Includes Curse-Blocking Doll

Japanese Mail-Order
Curse Kit Available
by Chuck Shepherd
sources: Japan Times, Jiji Press

November 8, 1994

A Tokyo company, Juonsha, recently began offering a mail-order curse kit, featuring a straw doll to represent the hexee, along with eight accessories, including nails, a curse manual, and a curse-blocking doll to ward off return curses.

The company at first marketed to boys and girls bullied at school but discovered the major market is women who hope to put spells on neighbors, in-laws, and husbands.

Among the hints in the manual: "It is important to specify the kind of misfortune [you wish upon the victim]." "It is important to imagine the unhappy scenes."

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Tell Us Something We Didn't Know

All Zodiac Signs
Are Wrong
by Chuck Shepherd
sources: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Reuters

January 21, 1995

British astronomer Dr. Jacqueline Mitton told reporters that all star signs are about one month off, meaning that everyone who believes in astrology has been reading the wrong signs. The dates for each star were drawn up more than 2,000 years ago, said Mitton, but "[t]he Zodiac is constantly changing," for example now spending only seven days under Scorpio and more than a month each under Virgo, Taurus, and Pisces. Countered astrologer Jonathan Cainer of London's Daily Mail newspaper: "Her claim is codswallop."

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"Apply Some Downward Strength"

SF Spoon-Bending
Seminar Amazes 100
by Chuck Shepherd
source: San Francisco Chronicle

July, 1994

In a review of Diana Gazes's $29-a-ticket psychic spoon-bending seminar in July, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Gazes told the 100 attendees that their powers of concentration would "cause an alteration in the spin of the atoms" of the spoon.

To achieve that, the student should grasp the spoon in both hands with thumbs underneath the smallest part of the handle and "apply some downward strength." Not surprisingly, the Chronicle reported, spoons handled in that manner bend fairly easily.

As Gazes shouted "Bend! Bend!" the attendees leaped to their feet, one by one, waving spoons, shouting, "I bent!"

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Photo Takes Soul Away

Security Footage
Handed Over To
Native American Family
by Chuck Shepherd
sources: Houston Chronicle, Sarasota Herald-Tribune

November 25, 1993

The family of Sarasota, Florida, student Wayne Camp-Bell convinced school officials to hand over to them a videotape they had made of him misbehaving in class and which they had intended to use to justify Camp-Bell's punishment.

According to the family, which is American Indian, being photographed takes the person's soul away, and a ritual is necessary to restore it.

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Late Actor Advises
Against Gun Control

Dreaming Pol "Sees"
John Wayne, Loses Home
by Chuck Shepherd
sources: Orlando Sentinel, AP

October 27, 1995

The $300,000 north Florida home of former state Rep. James Kerrigan was sold at auction in January 1995 for $100 because Kerrigan had refused to pay $2,500 of a $4,000 bill for carpeting that had a small blemish.

Two months ago, Kerrigan said the problem was the bad legal advice he got from lawyer Joe Scarborough, who is now a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

The highlight of Kerrigan's one term in the Florida House was his opposing a gun-control ban -- a position commanded during a "visit" from the late John Wayne in a dream.

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"For Christ's Sake, Vote No"

Offensive Christian
Politicking Backfires
by Chuck Shepherd
source: Hartford Courant

June 3, 1994

In Haddam, Connecticut, just before a vote on the school budget, about 20 anonymously posted signs appeared around town reading "For Christ's Sake, Vote No."

The budget, which had been rejected twice before, passed by 34 votes this time, and supporters attributed the reversal to the signs' offensiveness.

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Egyptian Judge
Rules For Couple

Clerics Cannot Force
Couple To Divorce
by Chuck Shepherd
sources: New Haven Register, AP

January 28, 1994

In Cairo, Egypt, seven Muslim fundamentalist lawyers filed a lawsuit to force the happily married Professor Nasr Abu Zeid and his wife to divorce because Zeid had written alleged heresies that disqualified him from marriage to a Muslim woman. According to the lawyers, any Muslim has the power to petition to end such a marriage.

However, a civil affairs judge ruled shortly afterward for Zeid.

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Only Christians Should Hold Office

Christian Pol
Defends Racial Slur
by Chuck Shepherd
source: Houston Post

February 2, 1993

Councilman Larry Townsend of Alvin, Texas, who said publicly that he thought only Christians should be allowed to hold public office in the U.S., was further criticized for using a racial slur.

However, he said the only reason he used the slur was because he was role-playing during a "training exercise" and had been asked by the "public relations" people conducting the exercise to use language that would offend minorities.

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Wants Payments Back

Blue Shield:
Exorcism Not Covered
by Chuck Shepherd
source: American Medical News

October 25, 1993

Blue Shield of Idaho and Blue Cross of Idaho demanded the return of payments they mistakenly made to now-suspended psychologist Terry Clapp for treatments of several people with multiple personality disorders.

Based on testimony at Clapp's disciplinary hearing, his preferred treatment of that disorder was exorcism, which the insurers said they do not cover.

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Rehab Facility Residents
Face Drug-Selling Charges
by Heather Urquides
Staff Reporter for the Arizona Daily Star
Section B, Page 7

December 18, 1998

At least some of the residents of a central Tucson substance abuse center don't appear to be working toward rehabilitation.

Last week Tucson police officers arrested 10 people living at In and Up Recovery Community on suspicion of selling drugs.

The facility at 4425 East 22nd Street, is a privately owned apartment complex geared toward people recovering from substance abuse.

