Apologetics Index: Information about cults, sects, movements, doctrines, apologetics and counter-cult ministry.  Also: daily religion news, articles on Christian life and ministry, editorials, daily cartoon.
News about religious cults, sects, and alternative religions
An Apologetics Index research resource

 

Religion News Report

June 14, 2000 (Vol. 4, Issue 213)

arrow Latest: Religion News Blog
Rainbow

=== Scientology
1. Bungling Scientology case
2. Scientology leader wanted a deal
3. Legal battle not over in Fla. Scientology case
4. McPherson case expected to haunt medical examiner
5. State drops charges against Scientology
6. State drops Scientology charges
7. Scientologist 'JAG' Actress to Testify on Hill
8. PROZAC - New directions

=== Branch Davidians
9. Supreme Court Upholds Due Process in Waco Case
10. Judge to decide if agents fired in siege
11. FBI gunfire claims won't be considered by jury in wrongful-death
Davidian trial

=== Aum Shinrikyo
12. Cult's followers petition court for right to vote
13. Aum law fingered in Amnesty International report

=== Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God
14. Ugandan police have exhumed all cult murder bodies: police

=== Jehovah's Witnesses
15. U-turn on blood transfusions by Witnesses
16. Jehovah's Witnesses soften policy

=== ISKCON - Hare Krishna
17. Hare Krishna Schools Sued

=== Holyland
18. Church business practices questioned
19. Ex-Holyland resident says commune never delivered on promise
20. Holyland kids still bear scars

=== Cults - General
21. France to crack down on sects
22. Anti-cult crusaders are also fanatical themselves

=== Other News
23. Tibetan monk dies in suspicious circumstances, five monks arrested
24. Centre wants to break lease with Raelians
25. Family, Or, Felony? (Polygamy)
26. God's Army Temporarily Give Up Arms
27. Lubavitch Group Names New Rabbi
28. Father says he slashed children's throats in 'mystical state'
29. Wenatchee sex-ring defendant released
30. Top vicar says 'end of world is nigh'

=== Books
31. The Oscar-winning actress's new book can't begin to cover all of her past



* Note: Expect a major PR push on the part of Scientology regarding the Lisa
McPherson
case and other issues. Regarding Scientology's ''Press Releases,''
which frequently twist and misrepresent facts, see:
OSA

* See also:

Cults - General
- France to crack down on sects

1. Bungling Scientology case
St. Petersburg Times, June 14, 2000 (Editorial)
http://www.sptimes.com/News/061400/Opinion/
Bungling_Scientology_.shtml
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
It was a sad day Monday in Pinellas County when State Attorney Bernie McCabe dropped all charges against the Church of Scientology in the death of Lisa McPherson.

Sad because the incompetence of Medical Examiner Joan Wood was exposed too late to save an important criminal case.

Sad because McCabe could find no way to bring to justice those who callously allowed McPherson to suffer and die without seeking prompt medical attention for the incapacitated woman.

Sad because the bullying Church of Scientology has won again with its mixture of seemingly unlimited resources and intimidation.

Sadness is not an emotion that will fix what is wrong, however. Pinellas County residents should demand that those who failed their duty in the Lisa McPherson case be held accountable.
(...)

The autopsy was crucial to a criminal prosecution, yet Wood assigned it to a troubled employee whom she distrusted; he quit before the work was completed. Wood then finished the autopsy report, but pressed by Scientology's experts she later changed crucial conclusions in the document.

Her behavior in the case has been erratic, even bizarre. In a memo earlier this year with the subject line ''Urgent!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!'' Wood pleaded with a colleague to support her in the McPherson case -- ''Life and career at stake!'' she wrote.

After taking a recent sworn statement from Wood, Assistant State Attorney Douglas Crow concluded that ''her inability to coherently explain her decision even under benign questioning by me is completely perplexing.''
(...)

Re-appointment of Wood to another three-year term as medical examiner is awaiting a decision by Gov. Jeb Bush, who should question her fitness for the job.

Wood should not let the issue get that far. Her sense of decency and integrity should tell her the right thing to do is to resign.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top

* Lisa McPherson Memorial PageOff-site Link
* Other Scientology-related deaths:

Why are these people dead, Scientology?Off-site Link


2. Scientology leader wanted a deal
St. Petersburg Times, June 14, 2000
http://www.sptimes.com/News/061400/TampaBay
/Scientology_leader_wa.shtml
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
CLEARWATER -- Alarmed at the ''massive impact'' of two criminal charges, the Church of Scientology's worldwide leader quickly offered Pinellas County's top prosecutor a deal.

Drop the charges, David Miscavige told State Attorney Bernie McCabe in November 1998, and the church would make a $500,000 donation to the county's EMS system.

It also would pay the nearly $200,000 in expenses incurred in what then was a three-year investigation into Lisa McPherson's 1995 death while in the care of her fellow Scientologists.

In addition, Miscavige offered to pay the $15,000 the church would have been fined if convicted of the charges.

He also promised steps to ensure a death like McPherson's never occurred again. The church would submit to temporary monitoring under a ''pretrial intervention program.'' It would have a doctor on call 24 hours a day at Scientology's Clearwater operation. And it would establish a protocol with local hospitals that detailed how Scientologists with mental problems should be cared for in light of Scientology's vigorous opposition to psychiatry.

Miscavige disclosed the deal in a wide-ranging interview Tuesday, a day after McCabe dropped felony charges that accused the church of abusing a disabled adult and practicing medicine on McPherson without a license. The prosecutor cited serious credibility problems with the testimony of Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner Joan Wood.

Shortly after Miscavige made the offer in 1998, McCabe turned it down and made no counter proposal.

''That conversation didn't last very long,'' the prosecutor said Tuesday. ''I didn't think (the offer) spoke appropriately to the conduct we had charged.''
(...)

On Monday, when McCabe dropped the charges, the church walked away bruised but legally exonerated. The prosecutor said he had ''no regrets'' about turning down Miscavige early on.
(...)

Despite the prosecutor's reaction, the church implemented two elements of the deal anyway -- the on-call doctor and the hospital protocols, Miscavige said.
(...)

Miscavige has taken similar steps before, most notably in 1991, when he showed up in person and uninvited at IRS headquarters in Washington, D.C., asking for a meeting with the agency's commissioner. He eventually got several meetings and a two-year review that led to Scientology's tax-exempt status in 1993, a feat that squadrons of church lawyers had been unable to accomplish before.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


3. Legal battle not over in Fla. Scientology case
AOL/Reuters, June 13, 2000
http://my.aol.com/news/story.tmpl?
table=n&cat=01&id=0006130429688924
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
CLEARWATER, Fla., (Reuters) - Church of Scientology officials Tuesday hailed the dismissal of criminal charges against the church in the death of one of its members, while a critic promised to continue the legal battle in civil court.

