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Religion News Report

June 30, 2000 (Vol. 4, Issue 221) - 2/2

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Rainbow

» Continued from Part 1
=== Scientology
20. German Scientologist woman surreptitiously obtained asylum in the USA with
counterfeit documents
21. The Big Bluff
22. Scientology Case Judge Faces Probe
23. Pinellas-Pasco Medical examiner retires
24. It's all so very thetan cute

=== Nuwaubians
25. Nuwaubian expansion rejected

=== Mormonism
26. Teen Laced Mormons' Cupcakes, Cops Say

=== Islam
27. TV comment adds fules to mosque controversy

=== Buddhism
28. China Removes Religious Official Two-Years After Fleeing

=== Catholicism
29. Examining Fatima visions
30. Anger at Fatima 'betrayal'

=== Paganism / Witchcraft
31. Expert: 'Watered-down' gangs pose real threat

=== Hate Groups / Hate Crimes
32. Lawsuit filed against gun manufacturers over Midwestern hate shootings
33. Police, Skinheads Clash in Central Moscow

=== France - Proposed Cult Crimes Law
34. Sweeping new laws on sects 'could be abused'
35. Oo la la - Naughty France Considers Jailing Evangelists

=== Other News
36. Former Way member alleges wrongdoing
37. Dad Accused of Killing 'Devil' Daughter
38. Utah polygamist ordered to stand trial
39. 'Queen Shahmia' trial underway
40. Meditation protected by patent
41. Judge slams defiance of SLA gag order
42. Supreme Court says Boy Scouts can bar gay troop leaders
43. Victory Has Consequences of Its Own
44. Greek Church Targets ID Cards

=== Polls / Trends
45. Poll: More object to religious limits


=== Scientology

20. German Scientologist woman surreptitiously obtained asylum in the USA with counterfeit documents
Stern (Germany), June 29, 2000
Translation: CISAR
http://cisar.org/000629a.htmOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Hamburg (ots) The Scientology sect organization obtained asylum in the USA for one of its German members three years ago using a deceptive bluff. That is being reported upon by the Hamburg Stern magazine in its Thursday morning edition. In 1997, Scientologist Antje Victore, 42 years old at the time, made the assertion before an immigration court in Florida that she was being persecuted because of her religion, and she received - the only German to ever have done so - asylum in the United States. At the time, Hollywood greats like Oliver Stone, Dustin Hoffman and Goldie Hawn backed Victore and had protested alleged religious persecution of Scientologists to the German Federal Chancellor of the time, Helmut Kohl.

The fact of the matter, according to research by Stern, is that unpaid back taxes in Germany were the background of Victore's application for asylum. She was assisted by the chief (at the time) of the OSA, which is the sect's internal intelligence agency. Victore submitted to the U.S. court letters of rejection from German company executives which gave her membership in Scientology as the reason for her rejection. The U.S. court was not told, however, that the authors of the letters were Scientologists.

Two former Scientologists have verified in sworn testimony for Stern magazine that they had been asked by Antje Victore to write such letters, and as a favor to a fellow Scientologist, had actually done so in Fall 1996 and then sent the letters to her. In fact, Victore had never put in an application to work with them. Five of these letters which are bogus, according to the authors, have been viewed by Stern magazine.

This advance announcement may be freely published if ''Stern'' is given as the source

ots Originaltext: stern
Im Internet recherchierbar: http://recherche.newsaktuell.deOff-site Link

Direct inquiries to Stern editor Michael Stoessinger
[...entire item... For full story, see next item]


21. The Big Bluff
Stern (Germany), June 29, 2000
Translation: CISAR
http://cisar.org/000629c.htmOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
First the retirees flocked to Clearwater. Then the Scientologists. Since then the sunny, small city in Florida, situated on the warm-watered Gulf of Mexico, has become one of the most bizarre places in America.

Young people in uniform stream busily through the once sleepy downtown, security guard patrol with video cameras and earsets, surveillance cameras probe the Scientology-owned buildings and the streets around them. About 5,000 adherents of the ''Church of Scientology,'' judged to be a profit-oriented corporation in Germany, live here; daily, according to sect statements, up to 2,000 more come from all over the world daily to obtain costly courses in the Mecca of the ''Thetans.'' ''Here,'' said the German Scientologist Antje Victore defiantly, ''I can live like any other person.''

She said she could not do that in her homeland. The 45-year-old woman, who has earned her money by being, among other things, a jockey, is the first and, so far, the only German to enjoy political asylum in the United States. In 1997, her case raised eyebrows around the world and hampered German-American relations.
(...)

''Stern'' research now shows that the spectacular Scientology asylum case was staged. No trace of ''religious persecution.'' The lady simply had money problems, as her letters show.
(...)

Her tax debts in Germany bore down on her more and more from month to month and her U.S. visa, extended multiple times, was running out soon. In letters to Dagmar H., Victore began to talk more about her asylum application. She said she needed ''urgently all available entheta articles from this year.'' By that she meant press reports which discussed Scientology in a critical manner and in which the organization was accused of having totalitarian strategies. ''Whatever you can find, Dagmar. I am supposed to provide more 'proof' that is is really so bad in Germany. You've told me before that you could deliver enough 'stuff' to me,'' she implored her friend.

The stuff was delivered - by the Scientology intelligence agency, OSA, in the German center of the psycho-corporation in Hamburg. But that was not enough to convince Immigration Judge Rex J. Ford in Tampa, Florida. Her first application was refused in Summer 1996. ''Solely and alone, what the government does is decisive. Only those sort of things are useful. Unfortunately I have too little of that, namely only an interview with Bluem in Spiegel,'' she complained. I don't want to land in prison like Karl-Erich. But that is exactly what is going to happen if I can't pay!''

Karl-Erich is a member of Scientology who was convicted by the state attorney's office for tax evasion. Antje Victore had built up an advertising company with in Schwaan, near Rostock, in the beginning of the 1990s. When the law caught up with him and his partner, Victore took over management of the company, but could not pay income, business or sales tax for 1993: exactly the 13,100.51 marks which she later was asking other Scientologists for.

