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Religion News Report

Religion News Report - Feb. 2, 2000 (Vol. 4, Issue 162)

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=== Aum Shinrikyo - Aleph
1. Agency gets OK to monitor Aum
2. Security panel starts Aum surveillance
3. AUM begins life in a straitjacket
4. Aum put under surveillance
5. Aum placed under surveillance
6. Japan's doomsday cult strikes back at clampdown
7. Aum pays redress to its victims
8. AUM paying up to 'save hide'
9. Aum kids admission sought
10. Analysis: Aum's survival in doubt as watch begins

=== Japan - Mummies
11. Yet another mummified body uncovered in a Japanese bedroom

=== Falun Gong
12. Report says 32 Falun Gong members get prison in secret trials

=== Zhong Gong
13. China targets members and funds of Qigong cult

=== Waco / Branch Davidians
14. Pair who sold guns to Koresh say the ATF has made life difficult

=== Scientology
15. Symposium

=== Unification Church
16. Unification Church to Host Joint Wedding of 20,000 Couples in Feb.
17. Dominican elections as government accused of selling passports to
18. Rev. Sun Myung Moon sets up soccer team in Brazil
19. St. Charles Shelter Turns Down Award

=== Jehovah's Witnesses
20. Bloodless surgery could help millions

=== Cults - General
21. Cult recruitment goes into orbit
22. About 200,000 children and young people live in sects

=== Other News
23. PAOCTF rescues 2 young girls from religious cult
24. Inside the hut of horrors
25. This ghost smears Vaseline on us
26. Vets split on New Age treatments
27. Cuba Boy Has Divine Status for Some
28. Creationists ready for zoning fight

=== Aum Shinrikyo - Aleph

1. Agency gets OK to monitor Aum
Daily Yomiuri (Japan), Jan. 29, 2000
The Aum Supreme Truth cult was officially put under the scrutiny of public
security authorities Tuesday after the surveillance was approved in record
time the day before.

The Public Security Examination Commission took only about a month to grant
the permission after the Public Security Investigation Agency made the
request. The commission's official decision became effective Monday in what
was considered an unprecedented speeding up of procedures.

Aum took various measures to stave off becoming a target of the new law,
including an admission for the first time that cult guru Chizuo Matsumoto,
44, also known as Shoko Asahara, may have been involved in a series of
crimes. It also issued an apology to victims and presented a plan to
compensate victims.

But on Jan. 21, cult followers allegedly abducted Matsumoto's eldest son from
an Aum facility. An agency official said, "It is highly likely that internal
conflicts over a future course of action caused by rapid and drastic
reorganization are behind (the kidnapping). The incident unintentionally
unveiled the cult's dangerous nature."

Aum also has been making its own preparations. The cult has sent e-mail to
followers to coach them on their response to inspections and to warn them to
act cautiously so as to avoid becoming the targets of preventive measures,
according to sources close to the cult.

At a press conference Monday, commission Chairman Kozo Fujita said, "We
decided that surveillance should be conducted as soon as possible because we
recognize there is a danger that the cult will commit indiscriminate mass
murder again."
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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2. Security panel starts Aum surveillance
Daily Yomiuri (Japan), Feb. 1, 2000
The Public Security Examination Commission on Monday notified the Aum Supreme
Truth cult
, which recently changed its name to Aleph, of its decision to
place the cult under supervision for three years beginning Tuesday.

The Public Security Investigation Agency, which was also informed of the
commission's decision Monday, plans to launch joint efforts with police
authorities to conduct on-the-spot inspections into several key cult
facilities immediately after the decision is publicized, sources said.

In accordance with the law, the cult is required to report to the agency,
first within 30 days of being placed under supervision and once every three
months thereafter, disclose the names and addresses of followers living both
within and outside cult facilities and their status within the cult, facility
addresses and uses, names of Internet providers through which the cult has
set up its Web site and names of cult members who hold contracts with service

In addition, the cult will be subject to another law that can compel it to
use its assets to compensate victims of cult activities--including sarin gas
attacks in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, and on the Tokyo subway system--and
their bereaved families, the sources said.

