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Religion Items In The News

Sept. 10, 1999 (Vol. 3, Issue 111)

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Religion Items in the News - Sept. 10, 1999 (Vol. 3, Issue 111)

(Story no longer online? Read this)

=== Waco
1. Waco probe seeks evidence of 'bad acts'
2. Expended flares found among siege evidence
3. Flares were fired to stop intruder at siege, FBI says
4. Waco trial could fix blame before probe Lawyers for the Branch
5. Families Seek `the Truth' About Waco
6. Waco Revelations Raise Questions
7. Documents on Waco Point to a Close Commando Role
8. `Shocking revelations' are old news for Koresh follower
9. Great balls of fire
10. The truth about Waco (by David Thibodeau)
11. Up-to-date News on the Waco Cover-up

=== Aum Shinrikyo
12. Murder Sentence Of Japan Cult Leader's Wife Cut On Appeal
13. State writing law to better handle Aum
14. New legislation to target Aum Shinrikyo
15. Fuji TV crew scares anti-Aum villagers

=== Scientology
16. Scientology's Revenge ("CAN")
17. Scientology vs. InfoSekta
18. French Justice Ministry investigates destruction of Scientology
19. Files destroyed in Scientology case
20. Loss of Scientology Files Studied

=== Other News
21. Task Force Considers Recruiting On Campus
22. Making things right (NEIRR Safe House)
23. Sacrifice Zone (Santeria)
24. Prince of Darkness (Feral House)
25. Gold Dust Phenomenon Stirs Up Questions Among Charismatics
26. Waiting for Apocalypse, Militia Falls on Hard Times
27. News About Montessori 'Cold Shower'
28. Small Turnout for Peaceful NYC Rally ("Million Youth March)
29. London-based Muslim calls for holy war
30. U.S. Criticizes Countries For Religious Intolerance
31. Perspective on the year 2000
32. Mississippi preacher devotes life to birthing red heifer in Israel
33. Orthodox Church in America discovers an evangelical soul
34. Lucky Stars? Trusting Your Fate to Astrology Leaves a Lot to the

=== Books
35. Pres. Hinckley writes book aimed at general readers
36. Media Gets Story of Columbine Teen ("Bruderhof")
37. Falun Gong
38. 'Screwtape Letters' imitated in e-mail

=== Internet
39. When criticism is called "terrorism" (Introvigne/CESNUR)

=== Waco
[Story no longer online? Read this]

1. Waco probe seeks evidence of 'bad acts'
CNN, Sep. 9, 1999
Former Sen. John Danforth, named Thursday to head an independent
investigation into the FBI's 1993 Branch Davidian standoff, said his
primary goals will be to find out, "Was there a cover-up?" and "Did
federal officials kill people?"

"Our country can survive bad judgment," the Missouri Republican said at
a news conference convened by Attorney General Janet Reno. "But the
thing that really undermines the integrity of government is whether
there were bad acts -- whether the government killed people."

2. Expended flares found among siege evidence
Dallas Morning News, Sep. 8, 1999
Expended military illumination flares fired by U.S. government
personnel have been discovered in the tons of evidence recovered from
the Branch Davidian compound, the head of the Texas Department of
Public Safety said Tuesday night.

With the discovery of the spent illumination round, Texas law
enforcement officials said they are concerned about what else may be
found in the 24,000 pounds of evidence recovered after the compound

But tons of other debris, including more than 300,000 rounds of
ammunition and other ordnance stockpiled by the sect, has been kept in

3. Flares were fired to stop intruder at siege, FBI says
Dallas Morning News, Sep. 9, 1999
A military flare recently found among evidence stored after the Branch
Davidian tragedy may have been one of two such devices fired by FBI
agents to stop an intruder from entering the sect's compound during the
standoff, an FBI official said Wednesday.

"From talking to people in our Hostage Rescue Team, at one time, when
our floodlight illumination was not active, they shot two parachute
illumination rounds because of concern about people trying to sneak
into the compound," Mr. Collingwood said.

James B. Francis Jr., chairman of the Texas Public Safety Commission,
said the discovery of the device, in a mislabeled box marked "fired
tear gas shell," was troubling because the government had powerful
spotlights trained on the Davidian compound during most of the 51-day
standoff and would not have needed a flare to light up the area.

A retired Ranger captain who headed the agency's Branch Davidian
investigation said Wednesday that the spent pyrotechnic devices
recovered or photographed after the fire may have gone unnoticed
because of the complexity of the crime scene and the relatively narrow
focus of the Rangers' investigation.

The investigators had to comb through a burned building that yielded
24,000 pounds of evidence, and their assignment was largely limited to
developing a murder case from the deaths of four federal agents killed
during the Feb. 28, 1993, firefight that began the standoff, retired
Capt. David Byrnes said.

Rangers focused on collecting evidence to prosecute surviving Branch
Davidians for the agents' slayings and finding proof that the sect had
stockpiled illegal weapons, he said. More than 40 illegal automatic
weapons and a number of illegal silencers and homemade hand grenades
were recovered from the compound wreckage, along with more than 300,000
rounds of ammunition.

4. Waco trial could fix blame before probe Lawyers for the Branch
Davidians hope to question FBI agents under oath.
Philadelphia Inquirer, Sep. 5, 1999
While official Washington gears up for a new, independent investigation
of the inferno that killed Branch Davidian cultists, the question of
who was really to blame for the 1993 tragedy is likely to be answered
sooner and more definitively in a courtroom in Waco, Texas.

On Thursday, an impatient U.S. District Judge Walter Smith ordered the
government to turn over to him all the evidence in the case. And he has
ordered both sides to get ready for a fast-track trial by Oct. 18.

