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News Archive for May, 1998

Sects turn tables on cult watchdog, May 31, 1998 1:20 p.m. EDT
PHILADELPHIA - Reuters - The American Family Foundation wound up under the microscope itself this weekend, when members of the very sects it monitors decided to crash its three-day annual convention. About a dozen representatives of "religious minorities" including the Unification Church and the Church of Scientology listened in on panel discussions about alleged cult practices, noted the testimony of former cult members and generally milled around on the conference floor. AFF officials didn't seem overly concerned about the gate crashers, who were given the same conference ID badges as other attendees and allowed into public functions. AFF officials say they have seen an assault on their funding, which comes from donations, publishing revenues and grants. The AFF no longer accepts grants big enough to require public disclosure. When it did, Rosedale said, cult leaders began suing its larger benefactors.
Scientology at center of unusual lawsuit, St. Petersburg Times, May 30, 1998
British artist who once lived in Clearwater is suing the Church of Scientology in an unusual federal lawsuit filed in California. Besides the church and its top officials, the list of defendants includes the U.S. government, President Clinton and some members of his Cabinet as well as actor and prominent Scientologist John Travolta. In the lawsuit filed last week by Michael Philip Pattinson, who left Scientology in 1997 after nearly 25 years. Pattinson, 48, says in his suit he spent about $500,000 on Scientology because the church promised its counseling would rid him of homosexual urges and give him special abilities. He alleges the counseling was overpriced, that it failed to help him and that church officials exploited and ruined his career. Pattinson also charges that church staffers twice held him captive as they tried to commit him to $7,400 worth of Scientology counseling. In a 1996 incident Pattinson said he escaped by running from Scientology's Sandcastle Hotel on Drew Street in Clearwater as two staffers chased him. The lawsuit also accuses the U.S. government of succumbing to blackmail and conspiring with Scientology when the IRS granted the church tax-exempt status in 1993. President Clinton is accused of allowing himself to be "seduced" by Scientology's celebrity culture, including actor Travolta. The lawsuit alleges the Clinton administration has tailored its foreign policy to further Scientology's goals in Germany and Sweden.
Rev. Moon Returning to Madison Square Garden on June 13th to Bless 7,000 Couples, Wednesday May 27, 5:14 pm Eastern Time
NEW YORK, May 27 (PRNewswire) The marriage blessing that was once reserved for followers of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon is now available to couples from all religions, according to officials with the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU), sponsors of the upcoming event. ``Blessing '98'' follows a similar event at Washington, DC's RFK stadium last November. Underscoring the inter-religious aspect of the June 13th event, a 1,000-voice chorus composed of an ensemble of choirs from New York City's churches will perform. In addition, religious leaders from the world's major religions will partake in a unity ceremony symbolizing the ultimate oneness of all religions.
When a Cult Turns to Germ Warfare, New York Times, May 26, 1998
In repeated germ attacks in the early 1990s, an obscure Japanese cult tried to kill millions of people throughout Tokyo, and, a cultist has now testified, at nearby U.S. bases where thousands of service people and their families live. As far as is known, there were no deaths. But a New York Times examination of court testimony and confessions of the cult's members, as well as interviews with Japanese and U.S. officials, show that its germ attacks were far more numerous than previously known. Aum Shinrikyo burst into the headlines in 1995 when it released nerve gas into Tokyo's subways, killing a dozen people. Its biological work, meant to be thousands of times more devastating, was mentioned only in passing in scattered reports.The Times inquiry shows that the cult carried out at least nine biological attacks and that the strikes failed largely because Aum never got its hands on germs of sufficient virulence.
AUM sect had hidden sarin gas substance, Tuesday, May 26, 1998, 10:48 p.m. PDT
TOKYO, May 27 (Kyodo) -- Police said Wednesday they have confiscated a substance hidden by the AUM Shinrikyo religious cult that is used for producing sarin nerve gas, which killed 12 people and injured thousands when released in a Tokyo subway March 20, 1995. The AUM sect also released sarin gas in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, in central Japan in June 1994, killing seven people and injuring 144. Police said they confiscated eight hydrogen fluoride tanks and four oxygen tanks May 14 in a mountain area in Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture, northwest of Tokyo.
