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Oldest Christian monastery in Iraq razed
IRBIL, Iraq — Satellite photos obtained by The Associated Press confirm what church leaders and Middle East preservationists had feared: The oldest Christian monastery in Iraq has been reduced to a field of rubble, yet another victim of the Islamic State group's relentless destruction of heritage sites it considers heretical.
St. Elijah's Monastery stood as a place of worship for 1,400 years, including most recently for U.S. troops. In earlier millennia, generations of monks tucked candles in the niches, prayed in the chapel, worshipped at the altar. The Greek letters chi and rho, representing the first two letters of Christ's name, were carved near the entrance.
Before it was razed, a partially restored, 27,000-square-foot stone and mortar building stood fortress-like on a hill above Mosul. Although the roof was largely missing, it had 26 distinctive rooms including a sanctuary and chapel. One month later photos show "that the stone walls have been literally pulverized," said imagery analyst Stephen Wood, CEO of Allsource Analysis, who pinpointed the destruction between August and September 2014. More
If You Could Invent A Religion, What Would It Look Like?
If you could start a new religion that would change the world for the better, what would it look like?
If some ideas are bubbling to the surface, then now is the perfect time to sit down and write an outline. Jewish nonprofit and cultural center 92nd Street Y, in partnership with radio podcast and website On Being, is offering cash prizes for people who can come up with a compelling proposal.
“The whole point of this challenge is to empower people to think about solutions and explore how religion can act as a powerful force for good,” said Asha Curran, Director of the Center for Innovation and Social Impact at 92nd Street Y, which is shortened as 92Y and has no relation to the YMCA. More
Pastor Accused of Raping, Impregnating Teen Skips Flight
A Chester County, Pennsylvania, pastor wanted on charges he raped and impregnated a teen girl skipped his flight home from Ecuador but is still expected to surrender to police this weekend, according to police.
Jacob Malone, who lived in Exton, has been in Ecuador as allegations have come to light that he raped a girl while working at Calvary Fellowship Church in Downingtown, said police.
"What he did is horrible," said pastor Bill Bateman. "We're hurting over it, the church is hurting over it, we're hurting for his wife and kids, and, of course, the young lady."
Malone, 33, was scheduled to board a plane in Ecuador Thursday but he rescheduled for a weekend flight, said police. More
'Japanese Schindler' Who Saved 6,000 Lives During World War II Finally Gets A Movie
Steven Spielberg's 1993 film "Schindler's List" told the story of German businessman Oskar Schindler, whose determination to stand up for what was right saved approximately 1,100 Jews from the Nazis.
Twenty-three years later, another hero who saved lives during the Holocaust is being commemorated with a feature-length film.
Chiune Sugihara was a Japanese diplomat who was stationed at a consulate in Kaunas, Lithuania during the early days of World War II. Between July 31 and August 28, 1940, Sugihara and his wife spent long nights writing and issuing more than 2,000 visas for Jewish refugees desperate to flee the Nazis and build new lives in Japan -- even though his actions defied the Japanese government's orders. More
‘Mastur-Plan’ App Offers Mormon Alternative To Jerking Off
Hey there, chronic masturbator! Were you aware that The Book of Mormon considers “sexual sins” like whacking off as second only to murder? It’s true, at least according to Scott Stevens.
Stevens hasn’t masturbated in 17 years, 43 days, and 16 hours and he’s “declared war on masturbation” with his $65,000 Kickstarter for an anti-masturbation app called Mastur Plan.
There’s no other way to put this — his Kickstarter is INSANE.
Let’s take a closer look: Here’s how it works: the user will use a Log Activity button to mark each “instance of masturbatory activity… any extenuating circumstances or triggers (that led to jerking off)… and times when [users] were tempted to indulge, but successfully withheld.” More
Secret pagan basilica in Rome emerges from the shadows after 2,000 years
A mysterious Roman basilica built for the worship of an esoteric pagan cult and now lying hidden more than 40ft below street level has opened to the public for the first time.
The basilica, the only one of its kind in the world, was excavated from solid tufa volcanic rock on the outskirts of the imperial capital in the first century AD.
Lavishly decorated with stucco reliefs of gods, goddesses, panthers, winged cherubs and pygmies, it was discovered by accident in 1917 during the construction of a railway line from Rome to Cassino, a town to the south.
An underground passageway caved in, revealing the entrance to the hidden chamber. More
Survey Finds That Christians Have the Most Abortions
Over 40 percent of women who have had an abortion say they were frequent churchgoers at the time they ended their pregnancies and about a half of them say they kept their abortions hidden from church members, new LifeWay Research shows.
In a survey released Monday that was sponsored by the pregnancy center support organization Care Net, researchers from the Christian research group LifeWay found that about 70 percent of women who had an abortion self-identified as Christians, while 43 percent say they attended a Christian church at least once per month or more at the time they aborted their child.
The survey, which interviewed 1,038 respondents who've all had abortions, found that 20 percent of the respondents attended church at least once a week at the time of their first pregnancy termination. Six percent said they attended church more than once per week, while about 54 percent said they rarely or never attended a church. More
Bill Maher Blames Fundamentalist Religion for California Shooting
Comedian and “Real Time” host Bill Maher took to Twitter to provide what would have been a preview of Friday night’s episode were he not on hiatus until the new year, blaming the mass-killing in San Bernardino on religious fundamentalism — and doing so, it should be mentioned, without singling out Islam.
Christian Couple Sue for Right to Keep Their Kids Uneducated as They Await Rapture
On Monday, the Texas Supreme Court will hear arguments over whether Christian parents of homeschooled children have to follow basic educational standards or if they're allowed to keep their kids blissfully free of knowledge as they wait to be whisked off to heaven.
Texas couple Michael and Laura McIntyre homeschooled their nine children in a motorcycle shop, where the kids did little by way of school work besides play instruments and sing songs, according to witnesses. One relative overheard a child say that there was no point in doing real school work because, "they were going to be raptured," the AP reports.
The family got on school officials' radar when their oldest daughter ran away and tried to enroll in school. The El Paso school district demanded they show proof the kids were getting a proper education, prompting the couple to sue the district for displaying anti-Christian bias and a "startling assertion of sweeping governmental power," the AP reports. More
Is religion doing enough to root out abuse?
From when Karen Morgan was 12, until she was well into her teens, she was sexually abused by her uncle - a ministerial servant with the Jehovah's Witnesses.
He would go upstairs, on the premise that he was saying a prayer with his niece, then sexually abuse her.
Now in her 30s, Karen wasn't understood when she first told her parents what her uncle, Mark Sewell, was doing. Sewell was also the son of a trusted older member of the local Jehovah's Witnesses congregation, known as an elder.
Christian churches, as well as other religions, have faced claims of child abuse. But what is striking about the Jehovah's Witnesses is their explicit policy of dealing with abuse in-house.
Because of their practice of following the Bible literally, they insist there must be two witnesses to a crime, often not the case in child abuse cases. However, in Karen's case a second witness did come forward: Wendy, a family friend and fellow member of the Barry congregation in south Wales. She had been raped by the same man. More
The psychology behind religious belief
Throughout history, scholars and researchers have tried to identify the one key reason that people are attracted to religion. Some have said people seek religion to cope with a fear of death, others call it the basis for morality, and various other theories abound.
But in a new book, a psychologist who has studied human motivation for more than 20 years suggests that all these theories are too narrow. Religion, he says, attracts followers because it satisfies all of the 16 basic desires that humans share.
"It's not just about fear of death. Religion couldn't achieve mass acceptance if it only fulfilled one or two basic desires," said Steven Reiss, a professor emeritus of psychology at The Ohio State University and author of The 16 Strivings for God (Mercer University Press, 2016).. More
Mexican Woman Sees Jesus in her Tortilla
Enedina Mendoza, a tortilla maker from the Tlalixtac de Cabrera town in Oaxaca, Mexico claims that Jesus’ face has miraculously appeared in one of the tlayadas (tortilla) she was preparing.
The claimed apparition happened a couple of weeks before the town’s feast of Santo Guillermo (Saint William) on June 25. According to Mendoza, she initially decided not to attend the festival which led to an argument with her fellow devote sister. While preparing her tortillas that day, she noticed that a particular pancake wasn’t browning as expected. Upon careful inspection of that piece, she noticed that the tortilla is clean and not toasted except for a small spot which according to her resembles the face of Jesus.
Mendoza never consumed neither sold the “miraculous” tortilla and instead put it on display in her altar together with the statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe and other Catholic saints. She has also shared the news to her sister who claimed that it’s a sign that Mendoza should attend the festival. More
Pastor Rapes Boys & Escapes Jail Time
Starting since back in 2007, Iowa pastor Brent Girouex, 31, began his violent campaign to “rape away the gay” of four teenage boys.
Girouex reportedly explained his actions to police by saying, “when they would ejaculate, they would be getting rid of the evil thoughts in their mind.”
Additionally, praying while he had sexual contact with his victims in an effort to keep them “sexually pure” for God.
Arrested in 2011 and charged with 60 counts of rape, Girouex had his 17 year sentence suspended by a judge this week, to “allow Girouex to get sex offender treatment and probation. Girouex’s probation will last five years — the maximum allowed by law.” More
Laura Prepon from ‘Orange is the New Black’ opens up about Scientology
"Orange Is the New Black" star Laura Prepon says she is able to handle the pressures of showbiz without breaking a sweat because she is a "thetan" -- a spiritual being attached to her own body that may be an outer space alien.
Which is to say, Prepon is big into Scientology.
So much so that she was on the cover of the recent issue of "Celebrity Magazine," a magazine made by and for members of America's most controversial religion.
“When you really cognate that you are a thetan and you have a mind and body, and that the MEST universe does not control you - it puts things into perspective," Prepon is quoted as saying in the interview. "It takes the weight off you and things become very easy." More
Could the discovery of life elsewhere negatively impact religion or will it prove God exists?
By the turn of the 21st Century, the human race has witnessed massive advancements in astronomy and our understanding of the universe. Gone are the days when we only know basic facts of our solar system.
Today, experts at NASA and other space agencies are exploring the depths of the universe searching for clues as to how the universe and planets were formed and there’s also the unending probe for the existence of life or a livable planet somewhere else.
The most recent and exciting discovery made by the Kepler telescope was the existence of an earth-like planet several billion miles away from our home.
Planet Kepler-452b is now often referred to as Earth 2.0. Whether there’s life on this distant planet or there’s none, it will take quite some time for us to find out. More
Jehovah’s Witnesses cover up child sex abuse and oust a victim
McALESTER, Okla. – In the summer of 2012, the elders in Debbie McDaniel’s congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses expelled her for having a sexual relationship with a woman. They announced her punishment to the congregation and notified the organization’s headquarters in New York. The consequences were clear: She would be shunned by the Witnesses – including her mother, father, sister and brother – and lose her chance at eternal life.
Jehovah’s Witnesses call their version of excommunication disfellowshipping, a punishment by shunning to rid the faithful of bad associations with those who break the laws of God. Once they’re expelled, the disfellowshipped cannot have any contact with Witnesses, even polite acknowledgment on the street, until they have proved their repentance and willingness to return obediently to the organization. In some cases, they’re shunned for the rest of their lives. More
Russians feel less positive towards religion now than they did in 1990
OVER the quarter-century since the collapse of the Soviet system, Russian feelings about religion have changed a lot, as one might imagine. In Soviet times, the state expected and encouraged citizens to be atheists. Now a loose affiliation to a religious faith has become the national default mode; a plurality of Russians tell pollsters they are Russian Orthodox, while significant minorities identify with Islam, Buddhism or Judaism.
But a survey published a few days ago by one of Russia's best-known pollsters, VTSIOM, showed something unexpected in its comparison of present-day attitudes in Russia with those of 1990. Although there is a jump (from 23% to 55%) in the share of people who say they are sometimes "helped" by religion in their own lives, the general effect of religion on human welfare is viewed in much bleaker terms than before.
The proportion of people who think religion does more good than harm to society has slumped from 61% to 36% while the share detecting more harm than good has risen from 5% to 23%. More
Secrets Of the Extreme Religious Right: Inside the Frightening World Of Christian Reconstructionism
As an unprecedented shift in public opinion brought about the legalization of gay marriage, a vigorous counter-current has been intensifying under the banner of “religious freedom”—an incredibly slippery term.
Perhaps the most radical definition of such freedom comes out of the relatively obscure tradition of Christian Reconstructionism, the subject of a new book by religious studies scholar Julie Ingersoll, Building God’s Kingdom: Inside the World of Christian Reconstructionism. As Ingersoll explains, Reconstructionists basically reject the entire framework of secular political thought in which individual rights have meaning, so “freedom” as most Americans understand the term is not the issue at all. Indeed, they argue that such “freedom” is actually slavery—slavery to sin, that is. Reconstructionists aim to establish a theocracy, though most would no doubt bristle at that description. They do not want to “take over the government” so much as they want to dismantle it. More
Islamic State militants throw another man off building for 'being gay'
Photographs show huge crowds packing the street below the building to leer at the young man being hurled to his death in Raqqa, the Islamic State's de-facto capital in Syria.
One image shows bearded militants, dressed in all-black, filming the man's barbaric fall from the edge of the town's tallest building.
The victim, believed to be in his mid-20s, is then seen plummeting towards the ground where he is pictured laying lifeless and encircled by sick IS supporters brandishing military-grade weaponry.
The images - believed to have come from an as-yet unreleased IS propaganda video - were distributed by activist group Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently who work undercover in the city. More
Wheaton drops student health insurance to avoid Obamacare contraception mandate
CHICAGO, — Wheaton College, an evangelical Christian school Ilinois, will stop providing health insurance to students on Friday because of its objection to the Obamacare mandate to provide contraceptive coverage, a legal group has announced.
The decision affects about 500 of 3,000 students at the nondenominational liberal arts school — nicknamed the “evangelical Harvard” — in the Chicago suburb of Wheaton, according to the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a Washington-based legal group that represents the college.
Wheaton College President Philip Ryken said in a statement that the government’s insistence that the college provide insurance services that contradict its religious beliefs forced it to make this “difficult choice.” More
Harare pastor rapes a 15 year old girl
HARARE: A senior pastor with Kingdom Fellowship ministries Wednesday appeared in court for allegedly raping his 15 year old girlfriend.
Magistrate Elijah Makomo did not ask Elisha Nhando of Borrowdale to plead as he remanded him to Thursday for trial.
But the case was to be postponed to next Monday as Makomo was absent on Thursday.
According to the state, sometime in October last year Nhando took the juvenile, whose name cannot be revealed for professional reasons, from her place of residence in Domboshawa as her guardian up to 22 June this year. More
Craft beer meets religion in Fort Collins
"Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do." — Ecclesiastes 9:7
When Rev. J.P. Channels came to Fort Collins from the Midwest late last year to interview for a leading church position, he found himself on a brewery tour.
"We love our beer, and folks in our congregation love Fort Collins beer," explained Melissa St. Clair, pastor of Heart of the Rockies Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). "In fact, when J.P. was interviewing out here, we kept selling the beer."
Channels moved to Colorado to join St. Clair at Heart of the Rockies, on South Lemay Avenue and Trilby Road. The 23-year-old mainline protestant church's founding pastor had just retired, and St. Clair thought the timing was right to introduce a new pastor at a new church event: Beer & Hymns. More
Think religion is dead? Just look at ‘Game of Thrones.’
What academics loftily call “the secularization thesis” is by now so dead it is almost disrespectful to speak ill of it. Here are its contours: Back in modernity, it was taken for granted that religion would gradually die away, replaced by the logical matters of reason and politics, something we should have managed by now. As we became more enlightened, we’d obviously become less religious, right?
But here we are in the 21st century, and religion shows few signs of slowing. People channeling and claiming the raw power of the gods is barely even surprising anymore. ISIS, for instance, is just our backdrop.
North Americans have an entertaining habit of working out our anxieties about religion on TV. And this season of “Game of Thrones” is as great a catharsis as secularization zealots can hope for. More
Montana Republican: Noah Was 600 Years Old When He Built the Ark, So Why Do Americans Need Retirement?
WASHINGTON -- Greg Gianforte, a multi-millionaire tech entrepreneur who is "seriously considering" challenging Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) in 2016, doesn't believe he has to divorce his Christian faith from his professional life.
The potential candidate started the software company RightNow Technologies in 1997 and sold the firm to Oracle for $1.5 billion in 2011. Now, he's traveling around the state promoting his Better Montana Jobs initiative, which includes a focus on telecommuting as a means to attract college graduates to Montana. As he gears up for a potential race against Bullock, Gianforte's support for socially conservative policies has drawn scrutiny to his record.
In a February talk at the Montana Bible College about how to find "godly purpose" in work, Gianforte explained why retirement isn't consistent with biblical teachings.
"There's nothing in the Bible that talks about retirement. And yet it's been an accepted concept in our culture today," he said. "Nowhere does it say, 'Well, he was a good and faithful servant, so he went to the beach.' It doesn't say that anywhere." More
How Christianity's Eastern history has been forgotten
Christianity has a history that most of us know little about. A history that spreads eastward as well as westward, writes former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams for BBC Newsnight.
We would probably take it for granted that someone reading a religious text in Arabic would be a Muslim - but the truth is that you will find plenty of Christians reading their Bibles and books of prayers in the language.
It is a sharp reminder of the diversity that once marked the Arabic-speaking world. It is a reminder, too, of aspects of Christianity's history the majority of us have little idea about: a period when there were probably as many Christians in Asia as in Europe. More
Jehovah’s Witnesses ask for Money. Again. But this time around, it’s in a sweet, sweet Music Video.
“I give to you, Jehovah, the best I have to give”, sings a voice while a young Jehovah’s Witnesses woman happily donates money to JW.org via credit card. This is just one of two scenes in a new music video from JW.org illustrating what the Governing Body really means when they want folks to give the best they have to give.
In January, JW Alumni already reported on the not-so-subtle call for money in the 2015 Yearbook. Just five months on and they’re asking for donations again. This time it is part of a music video accompanying the Jehovah’s Witness song Honor Jehovah with Your Valuable Things (you can watch it here) in the May 2015 JW Broadcasting episode.
Lest any viewer misses what the Governing Body is driving at, the video illustrates the point in case. Jehovah’s Witnesses need money. In the beginning, a friendly older lady sells some eggs, the proceeds of which go straight to the worldwide work of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Then, a tad later, a young woman whisks out her credit card to give money to the Governing Body via JW.org. More
‘Peeping-Tom rabbi’ seeks to avoid prison in voyeurism scandal
An attorney for the prominent Washington rabbi who pleaded guilty to secretly videotaping dozens of women naked during ritual baths asked a judge to sentence him to community service, not prison, according to court records.
Prosecutors are seeking a 17-year prison term for Rabbi Barry Freundel, 63, who will be sentenced on Friday (May 15). He pleaded guilty in February to recording the women between early 2009 and October 2014, using devices installed in two changing rooms for the National Capital Mikvah, next to the Kesher synagogue in the upscale Georgetown neighborhood.
Freundel attorney Jeffrey Harris, in a memo filed on Friday in response to the prosecutor’s request, said Freundel has been punished enough by being publicly humiliated and losing his job. More
Maryland bishop charged in DUI death is defrocked by Episcopal Church
An Episcopal bishop in Maryland who’s facing manslaughter charges in the drunk-driving death of a bicyclist has been defrocked and “will no longer function as an ordained person in the Episcopal Church.”
Heather Cook was a suffragan (assistant) bishop in the Diocese of Maryland when she was charged with manslaughter in the Dec. 27 hit-and-run death of cyclist Tom Palermo, a 41-year-old husband and father of two, in Baltimore. Within a month of the accident, the diocese that she had helped lead for just three months asked her to resign.
Cook, who is free on bail and seeking treatment for alcoholism, faces 13 charges including drunken driving, leaving the scene of an accident and causing an accident due to texting while driving. More
Jehovah’s Witnesses To Pay $13.5 Million: Child Sexual Abuse Isn’t Just A Catholic Problem
We are used to hearing about Catholic priests molesting children and the Church covering up the crime, but sexual abuse is not only a Catholic problem.
A $13.5 million judgment has been ruled in San Diego Superior Court against The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, the organization that oversees Jehovah’s Witnesses.
The court finds a church elder, Gonzalo Campos, guilty of sexually abusing then 7-year-old Jose Lopez in the mid 1980’s. The abuse took place during Spanish Congregation bible study at the Jehovah’s Witnesses church in Linda Vista, California.
ABC 10 News was told by Attorney Irwin Zalkin that The Watchtower knew Campos had been accused of abusing children years before he even met Lopez. The Watchtower swept the sexual abuse under the rug.
Zalkin says six other people have settled sexual abuse cases with The Watchtower and another lawsuit will go to trial in June. He believes these cases are only the tip of the iceberg and “there are probably hundreds if not thousands of perpetrators.” More
Vatican kicks off environmental push with climate change summit
Top officials from the Vatican, the head of the United Nations and leading scientists came together at a summit Tuesday (April 28) in Vatican City to label the fight against man-made climate change as a “moral issue.”
