About Religion News Blog

What is Religion News Blog?

Religion News Blog (RNB) is a news curator. We provide busy religion professionals, academics, cult experts, reporters and others with a daily selection of religion news. RNB has a particular focus on issues dealing with groups and movements often referred to as ‘cults,’ ‘sects,’ or ‘abusive churches.’ We also cover related issues – including religious persecution and human rights.

All news items are hand-selected by religion- and cult experts, and are linked to the full articles at their original sources. We include a dash of opinion, along with links to additional research resources. Religion News Blog is an excellent way to quickly catch up on today’s top religion news reports, key facts, and other religion information sources.

Religion News Blog has been ‘on the air’ since July, 2002.

  • Religion News Blog (RNB) provides religion researchers with expert-selected news items about world religions, religious movements, cults, sects, and related issues.
  • Published by Apologetics Index, RNB allows researchers to see the news in context, with links to additional articles as well as to our collection of research resources.
  • All news items in Religion News Blog are hand-picked by religion- and cult experts. We view ourselves as curators of the information provided.
  • This non-profit service is provided as a research resource, and is intended for educational purposes only.
  • In short: RNB is a non-profit service that alerts Christian apologetics- and counter-cult professionals – as well as other academic and professional communities – to relevant religion-, apologetics-, human rights-, and ethics news from around the world.

Purpose

  • The purpose of Religion News Blog is solely to provide information for research and educational purposes — with a particular focus on issues dealing with groups and movements often referred to as ‘cults,’ ‘sects,’ ‘abusive churches,’ and related issues.
  • Religion News Blog (and its parent site, Apologetics Index) does not sell any goods, services or products. If and when counseling and/or cult intervention is provided, such is done without fees, charges or any other compensation.

Who operates Religion News Blog?

Who uses Religion News Blog?

  • RNB’s non-profit news clipping service is used by – among others – Christian apologists, countercult professionals, anticult organizations, teachers, religion professionals, government officials, legal professionals, reporters and other researchers.

Religious Freedom

  • The publishers of Apologetics Index / Religion News Blog support freedom of religion in thought and expression. (See: Our Viewpoint)

Can These Media Reports Be Trusted?

When researching religious movements, news reports should not be your only source of information. However, news reports can provide lots of details often missed, dismissed, ignored, or even contradicted by academic researchers, including cult apologists – academics who have gained a reputation for their defence of (and what amounts to PR work for) cults.

Psychologist Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, in an essay critical of such ‘collaboration,’ writes:

The moral of recent well-publicized NRM tragedies, such as the Branch Davidians case or the Heaven’s Gate case, as far as reporting and analysis is concerned, is that reading Newsweek, Time, or the New York Times may be just as profitable, or more, as reading scholarly works.

Media reporting in general is quite limited, but investigative reporting by major media, when time and effort are put in, and wire-service reports, are worth at least taking seriously. There are sometimes real errors in the media, but this happens in academic works too.

Reading the scholarly literature, with a few notable and commendable exceptions, does not result in a better understanding of what the Branch Davidians at Waco were all about. The most basic human questions are left unanswered. Newsweek reported quite accurately on who David Koresh really was, and at the same time was severely critical of U.S. government authorities and their outrageous mishandling of the case.

If you were just to rely on Newsweek to understand what happened at Waco, you would reach the conclusion that a group of deranged victims, led by a manipulative madman, was being decimated by superior federal firepower in a senseless and tragic confrontation ignited by the illegal acts of some group members.

Would you miss out on some fine points of scholarly analysis? Not if such analysis consisted of a scholarly defence of indefensible behavior. One way of looking at the Mt. Carmel tragedy is by comparing it to the many tragic confrontations between deranged individuals and insensitive or unaware members of police forces around the world.

The only acceptable defence for David Koresh may be the insanity defence, and this is something you will gather soon enough from the media, which have proven themselves just as accurate in the cases of Krishna Venta, Benjamin Purnell, Aum Shinrikyo, the People’s Temple, the Solar Temple, and Heaven’s Gate.