''OSA also had a very real interest in getting Antje's application for asylum approved so she could stay in the States,'' said Jens Billerbeck, who was in close contact with Victore at the time, but has since then left Scientology. ''They were trying to prevent her from appearing as a witness in the trial against her former company chief.'' The boss, at the time, of the international Scientology intelligence service, Kurt Weiland, was concerned that she could spill delicate details about the psycho-business and also about the German Scientology Center. ''Antje knew a lot.''

All the more forcefully Weiland effected the ''handling'' of the problem. Billerbeck: ''Antje proudly reported to me that Weiland and an OSA attorney worked on the method of procedure personally in her asylum proceedings.'' The strategy to convince the Immigration Judge, was as tricky as it was effective: German Scientologist who have a business, authored letters to Antje Victore in which it was pretended that she had put in for a position with them. With ''deep regret'' they rejected Victore because of her membership in Scientology.
(...)

The company chiefs glibly kept quiet about their membership in Scientology. They were to let on to the U.S. immigration judge only that ''in Germany many Scientologists are unemployed, and that it was very difficult for practicing Scientologists in Germany to lead a normal life.'' In her telephone discussion with the ''Stern,'' Victore dodged the question about these letters: she said it was absolutely insignificant whether the letters were personally directed to her - for the application for asylum the proof of general persecution was decisive, ''it was not about me.''

Jens Billerbeck and Dagmar H., who have left the [Scientology] organization since then, have verified for ''Stern'' magazine in sworn testimony that they were asked for such letters by Antje Victore and, as a favor to a fellow Scientologist, they wrote and sent her the letters. Actually, Victore had never put in an application with them. On October 10, 1996, Victore faxed Billerbeck several such letters which he was supposed to use as a model. She would be super happy if he would be able to write her the letter in English, she told him. She put the word ''letter'' in quotation marks. ''Stern'' magazine has a copy of five such faked company letters.

The deceptive bluff was a success. When the ''asylum case'' was won the end of February 1997, Victore sent Billerbeck a letter of praise typical for Scientology, of which ''Stern'' has a copy: It said that ''for the first time in history'' a German citizen had obtained political asylum in the USA. Billerbeck: ''On the telephone she explicitly asked me not to tell anyone about the asylum decision. The decision in court was to be published by Scientology itself at an opportune moment. This was the express wish of OSA.'' The sensation was printed in the New York Times in early November. The woman was said to have ''clearly and convincingly'' demonstrated that her fear of persecution on account of her belief had been founded, announced Weiland.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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22. Scientology Case Judge Faces Probe
AOL/AP, June 29, 2000
http://my.aol.com/news/story.tmpl?
table=n&cat=01&id=0006291058251952
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
PARIS (AP) - The organization that acts as a watchdog over French judges will investigate the handling of an inquiry into members of the Church of Scientology after evidence disappeared, the Justice Ministry said Thursday.

The announcement came a week after Justice Minister Elisabeth Guigou said she believed fraud was involved in the disappearance of the dossiers. Her comments were based on a report by the General Inspection of Judicial Services.

Hundreds of documents disappeared in October 1998 in a case that had been opened in 1983 against 16 members of the Church of Scientology suspected of ''fraud and illegally practicing medicine.''

The Justice Ministry said Thursday that it has asked the Superior Council of the Magistracy to investigate Judge Marie-Paule Moracchini, who has been handling the case. She risks possible disciplinary sanctions.
(...)

The case stems from a complaint by a former Scientologist, Juan Esteban Cordero. He accused the Church of Scientology of ''progressive mental conditioning'' that led him to spend more than $177,000 on various Scientology-related courses.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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23. Pinellas-Pasco Medical examiner retires
St. Petersburg Times, June 29, 2000
http://www.sptimes.com/News/062900/
TampaBay/Pinellas_Pasco_Medica.shtml
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
LARGO -- A defiant Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner Joan Wood vowed never to voluntarily step down from her beloved life's work. But on Wednesday, she decided enough was enough.

Wood unexpectedly announced her retirement, effective Sept. 30, after nearly 20 years as the circuit's medical examiner. The announcement comes just two days before Gov. Jeb Bush was to decide whether to reappoint her to another term.

And it comes two weeks after Pinellas prosecutors dropped criminal charges against the Church of Scientology, blaming Wood's reversal in the death of Scientologist Lisa McPherson for hopelessly damaging their case.

Inevitably, prosecutors' decision and condemnation of Wood's ''illogical'' behavior in the case may have doomed her career.
(...)

Clearwater defense lawyer Denis de Vlaming said he doesn't agree that Wood's Scientology reversal would have damaged her credibility irretrievably.

''I'm surprised she resigned,'' he said. ''I did not look at Joan as an Achilles' heel for McCabe. Would her work in Scientology hurt her in other cases? Yes. But like all things, over time there is a way to explain these things and minimize them.

''Joan has been around so long, I would have thought she would have fought until the bitter end. She's a consummate professional.''

In her original ruling in 1996, Wood traced the death of McPherson, the Scientologist, to a blood clot in McPherson's left lung that originated in a clot behind her left knee. Wood blamed it on ''bed rest and severe dehydration.''

Initially calling the death ''undetermined,'' Wood later changed her mind, saying the death was ''accidental.''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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24. It's all so very thetan cute
Tampa Tribune, June 30, 2000 (Opinion)
http://www.tampatrib.com/News/MGIGW80C3AC.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Strolling through Clearwater's old Fort Harrison Hotel, home to the Church of Very Weird Stuff, I asked Marty RathbunOff-site Link if he minded if I took a brochure.

No, not at all, feel free, the cleric from the Planet Ferpill replied. And then, having second thoughts perhaps, Rathbun paused and snatched the brochure away. ``Let me see that. You're probably just going to trash us.''

Marty, you gotta take your chances, I explained, snatching the brochure back.