Pinellas County State Attorney Bernie McCabe on Monday dropped felony charges of abuse of a disabled adult and practicing medicine without a license against the church in the 1995 death of Lisa McPherson after she had been in the care of church members for 17 days.

McCabe said the case had been undermined when Pinellas Medical Examiner Joan Wood changed her finding in McPherson's death from undetermined to accidental in February after experts hired by the church disputed her original autopsy results.
(...)

But Ken Dandar, the attorney for McPherson's estate, vowed to continue a separate civil suit against the church.

''This has absolutely no effect on the civil case. It actually makes our resolve stronger, if that's possible,'' Dandar told the St. Petersburg Times.

No trial date has been set for the civil case.

McPherson, 36, was involved in a minor traffic accident in Clearwater on November 18, 1995. After the accident, she took off all her clothes and asked a paramedic for help and was taken to a local hospital.

She left a few hours later with several Scientology members and was taken to the church's headquarters in downtown Clearwater in a former hotel.

On Dec. 5, her condition worsened and she was taken to a hospital several miles away where a doctor who was a Scientologist was on duty, rather than one a few blocks away. When she arrived at the hospital, she was pronounced dead.

According to an affidavit from an investigator working for the state attorney's office, McPherson was psychotic and delusional while she under the care of Scientology staffers.

The investigator said she was restrained and was forcibly given medication by unlicensed staff members. The investigator said much of the information in his affidavit came from interviews with some of those who cared for McPherson.

McCabe's criminal charges were against the church, not any individuals. If the church had been found guilty of one or both of the charges, the only penalty would have been fines.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


4. McPherson case expected to haunt medical examiner
St. Peterburg Times, June 13, 2000
http://www.sptimes.com/News/061300/TampaBay/
McPherson_case_expect.shtml
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Although prosecutors said her ''serious forensic error'' ruined their case against the Church of Scientology, Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner Joan Wood said Monday she has no plans to resign.

But veteran lawyers predicted the case -- and particularly the 31-page memo from prosecutors that blasted Wood as ''illogical'' and ''inconsistent'' -- will dog her every time she takes the witness stand.

That could make it difficult for her to continue in the job she has held since 1982, they said.
(...)

In the memo explaining why prosecutors are dropping the charges against Scientology in connection with Lisa McPherson's death, Assistant State Attorney Doug Crow wrote that ''because of Wood's admission of a serious forensic error'' her testimony would create enough reasonable doubt for a jury to acquit the church.
(...)

In a statement she gave prosecutors last week, Wood said that throughout the McPherson case she was under so much pressure ''I have not been sure on a day-to-day basis what my future is going to be.''

But on Monday, Wood would not comment on whether the dismissal of the case might affect her credibility in future criminal cases or her ability to continue in her job.
(...)

Records released Monday show Wood angered State Attorney Bernie McCabe long before she reversed her finding on the cause of death with another action he disapproved of: appearing on the tabloid television show Inside Edition to discuss the McPherson case.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


5. State drops charges against Scientology
St. Petersburg Times, June 13, 2000
http://www.sptimes.com/News/061300/TampaBay/
State_drops_charges_a.shtml
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
CLEARWATER -- State Attorney Bernie McCabe's weekend reading was a memo by his chief assistant urging him to drop the first criminal charges ever filed in the United States against the Church of Scientology.
(...)

It was a quiet ending to a case that took police two years to investigate and prosecutors two years to prepare before it evaporated Monday just four months before the scheduled trial.

Over that time, Scientology spent millions of dollars in its defense and felt the sting of its critics, who took to the Internet and spread the news of McPherson's death around the world.

They formed a Scientology ''watchdog group'' in the church's back yard in Clearwater. They began annual protests outside the Fort Harrison Hotel, the Scientology retreat where church staffers tried for 17 days to nurse McPherson through a psychotic episode before she died of a blood clot in her left lung.

One critic, millionaire Robert Minton, who moved to Clearwater to form the watchdog group, continues to finance a wrongful death lawsuit brought by McPherson's family against the church.

Stories about McPherson's death have appeared on major television networks and in newspapers across the world, damaging Scientology's recruitment efforts, even straining its hold on some existing members who questioned their church's role in her death.

Over time, the death of Lisa McPherson, who was 36, mushroomed into one of the major crises in Scientology's 44-year history -- a problem so consuming many top church officials spent nearly all their time building a defense.

Although the civil case is still pending in Hillsborough County Circuit Court, McCabe ended Scientology's biggest headache -- the criminal prosecution -- with one stroke of his pen.

''It's not a celebration, I would describe it more as a sense of relief,'' said Marty Rathbun, a top church official who normally deals with ecclesiastical matters but in recent years has been thrown into battle as a defense strategist.

''It's a big milestone,'' Rathbun said. If anything good came of the case, he said, it was that it prompted Scientology to accelerate efforts to improve its relations in Clearwater.
(...)

When the case became public in December 1996, church officials called the death an accident, said McPherson was at the Fort Harrison for ''rest and relaxation'' and was free to come and go.

Saying Scientology officials were misleading the public, Wood told local newspaper reporters and the TV show Inside Edition that McPherson was not given fluids for five to 10 days and was unconscious up to 48 hours before she died.

Scientology's own internal logs would later show that the church's initial characterizations were untrue, and that McPherson grew so weak while at the Fort Harrison she was unable to stand on her own three days before her death.

Still, Wood's early statements damaged her relationship with prosecutors, left her open to lawsuits from Scientology and painted her into a legal corner, Crow said in his memo to McCabe.
(...)

Crow submits that several factors may have ''impacted the quality of her judgment.'' He cited Wood's vulnerability to litigation in the case and a suggestion by Scientology that it could ''reveal information extremely damaging to Wood's office and her career.''
(...)

Ken Dandar, the Tampa attorney representing McPherson's estate in the wrongful death lawsuit, said of McCabe's decision: ''This is a prosecutor that has no backbone.''

He blamed the decision on politics, saying politicians ''want everything to be quiet, nice and neat and going after Scientology is too raucous. . . . The people should be ashamed of their prosecutor.''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top

* Note: While claiming to be the most ethical people on earth,
Scientologists are known for their harassment of critics, including revealing
what they consider information damaging to a person's credibility, office and
career.


6. State drops Scientology charges
Tampa Tribune, June 13, 2000
http://www.tampatrib.com/MGIUK8NZE9C.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Missteps and inconsistent statements by the chief medical examiner in the death of Lisa McPherson led prosecutors to drop criminal charges Monday against the Church of Scientology.

Prosecutors say they still believe McPherson died as the result of neglect at the hands of fellow church members. But the credibility of Pasco-Pinellas Medical Examiner Joan Wood is so poor following her decision to change McPherson's autopsy report that charges of abusing a disabled person and practicing medicine without a license cannot be sustained, State Attorney Bernie McCabe said Monday.
(...)