“Mitigating climate change and adapting to its effects are necessary to eradicate extreme poverty, reduce inequality and secure equitable, sustainable economic development,” said Ban Ki Moon, U.N. secretary-general, in the keynote speech.
“It is a moral issue. It is an issue of social justice, human rights and fundamental ethics,” the secretary-general said, adding that “climate change is the defining issue of our time.” More
Georgia Pastor Wants His Flock to Give Him $65 Million So He Can Buy a Private Jet
Pastor Creflo Dollar runs Creflo Dollar Ministries, based in the Atlanta-area with international affiliates in several other countries.
As a part of his work, Dollar travels globally to preach to various global audiences. But the private plane he has been using had a mechanical problem, and now it has to be replaced.
Thus Project G650 was born. The aptly-named Dollar is asking his flock to raise the $65 million he needs to purchase a Gulfstream G650 private jet so he can continue to travel abroad. He's specifically asking for $300 from each member of his flock, which would allow him to get to the $65 million he needs.
It's unclear why Dollar has not considered the option of flying commercial and/or personally traveling less – rather than asking his flock to donate so generously so he can obtain a private jet that typically seats 18 people and has a range of 7,000 nautical miles. More
Jehovah's Witnesses video slammed for threatening kids with death for not paying attention in church
A Jehovah's Witness promotional cartoon has been slammed for appearing to threaten children who don't pay attention in church with death.
Viewers have dubbed the controversial animated clip, posted to YouTube by JW.org, as "stupid," "dumb" and "mind control."
It begins with two youngsters attending a service with their parents. A little boy plays with his car, while his sister almost falls asleep. Both are then told off for not focusing on what the preacher is saying. The family arrives home and, as they sit down to eat, their mom asks what they learned at church.
"No sleeping at the meeting," replies the girl. Her sibling then grumpily adds, "No playing at the meeting."
Their father then explains exactly why they should pay attention. "Imagine if Noah didn't pay attention when Jehovah explained how to build the Ark," he says. The cartoon cuts to Noah playing on a video game and not listening to God's instructions before the sky goes dark and rain begins to fall. He runs into a building which falls apart. The screen fills with water and the game floats by with "Game Over" written on it. More
San Francisco Church Installs Watering System to Drench Homeless and Keep Them Away
KCBS, a news station in San Francisco, has a shocking story about Saint Mary's Cathedral, the main church of the Archdiocese of San Francisco. The station has learned that the cathedral has installed a special watering system to keep homeless people from sleeping in the doorways. Similar anti-homeless measures have been carried out in other cities including London and New York, as Allegra Kirkland recently reported.
The church has a sign saying “No trespassing” but it posts no warnings that people who lie down in the doorway will be sprayed by water. KCBS notes that the sprinkler system in the ceiling above the doorway “ran for about 75 seconds, every 30 to 60 minutes while we were there, starting before sunset, simultaneously in all four doorways. KCBS witnessed it soak homeless people and their belongings.” More
Older than Stonehenge, mystifying moon god stones uncovered in Israel
The crescent moon is a symbol of Islam. Muslim, Jewish and Christian holidays revolve around cycles of the moon. So it’s no big surprise that an ancient structure, devoted to the moon, has recently been uncovered in Israel.
Israel is the birthplace of monotheism, belief in one God, but this new structure paid homage to a Mesopotamian-era moon god, new research uncovers. Older than Stonehenge and older than many pyramids, it is not just a stone wall as it was once believed.
Israeli archeologists originally thought that the structure, located in Northern Israel, and known as the Jethro Cairn, or Rujum en-Nabi Shua’ayb transliterated from Arabic, was part of an ancient city found near the Sea of Galilee. More
Libyan parliament confirmed the death of 21 kidnapped Egyptian Coptic Christians
Libyan parliament confirmed Saturday the death of 21 kidnapped Egyptian Coptic Christian workers in Libya following photos released by an English publication affiliated with the ‘Islamic State’, called Dabeq, claiming their execution.
The Libyan legislative body said that the workers were killed by the self-proclaimed ‘Islamic State’ group, often referred to as ISIS, in the city of Sirte, according to state newspaper Al-Ahram.
The Egyptian government has asserted it “will spare no effort for the kidnapped”, but has not confirmed the execution of 21 kidnapped Egyptian Coptic workers in Libya by ‘Islamic State’. More
Jehovah’s Witness Leader Rants Against Higher Education, Saying It’ll Lead to “Spiritual Disaster”
Jehovah’s Witnesses Governing Body member Tony Morris is the host of the January video on the new JW online television network and what he says is a terrifying tirade against higher education.
You can see the full episode here since it’s not embeddable, but in short, they show us that what JWs fear the most is being challenged on their beliefs — and places where your beliefs are scrutinized are to be avoided at all costs.
At the 4:30 mark: … all too often, our young people have met with spiritual disaster, especially after leaving home and living on a university campus. So parents and children, you need to have a goal and you need to have a plan. If you’re missing either one, Satan will provide it for you. Young people, ask yourself: Why am I considering additional education? Is it because I’m pursuing a specific skill or trade to support my service to Jehovah? Or have I been pressured by the system into believing that higher education will somehow make me a more respected person or lead me to a better life? More
Pat Robertson recommends reverse mortgage because Jesus needs money
Jesus loves you, and he needs money: Televangelist Pat Robertson tells an elderly woman with financial problems a reverse mortgage will allow her to continue to offer financial support to his ministry.
On Tuesday’s 700 Club, Robertson read and discussed an email sent by an impoverished senior citizen named Maria who was having a hard time making ends meet while financially supporting Robertson’s 700 Club. Maria writes:
Robertson was all in favor of the reverse mortgage, because, you know, Jesus needs more money. In his response to Maria, Robertson pointed out that a reverse mortgage prevented the bank from taking “your house away from you as long as you are alive and living.” More
Newsboys' Former Member George Perdikis Is Now An Outspoken Atheist
One of the original members of a world-renowned Christian rock band has come out as an atheist.
George Perdikis, an early member of Newsboys, says he’s lost his faith
in God -- and that the band’s current members aren’t as squeaky clean
as they appear to be.
Perdikis wrote about his faith journey in a Patheos blog:
Tampa homeless program uses unpaid, destitute residents as steady labor force, revenue source
TAMPA — Before every Tampa Bay Buccaneers home game, dozens of men gather in the yard at New Beginnings of Tampa, one of the city's largest homeless programs.
The men — many of them recovering alcoholics and drug addicts — are about to work a concessions stand behind Raymond James Stadium's iconic pirate ship, serving beer and food to football fans. First, a supervisor for New Beginnings tries to pump them up.
"Thank God we have these events," he tells them. "They bring in the prime finances." But not for the workers. They leave the game sweat-soaked and as penniless as they arrived. The money for their labor goes to New Beginnings. The men receive only shelter and food.
For years, New Beginnings founder and CEO Tom Atchison has sent his unpaid homeless labor crews to Tampa Bay Rays, Lightning and Bucs games, the Daytona 500 and the Florida State Fair. For their shelter, he's had homeless people work in construction, landscaping, telemarketing, moving, painting, even grant-writing. More
Muslim Teacher Raped Kids So Badly One Needed Surgery To Repair Her Genitals
Police are hunting the former head teacher of a private Islamic school accused of the sexual abuse and rape of two middle school female students.
Tariq Ahmad, 35, who worked at Nur-Ul-Islam Academy, Florida, has been charged with five first degree counts after the alleged abuse which left one student needing 'substantial surgical repair'.
The girls were aged 14 and 15 when Ahmad allegedly forced them into sexual relationships, according to a lawsuit.
Their attorneys said Ahmed would use text messages, social media and even code on the chalk boards in the classroom to set up meetings with the girls. They also claim the Academy officials knew of Ahmed's illegal conduct for years and did nothing until now. More
Hamilton family left corpse upstairs for six months expecting resurrection
They believed it because they had prayed for it, every single day, while his corpse lay rotting for six months in an upstairs bedroom of their Hamilton home.
When neighbours asked about her husband, curious about the 52-year-old man's seeming disappearance, Kaling Wald would tell them he was "in God's hands now."
On Monday, Kaling, 50, pleaded guilty to failing to notify police or the coroner that her husband had died due to a sickness that was not being treated by a doctor. It's the first known case of its kind (involving the resurrection belief) in Canada.
The criminal charges originally laid in the case – neglect of duty regarding a dead body and offering an indignity to a body – were withdrawn and replaced with that single charge under the Coroner's Act.
Kaling had no ill intent, all agreed. As assistant crown attorney Janet Booy put it, the devout Christian woman's faith had "tainted and warped her better judgment." More
Jehovah's Witnesses Ordered to Pay $13.5M to Bible Teacher's Alleged Victim
A San Diego man who says he suffered "very aggressive abuse" as a child by his Bible study teacher was awarded a $13.5 million judgment Wednesday against the organization that oversees Jehovah's Witnesses churches.
Jose Lopez, now 35, was one of eight children who have accused Gonzalo Campos of sexually abusing them between 1982 and 1995, according to his lawsuit against the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, the entity that oversees Jehovah’s Witness churches.
Campos served in the leadership of the Linda Vista Spanish Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses and Playa Pacifica Spanish Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Pacific Beach.
In about 1986, when Lopez was 7 years old, Campos was first introduced to him as a fatherly figure who could teach him about the Bible. Instead, Campos used his position and time alone with Lopez to groom him, Zalkin said. More
Chaste No More: Why I Had to Abandon the Christian Purity Movement
“This is so we can stay pure and abstain from sexual sin,” he said as he awkwardly placed the purity ring onto my finger, and another one onto his. The ring’s engraving read, “True Love Waits.” I was 16. He was nearly 19. We were both virgins struggling to stay pure in an evangelical Christian community.
The Pentecostal church forbade any form of premarital sex. While leaders of the church didn’t specifically address oral, anal or masturbatory sex, its young congregants assumed it was all sin before marriage. Foreplay was an area rarely discussed. I asked one of my female mentors at the church about this one.
She referred to a verse in the Bible:
“Young women of Jerusalem, promise me by the power of deer and gazelles never to awaken love before it is ready.” — Song of Solomon 2:7, Contemporary English Version (CEV).
However, I later found out the Complete Jewish Bible (CJB) version read:
“I warn you, daughters of Yerushalayim, by the gazelles and deer in the wilds, not to awaken or stir up love until it wants to arise!” More
Jews Spent Centuries in Antakya, Turkey. Now, There's Only 17 Left
Saul Cenudioglu remembers when his synagogue was full and when Muslims and Christians of this diverse Turkish city joined with Jews to celebrate marriages and births.
“I’m afraid in 15 or 20 years, people in Antakya might be saying, ‘Did you know there used to be Jews in this city?’” Cenudioglu said.
Antakya sits just 20 miles from the border with Syria, nestled in the fertile and lush mountainous region of Turkey’s southern Hatay province. The city of more than 200,000 has always been known across Turkey for its natural beauty and for its fresh fruit.
In recent years, though, with war on its doorstep and an influx of 30,000 Syrian refugees, the province has taken on a reputation as a hub for war-hardened fighters and an important lifeline for the Free Syrian Army. It has also become a popular crossing point for foreign jihadis seeking battle in Syria. More
Jehovah's Witness Leader Lets Loose on Tight Attire From 'Homosexual Designers'
A Jehovah’s Witness leader this weekend blamed gay fashion designers for what he considers immodest attire, ranting against tight pants and suggesting that the “metrosexual look” was engineered by gay fashion designers.
Anthony Morris III, a member of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses, let loose on tight-fitting attire for women and men during a meeting for the church’s U.S. branch Saturday, reports JW Survey, a website for dissident Witnesses and former Witnesses. Here are some highlights from Morris’s rant:
“Worldly women … even some of our sisters now … what it is is this spanx, this skin-tight stuff they wear ... when they exercise. They leave their home and they’re jogging in this stuff … is that appropriate? To wear skin-tight spanx, or whatever they call it? It’s not modest … It’s really not appropriate…. More
Pastor Rapes Boy, Threatens to Kill Him with ‘Warlock’ Powers if He Talks
A 30-year-old man claiming to be a youth pastor has been accused of raping a young boy and threatening witchcraft to keep him silent on the matter.
Rex Allen Murphy of Kentucky, who works for the Polly Ann Church of God in Eubank, faces charges of first-degree sexual abuse,use of a minor under 18 in a sexual performance, and third-degree sodomy, a Class D felony, according to the Commonwealth Journal.
The 16-year-old victim told Eubank police that Murphy made sexual contact with him. The alleged abuse took place over a six-month period, incidents occurring both at the victim’s home and the church. More
Iran’s non-Muslims face prison, execution, despite ‘reform’ claims
Iran’s regime conducted a raid on an Easter service and arrested Christians, subjected Christian converts to death threats and psychological abuse and shut down licensed churches, according to a UN report that will be submitted to world leaders on Tuesday.
While persecution of religious minorities is nothing new in the Islamic Republic, the 28-page catalog of horrors compiled by Ahmed Shaheed, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Right in the Islamic Republic of Iran, undermines the claim that President Hassan Rouhani has ushered in a new era of tolerance.
“At least 49 Protestant Christians are currently detained, many for involvement in informal house churches,” the report states. “In April 2014, security forces reportedly raided an Easter service in a private home in southern Tehran and detained six individuals.” More
Seattle-based Mars Hill Church reeling after founding pastor calls women ‘homes’ for God's penis
Megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll is under fire and the Pacific Northwest church he founded has been forced to shutter some locations and slash staff after he said women were created as a "very nice home" for God's penis.
Seattle-based Mars Hill Church, citing a 40% drop in attendance and acknowledging the personal crisis surrounding its founder, said the church will have to lay off up to 40% of its 100 staffers, The Seattle Times reported. The church also announced it would shutter at least three churches from Seattle to Phoenix. Driscoll apologized and took a six-week leave of absence after it came to light he wrote a blog post patronizing women in 2001 under a pseudonym. His beliefs, written under the name William Wallace II, were detailed by a feminist blogger for Patheos. More
Just weeks after converting to Islam, Daniel Munoz blamed killing his wife on the voice of Allah
A SYDNEY man stabbed his wife to death just weeks after converting to Islam — claiming he did it in the name of Allah, police allege.
“Allah told me to kill her,’’ Daniel Munoz allegedly said when questioned by police over the stabbing death of Melissa Munoz on October 20 last year.
Mrs Munoz had taken out a number of apprehended violence orders against her husband of 22 years after feeling threatened by him.
Police said the unemployed Munoz went to the family home in Hobartville in Sydney’s northwest where, at about 3.30pm, screams were heard.
Munoz is accused of standing over the 40-year-old mother of seven in the loungeroom of the home, holding her by her hair and stabbing her more than 10 times to the head and chest with a knife he had taken from the kitchen. Mrs Munoz, who worked at Big W at Rouse Hill, died at the scene. More
Pastor rapes boy: Church knew pastor was convicted sex offender
In Kentucky a pastor faces charges of repeatedly raping a 14-year-old boy who attended his church. Even more disgusting, the church knew they hired a registered violent sex offender to be their pastor, but believed the man had been forgiven by God.
Roy Neal Yoakem is accused of sexually assaulting the 14-year-old boy inside the New Gospel Outreach Church in Scottsville, Kentucky, as well as his home in Gallatin, Tennessee.
Previously, Yoakem had been required to register as a violent sex offender after being found guilty in 2005 of abusing an 8-year-old boy in Kentucky.
Officials at the Kentucky church acknowledged that they knew their pastor was a registered violent sex offender when they hired him. More
Jehovah's Witness elder jailed for 14 years for sexually abusing girls as young as 12 and raping one woman leaving her pregnant
A Jehovah’s Witness elder has been jailed for 14 years for sexually abusing girls as young as 12.
Mark Sewell, 53, raped one woman in his congregation in Barry, near Cardiff, leaving her pregnant.
He also molested one girl and abused two others in a string of attacks that spanned eight years.
But when the victims reported him to the church, a committee cleared him of all allegations - and shredded the evidence.
Finally, after 19 years, he has been found guilty of eight counts of sexual abuse. Judge Richard Twomlow told him: 'You were in a position of trust as a senior member of the church.
'Your victims felt inhibited about what they could say because of your position as an elder. More
Muslims say slaughterhouse proposal violates religious law
Muslim rights advocates in California are frustrated by a proposed state regulation on some slaughterhouses that would reportedly violate some people's religious beliefs.
The California Department of Food and Agriculture is considering increasing food safety regulations that would in part order custom slaughterhouses to first stun animals before a nonemployee can come in and cut the animal's throat.
"In general, Muslims aren't supposed to eat meat that was stunned because halal requirements prohibit stunning," said Zahra Billoo, the Bay Area's executive director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Many Muslims believe for an animal to be slaughtered in accordance with the Quran, it must be killed by cutting its throat with a long sharp blade, causing it to bleed to death. The animal cannot be rendered unconscious or killed beforehand, the council wrote in a letter to the Department of Food and Agriculture after notice was given about the proposed regulation. More
Downwardly mobile for Jesus
BALTIMORE, Md. — At the corner of Laurens Street and Fulton Avenue, a man watches Matthew Loftus walk by with his 21-month-old daughter, Naomi, strapped to his back. “She got big!” the man says.
Loftus, 27, says something friendly back, but he’s not sure who the man is. “My eyesight is actually really bad,” he says.
As he runs an errand in the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood, people notice Loftus before he notices them. On Presstman Street, where Loftus rented before buying a home several blocks away, a young girl in a school uniform smiles and says, “I see you’re visiting the old neighborhood.” A group of men playing cards on the corner asks about the rabbits that he and his wife, Maggie Loftus, 25, were raising the last time they saw him. In front of a Monroe Street car wash, a man spies Naomi. “She still gorgeous!” he says. “Tell your wife I said hi.” More
'There were 12 elders and not one of them stood up: Victim of Jehovah's Witness rapist describes torment
Victims of a sexual predator who preyed on fellow Jehovah’s Witnesses had to face their alleged abuser in hearings organised by their church.
The “vulnerable” victims – including a woman pinned down and raped by heavy-set former church elder Mark Sewell and a schoolgirl whom he kissed and fondled – were even banned from talking about their allegations.
At least two of Sewell’s victims in the Barry congregation had to lock eyes with him during “judicial committee” hearings run by the church when they reported his depraved attacks. When faced with his first victim – then just a teenage schoolgirl – Sewell branded her a “liar” and rubbished her claims.
It was during this investigation that the elders received another complaint about Sewell, with a woman in the congregation claiming he had raped her. They included the complaint in the investigation but the businessman, now 53, twice contacted her “in an attempt to stop her telling the judicial committee the truth”, prosecutor Sarah Waters told the jury during the trial opening. More
Facing fines, conversion or death, Christian families flee Mosul
Baghdad, Iraq -- Just days after the militant group the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria said they killed hundreds of Syrians, dozens of Iraqi Christian families are now fleeing the ISIS-controlled city of Mosul, hoping to avoid a similar fate.
On Friday, the al Qaeda splinter group issued an ultimatum to Iraqi Christians living in Mosul -- by Saturday at noon (5 a.m. ET), they must convert to Islam, pay a fine or face "death by the sword."
A total of 52 Christian families left the city of Mosul early Saturday morning, with an armed group prohibiting some of them from taking anything but the clothes on their backs.
Some of the families headed for Irbil -- which is currently controlled by Kurdish forces -- and others toward the Dohuk province. The majority went to Dohuk, which is 140 kilometers (87 miles) north of Mosul. More
Berlin House of One: The first church-mosque-synagogue?
An architecture competition has been held and the winner chosen. The striking design is for a brick building with a tall, square central tower. Off the courtyard below will be the houses of worship for the three faiths - the synagogue, the church and the mosque. It is to occupy a prominent site - Petriplatz - in the heart of Berlin.
The location is highly significant, according to one of the three religious leaders involved, Rabbi Tovia Ben Chorin. "From my Jewish point of view the city where Jewish suffering was planned is now the city where a centre is being built by the three monotheistic religions which shaped European culture," he told the BBC.
Can they get on? "We can. That there are people within each group who can't is our problem but you have to start somewhere and that's what we are doing." More
Christian giant sued for 'using nanny as sex object'
The former leader of a popular Christian ministry – who resigned from his position after confessing to an “inappropriate” relationship – is now the subject of a lawsuit that claims he “methodically groomed” and made unwanted sexual contact with a young woman after serving as an authority figure in her life for more than a decade.
Doug Phillips, a husband and father of eight children, had been a popular and controversial figure in the homeschooling movement and a leading advocate of “biblical patriarchy” before his resignation from Vision Forum Ministries and Boerne Christian Assembly, a Baptist church outside San Antonio, Texas, at which he had served as an elder and preached hundreds of sermons.
