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Religion News Report

November 16, 1999 (Vol. 3, Issue 133)

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As most of these items stay online for only a day or two, URLs to the original stories are provided here as inactive links. If you can not find a story online, Read this.

Linked to A-Z Index       Added to Database

=== Waco/Branch Davidians
1. Testing ordered to see if agents fired on Davidian compound
2. Court asked to supervise Waco tests

=== Aum Shinrikyo
3. Asahara OK'd cremation of cultist
4. AUM cultist gets life
5. Aum follower gets life for role in sarin attack

=== Falun Gong/Qigong
6. Members of banned sect in China send appeals to visiting U.N.
7. Sect hunger-strikers
8. Sect's Low-Level Officials Get Long Prison Terms
9. Sole qigong [web site closed]

=== Scientology
10. Scientology leader jailed for fraud
11. Court finds French scientologists guilty of fraud
12. French scientologists guilty of fraud
13. Scientologists Convicted in France
14. France warns Denmark about Scn
15. Board to soften drug resolution
16. Not Being CAN-did
17. Years after he left, Scientology still has not worn off
18. Suggestive Questions from Littauerberg
19. A problem with Scientology in the house of Luschkov
20. Caution, rat catchers at work

=== Breatharianism
21. Air Cult Couple On Death Charge

=== Shakty Pat Guru Foundation/Life Space ("Sathya Sai Baba")
22. Japanese cultist insists mummified dad is alive
23. Cops unwrap mummy mystery

=== Unification Church
24. Body of Rev. Moon's son to be taken to Korea

=== Hate Groups
25. Racist Enters Boulder County, Colo., Debate over Hate-Crime Prosecution
(David Duke)
26. Court Rejects White Supremacist (Matthew Hale)

=== Odinism
27. Religious Group Lashes Out at FBI Report: Cites Violation of First
Amendment Rights

=== Word-Faith Movement
28. Church gifts to Georgia policeofficers raise questions (Creflo Dollar)

=== Other News
29. Bloody Event Relics To Be Auctioned (Heaven's Gate)
30. A Sect's Political Rise Creates Uneasiness in Japan (Soka Gakkai)
31. Nidwalden: controversial sect meets on the "Buergenstock"
(Association for Health and Personality Development)
32. Guilty Plea in Church Arsons
33. Refugees of polygamy band together for action
34. N.Y. County Loses Battle to Atheist
35. Mexicans, Americans flocking to late faith healer's town (El Nino
36. Bible Belt has nation's worst divorce rate

=== Religious Pluralism / Interfaith / Interdenomination
37. Muslim neighbourhoods proposed to revive rundown city suburbs
38. That's not faith, that's provocation
39. U.S. Christians Urged to Get Involved With Other Faiths

=== Religion Freedom / Religious Intolerance
40. Crackdown on churches planned, claims Vatican

=== Education
41. Guide explains how to teach Bible legally
42. Evolution Questioned in Okla.

=== Noted
43. Tracking Down What Jesus Said
44. The heal thing (Lyanla Vanzant)
45. Y2K revelations: Many Christian leaders back off from `doomsday hysteria'

=== Books
46. Apocalypse Now [books by Walter Laquer and Robert Jay Lifton]
47. Edgar Cayce's story, and troubles, in his own words

=== The Believers Around The Corner
48. The Martha Mantra

=== Waco/Branch Davidians

1. Testing ordered to see if agents fired on Davidian compound
Dallas Morning News, Nov. 16, 1999
Turning aside prolonged federal objections, a U.S. district judge on Monday
ordered independent field testing to help determine whether government agents
fired at the Branch Davidian compound in the last hours of a 1993 siege.

U.S. District Judge Walter S. Smith Jr. of Waco issued a three-page order
late Monday saying that he was "persuaded" by arguments from Branch Davidian
lawyers and the office of special counsel John Danforth that the tests are
needed to resolve whether flashes of light recorded by FBI infrared cameras
came from government gunfire.

FBI officials say none of their agents fired a gunshot during the 51-day
standoff, and flashes recorded by an airborne FBI infrared camera just before
the Branch Davidian compound burned were inexplicable electronic "anomalies."

But FBI officials secretly offered to conduct private tests for Mr. Danforth
and his investigators, even as Justice Department lawyers last month rejected
a proposal by the Branch Davidians' lawyers for a joint public test,
according a Nov. 5 letter to the court from Mr. Danforth's office.

Those actions and a warning from Justice Department lawyers that they planned
to use national security exemptions to withhold data needed to ensure
accurate public tests prompted Mr. Danforth's office on Nov. 5 to seek a
court-supervised test.

The special counsel's office also has asked the FBI to turn over its hundreds
of guns deployed at Waco for ballistics comparisons and other testing.
Officials said they are still working out the logistics to ensure that the
"precise" weapons are surrendered but expect to comply. Those weapons could
be used in the court-supervised infrared tests.

Mike Caddell, the Branch Davidians' lead lawyer, said the decision could
prove key to the sect's efforts to prove the government should be held at
least partially to blame for the tragedy.

"It again demonstrates that Judge Smith wants to get at the truth," he said.
"If they really believe that's not gunfire on that video, then the
government's lawyers should embrace this test with open arms."
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]

2. Court asked to supervise Waco tests
Dallas Morning News, Nov. 11, 1999
Throwing its weight behind lawyers for the Branch Davidians, the Waco special
counsel's office is asking for court-supervised tests to determine if flashes
recorded by FBI infrared cameras in the last hours of the 1993 siege came
from government gunfire.

The request came less than two weeks after the Justice Department flatly
rejected a proposal by the Branch Davidians' lawyers for joint field tests.
Justice warned that such testing would be hopelessly flawed without key data
that the government is withholding as national security secrets.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]

=== Aum Shinrikyo

3. Asahara OK'd cremation of cultist
Mainichi Daily News (Japan), Nov. 11, 1999
Shoko Asahara, guru of the AUM Shinrikyo doomsday cult, on trial for murder
in the 1995 Tokyo nerve gas attack, testified at court on Wednesday that he
had ordered that one of cult members, who had been killed, be cremated in

When asked if it were true that he had ordered the body to be burned by
Kiyohide Hayakawa, 50, a former top member of the cult, he replied that
cremation is customary in Japan, so "I had him incinerated."
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]

4. AUM cultist gets life
Mainichi Daily News (Japan), Nov 13, 1999
A senior AUM Shinrikyo cultist was given a life prison term Friday for
dropping off a cultist - who later released deadly sarin gas on a subway
train - at a Tokyo station.

Thirty-one-year-old Koichi Kitamura, deputy head of the cult's self-styled
"home affairs ministry," was convicted by the Tokyo District Court of murder
and attempted murder in connection with the 1995 gassing and harboring a cult
member wanted for abduction.

Kitamura's crime had been murder because he was aware that cooperation with
other cult members would lead to the death of subway passengers.