Church officials hailed McCabe's decision but said blaming Wood while asserting that McPherson's death was preventable amounts to a self-serving rationalization in a case that never should have been brought.

''There were big lies in this case from the beginning,'' said senior church official Marty Rathbun. Anyone familiar with the facts knows McPherson died as the result of a blood clot caused by an traffic accident, he said.

Church members have been humiliated and stigmatized by the case and are looking forward to moving on now that the felony charges have been dismissed, Rathbun said.

''We really think it's a watershed event between an old era of distrust and misunderstandings and a new era of moving forward with the community.''
(...)

Dell Liebreich, McPherson's aunt and closest living relative, said Monday she was disappointed that charges had been dropped.

''They didn't have them charged with much to start with,'' Liebreich said.

Wood, she said, may have caved in to pressure from church investigators.

''I feel for her. I'm sure they wore her down one way or another. She was too staunch in what she believed'' at the outset of the case, Liebreich said.

McCabe said he did not believe Wood changed the autopsy as a result of anything unrelated to the case. But he said Crow's written comments on the matter speak for themselves.

''The church had suggested that, if forced to litigate the issues, the proceedings would reveal information extremely damaging to Wood's office and her career,'' Crow wrote. ''It is apparent that this unique set of circumstances coalesced to put what Wood characterizes as tremendous pressure upon her and may have impacted the quality of her judgment.''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


7. Scientologist 'JAG' Actress to Testify on Hill
Washington Post, June 13, 2000 (The Reliable Source - Column)
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/
A49146-2000Jun13.html
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
''JAG'' star and Scientologist Catherine Bell, who plays Marine Corps attorney Sarah ''Mac'' McKenzie on the CBS series about military justice, is in Washington this week, urging Congress to condemn religious intolerance in Europe.

''We want them to continue to support a resolution that basically condemns the religious discrimination going in Germany, and get some changes there,'' the 31-year-old actress told us this morning as she paid courtesy calls on Capitol Hill. For the past four years a member of the Church of Scientology - which German law classifies as a business, not a religion - Bell testifies tomorrow before the House International Relations Committee.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top

* To put the above into perspective, note the following:

A German Embassy statement on Scientology said that ''because of its
experiences during the Nazi regime, Germany has a special responsibility to
monitor the development of any extreme group within its borders.''
- U.S. Challenges Germany on Scientology, Washington Post, May 4, 2000Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]


(...) 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.
- U.S., the Germans - and Scientology, San Francisco Examiner, May 13, 2000
(Editorial)
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]


8. PROZAC - New directions
Boston Globe, June 11, 2000
http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/163/nation/
Science_money_drive_a_makeoverP.shtml
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
This is a story about a drug that changed the world, the bravery of rats, the evolution of a psychiatrist, the Jekyll and Hyde nature of man-made chemicals, the Church of Scientology, and the impulses that lead some people to kill.

It is also about money. Lots of money.

The drug is Prozac, and its resume is lore: Introduced by Eli Lilly and Co. in 1988 as the first notable new antidepressant in two decades, it lifted the spirits of millions and became shorthand for the search for answers in convenient pill form.
(...)

Among the most dramatic was the story of Joseph Wesbecker, a deeply disturbed Kentucky printing-press operator who in 1989 walked into his workplace and killed eight people, then himself. Wesbecker had begun taking Prozac weeks earlier, and its effects had alarmed his psychiatrist, who unsuccessfully urged Wesbecker to discontinue the drug just days before the carnage.

Prozac doubters seized on Teicher's paper to press the US Food and Drug Administration to ban, or at least investigate, Prozac and similar antidepressants.

That is where the Church of Scientology fits in. The most ardent Prozac critics were members of a group affiliated with Scientology, which was founded by science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, in part based on his hatred of psychiatry.

The group trumpeted Teicher's paper and blanketed the media with claims that Prozac was a ''killer drug.'' In one press release the group stated that ''the numbers of persons who have been driven or are being driven suicidal or homicidal by Prozac is astronomical.'' It was one of many subtle and not-so-subtle distortions of Teicher's paper.

Teicher and his coauthors had written that the dangerous side effect was observed in 3.5 percent of all their patients, and the Scientologists extrapolated that figure to the entire population of Prozac users. It was a leap Teicher says had no basis in science and left him deeply frustrated.

Teicher says his contact with the Scientologists was limited to one phone call in which he complained they were distorting his data. Yet, he says, he suffered ''guilt by association,'' despite the fact that he always believed Prozac was a valuable addition to the psychiatrist's toolbox, ''a breakthrough'' drug that simply needed to be monitored closely for troubling side effects.

But, for the most part, all anyone heard was that Teicher had linked Prozac to suicide, and the Scientologists were citing him as their most potent ally.

The psychiatric community circled the wagons to oppose the Scientologists' attacks on Prozac and the entire profession, sweeping up Teicher in what he called a ''strange, surreal'' process. Lilly fought back as well, offering studies and scientists to challenge Teicher's work and sending out press releases of their own to counter the criticism.

A climax of sorts was reached in 1991, when the FDA dismissed any link between suicide and Prozac or similar antidepressants. A nine-member panel of experts voted unanimously that there was ''no credible evidence'' of any association, and split 6-3 against requiring a stronger warning label.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


=== Branch Davidians

9. Supreme Court Upholds Due Process in Waco Case
NewsMax, June 13, 2000
http://www.newsmax.com/articles/?
a=2000/6/13/220557
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
A little-noticed Supreme Court decision last week has major implications for the Waco case. Reversing a district court ruling, the unanimous decision declared it unconstitutional for a judge to include new evidence during sentencing.

Nine survivors who escaped the April 19, 1993, inferno that was once their home on Mount Carmel, near Waco, Texas, had been sentenced to 30 years in prison for carrying machine guns during a federal crime. Judge Walter Smith handed out the sentence after the jury had convicted the Branch Davidians of a lesser crime, that of carrying a firearm.

Although a minor point in the minds of most, what firearm was used during the crime is no small point in the eyes of the court. All defendants faced a five-year prison sentence for carrying a ''firearm' but a 30-year sentence for carrying a machine gun.
(...)

Halbrook said since the Supreme Court's ruling, he has heard rumors that the government is talking about a new trial that would convict the Davidians on the machine gun charge. However, Halbrook pointed out that this would put all of his clients in double jeopardy, which is not permitted by law.

After the Davidians return to the lower court for resentencing, Halbrook said they would most likely get 15 years in prison, five for carrying a firearm and 10 for manslaughter. Since they were incarcerated in 1993, he figures they'll be out around 2005, with good behavior.

Regarding the original manslaughter conviction, though, Sarah Bain, the jury forewoman, believes it shouldn't just be the Davidians who stand trial. The definition of manslaughter, she points out, is that provocation was done by the other side.

