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Religion News Report

Religion News Report - May 19, 2000 (Vol. 4, Issue 205)

arrow Latest: Religion News Blog

=== Waco / Branch Davidians
1. Judge: Gov't OK on Waco Evidence
2. Davidians' arguments are rejected by judge

=== Hoyu-no-kai
3. Religious group leaders jailed for murder

=== Aum Shinrikyo
4. Vital AUM base lost

=== Scientology
5. Scientology fight fever

=== Hate Groups / Hate Crimes
6. Leader of Supremacy Church Arrested
7. Two Suspects Jailed For 1963 Alabama Church Bomb
8. School books provide distorted view of Jewish history

=== Islam
9. Islam leader says Syrian novel an insult to religion

=== Madalyn Murray O'Hair
10. Ex-wife testifies defendant told her he thought O'Hair was dead
11. Witness in O'Hair trial tells of bloody shoes
12. Atheists searched for O'Hairs
13. Defense says O'Hair case full of holes

=== Other News
14. Girl dies in Colorado after controversial therapy (Rebirthing)
15. China arrests 20 members of religious sect - group (The Disciples)
16. China Christian Heads Said Arrested
17. I was Charlemagne's lover, reveals Shirley MacLaine
18. Religious groups condemn Mori's 'divine nation' remark
18a. Man Charged in Defacing of Church Statues
19. Suit says N.J. boy's beliefs suppressed

=== Noted
2. Matters of Opinion / Why do Japanese view themselves as irreligious?
21. Matters of Opinion / Young people's interest in spirituality grows
22. Deepak Chopra Discusses 'How to Know God'
23. Anne Graham Lotz Offers Insights on the Health of Her Father, the
Reverend Billy Graham (includes Andrew Weil)
24. 'I was God's wife' (John De Ruiter)
25. Worker of 'miracles' coming to Spectrum (Benny Hinn)
26. Spirited movement on rise (Catholic Charismatic Renewal/Toronto Blessing)
27. The Hare Krishnas

=== Death Penalty
28. N.H. Votes To Repeal Death Penalty

=== Science
29. Scientists defend research against Charles tirade

=== Waco / Branch Davidians

1. Judge: Gov't OK on Waco Evidence
AOL/AP, May 17, 2000
Off-site Link
WACO, Texas (AP) - The FBI may have mishandled some key evidence related to the
deadly 1993 Waco siege, but Branch Davidian lawyers failed to prove the
government intentionally altered or destroyed any items, a federal judge ruled

U.S. District Judge Walter Smith, who is presiding over a wrongful-death lawsuit
set to begin June 19, said there is ''no basis'' for him to order the government
''to turn over any additional evidence or to impose sanctions for actions which
apparently occurred over seven years ago when the evidence was first collected
and collated.''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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2. Davidians' arguments are rejected by judge
Dallas Morning News, May 18, 2000
http://dallasnews.com/texas_southwest/81319_waco_18tex.ART.htmlOff-site Link
The FBI might have been negligent in handling some evidence from the Branch
case, but there was no indication that the agency or others in the
federal government intentionally destroyed or altered key evidence from the 1993
siege, a federal judge in Waco has ruled.

The four-page order issued Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Walter Smith rejected
arguments from plaintiffs' lawyers in a wrongful-death lawsuit that the
government should be sanctioned for its handling of evidence in the seven years
since the incident near Waco.

The judge also refused a request by the plaintiffs' lead lawyer for fines to
punish the government's delays in turning over documents for the lawsuit.

''Although the court is persuaded that the government failed to act with due
diligence in providing discovery, any harm to the plaintiffs has been
ameliorated by the continuation of the trial date,'' Judge Smith wrote.

The case, originally set to go to trial this week, is now scheduled to begin
June 19 in Waco.

During last month's sanctions hearing, lead plaintiffs lawyer Mike Caddell of
Houston argued that accounts from all of the FBI agents who operated the
infrared camera and the plane that carried it on April 19 supported his
recording expert's finding that videotapes from that day had been tampered with.

A recording expert hired by Mr. Caddell's firm to study the tapes testified in
last month's hearing that he had found evidence that someone had erased audio
tracks from a key videotape taken just before the fire.

But Judge Smith noted in his Tuesday order that a former FBI recording expert
who studied the issue for the government had rejected that analysis. The judge
said that expert's testimony ''was more persuasive.''

''The evidence does not support plaintiff's claim of erasure, but rather
indicates that the audio was never turned on,'' he wrote.

The judge also rejected arguments that the government had altered or withheld
still photographs taken from another FBI airplane in the last hours of the
siege. The judge wrote that an FBI photographer testified that he did not
believe any rolls of film were missing.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Hoyu-no-kai

3. Religious group leaders jailed for murder
Mainichi Daily News (Japan), May 19, 2000
http://www.mainichi.co.jp/english/news/news07.htmlOff-site Link
KYOTO - The head of a religious group and four accomplices were slapped with
prison terms Thursday for assaulting and drowning a 48-year-old follower.
The Kyoto District Court sentenced Hiroshi Terao, 54, of the Hoyu-no-kai,
headquartered in Fukuchiyama, Kyoto Prefecture, to four years and six months in
prison for inflicting bodily injury resulting in death.

