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Religion News Report

January 8, 2001 (Vol. 5, Issue 307) - 1/3

See Religion News Blog for the Latest news about cults,
religious sects, world religions, and related issues
Rainbow


=== Falun Gong
1. Criminal Activities of Falun Gong Condemned
2. Party paper links Falun Gong politics to anti-China forces

=== Hinduism
3. Indian City Braces for Massive Hindu Gathering
4. Talks to settle Indian-temple row rejected

=== Islam
5. Afghanistan Imposes Death Penalty
6. Canadian Muslims could help prevent a tragedy
7. Ajinomoto's 2 Japanese top executives arrested

=== Catholicism
8. Virgin Mary statue oozes oil

=== Mormonism
9. Of Church, State and Journalism

» Part 2

=== Hate Groups
10. Aryan Nation compound to be sold at auction
11. Ex-Klansman David Duke Sets Sights on Russian Anti-Semites
12. Anti-Nazis protest in Germany

=== Other News
13. 'Demon' woman dies during exorcism
14. Abuse claims against monks
15. Utah Case Tests American Indian Law
16. Sect fights cell phones (Universal Church)
17. Roanoke police investigate church's activities (Deeper Life Ministries)
18. Underwood apparently attempts suicide
19. Inquest to begin into Kitchener murder-suicide
20. 30 years on, Ono meets daughter

=== Death Penalty & Other Human Rights Violations
21. Man Freed After Serving 32 Years
22. Boston man freed after 32 years in jail on murder conviction

» Part 3

=== Noted
23. Attack Points to 'Lethal' Mix of Religion, Rebellion, Drugs
24. The Devil in The Nursery (McMartin)
25. U.S. Bashing : It's All the Rage in Europe
26. Backlash of faith shakes atheists
27. Man's views change radically (ex- Operation Rescue)

=== The Priest Around The Corner
28. Priest banned from naked calendar

=== Falun Gong

1. Criminal Activities of Falun Gong Condemned
People's Daily (China), Jan. 8, 2001
http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/Off-site Link

Our Daily publishes a commentary Monday, January 8, to condemn the notorious cult of Falun Gong, headed by Li Hongzhi, for its evil political will.

The recent criminal activities of Falun Gong followers have, once again, exposed the anti-humanity, anti-society and anti-science nature of the cult, the paper says.

The commentary retorted the cult leader's claim that he would not participate in politics, would not oppose the government, and would not depend on any political force.

A series notorious activities by Li fully indicate that the cult leader has fallen into the arms of overseas anti-China forces, the commentary concludes.
[...more...]


2. Party paper links Falun Gong politics to anti-China forces
BBC Monitoring, Jan. 7, 2001
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/Off-site Link

A commentary published by the Chinese Communist Party paper on 8 January highlights the political motives of Li Hongzhi, founder of the Falun Gong movement. Li is the political instrument of anti- China forces in the West in their attempt to subvert the Chinese government and overthrow its socialist system, the commentary says. Through the ''cult'', Li has infiltrated the party and coerced people into ''sabotaging'' China's social and political stability by demonstrating at important national or international events, just when China is taking strides towards reform and opening up. The article urges all party members to protect the country's future with utmost vigilance against this ''heretical'' cult. Text of report by official Chinese news agency Xinhua (New China News Agency) follows:

Beijing, 7 January: The 8 January Renmin Ribao is to publish a commentator's article entitled: ''Exposing vicious political motives of Li Hongzhi and his 'Falun Gong'.'' The full text of the article is as follows.

Since some time ago, Li Hongzhi and his ''Falun Gong'' cult organization have been making waves and frequently causing trouble, which has once again laid bare their vicious political motives and enabled people to see more clearly their heretical nature as an antihuman, antisocial and antiscience cult.

Li Hongzhi once kept saying that he would take no part in politics, would not go against the government, and would not seek refuge with and show allegiance to any political force. But a series of clumsy shows he has put up and a series of repulsive deeds he has done fully demonstrate that not only does he have political ambitions, but the ''Falun Gong'' organization has tried every possible means to take part in politics and disrupt society and has degenerated to the extent of shamelessly seeking refuge with and showing allegiance to anti-China forces abroad, instigating incidents one after another, and challenging both the Chinese people and the Chinese government.
(...)