Doctor convicted in subway gassing sentenced, Tuesday, May 26, 1998, 10:44 p.m. PDT
TOKYO (AP) -- A doomsday cult member was spared the death penalty today after being found guilty of murder in the nerve gas attack that killed 12 people on Tokyo's subways. In an unusually lenient sentence, Ikuo Hayashi, 51, a heart surgeon and one of the main leaders of the Aum Shinri Kyo, or Supreme Truth cult, was sentenced to life in prison, allowing him a chance for parole in about 20 years. In handing down the verdict, the first in the March 1995 subway gassing, Judge Megumi Yamamuro said Hayashi was criminally responsible for his actions. Although the cult has been stripped of official recognition as a religious group and membership has dwindled from the previous 10,000, Aum remains active, recruiting followers and holding meetings.
AFF meeting next weekend
AFF members will gather in Philadelphia next weekend for their annual conference. The focus of this year's session is children and cults, with talks planned on child abuse, medical neglect, custody issues, effects on siblings, and advice for parents. The conference will be from Friday through May 31 at the Crown Plaza Hotel, 18th and Market Streets. For information, call 215-463-1096.
Why did this brilliant MIT student jump to his death?, Boston Herald, Thursday, May 21, 1998
Alone in a 15th-floor classroom, MIT sophomore Philip C. Gale drew a physics formula on a blackboard showing what happens when a body falls from a great height. Then he slammed a chair through the classroom window and jumped more than 200 feet to his death, as horrified students watched from a plaza below. But the blackboard message -- and a mysterious tape recording -- gave no clues to why the brilliant 19-year-old chose such a dramatic ending two months ago to a life full of promise.
Scientology Web site at center of copyright dispute, May 18, 1998, 9:28AM
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Depending on whom you ask, last week's verdict in Religious Technology Center v. Keith Henson is either a vote for intellectual property rights or a vote against freedom of information. Henson is in an unenviable position: He faces a $75,000 fine for violating the Church of Scientology's copyright. And this Friday, he must tell the judge in the case why he should not be held in contempt of court for the Web posting of sealed testimony in the San Jose, California, US District Court trial. In posting a document called NOTs 34 to the alt.religion.scientology newsgroup a little more than two years ago, Henson was tangling with an enterprise that has plenty of experience striking back at critics online and off. Henson's post of NOTs 34 -- a tract that details certain Scientology rituals -- provoked a counterthrust in federal court. The church sued, alleging Henson had infringed its trade secrets and violated US copyright law by making public a private document intended only for internal church use. In a verdict handed down May 12, the jury agreed with the church and fined Henson $75,000. But the matter didn't end there. Henson had -- unwittingly, he says -- participated in posting the sealed transcript of a closed portion of the proceeding on the Web. During testimony on NOTs 34, on day four of the trial, US District Court Judge Ronald Whyte cleared the courtroom and sealed the record of that part of the proceeding. Henson says he assumed the NOTs 34 testimony had been stricken from a transcript diskette he received the next day. He handed it over to an associate to post as part of an online record of the trial. Henson adds that he had no idea that the court would supply sealed documents to him on a diskette, and never looked. If the judge finds him guilty, Henson could face another $5,000 fine and as much as six months in prison.
The Moonies jump over the border to kowtow for profit, Sydney Morning Herald, Monday, May 18, 1998
The vast religious cult known to the world as the Moonies has scored one of its rare public relations victories, with a church-sponsored dance troupe of 38 young girls completing the first private cultural tour of North Korea for 50 years. The 11-day visit by the Little Angels troupe was hailed as a further step in the gradual thaw in hostilities between the two Koreas, but behind the tearful farewells was a mercantile mission. Scratch the promotional gloss provided by the Unification Church's headline-grabbing mass weddings and its philosophy of sexual purification and you will find one of the world's most business-like religious sects. Led by its 78-year-old founder, the Rev Moon Sun-myung, it has amassed a staggering array of business interests worldwide, including The Washington Times newspaper and the South Korean conglomerate Tongil. The church also has a business foothold in the North. It runs the Potongan Hotel and has started work on a tourist resort at the scenic Diamond Mountain district.
Florida refuses vampire cult mom, Friday, May 15, 1998
UMATILLA, Fla. -- (AP) -- Florida officials are pulling the welcome mat out from under the mother of vampire cult leader Rod Ferrell. Sondra Gibson had wanted to move permanently to Umatilla so she could be closer to her son, who is on Florida's death row in Starke, but she met opposition from her would-be neighbors. Florida officials have refused to let Gibson finish her five-year probation sentence in the Sunshine State. Gibson, 35, was convicted in Kentucky of trying to entice a 14-year-old boy to have sex with her as part of a vampire cult ritual. A Kentucky judge placed her on probation on the condition that she seek counseling. The state of Kentucky gave her permission to move to Florida provided Florida officials monitored her probation.