Despite the cult's recent "drastic reforms," including the decision to
abandon dogmas that could be considered dangerous, the commission said it is
unthinkable that such reforms would be implemented so long as the cult
retains its doctrine that centers on absolute faith in Matsumoto.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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3. AUM begins life in a straitjacket
Mainichi Daily News (Japan), Feb. 1, 2000
(...) The Public Security Investigation Agency has already decided, along
with the police, to raid several facilities related to AUM, which now calls
itself Aleph. They will do so as soon as legal authorization for the strict
surveillance measures comes through.

Crimebusters will be allowed, among other measures, to raid AUM facilities
and the cult must submit, within 30 days, lists of assets and members.

AUM will be allowed to sue to demand the revocation of the surveillance

Earlier, on Jan. 20, AUM had demanded that the commission block application
of the draconian surveillance, arguing that the law is a gross violation of
human rights and that the cult is no longer a danger to society as it has
abandoned some of its doctrines.

In a separate development on Monday, AUM followers who were living on the
premises of a former printing company in Fujioka, Gumma Prefecture, completed
their evacuation and handed the key of the facility over to the trustee for
the company's bankruptcy.

According to police, the premises had once become the cult's biggest colony,
with some 130 followers living in the facility and the house of the company's
former president.

The evacuation, which was ordered by the Maebashi District Court on Dec. 9,
came as relief to local residents, who had learned about the influx of AUM
followers into the city in mid-August last year.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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4. Aum put under surveillance
Japan Times, Feb. 1, 2000
(...) "Considering the evidence, we came to the conclusion that cult
followers still constitute a threat and could commit another indiscriminate
mass murder in the future, and its activities should be monitored for a
certain amount of time," said Kozo Fujita, chairman of the seven-member
commission at a news conference at the Justice Ministry.

"We ask (Aum) to actively cooperate with the surveillance and make its actual
condition transparent, because this will help reduce and sweep away the
anxiety society has (toward it,)" Fujita said.

Fujita called on the cult to keep its promise to compensate the victims of
the heinous crimes committed by its members. "Society as a whole should also
cooperate to protect the human rights of the followers and their children and
accept them into society," he said.

Justice Minister Hideo Usui said he appreciated the commission's decision,
and that the agency would begin monitoring cult activities. "I am confident
that the surveillance (of Aum) will relieve the anxiety of local communities
(where cult members reside)," he said.

Meanwhile, Saburo Abe, a court-appointed administrator in charge of
liquidating the cult's assets, welcomed the decision, saying that it will
make it easier for him to grasp the amount of Aum's assets. "With the report
from Aum and information from agency officials, I am willing to take
appropriate steps further to help redress the victims," Abe said in a
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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5. Aum placed under surveillance
Asahi News (Japan), Feb. 1, 2000
(...) In the ruling, commission members said Aum had political motives in
carrying out sarin gas attacks in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, and on the
Tokyo subway system. The ruling said Matsumoto masterminded both plots and
"was a figure who demanded absolute devotion and still had influence'' over
cult members. The commission concluded that these findings, in addition to
the potential for future harm to the public, were adequate justification to
apply the new law to Aum.

Aum's efforts at reform were also seen as unachievable, as the group placed
"devotion to Matsumoto at the core of its activities.''

In response to the claim by Aum officials that the new law was
unconstitutional, commission members said publicizing the activities of a
group that poses a danger was necessary and within the reasonable limits of
basic human rights.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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6. Japan's doomsday cult strikes back at clampdown
Yahoo/AFP, Feb. 1, 2000
The Japanese doomsday cult accused of a 1995 nerve gas attack on the Tokyo
subway vowed Tuesday to fight against police crackdown on its activities.

