Categotry Archives: Religious Leaders

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Reggie White

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Categories: Religious Leaders, Sports

rwhite.jpgAn ordained minister and two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Reginald Howard White was known as the “Minister of Defense.”
The 6-foot-5, 300-pound defensive end spent 15 years playing for the Philadelphia Eagles, Green Bay Packers and Carolina Panthers before retiring in 2000 as the NFL’s all-time leader in sacks (198). Buffalo’s Bruce Smith broke White’s record in 2003.
An All-American lineman at the University of Tennessee, White joined the Memphis Showboats of the United States Football League in 1984. When the USFL folded a year later, the Chattanooga, Tenn., native was drafted by the Eagles, where he contributed to Philadelphia’s “Gang Green” defense for eight years.
White was one of the plaintiffs in a class action antitrust lawsuit that led to the unrestricted, free agency system. In 1993, he was the first major black player to sign with Green Bay as a free agent, a deal worth $17 million over four years. His signing, along with a trade for Brett Favre, was credited with helping the Packers reach the Super Bowl championship twice, including a win over New England in 1997. White also set a Super Bowl record by making three sacks.
White missed only one game during his last 12 seasons and started all but three games during that same time period. He was elected to the Pro Bowl 13 times, and named to the NFL’s 75th anniversary team.
Off the field, White encouraged inner-city youths to stay in school and avoid drugs. He founded the Christian Athletes United for Spiritual Empowerment ministry and served as the associate pastor at the Inner City Community Church in Knoxville, Tenn. The church was burned down in 1998, and racial epithets were left at the scene.
Two months later, White’s image was tarnished when he gave a speech to the Wisconsin State Assembly that promoted ethnic stereotypes and referred to homosexuality as “one of the biggest sins in the Bible.” Although he later apologized, his comments cost him commercial endorsements and a chance to be a television commentator at CBS.
In later years, White moved away from the evangelical form of Christianity that once inspired him to hold prayer meetings in the locker room. He began studying the Torah and the Bible in its original Hebrew, and told the media he was less interested in the tenets of organized religion than he was in being involved with “the Jewish Messiah who died for my sins.”
White died on Dec. 26. Cause of death was not released. He was 43.
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Athena Starwoman

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Categories: Religious Leaders, Writers/Editors

athena.jpgAthena Starwoman, Australia’s most famous astrologer, died on Dec. 16 of breast cancer. She was in her 50s.

Starwoman maintained an air of mystery about her personal life. Although she was born under the astrological sign of Cancer, few knew her real name or background. Her publicity materials claimed she had a mystical lineage and had spent time studying under a Native-American shaman.

Starwoman built an astrological empire as a popular horoscope writer and media personality. Her celestial advice column appeared in Vogue, Woman’s Day and in newspapers all over the world. She ran an online astrology business that offered seminars and readings and published several books, including “Zodiac Athena’s Sunsigns: The Long-Awaited Guide to the Stars by Vogue’s Renowned Astrologer,” “Think Yourself Thin: Amazing Psychic Technique to Reach Your Perfect Weight” and “How to Turn Your Ex-Boyfriend Into a Toad.”

In recent years, Starwoman divided her time between Australia’s Gold Coast and a $3 million, 1-bedroom apartment on The World of ResidenSea cruise liner.

“With her unique style, sharp wit and indomitable spirit, Athena will be fondly remembered by her family, friends and fans as a true, shining star,” Athena’s husband, inspirational speaker John Demartini said in a written statement.

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Chief Roy Crazy Horse

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Categories: Education, Military, Politicians, Religious Leaders, Writers/Editors

crazyhorse.jpgChief Roy Crazy Horse, the leader of the Powhatan Renape Nation, died on Nov. 11. Cause of death was not released. He was 79.

Born in Camden, N.J., Crazy Horse lied about his age in order to serve in the U.S. Army during World War II. After returning from the South Pacific, he graduated from high school and attended Temple University and La Salle College.

