministry, where
she converted overnight. "She left an angry, vengeful, bitter young
girl, and came back brand new," Kirsten said.

In the weeks since the Columbine killings I've haunted these churches,
and I've been moved by their love and their spirit, and the genuine
kindness shown to me, a stranger. But as a gay man raised Catholic, I
find it hard to believe that for all their talk about love -- and the
true warmth they've shown me -- they'd extend that same warm welcome if
they knew the real me.

36. All God's Children
Salon, May 14, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
One fine Sunday in the Deep South, a black divinity student shows up on
the steps of a white church to worship and praise the Lord. When he
tries to come inside to take part in the service, however, a group of
white men converge at the entrance to tell him that he's not welcome.

It sounds like a snapshot from Selma, Ala., circa 1965, or a
melodramatic scene from the movie "Mississippi Burning." But it's not.
It happened last month to an African student from Samford University in
Birmingham, Ala. The student was participating in a program in which
divinity students preparing to become Baptist ministers are sent out to
preach at local Baptist churches. When the student showed up to deliver
his sermon to a predominantly white congregation, he was not allowed to
enter the church.

This isn't the first time this type of confrontation has occurred.
"There have been several incidents reported over a period of time,"
said Dr. Thomas E. Corts, president of Samford University. "It's not
widespread. Some of our African students have had wonderful experiences
in rural churches around the state. But there are some pockets of

37. Lawlessness threatens Russian mission work
Star-Telegram, May 17, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
When it comes to religious freedom in Russia, the world's attention is
usually focused on government restrictions on minority faiths. But in
volatile and lawless southern Russia, threats to religious freedom take
the much more brutal form of murder and kidnapping.

In the Russian Caucasus, for example, Baptist presbyter Alexander
Samoshkin said he has essentially given up one congregation where in
the space of six months one pastor was beheaded and another kidnapped.

Although Chechnya is by far the most chaotic and lawless part of the
Russian Caucasus, other regions, too, are dangerous for religious
workers whose families are sometimes perceived as reliable ransom

38. Why east German teens seek secular rite of passage
Christian Science Monitor, May 12, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
(...) This Jugendfeier, or youth celebration, is a huge success,
ushering en masse another batch of 14-year-olds into adulthood. A
record 11,000 young Berliners will take part in similar ceremonies this
spring, and the Humanistic Association, which organized the event in
eastern Berlin's Friedrichstadtpalast, is initiating some 100,000 young
people nationwide.

The secular equivalent of a church confirmation - the Christian
ceremony bestowing full church membership - the youth celebration is
widely popular in the former East Germany with an estimated half of all
teenagers here choosing the alternative rite of passage.

Less than 10 percent of young eastern Germans confirm their faith in

No more than 25 percent of eastern Germans consider themselves
religious, while more than three-quarters of western Germans are
churchgoers, mainly Catholic or Protestant.

=== Books

39. Rebel theologian: It's hardly retirement for John Crossan
Star-Telegram, May 12, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
John Dominic Crossan, a scholarly guerrilla, has settled deep behind
enemy lines. Scorned by some conservative theologians as an academic
antichrist for his controversial views on the "historical Jesus,"
Crossan is quietly ensconced in Central Florida, an evangelical

Crossan, 65, first achieved notoriety as co-chairman of "The Jesus
whose research called into question much interpretation of
biblical Christianity. He is the author of 18 books, several of which
became best sellers. His latest book recently was released in

Crossan's latest book is The Birth of Christianity: Discovering What
Happened in The Years Immediately After the Execution of Jesus (Harper
Collins San Francisco). It focuses on what are known as the "lost"
years of early Christianity, because there is no written record of the
decades following Jesus' crucifixion but before the letters of the
Apostle Paul and the emergence of the Gospels.

"The problem I have with fundamentalists is that they're not willing to
accept the word of God," he said. "I accept the Gospel as saying what
it says. . . . They take the Bible wrong, as far as I'm concerned, by
taking it literally where it should not be taken literally."

"He's not a scholar," said R.C. Sproul, a professor at Reformed
Theological Seminary in Oviedo. "He's so radically ignorant of sober
historical research I don't understand why anyone takes him seriously.
I don't take the guy seriously as a thinker."

40. A Buddhist copes with the workplace
Charlotte Observer, May 15, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
(...) Centuries-old Eastern thought and relaxation techniques may be
the answers to the various ills of the working life, where stress,
jealousy, greed and various deadly sins often abound.

