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Religion News Report

March 20, 2001 (Vol. 5, Issue 338) - 2/10

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

=== Aum Shinrikyo
1. Don't forget Tokyo subway gas attack: survivors and bereaved families
2. Subway staff remember victims of 1995 AUM gassing

=== Scientology
3. Tom Cruise Ends another Affair
4. Update: Cruise Still With Scientology
5. Cruise Dumps Scientology - NOT!
6. [harassment has become so commonplace that it is no longer newsworthy]
7. A Thorn in the MPAA's Side

=== Buddhism
8. 'Vietnam Buddhist burns herself to death'
9. Vietnam sect leader allowed home, status unclear

=== Islam
10. Cows slaughtered over delay in Buddha statues destruction
11. Taliban Explains Buddha Demolition
12. Muslim destroyers reach for the heart of Jewish holy sites

=== Mormonism
13. Visiting Reporters Complain Venues Tour Turned Into a Pitch for Church, State
14. Mormons under pressure on drink

=== Hate Groups
15. More teens buying white power music
16. Speakers with anti-Semitic ties coming to B.C. rally
17. Klan Highway Sign Isn't Welcome, Say Potosi, Mo., Residents

=== House of Prayer (Atlanta)
18. Church disputes claims of abuse
19. DFCS to take 10 more kids from members of Atlanta church in wake of abuse probe

=== Other News
20. French Sect Members Tried for Baby-Killing
21. Ex-dean of BU chapel on leave for illness
22. Families seek help from dangers of cults
23. 'Volatile' Prophetic Writings Set to Stir Further Controversy (Rick

=== Noted
24. False Prophets in Poland
25. Christian ministers to embrace Rainbow
26. The Work, the FBI and a habit of silence (Opus Dei)

=== Books
27. Religion researcher's 40-year quest to tabulate every believer on earth

=== Scientology

3. Tom Cruise Ends another Affair
CNN/WENN, Mar. 18, 2001
http://my.cnn.com/Off-site Link

Heart-throb actor TOM CRUISE has ended another long-term love affair - losing both his wife and his faith in one year.

A spokesman says, ''He has ended his association with the Church for personal reasons.

''He has given them millions of dollars in the past, and he has now made a further very generous donation to end his association with goodwill.''

4. Update: Cruise Still With Scientology
Internet Movie Database, Mar. 19, 2001
http://us.imdb.com/PeopleNews/Off-site Link

An earlier report in this column stated that Tom Cruise had broken ties with the Church of Scientology. According to his attorney, Bert Fields, in a letter to IMDb, this is not true.

5. Cruise Dumps Scientology - NOT!
Zap2it, Mar. 19, 2001
http://www.zap2it.com/Off-site Link

HOLLYWOOD (Zap2it.com) - There goes the Tom Cruise rumor mill again.

Cruise had decided to end his long relationship with the Church of Scientology, according to a story published in London's Sunday Telegraph.

The report quotes one of Cruise's spokesman as saying: ''He has ended his association with the church for personal reasons. He has given them millions of dollars in the past, and he has now made a further very generous donation to end his association with goodwill.''

However, Bertram Fields, Cruise's attorney, told Zap2it in an interview that the story is ''unequivocally false.''

''It's absolutely, totally false,'' Fields said. ''It is garbage. Tom isn't thinking about leaving and he hasn't told anybody that.''

Fields went on to say that Cruise only has two official spokespersons, himself and publicist Pat Kingsley. Neither one of them have made statements about Tom's departure from the church.

Fields also said that a lot of people have suggested that Cruise's devotion to Scientology was what drove the Hollywood power couple to break up.

''Scientology had nothing to do with his divorce,'' said Fields. ''He's not that religious a guy, but he is a member of the church and he believes in it.''

A longtime critic of Scientology, Priscilla Coates, New York spokesman for the Leo Ryan Education Foundation - a group that provides information and education about ''destructive groups'' - said that if Cruise left the group it would be a big public relations blow for Scientology.

''I would be very surprised if he was leaving because he has always expressed support for the organization and is supposedly close friends with (Scientology leader) David Miscavige,'' said Coates.

Coates said that a Scientology doctrine called the ''Fair Game Policy'' implemented by late founder L. Ron Hubbard is one reason that highly-public figures have been afraid of separating themselves from Scientology. She said the policy reads that a critic of the group could be ''tricked, sued, lied to or destroyed.''

''During auditing when you first get into Scientology, you are supposed to tell about your misdeeds in this life and your past lives, and with this Fair Game doctrine it's possible that that personal information may be used against you,'' Coates said. ''That's what people are afraid of.''

However, Mason said that the policy is widely misunderstood. The last time this doctrine was applied, he said, was more than 35 years ago.

And, in essence, he said, the policy only states that once a member leaves the church, he or she no longer receives protection from the church.

The ''fair game'' policy has not been cancelled. Details.