During earlier court hearings, Kitamura denied intending to murder anyone,
saying he simply "aided and abetted the murder at the instruction" of
higher-ranking cult members.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]

5. Aum follower gets life for role in sarin attack
Daily Yomiuri (Japan), Nov. 13, 1999
(...) Kimura said that Kitamura participated in the crime knowing that sarin
was a deadly poison and he clearly intended to kill others.

"The role he played as a driver was essential to the crime," he said, but
added that Kitamura was not sentenced to death because, "he was in a position
to obey Matsumoto and others following Matsumoto's commands.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]

=== Falun Gong/Qigong

6. Members of banned sect in China send appeals to visiting U.N.
San Francisco Gate, Nov. 15, 1999
Members of the banned Falun Gong sect have appealed to visiting U.N.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan to organize a U.N. team to make an independent
study of the group, a Hong Kong-based human rights monitor said Monday.

The letters argue that the rights of Falun Gong members have been violated
through illegal detentions and beatings in custody, the Information Center
said. They also ask the United Nations to send observers to trials of Falun
Gong leaders.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]

7. Sect hunger-strikers
Yahoo! Asia/AP, Nov. 14, 1999
Prosecutors have indicted seven hunger-striking members of the banned Falun
spiritual movement as part of a government plan to put an estimated 300
group leaders on trial by month's end, a Hong Kong-based rights group
reported yesterday.

Mainland authorities opened an expected wave of show trials on Friday, using
a seven-hour hearing in Hainan province to convict and sentence four
"backbone'' members to prison terms ranging from two to 12 years.

Scores of rank-and-file believers who refused to recant were sent without
trial to labour camps.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]

8. Sect's Low-Level Officials Get Long Prison Terms
San Francisco Chronicle, Nov. 13, 1999
In the first trial singling out the outlawed Falun Gong spiritual movement,
China sentenced four of its lower-level officials to prison terms of up to 12
years yesterday.

The tough sentences handed out to relatively minor sect leaders yesterday
indicate that senior Falun Gong officials awaiting trial will receive harsh

In Washington, State Department spokesman James Rubin called the convictions
a "step in the wrong direction.'' "We have no reason to believe that the
individuals involved have done anything other than exercise their
internationally recognized human rights to freedom of assembly,'' he said.
"We've made that view known to the Chinese.''

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in Tokyo that he was concerned about
the government's treatment of Falun Gong members and he would discuss the
matter with Chinese leaders when he visits Beijing beginning tomorrow.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]

9. Sole qigong
Yahoo! Asia, Nov. 15, 1999
The mainland's sole official qigong website was closed down days ago,
indicating the authorities' determination to wipe out qigong organisations
across the country.

The move was also believed to be targeting Xiang Gong, another popular qigong
group that has a similar organisational structure to the banned Falun Gong
spiritual movement, according to a Hong Kong-based rights body.

Since Falun Gong was billed by the government as ``evil cult'', the
authorities have stepped up their crackdown against a dozen other qigong
organisations including Xiang Gong, which was earlier ordered to cancel its
1,200 liaison stations nationwide and banned from conducting any collective
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]

=== Scientology

10. Scientology leader jailed for fraud
The Guardian (England), Nov. 16, 1999
In another blow to the controversial Church of Scientology's battle to be
recognised as a religion rather than a sect, a French court yesterday found
one of its former leaders guilty of fraud and sentenced him to six months in

Xavier Delamare, a former regional Scientology leader in south-east France,
was given a further 18 month suspended sentence by the Marseille court while
four other members accused of fraud, violence and illegally practising
medicine were given suspended sentences of six months to a year.

The verdict marked the end of a decade-long investigation into the group's
activities in Marseille and Nice. Church officials were accused by former
members of selling bogus "purification" treatments costing between 1,200 and
15,000 but consisting mainly of sessions in the sauna, jogging and vitamin
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]

11. Court finds French scientologists guilty of fraud
Yahoo! Asia/AFP, Nov. 15, 1999
Monday, November 15 9:43 PM SGT
Five French scientologists were found guilty Monday of fraud and attempted
fraud and one of them was sentenced to six months in prison and fined 100,000
francs (16,000 dollars) for swindling people on behalf of the sect.

The court sentenced Xavier Delamare, 42, former head of Church of Scientology
centers in southern France, to two years in prison, with 18 months suspended,
and fined him for manipulating people into giving money for the church,
considered a sect in France.

Four other defendants in the case who were employed by the church were given
suspended prison sentences ranging from six months to a year. The court
acquitted two additional defendants.

All were accused of using shady practices between 1987 and 1990 to recruit
people and to extort money from them in exchange for expensive services
offered by the church founded by the late science-fiction author L. Ron

Some of these services included purification sessions and vitamin cures sold
at excessive prices, according to the prosecution.

A spokeswoman for the church denounced the verdict against Delamare.

"He served as a scapegoat in a case with serious political overtones," said
Daniele Gounord, a former head of the Church of Scientology in Paris and
herself cleared in a similar 1996 fraud case.

Prosecutors in the case had sought stiffer sentences against the defendants,
arguing that "beneath the religion there is a clear, institutionalised
business drift" in which church officials practised "mental manipulation" to
extort money from people with problems.

Delamare specifically was found guilty of manipulating a 34-year-old man with
psychological problems into abandoning his medical treatment in favour of a
vitamin cure. The man in addition was encouraged to borrow 30,000 francs from
his bank to purchase an "electrometre" supposed to detect areas where he was
feeling stressed. The man ended up in a psychiatric clinic.

So-called purification sessions offered by the church and costing between
2,000 and 24,000 dollars were also described as "worthless" and proof of a
"monstruous swindle" by prosecutors.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]

12. French scientologists guilty of fraud
BBC News, Nov. 15, 1999
(...) The charges against the seven defendants - who are alleged to have
obtained large sums of money from fellow sect-members by fraudulent means -
date back to the late 1980s.

They went on trial last September accused of accepting money for dubious
treatments organised for church members.

Some of these included 'purification' sessions and vitamin cures sold at
excessive prices, according to the prosecution. The case grew out of
complaints by a former scientologist.

Charges of violence and illegally practising medicine have been dropped.

Scientology is officially listed as a dangerous cult in France, and the case
has led to renewed calls for the organisation to be banned in the country.
Monday's verdict is a setback for the group's efforts to be recognised as a

In a statement after the verdict the scientologists accused the case of being
politically motivated.

The group says its members are subjected to slander and persecution. They
have appealed to the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe to
help them dissolve France's anti-sect unit.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]

13. Scientologists Convicted in France
AOL/AP, Nov. 15, 1999
(...) "This has been 10-year trial by Inquisition for the defendants,'' the
statement said. The Scientologists said they would continue to bring the case
to the attention of international human rights organizations.

Delamare's lawyer, Jean-Yves Le Borgne, said his client would take his time
before deciding whether to appeal.

The Scientologists were accused of allegedly accepting money for sham
"purification'' treatments that included going to a sauna, running races and
being given massive doses of vitamins.

The treatment proposed by the Scientologists cost between $2,000 and $25,000.

In a statement issued last week in Los Angeles, the Scientologists said they
had asked the Geneva-based International Commission of Jurists to look into
French efforts "to prejudice the rights of minority religious members to a
fair trial in France.''

