Religion News Blog Roundup for Feb. 5, 2008

“RNB Roundup” is a collection of clippings, snippets, links, commentary and other items that, in one way or another, relate to the topics normally covered in Religion News Blog.

Note: This page may grow throughout the day… Too, linked items may be online for a limited time only. Get them while they’re hot.


First This

Human brain is truly a miracle

The human brain is a wonderful thing. Some people believe it evolved purely by chance over eons of time. Others believe a deity made human beings exactly as we are today. Many believe something that falls between those two opposites. Whatever is true about how it got to be the way it is, the human brain is a marvel.
- More

Winston Churchill didn’t really exist, say teens

A fifth of British teenagers believe Sir Winston Churchill was a fictional character, while many think Sherlock Holmes, King Arthur and Eleanor Rigby were real, a survey shows.
- Telegraph

Hm. That item doesn’t have a religion angle, but a reference to fiction always is a good transition into our next topic.

Scientology

Anonymous: 300,000 People To Protest Scientology Sunday

The anti-Scientology group “Anonymous” told NBC11 Monday it expected more than 300,000 people to join protests expected Feb. 10.
[...]

“Of the 24 time zones there are 17 that have a church located in them and we believe our protesting is happening in 15 of those 17,” said the group member. “We have a map that people can log in to and say what protest they’re going to at the current moment. At last count we expect 300,000 at all the protests. Everyone in the world is invited. We’re trying to get support from local organizations.”
[...]

The group said it still planned to engage in activities that would harm Scientology Web sites. The member told NBC11 that she knew the activities were considered illegal. She said she was not a hacker herself.

The member said Anonymous is planning to hold large monthly protests against Scientology at its churches each month until May.

She said the group is drawing up plans for more protests after that.

The group member said Anonymous would hold another large protest two days after church founder L. Ron Hubbard‘s birthday on March 15.
- NBC11.com

Scientology Victims

Scientology-Victims-Testimonies.com is a first of its kind website, featuring video testimonies by the victims of the Scientology cult. The victims tell their stories about how they got involved with the cult, went through horrifying nightmares and had trouble to get out.
- Press Release

Scientology feud with its critics takes to Internet
A rather late entry in the Los Angeles Times, with an overview of the Anonymous vs. Scientology war briefly mentions the debate amongst long-time Scientology critics regarding the Anonymous campaign:

Their campaign has sparked a debate among long-time Scientology’s opponents, who wonder whether the aggressive rhetoric and tactics, including illegal denial-of-service attacks on the church’s websites, help the cause by raising awareness of the religion’s controversial beliefs, or hurt it by using the same type of heavy-handed methods they accuse Scientology officials of employing against critics.

“I don’t know if anybody in Anonymous did this but Anonymous set themselves up to be targeted in this way . . .,” said Mark Bunker, who runs one of the leading websites criticizing the church, www.xenutv.com, and posted a video last week warning Anonymous to tone down its campaign.

“I hope it doesn’t hurt the larger critic community who have been speaking out for years about Scientology’s abuse.”

Oh… about that transition from the brain (and fiction) to Scientology: take a look at this:

One of Scientology’s favourite promotional leaflets, “endorsed” by Albert Einstein (in image at least), proclaims that the average person uses only 10% of their mental capacity. With Dianetics, this figure can supposedly increase. The same message has been repeated by Scientology for decades. But where does it come from and on what is it based?
- Scientology and the Great 10% Myth


Religious Merchandising

Coca-Cola and the Russian Orthodox Church
From December, 2007:

A group of Orthodox Christians in northwest Russia have accused Coca-Cola of offending their religious beliefs with adverts that use distorted images of Orthodox churches, including inverted crosses.

Coca-Cola representatives said the adverts demonstrated their attitude to preserving cultural heritage.
- More

Coca-Cola has now removed the ads, saying that “guided by the principles of responsible marketing, we have made a decision to remove refrigerators depicting Orthodox churches in Nizhny Novgorod, and all similar images will be shortly replaced by others.”

Wesley Snipes

Demolition Man
Item: Wesley Snipes acquitted of federal tax fraud, but actor could owe millions in back taxes. Radar Online provides some background in an article sub-titled, “What’s up with Wesley? An indictment for tax fraud, an affinity for extremist groups, and a private militia, for starters.”

Somewhere along the line, Snipes seems to have become involved with the Nuwaubians, then headquartered in Putnam County, Georgia, though the exact nature of his relationship with this group is unclear. In 2000, a Nuwaubian representative told the Macon Telegraph that Snipes was an “avid” member, and the cult boasted of its relationship with Snipes on its website. Noting that the star “is a proud Nubian/Nuwaubian,” the site added, rather portentously, “He is moving to Putnam County, and with him comes more money and power. All Nuwaubians will join his elite force for training. We will stop at nothing to drive the evil out of Putnam County.”

At the time, the actor’s representative denied that Snipes was “even remotely” affiliated with the sect, but his attempt in May 2000 to purchase 257 acres adjacent to the Nuwaubian compound for use as a training camp certainly raised eyebrows.
- Radar Online

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