Religion News Roundup, April 15, 2011

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  • ‘Archangel Gabriel’ to be released from prison: The leader of Indonesia’s Salamullah (God’s Kingdom of Eden) sect, Lia Aminudin (aka Lia Eden) will be released from prison today. Eden says she is the reincarnation of the archangel Gabriel and that she receives messages from God. She was jailed for blasphemy against Islam.
  • Japan: Security agency inspects 32 AUM Shinrikyo cult facilities in 2010: Japan’s Public Security Intelligence Agency last year conducted on-site inspections of 32 facilities belonging to the AUM Shinrikyo cult under a law designed to curb the activities of the organization, whose members had committed indiscriminate mass murder, the government said Friday. At the facilities, photos of AUM founder Shoko Asahara, 56, who is on death row, were still displayed and followers chanted “It is our pleasure to die for the guru” in celebration of his birthday, it said.
  • 18 years after Waco, Davidians believe Koresh was God: For more than a decade on every Saturday, the Branch Davidian Sabbath, Sheila Martin and Clive Doyle have gotten together to pray and discuss the Bible. They affirm to each other that David Koresh was God in the flesh.
  • Federal judge demands state judge appear over FLDS battle: A federal judge threatened Thursday to send marshals to drag a state judge into his courtroom over an order she issued that conflicted with his. U.S. District Judge Dee Benson ordered 3rd District Judge Denise Lindberg to appear in his courtroom Friday to explain her decision asking the administrator of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints’ property trust not to comply with a federal order giving the polygamous sect temporary control of the trust. See also: Utah Supreme Court to decide FLDS land battle
  • Judge lowers bonds for man and woman tied to polygamist sect and missing persons case: Court documents show investigators think Sisk and Moses were involved in the deaths of Jadon Higganbothan and Antoinetta McKoy. No murder charges have been filed. Police say all four belonged to a small polygamist religious group called the Black Hebrews.
  • Ex-NXIVM official loses bankruptcy bid: Barbara J. Bouchey, a financial planner who broke away from the cult-like group NXIVM had her bankruptcy case dismissed on Thursday by a federal judge who scolded her for inaccurately disclosing her assets. But by throwing out the bankruptcy, the judge may have helped Bouchey in the short term to escape a series of legal headaches.
  • Coleman murder trial: Things get prickly during jury selection: Coleman, 34, faces three counts of first-degree murder for the strangulation of his wife, Sheri, 31, and the couple’s sons, Garett, 11, and Gavin, 9. They were found in the bedrooms of their home at 2854 Robert Drive in Columbia on May 5, 2009. Police theorize that Coleman, a former Marine and personal bodyguard for televangelist Joyce Meyer, killed his wife and sons so he could marry his lover, Florida waitress Tara Lintz, without fear of losing his job with the ministry.
  • Over 400 Ahmadis ‘On Right Path,’ West Java Governor Says: More than 400 members of the beleaguered Ahmadiyah have converted to mainstream Islam since a ban on their activities was issued in West Java, officials claimed on Thursday. West Java Governor Ahmad Heryawan said encouraging conversions was the main objective of the ban, which he ordered on March 3. The ban followed a series of attacks against the minority sect by mainstream Muslims and hard-liners. The murderous Muslims attacked Ahmadis because they believe Ahmadiyah to be an illegitimate form of Islam (According to the savage murderers Islam is a ‘religion of peace.’)
  • Pakistan’s blasphemy vigilantes kill exonerated man: Mohamed Imran had been accused, jailed, tried and cleared: if anything, society owed him a debt as a man wrongfully accused. But his crime was blasphemy. He was meant to have said something derogatory about the prophet Mohammed, so in Pakistan justice worked a little differently. Two weeks after he returned to his small patch of farmland on the rustic outskirts of Islamabad, his alleged crime caught up with him. Two Muslim barbarians murdered him.
  • National Day of Prayer upheld by 7th Circuit: A federal appeals court reversed April 14 a 2010 ruling that had invalidated the National Day of Prayer. A three-judge panel of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago struck down in a unanimous decision federal judge Barbara Crabb’s opinion that a law establishing a day for the observance was unconstitutional. The appellate ruling came almost one year to the day of Crabb’s controversial ruling.
    Analysis, Commentary, Opinion

