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Religion News Report

Religion News Report - May 15, 2000 (Vol. 4, Issue 203)

arrow Latest: Religion News Blog

=== Waco / Branch Davidians
1. Waco Expert's Death Said Setback

=== Falun Gong
2. China recruits US-based Christian leader in its quest for PNTR
3. US Religious Leader Defends China's Falun Gong Crackdown (Paul Crouch)

=== Scientology
4. U.S., the Germans - and Scientology (Editorial - *** A must-read)
5. Author built controversial church
5a. Carnage On the ''Battlefield''
=== Jehovah's Witnesses
6. Death of Jehovah's Witness exploited by Georgian politician
7. Jehovah's Witnesses gain favorable court rulings

=== Islam
8. Muslim radicals oppose Terrorism Bill
9. Mungiki prepared to meet Muslims
10. Muslim cleric defends Coke

=== Doomsday
11. Doomsday couple to divorce as the millennium bug bites back

=== Hate Groups
12. Judge Allows Public to View - Gasp - Jesus Statue
13. Hungary Textbooks Call Jews Enemies

=== Other News
14. Neighbors' Spat Leads to a Huge Award Against the Anti-Defamation League
15. O'Hair disappearance trial to start
16. Snipes' company may buy property (Nuwaubians)
17. Vatican Discloses '3rd Secret Of Fatima'
18. Ghosthunter called in to track royal spectre
19. Unsolicited Jesus videos angrily returned

=== Books
20. Myth vs. logic

=== Waco / Branch Davidians

1. Waco Expert's Death Said Setback
AOL/AP, May 14, 2000
Off-site Link
WACO, Texas (AP) - A lawyer representing surviving Branch Davidians in a
wrongful-death lawsuit says the death of an infrared expert who contended that
shots were fired by the government during the Waco siege is a major setback in
the case.

''We're not giving up, but I don't know how we'll replace Carlos Ghigliotti,''
said attorney Mike Caddell.

Police found Ghigliotti's decomposed body at his office at Infrared Technologies
Corp. in Laurel, Md., on April 28 after a building manager became concerned that
the analyst had not been seen for several weeks. A preliminary autopsy report
showed the 42-year-old died of a heart attack.

The plaintiffs had already notified the federal court that they planned to use
Ghigliotti as an expert witness in the trial, set to begin June 19 in Waco.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Falun Gong

2. China recruits US-based Christian leader in its quest for PNTR
Yahoo/AFP, May 12, 2000
Off-site Link
Beijing has recruited a US-based Christian leader in an attempt to lend credence
to its claim of increased religious freedom and gain much-needed Congressional
votes for permanent normal trade relations, it was revealed Friday.

In exchange, the government has apparently agreed to allow Christian television
broadcasting in China in what is believed to be an unprecedented move.

The company allowed access is Trinity Broadcasting Network, the largest
Christian broadcasting company in the United States.

Paul Crouch, founder and executive director of the Trinity Broadcasting Network
(TBN), said at a press conference Friday his group has been granted permission
to broadcast its programs in more than 3,000 hotels and international compounds
in China in about two months.

The government has also agreed to allow TBN to broadcast on China's cable
channels in the near future, he said.

Crouch insisted he was not a stooge of the government and was not speaking well
of religious rights in China in exchange for access to the Chinese market.

''The agreement of giving us access in China is just a natural outcome of these
meetings. There's no quid pro quo,'' he said.

He said Americans have a distorted and unbalanced view of religious freedom in
China and the government's crackdown on the Falungong spiritual movement.

Greg Rice, head of TBN's Asian affiliate TBN Miracle Network, said TBN had
received verbal approval to broadcast its 24-hour programming in China and was
expecting a final go-ahead once the paperwork was completed and technical
details worked out.

''I think it would be the first time ever Christian programming will be allowed
to air in China since 1949, and probably ever, because they didn't have TV's
around back then,'' Rice said.

Renowned US-based relgious leader Pat Robertson, who heads the Christian
Broadcasting Network, the second biggest network, has also been asked to visit
China, Crouch said.