''That meant there was some provoking that was done, and it just seems like the government ought to have to answer for their degree of responsibility in this whole affair,' Bain said.

Even so, Bain said she was ''elated' with the Supreme Court's unanimous decision.

''It tells me that there was no dissension among the justice
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


10. Judge to decide if agents fired in siege
Dallas Morning News, June 13, 2000
http://dallasnews.com/texas_southwest/
95298_waco_13tex.ART.html
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
WACO - The thorniest question in the upcoming Branch Davidian wrongful death trial - whether government agents fired at the sect at the end of a deadly 1993 siege - will be decided not by a jury but by a federal judge alone, following a Monday court ruling.

U.S. District Judge Walter S. Smith Jr. announced that he was separating that issue from the trial scheduled to begin on June 19 because the chief expert from a British firm appointed by the court to help resolve it is ill and unavailable to testify until late summer.

The announcement came during a hearing in which Judge Smith moved briskly through final pretrial issues and warned lawyers ''this trial is not going to last as long as you anticipated.''

Attorneys on both sides said after Monday's hearing that they expect the initial trial on alleged government negligence will take three to four weeks.

The judge's decision to strip away the issue of government gunfire on April 19, 1993, came only weeks after he surprised both sides in the case by announcing he would ask a jury to help him decide the wrongful death case. Federal trials involving government agencies are typically decided by judges alone, but Judge Smith said he was calling an ''advisory jury'' because of the unusually high level of national public interest in the case.

He later rejected a secret government bid, filed several weeks ago under court seal, to reconsider the decision to bring a jury into the case.

The judge told both sides on Monday that he ''probably'' would limit the jury's role to deciding whether government negligence contributed to deaths or injuries of sect members. That would leave the judge alone to decide how much damages - if any - the government would have to pay.
(...)

Because of publicity and controversy surrounding the incident, Judge Smith said he is considering keeping secret the identities of the seven jurors chosen for the civil wrongful death trial. He took a similar step in 1994 with the San Antonio jury that convicted eight surviving Davidians on manslaughter and weapons charges arising from the siege.

The removal of the government gunfire issue leaves four other questions for the Waco civil jury:

- Did federal ATF agents fire indiscriminately or use other excessive force when a gunbattle broke out on Feb. 28, 1993, as they tried to raid the compound and arrest Davidian leader David Koresh for alleged weapons violations?

- Was the FBI negligent 51 days later when they had no plan to fight any fires that might break out when they began using tanks to ram the sect's rickety wooden building and inject tear gas?

- Did the agents' actions during the April 19, 1993, tear gas assault contribute to the start or spread of a fire that consumed the compound with Mr. Koresh and more than 80 followers inside?

- Finally, did the FBI violate Washington-approved operations plans that day by initiating premature demolition of the building?
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


11. FBI gunfire claims won't be considered by jury in wrongful-death Davidian trial
Waco Tribune-Herald, June 13, 2000
http://www.accesswaco.com/auto/feed/news/
local/2000/06/13/960870300.03053.6859.0029.html
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Allegations that FBI agents fired into David Koresh's Mount Carmel compound, preventing more Branch Davidians from escaping the April 19, 1993, fire, will not be submitted to a jury in the wrongful-death trial against the government, a judge ruled Monday.
(...)

The judge took the issue out of the jury's hands because a court-appointed expert is not currently well enough to travel from England to testify and the judge didn't want to postpone the trial again. The trial is set to begin Monday in Waco's federal court.
(...)

Jim Brannon, a Houston attorney who represents some of the plaintiffs, said he thinks the trial should have been delayed so the gunfire issue can be presented to the jury.

''The resolution of the dispute has now turned into one that will inevitably lead to serious questions about the fairness of the proceedings,'' Brannon said. ''I do not believe the issue should have been taken away from the jury under any circumstances, and if that meant we should wait until Mr. Oxlee can no longer come up with other excuses about why he can't travel, and let me say I am extremely skeptical about those, then that is just the way it has to be.''

Brannon and lead plaintiffs' attorney Mike Caddell of Houston said they have no doubt that the FBI fired shots on the final day of the siege.

''Trying this case, as the court said when it ordered the jury, is a case of national importance, and to take away the single most damning issue against the government from the eyes of the jury is to change it back to where it was,'' Brannon said. ''The jury, therefore, will not have before it extremely fatally damaging testimony to the credibility of the government's entire case.''
(...)

Caddell said he would prefer that the gunfire and damages issues be decided by a jury. He said he is confident that the trial will move into the damages phase.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


=== Aum Shinrikyo

12. Cult's followers petition court for right to vote
Japan Times (Japan), June 15, 2000
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/getarticle.pl5?
nn20000615a7.htm
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
MITO, Ibaraki Pref. (Kyodo) Aum Shinrikyo petitioned the Mito District Court on Wednesday to order the municipal government of Sanwa, Ibaraki Prefecture, to accept its members' registrations for residency so they can vote in the coming general election, group members said.

The cult called on the court to issue a provisional order to overturn a previous decision by the government of Sanwa not to grant residency to 15 Aum members living in the town.

Without resident status, they will be unable to vote in the June 25 Lower House general election.

Aum, which now calls itself Aleph, plans to take similar legal action for members living in two Tokyo municipalities, they said.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


13. Aum law fingered in Amnesty International report
Japan Times (Japan), June 15, 2000
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/getarticle.pl5?nn20000615a2.htmOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Amnesty InternationalOff-site Link referred to Japan's recently enacted legislation targeting Aum Shinrikyo and a law authorizing wiretapping by police as human-rights concerns, in its annual report released Wednesday.

''There were concerns that these laws could be arbitrarily used by police against peaceful activists,'' said the London-based, human-rights watchdog.

Last December, the Diet enacted a set of laws aimed at controlling activities of organizations that had committed ''indiscriminate mass murder during the past 10 years.'' Under the laws, Aum Shinrikyo, the cult that has renamed itself Aleph, was placed earlier this year under tight surveillance and must undergo regular inspections of its facilities.
(...)

Amnesty said the wiretapping law ''could violate constitutionally guaranteed rights to privacy and confidential communication.''

The report also mentioned that five death-row inmates were executed in 1999. ''One of the five had filed a habeas corpus petition to the court, and another had petitioned for a retrial,'' it added.

Amnesty said about 85 percent of all executions worldwide are concentrated in just five countries, China and the United States among them.
(...)

Amnesty also said that Yoshihiro Yasuda, which the group described as ''a well-known human rights lawyer and campaigner against the death penalty,'' was detained for 10 months after being arrested on suspicion of obstructing investigations of his client later in 1998.