The Scientologists already have appealed to the Organization for Security and
Cooperation in Europe for help in their goal of dissolving the French
government's anti-sect unit.

The Church of Scientology has complained of discrimination in France, where
they said members have been refused the right to open bank accounts and
teachers have been fired on the basis of their affiliation with Scientology.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]

14. France warns Denmark about Scn
Ritzau (Denmark), Nov. 13 1999
From: "Catarina Pamnell" <catarina@pamnell.com>
Newsgroups: alt.religion.scientology
Date: Tue, 16 Nov 1999 10:53:14 +0100

The government and parliament of France warns Denmark against recognizing
Scientology as an official congregation of faith, according to an article in
'Kristeligt Dagblad' Saturday.

Right now, Scientology is applying for recognition as a religion, which
traditionally brings tax reliefs.

- If Scientology achieves tax reliefs in Denmark, all other EU countries
have to follow their example, due to the EU legislation. We would consider
that a scandal, says Alain Vivien, who is the chairman of a committee for
the fight against cults.

- Danish politicians has to be aware of that they hold a European
responsibility. If Denmark chooses to accredit Scientology, it will be in
opposition of all other EU countries, says Vivien to 'Kristeligt Dagblad'.

The French parliament has in a report expressed similar concerns about
Denmark. Scientology is today not recognized as a religious congregation in
any EU country.

Alain Vivien has no doubts about that the reason that Scientology has chosen
to establish their European headquarters in Copenhagen, is that in Denmark
scientologists 'may do as they please'.

- The Danish position towards cults and totalitarian groups is very liberal.
It is almost - in contrast to France - a position of doing nothing at all,
says Vivien.

Church minister Margrethe Vestager says to 'Kristeligt Dagblad', that she is
awaiting the decision of an advisory board regarding the Scientology
application for recognition.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]

15. Board to soften drug resolution
Denver Post, Nov. 11, 1999
Members of the State Board of Education indicated Wednesday
they would soften a resolution about the use of psychiatric drugs by
schoolchildren. A vote on the resolution is expected at today's
meeting of the panel.

Mental-health advocates appeared before the board Wednesday to counter
a presentation last month by people who claim use of psychotropic drugs
causes school violence. On Tuesday, similar allegations about the medications
were voiced before an informal gathering of state senators and

Mental-health advocates see the latest developments as a new phase in a
long-standing assault on psychiatry with strong ties to the Church of

Dr. William Dodson, assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of
Colorado Health Sciences Center, told the education panel that while the
arguments they heard last month might sound convincing, "they were not
arguments based on fact. They were not arguments based on scientific proof.
They were not arguments that were true.''

Dodson refuted claims that ADHD is not a disease, noting that the American
Medical Association recognizes the disorder.

Dodson blamed Scientology for creating a phony issue about the use of the
medications by branding it "mind control.''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]

16. Not Being CAN-did
New Times LA, Nov. 11, 1999
I read with interest a letter from George Robertson, currently the "Chairman
of the Board" of the "Cult Awareness Network" ("The Empire Strikes Back, 2,"
Letters, Oct. 7-13). His letter concerned New Times' Sept. 9-15 cover story
"Scientology's Revenge" by Ron Russell.

Mr. Robertson refers to me in his letter, and I am well acquainted with his
work and background. We have met on several occasions. He is a member of a
controversial group, once named "The Bible Speaks," which is now called
"Greater Grace" of Baltimore. This organization has often been called a
"cult." George Robertson has also worked closely with Scientology for some
years and has been recommended by them as a "religious resource."

It has been said that for people like Mr. Robertson to now be seemingly in
charge of the Cult Awareness Network is analogous to "Operation Rescue"
taking over Planned Parenthood, or perhaps as perverse as the Ku Klux Klan
reorganizing the Anti-Defamation League.

George Robertson said: "'Exit counselor' Rick Ross, who stands six feet two
inches tall and weighs 180 pounds screamed at and insulted a
five-foot-three-inch, 100-pound Oriental woman until she cut off all contact
with her family" (New York Post, September 13, 1999). However, this is
actually very misleading. The Post did run a two-part story about a young
woman cut off from her family by a group called Yogaville. But Mr. Robertson
chose to quote only from her prepared statement submitted from Yogaville,
which was published in the Post. The young lady in question was in fact
treated courteously during our conversations, and there were numerous
witnesses. Her decision to "cut off all [meaningful] contact with her family"
preceded my involvement.

I have also received feedback about the current work of the Cult Awareness
Network. One individual wrote after contacting a woman there: "I did not
appreciate being deceived by [the CAN worker]. Especially when she admitted
upon direct questioning that she was a Scientologist. I told her to never
call me, I thought she was very deceptive."

By the way, though it is somewhat flattering that George Robertson and the
young woman who issued a statement to the New York Post somehow see me as
"six feet two inches tall and weigh[ing] 180 pounds," sadly I am not even
five feet nine inches tall and weigh only about 150 pounds.

Your readers can find a wealth of information about both the new Cult
Awareness Network and Scientology by simply browsing the Internet. The
greatest enemy of destructive cults is really the free flow of information.
This simple fact seems to explain the motivation for "Scientology's Revenge"
against the former Cult Awareness Network.
Rick Ross
via the Internet
[...entire item...]

* Note: Scientology's CAN has developed into a hate group. Rick Ross
continues to be a primary target of its hate-filled propaganda. For details
about CAN, see:


17. Years after he left, Scientology still has not worn off
Mannheimer Morgen (Germany), Nov. 11, 1999
Translation: CISAR
The 16 wasted years are past, but their effect lingers on. In order to save
others from something similar, Jesse Prince told of his time in Scientology
management. "I did not just lose my personality there," ran his statement
describing that which outsiders can understand only with difficulty: how
someone can stay with the organization. For two days Prince spoke with
Cologne Constitutional Security, which had invited him to Germany. Now he has
told his story to our newspaper.

"Scientology has many faces," concludes Prince today. "I know that because I
have seen that the people in the top categories do not practice its
teachings." Such as inciting others to violate the law.

Scientology has no more forgotten him than he has the organization. Using
slander, it destroyed his first attempt at a career. In 1998, a death threat
was imparted to him by way of a friend, in Los Angeles he looked into the
barrel of a pistol. One of his two daughters has been bothered with
denunciations, in front of the house of his 73 year old father march
Scientologists with racial expressions. Besides that they demand he keep his
mouth closed to keep his son from being affected. "Scientology is even after
me here in Germany." Doesn't all that make him afraid? "I have nothing to
lose that would make life worth living if I don't use it to warn others."
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]

* Scientology harassment documented

18. Suggestive Questions from Littauerberg
Neue Luzerner Zeitung (Switzerland), Nov. 10, 1999
Translation: CISAR
"Do you think that violence in your school has increased, decreased or stayed
the same in the past 10 - 15 years?" That is how the survey starts, and other
multiple choice questions follow on issues such as "drug problems" "reading
and writing levels of students" and "measures of the school board to decrease
violence and drugs." And "What percentage of the children in your school take
psychopharmaceuticals such as Ritalin or Fluctin?"