Phillips was also founder of the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival and of the National Center for Family-Integrated Churches. According to the teachings of the patriarchy movement, also known as the stay-at-home daughters or quiverfull movement, young women remain at home under the protection of their fathers. They’re generally expected not to work outside their home or go to college, and they’re taught to abide by strict gender roles in which men have authority over women. More
Convicted Christian rock singer lets loose a shocking revelation
Tim Lambesis, frontman of Christian heavy metal band As I Lay Dying, shocked fans after he was charged with conspiring to murder his wife and sentenced to six years in prision in March. Now, Lambesis admits that he is actually an atheist and tricked fans into thinking he was Christian to sell more records, Christian News reports.
“Truthfully, I was an atheist,” Lambesis told the Alternative Press. “I actually wasn’t the first guy in As I Lay Dying to stop being a Christian. In fact, I think I was the third. The two who remained kind of stopped talking about it, and then I’m pretty sure they dropped it, too.”
Lambesis claims that he began to stray from his Christian faith while he was majoring in religious studies in college.
“In the process of trying to defend my faith, I started thinking the other point of view was the stronger one,” he said.
The rocker admits that he leaned on atheism to justify many of his actions. More
Denmark bans kosher and halal slaughter as minister says ‘animal rights come before religion’
Denmark’s government has brought in a ban on the religious slaughter of animals for the production of halal and kosher meat, after years of campaigning from welfare activists.
The change to the law, announced last week and effective as of yesterday, has been called “anti-Semitism” by Jewish leaders and “a clear interference in religious freedom” by the non-profit group Danish Halal.
European regulations require animals to be stunned before they are slaughtered, but grants exemptions on religious grounds. For meat to be considered kosher under Jewish law or halal under Islamic law, the animal must be conscious when killed.
Yet defending his government’s decision to remove this exemption, the minister for agriculture and food Dan Jørgensen told Denmark’s TV2 that “animal rights come before religion”. More
2nd Wiccan Police Officer Sues LAPD for Harassment
A veteran Los Angeles police sergeant is joining his LAPD officer wife in suing the city, alleging he was also discriminated against because of his Wiccan religion and experienced a backlash when he complained to management.
Sgt. A.J. DeBellis, like his wife, Officer Victoria DeBellis, alleges discrimination, harassment and retaliation and seeks unspecified damages.
An LAPD spokesman declined to comment on the latest complaint, which was filed Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court. A.J. DeBellis, who joined the LAPD in 1990, alleges the retaliation began after he complained about having to attend a mandatory training session and holiday gathering in December 2012 at the main chapel of The Church at Rocky Peak, a Christian church in Chatsworth.
The chapel displayed "religious iconography" and religious music was played "during a significant portion of the event," according to his lawsuit. DeBellis, who was assigned to the Devonshire Division at the time, says he also was required to sit through a recital of a Christian prayer. More
Pastor accused of bilking faithful
STRATFORD -- To members of the Stratford Baptist Church, he was "Pastor Bob," the warm, giving religious leader for the past 16 years of the historic church across from Paradise Green.
But to police and his alleged victims, Robert Genevicz is a con artist who, with a female accomplice, has bilked elderly parishioners out of their life savings, using the money in one case to buy a Mercedes and a Hummer.
"My client has lost a substantial amount of money, and we are now concerned she may not continue to have the life she deserves," said Milford lawyer Joseph Mager Jr., who represents a 71-year-old retired Stratford teacher who police said was scammed by Genevicz out of more than $173,000. "She is living in an assisted-living facility, but we don't know how long she will be able to stay there until the money runs out." More
Mormon church pushes back on planet misconceptions
SALT LAKE CITY — The Mormon Church is pushing back against the notion that members of the faith are taught they'll get their own planet in the afterlife, a misconception popularized in pop culture most recently by the Broadway show "The Book of Mormon."
A newly-posted article affirms the faith's belief that humans can become like God in eternity, but says the "cartoonish image of people receiving their own planets" is not how members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints envision it.
"While few Latter-day Saints would identify with caricatures of having their own planet, most would agree that the awe inspired by creation hints at our creative potential in the eternities," the article says.
The expectation of exaltation is more figurative and ambiguous than boiling it down to living on one planet, it says. More
Sex Scandal Rocks the Duggars’ Christian Patriarchy Movement
Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar have put many years and a lot of work into putting a smiling, nearly normal-seeming face on the extreme Christian right.
The couple adheres to a fringe strain of fundamentalist Christianity dubbed the “Christian patriarchy” or sometimes the “Quiverfull” movement, and while there is a lot of internal diversity to the movement, they generally preach a combination of beliefs that run counter to mainstream America: absolute female submission, a ban on dating, homeschooling, a rejection of higher education for women, and shunning of contraception in favor of trying to have as many children as humanly possible. The movement is controversial even within Christian right circles, but the Duggars have tried to counter that with their popular reality TV show 19 Kids & Counting, where they present themselves as a wholesome everyday family that just happens to be a little more fecund and conservative than average. More
Russian court declares Jehovah's Witness brochures extremist
A Russian court has declared brochures produced by the Jehovah’s Witnesses to be extremist, the Prosecutor General’s Office said Monday.
The court in the southern city of Kurgan ruled that four pamphlets published by the Christian evangelical sect were discriminatory against people who did not belong to the organization.
The booklets were titled “How to Achieve Happiness in Life,” “What Can People Hope For?” “How to Develop a Close Relationship With God,” and “What You Need to Know About God and His Meaning.”
The prosecutor’s office said that analyses by linguistic experts had concluded that the brochures contained propaganda that promoted the superiority of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and denigrated other faiths as false. More
All-you-can-eat buffets banned by Saudi cleric’s fatwa
An Islamic cleric in Saudi Arabia has made a religious ruling prohibiting Muslims from indulging in all-you-can-eat buffets, it was reported, prompting ridicule on social media.
During a broadcast on Quranic TV network Al Atheer, Saleh Al Fawzan issued the fatwa, claiming that such activities were in breach of Islamic law.
"Whoever enters the buffet and eats for SAR10 or SAR50 without deciding the quantity they will eat is violating Sharia law," Al Fawzan said, according to Al Arabiya.
The report did not include any further details on the reasoning behind the religious edict. More
Gunning for God: Pastor to hold church raffle for AR-15-type rifle
Praise the Lord — and pass the ammunition!
An upstate pastor is planning to give away an unholy raffle prize at an upcoming service: an AR-15 assault rifle.
“We’re honoring gun owners and hunters,” the Rev. John Koletas, pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Troy, told the Daily News.
“And we’re being a blessing and a help to people who have been attacked, viciously attacked, by socialists and anti-Christian people — the politicians and the media.”
In a bid to lure as many gun lovers as possible to his church, Koletas even rolled out a provocative flier advertising the high-powered giveaway.
“My peace I give unto you . . . John 14:27,” blares the flier, which includes a photo of the deadly weapon under the headline: “Win a FREE AR-15. “ More
Mexican Catholics find God in Islam
MEXICO CITY — For almost five centuries Catholicism has been the dominant religion in Mexico.
In 1970, Catholics comprised 96.7 percent of Mexico’s population. By 2010, that number had fallen to 82.7 percent, according to the Pew Research Center. Most of this change is attributed to growth in other Christian denominations. Evangelicals, Protestants and Jehovah’s Witnesses now account for 8 percent of Mexicans who identify with a religion.
And a small yet growing group of converts are seeking spiritual salvation in Islam. In fact, Pew estimates Mexico will be home to 126,000 Muslims by 2030, up from 111,000 in 2010. Why are some Mexicans leaving the Catholic Church and converting? More
Kenyan pastor tells women to attend church without underwear so God enters them
Nairobi pastor Reverend Njohi has introduced a form of worship at his Lord’s Propeller Redemption Church in which female members of the congregation are banned from wearing underwear so God can enter their bodies easily.
After a recent meeting of the church’s elders, to debate the matter Reverend Njohi passed an edict banning the wearing bras and panties when attending service.
Defending the law, Reverend Njohi claims that when going to church, people need to be free in body and spirit to receive Christ.
Describing the wearing of underwear to church by women as ungodly, Reverend Njohi warned his members of dire consequences if they secretly did so. More
San Francisco church accused of lurid sex cover-up
There are charges of lurid sex and cover-ups at the landmark St Francis of Assisi Church in San Francisco's North Beach. The accuser is a former worker who just filed a lawsuit against the Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco.
Jhona Mathews is a single mother in her 30s with a 2-year-old child. She worked in the administration office of the Church of St. Francis of Assisi.
Mathews says church trustee Bill McLaughlin, who has since been fired, became her supervisor. Her lawsuit charges that he forced her to have sex and spanked her with a wooden paddle.
"Many of these sex acts and demands and the spankings occurred inside the shrine premises, in the sacristy of the shrine," said the plaintiff's attorney, Sandra Ribera. More
Jehovah's Witness sex offender receives five-year sentence
BISBEE - A 78-year-old man was sentenced, on Friday, to five years in state prison for the repeated sexual molestation of a female relative during her sleep-overs at the perpetrator's Fry Townsite home during the 1980s.
Leroy Gilbert pleaded guilty to the charge on Oct. 29 before Cochise County Superior Court Presiding Judge Tom Collins. Gilbert blamed excessive drinking of alcoholic beverages during the period from 1985 to 1989 for his behavior, according to the Adult Probation Office's pre-sentence report.
Gilbert also contended that "his generation" was not taught how wrong his actions were. Gilbert admitted molesting the victim, who was under the age of 15 at the time, while he thought she was asleep.
The girl was not asleep and reported the matter to elders of the Jehovah's Witnesses Church. She said church officials did not believe her, but court records show that Gilbert was questioned by church officials in 1997 about the allegations. More
Muslim leaders issue a fatwa against anyone living on MARS
A Fatwa has been issued against living on Mars by clerics who say that trying to set up home there would be un-Islamic.
The fatwa – or ruling – was issued by the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowment (GAIAE) in the UAE after the Mars One organisation announced that it would try and establish a permanent human settlement on Mars.
The committee argued that an attempt to dwell on the planet would be so hazardous as to be suicidal and killing oneself is not permitted by Islam.
According to Khaleejtimes.com it said: ‘Such a one-way journey poses a real risk to life, and that can never be justified in Islam. There is a possibility that an individual who travels to planet Mars may not be able to remain alive there, and is more vulnerable to death.’ More
Congregation attends church while in the nude
SOUTHAMPTON, VA - About an hour's drive south of Richmond, there's a small congregation that doesn't care about "material" things. They worship the same way we were all brought into this world, naked.
Even in February, when temperatures can average in the 20s, members show up in various forms: some fully clothed, others topless, many still completely nude.
Pastor Allen Parker says it's not about the clothes, or lack thereof. He says it's about baring his soul to Christ and leading his flock down that path of righteousness, no matter what they're wearing.
Every Sunday in the front few rows of White Tail Chapel, you'll find Katie and Robert Church. Katie wasn't a nudist when they first met, but quickly fell in love with both Robert and the resort. They married at White Tail Chapel and say the church has given them a sense of Christian community with none of the pretense of a traditional church. More
2 arrested after "Ten Commandments" argument turns violent
Two residents of Cartersville may have not directly broken one of the Ten Commandments, but they did break the law when their fight over the sacred covenant turned violent.
According to police reports, Carolyn Unfricht and Daniel Camarda were inside a Cartersville hotel arguing about the Bible and specifically the Ten Commandments.
Unfricht told police things got heated when she hit him across the face with her Bible. Camarda retaliated by throwing her across the room.
Both are now facing battery charges and not surprisingly, the police report states they were "highly intoxicated" at the time of the arrest. More
Pope supports breast-feeding in public
Supporters of public breast-feeding, you've got a friend in high places: The Vatican.
In an interview with La Stampa, a daily Italian newspaper, Pope Francis seemed to endorse the idea of nursing in public. As he was asked about the problem of hunger, the pope recalled a woman he encountered with a crying, hungry baby:
“There are so many children that cry because they are hungry,” the pope said in the Sunday interview. “At the Wednesday General Audience the other day there was a young mother behind one of the barriers with a baby that was just a few months old. The child was crying its eyes out as I came past. The mother was caressing it.”
“I said to her: madam, I think the child’s hungry.”
“Yes, it’s probably time…” she replied.
“Please give it something to eat!” I said.
“She was shy and didn’t want to breast-feed in public, while the Pope was passing. I wish to say the same to humanity: give people something to eat! That woman had milk to give to her child; we have enough food in the world to feed everyone.”
The pope is clearly making a point about feeding the world's hungry: We have the resources to do it, he's saying, so we should.” More
Jehovah's Witness church elder Ronald Lawrence arrested over sex abuse claims
MCALESTER, Okla. - A 76-year-old McAlester man was arrested Tuesday on 19 counts of sexual abuse after police received claims he molested several children while in a position of authority more than 30 years ago.
McAlester police detectives were alerted to the alleged sexual crimes conducted by Ronald Lawrence back in August when his first accuser reported abuse at the hands of a Jehovah's Witness church leader.
A woman now in her 40s told detectives Lawrence, an elder at McAlester's Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses, abused her when she was just eight years old, inviting her to his home, where he fondled her and raped her in his bathtub, according to her testimony found in Lawrence's arrest warrant, which was issued Tuesday. More
Pastor defrocked after performing gay wedding
The United Methodist church defrocked a pastor from central Pennsylvania on Thursday for violating doctrine by officiating his son's gay marriage, leaving the minister shocked and upset that he could be punished for an "act of love."
Frank Schaefer immediately appealed the penalty, which he believed was meted out reluctantly by many members of the regional Board of Ordained Ministry.
"So many of them came to me and they shook my hand and some hugged me, and so many of them had tears in their eyes," Schaefer said. "They said, 'We really don't want to do this, you know that, don't you?'"
Board members declined to comment after the private meeting at church offices in Norristown, outside Philadelphia. But John Coleman, a spokesman for the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of the denomination, said Schaefer left officials no choice after defying the order of a religious jury to resign.
"When asked to surrender his credentials as required by the verdict, he refused to do so," Coleman said. "Therefore, because of his decision, the board was compelled by the jury's decision to deem his credentials surrendered." More
Jail for Jehovah’s Witness elder who molested girls
A Jehovah's Witness elder who was exposed as a paedophile on Facebook has been jailed.
Jonathan Rose was branded a hypocrite as he was locked up for molesting two little girls he met through the church.
Manchester Crown Court heard that Rose, of New Moston , won the trust of his victims’ families before targeting their daughters. His youngest victim was just five-years-old when she was groped by him in her own home. The other was ten when Rose, then 27, kissed her sexually.
Rose was first accused of indecently assaulting a teenage girl he met through the Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1995. He was acquitted of that offence in a trial and went on to become an elder in his congregation.
However, after his first accuser branded him a ‘paedo’ on Facebook , his crimes against the two other girls came to light. Rose was found guilty of two charges of indecent assault and has now been jailed for nine months and banned from visiting homes where there are children present. More
Iranian Christian flogged after drinking Communion wine
An Iranian Christian was flogged on Wednesday, according to rights groups, after a court in Rasht, Iran sentenced him and three other Christians to 80 lashes for drinking wine as part of a Holy Communion service.
According to the Middle East Correspondent for Morning Star News, Behzad Taalipasand, a convert from Islam, received the 80 lashes after being arrested on December 31, 2012 and sentenced this month for drinking alcohol, quoting two sources -- Middle East Concern (MEC) and Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW).
"Drinking alcohol is not illegal for Christians, but as Shiah Islam is the state religion, it is prohibited for Muslims; the conviction and sentencing thus reflects the state view that a Muslim cannot change his/her religion," said the story. More
Catholic League outraged that imam costumes don’t come with erections
The Catholic League is upset over a Halloween costume featuring a sexually aroused priest and issued a statement asking why the store Spirit Halloween doesn’t sell similar costumes for imams and rabbis.
Spirit Halloween sells the costume, known as “Happy Priest,” alongside a “Thank You Father” costume that shows a pregnant nun.
The League’s Bill Donohue called both the costumes “offensive.”
“Anyone who wants to buy a costume with a rabbi or imam sporting an erection is out of luck — there are none available,” Donohue said in a statement.
“There are also no vulgar Jewish or Muslim women costumes available. Just ones for nuns.” More
Sun Valley usher gets 30 years for child sex abuse
SUN VALLEY, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A former Sun Valley usher was sentenced to 30 years in state prison Tuesday for sexually abusing three boys.
Marcelo Lozano, 34, was also ordered to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, according to the District Attorney's Office.
The 34-year-old met his alleged victims through the Jehovahs Witnesses Sun Valley Spanish congregation, where he was an usher.
Police said the suspect used his position as an usher to meet and befriend his victims.
The alleged assaults took place between Jan. 1, 2006 and June 30 of this year at Lozano's home in North Hollywood, along with other locations. More
Brooklyn rabbi tortured Jewish husbands with cattle prod to force divorce
Two rabbis plotted to kidnap Jewish husbands, torture them with electric cattle prods and force them to grant their desperate wives religious divorces, the feds charged Thursday.
Rabbi Mendel Epstein, 68, of Brooklyn and Rabbi Martin Wolmark, 55, of Monsey, Rockland County, were among 10 people arrested in the barbarous scheme with tentacles that ran all the way to the rabbinical court.
Epstein is accused of running an unholy crew that charged women trapped in marital limbo $70,000 to $100,000 to strong-arm their stubborn husbands into granting a Jewish divorce known as a “get,” a criminal complaint reveals. More
Priest accused of offering Cleveland Metroparks ranger $50 for sex
CLEVELAND - A man was arrested for soliciting sex at Edgewater Park Friday. James McGonegal offered a Cleveland Metropark ranger $50 for sex, said park spokeswoman Sanaa Julien.
The ranger was not on detail and was in plain clothes at the time.
McGonegal was charged with a third-degree felony because he also admitted he knows he has HIV, Julien said.
McGonegal is a pastor at St. Ignatius of Antioch Church in Cleveland. More
Woman accuses member of West Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses in Lorain of sexual abuse
LORAIN, Ohio - A former member of the West Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses in Lorain filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the congregation, alleging she was sexually abused by one of the church leaders.
"I want to expose how they treat children and how they do not protect them," Elizabeth McFarland, 26, said at a news conference in Cleveland.
McFarland claims Scott Silvasy, who served as a "Ministerial Servant," gained her trust then sexually abused her for five years, beginning when she was 9 years old. She said Silvasy committed suicide on her 16th birthday.
Her attorney, Irwin Zalkin of San Diego, said the elders of the church did nothing when they learned of the abuse. More
Clergy More Likely to Suffer from Depression, Anxiety
The demands placed on clergy by themselves and others put pastors at far greater risk for depression than individuals with other occupations, a new study by the Clergy Health Initiative at Duke Divinity School has found.
The study, published this week in the Journal of Primary Prevention, compared the mental health of 95 percent of the United Methodist clergy in North Carolina (1,726 pastors) to a representative sample of Americans and identified key factors that predict depression and anxiety. Clergy participants were predominantly male (75 percent) and white (91 percent); the mean age was 52 years old.
The study, conducted in 2008, found the depression rate among clergy to be 8.7 percent when responses were limited to telephone interviews that closely approximated the conditions of a national survey (the 2005-06 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey). However, among clergy taking the survey via web or paper, the rate of depression was even higher: 11.1 percent—double the then national rate of 5.5 percent. More
Ancient Samson Mosaic Uncovered In Israeli Synagogue; Beautiful Art Fascinates Scholars
Beautifully preserved mosaics unearthed in a fifth-century Israeli synagogue have intrigued religious scholars with their depictions of both Biblical and possibly non-Biblical figures.
The stunning artwork was discovered as part of an ongoing excavation at a synagogue in Huqoq, an ancient Jewish village in Israel’s lower Galilee. A team has been working at the site since 2011, led in part by Jodi Magness, a distinguished professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Magness told The Huffington Post she originally began the excavation in order to examine a specific type of late Roman architecture known as a Galilee-type synagogue. But in 2012, the researchers found their first mosaic: a somewhat fragmentary depiction of the Biblical hero Samson. More
Team 10 obtains video of admitted child molester in Jehovah's Witnesses
SAN DIEGO - Team 10 has obtained a video that some people say helps to prove Jehovah's Witnesses covered up child abuse for years.
In a video deposition taken in 2011 during a civil lawsuit, admitted serial pedophile Gonzalo Campos said he abused several children in his San Diego congregation from the early 1980's through the mid 90's.
"I did abuse him," said Campos in the video. "I touched his private parts."
His on-camera admissions and a confidential settlement worth millions, may have to be enough for his victims. The Jehovah's Witnesses never told police about Campos, who was a church elder. He's never been charged with a crime and he may never see the inside of a prison cell. He has fled the country and now is in Mexico. He also still is a member of Jehovah's Witnesses.
An attorney questions Campos on the video, "Were you allowed to continue to give bible study to children after you attempted to touch (the victim) inappropriately?"
"Yes," Campos said.
Irwin Zalkin represents the seven victims who have come forward. More
‘Encyclopedia of Hinduism’ to be unveiled next week
COLUMBIA, S.C. — A comprehensive encyclopedia of one of the world’s major religions is set to be unveiled next week in South Carolina. The 11-volume work covers Hindu spiritual beliefs, practices and philosophy, and is the culmination of a 25-year academic effort.
