Egyptian Biscuit Baron Scrapes Prophecy Barrel

An advert currently featured on various news websites links to a site making a rather peculiar claim – over to World’s Last Chance:

THE BIBLE REVEALS NEXT AND LAST POPE WILL BE A DEVIL IMPERSONATING JOHN PAUL II

Interminable exegesis of the Book of Revelation follows – the basic argument is that the Lateran Treaty created the first Pope-King in 1929, six popes have followed him, and the next one will be an impersonation of one of his kingly predecessors:

…Now the most important reason: Which of the 7 kings is most known, loved and respected in today’s generation? If Satan would want to lead the world into imposing universal laws for exalting his false Sabbath (Sunday), who would be the most effective personality other than John Paul II?…Again, no one is better suited for carrying the agenda of Satan than John Paul II. Hence, impersonating him makes the most sense for Satan, who is intent on deceiving the whole world.

Connoisseurs will quickly recognise that we’re in “Seventh-Day Adventist offshoot” territory, and a bit of Googling brings us to a February press release:

Egyptian businessman Galal Doss officially offers $64,000 to any individual who can prove the Bible shows that Christ or any one of his disciples sanctioned the transfer of the holy Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday. Mr Doss is determined to show the world that major religious figures, including many Popes of Rome, have been misleading their followers, and hopes this initiative will encourage Christians to challenge received wisdom on the subject.

All those who would like to challenge Mr Doss on the subject of the Sabbath and stand a chance of winning $64,000 are encouraged to provide their evidence here: http://www.worldslastchance.com/competition.html.

Mr Doss has been in the news in the past, and in 2003 he was profiled in Al-Ahram:

For the past two years, Galal Doss, the chairman of a popular cosmetic and food company, has been distributing thousands of brochures and calendars featuring his ideas on Christianity to Egypt’s Coptic Christian community. Doss is a former member of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church who left the group in 1999 to propagate Adventist beliefs on his own because he felt the church was not doing enough.

…Doss told Al-Ahram Weekly that he was born and raised as an Adventist, but that he left the group in 1999 because of “their weakness in dealing with social and religious issues”. Since then he has practiced independently, and prefers to refer to himself as someone who is “preserving God’s commandments”. Although he says he is not the “leader of any group”, Doss says between 10-20 people have the same beliefs as he does.

Doss’s efforts at converting the Copts have, unsurprisingly, annoyed the Coptic patriarch:

Al-Keraza, a weekly church magazine which [Pope] Shenouda edits, has featured several articles by Shenouda himself critical of the Adventist- inspired group’s creeds.

One bemused Coptic recipient of Doss’s pamphlets and calendars described the material as “very strange”.

EDGAR Online tells us about Doss’s business interests:

Galal P. Doss

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Family Nutrition, S.A.E.; Chairman, Family Cosmetics, S.A.E. (both Egyptian companies listed on the Egyptian Stock Exchange).

Zawya adds that Doss is Canadian-Egyptian, and that Family Cosmetics is a subsidiary of Avon (premium content; gleaned from Google). According a 2005 $treet Authority report, Doss also has US interests (link added):

A.T. Cross has been in business since 1846, and over the years this company’s high quality writing instruments have built valuable name-brand recognition in the minds of consumers…Cross is a closely held firm, as insiders own the majority of the shares. Director Galal Doss alone owns roughly two-thirds of the company.

EDGAR also tells us that Doss is a director of Phoenix Resource Companies, Inc., which is involved with drilling for oil in Egypt. And – just to provide even more information than anyone might possibly be interested in – from Baking & Snack International we learn that

Family Nutrition SAE, located in 10th Ramadan City, Egypt, is the leader in the biscuit category with an estimated 19% value share. The company produces a wide range of sweet biscuits including brands such as Borio, Nice and Rasco. It also has leading brands with Nity in cakes and Tac in salty biscuits.

One Coptic website alleges that Doss uses his position as a bully-pulpit:

…He tries to force his doctrines upon his factory workers, employing various methods…It is unethical for him to take advantage of the workplace to attempt to convert originally Orthodox persons, teaching them unorthodox doctrines!

This is why we encourage our Coptic Orthodox congregation to ban Family Foods and Avon Products.  And, if he does terminate our Coptic Orthodox engineers and workers, many of our businessmen everywhere are willing to hire them.  We are not concerned lest our people are terminated, but on the contrary, we are concerned lest they remain!

More details appear in a second document:

[Seventh-Day Adventists] came to Egypt in 1932, as a Christian denomination (a false claim), offering help to the needy; and establishing orphanages, schools, and hospitals.