The string pullers have covered themselves in the questionnaire: it is signed
only by a "Committee for a Better School," but not by anyone by name.

The committee is defined in the letter as a "loose association of about 20
couples of parents, some of whom send their children to the said school." The
said "Freie Primarschule" is currently running against the wind: because of
the membership of the teacher, Sandra Planzer, in Scientology, the
administrative board pulled her instructional permit. In response to her
objection, the administrative court handed down a decision which had a
delaying effect: Planzer can - for the time being - continue instructing.

So who are the people united in the Littau parents' committee? The person who
answered the phone to the number given on the survey's cover letter was
Konrad Meile, Scientology member, official renter of the Berg school building
and father of three children who are being instructed by Sandra Planzer.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]

19. A problem with Scientology in the house of Luschkov
BerlinOnline (Germany), Nov. 11, 1999
Translation: CISAR
Moscow's mayor Yuri Luschkov has a problem. His name is Sergei Dorenko. For
weeks the well-known journalist, who moderates a political magazine in a
broadcast studio friendly to Yeltsin, has been accusing the city chief of
corruption, nepotism and contact with the mafia. An unpleasant situation,
especially in the election campaign for the next state president, for which
Luschkov is regarded as a promising candidate. Therefore the mayor hired a
new judiciary staff member, Moscow lawyer Galina Krylova, and assigned her to
prepare a libel suit against the journalist. Since then, Luschkov has yet a
greater problem.

That is because the 37 year old woman is not only regarded as the most
important legal representative for international sects in Russia, she also
sits on the board of the "Citizens Commission on Human Rights" (CCHR) in the
USA. This organization is a full-fledged offshoot of Scientology, whose goal
it is to "liberate" the earth of psychiatrists.

Once more, sect experts are warning of possible Scientology influence upon
Russian politics. "The mayor is either ill-informed, or somebody is trying to
compromise him," said Alexander Dvorkin, sect commissioner of the Russian
Orthodox Church in Moscow, about the new legal advisor. "Krylova is being
used by Scientology as a Trojan horse." "On top of that, she also represents
a coalition of totalitarian cults." In fact, Krylova has conducted all the
important proceedings for sects of all sorts in the last few years in Russia
- and has lost most of them.

For instance, in 1995 she represented the Japanese poison gas sect, Aum
Shinrikyo, when parents' initiatives fought to ban them. She has also worked
for the Korean Moon sect, the Hare Krishnas and the Jehovah's Witnesses.
Mostly, though, she has worked for Scientology, whereby her assignments have
gone far beyond the duties of an attorney.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]

20. Caution, rat catchers at work
Amberger Nachrichten (Germany), Nov. 9, 1999
Translation: CISAR
What Scientology's friend Michael Kent said in his presentation in the smoky
basement room of a tavern was not just blooming nonsense. It was, above
everything else, massive propaganda for the totalitarian system of
Scientology and an instigation against our state.

Scientology is neither a religion nor a sect. Nor is it only a professional
con game. Practicing Scientologists infiltrate the democratic legal state.
The goal propagated by Scientology founder Ron Hubbard was "true democracy"
with trained people without souls.

Has the media been informing the public about the Scientology Organization?
Anyone who saw how the listeners hang onto every word as Kent spoke would
have doubts about that. We still have a long ways to go to an informed
society. The Bavarian state government is one of the few, besides individual
newspapers and experts, who have recognized the true character of the
organization in a timely manner. And continually inform people over the
internet about Scientology. My recommendation: call up the page
http://www.innenministerium.bayern.de today.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]

=== Breatharianism

21. Air Cult Couple On Death Charge
Yahoo! UK/The Daily Record, Nov. 11, 1999
A couple who promoted a cult which claims people can live on air are facing
manslaughter charges after a woman died in their care. Jim Pesnak, 60, and
wife Eugenia, 63, were helping Lani Morris with an initiation into the New
Age breatharian cult in Australia.

Yesterday a jury in Brisbane, where Jasmuheen is based, learned how the
second woman died following the air diet. Morris,53, ended up on a
life-support machine in hospital after starving herself for more than a week.
She died two days later.

Prosecutor Charles Clark said the Pesnaks were not on trial for their beliefs
but for "gross breach of duty to another human being".

Jasmuheen, real name Ellen Greve, was recently exposed as a fraud on an
Australian TV show.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]

=== Shakty Pat Guru Foundation/Life Space

22. Japanese cultist insists mummified dad is alive
Yahoo! Asia/AFP, Nov. 15, 1999
Monday, November 15 3:18 PM SGT
A Japanese disciple of the little-known "Life Space" cult on Monday insisted
his father was alive, despite the mummified body being found quite dead at an
airport hotel.

An autoposy was being performed on the dried corpse Monday, a police official
said, but the cause of death had yet to be revealed. The corpse was
discovered at the Marroad International Hotel at the weekend in Narita near
Tokyo, in a room occupied for more than four months by two members of the
"self-enlightenment" group, police said.

Kobayashi told reporters he was angered by their reporting that his
66-year-old father, Shinichi Kobayashi, was dead. "In spite of our insisting
that my father was alive, and showing evidence to the media, you media people
don't seem to be taking our word for it," he said.

The son, sporting a beard and ponytail in the style of the cult's guru Koji
Takahashi, sat beside two other cult members at the news conference, which
was televised by Asahi Television.

Two members of Shakty Pat Guru Foundation, a group affiliated with Life
Space, told the Mainichi newspaper Saturday Kobayashi was "in the midst of a
smooth recovery" at the hotel. They produced five booklets detailing his
condition for four months which appeared to show that he was alive, the
Mainichi said.

The Asahi newspaper quoted a nursing record as saying Kobayashi "had been in
a mummified state, but on November 2 he recovered to the level he could enjoy
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]

23. Cops unwrap mummy mystery
Mainichi Daily News (Japan), Nov. 14, 1999
A cult apparently mummified a member's corpse and kept the body for four
months in a room of a hotel near Narita Airport, police revealed on Saturday.

The deceased, a man from Hyogo Prefecture, had been hospitalized for a brain
hemorrhage but was taken away by his cult-following son midway through his

According to officials of the Itami Municipal Hospital, where Kobayashi was
treated for his brain hemorrhage in June this year, his son took Kobayashi
away after only two weeks of hospitalization despite protests from doctors.
The son then sent the hospital books and a downloaded copy of the Internet
Web site of self-enlightening group turned cult Life Space, which Kobayashi
was a member of and his family still belongs to.

Life Space, which is based in the city of Suita, Osaka Prefecture, originally
started out as a self-enlightenment group, but in May this year, the group
changed its purpose to organize seminars based on the teachings of an "Indian
educational philosopher," Sathya Sai Baba, who is revered as a spiritual
leader in some circles.