"The American people will learn a lot if they watch this trial," said
Kirk D. Lyons, a North Carolina lawyer who filed the first suit against
the government in 1993. "From the beginning, we said they created a
death trap that resulted in the killing of Davidians. Now, people are
listening to us."

Caddell does not claim that federal agents deliberately set the fatal
fire. Instead, he asserts that the government was guilty of "gross
negligence" that contributed to the deaths of innocent people.

"You don't attack a flimsy wooden structure with tanks and tear-gas
canisters and grenade launchers and automatic-weapon fire - and without
a contingency plan for a fire," Caddell said Friday. "Everybody knew
the place was a fire trap. And everybody knew there were innocent
children inside. And they didn't even call for any fire-fighting

5. Families Seek `the Truth' About Waco
Yahoo UK, Aug. 27, 1999
(...) British relatives said they had always been suspicious of the
part played by the US authorities in ending the 51-day siege when
Federal agents tried to execute arrest and search warrants at the
Davidian compound.

In February 1994 three British survivors - Renos Avraam, Norman Allison
and Livingston Fagan - were acquitted with eight other cult members.
They had been charged with conspiracy to murder four agents from the
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and with conspiracy to set
fire to the compound. Mr Allison, then 29, from Manchester, was
acquitted of all charges and deported. In June 1994 Avraam, then 30, of
Tottenham, north London, and Fagan, 34 at the time and from Nottingham,
were among eight cult members jailed for their part in the Waco gun
battle. The two Britons are now serving 40-year sentences - the
maximum 30 years for firearms offences and the maximum 10 years for
aiding and abetting voluntary manslaughter. Both of them will be
deported on release.

6. Waco Revelations Raise Questions
Washington Post, Sep. 6, 1999
(...) ``After what I've heard about Waco, I'm beginning to blame the
federal government for my grandchildren dying,'' said Ms. Coverdale,
whose grandsons, Aaron and Elijah, were among the 168 people killed in
the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.

Survivors of the bombing and relatives of those killed are divided over
whether the government's new information about its role at Waco has any
bearing on its investigation of the Oklahoma City bombing.

7. Documents on Waco Point to a Close Commando Role
New York Times, Sep. 5, 1999
The Pentagon's elite Special Operations Command sent observers to the
siege of the Branch Davidian compound in Texas more than a month before
the final assault on the compound, suggesting that military commandos
had a far longer and closer involvement in the disastrous 1993
operation than previously divulged, according to declassified
Government documents.

The command, which is based at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida,
oversees the military's most secretive commando squads, including the
Army's Delta Force and the Navy Seals, and the documents suggest that
the command was monitoring the situation virtually from the start of
the 51-day siege. The command's spokesmen did not return calls for
comment on the documents.

The documents were provided to The New York Times by the National
Security News Agency, a nonprofit research group in Washington that has
often unearthed Government documents and other information embarrassing
to the Pentagon.

8. `Shocking revelations' are old news for Koresh follower
Star-Telegram, Sep. 6, 1999
What journalists and pundits are calling "shocking revelations" about
the use of pyrotechnic grenades and the presence of military forces at
the Branch Davidian compound outside Waco on April 19, 1993, sounds
more like old news to David Thibodeau.

Now 30 and the father of a young daughter, Thibodeau was, on that
spring morning, one of nine followers of David Koresh who clawed their
way out of the Mount Carmel inferno and scrambled to safety.

The book, `A Place Called Waco,' is due in bookstores soon, and
Thibodeau said the resurgence of news about the raid, the standoff and
fiery ending should rekindle interest and boost sales.

"I expected to be shot once I got outside, but I figured it was better
than burning up," he said.

Thibodeau said that although he still admires Koresh's understanding
of Scripture and remains influenced by his teachings, the book is not
designed to lionize the cult leader.

9. Great balls of fire
The press got a little burned at Waco as well.
Salon, Sep. 9, 1999
(...) Mark Pitcavage is a historian who charts the doings of the
militia movement [ http://www.militia-watchdog.org/ ] and heard the
Waco theories long before the FBI began "discovering" evidence the
existence of which it had previously denied. Like a lot of people, he
didn't trust the messenger. "They deserve a little bit of credit," he
told the New York Times of the conspiracy theorists who kept this story
alive, "but you wish that someone else had discovered this stuff
instead. These guys have ulterior motives." ("Mr. Drudge, a Ms.
Goldberg on line one.")

This is just the sort of attitude that drives those who see problems in
the Waco siege wild. "I have heard this over and over again," says Dan
Gifford, one of the producers of the 1997 documentary "Waco: The Rules
of Engagement."

Gifford is downright moderate by the far right's standards; he was a
producer at CNN for 10 years before lighting out for Hollywood, and his
film wears the mantle of respectability, having opened at Sundance and
been nominated for an Academy Award. (The video, recently released, is
available at most video stores and on Gifford's Web site [
http://www.waco93.com/ ]. In keeping with the hall-of-mirrors reality
of conspiracy theorists of all stripes, there are now two versions of
"Rules of Engagement" out there. More on that later.)

Now about those two videos: Gifford's is the official version, the one
nominated for an Oscar and lauded by critics across the country. The
rogue version is the work of Michael McNulty, a co-producer and
original researcher on the film who felt Gifford's film was not
vehement enough. (For future versions, McNulty, who hosted a right-wing
radio program in Colorado and has strong ties to the militia movement,
has threatened to trace the decision to attack in Waco all the way to
that mistress of the dark side, Hillary Rodham Clinton.) The matter is
under litigation now, which may further complicate the film's message,
and that's too bad.

