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Religion News Report

September 5, 2000 (Vol. 4, Issue 256)

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=== Aryan Nations Trial
1. Beating of skinhead investigated

=== Attleboro Cult
2. Experts: Cult wants total control
3. Judge's ruling breaks new ground
4. Sect is a magnet for causes
5. Attleboro group not the first questioned

=== Falun Gong

6. Overseas Chinese urge Japan to deny Falun Gong request for
charitable status

=== Mungiki
7. Kenyan Churches Alarmed By Spread of ''Mungiki'' Sect

=== Witchcraft
8. Witch' paraded naked in Bihar

=== Hate Groups
9. Extreme TV: Hate groups exploit cable
10. Protesters confront 'Identity'' group at Bible camp
11. Klan member told to pay TV news crew

=== Other News
12. 'Cult' set to serve Olympic masses (Twelve Tribes)
13. FCC is inundated by Christian mail Rumors of ban on broadcasts persist

=== Fang-Cheng Church
14. China set to prosecute 85 Christians-rights group
15. Beijing Widens Curbs On Religious Activities

=== Noted
16. The Reform Party, Feelin' Guru-vy
17. Internet becomes a vaccine battleground
18. Elderly lose faith in religion
19. Spaced-out pilgrims seek light in space-age city
20. Church to lure young with Harry Potter

=== Books
21. The Many Victims of False Memories


=== Aryan Nations Trial

1. Beating of skinhead investigated
The Spokesman-Review, Sep. 2, 2000
http://www.spokane.net/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
HAYDEN LAKE _ Law enforcement officials are quietly investigating an apparent beating that occurred late Wednesday at the Aryan Nations compound.

The investigation began when an Idaho State Police trooper picked up a man at 8 a.m. Thursday walking near Boekel Road and Government Way, the Kootenai County Sheriff's Department said in a release Thursday.

''The injured male appeared to have sustained some injuries,'' the statement read. ''At the hospital, the subject stated that he had fallen off some rocks in the area.''

Sheriff's Capt. Ben Wolfinger said the spot where the bloodied man was discovered was about three-and-a-half miles from the Aryan Nations compound on Rimrock Road near Hayden Lake.

However, Wolfinger couldn't say whether there was a connection between the report and the Aryan Nations.

''It's under investigation. That's all I can say,'' Wolfinger said.

Kootenai County Sheriff Rocky Watson said he has been fully briefed on the investigation.

''We have been guarded on it,'' Watson said, ''because we fear it could lead to a mistrial'' at the civil trial aiming to bankrupt Aryan Nations leader Richard Butler.

Law enforcement sources fear the investigation could disrupt the civil trial if detectives determine that the Aryans involved in the beating were the same ones called as witnesses in the trial.

Watson refused further comment on the record. However, other law enforcement officials -- who asked not to be identified -- said the victim is a skinhead who was beaten by other Aryans at the group's compound Wednesday.

It's not clear what initially sparked the beating, but the skinhead returned to the compound apparently to wash himself off, a law enforcement source said. The other Aryans then held a ''boot party'' where they took turns kicking the skinhead with their boots.
(...)

On Wednesday, the Aryans had their biggest presence at the trial with at least a dozen of them openly protesting. On Thursday and Friday, no more than one or two Aryans stood outside at one time.
(...)

The skinhead whom the police picked up was one of five flag bearers Wednesday outside the trial, Grieco said. But he did not know the victim's name.
(...)

The law enforcement sources said they believe the Aryans have stayed away from the trial because they fear they will be arrested in connection with the Wednesday beating.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Attleboro Cult

2. Experts: Cult wants total control
The Sun-Chronicle, Sep. 2, 2000
http://thesunchronicle.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
ATTLEBORO -- The fringe religious sect now at the center of national attention bears all the characteristics of a `` destructive'' group similar to larger more famous `` cults'' such as the Branch Davidians or Heaven's Gate, experts in the field say.

`` The Attleboro group is a microcosm of these larger groups,'' said Robert Pardon, a former pastor who is an expert on religion and cults who has studied the activities of the Robidoux and Daneau families.

Pardon and other religious experts do not like to use the term cult. Instead they say the sect is under a form of mind control of a `` high-control destructive'' group that suppresses individual thought and freedom.

`` It appears they are a group that does not allow the individual to make distinctive moral personal decisions apart from the leader,'' said Dr. Robert Thornburg, dean of Marsh Chapel at Boston University.

Pardon, who has interviewed current and former members of the sect led by Roland Robidoux, said the group started out as a benign Bible study group.

But over time, Pardon said, the group began to become more under the influence of Robidoux, who interpreted Scripture, and later his son Jacques, whom he `` ordained'' in 1997.

Pardon said Jacques Robidoux's elevation to a `` defacto leader with dad'' marked a turning point in the sect's history.

`` They were Bible-based, but they got into hearing revelations from God,'' said Pardon, who has studied the thousands of pages of journals the sect kept and were seized by police.

Pardon is one of the founders of the New England Institute of Religious Research and was appointed as the guardian for the 13 children seized from the sect last November.

`` The reason why they were writing it all down, writing journals, is that they believed they were writing Scripture,'' Pardon said.

Like many other destructive religious groups, the leaders claimed to have a `` direct pipeline to God,'' which enabled them to make decisions with no accountability, Pardon said.

`` You had a system with no checks and balances,'' Pardon said. `` With no checks and balances it was shifting sands. Ultimately it got to the point where Samuel paid the price.''

The deaths of Samuel Robidoux, the 10-month-old son of Jacques and Karen Robidoux, and his infant cousin Jeremiah Corneau, are now the focus of a criminal investigation into the sect's activities.
(...)

The sect does not believe in conventional medical science even to the point of not wearing glasses despite the near-sightedness of some of its members.

Pardon says the sect was `` weaning themselves from the system'' and was moving further away from mainstream society. The children were home schooled and Robidoux started to only take cash transactions in his chimney sweep business, Pardon and law enforcement officials say.
(...)

The families eventually planned to move to Maine, which held special significance for the sect, Pardon said.

`` It was prophesized that they were going to live in Jerusalem. Maine was the Promised Land. Maine was Jerusalem. They called it Zion,'' Pardon said. `` They believed they were in God's presence in Maine, and that's where they were going to reside.
(...)

Unlike many other destructive groups, Pardon said, the Robidoux and Daneau clans did not try to spread their beliefs or recruit members.

`` They are not con artists,'' said Judith Barba, an associate of Pardon's, `` but people who sincerely believe they are right. They believe they are going to be vindicated.''
(...)

