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Religion News Blog

News about religious movements, cults, sects, world religions and related issues.

Last Build Date: Mon, 11 Dec 2017 01:36:33 +0000


Religion and Cult News, Saturday

Sat, 31 Dec 2016 06:54:43 +0000

The sentences of three German men found guilty for their leadership roles at the infamous Colonia Dignidad cult in Chile have been increased. The cult's founder, former Nazi Paul Schaefer, was sentenced in July 2008 for torturing children.[wpipa id="36637"] Schaefer -- whose followers thought he was "God on earth” -- preached an unnamed religion that said harsh discipline would draw them closer to the supreme being. The cult leader also followed the teachings of American preacher William M. Branham, one of the founders of the "faith healing” movement, and considered a heretic. In April 2010 Schaefer died in prison. California state parole officials postponed a decision on setting free Patricia Krenwinkel, a follower of Charles Manson and convicted killer, after the woman’s attorney made new claims that she had been abused by the cult leader or another person. Emma Donoghue's novel The Wonder delves into the cult of fasting girls Anorexia is not a new disorder. The compulsion to refuse food stretches as far back as Ancient Greece and into the Middle Ages, when Catholic saints such as Catherine of Siena would eschew meals as a symbol of their piety. Unlike contemporary sufferers of anorexia nervosa, those with anorexia mirabilis (the miraculous loss of appetite) were celebrated for their ability to exist without earthly pleasures. Top 5 ‘heresies’ of 2016: ‘One God,’ biblical authority and more What is heresy? What are the essential doctrines of the Christian faith? What is a cult of Christianity? The hunt for FLDS cult leader Warren Jeffs' lost child brides: Three girls married off to Warren Jeffs aged 12 and 13 are still missing 12 years later as polygamist father who has 145 children goes on trial for arranging ceremonies Seventh-day Adventist Church: 49 of every 100 new members eventually leave. Theologically this religious sect is considered a cult of Christianity. What if you could become God, with the ability to build a whole new universe? That question is skillfully addressed by Zeeya Merali in A Big Bang in a Little Room: The Quest to Create New Universes. "This mind-boggling book reveals that we can nurse other worlds in the tiny confines of a lab, raising a daunting prospect: Was our universe, too, brought into existence by a daring creator?" Marali is a journalist and author who has written for Scientific American, Nature, New Scientist, and Discover, as well as published two textbooks in collaboration with National Geographic. This post includes highlights from Religion News Blog's Twitter feed. Join 19.700 subscribers for up-to-date religion and cult news. Also: You are welcome to embed this news feed on your blog or website Tweets by @religionnews This information was curated by Anton Hein, the founder of Religion News Blog. Full story: Nobody joins a cult, but it is easy to get radicalized[...]

Are you old enough to remember Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh?