The film is heavily slanted toward the Davidians (it features several
religious scholars who come off as cult apologists) and inconclusive in
its charges that the government was firing on the building on April 19
or meant to start a fire. Still, it is persuasive to those who tend
toward the view that the assault was a murderous travesty of justice
and that no one was ultimately held accountable.

10. The truth about Waco -
A survivor says the government still isn't admitting its role in the
deaths of 74 Branch Davidians. By David Thibodeau.
Salon, Sep. 9, 1999
(...) Many have suggested that Koresh was a Jim Jones-like madman. But
he wasn't. He had no plans for mass suicide; indeed, in sharp contrast
to Jones, Koresh allowed members of the community to leave at any time,
and many of them did, even during the siege. But many of us stayed,
too, not because we had to, but because we wanted to. The FBI and ATF
had been confrontational from the start, they had lied to us and they
continued lying up through the siege.

The FBI and ATF had many pretexts for their attack on Mount Carmel. The
initial ATF raid, in which four ATF agents and six Davidians were
killed, was based on allegations that we were running a drug lab. But
later even ATF employees would admit the charges were "a complete
fabrication." One member had allowed speed dealers to operate from the
building in the mid-1980s, but everyone knew Koresh hated drugs, and
he'd asked the Waco sheriff to remove the methamphetamine lab when he
took over as leader in 1987.

Charges that we were assembling an arsenal of weapons to be used
against the government were equally off-base. We ran a business, buying
and selling weapons at gun shows, to bring in revenue for the
community. Only a few of us at Mount Carmel were directly involved with
this -- I personally had an aversion to guns -- but it was a relatively
profitable line of work. Everything was bought and sold on a legal
basis. In fact, weeks before the raid, Koresh offered the ATF the
opportunity to come out to Mount Carmel and inspect the building and
every single weapon we had. They refused.

Maybe the most disturbing allegation, to those inside the building, was
that we were engaging in child abuse there.

A few former residents also complained that David paddled their
children, harshly, but I never saw that, and the Texas Child Protective
Services workers who investigated the complaints concluded they were

The biggest lie, though, is the FBI's claim that we set the building
fire ourselves, to commit suicide. At the very least, the FBI has
already provided proof that it created the conditions for a disaster.

The amount of gas the FBI shot into Mount Carmel was twice the density
considered life threatening to an adult and even more dangerous for
little children.

There are other questions: Why did the FBI call the local hospital
hours before the siege and ask how many beds were available in its burn
unit? Why did it not equip the tanks with a firefighting agent that
would have put the flames out quickly? What did the FBI negotiator mean
when he threateningly told us we "should buy some fire insurance"? Why
did the FBI not allow anyone access to the crime scene for several
hours, despite an agreement with the Texas Rangers that they would be
allowed to inspect the area first? And on and on.

About the writer
David Thibodeau's book, "A Place Called Waco: A Survivor's Story, has
just been published by PublicAffairs/Perseus Books. He can be reached
at his Web site.


* A Place Called Waco: A Survivor's Story

11. Up-to-date News on the Waco Cover-up

[Story no longer online? Read this]

=== Aum Shinrikyo
[Story no longer online? Read this]

12. Murder Sentence Of Japan Cult Leader's Wife Cut On Appeal
Excite, Sep. 9, 1999
The wife of the doomsday cult leader accused of masterminding the 1995
nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway system had her conviction upheld
Thursday but received a one-year reduction in her prison term.

The Tokyo High Court upheld last year's district court conviction of
Tomoko Matsumoto, 41, wife of Aum Shinri Kyo (Supreme Truth) guru Shoko
Asahara, for conspiring with her husband and other cult members to kill
cult member Kotaro Ochida when he tried to leave the cult.

But presiding judge Tadaharu Kanda reduced Matsumoto's sentence from
seven to six years, saying the longer sentence was "too severe."

But the judge also noted Matsumoto had paid some 20 million yen
(US$183,300) in damages to Ochida's family, and had also contributed to
a fund for victims of the Tokyo subway attack. Japanese courts are
often lenient if someone accused of a crime shows remorse.

13. State writing law to better handle Aum
Japan Times, Sep. 8, 1999
The government will draw up a new law that can specifically restrict
the activities of religious cult Aum Shinrikyo, Chief Cabinet Secretary
Hiromu Nonaka said Wednesday. The Justice Ministry will compile a bill
to regulate a group that has committed indiscriminate mass murder in
the past and whose basic demeanor remains unchanged, Nonaka said.

Although the ministry has not released specific details of the proposed
law, authorities would supposedly be permitted to engage in activities
such as surveillance and carry out raids on the group when necessary,
Nonaka said. And if it becomes clear that the cult is ready to repeat
its past crimes, the law would allow authorities to restrict its
activities to some extent, he said.

14. New legislation to target Aum Shinrikyo
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Asahi Evening News, Sep. 9, 1999
The government plans new legislation that will specifically restrict
the activities of Aum Shinrikyo, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiromu Nonaka
said Wednesday. The planned bill will target groups that have
committed indiscriminate mass murder in the past, Nonaka said. It would
allow law enforcement authorities to conduct on-sight inspections,
monitor the activities of suspicious groups by making them submit
reports and publicize their findings.

Rather than revising the existing Antisubversive Activities Law to cope
with cult-related problems, Nonaka said the government is specifically
targeting Aum, whose resurgence has led to serious confrontations with
local governments and residents.

In January 1997, the Public Security Commission rejected a request from
the Justice Ministry's Public Security Investigation Agency to outlaw
Aum under the Antisubversive Activities Law. It said there was not
enough evidence of "future danger" to justify application of the law.
But Aum's recent moves have caused the Justice Ministry to study ways
to legally cope with the cult.