Thornburg says the sect might have some sort of `` apocalyptic control vision'' in which `` they seem to know something about the future that we don't know.''

The strong mind control, Thornburg said, is evident by the fact no one in the sect has broken their silence despite the jailing of some of the members and now the forced protective custody of pregnant member Rebecca Corneau.

`` No one's cracked even under that kind of pressure, legal and media pressure, they've had. You've got to believe that there's something there in the form of mind control,'' Thornburg said.

Pardon and Barba say that's exactly what has occurred in the sect.

By all accounts, people who knew members of the sect years ago are astonished by the behavior of people they once knew and associated with.

`` They are not evil people,'' Barba added. `` They did not decide to wake up one day and kill somebody. They are just misguided.''
(...)

Pardon and Barba, who prepared a 20-page report on the sect for Judge Kenneth P. Nasif, say the sect members do not feel guilty about what happened to Samuel Robidoux or about losing their children.

The New England Institute for Religious Research also provides counseling for people who leave destructive religious groups.

Dennis Mingo, the former sect member who left the group before the two infants died, said he found it difficult to leave despite the radical turn the group began to make.

Mingo said the radicalism of the group made him leave, but he found the decision difficult because it meant leaving his wife Michelle and their children.

`` Groups create tremendous dependencies,'' Pardon said. `` You often hear people say `I'll never get involved in something like that' or `why didn't that person just leave?' It's just like battered women's syndrome.''

Pardon often repeats a quote about people who end up falling under the influence of religious-based control groups.

`` Nobody ever decides to join a group, they just delay leaving,'' he said.

Anyone can become susceptible to becoming part of a group or sect, most of which start out benign and then become more controlling and difficult to leave.

`` Nobody wakes up one day and decides I want to be a member of a cult one day and a destructive one to boot,'' Pardon said.
(...)

By controlling thoughts, appearances and other aspects of individuality and daily life, leaders make it difficult for people to leave because of emotional bonds which form within the group and faith in God.

The most important and difficult part of counseling a person who is recovering from the experience of being in a cult or sect is trust, they say.

`` They don't know how to trust. Even more, they don't know how to trust themselves,'' Pardon said.

Recovering people have a great deal of anger to deal with because they are angry at themselves for ever becoming part of a sect, angry at the sect members and angry at God, Pardon said.

Moreover, it is not easy for former members to gain entry into mainstream society because of the feelings of loneliness they have, they said.
(...)

It is easier for recovering people to talk to each other in support groups because even different groups have shared beliefs.
(...)

Pardon and Barba said they do not `` deprogram'' people but work with individuals on adjusting to life outside the group where once all decisions and all aspects of their lives had been made for them.

Faith in God is an added dimension that is manipulated by a group's leader or leadership, making it more difficult for members to leave.
(...)

In therapy, people are treated on two levels. One is counseling on how the person was manipulated and the other is to `` dismantle the theological framework'' they attained in the group, Pardon said.

`` Both take time and you work at the person's own pace,'' Pardon said. `` Generally it takes a couple of years.''

Cult experts and a former sect member recommend two books on recovering from mind controlling groups, both by cult expert Steve Hassan in Cambridge.

The books are `` Combating Cult Mind Control'' and the recently published `` Releasing the Bonds.''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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3. Judge's ruling breaks new ground
The Sun-Chronicle, Sep. 2, 2000
http://thesunchronicle.com/archives/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Judge Kenneth Nasif wasn't just seated at the bench of Attleboro Juvenile Court on Thursday when he set a Massachusetts legal precedent by ordering the pregnant member of a fundamentalist religious sect into a prison hospital to protect her unborn child.

He was in a judicial hot seat.

Acting on a care-and-protection petition filed by Bristol County District Attorney Paul Walsh Jr., Nasif ordered Rebecca Corneau into the Neil J. Houston House in Boston, a hospital for the care of pregnant prisoners in Massachusetts.

Walsh said he sought the court order to protect the unborn child of Corneau, who is in her eighth month of pregnancy. Corneau belongs to a religious sect that shuns medical treatment. An earlier child, Jeremiah Corneau, died at birth last year with only family members present, authorities say.

Nasif was juggling at least four constitutional issues when he made his decision, legal scholars say: the rights of the unborn, a mother's right to privacy, the responsibility of the state to protect a child and religious freedom.

``This is a prosecutor and social service agency nightmare,'' said Marc Perlin, a Suffolk University associate dean, as the legal dilemma unfolded last week. ``This case has the potential to turn the legal system upside down.''

Other experts agree.

``This is a tough one on everyone,'' said Roger Lott, a lawyer and assistant research professor at the Center on Children, Families and the Law at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

``We value religious freedom,'' he said, ``But there's a line of cases that says fairly clearly a person has the right to practice his or her religion, but not to impose that religion on somebody else. A child is somebody else.''

Nonetheless, common law can become murky when the rights of the unborn are considered, particularly when those rights seem to be on a collision course with a mother's right to privacy.

``The law does recognize some rights of the fetus,'' Perlin said. ``The question is one of degree.''

And while case law has said the courts can order a child to undergo medical treatment regardless of religious views of the parents, he said, ``those cases have been after-birth cases, not in utero cases.''

Even then, legal complications can arise.

The most prominent such case in Massachusetts involved David and Ginger Twitchell of Boston, Christian Science parents charged with involuntary manslaughter in the 1986 death of their 2-year-old son, Robyn. The child died of an untreated intestinal blockage that prosecutors argued could have been surgically corrected.

A jury convicted the Twitchells of manslaughter, but the convictions were overturned on appeal in 1993 because of ambiguities in state law. The Legislature clarified the statute a few months later.
(...)

A 1990 case, Commonwealth v. Pellegrini, explored whether a mother could be charged with distribution of a controlled substance to a minor when her newborn son was found to have cocaine in his system.

The court eventually found Josephine Pellegrini was not liable for harming her unborn child because such a finding would violate her constitutional right to privacy.

In the Rebecca Corneau case last week in Attleboro, District Attorney Walsh argued Corneau should be placed in a secure medical facility so her health and the welfare of her unborn child could be monitored.

The religious sect Corneau belongs to does not believe in medical intervention of any kind.
(...)

``The judge seems to be feeling his way along, taking what amounts to the common sense approach,'' said Lott at the Center on Children, Families and the Law. ``That's what you want in a juvenile judge or a family judge, whose job it is to look after the health and safety of children.''

But the decision has brought stinging criticism from women's rights groups.

