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Religion News Report

Religion News Report - Apr. 6, 2000 (Vol. 4, Issue 187) - 2/2

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=== Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God (Continued from Part 1)


26.  Cult Deaths Recall Jonestown
San Francisco Chronicle, Apr. 1, 2000
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/
chronicle/archive/2000/04/01/MN49627.DTL
     For Northern Californians, the mounting cult horror in Uganda revives a 1978
     nightmare in another jungle, the murder-suicide in Jonestown of 914 members
     of San Francisco's Peoples Temple.
     (...)

     As the death toll mounts, religion scholars disagree as to whether the
     Ugandan sect is ''another Jonestown,'' a unique event, or just the latest
     chapter in Africa's bloody history of religious violence and tribal conflict.
     (...)

     For Berkeley psychologist Margaret Singer, author of ''Cults in Our Midst,''
     the carnage in Uganda is a Peoples Temple reprise.
     (...)

     In recent days, stories of abuses in the Ugandan sect have emerged that are
     reminiscent of those committed by Jones, a Christian socialist who was
     originally ordained in the Disciples of Christ, a mainline Protestant church.
     Both sects demanded strict obedience, demonized outsiders and promised
     impoverished members a utopian afterlife.

     ''It looks like the usual cult pattern where a corrupt person wants power and
     money. He gets this woman helper, and they start making ridiculous
     predictions that the world will end,'' Singer said. ''When it didn't end,
     people probably wanted their money so they could return to their villages.
     (...)

     Other experts warned against comparing the Uganda church to Peoples Temple,
     or to other notorious doomsday cults and mass suicide sects such as the
     Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas, or Heaven's Gate, the UFO cult in Southern
     California.

     J. Gordon Melton, who directs the Institute for the Study of American
     Religion in Santa Barbara and is an authority on new religious movements,
     said most of the adult members at Jonestown were sincere ideological converts
     who decided that their religious and political views were worth dying for in
     an act of ''revolutionary suicide.''

     That's different than what happened in Uganda, Melton said, where it appears
     that most of members were led into a series of traps and murdered.

     ''This is looking like a unique event that could become the largest mass
     murder in history, apart from war,'' Melton said. ''Killing this many people
     is heinous no matter why, but there's a difference between premeditated
     murder and psychopathology.''

     Other scholars said it's important to view the Ugandan tragedy in its African
     context.

     ''In Africa, there is a long tradition of similar Christian movements going
     back 300 years,'' said David Barrett, editor of the World Christian
     Encyclopedia, which monitors global church growth. ''Mass killings are not
     that unusual in tropical Africa. There are also large numbers of clergy who
     are eased out, or kicked out, of churches and start something on their own.''

     Rosalind Hackett, a professor of religious studies at the University of
     Tennessee, said there are between 8,000 and 12,000 new religious movements in
     Africa. Most of them are offshoots from established Protestant or Catholic
     churches.
     (...)

     Famine, poverty, violence and a rampaging AIDS epidemic have encouraged some
     churches to embrace an apocalyptic Christian vision that sees a new era of
     peace and harmony following a time of cataclysmic upheaval.
     [...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top

     *     Note: J. Gordon Melton is a cult apologist who earlier claimed that the
          Peoples Temple was not a cult, but ''a respectable, mainline Christian
          group.'' According to Melton, the group turned into a cult ''overnight'':
          '''Jones became a cult leader and the Peoples Temple became a cult,
          literally overnight. And what was forgotten was that this was actually a
          church in a mainstream religion.... He was about as mainstream as you
          could get.''

          Documentation: http://www.apologeticsindex.org/m08.html#defenders

          Melton also considers ex-cult members to be liars. Yet, ex-members tend
          to have a better graps of the facts than certain scholars.


27.  Jonestown Survivors Remember
AOL/AP, Apr. 5, 2000
http://my.aol.com/news/story.tmpl?
table=n&cat=01&id=0004050244999414
     OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - As Jynona Norwood listens to the details of the Uganda
     cult deaths - the megalomaniac leader, the apocalyptic teachings, the small
     bodies curled up in unnatural death - she remembers.

     She flashes back 22 years to another utopia gone hellishly wrong, to
     Jonestown, where her mother and 26 other family members died.
     (...)

     For Deborah Layton, who fled Jonestown just before the killings, the
     mysterious Movement for Restoration of the Ten Commandments in Uganda is also
     stirring up memories.

     ''Nobody joins a cult. You join a self-help group, a religious movement, a
     political organization,'' Layton says. ''They change so gradually, by the
     time you realize you're entrapped - and almost everybody does - you can't
     figure a safe way back out.''

     As the deaths in Uganda refocus the spotlight on the shadowy world of cults,
     the images of death and innocence betrayed have a special resonance with
     those who lived through the madness of Jonestown.

     The similarities are striking: Both happened in remote tropical locations.
     Both were led by charismatic leaders who offered a better way. Both took so
     many lives, the toll lurches into the surreal.
     (...)

     In her memoir, ''Seductive Poison,'' Layton describes how she fell for the
     answers Jones seemed to offer, eventually becoming a trusted deputy. But by
     May 1978, she was ready to make her escape.

