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Real (Strange) Religion News

Religion has a powerful influence on our lives. Like infomercials. Here we've gathered real news involving religion from around the globe.

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Muslims Riot Over Sandal
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MUSLIMS RIOT OVER SANDAL
Riots in Bangladesh killed one and injured as many as two hundred when Muslims reacted violently in protest of a new sandal which carried a design that they said resembled the Arab script for Allah. Executives of the Canadian-based Bata Shoe Company were ordered into court to explain the design.

RETRIBUTION
The Reverend W. N. Otwell, Texas gubernatorial candidate in 1990, declared that the floods and other natural disasters that had bedeviled Texas since 1986 were the Lord's retribution for all the attacks on Otwell. Said Otwell, "We've been keeping stats on this."

IRS USES 666
During 1980 and 1981 the Internal Revenue Service asked taxpayers to enter the number 666 as a code on a form reporting individual retirement accounts. The IRS said that the Social Security Administration chose the number because scanner could read it easily. After complaints from fundamentalist Christians, the IRS changed the number on 1992 forms to 555.

MAN CHANGES NAME TO GOD
Californian Enrique Silberg changed his name in 1985 to Ubiquitous Perpetuity God after a judge refused to allow him to change it to simply "God."

KITTY DIES, END OF WORLD NEARS
Late in July of 1989 a kitten with eight legs and two tails was born in the village of Machala in Ecuador. Rejected by its mother, it died within hours. The devout Catholic population there saw it as a bad sign. "We are nearing the end of the world because people are so decadent," said one.

CATHOLICS BRAWL OVER LATIN MASS
A fist-fight broke out when 60 traditionalist Roman Catholics tried to take over the main altar at Saint Maclou Cathedral near Paris so that they could celebrate the mass in Latin. The brawl lasted over an hour until a priest agreed to move to a side chapel for his Latin service.

PRIEST GETS FIRED UP OVER BURIAL
Father Eladio Blanco, 49, refused to accompany a funeral procession from his church in Pexeiros-Os Blancos, Spain, to a cemetery, saying, "She [the deceased] has no right to a proper burial because she almost never came to mass." When the crowd of 300 mourners insisted, Blanco drew a pistol and fired four shots, wounding one.

FARRAKHAN SHARES WORD OF MOTHER WHEEL
Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, says he experienced a vision in which a UFO took him from a Mexico mountaintop to a "mother wheel" where the voice of Elijah Muhammad, founder of the religious sect, told him to tell the world that then-President Ronald Reagan was planning a war. Farrakhan said that the later air attack on Libya was partly foiled by the Mother Wheel. "The Wheel was, in fact, present and interfered with the highly sensitive electronic equipment of the aircraft carrier, forcing it to return to Florida for repairs."

BIBLE LESSONS TAKE SHOCKING TWIST
Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baptist minister Dwight Rymer used electric shocks to help him teach the Bible to children. He asked for young volunteers to sit on a stool wired to a six-volt lantern battery in order to demonstrate that sometimes God "can shock you into hearing His word."

LORD GIVES DRIVING INSTRUCTIONS
Police arrested Emmet Wheat, 47, in the San Francisco suburb of Hayward, California, for hitting 18 vehicles with his flatbed truck, injuring 12 people. His wife, Karen, said she spoke to him over the truck's two-way radio just before he crashed into the highway center divider after littering three miles of the Nimitz Freeway with dented vehicles. "He said the Lord had spoken to him," Karen Wheat recounted, "and that the Lord told him he could drive through cars."

SAINT ANTHONY LOST
The Franciscan Monastery in Kennebunkport, Maine, reported in 1988 that the remains of Saint Anthony were missing from the monastery chapel. Saint Anthony is the saint of lost articles.

HARE KRISHNAS WIG OUT
In 1981, the Hare Krishna sect purchased a mansion outside Paris that was once owned by 18th-century philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau. As a condition of the sale, members of the shaven-headed sect agreed to wear wigs so they wouldn't frighten the neighbors.

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Student Tries Brain Food
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STUDENT TRIES BRAIN FOOD
A medical student at Jerusalem's Hebrew University was suspended after he ate a human brain to win a $12 bet.

PARISHIONER GET FIRED UP ABOUT GAY ADVANCES
Gary Douglas Stranz admitted setting the fire that destroyed the Round Lake Presbyterian Church. He explained that he ran into the church to avoid a man who was making homosexual advances toward him and started the fire to draw attention to his predicament.