The cult's followers call its founder, Koji Takahashi, "guru," and pay as
much as 5 million yen to attend a single seminar to "heal illness by
nullifying one's bad karma," or to receive Takahashi's special spiritual

On the group's Internet home page updated Sept. 19, the group claimed that it
had been prevented from administering "spiritual power" to Kobayashi for two
months due to gross misdiagnosis by the hospital and its subsequent
"murderous" treatment of him.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]

=== Unification Church

24. Body of Rev. Moon's son to be taken to Korea
Reno Gazette-Journal, Nov. 10, 1999
The remains of the youngest son of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon will be exhumed
from a Reno cemetery and taken to South Korea for services and reburial.

The Washoe County coroner's office said Young Jin Moon, 21, fell to his death
Oct. 28 from the 17th floor of Harrah's hotel. The Washoe County Coroner's
Office has ruled his death suicide.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]

=== Hate Groups

25. Racist Enters Boulder County, Colo., Debate over Hate-Crime Prosecution
NewsEdge/Denver Post, Nov. 9, 1999
As Boulder County prosecutors pursued the case of a 20-year-old woman
allegedly raped by five Asians in August, white supremacist David Duke
entered the debate -- through his Web site.

The growth and popularity of extremist Web sites such as Duke's has prompted
organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League, HateWatch.org and the Gay
and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation to campaign toward making sure Web
surfers understand what they are viewing. As Internet use has grown, so has
what those groups describe as online hate content.

HateWatch.org has created a catalog of about 400 organizational-based hate
sites, bulletin boards and e-mail lists. It doesn't include pages by
individuals nor does it account for individual e-mail, which is the most
popular vehicle for "bigots," Goldman said.

Nationally, Stormfront.org, a white nationalist site, is considered the
granddaddy of online hatred.

Stormfront, which receives 2,000 to 2,500 visitors per day, has its own
servers -- in West Palm Beach, Miami and Louisiana.

Hate speech on the Internet enjoys all the First Amendment protections of
other forms of speech. Threats and harassment are not protected.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]

26. Court Rejects White Supremacist
AOL/AP, Nov. 12, 1999
White supremacist Matt Hale vowed to take his quest for a law license to the
nation's highest court after the Illinois Supreme Court refused to consider
the case.

The ruling issued Friday leaves in place a decision by the state's Committee
on Character and Fitness to deny Hale a law license. The one-paragraph ruling
included no explanation.

The Committee on Character and Fitness originally turned Hale down for a law
license last summer. Members argued that Hale's racist views would prevent
him from fulfilling a lawyer's duty not to discriminate against litigants,
jurors, witnesses or others for reasons of race, religion or national origin.

"The record evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates that Hale is not fit to
practice law. The evidence also demonstrates that Hale lacks the moral
character necessary to satisfy even minimal bar admission standards,'' the
fitness committee said in court papers.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]

=== Odinism

27. Religious Group Lashes Out at FBI Report: Cites Violation of First
Amendment Rights
Press Release, Nov. 10, 1999
Spokesmen for a religious group today charged the FBI with violating its
First Amendment rights to freedom of religion, free speech, and peaceful
assembly. The group also says the FBI and federal government are engaging in
religious persecution, setting a dangerous precedent with ominous
implications for all Americans.

"False, misleading and deceptive information about our religion and its
followers in an FBI report released in October about possible
millennium-related violence raises grave concerns about the government's
intentions," said Valgard Murray, head of the International Asatru/Odinic
Alliance (IAOA), whose followers practice a pre-Christian European religion
that honors its ancestors and celebrates its European heritage. The FBI
report names Christian sects, Odinists, patriot groups, Constitutionalists
and 2nd Amendment supporters as possible domestic terrorists.

Murray cited numerous false statements and innuendoes about his group made
in the FBI's "Project Megiddo" report -- named for a city some Christians
believe will be the site of Armageddon. The report implies that Odinists may
engage in year 2000 terrorism and pose a threat to domestic tranquility. "We
have been falsely accused and found guilty in the court of public opinion
through the FBI's actions," said Stephen McNallen, head of the
California-based Asatru Folk Assembly, a member of the IAOA.

"Odinists will celebrate the beginning of our year 2250 on the Winter
Solstice, our New Year's Eve. We practice a pre-Christian religion that does
not recognize Armageddon or a second coming related to the Christian
doctrine or calendar," said Osferth, who heads the Odinic Rite Vinland, the
US section of the international Odinic Rite. "The FBI's suggestion that the
year 2000, the second coming of Christ, or Armageddon have any significance
to Odinists makes no sense whatsoever."
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]

* The FBI report, "Project Megiddo" is available in .pfd format at

FBI web site

and in HTML at:

Apologetics Index

=== Word-Faith Movement

28. Church gifts to Georgia policeofficers raise questions
Charisma Daily news, Nov. 15, 1999
A church's gift of $1,000 to each of the 100 police officers in its district
have caused confusion and concern in the Atlanta suburb of College Park, Ga.
Fulton County officials want an ethics board to determine whether the checks
are legitimate awards for public service or inappropriate gifts, reported the
Associated Press.

The awards were made last weekend at an appreciation breakfast thrown by
World Changers Ministries (WCM), a 20,000-member church pastored by Creflo
Dollar that has received contributions of more than $4 million from boxer
Evander Holyfield in the last two years. "A police officer is a person who's
in authority, and it also says those who are in authority are God's
ministers," said WCM minister Kenneth Haynes.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]

=== Other News

29. Bloody Event Relics To Be Auctioned
AOL/AP, Nov. 15, 1999
Armed with cash and a taste for the macabre, Cathee Shultz and J.D. Healy
hope to buy a relic from the worst mass suicide in American history.

The couple, owners of a bizarre shrine known as the Museum of Death, say they
will be among the expected hundreds at a Nov. 20 auction of property
belonging to 39 Heaven's Gate cult members who committed suicide at a mansion
in Rancho Santa Fe.

All the cult's intellectual property, including the writings of its leader
Marshall Applewhite and anything bearing the cult's logo, were given to two
former cult members, Mark and Sarah King of Phoenix, as part of a legal
settlement earlier this year with San Diego County.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]

30. A Sect's Political Rise Creates Uneasiness in Japan
New York Times, Nov. 14, 1999
(...) Using simple themes of self-help and compassion, and building a
disciplined nationwide organization through small neighborhood groups, Soka
-- which means Values Creation Society -- has repeatedly confounded
political observers in Japan. Since its founding in 1930, it has risen from a
small persecuted sect to one of the countless "new religions" that blossomed
in the postwar era, becoming the most powerful religious movement here.

Its most dramatic step toward the mainstream came early last month when Prime
Minister Keizo Obuchi named a new coalition cabinet, formally allying his
long-governing Liberal Democratic Party with New Komeito, a political party
created by Soka Gakkai in 1964.

Public opinion polls have shown widespread disapproval of New Komeito's entry
into the government. For many Japanese, still shaken by the 1995 nerve gas
attack in the Tokyo subways by another once-obscure sect, Soka Gakkai has
many of the markings of a cult, and crosses the strict divide between church
and state established after World War II.

