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Religion News Report

November 27, 2000 (Vol. 4, Issue 289) - 1/2

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Rainbow


=== Falun Gong
1. Fresh fears for rights as sect member faces spying charge
2. Cult attacks Jiang in Beijing newsletter
3. How the Falun Gong cult gently manipulates the media

=== Islam
4. Influx of Muslim immigrants, refugees attracting Americans to Islam
5. Muslims gain converts during every Ramadan
6. U.S. to issue stamp in 2001 marking Muslim holy days
7. Egyption Clerics Denounce Imports

=== Catholicism
8. Vatican Attacks Abuse in Faith

=== The Body / Attleboro Cult
9. The sect: Led by a father's religious zeal, family spurned society's rules

=== Mormonism
10. Videos Aim To Educate Evangelists
11. Growth of LDS Church has upside, downside
12. Life at the Top: Church pokes holes in kids' individualism
13. Cody Judy released on parole

=== Paganism / Witchcraft
14. Witch drowns after beach ceremony

=== Hate Groups / Hate Crimes
15. Yahoo Probed for Sale of 'Mein Kampf' in Germany
16. Bankruptcy Court Trying to Determine Worth of Nazi Compound
17. Websites giving race-hate groups new lease of life, EU watchdog says
18. Tentacles of hatred spread over Net
19. Neo-Nazis March in Germany

» Part 2

=== Other News
20. More charges filed in case of alleged torture in Wonder Valley
21. Indonesia arrests 22 suspects in murders of alleged black magicians
22. Trial to test Utah's 104-year-old ban on polygamy
23. Screen Star James Mason Laid to Rest After 16 Years
24. Mozambique prison deaths take on supernatural dimension
25. Bushara case transferred
26. Found: temple sacred for 3,000 years

=== Death Penalty / Human Rights
27. US. Supreme Court agrees to hear appeal of mentally retarded Texas
death row inmate

=== Organ Donations
28. Alexander A. Slepukhof: Organ donations - an Orthodox perspective
29. Chris Shorow: Organ donation is a thoroughly Christian act
30. Lonnie D. Kliever: Faulty theology fuels resistance to transplants

=== Noted
31. Mexican exorcists busy in land of witchcraft, pagan rituals
32. Survey: Most Americans Believe Bible Is Relevant Today

=== Books
33. Quirky new novel delves into the mysteries of kabbalah
34. Pilgrim beats Harry Potter


=== Falun Gong

1. Fresh fears for rights as sect member faces spying charge
South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), Nov. 24, 2000
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
A US resident went on trial for spying yesterday after she gave foreign journalists information about Falun Gong protests and passed them pictures of members locked in psychiatric hospitals.

A Beijing lawyer said the espionage charge showed China was treating information about the banned cult as a state secret. He said this had serious ramifications for human rights groups or media investigating the crackdown on the sect.

Teng Chunyan, 37, a Chinese citizen who is a permanent US resident, was charged with stealing, buying and prying into state intelligence and illegally passing them to overseas organisations. She went on trial in secret at Beijing's No 1 Intermediate People's Court yesterday.

Falun Gong sources said Teng gathered evidence on hundreds of people locked in psychiatric hospitals during China's 16-month crackdown on the group. She had tipped off foreign journalists about protests by the sect and had given them information.

Teng, represented by two lawyers but with her family members barred, was on trial for three hours before judges adjourned the case without issuing a verdict, the Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy reported. A verdict is expected within a week.

A mainland lawyer said Teng could be sentenced to more than 10 years if the information collected was said by prosecutors to be highly important.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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2. Cult attacks Jiang in Beijing newsletter
South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), Nov. 24, 2000
http://english.hk.dailynews.yahoo.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Falun Gong activists have started distributing newsletters containing personal attacks on President Jiang Zemin to households around Beijing. It is probably the first time in a decade an underground organisation has dared to print and circulate anti-government propaganda in the capital, a crime which can carry the death penalty. Calling itself Periodical Number One and dated October 21, the one-page bulletin was distributed on Tuesday to all households in at least one large residential complex in Beijing.

An editorial asked readers to consider what they knew about the Falun Gong, and then urged them not to believe government propaganda.
(...)

Most of the newsletter is devoted to attacking Mr Jiang, accusing him of being a tyrant whose public statements are at odds with his internal instructions.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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3. How the Falun Gong cult gently manipulates the media
Badische Zeitung (Germany), Nov. 21, 2000
Translation: CISAR
http://cisar.org/001121a.htmOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(...) The German media did report on the persecution of the Falun Gong movement in China, said Recknagel and looked quite concerned, ''but they write that we are a cult.''