TBN has 1,400 affiliate T.V. stations and over 5,000 cable T.V. systems from 16
satellites in 130 nations, the group said.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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* While some legitimate ministries and teachers appear on TBN, the network -
led by founders Paul and Jan Crouch - promotes such an incredible amount of
heretical material, including Word-Faith teachings, that it is often referred
to as "The Blasphemy Network." Those who criticize the cultic teachings of
TBN are subjected to angry outbursts by Mr. Crouch and his guests.

3. US Religious Leader Defends China's Falun Gong Crackdown
Yahoo/AP, May 12, 2000
Off-site Link
BEIJING (AP)--A leading U.S.-based Christian broadcaster on Friday defended
China's crackdown on the Falun Gong spiritual movement and said the communist
government allowed Christians to worship freely.

Paul Crouch delivered his assessment after meetings this week with Chinese
religious and media officials. Part of the time, he sought permission for his
Trinity Broadcasting Network to broadcast in Chinese hotels and residences for

''It has become very clear to me that we Americans need to have the record set
straight regarding China on a number of issues,'' Crouch told reporters.

China's ambassador to the U.S., Li Zhaoxing, invited Crouch to visit before a
contentious vote in the U.S. Congress later this month on whether to grant
Beijing permanent trade relations, part of an agreement to get China into the
World Trade Organization.

Opponents point to China's human rights, religious and labor abuses in arguing
against the trade legislation.

Crouch said China's WTO entry would benefit the U.S..

''This is clearly a case where helping our Chinese brothers and sisters to gain
acceptance in the WTO will ultimately give to America a good return,'' he said.

Crouch was unequivocal in his support for China's crackdown on Falun Gong,
calling the group ''subversive'' and saying he told Ambassador Li that his
network ''would do our utmost to reveal to the United States and to the world
the dangers of this false cult.''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Scientology

* The following item is included in its entirety. I wholeheartedely agree with
this editorial:

4. U.S., the Germans - and Scientology
San Francisco Examiner, May 13, 2000 (Editorial)
By Philip Terzian, associate editor of the Providence Journal
http://examiner.com/000514/0514op-terzian.htmlOff-site Link

Also at: Providence Journal, May 7, 2000
http://www.providencejournal.com/cgi-bin/story.pl/NONE/03658601.htmOff-site Link

WASHINGTON - Americans don't like being told how to run their lives, or their
country, especially by people who aren't Americans.

But we have a fatal attraction for telling others how to govern their societies.
A case in point is the annual survey of human rights around the world, wherein
the State Department, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and other
federal agencies hold the nations of the world up to American standards of
democracy and freedom.

In a sense, this is one of our country's strengths: a resolve that our
democratic system is the freest in the world, yielding benefits to the greatest
number of inhabitants, combined with a desire to export our good fortune.

Few Americans take to the Straits of Florida in rafts to flee to Cuba, or pour
across the Rio Grande to seek asylum in Ciudad Juárez. It is right and proper
that tyrants know we don't approve of their practices, and will do what we can
to liberate mankind.

Yet Americans like to do things in a big way, and human rights are no exception.
That means such surveys are comprehensive, and indiscriminate. Not only do they
document the abuses of China or Zimbabwe, but they examine the rules of
governments with longer experience in democracy than ours (such as Britain) or
nations that, by any rational definition, cherish liberty (such as Greece).

When told by the likes of Madeleine Albright that they have earned a solid
B-plus in human rights, our democratic allies are apt to grit their teeth and
smile politely. Superpower status confers a certain presumption.

Occasionally, however, one of our pupils will talk back in class. And that is
what the Germans are doing now. At issue is the annual report to Congress of the
Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
, which complains that contracting
practices of the German government discriminate against members of the Church of
. In Germany, companies seeking certain training and consulting
contracts with the federal government may be disqualified if they refuse to sign
''sect filter'' statements, which are designed to assure that the principles of
Scientology will not be employed in their work, or the work of subsidiaries, and
that Scientology will not be promoted by management.

The official German attitude toward the Church of Scientology — of which it
manifestly does not approve — has been a matter of concern to the Clinton
administration. Hollywood Scientologists, such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta,
have taken the trouble to lobby President Clinton, and their lobbying has
yielded results.

The State Department regards German hostility toward Scientology as a form of
religious discrimination. And when a California company called Executive
Software lost business in Germany because its chairman is a Scientologist, the
Clinton administration threatened to lodge a formal complaint with the World
Trade Organization.