His four accomplices, all followers of the group, were sentenced to two years
and six months imprisonment respectively.

According to the ruling, in July 1990, the victim and the five plaintiffs went
on a Hoyu-no-kai-organized outing to a spa resort in Miyazu, Kyoto Prefecture,
along with other members of the group and their families. At the time, the five
reproached the man for the absence of his younger sister, also a believer, from
group activities. They then hit the man in the face and threw him in the sea.
[...entire item...]

=== Aum Shinrikyo

4. Vital AUM base lost
Mainichi Daily News (Japan), May 18, 2000
http://www.mainichi.co.jp/english/news/news05.htmlOff-site Link
NAGOYA - Death cult AUM Shinrikyo has been forced to shut down the cafe serving
as its unofficial Nagoya base a mere three months after setting it up because
its top operator was arrested and the facility raided, police said Wednesday.
Cultists claim the cafe had nothing to do with AUM and is run by Aleph - the
name by which the doomsday cult now refers to itself - and say they are forced
to move because the coffee shop went broke.

Police, however, say that even if the cafe was not accorded official status
within the cult, it was home to a number of followers and also used for cultists
to give lessons on the teachings of Shoko Asahara, the AUM founder being tried
on 17 counts of murder, including several in connection with the lethal gassing
of Tokyo's subway system in 1995.

Upon opening the cafe, the woman designated as the cult's top leader in Nagoya
told her landlord that she had severed ties with AUM and was operating
exclusively under the Aleph name.

Despite claiming to have nothing to do with the death cult, the cafe was used to
provide sermons to paying customers and it effectively became AUM's Nagoya base.

However, things soured for the cult when the leader was arrested late last month
for allegedly forging a driver's license. A police raid on the cafe prevented
AUM from making money out of it, and cult members decided they had no other
option but to shut it down.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Scientology

5. Scientology fight fever
The Guardian (England), May 19, 2000
Off-site Link
(...) The basis of any wised-up religion is simple: forget redemption, the
do-unto-others, the life ever after, and all that crap. These days
what you need first is a state-of-the-art drug-rehab programme, or
better yet, a ''Regimen'' (it sounds holier) that uses strongarm nursing
staff, heavy leather restraints, and forced mental realignment based
on a combination of extreme self-loathing and vigorous cheque-writing.

For most people, Scientology is an abstraction. In Hollywood, it's
local, something like a pillar of the community. Anyone who thinks the
church of Scientology will one day be legislated out of existence by
the US government or discredited to death by tabloid revelations
should consider its profile in Los Angeles, where it has been edging
slowly towards respectability for more than a decade. This city is the
world capital of manufactured perceptions, and the appearance of
respectability is worth much more here than the real thing.

No wonder Hollywood loves this stuff. Given that the church has been a
fully tax-exempt religious organisation since 1993, I predict that it
will be assimilated into the realm of political and religious
respectability within the next 10 years. After all, the Mormons have
been legit for decades, notwithstanding their one-time predilection
for polygamy.

Like them, the Scientologists no longer publicly parade their core
beliefs - which include a healthy serving of little green men and
flying saucers - preferring instead to emphasise their good works and
allegedly benign intentions. This isn't bad going for a former pulp
sci-fi novelist who once wrote a short story about a man who founds a
religion in order to get rich quick.

And it was in his capacity as sci-fi writer that Hubbard hit our
screens last weekend.

The cheapo paperback movie tie-in (published by the church) is an
astounding 1,048 pages - you could beat someone to death with it if
you sneaked up on them from behind.

Appropriately, this is the experience that watching the movie most
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Hate Groups / Hate Crimes

6. Leader of Supremacy Church Arrested
AOL/AP, May 18, 2000
Off-site Link
GAINESVILLE, Mo. (AP) - The leader of a white-supremacist religious sect has
been charged with abducting six of his grandchildren from North Dakota several
years ago and hiding them at his Missouri farmhouse.

Since the pastor was arrested Wednesday, the children, ages 9 through 16, have
refused to leave the farmhouse, engaging in a standoff with authorities on the
property. Negotiations entered a third day today.

The farmhouse is on a 300-acre ranch belonging to the Rev. Gordon Winrod, 73,
pastor of Our Savior's Church in Gainesville, in southwestern Missouri.

Authorities have linked the church to the Christian Identity movement, which
considers white Christians superior to nonwhites and Jews. They said Winrod has
sent out thousands of newsletters around the country each year, often calling
for the killing of Jews.