Journalist in Peking are familiar with the arguments which the young man brought forward. When the Chinese banned the movement in June 1999, adherents from overseas launched a media counter-campaign. Journalists who described them as a ''cult'' or ''sect'' received letters, e-mails or telephone calls from disciples of the Falun Gong. The movement, founded by ''Master'' Li Hongzhi, living in exile, is said to be neither a religion nor a cult or a sect, they say. ''We are a harmless meditation movement,'' stated Peter Recknagel.

But the Falun Gong is probably not that harmless. The movement, which says it has gained several dozen million adherents worldwide since 1992, has elements of Qi-Gong, Buddhism and Taoism, and it fixates upon its founder Li Hongzhi in a bizarre personality cult. Indeed his meditation exercises basically aim for a ''moral improvement'' of the practitioners. But racist and discriminatory elements also surface in his teachings. The Master describes half-breeds as ''defective persons.'' As far as he is concerned, homosexuality is as bad as murder or using narcotics. ''Falun Gong can be described as a sect - it is a community with common beliefs, rituals and assemblies,'' says Sebastian Heilmann, professor of Sinology at the Trier University. But it is not to be regarded as a ''Chinese Scientology.'' The adherents are subjected to neither financial nor to emotional pressure.
(...)

There also appears to be some calculation behind the media work by the Falun Gong disciples. The cult is presented solely as a victim in the constant operations and provoked arrests. Background on Master Li, the organizational structure or the psychic results of the teachings of salvation upon the disciples can barely be found in the media. Peter Recknagel, chief of the Frankfurt section of the Falung Gong association, also keeps that to himself. He either cannot or will not report on how the Master in New York manages his worldwide community.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Islam

4. Influx of Muslim immigrants, refugees attracting Americans to Islam
Akron Beacon Journal/AP, Nov. 25, 2000
http://www.ohio.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(...) Brian Clouse, 35, and Andrew King, 22, are white Americans from Columbus who converted to Islam a few years ago.

Both men are among the thousands of Americans who convert each year to Islam, a religion that's becoming more mainstream in the United States.

An influx of Muslim immigrants and refugees to central Ohio from places such as Somalia, Sierra Leone, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo in Yugoslavia is attracting an increasing number of Americans -- among them whites, blacks, Asians, Hispanics and others -- to explore Islam.

``Americans are accepting Islam at all levels of age and profession,'' said Musa Qutub, president of the Islamic Information Center of America, in Des Plains, a Chicago suburb. ``They are high school students, attorneys, doctors, common workers, you name it. Every day you have newcomers, every day.''

Over the last decade, about 15,000 Muslim refugees have come to Columbus, according to Interfaith Refugee Services. Of the 800 refugees the group has resettled in the city this year, 99.9 percent of them are Muslim.

There are about 25,000 Muslims in Columbus. Nationwide there are from 6 to 8 million Muslims.

Based on anecdotal accounts and interviews, the refugee service estimates that nationwide there could be as many as 18,000 converts a year, or one convert per mosque per month.

Muslims don't actively seek converts, but a concept called dawah encourages sharing information about their religion with others.

Yvonne Haddad, a professor at Georgetown University's Center for Muslim-Christian understanding, said there are two main Muslim ministries -- in prisons and on college campuses -- which differ in approach.

``One is appealing to intellectuals and is focusing on the absurdity of the trinity -- that is the classical way that Muslims undermine Christian thought,'' said Haddad, a Syrian-born Christian. ``The other ministry is focusing on rebuilding the individual and focuses on black and Latino power.''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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5. Muslims gain converts during every Ramadan
The Postland Courier, Nov. 27, 2000
http://www.charleston.net/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
More than a billion Muslims around the world - including maybe 1,000 in Charleston - started their month-long Ramadan fast this morning.

You wouldn't think a religion that conducts most of its prayers in Arabic and requires its followers to forgo food and water all day for a month each year would gain a lot of converts in America.

But Islam has been picking up steam in the United States ever since folk icon Cat Stevens became the reclusive Yusuf Islam in 1977. (Fortunately for his fans, he came out of hiding recently and re-released some of his albums for charity.)

About 6 million Americans are Muslims, and that includes a significant number of converts. The Council on American-Islamic Relations in Washington calls Islam one of America's fastest-growing religions.