The encyclopedia is written in English and includes about 7,000 articles on Hinduism and its practices. The work also deals with Indian history, languages, art, music, dance, architecture, medicine, and women’s issues. The entire encyclopedia contains more than 1,000 illustrations and photographs.
Brightly colored images of Hinduism’s deities fill entire pages, with foot-noted explanations of the forms and powers God can take in the religion.
“The goal was to have something pretty definitive — not just about Hinduism, but about the whole South Asian tradition,” said University of South Carolina professor Hal French, who met with a small group of scholars in 1987 to offer academic support for the project. More
Muslim Honor Killing In Canada
Every night, little Yasin Wafa scurries over to his grandparents’ front door, hoping his mom will be picking him up as she used to.
For the past week, she hasn’t come.
Nasira Fazli, 31, was brutally stabbed dead last Friday in her Ajax home.
Her husband, Feraidon Mohammad Imbrahem, 31, is charged with second-degree murder.
He was arrested without incident Friday at their home and was remanded into custody Saturday. He will return to court Aug. 6.
Yasin, 17 months old, had just started calling Nasira Fazli “ma-ma” days before she was murdered, his grandmother says, adding he now cries for “ma-ma” when being put to bed. More
Church Usher Charged With Sexual Abuse of Boy Parishioners
An usher at a Jehovah's Witnesses congregation in Sun Valley was charged Wednesday with sexually abusing four boys he met at the church.
Marcelo Lozano, 34, is expected to be arraigned Wednesday afternoon at Van Nuys Superior Court with nine felony counts, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Lozano, who was an usher for the church’s Spanish congregation, allegedly abused boys who ranged from 8 to 15 years old between 2006 and 2013.
He is charged with two counts each of aggravated sexual assault of a child, continuous sexual abuse and oral copulation of a person under 14. And he faces one count each of forcible lewd act upon a child, lewd act upon a child and sodomy of a person under 14 with 10 years difference. More
Jehovah’s Witnesses hushed up child sex scandal
Jehovah Witness ministerial servant Gordon Leighton admitted sexually abusing a child when he was confronted by his church elders, a court heard.
But during the official police investigation, the 53-year-old – who made headlines in the 1990s when wife Yvonne, 28, died after refusing a blood transfusion after childbirth on religious grounds – denied any illegal wrongdoing.
And when detectives asked elders Simon Preyser, Harry Logan and David Scott to make statements about the confession, all three refused and said what they had heard was confidential.
For three years, the elders refused to co-operate with the criminal investigation and kept up that stance when the case was brought before Newcastle Crown Court after the victim made a complaint to police. Each was issued with a witness summons which they fought to overturn before being ordered to testify by Judge Penny Moreland citing public interest. More
Mormon Church: Fewer Knocks at the Door, More Friend Requests
SALT LAKE CITY — The common image of Mormon missionaries has long been two young men wearing white shirts and ties walking through neighborhoods, knocking door-to-door.
But in a few years, that image may be replaced by one of young Mormons sitting with an iPad, typing messages on Facebook.
Recognizing the world has changed, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints leaders announced Sunday night that missionaries will do less door-to-door proselytizing, and instead, use the Internet to recruit new church members.
The strategy shift reflects the growing importance of social media and people’s preference to connect over sites such as Facebook rather than opening their homes to strangers, church leaders said.
“The way in which we fulfill our responsibilities to share the gospel must adapt to a changing world,” said Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during a presentation to mission presidents in Provo, Utah, that was broadcast worldwide. More
14 Year Old Boy Executed By Islamist Rebels in Syria
A teenager selling coffee in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo was arrested by Islamist rebel fighters for insulting the Prophet Mohammed, beaten and then executed in front of his family, a watchdog group claims.
The boy, Mohammed Qatta, 14, reportedly refused to give a customer coffee, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported Sunday.
"Even if [Prophet] Mohammed comes back to life, I won't," the boy said, who was known by his nickname "Salmo."
Extremist rebels driving past in a black car overheard the comment, the opposition Aleppo Media Center said. Qatta was taken away by the fighters and later brought back, his head wrapped with his shirt and his body covered with marks from whipping. More
Up-skirt voyeur a Jehovah's Witness
A Jehova's Witness filmed up the skirts of hundreds of women and schoolgirls in central Wellington, and when visiting private homes to spread the faith.
Police believe at least 1000 women and girls could have been filmed by the man, 36, who would leave work at lunchtime to spy up their skirts on a handmade device attached to his briefcase.
The former Department of Internal Affairs employee, who has name suppression, has now been kicked out of his church. A member of his congregation at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses in Kilbirnie confirmed he was not welcome back.
"He has been removed," the church member said. "Everybody has been very saddened by what has taken place. Any act of that nature is a concern." More
Religious Fundamentalism 'May Be Categorised As Mental Illness & Cured By Science'
Religious fundamentalism and cruelty to children may one day be treated in the same way as mental illness, a neuroscientist has speculated.
Kathleen Taylor, a research scientist at Oxford University’s Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics, says strong negative beliefs could be eradicated using techniques already in the works.
Dr Taylor was speaking at the Hay Literary Festival in Wales when she was asked what she forsaw as positive developments in neuroscience in the coming years, The Times reports.
She replied: “One man’s positive can be another man’s negative. One of the surprises may be to see people with certain beliefs as people who can be treated.
“Someone who has for example become radicalised to a cult ideology – we might stop seeing that as a personal choice that they have chosen as a result of pure free will and may start treating it as some kind of mental disturbance. More
Are Sharia councils failing vulnerable women?
In a small terraced house in east London, a woman and her husband argue before an Islamic scholar who sits on a dais above them in a room that looks and feels like a court.
This is Leyton Islamic Sharia Council, and Dr Suhaib Hasan will decide if the woman can have a divorce. Her husband is refusing to grant her one and the couple have been coming here for a year.
She accuses him of refusing to work, ignoring the children and verbally abusing her. He vehemently denies it. When Dr Hasan orders the husband to leave the room, the woman breaks down in tears.
"I hate him, I can't even bear to look at him, he has ruined my life," she sobs. Dr Hasan sends the couple away for another month to try to save their marriage, with the help of Allah. More
In China, Christian Fundamentalists Target Tibetans
When Dawa said yes to a party held by American friends in the city of Xining, she expected music, drinks, and a chance to practice her English. But it soon transpired that there would be more to the evening’s activities.
“When we arrived one person said loudly: ‘Lord!’ and started to cry,” Dawa, an earnest Tibetan in her late 20s, recalls in a café in Xining, the capital of China’s Qinghai province.
“Some people came and touched me and cried. We were so afraid. We thought, Why are they crying?”
For Dawa and her friend Tenzin (names have been changed to protect their identities), both Tibetans from nomadic families trying to make it in the big city, the situation was not only potentially dangerous if they had been caught by police but humiliating. “We were upset,” explains Tenzin. “They had told us we could learn English. More
Child in Jehovah's Witness court bid
A TRARALGON child has clubbed his pocket money together with three others, paying $69.70 to launch a private criminal prosecution against the Jehovah's Witnesses.
The child, 11, who is due to give evidence on Monday at the state inquiry into how the churches handled child sex abuse, wanted to force the church to comply with working with children laws. After four hearings, to which church leaders did not send a representative, the church began complying and the Office of Public Prosecutions intervened to discontinue the case.
The inquiry will also hear from anti-Jehovah's Witness campaigner Steven Unthank, a former member of the church who says he and his family were ostracised and persecuted after he tried to tackle child abuse.
His submission alleges the church and its incorporated body, the Watchtower Society, covered up criminal child abuse, including rape, sexual assault, death threats, blackmail and assault, across four states by ordained ministers and officers of the church.
The Victorian and Civil Administrative Tribunal will hear a religious vilification complaint against the church by Mr Unthank in May, after the church said people who left the church, as he had, were ''mentally diseased''. More
Muslim abuser who 'didn't know' that sex with a girl of 13 was illegal is spared jail
A muslim who raped a 13-year-old girl he groomed on Facebook has been spared a prison sentence after a judge heard he went to an Islamic faith school where he was taught that women are worthless.
Adil Rashid, 18, claimed he was not aware that it was illegal for him to have sex with the girl because his education left him ignorant of British law.
Yesterday Judge Michael Stokes handed Rashid a suspended sentence, saying: ‘Although chronologically 18, it is quite clear from the reports that you are very naive and immature when it comes to sexual matters.’
Earlier Nottingham Crown Court heard that such crimes usually result in a four to seven-year prison sentence. More
Elderly woman in public housing told not to pray, has no First Amendment rights
Ruth Sweats, an elderly widow who lives in a public housing complex near Minneapolis, Minnesota, was allegedly informed that she had no First Amendment rights, and could not pray nor read her Bible in the common area of the complex she lives in because it receives federal funding, Todd Starnes reported Friday at Fox News.
According to Starnes, the woman was also told she could not have "private discussions of a religious nature" in the common area of the Osborne Apartment complex in Spring Lake Park, Minnesota.
The website for the complex states that it is a "tax-exempt, non-profit organization" that is "managed by Ebenezer, which has provided quality services for older adults since 1917."
Starnes wrote that Sweats "was having a casual conversation with another resident about the Bible when a social worker interrupted the conversation and told her that she could not talk about religion or the Bible in the commons area." More
Jehovah's Witnesses 'a cruel cult'
Christian sect the Jehovah's Witnesses - with 64,000 active 'disciples' in Australia - are a cruel religion with no soul, according to Melbourne cultbuster Raphael Aron.
His warning comes as the federal government considers tightening the definition of a charity to prevent some cults and quasi-religions keeping their tax free status. Independent senator Nick Xenophon has renewed calls for a national cult-busting agency.
Mr Aron, a psychologist, counsellor and director of Melbourne's Cult Counselling Australia, said the Jehovah's Witnesses had a policy of "shunning" members who left or wanted to leave by cutting them off from family members who remained. More
San Francisco leaders denounce bus ads about Islam
SAN FRANCISCO — Civic officials joined Arab and Muslim leaders to denounce what they call offensive anti-Islamic ads that will appear on 10 buses for the next month in San Francisco.
The ads were paid for by the American Freedom Defense Initiative and feature Osama bin Laden, the Times Square car bomber and the alleged gunman in the Fort Hood, Texas, shootings accompanied by quotes about warfare and weapons that the group links to Islam.
At least one of the ads contains a quote attributed to the militant Islamic group Hamas that reads: "Killing Jews is worship that brings us closer to Allah."
Officials said the ads were racist. More
Former Jehovah's elder on sex assault charge
A FORMER Jehovah's Witness elder who apologised to his alleged victim on Facebook has been charged with two counts of indecent assault.
Richard Hill will appear in the Heidelberg Magistrate's Court on March 1 over allegations that he sexually assaulted a six-year-old girl in 1981.
The victim, now 38, told Fairfax Media that Mr Hill did everything except penetrate her - ''he tried, but couldn't manage''.
She said she ''did not realise the gravity'' of what had happened until she was about 14.
At that point she told her mother, who could not act because of a Jehovah's Witness rule that allegations of sexual abuse would only be acted on if two elders witnessed it, she said.
Much later, the victim confronted Mr Hill on Facebook. ''He turned around and apologised,'' she said. ''He became an elder within the church and rose quite high up. Since he was charged, he has stepped down.'' More
Churchgoers robbed at gunpoint during service in East St. Louis
EAST ST. LOUIS • Police are hoping surveillance cameras might help them catch three masked men who robbed churchgoers at gunpoint Sunday evening in East St. Louis.
The three robbers ordered the congregants onto the floor and took cash from them in the holdup about 5:30 p.m. Sunday at IRA Grove Free Will Baptist Church, 1701 Belmont Avenue.
On Monday morning, East St. Louis Police Chief Michael Floore said no arrests had been made and police don't have suspects. He said police are searching for possible surveillance footage from businesses in the area that could help identify the robbers or detail how they left the scene.
A visiting pastor was at the church on Sunday when the members were robbed, Floore said. The chief didn't know how many people were robbed or everything that was taken.
All three of the men had guns, and all wore bandanas over their faces. Floore said he didn't have a good description of them. More
Two Jehovah's Witnesses 'murdered 13 people on mission from God to cleanse world of sinners'
Two twisted Jehovah's Witnesses have been arrested as suspected serial killers, accused of murdering 13 people during a nine-month killing spree in Russia.
Claiming to be on a mission from God, Vladimir Gurianov, 44, and Elvira Egorycheva 46, hacked, shot and bludgeoned their victims in a case that left even hardened Russian detectives shocked.
The pair were finally spotted in a supermarket in a suburb of the city and arrested. By then they were on nationwide search lists and their photographs had been widely circulated in the region.
When they were searched Egorycheva had a revolver, two axes, an electric-shock device and a rope in her belongings. Another gun and a knife were found in Gurianov's jacket.
Gurianov - who locals said had 'mad eyes' - and Egorycheva first met at a Jehovah's Witnesses sect meeting 16 years ago. More
Card payments blocked, cash only in Vatican City
Italy’s central bank has blocked all bank card payments in the Vatican because of a failure to comply with EU safeguards against money laundering, forcing people to pay for services in cash until further notice, Italian media said on Thursday.
It’s “cash only” now for tourists at the Vatican wanting to pay for museum tickets, souvenirs and other services after Italy’s central bank decided to block electronic payments, including credit cards, at the tiny city-state.
Deutsche Bank Italia, which for some 15 years had provided the Vatican with electronic payment services, said Thursday that the Bank of Italy had pulled its authorization after Dec. 31.
The Corriere della Sera newspaper reported that the Italian central bank took the action because the Holy See has not yet fully complied with European Union safeguards against money laundering. That means Italian banks are not authorized to operate within the Vatican, which is in the process of improving its mechanisms to combat laundering. More
Ohio Pastor Puts Stripper Pole Next to Pulpit to Talk Sex
With a bed and a stripper pole placed next to his pulpit, a pastor in Ohio is all set to begin a series of sermons on sex and relationships beginning Sunday.
Ready to start a new sermon series called "Battle of the Sexes," Pastor Mike Scruggs at the Light of Word Ministries in White Oak, Ohio, has put a stripper pole, video games and sports equipment on one side of the pulpit, representing what men desire.
On the other side, he has set up a bed with candies, teddy bears, roses and a bottle of wine to depict what women want.
On all Sundays in April, Scruggs will share about best practices in bedroom, keeping intimacy alive and the need to build and maintain trust. "Right now we're having single people having too much sex and married people not having enough sex," he explained. More
Jehovah’s Witness Elder in court for rape
Lawyer to a Jehovah’s Witness Elder who is accused of raping a fellow congregant has wondered why father of the accused reported the matter to police when his church was capable of sorting out such matters.
Before Lusaka magistrate, Willie Banda, was Dennis Bwale, an elder at the Jehovah’s Witness of Kanyama Congregation.
Bwale, 28, of Kanyama Site and Service, appeared in a case where he is accused of raping Melani Mufweba, a congregant of the same church, contrary to Section 132 of the Penal Code amendment Act number 2 of 2011.
Particulars of the offence are that Bwale, on July 12 this year, did have carnal knowledge of Melani Mufweba without her consent.
When the matter came up for continued trial today, father of the complainant, Kennedy Mufweba, told the court that he came to learn of what had happened to his daughter a month after the incident.
Mr Mufwebu said sometime in September, this year Melani and her mother went to the Kingdom Hall but upon return Melani rushed in the house and left her Bible and other books that she had with her.
He told the court that it was at this point that the elders told him that his child had reported to the church that he was raped by Dennis Bwale, one of the church elders. More
When Same-Sex Marriage Was a Christian Rite
A Kiev art museum contains a curious icon from St. Catherine's Monastery on Mt. Sinai in Israel. It shows two robed Christian saints. Between them is a traditional Roman ‘pronubus’ (a best man), overseeing a wedding. The pronubus is Christ. The married couple are both men.
Is the icon suggesting that a gay "wedding" is being sanctified by Christ himself? The idea seems shocking. But the full answer comes from other early Christian sources about the two men featured in the icon, St. Sergius and St. Bacchus, two Roman soldiers who were Christian martyrs. These two officers in the Roman army incurred the anger of Emperor Maximian when they were exposed as ‘secret Christians’ by refusing to enter a pagan temple. Both were sent to Syria circa 303 CE where Bacchus is thought to have died while being flogged. Sergius survived torture but was later beheaded. Legend says that Bacchus appeared to the dying Sergius as an angel, telling him to be brave because they would soon be reunited in heaven. More
Russia’s Anti-Mormon Campaign
Yekaterina Steniakina is one of Russia’s young politicians, the leader of the influential pro-Kremlin movement called the Youth Guards. She has dyed blonde hair and a forceful voice, and she’s determined to change many things about the present state of her country—starting with the Mormons.
Steniakina is leading the charge to change Russia’s legislation and ban Mormon missionaries from the nation. Though the number of Mormons living inside the country is small—around 400 foreign missionaries and 21,000 registered members at last count—they are a relatively visible presence in Russia’s larger cities. The missionaries hand out the Book of Mormon to those who might be interested, give free English lessons, and spend three hours a day cleaning public places or helping people around their homes.
Steniakina, who says the Latter-day Saints are a “totalitarian cult” sent by the FBI and the CIA “to fool and covert” unwitting Russians, is making her anti-Mormon campaign her top priority for the next political season. Specifically, she’s agitating to add language that would ban “the West [from converting] our citizens into non-traditional religions”—i.e. anything other than Orthodox Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism. More
B.C. man who botched son's home-circumcision guilty of criminal negligence
OTTAWA — The Supreme Court has ruled that a British Columbia man who tried to circumcise his 4-year-old son on the kitchen floor of his house is guilty of criminal negligence causing bodily harm, aggravated assault and assault with a weapon. The top court was asked to hear whether his attempt was allowed under freedom of religion provisions.
The botched surgery happened in April 2007. He used a carpet blade that he purchased at Home Depot earlier that day and sterilized. He didn't give his son any anesthetic, just four ounces of homemade honey wine. According to the Crown, the father lacked the medical skills to perform a circumcision. He tried to circumcise himself in 2005 using a Zhenxi ring, or circumcision ring. It wasn't successful and the father had to be rushed to a hospital.
The circumcision he performed on his son two years later wasn't successful either and there was significant bleeding, which the father stopped with the help of a veterinary blood-stopping agent and paper towels. "The result," according to court documents submitted by the Crown, was "the foreskin on D.J.'s penis stuck out like two arms. D.J. was not circumcised. He was disfigured." More
Singapore Pastor Allegedly Used Church Funds to Finance Wife’s Pop Music Career
Kong Hee, the founding pastor of Singapore’s largest church, was arrested this week on charges that he misused up to $18 million in church funds to finance his wife’s career as a pop singer.
An investigation by Singapore’s Commission on Charities alleged that Kong had misappropriated millions of dollars from the City Harvest Church’s charity fund, the Wall Street Journal reported. Four other church executives were arrested in connection with the crime. Kong’s wife, Ho Yeow Sun (whose pop name is Sun Ho) was not arrested, but has been removed from her executive position on the church’s board.
Wondering what $18 million will buy an aspiring pop star these days? Evidently, an album produced by Wyclef Jean, a no. 1 hit on the Billboard dance charts and a $20,000 a month Hollywood Hills mansion, according to the Straits Times. (By comparison, Grammy Award winner Alicia Keyes earned $10 million in 2011). More
Church abuse cases and lawyers an uneasy mix
VIENNA, Va. — When officials at Vienna Presbyterian Church decided to acknowledge the church's failures in handling reports of sexual abuse by a youth ministries director, they thought it might upset some in the congregation.
What surprised them was the admonishment from the church's insurance company. And it wasn't the church's lapses in responding to the abuse a half-decade ago that bothered the insurer — it was the church's plan to admit those lapses and apologize to the victims.
The insurance company's position was clear: On March 23, a lawyer hired by the company, GuideOne Insurance, sent a warning to church officials:
"Do not make any statements, orally, in writing or in any manner, to acknowledge, admit to or apologize for anything that may be evidence of or interpreted as (a suggestion that) the actions of Vienna Presbyterian Church … caused or contributed to any damages arising from the intentional acts/abuse/misconduct" by the youth director. More
Iran Cleric Pummeled by ‘Badly Covered’ Woman After Warning
An Iranian cleric said he was beaten by a woman in the northern province of Semnan after giving her a warning for being “badly covered,” the state-run Mehr news agency reported.
Hojatoleslam Ali Beheshti said he encountered the woman in the street while on his way to the mosque in the town of Shahmirzad, and asked her to cover herself up, to which she replied “you, cover your eyes,” according to Mehr. The cleric repeated his warning, which he said prompted her to insult and push him.
“I fell on my back on the floor,” Beheshti said in the report. “I don’t know what happened after that, all I could feel was the kicks of this woman who was insulting me and attacking me.”