The undercover police sting started December 1 after police received a tip that 15 people were selling drugs there, said Tucson police Sgt. Robert Elash.

"We went in there undercover and purchased crack cocaine off everybody, except one weed buy," Elash said.

Police arrested 10 and have warrants for three others they were unable to find, Elash said.

They each were arrested on suspicion of selling drugs; one was additionally arrested on suspicion of trafficking in stolen property, Elash said.

The 10 arrested knew each other "but they all sold separately," Elash said.

Police seized more than 32 grams of crack, almost a pound of marijuana, $3,800 in cash, two cars and a truck, Elash said.

In and Up residents are required to attend an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting once a week, Elash said.

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Cannot Confirm, Deny Legend

Japanese Test
Quake-Predicting Catfish
by Chuck Shepherd
source: The Economist

September 4, 1993

The Economist magazine reported that Japan's meteorology agency had recently completed a seven-year study to ascertain the validity of the Japanese legend that earthquakes are caused by catfish wiggling their tails.

After trying to match catfish tail-wagging with a number of small earthquakes, the agency abandoned the study, refusing to confirm or criticize the legend.

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Unclear on the Concept

Cleric Fired --
Doesn't Believe In God
by Chuck Shepherd
sources: St. Petersburg Times, DPA

July 30, 1994

Just after a Church of England diocese fired Rev. Anthony Freeman of West Sussex in July because he had admitted in a recent book that he does not believe in God, 65 of Freeman's colleagues signed a letter protesting their superiors' "intolerance."

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"Too Much Cultural Baggage"

Easter Marketing:
Church Abandons Cross
by Chuck Shepherd
sources: Vancouver Sun, AP

April 15, 1995

The Church of England's Easter advertising this year contained no reference, in picture or word, to a crucifix, and instead had Jesus uttering "Surprise!" on Easter morning. Said a bewildered ad executive, "The cross is arguably the best-known brand logo in the entire world." Said an official of the church-run Advertising Network, which placed the ad: "[The cross] carries too much cultural baggage."

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The Cross:
Market Recognition
Goes South
by Cliff Walker

November, 1995

The Shell Oil logo and the golden arches of McDonald's were recognized by 88 percent of those polled in six countries -- whereas, only 54 percent correctly identified the Christian cross.

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God Will Provide, Yup!

Man Dies Expecting
God To Rescue Him
by Cliff Walker
(from various sources)

May, 1995

Oregon teenagers found the body of DeWitt Finley, a 56-year-old salesman, in the cab of his pickup truck. Last seen on November 14, Finley had turned off the main highway to take the back roads through Siskiyou National Forest to Grants Pass. He became stuck in the snow on Bear Camp Road and starved to death while waiting for help.

Diary entries indicated that Finley had failed to venture out of his truck because he was certain God would provide for his rescue, waiting in his truck for at least nine weeks before he died.

During that time he wrote letters to his employer, saying, "I have no control over my life. It's all in His hands. His will be done. Death here in another month or so, so He sends someone to save me. Yet knowing His will, I'm at peace and His grace will prevail. If I'm saved to finish my life here, please know I'll always be thankful to you and remain your servant. If not -- I'll see you in Glory."

The entire nine weeks Finley was waiting and praying, he was no more than a few hundred feet from a clear, paved road which was only a 16-mile walk to a store and safety.

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Would a god simply fill them?

Preacher Fills
People's Cavities
by Chuck Shepherd
source: Winston-Salem Journal

February 19, 1995

The Winston-Salem Journal reported on North Wilkesboro, North Carolina, evangelist Steven Jones, who describes himself as one of the few in his profession who specialize in saving people with tooth trouble. He said he has had the God-given power since 1993 to straighten teeth, end toothaches, and replace lead and mercury fillings with those of gold, silver, and pearl.

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Deathbed Conversion:
Where Did Her
Ill-Gotten Money Go?

Church Lauds
Repentant Porn Star
by Chuck Shepherd
source: Globe & Mail

October 17, 1994

Moana Pozzi, 33, once Italy's most prominent hard-core pornographic film star, died of cancer in September and was profoundly praised by many of the country's Roman Catholics because of her turn to religion at the end of her life.

The newsmagazine L'Espresso called her "Saint Moana" and noted that Jesus, also, died at age 33.

The Archbishop of Naples said, "She was an example that redemption is possible."

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But Did Jesus Ever Laugh?

"Toronto Blessing":
The Gift of Giggles
by Chuck Shepherd
sources: Newsweek, Globe & Mail

February, 1995

Since early in 1994, the Vineyard Christian Fellowship Church in Toronto has been conducting services in which some parishioners, overcome by the Holy Spirit, raucously fall on the floor in side-splitting laughter.

Leaders liken this "Toronto Blessing" to such experiences in other religions that inspire members to speak in tongues. Six evening services per week are filled to capacity with giggling parishioners.

Visitors have taken the gospel back home to England, Hong Kong, Norway, South Africa, Australia, and several states in the U.S.

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1 Corinthians 11:3-15
1 Timothy 2:11-14
1 Peter 3:1-7

Pastor Forbids Wife
From Speaking In Public
by Chuck Shepherd
source: Post & Courier (Charleston, South Carolina)

January 20, 1995

Pamela Baker asked a judge in Beaufort, South Carolina, to excuse her from jury duty in a murder trial because her husband, Baptist pastor Karl Baker, forbids her from speaking in public.

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