Religion News Briefs: Warren Jeffs, Fred Phelps, Catherine Schaible …

Jailed polygamist cult leader Warren Jeffs has been hospitalized, prison officials in Texas say.

In August, 2011 the 58-year-old leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) was sentenced to life in prison for sexually assaulting two underage followers he took as brides in what his church considered to be “spiritual marriages.”

On this day 14 years ago, 500 members of the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God died in an inferno at their church in Uganda. The fire was set deliberately.

After the fire mass graves containing 400 more corpses were found around homes belonging to the cult’s leaders.

Cult leaders Joseph Kibweteere and Credonia Mwerinde were initially thought to have died in the fire, but police later said they may still be alive.

Britain’s Daily Mail is getting some extra mileage out of the true story that is rumored to have inspired HBO’s fictional ‘True Detective’ series.

Louis Lamonica, former pastor of the defunct Hosanna Church in Ponchatoula, Louisiana, is serving four consecutive life sentences for his involvement in crimes against children as head of Satanic ring.

In Belgium hundreds of Catholic pilgrims have traveled to a house in the town of Jalhay to see a statue depicting the Virgin Mary that ‘glows mysteriously’ in the dark.

Catholic clergymen have been sent to investigate the phenomenon, but have thus far not drawn any conclusions. The statue’s owners don’t want the thing removed for further examination, saying ‘she is fine where she is’.

All we know right now it that it’s not one of these.

Fred Waldron Phelps Sr., 84, founder of the Westboro Baptist Church — a hate group known around the world for its despicable behavior at, among other things, the funerals of people it disagrees with — is reportedly near death. [Update, March 20, 2014: Fred Phelps died on Wednesday, March 19, 2014]

In a Facebook post his estranged son, Nate Phelps, who left the church 37 years ago, writes he recently learned that his father was ex-communicated from the group back in August of 2013.

The Topeka Capital-Journal later revealed that Fred Waldron Phelps Sr. was excommunicated after advocating a kinder approach between church members.

The excommunication occurred after the formation of a board of male elders in the church. The board had defeated Shirley Phelps-Roper, the church’s longtime spokeswoman, in a power struggle, and Fred Phelps Sr. called for kinder treatment of fellow church members.

The board then ejected Fred Phelps Sr., who founded the church in the 1950s. […]

On Sunday, church spokesman Steve Drain refused to talk about the excommunication of Fred Phelps Sr.

In a separate article the paper says that after Phelps was voted out, “he was moved out of the church and into a house, where he was watched to ensure he wouldn’t harm himself.”

Nate Phelps says his father eventually stopped eating and drinking, and on Sunday he was near death.

July, 2013 ABC News report

Nate says he expects that even after his father’s death, the group’s picketing practices will continue.

Meanwhile, former Westboro Baptist Church member Lauren Drain hopes people will spread compassion and understanding instead of hate amid the news that Phelps was in poor health.

The daughter of Steve Drain, she is the author of Banished: Surviving My Years in the Westboro Baptist Church

Others don’t respond as well as Lauren has, and many are already planning to pay Phelps and the Westboro hate cult back in kind — by picketing his funeral.

A mother convicted together with her husband in the faith healing death of their 8-month-old son, has reported for prison.

Catherine and Herbert Schaible were sentenced on February 19 to 3½ to seven year in prison in the death of their son, Brandon, who died of treatable pneumonia.

In treating Brandon with prayer instead of proper medical care the Schaibles defied a court order to get medical care for their children after their 2-year-old son, Kent, died in 2009.

After an additional three weeks of freedom so she could celebrate her daughter’s 11th birthday, Catherine Schaible surrendered to authorities Friday to begin serving her prison sentence.

Earlier in the week a judge rejected calls by the district attorney to more than double the Schaibles’ sentences.

Herbert Schaible, also sentenced to 3-1/2 to 7 years, has been in prison since Brandon’s death.

February 20, 2014 report about the Schaibles’ sentencing

The Schaibles are third-generation members of the First Century Gospel Church in northeast Philadelphia. Theologically the church is a cult of Christianity that teaches Christians can lose their salvation if they display a lack of faith by accepting medical aid.

Meanwhile the church and its pastor, Nelson Clark, continue to preach their deadly gospel.

Speaking of faith healing… Scientology’s drug ‘rehab’ network, Narconon, is facing yet another lawsuit. Two, in fact. Add that to a host of other problems for this Scientology front group.

This information about Narconon should inoculate you against ever getting involved:

Sue and Jeff Green run a 13 bed B&B in Wales. In light of their Christian convictions they advertised that only married couples were allowed to take double rooms.

When they were informed that this policy breaches equalities law, they did two things: 1) they fitted each and every room with single beds only, and 2) they launched a landmark legal case at the European Court of Human Rights.

Jeff Green says Christian businesses are now “struggling” to be true to their principles of faith because of demands placed on them by the state.

Mr Green said they had been forced to take the case to Europe because of a ruling by this country’s Supreme Court in November.

In that case, the Christian owners of a guesthouse in Cornwall to pay damages after refusing civil partners Steven Preddy and Martyn Hall a double room.

Religion News Blog brings you expert-selected, hand-picked religion news articles with a focus (though not always exclusively so) on cults, religious sects, world religions, and related issues.

Join 12.900+ others who follow our Twitter stream.

Vacation? Short break? Day trip? Get Skip-the-line tickets at GetYourGuide.


(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)

Religion News Blog posted this on Monday March 17, 2014.
Last updated if a date shows here:


More About This Subject


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