The document was a Church of Scientology come-on for people to: ``Get your FALSE PURPOSE RUNDOWN AUDITOR COURSE LECTURES.'' Wow!
(...)

What does all this gibberish mean? Beats me. But from the looks of the bustling activity throughout the Fort Harrison and other Scientology locations around downtown Clearwater, there is no shortage of folks in pursuit of what another flier pitched as ``L12 makes a stable thetan exterior whose ability is greatly increased and is not likely to become PTS to anything.''

Ah yes, a stable thetan. It's a good thing.

In all probability, as Rathbun - a very senior Scientology official - explained, I don't understand any of this hooey because of three roadblocks to learning articulated by the sect's founder, L. Ron Hubbard: (a) Lack of mass, (b) Too steep a gradient and (c) The misunderstood word.
(...)

After a recent column on Scientologist Lisa McPherson, who spent 17 days under the cult's care back in 1995, only to turn up dead in New Port Richey, Rathbun thought it would be a swell idea for me to pay a visit and take a tour of the group's operations. Okey-dokey.

I even got to see Hubbard's little sailor hat resting on a desk in an office shrine dedicated to the Scientology creator. It was just too, too thetan cute.
(...)

How much did I know about Scientology, Rathbun asked before answering his own question, referring to a story I had written about the organization in 1977, around the time he became a member.

But what I know, or don't know, about Scientology is irrelevant with respect to Lisa McPherson.

After a minor car accident in downtown Clearwater, McPherson stripped off her clothes and started walking down the street. Transported by paramedics to nearby Morton Plant Hospital for psychiatric evaluation, McPherson instead was moved by Scientologists to the Fort Harrison for ``rest and relaxation.''

Seventeen days later, she was dead. You might say she had terminal aberrated stable data.

The death of McPherson set off a firestorm of controversy, leading eventually to the church's indictment on charges of practicing medicine without a license and abuse of a disabled adult.

But the case subsequently withered under the weight of conflicting forensic reports and shifting church alibis.

However there is one unalterable, undeniable, uncontested truth about McPherson's death. When her body ultimately failed, the dying woman was not taken to Morton Plant, literally moments away, but to a Scientologist doctor in New Port Richey.

That act alone will forever cast a pall over the cult's negligent culpability in this young woman's death. It is a fact not even Marty Rathbun disputes.

At last, we were all ``clear'' on at least one thing.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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* Scientology-related glossaries:
http://www.apologeticsindex.org/s04.html#glossOff-site Link

Lisa McPherson Memorial Page
http://www.lisamcpherson.org/Off-site Link


=== Nuwaubians

25. Nuwaubian expansion rejected
The Atlanta Journal-Consitution, June 28, 2000
http://www.accessatlanta.com/
partners/ajc/epaper/editions/wednesday/
local_news_939569d013a4616a1041.html
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Athens --- The Clarke County Board of Adjustments denied a zoning variance request Tuesday from the leader of the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors to waive all buffer and setback requirements for a Broad Street building adjacent to a historic neighborhood.

Malachi Z. York, aka Dwight York, who moved with his followers from Brooklyn, N.Y., five years ago to an Egyptian-style community of 400 acres in Putnam County, lists an Athens address on his petition. He wanted to add a second floor that would double the square footage of the one-story brick structure, formerly a toy and novelty story, and use it as a fraternal lodge for his group.

In Brooklyn, York's Muslim-oriented group was known as Ansaru Allah Community; in Putnam County, the group changed its name, garb and ideology, and built numerous Egyptian-style statues and pyramids outside Eatonton. In cities across the country, including Athens, stores offer classes about the group and sell Nuwaubian writings, a blend of philosophies from the Bible, ancient Egyptian polytheism and end-of-the-millennium alien visitation prophecies.
(...)

Several residents of the Dearing Street neighborhood, where homes date from the 1800s, spoke against granting the variance, saying the lodge would further add to parking, pedestrian and traffic problems.
(...)

NAACP member Thomas Oglesby said the response of the residents was racist and that the Nuwaubians have as much right to do business as anyone else.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Mormonism

26. Teen Laced Mormons' Cupcakes, Cops Say
APBnews, June 27, 2000
http://www.apbnews.com/newscenter/breakingnews/
2000/06/27/cupcake0627_01.html?s=nav_bn_homepage
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
PERRYSBURG, Ohio (APBnews.com) -- A 15-year-old boy is facing a felony charge for allegedly putting sleeping pills in chocolate cupcakes that his stepmother and sister baked for a church luncheon for Mormon missionaries, police said.

The boy, whose name is not being released by authorities because he will be prosecuted as a juvenile, laced the pastries with his prescribed pills after having had a fight with his sister, police Sgt. Doug Spencer said.

He told police that he hoped she would be blamed for the soporific sweets.
(...)

The youth, who lives about 30 miles away in Findlay, is going to be charged with corrupting another with a drug, Spencer said.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Islam

27. TV comment adds fules to mosque controversy
Palos resident calls Islam 'false religion.'
Chicago Tribune, June 28, 2000
http://www.chicago.tribune.com/version1/article/
0,1575,SAV-0006280274,00.html
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
A Palos Heights woman's televised agreement that she believes Islam to be a ''false religion'' reignited accusations of religious intolerance in the community and drew reactions of outrage and disbelief from the city's mayor and a lawyer represent a group seeking to locate a mosque there.

Rouhy Shalabi, attorney for the Islamic group, described Karen Hayes' comments as ''incredible'' and indicated that the statements she made could quash any hope of bringing the controversy to a quick and amicable settlement.

''I can't believe she made [the statements about Islam] publicly,'' Shalabi said. ''If this represents Christian leadership, they need to take a look at what they're preaching.''

Hayes, coordinator of the National Day of Prayer in Palos Heights, appeared Monday night on WTTW-Ch. 11's ''Chicago Tonight'' program. She said under questioning by the show's host, Phil Ponce, that while she has no objections to Muslims living in Palos Heights ''individually,'' she objects to what she described as ''false religions'' coming into the suburb.