The Aleph cult, formerly known as Aum Supreme Truth, said in a statement that
it would file a suit against the clampdown which it described as

The cult, whose guru Shoko Asahara has warned against an apocalyptic war and
is standing trial for his role in 17 crimes, now claims it has reformed and
is no longer a danger. "Our sect for its part considers the law as
unconstitutional and our new organisation does not fulfill the criteria to be
covered by the law," the cult's statement said. "Therefore, we extremely
regret the decision by authorities and our sect plans to promptly apply for
an administrative litigation to nullify the decision," it added.

Fumihiro Joyu, 37, considered the cult's most influential leader after his
release from prison in late December after a three-year term for perjury,
said Aleph would not reject police inspections for the time being. "We will
not reject them but cooperate with them," Joyu, well known for his eloquence,
told a news conference at the cult's branch in Yokohama, south of Tokyo.

The cult's statement also said it would not recognise the guru's two sons as
its spiritual leaders although they have been revered since Asahara's
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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7. Aum pays redress to its victims
Japan Times, Feb. 1, 2000
Aum Shinrikyo has paid 25 million yen as the first installment of its own
compensation package for victims of crimes attributed to the religious cult,
senior Aum officials said Tuesday.

At a press conference held at the cult's Yokohama branch, top members,
including Fumihiro Joyu, said Aum remitted the money into the account of a
fund headed by Saburo Abe, the court-appointed administrator in charge of
liquidating the cult's assets, so victims of its alleged crimes can be

Regarding Monday's decision by the Public Security Examination Commission to
allow the cult to be placed under surveillance, Aum said it would immediately
file suit to seek nullification of the decision.

"(The law) is unconstitutional and the new group (Aleph) does not meet the
conditions the law deems necessary for its application," they said. Aum
announced that it had changed its name to Aleph in mid-December.

The same day, a citizen's group that helps former members of the cult
submitted a petition to the central government asking authorities to ensure
that former cult followers will not face discrimination when they rejoin

The Nihon Datsu-Cult Kenkyu-kai (Japan Study Group for Quitting Cults),
headed by Shingo Takahashi, an associate professor at Toho University, also
asked that the government take into consideration the feelings of those who
are still with the cult when authorities inspect Aum's facilities.

The petition asks authorities to make sure that any revelation of past
membership of Aum will not be reflected in the treatment of former members.

The group was established in 1995 by a group of people led by lawyer Taro
Takimoto, whom Aum once attempted to kill. He is now promoting activities to
help Aum members quit the cult.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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8. AUM paying up to 'save hide'
Mainichi Daily News (Japan), Jan. 31, 2000
(...) To finance this, the cult will reopen its personal computer subsidiary
that it had closed down, she said at the conference, which was also attended
by senior member Fumihiro Joyu.

Public safety authorities reacted cooly to the announcement. "During the
news conference, [cult leaders] didn't mention how much the computer company
made in the past or what profits other subsidiaries that are still in
operation are earning," an official of the authorities said. "The cult is
apparently trying to avoid being placed under surveillance."
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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9. Aum kids admission sought
Daily Yomiuri (Japan), Feb. 1, 2000
A lawyer for a former senior member of the Aum Supreme Truth cult submitted a
written statement Monday to the Tokigawamura Board of Education in Saitama
Prefecture, requesting the board admit the member's twin daughters to a local
primary school, local officials said.

The lawyer said that Ishii and her husband were no longer cult members and
had no intention of going back to the cult, and the children should not be
deprived of their right to education because of their parents' background.

The board accepted the statement, but only said it would not reverse its
decision, officials stated.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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10. Analysis: Aum's survival in doubt as watch begins
Japan Times, Feb. 1, 2000
Monday's decision by the Public Security Examination Commission to invoke a
law to monitor Aum Shinrikyo will inevitably deal a major blow to the cult --
possibly even leading to its breakup.

"But the fact is, Aum no longer has the power to act as one entity," said
Tatsuo Suzuki, who defended the cult when the agency attempted to apply the
Antisubversive Activities Law to it in 1996.

In recent weeks, there have been various signs indicating that senior Aum
members are in conflict with each other and unable to organize the cult or
exert leadership.