The Ozarks region in southwestern Missouri has become a hotbed for the Christian
Identity movement. Of the 102 Christian Identity affiliates operating in 35
states nationwide, 14 are based in Missouri and five in Illinois, officials say.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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7. Two Suspects Jailed For 1963 Alabama Church Bomb
Fox News, May 17, 2000
Off-site Link
It has been almost four decades since the 1963 Ku Klux Klan bombing of a
Birmingham, Ala., church killed four young black girls and permanently scarred
the south with one of the civil rights movement's darkest moments.

But a 37-year odyssey of grief and pain won its first chance at closure
Wednesday, when two aging men were jailed without bond for the Sept. 15, 1963
bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church.

The suspects, Thomas E. Blanton Jr., 61, and Bobby Frank Cherry, 69, surrendered
to authorities Wednesday, after a Jefferson County grand jury returned
indictments against them.

Cherry's attorney, Mickey Johnson, said Cherry was charged with eight counts of
murder — two counts covering each of the four slain girls. He said one count was
for intentional murder and the other involved ''universal malice'' because the
bomb was placed where it could have killed any number of people.

The sheriff's office listed the charge against Blanton as murder, but the
details were not immediately released.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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8. School books provide distorted view of Jewish history
The Budapest Sun (Hungary), May 18, 2000
Off-site Link
Hungarian children reading history, geography and literature may associate Jews
with expressions such as ''enemies of Germans'' and ''murderers of Christ'',
according to a report by the American Jewish Committee (AJC).

The two-year study examined 50 Hungarian textbooks used mostly in secondary
schools and found that history books generally tended to ignore the role of

Mónika Kovács, the author of the study and educational psychologist at ELTE
University, said that one book in particular ''refers to the German treatment of
the Jews using the scapegoat theory and blames them for being the capitalists of
Germany''. Other books referred to Jews in Germany as ''aliens'', gave
particularly low estimates for the number of deaths in the Holocaust, referred
to Jews as ''enemies of the Germans'' and ''the murderers of Christ'', Kovács
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Islam

9. Islam leader says Syrian novel an insult to religion
AltaVista/Reuters, May 18, 2000
Off-site Link
CAIRO, May 18 (Reuters) - Sunni Islam's top authority has condemned as an insult
to religion an Arabic novel at the centre of clashes between police and Moslem
students in Cairo.

''The novel is full of phrases and expressions which scorn and insult all sacred
religious tenets, including God, the Prophet (Mohammed), the holy Koran, the day
of judgement and religious values,'' the Sheikh of Al-Azhar, Mohammed Sayyid
Tantawy, said in a statement issued on Wednesday night.

Thousands of religious students from Al-Azhar fought police on May 8, demanding
the dismissal of Culture Minister Farouk Hosni over the re-printing in November
of ''A Banquet for Seaweed,'' a 1983 novel by Syrian author Haider Haider.

State-owned newspapers have called for the closure of al-Shaab and the
Islamist-oriented Labour Party that publishes it, blaming them for the unrest
over an established literary work previously published in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon
and Egypt.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Madalyn Murray O'Hair

10. Ex-wife testifies defendant told her he thought O'Hair was dead
Dallas Morning News/AP, May 19, 2000
Off-site Link
AUSTIN - The ex-wife of the man charged in the disappearance of Madalyn Murray
testified Thursday that Gary Karr told her he thought the atheist was
dead and that he once threatened to kill her.

"He wanted to kill me because of what I knew," Charlene Karr said.

11. Witness in O'Hair trial tells of bloody shoes
Dallas Morning News, May 18, 2000
http://dallasnews.com/texas_southwest/81373_ohair_18tex.AR.htmlOff-site Link
AUSTIN - Bloody sneakers made a woman suspect that her boyfriend plotted the
disappearance of atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair and that he committed violent
crimes, but fear kept her from telling police, she testified Wednesday.

Patti Jo Steffens, the former girlfriend of David Roland Waters, testified she
also was told to rent a storage space where he could keep $500,000 in gold

Federal investigators believe Mr. Waters was the mastermind behind a plot to
kidnap, rob and then kill Ms. O'Hair, her son Jon Garth Murray and granddaughter
Robin Murray O'Hair in 1995. They disappeared from San Antonio in 1995 with
$500,000 in gold coins.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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12. Atheists searched for O'Hairs
Dallas Morning News, May 17, 2000
Off-site Link
AUSTIN - Atheist activists conducted an exhaustive search for Madalyn Murray
and her family when they realized they were missing but found no leads,
an atheist leader testified Tuesday.

Ellen Johnson, president of American Atheists Inc., said she came to Texas from
Rockaway Township, N.J., to look for the atheist matriarch and her family after
they did not attend a planned picketing of Pope John Paul II's visit to New York
in fall, 1995.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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13. Defense says O'Hair case full of holes
Dallas Morning News, May 16, 2000
Off-site Link
AUSTIN - Jurors learned Monday that the mystery behind the 1995 disappearance of
American atheist grande dame Madalyn Murray O'Hair can be simply explained.