Noting that Yasuda was dismissed as lawyer for the accused Aum Shinrikyo guru Shoko Asahara as a result of his detention, the report said Asahara's rights to a fair trial ''may have been jeopardized.''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top

* Amnesty International Annual Report 2000 - Japan sectionOff-site Link


=== Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God

14. Ugandan police have exhumed all cult murder bodies: police
Yahoo/AFP, June 13, 2000
http://english.hk.dailynews.yahoo.com/headlines/world/afp/
article.html?s=hke/headlines/000613/world/afp/
Ugandan_police_have_exhumed_all_cult_murder_bodies__police.html
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Ugandan police have exhumed all the bodies of those murdered by leaders of the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God cult, police spokesman Asuman Mugenyi said Tuesday.

''I think we have now exhausted all those places where these people were buried,'' Mugenyi told AFP.
(...)

He added that government chemists had yet to release their findings into the cause of death of those who died at the hands of the cult leaders, who told their followers that the world was coming to an end in the year 2000.

''The government chemists have only released part of the results because of their workload, as there are only very few people handling these cases,'' Mugenyi explained.

During the cult crisis, police officials appealed for international aid to help track down the perpetrators and deal with the tragedy which was far beyond the capacity of Uganda's under-resourced police force, but received no help from any foreign criminal department.

''We didn't get any help, apart from a group called Cult Solutions who sent in a few things -- some gloves, two torches and some cotton wool -- but we are still trying to follow up clues with Interpol as we suspect that some of the cult leaders could have fled the country,'' Mugenyi said.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


=== Jehovah's Witnesses

15. U-turn on blood transfusions by Witnesses
The Times (England), June 14, 2000
http://www.the-times.co.uk/news/pages/
Times/frontpage.html?999
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
JEHOVAH'S Witnesses are to be allowed to accept blood transfusions after an extraordinary U-turn by leaders of the controversial religion.

Elders have decreed that Jehovah's Witnesses who accept blood transfusions under life-or-death conditions will no longer face excommunication from their religion.

The move represents the biggest climbdown in the movement since the predicted Armageddon failed to materialise as forecast in 1975.

Under the change to Watch Tower practice, blood transfusions have officially been relegated to a ''non-disfellowshipping event''.

The decision, arrived at by a secret meeting of the 12-member world governing body at the movement's headquarters in New York, was dismissed as a ''slight adjustment'' by the religion's leaders.

It follows decades of adverse publicity about adults and children who have died or come close to death because of their faith. Only last week, a Jehovah's Witness, Brent Bond, from Nottingham, who lost five pints of blood in a machete attack, renounced his faith just seconds before he lost consciousness so that he could have a lifesaving blood transfusion. Realising that his mother would never grant consent for a transfusion, he told paramedics: ''I'm no longer a Jehovah's Witness. I give my consent to a transfusion.''
(...)

Letters have already been sent to elders throughout Britain, where there are about 130,000 Jehovah's Witnesses, explaining that they should no longer expel members who accept blood, as well as to the elders of the six million adherents worldwide. Elders will then advise their local hospital liaison committees, who liaise between Jehovah's Witnesses and medical staff.
(...)

Paul Gillies, spokesman for the Jehovah's Witnesses, who have their British headquarters in Mill Hill, North London, said that not taking blood was still a ''core value'' of the religion. ''It is quite possible that someone who was under pressure on an operating table would take a blood transfusion because they did not want to die. The next day they might say they regretted this decision. We would then give them spiritual comfort and help. No action would be taken against them. We would just view it as a moment of weakness.'' He said that even if the Jehovah's Witness did not repent, they would not be expelled but would merely be viewed as having ''dissociated'' themselves from the religion.

Geoffrey Unwin, a former Jehovah's Witness who now writes about the religion under the name James King, said: ''Jehovah's Witnesses who are excommunicated are then branded as apostates or anti-Christ and friends and relatives within the movement are instructed to avoid their company, not even speaking to them should a chance meeting occur in the street.''

He predicted widespread anger about the change and said he knew of two former members who were considering legal action. ''I know someone who was kicked out just for questioning this teaching. They were shunned by all their friends and neighbours and had to move house.''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top

* Jehovah's Witnesses is a cult of Christianity
http://www.apologeticsindex.org/j02.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]

* Rewrites of the Times story:

Witnesses to accept blood swapsOff-site Link
This Is London (England), June 14, 2000

Jehovah's Witnesses To Accept Blood TransfusionsOff-site Link
The Guardian/Press Association (England), June 14, 2000

* Responses from Jehovah's WitnessesOff-site Link

* Jehovah's Witnesses Public Affairs OfficeOff-site Link


16. Jehovah's Witnesses soften policy
Calgary Herald (Canada), June 14, 2000
http://www.calgaryherald.com/news/stories/
000614/4276071.html
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Jehovah's Witnesses forced to receive blood transfusions will no longer be formally excommunicated from their faith.

But despite a change in the religion's guidelines concerning transfusions, local leaders say the procedure still won't be endorsed by the community.
(...)

''If they're a Jehovah's Witness, they don't take a transfusion, and if they take a transfusion, they're not really a Jehovah's Witness,'' said Merrill Morrell, a Calgary member of the Jehovah's Witnesses Hospital Liaison Committee.

There are about 3,500 Jehovah's Witnesses in Calgary, 110,000 in Canada, and a reported six million worldwide.
(...)

Officials at the Canadian headquarters of Jehovah's Witnesses played down the importance of the change.

''The change is merely procedural,'' said Dennis Charland, director of public affairs.

''If a patient willingly accepts a transfusion -- something I've never seen in 40 years' experience -- that indicates that he's accepted a different core value and isn't really a Jehovah's Witness. Now we simply recognize that they've disfellowshipped themselves.''

Charland added that when a Jehovah's Witness unwillingly gets a transfusion, either in the case of a minor child or an unconscious patient, ''it's a tragedy every time it happens,'' and the church member receives the compassion and support of the church.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


=== ISKCON - Hare Krishna

17. Hare Krishna Schools Sued
ABC News, June 13, 2000
http://abcnews.go.com/sections/us/DailyNews/krishna000612.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(...) The federal lawsuit, filed in Dallas, names the International Society of Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) as well as several members of the organization's governing board and the estate of the movement's American founder, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Among the allegations are charges of bizarre cases of emotional torture in which children were made to stand in dark closets they thought were crawling with rats.

''This was some of the worst mistreatment of children that I have seen in working with cases of this nature,' said Windle Turley, the plaintiffs' lawyer who has also represented alleged victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests. ''This went far beyond sexual abuse and rape. There was extensive daily and physical abuse and beatings.'

A Hare Krishna spokesman in Washington, Anuttama, told The Associated Press that Krishna leaders have acknowledged abuse in the boarding schools and have worked to provide counseling and financial support to the victims. ISKCON's Child Protection Task Force, formed in 1998, has investigated 50 cases of alleged abuse and raised $250,000 to aid victims, the spokesman said. Turley said he believes the abuse could have involved as many as 1,000 children.
(...)