As we have demonstrated in the case of the Branch Davidians and Aum Shinrikyo, sensational media reports never die, they don’t even fade away. They just come back as scholarly data, to be interpreted or euphemized.
- Source: Collaborationism and Research Integrity, an essay by Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, published in, Part 1, Chapter 1 of Misunderstanding Cults. Editors: Benjamin Zablocki and Thomas Robbins. (University of Toronto Press, 2001), p. 63,64. An abridged version of Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi’s paper is posted here.

Disclaimer

  • Religion News Blog posts news items from – for the most part – secular news sources. Unless specifically noted, the inclusion of a news item does not constitute endorsement of the news source, the publication in which the item was found, the author or organization responsible for the item, or the ideas expressed within the item. The material is provided solely as a research resource, and is intended for educational purposes only. In other words, we hope this comes as no surprise but RNB, its publishers, associates, and web hosts are not responsible for the content of the news items quoted. Don’t shoot the messenger.
  • Many of the articles posted at Religion News Blog are about groups, organizations or movements, which may have been called “cults” and/or “cult-like” in some way, shape or form (and people associated, or formerly associated, with such groups may have been described as ‘cult leaders’ or ‘cult members’). But not all groups called either “cults” or “cult-like” are harmful. Instead, they may be benign and generally defined as simply people intensely devoted to a person, place or thing. Therefore, the discussion or mention of a group, organization or person on this page, is not necessarily meant pejoratively. Readers are encouraged to read widely on a topic before forming an opinion. Never accept information from a single source at face value. This website only holds a small amount of information and should not be relied on as a complete source. For example, if you find older information, this should be weighed up against newer information as circumstances can change.
  • Opinions expressed by the publisher fall under the headings of privileged comment and free speech.
  • In order to facilitate research, RNB adds links to relevant research resources.
  • To aid researchers, articles on this website are filed under one or more topics. Assignment of these topics is done by the publishers of RNB and are considered statements of opinion.
  • We use the term ‘cult’ in an academic sense. We refer users to our sister website, Cult FAQ for indepth information regarding the terminology.
  • Religion News Blog is a service operated by Apologetics Index. The extended disclaimer posted at Apologetics Index also applies to Religion News Blog.

Copyright

Original material is © Copyright 1996 — 2014, Religion News Blog. All rights reserved.

Note: You are welcome to use Religion News Blog’s headlines at your blog or website, in the manner specified.

In the past Religion News Blog provided a full-text archive.

However, newspapers and other online news outlets have become much better at making available their archived material. Therefore — just like we do at our parent publication, Apologetics Index — we prefer to point to resources rather than to re-invent the wheel. Hence we quote enough material for researchers to stay on top of developments, or to get a quite overview, while pointing them to the original sources for more information.

Starting in July 2008, Religion News Blog quoted brief excerpts only — as always providing links to the original sources.

Since May 2012, we have limited the amount of quoted material even further.

If you want to read the full stories, visit the original publishers at the links indicated. If stories are no longer available at those links, try searching the original publication’s archives – or contact the news source directly. The publication in question may also have additional material on the same subject.

Copyright owners who object to having their material quoted in this archive may request that it be removed. [Contact Form] (Note: in all our years in operation, starting in September 1996 as part of the Apologetics Index website, that has happened only five times — and one of those requests was later reverted when the author changed his mind and asked us to re-include his article).

Material prior to July 2008:
Religion News Blog includes copyrighted material the use of which may not always have been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Religion News Blog makes such material available in its efforts to aid religion professionals, academics, teachers, media organizations, and other researchers.

We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law.

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any such (and all) material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information see: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml.

If you wish to use any copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Copyright owners who object to having their material included in this archive may request, in writing, that it be removed. [Contact Form]

That said, we are grateful to the many publishers, writers and religion reporters who have specifically granted their kind permission to include their material in Religion News Blog.

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  • Religion News Blog (RNB), published by Apologetics Index, is provided free of charge as a research resource, and is intended for educational purposes only.
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