RNB’s Religion News Roundup: faith healing; Buddhists and money; Rumsfeld and the Bible…

RNB Religion News Roundup: a compendium of blurbs and links to, for the most part, religion-related stories and religion research resources.

You’ll find religion news stories ranging from serious to seriously offbeat.

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Faith Healing / Altermative Healing

… practitioners of Christian Science as well as other alternative therapies — including acupuncture, biofeedback, herbal medicine, holistic medicine and Reiki, a Japanese healing and relaxation technique — are intent on influencing the coming health-care-reform process. “We’re advocates for people who want access to spiritual treatment,” says Phil Davis, a Christian Science practitioner and his church’s chief lobbyist. Their goal is to encourage Congress to think of health care as more than just medical care — and to allow insurance companies to provide coverage for their holistic treatments. … If the church could design a universal health-care plan for the country, it would allow — but not require — insurance companies to provide coverage for practitioners, nurses and nursing facilities.TIME


A Singapore Buddhist temple has received about 1.5 million Singapore dollars (1 million US dollars) in cash from a mysterious donor, in stacks of 1,000-dollar notes found monthly in the temple’s donation box, media reports said Monday. … The lodge’s chairman Lee Bock Guan said … ‘You know it is the same person, because the notes always come in the same, neat stack,’ … The lodge has been providing free vegetarian meals to the less-privileged for more than 20 years, the report said.

• Korea: Buddhist monks could be banned from holding private wealth and be obliged to hand over property to their order after their death. The Jogye Order, the largest Buddhist sect in Korea, said Monday that it was considering the establishment of an internal regulation governing the right of monks to hold private property. “There are cases where priests have private fortunes and hand them over to other monks who succeed them. So we aim to prohibit it strictly and have the property belong to the order,” a Jogye official said. After a period of canvassing opinion, the Buddhist sect will announce its final decision next month. At present, Buddhist monks make a pledge of non-possession when becoming a novice.

Kate Moss is converting to Buddhism. The supermodel – famed for her wild partying – is reportedly showing an increasing interest in the religion and has started meditating in a bid to gain a sense of calm.

Joyce Meyer Ministries

Man whose family was slain resigns from Joyce Meyer Ministries

Christopher Coleman, whose wife and two young sons were found murdered in their bedrooms last week, has resigned from his position with Joyce Meyer Ministries, one of his attorneys confirmed Thursday.

Coleman had worked in security for several years for the worldwide television evangelist organization, which is based in Jefferson County.

William Margulis, one of Coleman’s attorneys, said Coleman resigned Wednesday as a result of a meeting that afternoon with a spokesman for Joyce Meyer Ministries at Coleman’s parents’ home in Chester, Ill. Neither Coleman nor the spokesman, Roby Walker, could be reached Thursday for comment.

Walker told the Belleville News-Democrat: “After an internal inquiry, it was discovered that Chris Coleman had failed to follow a ministry policy during his employment. During discussion with Mr. Coleman on Wednesday he submitted his resignation.” He would not provide any details on what policy Coleman had violated, the newspaper reported.

Sources close to the investigation told the Post-Dispatch that Coleman had met up with a Florida woman described as his girlfriend while on trips for the ministry.

– Source / Full Story: Man whose family was slain resigns from Joyce Meyer Ministries, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 15, 2009 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

Human Rights

As we’ve sad before, we are so sad U.S. ‘Christians’ have supported — and, judging by some of the feedback we receive, still continue to support — the war crimes and other human rights violations committed by America’s previous administration. Why? Largely because those involved hijacked Christian themes and terminology:

On the morning of Thursday, April 10, 2003, Donald Rumsfeld’s Pentagon prepared a top-secret briefing for George W. Bush. This document, known as the Worldwide Intelligence Update, was a daily digest of critical military intelligence so classified that it circulated among only a handful of Pentagon leaders and the president; Rumsfeld himself often delivered it, by hand, to the White House. The briefing’s cover sheet generally featured triumphant, color images from the previous days’ war efforts: On this particular morning, it showed the statue of Saddam Hussein being pulled down in Firdos Square, a grateful Iraqi child kissing an American soldier, and jubilant crowds thronging the streets of newly liberated Baghdad. And above these images, and just below the headline secretary of defense, was a quote that may have raised some eyebrows. It came from the Bible, from the book of Psalms: “Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him€¦To deliver their soul from death.” This mixing of Crusades-like messaging with war imagery, which until now has not been revealed, had become routine.More in GQ

See also:
Religious Right got it terribly wrong in recommending Bush
The gospel according to Rumsfeld: Bush era comes back to haunt Obama

Catholic Church

Catholic spokesman ‘deeply regrets’ ungodly tirade at Oxford dinner

A senior aide to the new head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales launched a foul-mouthed tirade at an Oxford University dinner.