On Monday, the Hare Krishna boarding schools in the United States have been shut down and many Hare Krishna children are home-schooled, the Hare Krishna devotee said. The younger generation of devotees, she said, is committed to making the movement safe for its children. The gurakulas Luczyk attended in Mayapur and Vrindaban no longer exist as children's facilities.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


=== Holyland

18. Church business practices questioned
The Birmingham News, June 11, 2000
http://www.al.com/news/birmingham/Jun2000/11-e345619b.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
EMELLE - Call it the church version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire. The question: How did one small Pentecostal church with a congregation on welfare build a multimillion-dollar empire?

A. Sell food to the church members and collect their food stamps.

B. Buy businesses and run them with church members' free labor.

C. Go across the country soliciting money for ''abused kids.''

D. File for bankruptcy to avoid paying large lawsuit judgments.

E. All of the above.

The final answer is E. The strategy paid off handsomely for Christ Temple Church, a Mississippi congregation that spawned the Holyland commune in West Alabama.

The group now has assets worth at least $10.6 million.

The Holyland's leader, Bishop Luke Edwards, said wealth is beside the point in his empire. He said his aim is to keep his parishioners off welfare and train them to work for themselves.
(...)

But his methods have raised questions.

The storefront solicitations are represented as being for ''abused kids.'' But the Holyland doesn't take in many outside children, as it once did. Moreover, the donations don't go into the group's tax-exempt charity set up to help abused children. The money goes to the same pot that pays commune expenses, buys new businesses and covers other operating costs, said Zora Meyers, an Atlanta accountant.

Part of the group's prosperity has come at the expense of others. In one case, a Holyland business defaulted on payments for a 322-acre hog farm in Mississippi and filed for bankruptcy when the seller got a court judgment for the debt. Reach Inc. got the farm for less than half the original price of $650,000, seller Tommy H. Graham said.

At one point, Christ Temple, one of its for-profit subsidiaries and their umbrella organization, the Apostolic Assemblies Association, were all in bankruptcy. Only the subsidiary remains in bankruptcy now, partly because it is fighting a $650,000 debt to a former secretary who successfully sued Edwards for alleged sexual misconduct and mind control.

Those kinds of controversies point out the hazards of church spun business enterprises, said Tuscaloosa accountant Steve Richardson, whose book The Eagle's Claw deals partly with churches and taxes.
(...)

Richardson said the Holyland's scope is akin to that of the Rev. Sun Young Moon's Unification Church, which owns a wide range of businesses.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


19. Ex-Holyland resident says commune never delivered on promise
The Birmingham News, June 11, 2000
http://www.al.com/news/birmingham/Jun2000/11-e346024b.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
MERIDIAN, Miss. - Gail Walker grew up in housing projects. But she dreamed of a better life - one with a purpose, a destination. At 18, she thought she found it at a place called Holyland.

She spent 17 years at the West Alabama commune, starting out with her husband in tiny dormitory quarters with no plumbing. She kept the rules. She turned her children over to caretakers at 2 months. She worked endlessly, often traveling the country to solicit donations for the Holyland's good works.

As she toiled, the organization blossomed. It bought businesses, farmland, equipment. It bought airplanes, limousines and luxury cars. It has assets worth at least $11 million.

Yet with all that, it never delivered Ms. Walker's better life. As the Holyland and its offshoot businesses thrived, the best Ms. Walker got was, finally, a room with running water.

''We were told it was the Bible way,'' she said. ''But I kept thinking, 'Being saved should not be a miserable journey. If going to heaven is like this, I don't want to go.'''

In the end, she took her children and left the Holyland, even though it meant splitting with her husband, a top lieutenant in the organization. The rest of the country will celebrate Independence Day on the Fourth of July. Two days later, Ms. Walker will mark her sixth anniversary of independence.
(...)

She doesn't like to revisit the Holyland, even in her mind. Too much remembering still triggers tears. But she has relatives at the commune, as well as her ex-husband. She wants to say something that will inspire them to break away or that will lead to better living conditions for them.

But she knows from experience that won't be easy.

She didn't leave the Holyland when its rules and routines kept her from spending time with her children - not even to share a meal or have them into her room for a drink of water.

She didn't leave when she was required to go across the country and sit outside storefronts to collect money all day, whether the weather was freezing or blazing hot. She didn't leave even when she wasn't allowed to come off the fund-raising route to attend her mother's funeral.

She continued to travel from city to city, collecting money for ''abused kids,'' even when she had qualms. As souvenirs, she collected business cards from hotels where she stayed with her church sisters and banks they patronized to turn in collections.
(...)

Even though Holyland leaders warned that bad things would befall people who left the commune, she pleaded with her husband to move. Ms. Walker found herself hoping at times to be kidnapped. But she still felt unable to break free by herself. ''It's a slavery thing,'' she said. ''I think it's a real inside fear, like it's some kind of witchcraft.''

In Ms. Walker's case, it's not clear what finally broke the spell. But one day, her mind was made up. After investing 17 years in the organization, she said, she left empty-handed.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top

* Cult apologists point to such ''walk-aways'' in their defense of cults.
Dismissing the years of abuse experienced by these victims, they
figure the fact that they were (finally) able to leave, means they were
not brainwashed or otherwise under the influence of mind control. When
a victim does finally leave and speak out, cult apologists then call them
them liars.


20. Holyland kids still bear scars
The Birmingham News, June 11, 2000
http://www.al.com/news/birmingham/Jun2000/11-e345212b.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
EMELLE - Their roots are here, packed deep in West Alabama soil. But many of those who grew up at the Holyland commune have scattered like chaff to places such as Michigan, Mississippi and Georgia.

Now young adults, they say virtually all of their peers left in search of happier lives.

It hasn't been easy. They say they still bear scars from their years at the Holyland - years of harsh discipline, family separation and unmet needs.

''It is designed for the children to suffer,'' said Lakisha Davis Herr, 22, who grew up there and left two years ago.

They say their lives were more boot camp than summer camp.

They were denied food if they misbehaved, and they were whipped for such things as wetting the bed, walking on the grass and asking for help with schoolwork, former residents of the commune say. Sometimes, the children were struck with water pipes and horse straps.
(...)

The commune adjusted its practices after being fined for more than 100 child-labor offenses in 1990 - cases that involved Mrs. Herr and her peers. But the children still recall far more work than play. Like their parents, they toiled for free at Holyland businesses or farms.
(...)

Former Holyland residents - including some who claim they are the illegitimate offspring of the commune's leader, Bishop Luke Edwards - say their childhoods were filled with low points.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


=== Cults - General

21. France to crack down on sects
The Guardian (England), June 14, 2000
http://www.guardianunlimited.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,331743,00.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
France is to defy President Bill Clinton's appeal to be more tolerant of religious sects and introduce draconian laws, including an offence of ''mental manipulation'' - brainwashing - which will carry a two-year prison sentence.

