Windsor Humanist Society

October 16, 2007

Onward? Christian Soldiers

Filed under: Uncategorized — moderator @ 3:49 pm

A U.S. soldier who said his Christian beliefs compelled him to love his enemies, not kill them, has been granted conscientious objector status and honorably discharged, a civil liberties group said on Tuesday.

Christian Soldiers on Christmas Eve in IraqCapt. Peter Brown — who served in Iraq for more than a year and was a graduate of the elite U.S. military academy West Point — said in a statement issued by the New York Civil Liberties Union that he was relieved the Army had recognized his beliefs made it impossible for him to serve.

“In following Jesus’ example, I could not have fired my weapon at another human being, even if he were shooting at me,” said Capt. Brown, who plans to continue seminary classes he began by correspondence while in Iraq.

While in Iraq, Capt. Brown processed insurgents and detainees, the NYCLU said.

Capt. Brown said he had no conflict between his faith and military service until after he graduated from West Point in 2004 and began to study scripture and his belief.

During his Iraq deployment he applied for discharge as a conscientious objector but the request was denied, the NYCLU said. In July 2007 the NYCLU and the American Civil Liberties Union asked a federal court in Washington, D.C., to order the honorable discharge.

“Before the court acted, the Army reconsidered the issue, this time granting Brown’s request,” said the NYCLU, adding it would now withdraw the lawsuit.

The U.S. Army was not immediately available for comment.
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…this post forwarded by Windsor Humanist, Alexander Hodgins, after an October 16, 2007  article from  Reuters

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Women’s secret sect raided after follower dies in savage beating

Filed under: Uncategorized — moderator @ 9:04 am

Police raided the headquarters of a secretive, female-dominated cult yesterday after one of its followers was beaten to death, allegedly for failing to carry out a group ritual properly.

Those Krazy Kigenkai'sDetectives believe that about ten followers of the Kigenkai cult subjected Motoko Okuno, 63, to an hour-long ordeal of kicks and punches, and there are fears that the cult may have carried out more violent attacks in the past.

The Kigenkai cult, whose main office is in the northwestern prefecture of Nagano, is thought to have about 300 followers across Japan and has been active for more than 35 years. For the past decade, it has been officially registered with the Ministry of Education as a religious institution. But what began life as a relatively straightforward group of fortune-tellers has, say critics, evolved in a stranger direction.

The cult’s religious convictions are based loosely on Shintoism, the traditional animist belief system of Japan that makes deities out of trees, waterfalls and other natural phenomena. The cult also offers a mineral elixir called “kigensui”, which, it says, cures diseases such as cancer. The bottles, which sell for about several hundred UK pounds, are thought to contain little more than normal water. Soaks in a full bath of the supposedly magical liquid are also available for a price, and many members take them because cult rules forbid them from visiting mainstream doctors.

Four hundred police officers raided several of the sect’s premises and hauled in for questioning more than 20 of its leaders – all women. Several of those led away from the cult’s compound were teenagers.

Detective initially suspected Ms Okuno’s husband, daughters and son-in-law, who all said that the violence was the result of persistent family quarrels. But when they discovered that the family were all members of the sect, they began to focus their investigation on the cult itself.

One of the cult’s many rules is that when a person becomes a devotee, their whole family must join and it is believed that Ms Okuno, who owned a sushi restaurant, was coerced into the sect. Police further sShoko Asaharauspect that Ms Okuno was attacked at one of the cult’s properties, which include an elaborate Shinto-style shrine. Her husband, 35, remains under suspicion and has been rearrested for destroying evidence.

The public image of religious sects in Japan has been forever coloured by the atrocities of the Aum Shinrikyo cult, which was responsible for releasing sarin gas on the Tokyo underground in 1995. The gas killed 12 people and injured 3,800, and Shoko Asahara, the cult’s leader, awaits the death penalty for masterminding the attacks.

Another Japanese cult known for displaying bizarre behaviour is the Panawave Laboratory, whose devotees expected Armageddon in May 2003 and draped trees and river banks in white sheets to protect themselves from it.

Residents of Komoro, the town nearest to the group’s headquarters, take a dim view of its activities, which include making votive offerings to the local river by hurling fruit, vegetables and fried food into it. The group is notorious for its methods of extracting “donations” from followers: it has been known to sell ordinary pebbles as so-called “spiritual stones” for about £1,200 each.
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…this post forwarded by Windsor Humanist, Alexander Hodgins, after an October 16, 2007 article by Leo Lewis in The Times of London

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