Peter Jennings, the press secretary to Archbishop Vincent Nichols, has apologised after he stunned guests by verbally abusing a 22-year-old student during the dessert course, repeatedly calling him “a —-“.

He is also alleged to have called Matthew Tye, who is half-Vietnamese, “a peasant”.

The timing of the outburst threatens to embarrass Archbishop Nichols, who will be installed as the Archbishop of Westminster on Thursday. It also comes only one month after Mr Jennings called a Telegraph reporter “a total —-” for writing a story about letters sent by two English bishops complaining that Father Nichols would be a divisive choice for the job.

Mr Tye has written to the Archbishop to complain about Mr Jennings’s behaviour and has also reported the matter to the police.

The press officer has already been dismissed as a spokesman for the campaign for the beatification of Cardinal Newman, the 19th century Anglican cleric who converted to Catholicism.

– Source / Full Story: Catholic spokesman ‘deeply regrets’ ungodly tirade at Oxford dinner , Jonathan Wynne-Jones and Alastair Jamieson , Telegraph, UK, May 17, 2009 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

Religious Broadcasting

PBS Weighs Separation Of Church & Stations

PBS stations are debating the limits of one of public television’s basic commandments: Thou shalt not broadcast religious programming.

The discussion, some station managers fear, could lead to a ban on broadcasts of local church services and other faith-oriented programs that have appeared on public stations for decades despite the prohibition.

The Public Broadcasting Service’s board is to vote next month on a committee’s recommendation to strip the affiliation of any station that carries “sectarian” content. Losing its PBS relationship would mean that a station could no longer broadcast programs that the service distributes, from “Sesame Street” to “Frontline.”

PBS, which is based in Crystal City, did not have an official tally of how many of its 356 member stations carry broadcasts of religious services, but the number is believed to be small.

Under bylaws enacted in 1985, PBS stations are required to present programs that are noncommercial, nonpartisan and nonsectarian. The rules were put in place to ensure balance and fairness among PBS-affiliated stations, which rely on government funding, private-sector grants and sponsorships, and contributions from viewers.

But the definition of “nonsectarian” programming has always been loosely interpreted, and the rule has never been strictly enforced, according to PBS officials. The issue came up for debate late last year as PBS stations began overhauling their membership rules for the transition to digital television.

– Source / Full Story: PBS Weighs Separation Of Church & Stations, Paul Farhi, Washington Post, May 16, 2009 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

The BBC has received 115 complaints for appointing Muslim programme-maker Aaqil Ahmed as head of BBC religion and ethics. … Ahmed’s appointment is only the second time that a non-Christian has been made head of religion. The first was Alan Bookbinder, an agnostic, who was appointed in 2001. … A spokesman said: “The BBC’s commitment to religious broadcasting, and to Christian broadcasting as the dominant part of that, is entirely secure. “Aaqil Ahmed was appointed as Head of Religion and Ethics because he was the best candidate for the role.

The Church Around The Corner

The Church Around The Corner is where we spot believers acting weird…

An Irish dancer who wowed the Britain’s Got Talent judges was yesterday revealed to be a former priest defrocked for ruining a series of high profile sporting events. Neil Horan was voted through to the contest’s next round after receiving a rapturous response from the show’s audience on Saturday. But it emerged that the 61-year-old has been jailed twice for trying to promote his religious beliefs at the British Grand Prix in 2003 and the 2004 Athens Olympics. … Known as the Grand Prix Priest … [in]n July 2003, Horan caused chaos when he ran onto the track at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone dressed in a kilt and waving a banner that read ‘Read the Bible. The Bible is always right’. Several drivers had to swerve to avoid him on the 200mph Hangar Straight.pics, full story

Many people have seen and heard about the likeness of Jesus turning up in unlikely places. Now, one North Texas family says they found Jesus in a cheese snack. Dan Bell found his vision of Jesus last week at the gas station.… Inside a 99-cent bag of Cheetos brand cheese snacks, Dan and his wife Sara found something unique. Sara recalls the discovery. “I was putting them in my hand and I had eaten most of the ones in my hand, and one was left lying there. And I said, ‘Oh my gosh, look at this. It really looks like a person in a robe praying.'” Dan looked over. “I said, ‘Wow, it does look like a praying Jesus.'” The couple nicknamed it “Cheesus.” Yes, there’s a picture and a video — if you can stand it.


John Lennon’s iconic Imagine rang out three times across Liverpool at the weekend. The song, which asks its listeners to “imagine there’s no heaven”, was played on Liverpool Cathedral’s bells as part of the North West’s Futuresonic festival on Saturday. The cathedral said it had carefully considered the “sensitivities” surrounding the song’s lyrical content. … A spokesman for the Anglican Cathedral said: “The cathedral feels this performance has inspired many to think about their relationship with God in their lives.”