Since the 1979 revolution that brought Shiite Muslim religious leaders to power, women in Iran have been required to cover their hair and body curves in public with head-scarves and loose-fitting coats, to protect religious values and “preserve society’s morals and security.” More
Jehovah's Witnesses Charged with Extremism
Ten Jehovah's Witnesses in Chuvashia were charged Monday with criminal acts including the incitement of hatred and extremism in a case that is raising new worries about religious freedom in Russia.
"This situation is a serious breach of the rights of believers in Russia," said Sergei Tarasov, a Chuvash human rights activist following the case.
"This is something new — we have not seen anything like this before," he said by phone. "It creates instability amid an effort to establish an atmosphere of calm and tolerance in our country."
The 10 suspects, ages 31 to 64, are accused of distributing banned literature among residents of the towns of Cheboksary, Novocheboksarsk, Kanash and Alatyr. The literature, which is included on a federal list of extremist materials, spreads ideas of exclusivity and superiority and brands those with alternative religious beliefs as inferior, the Investigative Committee said in a statement.
According to investigators, the suspects organized a network in the Chuvash towns in November 2009 that spread a religious message denying traditional cultural and moral values and facilitating the incitement of religious and social hostility among residents. More
Orthodox rabbis say they’ll defy law on ancient circumcision ritual
Two children are dead, more are injured — yet a group of ultra-Orthodox rabbis say they plan to defy a health order in the name of religious freedom.
Less than a year after a Brooklyn tot died following an ancient circumcision ritual, the rabbis say they will ignore a proposed law that would mandate parental-consent forms before performing the dangerous procedure.
Over the past decade, at least one other newborn died after contracting herpes from the rite, in which the rabbi draws blood from the penis with his mouth. But ultra-Orthodox leaders are lashing out at the city’s “evil plans” ahead of the Board of Health’s vote next week.
About 200 rabbis signed a proclamation claiming the Health Department “printed and spread lies . . . in order to justify their evil decree.”
“It is clear to us, that there is not even an iota of blame or danger in this ancient and holy custom,” the letter states. Most modern mohels — men trained to perform religious circumcisions, who are usually rabbis or doctors — remove blood from the baby’s wound using a sterile pipette. But some Orthodox Jewish parents insist on an ancient “suction by mouth” ritual called metzitzah b’peh. More
How the Mormons Make Money
Late last March the Mormon Church completed an ambitious project: a megamall. Built for roughly $2 billion, the City Creek Center stands directly across the street from the church’s iconic neo-Gothic temple in Salt Lake City. The mall includes a retractable glass roof, 5,000 underground parking spots, and nearly 100 stores and restaurants, ranging from Tiffany’s (TIF) to Forever 21. Walkways link the open-air emporium with the church’s perfectly manicured headquarters on Temple Square. Macy’s (M) is a stone’s throw from the offices of the church’s president, Thomas S. Monson, whom Mormons believe to be a living prophet.
On the morning of its grand opening, thousands of shoppers thronged downtown Salt Lake, eager to elbow their way into the stores. The national anthem played, and Henry B. Eyring, one of Monson’s top counselors, told the crowds, “Everything that we see around us is evidence of the long-standing commitment of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to Salt Lake City.” When it came time to cut the mall’s flouncy pink ribbon, Monson, flanked by Utah dignitaries, cheered, “One, two, three—let’s go shopping!” More
Church won't 'shun family' despite blood transfusion
Jehovah's Witnesses say a 2-year-old girl will still be "a very beloved member of the family" even if doctors give her a life-saving blood transfusion which her parents believe is banned by the Bible.
A High Court judge has placed the girl under the guardianship of the court for six months so doctors at Auckland's Starship hospital can override her parents' objections to giving her blood transfusions to support liver and kidney transplants.
All details identifying the girl, referred to as "M", are suppressed.
The Auckland District Health Board, which sought the court order, said the parents had also asked it not to release any details of the girl's condition. The court judgment, issued on June 27, said that "without a liver and kidney transplant M will most likely die from infection within weeks to a couple of months".
Her kidneys and spleen have been removed because of a rare congenital disease. She is being kept alive by renal dialysis, and doctors told the court there was only "a small window of opportunity" for a transplant before her condition deteriorated too far. More
A Faded Piece of Papyrus Refers to Jesus’ Wife
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — A historian of early Christianity at Harvard Divinity School has identified a scrap of papyrus that she says was written in Coptic in the fourth century and contains a phrase never seen in any piece of Scripture: “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife ...’ ”
The faded papyrus fragment is smaller than a business card, with eight lines on one side, in black ink legible under a magnifying glass. Just below the line about Jesus having a wife, the papyrus includes a second provocative clause that purportedly says, “she will be able to be my disciple.”
The finding was made public in Rome on Tuesday at the International Congress of Coptic Studies by Karen L. King, a historian who has published several books about new Gospel discoveries and is the first woman to hold the nation’s oldest endowed chair, the Hollis professor of divinity.
The provenance of the papyrus fragment is a mystery, and its owner has asked to remain anonymous. Until Tuesday, Dr. King had shown the fragment to only a small circle of experts in papyrology and Coptic linguistics, who concluded that it is most likely not a forgery. But she and her collaborators say they are eager for more scholars to weigh in and perhaps upend their conclusions. More
Members of fringe Amish group request word ‘cult’ be banned from hate-crime trial
CLEVELAND — Members of a fringe Amish group charged with committing hate crimes against fellow Amish have requested that certain words, including “cult,” ‘’splinter” and “rogue,” be banned from their upcoming trial in U.S. District Court, according to court documents.
They also requested that any Amish called to testify “affirm the truthfulness” of their testimony rather than swear an oath because swearing an oath “would offend the witness’ religious outlook.”
Samuel Mullet, 66, of Jefferson County, Ohio, and 15 of his male and female followers are charged with hate crimes and cover-ups. Prosecutors accuse them of forcibly cutting the beards and hair of fellow Amish members. The attacks were designed to settle scores with people with whom Mullet and his followers had disputes, prosecutors said. More
Megachurch pastor fired over 'a sin' with teenage girl
An Indiana sheriff's office is investigating alleged misconduct by the pastor of an evangelical megachurch who was fired after admitting to an "improper relationship" with a teenage girl, the Hammond Post-Tribune reports.
Jack Schaap, 54, was pastor at 15,000-congregation First Baptist Church of Hammond, Ind., for 11 years and broadcast his sermons worldwide.
The church said in a news release that Schaap committed "a sin that has caused him to forfeit his right to be our pastor," the Associated Press reports.
The Lake County Sheriff's Department says it is investigating the alleged misconduct but does not expect to file charges, the Post-Tribune reports.
A church spokesman says the teenager is 17 years old and was at least 16 years old -- the age of consent in Indiana -- at the time of the incident. More
Industrial park becomes religious battleground
A religious group wanted a gathering place. Township officials wanted something that would bring in jobs and tax revenue.
Now, an industrial park in far western Hamilton County is the site of a battle pitting religious freedom against economic development.
The Southwest Ohio Assembly Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses wants to build an 87,304-square-foot regional assembly hall with caretaker quarters, a maintenance building and a 1,729-space parking lot that could draw up to 5,000 people most weekends of the year.
Because the area is specifically designated for economic development, the group needs approval from Hamilton County’s Rural Zoning Commission to build it.
But that five-member board sided with local business owners who fear traffic problems and elected officials who want to see something that brings in jobs and revenue: More
Religious groups reject ruling on circumcision
JEWISH and Muslim groups in Germany have condemned a court ruling that deemed circumcision to be equivalent to grievous bodily harm.
The court, in Cologne, declared this week that the procedure violated a child's ''fundamental right to bodily integrity''. Religious groups said the ruling trampled on freedom of belief and could lead to ''circumcision tourism''.
The ruling said: ''The body of the child is irreparably and permanently changed by a circumcision. This change contravenes the interests of the child to decide later on his religious beliefs.'' The case concerned a four-year-old Muslim boy who was circumcised at the request of his parents but was later taken to hospital with bleeding.
The doctor was charged and tried for grievous bodily harm but was acquitted on the grounds that he had parental consent. Prosecutors appealed but the doctor was again acquitted, this time owing to the imprecise nature of the law.
The ruling is not binding but legal experts said it appeared to clarify a grey area in the law and would offer a guide to doctors. More
Six-week-old girl died after religious fanatic mother stuffed Bible pages in her mouth and then sat on her
A six-week-old girl being monitored by social workers died after her mentally-ill mother sat on her, a court heard.
Julia Lovemore, 41, had torn out pages of the Bible and stuffed them into baby Faith's mouth before smothering her.
She was yesterday detained indefinitely under the mental health act after admitting the manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility , which happened in June 2009.
Cambridge Crown Court heard she was a religious fanatic who had been in a 'florid state of psychoses' at the time of the killing.
Judge Mr Justice Cooke was told two health workers were at Lovemore's home on the day Faith was smothered.
A health visitor and a psychiatric nurse had been concerned about the behaviour of Lovemore's husband David, 39 - also a mentally-ill religious fanatic, the court heard.
When they arrived at the house in June last year they found Mr Lovemore praying loudly and shouting 'Take the devil out of Julia.' More
Judge reprimands lawyer for failing to disclose connection to church
An Ontario lawyer and lay minister with the Jehovah’s Witness church has received a tongue-lashing from a judge for failing to tell a former client who left part of his estate to the church about his own role with them.
Orangeville, Ont. lawyer Daniel Pole helped Arthur Sawdon form an investment company in the Cayman Islands during the 1990s. In 2006, he also updated Sawdon’s will and executed a transfer of his 75 per cent holding in the company to the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Canada, the Jehovah’s Witness church’s legal arm.
After Sawdon’s death a year later, a dispute arose over the status of seven bank accounts worth $1 million. The Watch Tower claimed the accounts were part of Sawdon’s estate, supported by Pole, who testified that the deceased intended to include them.
But in a decision released last week, Ontario Superior Court Justice Leonard Ricchetti concluded that Swadon held the accounts jointly with some of his children, and they were not part of the estate. In coming to the conclusion, Ricchetti said he rejected Pole’s evidence entirely.
“I find it surprising and questionable that Mr. Pole would not disclose a conflict or even a potential conflict that he was an ‘elder’ or ‘lay minister’ with the Jehovah’s Witness church and had acted for the Jehovah’s Witness church prior to the preparation of the 2004 will or the July 2006 will or the Transfer and Assignment. Mr. Pole’s reason for not doing so — because he wasn’t wearing his Jehovah’s Witness ‘hat’ at the time — is simply not a good answer. Arthur Sawdon and the other shareholders of Sawdon Holdings were entitled to know all of Mr. Pole’s ‘hats’ when Mr. Pole provided advice or prepared documents for Arthur Sawdon,” Ricchetti wrote adding: More
Catholic groups file suit over HHS birth control mandate
Dozens of Catholic universities, dioceses and other institutions filed lawsuits in courts around the country on Monday (May 21) in a coordinated effort, spearheaded by the U.S. hierarchy and Catholic conservatives, to overturn the Obama administration’s contraception mandate plan.
The 43 plaintiffs, which include 13 dioceses and the University of Notre Dame, say the mandate forces religious employers to provide contraceptive and sterilization services to employees that violate their beliefs. They say that infringes on First Amendment religious freedom protections, and charge that the federal government’s exemption for religious organizations is too narrow.
“This filing is about the freedom of a religious organization to live its mission, and its significance goes well beyond any debate about contraceptives,” said Notre Dame's president, the Rev. John Jenkins, who famously awarded President Obama an honorary degree in 2009. More
Saudi scholars forbid protest calls
Saudi Arabia's leading religious authorities have issued a statement forbidding public protests and petitions for reforms in the country.
The warning from Saudi's council of senior scholars on Sunday follows a similar announcement by secular authorities a day earlier.
The 10-member council's statement, carried by state news agency SPA, said that "the correct way in sharia [Islamic law] of realising common interest is by advising, which is what the Prophet Muhammad established".
"Reform and advice should not be via demonstrations and ways that provoke strife and division, this is what the religious scholars of this country in the past and now have forbidden and warned against," the statement said.
"The council warns of deviant ideological and party-political connections since this nation is one and will adhere to the ways of the pious ancestors.
"The kingdom has not and will not allow ideas from the West or the East that take away from this Islamic identity and divide the unity of the whole." A day earlier, the interior ministry said that protests violate Islamic law and the kingdom's traditions, and reminded potential demonstrators that security forces were authorised to crack down on public protests. More
Jehovah's Witness Parents deny daughter life-saving transplant
An Auckland girl suffering a rare kidney disease has been put into the guardianship of the High Court because her Jehovah's Witness parents will not consent to her receiving a life-saving kidney and liver transplant.
The 2-year-old girl, whose name and identifying details are suppressed, has had her kidneys removed and is being kept alive by dialysis. Because of her precarious health, she is at risk of infection and doctors believed she needed to have an urgent kidney and liver transplant or she would die from infection.
Jehovah's Witnesses allow transplants but the faith is strict in rejecting the inevitable blood transfusions that would accompany such an operation. They believe blood that leaves the body must be disposed of and not consumed or transfused.
The Auckland District Health Board went to the High Court last month and sought urgent orders placing the girl under the care of the court. A team of doctors including renal, blood, liver and gastroenterology specialists care for the girl. More
'Inside Scientology' Author: 'They Have the Goods on Everybody'
Scientology operates more as a business than as a church, relying on techniques perfected by car salesmen to attract new members and celebrities to its rolls.
That's just one of the takeaways from Janet Reitman’s controversial book about one of the world’s most secretive religion. “Inside Scientology” chronicles L. Ron Hubbard’s creation of Scientology six decades ago and traces its development into the faith of choice for movie stars such as John Travolta and Tom Cruise.
The book has inspired the church's ire. In a 7-page statement to TheWrap, the church maintains that Reitman never interviewed nor requested interviews with any Scientology officials.
For her part Reitman strongly refutes those claims, noting that she spoke to numerous higher-ups and members, as well as visited facilities, while researching the Rolling Stone article that became the basis for her book. More
Emanuela Orlandi 'was kidnapped for sex parties for Vatican police'
Father Gabriele Amorth, who was appointed by the late John Paul II as the Vatican's chief exorcist and claims to have performed thousands of exorcisms, said Emanuela Orlandi was later murdered and her body disposed of.
In the latest twist in one of the Holy See's most enduring mysteries, he said the 15-year-old schoolgirl was snatched from the streets of central Rome in the summer of 1983 and forced to take part in sex parties.
"This was a crime with a sexual motive. Parties were organised, with a Vatican gendarme acting as the 'recruiter' of the girls.
"The network involved diplomatic personnel from a foreign embassy to the Holy See. I believe Emanuela ended up a victim of this circle," Father Amorth, the honorary president of the International Association of Exorcists, told La Stampa newspaper. More
Jehovah's Witnesses ordered to pay more than $20 million to woman who said she was sexually abused
In what both sides described as a momentous ruling, a jury in Oakland, Calif., has found that Jehovah’s Witnesses was partly responsible for the alleged sexual abuse of a girl by one of its members and must pay her more than $20 million.
The Alameda County Superior Court jury on Thursday awarded $21 million in punitive damages to the plaintiff, who is now 26 years old. That was on top of the $7 million in compensatory damages it awarded her on Wednesday.
The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ legal entity, is responsible for the entire punitive damages amount and 40 percent of the compensatory damages, said Rick Simons, attorney for the plaintiff. Sixty percent of the compensatory damages was assessed against Jonathan Kendrick, the man accused of abusing her.
Candace Conti sued Watchtower, the Fremont, Calif., congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses and Kendrick in 2011. It’s msnbc.com’s policy not to identify victims of sexual abuse, but Conti agreed to be identified so that any other victims would feel they could come forward too. More
Voluntary 'De-Baptism' Rising in Europe
Sunday evening youth mass in Saint-Germain-des-Pres is overflowing with parishioners.
People stand in aisles or sit cross-legged in corners of the cavernous, sixth century Paris church.
Father Benoist de Sinety, parish priest at Saint Germain for the past three years, says he has always had the good fortune of seeing crowds of young people seeking their bearings or rediscovering faith. But he knows it is not the same everywhere.
Churches in France and elsewhere in Europe have been battling falling numbers, a trend evident not only in the empty pews, but in the sharp fall in baptisms. But "de-baptisms", a church's deletion of one's name from the official baptismal registry at a parishioner's request, are a recent phenomenon, and they are taking place in both Protestant and Catholic communities. More
Alleged Jehovah's Witness sexual predator believed to be hiding in Toronto area
TORONTO -- Police are searching here for a US fugitive who they allege is a sexual predator who uses his position in his local congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses to get close to children.
Frederick Cecil McLean, 61, is among the US Marshals' 15 most wanted fugitives and is believed to be hiding in the Toronto area, police said Wednesday.
He is wanted in California on four counts of child molestation, as well as multiple counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a minor under 14 and unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.
McLean's story has been aired twice on the TV show America's Most Wanted without leading to his arrest. An arrest warrant was issued for him in Jan. 2005, when police believe he fled to Canada.
The Marshals said McLean is accused of sexually assaulting four separate U.S. victims who were children under 14. "One of the victims claims that McLean molested her over 100 times between 1991 and 1996," U.S. police said. More
Corona church torture case: New details surface
CORONA, Calif. - More details have surfaced about the alleged torture of a 13-year-old boy by members of a Corona church.
New court documents show the boy was assaulted during bible study when a man rubbed salt into cuts on his body and others looked on. The affidavit also says the same incident happened at a group home.
Heart of Worship Community Church pastor Lonny Remmers and church members Nick Craig and Darryll Jeter Jr. are already under arrest. They are accused of pinching the boy with pliers, beating him with a shovel, forcing him to dig a grave and threatening to kill him. The three have pleaded not guilty to kidnapping, assault and other felonies. More
Being 'Born-Again' Linked to More Brain Atrophy: Study
Older adults who say they've had a life-changing religious experience are more likely to have a greater decrease in size of the hippocampus, the part of the brain critical to learning and memory, new research finds.
According to the study, people who said they were a "born-again" Protestant or Catholic, or conversely, those who had no religious affiliation, had more hippocampal shrinkage (or "atrophy") compared to people who identified themselves as Protestants, but not born-again.
The study is published online in PLoS ONE.
As people age, a certain amount of brain atrophy is expected. Shrinkage of the hippocampus is also associated with depression, dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
In the study, researchers asked 268 people aged 58 to 84 about their religious affiliation, spiritual practices and life-changing religious experiences. Over the course of two to eight years, changes to the hippocampus were monitored using MRI scans. More
Nigeria Christians hit by fresh Islamist attacks
At least 17 people were killed in Mubi in Adamawa state as gunmen opened fire in a town hall where members of the Christian Igbo group were meeting.
There were also reports of a deadly attack in Adamawa's capital, Yola.
The Islamist Boko Haram group said it had carried out the attack in Mubi and another in Gombe on Thursday night in which at least six people died.
The group has staged numerous attacks in northern and central areas in recent months - on Christmas Day it attacked a church near the capital, Abuja, killing dozens of people.
One Boko Haram faction has warned all southerners - who are mostly Christian and animist - to leave the mainly Muslim north of Nigeria. More
Jehovah witnesses hurl Bibles at pit bulls attacking grandma
A 77-year-old grandmother is recovering after being attacked by two pit bulls in a neighborhood outside of Austin, Texas. Luckily, a few good Samaritans came to her rescue.
The blood stains spattered on the road speak of the vicious attack.
"It was horrible. It was horrible. She was just crying, 'Help me, help me.'" "They could have killed her. And that would have just been devastating. it was devastating enough to see her so defenseless on the ground pleading for help."
"They just ripped her. They had a rip on her head from here to back there, they had cut her right there & they had sliced her arm so it swelled up. And they had our arm just tearing at it."
These three Jehovah's witnesses were visiting the neighborhood when they heard June O'Hara's screams and joined a college student, trying to fight off the dogs.
"He come and grabbed the stick and he started beating at the dogs and they were trying to bite and attack him." The Jehovah's witnesses decided seek a little divine intervention. More
Man faces five years for ‘God does not exist’ Facebook post
31-year-old Alexander Aan faces a maximum prison sentence of five years for posting “God does not exist” on Facebook. The civil servant was attacked and beaten by an angry mob of dozens who entered his government office at the Dharmasraya Development Planning Board on Wednesday. The Indonesian man was taken into protective police custody Friday since he was afraid of further physical assault.
The posting was made on a Facebook Page titled Ateis Minang (Minang Atheist), which Aan created. At the time of writing, it had over 1,700 Likes. Aan’s posting has been removed, but supporters on the Page are urging police to release him.
Dharmasraya Police Chief Sr. Comr. Chairul Aziz said the district branch of the council and other Islamic organizations believed Aan had defiled Islam by using passages from the Koran to denounce the existence of God and highlight his atheist views. “So it meets the criteria of tainting religion, in this case Islam,” Chairul told The Jakarta Globe. More
Pastor Accused Of Molesting Girls In Soundproofed Room Arrested
Otis Holland, 55, a Las Vegas pastor wanted on charges of having sex with underage girls, was captured on Wednesday, Jan. 25, in Mexico.
