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Religion News Report

January 2, 2000 (Vol. 4, Issue 151)

arrow Latest: Religion News Blog

=== Aum Shinrikyo
1. Rightist breaks into AUM facility
2. Japanese Cult Rising Again

=== Ho No Hana Sanpogyo
3. Fraudulent foot cult sidestepped banks

=== Mormonism
4. Boston Temple is rising despite constitutional suit

=== Witchcraft
5. Wiccans, Hedonists Summon a New Year With Fire and Dance
6. Zimbabwe Witchdoctors Open School
7. Suit has witch and psychic fighting over the same clientele

=== Islam
8. Iran's Young Are Restless Under Islam

=== Other News
9. Cult lures villagers to millennial light (Rainbow Church/Cargo cult)
10. Leader of cult gets arrested (Rainbow Church/Cargo cult)
11. Sect 'rehearsed' attack on Pope
12. Suspect devoted to Santeria
13. No Santeria ties are seen in shootings
14. Stabbing suspect thought Beatles were witches
15. O'Hair case suspect is indicted in FW on weapons charges
16. Police, fire officials come up empty handed in raid of survivalist's
underground bus shelter maze
17. 3rd 'Secret of Fatima' Fuels Millennial Fears for Some
18. Most Church leaders doubt Adam and Eve
19. Israel reimposes ban on religious group (Pilgrim House)
20. Police thwart zealots of Armageddon
21. Apocalypse Not Now -- Prayers And Wine Instead
22. The cult watch is on
23. Phenomenon of the new age cult
24. Charles Louis Spiegel, 78; cosmic visionary led Unarius Academy
25. Oklahoma bill would support disclaimer on books about evolution

=== Controversial Renewal and Revival Movements
26. 'Prophetic Elders' Look to Youth Revival, Warn of Russian Invasion
27. Rise of Pentecostalism is religion story of century

=== Noted
28. The Enlightenment Bug
29. Where Religion Stands Today
30. Guns R US

=== Aum Shinrikyo

1. Rightist breaks into AUM facility
Mainichi Daily News (Japan), Jan. 1, 2000
One day after AUM Shinrikyo executive member Fumihiro Joyu was released from
prison and arrived at the cult's Yokohama branch, a rightist broke into the
facility demanding that Joyu leave but was soon arrested, police said.

Since Joyu arrived at the Yokohama branch on Wednesday, vehicles of
right-wing groups were reportedly conducting a street demonstration near the
Yokohama branch, demanding that Joyu leave.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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2. Japanese Cult Rising Again
Washington Post, Dec. 29, 1999
Aum Supreme Truth, the doomsday cult that carried out a deadly nerve gas
attack in the Tokyo subway system in 1995, is still recruiting members,
making money and--with the release from jail this morning of Fumihiro
Joyu--getting back a leader who could give the group new strength, according
to Japanese analysts and a government report.

Aum's personal computer sales generated a $68 million profit last year, the
report said. Aum also has used the personals section of Internet pages as a
way to try to recruit new members and has launched an Internet home page in

At the height of Aum's popularity, Joyu headed its Moscow offices and
preached to an estimated 30,000 Russian followers.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Ho No Hana Sanpogyo

3. Fraudulent foot cult sidestepped banks
Mainichi Daily News (Japan), Jan. 1, 2000
The Ho no hana Sanpogyo foot-reading cult, which is under investigation for
fraud, avoided using banks and had a large amount of cash stashed in its
offices in an attempt to conceal the movement of money it got from its shady
practices, the Mainichi has learned.

Police believe that the money was a part of so-called "tributes to heaven,"
which Ho no hana called any payment made by its followers to the cult. The
cult's followers paid millions of yen to attend training sessions or to buy a
hanging scroll that the cult claimed to have the power to cure illnesses.