Liverpool Cathedral has the heaviest church bell in the world

Religious Insanity

A strict father was jailed for more than a year today for horsewhipping his three young children to ‘stop them going off the rails’. The devout Christian admitted using a riding crop on the children, aged between seven and 12, to make them behave. The 52-year-old denied it was cruelty, claiming he had whipped them ‘for their own good’. But a judge branded him a cruel and controlling bully whose behaviour towards his children was ‘unspeakable’. … The court heard how their father … was heavily religious and had studied a four-year university degree in divinity.


Here’s what Religion News Blog’s editors twittered recently:

• Abuse of child ‘witches’ on rise, aid group says: http://cli.gs/LbhqWJ

• Singapore Buddhist temple anonymous $1 million donation each month: http://cli.gs/9ESyDv

• God is Back: How the Global Rise of Faith is Changing the World: http://cli.gs/HTS6v3

• Atheist sells cards to Christians that he will deliver to those left behind after the rapture: http://cli.gs/HTpGeX

• Papua New Guinea cult allegedly kills and eats woman: http://cli.gs/S9HQBj

• Dutch Prime Minister criticised for snubbing Dalai Lama: http://cli.gs/XU1qAT

• US scholars planning Islamic college, some call “Muslim Georgetown”: http://cli.gs/m7jStZ

• FLDS: Texas officers defend raid on polygamous sect’s ranch:http://cli.gs/hWYdqU

• Amsterdam Islam Congress resounding success: http://cli.gs/vjqSUR

• Woman charged with faith-healing death falls ill at her trial: http://cli.gs/uT6TjZ

• Swartzentruber Amish sect among most conservative, expert says: http://cli.gs/Jsbsuv

• Islam Day draws heat for Hawaiian isles: http://cli.gs/ZQmyD2

• Himalayan communities better placed to preserve Buddhism: Dalai Lama – http://cli.gs/g80aW9

• Militant Anti-Gay Church Turns Its Sights On Jews: http://cli.gs/mY08aP

• Longtime KKK leader Roy E. Frankhouser Jr. dies: http://cli.gs/ESn9E6

• Custody trial set for accused white supremacist parents in Winnipeg: http://cli.gs/WeULRD

• Former fundamentalist ‘debunks’ Bible – CNN.com http://cli.gs/VYahth €¢ His book reviewed: http://cli.gs/716XTS

• Mom asks immunization exemption for daughter for religious reasons: http://cli.gs/0VjU5P

• Bells of Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral to play John Lennon’s anti-religious anthem ‘Imagine’ : http://cli.gs/zpaVZR

• PBS Stations Weigh Loss of Affiliation Over Religious Content: http://cli.gs/NdBUP0

• Islam Day draws heat for Hawaiian isles: http://cli.gs/ZQmyD2

• Himalayan communities better placed to preserve Buddhism: Dalai Lama – http://cli.gs/g80aW9

• Militant Anti-Gay Church Turns Its Sights On Jews: http://cli.gs/mY08aP

• Longtime KKK leader Roy E. Frankhouser Jr. dies: http://cli.gs/ESn9E6

• Custody trial set for accused white supremacist parents in Winnipeg: http://cli.gs/WeULRD

• Former fundamentalist ‘debunks’ Bible – CNN.com http://cli.gs/VYahth €¢ His book reviewed: http://cli.gs/716XTS

• Mom asks immunization exemption for daughter for religious reasons: http://cli.gs/0VjU5P

• Bells of Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral to play John Lennon’s anti-religious anthem ‘Imagine’ : http://cli.gs/zpaVZR

• PBS Stations Weigh Loss of Affiliation Over Religious Content: http://cli.gs/NdBUP0

• UK: Society ‘must act to prevent forced marriages’ http://cli.gs/DN8gqh

• Why the Catholic Fight Over Obama Matters: http://cli.gs/uGJnWM

• What is the future for Europe’s Jews? http://cli.gs/La2eTe

• Who Is a Real Catholic? http://cli.gs/WZPj7d

• Escaping the clutches of a cult: http://cli.gs/62HHgt – #religion #cults €¢ More: http://cli.gs/Rr5aEP

• Texas officers defend raid on polygamous sect’s ranch: http://cli.gs/DqLUpB

• Muslim stripped of German award after criticizing crucifix: http://cli.gs/uDVnAX

• Tanzania PM: you can not transport crops from one farm to another by witchcraft: http://cli.gs/MtvT4L

• LDS convert denies parents abducted her: http://cli.gs/u7p10z + http://cli.gs/aMGh3q

• PBS: Faith Healing Court Cases: http://cli.gs/p3Y4au

• Judge: Parents can’t refuse chemo for son on religious grounds: http://cli.gs/4B7jGN

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Religion News Blog posted this on Monday May 18, 2009.
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