15. Fuji TV crew scares anti-Aum villagers
Daily Yomiuri, Sep. 5, 1999
A Fuji TV film crew caught entering a property in a forest in
Kawakamimura, Nagano Prefecture, without permission received a verbal
warning from local police for disturbing local residents concerned
about the possibility of Aum Supreme Truth cult members trying to
establish a center there, it was learned Saturday.

The representatives raised the alarm when they found out the men were
neither residents nor people working nearby. Shortly after 4 p.m.,
police confirmed that the men were staff of the FNN Super News program.

=== Scientology

16. Scientology's Revenge
New Times LA, Sep. 9, 1999 (6,274 words)
For years, the Cult Awareness Network [the real CAN] was the Church of Scientology's
biggest enemy. But the late L. Ron Hubbard's L.A.-based religion cured
that -- by taking it over [the cult's CAN].

The story of how the controversial L.A.-based church -- which Time
magazine once termed "the cult of greed" -- commandeered the anti-cult
group that was its nemesis is as bizarre as some of late church founder
L. Ron Hubbard's science fiction. It is also a cautionary tale for
anyone who goes up against Scientology, with its penchant for harassing
enemies in the courts, and its rough-and-tumble reputation for
retaliating against "suppressives," those deemed as having ridiculed
Scientology's teachings.

But the ultimate indignity for the anti-cult crusaders occurred earlier
this year in a Chicago courtroom. Already having vanquished CAN,
appropriated its name, and moved its offices from Illinois to within
blocks of Scientology headquarters in Hollywood, lawyers with ties to
the church moved to take possession of 20 years' worth of CAN's highly
sensitive case files. Filling more than 150 boxes, the materials
contained names, addresses, and detailed information on thousands of
people who had turned to CAN for help in rescuing their friends and

Incredibly, the foundation's chairman, who is also the chairman of the
new CAN, is the old CAN's most indefatigable enemy, a self-described
Baptist minister named George Robertson.

Since transporting the files to L.A. barely two months ago, the new
Scientology-backed CAN has begun the arduous task of organizing and
archiving them. It intends to hand over to each of the many groups
targeted by the old CAN copies of all the documents that pertain to
those groups, says Nancy O'Meara, the new CAN's treasurer and office
manager. A 25-year veteran of Scientology, O'Meara sees the old CAN as
made up of hate-mongers bent on persecuting any group they didn't like.

Citing the old CAN's "reign of terror," she scarcely conceals her glee
at the prospect that some of the formerly targeted groups may want to
use the newly obtained materials to pursue lawsuits or even criminal

Even if George Robertson had never heard of the Church of Scientology,
there's ample reason for him to be resentful of the original CAN.
As an associate of the Reverend Carl H. Stevens Jr., founder of a
now-defunct religious ministry called The Bible Speaks, the 58-year-old
Robertson had been affiliated with a group that CAN had persistently
decried as a dangerous cult.

Using Robertson's church as a beachhead, Stevens established a new
ministry called the Greater Grace World Outreach. In 1987, the church
bought an abandoned shopping center in Baltimore for use as its
headquarters and as the campus for the church-affiliated Maryland
College of the Bible and Seminary. Robertson is the school's vice

"My issue is freedom of religion," he says. "CAN is totally independent
of the Church of Scientology."

Yet the new CAN appears to be run by Scientologists, for Scientology.
Its two most visible representatives and those responsible for its
day-to-day operation, O'Meara and Bagley, are members of the church.

On a wall is a map of the United States that shows the locations of
academics and other experts to which O'Meara and others who answer
CAN's phones link callers needing more information. The list is a who's
who of what the anti-cult movement would describe as cult apologists:
Maloney, Shupe, J. Gordon Melton at UC Santa Barbara, and a dozen
others, including CAN's very own Robertson. Listening to her, one gets
the impression O'Meara has never met a cult she didn't like.

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

17. Scientology vs. InfoSekta
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Tages-Anzeiger (Switzerland), Sep. 8, 1999
Translation: German Scientology News
Scientologist Peter Thalmann is demanding from City Council that the
city discontinue subsidies of 20,000 Swiss franks annually [about
$14,000] to the InfoSekta Sect Counselling Center. His argument is that
religious freedom is being violated with the supporting funds. Middle
school teacher Thalmann, who calls himself an L. Ron Hubbard PR
Representative (Hubbard is the found of Scientology), has submitted an
individual initiative on this account.

The individual initiative is another broadside which the Scientologists
have been firing at independent sect counselling centers.

18. French Justice Ministry investigates destruction of Scientology
CNN, Sep. 8, 1999
France's Justice Ministry opened an investigation Wednesday into the
destruction of key evidence against the Church of Scientology in a
Marseille court, according to judicial sources. Marseille court
officials alerted the Justice Ministry to the removal of more than
three tons of evidence in August, the sources said on customary
condition of anonymity.

The documents relate to an investigation opened in 1990 against
regional Scientology leaders in the southern coastal cities of
Marseille and Nice for fraud and the illegal practice of medicine.
Seven of those leaders are scheduled to go on trial Sept. 20. The
destruction of the evidence will not delay the trial, the sources said.

According to a lawyer representing the plaintiff, a former
Scientologist, the evidence destroyed includes financial statements,
notes concerning Scientology members and apparatus known as
"electrometers," designed to measure "self-control."

France registers the church on a list of 173 groups that should be
tracked to prevent cult activities. Most other European countries also
don't accept it as a religion.

19. Files destroyed in Scientology case
The Guardian (England), Sep. 9, 1999
France's continuing battle with the Church of Scientology took a
bizarre twist yesterday as the justice ministry announced an inquiry
into the mysterious destruction of more than 3.5 tonnes of evidence
against the organisation held in a Marseille courthouse.