…The priest [sic] named Helal Doss led this group; and Mr. Galal Philip Doss became one of their most active leaders.  Currently, he is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Family Foods Co., previously known as Nutrition Co.  He is also the CEO of Avon Co., for cosmetics.

In the former company are 1000 Christian workers and staff members; while in the latter, 446 Christian. The two companies have factories in the Tenth of Ramadan City, as well as many subsidiaries, similar to sales outlets.  These include subsidiaries for Avon Co., in Alexandria, Aghakhan, Merry Land, Maady, and Garden City.

Mr. Galal Doss conducts daily meetings, for groups of workers in these companies.  He gives 35 lectures to each group, most of them attacking the Christian faith and the Orthodox dogma.  After the block of lectures has been delivered, he publicly asks, “who became an Adventist”? Anyone who was convinced of what he said will then undergo another set of lectures, to fortify their deviated Adventist dogma.

He conducts other meetings in his own house, in the Sheraton Towers, every Saturday.  He even assigns special cars to pick up those living far distances, yet want to attend the meeting.  Furthermore, he regularly visits and calls people persistently and with enticement.  Moreover, he distributes non-Orthodox books and cassette tapes for free.  He also utilizes the companies’ funds to facilitate medical treatment fees for those who attend the meetings.  Further, he accepts the workers’ children into Adventist language schools.

Meanwhile, Doss has also targeted the Ten Commandments Commission:

“Time will prove that the misguided initiative of TCC is but a bold step towards the fulfillment of Bible prophecy, which foretold the day when church and state in the USA will work together towards the forced exaltation of Sunday as a day of worship…”

Journo Wins Award for Uncovering “Satanic Ritual Abuse” Scandal

From the Middleton Guardian:

MIDDLETON Guardian journalist, Jeni Harvey, rubbed shoulders with the great and the good during a high profile awards ceremony on Monday night.

The 24-year-old journalist, who has been with the Middleton & North Manchester Guardian for 18 months, was shortlisted for the prestigious Paul Foot Award for her work in exposing the financial and emotional costs of the satanic child abuse scandal which rocked Langley.

Private Eye magazine (1170) has further details:

Fighting against the full weight of the law and the determination of the local council to prevent the appalling injustice of the Rochdale satanic child abuse affair being exposed to public scrutiny, Harvey challenged court order and used the Freedom of Information Act to reveal the highly dubious practices of Rochdale Council’s social services department. Refusing to let the scandal rest, Harvey used both her own paper and a BBC documentary to, as the judges put it, “expose the full horror of a despicable affair the council was determined to keep secret”.

The award-winning series itself can be seen here. The “despicable affair”, of course, was the removal of children from their homes on bogus grounds of “Satanic abuse” in 1990, as part of a panic that had spread all the way from California (where the McMartin Preschool case has also unravelled). We would like to think that such panics are now a thing of the past; but the hysteria shows sporadic signs of making a comeback – see my Talk to Action article here.

American Football Pro Promotes Every Nation’s Purple Prose

The Washington City Paper brings us back to a topic that has been an on-going area of enquiry for this blog: the neo-Pentecostal grouping known as Every Nation. Details of interest appear in a profile of a certain Mark Brunell, who is apparently a famous player of American football (links added):

In the fall of 2004, during his lousy first season with the Skins, Brunell was part of a group that included former Jacksonville teammate Tony Boselli that invested in InPop Records…Brunell’s stable of talent includes several righteous rockers who are or were at one time on the fringe of the mainstream music scene, acts such as Newsboys, Mat Kearney, Petra, and Superchick.

…InPop is only the most audible of Brunell’s off-field commercial projects. In the noncommercial vein, he’s long been a frontman for Every Nation, an evangelical organization based in the Nashville area. Other celebrity proselytizers for the ministry include Boselli and former Redskins Tim Johnson and Darrell Green.

…Newsboys’ go-to slogan, featured on the front page of the band’s Web site, is “every tribe, every tongue, every nation.” Newsboys’ last major tour was called the “Have You Done the Purple Book?” campaign. At the shows, attendees were given copies of the “Purple Book,” also known as Biblical Foundations for Building Strong Disciples, which is the handbook that those in the Every Nation flock are tasked with memorizing.

…Brunell is also the public face of a group called Champions for Christ, whose catchphrase is “Every Person. Every Team. Every Sport. Every Nation.”

The report notes that Brunell’s former marketing representative was Greg Feste, who has long-standing links with Every Nation’s leaders. Feste was allegedly “accused of putting the fear of God into Chicago Bears running back Curtis Enis to get him to switch agents.”

