Greenbelt Interfaith News

    December 1998

    Articles Index

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    Indigenous – Modern
    Indigenous – Historical and Prehistorical
    Pagan – Modern
    Pagan – Historical and Prehistorical
    Other Faiths
    Magazine Matters


    Religion and the Internet

      U.S.: Author Ponders Role of Spirituality in Cyberspace. By Leslie Miller. While others have been worrying about how to keep kids away from computer porn or how to use the Web to make money, Jeff Zaleski has been contemplating how the Net will affect our spiritual lives. [USA Today]

      U.S.: Looking for Religion in Spiritual Cyberspace. By Diego Ribadeneira. Religious groups find the Internet a powerful tool for spreading doctrine and attracting members. [The Boston Globe]

    Millenium Dome

      U.K.: Spirit Zone at Risk. The company behind the Millennium Dome has said it may have to alter or scrap its designs for the section on religion, because it has so far failed to find a sponsor for it. [BBC]

      U.K.: Hindu Family Backs Dome's Religious Zone. A wealthy Hindu family has agreed to underwrite the completion of a section of the Millennium Dome dedicated to religion. [BBC]

    World: NGOs and Governments Form a New Coalition to Promote Religious Tolerance. By Lisbeth Mattsson Johannensen. Some 200 representatives from various governments, non-governmental organizations and religious communities have called for greater efforts to promote freedom of religion and belief. [One Country]

    World: Report Finds 19 European Countries Violate Religious Rights. A new report by the International Federation for Human Rights says 19 European countries are violating religious rights, and religious minorities in some east European countries now face greater difficulties than they did under communism.[Religion News Service]

    Australia: Push to Make Religious Discrimination Illegal. By Stephanie Peatling. People's rights to believe and practise whatever faith they choose are inadequately protected, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) has told the Federal Government. [Sydney Morning Herald]

    Germany: Sects Not So Bad After All? By Richard Nyberg. A German parliamentary commission of inquiry into "sects and psycho-groups" has wrapped up two years of work by declaring that new religious and psychological movements generally pose no real danger to state and society. [Christianity Today]

    Pakistan: Minority Faiths Protest Plans to Bring in Islamic Law. By Suzanne Goldenberg. Pakistan's ruling Muslim League exercised its majority in the national assembly in October to vote in Islamic law, or Sharia. [The Guardian]

    U.K.: Hindus and Muslims to Replace Some Bishops in Lords. By Rachel Sylvester. The Government is heading for a showdown with the Church of England over the position of bishops in the House of Lords. [The Independent]

    U.S.: Religious Leaders Disagree on How Clinton Should Be Treated. By Gayle White. While the president darts around the definition of a "sexual relationship" and the question of whether he had one with former intern Monica Lewinsky, some religious leaders express concern about another relationship – that between the president and his own conscience. [Cox News Service]

    U.S.: Faiths Uniting to Fight Death Penalty. By Jan Ferris. Bishops, rabbis, Buddhist peace activists and other religious leaders gathered in San Francisco on October 8 to launch what's billed as California's first interfaith effort against the death penalty. [The Sacramento Bee]

    U.S.: Congress Passes Religious Freedom Abroad Act. By Ira Rifkin. Congressional passage of the compromise International Religious Freedom Act has been hailed by a broad spectrum of religious leaders, who generally view the measure as assuring that the treatment of religious believers overseas will become a centerpiece of U.S. foreign policy. [Religion News Service]

    U.S.: Ecumenical Group Turns Its Attention to Interreligious Issues. By Adelle M. Banks. The National Council of Churches is considering its first official policy on interfaith relations aimed at fostering dialogue with non-Christian faith groups and condemning bigotry against other religions. [Religion News Service]

    INDIGENOUS – Modern

    Canada: Record Numbers Flock to Pilgrimage. By Terry Lusty. What may well prove to be a record attendance saw more than 40,000 people attend the Lac St. Anne Pilgrimage from July 25 to 30. [Alberta Sweetgrass]

    South Africa: Traditional Healers to Be Legalised, Regulated. A parliamentary committee has recommended that an interim national council of traditional healers be set up to draft legislation that will legalise and regulate the profession. [South African Parliament]