     ''It happens and it will continue to happen because in so many peoples'
     lives, even in America where we have so much, there is a loss of identity, a
     loneliness, and people are looking for community,'' Layton says.

     Jim Jones Jr., the adopted son of the Jonestown leader who escaped as part of
     a camp basketball team, says there isn't a pat explanation for the deaths.

     ''I don't think there is a canned answer. I just think tragedies like this
     have happened. They've happened in the past. I don't think they're really
     preventable.''
     (...)

     On the Net:
     Layton's book site: http://www.deborahlayton.com
     FBI Jonestown summary: http://foia.fbi.gov/jonestown.htm
     [...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


28.  Police Storm Mubende Cult
New Vision/Africa News Online (Uganda), Apr. 4, 2000
http://www.africanews.org/east/uganda/stories/20000404/20000404_feat9.html
     Kampala - The Police and other security operatives over the weekend dispersed
     a cult gathering in Kikandwa, Mubende, on suspicion that wanted Kanungu cult
     leader Joseph Kibwetere was hiding there.

     Kikandwa cult leader Mutume Nabbi Ssali Kilwisa alias Omutaka, fled the
     security raid on Saturday night, leaving behind 60 followers. Officials found
     no direct lead to Kibwetere's whereabouts or his ever taking refuge at the
     fenced one-acre camp.

     Security officers, however, recovered a number of exercise books in which
     Ssali had written ''visions and instructions God had given'' him. Ssali's
     followers believe he heals diseases and has ''holy visions.'' He claims God
     chose him to ''spread the word of ddini eye nnono (traditional religion)''
     and that ''this world'' would end on December 31 this year. A new one begins
     with the same people but new spirits inside them. Kibwetere's Movement for
     the Restoration of the 10 commandments also preached the world would end
     soon
. Kibwetere and his accomplices murdered at least 1,000 followers,
     beating the world record by one cult.
     (...)

     ''We were monitoring Ssali. When we got information that Kibwetere or people
     connected to Kanungu might be hiding there, we moved in. Ssali appears to be
     a conman, but we cannot take chances,'' Hashima said.
     (...)

     Ssali, who speaks only Luganda, said 30 followers lived in the camp
     permanently, the rest from time to time.

     ''We send them home; they come back because of pain. I use holy water God
     gave us in the rocks. There is a cross on the rock to show it is holy. I heal
     AIDS,'' he said, pointing at a white 20-litre jerrycan on the verandah.

     The Police confiscated books and albums from the camp, one of which contained
     photographs of five upmarket houses under construction. ''We have to check
     each and every inch of his (25 acres)of land Police said.
     [...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


=== Waco / Branch Davidians

29.  Expert challenges Davidian suicide theory
San Antonio Expres-News, Apr. 2, 2000
http://www.mysa.com/mysanantonio/extras/waco/
0301amount_carmel_fire_0402nz.shtml
     A fire investigation completed earlier this month in the 1993 Branch Davidian
     siege near Waco says the blaze's cause may never be known and it challenges
     government allegations that sect members set the fire themselves.

     The 30-page report by Chicago fire expert Patrick Kennedy attempts to find an
     answer to the question, ''Who or what started the fatal fire at Mount
     Carmel?''

     Kennedy, head of the world's oldest fire-investigation firm, studied the
     evidence for plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit who claim government actions led
     to the wrongful deaths of some 76 people in the blaze.
     (...)

     In reviewing the prevailing theories, Kennedy argues for negligence as a
     promoter of the fire but he says nobody today can be sure how the blaze
     started.

     If Kennedy's reasoning is accepted by U.S. District Judge Walter Smith Jr. of
     Waco, who will try the pending wrongful death suit, the result could be a
     finding that liability for the blaze cannot be determined and that the
     fire's cause officially is a mystery.
     [...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


30.  Waco Case Judge Asked to Nix Claims
AOL/AP, Apr. 5, 2000
http://my.aol.com/news/story.tmpl?
table=n&cat=01&id=0004050716140397
     WASHINGTON (AP) - The Justice Department is asking the judge presiding over
     the Branch Davidians' wrongful-death lawsuit to throw out most of the
     plaintiffs' claims, among them that the government bears responsibility for
     the fire that incinerated the sect's retreat.

     ''Admissible evidence amply supports a finding that the Davidians themselves
     - at least some of them - started the fire intentionally,'' government
     lawyers said in a motion to be filed in federal court in Waco, Texas. The
     plaintiffs' own fire expert ``cannot determine who started the fire,''
     according to the filing.

     The government is asking U.S. District Judge Walter Smith to throw out three
     major aspects of the civil lawsuit - that federal agents erred in not
     bringing in armored firefighting equipment; that they wrongly held back
     firefighters as the compound burned; and that the use of tanks to push into
     the compound deviated from the operations plan approved by Attorney General
     Janet Reno.

     If the government prevails, the plaintiffs would have only two areas left to
     pursue at trial: whether federal agents used excessive force during the Feb.
     28, 1993, gun battle that prompted the seven-week standoff and by firing into
     the Mount Carmel compound on the siege's final, deadly day. Federal officials
     have long insisted that no shots were fired by its agents on April 19, 1993.
     (...)