''Theologically, I'm a Christian, and that means there's only one God, and I do believe that,'' Hayes said in response to one of Ponce's questions. ''So, obviously, if a false religion is coming to town, I would be a hypocrite to say I didn't have stirrings of concern there.''

Ponce then asked Hayes if she considered Islam to be a ''false religion,'' and Hayes responded, ''Yes, I do.''
(...)

''I think that it was disgraceful [for Hayes] to say that,'' Palos Heights Mayor Dean Koldenhoven said. ''How much do these people have to take? That's not representative of the Christian faith. 'Love God and love thy neighbor' are two of the greatest commandments from Christ. That's Christianity in a nutshell.''
(...)

The mosque controversy began in spring when the Al Salaam Mosque Foundation, which was outgrowing its space on Chicago's Southwest Side, agreed to buy the Reformed Church of Palos Heights, which also is seeking to expand, for $2.1 million. The group proposed to convert the property to a mosque and an Islamic school.
(...)

Palos Heights Ald. Bob Dominick, who voted against the city's plans to buy out the property proposed for the mosque on grounds that the city does not have the money for the purchase, said he, too, was shocked by Hayes' comments on the TV show.

''I was rather surprised that, as the coordinator of our National Prayer Day, she should bum-rap another religion,'' Dominick said. ''It just seemed out of place. She shouldn't be taking that job and running it for the city if that's her attitude.''

''I don't have a problem with anybody's religion, whatever they are. Whatever belief, whether it's Jesus Christ, Islam or Buddhism, it's certainly up to the people to decide what they want [to worship], and I don't have a problem with it.''

At least some residents of the community, however, defended Hayes' right to say what she truly felt, adding that they didn't think she was trying to be ''malicious.''

''That's Karen's deep-felt belief,'' said Ald. Jim Murphy, one of the Palos Heights City Council members who favors acquiring the church property.''I don't believe she means anything malicious by it. She believes Christianity is the one true religion.''

''I respect all people's right to worship,'' added Murphy.

Even some Muslim residents of Palos Heights appeared to downplay Hayes' remarks, instead blaming the mosque controversy on the City Council members who oppose the sale of the church property to the Islamic foundation.

''I think people like [Hayes] have so much love for their religion that they just turn against other religions,'' said Ed Hassan. ''We have fanatics in our religion too. But, in fact, God is one god for all religions and nobody can prove otherwise.''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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* From an evangelical Christian perspective, Islam is indeed a false religion.


=== Buddhism

28. China Removes Religious Official Two-Years After Fleeing
China Times/AFP, June 28, 2000
http://www.chinatimes.com.tw/
/english/epolitic/89062814.htm
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
BEIJING, June 28 (AFP) - China has removed a high ranking Tibetan religious official from a government position two year's after the former abbot of the Kumbum Monastery fled to the United States, officials said Wednesday.

The ''living Buddha'' Agya Lobsang Thubten Gyurme Gyatso was removed from the standing committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), a sort of lower parliamentary house, an official of the religious affairs bureau told AFP.

''But he continues to be the vice president of the China Buddhist Association,'' the official said.

Agya, also known as Agya Rinpoche, 49, was removed from the CPPCC on Saturday ''because he left China two years ago in a private capacity, violated existing regulations, and is now present in the United States,'' the state press reported.

Although news of his defection began circulating in November 1998, the Chinese authorities remained discreet over his absence and issued statements indicating the ''patriotic'' religious leader was travelling.

Agya Rinpoche, one of the eight principle Tibetan Lamas, was the abbot of the Kumbum Monastery in Qinghai Province until his 1998 defection.

His position in the CPPCC and as vice president of the Buddhist Association reflected a high level of trust and loyalty to the Chinese government.

He has since been granted political asylum in the United States.

The London-based Tibet Information Network (TIN) said Chinese authorities felt ''a high-level of embarrassment'' over statements made by Agya Rinpoche in March in the US over the absence of religious freedom in Tibet and could possibly have led to his official dismissal.
(...)

Last December, another high Tibetan Lama once thought to be extremely loyal to Beijing, the 17th Karmapa Lama fled to India for reasons similar to Agya Rinpoche.

Chinese authorities continue to maintain that the Karmapa left Tibet in order to search for Buddhist artifacts and religious musical instruments and was expected to return to China soon.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Catholicism

29. Examining Fatima visions
The Florida Times-Union, June 30, 2000
http://www.jacksonville.com/tu-online/
stories/063000/met_3436865.html
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
VATICAN CITY -- While the Vatican unveiled one of Catholicism's most tantalizing secrets -- the third secret of Fatima -- its chief theologian gently debunked the cult that has grown up around the secret, and said Catholics were not required to believe it.

A 62-line handwritten account by Lucia de Jesus dos Santos of what she saw as a 10-year-old shepherd in a pasture near Fatima, Portugal, on July 13, 1917, was released Monday.
(...)

Five successive popes had kept Lucia's tale locked in a safe, feeding fevered speculation that this ''third secret of Fatima'' predicted the end of the world. The secret spawned a cult that held the mother of Jesus as both savior and prophet of doom -- one enhanced by the Vatican's surprise announcement last month that her apparition at Fatima had foretold the 1981 wounding of Pope John Paul II by a would-be assassin in St. Peter's Square.

In a 12-page commentary, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said Lucia, now a 93-year-old cloistered Carmelite nun, might have conjured her vision from devotional books.

Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, did not endorse a papal spokesman's claim that the felled ''bishop in white'' was John Paul or the pope's long-stated belief that Mary had deflected the bullets meant to kill him. The theologian dismissed a claim by Mehmet Ali Agca, the imprisoned Turk who fired the bullets and later embraced the Fatima cult, that he was an instrument of divine will.

Ratzinger judged Lucia's text to be an interpretation of Christian suffering in the 20th century, neither tied to specific events nor foreordained.
(...)