That money paid by the followers was spent by the cult's leader Hogen
Fukunaga at will. In July this year, Fukunaga acknowledged to a court that
he used the "tributes" to buy his wife expensive items from top European
fashion houses, but he argued that they were "necessary expenditures to save
the human race."
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Mormonism

4. Boston Temple is rising despite constitutional suit
Deseret News, Dec. 31, 1999
(...) The lawsuit is under way, however, because the builder is a church, The
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and when neighbors tried to halt
construction, they found themselves blocked by a state law that gives
religious organizations, along with certain other institutions, immunity from
many local zoning controls.

Oral arguments are scheduled to be heard Monday before the 1st U.S. Circuit
Court of Appeals in Boston. No matter how the court rules, a lawyer for
neighborhood residents said, the case will probably be appealed to the
Supreme Court.

Residents in the Belmont neighborhood have argued that a huge institutional
building, brightly lit and with more than 200 parking places, does not belong
in an area otherwise zoned for single-family houses. They said the law
violated the Constitution's separation of church and state by giving
religious groups an unfair advantage.

The LDS Church, backed by a panoply of other religious groups from Jews to
Roman Catholics to Baptists to Christian Scientists, has countered that such
zoning protections were needed to prevent discrimination by local boards
against religions they did not like.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Witchcraft

5. Wiccans, Hedonists Summon a New Year With Fire and Dance
San Francisco Chronicle, Jan. 1, 2000
While much of the world rang in the new year with fireworks and immense
public spectacles, pagans, Wiccans, druids and other nontraditional groups
put their own distinctive stamp on the day.

Wiccans, who practice goddess- worshiping, do not traditionally use the
Christian calendar. Nonetheless, they planned yesterday to honor the coming
year ritually.

Thor Francis, a pagan in Arizona who is proposing a 2-year-long millennial
celebration that he hopes would draw a million people, said authorities have
forced his event underground.

"The idea is simply to gather over a million of us together, and create a
magical circle so profound that generations will discuss the event,'' Francis
wrote in an e-mail.

"I can say that the Prelude to the Millennium Event will be held for two
years, beginning with the smaller event, this year, to be held near Landers,
Calif., by people interested in attending. No maps will be published, no
location given. To those who attend, the location will be obvious.''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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6. Zimbabwe Witchdoctors Open School
Panafrican News Agency, Dec. 30, 1999
In an unusual move, Zimbabwe's witch doctors said Thursday they had opened a
school to teach the "art" of African traditional medicine.

The school, located in the heart of Harare, is headed by Prof. Gordon
Chavhunduka, a former vice chancellor of the University of Zimbabwe and
current leader of the Zimbabwe National Traditional Healers' Association, the
umbrella body of the country's witch doctors.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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7. Suit has witch and psychic fighting over the same clientele
Boston.com/AP, Dec. 30, 1999
A Hyannis witch is suing a neighboring psychic in federal court, claiming the
psychic and her husband tried to ''curtail the free exercise of her

But the defendants' lawyer says the dispute has less to do with religion than
money. Patricia Steffens, a priestess of the Church of Wicca, operates The
Black Wolf Pagan store in the same Hyannis mall where Sandra Eli and her
husband operate Sybil's Psychic Readings. Both stores attract a similar
clientele, according to The Cape Cod Times.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Islam

8. Iran's Young Are Restless Under Islam
Washington Post, Dec. 28, 1999
(...) Suddenly, the music stopped. The lights went on. Keyvan looked worried.
A group of young women ran upstairs. The host urged calm. Outside the house,
a young man in a green military-style jacket approached, leaning his
motorcycle against the outer wall of the villa.

The unexpected--and unwelcome--visitor was from Iran's morals police, charged
with cracking down on gatherings of unrelated men and women, alcohol
consumption and other activities illegal under Iran's Islamic social laws.

The young party host approached the visitor, whispered to him and quietly
handed him a few bills. The visitor left. The host returned to the house, to
smiles and cheers.

Like many young Iranians, Leila is frustrated by restrictions on personal
lives imposed since the Shah was overthrown by Islamic conservatives in 1979.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Other News

9. Cult lures villagers to millennial light
Sydney Morning Herald, Dec. 29, 1999
Hundreds of villagers in Papua New Guinea's remote central west have left
their homes, stopped sending their children to school and congregated around
the leader of a cult who has told them the world will plunge into darkness on
Saturday and PNG's expatriates will vanish.