There is also a predictably negative quote from Rick Ross, followed by details of a couple of cases where Every Nation has been accused of coercive behaviour. One of these, concerning Hillsboro High School, has been discussed on this blog already; the second, however, is news to me:

…in January, Judy Peters, a former Fairfax County schoolteacher now living in the Pittsburgh area, brought Ross in for an intervention in hopes of deprogramming a daughter who had turned on her kin after being recruited by Every Nation on the Boston University campus.

“Every Nation controlled her entire life, and they were so abusive and coercive,” says Peters. “Everybody who was not a part of their church was dead to her. They brought her to Nashville and put her in a two-bedroom apartment with five girls for what they called ‘training.’ [In Boston] they had her working more than 80 hours a week for the church, most of it fundraising, and for that she was being paid $550 a month…They told her who to trust, who not to believe, who she could hang out with, what she could read—she had to memorize the Purple Book—and what music she could listen to.”

(Hat tip to a reader)

Old Bible Society Building now London Scientology Centre

There is a popular anecdote among Christian apologists that Voltaire (1694-1778) once remarked that the Bible would soon become a forgotten book, but the house in which he made this prediction later became the headquarters of a Bible Society who used it to publish or distribute Bibles…The Bible society in question is variously identified as the Geneva Bible Society and the British and Foreign Bible Society.

So begins an article by David Ross which appeared in a New Zealand humanist publication in 2004. Ross debunks the story and expresses scepticism about the supposed statement attributed to Voltaire.

However, the Bible Society now finds itself part of another anecdote about a building being reused in an ironical way; the PA reports:

The Church of Scientology unveiled its new London headquarters today with a grand opening ceremony.

The controversial religion, which counts Hollywood stars Tom Cruise and John Travolta among its followers, is expanding its British operation.

It has bought and refurbished the former home of the British and Foreign Bible Society, latterly the offices of BP, for its new HQ.

This is 146 Queen Victoria Street, at the heart of the City of London.

…speakers at the event included United Nations peace envoy Dr Iftikhar Ahmed Ayaz, who praised the faith and told the crowd: “It is my personal belief that this church can restore what this world has lately lost.”

Kevin Hurley, divisional commander of the local Snow Hill police station welcomed the church to the City and said its members were “raising the spiritual wealth of society”.

Ayaz has had public links with Scientology for several years. In 2004, he was part of an interfaith meeting at the new religious movement’s UK HQ in East Grinstead:

Dr. Iftikhar Ayaz, OBE, Honorary Consul for Tuvalu and the representative of the Pacific Islands in a United Nations Peace Forum, commented, “the best outcome was that all the religions and non-religious organisations agreed to form a collective organisation in order to pursue the ideas for creating interfaith and intercultural and inter-ethnic harmony in the British society and to try and make an impact on the various conflict areas of the world, so that we can make our own contribution to the ongoing struggle for realising peace and harmony. Unity gives strength, and the more unity we can create the more strength we will have.”

Last November, he contributed to a Scientology-sponsored conference on children’s rights; Open Press reported:

Participants to an international conference titled “The abuse of Children in Europe and beyond”, held in Brussels today, have unanimously launched a strong, clear-cut appeal to democratic institutions, governments and civil society – to stop any and all abuses committed against children. The conference has also signed a declaration demanding that forced drugging of children on so-called behavioural disorders be ceased immediately due to the growing evidence of harmful effects, such as suicidal tendencies and aggression – a key theme of the expert discussion panel at the end of the Universal Children’s Day conference. The Conference’s Declaration is being forwarded to European national governments and otherwise spread and circulated through the human rights NGO network.

Amongst the participants to the conference held at the European Human Rights Office of the Church of Scientology International, Dr Iftikhar Ayaz, Member of Minority Rights Group of the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC), Dr. Roberto Cestari, Consultant of the Tuscany and Piedmont Region of Italy for Human Rights and Mental Health and president of the Citizen’s Commission on Human Rights, Italian MEP Luciana Sbarbati, and UK author and psychiatrist, Sami Timimi. Dr. Liwiski, Vice President of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Dr. Liwski, also addressed the conference in Brussels via a video conference link from Buenos Aires.

 Meanwhile, Kevin Hurley’s involvement in the celebrations for the new London centre has brought him criticism; the Guardian reports:

Chris Peeler, of the Family Action Information Resource Centre, which works with families who believe relatives have been indoctrinated into cults, said yesterday police officers had to be careful which groups they endorsed. He complained to Chief Superintendent Kevin Hurley over comments he made at the opening of the Scientologists’ centre in the Square Mile on Sunday. Mr Hurley said the group was a “force for good” and praised it for helping victims of the July 7 attacks last year. Mr Peeler said: “I asked him if…he was aware that the organisation had a controversial record.”