The trouble with all this is that the Germans are wholly justified in their
attitude, and the Clinton administration is merely responding to pressure from
Scientologists and their lawyers.

The Germans do not consider the Church of Scientology, founded by the late
science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, to be a religion but a business
enterprise, and a cult, with criminal overtones. The German ambassador in
Washington, Juergen Chrobog, explains the contract regulations this way: They
are ''not focused on membership in the Scientology organization but... designed
to rule out the possibility that Ron Hubbard's methods, which seek to
psychologically influence behavior, psychologically manipulate or oppress
individuals, could be used for training or consulting purposes.''

As the Germans continually explain, because of their historical experience in
the 20th century, they are peculiarly sensitive to the presence of cults and
extremist groups in their midst. This may seem shocking to Americans, for whom
tolerance is a kind of religious doctrine, but it makes sense to Germans, who
have suffered greatly for past sins.

For their part, the Scientologists have deployed all manner of crude propaganda
in recent years, threatening critics and drawing parallels between the Hitler
regime and legal restrictions on their cult. But the truth is that German
regulations — which allow Scientologists to follow their leader, but bar them
from government service — are designed to preserve German democracy, which cults
like Scientology are likely to weaken.

Americans understand the value of freedom in the world, but they do not
necessarily appreciate cultural distinctions. The Germans are probably better
equipped to judge how best to nurture their free society than bureaucrats at the
Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. Everyone in the world wants to be free,
but not everybody yearns to be American.
[...entire item...]

5. Author built controversial church
The Globe and Mail (Canada), May 12, 2000
http://archives.theglobeandmail.com/Off-site Link
Toronto -- In 1950, L. Ron Hubbard was an obscure 39-year-old writer pumping out
pulp fiction from a New Jersey beach town for magazines like Astounding Science
Fiction. That was where, 50 years ago this month, he published an article that
changed his life, and several million others.

Dianetics: The Evolution of a Science was a massive pseudo-scientific treatise
on how individuals should use a self-help, confessional process to cleanse
themselves of irrational fears and reach their full potential.

Dianetics became the cornerstone of the controversial Church of Scientology.
With claims of about 100,000 members in Canada and millions around the world --
including celebrity followers such as John Travolta, Tom Cruise and Lisa Marie
Presley -- some see it as a legitimate religious philosophy.

Hubbard's first book on Dianetics was published the same month. This month,
Scientologists have been celebrating the milestone around the world. But many of
them aren't aware of its unusual origins in a science-fiction magazine.

''There is no link between Scientology and science fiction,'' said Janet Laveau,
president of the Toronto chapter of the church.

That's not the view of some observers, who believe that the sci-fi elements of
Hubbard's work permeate Scientology's teachings.

''It would not surprise me that lower-level members [of the church] aren't
interested in science fiction,'' said Stephen Kent, a sociologist at the
University of Alberta. But, he added, the Church's upper echelons support
Hubbard's own conviction that his writing about intergalactic battles and space
aliens are an integral part of Scientology.

In fact, Kent believes that today's release of the movie version of Hubbard's
sci-fi epic Battlefield Earth -- produced by and starring Hubbard devotee
Travolta -- might bring the links between science fiction and Scientology into

''The movie is not directly a Scientology recruitment tool, but Scientologists
hope its presence in the popular culture will raise Hubbard's image and
curiosity about his other work,'' Kent said.

''The risk is that it will raise the public's awareness of the science-fiction
elements in Scientology's philosophy.''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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5a. Carnage On the ''Battlefield''
E! Online/Excite, May 12, 2000
Off-site Link
As filmmakers defend themselves from any connection between Battlefield EarthOff-site Link
and Scientology, the wreck that is the John Travolta flick opened at theaters
today, and the reviews are about as ugly as a Psychlo.

Because of Hubbard and Travolta's association with Scientology, the film has
come under scrutiny as critics allege it's just more propaganda for the
controversial church.

Last month, an anti-Scientology group named FactNet put out a press release
saying Earth ''may contain sophisticated subliminal advertising designed by the
cult Scientology, to recruit viewers into their cult and influence them to
reject psychiatry and other mental health organizations.'' Then, the pop culture
Website iFuse.com ran a story quoting non-Scientologist crew members saying they
were creeped out by their L. Ron-following coworkers.