''Falun Gong'' is a cult organization outlawed by the Chinese government and despised by the people all over China. But why is it that Li Hongzhi and the diehards of ''Falun Gong'' have dared to risk condemnation by one and all and create trouble time and time again? Various signs indicate that the ''Falun Gong'' cult has the backing of the anti-China forces in the West.
(...)

They sedulously arranged for the ''Falun Gong'' elements to spread the fantastic rumour about the Chinese government's persecution of the ''Falun Gong'' followers at the hearing on the so-called ''Human rights issues in China and Tibet'', held by the US Congress Foreign Relations Committee, and invited Li Hongzhi's right-hand assistants and ''pro-democracy'' and ''Tibetan independence'' elements to attend the hearing on the so-called ''Issues of religious freedom in China'', to prepare public opinion for the anti-China proposal.
(...)

The purpose of the collusion of Li Hongzhi and his ''Falun Gong'' with some anti-China diehards in the West is to oppose a China that is currently undergoing reform and opening up and to sabotage, in an all-out effort, China's social stability, which has been very hard to come by. But their scheme is doomed to fail.
(...)

Our struggle with Li Hongzhi and his ''Falun Gong'' is an extremely serious and extremely acute political contention. This struggle we have waged is by no means making a mountain out of a molehill, still less nonessential. The broad ranks of CCP members, especially the leading cadres at all levels, must fully understand the important, complicated, long-term and arduous nature of this struggle; overcome weariness and slackened vigilance; and firmly carry through to the end this struggle that concerns the country's future and destiny, concerns the success or failure of socialist modernization, and concerns whether or not the reform and opening up can proceed smoothly!
[...more...]


=== Hinduism

3. Indian City Braces for Massive Hindu Gathering
http://dailynews.yahoo.com/Off-site Link

ALLAHABAD, India (Reuters) - Hindu pilgrims swarmed to a spot on the holy Ganges river in India on Sunday as officials fretted over safety ahead of what is expected to be the world's biggest gathering of human beings.

The ``Maha Kumbh Mela'' or Grand Pitcher Festival, which is held around once every 12 years, is expected to see more than 70 million people taking dips in the Ganges over 42 days from January 9.

Some 30 million people are expected to bathe at the confluence of the Yamuna and Ganges rivers near the northern city of Allahabad on January 24 alone, when an auspicious new moon will appear.
(...)

Legend says gods and demons fought a celestial war, spilling heavenly nectar at Allahabad.

The pilgrims will mainly aim for the ``Sangam,'' or confluence point, where they believe the Yamuna and Ganges rivers are joined by an underground mythical river, named Saraswati after the Hindu goddess of learning.

Among the faithful will be people from rare religious sects including seers in saffron robes and naked ``sadhus'' (holy men) with ash spread over their bodies.
For devout Hindus, the Kumbh Mela is an occasion to celebrate tales and beliefs handed through the generations.
(...)

In a political sideshow, Hindu activists plan to announce a date for the start of construction of a controversial temple on the site of a mosque which was destroyed in 1992 by Hindu zealots in the northern town of Ayodhya.
[...more...]


4. Talks to settle Indian-temple row rejected
Reuters, Jan. 7, 2001
http://www.iol.co.za/ New Delhi - Attempts by Hindu and Muslim groups to settle a long-running row over a destroyed mosque in India have run into trouble with top leaders of both sides rejecting planned talks, the Hindustan Times newspaper said on Sunday.
(...)

Hardline Hindu groups linked to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have been campaigning for a Hindu temple to be built at the site in the northern town of Ayodhya where a historic mosque was demolished by Hindu zealots in 1992.

They believe the site is the birthplace of the Hindu god-king Ram.
(...)

About 3 000 people died in nationwide riots that followed the destruction of the 16th-century mosque, and since then the dispute has led to deep religious and political divides in the country.
[...more...]


=== Islam

5. Afghanistan Imposes Death Penalty
The Associated Press, Jan. 8, 2001
http://www.washingtonpost.com/Off-site Link

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Afghanistan's Taliban rulers on Monday imposed the death penalty for anyone who converts from Islam to another religion.