    U.S.: Native Americans Practice Traditions Behind Bars. By Brandi Holsinger. Because Vincent Yellow Bear "brings a strange way to a strange land," gaining the privilege to conduct the ceremonies while incarcerated involved communication and compromise. [Taylor Daily Press]

    Zambia: Crash Landings Provoke Renewed Debate Over Withcraft. By Mulenga. Eighty-four years after the enactment of the Witchcraft Ordinance, popular belief in – and fear of – witchcraft remains as strong as ever. [The Sunday Times (South Africa)]

    INDIGENOUS – Historical and Prehistorical

    Aborigine Remains

      Australia: Aborigines Target Museums for Remains. By Debra Jopson. NSW Aborigines have targeted museums and academic institutions nationwide as they step up their campaign to have the skeletal remains of about 700 people returned for burial in their homelands. [Sydney Morning Herald]

      Australia: Aborigines Ponder How to Put Their Ancestor Spirits to Rest. By Debra Jopson. Rick Hooper and his Gamilaroi people from north-west NSW are confronting a conundrum few mere mortals must face: how to rebury their own centuries-old ancestors. [Sydney Morning Herald]

    Canada: Anthropologist Unearths Treasure Trove of Inuit Culture. Between 1946 and 1967, Danish anthropologist Svend Frederiksen recorded many interviews with the last known shamans of the Keewatin region. His work has been rediscovered by an anthropologist from Laval University. [Nunatsiaq News]

    U.S.: Sacred Spear Rest Returns to Hawai'i. After two years of dispute, litigation and court-ordered mediation, the Hawaiian spear rest held by the City of Providence, Rhode Island, will soon return to Hawai'i. [Office of Hawaiian Affairs]

    U.S.: Tribes, Asatru Pay Respect to Old Bones Before Move to Seattle Museum. By Mike Lee. The much-revered bones are under the nation's magnifying glass as federal scientists prepare for a series of tests designed to determine if the bones should be studied more or reburied in accord with tribal wishes. [Tri-City Herald]

    PAGAN – Modern

    Schools and the Internet

      U.S.: Student's Search for Religion Leads to Curb on "Controversial" Sites. By Pamela Mendels. When 15-year-old Burklin A. Nielsen used school computers to look at Web sites about Wicca and other unconventional religious practices, school officials became alarmed. [The New York Times]

      U.S.: University Charged with Censoring Pagan Newsgroups. By Jeff Wright. With a few taps on a keyboard, students at the University of Oregon routinely log on to the university's computer news server to gather information on nearly any topic, from astrophysics to zoology. Unless, some students now charge, the subject matter deals with paganism, satanism or witchcraft. [The Register-Guard]

      U.S.: Pagan and Satanic Newsgroups Restored by University. The president of the University of Oregon has ruled the school did not discriminate on the basis of religion when it removed three online newsgroups dealing with pagan and satanic topics. But President Dave Frohnmayer ordered the newsgroups restored to university online services by next week. [The Associated Press]

    Media Attention to Witchcraft

      U.S.: Pop Culture Helps Bring Witchcraft Out of the Broom Closet. By Steve Rabey. Over the past four centuries, witchcraft – which is both an ancient tradition of rites and a rapidly growing modern-day religious movement – has survived persecution and execution, earned a sometimes grudging toleration, and undergone a series of revivals, both in Europe and North America. [Religion News Service]

      U.S.: Witches Cast a Spell. By Michael H. Hodges. As Hollywood glams them up, real Wiccans stress the benign beliefs of their religion. [The Detroit News]

    Baltimore "Hex"

      U.S.: Girl Accused of Hexing Classmate, Sent Home. By John Rivera. Baltimore's Southwestern High School was thrown into turmoil in October when a ninth-grader accused her classmate, an admitted practicing witch who is the daughter of a witch, of putting a hex on her. [The Baltimore Sun]

      U.S.: Teen Witch Denies Hex, Moves to New School. By Liz Bowie. The ninth-grader who was sent home for allegedly casting a spell on a classmate asked to be transferred so she might escape a controversy that has enveloped her high school. [The Baltimore Sun]

    Celucci Ad

      U.S.: Wiccans Take Issue with Massachusetts Governor. By Sharon L. Lynch. A firestorm is brewing in a community renowned for its rich history of witch trials. Modern-day practitioners of the pagan religion Wicca say Republican Gov. Paul Cellucci is promoting degrading stereotypes in a new campaign advertisement that pokes fun at his gubernatorial opponent. [The Associated Press]

