Controversial televangelist dies; Nativity scene party poopers; Scientology ads

You won’t believe what most nativity scenes in the Spanish district of Catalonia include — and this year around there’s a controversy to boot.

Some children have been confronted with ads for Scientology displayed on a games website.

And the controversial televangelist who, together with his wife, was the face of the world’s largest ‘Christian’ television network, has died.

‘Black Jesus’ killed * Teenage Exorcists * Syria in prophecy?

Teenage Exorcists
Bob Larson, who views himself as a ‘reverend’ and a ‘cult expert,’ nowadays markets himself via his team of Teenage Exorcists. Uhuh…

Jehovah’s Witnesses are in for yet another major doctrinal change which will drastically change their position.

Meanwhile, some Christians see the current problems in Syria in light of prophecy.

And in Papua New Guinea, a man known as ‘Black Jesus’ has been killed.

‘Pope Francis did not intend to perform an exorcism’

Camino de Santiago
Did Pope Francis perform an exorcism? The Vatican says he did not intend to do one…

Plus: The Way of St. James, a 1,200-year old pilgrimage

And the Lord’s Resistance Army, a terrorist group led by ‘mystic’ Joseph Kony, has killed more than 100,000 people over the past 25 years.

Woman banished from Westboro Baptist Church will publish memoir

Lauren Drain
Lauren Drain spent 7 years in the Wesboro Baptist Church. Her parents are still part of the hate group.

Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the UK’s most senior Roman Catholic cleric, resigns after being accused of “inappropriate acts” towards fellow priests.

And the Church of Scientology in Australia is in damage control — this time over claims that it held a woman hostage. .

Also: Irish exorcists. Plus the Ex-Scientology Kids website has a new look.

Appeals court upholds conviction in baby’s ‘exorcism’ death

Amora Bain Carson
In today’s Religion News Briefs: An appeals court has upheld the capital murder conviction of a woman whose baby was killed during an alleged ‘exorcism.’

The Salt Lake Tribune introduces two new reporters for its Polygamy Blog.

A U.S. publisher is researching the possibility to publish a tell-all book on the notoriously litigious Scientology cult in Canada — despite that country’s antiquated, free-speech curtailing libel laws.

Plus: a baker in Oregon claims his religious convictions prevent him from baking a wedding cake for a lesbian couple.

European rights court orders France to pay four million euros to sects

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that that France infringed the religious freedom of two religious sects and an evangelical church when it taxed their donations.

The State of Georgia is investigating Scientology front-group Narconon for insurance fraud. Plus: a waitress gets fired over posting a receipt documenting how a ‘pastor’ stiffed one of her colleagues.

Also inside: God and game fixing, Calvary Chapel, and more about the Mexican ‘slavery cult’ that calls itself “Defensores de Cristo” (Defenders of Christ)

Malaysian toddler dies in ‘exorcism’: police

Exorcism A three-year-old girl was apparently smothered to death by eight people during an exorcism ritual in Malaysia on Sunday night.

The toddler died after being pinned down by her parents, relatives and the family maid with their bodies during a ritual ostensibly to chase away evil spirits in the family.

Religion News Briefs: a UFO cult, a killer cult, a former cult

news roundup In today’s roundup: a UFO cult promotes the Swastika; yet another one of Jehovah’s Witnesses needlessly dies in obedience to the cult’s teachings; and the Trinity Broadcasting Network is reeling from yet another revelation.

Also: do people join cults due to depression? Plus: links to additional religion news stories of note.

Conviction upheld in ‘exorcism’ torture death of 13-month-old girl

Blaine Milam The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has upheld the conviction of a man found guilty in the 2008 beating death of his girlfriend’s 13-month-old daughter, Amora Bain Carson.

The child was beaten with a hammer, sexually assaulted, and bitten more than 20 times.

Belgium court charges six people in deadly exorcism of Muslim woman

Latifa Hachmi A court in Brussels opened the trial of six people charged in connection with the 2004 murder of a young Muslim woman in a deadly act of exorcism, a practice of evicting demons or other spiritual entities from a person believed to be possessed.

The woman was reportedly deceived into believing that she could not have children because she was possessed and that she had to undergo a practice of exorcism.

Court affirms rejection of insanity defense in “exorcism” murder

Latisha Lawson The Indiana Court of Appeals has upheld a jury’s rejection of an insanity defense in the case of a woman who suffocated her 3-year-old son by forcing him to drink oil and vinegar because he was possessed by a demon.

In June 2011 Latisha Lawson was sentenced to 62 years in prison.

Centre for Inquiry calls for inquiry after report that church is looking for an exorcist

Center For Inquiry An organization which promotes scientific, critical and skeptical thinking is calling for an inquiry to learn just how prevalent exorcisms are in Canada after a news report last week said a church in Saskatoon, Canada, is actively seeking an exorcist.

Church officials says no exorcism took place, and a bishop stated the church recognizes the importance of psychology and medicine to assist those struggling with mental illness.

Court frees ‘exorcized’ teen girl’s parents

Sweden The father and step-mother of a 14-year-old girl from western Sweden, charged with repeatedly beating and burning the girl because they “thought she was a witch”, were freed of all charges on Tuesday.

The court concluded that the girl’s story wasn’t strong enough to convict the charged four against their “not guilty” plea.

Saskatoon church leaders looking for trained exorcist after man ‘possessed’ by the devil

exorcism A perceived demonic possession in Saskatoon has caught the Catholic Church there off guard since it has no one trained to perform an exorcism.

Bishop Don Bolen said it was not clear if the Saskatoon man was possessed or experiencing a mental breakdown.

Swedish town rocked by second child exorcism

exorcism Another teenage girl in Borås, western Sweden, has been subjected to physical abuse such as kicks, beatings and electric shocks, as her parents tried to exorcise her from evil spirits.

The parents are reportedly connected to The River, a controversial church.

Three girls led by ‘foremost expert on cults’ claim to cast out demons

Bob Larson exorcism girls Under the guidance of Bob Larson, who claims to be “the world’s foremost expert on cults, the occult, and supernatural phenomena,” three girls ‘cast out demons’ — for a price.

ABC Nightline says there are very serious questions about the safety and morality of what the girls are doing for others, especially those who might need mental health care.

Doctors warn that exorcisms reinforce delusions

Exorcism The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has warned about the alarming rise in the number of exorcism attempts in Australia – some on children as young as two.

Dr Choong-Siew Yong, who represents psychiatry on the AMA’s Federal Council, says saying someone was possessed could reinforce their delusions and stop them getting proper care.

More psychological tests for mother who killed 3-year-old in exorcism

Dora Tejada A woman in Nantucket, Massachusetts, accused of killing her 3-year-old daughter last spring in an alleged exorcism attempt will undergo more psychological evaluation to determine her responsibility for the act.

In a hearing last month a judge found Tejada competent to stand trial.

Suspects in gruesome ‘exorcism’ murder out on bail

court Family members of a South African teenager killed in a gruesome ‘exorcism’ have expressed shock that bail has been granted to the five people accused of her murder.

The girl was tortured for three days and then brutally murdered by having her intestines ripped out.
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