Many people uneasy about its rise regard both the religious group and the
political party to be little more than the personal instruments of Soka
Gakkai's longtime leader and now honorary chairman, Daisaku Ikeda. A deeply
enigmatic figure who has called himself the "anti-authority" but clearly
relishes meeting world leaders, Ikeda, 71, travels the world with his message
of peace, even as his followers have sometimes used violence to deal with
critics. His followers commonly call him sensei, or master, and often revere
him openly as a man of almost unsurpassed wisdom.

Ikeda, who declined to be interviewed, is said to spend most of his time on
spreading the faith to other countries, including the United States, where
Soka Gakkai says it has 300,000 followers and has founded a university. His
words are studied and cited as virtual scripture by members. His successor,
Einosuke Akiya, who has formally led Soka Gakkai for two decades, said he
consults Ikeda every day.

Members of the group have used arson and a bomb threat against temples of
rival Buddhist groups. Soka Gakkai has also tried to block the publication of
critical books, and it was convicted of wiretapping the house of the
Communist Party leader. A spokesman said the bomb threat and arson incidents
involved "individuals with histories of mental illness" and denied that Soka
Gakkai had ever ordered violence or harassment.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]

31. Nidwalden: controversial sect meets on the "Buergenstock"
Neue Luzerner Zeitung (Switzerland), Nov. 9, 1999
Translation: CISAR
85-year-old Gordon Freeman Fraser and his esoteric-occultic group by the name
of "Association for Health and Personality Development" are both widely
unknown. That is amazing insofar as Fraser, according to what Hansjoerg
Hemminger, Commissioner for Issues of Worldview of the Wuerttemberg
Evangelical State Church, sees himself as the incarnation of the Holy Ghost.
Fraser denies this statement. "His crew," as his closest acquaintances say,
include souls who are no less significant. So, according to Hemminger, the
soul of Jesus Christ belongs to Fraser's team, as do those of Saint Andreas
and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

According to Fraser's teachings, most people on this earth have no soul, says
Hemminger. They are said to be marionettes of god who uses them to test the
people who have souls. Soulless people, according to documents from a former
member from Germany, include all people who work in health care.

Fraser also claims, according to a German former member, to be able to rob
people of their souls and leave them only with biological hulls. On the other
side, people's souls, according to Fraser's teachings, are graded on a scale
of from 0 to 100, wrote Hemminger. If someone reaches 100 points - which
allegedly only the "master" himself can determine - he has reached spiritual
security, which is the equivalent of eternal life. Even after that, though,
there are opportunities to go higher.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]

32. Guilty Plea in Church Arsons
NewsEdge/AP, Nov. 11, 1999
A Georgia woman has pleaded guilty to helping a former boyfriend start fires
at five churches. Angela Wood of Athens, Ga., agreed Tuesday in a plea
bargain to testify against Jay Scott Ballinger, who is scheduled to stand
trial in February on charges that he burned 33 churches.

The two were satanists who believed setting churches on fire would created a
"new world order,'' prosecutors said in court documents.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]

33. Refugees of polygamy band together for action
Deseret News, Nov. 13, 1999
(...) Now, after months of relative quiet, a television documentary, more
"refugees" from polygamy seeking help and legislation proposed by a state
lawmaker have retrained the spotlight on plural marriage in Utah, where it is
illegal under the state's constitution but practiced by an estimated 30,000

"I just don't think this is one that's going away," said Sen. Ron Allen,
D-Stansbury Park, who will ask fellow lawmakers for $750,000 for a new
program to combat polygamy when the Utah State Legislature meets in January.

- The program he hopes to fund would have several goals:
- To provide emergency grants to buy hotel space for women with large
numbers of children who are leaving polygamy.
- To buy public service announcements and billboards.
- To operate a polygamy help hotline.
- To deliver outreach and community education information to polygamy

Since a documentary titled "Inside Polygamy" aired Monday night on A&E
Television Network, people from all over the world have called to offer
support, money, volunteer hours and old clothes to the Tapestry of Polygamy's
effort to help women leaving polygamy.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]

34. N.Y. County Loses Battle to Atheist
Northern Light/AP, Nov. 15, 1999
The Supreme Court today refused to free government officials from having to
pay a symbolic $1 for requiring an atheist to attend Alcoholics Anonymous
meetings that involved prayers and other religious content. The justices,
without comment, rejected an appeal in which Orange County, N.Y., probation
officials argued that they did not violate the constitutionally required
separation of church and state.

The court's action set no legal precedent and does not preclude the
possibility that the justices may someday agree to consider the issue in some
other case.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]

35. Mexicans, Americans flocking to late faith healer's town
CNN/AP, Nov. 13, 1999
They come to this desert village from across Mexico, from Dallas, from
Chicago, from Indianapolis, crawling on their knees, calling on the spirit of
"El Nino Fidencio." The unemployed, the disabled, the troubled touch his
photograph or caress his tomb, then rub their hands over their bodies to
bathe themselves in his magic.

In the haze of incense, a young boy videotapes a spirit medium in a long
velour robe as she hisses and trembles, then speaks in a youthful voice. She
says it is that of Jose Fidencio Constantino, a long-dead faith healer known
simply as "The Child Fidencio," for his high-pitched voice.

Thousands of pilgrims, about half of them Mexican-Americans, come to Espinazo
each fall for a three-day celebration of El Nino's spiritual birth as a
healer in 1928 and his physical death in 1938.

Their numbers are growing rapidly. This fall's turnout reached 20,000 people
-- a
record, according to residents of this village in northern Mexico and
academics who study the phenomenon.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]

36. Bible Belt has nation's worst divorce rate
CNN/AP, Nov. 12, 1999
Aside from the quickie-divorce mecca of Nevada, no region of the United
States has a higher divorce rate than the Bible Belt.

Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama and Oklahoma round out the Top Five in frequency
of divorce. In a country where nearly half of all marriages break up, the
divorce rates in these conservative states are roughly 50 percent above the
national average.

Over the past few months, Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating has pushed the issue
high onto the public agenda, enlisting clergymen, academics, lawyers and
psychologists in a high-profile campaign to reduce the divorce rate by a
third within 10 years.

Why so many divorces in the Bible Belt? Experts cite low household incomes
(Oklahoma ranks 46th and Arkansas 47th) and a tendency for couples to marry
at a younger age than in many other states.

Those studying the issue also suggest religion plays a role, though opinions
differ on exactly how.

David Popenoe, co-director of National Marriage Project at Rutgers
University, notes that some of the lowest divorce rates are in northeastern
states with relatively high household incomes and large numbers of Roman
Catholics whose church doesn't recognize divorce.

Bible Belt states, in contrast, are dominated by fundamentalist Protestant
denominations that proclaim the sanctity of marriage but generally do not
want to estrange churchgoers who do divorce.