Aum leaders express concern that agency officials will abuse their power
under the law, since the limit of "inspections" officials may conduct has not
been clearly spelled out. During a hearing last month before the commission,
lawyers for the cult argued that the agency should provide guidelines to
specify what officials could do and how cult members should cooperate.

Although it may be difficult in the current circumstances, lawyer Takeshi Ono
said, he hopes agency officials will not abuse their power and start
arresting Aum followers under the new law, which stipulates that cultists may
face imprisonment or a fine if they interfere with the investigations.

"With the law's application, many will decide to leave the cult," said Ono,
who provides support to former Aum members and their families in the belief
that their return to normal society is more constructive than isolating the
cultists and placing them under constant surveillance. "Authorities should
leave such cultists alone and give them a chance to come back to society, at
least for the time being."
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Japan - Mummies

11. Yet another mummified body uncovered in a Japanese bedroom
Yahoo/AFP, Feb. 1, 2000
A Japanese family kept the mummified body of their father for 18 months at
home because one of his sons insisted he was still alive, police said

It was the third mummy incident uncovered in Japan in three months but,
unlike the previous two cases involving faith-healing cults, this one carried
no organized religious overtones.

"There is no religious background to it. It rather showed a son's blind love
for his father," said a police spokesman in Sapporo, the main city on the
northern Japan island of Hokkaido.

The dead man, whose body was cremated later, had two sons, now 56 and 53, and
a daughter, now 45. His wife died 11 months after his death. Only the second
son could not realise that his father was dead and his siblings did not
bother him because he was mentally disturbed, the spokesman said.

In mid-November, a yoga-style meditation group, "Life Space," was found to
have kept the mummified corpse of another member for "treatment" at an
airport hotel for four months, insisting it was alive.

Last month, police discovered the mummified bodies of two children at a
luxury villa used by a faith-healing sect, "Kaeda-juku", which said they
could still come back to life.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Falun Gong

12. Report says 32 Falun Gong members get prison in secret trials
Canoe/AP (Canada), Feb. 1, 2000
In quietly convened trials, a Chinese court sentenced two sisters who helped
lead the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement to six and seven years in
prison, and 30 other members who held a protest to terms of up to two years,
a rights group reported today.

China's government-controlled news media have not reported the trials, and
court officials refused to comment. But the trials were the capital's biggest
since four leading organizers of Falun Gong were sentenced to terms of up to
18 years on Dec. 26.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Zhong Gong

13. China targets members and funds of Qigong cult
Australian Financial Review, Feb. 1, 2000
(...) According to the Hong Kong human rights organisation, Chinese police
raided Zhong Gong's head office in Beijing and confiscated 50 million yuan
($9.46 million) in assets last November.

A large training base operated by the Qigong group in the northwestern
province of Shaanxi was closed down by police in December, according to the
human rights group, with around 60 offices of a company linked to the sect in
the provinces of Inner Mongolia, Guangxi, and Yunnan shut over recent months.

News of the latest crackdown on the Zhong Gong sect came as Beijing stepped
up its criticism of proposed moves by the United States to censor China over
its human rights record at a meeting of the United Nations Commission on
Human Rights in March.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Waco / Branch Davidians

14. Pair who sold guns to Koresh say the ATF has made life difficult
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Jan. 29, 2000
Henry S. McMahon Jr. and Karen Kilpatrick sold 223 weapons to David Koresh,
the Branch Davidian leader whose compound was consumed by flames in a
government assault.

Now, nearly seven years later, McMahon and Kilpatrick say they still dream
about the children who were among the 80 Davidians who perished with Koresh
in flames and gunfire. Law enforcement agents have long memories too of
their six colleagues killed during a previous raid, and the guns that fired
the fatal shots. After the fire, agents recovered 61 weapons they say Koresh
and his followers had illegally altered to make capable of automatic gunfire.

McMahon and Kilpatrick were never charged with a crime. But they say the
government has made their lives miserable through threats and intimidation.
The botched raid on the Branch Davidians and its tragic consequences have
made the gun dealers pariahs, they say. They are unable to hold jobs and
survive on disability pay from the government.