According to the state prosecutor the evidence, including dozens of
sealed files, was apparently shredded through the negligence of a court
clerk, not as a deliberate attempt to affect the outcome of a case
against several Scientology leaders in the south of France.

But the incident follows the suspicious disappearance last year of one
and a half volumes of a 10-volume mass of evidence against the church
in an almost identical case in Paris.

The office of the prime minister, Lionel Jospin, issued an immediate
statement: "The question must once again be asked as to whether certain
services of the state have not been infiltrated by sects. Such a
question cannot afford to wait long for an answer."

20. Loss of Scientology Files Studied
New York Times, Sep. 9, 1999
(...) An appeals court in Paris is widely expected to rule on Sept. 29
in a similar case against the Church of Scientology in which evidence
also disappeared.

The lawyer, Jean-Michel Pesenti, raised doubts about the court's
contention that the files were accidentally destroyed. "We can imagine
anything," Pesenti said. "Why not an infiltration by Scientology?"

=== Other News

21. Task Force Considers Recruiting On Campus
Washington Post, Sep. 8, 1999
(...) Rausch and Colvin are among those who have made their voices
heard at meetings of a special task force set up by Maryland Gov.
Parris N. Glendening (D) to look into activities of certain groups at
the state's public schools and universities.

The task force's recommendations on how the state's public campuses
should handle what the committee calls destructive groups could
eventually lead to legislation affecting the campus activities of
certain groups.

In its meetings over the last two months, the task force has heard
testimony from more than 100 individuals, whose concerns include First
Amendment rights and the need to protect students on campuses.

Members of the Seventh-day Adventists and Unification Church have filed
a federal lawsuit in Baltimore against the task force, saying it is
violating constitutional rights and conducting a "religious
inquisition." One of the lawsuit's plaintiffs, Unification Church
member Alex Colvin, said: "The resolution is unconstitutional. The
state does not have the power to determine what a religion is."

But Les Baker, one of the parents who petitioned the General Assembly,
says the problem is extensive at state university campuses in Towson,
Bowie and College Park, where his daughter, whom he doesn't want
identified, was recruited to the ICOC when she was 19.

His feelings are shared by Denny Gulick, a professor of mathematics at
College Park who has been working with former members of cults on
campus since 1984. He believes that the faculty and staff at
universities ought to be educated about cults so they can better help

A survey done by the Department of Resident Life at College Park in
1997 showed that 35 percent of the students on campus had been invited
to join cults, and 21 percent knew someone who had joined a cult.

22. Making things right
New Bedford Standard Times, Sep. 5, 1999
(...) Bought approximately two months ago, the dilapidated former
nursing home will be used to assist families or individuals who have
left groups such as the Children of God, Twelve Tribes and the House of Yahweh.

Ms. Barba said many of the people who volunteered for the work day were
once members of high-pressure religious groups and had suffered
tremendously when they chose to leave.

Marie Brown, administrative assistant for the institute, and former
member of The Way International, a Bible-based group, said she
initially joined the The Way because it offered something she was

"You have two options when you question the authority in a group like
The Way," she said. "Either you repent for questioning (authority) or
you leave. We chose to leave."

Ms. Barba said after people leave, they don't usually get the help they
need to survive outside the community. The safe-haven house will offer
counseling and other services to teach people how to again become
functioning members of society.

The institute anticipates opening in a year and assisting 20 to 25
people in a three-month, "fast-track" program.

[Story no longer online? Read this]

23. Sacrifice Zone
When the country's prison chaplains need to understand Santeria, they come
to Denver. Where else?
Denver Westword, Sep. 2, 1999 (3,870 words)
(...) Ramirez's visitors are all men and women of the cloth. And in a
way, so is his friend Garcia. He's a santero, a priest in the
Afro-Cuban religion of Santeria, "the Way of the Saints" -- and Ramirez
is one of the region's major suppliers of Santeria goods.

Although BOP officials estimate that only 361 of the almost 125,000
people currently incarcerated in federal prisons claim Santeria as
their faith, this year the bureau will send a total of ninety chaplains
to Denver for Santeria familiarization.

"This is training," says Susan Van Baalen, the BOP's chaplain
administrator, who's accompanied the first group to Ramirez's botanica.
"Our purpose is to train the chaplains, because it's not a religion
they're familiar with. We want to train them so they know what to look
for and can comprehend the religion."

And not only will they learn about Santeria, but they'll be able to buy
some of the items necessary for its practice.

24. Prince of Darkness
New Times LA, Aug. 26, 1999
Adam Parfrey -- founder of the strange and influential publisher Feral
House -- is getting impatient with the person on the other end of the
phone, a young man who's confused as to why he hasn't gotten the books
he ordered on the Internet.

"These retarded people will buy anything with Satanism in the title."

He's not complaining, he quickly points out. Satan is important to him.
Books by and about Anton LaVey -- the late founder of the San
Francisco-based Church of Satan -- serve as cash cows for Feral House,
much as cookbooks and best-selling legal thrillers keep some major New
York publishers afloat.

25. Gold Dust Phenomenon Stirs Up Questions Among Charismatics
Charisma News, Sep 8, 1999

[...Does God give people Gold Teeth and Gold Dust?...]

(...) Two independent tests on samples of the gold-colored dust that
falls from Silvania Machado's head during services have found the
substance to be more like plastic glitter, with no gold content.

But Machado, who attributes the manifestation to her divine healing
from cancer, is untroubled by the conclusions of the analyses carried
out on behalf of "Charisma" magazine. "To me, it doesn't matter what it
is as long as it's from God," she said. "Some people focus on the signs
instead of the fruit. I must continue to share with the world what God
has done in my life and the life of my family."

