Friday’s Religion and Cult News Roundup

Rabbi Eliezer Berland
‘Sex rabbi’ Eliezer Berland faces extradition from the Netherlands. A religious pirate radio broadcaster has been ordered off-the-air. And: what’s up with yoga’s popularity?

Also: information about the International Cultic Studies Association’s annual conference.

Once again a Scientology front group has been discovered infiltrating schools to promote the cult’s quackery.

Plus: the Scientology business is in full damage-control mode over Alex Gibney’s documentary exposing it to daylight. Meanwhile, it is using the dirty tricks its founder proscribed for dealing with critics.

Speaking of critics: we’ve got info about an upcoming anti-Scientology conference.

Benny Hinn heckled * Cult, sect or religion? * Whore of Babylon

Benny Hinn
Yoga is a religious practice, but not the way this school presents it. Also: A heckler was video taped giving Benny ‘send-me-your-money-so-God-can-bless-you’ Hinn an ear full.

The European Union says you cannot have a religion or a belief that is free from criticism or ridicule.

That’s good news for Seventh-day Adventists, who believe that Christians who worship on Sunday are “daughters of the Whore of Babylon” and carry the mark of the beast.

And then there’s yet another look at Mormonism: religion, sect, or cult?

Religion News Roundup, Monday, April 9, 2012

Religion News Roundup Our hand-selected collection of religion news items for today includes snake handling churches, the ‘Jesus is not a homophobe’ T-shirt, Tim Tebow, and an orthodox Jewish reality show.

Plus: psychics accused of criminal fraud claim ‘religious freedom’ as a defense. More…

Yoga poses can’t be copyrighted, U.S. regulator says

yoga The U.S. Copyright Office previously permitted yoga poses and their sequences to be registered, even if those exercises were in the public domain, Laura Lee Fischer, acting chief of the office’s Performing Arts Division, said in response to an inquiry by an attorney involved in lawsuits the founder of Bikram Yoga filed against three yoga studios.

Lawsuit Pits Bikram Choudhury and Yoga to the People

Bikram Choudhury Bikram Choudhury, the millionaire founder of Bikram Yoga, believes his kind of yoga belongs to him — he has even copyrighted it.

Now, he has sued Yoga to the People for copyright infringement, seeking monetary damages and asking a federal judge to block Yoga to the People from offering its hot yoga class.

Hindu Group Stirs a Debate Over Yoga’s Soul

Yoga A group of Indian-Americans has ignited a surprisingly fierce debate in the gentle world of Yoga by mounting a campaign to acquaint Westerners with the faith that it says underlies every single yoga style followed in gyms, ashrams and spas: Hinduism.

The Yoga Mogul: John Friend, founder of Anusara

Yoga John Friend talked about the freedom of Anusara; it’s nothing like the more rigid schools that demand students repeat the same poses in the same way at every single class, nor is it the kind of practice in which teachers withhold praise, lest students become too egocentric. “Anusara is positive,” Friend said, resting his head on the back of his chair and absently caressing one of many highly polished orbs on an adjacent table. “It’s accessible. Easily applicable. And yet it has depth and sophistication.”

Consider those religions that focus on sin and damnation, on discipline instead of joy. “Fundamentally they say no,” he told me. “While Anusara is a yes.”

Hindus, yoga teachers question US sales tax

Yoga Yoga practitioners are criticizing a Missouri sales tax that applies to yoga classes, claiming they should be exempt because the lessons include spiritual elements.

Some practitioners think such a tax is unconstitutional. They argue that yoga, with roots in ancient Indian meditation, is as much a spiritual practice as an exercise routine and should be exempt from taxation.

Baba Ramdev plans to set up yoga retreat on remote Scottish Island

Ramdev One of India’s most controversial television lifestyle gurus, Swami “Baba” Ramdev, who claims homosexuality can be “cured” by yoga, plans to transform a remote Scottish Island, Little Cumbrae, into a yoga and traditional teaching centre.

His claims that yoga can treat cancer and HIV have been blasted as “quackery of the highest order” and he has been slammed for giving “false hope to ill people”.