But at every turn Travolta (who also produced the film), director Roger
Christian (whose major previous credit was as second-unit director on The
Phantom Menace) and even church officials have denied any relation between Earth
and Scientology. ''There is no connection,'' Travolta said in a prepared
statement. ''L. Ron Hubbard wrote numerous science-fiction epics. Other than
being created by the same person, the two have virtually nothing to do with one

Adds Christian, ''First, let me say I'm a Buddhist, not a Scientologist. So
don't you think, as the director, if I were going to plant subliminal religious
messages, they would probably be rooted in Buddhism?

What this movie is, is a fun ride and that's all,'' Christian says. ''It's a
sci-fi film with the feel of Planet of the Apes. John [Travolta] likes to call
it a sci-fi Pulp Fiction.''

Of course, any controversy might be moot considering the film's notices (some of
the worst since, say, Ishtar) might keep even the most devout Scientologist at

''A million monkeys with a million crayons would be hard-pressed in a million
years to create anything as cretinous as Battlefield Earth,'' snipes Rita
Kempley of the Washington Post.

There may be an upshot to the bad reviews, though. As Newsweek says,
''[C]ontrary to cult-hater reports, nothing about Battlefield Earth will draw
weak movie-goers into the open arms of the Church of Scientology. That would be
like saying Showgirls was a recruitment tool for strip clubs.''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Jehovah's Witnesses

6. Death of Jehovah's Witness exploited by Georgian politician
Stetson University/Georgian Times, Apr. 26, 2000
http://www.stetson.edu/~psteeves/relnews/0005b.html#11Off-site Link
A representative of Jehovah's Witnesses today deplored the opportunism of
politician Guram Sharadze in using a Georgian family's personal loss to bolster
his campaign to ban the religious community. ''Lia Jankanidze's death is a
terrible loss and particularly for her family,'' said Guram Kvaratskhelia on
behalf of Jehovah's Witnesses in Georgia. ''Our hearts and sympathy go out to
them.'' He added: ''The claim by Sharadze that she died for lack of a blood
transfusion is highly questionable. Effective medical alternatives to blood
transfusion are used all the time in hospitals in Georgia, as in most countries
of the world. Assertions like Sharadze's are often proven false when reviewed
by independent medical experts, and the family is now seeking such opinion.''

Lia Jankanidze died on Sunday, 16 April, almost two days after surgery at the
First Clinical Hospital of Tbilisi, Georgia. The family is now consulting with
independent experts as to the alleged need for blood transfusions. Was there
timely consideration of surgical procedures that would have avoided amputation
and severe blood loss? Were all available alternatives to blood transfusion
considered and appropriately used?

Sharadze has seized upon this tragedy to renew his call to ban Jehovah's
Witnesses in Georgia. On 29 February 2000, a Tbilisi court found his
allegations had no merit and dismissed his lawsuit to revoke the legal
registration of Jehovah's Witnesses.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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7. Jehovah's Witnesses gain favorable court rulings
Stetson University/Russia Public Affairs Office, Jehovah's Witnesses, May 9,
2000 (Press Release)
http://www.stetson.edu/~psteeves/relnews/0005b.html#14Off-site Link
On May 5, the Gorno-Altaysk City Court in Siberia, Russia, ruled that Aleksandr
Kalistra-tov, one of Jehovah's Witnesses, had the right to choose alternative
civilian service. He had refused military service due to his conscientious
religious objection. This is the third such decision in Russia during recent
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Islam

8. Muslim radicals oppose Terrorism Bill
BBC. May 14, 2000
http://news.bbc.co.uk/low/english/uk/newsid_747000/747747.stmOff-site Link
Radical Muslims from Britain and the US are to meet in London to plan opposition
to the government's anti-terrorist legislation.

The conference has been organised by Shaikh Abu Hamza who's been accused of
supporting violence abroad.

Some Islamic groups argue that the new Terrorism Bill currently passing through
Parliament will lead to the harassment and arrest of their members.

The government says the bill will target those who threaten the democratic
process by the use of violence.