Sat, 18 Jul 2015 12:11:22 +0000

Are you old enough to remember the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh? Oregon Public Broadcasting, Nov. 21, 2012 In 1981 this spiritual leader from India spent $5.75 million on a remote piece of property in Oregon and invested millions more to build Rajneeshpuram as a spiritual retreat for thousands of his red-frocked followers.[ref]They used to be known as Rajneeshees or "Orange People," because of the orange and later red, maroon and pink clothes they used from 1970 until 1985[/ref] The East Oregonian recalls In news clips from the 1980s, Rajneeshees line the road for the Bhagwan’s daily drive-by in a vehicle from his fleet of more than 90 Rolls Royce automobiles. Rancho Rajneesh, as some called it, had its own newspaper, fire department, night club and mall. The Rajneeshees clashed with locals over land use. The utopian desert commune collapsed after Rajneeshees were convicted of infecting four salad bars with salmonella in The Dalles, the Wasco county seat, in order to hamper voter turnout and swing an election. Other crimes included attempted murder, arson, election fraud and wiretapping. About 10 followers were imprisoned. The Bhagwan was deported for immigration violations. 751 people were poisoned in the 1984 bioterror attack. According to Wikipedia, "The incident was the first and single largest bioterrorist attack in United States history. The attack is one of only two confirmed terrorist uses of biological weapons to harm humans since 1945." The Rajneesh had hoped to incapacitate the voting population of the city so that their own candidates would win the local election. The Rajneesh actually did gain political control of the nearby city of Antelope. But by 1986 they were all gone. Oregon Public Broadcasting, which produced the fascinating documentary shown above, says Twenty-five sannyasins would be convicted of crimes: arson, wiretapping, immigration fraud, election fraud and attempted murder. Ten would serve time in prison. At the end of it all, Wasco County Judge Bill Hulse predicted (correctly) that somebody would write a book about what had happened there: "The people who read that book,” he said, "will think it’s fiction.” The East Oregonian reports that Montana billionaire Dennis Washington bought the seized property for a cool $3.65 million as a destination resort, but ran into zoning problems. The Washington family donated the property to Young Life in 1996 and has continued support with additional donations. Given Bhagwan's open disdain for Christianity, it ironic that his former land now is home to the world's largest Young Life camp -- a Christian camp. Speaking of irony, the paper also writes When planners couldn’t decide what to do with the Bhagwan’s house, a 1997 range fire decided matters. A finger of the fire raced down the ridge and torched the residence, the only one of 300 Rajneeshpuram buildings to burn. [youtube] Born in 1931 as Chandra Mohan Jain, also known as Acharya Rajneesh, in the 1960s he changed his name to Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, and in 1989 to Osho. Though he died in 1990, he still has an international following.[ref]Wikipedia entry on Rajneesh[/ref] Want to know more? Rajneeshes in Oregon: The Untold Story, a special report by The Oregonian, is a great place to start. Includes FBI and police reports. See also: • Seeing a cult through a child's eyes • Rajneesh Foundation - The Guru Papers: Masks of Authoritarian Power Full story: Are you old enough to remember Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh?[...]

Escaping Polygamy — and Scientology

Thu, 16 Jul 2015 19:00:05 +0000

Going Clear, Alex Gibney's smash documentary that exposes the Scientology cult to daylight, was HBO's highest-rated documentary premiere in almost a decade. By popular demand it is going to be back in theaters. [youtube] By the way: the documentary has seven Emmy nominations. "I want to leave and I want to leave now, but I’m scared and don’t know who I can trust.” That anonymous text message opens LMN’s documentary series Escaping Polygamy. [youtube] "This show is not like 'Sister Wives'" Fox News headlined. It sure isn't. Rather than sugarcoat polygamy, this series highlights what it is like to be trapped in an insular polygamous group. The series follows the work of three sisters who left the Kingston clan, a secretive polygamist group based in Salt Lake City, Utah known as the Order, as they help both loved ones and strangers break free of polygamy. Which Groups Practice Polygamy? 10 Polygamist Wives Who Escaped Unbelievable Abuse Can Moral Disputes Be Resolved? From the head-in-the-sand department: Obama's looking-glass Islamic World. Reality check: The Religion of Peace Full story: Escaping Polygamy — and Scientology[...]