In May, John Arnott of the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship (TACF)
canceled a scheduled four-day appearance by Machado after sending a
sample of the flecks that cascaded from her head on the first night for
testing. A geochemist at the University of Toronto concluded the specks
did not contain any gold or platinum but were some type of plastic

"Charisma" had two samples of Machado's gold dust analyzed by the U.S.
Geological Survey in Washington, D.C. Both were deemed to be plastic
film with no traces of gold, platinum or silver.

Meanwhile, churches also are reporting incidents in which people's
silver fillings are being miraculously renewed or even replaced by gold
ones. A number of cases have been documented and verified at TACF,
reinforcing Arnott's decision not to continue the Machado meetings. "I
didn't want to have her here because we have had far too much of the
real thing--gold teeth and gold dust--to have something suspect," he

A full report on the gold dust and gold teeth phenomena will appear in
the November 1999 issue of "Charisma." The article contains an
account--documented by dental records--of an Oklahoma woman who
received seven gold crowns during a healing service in Tulsa six months

26. Waiting for Apocalypse, Militia Falls on Hard Times
Washington Times, Sep. 9, 1999
These are not easy times for Norman Olson and his splinter group of
self-described patriot guerrillas, the Northern Michigan Regional
Militia. Winter will be settling in before long, and not far behind it
the worldwide chaos and lawlessness that Olson believes will be
triggered by the Year 2000 computer bug. The statewide armed force of
militant patriots he co-founded five years ago is in disarray, riven by
internal squabbling and defections following the bombing of the Alfred
P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in April 1995.

Olson's frustration underscores a situation faced not only by his own
struggling militia faction but also by the militant armed wings of the
patriot movement across the nation. The groups often depend on
publicized confrontations with law enforcement for the legitimacy they
crave among like-minded sympathizers, but for several years have found
themselves without them.

27. News About Montessori 'Cold Shower'
Volkskrant, Sep. 8, 1999 (Dutch-language only)
Unofficial translation: Anton Hein
News that education reformer Maria Montessori maintained close
ties with Italian facism has made an impact within the Montessori
education movement.

The connection between Montessori and Mussolini is described in
a thesis by pedagogue H. Leenders, and is based on previously
unresearched archive material.

"First we make the news because we allegedly aren't getting
acceptable results with our eduction method, and now this," sighs
F. Renz, director of the 14th Montessori school in Amsterdam.

Van Haren [director of the Montessori school in Oosterhout]
emhasized that during his Montessori eduction in the eighties
he never heard about the fascist sympathies of the Italian
eduction reformer. "I did not know any better or she has
distantiated herself from fascism and had fled Italy for that

Amsterdam academic G. Heyting is less shocked by the
revelations. "Among historians Montessori is seen as a pragmatic
lady, who was clever at selling her ideas within the existing societal

28. Small Turnout for Peaceful NYC Rally
New York Times, Sep. 4, 1999
The second Million Youth March drew about 2,000 people to the streets
of Harlem on Saturday after weeks of name-calling and a legal
tug-of-war between organizers and city officials. The rally was calm
in contrast to last year's march, which ended in a bottle-throwing
melee and 28 injuries after police in riot gear tried to enforce a
court-ordered curfew.

This year's crowd was barely a third of last year's turnout of 6,000.
Harlem politicians had encouraged a boycott of the march after Muhammad
-- a former Nation of Islam spokesman fired for his anti-Semitic
comments -- made inflammatory statements during the Million Youth
March's debut last year.

Attorney Malik Shabazz, another rally organizer, held up a picture of
the mayor at the rally Saturday and told the crowd, ``We charge this
man with crimes against the black nation!'' ``Guilty! Guilty!'' some
shouted back.

Shabazz also made anti-Semitic remarks and told the crowd, ``The only
solution any time there is a funeral in the black community is a
funeral in the police community.''

29. London-based Muslim calls for holy war
The Sunday Times, Sep. 5, 1999
A Muslim cleric is running the risk of being deported after calling for
attacks with biological weapons on western targets. Omar Bakri
Muhammad, a refugee and father of seven living in north London, has
emerged as the extreme voice of international Muslim fanaticism. He is
a friend of Abu Hamza, the mullah with metal claws for hands, who was
linked to the Britons imprisoned in Yemen on terrorist charges.
In an open letter read out in mosques across Britain and published on
the internet, Bakri called on Muslims to rise up in a jihad, or holy
war, against America and its allies.

Bakri, who has claimed disability benefit and income support, addressed
his call to Osama Bin Laden, the terrorist suspected of bombing two
American embassies and murdering 256 people. Bakri invited Bin Laden to
"aim your weapons at occupying forces". "May Allah protect you and
grant you victory," he said. He later advocated the use of germ agents
against westerners occupying holy lands. The letter was taken off the
internet after American officials complained.

30. U.S. Criticizes Countries For Religious Intolerance
Excite, Sep. 9, 1999
The United States Thursday released its first annual report on
religious freedom worldwide, concluding that much of the world's
population lives in countries in which religious freedoms are somehow

Many of the countries named, including China and Afghanistan, regularly
show up on the annual U.S. list of overall human rights abusers. But
the religious freedom report also cites a number of U.S. allies,
including Saudi Arabia and Egypt, for intolerance.

The report, written by the State Department, said although 144
countries are parties to the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights, "there remains in some countries a substantial
difference between promise and practice."