Holland disappeared from the Henderson area in June, after an arrest warrant was issued for him by the Henderson Police. The warrant was for 11 counts of sexual assault of a victim under the age of 16, one count of child abuse and conspiracy to commit a crime.
On a recent airing of Fox-TV's America's Most Wanted, the pastor's crimes were broadcast, bringing in a tip from a viewer who saw the program. The information was delivered to the U.S. Marshals Service, which had been working in conjunction with the Henderson Police in the search for Holland.
"He was a con man, and he used the church front for his schemes," said Kevin Abernathy, Henderson Police Department's lead investigator on the case, during the Jan. 20 airing of the show. "In the 19 years that I've been on the job, I would rank this as probably the worst case I've dealt with, as far as a predator identifying and abusing victims." More
Police inquiry over Jehovah's Witness magazine 'mentally diseased' article
Detectives are investigating whether the article, published in July’s edition of The Watchtower, is in breach of Britain’s religious hatred laws.
The article, published in the magazine which is distributed by Jehovah's Witnesses across the globe, reportedly warned followers to avoid "false teachers" which it condemned as being "mentally diseased".
"Suppose that a doctor told you to avoid contact with someone who is infected with a contagious, deadly disease," part of the article stated.
"You would know what the doctor means, and you would strictly heed his warning. Well, apostates are 'mentally diseased', and they seek to infect others with their disloyal teachings."
A group of former Witnesses, based in Portsmouth, have made an official complaint to Hampshire Police about the article. Police have launched an investigation. More
Thousands in Israel protest against Jewish extremists
BEIT SHEMESH, Israel — Thousands of Israelis rallied Tuesday night in Beit Shemesh against an ultra-Orthodox group whose harassment was brought to light by a shy eight-year-old schoolgirl who found herself on the front line of Israel's latest religious war.
Naama Margolese is a pale, blue-eyed, ponytailed, bespectacled second-grader who is afraid of walking to her religious Jewish girls school for fear of ultra-Orthodox extremists who have spat on her and called her a whore for dressing "immodestly."
Her plight has drawn new attention to the simmering issue of religious coercion in Israel, and the increasing brazenness of extremists in the insular ultra-Orthodox Jewish community. More
Jehovah’s Witness locked up for child abuse
A PAEDOPHILE Jehovah’s Witness who abused young girls has been thrown behind bars for three-and-a-half years.
Paul Wood, 40, assaulted the girls, aged between 10 and 15, at his home, in a car and at a disused airfield. Wood, of Station Road, Woodville, was found guilty of nine indecent assaults but cleared of a rape allegation made by one of the girls.
The sex offender, who committed his crimes while living in Suffolk in the 1990s, claimed his two victims had ‘made up’ their evidence. Judge David Goodin, sentencing at Ipswich Crown Court, said: “You were a young man but they are most serious offences.”
Prosecutors claimed during Wood’s trial last year he had forced himself on the underage girls in Sudbury, Suffolk, between 1993 and 1998.
Steven Dyble, defending, told the court Wood was a man of previous good character who had done his best to live an ‘industrious life’. Wood’s last offence was committed in 1998. Mr Dyble said: “During the last 14 years, there has been no suggestion of any inappropriate behaviour.” More
Sweden recognizes digital piracy religion: Kopimism
MALMO, Sweden — The Swedish government has registered a new official religion, and not everyone is happy about it, especially some businesses who fear the move may hurt their profits.
The sect is called Kopimism. It espouses data freedom and copyright piracy.
The Missionary Church of Kopimism has drawn in more than 3,000 members with its message of “All knowledge to All.”
Kopimi (pronounced ‘copy me’), as adherents are known, revere the sacred symbols Control-C and Control-V, and engage in file sharing as a kind of communion. “Being recognized by the state of Sweden is a large step for all of us kopimi,” Isak Gerson, spiritual leader of the Church of Kopimism said.
"Hopefully, this is one step towards the day when we can live out our faith without fear of persecution."
The Church was registered by Sweden’s Karamkollegiet just before Christmas, but Gerson, a philosophy student at the University of Uppsala, said he had only learned of it this week. Gerson, who has links to Sweden’s anti-copyright Pirate Party, applied for constitutional recognition more than a year ago, and has been required to formalize the kopimi way of prayer and meditation. More
LGBT community rallies for Jehovah’s Witnesses
An anti-hate-crime fund originally endowed by and for the LGBT community is likely to contribute an additional $5,000 to augment a reward being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrator(s) of an arson hate crime against a San Diego Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall – a church noted for its opposition to marriage equality for same-sex couples.
The idea of contributing additional reward money is being promulgated by LGBT activists and community leaders, such as Nicole Murray Ramirez (who is also a columnist for San Diego LGBT Weekly), San Diego Human Relations Commission (SDHRC) chair, Bruce Abrams, and San Diego City Councilman Todd Gloria – among others.
“When I saw this had happened, I thought, ‘Hey, we should help them with a contribution to the reward fund – maybe with $5,000 or so,’” Ramirez said. “That should help find the people who committed this despicable act.” More
Father says daughters' actions led to their deaths
The Montreal man accused of murdering four family members in an honour killing told jurors that his honour was important, but killing his family would not restore it.
"My honour is important for me, but ... to kill someone, you can't regain your reputation and honour," Mohammad Shafia testified Friday, near the end of four hours of often-accusatory questioning by prosecutor Laurie Lacelle.
Shafia, 58, is charged, along with his wife, Tooba Mohammad Yahya, 41, and their son, Hamed, 20, with four counts of first-degree murder. They have pleaded not guilty to killing Shafia sisters Zainab, 19, Sahar, 17, and Geeti, 13, and Rona Amir Mohammad, 52, who was Shafia's first wife. He married her in Afghanistan.
The four were found dead June 30, 2009, in a Nissan Sentra discovered submerged in a shallow canal in Kingston. The victims had drowned. Three of them had bruises on their heads that remain unexplained. Shafia acknowledged, during questioning by Lacelle, that he had called his daughters Zainab and Sahar "whores" and "prostitutes" after he saw photos of them posing in bikinis or underwear or hugging boyfriends. He said he did not see the photos until after their deaths. More
Jehovah's Witness Jumps To Death In Brooklyn
A Jehovah's Witness jumped to his death from a Brooklyn rooftop yesterday. According to police, Dwayne Fagan, 48, jumped from the top of his apartment building in the Linden Houses in East New York just before 1 p.m. Wednesday afternoon as bystanders looked on.
“I thought someone had thrown an air conditioner off the roof. I screamed and screamed for a minute straight,” said witness Antoinette George, who also lives in the building.
A ledge above the the building’s entrance broke Fagan’s fall before he hit the ground. “I saw him land—it was so loud,” she added.
“All his limbs were broken. He was lifeless.” Police say Fagan, who was said to be a devout Jehovah's Witness, had warned a family member he was planning to hurt himself in a series of texts messages before his death. More
Tioga preacher pleads guilty to sex crimes
Tioga preacher Holland Farrell McMorris for years would stand in the Paradise Baptist Church pulpit preaching the good word, then at night sneak into the bedroom of a young female relative while her siblings were asleep.
The sexual encounters started when the girl was 11 and ended when she was 14. The victim, who has not been identified by name, is now 16 and has undergone counseling.
"You ruined her. You ruined her," her mother told McMorris Monday in 9th District Court before the 64-year-old gray-haired man with two master's degrees was sentenced to 25 years in prison. (The Town Talk has opted not to use the name of the mother or the victim's family connection to McMorris.)
Judge Thomas Yeager asked McMorris if he was guilty. "Yes I am," he said, wearing the orange jumpsuit of a Rapides Parish prisoner, hands and feet shackled together. More
If You Go to Church, Heed This Warning
Recently the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, held an invitation-only call. The call was co-sponsored by the U.S. Health and Human Services, the Office of Minority Health, and CDC.
Conspicuously, the end of the invitation read:
“This call is off the record and is not for press purposes” -- but it became public when it showed up on the HHS website.
Fortunately one of our staff was able to get on the call.
The focus of the call was on getting faith-based organizations to sponsor flu clinics with Walgreens.
Basically, they want to move inside your church, mosque or synagogue, and set up shop, with your pastor, priest, imam and rabbi on hand to convince you to get a flu shot. More
Baptist Church Leaders Cover-Up Sex Scandal
In Colorado, two pastors, a former principal and a teacher have been arrested by the El Paso County Sheriff's Office in a sexual assault case involving a 15 year-old boy.
The alleged sexual abuse involved a teacher at Hilltop Baptist School. First reported in December 2010, the police say that the boy was in a sexual relationship with a female teacher in 2007 and 2008.
Terah Allyn Rawlings, 32, is charged with eight counts of sexual assault on a child by a person in position of trust and obscenity-promotion.
Franklin “Wayne” Knight, 63, is the senior pastor at Hilltop Baptist Church and former superintendent of Hilltop Baptist School. He is charged with failure to report child abuse or neglect and accessory to a crime. He is also the uncle to Terah Allyn Rawlings.
Raymond “Allen” Knight, 57, is the associate pastor of Hilltop Baptist Church and former athletic director at Hilltop Baptist School. He is charged with failure to report child abuse or neglect. He is also Terah Allyn Rawlings' father.
Jan Ocvirk, 51, is the former principal of Hilltop Baptist School. She is charged with failure to report child abuse or neglect. More
Alleged Ponzi scheme cons Jehovah's Witnesses
Hundreds of investors victimized in an alleged Spokane-based Ponzi scheme are now being sued by bankruptcy officials attempting to unravel the complicated case of Little Loan Shoppe.
Some investors call it a “salt-in-the-wound” effort to wring money from those who were scammed out of their savings.
But the bankruptcy trustee pursuing this aptly named “claw-back” litigation said it may be the only way to ensure a fair payout. Cash collected from investors who received any kind of payment from Little Loan Shoppe will be pooled with other recoveries and redistributed equitably.
The company collapsed into bankruptcy in 2009; the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission alleged in a civil complaint filed this week that founder Doris “Dee” Nelson raised about $135 million from more than 650 investors from 1999 to 2008. About 75 percent of the investors were members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses denomination, court records say. More
Pat Robertson Asks If Mac And Cheese Is a 'Black Thing'
Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network, former presidential candidate and the charismatic host of "The 700 Club," raised eyebrows recently after he asked on air if macaroni and cheese was a "black thing."
Robertson made the statement during the Wednesday show, after a clip in which another host, Kristi Watts, interviews former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Both women are of African descent. In the clip, Watts asked Rice what dish she "just has to have" on Thanksgiving.
"It's mac and cheese," Rice replied.
"Sister, that is my dish, that is the one thing I can rock," the host reacted enthusiastically, clapping her hands.
"But only once, once a year," Rice added.
When the clip ended, Robertson was again in the studio with Watts, but looked confused.
"What is this mac and cheese?" Robertson asked Watts. "Is that a black thing?" More
Police Blotter: Jehovah's Witnesses Want Woman Back
A Sprague Road woman told police Oct. 26 that she is a former Jehovah's Witness and the group has been calling her.
She did not report the incidents until someone from the group said he has been watching her and her house for two weeks.
Police determined who the calls were coming from. They said they would call the man and tell him to stop bothering her. More
White House shooting suspect thought himself Jesus, Obama antichrist
BOISE, Idaho -- An Idaho man accused of firing an assault rifle at the White House believed he was Jesus and thought President Barack Obama was the antichrist. He had become increasingly agitated with the federal government, and at one point, he suggested Obama was planning to implant computer tracking chips into children, according to court documents and those who knew him.
Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, 21, was charged Thursday with attempting to assassinate the president or his staff.
He is accused of firing nine rounds at the White House last Friday night -- one of them cracking a window of the first family's living quarters -- when Obama and the first lady were away. If convicted, Ortega faces up to life in prison.
He was arrested Wednesday at a western Pennsylvania hotel when a desk clerk there recognized him and called police.
Ortega's public defender, Christopher Brown, declined to comment after his first court hearing in Pennsylvania. Ortega's mother has said he has no history of mental illness, though authorities had reported he had "mental health issues" when they were looking for him. More
Ohio Amish leader: Beard-cutting religious matter
BERGHOLZ, Ohio - The leader of an Amish group with members accused of going into the home of another Amish man and cutting his hair and beard said Monday it's a religious matter and police shouldn't be involved.
Sam Mullet said he didn't order the hair-cutting but didn't stop two of his sons and another man from carrying it out last week on a 74-year-old man in his home in rural eastern Ohio. Amish men typically grow beards as adults and stop trimming them when they marry, and the beards are held in high esteem.
Mullet, 66, said the goal of the hair-cutting was to send a message to local Amish that they should be ashamed of themselves for the way they were treating Mullet and his community. "They changed the rulings of our church here, and they're trying to force their way down our throat, make us do like they want us to do, and we're not going to do that," Mullet told The Associated Press outside his house on the outskirts of Bergholz, a village of about 700 residents. More
OC Couple Threatened With $500-Per-Meeting Fines For Home Bible Study
MISSION VIEJO — An Orange County couple has been ordered to stop holding a Bible study in their home on the grounds that the meeting violates a city ordinance as a “church” and not as a private gathering.
Homeowners Chuck and Stephanie Fromm, of San Juan Capistrano, were fined $300 earlier this month for holding what city officials called “a regular gathering of more than three people”.
That type of meeting would require a conditional use permit as defined by the city, according to Pacific Justice Institute (PJI), the couple’s legal representation.
The Fromms also reportedly face subsequent fines of $500 per meeting for any further “religious gatherings” in their home, according to PJI. “We’re just gathering and enjoying each other’s company and fellowship. And we enjoy studying God’s word.” Stephanie Fromm said. More
Christian pastor in Iran faces execution for apostasy
An Iranian court gave Youcef Nadarkhani, 34, a third and final chance to avoid hanging, but he replied, "I am resolute in my faith and Christianity and have no wish to recant."
The panel of five judges will decide within a week whether to confirm his execution for apostasy, Mohammed Ali Dadkhah, his lawyer, told The (London) Times.
William Hague said he "deplored" Pastor Nadarkhani's plight, and a senior Foreign and Commonwealth Office diplomat telephoned the Iranian charge d'affaires in London to protest.
"This demonstrates the Iranian regime's continued unwillingness to abide by its constitutional and international obligations to respect religious freedom," Mr Hague said. "I pay tribute to the courage shown by Pastor Nadarkhani, who has no case to answer, and call on the Iranian authorities to overturn his sentence." More
Jehovah's Witness stands trial for pedophile sex offenses
A Jehovah's Witness in Suffolk, England, Paul Wood, has been accused of sexually assaulting three girls and attempting to rape one of them. According to reports, the Jehovah's Witness attempted to rape a 14 year-old girl in his home in Sudbury.
The girl, who was hit in the face while the Witness attempted to rape her, kept the trauma of the incident to herself for three years before she and another young victim told Jehovah's Witnesses elders. But the Jehovah's Witnesses elders did not intervene. They simply left it to the girls to decide for themselves whether to go to the police.
The girls could not find the courage to go to the police till 2009 when they learned that church leaders had appointed Paul Wood to a role in another part of the country which would bring him in contact with young women. More
'Amish Bernie Madoff' accused of stealing $17 million from his fellow worshippers
Thou hath the right to remain silent.
An Ohio man dubbed the "Amish Bernie Madoff" was accused by federal prosecutors of defrauding his fellow worshippers out of nearly $17 million.
Monroe Beachy, 77, was charged in Ohio Federal Court with mail fraud for bilking Amish investors in 29 states, federal prosecutors said.
Beachy moved his investors' money from safe securities to risky investments - and routinely sent out bogus account statements indicating a profit, prosecutors said.
"These representations were false and made to lead investors to believe they were earning interest and had an account balance that was over-inflated compared to actual assets," the indictment charged. Beachy, owner of A&M Investments in Sugarcreek, Ohio, told The Associated Press that he was unaware of any indictment and declined comment. More
Two men charged with sexually assaulting a handicapped woman during a Bible study
A 30-year-old handicapped Plainfield woman was held hostage and raped by two Union County men after coming over for a Bible study class, prosecutors said today.
A Union County Grand Jury Wednesday returned an eight count indictment against Edward Woodson, 31, and Marcal Campbell, 30, charging both men with sexual assault and Woodson with an additional count of kidnapping, Union County Prosecutor Theodore Romankow announced this morning.
Woodson and Campbell are accused of holding the woman for nearly 12 hours in the basement of Woodson's family home on East Front Street in Plainfield, Romankow said. The woman — identified in the indictment only as "S.S." — apparently knew Woodson from her church.
Around 9 p.m. on Jan. 31, "S.S." was preparing for a baptism when Woodson invited her to his home for a Bible-study, according to Assistant Prosecutor Patricia L. Cronin, who is trying the case. Woodson brought her back to his home where they met up with Campbell and led her to the basement, where they sexually assaulted the victim together, Cronin said. More
'Cult members made me starve my one-year-old boy'
A mother who starved her one-year-old son to death on the orders of a cult leader after he did not say 'amen' before a meal has said she was paralysed by fear and was 'crazy'.
Speaking for the first time, Ria Ramkissoon, who was 19 when her son died, said she wanted to save her son but was convinced she would be defying God's will if she did so.
The cult's leader, who called herself Queen Antoinette, had told Miss Ramkissoon that her 15-month-old son Javon Thompson needed to be starved as he was possessed by an evil spirit.
Miss Ramkissoon said that she thought she would be guaranteed eternal damnation if she did not follow Antoinette who cited the Bible as her authority.
'It's like it's somebody else's life, but it's not,' Miss Ramkissoon said in her first interview since Javon's death. More
Pat Robertson's remarks on divorce, Alzheimer's on '700 Club' spark outrage
Popular televangelist Pat Robertson has caused an unholy mess by justifying divorce if a spouse has Alzheimer's, labeling the disease "a kind of death."
Robertson, 81, made the controversial remarks Tuesday during his "700 Club" show when a viewer asked what advice a man should give to a friend who began seeing another woman after his wife was diagnosed with the neurological disorder.
"I know it sounds cruel, but if he's going to do something, he should divorce her and start all over again, but make sure she has custodial care and somebody looking after her," said the one-time Republican presidential candidate.
He added he wouldn't "put a guilt trip" on anyone who divorces a spouse suffering from the illness. Robertson's preacher peers have been quick to condemn his statement, saying it doesn't gibe with the Bible. More
War of words breaks out among Jehovah's Witnesses
The official magazine for Jehovah's Witnesses has described those who leave the church as "mentally diseased", prompting an outcry from former members and insiders concerned about the shunning of those who question official doctrine.
An article published in July's edition of The Watchtower warns followers to stay clear of "false teachers" who are condemned as being "mentally diseased" apostates who should be avoided at all costs. "Suppose that a doctor told you to avoid contact with someone who is infected with a contagious, deadly disease," the article reads.
"You would know what the doctor means, and you would strictly heed his warning. Well, apostates are 'mentally diseased', and they seek to infect others with their disloyal teachings."
A copy of the magazine, distributed by Jehovah's Witnesses around the world, was given to The Independent by a current member of the church who has become unhappy with official teaching but is afraid to leave for fear of losing his family. More
Phoenix Goddess Temple raided by police
A church called the Phoenix Goddess Temple has been accused of being a house of prostitution, and a six-month undercover investigation has resulted in the arrests of 20 women and men who worked there, Phoenix police said Friday.
Authorities are still searching for 17 more people -- all of whom have been indicted -- in connection with the prostitution enterprise, said Sgt. Steve Martos, a Phoenix police spokesman. The 20 people arrested so far have been charged with prostitution or other offenses, police said.
During a Wednesday search of the Phoenix temple and two church-related sites in nearby Sedona, police seized evidence showing that "male and female 'practitioners' working at the Temple were performing sexual acts in exchange for monetary 'donations,' all on the pretense of providing 'neo tantric' healing therapies," Phoenix police said. More
Vicar fury at new home for Jehovahs
A VICAR’S passionate plea for councillors to reject the Jehovah’s Witnesses plans for a new place of worship has fallen on deaf ears.
The religious group has been given permission to relocate from the Kingdom Hall in Tweedmouth’s West End to Scremerston.
Rev Matthew Knox, Vicar of Tweedmouth and priest in charge of St Peter’s Church in Scremerston, argued the plan should be turned down because it is not a place of Christian worship as stated in the application.
He said: “This is not a Christian denomination and so it is misleading to use the phrase ‘Christian place of worship’ in its application.
“This new religious movement, adopting its name in 1931, departs from key traditional Christian doctrines and practices and disassociates itself from all main Christian denominations.
“It is not part of Churches Together in Berwick, it has its own translation of the bible and to my knowledge discourages independent thinking with the real threat of members being shunned by all other members if they dispute their governing body’s official doctrine. More
Teen girl was raped, impregnated by fellow church-member & then forced to apologize
A woman who says she was raped and impregnated as a 15-year-old by a member of her church - and then forced to read a letter of apology aloud to the congregation - is now seeking justice from the courts.