That's according to Massachusetts author Llama Surya Das, who says the
workplace is one of the most rewarding places to practice Tibetan

Das is busy promoting his newest book, ``Awakening to the Sacred,
Creating a Spiritual Life From Scratch'' (Broadway Books, $26). If the
mantra sounds a little familiar, it's because the author hit the
religion charts in 1997 with ``Awakening the Buddha Within, Eight Steps
to Enlightenment'' (Broadway, $26).

41. 'Wounded healer' grows in popularity 3 years after death
Charlotte Observer, May 15, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Most religious leaders dispense wisdom. Henri Nouwen did more -- he
gave his tears. When the Dutch Catholic priest died on Sept. 21, 1996,
he left a legacy that many compare to such spiritual giants as C.S.
Lewis and Thomas Merton.

Nouwen proved that a spiritual mentor could be vulnerable. He wrote
some of the most moving and confessional passages in Christian
literature, including one searing book that detailed his recovery from
a midlife breakdown.

Nouwen was, as the title of one of his books suggested, ``The Wounded
Healer'' (Doubleday, $10.95 paperback).

Even more than two years after his death, there are signs that his
popularity is soaring. Three major publishers have released a
collection of Nouwen's writings within the past year. Sales of
Nouwen's books have increased by about 10 percent since his death, his
publishers report.

In a poll cited by Christianity Today magazine, a majority of North
American pastors reported that Nouwen was their most influential

Bob Byrns, an editor with Crossroad Publishing, said Nouwen was a
bridge between Roman Catholics and other religious traditions.

42. Profits of doom
Times of London, May 15, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
If I were a publisher, I would be over the moon if we adopted the Aztec
calendar. Apparently, this ancient civilisation celebrated their
millennium every 52 years. Publishers have had to wait far longer than
that for one of the best marketing wheezes in the history of Western
civilisation. And what a marketing ploy it is: there are now more than
1,000 published books on the coming millennium, with one about the
first - The Year 1000: What Life Was Like at the Turn of the First
Millennium by Robert Lacey and Danny Danziger (Little, Brown, £12.99) -
currently out-selling everything else on the subject.

=== Internet

43. Hatemongers of every kind find a ready forum on the Internet
Star-Telegram, May 13, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
(...) In the past, hate was promoted through crude graffiti and
mimeographed pamphlets. These days, slick Web sites devoted to hate are
available day and night for a potential audience of millions.

Mark Potok, editor of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence
Report, a quarterly journal covering the Radical Right, said, "There's
no question that the Net has been very important to hate groups in this

Those who monitor hate-group activity said that such groups first
used computer bulletin boards, a forerunner of the Internet.
Stormfront, a white-supremacist Web site established by former Klansman
Don Black in March 1995, is considered the first hate site.

Internet hate sites grew to 254 at the end of 1998 from 163 in 1997,
according to a recent report by the Southern Poverty Law Center, based
in Montgomery, Ala.

The Wiesenthal Center recently released Digital Hate 2000, an
interactive report on CD-ROM that characterized 1,426 sites as
"problematic," meaning that they were either hate sites or sites that
linked to hate sites.

The Southern Poverty Law Center also counted 537 hate groups and group
chapters engaging in racist behavior in 1998, up from 474 in 1997.

Of the 537 groups active in 1998, 163 were Klan organizations and their
chapters, up from 127 the year before; 151 were neo-Nazi, up from 100;
48 were racist Skinhead, up from 94; 29 were black separatist, up from
12; and 84 followed "a hodge-podge of hate-based doctrines."

The number of congregations of Christian Identity theology, "a
virulently racist and anti-Semitic doctrine" dropped from 81 to 62, but
the Law Center report said that Identity groups are difficult to detect
and probably are undercounted.

David Goldman, founder and director of HateWatch, a Web-based
educational resource organization to combat on-line bigotry based in
Cambridge, Mass., said that according to a very strict definition of
"hate site," the number of sites actually has reached a plateau,
numbering about 225.

=== The Church Around The Corner

44. Sacred Oxen Are Bullish
Fox News, May 16, 1999
(Story no longer online? Read this)
Two sacred oxen made a bullish forecast Friday for Thailand's 1999
harvest before government officials, royalty and farmers at a ceremony
televised live across the nation.

Religious officials at the annual Brahmanic Royal Ploughing ceremony
presented the oxen with offerings including grass, corn, beans, sesame,
liquor and water, and interpreted their behavior to divine the farming

When the oxen chose grains from the selection, the officials declared
it a good omen, prompting a round of applause from assembled farmers
and dignitaries.

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