      U.S.: Wiccans Rally Against Massachusetts Ad. By Gustav Niebuhr. Could the campaign of acting Gov. Paul Cellucci herald the arrival of witches as a political force? [The New York Times]

    Lithuania: Potent Pagan Powwow. For six days over the summer solstice, 200 representatives to the World Pagan Congress met in Vilnius, capital city of the Baltic country of Lithuania. The modest event augured well for what is being called "post-Christian" Europe. [Hinduism Today]

    U.S.: Wiccan Priestess Secures Right to Perform Marriages. The Norfolk Circuit Court has issued a minister's certificate to Wiccan high priestess Rosemary Kooiman, allowing her to perform marriages anywhere in the state of Virginia. [The American Civil Liberties Union]

    U.S.: Wiccan Vows to Stay and Fight Small Town's Christian Fish Symbol. By John Rogers. There are times, Jean Webb admits freely, when she thinks of running, just as far and as fast as she can from this quiet little town that has become her personal hell. [The Associated Press]

    PAGAN – Historical and Prehistorical

    U.K.: Maes Howe Revisited, Second Year Successful. By Diana GoldenBlaze. For a second year, people throughout the world have had the opportunity to watch the solstice sunset at Scotland's prehistoric burial mound. [Greenbelt Interfaith News]

    U.K.: Zodiac Chart May Have Been Created by Worshipper of Mithras. By Aisling Irwin. The oldest zodiac chart created in Britain may be in a museum in Newcastle, according to archaeologists. [The Electronic Telegraph]

    U.K.: Britain Plans to Reroute Busy Road Away from Stonehenge. It's going to cost at least $209 million but Britain means to move the modern traffic bustle away from an ancient site – Stonehenge. [The Associated Press]

    U.K.: Stonehenge Outclassed by Irish Prehistoric Sites. By Norman Hammond. Irish archaeologists have identified two prehistoric henge enclosures larger than Stonehenge and possibly as old. [The Times]

    U.K.: Murder Mystery of an Iron Age Grave. By Maev Kennedy. The body of a woman believed by some archaeologists to be the first witch in England has been discovered in Northamptonshire. [The Guardian]


    Goddess Followers

      U.S.: Priestesses of the Goddess Demand Equal Time. By Teresa Watanabe. The phenomenon is sweeping not only alternative culture but mainstream religion as well: a surging desire, even demand, for recognition of the feminine face of God – and of women as sacred sources of moral authority. [The Los Angeles Times]

      U.S.: Goddess Movement Draws Backlash. By Teresa Watanabe. Some among the religious faithful are rallying against the Goddess movement with indignation and alarm. [The Los Angeles Times]

    World: "Not an Oxymoron": Christian Pedophiles Form Online Support Groups. By Heather Elizabeth Peterson. Those who share their faith believe they can't be Christian. Those who share their sexual desires believe they shouldn't be Christian. But Christian adults who are attracted to minors are seeking new ways to support each other in their struggles with faith and sexuality. [Greenbelt Interfaith News]

    World: Native Christians Reclaim Worship. By Ken Steinken. After 500 years of being told by other cultures how to worship Christ, native people from 15 countries met at the second World Christian Gathering of Indigenous People to explore expressions of worship that grow out of their traditions and culture. [Christianity Today]

    U.S.: Native American Methodists Establish New Fellowship. The Native American Comprehensive Plan emphasizes congregational and leadership development, Native American spirituality and native involvement in the total life of the United Methodist Church. [United Methodist News Service]

    U.S.: Swastika is Focus of Religious Rights Dispute. A Hindu has sued a Hyatt hotel for religious discrimination after being fired for drawing his swastika. [Hinduism Today]

    U.S.: Vodou Exhibit Taps Spirit of Haitians' Struggle for Freedom. By Verena Dobnik. "Sacred Arts of Haitian Vodou," which runs through January 3, is a tribute to the creativity that flourished even under poverty and oppression. [The Associated Press]


    Editor's Note: Narrowing Our Focus [Greenbelt Interfaith News]

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    © 1998 Heather Elizabeth Peterson
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