It was the only point of agreement between prosecutors and defense counsel as
the kidnapping and extortion trial of Gary P. Karr began in a federal courtroom
in Austin.

''It's a tale of greed and hatred. If you follow the money, you can pretty much
understand it,'' said Assistant U.S. Attorney Gerald Carruth. ''The facts will
weave a chain of circumstantial evidence that tightens around Gary Karr.''

In a 40-minute opening, defense attorney Tom Mills of Dallas countered that the
government's many pieces of fact are simply random, isolated events that don't
form a complete picture.

''Mrs. O'Hair had talked for years about leaving the United States because of
troubles with the IRS,'' Mr. Mills said. ''The simplest explanation may be that
she did exactly what she'd said she'd do -- she took money from her own
organizations to flee the IRS.''

The defense hopes to call witnesses who told Interpol, the global police agency,
that they saw Mrs. O'Hair in England in 1997, Mr. Mills said. ''Austin police
reports record that these weren't nut cases. But people who knew Madalyn,
recognized her and saw her long after the government said she was dead.''

Mr. Carruth acknowledged that there was much talk within the atheist circles
that Mrs. O'Hair and her family had set up accounts in New Zealand and Europe.
He acknowledged that although evidence in the case suggests that the O'Hairs
were murdered, no bodies have ever been found.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Other News

14. Girl dies in Colorado after controversial therapy
Excite/Reuters, May 18, 2000
http://news.excite.com/news/r/000518/19/crime-childOff-site Link
DENVER (Reuters) - Police Thursday arrested three people for conducting a
controversial ''rebirthing'' therapy on a 10-year-old girl who died after being
wrapped in a blanket despite telling them she could not breathe and was going to

The procedure, aimed at helping children who cannot form bonds with their
parents by making them ''relive'' birth, was captured on closed circuit
television on April 18 while the girl's horrified mother watched in a nearby
room, according to the Jefferson County sheriff's office.

The girl, Candace Newmaker of North Carolina, told the therapists seven times
that she could not breathe and said six times that she was going to die.

But instead of unwrapping her, the therapists said ''you got to push hard if you
want to be born -- or do you want to stay in there and die?''

The girl, who was adopted four years ago and had been treated for Attention
Deficit Disorder and depression, lost consciousness during the procedure and was
rushed to a local hospital where she died the next day.

Brita St. Clair, Jack McDaniel and Julie Ponder, employees at Connell Watkins
and Associates, a counseling office in Evergreen, Colo. were arrested for
''child abuse resulting in death,'' the sheriff's office said.

An arrest warrant was issued for a fourth person, Connell Watkins, who ran the
counseling office that specialized in attachment therapy for children. Attorneys
for Ponder and Watkins were not available to comment.

According to an investigator who viewed the tape there was a 20-minute lapse
between the time the girl's last breath could be heard to the time she was
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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15. China arrests 20 members of religious sect - group
AOL/AP, May 18, 2000
Off-site Link
HONG KONG, May 19 (Reuters) - Police in China's southwestern province of Sichuan
have arrested 20 members of a religious sect that opposes Beijing's strict
family planning policies, a Hong Kong-based rights group said on Friday.

Police began closing in on ''The Disciples'' on March 28, when it arrested one
of its leaders, Li Xueqing, the Information Centre for Human Rights & Democracy

Li was convicted of ''using an evil cult'' and sentenced to a year of
re-education through labour on May 17, it said.

''The Disciples'' was founded by Ji Sanbao in 1989 in the northern province of
Shaanxi and has a following of some 500,000 members in more than 10 provinces,
the centre said.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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16. China Christian Heads Said Arrested
USA Today/AP, May 17, 2000
Off-site Link
BEIJING - Authorities in southern China have closed down churches and arrested
at least 10 leaders of underground Christian groups, an international advocacy
group said today.

The reported arrests in Guangdong province come amid tightening controls on
unauthorized religious activities throughout the country, coinciding with a
campaign against the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement.

An official at Guangdong's Religious Affairs Bureau confirmed that an annual
investigation of local religious groups was under way.

http://www.csworldwide.org/Off-site Link said the arrests in Guangdong were part of a
seven-month-old intimidation campaign that began with the demolition of a
popular underground church in Huadu. The leader of that congregation, a popular
Christian minister named Li Dexian, has been arrested 14 times since October and
at one point was tortured with his ankles and wrists chained together, forcing
him into a stooped position for five days, the group said.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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17. I was Charlemagne's lover, reveals Shirley MacLaine
Electronic Telegraph, May 18, 2000
Off-site Link
Confirming her reputation as one of Hollywood's quirkiest stars, the actress
Shirley MacLaine claims in a new book that she was a lover of the Emperor
Charlemagne in a past life and of his reincarnation in this one.