Jury selection starts Monday at Merrimack Superior Court in New Hampshire in the case against Ernest Willis, who prosecutors charge raped Tina Anderson twice in her home in 1997, leaving her pregnant, the New Hampshire Union Leader reported. The then-teenager was then compelled by leaders of the Trinity Baptist Church to apologize for becoming pregnant with a married man's child, the Concord Monitor reported.
Willis, now 52, has admitted to the sex, but claims it was consensual. More
Churchgoer dumped bacon outside a mosque: jailed for race hate crimes
A churchgoer who left pork products outside a mosque during a hate campaign against Muslims has been put behind bars.
John White, 63, left rashers of bacon outside the religious building in South Shields, and similar products outside worshippers' homes.
Newcastle Crown Court heard that despite the distress caused to the members of the Jam-E-Masjid mosque, chairman Mohammed Miah has told police he bears no grudge.
Stuart Graham, defending White, said: 'The chairman of the mosque has said everything has calmed down and they don't wish him any ill.
'Something has triggered this, but they certainly don't wish him any harm.' More
Former Jehovah's Witness taking on Watch Tower
A FORMER Jehovah's Witness is to launch a private criminal prosecution against the religion's world headquarters.
His action is in protest at its refusal to require church elders to submit to Working With Children police checks in Victoria.
Steven Unthank, who says he was a victim of sexual assault by a church elder in Queensland, says he is taking the drastic step to protect children within the religion and at homes where Jehovah's Witnesses doorknock.
Mr Unthank, from Toongabbie in Gippsland, says he is frustrated over inaction by police and the Justice Department after the religion decided its ministers were not required to undergo police checks.
He hopes the state will take over the prosecution after court documents are filed on April 19.
Mr Unthank, 43, quit the religion in late 2009 after waging a long campaign to persuade the Watch Tower Society, the religion's administrative arm, that elders and door-to-door preachers needed to get police checks before working with children.
Although Jehovah's Witnesses say all members become ordained ministers at baptism, a spokesman for the Watch Tower Society said elders or other evangelists were not required to gain a police clearance. "We don't typically work with children, we don't have Sunday schools, so that law doesn't apply to us," the spokesman said. More
An Israeli algorithm sheds light on the Bible
JERUSALEM — Software developed by an Israeli team is giving intriguing new hints about what researchers believe to be the multiple hands that wrote the Bible. The new software analyzes style and word choices to distinguish parts of a single text written by different authors, and when applied to the Bible its algorithm teased out distinct writerly voices in the holy book.
The program, part of a sub-field of artificial intelligence studies known as authorship attribution, has a range of potential applications - from helping law enforcement to developing new computer programs for writers.
But the Bible provided a tempting test case for the algorithm's creators. For millions of Jews and Christians, it's a tenet of their faith that God is the author of the core text of the Hebrew Bible - the Torah, also known as the Pentateuch or the Five Books of Moses.
But since the advent of modern biblical scholarship, academic researchers have believed the text was written by a number of different authors whose work could be identified by seemingly different ideological agendas and linguistic styles and the different names they used for God. More
Women’s Bible study ends with bloody nose and arrest
Laguna Beach -- What witnesses say started out with Bible study took a strange turn before ending with the arrest of a 39-year-old Panama City Beach woman.
While there are two versions of what happened, deputies say that Hiedi Rhodes was nearly too drunk to tell her version, and that it was vague and didn’t match what the other three witnesses told them. That inconsistency, and the testimony of the other three women gathered for the Bible study, is likely what led to her arrest.
Deputies arrived to a call for help to find two women in a physical fight inside a home on Laureno Place, in the Laguna Beach area. After breaking up the fight, two deputies separated the women to hear both sides of the story. During what deputies describe as a “rambling” testimony, Rhodes said that the other woman had attacked her because she’d called her boyfriend earlier, and told him that his dog was roaming the neighborhood. The other version of the story does not paint Rhodes as the victim, but rather as the aggressor. More
Amish Man Accused Of Sexting 12 y/o Girl
Police in Indiana say they arrested an Amish man who arrived in a horse-drawn buggy for a presumed rendezvous with a 12-year-old girl to whom he had sent sexually explicit cell phone messages.
Officers arrested 21-year-old William R. Yoder on Wednesday, June 15, after he rode up to the Takathemoke Restaurant in Milroy, Indiana, and approached an undercover agent.
"The suspect arrived, in a one-horse carriage as he said he would, was identified by the undercover officer confirming his identity and was taken into custody without incident," said Connersville, Indiana, police Detective Craig Pennington.
Yoder was taken to Fayette County Jail, about 60 miles east of Indianapolis, where in a videotaped statement he confessed that he sent video messages, naked pictures of himself and lewd text messages. He posted bail June 16. More
Actually, that's not in the Bible
NFL legend Mike Ditka was giving a news conference one day after being fired as the coach of the Chicago Bears when he decided to quote the Bible.
“Scripture tells you that all things shall pass,” a choked-up Ditka said after leading his team to only five wins during the previous season. “This, too, shall pass.”
Ditka fumbled his biblical citation, though. The phrase “This, too, shall pass” doesn’t appear in the Bible. Ditka was quoting a phantom scripture that sounds like it belongs in the Bible, but look closer and it’s not there.
Ditka’s biblical blunder is as common as preachers delivering long-winded public prayers. The Bible may be the most revered book in America, but it’s also one of the most misquoted. Politicians, motivational speakers, coaches - all types of people - quote passages that actually have no place in the Bible, religious scholars say. More
Man Arrested for Firing Gun at Man Distributing Religious Flyer
A Riverside County man who fired a gun at a man passing out religious literature in his neighborhood was arrested Sunday night after a stand-off with Perris officers and the Riverside County Sheriff's Special Enforcement Bureau.
Gino Salinas, 51, of an unincorporated portion of Riverside County, got into a verbal altercation with a man distributing religious literature in the 17,000 block of Dalke Lane at about 3 p.m. Sunday.
When the man turned to get back into his car, Salinas displayed a black handgun and fired one shot toward the vehicle. The man got into the car, drove off and called police, according to a Riverside County spokesperson. More
Was the Bible forged?
Parts of the Bible were written by people who lied about their identity, an author has claimed.
Bart D Ehrman claims many books of the New Testament were forged by people pretending to be the apostles Peter, Paul or James.
Writing in the Huffington Post, Professor Ehrman, best selling author of 'Misquoting Jesus' and 'Jesus, Interrupted', said religious scholars were well aware of the 'lies' of the Bible.
While some were happy to acknowledge them others refer to them as 'pseudepigrapha' - meaning a falsely attributed work -, he wrote.
In his new book , Why the Bible's Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are, Professor Ehrman claims The Second Epistle of Peter - or 2 Peter - was forged. More
Tavares church's jarring billboard reaches out to 'scumbags'
Pastor Moses Robbins and his fledgling Saturday Night Live Church have raised Cain with a bold billboard along one of Lake County's busiest highways that calls out, "Scumbags Welcome!"
Lord, forgive them.
"Our hope was that we would fill up the building, bring new people to the Cross and Jesus," explained Robbins, 42, the laid-back pastor of nondenominational SNL, which meets at the activity center of the First United Methodist Church of Tavares.
Rooted in a modern translation of scripture, the billboard, erected about a month ago on the south side of U.S. Highway 441, has pulled in a few new members while irritating some passersby who think it's in bad taste.
The city of Tavares recently dispatched its code-enforcement officer to investigate after receiving complaints about the billboard, but officials determined the message was constitutionally protected speech, spokeswoman Joyce Ross said. More
Russian sect believes Putin reincarnation of St. Paul
A founder of a religious cult glorifying Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin believes that the powerful premier is the reincarnation of Saint Paul, the Russian tabloid Sobesednik reported on Wednesday.
The sect, founded by one Mother Fotinya, is based in the Bolshaya Elnya village in the central Russian Nizhny Novgorod region.
Fotinya was quoted by the paper as saying that there were certain parallels between the life of former president Putin and St. Paul.
"According to the Bible, Paul the Apostle used to be a warlord and the fierce persecutor of Christians, and then he began preaching the Gospel.
Putin also was not a saint during his service in the KGB. But when he became president, the Holy Ghost descended on him," Fotinya was quoted as saying. More
Jehovah's Witnesses face gunfire at 'Catholic home'
Rhonda Kalapach believes Jehovah's Witnesses have no place on her property. When two of them came to her door, the 60-year-old Monroe County woman asked them to leave. Her husband saw the women from across the street and yelled at them, but they didn’t go.
That’s when her husband, William George Kalapach, came into the home and got his rifle. The women were walking to the car where three other people were waiting, when Kalapach said they weren’t moving fast enough, police said.
Police said he fired four shots into the ground about 11 a.m. Saturday near the car with all five people inside. He is now in county prison, charged with aggravated assault and related charges.
"This is a Catholic home," Rhonda Kalapach said. "This is a devout home." More
Religious Young Adults Become Obese By Middle Age
CHICAGO --- Could it be the potato salad? Young adults who frequently attend religious activities are 50 percent more likely to become obese by middle age as young adults with no religious involvement, according to new Northwestern Medicine research. This is the first longitudinal study to examine the development of obesity in people with various degrees of religious involvement.
“We don’t know why frequent religious participation is associated with development of obesity, but the upshot is these findings highlight a group that could benefit from targeted efforts at obesity prevention,” said Matthew Feinstein, the study’s lead investigator and a fourth-year student at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
”It’s possible that getting together once a week and associating good works and happiness with eating unhealthy foods could lead to the development of habits that are associated with greater body weight and obesity.” More
Birds of the same feather: Harold Camping, William Miller and Charles Taze Russell
Doomsday prophet Harold Camping's failed rapture theory was a product of numerical manipulation which is based on the assumption that Biblical numbers contain encoded spiritual truths.
Camping's outrageous claim that May 21 was the chosen date for the Second Coming of Jesus now stands refuted. He predicted that the day would be punctuated with a massive earthquake and the heavenly transport (rapture) of 200 million believers. The U.S. Geological Society proved the quake claim bogus and a global census is sure to discredit the latter.
Harold Camping, a civil engineer who graduated from UC Berkeley, bewitched his clan of followers by applying abstract math to his apocalyptic madness which is similar to what other naysayers like the founders of Seventh-day Adventists and Jehovah Witness had used.
The Seventh-day Adventist had its roots in the "Millerite" movement which was started by William Miller in the 19th century. Religionfacts records that Miller had predicted that the Second Coming of Jesus would take place between March 21, 1843 and March 21, 1844.
Similarly the founder of Jehovah Witness movement Charles Taze Russell had predicted that Jesus would return in 1914. More
Rapture Fail - believers downcast, pastor silent
Followers of an Oakland radio minister who predicted that Saturday would mark the start of the world's last days waited in vain for a religious homecoming that never happened.
After driving from Maryland in the hope of being taken up to heaven in the Rapture with a crowd of fellow believers, Keith Bauer admitted his disappointment Saturday as he stood in a near-empty parking lot outside the locked Family Radio headquarters in Oakland.
"I was hoping," the 36-year-old trucker told reporters, who outnumbered believers at the grimy hub of worldwide speculation that Earth would end that very day at 6 p.m. "Heaven will be a lot better than this earth.
Neither radio employees nor radio minister Harold Camping were in evidence on Hegenberger Road near the Oakland Airport.
Although it wasn't yet 6 p.m., Bauer began having doubts about Camping's prophecy when the predicted devastation and Rapture didn't happen in places like New Zealand, where the deadline had already come and gone. More
'Lucky man': 39 wives, 94 kids not enough for sect leader
GUWAHATI, India — The more, the merrier is certainly true for Ziona Chana, a 66-year-old man in India's remote northeast who has 39 wives, 94 children and 33 grandchildren — and wouldn't mind having more.
They all live in a four-story building with 100 rooms in a mountainous village in Mizoram state, sharing borders with Myanmar and Bangladesh, media reports said.
"I once married 10 women in one year," he was quoted as saying.
His wives share a dormitory near Ziona's private bedroom and locals said he likes to have seven or eight of them by his side at all times.
The sons and their wives, and all their children, live in different rooms in the same building, but share a common kitchen. More
JW Sex attacker preyed on 1,000 elderly victims
A former taxi driver dubbed the Night Stalker may have carried out as many as 1,000 sex attacks and burglaries.
Scotland Yard apologised for botching chances to catch Delroy Grant as he was found guilty of some of the "most depraved" crimes in its history.
The father of 10 faces life in jail after Woolwich crown court convicted him of 29 offences dating back 17 years, including three rapes, an attempted rape, seven indecent assaults and 18 burglaries.
Grant attacked victims aged between 68 and 93 in Warlingham, Shirley, Beckenham, Bromley, Addiscombe, Orpington and West Dulwich. But the force today issued a public apology as it admitted missing at least one major chance to snare him 10 years before his arrest.
The Jehovah's Witness, 53, went on to attack 146 more victims - three of whom were raped and 20 sexually assaulted. Seven victims died before getting the chance to see justice done. More
Who's in hell? Pastor's new book sparks eternal debate
A local pastor who lost his job after losing his old belief in hell says he hopes the controversy doesn’t harm his former church.
Chad Holtz was dismissed from Marrow’s Chapel United Methodist Church at 2828 Morgan Road after writing a note on his Facebook page supporting a new book by Rob Bell, a prominent young evangelical pastor and critic of the traditional view of hell as a place of eternal torment for billions of damned souls.
He preached his final sermon Sunday.
An Associated Press story about Bell’s book and Holtz’s dismissal was posted on news websites around the world Thursday. Hotlz said the story was accurate, but the one thing he wants everyone to know is this: “The people at my church are good people.”
In the book “Love Wins,” Bell criticizes the belief that a select number of Christians will spend eternity in the bliss of heaven while everyone else is tormented forever in hell. More
'Could codices prove 'the major discovery of Christian history'?
Experts are responding with a mixture of caution, hope, and skepticism to new claims that a recently discovered trove of 70 ancient sealed books may represent some of the earliest Christian documents.
Written on lead in Hebrew and Aramaic, the secretly coded books – or codices – were hidden for centuries in a remote Jordanian cave until a traveling Bedouin found them some five years ago, according to a statement released last week by British Egyptologist David Elkington. Depictions of crosses on the lead-bound leaves, coupled with metallurgical analysis, suggest to Mr. Elkington that these might be early Christian texts that pre-date even some letters in the New Testament.
Others aren’t so sure. All evidence to date suggests Christians didn’t use the cross as a symbol until the 4th century, according to Hershel Shanks, editor of Biblical Archaeology Review. The use of codices also dates to a later period, he said, and metal analysis has yielded no precise dating in this case. More
Woman Tries to Kill Children, Self to Avoid 'the Tribulation'
Palmdale -- A woman slit her daughters' throats before slitting her own early Friday evening, claiming that "the Tribulation" was going to occur and she wanted to prevent them from suffering through it, officials said.
Lyn Benedetto, 47, reportedly told her daughters to lie on a bed and proceeded to take a knife to their throats.
The suspect then took the knife to her own throat before driving the victims to an unoccupied friend's house to die.
Lancaster Station deputies responded to a call regarding an "assault with knife" at about 5:32pm from the owner of the residence where the victims had been taken. More
Biblical scholar's date for rapture: May 21, 2011
Harold Camping lets out a hearty chuckle when he considers the people who believe the world will end in 2012.
"That date has not one stitch of biblical authority," Camping says from the Oakland office where he runs Family Radio, an evangelical station that reaches listeners around the world. "It's like a fairy tale." The real date for the end of times, he says, is in 2011.
The Mayans and the recent Hollywood movie "2012" have put the apocalypse in the popular mind this year, but Camping has been at this business for a long time. And while Armageddon is pop science or big-screen entertainment to many, Camping has followers from the Bay Area to China.
Camping, 88, has scrutinized the Bible for almost 70 years and says he has developed a mathematical system to interpret prophecies hidden within the Good Book. One night a few years ago, Camping, a civil engineer by trade, crunched the numbers and was stunned at what he'd found: The world will end May 21, 2011. More
One dead after shots fired inside Jehovah's Kingdom Hall
LOWELL, Ore. -- One person is dead after a fatal shooting in Lowell, Ore., Wednesday night.
Shots were fired at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses on Pioneer Street.
On Thursday morning the victim was identified as 47-year-old Kenneth Mort of Lowell.
Robert Gonzales, 34, of Eugene was arrested on murder charges. Mort and Gonzales knew each other.
Gonzales fled the scene, sparking a manhunt. Oregon State Police troopers found his abandoned vehicle three miles from the hall.
The search involved Lane County sheriff's deputies, Oregon State Police troopers, Eugene police officers, police dogs and the Lane County sheriff's helicopter. More
Book publisher says televangelist Benny Hinn violated morality clause
SANFORD - A Lake Mary book publisher is suing televangelist and faith healer Benny Hinn, saying he violated a morality clause in their contract when he began an "inappropriate relationship" with another evangelist, and thus, must pay $250,000.
In August, Hinn admitted to a friendship with evangelist Paula White after The National Enquirer published photos of them in Rome, holding hands.
Hinn was married at the time. His wife, Suzanne, had filed for divorce a few months earlier.
Three years earlier, Hinn had signed a three-book deal with Strang Communications Co. of Lake Mary. He was paid a $300,000 advance on the first one, "Blood in the Sand," according to the suit.
Hinn acknowledged to his publisher "his inappropriate relationship" with White in August, according to the suit, and agreed that the publisher should get back its money, but he has yet to pay up. More
Confession app blessed by Catholic bishop
An iPhone and iPad app that helps Roman Catholics seek forgiveness for their sins has been sanctioned by the Catholic Church.
Confession: A Roman Catholic App, developed by Little iApps in South Bend, Ind., received an "imprimatur" — an official publication licence from the church — from Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of the Indiana Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, the company said in a news release.
The release added that this is the first known imprimatur given to an iPhone or iPad app, even though a number of similar apps already exist.
The app, which sells for $1.99, was the only religious app in the Top 10. Despite that, version 1.0.1, updated on Feb. 2, had not been rated enough times by users to display an average rating. The first version was released in December.
"This app has already aided one man in returning to the sacrament after 20 years," said Patrick Leinen, the app developer and co-founder of the company in a statement. More
Jehovah's Witness paid 13-year-old girl to keep quiet about sex abuse
A man who sexually abused a 13-year-old girl and took obscene photographs of her has been jailed for three years four months.
Liverpool Crown Court heard that 54-year-old Geoffrey Massey would pay the teenager after molesting her at his home in an attempt to keep her quiet.
But his crimes eventually came to light after he confessed to his daughter, who told other relatives.
In April, following the revelations, his young victim took an overdose and had to be treated at hospital.
Jailing 54-year-old Massey, who is a Jehovah's Witness, Judge Adrian Lyon said “I have regard for the totality of the offences and in particular the last count, which dealt with a number of photographs you took of the child, aged 13, on your behalf. More
Father sacrifices newborn girl child to please deity
In a shocking incident, a father scarified his newborn girl child to keep his promise to his family deity Kitotarmata. The man, Narottam Mana Devipujak, threw his child in a drain near his house in Sundarpuri, a busy slum area of Gandhidham.
"We have arrested the accused for this heinous crime," said MK Jadeja, police inspector of A-division police station, on Monday. "Narottam Devipujak was produced before the magistrate in Gandhidham court today."
According to the details of the case, the incident took place on Janmashtami night. Narottam, who sells vegetables from a kiosk, had vowed that he would offer a male goat to the goddess if a son was born to him. But if a girl child was born, he had sworn that he would straightway offer the child to the deity.
When his wife gave birth to a baby girl a day before Janmashtami, he decided to give her as an offering to the goddess. When everyone was glued to the TV watching the birth of Lord Krishna, he slipped away with the baby and threw her in a gutter close to the temple of the deity. Then he returned home, pretending as if nothing had happened. More
Hasidic Rabbi, Three Sons Accused of Rape, Incest
NEW YORK -- A Hasidic rabbi and three of his sons are suspected of sexually abusing at least four female relatives after the eldest victim confided in a co-worker at a Jewish school, police said Friday.
The 58-year-old father and his 21-year-old son fled to Israel two days ago and are wanted for questioning in the case, police said. They were apparently driven to the airport by the mother.
Two other sons, a 24-year-old and a 15-year-old, were arrested on sexual abuse and rape charges. It was unclear whether they had attorneys, and a message left at the home wasn't immediately returned.
The suspects' names are being withheld by The Associated Press to avoid identification of victims.
Police say the abuse came to light after the oldest victim, now 20, who worked as a teacher's aide at a yeshiva in Brooklyn, told a teacher there she had been abused. Authorities believe she was assaulted by her father repeatedly for 15 years. The other victims range in age from 8 to 19, and investigators believe the abuse was also repeated. More
Jehovah’s Witness Rapist evaded justice for years
A RAPIST evaded justice for 25 years because Jehovah’s Witnesses did nothing when told about his child sex abuse, a court heard.
Anthony Burns, aged 54, was confronted with his crimes against a young child in the 1980s but no action was taken by the religious organisation.
Burns repeatedly abused a girl as young as nine years old, from 1977 until 1984 when she revealed what had been happening.
