Religion News Briefs, December 19, 2012
- Micah Moore, the man who claimed to have murdered Bethany Deaton — of member of his religious community — last friday was indicted by a Grand Jury for first degree murder.
- The Kansas City Star says this new indictment supersedes a previous charge of murder filed by the Jackson County, MO, prosecutor’s office.
- KCTV, Kansas City, says this means prosecutors will not have to reveal evidence at a preliminary hearing.
- Bethany Ann Deaton’s death had been considered a suicide until Micah Moore turned himself in to police and confessed that he murdered her.
- In a Probably Cause statement, Moore claimed he killed Deaton at the request of her husband, Tyler Deaton — who was considered the small religious commune’s spiritual leader.
- Moore told police the woman was killed to stop her from revealing to her therapist that she was being sexually abused by him and other men in the group.
- According to court documents several of the men living in the commune told detectives they were involved in a “sexual group,” having sex with each other, and that it was part of a “religious experience.” The men in the group had also engaged in sex with Tyler Deaton.
- The International House of Prayer (IHOP-KC), and Forerunner Christian Fellowship — IHOP-KC’s “local expression” — quickly tried to distance themselves from Tyler Deaton. In a statement the church said that as far back as last June there were concerns regarding Tyler Deaton’s “manipulative behavior in his independent Bible study group.”
- The church also said, “Knowing what we know now, we deeply regret our failure to discern the nature of Deaton’s alleged secretive, perverse, cultic practices.”
- The International House of Prayer (IHOP-KC) is a controversial ‘charismatic Christian’ organization based in Kansas City, Missouri. It is associated with religious figures whose doctrines and practices tend to vary from those of normative, Biblical Christianity. The church and its university are not implicated in the crime.
- Meanwhile, Moore’s lawyer claimed the confession was false. She explained:
They were statements of a distraught and confused young man under extreme psychological pressures as a result of his friend Bethany’s untimely suicide and the sudden removal of his spiritual leader, Tyler Deaton, from their extremely close-knit religious community.
The doctrines taught in that community affected Micah’s mental state and unfortunately dominated his thinking. Micah’s fiction to police led to the filing of the complaint in this case.
- Tyler Deaton has not been charged. Nor have any other members of the religious community been charged.
- Moore is currently free on a $250,000 cash bond. His next scheduled hearing is January 17.
- The criminal trial of Malcolm Fraser has been moved to January 16, 2013.
- Fraser, the assistant pastor of ‘Sound Doctrine Church’ in Enumclaw, Washington, was charged with two counts of first-degree rape of a child. He has pleaded not guilty to both counts.
- The trial was originally scheduled for early last November, and was then pushed back to December 11.
- The latest delay results from a request by Fraser’s legal counsel “to have the computers of the Enumclaw Police Department forensically examined for emails potentially relevant to the case.”
- Sound Doctrine Church is a tiny, non-traditional church that is not affiliated with any denomination. Ex-members have referred to it — in sworn affidavits submitted to a court — as a ‘cult’ in the sociological sense of the term.
- In addition, contrary to the church’s name, the beliefs promoted by Sound Doctrine Church include many unbiblical teachings. Taking practices into account as well, in our opinion the church is, theologically, a cult of Christianity.
- The church has put up a slick website in defense of its assistant pastor, and appears to claim that an investigating police officer in the case has been biased toward the church and its pastors by ex-members of that church, specifically Athena Dean and Jessica Gambill. Sound Doctrine Church claims it is the subject of religious persecution and hate crimes.
- Judge Beth Andrus has stated that
the defense can argue that the detective’s personal religious beliefs affected his objectivity in evaluating [the girl's] disclosure and evaluating any influence that [the two church critics] may have had leading up [the girl's] disclosures.
But it is also clear to the court the detective McCall honestly did not see this information as Brady evidence.
The court concludes that his personal religious opposition to what he perceives of Sound Doctrine Church may be affecting his judgement in this regard.
- The judge has ordered the Enuclaw police department to have its server and the detective’s computer analyzed forensically by January 4, 2013, in search of emails that may support Malcolm Fraser’s defense attorney’s claim of bias against his client.
- Local newspaper the Courier-Herald says
Fraser was arrested by Enumclaw police March 20 of this year. According to charging papers, he is alleged to have had repeated sexual contacts with a girl during 2005 and 2006. [...]
The victim alleges Fraser visited her room more than 20 times, after midnight, and touched her in an inappropriate manner. Fraser “would cover her mouth so she would keep quiet and not yell,” according to the report. The victim said she attempted to fight, but Fraser would threaten to hurt the child or her mother. The victim said Fraser informed her she would go to hell if she told anyone what was occurring.
- A comprehensive demographic study of more than 230 countries and territories conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life estimates that there are 5.8 billion religiously affiliated adults and children around the globe, representing 84% of the 2010 world population of 6.9 billion.
- That means worldwide more than eight-in-ten people identify with a religious group.
- On the other hand, the study also shows the growth of the so-called ‘nones‘:
[R]oughly one-in-six people around the globe (1.1 billion, or 16%) have no religious affiliation. This makes the unaffiliated the third-largest religious group worldwide, behind Christians and Muslims, and about equal in size to the world’s Catholic population.
Surveys indicate that many of the unaffiliated hold some religious or spiritual beliefs (such as belief in God or a universal spirit) even though they do not identify with a particular faith.
- According to the Washington Post the report covers 230 countries and is drawn from more than 2,500 censuses, surveys and population records accrued through 2010. It marks the first attempt to pin down a global religious landscape using such records.
Read the full report: The Global Religious Landscape
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