20th January 11:50
ReligionNewsBlog.com, June 21, 2004 (down abortion eye heart job)
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ReligionNewsBlog.com, June 21, 2004
[USA] When Ofra Bikel's camera rolls, injustice crumbles
By my conservative count, at least 11 innocent men and women have been
freed from prison because of Ofra Bikel. [...] Bikel makes
do***entaries for "Frontline," a 21-year-old series that is one of a
dwindling number of jewels in public television's national schedule.
Although she has produced films on international affairs, family
dynamics, pseudo psychoscience and clashes between and within
cultures, Bikel's specialty is justice. [...] Like most of Bikel's
films, "The Plea" is infuriating. Peeling apart the layers of three
cases in Texas and New York, Bikel finds innocent people rotting in
jail or scavenging for food and shelter on the street, all thanks to
plea bargains coerced from them by sneaky prosecutors, inept and
overworked public defenders and arrogant judges.
Plea bargaining comes under a judicious eye
[Hate Groups : Scientology] Dianetics technology may find way into
Dianetics, a technology of the mind, could find its way into Botswana
if the efforts of Warren Bruckamann and his team succeed.
[Deeper Life Christian Church] Deeper Life Church: Ministry or money
Few nonmembers ever see inside Deeper Life Church, not even the
church's primary financial source drivers at busy intersections who
drop spare change into white buckets held by Deeper Life members.
[...] Although it prefers to be called a fund-raising entity,
according to an investigative series conducted by the Tampa Tribune in
2003, Deeper Life files with the Internal Revenue Service as a church.
[Mungiki] Police Raid Mungiki Brewery
The swoop, in which 122 suspected Mungiki members were arrested in
Dandora, Kayole and other parts of Buruburu division, comes barely 72
hours after a provincial security meeting was held in Nyayo House
where war was declared on the sect.
[Church and State] Evangelicals draft political guidelines
The National Association of Evangelicals is circulating a draft of a
groundbreaking framework for political action that strongly endorses
social and economic justice and warns against close alignment with any
political party. Steeped in biblical morality and evangelical
scholarship, the framework for public engagement could change how the
estimated 30 million evangelicals in the United States are viewed by
liberals and conservatives alike.
[Church and State] Politics and the Church
Under Internal Revenue Service laws, churches and other religious
organizations can lose their tax exempt status if they endorse
political candidates. Enforcement of that provision, however, is
complicated by the fact that churches are free to speak out on
political issues -- such as whether the government should outlaw
abortion or *** marriage. And clergy are able to speak out for
candidates if they do it as private individuals, not as
representatives of their church. "What's different this year is the
Bush/Cheney campaign are initiating efforts to get churches to break
the law by becoming centers of Bush campaign activity,'' said Lynn,
noting that the campaign has not repudiated the "friendly
congregations" effort in Pennsylvania.
[Witchcraft] Witchcraft's Innocent Victims
A deep-rooted belief in witchcraft by many Zimbabweans continues to
cause untold suffering to the innocent, with grievous assault and even
murder unleashed against those irrationally thought to be witches.
[USA] Most Guantanamo Detainees Pose No Threat -NYTimes
Bush administration and U.S. military officials have repeatedly
exaggerated the intelligence value of detainees at Guantanamo Bay as
well as the danger they pose, The New York Times reported on Monday.
Contrary to the repeated assertions of senior administration
officials, none of the detainees at the U.S. naval base in Cuba ranked
as leaders or senior operatives of al Qaeda, the newspaper reported,
citing interviews with high-level military, intelligence and
law-enforcement officials in the United States, Europe and the Middle
[Hate Groups] Fire destroys Bay County site of meetings held by a hate
A Bay County furniture store that once was the site of meetings held
by an anti-Semitic hate group was destroyed by a fire early Monday,
officials said. The hate group, organized by Christian Identity
teacher James P. Wickstrom, met at the Marquiss Quality Furniture
store for about three years. Wickstrom moved to Tennessee in June
2003, but returned to the area a few months ago.
[Raelians] Cult plans first Scots baby clone
A controversial religious sect is tonight expected to tell an
Edinburgh audience that it attempting to produce the first Scottish
cloned baby. Dr Brigitte Boisellier, a French scientist at the heart
of Clonaid, a company which claims it has produced cloned humans, was
tonight due to join Raelian sect leader Rael to address a conference
at the Sheraton Grand Hotel. Clonaid, which claims to be behind 13
cloned babies worldwide, was expected to outline how they aim to
produce a cloned baby in Dundee to help a couple who lost their
daughter in an accident.
[Paganism] Thousands gather at Stonehenge
About 21,000 revellers gathered at Stonehenge in Wiltshire overnight
to mark the summer solstice. The 5,000-year-old World Heritage site
was open to the public, following earlier years in which it was closed
amid fears of damage to the stones.
[Islam] Irish outlaw Muslim second wives
Muslims who marry Irish women have to make a formal declaration that
they will not take more than one wife on being granted citizenship.
The Irish government confirmed yesterday that it has ordered all men
from Islamic countries seeking residency to sign a sworn affidavit
[Hate Groups] French neo-Nazis turn on Muslim graves attacks
Anxiety is growing in France about a series of neo-Nazi attacks on
Jewish, and now Muslim, sites especially in the Strasbourg and Colmar
areas of Alsace. There have been five serious incidents in or near the
Alsatian cities in the past seven weeks, culminating in the
desecration of a Muslim cemetery in Meinau last week. Local
politicians and police have mostly dismissed the attacks as the work
of children or adolescents but community leaders insist that they are
part of an entrenched pattern of racist abuse.