Islam has also been making inroads in Charleston, where Muslims have established four mosques. You can count five if you include the local chapter of the Nation of Islam, whose members also look to the Koran for guidance and fast during Ramadan.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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6. U.S. to issue stamp in 2001 marking Muslim holy days
Detroit News, Nov. 26, 2000
http://www.detnews.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Just in time for the beginning of the Islamic month of Ramadan on Monday, the U.S. Postal Service has announced it will issue a stamp next year commemorating the two most important holy days observed by Muslims.

The stamp will commemorate Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the monthlong fast, known as Ramadan, during which believers reaffirm their obligations to God by refraining from food or drink during daylight.

The stamp will also honor Eid al-Adha, the end of Hajj season, the annual period set aside for Muslims to make their pilgrimages to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam.
(...)

Muslims are one of the fastest-growing segments in the United States, with an estimated population of six million. Metro Detroit has one of the largest concentrations of Muslims outside of the Middle East.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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7. Egyptian Clerics Denounce Imports
AP, Nov. 27, 2000
http://news.excite.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
CAIRO, Egypt (AP) - Egyptian Muslim clerics this week said importing Israeli and U.S. products is forbidden in the light of Israeli-Palestinian violence, giving momentum to calls for boycotts.

Arab countries have blamed Israel for the Israeli-Palestinian clashes, in which 280 people have died - the vast majority Palestinian - since September. Arab demonstrators have burned U.S. flags, venting their anger at what they call the U.S. bias in favor of Israel.

Egypt's chief Muslim cleric, Grand Mufti Nasr Farid Wasel, told the opposition Al-Arabi newspaper that importers of Israeli and U.S. products are committing ''a great sin'' and that ''all imported Israeli and U.S. goods are haram (religiously forbidden).''
(...)

U.S. products are widespread in Egyptian markets - from cars to jeans and from wheat to franchises of hotels.

Boycott calls have been widely circulated through e-mails and flyers handed out in the streets. The calls were causing a sales drop of about 20 percent at many fast food restaurants, said Mahmoud el-Kaissouni, vice chairman of the Chamber of Tourist Establishments. El-Kaissouni's organization runs more than 400 franchises of U.S. chain restaurants in Egypt.

El-Kaissouni said U.S. chain restaurants employ 80,000 Egyptians and boycott calls are hurting Egypt and its economy without having any effect on the mother companies in the United States.
(...)

U.S. investments in Egypt- a key U.S. ally and major mediator in the Mideast conflict- are estimated at $2 billion, with over 1,000 U.S. companies working in the country, Fahmi said.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Catholicism

8. Vatican Attacks Abuse in Faith
Source: Associated Press
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
VATICAN CITY (AP) -- The Vatican clamped down Thursday on abuses in faith healing and exorcisms, ruling out sensationalism, theatricality and ``anything resembling hysteria.''

A document by the powerful Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which was approved by Pope John Paul II, said bishops should closely supervise such practices.

It noted that prayer for the restoration of health is part of the Christian experience, with the New Testament speaking of Christ's encounters with the sick and his healing through miracles.

What is new, the document said, is the ``proliferation of prayer meetings'' for the purpose of obtaining healing from God.

``In many cases, the occurrence of healings has been proclaimed, giving rise to the expectation of the same phenomenon in other such gatherings,'' the document said.

If healing does take place, the document said, witness testimony must be submitted to church authorities.

In addition to ensuring that faith healing sessions are free of sensationalism, bishops must decide whether such gatherings can be open for television coverage, the Vatican said.

The document did not indicate the extent of abuses, and a Vatican official did not immediately respond to a request for clarification. Nor did the document cite names or movements within the church.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== The Body / Attleboro Cult

9. The sect: Led by a father's religious zeal, family spurned society's rules
The Boston Globe, Nov. 26, 2000
http://www.boston.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
[...The Body/Attleboro Cult...]
Driving to Mass in North Attleborough one Sunday morning in the early 1970s, Joseph Roland Robidoux, a door-to-door salesman and lifelong Catholic, turned on his car radio and unknowingly changed his life.

Crackling over the AM band came a message from Herbert W. Armstrong's Radio Church of God, beckoning listeners to worship in his church, the one true religion, where believers actually lived what they preached.

That was the beginning, Robidoux would tell his children years later - a glorious example of how everything happens for a reason. It would take years for the full transformation to take place, before he would isolate his family and followers to the point that they burned photo albums, shunned eyeglasses, stopped cutting their hair, and relied exclusively on prayer for everything from healing the sick to bringing gasoline for empty tanks. It would be decades before the sect he created to reach a higher ground would crash in a tangle of murder charges, before two of his grandsons were dead, including one who allegedly starved to death three days before his first birthday.
(...)