Bikram Yoga’s New Twists

Bikram Choudhury Bikram Choudhury’s sweaty techniques are a hit with yoga studios. Now he wants his cut, writes Forbes.

Yoga is big business, racking up $5.7 billion in sales last year, and Choudhury has built a cultlike following.

Recent training costs: $10,500 per session, including $3,000 for room and board in Palm Desert, Calif. At two sessions a year, each of which draw about 325 trainees, that’s $4.9 million in annual revenue. To that add 15 speaking engagements, generating about $20,000 each in ticket sales, plus another few bucks from books and dvds. “I’m a yogi, not a businessman,” Choudhury demurs.

Now he wants another revenue stream: franchising fees paid by studios that use his name.

Religion News Roundup: Dahn Yoga, Virgin Mary as an exorcist, yoga retreats, pagan cops

Religion News Today’s RNB Religion News Roundup includes pagan police officers, and offensive garden gnome, and the Virgin Mary as an exorcist.

Then there are ‘White Sikhs,’ Freemasons, and a Muslim wannabe suicide bomber.

Also: a look a expensive yoga retreats, and a study that shows the downsides of positive thinking.

Plus lots of other religion and ethics-related stuff…

Indonesia Islamic body to mull ban on smoking and yoga

Islam Officially secular, Indonesia has the world’s largest Muslim population, accounting for roughly 85 percent of the country’s 226 million people. Most follow a moderate form of Islam, although there is vocal radical fringe.

About 700 people, including Muslim clerics and theological experts, are due in West Sumatra for the National Edict Commission meeting, which has the power to issue fatwas.

In Russia, faith healers are tested and licensed — by the federal government

Kremlin So far, 130 healers, including Fadkin, have passed the service’s voluntary testing program, which promoters in the government say can determine whether someone has the inherent ability to cure. The program is limited to Moscow, but a Russian lawmaker is pushing to extend it nationwide and make it mandatory.

Skeptics scoff at the notion that such testing is meaningful and criticize the government for lending credibility to people who claim paranormal powers.

Yoga encourages blasphemy, say Muslims

Yoga A top Islamic council in mostly Muslim Malaysia has told Muslims to avoid yoga because it uses Hindu prayers and encourages a union with God that is blasphemous.

The latest edict from the National Fatwa Council reflects a growing swing towards a conservative brand of Islam in the multi-ethnic country that has prompted worries among non-Muslims.

Romancing riles yoga classes

A popular online video starring a lech named Ogden has the yoga community chuckling in recognition and talking about the problem of men who come to studios in search of phone numbers rather than enlightenment.

Ramdev bitter pill for doctors

Medicos faced with patients all praise for yoga and questioning allopathic cure after baba’s camp Ranchi, Feb. 27: Baba Ramdev has left behind thousands of yoga converts. And, scores of bitter doctors. The medical fraternity is confronted with patients mesmerised by the yoga guru’s prescriptions and ready to challenge allopathic treatment. Take the example of […]

Yoga is no panacea: Physicians

This may not be music to Swami Ramdev’s ears. But top physicians of the country believe yoga cannot be a substitute to medical or surgical interventions. This may not be music to Swami Ramdev’s ears. But top physicians of the country believe yoga cannot be a substitute to medical or surgical interventions. “Yoga helps prevent […]

Health fears over ‘cult-like’ hot yoga

A leading health expert has branded the popular Bikram yoga “cult-like” and has warned it carries serious health risks. “I think there is a significant danger of exercising in such heat,” said Dr Anita Green, the director of the peak health body Sports Medicine Australia. Bikram is the latest, and trendiest, yoga to hit Sydney […]

New twist to yoga positions as guru sues

Yoga practitioners are tying themselves in knots over a millionaire guru’s attempt to copyright a series of positions. Bikram Choudhury, a former weightlifter based in Los Angeles, is being sued over his claim to own the copyright of a series of 26 postures used in Bikram yoga, a fast-growing style in which exercises are repeated […]
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