6. [harassment has become so commonplace that it is no longer newsworthy]
The Skeptical Inquirer, Mar. 1, 2001
http://beta.yellowbrix.com/Off-site Link

(...) Just because not much has been written lately about the ongoing war on the part of Scientology against its critics does not mean that they have suddenly reverted to civilized norms (see this column, September/October 1995). If anything, it means that such harassment has become so commonplace that it is no longer newsworthy. In Clearwater, Florida, the location of one of Scientology's major headquarters, an ongoing battle rages against anti-Scientology protesters and pickets, most of whom are from the Lisa McPherson Trust (named for a young woman who died of neglect and/or mistreatment while in ''isolation'' in a Scientology ''prison'' for persons who have broken the rules-see www.xenu.net/archive/events/lisa_mcpherson/the_trustOff-site Link). This frequently involves shoving and other physical interference against critics that somehow the Clearwater police are unable to ''see.'' Many of the Clearwater police officers during their off-duty hours are paid $21 per hour by Scientology to serve as a private security force, and critics charge that this makes it impossible for the police to be fair and neutral in the \ongoing battle of ideologies.

Critics have filmed Scientologist strong-arm agents physically interfering with protesters and sticking gum on their camera lenses, but Clearwater police are singularly uninterested in the indisputable video evidence of these crimes.

Engineer Keith Henson of Palo Alto, California, a free speech advocate and one of Scientology's most persistent critics, has been driven into personal bankruptcy by the group. He posted on the Internet a letter he wrote to a judge, containing an excerpt from one of Scientology's secret scriptures about how the group's ''E-meters'' (crude devices that are nothing more than simple galvanometers) could be used to diagnose and treat diseases. Henson argued that Scientology was practicing medicine without a license as well as promoting dangerous and unproven medical practices, and hence his revelation and discussion of this act constituted protected free speech on a subject of public interest. But after a series of bizarre rulings against Henson by the judge, Scientology obtained a judgment of $75,000 against him for ''copyright infringement.'' The amount of money that the organization has spent to crush Henson using top-- dollar legal talent dwarfs the amount they could ever hope to collect from him by at least a factor of ten, and probably much more that that. Such persecution is clearly intended not to protect Scientology's legitimate interests but to serve as a warning to other would-be activists of the fate awaiting them should they follow Henson's example.

Now the Scientologists are attempting to have Henson put in jail for allegedly threatening to attack their main headquarters with nuclear cruise missiles (see www.xenu.net/archive/WIR/wir5-25.htmlOff-site Link). According to the police report on the incident, ''some threats [were] being made against the Church on the Internet newsgroup, alt.Religion.scientologyOff-site Link. In the documents, it shows Keith discussing how an ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missiles) could be accurate enough to hit the Church of Scientology. [G] also showed me documents that have pictures of the Church in San Jacinto, with satellite coordinates, so that a missile could be accurately launched at the Church.'' As far as is known, Henson possesses no nuclear weapons, nor any cruise missiles to deliver them.

Nonetheless the case is going to trial in Riverside County, California, charging Henson with making ''misdemeanor terrorist threats.''

While it claims to promote high ethical standards, the Church of Scientology is well-known for its harrassment of critics. In fact, the Scientology organization is increasingly acting like a hate group

7. A Thorn in the MPAA's Side
Wired, Mar. 20, 2001
http://www.wired.com/Off-site Link

Dave Touretzky might seem like an unlikely champion of free expression.
The 41-year-old researcher (http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/Off-site Link) at Carnegie Mellon University's School of Computer Science (http://www.cs.cmu.edu/Off-site Link) in Pittsburgh spends his evenings investigating how the brains of rats record and process location information.

But Touretzky is also a fierce advocate of the First Amendment and the Internet, and has spent much of the last decade battling to protect the ability of students, programmers and critics to speak freely online.

Seven years ago, he fought against former CMU president Robert Mehrabian's decision to censor (http://www.eff.org/pub/Legal/Cases/CMU_censorship/Off-site Link) sex-themed Usenet newsgroups from campus computers, and his website with details about the Church of Scientology's secret scriptures (http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/Secrets/index.htmlOff-site Link) drew legal threats (http://www.eff.org/pub/Publications/Declan_McCullagh/focus.scientology.and.cmu.1095.articleOff-site Link) from the church's notoriously censorial attorneys.

Touretzky's latest project is no less controversial: a Gallery of CSS Descramblers (http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/DeCSS/Gallery/index.htmlOff-site Link) that thumbs its nose at the Motion Picture Association of America (http://www.mpaa.org/Off-site Link) by exhaustively documenting how to decrypt DVDs. It includes every known computer program that does so.

To Touretzky, his fight against the movie industry's attempt to suppress the spread of DeCSS is hauntingly similar to his encounters with the Church of Scientology, which he describes as a ''rich and vengeful religious cult.'' (Church representatives were hardly pleased with his reposting of information about Xenu (http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/OTIII/Off-site Link), the apparent space alien who's part of the Scientology scriptures.)

''There are really interesting parallels between the Scientology cases and the DeCSS cases that nobody wants to talk about in public,'' Touretzky said. ''(Both groups) use trade secret and copyright law to crush critics.''

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