Within months, Robidoux, the graduate of an all-boys Catholic high school, had left the Catholic Church and was regularly attending meetings of Armstrong's church. That church, after considerable growth, became the World Wide Church of God, which for many years was followed closely by cult specialists. Not long after that, he became a ''loyalist'' in the church, believing ''hook, line and sinker in the authority of the church,'' said Brian Weeks, a former World Wide Church member who befriended Robidoux and his wife, Georgette.

The church became the center of everything for the couple and their five young children: In 1974, the year Michelle, Robidoux's oldest child, turned 8, he was inducted as a minister - or ''elder'' - in a church that forbid the celebration of birthdays. Unlike most other children in elementary school, the Robidoux children camped out with their parents for weeks at a time at far-away ceremonies for the Feast of the Tabernacles. The young family tithed to the church and followed a strict Bible-based dietary regimen.

And yet, in other ways, the Robidouxs managed to lead relatively normal lives all the way through the children's high school years.
(...)

Even before his children's high school years, Robidoux became restless with the World Wide Church of God. Bristling at its growing authoritarianism, he bolted in 1978, heeding what he believed was God's call to form his own church with Weeks.

First named the Church of God of Mansfield and later the Church of God of Norton, the group attracted droves of disgruntled World Wide Church members, at its peak attracting 70 followers.

But it didn't take long for problems to arise. ''We would sit around the table trying to interpret the Bible, with all the dictionaries in Hebrew and Greek,'' recalled Weeks, now a pastor at Jericho Christian Fellowship in Middleborough. ''We didn't know what we were doing. To have the responsibility of leading people you need training, and we didn't have any.''

Eventually, the Bible study became a ''gripe session'' for everything that was wrong with the World Wide Church of God, said Weeks. He left to pursue conventional religious studies.

In 1986, Robidoux bought a handsome two-story house on a wooded lot on Carlgate Road in North Attleborough, and moved the Bible study sessions there.

Around this time, he ran into Roger Daneau, an old friend and classmate from Sacred Heart Academy, who had just broken with a radical Catholic splinter group that advocated communal living and speaking in tongues. Before long, Daneau and his wife, Vivian, were attending Bible studies with the Robidoux family.
(...)

Despite the appearances of things going well, Weeks said, there was evidence of what was to come. In the mid-1980s, Weeks paid a visit to his former friend, but, he said, he found only a faint reflection of the religious idealist he once knew. Robidoux blasted Weeks for being part of an organized church on the grounds that all churches are hypocritical and authoritative.

''But he failed to see that he was the authority of his group,'' Weeks said. ''He became the thing he hated. All the things that he was originally disgruntled with, he became. The sole authority, not being questioned. He believed that he had the truth.''
(...)

Robidoux grew to have ''absolute power over his family,'' said Michelle's husband, Dennis Mingo, who would later split from the group.

One year, Robidoux read a book about high-protein diets and fed the family only meat. The next year, he commanded a vegetarian diet. The next, it was organic food.

''There was one year that Roland said, `Why are we singing the same songs that these false churches sing?''' Mingo recalled. Thus, the family's most beloved hymns were banned. Eventually, Michelle - who had been a music major in college before she dropped out - composed a new song for the group with lyrics taken from the Bible.

''We'd just sing that song over and over again,'' Mingo said.
(...)

Then Robidoux came across a book by Carol Balizet, a former nurse who advocated complete withdrawal from what she deemed the seven systems of impure society: education, medicine, government, banking, schools, entertainment, and commerce, according to the Rev. Robert Pardon of the New England Institute of Religious Research, who studied the North Attleborough group's diaries.

Balizet preached that believers should abstain from the medical system and advocated a spiritual form of home birth called Zion Birth, which involves no input, assistance, or backup from the medical system.

According to Balizet's Web page on Zion Birth, ''No matter what the result, we must do what God says. We mustn't fall into the trap of trying to figure out which choice will work best for us: God or the medical system. Our response to God must be based on obedience, not on outcome.''
(...)

In the late 1990s, Jacques's fervent faith led him to be named an elder of the group, and he and his sister Michelle began to get direct visions from God, which became the basis of the group's ever-changing religious beliefs.

In February 1998, Michelle told the group that God considered eyeglasses forbidden medicine. After that came others: no shorts, no cosmetics, no photo albums.