Miss MacLaine has long been fascinated by reincarnation, but her latest book,
Camino, takes her further down this path. The book is based on a walk she took
along the 500-mile pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

In this life, Miss MacLaine, sister of the actor Warren Beatty, claims to have
had an affair with Olaf Palme, the assassinated Swedish prime minister. She
believes Palme was a reincarnation of Charlemagne, who died in AD 814 after
conquering much of western Europe, and Charlemagne was just one of many lovers
she says she had in past lives.

Besides taking famous lovers, Miss MacLaine says she also had visions of
androgynous people giving birth to androgynous children and that she herself was
androgynous. Miss MacLaine, 66, the star of Terms of Endearment and The
Apartment, has always stood apart from the rest of Hollywood.

She says that her friends repeatedly told her not to write about her karmic
destinies and her contact with aliens. But she brushed them off. She said: ''I'm
old enough to have the right to be innovative and get a big kick out of the
people who think I'm a nut case.''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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18. Religious groups condemn Mori's 'divine nation' remark
Japan Times (Japan), May 18, 2000
Off-site Link
Religious groups in Japan on Wednesday blasted Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori's
remark that people should recognize Japan as a divine nation with the Emperor at
its core.

Kenichi Otsu, a senior official of the National Christian Council in Japan, said
the remark could ''knock the bottom out'' of Japan's constitutionally protected
political system.

The Constitution, which took effect in 1947, stipulates the emperor shall be the
symbol of the state and of the unity of the people, deriving his position from
the will of the people with whom sovereign power resides.

The Meiji Constitution, which took effect in 1889, called the emperor ''sacred
and inviolable.'' The government cracked down on some non-Shintoists before the
war ended in 1945.

In 1946, the late Emperor Showa declared that he was not a divine being.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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18a. Man Charged in Defacing of Church Statues
New York Times, May 18, 2000
Off-site Link
A man who the police said cited the biblical commandment against graven images
has been arrested on charges of vandalizing statues at several Catholic churches
in Brooklyn, the authorities said yesterday.

The suspect, Primus St. Croix, 33, told investigators that he had smashed the
statues with a sledgehammer as a protest against idolatry, Police Commissioner
Howard Safir said. Yesterday afternoon Mr. St. Croix led detectives to Prospect
Park in Brooklyn, where, he told them, he had hidden the hammer. ''He told us
that he believed that God had told him to do it, that the Bible suggested to him
that he should not worship graven images,'' Mr. Safir said.

Although statues have been vandalized outside a dozen Catholic churches and
organizations in the last year, the police said Mr. St. Croix had confessed to
participating in only five attacks. Mr. Safir, however, said that Mr. St. Croix
might have been part of a larger group of perhaps a dozen people who shared his
beliefs and carried out similar attacks at other churches in Brooklyn.

The police said Mr. St. Croix acted as the elder spiritual guide for a small
group of people who identified themselves as Rastafarians.

Mr. St. Croix told investigators that he felt compelled, based on his
understanding of Rastafarianism's teachings against graven images, to undertake
a campaign of destruction against religious statues, Mr. Davitt said. Mr. St.
Croix also told investigators that his brand of Rastafarianism took a dim view
of the Roman Catholic pope. In one case of vandalism, Mr. St. Croix said, he
attacked a statue of Pope Pius X at a Knights of Columbus building after
watching a documentary about Pope Pius XII, Mr. Davitt said.

But other Rastafarians said yesterday that Mr. St. Croix had a seriously
distorted understanding of their religion, and Catholic officials said it would
be wrong to brand Rastafarianism as anti-Catholic.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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19. Suit says N.J. boy's beliefs suppressed
Philadelphia Daily News, May 17, 2000
Off-site Link
[Religious intolerance]
A national advocacy group has sued on behalf of a 5-year-old boy who was barred
from giving classmates pencils with the inscription ''Jesus loves the little

The Rutherford Institute, a Charlottesville, Va.-based advocacy group that gets
involved in religion-related disputes, filed a lawsuit May 2 against the Board
of Education over a pair of 1998 incidents involving then 5-year-old Daniel
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Noted

20. Matters of Opinion / Why do Japanese view themselves as irreligious?
Daily Yomiuri (Japan), May 16, 2000
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/newse/0516so16.htmOff-site Link
Japan has often been described as a country that combines various religious
customs. Many people place Buddhist and Shinto altars in the same room, get
married at a church and purchase graves at a Buddhist temple.

What makes this even more perplexing is that many Japanese keep a straight face
while contending that they do not believe in any religion.

Toshimaro Ama, a Meiji Gakuin University professor of history of Japanese
thought and the author of ''Naze Nihonjin wa Mushukyo Nanoka'' (Why Do Japanese
Consider Themselves Irreligious?) and several other books on Japanese views on
religion, said in an interview with The Daily Yomiuri that the attitude is the
legacy of the strong influence of national religious policies implemented by the
Meiji government.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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21. Matters of Opinion / Young people's interest in spirituality grows
Daily Yomiuri (Japan), May 16, 2000
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/newse/0516so15.htmOff-site Link
The horrifying crimes committed by members of the Aum Supreme Truth cult might
have scared some people away from religious cults, but there are still a
surprising number joining such groups, including organizations that are
considered to pose a problem to society.