Complaints to the Justice Department were rejected when the government found
no evidence the pair had been mistreated. McMahon and Kilpatrick dropped a
civil rights suit because they couldn't pay a lawyer. Now, they're hoping the
investigation of special counsel John Danforth will help to bring them public
exoneration and perhaps some money.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Scientology

15. Symposium
Trierischer Volksfreund (Germany), Jan. 31, 2000
Translation: CISAR
Worthwhile or Wolf in Sheep's clothing
["Wert-voll oder Wolf im Schafspelz?" is a pun in German ... trans.]

Church or religious business? How worthwhile is Scientology? Christian
Democrat students discussed the matter with sect commissioner Hans Neusius
and Scientologists.

The[y] came, saw and heeded. The Ring of Christian Democrat Students (RCDS)
invited Barbara Lieser, presiding President of Scientology Church Frankfurt
and Hans Neusius, sect commissioner of the Trier diocese to the podium of the
Catholic Academy for a verbal duel.

Energetic and with noticeable desire for a verbal frontal attack, Neusius put
the professionalism of the Hubbard adherents in question at his latest
meeting. In doing so, the diocesan commissioner made constant reference to
the writings of Ron Hubbard, the founder of Dianetics. That is what
Scientologists call the actual "teachings of belief" of the former science
fiction author.

Hardly had the moderator, Juergen von Wnuk-Lipinski, opened the discussion
than Neusius charged in full speed ahead: "Scientology is not a church nor a
religion," stated the weltanschauungs expert. Neusius continued to say that
such terms were used by members of the Scientology church only as camouflage
gear. "Therefore this, for me, is not an interreligious discussion."

The meeting was part of a three-day symposium of the RCDS, the Konrad
Adenauer Foundation and the Department of New Media under the direction of
Katharina Zey-Wortmann at the Catholic Academy on the theme of basic values,
for which more than 40 students from across the Republic traveled to the
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Unification Church

16. Unification Church to Host Joint Wedding of 20,000 Couples in Feb.
Korea Times, Jan. 28, 2000
The Unification Church will jointly wed 20,000 couples from around the world
in Seoul on Feb. 13 as part of its World Culture and Sports Festival 2000,
church officials said yesterday.

The joint wedding ceremony, to be held at Seoul Olympic Stadium, will be
televised to 185 countries via satellite or Internet broadcast.

The week-long festival will begin with an opening ceremony Feb. 9 at Lotte
Hotel in central Seoul where about 40 world leaders including former U.S.
vice president Dan Quayle, Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid, Dominican
Republic President Leonel Fernandes, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former
Polish president Lech Walesa and former British prime minister Edward Heath.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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17. Dominican elections as government accused of selling passports to
Nando Media/AP, Jan. 31, 2000
(...) Like several Caribbean countries, Dominica started selling passports
under programs linked to offshore banking centers in the early 1990s, as aid
from traditional donors dried up and the banana industry collapsed under a
U.S. challenge to preferential trade rules.

The Labor Party dominated politics here from 1961 until 1979. Fearing a Labor
comeback, James repeated charges Sunday that Labor leader Rosie Douglas had
met with leaders of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church and would
allow them to return to Dominica.

They were expelled two years ago from several Caribbean countries that saw
the South Korea-based church as a cult.

"If you elect Rosie Douglas, then the Moonies will come in and our Christian
way of life - the good way of life - all that will disappear," James warned.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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18. Rev. Sun Myung Moon sets up soccer team in Brazil
AOL/Reuters, Feb. 1, 2000
After spending millions of dollars to create a new community in Brazilian
swampland, South Korean religious leader Rev. Sun Myung Moon has made another
investment in Brazil -- a soccer team.

The leader of the Unification Church, who is building a closed-door community
for his followers on the fringes of Brazil's Pantanal marshes, has set up the
"New Hope'' team, including five star players from a Mato Grosso do Sul state
team Ubiratan, soccer officials said.