But critics complain that a new criminal offence of incitement could be used
against anyone advancing a religious or ideological goal.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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* Text of the Terrorism Bill

Off-site Link

9. Mungiki prepared to meet Muslims
Sunday Nation (Kenya), May 14, 2000
Off-site Link
The Mungiki followers are ready to meet Muslim leaders, their leaders said

This follows an announcement by a Muslim cleric that they would be interested to
meet Mungiki, following the movement's claims that it is 95 per cent Muslim.

In a press statement issued in Nakuru town on Friday, Mungiki welcomed the
Nairobi Kadhi Hammad Kassim's call to other Muslims to stop reacting negatively
to the movement.

The statement was signed by the founder, Mr Maina Njenga, the Nairobi provincial
co-ordinator, Mr Kamau Mwathi, the organising secretary, Mr Njoroge Kamunya, the
Rift Valley coordinator, Mr Kimani Ruo, and a member, Mr Mugo Mbogo.

''We fully support Sheikh Kassim. His words of wisdom to fellow Muslims were
encouraging, especially when he said that no one should dismiss us before
listening to our side of the story,'' said Mr Maina.

On Thursday, Sheikh Kassim was quoted in the Press saying Muslim leaders would
arrange a meeting with Mungiki saying ''the possibility of the group practising
Islamic principles could not be ruled out''.

Mr Maina defended the organisation against accusations that it was involved in
crime saying ''Mungiki is a morally upright movement and what we are totally
opposed to is the satanic western culture''.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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10. Muslim cleric defends Coke
BBC, May 13, 2000
Off-site Link
One of Egypt's most senior religious figures is reported to have condemned
allegations that the logo of the soft drink Coca Cola could be offensive to

The mufti, Sheikh Nasr Farid Wassel, is quoted as describing them as empty
rumours that could put thousands of Coca Cola employees in Egypt out of work.

A local Coca Cola official said the company's US headquarters were now
investigating the source of the rumour which, he said, was having an effect on

For several days the rumours have been circulating that if the Coca Cola logo is
viewed in a mirror or upside down, it appears to read in Arabic: ''No to
Mohammed,'' ''No to Mecca.''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Doomsday

11. Doomsday couple to divorce as the millennium bug bites back
The Sunday Times (England), May 14, 2000
http://www.the-times.co.uk/news/pages/Sunday-Times/stiscosco01003.htmlOff-site Link
The millennium bug has belatedly bitten a husband and wife who fled to the wilds
of Scotland to escape Y2K chaos. Angela and Jeremy Perron's marriage has
collapsed under the strain of stockpiling food and warnings of the millennial
meltdown that never happened.

The couple prophesied that 2000 would bring crashing computer networks and the
accidental discharge of nuclear weapons. Now they are to divorce. Jeremy Perron
has moved out of the family home in Forres, in the northeast of Scotland.

His wife's urgings on an indifferent public to hoard three weeks' supply of food
and fuel took its toll on their relationship. She became a high-profile media
performer but he was reluctant to step into the limelight.

The strain grew when they were ridiculed in January after the gloomy predictions
were proved wrong. Angela Perron had warned: ''At best there will be pockets of
the country without power for a while which will lead to a shortage of fresh
food. At worst computer failure will start an accidental release of radiation or
a nuclear warhead fired by mistake.''

Now attempting to set up her own PR firm, she admits it was not the nuclear
warheads which overreacted, but the Perrons themselves.

His wife believes her work was not fruitless: ''We like to think we helped
people be ready for the millennium bug and perhaps we helped to encourage
companies to work harder to be ready.''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Hate Groups

12. Judge Allows Public to View - Gasp - Jesus Statue
NewsMax, May 11, 2000
http://www.newsmax.com/showinsidecover.shtml?a=2000/5/11/192313Off-site Link
[Religious intolerance]
You can walk down the street past smut shops and hookers, and pornographic
''art'' gets taxpayer financing — but we can't have anyone seeing an image of
Jesus, can we?

That seems to be the logic behind an anti-religion group that sued Marshfield,
Wis. to force it to build a 10-foot wall to block from sight a statue of Jesus
Christ — on private property.

Seems the 15-foot statue used to be in a city park. So an outfit called Freedom
From Religion Foundation Inc. sued. Then the city sold the land to a private
owner, and a federal judge threw out the suit. But the group pitched a hissy fit
and filed an appeal.