President Jacques Chirac has told Mr Clinton that religious freedom will no longer be a subject for bilateral presidential talks, in the light of what has been officially described as ''shocking'' White House' support for Scientologists and Moonies.

The French government has also complained that Congress's introduction of laws protecting religious freedom internationally is ''an unacceptable intrusion into internal affairs''.

The chairman of a French ministerial mission to combat the influence of cults, Alain Vivien, said many observers believed that Mr Clinton was making his peace with big religious movements ''because they offer an indispensable source of political financing''.

The French senate has approved legislation reinforcing the right of victims to take action against marginal religious groups.The national assembly plans to toughen the measure even further when it debates it on June 22.

MPs on both the left and the right are expected to vote in favour of authorising the courts to forcibly dissolve sects after two complaints, and to forbid them operating in the neighbourhood of schools, hospitals and rest homes.

They intend to make such movements responsible for acts considered to be a provocation to suicide or incitement to abandon families.

France's war against mainly American-sponsored movements, including the Jehovah's Witnesses, has been running for at least 20 years. It has prompted the accusation, particularly by Scientologists, that it is indulging in ''collective hysteria'' and preparing to ban religious freedoms.

Mr Vivien denied that France was acting alone, claiming that Germany was leading the battle, with strong support from Belgium, the first country to produce a legal definition of a sect. ''The United States position is less and less understood in Europe,'' he said.

''No one can forbid us to take action against sects in the interests of human rights. This point of view is particularly absurd when these movements flout the most elementary rights.''

He claimed that, headed by Scientologists, sects were infiltrating UN and European human rights associations, financing some of their work, and collaborating on reports that condemned France ''with virulence''.
[...entire item...]


22. Anti-cult crusaders are also fanatical themselves
Asahi News (Japan), June 13, 2000
http://www.asahi.com/english/asahi/0613/asahi061308.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Sects that use religion to lure new followers regard universities as their most fertile field for recruits, say social psychologists. Their members are notorious for persistent, and sometimes subtle, attempts to brainwash freshmen, both on and off campus.

In the belief that prevention is the most effective tactic available, the student affairs departments at several universities have begun distributing leaflets warning students against proselytizing cults.
(...)

Two years ago, when sociologists studying the phenomenon of cults sent a questionnaire to the heads of student affairs department at universities around the nation, 43 percent of the respondents-131 out of 306-reported disturbing episodes of indoctrination, the experience of trying to escape the clutches of cult devotees, and the sale of their belongings by the group.

Why are universities so vulnerable to the activities of religious zealots? According to Kiyoshi Ando, professor of social psychology at the University of Toyo, who compiled the questionnaire, cults lust power and can lure certain groups in society-young people, the affluent elderly, and celebrities. Ando added: ''It's also pertinent that students-who have recently left the security of their family and old friends behind and are in search of a new identity-tend to be very impressionable. And then opportunities for indoctrination abound on campus, with events such as club functions or faculty celebrations.''

Responses to the questionnaire tended to show that the more exposure a school had to religious sects, the more emphasis it gave to cautionary advice and the distribution of anti-cult literature.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


=== Other News

23. Tibetan monk dies in suspicious circumstances, five monks arrested
Yahoo/AFP, June 13, 2000
http://english.hk.dailynews.yahoo.com/headlines/
asia/afp/article.html?s=hke/headlines/000613/
asia/afp/Tibetan_monk_dies_in_suspicious_circumstances__
five_monks_arrested.html
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
A Tibetan monk died in suspicious circumstances after protesting the removal of Dalai Lama pictures during a raid of a monastery by Chinese officials, the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said Tuesday.

Police have also arrested five monks and imposed strict surveillance near the monastery following the death of Tashi Rabten, a treasurer of the Thenthok Monastery, the center said, citing a monk who recently fled Tibet.

The death happened on May 1 when officials from the religious department visited the Thenthok Monastery in Dzogang County, in the Chamdo region of Tibet, the center said in a statement faxed to Beijing.
(...)

This year marks the 50th anniversary of China's October 1950 invasion of Tibet. The Dalai Lama, who fled Tibet after an unsuccessful rebellion against Chinese rule in 1959, is living in exile in Dharmasala, India.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


24. Centre wants to break lease with Raelians
Montreal Gazette (Canada), June 14, 2000
http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/pages/000614/4274702.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
The centre operating under the main Jesuit-order church in Montreal wants to back out of a leasing arrangement with the Raelians, a cult-like group that believes in liberal sex and extraterrestrials.

According to documents filed at the Montreal courthouse yesterday, officials at Les Salles du Gesu had no idea that the Eglise Raelienne du Canada was the one whose doctrine teaches that humans and all other earthly life forms were created by extraterrestrials.

They want the court to nullify a long-term lease between the Bleury St. centre and the Raelians that would allow the Raelians use of the centre one Sunday a month until 2004.

The centre's administrators never would have consented to the deal if they had known with whom they were dealing.

There are about 4,500 religious sects and movements in Quebec, and the Raelian's formal use of the word ''church'' was confusing, the documents said.

The real situation became known only after April 1 when a ''gaudy and very distinctive'' announcement about a Raelian conference at Gesu appeared in newspapers, the documents said.

The announcement and other Raelian fliers allude to the ''God of the Bible'' as being Elohim, gods from other planets, and talk about sensual meditations and advertise their UFOland in Valcourt.

Those Raelian proclamations ridicule and attack the beliefs of the centre, the court documents said.
(...)

The centre attempted to get an temporary injunction against the Raelians, but the judge who was to hear the matter had to disqualify himself because he was taught by Jesuits, the documents said. Another judge is being sought.

The centre also tried to reach an out-of-court settlement with the Raelians but failed, the documents said.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


25. Family, Or, Felony?
Salt Lake Tribune, June 11, 2000
http://www.sltrib.com/2000/jun/06112000/nation_w/nation_w.htmOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(...) This saga of spirited women -- former teen-age brides with unordinary ties to the history of polygamy in Utah -- is far different from the story depicted by Juab County prosecutors.

In their eyes, Kunz is the central victim of a criminal enterprise, a child-bride raped by Green in 1986 when she was 13 and he was 38. They argue Green is a predator, marrying Kunz, Bjorkman, her sister Hannah Bjorkman, and sisters Shirley and LeeAnn Beagley when they were all 14 or 15 years old. Prosecutors also contend Green relies on welfare to support the 25 children who live with him, and owes more than $50,000 for child support paid by the state to the wives.

Later this month, Green faces a preliminary hearing on charges of criminal non-support, rape of a child and four counts of bigamy, the fourth prosecution of a polygamist for bigamy in Utah since the 1950s.
(...)