* The report is found here:

[Story no longer online? Read this]

Personal comment: In the area of human rights abuses, the USA
itself shows a substantial difference between promise and practice:
[Story no longer online? Read this]

31. Perspective on the year 2000
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Los Angeles Times, Sep. 6, 1999
(...) Is it too late to do anything? It never is. Plan a meal for Jan.
1, 2000. Think about how to celebrate this date with dignity and
profundity rather than silly excitement and equally superficial
avoidance. We stand on the dawn of the first global millennium. It can
be a great and life-giving moment; it can be a catastrophe; and we may
well be able to muddle through. The choice is ours. Let me suggest we
make interesting choices, not either dull or dangerous ones.

Know how to answer the madman and ask hard but helpful questions of
people with vision. And if enough of us start to pay attention, then
maybe we can prepare better for the real "first year of the new
millennium"--2001. As always where millennialism is concerned, there is
always an extension to deadline.

Richard Landes Is Director of the Center of Millennial Studies at
Boston University. Web Site: Http://www.mille.org
[Story no longer online? Read this]

32. Mississippi preacher devotes life to birthing red heifer in Israel
Jewish Telegraph Agency, Sep. 2, 1999
If Clyde Lott has his way, several hundred cows will fly to Israel this
December. And the Mississippi preacher has some unlikely allies in his
quest: Jews living in Israel and the West Bank.

The cows, the first of what Lott hopes will be 50,000 sent to the
Jewish state, are part of his plan to fulfill a biblical prophecy that
a red heifer be born in Israel to bring about the ``Second Coming" of
Jesus. The return of Jesus is part of a Christian apocalyptic vision of
the end of time, which includes the slaughter of those who don't accept
the Christian messiah as their savior.

Lott and the members of the Temple Institute, which is headed by Rabbi
Chaim Richman, didn't talk about their religious differences,
preferring to focus on their common desires to help Israel prosper and
see a red heifer born in the Jewish state. Given modern technology and
Lott's efforts to export an American breed of red angus cow, hundreds
of red heifers could be born in Israel.

The birth of a red heifer would ``unquestionably be seen as a sign from
God to take further steps in rebuilding the Temple," says Richard
Landes, the head of Boston University's Center for Millennial Studies,
which is on the Web at www.mille.org

This could have disastrous political implications because rebuilding
the Temple on Jerusalem's Temple Mount, which contains several Muslim
holy sites, could antagonize the entire Arab world.

Lott's project is not the only one in which Israelis and Christians are
working together to birth red heifers in the Jewish state. At least two
other American Christians are breeding similar cows in the United
States in hopes of bringing them to Israel, according to Gershon
Solomon, the leader of the Temple Mount Faithful, another group
dedicated to rebuilding the Temple.

The Temple Institute, which is no longer working on the project and
declined to say why, helped connect Lott with cattle ranchers both in
Israel and the West Bank.

=== Noted

33. Orthodox Church in America discovers an evangelical soul
Post-Gazette Sep. 5, 1999
Orthodox Christians in North America "are now going through our own
Great Awakening," the Serbian Orthodox primate of the United States
told 100 people at a conference on Orthodox missions and evangelism.

For the first time in 100 years, there is a growing vision for a truly
American expression of Orthodoxy, said Metropolitan Christopher of the
Serbian Orthodox Church of Midwestern America. Beyond that, he said, an
unexpected influx of evangelical Protestant converts to Orthodoxy has
enabled its churches to look beyond their own ethnic communities and
preach the gospel to all who need to hear it.

In the past decade the Antiochian archdiocese has started 65 new
churches, bringing its total to 250. Active membership has increased
from 225,000 to 250,000, said the Rev. Peter Gillquist, archdiocesan
director of missions and evangelism and one of the original evangelical

Gillquist had expected that most clergy converts who followed his group
into Orthodoxy would be Episcopalians and Lutherans with an affinity
for Orthodox liturgy. But 80 percent are evangelicals and charismatics
seeking a deeper experience of worship, roots in Christian history and
a relationship with the saints, Gillquist said. The remaining 20
percent are mainline Protestants who believe their denominations have
lost their biblical moorings.

34. Lucky Stars? Trusting Your Fate to Astrology Leaves a Lot to the
Washington Post, Sep. 8, 1999
(...) That's all the basic input astrologers use: the date and time of
your birth. (Long ago, some forms of astrology used the date of
conception, but that turned out to be hard to pin down.) That's a bit
like letting an automobile mechanic diagnose what's wrong with your car
based solely on its gas mileage.

Astrology boasts of being a mature discipline, perfected since the time
of the famous Egyptian astronomer Ptolemy more than 1,800 years ago. Of
course, three planets have been discovered since then. But that's the
least of the credibility problems astrology faces.

Perhaps the most profound is that even astrologers have no plausible
explanation whatsoever for how arbitrary patterns of dots in the sky,
or even comparatively nearby planets, might conceivably influence a
human being at birth or any time thereafter.

With notoriety came scrutiny by scholars. However, because astrological
predictions are not falsifiable, they are well-nigh impossible to test.
Nonetheless, numerous studies have been conducted. A good list of
recent papers can be found at


These tests are mostly statistical, that is, they try to establish
whether astrologers' assertions and predictions are correct more often
than would be expected by chance alone. The impression from a brief
overview is that almost all results are negative or inconclusive. Even
those that imply positive correlations between predictions and outcomes
are tantalizingly open to hedging or interpretation.

=== Books

35. Pres. Hinckley writes book aimed at general readers
Deseret News, Sep. 1, 1999
LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley will publish a book to be
released early next year aimed not only at Mormons but directed to "a
general audience in contemporary America." "Stand for Something," to
be published by Times Books, a Random House imprint, is scheduled for
release in March 2000, according to LDS Church spokesman Dale Bills.

The book will reportedly address three topics - integrity, faith and
family - presumably with much the same approach President Hinckley has
used during his tenure as church president to explain the church's
teachings to a worldwide audience.