The story of Fatima has fascinated Catholics ever since Lucia and her two cousins, who died as children, claimed to have seen the Virgin make three prophecies during six monthly appearances in 1917.

And since the early 1940s, when Sister Lucia wrote down the prophecies and revealed two of them, the content of ''the third secret'' has inspired hundreds of speculative books and Web sites while turning Fatima into one of Catholicism's most visited shrines.
(...)

At a Vatican news conference, Ratzinger explained that popes had delayed revealing the text because of the fuzziness of the message, which he said could be deciphered ''only in the light of history.'' Asked whether the Fatima secrets pertained only to the past, he replied: ''I think so.''

That assertion drew protest from Fatima devotees, who insist that the images of suffering described by Lucia have not been played out.

''We still have a bigger punishment in store for us if we don't turn away from sin,'' said Christopher Ferrara, spokesman for the Fatima Center in Fort Erie, Ontario.

Ferrara also disputed Ratzinger's ruling that the Fatima prophecies are ''private revelations'' and, unlike scriptural revelations, not part of Catholic dogma. ''Here's the pope saying that the message of Fatima is fulfillment of a divine plan, and here's his right-hand man in charge of doctrine saying you don't have to believe it,'' he said.

Some Catholic teachers read Ratzinger's commentary as an effort to purge the popular Fatima cult of its more sensational elements.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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30. Anger at Fatima 'betrayal'
The Times (England), June 29, 2000
http://www.the-times.co.uk/news/pages/tim/
2000/06/29/x-timfgneur02002.html
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Six million penitents visited Fatima in Portugal last year, in part attracted by a secret prophecy that, according to popular belief, predicted a nuclear war or some other doomsday event.
(...)

The revelation on Monday that there were no doomsday predictions has provoked angry reactions from the Portuguese church over the decision to keep the prophecy secret for half a century.

''Dismayed, cheated and betrayed, that is how many people feel,'' the O Publico newspaper said yesterday as it summed up the reaction in Portugal to the third prophecy.
(...)

Bishop Januario Torgal demanded: ''If the Vatican knew that it was not apocalyptic, why on Earth did it only make it public now?''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Paganism / Witchcraft

31. Expert: 'Watered-down' gangs pose real threat
Shawnee News-Star, June 28, 2000
http://www.news-star.com/stories/062800/com_gangs.shtmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
An expert in gang activity told a group of Shawnee residents that, even though gangs in the region are ''watered-down'' versions of East and West coast gangs, they pose a threat to the community nevertheless.

Wilson Conde, a member of the Tulsa County Gang Intervention team, presented a seminar on violence prevention Tuesday evening at the Housing Authority of the City of Shawnee's Community Center.

He was joined by Mark Clanton, a youth intervention specialist for the Mid-Del School District, who discussed witchcraft and satanism.

Many of the gangs who have a presence in Oklahoma, including Bloods and Crips, started in Los Angeles, Calif., Conde said. As gang members migrated to other regions, they started their own smaller versions of their gangs.
(...)

Clanton said parents should take note of possible involvement in witchcraft or satanism, in light of the recent death of a Shawnee teen-ager who was reportedly participating in witchcraft when she died.

He said the presence of ritualistic groups, including vampirism, is growing rapidly -- especially in rural areas.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Hate Groups / Hate Crimes

32. Lawsuit filed against gun manufacturers over Midwestern hate shootings
St. Louis Post-Dispatch/AP, June 29, 2000
http://www.postnet.com/postnet/stories.nsf/ByDocID/
86256794004608DB8625690D005D1BD1?OpenDocument
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
CHICAGO (AP) -- A civil lawsuit filed Thursday on behalf of four of the victims of Benjamin Smith's hate-driven shooting rampage names two gun manufacturers and two dealers, claiming their negligence was to blame.
(...)

Smith, 21, killed two people in Illinois and Indiana and wounded nine others before killing himself during the Fourth of July weekend almost one year ago. All of Smith's victims were Jewish, black or Asian. Fatally shot were former Northwestern basketball coach Ricky Byrdsong and Yoon, a 26-year-old student at Indiana University.

The lawsuit was filed in Cook County Circuit court by the Washington-based Center to Prevent Handgun Violence on behalf of the Yoon family and three men who were wounded in the rampage -- the Rev. Stephen Tracy Anderson, Hillel Goldstein and Steven H. Kuo.
(...)

Smith had been a follower of the East Peoria-based World Church of the Creator, a racist organization headed by Matthew Hale. Hale has not been charged with any crime related to the shootings.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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33. Police, Skinheads Clash in Central Moscow
AOL/Reuters, June 28, 2000
http://my.aol.com/news/story.tmpl?
table=n&cat=01&id=0006280431213012
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Dozens of Russian skinheads giving Nazi-style salutes rampaged through central Moscow on Wednesday, smashing cars and clashing with police.
(...)

A Reuters Television cameraman saw several of the detained skinheads giving Nazi salutes as they were taken away from a police station in a bus.

Extreme right-wing groups have a measure of influence among some groups of disaffected young people in turbulent post-Soviet Russia. Interest in many groups focuses on cult rock groups, some performing in Nazi regalia.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== France - Proposed Cult Crimes Law

34. Sweeping new laws on sects 'could be abused'
South China Morning Post, June 29, 2000
http://www.scmp.com/News/World/Article/FullText_asp_ArticleID-20000629032030859.aspOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Sweeping new laws are set to hit sects hard in France. The measures, approved unanimously by Parliament, have raised fears among civil rights organisations and other groups, which believe they could be used to attack them.
(...)

French courts had long complained that existing laws were insufficient to control the growing phenomenon of sects. Despite new measures introduced in 1996 and 1998, only 48 out of 280 cases brought ended in a conviction. A lack of evidence and fear on the part of the victim were the main reasons for the low conviction rate.
(...)

One civil liberties watchdog, Omnium des Libertes, has condemned the law as a ''cancer on the face of democracy''.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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* Omnium des Libertes is known for its support of cults like the Raelians and
extremist groups like the Church of Scientology.