U.S. District Judge John Shabaz ruled Tuesday that the iron fence and a sign
reading ''Private Park'' were enough.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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13. Hungary Textbooks Call Jews Enemies
Washington Post/AP, May 11, 2000
Off-site Link
BUDAPEST, Hungary –– Hungarian school textbooks fail to describe in detail the
horrors of the Holocaust, and some refer to Jews as ''murderers of Christ'' and
''enemies of Germans,'' a new study says.

''We found the Jews in two contexts, once in ancient times, and then, with a big
leap, in the 20th century,'' study author Monika Kovacs said Thursday.

The study reviewed 50 textbooks for teaching history, geography and literature
published in 1997 and 1998. It is part of a series prepared for the Central and
Eastern European Curriculum Review Project of the New York-based American Jewish

The study found that in the history of ancient times, Jews are almost
exclusively mentioned as ''the murderers of Christ.'' From the Middle Ages to
the 19th century, references to Jews are nearly entirely missing from textbooks,
before they reappear in sections on 20th century history.

Similar findings were reported in the other countries surveyed. In Slovakia, one
textbook was found to be openly anti-Semitic and was withdrawn as a result of
AJC's intervention.

There are over 100,000 Jews currently living in Hungary, down from 1 million
before the war. More than 600,000 Hungarian Jews perished in the Holocaust.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Other News

14. Neighbors' Spat Leads to a Huge Award Against the Anti-Defamation League
New York Times, May 12, 2000
http://www.nytimes.com/library/national/051300adl-defame.htmlOff-site Link
DENVER, May 12 -- As a dispute with their neighbors intensified in 1994,
Mitchell and Candace Aronson of Evergreen, Colo., tuned in a police scanner to
intercept private phone conversations and heard the neighbors make what the
Aronsons perceived were anti-Semitic remarks about them. The Aronsons
immediately sought help from the Anti-Defamation League, whose local director
publicly called the neighbors anti-Semites.

Over the next five and a half years, the conflict widened into a vicious legal
battle over issues of privacy and defamation, ending in a Denver federal court,
where a jury recently returned the first verdict ever against the league, a unit
of the B'nai Brith that has fought anti-Semitism, racism and bigotry for 87

The jury also awarded the neighbors, William and Dorothy Quigley, $10.5 million
in damages -- a quarter of the league's annual budget.

The Aronsons, who are now divorced, were not defendants in the case.

Lawyers for the league filed motions today asking the trial judge to set aside
the verdict or, failing that, reduce the award. But the case has focused a rare
spotlight on how aggressively an organization that prides itself on exposing
anti-Semitism responds to perceived threats that, for many Jews, carry the
emotional weight of historical persecution. In testimony, the Quigleys, who are
Roman Catholic, insisted that their language did not mean to convey anti-Semitic

Still, by ruling that Saul F. Rosenthal, the director of the league's Mountain
States regional chapter, defamed the Quigleys with public remarks that relied
upon phone conversations taped in violation of federal wiretap laws, the jury
put limits on how far an organization can go toward fulfilling its mission. It
also sent a message that protecting the privacy of personal telephone
conversations is more important than punishing offensive language they might

While some legal experts agreed with the jury's findings, others said that if
the judgment survives appeal, the organization might have to temper its
responses in the future. Barry Curtiss-Lusher, chairman of the Mountain States
chapter, said that the possibility that the verdict could have a chilling effect
on the organization was ''one of our fears.''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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15. O'Hair disappearance trial to start
Dallas Morning News, May 15, 2000
Off-site Link
(...) Monday, in a federal courtroom in Austin, federal prosecutors hope to put
the parts of the puzzle together to provide some answers to what happened to
Madalyn Murray O'Hair and her two adult children after they vanished under
mysterious circumstances in August 1995.

After a three-year FBI investigation, a federal grand jury in Austin late last
year charged Gary Karr, 53, an ex-con from Detroit, with kidnapping, extortion
and robbery. Prosecutors say his actions resulted in the death of Mrs. O'Hair,
77; her son, Jon Garth Murray, 41; and Robin Murray O'Hair, 31, her
granddaughter whom she adopted.