     The trial on the lawsuit is to begin June 19.
     [...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


=== Falun Gong

31.  China Man Held in Mental Hospital
AOL/AP, Apr. 5, 2000
http://my.aol.com/news/story.tmpl?
table=n&cat=01&id=0004050126125065
     BEIJING (AP) - A Chinese military instructor who belonged to the fanned Falun
     Gong
sect has been sent to a mental hospital and force-fed psychiatric drugs,
     a human rights group said Wednesday.

     Li Qun is one of five sect members held at the Nanjing Psychiatric Hospital
     in the eastern city of Nanjing, the Hong Kong-based Information Center for
     Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China said.
     [...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


=== Scientology

32.  Scientology to argue for dismissal of case
St. Petersburg Times, Apr. 4, 2000
http://www.sptimes.com/News/040400/TampaBay/Scientology_to_argue_.shtml
     Seventeen months after it was criminally charged in the death of Lisa
     McPherson
, the Church of Scientology will have its first big day in court on
     Wednesday and a chance, it hopes, for vindication.

     ''The entire basis for the state's prosecution of this case has now
     collapsed,'' begins one of the many Scientology legal briefs arguing the case
     should be dismissed. The prosecution is grounded in ''consuming prejudice''
     against Scientology, the church alleges.

     Its leading argument for a dismissal: a February ruling by Medical Examiner
     Joan Wood, who now says McPherson died from an ''accident'' stemming from a
     knee bruise that led to a fatal blood clot in her left lung. Wood once blamed
     McPherson's death on ''bed rest and severe dehydration'' at Scientology's
     Fort Harrison Hotel in Clearwater, but has removed those words from the death
     certificate.

     The church also argues that the prosecution violates Florida law and the U.S.
     Constitution.

     Prosecutors, meanwhile, remain adamant that the church should stand trial for
     the actions of its Clearwater staffers, who tried for 17 days to nurse
     McPherson through a severe mental breakdown, but who also were present when
     she died at age 36 on the way to a distant hospital.

     In the process, prosecutors say, the church abused McPherson and practiced
     medicine without a license.
     (...)

     If Schaeffer denies the church's request, the focus shifts to a five-week
     criminal trial scheduled in October. Scientology officials have warned they
     would free their lawyers to mount an all-out defense that could end up
     ''harming the credibility of many persons.''

     ''If we start down that road,'' church official Mike Rinder said recently,
     ''the result of it is going to be bad for the city'' of Clearwater.
     (...)

     The church argues the prosecution has harmed Scientology staffers and
     parishioners worldwide, illegally burdening their religious practice.

     Their affidavits complain of death threats, bomb threats, lost business,
     personal slights, physical attacks and pranks -- all caused, they say, by
     McCabe's prosecution.
     (...)

     The church also objected to the prosecution's suggestion that Scientologists
     took McPherson to their hotel, not to help her but to avoid a public
     relations problem.

     The church responds, saying its staffers are more sincere about their beliefs
     than religious workers in other faiths. Doug Crow, McCabe's chief assistant,
     said such arguments have nothing to do with the central issues in the case.
     [...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


33.  Scientology weddings legalised
Daily Mail and Guardian (South Africa), Apr. 4, 2000
http://www.mg.co.za/mg/za/archive/2000apr/04apram-news.html#scientology
     The government has granted ministers of the Church of Scientology the right
     to perform marriages, ending a 40-year battle by Scientologists for
     legalisation of their weddings. Home Affairs department spokesman Hennie
     Meyer said 12 Scientology ministers had been granted the right and it would
     be granted to others on application. The Reverend Heber Jentzsch, president
     of the Church of Scientology International, welcomed the move. South Africa
     had emerged as a leader in establishing the rights of all religions, he said
     in a statement.
     [...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top

     *     Note: This news item appears to be based largely on a CoS press release.
          CoS press releases are public relations/marketing efforts that often do
          not correctly reflect facts. Therefore, no conclusions can be drawn
          regarding Scientology's status as an alleged ''religion.''
     
          See: http://www.apologeticsindex.org/o00.html#osa


=== Hate Groups

34.  Victim Suing Supremacist in Shooting
AOL/AP, Apr. 4, 2000
http://my.aol.com/news/story.tmpl?
table=n&cat=01&id=0004040328788815
     CHICAGO (AP) - A black pastor who was wounded in a shooting rampage is suing
     white supremacist Matt Hale and his World Church of the Creator in an attempt
     to hold Hale responsible for the acts of one of his followers.
     (...)

     The lawsuit accuses Hale of plotting with Smith to violate Anderson's civil
     rights. Among other things, it claims that World Church of the Creator
     doctrine calling for a ''racial holy war'' prompted Smith to act.
     (...)

     This is the second lawsuit to attempt to hold Hale and his group responsible
     for the rampage.

     The first lawsuit - which claims Hale ''ordered'' Smith to go on the shooting
     spree - was filed last summer by the parents of two Orthodox Jews who were
     shot at as they walked to a synagogue. That suit seeks more than $50,000. One
     victim was shot in the leg; the other was not hurt.