"I applaud the Catholics," says Jordan. "I don't think we as Protestant
evangelists have done nearly as well preparing people for marriage. And in
the name of being loving and accepting, we have not placed the stigma on
divorce that we should have."
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]

=== Religious Pluralism / Interfaith / Interdenominational

37. Muslim neighbourhoods proposed to revive rundown city suburbs
The Guardian (England), Nov. 12, 1999
Neighbourhoods based on Islamic principles could be set up in some of
Britain's inner cities in a radical proposal being considered by the

In a report on the crisis of unwanted homes - more than 900,000 council and
private dwellings, mostly in the north, are being shunned and abandoned by
householders - a team from Downing Street's social exclusion unit has seized
on a plan by a London housing association to use the community spirit of
British Muslims, with other faiths, to revive derelict areas.

Said Ahmad, chief executive of the North London Muslim Housing Association,
has suggested the Higher Broughton area in Salford and five estates on the
outskirts of Bradford for piloting his "Medina neighbourhoods". Medina is
the city, now in Saudi Arabia, to which the prophet Mohammed and his
followers migrated in 622 from Mecca. Their Islamic community was built in
cooperation with Christians and Jews.

"They set up a community based on certain values they all agreed upon and
created a small network of people who regenerated the entire area," said Mr

He denied that he would be encouraging sectarianism, saying that the Islamic
ethos was compatible with Britain's core Christian moral values and that the
two faith communities would work together.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]

38. That's not faith, that's provocation
The Guardian (England), Nov. 12, 1999
There was a time when dialogue between religions had a goal of international
peace and understanding. In the past decade, however, a new and potentially
dangerous form of interfaith collaboration has emerged. On Sunday, religious
leaders from different traditions will gather in Geneva for the World
Congress of Families II. The aim of the event is to affirm that 'the natural
family is the fundamental social unit, inscribed in human nature and centred
around the voluntary union of a man and a woman in a lifelong covenant of

Its purpose is to 'discuss ways to counter 85 anti-family initiatives
advanced at the UN and other world bodies', including 'the myth of
overpopulation', preserving traditional roles for men and women, the rights
of the traditional family, the struggle against legalised abortion - all
served up with a generous helping of anti-gay propaganda.

Costing $1.5m and expected to attract 2,000 delegates, the congress is the
most important manifestation to date of this new form of interdoctrinal
collaboration based on the deeply conservative values which unite the most
reactionary believers of different faiths - in particular fundamentalist
Christians and Muslims. According to Allan Carson of the Howard Center, a
conservative American think-tank, one of the two sponsoring bodies of WCFII,
'the contemporary 'coming together'... occurs only among the most orthodox of
each group, people that are least likely to compromise''.

It comes as no surprise to find that Christian traditions represented at the
congress include evangelical Protestants and Mormons: the Mormon NGO Family
Voice is the second major sponsor (entertainment for the event is provided by
Ma and Pa Osmond). It is disturbing, however, at this showcase of
international fundamentalism, to find that the Catholic church is strongly
represented - and at the highest level: the opening speaker is Cardinal Lopez
Trujillo, the president of the Vatican's Council for the Family and one of
John Paul II's right-hand men.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]

39. U.S. Christians Urged to Get Involved With Other Faiths
World Faith News/National Council of Churches, Nov. 11, 1999 (Press Release)
Church members were challenged to think about how to be true to their faith
while reaching out to work on humanity's common problems with their neighbors
of other faiths. The call came at the 50th anniversary celebration of the
National Council of Churches meeting here.

NCC leaders, meeting in General Assembly, the Council's highest legislative
body, on Wednesday approved a major policy document, "Interfaith Relations
and the Churches," aimed at involving church members in the building of a
better society. Earlier in the week, much the same message was offered
during a 50th anniversary forum on "Living Faithfully in America: A
Multifaith Conversation."

Christians are urged to intensify understanding of their own faith and
religious roots when they undertake inter-religious dialogue. The paper
suggests, "One must come to the table ready to exchange concepts and
doctrines as we seek common ground for action."

The NCC statement uses strong language to denounce "all forms of religious
and racial bias." It says, "As Churches we must uproot all that might
contribute to such prejudice in our teaching, life and ministries."

Closing thoughts were provided by Imam Fawaz Damra of the Islamic Center of
Cleveland. He said that despite personal links to other lands and people
"we are all God-conscious people before we are American. We must not only
act together but influence American foreign policy not to have a secular
approach but to ground policy in the teachings of all faiths."
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]

=== Religion Freedom / Religious Intolerance

40. Crackdown on churches planned, claims Vatican
South China Morning Post, Nov. 11, 1999
Beijing is looking ahead to establishing relations with the Vatican but it
will be followed by a full-scale crackdown on underground Catholic churches,
a policy paper by the Communist Party's Central Committee has been quoted as

The Vatican news agency, Fides, said it had obtained a 16-page paper issued
by the Central Committee dated August 16.

Fides said the paper upheld the primacy of the state-approved church after
any establishment of relations and foresaw the forcible break-up of the
underground church.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]

=== Education

41. Guide explains how to teach Bible legally
Detroit News, Nov. 12, 1999
Yes, you can teach students about the Bible in public schools without
breaking the law. There's even a guide to tell you how. Endorsed by
everyone from Christian educators and Jewish groups to school boards and
unions, "The Bible and Public Schools: A First Amendment Guide," was released
Thursday in New York.

The guide lays out a middle ground between those who want Bible courses in
schools to promote faith and those who prefer God is never mentioned in the

The guide was developed by the Freedom Forum's First Amendment Center at
Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., and the National Bible
Association. To order "The Bible and Public Schools: A First Amendment
Guide," call the Freedom Forum at (800) 830-3733 and ask for the publication
department. The guide's order number is 99-103.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]

42. Evolution Questioned in Okla.
ABC News/AP, Nov. 10, 1999
An obscure state committee has voted to require that all new biology
textbooks carry a disclaimer saying evolution is a "controversial theory"
after one member said not enough attention is paid to alternate explanations
of how life began.

The action on Friday by the Oklahoma State Textbook Committee makes Oklahoma
the latest state to officially challenge the way evolution is taught.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]

=== Noted

43. Tracking Down What Jesus Said
Los Angeles Times, Nov. 13, 1999
(...) What did Jesus say? This question is not as straightforward as it
might sound, because it is not just a matter of picking up the New Testament
gospels and reading whatever is attributed to Jesus there.

The good news is that we have excellent tools and sources at our disposal
today to allow us to get closer to what Jesus said. I suggest three
approaches that may shed new light on the historical Jesus and what he had to

The first approach is the study of a text we call "Q" (from the German Quelle
for "source").

The second approach is the study of a newly discovered text, found in its
entirety in 1945 and now fully available for our examination, titled the
Gospel of Thomas.

The third approach is more innovative. I propose that Islamic sources,
which revere Jesus as a prophet of Islam and preserve numerous sayings of
Jesus, may also be very helpful as we try to recover the historical Jesus.
(Incidentally, there are also a few sayings of Jesus preserved in Jewish

- Professor Marvin Meyer is chairman of the department of religious
studies at Chapman University. He is the author of several books, among
them "The Gospel of Thomas" and "The Unknown Sayings of Jesus."
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]

44. The heal thing
The Guardian (England), Nov. 11, 1999
The House of Commons is an unlikely location for spiritualism, but last week
it opened its doors to a woman who has touched many in ways secular
intervention has not. Diane Abbott MP held a welcome reception for the
American spiritual counsellor, lecturer and bestselling author Iyanla
Vanzant. Abbott heard about Vanzant through friends a year ago. "She's
started an underground movement," she says, "almost like a religion. People
feel very, very passionately about her."