Religion News, Wednesday July 15, 2015

Wed, 15 Jul 2015 09:54:23 +0000

Scientology quacks at work: After a Church of Scientology-backed group helped organize a campaign against it, Gov. Greg Abbott vetoed legislation that would have given Texas doctors more power to detain mentally ill and potentially dangerous patients, according to records obtained by The Texas Tribune. The group in question is the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) -- a Scientology front group that fights against alleged abuses in psychiatry and psychology. (Yes, it's an odd name. Scientology and human rights do not normally go hand in hand). After all, Scientology hates psychiatry with a passion. The cult's primary goal is to "clear the planet" by "obliterating psychiatry." To normal people the organization is known as the destructive space-alien cult that teaches, promotes, and engages in quackery: • Medical claims within Scientology's secret teachings • Scientology versus medicine • The healing claims of Scientology Here's a site you'll want to bookmark and use: What is Scientology? In our view, CCHR is morally reprehensible -- a dangerous hate group. [youtube] So here's the moment more than 30 people, mostly women and children, made their way to freedom after escaping the IS barbarians who kidnapped them. [youtube] This footage -- filmed in Northern Iraq -- is part of Escape From ISIS, to be broadcast by the UK's Channel 4, tonight at 10pm UK time. The Independent says In August 2014 the area was attacked by Isis, with the militants killing hundreds and capturing 3,000 Yazidi women and young girls. Isis locked up their captors and forced many to convert to Islam; the kidnapping has been described as the largest of its kind this century. We steadfastly refer to IS/Isis/Daesh members as barbarians. These depraved savages -- who pretend to be Muslims -- have no qualms committing the most horrendous crimes. Last April Human Rights Watch released a report that documents how Isis has carried out systematic rape and other sexual violence against Yezidi women and girls. Human Rights Watch documented a system of organized rape and sexual assault, sexual slavery, and forced marriage by ISIS forces. [...] "ISIS forces have committed organized rape, sexual assault, and other horrific crimes against Yezidi women and girls,” said Liesl Gerntholtz, women’s rights director at Human Rights Watch. "Those fortunate enough to have escaped need to be treated for the unimaginable trauma they endured.” Incidentally, while climate change is seen as the 'top global threat,' the Pew Research Center says Americans, Europeans, Middle Easterners Focus on ISIS as Greatest Danger Wheaton chaplaincy staffer Julie Rodgers [attracted to women, celibate] backs same-sex relationships, quits the evangelical college, Religion News Service reports. The news of Rodgers blessing committed, same-sex relationships has upset many evangelicals who have presented her as a model gay Christian. [...] The most critical portion of Rodgers statement wasn’t her affirmation of same-sex relationships but her condemnation of how the church treats celibacy. "I’ve become increasingly troubled by the unintended consequences of messages that insist all LGBT people commit to lifelong celibacy,” Rodgers wrote. "No matter how graciously it’s framed, that message tends to contribute to feelings of shame and alienation for gay Christians. It leaves folks feeling like love and acceptance are contingent upon them not-gay-marrying and not-falling-in-gay-love…. It’s hard to believe we’re actually wanted in our churches. It’s hard to believe the God who loves us actually likes us.” Are you a Christian sharing fake news? Cut it out! Twelve years in, US bishops’ sexual abuse charter is facing challenges. US Catholics at every level need to guard against "a tendency for complacency” toward the sexual abuse crisis says Deacon Bernie Nojadera, executive director[...]

Brazilian Evangelicals set up a ‘sin free’ alternative to Facebook

Mon, 06 Jul 2015 11:32:43 +0000

A group of Evangelical Christians in Brazil have set up Facegloria -- a sin-free version of Facebook, the Telegraph reports. The service is patrolled by volunteers who prevent the posting of all-too-revealing selfies, 600 banned words, and anything related to homosexuality or, for that matter, the whole LGBT alphabet of lifestyles. The paper notes that 42 million of Brazil's 202 million people are estimated to be Evangelicals – and that the "fervent Protestant movement continues to make inroads into traditionally dominant Catholicism." Brazil has the world's biggest Roman Catholic population. However Evangelicals, who numbered just six per cent of the population in 1980, are now 22 per cent, while the Catholic total has dropped from 90 per cent to 63 per cent. At that rate, Evangelicals will become the majority by 2040 and Facegloria hopes to be riding the wave. But the term 'Evangelical' is rather flexible and not clearly-defined. For instance, the Telegraph says that the biggest-selling books in Brazil over the last two years have been autobiographical works by Edir Macedo, who founded the powerful Universal Church of the Kingdom of God in 1977, and owns the country's third-biggest media group. Macedo and his church are controversial, to say the least. Both have a seemingly insatiable appetite for money. Many Christians consider the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (Igreja Universal do Reino de Deus) to be theologically a cult of Christianity. It promotes the teachings of the Word-Faith Movement, with a particular emphasis on the seed-faith doctrine. According to this teaching God cannot bless you (with health and wealth) unless you 'sow' a seed of faith (yes, money -- 'donated' to the church). Perhaps Brazilia's evangelicals have yet to find the story about Jesus and the money-changers. Anyway, Facegloria has attracted 100,000 users in its first month, and the folks behind it expect to have 10 million users in Brazil in 2 years time. After that, the world. Acir dos Santos, the mayor of Ferraz de Vasconcelos -- and the person who provided the start-up capital -- says there's no limit. "Our network is global. We have bought the Faceglory domain in English and in all possible languages. We want to take on Facebook and Twitter here and everywhere," he said. Full story: Brazilian Evangelicals set up a ‘sin free’ alternative to Facebook[...]