     Hale, who has not been charged with any crime related to the shootings,
     called both lawsuits frivolous.
     [...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


35.  Lawsuit boosts legal pressure on supremacist and his church
StarNews/AP, Apr. 5, 2000
http://www.starnews.com/news/citystate/0405st_shooting.html
     (...) Anderson's attorneys said their case is modeled after a Tennessee
     lawsuit filed in the early 1980s that forced the KKK to pay $450,000 to
     minorities targeted by that group. This lawsuit charges that World Church of
     the Creator
doctrine calling for a ''racial holy war'' prompted Smith to act
     violently.

     ''They have to be accountable for their words when they cross the line,''
     attorney Pamela Armour said of Hale and his group. Armour is an attorney for
     the Center for Constitutional Rights, a New York-based civil rights group
     that is helping to represent Anderson.
     (...)

     ''I learned in law school the first week that anyone can file a lawsuit. That
     doesn't make it valid or legitimate,'' said Hale, who has his law degree but
     has been denied an Illinois law license.

     Hale said he found it ironic that a constitutional-rights organization was
     leading ''an effort to destroy our constitutional rights.''

     The lawsuit quotes World Church of the Creator doctrine that allegedly
     states, ''No longer can the mud races and the White Race live on the same
     planet and survive. It is now either them or us.'' The lawsuit also claims
     Hale knew about Smith's alleged ''history of violence, substance abuse and
     mental instability,'' yet continued to encourage violent behavior.
     [...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


36.  Court Upholds KKK Highway Rule
AOL/AP, Mar. 31, 2000
http://my.aol.com/news/story.tmpl?
table=n&cat=01&id=0003310649427900
     ST. LOUIS (AP) - A court ruling that allowed the Ku Klux Klan to participate
     in the state's ''Adopt-A-Highway'' program was upheld by a federal appeals
     court Friday.

     The state transportation department said it initially refused to let the Klan
     adopt a stretch of Interstate 55 in south St. Louis because the Klan
     discriminated against people based on their color, religion and national
     origin.

     A three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with a
     lower court's ruling that barring the group was discriminatory and
     unconstitutional.
     (...)

     The Klan has participated about three months, Miller said.

     The signs that mark the highway as having been adopted by the Klan have been
     vandalized twice and are not currently in place. Miller said they would be
     returned in about two weeks.
     [...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


=== Mormonism

37.  Mormons hold historic conference
WorldNetDaily, Apr. 4, 2000
http://www.worldnetdaily.com/bluesky_bresnahan/
20000404_xex_mormons_hold.shtml
     Addressing the nearly 11 million members of The Church of Jesus Christ of
     Latter-day Saints, President Gordon B. Hinckley said church members have made
     errors, exhibited a ''holier-than-thou'' attitude, and consequently created a
     bad impression among non-church members.

     Speaking at the church's 170th Annual General Conference, Hinckley suggested
     ways members could improve relations with people of other denominations and
     beliefs.
     (...)

     The LDS Church and Hinckley have plenty of critics. There were protesters on
     the sidewalk outside the Conference Center while Hinckley spoke.

     Protesters offered church members flyers and information as they passed by.
     Some claimed that the LDS, nicknamed Mormons, are not Christians, while the
     LDS church's opposition to abortions offended others. One man said Hinckley
     is a fallen prophet, and another group expressed disagreement with the LDS
     stand on homosexuality. Still another passed out literature detailing his
     disputes with LDS doctrines and warned passersby that if they did not repent
     they would go to hell.

     One protester was critical of the ''Book of Mormon: Another Testament of
     Jesus Christ,'' because he said only the Bible is the word of God. The book
     recently reached 100 million copies distributed since it was first published
     in 1830.
     (...)

     With the announcement of the six additional temples, Hinckley has now
     established for himself a significant place in LDS church history. He is
     responsible for the construction of more than half of the 121 temples now in
     use, under construction, or in the planning stages. No other previous
     president of the church has been so aggressive about building temples.
     (...)

     Statistics show that more than half of the 10.75 million members reside
     outside the United States. It will not be long before more members speak
     Spanish than those who speak English, according to church statistics.
     [...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top
     
     *     Why Mormonism is considered a cult of Christianity

38.  Great trials ahead, faithful told
Standard-Examiner, Apr. 2, 2000
http://www1.standard.net/stories/local/04-2000/FTP0170@local@02conference@Ogden.asp
     SALT LAKE CITY -- The future looks bright for the Church of Jesus Christ of
     Latter-day Saints as ranks in the church continue to swell, but members will
     face great trials ahead, leaders of the faith said Saturday.
     (...)

     ''I wish to sound a warning to this people,'' said James Faust, second
     counselor in the First Presidency of the church. ''I solemnly declare that
     this spiritual kingdom of faith will move forward with or without each of us
     individually. No unhallowed hand can stay the growth of the church nor
     prevent fulfillment of its mission,'' he said with his finger raised and
     wagging.

     Although the church continues to spread throughout the world -- it now has
     more than 11 million members -- the faithful will face challenges.