Priest Gets 12 Years for Rwanda Genocide Revisionism

From the Hirondelle News Agency (via All Africa):

A Rwandan catholic priest, Abbot [i.e. “Father”] Jean Marie Vianney Uwizeyeyezu, head of the parish of Kaduha (district of Nyamagabe, Southern Rwanda), was condemned on October 6th to 12 years of imprisonment for “having downplayed the genocide”, his lawyer has declared.

…According to Imvaho Nshya, a pro-government weekly published in kinyarwanda, the national tongue, the priest, while officiating back in April during the commemoration of the genocide, would have understated the massacre of Tutsis in 1994. The newspaper states that the priest’s discourse contained several Rwandan sayings that were interpreted as negationism.

This was in violation of a law passed on 6 September 2003. Whether or not such a law is a good idea, the context is somewhat different from France outlawing Armenian genocide denial; it should be noted that in recent years several genocide survivors in Kaduha have been murdered to prevent them giving testimony in court. The nature of Rwandan “genocide denial” is discussed in a 2005 report from Front Line, an Irish human rights organisation:

President Kagame and Government officials repeatedly accused former Prime Minister [Faustin] Twagiramungu, Kagame’s only credible opponent in the [2003] presidential race, of promoting ethnic divisions and denying the genocide…The accusation of genocide denial stems from Twagiramungu’s testimony in defence of Pastor Elizaphan Ntakirutimana at the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (Ntakirutimana was convicted). There, Twagiramungu did not deny the genocide per se, but rather that it was planned and that it only targeted Tutsi. He also proposed some pernicious revisionism: that more Hutu were ‘probably’ killed than Tutsi during the period from 1990 to 1994.

Alexandre Kimenyi, himself a survivor and now a professor of Linguistics and Ethnic Studies in the USA, gives further details in an article from the UCLA International Institute:

Kimenyi was critical of the widely used phrase “Rwandan genocide.” This made it difficult for people out side the country to fix in their minds who was being killed. The term “Rwandan genocide,” Kimenyi said, is used by some writers not to signify the murder of the Tutsis “but to suggest apparently that the two groups were killing each other.”

Another term used to deny genocide in Rwanda is “civil war.” Because “if there are acts of war, two groups kill each other.” Not a civil war but a massacre took place in the spring of 1994. The number killed, Alexandre Kimenyi said, “is more than a million, although the UN and other governments refuse to accept that number.”

Alexandre Kimenyi said that he was particularly concerned because many Hutu spokespeople who deny the Tutsi genocide “are very well educated, they have very influential friends. They not only raise these arguments on the internet but they also have journals where they publish articles, well footnoted, where they claim the victims were the ones responsible for the killings that took place.”

…In Professor Kimenyi’s opinion, the many well-educated Hutus who live abroad create a problem in disseminating the truth because of their efforts to convince foreign public opinion of their position of denial.

But what about the hapless Uwizeyeyezu? Details are scarce, but a priest of the same name and from the same area was featured in a 1999 report entitled “Damien Biniga: UN Genocide Sans Frontieres”, and published by African Rights (and posted here). And if this is the same person, this where things get a bit odd – because this report describes Uwizeyeyezu as someone who helped Tutsi refugees in the face of obstruction from his priestly superiors:

Jean Marie-Vianney Uwizeyeyezu, âgé de 34 ans, se prepare actuellement pour sa prêtrise au grand séminaire de Nyakibanda, à Gishamvu, Butare. A la mi-1993, il était en stage à la paroisse de Muganza, aidant les abbés Sagahutu et Jean-Marie Rwanyambuto. En visite chez ses parents à Nyamagabe, Gikongoro, il réalisa que les Tutsis étaient tués et que leurs maison étaient incendiées, suite à la mort d’Habyarimana . Il retournait à Muganza lorsqu’il apprit que l’abbé Rwanyambuto avait quitté Muganza et que l’abbé Sagahutu était seul. Il espérait que le fait d’être hutu le protégerait des violence et qu’il pourrait ainsi aider ceux qui en avaient besoin.

He also testifies to the slaughter of Tutsis:

Le 15, les génocidaires sont revenus avec des grenades, des fusils, des machettes, des lances etc.. Ils étaient trop nombreux. Ils nous nous ont encerclés et ont commencée à tuer. Beaucoup de Tutsis ont été tués immédiatement, d’autres ont été blessés. Ils ont tué jusqu’au soir . Après leur départ, nous avons commencé à ramasser les blessés, mais il n’y avait pas moyen de les soigner. Certains n’avaient plus de jambes. Nous étions complètement découragés.