Many have also tried to quit their jobs after being promised they would be
rewarded in the new year provided they had paid a fee to join the movement,
called the Rainbow Church.

The movement, described by PNG police yesterday as resembling a cargo cult,
is centred in the village of Kikisram in the North Fly district of PNG's
Western province.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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10. Leader of cult gets arrested
Post Courier (Papua New Guinea), Dec. 30, 1999
[cargo cult]
A leader of a cult movement in Western Province is under investigation while
his followers have been dispersed.

Provincial police commander in Kiunga, Saibu Ako, said yesterday that the
cult movement, which became known as Rainbow Church, had been going on for
about three years around the Ningerum Highway in Western Province.

He said that last week, the leader or principal as he was known among his
followers, was arrested and later released while awaiting further
investigations by the Criminal Investigation Bureau.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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11. Sect 'rehearsed' attack on Pope
London Times, Dec. 31, 1999
An attack on the Pope during his celebration of the millennium this evening
was rehearsed by a fanatical sect on Christmas Eve, Italian police said

"Sinister events" during the Pope's midnight Mass in St Peter's Square last
week - initially thought to have been unconnected - have since been assessed
as a dry run by the extremists using the cover of thousands of worshippers to
test Vatican defences.

Il Messaggero, the Rome daily newspaper, said the events may presage a
serious attempt to disrupt the millennium celebrations. The Italian Interior
Ministry has said that satanic and other pagan cults active in Rome are
planning to stage such an attack.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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12. Suspect devoted to Santeria
St. Petersburg Times, Dec. 31, 1999
The family of the man charged with the shooting rampage say he had begun work
to become a priest of the religion created by slaves.

He had always been drawn to Santeria, a religion rooted in Africa with gods,
spirits and sacrifices. But now, Izquierdo had embarked on a year's worth of
studies to become a Santero, a priest of the faith.

Suspect Silvio Izquierdo-Leyva was a housekeeper at the Radisson where four
people were killed and three wounded.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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13. No Santeria ties are seen in shootings
St. Petersburg Times, Jan. 1, 2000
(...) On Thursday, however, a 36-year-old Cuban refugee wearing the symbolic
white clothes of a novice Santeria priest was charged with fatally shooting
four fellow employees at the Tampa hotel where he worked. Three others were
injured. A fifth victim died during an aborted carjacking a few minutes

A deadly shooting rampage, and a religion that involves primitive rituals,
sometimes including animal sacrifice. Could the two, possibly, be related?
To some, the very question smacks of stereotypes and cultural bias.

"When someone who is Catholic gets into a rampage like that, nobody in the
newspaper makes a point of saying he was Catholic or Jewish or Baptist or
something like that," said Mercedes Sandoval, a Miami anthropologist who has
studied Santeria for 50 years.

Jose J. LaCalle, a forensic psychologist in Orange County, Calif., agrees
with Sandoval and other experts that in Cuban culture, Santeria is a healthy,
mainstream religion. Its focus is on protecting people from harm and enabling
them to be of service to others.

But as in any religion, some believers can find mistaken assurances that
wrongdoing is not only permissible, it will also be protected.

LaCalle, whose practice focuses on crimes committed by Hispanics, said he has
seen cases in which a Santeria believer "committed a crime in plain day, then
went home thinking nothing will happen to me because the spirits told me to
do it."

The secrecy of Santeria -- deeply ingrained in its resistance to slavery --
is one factor in its occult reputation. So, too, are occasional media stories
that link bizarre occurrences such as grave desecrations to the religion.
Mainstream Santeros do not believe in grave desecrations or communing with
the dead.

But undeniably, animal sacrifice -- chickens and goats -- is the thing that
most separates Santeria from mainstream North American religion. Sacrifices
generally are restricted to commemorations of major life events. The animals
often end up as human meals after they are ritualistically killed and offered
to the gods.