     ''We will not as a people, as families or as individuals be exempt from
     trials to come. No one will be spared the trials common to home and family,
     work, disappointment, grief, health, aging, untimely death,'' said Boyd K.
     Packer, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve.
     [...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


39.  Refocus on family, gospel, LDS men told
Standard-Examiner, Apr. 2, 2000
http://www1.standard.net/stories/local/04-2000/
FTP0173@local@02priesthd@Ogden.asp
     (...) Church President Gordon B. Hinckley talked about the heavy
     responsibilities the church's stake presidents have. With the number of
     stakes rising to 2,552, which includes 17,789 wards and nearly 11 million
     members, Hinckley said stake presidents have the responsibility of making
     sure the bishops of those wards are seeing that the gospel teachings are
     unified throughout the world.

     ''Think of the confusion we would have if every bishop followed his own
     inclinations,'' Hinckley said. ''The church would literally fall apart in a
     short time, I'm sure of it.''
     [...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Buddhism

40.  Stateside Buddhists Await Visit
AOL/AP, Apr. 3, 2000
http://my.aol.com/news/story.tmpl?
table=n&cat=01&id=0004030204211049
     (...) His Holiness is a strapping 14-year-old Tibetan boy revered as the 17th
     incarnation of the Karmapa, the third most important leader in Tibetan
     Buddhism.

     After making a daring escape from Tibet into India, the young monk is now
     expected to visit North America, a journey likely to boost the profile of
     Buddhism in this country.
     (...)

     Although no travel plans have been announced, the Karmapa's followers here
     are certain he will come. After all, the 16th Karmapa - the boy's previous
     incarnation - spent a lot of time stateside. And some Buddhists see a sign in
     the Karmapa's millennium prayer for peace, which gave tidings ''especially,
     throughout the land of America.''

     Bardor Tulku Rinpoche, a resident lama at the Woodstock monastery, about 85
     miles north of New York City, says a visit by the Karmapa is ''definite.'' It
     could be within a year.

     The monastery is the main seat in North America - where about 250,000
     practice Buddhism - for the Karma Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism. About two
     dozen Tibetans and Westerners live here year-round.
     [...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Voodoo

41.  New recognition of Vodou's role in Haitian culture
Christian Science Monitor, Apr. 6, 2000
http://www.csmonitor.com/durable/2000/04/06/fp7s1-csm.shtml
     (...) For many in the West and in upper Haitian society, voodoo, or Vodou,
     evokes a Hollywood stereotype of black magic and dolls stuck with pins.

     But for Vodou supporters, what was once an underground practice dating back
     to slave days is finally being acknowledged as a bona fide religion and
     recognized for its role in defining Haitian culture. Vodou, which has no
     written scriptural text, is an amalgam of the mixed African, native, and
     Anglo-Saxon cultures of colonial Haiti.

     The Roman Catholic and Protestant churches in Haiti have a long history of
     trying to discourage Vodou, seeing aspects of the faith as incompatible with
     their basic tenets. These include the worship of many spiritual beings, or
     lwa; a belief in possession; the use spells and incantations for good and, in
     some cases, for evil; and the use of animal sacrifices for some ceremonies.

     Culture Minister Jean Robert Vaval is among those working to improve Vodou's
     image.
     (...)

     Although there are no official statistics, the conventional wisdom is that
     the country is 80 percent Roman Catholic, 15 percent Protestant, and 100
     percent Vodou.
     [...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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42.  Rite of Passage
Time Europe, Mar. 27, 2000
http://www.time.com/time/europe/webonly/voodoo/voodoo.html
     In other parts of the world, journalists have to dig for stories. In Africa,
     they often just happen. Earlier this year while visiting Cotonou, the
     political capital of the West African country Benin, I found myself
     unexpectedly taking part in one of the world's more colorful national
     celebrations. There to report on the African Virtual University, which links
     teachers in European and American universities with students across Africa, I
     met with Jacques Edjrokinto, head of the avu in Benin. After the interview,
     my traveling companion, a fellow Nairobi- based correspondent, and I asked
     Edjrokinto where we could learn more about voodoo, the local practice of
     worshiping fetishes believed to have supernatural powers. ''You have come at
     the right time,'' the academic said solemnly, leaning toward us. ''For today is
     National Voodoo Day.''

     Voodoo, or vodoun, as it is known in West Africa, originated a few hundred
     years ago among the Yoruba people who live in an area comprising modern-day
     Togo, Benin and parts of Nigeria. Followers of voodoo believe in an
     unapproachable god and an array of spirits who serve as intermediaries.
     Slaves, forced to leave Benin's sandy shores in their millions, took such
     beliefs to the U.S. and the islands of the West Indies, where they spread and
     formed the basis of religions
     [...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Other News

43.  Catholic Church investigates possible second Ugandan cult
National Post (Canada), Apr. 4, 2000
http://www.nationalpost.com/
     MBARARA, Uganda - The Catholic Church is investigating a second cult led by a
     breakaway bishop amid calls for a crackdown on the religious sects freely
     operating in Uganda.
     (...)

