This is our archive of news items tagged Aum Shinrikyo.

 memo You'll find articles about that subject in each of the items listed, even if the term does not necessarily occur within the headlines or descriptive text.

Islam’s Rotten Apples * Abusive Churches * Aum Cult

Former members of a church in Palmerston, New Zealand, say they were suicidal, depressed and in need of counselling after leaving the “cult-like” church and being shunned by their friends and family.

Also Inside:
Aum Shinrikyo
Islam

Nearly a dozen people with connections to the Palmerston North Victory Christian Church have come forward following a series of stories in the Manawatu Standard highlighting concerns about the parish’s practices, including manipulating marriage pairings, financial coercion, alienating people from parents, public shaming of members and excessive control over the congregation’s strong student membership.

Palmerston North Victory Christian Church is affiliated with Faith Christian Church, in Tucson, Arizona. That church is also described as a cult by former members and staffers.

Each of the churches targets students at nearby universities.

Last Monday, Massey University issued trespass notices to nine church leaders from its campuses in Palmerston North, Wellington and Auckland.

Yesterday UCOL, a polytechnic with campuses in Palmerston North, Whanganui and Masterton, also filed trespass orders against the leaders fof Palmerston North Victory Christian Church.

More about abusive churches
Churches That Abuse (online book)
Recovering From Churches That Abuse (online book)

Groups that have succeeded the Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult were still under the strong influence of Aum guru Shoko Asahara, who is now on death row, a report by Japan’s Public Security Intelligence Agency says.

Asahara’s influence appeared to be absolute in successor groups Aleph and the Circle of Rainbow Light, or “Hikari no Wa,” said the annual report, which was adopted at a cabinet meeting the same day.

Last March 20 saw the 20th anniversary of Aum Shinrikyo’s Sarin nerve gas attack on the Tokyo Subway. The terrorist attack killed 13 people and injured more than 6,000. The cult also committed other deadly crimes.

Last January Japan’s Public Security Examination Commission announced that surveillance of the cult has been extended for three more years. The extension is the fifth since surveillance began in January 2000 and will apply to both Aleph and Hikarinowa.

Aum Shinrikyo

In 2012, cult experts expressed the hope that the trial of Katsuya Takahashi, who was the cult’s last fugitive, would raise awareness of the potential dangers of joining Takahashi’s trial is currently underway.

In her book, “Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now” outspoken Islam critic Ayaan Hirsi Ali — herself a former Muslim — argues for a complete reformation of Islam, akin to the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century.

The assumption is that, in Islam, there are a few rotten apples, not the entire basket. I’m saying it’s the entire basket.
– Activist and author Ayaan Hirsi Ali

According to Hirsi there are three kinds of Muslims: the violent, the reformers, and what she believes is the largest group — those who want to practice as they see fit and live peaceably but do not challenge the Quran, the Muslim world’s treatment of women and the LGBT community, or terrorist attacks committed in the name of Islam.

She does not label those who belong to the latter group as ‘moderates,’ because she believes they have done nothing to deserve it.

Ali argues for five amendments to the faith. “Only when these five things are recognized as inherently harmful and when they are repudiated and nullified,” she writes, “will a true Muslim reformation have been achieved.”

Those five notions are:

  • The infallibility of the Prophet Muhammad and the literal interpretation of the Qur
  • an

  • The idea that life after death is more important than life on Earth
  • Sharia law
  • Allowing any Muslim to enforce ideas of right and wrong on another
  • Jihad, or holy war

Rejecting these ideas, some of which date to the 7th century, is a shocking proposition to the faithful.

“The biggest obstacle to change within the Muslim world,” Ali writes, “is precisely its suppression of the sort of critical thinking I am attempting here.”
– Source: ‘In Islam, they are all rotten apples’: Ex-Muslim’s call for religion’s reboot, New York Post, March 22, 2015

In an article published by the Wall Street Journal, Ali provides some details regarding her suggested amendments:

  • 1. Muhammad’s semi-divine status, along with the literalist reading of the Quran.
    Muhammad should not be seen as infallible, let alone as a source of divine writ. He should be seen as a historical figure who united the Arab tribes in a premodern context that cannot be replicated in the 21st century. And although Islam maintains that the Quran is the literal word of Allah, it is, in historical reality, a book that was shaped by human hands. Large parts of the Quran simply reflect the tribal values of the 7th-century Arabian context from which it emerged. The Quran’s eternal spiritual values must be separated from the cultural accidents of the place and time of its birth.
  • 2. The supremacy of life after death.
    The appeal of martyrdom will fade only when Muslims assign a greater value to the rewards of this life than to those promised in the hereafter.
  • 3. Shariah, the vast body of religious legislation.
    Muslims should learn to put the dynamic, evolving laws made by human beings above those aspects of Shariah that are violent, intolerant or anachronistic.
  • 4. The right of individual Muslims to enforce Islamic law.
    There is no room in the modern world for religious police, vigilantes and politically empowered clerics.
  • 5. The imperative to wage jihad, or holy war.
    Islam must become a true religion of peace, which means rejecting the imposition of religion by the sword.

– Source: Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Why Islam Needs a Reformation, Wall Street Journal, March 20, 2015

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  • Debra Burslem, founder and leader of a religious cult known as the Magnificat Meal Movement (MMM) is accused of fraud by former senior members. Clare Birchley, who was Ms Burslem’s right hand for 20 years, estimates the cult leader pocketed at least $20 million (Australian, $15.5 million US, €13.627).

    Burslem — who claims to see and hear Jesus and the virgin Mary — has fled Australia and now continues her lavish lifestyle in the island nation Vanuata. Nine Network’s A Current Affair tracked her down.

    Debra Burslem

  • Many African women have been trafficked into sexual slavery with their obedience ensured by magic rituals that threaten them with infertility or death if they reveal what has happened to them. Now Britain’s anti-slavery commissioner is examining radical new plans to prosecute sex traffickers by “reversing” the juju spells that terrorise their victims into staying silent.
  • Traveling evangelist Reinhard Bonnke, “is the chief proselytizer at Florida-based Christ for All Nations, a globe-spanning ministry that claims to have saved more than 75 million souls and, in one recent single year, garnered almost $15 million in grants and contributions,” says the Houston Chronicle, describing him as a “conduit for divine miracles in Africa.”

    Says one supporter, Reverend Ken Sinclair, “It’s not unusual in his crusades that the Holy Spirit is confirmed through signs and wonders. A lot of Western theologians have a little difficulty with that. They are more rational, more worldly. But in Africa or the Southern Hemisphere, there’s a ‘fear and power’ world view. They are much more aware of the power of God and the power of the enemy. They are aware that God is greater than the enemy.”

    The article refers to miracles says as the “Documented True Story of Pastor Daniel Ekechukwu,” who according to the video — and his family, physician and mortician — was “raised from the dead.”

  • After beheading Coptic Christians, IS barbarians say they will ‘conquer Rome’ next. We frequently use the hashtag #ReligiousInsanity when posting items about IS to our Twitter feed. But note the next item:
  • The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy—and for how to stop it. Must-read!
  • Islamic terrorists have carried out more than 25120 deadly terror attacks since 9/11. The justifiably irreverent website TheReligionOfPeace.com keeps track of the carnage committed in the name of Islam. The list of atrocities is preceded with quotes from the Quran, such as, “Mohammed is God’s apostle. Those who follow him are harsh to the unbelievers but merciful to one another” Quran 48:29
  • The Skeptic Annotated Quran is also instructive. See, for instance, the entry on the Surah that quote in the previous item came from. Muslims who cannot handle criticism of their holy book, may want to check out the Skeptic’s treatment of The Bible and The Book of Mormon instead.
  • Incidentally, Religion News Blog is a service provided by Apologetics Index. We’ve got the same approach toward providing research resources.
  • “Coptic” = “Egyptian.” Here’s more about Coptics.
  • Sixteen men and woman from a renegade Amish clan whose hate-crime convictions in a series of violent beard- and hair-cutting attacks were overturned still should receive the same sentences, federal prosecutors told a judge who will re-sentence the group.

    Re-sentencing of members of the Bergholz clan, including cult leader Samuel Mullet, will take place on March 2. Their original sentences, which ranged from one to 15 years, were based both on hate-crimes convictions and convictions on other charges but did not differentiate between them.