In 1993, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Santeria sacrifices are protected
under the Constitution's guarantee of religious freedom. The ruling has done
much to encourage Santeros to be more open about their religion.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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14. Stabbing suspect thought Beatles were witches
London Times, Dec. 31, 1999
The mother of the man being questioned in connection with the stabbing of
George Harrison said yesterday that he had a history of mental illness.
Lynda Abram said that her son, Michael, 33, a former heroin addict, suffered
from a deep-seated paranoid psychosis which had recently turned into an
obsession with the Beatles. She said he believed the Beatles were witches.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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15. O'Hair case suspect is indicted in FW on weapons charges
Dallas Morning News, Jan. 1, 2000
A Fort Worth ex-convict who law enforcement officials believe played a role
in the disappearance of atheist leader Madalyn Murray O'Hair in 1995 has been
indicted on federal weapons charges, the San Antonio Express-News reported.

Investigators were unavailable for comment Friday on the significance of the
arrest and whether or not it is expected to have an impact on the O'Hair
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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16. Police, fire officials come up empty handed in raid of survivalist's
underground bus shelter maze
Montreal Gazette, Dec. 29, 1999
Firefighters, police officers and a trained dog descended Wednesday into a
survival bunker of 42 buried school buses, in what its owner called a raid
for ammunition and explosives.

Bruce Beach, a retired school teacher, has been constructing the underground
bus labyrinth in Horning's Mills, near Orangeville, Ont., for the past 18
years. He says he keeps nothing dangerous in the bus bunker and the search
group left empty handed. "They came with equipment and special tools," Beach

A frustrated Beech, 66, said the search interrupted his family's preparations
for Y2K, a programming glitch that on Jan. 1 could affect computers that run
everything from VCRs to airplanes. Beach and 50 fellow survivalists are
prepared to descend into the cramped underground maze if there is widespread
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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17. 3rd 'Secret of Fatima' Fuels Millennial Fears for Some
Los Angeles Times, Dec. 31, 1999
Catholicism: Church discourages talk that Virgin Mary in 1917 predicted an
apocalypse, but is mum on details.

In 1917, or so the story goes, the Virgin Mary descended on Fatima, Portugal,
and spoke to three shepherd children. As the sun fluttered and zagged across
the sky, Mary imparted what have become known as her three "secrets."

The first was a harrowing vision of hell and a prediction that while the
world war would end, a worse war would follow--which disciples interpret as a
prediction of World War II. The second was a call for piety and the
consecration of Russia.

The third secret was supposed to be unveiled in 1960, when Pope John XXIII
opened it and quickly had it resealed. Though every pope since has read it,
and Fatima is viewed as an "official" miracle by the church, the contents of
the final message remain unknown to the public.

Now, percolating fascination with the secret has boiled over into the belief
among a growing number of Catholics that Mary predicted some sort of

The church acknowledges that increasing numbers of Catholics are clamoring
for the release of the secret, but insists that the fears associated with the
sealed message are unfounded. The secret is "nothing of tremendous
consequence," Monsignor Francis Maniscalco, a spokesman for the Bishops
Conference in Washington, said this week.

Then why not just divulge its contents? The church won't answer that.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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18. Most Church leaders doubt Adam and Eve
Yahoo! UK/Reuters, Dec. 12, 1999
Only one in 10 church leaders believes in Adam and Eve, a survey has

Of the 103 Anglican, Methodist and Catholic leaders polled by BBC Radio, only
three said they believed in the literal version of creation with God creating
the world in six days.

Asked whether they believed that Adam and Eve really existed. only 13 of the
church leaders said Yes. One in four also said they did not believe in the
Virgin birth.
[...entire item...]

19. Israel reimposes ban on religious group
News Wire (UK), Dec. 31, 1999
An Irish religious group refused entry to Israel earlier this year have again
been told they cannot go to the Middle East state.

The Pilgrim House Community today called for pressure from human rights
organisations, churches and religious communities for an international
investigation into what they called "the denial of any Christian's right" to
visit the Holy Land.

A Pilgrim House spokesman said they wanted an international intervention to
examine the human rights issues surrounding the exclusion "when we manifestly
pose no threat to the state of Israel".