The American Civil Liberties Union has not taken a formal position on the case, but a lawyer affiliated with the ACLU called Nasif ``an outlaw.''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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4. Sect is a magnet for causes
The Sun-Chronicle, Sep. 3, 2000 (Opinion)
http://thesunchronicle.com/archives/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
The sight of Rebecca Corneau being marched to confinement in a secure Boston hospital was tragic enough.

There was Mrs. Corneau, one of two pregnant members of a misguided religious cult, being locked up until her delivery for refusing to cooperate with authorities charged with protecting her unborn child.

Worse, she faces the knowledge that reckless conduct by herself and her family may prevent her from ever knowing the baby she now carries.

But even before the TV cameras lost sight of the state police car taking away the mother, the focus began to shift to an even more revolting sight. It was that of selfstyled civil libertarians and other opportunists lining up to hijack Rebecca Corneau and turn her into a symbol for their respective causes.

An attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union called Judge Kenneth Nasif's order confining Corneau, who is not charged with any crime, an outrageous affront to personal liberty. She also branded the judge an `` outlaw.''

The National Organization for Women condemned the action as a violation of a woman's right to control her own body, and threatened to intervene.

Meanwhile, members of the anti-abortion element painted the government's case as evidence of a double standard protecting Corneau's unborn baby on the one hand while sanctioning abortion on the other.

It is a shame that those who ought to know better seek to color this case as some kind of David and Goliath struggle with the mother and her family holding the slingshots. Their words unfairly mock the court's legitimate efforts to protect an innocent life and ignore a litany of irresponsible conduct by the family.
(...)

In reality, this case is not about Mrs. Corneau's individual or reproductive rights at all. Under Massachusetts law, neglecting or abusing a child is a crime. It is the court's duty to aid in the prevention of such abuse and punish those convicted of neglecting children.

While a child at present exists only inside Mrs. Corneau's womb, the mother's track record compelled the judge to act prior to birth.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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5. Attleboro group not the first questioned
Boston Herald, Sep. 3, 2000
http://www.bostonherald.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
An Attleboro sect accused of allowing two young boys to die is just the latest faith-healing cult to be taken to task for their questionable decisions to depend on God to heal their sick, rather than use medicine.

``It's an interesting area being delved into in courts across the United States,'' said noted cult expert Rick Ross.

``The courts are put in a precarious position. Does a child have a right to health and life?''
(...)

But the Christian fundamentalist sect, like many similar groups around the country, doesn't believe in medicine or science, instead choosing to put their faith in a higher power.

For decades, controversy has surrounded Christian Scientists, a mainstream recognized religion that shuns health care. Several Christian Scientists have come under scrutiny and been prosecuted - despite their First Amendment arguments - for the deaths of their children from harmless ailments allowed to fester.

According to studies, there have been an estimated 172 faith-related child deaths in the United States between 1975 and 1995, 140 of which resulted from illnesses with a 90 percent or better cure rate.

The deaths are attributed to 23 different religious denominations in 34 states.

Ross says authorities prosecuting and taking children away from faith healing groups, such as the Attleboro cult, is becoming increasingly common.
(...)

Perhaps the most famous case involves the Indiana-based Faith Assembly, a now-defunct cult blamed for more than 100 child deaths in eight states.

Some of the children died of pneumonia while others died from small, cancerous tumors allowed to swell to the size of basketballs. Several mothers also died during home births.

Michigan authorities won a manslaughter conviction against a father in the Faith Assembly whose daughter died of pneumonia while a grand jury indicted the group's leader, Hobart Freeman, for conspiracy for encouraging parents to deny their children medical care.

Freeman died before the case went to trial and the radical group has since dissolved.

Another group, the Followers of Christ Church in Oregon City, Ore., has seen more than 70 children die since 1955, at least 21 of whom doctors say could have been cured with basic health care.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Falun Gong

6. Overseas Chinese urge Japan to deny Falun Gong request for charitable status
BBC Monitoring, Sep. 4, 2000
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Text of report by the Chinese news agency Zhongguo Xinwen She
Tokyo, 1st September: The Overseas Chinese Council in Tokyo, an overseas Chinese group in Japan, recently presented a petition to a relevant Japanese government department. The organization strongly urged the Japanese government to turn down the application for registering as an NPO (Non-Profit Organization) by the ''Japan Falun Dafa Society,'' in a bid to prevent Japan from becoming a hotbed for the cult ''Falun Gong'' organization, which would obstruct Sino- Japanese friendship.

The ''Japan Falun Dafa Society,'' a ''Falun Gong'' organization in Japan, failed in its application for registering as an NPO with the Tokyo Metropolitan government in 1999. The organization turned to Japans' Economic Planning Agency again for such an application this year. The Overseas Chinese Council in Tokyo presented a petition to the planning agency on 16th August.

The petition said: Since the spring of 1999, groups in the name of ''Falun Gong'' have disseminated heretical ideas in some areas to confuse and poison people's minds, disturb public order, and jeopardize the normal lives of the broad masses of the people. The groups claimed that qi gong is good for physical health, and spread the rumour that as long as one joins the groups and practices ''Falun Gong,'' he or she can be cured of any illness. This proclamation has made many followers refuse to see a doctor when ill, resulting in worsening of the illness or even death.

The petition pointed out: The ''Falun Gong'' groups have pretended to ''practice'' for health, and disguised themselves to be ''religious'' groups, but constantly gathered crowds to engage in political activities.
(...)

The petition said: Several years ago, an incident took place in Japan, in which ''Aum Shinrikyo'' discharged sarin gas, which resulted in deaths and injuries, and made the society fall into a state of turmoil and terror. Recently, the ''hono-hana'' religious cult has exerted a pernicious influence on society. It is completely correct that the Japanese police and judicial authorities have adopted drastic measures against these cults that bring disasters to society.

The petition pointed out: In essence, ''Falun Gong,'' ''Aum Shinrikyo,'' and ''hono-hana'' are all cults. The overseas Chinese in Japan completely support the Chinese government's ban on ''Falun Gong'' in accordance with law.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Mungiki

7. Kenyan Churches Alarmed By Spread of ''Mungiki'' Sect
Pan-African News Agency, Sep. 3, 2000
http://allafrica.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
The rapid spread of an unregistered ''Mungiki'' religious sect, which is advocating female circumcision, has alarmed mainstream churches in central Kenya.

A seminar organised by the National Council of Churches of Kenya or NCCK in Nyeri, about 107 miles north of Nairobi, heard Sunday that the sect, which also wants to ascribe to Islamic laws, is massively recruiting members from the established churches.

Mungiki members also sniff raw tobacco and dried and grounded roots.

This has alarmed church leaders who decided to call on the NCCK to conduct an urgent probe on the activities of the sect and offer guidance on how to confront it.