Aum Shinrikyo — 20th Anniversay of Gas Attack

  • Next month marks the 20th anniversary of the sarin attack on the Tokyo subway system by the religious cult Aum Shinrikyo, the only time chemical weapons have even been used in an indiscriminate public attack in a major international city. The terrorist attack, which killed 13 people and injured more than 6,000 others, is commemorated every year.

    Japan’s Public Security Examination Commission says that two spinoffs of the doomsday cult continue to be dangerous. The cult followers will remain under surveillance for three more years starting Feb. 1. The three-year extension is the fifth since surveillance began in January 2000 and will apply to Aleph, as the cult was renamed, and Hikarinowa, or Circle of Rainbow Light.

    The agency says the two cults have grown in both assets and members since the surveillance order was last extended in 2012. Together, the two now have about 1,650 members here and about 160 in Russia, and own 32 facilities spread across 15 prefectures in Japan. Cash and deposits accounted for some ¥690 million of the two groups’ combined assets as of last October.

    In 2012, cult experts expressed the hope that the trial of Katsuya Takahashi, who was the cult’s last fugitive, would raise awareness of the potential dangers of joining cults. Takahashi’s trial is currently underway.

Also Noted

  • “Many pundits declared that 2014 would be Hollywood’s “year of the Bible” due to the number of explicitly religious movies slated for premiere,” Religion Link writes. “Yet when the Academy Awards are presented on Feb. 22, only a few of the contenders in 24 main categories will have religion in their stories or backstories. What happened?
  • Satan’s evil influence used to be everywhere, but now the Church has pensioned him off
  • “…[A]mong the major religions there is virtually no canonical basis for vaccine aversion; the Bible, the Quran and the texts of Sanskrit were all obviously written before the creation of vaccines, and most religions privilege the preservation of life.” Common sense, from the New York Times.
  • A slight majority of Americans, 53%, are satisfied with the influence of organized religion in the U.S. This level of satisfaction has changed little over the past three years, but remains down from what Gallup has measured previously — including higher levels measured in 2001 to 2004 — suggesting that Americans’ satisfaction with organized religion has settled in at a new baseline.
  • Why the Catholic Church is losing Latin America, and how it’s trying to get it back. In recent decades millions of Catholics have abandoned the Church. Nearly one in five Latin Americans now consider themselves Protestant. Catholicism’s most successful strategy in its battle with Pentecostalism has been to copy it. The Catholic Charismatic Renewal, which orginated in the US, has thrived in Latin America. But major reforms are needed, yet slow in coming, so while the charismatic movement still represents the Catholic church’s best hope of blunting the Pentecostal charge, the church is running out of time.

    Bonus: Photographic proof that religion and samba do mix…

  • Tomorrow is Shrove Tuesday

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Christ Embassy’s false gospel; Bill Gothard quits; Ultraman banned

billgothard Bill Gothard, founder of the Institute in Basic Life Principles, has resigned in the wake of an investigation into allegations of sexual abuse.

Sometimes the Prosperity Gospel scam does work. But guess who gets rich of it?

A former Aum Shinrikyo cult member who surrendered after 17 years on the run has now been sentenced to 9 years in prison for his participation in three cult-related crimes.

Cult leader Victor Barnard, who faces abuse charges, is missing.

Plus: The fictional True Detective series may have been inspired by the Hosanna Church child abuse case. [Read more...]

Peter Moses sentenced * Aum cult trial * Faith healers lose appeal

peter_moses Cult leader Peter Moses has been sentenced in the murders of a 4-year-old boy and a 28-year-old woman.

Jailed former members of the Aum Shinrikyo cult can testify in open court against another Aum cult follower. And the parents of a girl who died when they prayed for her healing rather than provide medical care have lots their appeal again their sentence. [Read more...]

3 Aum members on death row may testify against fellow cultist

Makoto Hirata Three men who were sentenced to death for their part in the Aum Shinrikyo cult’s 1995 Sarin nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway may be called to testify in the trial of fellow cult member Makoto Hirata.

Hirata faces trial for the fatal abduction and confinement of a notary clerk.

Also: ‘Hot Yoga’ guru Bikram Choudhury faces a sexual harassment lawsuit. Plus, more trouble for Narconon Arrowhead: Lawsuits allege its counselors traded sex for drugs.

Plus: Citizens of a polygamous cult’s town are being watched by surveillance cameras. [Read more...]