[Islam] It's an uneasy time for Britain and its rising Muslim
Just down the way from the Whitechapel underground stop in the heart
of Britain's largest Muslim neighborhood, the young men of the
Al-Muhajiroun movement had set up a campaign stand. The message,
referring to the June 10 elections for local government and the
European Parliament, was blunt: "Stay Muslim. Don't vote." "Democracy
is an act of apostasy. Integration is a failure for Muslims," one of
the pamphleteers said, declining to give his name. The group's leader,
Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammad, has called the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist
attacks "a magnificent operation in every way." Most paid little
attention as women in burqas and men in skullcaps streamed through,
shopping in the main market in what has become known as Banglatown.
Islamic extremism is nothing new here, and these views don't represent
the thinking of most of Britain's 1.6 million Muslims any more than
the neo-Fascist British National Party, which wants to "resettle"
nonwhites, speaks for most Christians. But opinion polls indicate that
sympathy for both strains of thought is on the rise. A feeling of
mutual alienation has come to pervade the debate over how Britain can
best accommodate its growing Muslim minority, Europe's third-largest.
And it's not only about politics: Law-enforcement officials worry that
the young, disaffected Muslim population is fertile recruiting ground
for terrorism. A similar dilemma confronts France, Germany and much of
the rest of Western Europe...
[Anglican Church] Child abuse arrests hit Aussie church
The Anglican Church in Australia has been engulfed in a child ***
abuse scandal with nine people, including two former ministers,
arrested or ordered to appear in court on ***ual abuse offences,
police said on Monday. Police made arrests across Australia between
Thursday and Sunday after investigating 200 claims of *** abuses
against children by former members of the Anglican Church in the state
of South Australia.
[Buffy, the Vampire Slayer] The gospel of Buffy
It started out as a joke. Two academic women were laughing over the
absurdity of writing a book about the spirituality of the **** TV show
"Buffy the Vampire Slayer" in May 2002. But by fall of that year, Jana
Riess, religion book review editor at Publishers Weekly, was writing a
book proposal. [...] And "What Would Buffy Do? The Vampire Slayer as
Spiritual Guide" (Jossey-Bass, $14.95) is the result.
[Mungiki] War on Mungiki sect still on
The war on the outlawed Mungiki sect is still on, Internal Security
minister Chris Murungaru, has said. He assured the public that the
Government had not relented in its crackdown against the sect and
other organised criminal groups. While addressing the Press at
Karundas Secondary School in his Kieni constituency, Dr Murungaru said
the Government would "wipe out" the sect, as the amnesty extended to
its members early last year had long expired.
[Koreshans] Koreshan appeal heats up for summer
Spend some time this summer at the Koreshan State Historic Site
campground and youll find yourself sharing the nature trail with
grazing gopher tortoises. Take along a canoe, small boat or kayak and
thread your way down the meandering Estero River to Estero Bay and
Mound Key. Spend a weekend and take a narrated tour of the historic
site where members of the Koreshan religious sect built their
community in the wilderness in the late 1890s.
See also: Just who were the Koreshans?
[India] Buried Indian mystic suffocates
An Indian mystic who undertook to be buried for the weekend as a
penance to bring world peace has suffocated in his pit, police say.
Ananda Swami, in his early 20s, had his followers bury him in a deep
pit near Madras, saying he would come back at the appointed hour to
bless them all.
He apparently went underground in the hamlet of Vadipatti last Friday
evening. The pit was covered with five wooden planks and then fires,
which play a key role in all Hindu rituals, were lit close by. Ananda
Swami's followers were so convinced their swami, or godman, would come
out with redoubled spiritual vigour, that they arranged to feed over
1,000 poor people to mark his emergence from the samadhi, or
[Hare Krishna] Hare Krishna Community Survives Struggle, Scandal
After 36 years of struggling to build a community and survive scandal
within its ranks, the New Vrindaban Community is living a peaceful
existence among the hills of Marshall County. [...] New Vrindaban
General Manager Kuladri dasa said things have changed at the community
in the recent years since it was under the leadership of Swami
Bhaktipada, who went to prison on federal mail and racketeering
charges. Bhaktipada, also known as Keith Gordon Ham, 66, was sentenced
to 10 years in jail in 1996. He was granted early release last week.
He is believed to have relocated to New York City.
[Ralph A. Wilkerson] Evangelist Won't Help Receiver in Ponzi Case
Several high-profile evangelists entangled in an alleged investment
scam targeting born-again Christians are helping authorities unravel
the operation. One prominent pastor, however, has declined to assist:
the Rev. Ralph A. Wilkerson, founder of Melodyland Christian Center in
Anaheim, according to the court-appointed receiver whose job it is to
salvage the remains of what federal prosecutors allege was a Ponzi
scheme. Wilkerson's failure to cooperate is hampering the effort to
recover the millions of dollars some investors lost with Ontario-based
IPIC International Inc., receiver Dennis L. Roossien Jr. said last
week. "He could help a lot if he wanted to," Roossien said. IPIC was
Philosophy of Prosperity of Greg Setser."
[Kabbalah] How Madonna's Sect Snared My Daughter
This week, Madonna revealed that she has changed her name to 'Esther'
as part of her involvement in the Kabbalah sect. Here, in an open
letter to the star, another Esther - Esther Rantzen - describes how
her own daughter was drawn into Kabbalah, and makes a heartfelt plea
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