The Pilgrim House spokesman maintained that confusion had arisen when they
described by Irish police ahead of their trip to the Middle East as "radical
Christians" because of their involvement with social justice issues.

When translated into Hebrew and back into English, the word "radical" had
become "extreme".
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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20. Police thwart zealots of Armageddon
London Times, Jan. 1, 2000
(...) Half an hour before the strike of midnight one lonely Christian zealot
was led away from the sealed Golden Gate to Jerusalem's old city after he
began to rave about the sign of the Beast and impending catastrophe and
subsequent "rapture" that awaited mankind.

On Thursday a man was arrested trying to jump off the top of the Church of
the Ascension on the Mount of Olives and another was prevented from hurling
himself to his death from a high building in the old city of Jerusalem.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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21. Apocalypse Not Now -- Prayers And Wine Instead
Yahoo!/Reuters, Dec. 31, 1999
The world did not end and there was no Second Coming of Jesus, but religious
rapture and rowdy street parties competed in Jerusalem as the sacred and the
profane ushered in Christianity's third millennium.

One group of drunken partygoers took turns throwing each other into the air
on the mount associated with Jesus's ascension and through biblical
scriptures with the coming of the Messiah.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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22. The cult watch is on
Chicago Sun-Times, Dec. 31, 1999
(...) While both the FBI and the Anti-Defamation League have issued reports
on possible links between extremist groups and the New Year, there are no
indications of any potential problems in the Chicago area.

Tim Martin, Illinois director of the national Watchman Fellowship, a
faith-based group that monitors some 4,000 cults nationwide, said, "if
[violence] happens, it would be someone from a fringe group. Larger groups
have learned the difficulty of predicting an end."

"Nobody knows what's out there. They may be only a few people. That makes it
difficult to track," said Phoenix-based cult expert Rick Ross. "I'd be very
surprised if at least one group doesn't implode or explode by 2000. I hope
I'm wrong."

As a precaution, all local law enforcement agencies were given access to the
FBI's 40-page "Project Megiddo," named after a Hebrew reference to
Armageddon. The document, now available on the FBI's Web site, analyzes
possible criminal actions by groups that may advocate violence.

This weekend is not the only time that agencies will be watchful.

"We do not know of any direct threats to the the Jewish community, which
tries to be security-aware at all times," said Myrna Shinbaum, spokeswoman
for the Anti-Defamation League, which recently released "Y2K Paranoia:
Extremists Confront the Millennium."

The ADL, she said, will monitor religious extremists who "could be a concern
down the road" if "they do not see expectations filled" at the stroke of
midnight Friday.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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23. Phenomenon of the new age cult
The Irish Times, Dec. 30, 1999
With the close of the 20th century has come a growing interest in the
approach of a 'new age'. And with incredible speed – or at least the time it
took for the press to cotton on to the idea – healing crystals, soothing
oils, Feng Shui and meditation have become part of modern life.

So too has talk of and interest in new age religions.

But while discernible growth in the traditional Churches is difficult to
plot, the growing interest in cult religions is easier to identify and
represents a trend that looks set to extend into the new millennium.

Doomsday cults – a further common theme this decade and inevitably set to
resurface on the other side of new year's eve – are nothing new either.

The fear among the authorities over other cults – and one which is likely to
be a continuing problem into the next millennium – is the availability of

But there are other alternatives to accepted religions and a further element
of growing significance is the paranormal.

Peter Underwood, a leading paranormal investigator based in Britain, believes
there is a growing interest in the area.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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24. Charles Louis Spiegel, 78; cosmic visionary led Unarius Academy
San Diego Union-Tribune, Dec. 31, 1999
Charles Louis Spiegel, a cosmic visionary who shared his concept of
immortality and extra-terrestrial life as director of the Unarius Academy of
Science in El Cajon, has died. He was 78.

Mr. Spiegel died in his sleep Dec. 22 at his Mount Helix home, said Celeste
Appel, an academy spokeswoman. In the parlance of the academy's
international followers, "he made his transition to the spiritual worlds,"
Appel said.

One of the tenets of Mr. Spiegel's teaching was that there is no such thing
as death.