The sect, whose followers have been involved in daily confrontations with government officials, is also being accused of propagating activities and teachings that go against Christianity.

The Kenyan government views the Mungiki sect, which was founded early this year, as an upshot of a revolutionary society whose aim is to create lawlessness and political instability.

But the concern of Christians is the support the controversial sect has won from the Kenyan Muslim community.
(...)

The Imams said that since Mungiki had become part and parcel of the Muslim community, they would not accept anybody to subject them to any form of mistreatment.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Witchcraft

8. Witch' paraded naked in Bihar
The Hindustan Times (India), Sep. 1, 2000
http://www.hindustantimes.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
A sensational case of parading of a Dalit woman naked on charges of witchcraft has come to light from Pakri-Pakohi village under the Karja block of Muzaffarpur district.

The victim, Saraswati Devi, has lodged a complaint with the Karja police station against over a dozen persons including some women of her village for torturing her and forcing her to swallow human excreta. The police visited the village but failed to nab the named accused persons in the case.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Hate Groups

9. Extreme TV: Hate groups exploit cable
Boston Globe, Sep. 3, 2000
http://www.boston.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
BRANFORD, Conn. -In a normal week, viewers whose remote controls stop at Channel21 might find a group of local boys sharing wrestling techniques, a town selectman honoring a retiree, or the Rev. Walter Oliver preaching about modern-day evils while a soloist sings gospel music in the background.

This is exactly what you'd expect on a public access cable channel in a town small enough that the appearance of an Elvis impersonator at a local restaurant causes a buzz. So, few were prepared when Matt Hale started showing up on Channel 21 with his chilling call for whites to prepare for a racial war. Hale's white supremacist speeches were first broadcast in half-hour installments last week in seven towns in south-central Connecticut, part of AT&T Cable Services.

Hale is from half a country away, taping his broadcasts in his home in East Peoria, Ill. He got on the air in Branford the same way he has managed to get on in Washington state, Indiana, and Florida: He used the Internet to attract followers who in turn took copies of his tapes to their local cable company and requested that they be aired on the public access channel.

The tactic is becoming more common as hate groups across the nation discover they can spread their messages free and with little regulation on public access television.

While controversial programming has occasionally popped up on public access channels since the 1980s, many in the industry have been taken aback by Hale's avowed campaign to spread his message of racial intolerance one public access station at a time. Specialists say Hale is exploiting a fundamental intent of many local access channels on cable systems nationwide to give ordinary citizens a public soapbox.

Although Hale's extremist views are drawing widespread criticism, cable officials and regular viewers are grappling with where the line should be drawn between free speech and manipulation.
(...)

While pressure to regulate the growing number of hate groups on the Internet continues to rise, specialists say extremists are discovering the power of public access and stirring a debate among First Amendment advocates, public access administrators, and racial activists about whether community television is truly the virtual platform the government intended it to be, or whether it has become an alarming ''Gong Show.''

''People have the right to say what they want, regardless of how outrageous it is,'' said John Roberts, executive director of the Massachusetts branch of the American Civil Liberties Union. ''If you give the government the power to decide who will speak and what they will say, then they are going to clamp down on all kinds of political speech.''

But Susan Fleischmann, executive director of Cambridge Community Television, said public access advocates are beginning to look for ways to combat negative programs like Hale's ''White Revolution'' without censorship. If a local subscriber comes to her station with controversial programming, the station will make sure the subscriber is aware of the content and, where appropriate, invite community groups to submit programming to counter it.
(...)

Norman Gross, head of Tampa Bay's Anti-Hate Committee of B'Nai B'rith, said that might not be enough. For years, Gross has fought to keep groups like The National Alliance off the air in Florida. He says shows like Hale's are far too dangerous to ignore for the sake of free speech.

''I think public access has been a failed experiment. There is some speech that is so heinous that it should not be accepted in a decent society,'' said Gross. ''There are volatile people who look at these messages and, unfortunately, act on them.''

Hale said in a telephone interview that whites who marry minorities should be assassinated, while insisting he doesn't condone violence. Instead, he says, his soldiers are peacefully distributing videos to public access TV stations across the country.
(...)

Critics say groups have used public access television not only to espouse their views but to threaten others. In May, a Klansman who used his show to threaten a woman and her child settled a lawsuit by agreeing to pay her part of his salary.

But sometimes cable operators say they can do little more than sit back and watch.
(...)

Locally, Jeff Hansell, executive director of Malden Access TV, said airing the messages of a Neo-Nazi or a Klansman is every public access administrator's worst nightmare. He said Malden's public access station has been able to limit offensive programming by reminding the viewers who want to sponsor it that ''they will be held accountable.''

In the small Branford office of AT&T, the staffers have found a more subtle way to respond to ''White Revolution.'' The show is followed by ''Mr. Crayon Man,'' a children's favorite in which a man dressed like a giant Crayola teaches children that all crayons are different, and no one is better than the other.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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10. Protesters confront 'Identity'' group at Bible camp
The Post-Crescent, Sep. 2, 2000
http://www.wisinfo.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
AMHERST - ''Christian Identity'' preacher Pete J. Peters denied protesters' accusations of racism during a confrontation outside Riverside Bible Camp Friday, where his followers are gathered for a four-day retreat.

''I really don't think I am nearly as much of an enemy as you think I am,'' he said.

Waupaca-area churches and a Fox Cities civil rights group organized the protest after they learned Peters, author of ''Intolerance of, Discrimination Against and the Death Penalty For Homosexuals is Prescribed in the Bible'' and ''M.L. King: His Dream, Your Nightmare,'' planned to bring his Scriptures For America ministry to rural Amherst.

Civil rights organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League allege Peters is a leader in the Christian Identity movement, which espouses the belief that white Christians are God's chosen people and is linked to racist and militia organizations like the Ku Klux Klan, the Aryan Nation and the Posse Comitatus.
(...)

'''Jesus loves us all.' 'God loves all races,''' Peters said, reading the signs. ''I have no problem with that.''

Peters told the protesters they were misled by the news media about his theology and ties to white supremacist organizations. African-Americans, he said, have been invited to speak at his retreats.

''We all know the media lies,'' he said.

Peters organized a meeting that civil rights organizations claim was attended by 160 neo-Nazis and Klansmen in 1992 after federal agents shot and killed an alleged white supremacist's wife and son during a standoff in Ruby Ridge, Idaho.

When protester Kathy Jorstad-Fredericks, of Neenah, a member of the executive committee of Toward Community: Unity in Diversity, questioned Peters Friday about that meeting, he said it was held to combat oppression, just as she and the other protesters would resist tyranny against Asians or African-Americans.