Crazy Horse became chief of the Powhatan Renape Nation, an American Indian Nation and non-profit entity, in 1972. As the executive director and spiritual leader of the Powhatan, Crazy Horse defended the rights of American Indians and publicly criticized the mythology surrounding portrayals of Indians in popular media. He wrote several books on the history of native peoples, including “Morrisville: A Hidden Native Community,” “Holocaust of the American Indians,” “A Brief History of the Powhatan Renape Nation” and “North American Genocide.” He taught classes on Indian studies at Rowan University and lectured at several universities.

Crazy Horse established the Rankokus American Indian Reservation on 225 acres in Rancocas State Park in 1982. Since he was able to trace his tribe’s roots back to the people of the Powhatan Confederacy in Virginia, the state of New Jersey agreed to rent the land for 25 years. The reservation hosts a biannual American Indian Arts Festival and remains open to visitors who tour its heritage museum, art gallery and outdoor exhibits.

Crazy Horse was appointed by Gov. Christie Whitman to the Commission on Discrimination in State Employment and Contracting in 2000. He also served as the chairman of the New Jersey Commission on American Indian Affairs.

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Richard Butler

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Categories: Military, Misc., Religious Leaders

rbutler.jpgRichard Girnt Butler, the former head and founder of the Aryan Nations, died on Sept. 8. Cause of death was not released. He was 86.

Born in Colorado and raised in Los Angeles, Butler served with the U.S. Army Air Corps in the Pacific theater during World War II. An admirer of Adolf Hitler, he returned to the states after the war and became a follower of Wesley Swift, a white-supremacist pastor. Butler also worked at Lockheed as an aerospace engineer. When the company began to hire more minorities, in compliance with federal loan regulations, Butler retired and moved to Idaho.

In 1973, Butler formed the Aryan Nations, the political arm of the Church of Jesus Christ Christian. The organization’s doctrine combined a warped view of Christianity with Nazism. A self-proclaimed “Reverend,” Butler called the Jews “Satan’s children” and described African-Americans as “mud people.” He espoused the belief that “white” blood should remain “pure,” and that any woman who slept with a minority should be killed. The Aryan Nations’ 20-acre, barbed-wire-rimmed estate was decorated with stained-glass swastikas, Third Reich memorabilia and signs that read: “Whites only.”

Beginning in the mid-1980s, members of the Aryan Nations formed splinter groups and launched a campaign of violence against homosexuals, minorities and Jews. Such actions ultimately led to the group’s downfall. Over the last two decades, the Aryan Nations saw its members convicted of murder, racketeering, assault and robbery. The organization also inspired the formation of the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations, one of the strongest human rights groups in the United States.

In 1998, Aryan Nations security guards shot at Victoria Keenan, a local resident, as she drove near the Idaho compound. They also ran her off the road and assaulted her and her teenaged son. With the help of the Southern Poverty Law Center, Keenan filed a civil suit and won a $6.3 million judgment. The suit essentially bankrupted the Aryan Nations and forced Butler to auction off the compound. Without a central headquarters, the group downsized to about 200 members across the country.

Last year, Butler ran for mayor of Hayden, Idaho, in order to “keep it white.” While the bid failed, he did receive 50 votes.

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Maria Esperanza de Bianchini

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Categories: Religious Leaders

mesperanza.jpgMaria Esperanza de Bianchini was a devout woman with a mystical reputation.
Esperanza was only a child when she experienced her first visions of spiritual entities. She lived with the Franciscan nuns in Merida, Venezuela until Saint Theresa of the Little Flower and the Sacred Heart of Jesus told her to choose a non-religious vocation and travel to Rome. Esperanza did as she was bid, moved to Italy and married Geo Bianchini Giani in the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception in Saint Peter’s Basilica.
The couple returned to Venezuela to look for a house near a grotto that Esperanza allegedly saw in a vision. In 1974, they settled in Betania near a shrine renowned for providing miraculous cures to the faithful. When Bishop Pio Bello Ricardo declared the site “sacred ground,” it became a popular place for Roman Catholic pilgrims to visit.
The Venezuelan homemaker and mother of seven claimed that the Virgin Mary spoke to her on numerous occasions. Others said she had the ability to levitate and experience spontaneous bleeding from her hands, wounds that are known as stigmata and signify the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
Esperanza died on Aug. 7. Cause of death was not released. She was 75.

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