Any non-Muslim found trying to win converts will also be killed, Taliban supreme leader Mullah Mohammed Omar said on Taliban-run Radio Shariat.

Omar accused followers of other faiths - particularly Christians and Jews - of trying to convert Muslims and seeking to demonize the harsh brand of Islam practiced by the Taliban.

''The enemies of Muslims are trying to eliminate the pure Islamic religion throughout the world,'' Omar said.

The Taliban enforce a strict interpretation of Islamic law in Afghanistan.
(...)

On Monday, Omar also announced a five-year jail term for book store owners found selling material critical of Islam and about other religions.

Despite the ban on evangelism, followers of other faiths have been allowed to continue practicing their religions.
[...more...]


6. Canadian Muslims could help prevent a tragedy
The Toronto Star (Canada), Jan. 7, 2001 (Column, Michele Landsberg)
http://www.thestar.com/Off-site Link

It's only a matter of weeks before a brutal and savage punishment is carried out against a 17-year-old Nigerian girl. She was convicted in an Islamic or sharia court of having had premarital sex leading to pregnancy. Canada, alone in the Commonwealth, has taken a lead in pressuring the Nigerian government to intervene and save the young woman.

Bariya Magazu was sentenced to 180 lashes (more than enough to kill) to be administered publicly within 40 days of her giving birth. Magazu's baby girl was born in December. If and when the sentence is carried out, those will be 180 blows heard - and grieved - around the world.

When Magazu's pregnancy was discovered last September, in the northern Nigerian state of Zamfara, she was pressed to name the father. It turned out that her father had pimped her to three of his friends. In court, where the young woman had no lawyer, her witnesses were dismissed and she was sentenced to 100 lashes for premarital sex, plus an extra 80 for ``false accusation'' against the men.

Amnesty InternationalOff-site Link issued an urgent alert in December, protesting that flogging constitutes a violation of the international law against torture. Indeed it does. It also violates the International Convention on the Rights of the Child. (``No child shall be subject to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.'') Bariya Magazu is still a child (under 18) under terms of the convention. And the imposition of Islamic or sharia law in one state is in violation of federal Nigeria's secular constitution. It's as though a province of Canada decreed that teenage pregnancies would be punished by death.
(...)

Mealy-mouthed parsings of the legal niceties of sharia law will not do. Flogging and amputations are torture, pure and simple, and in violation of every international covenant of human rights. Nor is the protest campaign an attempt to impose ``western values'' on Islamic regimes. United Nations documents - including papers from the international committee that monitors compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child - stress that very few Muslim countries practise these extreme forms of sharia law. The U.N.'s Special Rapporteur on Torture has written that ``the overwhelming majority of member states of the Organization of Islamic Conference do not have corporal punishment in their domestic laws . . . and all have accepted the principal that human rights are universal.''

Another point: Sharia law is applied very differently in various Islamic states. Amnesty has documented flogging in only 14 countries - not all of them Muslim - in the last several years, and amputations in only seven.

Fanatic and cruel extremes do not typify the religion of Islam - any more than the murderous extremists among Israeli settlers typify Judaism. More humane followers of both these religions have, in my view, a deep moral duty to speak out against abuses and wrongs committed by their fellow religionists.
(...)

Faithful Muslims might now consider the case of Bariya Magazu - sold by her father, raped, impregnated, about to be flogged to death - as a turning point. Every extremist act of cruelty, committed in the name of Islam, is not only a violation of human rights, but also adds to a distorted image of the religion. In the name of their faith's integrity, progressive Muslims should seize this moment to make their consciences heard.
[...more...]


7. Ajinomoto's 2 Japanese top executives arrested
Kyodo, Jan. 7, 2001
http://home.kyodo.co.jp/Off-site Link

JAKARTA Jan. 7 Kyodo - Indonesian police arrested two Japanese top executives of the Indonesian subsidiary of Japan's Ajinomoto Co. on Saturday night over the use of pork fat in Ajinomoto food flavoring products, which is forbidden under Muslim law, raising the total number detained to eight.
(...)

Under the law, they will face a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a 2 billion rupiah (about $210,000) fine.