''Tyranny,'' he said, ''is like Waco and Ruby Ridge.''

In a leaflet Peters distributed to the campers, he warned them not to talk to the news media or protesters, and called the opposition ''an organized persecution,'' orchestrated by ''anti-Christ forces.''

Several of his following, however, talked to the crowd, including a man who arrived at the camp with his children.
(...)

The man said he has heard Peters condemn the Ku Klux Klan as ''purely racist,'' but praise its effectiveness in curbing looting after the Civil War.

He went on to explain the ministry's beliefs concerning Jews, who do not believe Jesus Christ is a savior.

''We are anti anti-Christ,'' he said. ''If someone is against Christ, we'll be against them as a group.''

He called African-Americans ''foreigners,'' and told the crowd the description is Biblical.

Richard Kelly Hoskins, one of the retreat's featured speakers, interrupted the man while he was talking to the protesters and reporters.

''You may be telling the truth,'' Hoskins said, ''but by the time it reaches the public, it won't be.''

Hoskins is an investment broker from Virginia, who posts the ''Hoskins Report'' on his Web site, in which he refers to non-whites as ''strangers'' whom he alleges commit 80 to 90 percent of the crime in the U.S. ''and much of it, (if not most of it) is committed against whites.''

The man he interrupted agreed with Hoskins' opinion of the press.

''He's right,'' the man said. ''We don't get treated fairly in the media.''

When protester Scott Peeples of Appleton, a member of Toward Community: Unity in Diversity, asked another camper if the Bible advocates death for homosexuals, the man replied, ''Without doubt.''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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11. Klan member told to pay TV news crew
The Courier-Journal, Aug. 31, 2000
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
A Ku Klux Klan leader who claimed he was too ill to give a deposition has been ordered to pay $2,481 to two employees of a Louisville television station who have sued him in federal court.

U.S. Magistrate Roger Cosbey ordered Jeff Berry to pay the penalty Aug. 23 after ruling that he failed to give a reasonable explanation why he was unable to attend the June deposition.

Berry, leader of the American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, is being sued by reporter George Sells IV and photographer Heidi Thiel of WHAS-TV.

The suit claims that when they went to Berry's Newville home in November, for an interview about an upcoming rally, he became angry and held them at gunpoint until they turned over a videotape of the interview.
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=== Other News

12. 'Cult' set to serve Olympic masses
Excite/The Courier Mail, Sep. 5, 2000
http://www.excite.com.au/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
A fundamentalist cult will provide catering at Sydney 2000 Olympic equestrian events. This is even though it was banned in Britain after distributing anti-Semitic literature. It was reported on 4 September 2000 that the leader of the Twelve Tribes, also known as the Messianic Communities, is American Elbert Spriggs. Spriggs supports black slavery, racial segregation, describes Jews as murderers, and uses passages from the Bible to justify beating children with rods. The cult has a significant money-making arm around the world, which includes such ventures as candle-making, painting, plumbing and the catering business that will serve at the Games venue, The Common Ground Cafe. Australian Jewish groups are outraged that the Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games and its caterer, Eurest Australia, know little about the cult's background. SOCOG says action will be taken against the group if it distributes literature at any events.
[...entire item...]


13. FCC is inundated by Christian mail Rumors of ban on broadcasts persist
The Washington Times, Sep. 4, 2000
[Note: the Washington Times is owned by the Unification Church]
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
The Federal Communications Commission has been hit by a fresh tide of letters from Christians reacting to rumors that Madalyn Murray O'Hair's atheist group wants to ban religion from the airwaves.

Despite the disappearance and presumed death of Mrs. O'Hair five years ago, the letters have proved unstoppable since the rumor began in 1974.
(...)

The rumor was that atheists, based on a petition with thousands of signatures, had gotten an FCC hearing to try to shut down religious broadcasts.

In fact, the only such ''hearing'' was a ruling the FCC made in 1975. It rejected a 1974 petition by two broadcasters who asked the agency to bar religious groups from noncommercial education channels.
(...)

To stop the rumored hearing, a ''concerned Christians'' letter circulated, saying, ''We need one million signed letters'' and including a portion to be clipped and sent to Washington.

The newest ''cycle'' of the letter still claims that the atheist group ''has now been granted a federal hearing,'' but now to ban the CBS show and other religious fare.
(...)

The FCC had received 25 million protest petitions by 1989. Today, the rumor is also circulated by fax machine and e-mail.
(...)

In the early 1980s, according to reports, the FCC asked Congress for $250,000 to stop the petition by a 100,000-piece mailing to apparent proponents and 30,000 letters to religious leaders.

''Nothing put a damper on it,'' Miss Kimball said. ''We have tried over the years, but it won't work.''
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=== Fang-Cheng Church

14. China set to prosecute 85 Christians-rights group
Reuters, Sep. 4, 2000
http://my.aol.com/news/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
BEIJING, Sept 4 (Reuters) - China has laid criminal charges against 85 members of a banned Christian church who were detained last week, a Hong Kong-based human rights group said on Monday.

The 85 were among 130 members of the China Fang-cheng Church detained on August 23 in the central province of Henan, the Information Centre for Human Rights & Democracy said.

The centre faxed to journalists a copy of a formal arrest notice dated August 25 accusing a Feng-cheng member named Chen Zhouniu of ``using an evil cult to obstruct justice'' -- a charge laid against many adherents of the Falun Gong spiritual movement.

The indictments -- all but certain to lead to jail terms -- were a sign the authorities could increasingly use draconian anti-cult legislation created last year to crush Falun Gong against China's many unofficial ``house churches,'' it said.
(...)

Although China's constitution enshrines freedom of religion, worship is banned outside official state-sponsored religious organisations.

But millions of Christians meet secretly in prayer groups, for Bible study sessions and services in the house churches rather than join state-run, so-called ``patriotic'' churches which require believers to pledge their highest loyalty to the state.

The Christian house churches, illegal in China because they refuse to register with the government, have been bracketed with other groups and banned as ``evil cults'' in the wake of last year's crackdown on Falun Gong, diplomats said.
(...)

At least 14 Chinese Christian sects were branded ``evil cults'' last year by Communist authorities, the human rights centre said.

Henry Chu, an American missionary detained among the 130 Fang-cheng followers last month, told Reuters that the Christian underground were not cults but ``Bible-based Christians.''
(...)

The Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy estimated Fang-cheng had about 500,000 followers. Chu said the number was much larger, but declined to give a figure.