The conflict evokes an orthodox struggle, the ongoing divide between followers of the first Mormon polygamist, Joseph Smith, and modern Mormons, whose church disavowed the practice of polygamy in 1890. Today, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints excommunicates members who practice it, such as Green.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


26. God's Army Temporarily Give Up Arms
AOL/AP, June 11, 2000
http://my.aol.com/news/story.tmpl?
table=n&cat=01&id=0006110411185170
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) - Twin 12-year-old boys from Myanmar who command a rebel group called God's Army have temporarily laid down their arms and are devoting themselves full-time to Christianity, a Thai newspaper reported Sunday.

The Bangkok Post reported that Johnny and Luther Htoo, whose followers believe they have magical powers, are now living in a Christian ethnic Karen village in Myanmar about 20 miles from the Thai border. It said they have shaved their heads to try to avoid being recognized and traded in their uniforms for traditional Karen garb.

But Luther was quoted by the newspaper as vowing to continue the struggle against the military government of Myanmar, also called Burma.
(...)

The Htoo brothers are the leaders of God's Army, an armed group of ethnic Karen. They have been on the run since late January, when their headquarters at Ka Mar Pa Law, just across the border from Thailand, fell to Myanmar government forces.
(...)

God's Army was believed to have 100 to 200 men and boys under arms before it lost its base.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


27. Lubavitch Group Names New Rabbi
AOL/AP, June 13, 2000
http://my.aol.com/news/story.tmpl?
table=n&cat=01&id=0006130141611682
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
MOSCOW (AP) - A Jewish group on Tuesday proclaimed its spiritual leader to be the new chief rabbi of Russia, but the man who has held the post claimed the move was part of a Kremlin plot to use religious organizations in a political power-struggle.

Both Adolf Shayevich, Russia's chief rabbi since the early 1980s, and Berl Lazar, named chief rabbi by the Federation of Jewish Communities on Tuesday, called the other an impostor.

Shayevich represents mainstream Orthodox Jews in Russia, while Lazar heads the ultra-Orthodox Chabad Lubavitch movement. Most of the estimated half million Jews in Russia are nonobservant, but the rival religious groups are vying for funding and influence.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


28. Father says he slashed children's throats in 'mystical state'
CNN/AP, June 12, 2000
http://www.cnn.com/2000/US/06/12/
children.killed.ap/index.html
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
McPHERSON, Kansas (AP) -- A man pleaded guilty Monday in the deaths of his three young children, telling a judge he was in a ''mystical state'' when he cut their throats.
(...)

''It occurred during a classical mystical state involving separation of mind and body, and because of the separation an encounter with a spirit of overwhelming evil,'' Jones told the court.
(...)

The state agreed in a plea agreement not to seek the death penalty.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top


29. Wenatchee sex-ring defendant released
Spokane.net, June 9, 2000
http://www.spokane.net/news-story-body.asp?
Date=060900&ID=s813078&cat
=
One of the first defendants in Wenatchee's infamous child sex ring case was freed from prison Thursday, but corrections officers kept him in handcuffs as a security measure while he was in court.

Meredith ''Gene'' Town didn't seem to mind the brief wait, though, given the fact that he had been imprisoned for the past six years on a conviction that was recently overturned. Town was freed after a state appeals court ordered special hearings into circumstances of his conviction, including his confession. Evidence that could have potentially cleared him was not made available to defense attorneys before trial.

Town and his wife, Cherie, were the first two people arrested by former Wenatchee Police Detective Robert Perez during the sex-abuse investigations in 1994 and 1995.

Town was sentenced to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to two counts of child molestation and two counts of child rape. The alleged victims were his two sons.
(...)

Town maintained that he never confessed, and that Perez wrote the confession and coerced him into signing it. Town told the judge he has a 10th-grade education.

In remanding the case for a hearing, newly discovered evidence showed Perez routinely used improper and coercive tactics in his interrogation of suspects, said William Broberg, Town's attorney.
(...)

Town's case was the sixth Wenatchee conviction overturned by the state Court of Appeals.

Town was freed with the help of the Innocence Project Northwest, a Seattle-based group of lawyers and law students who volunteered to help defendants in the cases.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top

* The Power To HarmOff-site Link
In February 1998, the Post-Intelligencer published a series of articles that
documented overzealous -- and even abusive -- actions by Perez and social
service caseworkers, civil rights violations by judges and prosecutors as
well as sloppy work by public defenders.

Since then, many of the convicted have been freed by higher courts, largely
through the work of The Innocence Project, a group of volunteer lawyers.


30. Top vicar says 'end of world is nigh'
The Times (England), June 12, 2000
http://www.the-times.co.uk/news/pages/tim/2000/06/12/timnwsnws01002.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
ONE of the most influential clergymen in the Church of England has issued an apocalyptic warning that the end of the world is nigh and that time is running out before the second coming of Jesus Christ.

The Rev Sandy Millar, 61, Vicar of Holy Trinity Brompton, in Knightsbridge, London, has linked the contemporary worldwide evangelical revival to the imminent return of Jesus and the start of a ''New Age''.

Writing in his parish's Pentecost newsletter, Mr Millar - whose pioneering Alpha course has persuaded hundreds of thousands of people to convert, or return, to Christianity - said the warning of an influential 20th-century clergyman, that ''the coming of the Lord draws nigh'', had even greater urgency today.

People must turn to Jesus Christ ''while there is still time'', he said. ''On some day in the future, Jesus will return, the world as we know it will come to an end, and the real New Age will begin.'' Apocalyptic warnings, while fairly common from charismatic or fringe churches, are rare from a clergyman of the Established Church.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top

* Holy Trinity Brompton is also known for dabbling in the Toronto Blessing
Movement.


=== Books

31. The Oscar-winning actress's new book can't begin to cover all of her past lives. We fill in the gaps
Star-Telegram, June 10, 2000
[URL removed because it currently refers to inappropriate content]/news/doc/1047/1:HOMEPAGE8/1:HOMEPAGE80610100.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Here is a revelation you won't find in any of the Scriptures:

Shirley MacLaine is YOU.

Shirley MacLaine is ME.

Shirley MacLaine is everyone .

The evidence is on Page 243 of MacLaine's latest book, 'The Camino' (Pocket Books; $24.95 hardcover): ''The division of the sexes was nearly complete. But the two separate bodies were still joined at the ribs. Slowly, the rib joints peeled off and the result was two complete bodies -- one male (me) and one female (my twin soul).

''Eve being born of Adam's rib was accomplished.''

And there you have it. Shirley MacLaine once led a double life as Adam and Eve, the first man and woman. Thus, we are all her descendants.

Well, by now, we should expect this from MacLaine.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
Back To Top

Home | How To Use | About | Contact
Look, "feel" and original content are Copyright 1996-2024+ Apologetics Index
Copyright and Linking information