     ''There is a new cult in our diocese with hundreds of followers, a leader who
     has left the Catholic Church, has proclaimed himself a bishop and is
     ordaining priests. Our bishops are already having a very close look at this
     situation.''
     (...)

     Ugandan authorities and mainstream churches are urging immediate attention be
     paid to the other cults after Speciosa Wandira Kazibwe, Uganda's
     vice-president, announced at a memorial service that more than 1,000 members
     of the cult had been killed.
     [...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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44.  Cult order to stash weapons
Herald Sun (Australia), Apr. 5, 2000
http://heraldsun.com.au/common/story_page/0,2294,536055%255E2862,00.html
     MEMBERS of a Victorian cult have undergone para-military training and are
     arming themselves with an array of weapons to protect themselves and their
     leader.

     The Herald Sun has been told members of the Order of St Charbel based
     predominantly in Seymour and Nowra have formed an elite ''Papal guard'' to
     protect leader William Kamm from assassination attempts.

     Their equipment reportedly includes army fatigues, night-vision goggles and
     automatic weapons.

     Cult members are being told to get weapons so they can protect their families
     from marauders who will want to steal their food and water come the predicted
     apocalypse.
     (...)

     Mr Kamm, who calls himself The Little Pebble, has prophesised Earth will be
     destroyed if a comet collides with Mars or one of its moons on May 5 or May
     28 when eight planets align.

     He told the Herald Sun this week he expected earthquakes, flooding and
     extreme weather changes to follow the cataclysmic event.
     (...)

     People formerly associated with the cult have told the Herald Sun they fear
     for the safety of Mr Kamm's followers when his bizarre predictions do not
     come true.
     [...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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45.  Cults Vigil
Melbourne Herald Sun (Australia), Apr. 5, 2000
Posted to alt.support.ex-cult
Message-ID: <r3rlescolemdsga19ls0hv8rt9edij8n03@news.ozemail.com.au>
     (...)
     The leader of the Order of St Charbel, William Kamm, admits they have
     guns but says they are licensed and used for hunting.
     
     Mr Kamm, who calls himself The Little Pebble, has told his 1500
     followers to expect the world to end on May 5 or May 28.
     (...)

     Cult busters are also worried by two other sects - the Centre of
     Knowledge and Supremacy and the Magnificat Meal Movement - after
     untimely deaths and fears of mass suicide.
     (...)

     But Mr Kamm insists his prophecy will come true: Earth will be
     devastated early next month if a comet heading towards Mars collides
     with the red planet or one of its moons.
     (...)

     A police source said the cult's activities were under scrutiny,
     especially after an American ''visionary'' warned a bloody mutiny in the
     sect would lead to many deaths in Australia.
     (...)

     Mr Kamm predicted - wrongly - in 1997 that the Hale-Bopp comet would
     collide with the sun, causing an explosion that would wipe out most
     life on Earth.

     The Centre of Knowledge cult has been the focus of police and coronial
     inquiries since being set up by former Victorian doctor Joseph
     Chiappalone in 1985.

     Five people involved with the cult - which believes 99 per cent of the
     world's population is evil and the good must battle the bad - have met
     untimely deaths.

     The Magnificat Meal Movement grabbed headlines last September after
     fears its followers were planning mass suicide.

     Cult expert Raphael Aron said he was receiving about 12 calls for help
     a week from cult victims.
     (...)

     Clinical psychologist and cult expert Louise Samways said cults were
     using methods perfected by the CIA and KGB to brainwash victims.
     ''Most people who join are discontented, usually of above-average
     intelligence, and looking for solutions to certain problems,'' she
     said. ''Anyone can be vulnerable at some point in their life.''
     ANYONE with personal problems can call Crisis Line on 9329 0300 or
     Lifeline on 131 114.
     For suicide prevention advice, call Lifeline on 131 114 or Here For
     Life (03) 9329 1611.
     [...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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     *     The person who posted this article to the alt.support.ex-cult newsgroup
          suggested the following link:

          Find out about Australia's most dangerous Doomsday Cult:
          http://www.ozemail.com.au/~wanglese/pebble.htm


46.  Police suspected of killing Zambo cult members
ABS-CBN (Philippines), Apr. 3, 2000
http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/abs/inews-apr2000.nsf/provincial/20000404016
     ZAMBOANGA CITY, (ABS-CBN) - The Philippine National Police - Criminal
     Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) launched a probe Monday on the
     reported killing by local policemen of a group of religious fanatics in
     Zamboanga del Sur last week.

     This evolved after relatives of the nine killed cult members cried foul.
     (...)

     Initial reports showed the conflict developed after members of the Blessed
     Virgin Mary of the Philippines (BVMP) were accused of trespassing on private
     property and stealing copra.
     (...)

     The police claimed the religious group fired first prompting them to
     retaliate. But a report reaching Armed Forces chief Gen. Angelo Reyes that
     same day said the policemen shot the group while tending their coconut farm.
     [...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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47.  Whitewash feared in Zambo cult killings
ABS-CBN (Philippines), Apr. 5, 2000
http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/ABS/INEWS-APR2000.NSF/Provincial/20000405041
     ZAMBOANGA CITY, (ABS-CBN) - The Philippine National Police-Criminal
     Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) is reportedly withholding
     initial findings on the alleged shootout between local policemen and
     religious cult members in Zamboanga del Sur, raising fears of a possibe
     whitewash in the investigation.