Uwizeyeyezu also apparently appeared as a witness at the trial of Mgr Augustin Misago, who was accused of refusing to shelter Tutsis from Hutu mobs (he was eventually acquitted, amidst some controversy).

Conferences on Religion in Europe Warn of Persecution

EU Vice-President: “We are against fundamentalism, but we support religion”

More melodramatic rhetoric in the debate over religion in Europe. ASSIST Ministries reports:

Persecution is coming to the West. Under the guise of tolerance Bible believing Christians of all confessions are subjected to suppressive intolerance, warns a declaration issued at the Ecumenical Confessional Convention in Blankenburg, East Germany.

(“East Germany”?!)

The event with 130 Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox representatives was convened by the evangelical missiologist Prof. Peter Beyerhaus. The so-called Blankenburg Proclamation speaks of a dangerous anti-Christian influence on legislation, academic life and school education.

Scientists, who believe in God as the creator, were subjected to public defamation. Christians, not willing to compromise their faith, had to face ridicule, intolerance, stigmatization and career obstacles.

Who these “scientists” supposedly are is not explained, and one fears that Beyerhaus is actually trying to dress up objections to Intelligent Design and other forms of Creationism as some sort of persecution.

…According to the proclamation this “concealed affliction” may soon turn into open persecution. The threat could come from several directions – from globalization favoring the formation of totalitarian regimes, from growing syncretism, and from Islam.

The report mentions the families of German home-schoolers being subject to prosecution, and the falling population rate. This latter trend has been the subject of sensationalist Jeremiads from Roman Catholic neo-con George Weigel; I gave my own critique of this here.

Beyerhaus, it should be recalled, is the evangelical leader closest to the Pope; Christianity Today noted last year:

As a professor at Tübingen during the turbulent ’60s, Ratzinger forged an alliance with Peter Beyerhaus and other evangelical leaders to stand together against the forces of unchecked secularism and unbelief.

“We saw,” Benedict said, “that the confessional controversies we had previously engaged in were small indeed in the face of the challenge we now confronted, which put us in a position of having, together, to bear witness to our common faith in the living God and in Christ, the incarnate Word.”

Meanwhile, similar worries have been expressed by EU Vice-President Mario Mauro, speaking at a conference entitled “Europe at a turning point: confrontation of civilizations or a new dialogue?”. According to Interfax-Religion, Mauro believes there

…is a ‘conviction of many in that Europe should be build without religion and that this strategy is needed for opposing fundamentalism.’

‘They confuse fundamentalism and religion. We are against fundamentalism, but we support religion. Religion is a human dimension,’ the vice-president of the European Parliament remarked.

According to him, those opposing the participation of Churches in the European public life may become a ‘source of destruction of a political project of the one Europe.’

In his presentation at the conference Mauro said that moral relativism is a main challenge to Europe at present. ‘An attempt of certain countries to build society without God brings about very serious problems.’

‘However, Europe that does not believe would disappear sooner or later,’ a European deputy is convinced.

In particular, Mauro complains about a recent court ruling that the ban on women visiting Mount Athos violated human rights:

‘For the last ten years the Europarliament accused the Orthodox and Catholic Churches of violating human rights more then thirty times, but not once brought similar accusations against such states as, for instance, China or Cuba,’

This is a complaint that has also been made by “theo-con” politician Rocco Buttiglione, which I blogged on (and critiqued) back in 2004, and it is no surprise that the two men are close. From a dodgily-translated 2003 article:

During the Press Conference held yesterday with Italian Minister for European Affairs, Rocco Buttiglione as well as the organising group of [European People’s Party-European Democrat] MEPs…400,000 signatures gathered by the civil society in support of the explicit recognition of the Christian heritage of Europe in the future Constitution were presented to Minister Buttiglione as representative of the Presidency of Council…Mr Mauro (EEP-ED, [Forza Italia]) recalled the explicit recognition of the Christian heritage in the Constitution does not threaten the “laicité” of the European institutions. It is in fact the guarantor of the very “laicité” that marks European society.

The morbid hysteria over secularism in Europe is a subject that I’ve also looked at here and here.

Ken Ham’s New Book

Christian Retailing magazine has a short interview (2 October 2006, p. 35) with Ken Ham about his latest project, a children’s book entitled It’s Designed to Do What It Does Do:

…Sadly, children are growing up thinking the Bible is just a book of nice stories and has nothing to do with fossils, dinosaurs and so on…The majority of children believe dinosaurs didn’t live with people.

