Religion News Blog Roundup for Jan. 30, 2009

“RNB Roundup” is a collection of clippings, snippets, links, commentary and other items that, in one way or another, relate to the topics normally covered in Religion News Blog.

Note: This page may grow throughout the day€¦ Too, linked items may be online for a limited time only. Get them while they’re hot.


Scientology: The Thriving Cult of Greed and Power
The Church of Scientology has tried to pass off recent efforts to expose it to daylight as something of a PR boon because traffic to its website increased. Never mind that the site was under a DDoS attack by hackers (DDoS being a method of attacking a server by flooding it with a huge amount of traffic).
But ‘Scientology’ is a popular search term nowadays. Witness this list of TIME magazine’s most popular stories.
At the time of this writing (1:00 pm CET in Amsterdam, Netherlands) number 9 in the list of most popular stories is:
Cover Story: The Thriving Cult of Greed and Power — an extensive look at the Church of Scientology.
It is also the #2 most frequently emailed story.

Not bad for an article published on May 6, 1991 (and still so relevant today).
The cult attacked the author, Richard Behar, and sued both him and TIME magazine — but Scientology lost.
When you see Scientology’s recent charm PR campaign (with so-called ‘volunteer ministers’ bringing the cult’s quackery to dissaster areas, and the ‘church’ trying to buy respectability by snapping up and restoring historic buildings in various city centers), it is good to put things in perspective:

By all appearances, Noah Lottick of Kingston, Pa., had been a normal, happy 24-year-old who was looking for his place in the world. On the day last June when his parents drove to New York City to claim his body, they were nearly catatonic with grief. The young Russian-studies scholar had jumped from a 10th-floor window of the Milford Plaza Hotel and bounced off the hood of a stretch limousine. When the police arrived, his fingers were still clutching $171 in cash, virtually the only money he hadn’t yet turned over to the Church of Scientology, the self-help “philosophy” group he had discovered just seven months earlier.

His death inspired his father Edward, a physician, to start his own investigation of the church. “We thought Scientology was something like Dale Carnegie,” Lottick says. “I now believe it’s a school for psychopaths. Their so-called therapies are manipulations. They take the best and brightest people and destroy them.” The Lotticks want to sue the church for contributing to their son’s death, but the prospect has them frightened. For nearly 40 years, the big business of Scientology has shielded itself exquisitely behind the First Amendment as well as a battery of high-priced criminal lawyers and shady private detectives.
– Read: Cover Story: The Thriving Cult of Greed and Power

Intentional Communities

What chores would Jesus do?

Jeromy Emerling and his wife, Debbie, are part of the New Monastic movement. The couple share a Billings, Mont., home with four friends as part of a vision to become true followers of Christ by living simply and as unselfishly as possible.

They wanted their Billings, Mont., communal home to bring them a deeper faith and a simpler life. But everyday concerns kept getting in the way.

In a peeling house on South 32nd Street, five friends came together to stretch their faith.

Moving in last January, they pledged to spend one year together, learning to become true followers of Christ. They would give generously, love unconditionally. They would exchange their middle-class ways for humility and simplicity, forgoing Hardee’s fries, new CDs, even the basic comfort of privacy.

A few months into the experiment, at a weekly house meeting, Jake Neufeld framed the vision this way: “Church is not something we attend. It’s something we are.”

But even lofty rhetoric could not lift the mood that sleety evening in early April. A quarter of their year together had passed, and the friends felt they had failed. They had not met a single neighbor. They had not given any aid. Everyday life seemed to suck up all their energy; it was draining just to figure out whose turn it was to mop the kitchen floor.

Theirs was a radical vision, but also a trendy one, part of the New Monastic movement sweeping white, suburban evangelicals. In the last few years, perhaps 100 communities like the Billings house have been founded across the country, and hundreds of Christians have attended workshops to learn of the concept.
More at the Los Angeles Times

The first person who commented on the story points out:

I don’t know why this movement has adopted the term “monasticism” the root of which means alone. Monasticism is about “seeking God by living together alone.” What they’re attempting – and God bless ’em – is probably better termed “intentional Christian community.”

Mormon Church

Understanding Mormonims

If you ask a Mormon if she’s a Christian, chances are you’ll receive an emphatic “Yes!”

Many Mormons say they accept the Bible as God’s Word, and that they believe in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. They’ll affirm their belief in the Jesus of the Bible, and that he’s central to their faith. Often they’ll remind you that the name of their church is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They’ll tell you they believe in sin and in the need of Jesus to be their Savior. They espouse grace and teach of heaven and the glory to come. They hold high moral standards and raise strong families. It would certainly seem Mormonism is Christian.

Mormon beliefs sound so Christian because their language is similar to Christianity’s. Yet on closer investigation, the actual doctrines of Mormonism differ significantly from the historic, orthodox Christian faith. That’s why it’s important for evangelical Christians to be aware of the following six theological differences between Mormonism and biblical Christianity.
More at Today’s Christian Woman


Apologetics Search Engine
Apologetics is the branch of theology that concerns itself with the logical presentation and defense of the Christian faith.
As a service to those who are looking for apologetics research resources, Apologetics Index — the website behind Religion News Blog — has set up

This dedicated search engine allows you to search for apologetics-related articles, books, videos, and other research resources across 87 (and counting) Christian apologetics websites and blogs.

Give it a try:


(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
, Religion News Blog, Jan. 30, 2009,

Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday January 30, 2008.
Last updated if a date shows here:


More About This Subject

Travel Religiously

Whether you call it "religion tourism," "religious travel," "faith-based touring," or even "on-site religion studying," spiritual tourism (if you will) is popular.

Wherever your travel - for any reason at all - book your skip-the-line tickets via GetYourGuide


Our website includes affiliate links, which means we get a small commission -- at no additional cost to you -- for each qualifying purpose. For instance, as an Amazon Associate, Religion News Blog earns from qualifying purchases. That is one reason why we can provide this research service free of charge.

Speaking of which: One way in which you can support us — at no additional cost to you — is by shopping at