PRIEST'S CONFESSION INCLUDES FUZZY MATH
The woman whom Catholic priest Gene Jakubek confessed to having had sex with four times in two years insisted they actually had sex twice a month for four years. In fairness to Jakubek, she added that he did give up sex for lent.

MISSIONARY GIVE STAMP OF DISAPPROVAL
Chicago missionary Michele Schwartz, 41, was acquitted of murder in the shooting of her husband, the Reverend Charles Jones. The killing happened during an argument over housework and the question of who had saved more souls. When police arrived at the scene, they found Jones dead and Schwartz reading the Bible. At her trial Schwartz said that Jones had beaten her and at one point was "stamping on [her] liver."

AUTHOR TOYS WITH MIND CONTROL
Phil Phillips, author of "Turmoil of the Toybox," believes that Satan is trying to gain control of children's minds through their toys. Phillips says that Yoda from "Star Wars" encourages what he sees as the "occult" beliefs of Zen Buddhism, Taoism, Islam and Judaism. He also thinks that the unicorns of "My Little Pony" are symbolic of the Antichrist and that Care-Bears promote Eastern religious concepts, and he notes that Papa Smurf uses spells and incantations. To Phillips, Masters of the Universe and He-Man usurp God's role as the universe's actual master.

VATICAN SHOOTS FROM THE HIP
The Citizen's Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms petitioned the Vatican in 1987 to name St. Gabriel Possenti as the "patron of handgunners." St. Gabriel reportedly used a show of marksmanship in 1859 to disarm a group of soldiers in Italy.

PITCHED BATTLER ENSUES OVER TUNING PITCH
The Schiller Institute, in an attempt to "defeat the growing scourge of Satanism internationally," supports "the international campaign to lower tuning pitch to A = 432," as was preferred by Giuseppe Verdi. The current standard in the United States is A = 440. Paul Schmitz of the institute says that the human singing voice is supposed to be pitched at instrumental a = 432 but that record company executives, the people who produce "heavy metal satanic rock," have raised the pitch.

SATAN FAILS TO ANSWER SUMMONS
Daniel Pucheta, a sorcerer, explained why he failed to summon Satan to a witchcraft convention in Mexico in 1981, "We should have started at midnight, not 1:30 in the morning. The devil does not keep Mexican time."

CANADIANS FLOOR BY IMAGE OF CHRIST
In 1983 Josephine Taylor of Constance Lake, Ontario, said that she saw the image of Jesus Christ on her bathroom floor. Taylor says that one morning she looked down and saw the image, formed by dark spots on the cement floor. Edgar Sutherland, an associate of the village minister, said that the image was only worn linoleum adhesive. About 30,000 Canadians came to see for themselves.

DEVOTEES RECEIVE COLD RECEPTION
Thousands of people flocked to Arlene Gardner's trailer in Estill Springs, Tennessee, in 1987 to see the image of Christ on Arlene's General Electric freezer.

MYSTIC NAILED FOR WORLD PEACE
On nationwide television in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, a mystic named Patrice Tamao had himself nailed to a cross "as a sacrifice for world peace and understanding." An unforeseen snag developed when Tamao's foot became infected the following day and physicians ordered him pried loose and taken down. His wife Marita then volunteered to be hammered up in his place.

RELIGIOUS LEADER THRONE FOR A LOOP
When the late Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh was jailed in Charlotte, North Carolina, on charges of immigration fraud, he immediately requested special food and a throne for his jail cell.

FOLLOWERS PASS STONES
Hearing his front window crash, Edward Alsop of Mansfield, England, found a stone bearing a text from the Scriptures and signed, "God." Police said the sender was actually Philip Dring, self-styled preacher in the Assembly of God Congregation—a peculiar sect that allows beer drinking and smoking during services and is partial to wife swapping. The next day, six of Dring's followers stoned Alsop's windows. Investigators say they were trying to persuade Alsop to rejoin the sect. "God moves in mysterious ways," said Peter Burt, a sect member. "I knew we had to break the windows. It was God's will." Dring and his followers were fined $300 for the windows and for using threatening behavior.

MAN'S BRAIN MISSING
Mohamed Kassim Ismail, 32, was found in Kuala Lumpur with a deep head wound and part of his brain missing. Police suspected that someone extracted the brain in a ritual sacrifice to bring good fortune in Malaysia's weekly lottery.

POPE ANNOUNCES NEW SINS
In 1989, Pope John Paul II announced two new sins: bad driving and speeding. He told Italian auto club members who attended his weekly audience that reckless drivers will have to answer to God "not only for hazardous actions that endanger one's own and other people's lives, but also for ignoring road security regulations."