That’s a big change from my day, when One Million Years BC enjoyed frequent showings on TV. However, Ham believes dinosaurs have an evangelical purpose:

Because children are enamored of dinosaurs, creationists can use them to teach children the truth – that they were created on day six beside Adam and Eve, that they were vegetarians before sin entered the world and that the average dinosaur was the size of a sheep. Children need to know that the Bible’s account of history explains dinosaurs…

This reminds me of G. Thomas Sharp, a creationist whom I blogged here. According to Sharp, dinosaurs are “God’s Gospel Lizards”.

dinojesus

(Image via Jesus’ General)

Top UK Psychic Recants

Roy Stemman’s Paranormal Review has a report on British ex-psychic and ex-medium James Byrne:

James Byrne’s style of mediumship ensured “sold out” notices outside all the large venues at which he regularly demonstrated for almost 30 years. He even filled the London Palladium – following in the psychic footsteps of the late Doris Stokes…Incredibly, Byrne has not only turned his back on Spiritualism, claiming that he has been deluding himself and others, but intends exposing other psychics and their “tricks”.

A few weeks ago, Byrne was due to speak at London’s “Skeptics in the Pub“. A JREF discussion forum thread has preserved the details:

James Byrne (ex-Psychic) presents ‘Why I’m so against Psychics’

“I became a spiritualist back in the late 1970s through a chance meeting with a lady medium. She told me some details that, at that time, I thought were amazing. Now I could explain them away easily.

I pursued a career as a medium. The highlights of that career were my own show at the London Palladium and the publication in 1993 of my book “The Psychic World of James Byrne”, which sold well in the UK and New Zealand. I’ve hosted my own psychic phone in shows for two radio stations.

I now know for years I was deluding myself. I now work as a freelance writer and I am the UK’s number one critic of all psychics.

My talk is based on the fact that so many charlatans exist and the psychic industry has become a multi million pound industry and it is based on a complete sham which is not regulated.

I will explain how I, having worked as a psychic for thirty years at the highest level, now believe it is not only morally wrong but what psychics do you can train anyone to do in a matter of days and earn at least £400 per week with ease.

I will explain the tricks that most psychics successfully use. I will go into TV studios and speak against the subject in the future. I will also speak about what happened to make me realise I was deluding myself.”

However, Byrne cried off at the last minute – and is now maintaining that his rejection of mediumship was actually due to an encounter with a “bad spirit” rather than a turn towards rationalism. Back to Stemman (link added):

…it was a voice on a tape recording made during one of his readings for a regular sitter which apparently prompted the astonishing about-face. He told his local newspaper, The Chorley Citizen (Lancashire), that when the woman played the tape back they were both stunned to hear what came out:

“There was this most disgusting, foul-mouthed abusive voice on the tape. It sounded like, if you have a record slightly slowed down. It was such a horrendous voice, it was threatening and I just thought this was enough and I have never ever done a reading since. My personal belief is that it was a bad spirit.”

Byrne’s website is here, although sadly there’s no mention of the demonic tape there, or any other hint about Byrne’s former career. Instead, Byrne is now highlighting his supposed abilities as a Christian faith-healer:

James Byrne started his Ministry of Healing during the late 1970’s.

Due to word of mouth, people began to come from every corner of the UK, many reported that they had been healed, some reported considerable improvement in their physical conditions and others reported no healing at all.

The Ministry of Healing attributes all healing to God.

Byrne also names Canon Roy Lawrence as his inspiration.

However, Stemmen thinks that Byrne still needs to come clean about some of his past activities, and he has a couple of questions for him:

1. Thousands of recipients of your spirit messages over the years will want to know if they were real or faked. What is your answer?

2. In November 1995 at a public meeting you confirmed that you intended using your mediumistic powers to try to locate the body of Keith Bennett, one of the victims of Moors murderers Ian Brady and Myra Hindley. Keith was 12 years old when they killed and buried him on Saddleworth Moor and his body has never been found. His grieving mother was in the audience when you made your offer and she said she was pinning her hopes on your psychic help. Did you genuinely believe you could help her or was it just a publicity stunt?

Interestingly, Byrne was targeted by the church back in 1997:

Councillors at Hyndburn leisure services committee meeting last night rejected a plea to stop performances by Mr Byrne and other psychics in council halls.

The clergymen included the Rev Richard Priestley, of the Oswaldtwistle Christian Institute, the Rev Michael Ratcliffe of St Paul’s, Oswaldtwistle, and the Rev Kevin Logan of Christ Church, Accrington.

…They said shows such as his were spiritually and emotionally damaging to vulnerable people, and said they had had to counsel people who had been to mediums.