35. Oo la la - Naughty France Considers Jailing Evangelists
NewsMax, June 28, 2000
http://www.newsmax.com/showinsidecover.shtml?
a=2000/6/28/195641
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
If you think religious freedom is under attack by the U.S. government, just take a gander at France.

Those naughty Frenchmen are, believe it or not, considering a law that would imprison religious ''proselytizers'' for two years for ''mental manipulation'' of the public, the Washington Times reported Wednesday.

French bureaucrats are targeting 173 ''dangerous sects,'' including mainstream groups such as the Baptists as well as Scientologists and Jehovah's Witnesses.
(...)

The Times noted, perhaps with a straight face, that the proposed law could criminalize evangelism even of the faith of President Clinton and Vice President Al Gore, both of whom are, it is alleged, Southern Baptists.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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* The proposed law does not outlaw proselytizing and/or evangelism. It
outlaws criminal activities, including the use of unethical persuasion
tactics.

* Critics of the anti-cult law often mention the inclusion of Baptists in a
list of sects. However, this is what the French report on cults actually
says:


(...)
But before we proceed, it is necessary to clear up a possible
misunderstanding: not all spiritual movements other than the traditional
religions, movements which are commonly called sects, are dangerous, such as,
for example, Baptists, Quakers, and Mormons. Their role can, sometimes, even
be regarded as very positive: ''You meet the best and the worst in sects
(...). Sometimes, by means of the sects, some people find a sense of
belonging to a warm friendly group, others find again a direction for their
lives, others still are structured. Among my patients, some entered sects. I
would not want for them to come out of there for anything in the world,
because the sect is used by them temporarily as a tutor.''
[...more...]

http://cftf.com/french/Les_Sectes_en_France/cults.htmlOff-site Link

* The author of the Washington Times piece referred to is a member of
the Unification Church - itself considered a cult. The movement is among
the loudest complainers against the proposed law.

* The Washington Times is owned by the Unification Church.

* Clinton and Gore.... oh well. You know.



=== Other News

36. Former Way member alleges wrongdoing
Wapokoneta Daily News, June 27, 2000
http://www.wapakdailynews.com/cgi-bin/LiveIQue.acgi$rec=33766?WDNfrontpageOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
SIDNEY -- The Way International Inc. is facing litigation from another former member.

Sherman Oaks, Calif.-based attorney Lawrence Levy has filed a lawsuit in Shelby County Common Pleas Court on behalf of January Parker, a member of The Way for approximately 20 years. In the suit, Parker alleges she was subjected to breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, unjust enrichment, civil conspiracy, racketeer influence and corrupt organization.

The suit names as defendants the Rev. Loy C. Martindale, former president of The Way; current Way president Rosalie F. Rivenbark; John R. Reynolds, a legal representative for the Way; and Way members Donald E. Wierwille and Howard R. Allen.

According to the complaint, Parker was recruited by the New Knoxville-based religious group in the winter of 1978 and became an employee of the organization. Parker's complaint claimed because of promises made to her by The Way and its leadership, she ''abandoned her family, friends and discontinued the pursuit of her secular education, underwent training in the apprentice Way Corps at her own expense, worked as directed by the Way Leadership and The Way International ... all in pursuit of receiving the 'deferred benefits' which she tacitly agreed to defer.''

Parker further alleged The Way and its leaders breached their contract with her by ''creating impossible working conditions including, but not limited to, requiring (Parker) to submit to sexual assault as a condition of continued employment'' with the organization.

Parker also claimed The Way misused its relationship with her ''so as to cause the failure of (Parker's) marriage, to coerce (Parker) into taking obscene photographs of Defendant Rev. Martindale and to posing for similar photographs.''

Parker further alleged The Way leaders shared confidential information about the female members of The Way -- including herself -- with other Way members.

Parker stated she was subjected by officials of The Way to ''humiliation ... for their own personal amusement and gratification.''
(...)

The Way International is also facing a lawsuit filed in April by former members Paul and Frances Allen, claiming breach of contract, assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress, fraud in a fiduciary capacity, defamation of character and civil conspiracy.

The suit also alleges The Way and its leadership engaged in a ''pattern of corrupt activity'' as defined by the Ohio Revised Code ''including, but not limiting to acts of theft, fraud, coercion, assault and rape.''

Martindale, Rivenbark, Reynolds, Wierwille and Allen are also named as defendants in the Allens' suit, as are Ramona Biden and up to 50 unnamed members of ''The Way Leadership.'' Attorneys for The Way filed a motion May 15 to force the Allens to name those unnamed defendants or drop them from the suit.

After the Allens filed the suit, Martindale admitted to having an affair with Frances Allen, but claimed it was mutually consentual. Martindale resigned as president of The Way effective April 20.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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37. Dad Accused of Killing 'Devil' Daughter
APBnews, June 28, 2000
http://www.apbnews.com/newscenter/breakingnews/
2000/06/28/stab0628_01.html?s=nav_bn_headlines
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
MANITOU SPRINGS, Colo. (APBnews.com) -- A man is accused of stabbing his 7-year-old daughter to death after allegedly throwing her to the ground and calling her the devil.

Robert W. Dunn, 51, is being held without bond in the El Paso County Criminal Justice Center in neighboring Colorado Springs on a charge of first-degree murder for allegedly killing his daughter, Aaren, at their home Monday, authorities said.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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38. Utah polygamist ordered to stand trial
AOL/Reuters, June 29, 2000
http://my.aol.com/news/story.tmpl?
table=n&cat=01&id=0006290925277622
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
SALT LAKE CITY, (Reuters) - A judge Thursday ordered an alleged polygamist to stand trial next month on charges of child rape and criminal non-support, after viewing tapes of the defendant's TV appearances promoting multiple marriages.

Thomas Green, 51, who has made numerous television appearances speaking about his five wives and 25 children, is scheduled to enter a plea on July 11, in Nephi, Utah, the clerk of the fourth district court said.