In diaries they thought would one day become scripture, they began to refer to their group as ''the body.''

That June, the group followed what it called an order from God to travel without preparations in the middle of the night to Maine - which people had begun to talk about as the Promised Land.
(...)

In November 1998, Jacques said God commanded them to throw away all books, so books were tossed.

The group also communicated to their relatives that year not to try to make contact with them. Two of the group's children eventually left because of the strict new rules, and Robidoux also cut off contact with his 84-year-old mother, who lived next door, apparently because she dropped out of the group to get help for her cataracts.

In March 1999 - after her marriage to Mingo had fallen apart - Michelle reported receiving a vision that her nephew, Samuel, who had been fed solid food, should no longer be fed anything but breast milk. As he slowly starved, his mother, Karen Robidoux - Jacques's wife - was told that God was testing her faith. In an unnamed, handwritten diary meant to document God's teachings, a sect member said the anguished mother told the group that she had received signs from God to feed her baby, but her husband and her father-in-law told her she must not feed him to prove that she is a true believer in the Lord.

The diary, which ends with four numbered lessons learned, reprimanded the grieving mother for her ''woe-is-me attitude,'' reminds the group that ''Abraham, David, Ezekiel, and even God himself'' sacrificed their loved ones, and ended by saying: ''God counts it as a gain to remove a loved one in order to get the results needed for His purposes.''

It is this diary that Mingo gave to police last September, sparking a yearlong investigation into the death of Samuel and another baby, Jeremiah, who died at birth.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Mormonism

10. Videos Aim To Educate Evangelists
Salt Lake Tribune, Nov. 23, 2000
http://www.sltrib.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Thousands of Christians plan to preach the gospel to nonbelievers during the 2002 Winter Olympics, just as they did in Atlanta, Nagano and Sydney.

But here the arrows of conversion are more pointedly aimed at one group -- Mormons.

''We are not inviting [these Christian groups], they are just coming,'' said Ken Mulholland, president of Salt Lake Seminary, an evangelical Christian school near the University of Utah. ''They will come with their own notion of what Mormon culture is like and how best to share their faith.''

In order to avert abrasive or insensitive witnessing to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the seminary is producing five videos, explaining how to share historic Christian faith with Mormons in a respectful way.

''We live here and have long-term interests in building relationships with Mormons,'' Mulholland said. ''We don't want well-meaning but inexperienced people setting that back.''

The videos will address the Mormon church's rise from ''humble beginnings to present-day prosperity,'' including its current ''significance as a worldwide force,'' the differences between Mormon and Protestant teachings; how Mormons see themselves, including their sense of being persecuted; how to make Christian understandings sound appealing to Mormons; and helping Mormons make the transition to a Christian church, Mulholland said.
(...)

In October, Wiebe's film crew interviewed some of the thousands of LDS members going into and out of the Conference Center during the church's Semi-annual General Conference.

Interviewees were asked, ''Who is Jesus to you? Who is God?'' and other religious questions.
(...)

The audience for these videos, Wiebe said, ''are people like me, who belong to Protestant Christian faiths which have doctrinal differences with Mormons, but don't want to go about talking with them in an argumentative or confrontational way.''

Insisting that Mormons are not Christians only ''stirs up anger,'' he said.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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* Theologically, Mormonism is a cult of Christianity. Mormons are not Christians (followers of Christ as presented in the bible). Rather, Mormons follow a fictional ''Jesus'' who differs significantly from the Jesus of Christianity.


11. Growth of LDS Church has upside, downside
Deseret News, Nov. 25, 2000
http://www.deseretnews.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
OREM - Future growth for the LDS Church is a ''good news, bad news'' situation, with helps and hindrances present within the cultures of other countries, said a noted sociologist Wednesday.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is projected to grow to 250 million members during the next 100 years and will meet various challenges along the way, said Armand Mauss, a professor of sociology and religious studies emeritus at Washington State University. Mauss has authored various works studying past and future growth of the LDS Church.

His presentation at Utah Valley State College was the first in a series on Mormon culture sponsored by UVSC's Religious Studies program.

''We like to think we are a worldwide church, but we're not. We are a hemisphere church,'' Mauss said. Eighty-five percent of the LDS Church's membership lives in the western hemisphere, he said. ''We ought to be, I think, a little bit more humble about how we describe our present score geographically.''