Moon's followers in Brazil said the leader talked about building a giant
soccer stadium in New Hope, where he could give his famous mass weddings.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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19. St. Charles Shelter Turns Down Award
Chicago Tribune, Jan. 22, 2000
After first expressing surprise at winning a national award, the executive
director of a St. Charles-based homeless shelter has decided to decline the
money and recognition bestowed by the Washington Times Foundation, citing a
difference in philosophy with the foundation's backers.

"I and the members of our board didn't know when I agreed to accept the award
that the Washington Times was affiliated with Rev. Sun Myung Moon's
Unification Church," said Darlene Marcusson, executive director of Lazarus
House. "When we learned of the affiliation, we decided to decline because
our philosophy isn't in keeping with theirs," she said.

This year, the 5-year-old foundation sought nominations from high-profile
figures for its $2,000 American Century awards, created to "honor exemplary
individuals who have made important contributions in the areas of freedom,
faith and family in the 20th Century."

Rev. A.L. Dunlop of Mt. Olive African Methodist Episcopal Church in Chicago,
who advises the foundation, said that "everybody is entitled to their own
opinion. This is a democracy and she has every right to do that.

". . . The foundation believes in Judeo-Christian family concepts and that
God doesn't look at anyone's color of skin. It wants to bring people together
of all races."
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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* About the Unification Church

=== Jehovah's Witnesses

20. Bloodless surgery could help millions
The Telegraph (England), Jan. 30, 2000
A Jehovah's Witness who refused a blood transfusion has been given a
"bloodless" liver transplant in pioneering surgery that doctors believe will
benefit millions of people.

Ewan Opperman, 19, a computer science student, flew from South Africa for the
treatment at St James's hospital in Leeds after surgeons in Cape Town refused
to carry out a similar operation. Mr Opperman was operated on without any
back up blood for transfusion - usually five pints is used - and within four
weeks was well enough to fly home.

He refused the blood because of his religion but surgeons believe that
bloodless surgery will have profound implications for everyone. It is
potentially safer, cheaper and could eventually replace the need for
transfusions. About five per cent of surgery is now carried out without extra
blood, although it is unusual for there to be no blood at all in theatre as
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Cults - General

21. Cult recruitment goes into orbit
This Is London, Jan. 28, 2000
(...) Graham Baldwin, 47, a former university chaplain and army
intelligence officer, is one of two 'exit counsellors' in Britain who help
families rescue damaged cult members. A rotund figure with grey hair and a
measured manner, he is a far cry from the macho Seventies-style exit
counsellor 'PJ' played by Harvey Keitel in the film Holy Smoke (released in
March), in which Keitel 'exits' cult member Kate Winslet and, against all the
rules, falls in love with her. Baldwin, who works in New Malden, South
London, has successfully retrieved hundreds of children whose families had
almost lost hope.

When Alison is presented with written evidence of financial dealings within
the Church of Christ, her demeanour becomes increasingly anxious. Gone is the
impenetrable look cultists wear when outsiders argue against their leaders'
'philosophy'. She fiddles with her hands and bites her lip constantly as more
information is revealed. As ex-cult members put it, Alison's 'light has come
on'. But not before she has dedicated more than a year of her young life, and
considerable amounts of money, to the cause. Alison learns that a cult leader
she believed earned 500 a month is on a total annual package of around
70,000. When, finally, after several hours of discussion and debate, she
asks the question, 'If I leave the group, will I still be saved?' Baldwin
knows he has won. And Alison's parents breathe an enormous sigh of relief.

Cult movements escalated during the Seventies, and there are now
approximately 1,500 around the world. About 500 cults are now active in
Britain, most of them with branches in London, a fertile recruitment ground
of lonely, vulnerable young people.

Cult experts say the tactics used by the Church of Christ can cause severe
psychiatric problems for members who try to leave. They are told who to date
and marry, and even have lessons in how to make love. Questioning orders is
called 'devil's talk'.