Ho-no-Hana Sanpogyo, whose leader, Hogen Fukunaga, was arrested last week on
suspicion of fraud, has attracted as many as 30,000 followers nationwide.

Although the Life Space and Kaeda Juku cults have only a small number of
members, just 100 and 50 respectively, this did not hinder their rapid rise to
fame as sinister cult groups, after it was discovered they had been storing
mummified human bodies.

Nobutaka Inoue, a professor at Kokugakuin University's Institute for Japanese
Culture and Classics, in 1996 published an encyclopedia of the nation's 300
religious groups founded since the early 19th century.

However, Life Space, which started as a self-enlightenment group, and small
cults like Kaeda Juku are not included in Inoue's encyclopedia. This suggests
that the real number of new religious groups in Japan is even higher.

Inoue, who has also conducted surveys on religious beliefs among young people,
found that there is an increasing interest in supernatural phenomena and the
occult, rather than in established religions, among Japanese university

In his book ''Contemporary Japanese Religion'' Inoue wrote that ''the Japanese
people are drifting away from organized religions, but this does not necessarily
mean that they have lost interest in religion in general.

''Furthermore, interest in things like the occult, paranormal phenomena, and
various mysterious phenomena--in other words, spiritual things that are often
considered closely associated with religion--does not appear to have waned at

In a book titled ''You Shall Be Released--Maindo Kontororu Kara Nogarete''
(Released from Mind Control) a former Aum cult member wrote, ''I was fascinated
by extrasensory perception and I believed there had to be a common ideal that
everyone could agree on. I think that was what drew me to Aum.''

Akiko Yamakawa--who gives seminars on spirituality and for the last 15 years has
translated books on the subject, including those written by U.S. actress Shirley
MacLaine--believes that the increasing interest in spirituality is not just a
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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22. Deepak Chopra Discusses 'How to Know God'
Larry King Live/CNN, May 17, 2000 (Transcript)
http://cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0005/17/lkl.00.htmlOff-site Link
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Clint Eastwood is ticked, and he's taking his case to
Congress. Find out why when he joins us from Washington. And then, he may have
written the ultimate how-to book. The topic: knowing God. The guest, Deepak
in Los Angeles. He'll take your calls. They're both next on LARRY KING
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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23. Anne Graham Lotz Offers Insights on the Health of Her Father, the Reverend
Billy Graham
Larry King Live/CNN, May 18, 2000
Aired May 18, 2000 - 9:00 p.m. ET
http://cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0005/18/lkl.00.htmlOff-site Link
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, the world is worried about Dr. Billy Graham. His
daughter, Anne Graham Lotz is here with insights on his health and her religious
faith. Plus living long and being well -- best-selling author Dr. Andrew Weil
joins us from Tucson to discuss Billy Graham and his message of good health.
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24. 'I was God's wife'
National Post/Edmonton Journal (Canada), May 16, 2000
Off-site Link
(...) A silent John de Ruiter sat on the stage that December evening, surrounded
by scores of his worshippers, as his wife took the microphone to speak. Joyce,
mother of John's three children, unfolded the letter she'd prepared for the

For almost two decades, Joyce de Ruiter had watched her husband take a magic
carpet ride from humble shoemaker to this -- a god figure in a burgeoning new
religion, worshipped by hundreds in Edmonton and around the world.

A book carries his byline; videos and cassettes his voice and image. There's a
Web site -- www.johnderuiter.com -- and a schedule of where he's speaking each
week, be it in Toronto or India. Upwards of 300 flock to weekly Edmonton
meetings, many of them newcomers who moved to Alberta from other parts of the
country or the world to be near John.

But late last year, Joyce discovered a side to her husband she'd never
suspected. It had prompted her to intervene, in front of his followers, with
this written plea.

''My sweetie. You are not god, you are not deity,'' Joyce said that evening.
''You are a normal man who has been seduced by power and adoring women.''

Devotees shifted quietly in their chairs as John stared gently at his wife.

''You are sleeping with two of your disciples,'' said Joyce, ''and you can't
recognize how far off you've gone. Sex with Benita and Katrina is not truth.''

John's face betrayed nothing, Joyce says. The audience was like flat-calm water.

When Joyce finished her plea, John spoke a few soft words about truth and ended
the meeting. Inside, Joyce mourned, as a few of her husband's disciples came up
to hug her and tell her they admired her honesty. She watched him leave, without

''I was God's wife,'' Joyce says sardonically, looking back on that day. ''The
Messiah Chick.''
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25. Worker of 'miracles' coming to Spectrum
Philadelphia Inquirer, May 16, 2000
Off-site Link
(...) He is Benny Hinn, faith healer extraordinaire.