At the time of the disappearances, the O'Hairs were under investigation by the
IRS, accused of tax fraud. They were also embroiled in a lawsuit by a separate
atheist organization in California over the O'Hairs' takeover of financial
holdings and donor lists.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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16. Snipes' company may buy property
Macon Telegraph, May 11, 2000
http://www.macontelegraph.com/local/snipes0218.htmOff-site Link
EATONTON - A security guard group affiliated with action-adventure actor Wesley
Snipes is interested in buying land in Putnam County to build a training

The 257 acres adjoins the 476-acre village owned by the United Nuwaubian Nation
of Moors
on Shady Dale Road west of Eatonton.

Snipes' production company, Amen-Ra films, owns The Royal Guard of Amen-Ra, the
company planning to purchase the acreage, according to Snipes spokeswoman
Justine Hah.

Hah, however, denies any connection between Snipes and the Nuwaubians.

But a Nuwaubian representative said Thursday that Snipes is one of many
''millionaire Nuwaubians'' planning to purchase property in Putnam County.

Al Woodall, an agent for the nine Nuwaubians who own the 476-acre village, said
millionaire Nuwaubians are not only buying the 257 acres at 290 Shady Dale Road
but also the village at 404 Shady Dale Road.

''(Snipes) is actually an avid Nuwaubian, at that,'' Woodall said. ''What I'm
hearing is there are a few Nuwaubian millionaires from the music industry, the
movie industry, business, finance, different aspects - but they're all
millionaires, including (Nuwaubian leader) Malachi York. And from what I'm
hearing, (they) are planning on buying the property in Putnam County, including
the 404 Shady Dale Road.''

But Hah said Thursday she had never heard of the Nuwaubians.

''I don't even know how you spell that,'' she said. ''Wesley is not affiliated
with that group on any level, even remotely.''

The Nuwaubians, a group of followers of Malachi York, moved to Putnam County in
1993. About 150 Nuwaubians live in the village and hundreds more live in
surrounding communities of Athens, Eatonton, Sparta and Milledgeville.

The group has built pyramids and other Egyptian-type structures on a portion of
the 476 acres. About 30 acres is zoned residential. The remainder is zoned for

But about three years ago, the group began to have problems with county
officials about zoning violations. For more than a year, the Nuwaubians and the
County Commission have been involved in ongoing court battles about county
zoning and building code violations.

The ongoing legal struggle with the county has prompted Snipes, Stevie Wonder
and York to begin buying property in Putnam County, according to Woodall.

''These millionaires, Nuwaubian millionaires, are actually tired of what they've
been reading, seeing and hearing about the ongoing battle in Putnam County with
the officials,'' Woodall said. '' ... So they're coming in with money, ready to
go to court with the best lawyers, or whatever it takes to bring about
justice,'' Woodall said.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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17. Vatican Discloses '3rd Secret Of Fatima'
Washington Post, May 14, 2000
Off-site Link
FATIMA, Portugal, May 13—Ending an enduring mystery, the Vatican disclosed today
that the ''Third Secret of Fatima'' foretold the 1981 assassination attempt on
Pope John Paul II.

Since 1917--when three shepherd children said the Virgin Mary appeared above an
olive tree in Fatima and told them three secrets--many have speculated about the

The first was said to have foretold the end of World War I and the start of
World War II, and the second, the rise and fall of Soviet communism. Some
believed the third, unrevealed secret was a prophecy foretelling the end of the

But a top Vatican cardinal said otherwise today when the pope visited Fatima to
beatify two of the shepherd children. Cardinal Angelo Sodano said the
''interpretations'' of the children spoke of a ''bishop clothed in white'' who,
while making his way amid the corpses of martyrs, ''falls to the ground,
apparently dead, under a burst of gunfire.''

The description recalled the 1981 assassination attempt against John Paul, who
was wounded when a Turkish gunmen opened fire in St. Peter's Square. The
shooting came on May 13--the same date as the first of the reported Fatima
visions in 1917.

John Paul has credited the Virgin of Fatima with intervening and saving his
life. Sodano quoted the pope as saying a ''motherly hand'' guided the bullet's
path, enabling the ''dying pope'' to halt ''at the threshold of death.''

Some in the crowd, however, expressed skepticism.