While Baldwin is firmly opposed to the 'kidnapping' of cult members by
families (he believes it is too traumatising for the victim and too similar
to the brainwashing that landed them there in the first place), former
Children of God member Kristina Jones, 23, says if it's the only option, it
has to be done. If the cult member can make their own decision, thinks
Baldwin, they can retain their dignity and integrity. But leaders may oppress
the victim to such an extent that they're not allowed outside.

FAIR is so concerned about the growth of cults that it is calling for
government action to tackle the problem, and for new measures to lessen the
damage cults are able to do - for example, enforcing a cooling-off period, so
that new members' cheques can't be cashed for two weeks.

FAIR wants health warnings issued on cults, especially around university
campuses, and for 'mental kidnapping' to be made a criminal offence. Former
Conservative Home Office Minister Tom Sackville says, 'We are naturally
contemptuous of the pseudo-religious rubbish that cults use to manipulate
their members. They are like child abusers and drug dealers in terms of the
damage they do. The problem is, cults are viewed by those who advise
ministers in strictly legal terms, because they recruit consenting adults. We
should look to European initiatives for inspiration.' The French government
has a 19-strong council on cults made up of MPs, academics and cult
specialists, and the fight is slowly entering the public domain. Here, we
have a group called Inform which has just re-secured a government grant to
provide information and to inform government policy on cult movements.
However, Inform is widely criticised for being too pro-cult, and for
benefiting from too much 'cult hospitality'. The Cult Information Centre
feels that, far from tackling the problem, Inform is becoming part of it. It
has the British Council of Churches as a member but, according to critics,
churchmen won't favour anti-cult legislation for fear of losing their own
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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22. About 200,000 children and young people live in sects
AP (Germany), Jan. 28, 2000
Translation: CISAR
About 200,000 children and young people, according to a statement by the
CDU/CSU opposition in Parliament, presently live in Germany in sects and
psychogroups. The young people have no choice in the matter, CSU
Representative Klaus Holtschek complained in Friday in Parliament during the
debate on the Enquete's Commissioner report on "So-called Sects and
Psychogroups." They supposedly have to be protected from such a fate as
quickly as possible.

The Union, along with the opposition of the FDP and the PDS, accused the
Red-Green federal administration of doing nothing on the issue of sects.
Extensive clarification about the work and presence of these organizations
was said to be urgently required to warn and protect citizens. It was said
that the federal government should implement the Commission's recommendations
for action.

The report's recommendations included new legislation, establishment of a
federal foundation and promotion of private counselling and informational
centers. Furthermore, the tax law, medical practice law and legal regulations
for guardianship and usuary would have to be expanded. The CDU/CSU demanded
that the federal administration present its first report on the
implementation of the recommended actions no later than June 30, especially
concerning the surveillance of the Scientology Organization by Constitutional

FDP Representative Birgit Homburger and PDS Representative Ulla Jelpke also
spoke out in favor of surveillance of Scientology.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Other News

23. PAOCTF rescues 2 young girls from religious cult
Philippine Star, Jan. 30, 2000
Two young girls were rescued yesterday from a cult group in Barangay
Bogongon, this city by the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force

This came as government operatives are looking for leads to reports that
three other children subjected to abuse by the "Ministry of the Followers of
Yawheh" had died in the cult camp. The allegation was made by a minor who had
escaped from the camp earlier.

Rescued were Iris Querwina, 12, and Anna Dominique Querwina, 18. Both said
they joined the cult, based in a remote mountain camp in Barangay Bogongon,
some six years ago. The raiding team headed by Maj. Leonie Roy Ga and Maj.
Celso Regencia said they also found in the camp about 21 children aged from
below seven to 13 years old. All looked emaciated, according to the two
PAOCTF officials.

Col. Graciano Mijares, PAOCTF-Iligan chief, said his men also arrested
Fidencio Trani, 68, the suspected leader of the cult, his wife Jazmin, 57,
Dr. Alma Buenavista and Lani Canumay.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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24. Inside the hut of horrors
Sunday Times (South Africa), Jan. 30, 2000
The discovery of the dismembered body of a man in a sangoma's hut of horrors
this week could also shed light on the disappearance of a number of children.