On Thursday and Friday, Hinn will make a rare appearance in Philadelphia to
conduct one of his traveling Miracle Crusades, a three-service package at the

About 200 local churches are providing an army of volunteer helpers - and, as
ever, thousands of the faithful and the hopeful, the sick and the lame, will
arrive early at the doors seeking supernatural healing.

''He's the reigning world champ, the money-getter and crowd-drawer,'' said the
Rev. G. Richard Fisher of Bricktown, N.J., one of Hinn's critics. ''He's the
Hulk Hogan of televangelists.''

Hinn might also be called the Teflon Televangelist. Try as the naysayers might,
they can't seem to knock him back. Watchdogs chronicle Hinn's loose words and
accuse him of dangerous chicanery. Comedians parody his white suit, high-rise
hair, and soft voice. But still the faithful embrace him as God's sure
instrument of healing.

If you think this brand of faith is at the fringe, you are wrong. According to a
Newsweek poll last month, 84 percent of Americans polled believe that God
performs miracles and 77 percent of those polled believe God or the saints cure
or heal people given no chance of survival by medical science.

Most of Hinn's Christian critics subscribe to ''cessationist theology,'' the
view that such spiritual gifts were for biblical times, not today. So, to a
great extent, the two sides are talking past each other.

The show reaches 100 million homes in 128 countries. It is the backbone of
Hinn's ministry, which has a media studio in Southern California and
administrative offices in Texas. On the show, Hinn televises testimonials of
individual healings - which is one of his critics' many bones of contention.

Ole Anthony is head of the Trinity Foundation in Dallas, a Christian group that
monitors religious broadcasters. He said he extracted a promise from Hinn to
wait six months to air testimonials ''to make sure the healing lasts and wasn't
due to crowd psychology'' or the person's wishful thinking. Anthony said Hinn
also promised to provide a doctor's verification that the ailment existed before
the crusade.

''He hasn't abided by it,'' Anthony said. ''He's gotten much worse. He lets them
say they're healed of AIDS, of cancer, everything. It's a selling of false

Anthony said his group documented four cases of people not taking their medicine
and dying after being told they were healed. More often, he said, ill and frail
people ''risk incredible trauma'' traveling great distances and into crowds to
see Hinn.

The Trinity Foundation has released a video, ''The Many Faces of Benny Hinn,''
that presents damaging footage about Hinn from Inside Edition, 60 Minutes, CNN
Impact, and other investigative programs. The foundation has a hotline
(1-800-229-8428) that charts complaints ''from disgruntled employees to
ex-employees to those who were told they were healed and weren't.''

The critics have a litany of complaints, and they have used Hinn's own videos
and books to document his loose statements.

Hinn, 46, was raised in Israel by Greek Orthodox parents - but he said his
father was mayor of their town, when, as critics showed, he was really a
low-paid functionary.

Mr. Fisher, the New Jersey pastor, said Hinn ''has fabricated so many tall
tales'' that the watchdogs have been able to puncture. Among them: That he and
his wife walked away without a scratch from a plane crash (Fisher said they were
hospitalized several days with contusions), that he once ''healed everybody'' in
a Canadian hospital (officials told Mr. Fisher's group ''nothing eventful
happened''), that he had video of himself raising a person from the dead onstage
in Ghana (no video was made public), and that he had video of Jesus appearing on
the wall of his church (no video was provided).

''Benny said in a March crusade that someone had received a prophecy that Jesus
would appear soon at one of his miracle crusades,'' Anthony said. ''But, hey,
Benny has said that He's already come at many of his crusades, and he's even
described what Jesus was wearing.. . . He'll say whatever's on his mind. It's
about saying whatever's necessary to gain attention.''

''He's such a loose cannon,'' said Mr. Fisher, coauthor of The Confusing World
of Benny Hinn
Off-site Link. The book was prepared under the auspices of Personal Freedom
, a fundamentalist group that monitors cults and ''heretical

Hinn's spokesman, David Brokaw, said he was not familiar with most of those
allegations. He said Hinn ''is a high-profile public figure, and there are
always going to be individuals who are going to cast doubt and try to attack
someone because he has that profile.''

The critics also take Hinn to task for his opulent lifestyle - he has an income
of about $1 million, lives in a gated community, and is building a beachfront
home in Southern California - and have tried without success to persuade him to
join the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, which would open his
books to scrutiny.

Hinn has fended off critics by issuing broad apologies - ''I'm human; I've made
mistakes'' - and promising to turn over a new leaf.
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26. Spirited movement on rise
Boston Globe, May 17, 2000
Off-site Link
ALTHAM - Two red signs on either side of a giant cross at the Espousal Retreat
House here shout ''MORE'' and ''DEEPER,'' amplifying what the Rev. Tom DiLorenzo
and the adherents who flock to his twice-weekly worship services want most out
of their faith.