''What they said all happened in the past,'' said Julio Estela, 33, a Portuguese
car salesman. ''This isn't a prediction. It's disappointing, I think there's

Over the years, the Vatican's refusal to make the third secret public inspired
books, doomsday cults convinced that it predicted the end of the world and even
a hijacking by a man who demanded that the Vatican reveal it.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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18. Ghosthunter called in to track royal spectre
This is London, May 8, 2000
Off-site Link
Reports of ghostly apparitions of Henry VIII's fifth wife Catherine Howard have
echoed round the corridors of the palace for the last century.

The unexplained sightings are to be put to the test next month when the palace
invites parapsychologist Dr Richard Wiseman to explain the phenomenon.

Dr Wiseman will conduct four all-night vigils in the haunted gallery and will
use thermal imaging cameras to detect any changes in temperature, which is one
of the most commonly reported phenomenons associated with the paranormal.

He will also be running daily talks explaining the scientific evidence to ghosts
and will be canvassing up to 600 visitors to discover what their experiences
were. The event will run from May 27 to June 4. For details ring 020 8781 9500.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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19. Unsolicited Jesus videos angrily returned
Detroit News, May 12, 2000
http://detnews.com/2000/religion/0005/13/05130011.htmOff-site Link
[Religious intolerance]
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- Hundreds of videotapes about the life of JesusOff-site Link
that landed on the doorsteps of Palm Beach County residents are back in the mail
marked: Return to sender.

Some residents -- many of them Jewish -- were so angry about the unsolicited
mailing that they bundled bricks with the tapes to increase the return shipping
charges, said Rabbi Stephen Pinsky of Wellington's Temple Beth Rorah.

''We've never had as many people call or as many returns in the 22 years I've
worked here,'' Cecile Sasso of the U.S. Postal Service in West Palm Beach said.

About 400,000 tapes were mailed to Palm Beach County residents during the week
of Passover and Easter by the evangelical group Campus Crusade for Christ. The
Orlando-based group spent $1.2 million on the project.

Clergy involved in the mailing said they didn't intend to offend. But rabbis and
Jewish leaders condemned the tactic as offensive and disrespectful.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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* (1 Corinthians 1:21-24 NIV) For since in the wisdom of God the world through
its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what
was preached to save those who believe. {22} Jews demand miraculous signs and
Greeks look for wisdom, {23} but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling
block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, {24} but to those whom God has
called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

=== Books

20. Myth vs. logic
Spokane.net/Philadelphia Inquirer, May 13, 2000
Off-site Link
The great irony of fundamentalists is that they employ the most sophisticated
modern technologies available -- from the Internet and satellite TV to assault
rifles and guided missiles -- to wage a war against modernity itself.

But, as Karen Armstrong argues in ''The Battle For God,'' her ambitious and
engaging -- if flawed -- historical study of fundamentalism in Judaism,
Christianity and Islam, this is not as paradoxical as it seems.

As she sees it, atheistic scientism and fundamentalism are simply two sides of a
modern obsession with absolute certainty.

Zealots on both sides believe that there is only one kind of truth, that this
truth can be proven by evidence, and that it excludes all other ways of knowing.
In their hands, science has become a cult, while religion has become a

Armstrong, a former nun and author of half a dozen books on religion, including
the bestselling ''A History of God'' (1993), argues that this situation is the
result of a confusion between two separate but complementary ways of thinking
that informed the premodern world: mythos and logos.

In three chapters -- one for each of the religions of the book, Judaism, Islam
and Christianity -- Armstrong sets up the framework of her story by showing how
the creation of the modern world has affected religious belief.

Any book that does not demonize but actually helps us understand what is for
many millions of people a way of life is a welcome event. And Armstrong
gallantly tries to give a sense of the historical facts and main ideas involved
in her topic.

But there is a central problem with her account, arising from her overzealous
use of the mythos-logos distinction. While this is an extremely helpful way to
think about religion and its relation to other ways of thinking, Armstrong's
insistence that the two must at all times be kept apart is an artificial
imposition of her own very modern liberal views.

I imagine that many sincere believers would object to Armstrong's reduction of
religion to the role of providing emotional and psychological comfort, even if
they will profit from her history.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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