Internet must suffice for lesser candidates, Thursday, May 14, 1998
LOS ANGELES (AP)-- Only four candidates were invited to Wednesday's televised gubernatorial debate -- so 11 of the 13 others found their own forum on another small screen. As moderators at the formal debate asked questions, those who were snubbed supplied answers on the Internet. Answers were posted on the Democracy Network Web site less than three hours after the mainstream debate ended. On the question of prison spending, Del Mar author Harold Bloomfield, a candidate for the Natural Law Party, said he would introduce transcendental meditation to prisoners as a money saving measure. He said a 1993 study showed the state could save $55 million over five years if 1,000 inmates were instructed in the form of meditation. "If this proposal had been implemented then, we would already be enjoying that savings today," Bloomfield said in his online response. "If the program had been offered not to 1,000 inmates, but to all inmates, the savings would be in the billions of dollars." [Editor's Note: Transcendental Meditation has been ruled to be a religious practice three times by U.S. federal judges. Critics charge that use of government funds to finance teaching TM in prisons violates the Constitution's separation of church and state.]
Indian Ayurvedic doctors enraged over U. S. patenting, AAP Information Services Pty. Ltd, Friday, May 8, 1998
NEW DELHI, May 8 Asia Pulse -- Doctors practicing Ayurveda, the traditional Indian medicine system, are enraged over the patenting of the basic concepts of Ayurveda by an American company. The basic concepts such as "Vata, Pitta, Kapha," which are used to classify the patients on the basis of their constitution, have been patented by the Maharishi Ayurveda Products International Incorporated based in Colorado. K C Katiyar, an expert in Ayurveda and advisor for Dabur company, said the patenting of basic concepts of the Indian systems of medicine in order to promote sales was "atrocious and immoral."
Scientology funds no-drug `marshals', San Jose Mercury News, Tuesday, May 5, 1998
As beaming young girls pinned on sheriff's badges that branded them the new "Drug Free Marshals" in town, the mayors of Mountain View, Palo Alto, and Santa Clara recently pledged to help fight drug addiction among kids. The Church of Scientology sponsors the national anti-drug program. Scientologists say the Drug Free Marshals program is strictly a community service; critics say it is one of several techniques the church uses to recruit new members and legitimize an organization considered by many to be a cult. Although the public officials said they supported the program's anti-drug message, some admitted they didn't fully grasp Scientology's involvement until after they'd agreed to participate.
Yogic flyers could keep euro stable, party says, Monday, May 4, 1998, 3:20 a.m. PDT
PARIS, May 4 (Reuters) - The Natural Law Party offered its own solution on Monday to tension within the EU that led to the messy weekend deal on a European Central Bank -- simply get 7,000 Yogic Flyers to meditate in Brussels. In a statement, the French branch of the party, which argues its meditating practices can further world harmony, proposed "a coherence group of 7,000 people practising Yogic Flying to give the euro the necessary stability." But it added it did not have the money to pay for its scheme.
Newport Beach Therapist Sues Self-Help Guru Chopra, LA Times, Sunday May 3, 1998, 8:24:39 am.
A former Newport Beach psychotherapist has filed a $100-million lawsuit against Deepak Chopra, alleging that the noted author and self-help guru plagiarized her copyrighted manuscript in his best-selling book, "Seven Spiritual Laws of Success." Chopra could not be reached for comment on the lawsuit. In a letter to Parvin's attorney, however, a lawyer representing Chopra denied infringing on her copyright.  Parvin said she sent her original manuscript, titled "Pattern Change Programming, Creating Your Own Destiny," to Chopra for review in 1994.   While she had never met Chopra and was not familiar with his work, Parvin said, she hoped that he might mention her work in print. As a result of the plagiarism, Parvin claims she lost credibility among her fellow therapists, who thought that she had copied Chopra's work. Eventually, she said, she lost her practice as a licensed marriage and family therapist and had to close a therapy center she ran in Newport Beach.
Ex-head of AUM Osaka branch partially acquitted, Friday, May 1, 1998, 12:31 a.m. PDT
OSAKA, May 1 (Kyodo) -- The Osaka District Court on Friday acquitted Kazuo Ishihara, 31, the former chief of AUM Shinrikyo's Osaka branch, accused of illegally confining an AUM follower in 1994, but convicted him for assaulting a woman in 1995. He was sentenced to three months in prison, suspended for two years, for assaulting a woman who tried to prevent her son from joining the religious group in March 1995. He was found not guilty of conspiring with four others to detain a 28-year-old AUM follower in a vehicle which was traveling from the Osaka branch to the AUM compound in December 1994. Ishihara had pleaded innocent to both charges.

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