That passion is proved by the speed with which her latest book, In The
Meantime, jumped from 158 to 48 in the bestseller list. By the rush for
tickets to hear her lecture in London last week. By the response to her
appearance on This Morning, which led to the phone-in slot being extended. In
the US, Vanzant's recipe of New Age affirmations and frank accounts of her
own life have won her a place in the national book charts, a regular slot on
the Oprah Winfrey show and national recognition.

Vanzant argues that women feel alienated from traditional religion. "The
whole divinity is structured around what man did and didn't do. Where were
the women? It makes the divine word of God so inaccessible, exclusive and
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]

45. Y2K revelations: Many Christian leaders back off from 'doomsday hysteria'
Star-Telegram/Religion News Service, Nov. 11, 1999
As 1998 drew to a close and the nation suddenly became awash in predictions
of possible year 2000 computer meltdowns, nowhere was the doom and gloom more
prevalent than among conservative Christians.

As the appointed hour rapidly approaches, however, many of these same voices
have now traded fundamentalist conviction about the near certainty of global
disruption for agnostic equivocation about the millennium bug's real impact.
Instead of the Bible, they've taken to quoting government and industry
assurances of Y2K readiness.

Moreover, a distinct backlash has emerged within the conservative Christian
community against many of those who issued some of the most dire warnings.

Hank Hanegraaff, host of the popular `Bible Answer Man' radio show, has spent
hour after on-air hour debunking Y2K warnings and castigating those he
considers responsible. In an interview, he said Falwell, Dobson, Kennedy and
other influential conservative Christians had been taken in by "profiteering
sensationalists" spreading "alarmist propaganda," even if they have since
changed their tune.

'Charisma,' the respected monthly charismatic-oriented magazine, ran a recent
cover story headlined "Doomsday Madness." The magazine's cover depicted a
terrified family huddled in a basement filled with packaged foods and barrels
of water. A rifle stood at the ready. In one hand the father held a
flashlight. In the other he clutched a Bible. Inside the magazine, editor J.
Lee Grady dismissed Y2K warnings as "nonsense."
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]

=== Books

46. Apocalypse Now [books by Walter Laquer and Robert Jay Lifton]
Los Angeles Times, Nov. 14, 1999
THE NEW TERRORISM: Fanaticism and the Arms of Mass Destruction; By Walter
Laqueur; Oxford University Press: 320 pp., $30

Walter Laqueur's "The New Terrorism" is gruesomely timely. Buford O.
Furrow Jr., the angry, unemployed white supremacist who shot five people at a
Los Angeles Jewish community center in August, is exactly the kind of
terrorist Laqueur predicts the world will see more of.

"The list of the enemies of the patriot sects in the United States is
indeed formidable," he continues. "The government--for some, two conspirators
in one, as in 'the Zionist occupation government'--is at the top of the list,
followed by American culture, damaged beyond redemption by various commercial
and decadent influences; the financial system; the police and the FBI; all
ethnic minorities; universities and schools, which teach false values; the
churches (having strayed from the right way); all foreign countries; and also
most white compatriots, who have been successfully brainwashed by mendacious
official propaganda."

Although Laqueur has got the nutty American right wing down pat, his book
is by no means America-centered.

If Laqueur's terrorists are chiefly political, Robert Jay Lifton's
terrorists are what might be called personal. But what most disturbingly
unites the two is the increasingly ready availability of weapons of mass

In "Destroying the World to Save It," Lifton examines one particular strain
of fanaticism, exemplified by the guru-led Aum Shinrikyo cult in Japan, which
in 1995 released sarin, a lethal nerve gas, on five Tokyo subway trains.

Lifton, a psychiatrist who has written books on the survivors of Hiroshima
and the German physicians who did the Nazis' work, sees similarities between
Aum and the acts of several violent American cults: the Manson family
killings, Jim Jones and the Jonestown suicide-murders, the mass suicide of
39 members of the Heaven's Gate cult in Rancho Santa Fe and the bombing of
the Federal Building in Oklahoma City.

Each of these, Lifton writes, shared a belief in purification of the self
and/or the world through death and destruction, and each was under the
influence of a powerful guru figure who utterly dominated the wills of his
followers. (In the case of Timothy McVeigh, the principal Oklahoma bomber,
the guru, Lifton argues, was a book, "The Turner Diaries," the neo-Nazi
account of a white revolution in America leading to a nuclear holocaust in
which all Jews and non-whites perish.)

The ultimate horror would be the appearance of a nuclear weapon in the
hands of any group wishing ill to the world, whether a political group or a
cult. Both Laqueur and Lifton's books sound somber warning bells.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]

* The New Terrorism

Destroying The World To Save It:

47. Edgar Cayce's story, and troubles, in his own words
Philadelphia Inquirer, Nov. 14, 1999
My Life As a Seer : The Lost Memoirs
By Edgar Cayce

Poor Edgar Cayce. You wonder why one of the most documented psychic minds of
our century couldn't have foreseen the need for a lawyer, an agent, and
especially a good accountant.

In My Life As a Seer: The Lost Memoirs, famed healer Cayce (1877-1945) writes
of financial disaster, backstabbing backers, brushes with the law, and even
accusations of heresy. Most of all he recounts his feelings of self-doubt,
rejection, and bewilderment about his healing talents.

First published in 1997 by the Cayce Foundation's Association for Research
and Enlightenment (ARE) Press in Virginia Beach, Va., The Lost Memoirs is
Cayce's life told in his own words. The book was compiled and edited by A.
Robert Smith, a former journalist and executive editor of ARE publications.

Those interested in New Age ideas already know most of this; much has been
written about Edgar Cayce. But for the merely curious (especially those whose
interest in spirituality might be piqued by the approach of the millennium),
the book serves as a thorough introduction.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]

* My Life As A Seer

=== The Believers Around The Corner

48. The Martha Mantra
Washington Post, Nov. 11, 1999
Unglued by the challenge of turning a pile of fall leaves into a dazzling
Thanksgiving centerpiece? Ask yourself: WWMD?

WWMD--What Would Martha Do--is becoming the new mantra for the over-stressed
and under-talented trying to keep it together on the domestic scene while
aspiring to the high standards dictated by Martha Stewart. Veteran trend
watchers know this phrase as a variation of WWJD (What Would Jesus Do), seen
in recent years on bracelets and T-shirts worn by Christian teenagers.

"In Texas, 'What Would Jesus Do' was huge--almost a cult," says Kelly O'Neal,
owner of Dallas-based accessories company Design Legacy, which produces
WWMD-embroidered pillows. "We just translated it into Martha because she is
almost as big a cult as Jesus."
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]

Compiled by Anton Hein
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