A Feng-cheng Church statement said its members refused to join the state church because China's rules went against principles in the Bible in many areas.

The document cited government prohibitions against religious outside state churches, strict curbs on who can proselytise and a ban on inculcating faith in those under 18 years of age.

Official churches ``have the government and are organised and run according to religious policy,'' it said.

``House churches have Christ as their master and and are organised and run according to instructions of the bible.''
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15. Beijing Widens Curbs On Religious Activities
International Herald Tribune, Sep. 5, 2000
http://www.iht.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
BEIJING - After expelling three American missionaries, China has indicted 85 members of a Christian sect in another sign that the crackdown on the Falun Gong group is being widened to suppress unofficial religious activity throughout China.
(...)

The ''evil cult'' law was passed last year as part of the government's crackdown on the Falun Gong spiritual movement. So far thousands of Chinese have been sent to labor camps or jail as part of the crackdown.

When the law was announced in October, Chinese officials said that they would not use it to suppress China's ''house churches,'' a movement that involves millions of people from both the Catholic and Protestant faiths. Officials said that activities carried on inside people's homes would not be suppressed by law-enforcement agencies even though house churches are technically illegal in China because they refuse to register with the government.

China's constitution protects freedom of religion but allows Chinese to worship only in five state-sanctioned faiths - Catholicism, Protestantism, Islam, Buddhism and Taoism - at state-sanctioned facilities. It has tight restrictions on proselytizing, and it bans people under 18 from worshipping.

But in recent months, the government has seemed intent on expanding the boundaries of the crackdown.
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=== Noted

16. The Reform Party, Feelin' Guru-vy
Washington Post, Sep. 2, 2000
http://www.washingtonpost.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(...) This week, at the Alexandria Hilton just off Interstate 395, the party of Ross Perot became the party of His Holiness Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Perot was not in attendance himself and neither was the Maharishi, a Hindu guru from India who created Transcendental Meditation and the accompanying skill of ''yogic flying.'' But the remnants of Perot's Reform Party who have opposed Pat Buchanan's hostile takeover joined a ''coalition'' with the Natural Law Party, founded eight years ago by followers of the Maharishi. Their three-day convention ends today.
(...)

The Natural Law Party, being based on meditative calm, calls in its platform for ''conflict-free politics . . . the Natural Law Party advocates an end to negative campaigning and partisan politics.''
(...)

But they'll have to iron out a few differences in philosophy. Like the role of yogic flying, which involves ''hopping,'' ''hovering'' and finally taking to the sky. The process is said to lift the practitioner's body off the ground by an inch and possibly move it forward a couple of feet. It may also bestow powers of invisibility and immortality.
(...)

You've come to the right place, Ms. Fulani: The Natural Law Party platform states the following useful information about Transcendental Meditation, or TM: ''Research has found that EEG brain wave coherence increases dramatically during TM-Sidhi Yogic Flying. . . . Forty-two scientific studies have shown that such coherence-creating groups (constituting as little as the square root of 1 percent of the population) promote highly significant decreases in violent crime and other negative tendencies and increases in positive social and economic trends.''

The platform offers meditation as an answer to virtually every policy question, including education, crime, health and drug abuse. Foreign policy? ''The Natural Law Party would support the establishment of groups practicing the Transcendental Meditation . . . in key areas of the world. These programs have been uniquely effective in dissolving social stress and preventing the outbreak of armed hostility and war.''

Revitalizing inner cities? ''The establishment of coherence-creating groups practicing the Transcendental Meditation'' would lead to ''significant reduction in negative tendencies, such as crime, violence, sickness and accidents, and a strengthening of positive social and economic trends.'' The party also calls for the United States to create a group of 7,000 meditation experts ''engaged in creating coherence throughout society.''
(...)

The Natural Law folks are trying to move their agenda beyond the mystical.
(...)

''We're just finally trying to have a political party that's got a lot of issues,'' says Robert Roth, the party's spokesman.

Roth insists the Natural Law Party isn't linked to the Maharishi's Natural Law parties in various foreign countries, though party members have participated in international conferences and the U.S. party shares some platform planks with the Maharishi's international party. The Maharishi issued a directive in 1992 to form parties around the world.

Still, Roth says the party isn't concealing its roots.
(...)

And the original Natural Lawyers say the party can't shed its philosophy. ''This party can't deliver what it promises without that,'' says Valerie Janlois, a TM instructor from northern California. She ran as a Natural Law candidate for Congress in 1992, gaining 33 votes. She admits to being ''angry about not being able to convince people about this very simple mental technique.'' But she doesn't look angry. She looks perfectly serene. Jane Meade, another party original and a fan of meditation, says: ''I don't think it can ever get lost. It's the main thing.''

Hagelin, in his acceptance speech, didn't mention meditation directly, but he did note that ''the unified field percolates infant universes at the rate of 10 to the 143rd per cubic centimeter per second.'' Cosmic.
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* More about Transcendental Meditation
http://www.apologeticsindex.org/t15.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]

Note:

''But meditators claim that they've scientifically proved their ''crime
vaccine'' -- essentially, a gathering of meditators whose accumulated good
energy lowers the crime rate of a given locale, like Washington, D.C. (July
1993), or Kosovo (August 1999). As a press release on the Web site states,
''When the group reached about 350 Yogic Flyers, the [Kosovo] destruction
ended.''

On the other hand, in Fairfield -- where 20 percent of the population
meditates on a daily basis -- ''criminal arrests on drug charges, weapons
charges and for drunken driving increased dramatically in 1999,'' according to
the Fairfield Ledger. The town's overcrowded jail was forced to send
prisoners to five other Iowa jails in late 1999.''
- SalonOff-site Link, Aug. 25, 2000


17. Internet becomes a vaccine battleground
HealthCentral.com, Sep. 1, 2000
http://www.healthcentral.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(...) Ewton had a problem, however. Because vaccines are required before a child can enter school, what could she do? Again the Internet was a savior. She was quickly able to find a site that guided her through the process for filing for a religious exemption for her son.

''It was on the Internet and it was very accurate because he's in kindergarten without the boosters,'' she said.

Ewton is not alone. Many parents, it seems, are questioning vaccines, although not all are choosing Ewton's route. According to 1994-1995 data from 40 states reported to the CDC, about 0.5% of parents in the US file for vaccination exemptions, citing medical, religious or philosophical reasons, although the number is as high as 2.5% in some states.

However, it does seem that if they do have questions, an increasing number of antivaccination websites are willing to give parents an opportunity to chat with like-minded individuals, download information and provide legal guidance on filing exemptions.
(...)