UPDATE: Top UK Psychic Recants Recantation. See here.

Satanic Panic is Alive and Well on Planet Earth

…is my latest post at Talk to Action. And another commentator there has more background to Elijah House, the organisation that featured in yesterday’s post.

Woman Sues over False Memories of Satanism

Made to believe “satanic ritual abuse…widespread in society”

The Canadian Courthouse News Service reports:

VANCOUVER, B.C. – A woman who sought Christian marriage counseling from Elijah House has sued the society, claiming its conspiratorial theories caused her to lose custody of her seven children and fall into depression. Donna Marie Krahn claims the society taught her that “repression of memories, dissociative identity disorder and satanic ritual abuse are widespread in society.” She says the defendants encouraged her to develop false memories that she was physically, sexually and satanically abused by her husband, his family, her family, and others. She claims defendants induced her and her children to believe that “satanic cults and witchcraft had penetrated all levels of society,” that she had “500 alternate personalities,” and that “demons posed a present danger” to her and her children. The judge in divorce court found “the children are extremely well cared for physically and, but for the exposure to Elijah House philosophy, would be well cared for mentally as well.” Elijah House states on its Web site that its mission is to “share the love of Jesus to restore broken relationships and bring healing to hurt and wounded hearts.”

Here are the defendants: Brian and Della Headley – Elijah “counselors” in Mission, B.C.; Elijah House Canada Society; Elijah House Inc.; and Stephen E. Oglevie, a “consultant” of Burley, Idaho. Krahn is represented by Steven Mansfield in Vancouver Supreme Court.

The Canadian Province (subscription only) adds that Elijah House was founded in Idaho in 1974 by John and Paula Sandford, and that its current executive director is Gene Niederkleine. The Canadian branch is no longer active, although Brian Headley and Della now act as the pastoral staff for the Listening Prayer Community. Krahn herself is from Abbotsfield, and the legal details of her 2001 custody battle can be seen here. The judge in that case found that

Mrs. Krahn put every conceivable roadblock she could muster into the litigation. She lied in affidavits, lied to her counsel and lied at every occasion when she was asked to explain her failure to provide counseling records regarding two of the children. Notwithstanding court orders, she was determined to thwart any meaningful investigation of her role in the bizarre “counseling” supplied by Stephen Ogelvie, Mr. and Mrs. Headley, and Elijah House.

…It was only when pressed by her counsel that she finally admitted, during the course of her testimony in this trial, that she had destroyed these records. She blamed the complicity of the Headleys but I make no conclusions in that regard. I am advised that Mr. Krahn has an unresolved action against the Headleys that might determine that issue. The Headleys testified under subpoena at this trial but were not represented by counsel.

A court judgement from a few months prior, however, was more forthright in its assessment of the Headleys:

I found their credibility lacking and I also concluded that they conspired with Mrs. Krahn in the destruction of court ordered records.

The later judgement includes the detail that

Two expert witnesses provided extensive written reports that appeared quite complete, but Mrs. Krahn insisted they be called for the purpose of cross-examination. Neither Dr. Elizabeth Loftus nor Dr. Roy O’Shaughnessy resiled in any way from their reports under cross-examination. I found their reports to be most helpful to my conclusions respecting custody and while it was interesting to hear them respond viva voce, it was entirely unnecessary. Dr. Loftus was obliged to journey from New York, for the sole purpose of testifying at the trial in Chilliwack.

Extracts from Dr O’Shaughnessy’s report can be found in the earlier judgement. Loftus, of course, is internationally-known for her work on false memory syndrome.

Oglevie, meanwhile, was profiled in the Los Angeles Times Magazine back in 1992 in a piece entitled “Idaho Gothic”. Luckily, the article has found its way online

…Stephen Oglevie is an affable 41-year-old with a spreading waistline, a wife, two children and a basement full of articles, books and tapes about satanism…Oglevie thought he was finally settling in a clean town when he moved to Rupert in 1986. Cleaner, certainly, than places he’d been before It was in the state of Washington, in 1977, that he’d first brushed up against what he understood to be satanic ritualism. A 19-year-old woman arrived one day at the Church of the Nazarene in Wenatchee. I’m married to a warlock, she said. I’ve been up to the altar. I’ve suffered physical and sexual abuse. I can’t get away.

The lady’s eyes appeared demonic and possessed, and she sometimes spoke in a deep man’s voice, but what most unsettled Oglevie were the precise details in her stories about prostitution. Earning $4,000 a night at $10 per man why, that was 400 men. Oglevie laughs nervously as he recollects. “I had a great trouble dealing with that,” he says. “She liked to be graphic about her drugs and promiscuity. . . . I was kind of glad when that segment of my life was over.”