He did believe, however, that as many as 33 starships carrying
extraterrestrials from the planet Myton will land on Earth some time in the
year 2001. His predecessor as director of the 45-year-old academy, Ruth
Norman, had purchased 67 acres in Jamul in 1975 to accommodate the expected
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Science

25. Oklahoma bill would support disclaimer on books about evolution
Dallas Morning News, Jan. 1, 2000
A state legislator has introduced a bill that would support a controversial
decision by the Oklahoma State Textbook Committee to require a disclaimer on
schoolbooks that deal with evolution.

Rep. Jim Reese, R-Nardin, said last week that the textbook committee already
had the legal authority to require a disclaimer and that his legislation
would give additional backing to the panel.

On Nov. 5, the textbook committee adopted a disclaimer to be placed in
certain textbooks stating that evolution is a "controversial theory" and
unproved when it comes to explaining the origins of life.

The disclaimer adds that the textbook does not mention "many unanswered
questions about the origin of life" and urges students to "study hard and
keep an open mind."

Scientific and civil liberties groups and textbook publishers have criticized
the disclaimer, but no one has filed a lawsuit. Americans United for the
Separation of Church and State and the American Civil Liberties Union are
considering legal action.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Controversial Renewal and Revival Movements

26. 'Prophetic Elders' Look to Youth Revival, Warn of Russian Invasion
Charisma News, Dec. 29, 1999
A great youth revival, churches so big they have to use stadiums to fit all
their members and people being raised from the dead are among dramatic
developments Christians have to look forward to in the new millennium, says a
group of leaders widely accepted as modern-day prophets.

But there will also be more persecution of the Jews, a possible Russian
invasion of Alaska, the threat of a second Great Depression and an increase
in the number of natural disasters, warns the group in a "corporate prophetic
word" just released after a meeting at the World Prayer Center in Colorado
Springs, Colo.

Called the Apostolic Council of Prophetic Elders, the group gathered under
the leadership of C. Peter Wagner, an internationally recognized authority on
prayer and spiritual warfare and one of the founders of the prayer center.
Among those present were Chuck Pierce, Dutch Sheets, Cindy Jacobs, Mike
Bickle and Tommy Tenney.

The group's statement was released after they met in Colorado at the end of
last month. The council--formed to provide a corporate forum for leaders with
a recognized prophetic gift--was born out of a similar gathering at the
prayer center in January. At that time the group--which included many of
those who met last month--warned of terrorist attacks killing people on
American soil if churches did not pray fervently.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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27. Rise of Pentecostalism is religion story of century
The Huntsville Times, Jan. 1, 2000
In the early part of the 20th century, few people were aware of the 1906
Azusa Street Revival which took place in a dilapidated building on a street
corner in Los Angeles.

Recently, that seemingly insignificant event was dubbed one of the top 10
stories, not only of the century, but of the last millennium by members of
the Religion Newswriters Association.

The Azusa Street Revival is considered the birthplace of the modern
Pentecostal movement, the fastest-growing branch of Christianity today.

Dr. Harvey Cox, a professor at Harvard Divinity School and an expert on
Pentecostalism, said that in 30 years Pentecostals will outnumber all other
non-Catholic Christians combined.

''People are looking for a direct experience of God,'' said Cox during a
videotape presentation for the Religion Newswriters Association convention
last July. ''People are not as drawn (today) to authoritarian, bureaucratic

Monsignor Vincent Walsh of Wynnewood, Penn., said the charismatic revival in
the Catholic Church began about 10 years ago. He predicted the next big
Pentecostal movement in the Catholic Church will be in the form of ''holy
laughter'' or ''holy madness'' which started in Toronto in 1994.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Noted

28. The Enlightenment Bug
Technology Review, Jan/Feb 2000 (Column)
January/February 2000
Agenda for the new millennium: Heal the division of humanity into ”techies,”
“humies” and religious believers.

While the world is eagerly anticipating the Y2K apocalypse, a far more
serious "bug," created 300 years ago, gets very little attention—a situation
we need to recognize and rectify.