There's no question that the avalanche of material; available to parents can be overwhelming, and that some sites can foster paranoia and suspicion. Nasir found 51 antivaccination websites in his study, and closely examined 26 of the sites. Almost all of the sites made an effort to appear unbiased about vaccination, he said.

''There's a whole range of just insane kind of stuff--vaccines are being put out by a group of people to take over the world--to very sophisticated websites, and I think these are the most dangerous ones really,'' Nasir said. Fifteen of 26 sites advocated the use of alternative medicine over vaccines to prevent or treat illness.

Such theories are similar to objections of antivaccination groups from as far back as the 19th century, Nasir said. The difference? Now, they can reach so many more people on the Internet.

Such sites often post only selected information, Nasir said. For example, in extremely rare cases--about 1 in 3 million doses, Nasir said--the polio vaccine can cause polio in a vaccinated child.
(...)

Regardless of the potential benefits to society, it is still every parent's personal choice whether or not to vaccinate.
(...)

Overall, parents need to weigh all the information and make an informed choice about vaccinating their children Schwartz said.

''I think if a parent truly has a religious, medical or a philosophical issue, then that's why the exemptions are there, but if they are being encouraged to use that exemption because they are concerned about vaccine safety I would encourage them to learns the truth about vaccine safety issues,'' he said. Parents should ''look at the CDC website, call the CDC hotline, talk to their physician, look at the reputable websites of the professional societies and make an informed decision, rather than a scared decision,'' he concluded.
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18. Elderly lose faith in religion
The Guardian (England), Sep. 3, 2000
[Trends]
http://www.guardianunlimited.co.uk/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Older people are losing faith in God as they age. New research confirming the trend will shock Britain's crisis-hit churches, which until now have regarded the elderly as the enduring backbone of their dwindling congregations.

Researchers tracked hundreds of pensioners over 20 years. The proportion who felt that religion was important to them fell from almost three-quarters to less than half. Involvement in organised religion also slumped, the research will show, amid a catalogue of complaints about established churches.

The findings contradict the assumption that people turn to religion more actively as they confront approaching death, as characterised by Lord Marchmain in Waugh's Brideshead Revisited.
(...)

The research, to be presented to next weekend's annual conference of the British Society of Gerontology in Oxford, is based on the views of 340 people over 65 who were questioned from 1978 until 1998.

A number of the participants attributed declining faith to disappointment with both churches and the clergy. They cited insensitive handling of bereavement, the 'self-importance' of some clerics and a lack of interest in the elderly.

One complaint was that priests are more interested nowadays in raising money than in pastoral visits. S
(...)

The survey comes just four months after one of the leading analysts of church attendance warned that congregations were in near-terminal decline. Dr Peter Brierly claimed that within 40 years fewer than 0.5 per cent of the population will attend services regularly. The number of those with any belief will have declined to 40 per cent.

In the past 10 years, billed by the churches as a 'Decade of Evangelism', church attendance of all denominations has dropped by 22 per cent. Between 1989 and 1999, the Roman Catholic Church lost 490,000 worshippers and the Church of England 290,000.
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19. Spaced-out pilgrims seek light in space-age city
The Sunday Telegraph (England), Sep. 3, 2000
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
[Brazil]
(...) Brasilia is the ultimate in planned cities - right down to the location of its park benches - with the aim of creating maximum efficiency and minimum congestion. Among its characteristics is an Orwellian system of addresses: no road names, just sectors and blocks.
(...)

Something odd has been happening recently. The city meant to be the template of modernity is being taken over by cults and hippies.

People are arriving from around the world, claiming that Brasilia has potent mystical forces and links with ancient Egypt.

Instead of an aircraft, they insist that the city's layout forms the shape of an Egyptian ibis. More than 1,000 esoteric organisations and cults have sprung up, causing city authorities to dub it the Capital of the Third Millennium and to declare a Day of Ecumenism.

For all Mr Niemeyer's stunning architecture, Brasilia's most visited building is now the recently erected Temple of Good Will, a white pyramid with a 46lb crystal at its tip. Inside, pilgrims pace around a black circle to seek enlightenment, then stand directly under the crystal to absorb its energy.

Anyone who feels like meditating can go below to the kitsch Egyptian room and lie on one of its couches. Afterwards, they can buy a souvenir crystal or listen to smiling assistants proclaiming sayings such as ''if there are Dark Nights there are also Radiant Mornings''.

The guide to Brasilia has pages of listings on ''esoteric matters'' covering everything from bio-dance, gypsy cards and shells - ''We get your lover back in seven days'' - to crystal therapy.

Everyone seems to be at it. While complaining to the bellboy about having to write an article after a long day, he suggested I buy a crystal for inspiration.

A cab driver presented me with a business card printed ''Divine Taxis'' and illustrated with aliens driving towards a bright light shining from Brasilia's cathedral.

If this is the city of the future, I think I'd rather have traffic jams.
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20. Church to lure young with Harry Potter
The Times (England), Sep. 1, 2000
http://www.the-times.co.uk/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
A vicar in the Church of England is to hold a special ''Harry Potter'' family service this weekend, complete with wizards, pointy hats, broomsticks and a game of quidditch.

The Hogwarts liturgy, posted on an Internet discussion site, was welcomed by other clergy who wish to adapt it for their churches as well. The service has aroused horror among evangelicals, who condemned it as ''importing evil symbols into the Church''.

A banner featuring a serpent, representing the House of Slytherin in the best-selling books by J.K. Rowling, will adorn the 1960s church of All Saints in Guildford, Surrey, this Sunday. Banners of the other three Hogwarts houses will also be displayed.

The church door will be re-ordered as the gateway to ''platform 9*'', the magical platform at King's Cross Station where children at the Hogwarts school of wizardry catch the Hogwarts Express.

The Rev Brian Coleman, Vicar of All Saints, will don wizard's robes and hat to play the Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore to lead the special ''service of the word''.
(...)

This Sunday has been chosen because the New Testament reading in the liturgical calendar, James 1:17-27, is considered particularly appropriate to the themes of Harry Potter. A broomstick, an ''invisibility cloak'' and ''ton-tongue toffees'' will be used to illustrate verse 17, about generous gifts coming from God.

Mr Coleman conceded that the service might not receive universal approbation. ''But if you look at the Narnia chronicles by C.S. Lewis, these are books that also use magic as the background to a story.''

He insisted that the Harry Potter books were highly moral. ''They are about loyalty, standing up for friends, standing up for good against evil. That is exactly what the passage in James is about. Young folk are all very much into Harry Potter. We are using this interest.''