Oglevie’s move to Idaho came because “the Lord wanted me here,” a wish revealed by means of a job offer to replace a departing pastor. “I thought this was a clean place, if any place was,” he says. “I thought I was getting away from all that junk. I really thought that chapter of my life was over with.”

Oglevie maintains that he held to this belief even after he attended a five-day seminar in Boise offered by the Cult Crime Impact Network, a privately funded clearinghouse on satanic crimes. He took copious notes at the 1988 seminar, and upon his return to Rupert began sharing his insights with others, but still, “I was not convinced it was happening here. Because this region is so religious.”

Larry Jones’ “Cult Crime Impact Network” has been examined here. The grim discovery of a dismembered baby by a trapper near the town (a mainly Mormon area) was quickly seized on as evidence for Satanism. CESNUR has the background:

In early November 1989 in Minidoka County, Idaho, the dismembered and burned remains of a 4-to-8-weeks-old female Hispanic infant were discovered in a garbage dump. Forensic experts ascertained that “Baby X” — whose identity was never discovered — had been disembowelled and mutilated before she was burned. Rumors of a Satanic sacrifice started almost immediately. In March 1990 a 10-year old boy, “Timothy”…entered therapy for disturbing dreams of sexual abuse and torture…”Timothy” told therapists and later police detectives that his experiences had taken place in Rupert, a Southern Idaho town close to where Baby X’s remains had been found. Shortly thereafter, “Timothy” claimed that during a Satanic ritual he had witnessed the sacrifice of an infant who may well have been “Baby X”. “Timothy’s” recollections were later published in the South Idaho Press and included a graphic description of a Satanic ritual…”Timothy’s” family — described by authorities as “severely dysfunctional” — was associated for a short period of time with Jehovah’s Witnesses and “Timothy” was reportedly impressed by Witnesses’ literature graphically depicting the Devil and witchcraft.

…On November 8, 1991, with national TV networks in attendance, 300 to 500 persons attended a candlelight vigil for victims of Satanic ritual abuse, including Baby X, in Rupert. Apparently, “several busloads” of “survivors” and advocates from Salt Lake City came to Rupert for the vigil.

…The prevailing theory was that poor Baby X died of pneumonia and her illegal alien parents try to dispose of the body through amateur cremation, with animal predators later attacking the infant’s remains. The Attorney General’s report also noted that no member of “Timothy”‘s family was in the Rupert area “anywhere near the time of the infant’s death and disposal”.

…An interesting part of the Baby X case is the candlelight vigil held on November 8, 1991 in Rupert. This episode proved that a network of moral crusaders promoting the Satanism scare existed in Mormon Country, and that “survivors” from Salt Lake had already formed a small lobby trying to persuade the public that their stories and those of the children like “Timothy” were basically the same, equally deserving public belief.

Some information about Oglevie’s teaching is provided by this website:

Stephen Oglevie, a retired law enforcement chaplain has gathered extensive knowledge in the removal of mind control programming through his 15-year journey and in-depth work with over 350 mind control victims. In Mind Control; An Introduction, he lists the following indicators that may aid in the recognition and proper assessment of an adult client who may harbor mind control programming…

The “indicators” include the following:

Client constantly wears black, red, orange or purple clothing.

Client assigns numbers to names, dates, months, and years that are between 1 and 9. Client reports number series run through their minds repeatedly that seemly have no correlation to anything in their lives.

…Client is fascinated with the German Third Reich, the swastika symbol, and concentration camps, or conversely is very fearful of these things. The combinations of red and black clothing may also serve as indicators.

…Client repeatedly makes the following statements during the therapy sessions or by the telephone following a therapy session: “It’s all just a bad dream.” “I made it all up.” “I’m lying to you.” “I must be crazy.” “I’m a bad girl / boy to be telling you this.” “I must be a very bad girl/boy to be here.” “I deserve to be punished.” “I am really in trouble now.” These are typical programmed denial/punishment phrases.

Alas, Oglevie neglected to include “I’m going to sue you” to the list of “denial/punishment phrases”. Of course, this interest in “mind control” is very ironic given the legal action he is now facing. Oglevie also runs seminars on the subject, as advertised here; the site belongs to Dr Ellen Lacter, a psychotherapist who teaches at the University of California and who considers Oglevie to be her “mentor”.

(Hat tip: Cult News Network)

UPDATE: A commentator at Talk to Action has found more background on Elijah House and Listening Prayer, and their links to “Theophostic Prayer”.

Name variation: Steve Oglevie