I am talking about the Enlightenment, when people decided to split reason
from faith and from the literature of the ancients. This dissociation freed
science and technology from the shackles of religion and fueled the
Industrial Revolution. The success of industrialization confirmed the wisdom
of this division and reinforced the three-way separation among “techies” (who
put their faith in technology), the “humies” (humanists) and the religious
believers. But with success came problems. Techies began questioning their
purpose. Humies became disaffected with gadgets and materialism dominating
ideas. Youth, sensing something was missing, turned to drugs. And people
focused increasingly on themselves, celebrating possessions and lamenting
depressions. Governments separated faith from reason in the school curricula.
A politically correct population became increasingly reluctant to say “God.”
And universities isolated techies from humies in neat cubbyholes. By now, the
split has become so ingrained that we’re not even aware of it.

Today, the split serves no purpose and we must make an effort to heal it
ourselves. Here are the reasons:

- Michael Dertouzos is director of MIT’s Laboratory for Computer Science and
a columnist for Technology Review.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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29. Where Religion Stands Today
Washington Post, Jan. 1, 2000
Faith Played a Major Role in Sweeping Political and Cultural Changes 1,000
Years Ago, Many of Which Still Resonate; Around Globe, Diverse Faiths Fuel a
Search for Meaning

(...) Chester Gillis, associate professor of theology at Georgetown
University, believes he has the answer. People now, as then, "sense the need
for an absolute or transcendent or divine presence in their lives. The vast
majority of the world has that innate sense for the divine, a search for the
ontological grounding of their own person."

Gillis said that "every culture historically" has shown evidence of this
search for transcendent meaning. "It has taken different expressions, been
fractured into various religions and denominations. But it is still

This constant is important to recognize today because some people contend
that religious belief is declining, which simply isn't so, he said. It's true
that particular groups, such as some mainline Protestant denominations, are
experiencing drops in membership or attendance. But members who fall away
often find a new religious community, whether it's a more vibrant,
Pentecostal megachurch or some private New Age spirituality.

In the United States, which is home to dozens of religions and hundreds of
denominations, religious diversity has become "far more commonplace than the
framers of the Constitution ever imagined," said Diana L. Eck, professor of
comparative religion at Harvard University and director of the school's
Pluralism Project, which tracks the country's growing religious diversity.

"We're still predominantly Christian, no doubt about it," she said. But
because of an "interfaith explosion" in the last decade, "America for the
first time in our history is really, really challenged to make good on our
promise of freedom of religion."

Eck and Gillis agree that followers of America's "traditional"
religions--Protestantism, Catholicism, Judaism--need to open new paths of
understanding to different cultures and faiths. No longer are Muslims,
Buddhists, Hindus and Jains living "on the other side of the world, but
across the street."

Eck believes accepting the beliefs of others "deepens faith" without
endangering it. And increased understanding doesn't mean "leaving your
religion at the door or shedding it, but affirming a commitment to live

"My sense is that [America's] faiths have never been static and will continue
to change and breathe the air of the new times, or die," Eck said.

Gillis agreed, adding that religions encountering new faiths often make
adjustments not in belief, but in music, worship and other forms of
expression. "Even religious claims are subject to a changing expression about
the absolute."
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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* Includes a breakdown of the world's believers and non-believers today.

30. Guns R US
Yahoo! UK/News Unlimited, Dec. 28, 1999
(...) And those were just some of the bigger sensations of a year in which,
give or take a few hundred, 10,000 Americans were murdered by gunfire.
Ten thousand. That's the equivalent of an entire modern army division. But
then the USA seems, to many outside eyes, to resemble nothing so much as a
military arsenal. Americans possess, collectively, 192m guns, of which 65m
are easily concealed pistols. Those are just the registered weapons. Many of
the guns used in the more casual forms of slaughter - by November, the year's
toll of gang killings in Los Angeles alone had topped 100 - are illegally

It may seem an impertinence for non-Americans to comment on such matters. But
to those of us who live in countries saturated in US culture (some would say
the lack of it), the cult of gun worship also poses a real and present