On a recent Wednesday night, about 150 people danced to the strains of a guitar,
chanting rhythmically. Some lifted their arms toward heaven, others shook

Hours later most lay on the ground, ''slain in the spirit.'' Some spoke in
tongues. A few cackled or giggled uncontrollably. Others said they saw visions.

This style of worship, with its extreme emotions and supernatural elements, is
part and parcel of the Pentecostal movement that has swept the globe in the past

DiLorenzo, however, is a Catholic priest. Most of his adherents are Catholics
who travel from across New England for what they call a life-changing spiritual

While charismatic worship, as it is known, is far from the mainstream of the
Roman Catholic Church, its popularity has been snowballing worldwide. In Latin
America, it offers hope of competition against the explosion of Pentecostalism.

In the United States, it draws individuals who find traditional Catholic liturgy
dry and passive. Across the country between 250,000 and 500,000 Catholics call
themselves active charismatics, according to Walter Matthews, director of the
national service committee of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in Locust Grove,
Va. Thirty years ago, almost no one did. DiLorenzo is convinced it is the
beginning of a movement that will transform modern society.

Charismatic worship ''may be very helpful to people who need to be more
expressive,'' said the Rev. Joseph Nolan, a Boston College theology professor
who teaches Catholicism. ''We need more of that in our parishes. We could use a
little more expressive joy.''

Past midnight at one recent service, after five hours of exuberant prayer,
worshipers gathered under a reading light to exclaim over the gold-colored dust
they believe God sprinkled on the hands of a few worshipers.

They told of smelling roses when there were no roses, of hearing flutes when
there were no flutes. And, DiLorenzo said, he sensed that a worshiper's injured
knee had been healed. (He believes his services have also cured broken bones and
even cancer.)

There are, of course, skeptics. Even as Nolan says singing and dancing can be
powerful forms of prayer, he scoffs at the notion of gold dust. He adds that the
physical healing of ailments has been extremely rare in Catholic history.

Moreover, Nolan does not believe it is God who causes worshipers to buckle and
fall to the ground, ''slain in the spirit,'' when DiLorenzo lays his hands on
their heads.

''I consider that an emotional overload,'' Nolan said. ''You do strange things
when you're in an emotional state.''
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27. The Hare Krishnas
MSNBC, May 17, 2000
http://www.msnbc.com/local/KSHB/179394.aspOff-site Link
Kansas City, MO-You see them all the time. They once roamed airports, and now
they head to Kansas City’s most exclusive tourist destination for singing,
dancing, and chanting. But who are the Hare Krishnas?
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=== Death Penalty

28. N.H. Votes To Repeal Death Penalty
AOL/AP, May 19, 2000
Off-site Link
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - New Hampshire's governor promised to veto a bill that would
repeal the death penalty, something no state has done since the U.S. Supreme
Court allowed capital punishment to resume 24 years ago.

Gov. Jeanne Shaheen was expected to veto the bill as soon as she received it -
as early as today.

''There are some murders so heinous that the death penalty is an appropriate
punishment, and, accordingly, I will veto this legislation,'' said Shaheen, a

The state Senate passed the measure 14-10 Thursday, endorsing a House vote taken
in March.

New Hampshire's Legislature is just the second to vote to repeal the death
penalty since the Supreme Court's decision in 1976. A repeal passed in 1979 by
Nebraska lawmakers was vetoed.

The Legislature's vote was largely symbolic. No one is on death row in New
Hampshire, and the state had the lowest murder rate in the nation in 1998.

Yet the vote also reflects a growing nationwide movement to reconsider

''The vote today is indicative of what many persons are beginning to realize
about the death penalty - that it is unnecessary, there are other ways to ensure
safety,'' said Steven Hawkins, director of the National Coalition to Abolish the
Death Penalty in Washington.

In January, Republican Gov. George Ryan of Illinois suspended all executions
pending a task force study. The decision followed the release of 13 death row
inmates deemed wrongly or unfairly convicted.

President Clinton since has asked governors to examine their use of the death
penalty. Even conservatives such as religious broadcaster Pat Robertson have
encouraged states to review procedures to ensure they don't discriminate against
minorities or the poor.

A total of 87 people have been released from death rows since 1973, according to
the Washington-based Death Penalty Information Center. But executions are on the
rise, with 3,600 people on death row. Thirty-eight states, the federal
government and the military have the death penalty, though some have not yet
used it.
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=== Science

29. Scientists defend research against Charles tirade
AltaVista/Reuters, May 18, 2000
Off-site Link
LONDON, May 18 (Reuters) - Tampering with nature is an affront to God, says
Britain's Prince Charles.

Rubbish, say scientists who argue they are saving humanity by helping to feed
the world more efficiently.

But few would argue with the timing of his latest ''green salvo,'' launched
during a BBC lecture on Wednesday.

The heir to the throne fanned the flames over biotechnology with an impassioned
defence of nature on a day British farmers discovered they had been unknowingly
growing genetically modified crops after buying contaminated oilseed from
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