Jakarta Police Detective Unit Chief High Comr. Harry Montolalu said the arrests are aimed at preventing unrest by the people as the case touches the most sensitive part of Indonesian life, namely religion.
[...more...]


=== Catholicism

8. Virgin Mary statue oozes oil
AFP, Jan. 7, 2001
http://www.news24.co.za/Off-site Link

Beirut - Oil has been oozing from a miniature statue of the Virgin Mary by the coastal entrance to northern Beirut, sparking a religious fervour.

The faithful have arrived en masse since Friday, clutching candles and crucifixes in hand and chanting blessings.
(...)

A priest, who requested anonymity, told AFP that some of the oil has been taken away for analysis.

But the priest refused to call the event a miracle. ''It is a long process of investigation to certify a miracle,'' he said, adding the investigation had not left its earliest stage.
[...more...]


=== Mormonism

9. Of Church, State and Journalism
New York Times, Jan. 7, 2001
http://www.nytimes.com/Off-site Link

SALT LAKE CITY - This city has a simple logic. First Street begins a block from the temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; the remainder of the streets radiate out from there. The map mirrors Utah's civic life. For Mormons and non-Mormons alike - the city's population is split about 50-50 - the central reference point is the church. It is the spiritual home of 11 million members and the financial repository of an estimated $20 billion in assets.

Over the last 18 months, AT&T executives have learned Salt Lake's psychic map all too well. Their effort to unload The Salt Lake Tribune, an $81-million-a-year pipsqueak of a business within their $112 billion corporate empire, has aroused sectarian resentments that this prosperous, seemingly placid city cannot seem to shake.

At the center of it are the morning Tribune, founded 129 years ago by Mormon dissidents, and its afternoon rival, the church-owned Deseret News. Each is run by executives who assert that their paper's core values - or its survival - face a mortal threat from the other. Though viscerally at odds over business strategy, they handcuffed themselves together in a joint operating agreement under which they share presses, circulation crews and advertising staff members.

The arrangement, 48 years old, has kept both in business and profitable, but it has also bred allegations of mismanagement and bad faith. Each newsroom periodically grumbles that the other skews the news.

AT&T stumbled inadvertently into this beehive.
(...)

The company agreed to sell the paper to the MediaNews Group for $200 million to try to end the irritation. Tribune executives lost their first court challenge to block the deal, but plan to be back in federal court with new claims this week.
(...)

The Tribune does not rank in the top 75 newspapers nationally; it sells about 135,000 copies daily in a state with 2.2 million people. But its size belies its role as a civic counterweight to the Mormon Church in Salt Lake, one of the fastest-growing markets in the country.

The financial, legal and political path that put The Tribune in the hands of MediaNews Group is a tale from which different witnesses extract different lessons.
(...)

The fight has left this city's air thick with mistrust and the residue of grievances, old and new. And at the psychic center of it all is the church. With suspicions unsupported by clear evidence, some non-Mormons fear that The Tribune - the newspaper that speaks for them, without fearing or favoring the church - is about to fall silent.

''I think any time you have one powerful institution and particularly a predominant religion in a community, those who are not part of that feel that there is an excessive, excessive control, especially politically,'' said Ross C. Anderson, the city's Democratic mayor.

''Although the L.D.S. church does not often get involved in political issues, when it does, its position seems to dictate exactly what's going to happen in our legislature,'' he continued. ''And that obviously causes resentment among those who don't feel adequately represented.'' About 90 percent of state legislators are Mormon Church members, as is the state's senior United States Senator, Orrin G. Hatch, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Mr. Shelledy, who has been The Tribune's editor for a decade, said the situation in Salt Lake had no parallel. ''While there are a lot of Catholics in Boston and a lot of Jews in New York and a lot of Baptists in Tulsa, those particular religions do not have the business structure that the Mormon Church has, nor anywhere near the intensity it has in this state,'' he said. ''There's a dual function here. There's a religious function of the church and a business function of the church and it all runs out of one office.'' In this situation, he added, ''the check and balance ends up being the paper that says: `Hey, wait a minute here, is this really what we want to do?' ''

Mr. Shelledy has run many articles asking uncomfortable questions about the church.
[...more...]


» Part 2