LDS Church-owned Deseret Book traditionally publishes titles by LDS
general authorities, but those books are generally geared to an LDS

36. Media Gets Story of Columbine Teen
Washington Times, Sep. 9, 1999
Her daughter's life cut short in a burst of gunfire at Columbine High
School, Misty Bernall searched for the best way to tell the world what
it had just lost. She found inspiration in the slain teen's own
example. Rather than lock up a book deal with a publishing colossus,
Mrs. Bernall turned to Plough Publishing House, an obscure, nonprofit
publisher with an annual average of 10 titles and revenue of $1

Based in Farmington, Pa., Plough has fewer than 40 employees. It is
owned by the Bruderhof community, a religious sect formed in Germany in
the 1920s and expelled during the Nazi regime.

Today the group, which aims to live as much like first century
Christians as possible, has about 2,500 members in eight communities in
the United States and Southern Europe.

Unable to handle distribution on its own, Plough has split up rights of
the books. Word Publishing, a unit of the Nashville, Tenn., publisher
Thomas Nelson, will have the rights to sell the book in Christian
bookstores and major discount chain stores. Doubleday Direct, a unit of
Bertelsmann AG, has the book club rights.

37. Falun Gong
[Story no longer online? Read this]
What the religious leader who made China tremble has to say for himself.
Salon, Sep. 8, 1999
(...) What accounts for such widespread appeal? Most of Li's followers
come to his teachings through two books, "Zhuan Falun" ("Rotating the
Law Wheel"), and "China Falun Gong" -- tracts that set established
religious tradition on its ear by dispensing with concerns of
reincarnation and the afterlife and promising salvation to individuals
while they're still walking this earth (a journey, by the way, that Li
promises to prolong).

Though Falun Gong, like most Eastern teachings, includes no mention of
an omnipotent god, Li's messianic requirement that his followers put
their faith in him and only in him harks back to Christianity's early
days. Also reminiscent of Western religion are Li's accounts of his own
miracles -- though much of "Zhuan Falun" is devoted to why such things
cannot be displayed to the faithful, and why the "supernatural powers"
that can be achieved through high-level cultivation are never to be

But despite Li's own bold claims, he is not one to tolerate any rival
theories that might come down the pike. "Do not read those heterodox
qigong books," he warns. "Do not even open them at all." And despite
the role the Internet has played in spreading Falun Gong, he isn't
likely to argue that information wants to be free. "Zhuan Falun" is
filled with demur explanations of why acolytes may not be told of this
or that aspect of what lies behind his teachings.

* China Falun Gong
by Hongzhi Li

Zhuan Falun (Revolving The Law Wheel)
by Hongzhi Li, Research Society Of Falun Xiulian Dafa

38. 'Screwtape Letters' imitated in e-mail
Toledo Blade, Sep. 4, 1999
If C.S. Lewis were to write The Screwtape Letters today, his collection
of fictional missives from a senior to a junior demon probably would be
in the form of e-mail. That's what Don Hawkins thought when, five
years ago, he began working on a contemporary imitation of Lewis's
famous 1941 volume. In fact, his working title was The Screwtape

Dr. Hawkins's completed project has been published by Kregel
Publications of Grand Rapids, Mich., as flambeau@darkcorp.com, a series
of 13 confidential e-mail memos from Scraptus, a vice president at the
diabolical Darkcorp, to Flambeau, a regional manager. In them, Scraptus
advises Flambeau how to turn the hostile takeover of one of his clients
by the "Competition" into an acquisition.

But where Lewis focuses on a demon's efforts to subvert one person, Dr.
Hawkins, co-host and producer of radio's Back to the Bible program, has
enlarged the model to include instructions for subversion of a local
church, portrayed as a "Local Competition Unit" in the book.

So in addition to getting his client back, Flambeau is instructed to go
after the client's associates. He is told to disrupt the influence of
the Competition's Business Manual (the Bible) by appealing to such
basic human behaviors as criticism, manipulation, gossip,
discouragement, intimidation, sarcasm, stonewalling, flirtation, and

Dr. Hawkins, 53, a church pastor for 19 years, said he wrote the book
to call churches to a new level of insight and awareness about how such
behaviors can impact congregations.

flambeau@darkcorp.com is the second work of fiction for Dr. Hawkins,
who is best known for his nonfiction books, including How to Beat
Burnout, Friends in Deed, and Master Discipleship. His wife, Kathy,
also is an author who has written three books in Kregel's "Heart of
Zion" fiction series.

=== Internet

39. When criticism is called "terrorism"
Just after drinking my morning tea, I opened my e-mailbox and
discovered that a document had been placed on a website in which I was
called an extreme extreme terrorist.

To my amazement, I also discovered that I belonged to an "anti-cult"
conspiracy, involving "secular humanists" and members of the political
Left, right-wing European Identity promoters, Islamic fundamentalists,
Latin American guerrillas, defenders of free speech and American
Evangelicals, a plot backed by the French secret services. For some
reason, the Illuminati were not listed among my accomplices.

What makes this document peculiar is the fact that these allegations
were made in what purports to be an "academic paper," on "Anti-Cult
Terrorism via the Internet", presented on August 5, 1999, at the annual
conference of the Association for Sociology of Religion (ASR) in
Chicago, by Italian lawyer Massimo Introvigne.

[*] My comments here refer to the state of Introvigne's text as it was
on the CESNUR website on August 7, 1999. Although it purports to be the
text of a speech delivered on August 5, it apparently has a habit of
undergoing little changes which "adapt" it to criticism.

* Introvigne's paper: "So Many Evil Things": Anti-Cult Terrorism via
the Internet


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