Green has also been charged with four counts of bigamy, but Judge Donald Eyre said he would render a written ruling on the bigamy charges at a later date.
(...)

The state of Utah distanced itself from the practice of polygamy in 1896 upon gaining statehood. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as the Mormon Church is formally known, disavowed polygamy in 1890 and excommunicates members who practice it.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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39. 'Queen Shahmia' trial underway
MSNBC, June, 28, 2000
http://www.msnbc.com/local/WBBH/307015.aspOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
LEE COUNTY, Fla., June 28 - The trial for Richelle Bradshaw, otherwise known as Queen Shahmia, began Wednesday morning in the Lee County Courthouse. Bradshaw is facing charges that she masterminded a robbery ring in the state.
(...)

Both the prosecution and defense have agreed to focus only on Bradshaw's role in orchestrating the crime sprees, and not on the actual robberies themselves.
(...)

Bradshaw is the leader of a religious cult linked to several robberies in the state. Investigators say the woman's so-called ''man servants'' robbed several businesses to support her extravagant lifestyle.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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40. Meditation protected by patent
NZZ daily edition, June 28, 20000
Translation: CISAR
http://cisar.org/000628d.htmOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Chandra Mohan Jain, assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Jabalpur, is already aware of the value of a trademark. As he lectures in a Bombay back room about capitalism and sex, Sartre and Laotse to seven seekers sitting at attention, he calls himself Acharya (spiritual teacher) Rajneesh Chandra Mohan. In his move to Poona, he dropped his family name and took the prefix of Bhagwan (the name for God in Sanskrit). After an excursion to Oregon which turned out wrong, there came Osho, the Enlightened, the Ocean of Love. The well known packaging gone - the name was associated with Rolls Royces and prayer beads, a flowing beard and Piaget watches - it was no longer at all important whether the real person was still living or not. Since the ''departure'' of the master, the commune in Poona could continue as though he was still present in his empty chair - praying before people in the scarlet robes, in the perfectly staged dances of ecstasy on the field of Buddha and in the innumerable books, videos, music cassettes, pictures and in meditation techniques which carried the joyful message to the world.

Now a dispute has broken out over that in India which has burst the scintillating soap bubble of the symbiosis of money and spirit. Professor Jain still likes to talk so beautifully about dissolving all restricting relationships and he plunders the world's literature in doing so, but when it comes to bringing his insights of ''One World'' to the people, he pays very close attention to setting up his own boundary posts in the form of trademarks, patents, copyrights and license agreements. Even Dynamic Kundalini Meditation has been reported as a trademark. That is how the inner circle sees itself, the shadowy, all-powerful committee in Poona, only as the executor of the last will and testament of Osho. The 21-head committee holds all the strings in the Empire of Club Med(itation) together. It is led by Canadian Swami Jayesh and by general practitioner Swami Amrito (formerly George Meredith), who wears the diamond-set watch of the Enlightened and the diadem of successor to the throne.

The open dispute started last Fall in an office of Osho International in New York when a former Sannyasins (the red garbed adherents of Bhagwans, of which there were so many in the 1980s in Switzerland) sent bills to France and Japan for publishing the Word of the Master. Osho International presents itself as a branch of the Osho International Foundation (main office in Zurich) which assumes all rights for the God who is absent for the time being - from his name to his words, from his voice to the strokes of his paint brush. He who does not pay will have to count on legal measures. This, says the spokesman of the commune, is nothing less than the will of the Master. As far back as the 1920s, Osho protected its copyrights with a trust, later he had it registered in Switzerland. He knew that nobody would pay attention to the Indian copyrights; the United States, with its strict law enforcement, was the only place which could put a stop to worldwide pirating.

The dissemination of religious ideas as pirating? For the Rajneesh Trust of the First Hour, this concept is a travesty of Osho's teachings. Indian Swami Kirti, official spokesman up to last February, loyally stated, ''Osho is a consciousness revolution, not a trademark.''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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41. Judge slams defiance of SLA gag order
San Diego Union-Tribune/AP, June 29, 2000
http://www.uniontrib.com/news/uniontrib/
thu/news/news_1n29sla.html
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
LOS ANGELES -- A judge yesterday denounced Patty Hearst Shaw's defiance of a gag order and said he may have to abandon his effort to restrict statements by all parties in the case of former Symbionese Liberation Army fugitive Sara Jane Olson.

Superior Court Judge James Ideman said he believes that Hearst Shaw, who spoke about Olson in a recent interview with Talk magazine, ''deliberately defied the order in a way to give maximum publicity to the violation.''

Yet the judge said he was powerless to punish Hearst Shaw or prevent further statements because she lives out of state and he does not have authority over her.

Olson is accused of conspiring to murder Los Angeles police officers by putting pipe bombs under squad cars in 1975. The bombs did not explode. Olson allegedly was trying to avenge the deaths of six SLA members killed in a shootout.

Hearst Shaw was kidnapped by the SLA, then joined the group and helped rob a bank. She has sought to distance herself from her SLA past since spending two years in prison, and has sought to avoid testifying in the Olson trial.

Hearst Shaw said in the interview that she was defying the gag order because she's ''fed up,'' that the case will put her on trial, bring up bad memories and invade her privacy.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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42. Supreme Court says Boy Scouts can bar gay troop leaders
CNN, June, 28, 2000
http://www.cnn.com/2000/LAW/06/28/
scotus.gay.boyscouts/index.html
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that the Boy Scouts of America can bar homosexuals from being troop leaders.

The justices by a 5-4 vote overturned a New Jersey Supreme Court ruling that the dismissal of a gay Scout leader had been illegal under the state's anti-discrimination law.

The Boy Scouts, which also exclude atheists and agnostics as leaders, said it has the right to decide who can join its ranks.

Forcing it to accept gays would violate its constitutional right of freedom of association and free speech under the First Amendment, it said.

Chief Justice William Rehnquist agreed. He said for the court majority that applying a state public accommodations law to require the Boy Scouts to admit a gay troop leader violates the group's constitutional right of expressive association.