     The bodies of the slain cult members buried in a mass grave were exhumed for
     a post-mortem examination, while the policemen involved in the gunfight were
     subjected to paraffin tests.
     [...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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48.  Farmers denounce powerful cult on Mt. Banahaw
The Philippine Daily Inquirer (Philippines), Apr. 5, 2000
http://www.inquirer.net/issues/apr2000/apr05/news/news_12.htm
     DOLORES, Quezon--A coalition of farmers' groups and non-government
     organizations has expressed alarm over the growing influence of a religious
     cult based on the slope of mystical Mt. Banahaw in this municipality.

     Jun Lontok, executive director of the Luntiang Alyansa Para sa Bundok Banahaw
     or LABB, reported that members of the Suprema de la Iglesia de la Ciudad
     Mystica de Dios had repeatedly harassed and terrorized farmers in the area.

     The situation has persisted since the farmers filed a land-grabbing case
     against some members of the sect about two years ago, Lontok said.

     The religious group is one of the many religious cults based in Banahaw.
     (...)

     ''When a Mystica member finds himself in trouble with the law, what he just
     needs to do is to hide inside the Mystica compound and he is already secured.
     He is already beyond our reach,'' said a policeman from Dolores town, who
     requested anonymity.
     [...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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49.  Suspect churches warned
Daily Nation (Kenya), Apr. 4, 2000
http://www.nationaudio.com/News/DailyNation/04042000/News/News52.html
     The government will crack down on churches which pose a security risk to
     their members, an assistant minister said on Sunday.

     Mr William Ruto of the Office of the President said security was paramount,
     adding that some religious organisations were not registered yet they were in
     operation.
     [...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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50.  Another cult mass suicide bid aborted!
The Monitor/Africa News Online/BBC (Uganda), Apr. 4, 2000
http://www.africanews.org/east/uganda/stories/20000404/20000404_feat3.html
     Peruvian police have rescued 86 members of a religious sect who were trying
     to commit collective suicide by starving themselves to death.

     The followers of the Quillabamba Pentecostal movement had begun a 40-day fast
     in a remote jungle region in the belief that the end of the world was
     approaching.

     Alerted by worried relatives, police tracked down the sect members in an area
     known as Mesa Pelada after a six-hour search by foot through dense jungle in
     the Peruvian Andes.

     Some of the cult followers attacked the policemen when they arrived. But most
     were already too weak to resist.
     (...)

     They had apparently been instructed to sell their property and land, and hand
     it over to sect leaders.

     Relatives and friends said the followers of the Quillabamba Pentecostal
     movement had been deceived by Juan Quispe and Valentin Pena - who they
     accused of being the leaders of the sect.
     [...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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51.  Police arrest teen accused of killing family with samurai sword
CNN/AP, Apr. 3, 2000
http://www.cnn.com/2000/WORLD/europe/04/03/spain.swordmurders.ap/index.html
     MADRID, Spain (AP) -- Police in southeastern Spain arrested a 16-year-old
     martial arts fan Monday for allegedly killing his parents and younger sister
     with a samurai sword.
     (...)

     Police found a bloodied samurai sword, along with several books on martial
     arts and Satanism, in another room.
     [...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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52.  Sikh father held in Texas kidnapping of daughter from Hindu lover
Star-Telegram/AP, Apr. 3, 2000
[URL removed because it currently refers to inappropriate content]/news/doc/1047/1:STATE13/1:STATE130403100.html
     NEW YORK -- It was the summer of 1997. Gangandeep Bakshi was a Queens
     teenager whose strict Sikh family was apparently unaware that she was falling
     in love over the Internet with a man outside her religion.

     Two years later, at age 18, Bakshi ran off to Houston to live with the man.
     What happened next has become the focus of an unusual federal kidnapping
     case.

     The FBI arrested Bakshi's parents, Agyapal and Kamla Singh, and her two older
     sisters last week at their New York home after they were indicted in Texas.
     The 55-year-old father was ordered jailed until a scheduled arraignment
     because he is considered to be a threat to his daughter.

     The indictment accuses the four family members with abducting Bakshi in
     August from her Hindu lover's Houston apartment -- at one point
      ''beating her into submission'' -- because they objected to the romance. The
     victim also says her father drugged her and threatened to ''cut her to
     pieces.''

     Even though Bakshi quickly fled her family again, married the man and moved
     out of Houston, Bakshi has told investigators that her father has been using
     connections in Indian enclaves in Texas and elsewhere to locate and harass
     her. The FBI says fear has driven the couple into hiding.
     [...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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53.  Occidental chairman sues protestors for harassment
AOL/Reuters, Apr. 4, 2000
http://my.aol.com/news/story.tmpl?
table=n&cat=01&id=0004040631888063
     LOS ANGELES, (Reuters) - The chairman of Occidental Petroleum is staging his
     own protest against the human rights groups who picket his home and office --
     he is suing them for harassment and wants a court to grant him damages.