The church will have to contend with the political and cultural environments of other countries while it tries to increase membership. In most countries of the world, religion is intertwined throughout all other institutions of the culture; a person's education, employment and family life are all tied tightly to their religion, making it difficult to change to another faith.

''Where does that leave the Mormons? Sort of out in the cold in a lot of ways,'' Mauss said.
(...)

The way those in other countries view members of the LDS Church will also need to be addressed. ''We have a hard time, I think, in America seeing how Mormonism is looked on in America,'' he said, adding that many people see the LDS Church as just another cult.

There is a real need for the church to have a public-relations program that will provide a kind of spin of respectability on what is put out because you're not going to get it in the local presses,'' Mauss said.

He listed worldwide migration, unrest and instability as factors that will actually aid the church in its future growth. As people move away from home and their roots, they also become disconnected from constraints such as family members that may keep them from joining a new religion.
(...)

Offering more good news for the church is the fact that people in other countries are attracted to America's way of life and entrepreneurial values.

America is also in many ways a country that other countries like to emulate,'' Mauss said. People in foreign countries who are trying to improve their life may see the LDS Church as a guide that will help them do so.

This has a downside, however: ''Wherever America as a world power engenders hostility, Mormons will share that hostility,'' Mauss said.
(...)


Discarding its image of ''weirdness'' and building one of ''belonging'' can be difficult for the church, Mauss said. He questioned where the line could be drawn to define the required core doctrine one needed to follow to be considered ''Mormon'' and what aspects of a foreign culture would be considered acceptable within the church.
(...)

Mauss did say the church's future will depend greatly on the retention of converts and their children. One can't assume that high numbers of new members will equate to what he called ''durable growth.''

''We've got to figure out a way to hold on to people who have joined the church,'' he said.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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12. Life at the Top: Church pokes holes in kids' individualism
Standard-Examiner, Nov. 25, 2000 (Column, Mark Saal)
http://www1.standard.net/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
That chorus of weeping and wailing you've been hearing the last few weeks is the sound of teenagers across the state, reacting to the recent news that tattoos and body piercings are on the outs with the LDS Church leadership.

You'd have thought the church had just made benzoyl peroxide a part of the Word of Wisdom.

Not since my own teenage days, when church leader Boyd K. Packer routinely spoke out against the evils of our music, has there been such a potential rift between teens and the church leadership. (Of course, that was '70s music -- Barry Manilow, Bay City Rollers, disco. Who knew Elder Packer would turn out to be right on that one?)
(...)

In the meantime, I checked with the owners of Deja Vu, a body piercing/tattoo parlor in the Newgate Mall, to gauge the effect of the recent church pronouncements on business.

Mike Governale estimates about half of the body piercings his business does are for LDS folks -- of those, he guesses 20 percent are regular church-goers and another 30 percent attend, but only because parents make them.

Mike actually believes the recent flap will stimulate business at his shop.

''It'll help us,'' he predicts. ''The curiosity factor will bring more people in.''
(...)

You can reach Mark Saal -- unless he's been called before a church court -- at 625-4272 or msaal@standard.net.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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See also: Indelible & Devout


13. Cody Judy released on parole
The Daily Herald, Nov. 23, 2000
http://www.daily-herald.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Cody Judy, who threatened an LDS Church apostle with a fake bomb seven years ago, was released on parole Tuesday.

Judy was sentenced to one to 15 years in the state prison for threatening and assaulting the late Howard W. Hunter, then president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, during a 1993 fireside gathering at Brigham Young University.

Judy stormed onstage before 17,000 people and demanded that Hunter read a three-page letter that proclaimed Judy as president of the church.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Paganism / Witchcraft

14. Witch drowns after beach ceremony
The Guardian (England), Nov. 24, 2000
http://www.guardianunlimited.co.uk/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
A man who had been involved in witchcraft for 25 years was found washed up dead on a beach after a bizarre ceremony at Rustington, West Sussex, an inquest heard yesterday.

Derek Taylor, 60, of Bexhill-on-Sea, had been taking part in a seance on a beach during a full moon in February 1998.

His body was discovered washed up beside a symbol marked out in the sand. A sword was found nearby.

An inquest at Worthing, West Sussex, heard how Mr Taylor had been involved in witchcraft since 1975. He had lived with the former king of black witches, Alex Saunders.

Mr Taylor's former wife, Anna, said that when their marriage ended, he had become obsessed with witchcraft.

''He wanted to come back to me, but he was very ill,'' she said.

''He said he had killed himself in former lives on account of me and ... said he would have to kill himself again.
(...)