He added, however, ''We are not, as we must not be, guided by our views of whether the Boy Scouts' teaching with respect to homosexual conduct are right or wrong.''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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43. Victory Has Consequences of Its Own
New York Times, June 29, 2000
http://www.nytimes.com/library/politics/scotus/
articles/062900sc-scout-react.html
Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
In convincing the Supreme Court that it should have the right to bar gays from its ranks, the Boy Scouts of America has definitively established itself as an organization that considers homosexuality a detriment to the well-being of its young members.

But as the public becomes more tolerant of lesbians and gay men -- and less accepting of discrimination against them -- some civil rights advocates said yesterday that the Boy Scouts' victory could ultimately harm the group.

Though the organization's membership has grown to nearly 5 million, from 4.3 million in 1997, its aggressive legal campaign to exclude gay leaders has provoked disenchantment from religious groups, school boards and parent volunteers around the country.

A dozen municipal governments, including Washington, Chicago and San Francisco, have severed relationships with the scouts or are considering measures to keep the group from using public buildings. In Connecticut last month, authorities removed the group from its list of charities eligible for state payroll deductions. And after learning of the decision yesterday, the United Methodist Church, which sponsors 15 percent of Boy Scout troops, said it would encourage local congregations to sever ties.
(...)

Boy Scout officials dismissed the notion that the decision would spark a backlash against the group. ''We feel that American families never left the values that the Boy Scouts never left,'' said Gregg Shields, a spokesman for the group. Membership grew, Mr. Shields noted, even as the scouts waged a 10-year legal battle to retain the ban. Even if donors or sponsors pulled out, he said, the scouts would find other support. ''We'll be just fine,'' he said.

But David A. Rice, vice president of Scouting for All, a group that opposes the scouts' policy, said the ruling would force corporate sponsors and cities with antidiscrimination laws to review their relationships with the group.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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44. Greek Church Targets ID Cards
New York Times/AP, June 28, 2000
http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/i/AP-Greece-Politics-of-Religion.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- In a decision blurring the line between faith and politics, Greece's Orthodox Church said Wednesday it will begin a petition drive to force the government to include religion on national identity cards.

The nationwide campaign to collect signatures, which the church has dubbed an ''informal referendum,'' marks the first time in its 150-year history that the Greek church has so openly challenged the authority of a government to legislate.
(...)

Premier Costas Simitis' Socialist government said the church's decision could endanger the unity of the Greek people. He has said the entry runs counter to Greece's efforts to become a modern European country and violates 1997 privacy protection legislation.

A spokesman said the government will not repeal its decision to abolish a religion entry on the ID cards all Greeks are required to carry.
(...)

He called on the church to respect the constitutional separation of authority and reminded clerics that religious groups were not supposed to meddle in politics.

Politicians, academics and critics say the church crusade has essentially transformed the religious group headed by Archbishop Christodoulos into a political party.

Christodoulos has also angered politicians and academics by saying that those opposed to includin greligion on ID cards ''belong to the forces of evil.''
(...)

A report issued Tuesday by the European Commission on Racism and Intolerance called on Greece to remove the religion entry ''in order to limit covert discrimination against members of non-Orthodox religions, who may in some cases be considered less Greek.''

Many church leaders are deeply suspicious of the modernization drive. They see it as a threat to the Christian Orthodox character of the nation and possibly the stirrings of an eventual separation of church and state in Greece.

About 97 percent of Greece's native-born population is baptized into the Orthodox Church, which sees itself as the true guardian of Greek identity and traditions.

Orthodox leaders have traditionally enjoyed deep respect as keepers of an essential element of the Greek ethnic identity during four centuries of Muslim Ottoman rule. The church helped fan the 1821 independence revolt and itself became independent from the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul, Turkey, in 1850.

Christodoulos has repeatedly said Greece owes its independence to the church.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Polls / Trends

45. Poll: More object to religious limits
USA Today, June 28, 2000
http://www.usatoday.com/news/ndswed02.htmOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
[Trends]
A growing number of people think there is too little religious freedom in America, and they disagree with decisions the Supreme Court has made to preserve its constitutional protections.

In a study to be released today by the Freedom Forum, a pro-First Amendment foundation, 29% of those polled said there is too little religious freedom. That's up from 26% last year and 21% in 1997.

Almost half the poll respondents, 48%, said they believe public school officials should be allowed to lead prayer in schools. That's an increase from 37% in 1997. Fifty-six percent of those polled said that public school teachers should be allowed to use the Bible as a factual text in a history or social studies class. The Supreme Court ruled prayer and Bible reading in classrooms unconstitutional in 1963.

Most of the Americans polled, 61%, said that local school officials should be free to post the Ten Commandments in the classroom, a practice the Supreme Court said in 1980 was unconstitutional.

And in contrast to a Supreme Court ruling last week, 64% of those polled said that students should be allowed to lead prayers over a public address system at a school event. The court ruled June 19 against student-led prayers at high school football games in Texas.

The rulings that have restricted organized prayer have clarified that voluntary prayer is allowed, said Kenneth Paulson, executive director of the Freedom Forum's First Amendment Center in Nashville. The court has also ruled that student religious groups may meet on school property and that students may take part in prayer in school outside class time, he said.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled that taxpayer funds for education could be spent on computers and other instructional materials for parochial schools.

''The great irony here is that at a time when Americans feel there isn't enough religious freedom, there's probably greater latitude about exercise of religion by students in public schools than there has been before,'' Paulson said.
(...)

The increase in worry about sufficient religious freedom is tied to concerns about school safety in the aftermath of the Columbine High School massacre and other school shootings, Paulson said. ''If you have a society looking for greater safety and concerned about the welfare of their young people, there will always be a percentage of people who turn to faith. The problem arises when government tries to impose faith.''

The Freedom Forum survey of 1,015 adults was taken April 13-26 and has a margin of error of +/- 3 percentage points.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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