     Groups including Rainforest Action Network, Action Resource Center and Amazon
     Watch have picketed outside chairman Ray Irani's home -- sometimes in the
     early morning hours -- to protest Occidental's plans to drill for oil on the
     ancestral home of the U'Wa Indians in Colombia.

     The U'Wa religion says oil drilling cuts the veins of a living, breathing
     Mother Earth and the tribe's 5,000 members have threatened to collectively
     commit suicide if Occidental drills on its land.
     [...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Noted

54.  Chinese log on to honour the dead
The Telegraph (UK), Apr. 4, 2000
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/et?ac=000647321007942&
rtmo=aNbxe8xL&atmo=99999999&pg=/et/00/4/4/wmem04.html
     Thousands of Chinese urban professionals are building digital ''memorial
     halls'' for their ancestors on the internet, joining a nationwide surge in
     enthusiasm for paying respects to the graves of family members.

     After decades of enforced atheism, traditional rites and beliefs have soared
     in popularity, as Chinese shaken by the collapse of the old Communist
     certainties seek a new spiritual direction. Despite government warnings
     against ''superstition'' and calls for cremation rather than wasting precious
     land on graves, many of the new rich are lavishing their money on the dead.

     Thousands of internet users are logging on to a web site devoted to ancestor
     worship, founded by Beijing computer graduates with Singapore Chinese
     investment, in time for the annual festival of Qing Ming, Tomb Sweeping Day,
     tomorrow. The web site has provoked approving newspaper headlines, and claims
     to have had 300,000 visits in the first few days of operation.
     [...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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55.  Hell - it's about to get hotter
BBC News, Apr. 4, 2000
http://news.bbc.co.uk/low/english/uk/newsid_699000/699929.stm
     The flames of hell, recently doused to a state of ''nothingness'' by the
     Church of England, are to be reignited.

     The Nature of Hell, a 140-page report drawn up by the Evangelical Alliance,
     says that while biblical images of burning lakes should not be taken
     literally, they symbolise the horrors that are in store for people who reject
     Christian teaching.

     The report, published next week, claims that sinners consigned to hell will
     face unimaginable torment based on the severity of sins they commit in life.

     Hell, according to the study, is ''a sphere of damnation, punishment, anguish
     and destruction''.

     The Evangelical Alliance was formed in 1846, and represents Christians from
     all denominations, including many Anglicans. It claims to represent a million
     Christians, and campaigns on contemporary social issues.

     The study, written by a party of five people - including an Oxford theologian
     and a senior lecturer at the London Bible College - details the fates that
     sinners can expect to face in the next world.
     (...)

     The new study, which has been welcomed by the Roman Catholic Church, also
     urges church leaders not to be afraid of telling their congregations of the
     realities of hell, but advises against ''fire and brimstone'' sermons.
     (...)

     Gavin Drake, senior press officer for the Evangelical Alliance, said the new
     study was not a direct response to the Church of England's 1996 report.

     ''There has been a growing disagreement for some time among evangelical
     Christians about the nature of hell. ''The traditional position was that
     hell is eternal, but that has changed in recent years. Now the common view is
     that hell lasts for a period of time relating to the sins of the
     individual.''

     According to Mr Drake, the new study is based on teachings in the Bible.

     ''We can't be absolutely sure what hell is,'' he says. ''In a lot of aspects
     we can't know the full extent of God's grace. But Jesus had more to say about
     hell than any other person in the Bible.
     [...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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56.  Angels still on guard in Italy
The Times (England), Apr. 5, 2000
http://www.the-times.co.uk/news/pages/tim/2000/04/05/x-timfgneur03001.html
     (...) According to a survey published yesterday, a third of Italians believe
     we all have guardian angels standing at our shoulders ready to intervene,
     while another third believe in angels ''in general''.

     The survey, conducted by anthropologists at Perugia University over the past
     year, suggests that belief in angels is stronger than ever, partly because of
     the rise of New Age philosophies.

     Cecilia Gatto Trocchi, a cultural anthroplogist who teaches at Chieti and
     Perugia universities, said that ''men tend to believe that their guardian
     angel is female, while women think their unseen protector is male''. Some
     thought of their angel as ''an extraterrestrial New Age spirit'' rather than
     ''the conventional biblical winged being''.
     [...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== The Psychic Around The Corner

57.  Psychic who defrauded client ordered to repay money
Calgary Herald/CP, Apr. 5, 2000
http://www.southam.com/calgaryherald/newsnow/cpfs/national/000405/n040519.html
[More offbeat news]
     WELLAND, Ont. (CP) - A psychic, who told a trusting customer she needed to
     lease her a brand new car so she could drive around town to ward off evil
     spirits, has been ordered to repay the woman $33,000.
     (...)

     Hawker told the woman that the man's ex-girlfriend had placed a curse on him
     so that none of his new relationships would last, the court heard.

     In order to lift the curse, the woman gave Hawker numerous items including
     cash, a stereo and a leased car so that Hawker could drive to places her
     boyfriend had previously visited to ward off evil spirits.
     [...more...]

» Part 1