She said he thought he was the corn king and would be sacrificed at the end of the year.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Hate Groups / Hate Crimes

15. Yahoo Probed for Sale of 'Mein Kampf' in Germany
Reuters, Nov. 27, 2000
http://news.excite.com/Off-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
MUNICH, Germany (Reuters) - German prosecutors said on Monday they were investigating U.S. Internet retailer Yahoo Inc for the suspected online auction of copies of Hitler's infamous ''Mein Kampf'' which is banned in the country.

Manfred Wick, the senior prosecutor for the state court in Munich, told Reuters unnamed executives of the company were under investigation for the auction of the book on Yahoo's German Web site on February 1 and again on April 19.

Wick said the first date referred to an auction reported by a private individual and the second to the results of the prosecutors' investigation.

A French court last week ordered the California-based firm to stop people in France from accessing sites selling Nazi memorabilia, prompting shares in the company to slide.

The sale of Nazi memorabilia and books is illegal in both France and Germany.
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16. Bankruptcy Court Trying to Determine Worth of Nazi Compound
Salt Lake Tribune/AP, Nov. 25, 2000
http://www.sltrib.com/Off-site Link
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COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho -- A trustee is trying to determine how much a used 20-acre Nazi compound in northern Idaho is worth.

The U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Idaho would like to know, since its former owner, Aryan Nations leader Richard Butler, filed for bankruptcy Oct. 30.
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Butler moved from the compound in mid-October and into a $107,500 home in Hayden purchased by his friend and fellow racist, Vincent Bertollini of the 11th Hour Remnant Messenger.

Butler listed debts totaling $5,808,303, including $5.8 million he owes Victoria Keenan and her son, Jason, who won civil damages in September.
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Before the bankruptcy court discharges Butler's debts, a judge must inventory and appraise his assets, including the property.
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17. Websites giving race-hate groups new lease of life, EU watchdog says
The Guardian (England), Nov. 24, 2000
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/Off-site Link
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Racism and anti-semitism has proliferated on the internet, spawning more than 2,100 websites, the European Union's racism monitoring unit reported yesterday.

Most of the sites are based in the US, but in Germany alone, the internal security service recorded the existence of 300 registered hate websites last year, up from 200 in 1998.

''What was proscribed, undercover, shameful and liable to prosecution in the past is today readily available and viewable on the net,'' the European monitoring centre on racism and xenophobia said in its annual report.

''Movements which were in decline in both Europe and the US have received a new lease of life thanks to the sites they have created.''

Increases in violent racially motivated incidents were reported last year in France, Germany and Sweden, but differing definitions and statistical methods made EU-wide comparisons difficult, it said.
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Beate Winkler, the centre's director, pointed to worrying discrepancies between official and unofficial reporting of racist violence: the Netherlands figure was 200 incidents for 1999, but the Anne Frank FoundationOff-site Link estimated that the true number ranged between 800 and 8,000.

The EU centre had an uncomfortable few months this year because it is situated in the Austrian capital, Vienna, the target of unprecedented sanctions by all 14 other member states after Jorg Haider's anti-immigrant Freedom party entered government after doing well in national elections.
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Jean Kahn, director of the Vienna centre, said he wanted anti- racism measures agreed in the EU's Amsterdam treaty - which was ratified in 1997 - fully implemented in all member states. And the chairman of the European parliament's citizens' rights committee, Graham Watson, argued that clear rules had to be set governing when a member state could be suspended for failing to meet accepted standards on democracy and human rights.
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18. Tentacles of hatred spread over Net
The Age (Australia), Nov. 23, 2000
http://www.theage.com.au/Off-site Link
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(...) The Internet's cheap and accessible delivery system has a dark side, and its shadow is growing. The number of sites promoting hate has more than doubled to 3000 in the past year, according to the Nazi-hunting organisation the Simon Wiesenthal Centre.

Cyber-hate experts say the World-Wide Web has breathed life into previously isolated and disparate far-right and extremist groups. White supremacists and neo-Nazis around the world today can easily find like-minded people, discuss tactics by e-mail, have real-time, members-only access to chatrooms, and feature extremist literature on their websites.

A racist in the backblocks of rural Australia now can feel as if he or she is a soldier in a global white supremacist movement at the click of a mouse. Danny Ben-Moshe, of the B'nai B'rith Anti-Defamation Commission, describes the phenomenon as the globalisation of hate.

Within a broader debate about freedom of speech, pressure is increasing from groups such as the Anti-Defamation Commission for Australia to take a tougher stand against racism on the Net.