  • France Is Brave and Right to Ban the Burqa: France is brave and right to ban the burqa. There is no reason for a modern Western country to honor what is, essentially, a political statement and an ethnic and misogynistic custom. Banning the burqa is not infringing on religious freedom but is, rather, a principled blow against the Talibanesque and barbaric subordination of Muslim women on Western soil.
  • Fight on Liturgy Divides Catholics: Despite all the really weighty issues Roman Catholics face, including the latest sexual abuse scandal playing out in Philadelphia, the most passionate debate this year may well be whether the Nicene Creed should say “one in Being with” or “consubstantial with.” That’s because the Vatican plans to introduce a new English-language Roman Missal, the prayer script we Catholics use at Mass — and its awkward changes to prayers and the liturgy are raising a chorus of complaints from priests and the laity. The tiresome practice of theological hairsplitting is still alive and well in the 21st century.
    Also Noted

  • John Cleese condemns “church teachings” in interview: Monty Python star Cleese blasted the Pope’s teachings on abortion and homosexuality and claimed they “would not be recognised by Christ”. Cleese made his outburst in a BBC interview when he denied that the ‘Life of Brian‘ film was anti-Christian. The actor says the movie was a blast at the way religious fanatics promote their own beliefs rather than an attack on faith itself. “I’m personally fascinated by religion and spirituality and sometimes think spirituality is a bit of a threat to religion because the organised churches are so into power and influence and indeed wealth. “And if there’s anything that Jesus Christ teaches people, it’s not about power.”
  • What Is A Cult? Recognizing And Avoiding Unhealthy Groups: Perhaps it is more useful to discern what a religious movement is or what a cult is by comparing its impact upon members’ lives: does it compliment or control? At their best, healthy religions and organizations compliment rich, full lives by offering balance, community, comfort. At their worst, they lapse into vehicles demanding control. Cults limit lives into narrow, claustrophobic existences whose singular purpose is the cult itself. By Jayanti Tamm, author of Cartwheels in a Sari: A Memoir of Growing Up Cult [Kindle editionoffsite | Buy a Kindleoffsite]
  • Philippine priest in ancient battle with ‘demons’: A blood-curdling scream echoes through the Roman Catholic chapel in Manila as Father Jose Francisco Syquia says a prayer of exorcism over a Satanic cult member believed to be possessed by the devil. The case is among hundreds documented on video and kept by Syquia, who heads the Manila Archdiocese’s Office of Exorcism — the only one that exists in the Catholic nation of 94 million people. “She would have levitated had she not been restrained,” Syquia said of the woman in the video, portions of which were shown to AFP during a rare interview at his office in the basement of a seminary in Manila. Syquia believes he is in the frontline of the battle between good and evil on earth. “There is a great dramatic increase of possessions right now,” said the 44-year-old priest. “More and more the demons are gaining a foothold into this society.”
  • Were Nails from Caiaphas’ Tomb Used to Crucify Jesus?: Just in time for Easter, an Israeli television journalist has produced a pair of nails he says may have been used to crucify Jesus Christ. “We’re not saying these are the nails,” says Simcha Jacobovici, holding aloft a pair of smallish iron spikes with the tips hammered to one side. “We’re saying these could be the nails.”
  • New abortion laws show Christian Right’s continued power: So maybe the Christian Right isn’t so dead after all. In fact, the movement that was supposed to have been eclipsed by the fiscally focused Tea Party in recent years and was said to be reeling from the loss of leaders like Jerry Falwell is showing some pretty dramatic signs of life.
  • Sweat Lodge Prayers: A largely Christian community of Native North Americans in Quebec has banned a spiritual practice traditional to their people, the Cree. The decision has disappointed some ministers in native communities in the United States and Canada. The Band Council of Oujé-Bougoumou, a village of about 600 James Bay Cree, voted in October to dismantle a sweat lodge some residents had constructed. The council decided that Oujé-Bougoumou’s Christian founding elders had not intended the community to partake in “native spirituality or practices.” “The practice of the sweat lodge and its rituals are not restricted to merely medical [pursuit] of healing, but [are] in essence a way to contact and communicate with the spirit world through shamanism,” the resolution declared.

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This post was last updated: May. 9, 2014