The service has dismayed the Evangelical Alliance, the umbrella group for evangelical Christians. The Rev Paul Harris, an Anglican clergyman who convenes the alliance's panel on cults and new spiritualities, said: ''We do encourage clergy to connect with contemporary culture. But it is going too far to use images from Harry Potter. There is a risk that children are going to be very confused by the use of symbols associated with evil.''
(...)

Guildford Diocese
http://www.guildford.anglican.orgOff-site Link

Those who want to ban the books
http://www.mugglesforharrypotter.org/Off-site Link
Harry Potter fan site
http://www.angelfire.com/wi/harrypotter/Off-site Link
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=== Books

21. The Many Victims of False Memories
Themestream, Sep. 3, 2000
http://www.themestream.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Review of Victims of Memory: Incest Accusations and Shattered LivesOff-site Link, by Mark Pendergrast. (Upper Access, Inc., 1995, 602 pages).

(...) False memories don't just change a storyline in a novel, they change a person. They change what that person thinks about himself or herself, and how he or she views the world. How different it must be to grow up a happy child than to grow up being physically and sexually abused. Yet therapists have for years been convincing those in the first group that they belong in the second, and creating numerous victims of those false memories.

This is where Mark Pendergrast comes in. Pendergrast stands accused by his daughters of abusing them when they were young. As he wrote this book, he still didn't know what he was alleged to have done. But that accusation threw his life into a storm he could only calm in the one way he knew best, by researching the entire repressed memory situation and writing about it.

Numerous books have been published regarding claims of repressed memories and false memory syndrome (FMS). Some of these have been written by experts in their fields, such as Richard Ofshe and Elizabeth Loftus. So why should the reader bother with Pendergrast's book, Victims of Memory?

For one thing, Pendergrast is an expert in his field; his field, however, is research journalism, not psychology or psychiatry. He put every ounce of his being into this book, and the result is one of the best overviews to date - even now, five years later.

Do the accusations leveled against him by his daughters make this book any less true? Is this merely a propaganda ploy by the accused, trying to take the heat off of himself? Or does this book work in spite of, or, indeed, because of this fact?

I would have to answer ''no'' to the first two questions and ''yes'' to the latter. However, Pendergrast seems to know that others will answer ''yes'' to the first two, no matter what he has to say or how well-researched it is. He is straightforward about his daughters' accusations, and explains his reasons for writing the book in the first chapter, going into greater detail in the second chapter, ''Daughters Lost.''
(...)

Pendergrast calls his book, among other things, ''a corrective to'' The Courage to Heal, by Ellen Bass and Laura Davis (a book which he actually sent to his daughter as she began talking about abuse in her past). In examining that book, he takes on the cornerstone of the repressed memory movement. He points out that most of the ''survivors'' he talked to were obsessive about the book. It has been called ''the Bible of the incest recovery movement,'' and that label is accurate in more ways than one. As Pendergrast says, it is ''not so much a psychological primer, ... as it was a religious creed.'' [p.51]

Therapists who follow Bass and Davis essentially give up any analytical skills they might have had, and follow the religious beliefs of their book. In fact, Pendergrast quotes one of their ''commandments'' which seems more appropriate to The X-Files than a psychology book: ''Be willing to believe the unbelievable.''

In addition to The Courage to Heal, Pendergrast reviews other survivor literature, and runs it through the mill of critical examination. When he points out statements made by the authors, such as ''truth or fantasy is not of concern at the beginning of memory retrieval work'' (Renee Fredrickson, Repressed Memories: A Journey to Recovery), it is apparent that rationality was left behind somewhere.

So what happened to it? Where is the scientific evidence? He examines that, too, in detail. Do people repress memories? After putting forth scientists' views and evidence, Pendergrast shares his personal opinions: ''In my view, the notion that human beings could be repeatedly abused and then completely forget about it defies common sense. ... I believe that some form of repression may occur for one-time traumatic events.''

Chapter 6, ''Multiple Personalities and Satanic Cults,'' discusses the extremes to which false memories can be taken. Pendergrast accurately compares some ''therapy'' techniques used with Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) patients to interrogations. They can last three or more hours, during which the therapist will not accept ''no'' for an answer to questions about alternate personalities. Further, he discusses the satanic conspiracies formed around supposedly recovered memories. Logic does not apply here. Lack of evidence of a crime is evidence of a conspiracy. The world is exactly the opposite of what you think it is.

The four chapters making up the heart of this book are groups of interviews Pendergrast did with therapists, ''survivors,'' the accused, and retractors - those who once claimed recovered memories and then realized their false nature. He lets each group tell their story, and allows the reader to judge them by their own words.
(...)

The interviews of the accused and the retractors are familiar stories to those of us who have studied this area - but that doesn't make them any less horrifying. I can't easily summarize them here and still do them justice, so I can only encourage the reader to take a look for yourself in the book.

Paralleling the repressed memory cases are the daycare and related cases. Pendergrast notes the similarities, including prior expectations of therapists and how they push those expectations on their patients. To them, leading questions are justifiable, and the accused are considered guilty before the trial ever begins.

Chapter 12 traces the history of practices related to the recovery of memories, such as Mesmer, hypnosis, demons, the witch craze, and hysteria.
(...)

Pendergrast concludes this long, but engrossing, book by addressing the scope of the problem and the accusations of a ''backlash.'' With the scientific questions being raised, many ''survivors'' and their supporters have become angry and will lash out at all who dare ask questions. A
(...)

The other ''backlash'' is that against real survivors of incest and abuse.
(...)

In reading this book, I agreed with almost every point he made - until the very end. His closing paragraph states, ''Ultimately, then, no one is really to blame - not the therapists, not the children, and certainly not the parents. You were all caught up in a very unfortunate, destructive phenomenon, and you need to acknowledge it, talk about it, and then get on with your lives, leaving judgmental hatred behind.''

I found myself asking how he could say this. While I agree that neither the children nor the parents are to blame, the rest of the book implicates the therapists as the main cause of the false memory problem. Indeed, their own words put a stake through the heart of repressed memories. I was so confused by this apparent contradiction that I interviewed Pendergrast for an explanation.

When he says they are not to ''blame,'' Pendergrast is using the word in a different way than I would. He told me that they are clearly responsible for the problem, as shown throughout the book, but that most of them have done it with the intent of doing good.
(...)

People who see this book on the shelves may think the title, ''Victims of Memory,'' refers to those accused, like Mark Pendergrast. But the reality of the situation is that the accuser and everybody whose lives are entwined with them are also victims. That is perhaps the most important point of Pendergrast's book.

(A version of this article originally appeared in Skeptic magazine.)
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