Similar pressure led to a French judge this week ordering Internet company Yahoo! to stop French users from accessing its online Nazi memorabilia auction sites.

French laws prohibit the sale or display of racist symbols and Yahoo! was given three months to block such access or face daily fines of $25,000. Internet experts say the landmark ruling could be difficult to implement and may be a setback for online international commerce.

In June, the Australian Jewish News reported that 66 Nazi memorabilia items being auctioned on the Yahoo! site originated in Australia or New Zealand.

While the auctions and neo-Nazi Internet sites are repugnant and upsetting to many people, David Goldman, of the United-States group HateWatch, is more concerned about the use of the Internet to attack individuals and other sites.

In the US - and increasingly in Australia, according to Mr Goldman - hate groups have posted on the Internet photographs of people they do not like, their addresses, phone numbers, car registrations, and neighbors' details. Some of these are linked to bomb-making or gun-shop sites.

Other intimidatory tactics have included signing up people to 2000 or 3000 sex or paedophilia sites, posting false information using real names to discussion groups and e-mailing individuals with abusive messages.

Mr Goldman says Hammerskin Nation in the US is a violent, well-organised racist skinhead group whose Internet site provided members with hacking software that could crash servers.
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Most recently, the site has operated from a New Jersey, US, address, but appears to have been taken offline in past weeks.

However, Hammerskin Nation now has its own server based in Britain that will be able to host the websites of its members in Australia and elsewhere.

Blood and Honor, part of another international skinhead group that has been banned in Germany, also has a local website. It targets a young audience through ''white power'' music. The so-called ''independent voice of rock against communism'' site has had about 11,500 visitors.

The Anti-Defamation Commission's Mr Ben-Moshe says Australia has several dozen Internet sites that concern it, some of which use overseas Internet service providers to circumvent Australian laws and regulations. There are between 500 and 1000 Internet service providers in Australia.

Several internationally recognised racist groups have websites and links to associated Australian groups. They include the Ku Klux Klan and the World Church of the Creator, whose member Benjamin Smith went on a shooting rampage in the US last year.

Other sites that concern cyber-watch groups are operated by National Action, Bible Believers, the League of Rights, various Christian Identity groups, Lock, Stock and Barrel, and the Citizens Electoral Council.
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The right to place Holocaust-denial and racist material on the Internet will be tested in the Federal Court in a case involving Dr Fredrick Toben's Adelaide Institute.

The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission found in October that the institute had breached the Racial Discrimination Act by publishing material on its website that was ''vilifactory, bullying, insulting and offensive'' to Jewish people. It ordered Dr Toben to remove the contents and apologise to members of the Jewish community.

The Federal Court action was brought by Mr Jones and the Executive Council of Australian Jewry after Dr Toben refused to comply with the human rights commission's determination.

If the Federal Court confirms the commission's findings it is likely that other sites will be brought before the human rights commission. A date has not yet been set for the matter.

Dr Toben - whose Adelaide Institute site denies the existence of the Holocaust - justifies his site on freedom of speech grounds.
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Mr Ben-Moshe says some service providers had removed offensive material when it was brought to their attention but others refused, saying it was not illegal. He favored a licensing system for providers. But Internet Industry Association chairman Patrick Fair says: ''I think we're regulated enough, thanks very much.'' He believes most providers do not want offensive material on sites they host and remove them once they are told about them.

The global nature of the Internet, argues David Goldman, makes national responses lame. He is not convinced that censorship is the answer and would like to see a multi-pronged international approach, beginning with discussions between law enforcement, civil rights groups, media, and legislators.
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19. Neo-Nazis March in Germany
AP, Nov. 25, 2000
http://news.excite.com/Off-site Link
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BERLIN (AP) - Far-right demonstrators marched through central Berlin on Saturday, openly challenging efforts by German leaders to fight neo-Nazism and mobilizing a massive police operation in the capital.

Organizers staged the march - the second by the extreme right in Berlin this month - to protest government plans to outlaw the small National Democratic Party, or NPD, which German officials view as a magnet for violent neo-Nazis.

About 2,000 marchers carried German flags and signs supporting the NPD. One slogan read ''Germans, defend yourself,'' an echo of Nazi hate propaganda against German Jews before the Holocaust. A few hundreds yards from the march route, almost 1,000 people turned out for an anti-racist rally at Berlin's red-brick city hall, backed by politicians, labor unions and the capital's Jewish community.
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» Part 2