Police are investigating claims by a 54-year-old sangoma, arrested last
Sunday night, that he picked up the bone while on a trip to Swaziland. Three
other men, aged between 24 and 26, have also been arrested in connection with
the case. Police believe the three younger men could have killed De Lange in
exchange for a debt they allegedly owed the sangoma.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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25. This ghost smears Vaseline on us
Sunday Times (South Africa), Jan. 30, 2000
A family say they are being terrorised by an invisible creature which moves
their beds and breaks objects in their home. "When we sleep blankets are
removed from us and our bodies are smeared with lotions which are in the
house," said father of four Masite Sejake. "Sometimes Vaseline is smeared on

Police spokesman, Captain Patrick Asaneng, said the police were finding it
difficult to deal with what was happening at the Sejake home. "I went with a
prophet to the house to pray for the family but nothing happened. The
creature attacks them when they are alone," he said. "We stayed with the
family hoping it would start, but nothing happened. But when we left we
received information that the creature was attacking them. "Our hands are
tied in this matter because no crime is being committed.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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26. Vets split on New Age treatments
The Observer (England), Jan. 30, 2000
Britain's veterinary clinics are being swept along in an unprecedented wave
of alernative medicine, offering GM-free diets for dogs, laser acupuncture
for cats, homeopathy for horses, chinese herbs for hamsters, and
faith-healing for gerbils. Particular triumphs are said to include a rhino
cured of eczma, and a parrot cured of depression.

The number of vets offering some form of complimentary medicine - at up to
100 an hour - has rocketed to more than 250 in the last year. There is one
vet clinic solely for alternative medicine, but two more are to open in
coming months. Courses on veterinary acupuncture and holistic medicine have
proliferated in the last year.

However, the development is threatening to split the profession, with
orthodox vets accusing their alternative peers of 'veterinary voodoo'.

Faith healing for pets is also on the rise, according to Roy Hutchison, of
the National Federation of Spiritual Healers. 'Animals react to spiritual
healing. Animals are more susceptible than humans to the finer energies,' he
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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27. Cuba Boy Has Divine Status for Some
Yahoo/AP, Feb. 1, 2000
In "The Boy of the Dolphins,'' a Cuban painter depicts Elian Gonzalez
swaddled, like the baby Moses, in a blue blanket and nestled inside an inner
tube. Three dolphins surround him as the hand of God manipulates puppet
strings that lead the child away from a red background symbolizing communism.

The painting is based on a story, reportedly told by Elian, that dolphins
swam around his inner tube and protected him while he drifted for two days in
the waters off the coast of Fort Lauderdale.

"I ... think that it has been a miracle from God that this boy was rescued
alive and that dolphins, like Elian himself says, helped the situation,''
artist Alexis Blanco said. "Elian, for me, is like a messenger that
announces the end of the communist dictatorship (in Cuba).''

Some Cuban Americans revere him as a divine messenger, believing it is God's
plan for Elian to remain in the United States. At least one sociologist
contends that Elian's divine image is simply political manipulation by those
who want to keep him in Miami.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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28. Creationists ready for zoning fight
Cincinnati Enquirer, Jan. 31, 2000
Supporters of Answers in Genesis have little doubt the Christian
fundamentalists will raise the $10 million they need to build their creation

Organizers say Answers in Genesis is now a ministry with a 60,000-member
mailing list and an outreach that exposes 100,000 people nationwide to its
message through seminars every year.

Organizers hope to have the beginnings of the 95,000-square-foot museum on
the property in Boone County within two years. First, they must overcome
local opposition. Critics will restate their case on Friday at a zoning
appeal before a Boone County circuit judge.

The museum would present a walk-through history of the world from a biblical
perspective, presenting what Answers in Genesis says is scientific evidence
to demonstrate its view about mankind's beginnings.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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