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God-Fearing Man Gets Off in Court
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GOD-FEARING MAN GETS OFF IN COURT
Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Clarence Parrish could have given a 10-year sentence to the man before him after an admission that the man had had sex with his 12-year-old stepdaughter and had fathered two children by another stepdaughter, but the judge awarded him only probation because he thought the man was God-fearing. Parrish had asked the man during sentencing who was the author of the Book of Revelations, and the man's correct answer ("John") may have swayed the judge.

CHURCH SUED FOR ADVOCATING SAYING NO
Gary Begley, 45, filed a lawsuit asking $180,000 from the Worldwide Church of God in Los Angeles, claiming damages from the church's preaching to him over the years to abstain from sex. He asked $30,000 per year for the six years between the time of divorce until the church finally relented and allowed a divorced man to remarry.

POLL RESULTS
In an ABC-TV poll of 17-year-olds, one girl answered that the Holocaust was "that Jewish holiday last week, right?" Another thought that Chernobyl was Cher's full name.

CHRIST FAILS TO PREVENT MURDERS
Barend Strydom, a 23-year-old ex-police officer in South Africa, went camping and meditated for three days before going on a shooting spree that left seven blacks dead. Strydom said that he prayed to determine if Jesus Christ approved of his mass murder plans and took the fact that Jesus did not appear to him as a sign of approval. Strydom testified at his trial that he would repeat his actions if freed.

FANATIC DOES WHAT FANATICS DO
Michael Trofimov pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in the murder of his father. Trofimov, who had recently joined a religious group, was found with his hands around his father's neck "speaking in tongues and screaming for God." His uncle said, "He was a good young man and then he started going to these [religious] meetings." His uncle also noted that the night before the murder Michael apparently drove his car into a train and that the incident "really triggered him off."

FATHER GIVES EXCUSES FOR POOR BEHAVIOR
Police said a 36-year-old father in Little Rock, Arkansas, beat his five children (aged 4, 6, 7, 8 and 11), held their heads under water, and forced them to smoke crack cocaine because "God told him to do it."

TAMBOURINE INSPIRES VIOLENCE
In 1983 an 18-year-old student at Colorado State University alleged that a Fort Collins Catholic priest threw her down a flight of stairs because he was upset at her tambourine playing during Mass. She quoted him as saying, "You play the same way over and over again. You're not going to play at the 5:15 mass anymore." He then grabbed her by the neck and belt and threw her out the door, where she tumbled down the stairs. When the church's youth director tried to intervene, the priest slugged her in the face.

LSD TURNS ON INNER LIGHT
A storefront church in Greenwich Village in New York City was luring converts to its teachings in 1988 by offering as the communion drink a legal LSD-like drug. The Temple of the True Inner Light administered dipropyl tryptamine, a powerful psychedelic.

KITTY'S MEOWS TO MUCH FOR NUN
Sister Franziska Leske, 57, a Roman Catholic nun, was fined $500 in Graz, Austria, in 1988 for strangling a kitten to death with a cord after it meowed too loudly in the convent.

CHURCH SINGS DIFFERENT TUNE AFTER SUIT
A Brownsville, Texas, jury awarded Steve Woolverton $500,000 from the local Catholic diocese for its negligence in refusing to stop Sister Mary Kregar from seducing and carrying on an affair with Woolverton's wife, a guitar player in the choir Kregar directed.

GOD SUPPORTS NUCLEAR ENERGY
Dr. G. William Pollard, an Episcopal priest and author of "Let's Talk About Theology and Nuclear Energy," says that nuclear power is part of God's plan and thus is essential to life. According to Pollard, one cannot both accept that God is the divine creator of all things in the universe and reject nuclear energy.

MINISTER DOESN'T HAVE A PRAYER
Los Angeles minister R. L. Hymers, Jr., asked parishioners to pray that U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Brennan would die, so that an anti-abortion justice could be appointed in his place.

RUBBER BAND BEGINS BATTLE
At least three people were killed and thirty wounded in battles in central Burma in 1988 that started when a bakery worker flicked a rubber band at a Buddhist begging on the street. Demonstrators destroyed the bakery and attacked homes belonging to relatives of the owner.

FUNDAMENTALISTS CONDEMN THE WEB
Fundamentalists in Columbus, Ohio, ever on the prowl for ungodly and dangerous books to ban, centered their attention on E.B. White's "Charlotte's Web." The faithful who wanted to rid school of the blasphemous text based their demand on the fact that the book includes animals that talk. Members of the group claim that it is against God's will for animals to talk.

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