Burns, of Back Road, Wisbech, in Cambridgeshire, denied four charges of indecent assault, attempted rape and rape but was convicted after a trial. The abuse took place in the 1970s and early 1980s in Eastbourne and Northamptonshire. He was jailed for 11 years and placed on the Sex Offenders’ Register for life.
Judge Charles Wide QC said: “It is very unfortunate the Jehovah’s Witnesses community dealt with a complaint in 1984 in a wholly inappropriate way, seemingly more concerned with their own reputation than doing justice, but I acknowledge they were very different times. More
Palestinian held for Facebook criticism of Islam
QALQILIYA, West Bank — A mysterious blogger who set off an uproar in the Arab world by claiming he was God and hurling insults at the Prophet Muhammad is now behind bars — caught in a sting that used Facebook to track him down.
The case of the unlikely apostate, a shy barber from this backwater West Bank town, is highlighting the limits of tolerance in the Western-backed Palestinian Authority — and illustrating a new trend by authorities in the Arab world to mine social media for evidence.
Residents of Qalqiliya say they had no idea that Walid Husayin — the 26-year-old son of a Muslim scholar — was leading a double life.
Known as a quiet man who prayed with his family each Friday and spent his evenings working in his father's barbershop, Husayin was secretly posting anti-religion rants on the Internet during his free time.
Now, he faces a potential life prison sentence on heresy charges for "insulting the divine essence." Many in this conservative Muslim town say he should be killed for renouncing Islam, and even family members say he should remain behind bars for life. More
Jehovah’s Witness jailed for grooming and abusing boy
A Jehovah's Witness who groomed and sexually abused a boy has been jailed for six years and eight months.
Thomas Gold, 45, of Alloa, Clackmannanshire, was sentenced at the High Court in Edinburgh.
He previously admitted committing indecency at a house in Tullibody between November 1996, when the boy was seven years old, and November in 2003.
Unemployed Gold took the boy canvassing for the Jehovah's Witnesses and to the Kingdom Hall.
When he became a teenager, the victim told elders at his church about the abuse.
Advocate depute Alison Di Rollo said the church leaders told Gold his behaviour was wrong and warned that if it continued he would be "disfellowshipped", or expelled, because the church disapproved of homosexual behaviour. More
The Church of Sit Up Cycling
A resident of Vancouver, Canada has started a new church. The Church of Sit Up Cycling. Cycling 'enthusiasts' have long exhibited a passion for their hobby or sport that resembles religious observance.
Now the realm of worship has come to the aesthetic art and act of regular citizens riding upright bicycles. We like this theological uprighteousness. Reverend James Twowheeler is the 'nom de plume' of the church's founder. As stated on the church's website:
Wearing their normal work and play clothes is an essential religious practice of members of the Church of Sit-Up Cycling. This may or may not include wearing plastic hats.
Believers wholly endorse the use of such accident-preventing safety measures as lights, bells, height, strict compliance with traffic signals, a leisurely pace and the use of dedicated cycling streets and lanes.
Reverend Twowheeler discovered a potential loophole in British Columbia's Motor Vehicle Act. British Columbia is one of the few places in the world that has all-ages mandatory helmet laws but there are exemptions from the law. Among them:
3 The following persons are exempt from the requirement under section 184 of the Act to wear a bicycle safety helmet: - a person for whom the wearing of a helmet would interfere with an essential religious practice; Among the individuals who could claim this exemption are Sikhs. And now, perhaps, the Church of the Sit Up Cycling. More
Locals Protest Mosque That's Actually a Church
Some vigilant citizens in Phoenix, Arizona are up in arms over a domed church that they wrongly believe to be a mosque. The large building, still under construction along a busy interstate, is actually a nondenominational church.
The backlash has been severe enough that the church's leaders have hung a giant banner over the dome: "IF YOU THINK DIFFERENT YOU ARE WRONG -- WE ARE BUILDING A CHRISTIAN HOUSE OF WORSHIP." The incident suggests that the widespread backlash against Muslim-American centers, which began this summer in reaction to the planned Cordoba House in New York, may still not have fully receded.
Phoenix's CBS affiliate KPHO reports, "People behind a new church in Phoenix are trying to stay ahead of any potential controversy or hate that accompanied the announcement of a proposed mosque near Ground Zero in New York City.". More
Jehovah’s Witness deal riles Aurora neighbors
AURORA — Residents in the Serenity Ridge neighborhood are upset by plans to sell nearby land for a massive Jehovah's Witness assembly hall, the first such hall in Colorado.
The 50,000-square-foot hall would be built on about 22 acres on the southeast corner of East Smoky Hill Road and South Oak Hill Way in southeast Aurora. It would seat 2,900 people and have up to 1,000 parking spots, according to preliminary plans. The property had been slated for the second phase of the Serenity Ridge neighborhood, which was to include a pool and clubhouse.
But the original developer went out of business and the new group that bought it from the bank is negotiating a sale to the Jehovah's Witnesses.
"I'm angry at the situation," said Carrelle DeSimone, who lives in Serenity Ridge, which is across the street from the proposed assembly hall. "There's a right place to build that, and it's not here." Neighbors worry the assembly hall will bring unwanted traffic and lower their property values. More
Nose-stud controversy draws attention to church's beliefs
RALEIGH -- With his split tongue, a tattooed scalp and earlobe piercings the size of hockey pucks, it's easy to mistake Richard Ivey III for a sinister character with angry, boiling insides - or a chap as peculiar as Queequeg, the doomed Polynesian whaler from "Moby Dick."
But spend a few minutes with Ivey, a bouncer at The Brewery on Hillsborough Street, and the quality that strikes you deeper than the holes in his body, or the ink under his skin, is his peacefulness. Speaking through a bushy orange beard, gazing through round spectacles, he shows the contentment of a cat resting in a sunbeam.
It's not a quality you expect from a 22-year-old who earns his paycheck knocking around with out-of-control punk rockers. But as a minister in The Church of Body Modification, Ivey can find peace at the end of a needle, or wholeness while dangling from hooks. He kills the pain inside by creating more of it on the outside. More
Moral search engines squeeze out sin on internet
Seek and ye shall find. A number of new internet search engines created by Christian, Jewish or Muslim entities aim to filter out queries from web users in a way that is more relevant to those users and keeps them from temptation, alcohol and pornography.
"We think that the other search engines are way too 'main street' oriented. We wanted to provide a solution to explore the web in a safe environment, where you won't bump into explicit content or immoral websites, like pornography," said Reza Sardeha, the Amsterdam-based founder of the Muslim-oriented search engine I'mHalal.
If one types the world alcohol into imhalal.com, the search engine produces results that explain the Muslim viewpoint on drinking. Type in "pornography", and the search engine produces... nothing.
The 21-year-old Kuwaiti says the site attracts users from places like Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates as well as the United States. More
Jehovah’s Witness Charged Over Blood Transfusion
A Jehovah’s Witness member faces a year in prison over her refusal to allow her son to receive a blood transfusion that might have prevented his death in August, Interfax reported Thursday.
Ilya Orlukovich, 11, was hospitalized in Moscow on Aug. 9 after being hit by a car, and he died two weeks later, a spokesman for the city branch of the Investigative Committee told Interfax.
He said the boy’s mother forbade doctors from offering a blood transfusion because of a Jehovah’s Witness teaching that prohibits such operations.. More
Preacher arrested for saying homosexuality is a sin
Dale McAlpine was charged with causing “harassment, alarm or distress” after a homosexual police community support officer (PCSO) overheard him reciting a number of “sins” referred to in the Bible, including blasphemy, drunkenness and same sex relationships.
The 42-year-old Baptist, who has preached Christianity in Workington, Cumbria for years, said he did not mention homosexuality while delivering a sermon from the top of a stepladder, but admitted telling a passing shopper that he believed it went against the word of God.
Police officers are alleging that he made the remark in a voice loud enough to be overheard by others and have charged him with using abusive or insulting language, contrary to the Public Order Act. More
Need Prayer? Drive-Thru Takes Orders To Go
LOMA LINDA, Calif. -- Joyce Kim needed a sign to remind her to pray.
She found it a few months ago along a stretch of rural road where she and hundreds of other Southern California commuters drive home every day.
A 4-foot placard reads "Need Prayer?" Shawn Heggi, a self-appointed Christian spiritual counselor, sits in a blue tent in the field nearby.
Now Kim tries to stop every Friday to pray with Heggi, 35, and two of his friends. They pray for a solution to Kim's financial troubles, the domestic violence victims she works with and the medical career she put on hold during her mother's 11-year battle with ovarian cancer.
"I go to church when I can, but that's on a set time," Kim said. "There may be times when I don't have time to go to church. This is just open, it's free, it's available for anybody, so I stop as often I can, when I can." More
Board denies Jehovah’s site request
MERRIMACK – The Merrimack Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, in search of a church of its own for 25 years, will have to keep looking.
Prompted by a host of concerns, the town Zoning Board voted down a proposal Thursday to allow a church on Wire Road, a residential zone where the congregation sought to build on the site of a retired farmland.
Congregation leaders, who have moved from location to location for 25 years without a home church, had selected the property at 62 Wire Road because of its size and location, as well as the quiet neighborhood, they said this week.
But neighbors, speaking against the proposal, expressed concerns over traffic, lighting and noise, among other issues the church could bring to the East Merrimack neighborhood, prompting the board to vote 3-1 against the project. More
Saudi woman beats up virtue cop
It was a scene Saudi women’s rights activists have dreamt of for years. When a Saudi religious policeman sauntered about an amusement park in the eastern Saudi Arabian city of Al-Mubarraz looking for unmarried couples illegally socializing, he probably wasn’t expecting much opposition.
But when he approached a young, 20-something couple meandering through the park together, he received an unprecedented whooping. A member of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, the Saudi religious police known locally as the Hai’a, asked the couple to confirm their identities and relationship to one another, as it is a crime in Saudi Arabia for unmarried men and women to mix.
For unknown reasons, the young man collapsed upon being questioned by the cop. According to the Saudi daily Okaz, the woman then allegedly laid into the religious policeman, punching him repeatedly, and leaving him to be taken to the hospital with bruises across his body and face. More
Priest Sex Abuse Linked to 13 Suicides in Belgium
Hundreds of sex abuse victims have come forward in Belgium with harrowing accounts of molestation by Catholic clergy that reportedly led to at least 13 suicides and affected children as young as two, a special commission said Friday.
Professor Peter Adriaenssens, chairman of the commission, said the abuse in Belgium may have been even more rampant than the 200-page report suggests.
"Reality is worse than what we present here today because not everyone shares such things automatically in a first contact with the commission," he told reporters.
Adriaenssens, a child psychiatrist who has worked with trauma victims for 23 years, said nothing had prepared him for the stories of abuse that blighted the lives of victims. More
Terry Jones Accused of 'Spiritual Abuse' at Cologne Church
The world is holding its breath -- and it's all down to a tiny Christian fundamentalist church in Florida.
Next Saturday, on the anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Rev. Terry Jones and his colleagues plan to burn hundreds of copies of the Koran on the church's property in Gainesville, Florida.
The White House has condemned the plan, and Muslim organizations around the world have warned of the consequences should the Koran-burning go ahead. But the church is sticking to its plans.
Naturally the radical Islamophobes know very well that their deliberate provocation could trigger potentially violent protests and riots. But they have washed their hands of any responsibility. "Let's just make one thing clear," the wannabe Koran-burners write on their blog. "A small church, in a small town, down a back road, burning copies of its own books, on its own property, is not responsible for the violent actions anyone may take in retaliation to our protest." More
Cleric in hot seat after calling for women to give men breast milk to avoid illicit mixing
A Saudi cleric finds himself in the hot seat after issuing a decree permitting unrelated women and men mingle so long as the guy drinks the woman's breast milk.
Sheik Abdel Mohsen Obeikan, a scholar and a consultant at Saudi Arabia's royal court, has called for women to give men breast milk to establish maternal relations and get around the ultra-conservative kingdom's ban on mixing between men and women who are unrelated.
"The man should take the milk, but not directly from the breast of the woman," UAE-based Gulf News quoted Obeikan as saying in local media reports. "He should drink it and then becomes a relative of the family, a fact that allows him to come in contact with the women without breaking Islam's rules about mixing."
Some Islamic scholars frown on the mixing of unmarried men and women. Islamic tradition, or hadith, stipulates that breastfeeding establishes a degree of maternal bond, even if a woman breast feeds a child who is not her own. More
Man claims ‘Yahweh’ sold him a foreclosed home
POLSON, Mont. — A Lake County jury convicted a transient of stealing a house in foreclosure by removing "for sale" signs, changing the locks and filing strange paperwork with the county claiming he purchased the house from Yahweh.
Jurors deliberated for less than an hour Tuesday morning before convicting Brent Arthur Wilson of theft, deceptive practices and tampering with public records or information. He faces up to 30 years in prison when he is sentenced Aug. 19.
Wilson was charged in February after Polson real estate agent Ed McCurdy investigated the removal of "for sale" signs from a $380,000 house he was selling on behalf of a lender in August 2009.
Further investigation found Wilson tried to use the house as collateral for a $125,000 loan he sought from a Missoula financial institution. More
Iran government issues style guide for men's hair
In an attempt to rid the country of "decadent Western cuts", Iran's culture ministry has produced a catalogue of haircuts that meet government approval.
The list of banned styles includes ponytails, mullets and elaborate spikes. However, quiffs appear to be acceptable, as are fashioning one's hair in the style of Simon Cowell or cultivating a 1980s-style floppy fringe.
Most of the models are clean-shaven although one picture features a man with a goatee beard, previously frowned upon by Iran's conservative clerics. Using hair gel is also within the law, albeit in modest quantities.
The "journal of Iranian hairstyles approved by the ministry of [culture and Islamic] guidance" was previewed at a government-approved hairdressing show in Tehran. More
Police say San Antonio man molested girl at church
Ramon Sanchez has asked God to forgive him following an admission he made to San Antonio police, according to the arrest warrant.
Police said the 73-year-old man confessed to molesting a 12-year-old girl at church and lured her with money.
The arrest document explains the alleged incident happened on Jan. 10. The victim alleges Sanchez started giving her money at Kingdom Hall in the 300 block of Price to befriend her. Police said the elderly suspect told the girl she could get money from him when he went to the restroom during church services. More
Registered sex offender to become ordained minister
LOUISVILLE, KY - A Louisville man who already leads the praise and worship at a church wants to take a higher role. He is a registered sex offender and will be ordained as a minister. It is something that is not sitting well with some.
At City of Refuge Worship Center, everyone is welcome. "Everyone sins, but He has forgiven us," said Kimberlin Bowling.
But what about sex offenders? "You may go to church somewhere and there may be one sitting right next to you and you don't even know it," said Bowling.
People at City of Refuge know about Mark Hourigan, who was charged in 1998 with sodomizing, sexually abusing and intimidating an 11-year-old boy. Convicted of two counts of sex abuse, Hourigan did his time in prison. More
Iranian cleric makes earthquakes and promiscuity link
TEHRAN, Iran — A prominent hard-line Iranian cleric elaborated on his claim that promiscuity and immodest dress cause earthquakes, saying Friday that God may be holding off on natural disasters in the West in order to let people sin more and doom themselves to hell.
The cleric, Kazem Sedighi, sparked widespread derision with his pronouncements in a prayer sermon last month that women who don’t dress modesty spread adultery in society, in turn increasing earthquakes.
In Tehran’s main weekly prayer sermon on Friday, he defended the claim but added some further explanation on why some places are hit more than others. “Some ask why earthquakes and storms don’t occur in the Western world, which suffers from the slime of homosexuality, the slime of promiscuity and has plunged up to the neck” in immorality, he said. More
Jehovah Couple Disown Son For Receiving Blood
A Jehovah Witness man, Kwabena Afum and his wife, Margret Afum aka Abena Oduma, have had a brush with the law after creating an unnecessary chaotic scene at New Edubiase Government Hospital in a bid to prevent medical officers from giving blood to their son.
Kwabena Afum was arrested last week Tuesday and granted a police enquiry bail the next day for causing panic and chaos by allegedly mobilizing some members of his church to foment trouble at the hospital.
He has since disowned five-year-old Jepheth Asamoah, who is currently in the custody of the Social Welfare Department in the district, even after his release. More
Pope: Church's own sins to blame in sex scandal
LISBON, Portugal -- In his most thorough admission of the church's guilt in the clerical sex abuse scandal, Pope Benedict XVI said Tuesday the greatest persecution of the institution "is born from the sins within the church," and not from a campaign by outsiders.
The pontiff said the Catholic church has always been tormented by problems of its own making - a tendency that is being witnessed today "in a truly terrifying way."
"The church needs to profoundly relearn penitence, accept purification, learn forgiveness but also justice," he said. More
Niqab woman booted from class again
MONTREAL - A Muslim woman in Quebec has been kicked out of a language course for the second time because of her refusal to remove a religious face covering.
The Egyptian immigrant made headlines last week when it was revealed provincial Immigration Department officials expelled her from a government-sponsored French class several months ago after she refused to take off her niqab.
Known only as Naema in Quebec media, she had since enrolled in another government-sponsored French class, this time at a community centre for immigrants in Montreal. More
A woman recalls her childhood of abuse by JW stepfather
In December 2005 I finally made my statement to the police. I wore a pinstripe shirtdress over jeans, so the police would know that I was someone capable of ironing and therefore reliable and truthful. I was left alone while the detective collected pens and paper, for it was to be a written statement, rather than a recorded or videoed one. It took six hours.
I told her about rapes and beatings. I told her everything I remembered. There was no room for me to cry, so I didn’t. I had done my difficult thing and now the statement was to be sent to the CID in Wales, where I grew up, and I had only to sit back and wait to hear from them.
The house becomes very cold when my stepfather Karl comes home. The air changes. I don’t like it when he is around living things. I like it best when he is driving a car, because then his hands are busy.
And I don’t like being a Jehovah’s Witness. Every Sunday morning and Tuesday and Thursday evenings we go to meetings at the Kingdom Hall. We have to sit very still or Karl hits us. It’s normal to hit children in the Kingdom Hall so he can do it and not worry. More
Passions over 'prosperity gospel': Was Jesus wealthy?
Each Christmas, Christians tell stories about the poor baby Jesus born in a lowly manger because there was no room in the inn.
But the Rev. C. Thomas Anderson, senior pastor of the Living Word Bible Church in Mesa, Arizona, preaches a version of the Christmas story that says baby Jesus wasn't so poor after all.
Anderson says Jesus couldn't have been poor because he received lucrative gifts -- gold, frankincense and myrrh -- at birth. Jesus had to be wealthy because the Roman soldiers who crucified him gambled for his expensive undergarments. Even Jesus' parents, Mary and Joseph, lived and traveled in style, he says.
"Mary and Joseph took a Cadillac to get to Bethlehem because the finest transportation of their day was a donkey," says Anderson. "Poor people ate their donkey. Only the wealthy used it as transportation."
Many Christians see Jesus as the poor, itinerant preacher who had "no place to lay his head." But as Christians gather around the globe this year to celebrate the birth of Jesus, another group of Christians are insisting that Jesus' beginnings weren't so humble. More
Muslim Scholars Say Body Scanners Violate Laws of Islam
Airport security is and will continue to be an important topic in the post 9/11 world. There is a fine line between security and the invasion of a traveler's privacy.
Many are claiming that the new full body scanners at some airports that show images of the human body in detail are an invasion of privacy.
The full body scanners were first detailed in 2009 and show anatomically correct images of the person being scanned that are only seen by the operator. After a failed Christmas day bomb scare on a Detroit-bound flight, speculation arose after that Obama could decree the wider use of full body scanners in airports. More
One of 'Jehovah's People' guilty of groping Minnie Mouse at Disney World
A 60-year-old Schuylkill County man was found guilty Tuesday of groping a woman dressed as Minnie Mouse while he and his family were visiting Walt Disney World in Florida.
John W. Moyer of Cressona was convicted of battery by a jury in Orange County Court in central Florida. Judge Wayne Shoemaker sentenced Moyer to 180 days of probation, 50 hours of community service and a $1,000 fine.
Moyer also must undergo a mental health evaluation and treatment, if necessary. The judge also ordered Moyer to write a letter of apology to the victim, Brittney D. McGoldrick, who is an employee of the amusement resort. Moyer did not testify during the trial.
"I am not guilty, and I pray to Jehovah, God, that he has mercy on Miss McGoldrick and the jury," Moyer said to WFTV 9. "I'm sorry they came up with the wrong verdict. More
Bible Possibly Written Centuries Earlier, Text Suggests
Scientists have discovered the earliest known Hebrew writing — an inscription dating from the 10th century B.C., during the period of King David's reign.
The breakthrough could mean that portions of the Bible were written centuries earlier than previously thought. (The Bible's Old Testament is thought to have been first written down in an ancient form of Hebrew.)
Until now, many scholars have held that the Hebrew Bible originated in the 6th century B.C., because Hebrew writing was thought to stretch back no further. But the newly deciphered Hebrew text is about four centuries older, scientists announced this month.
"It indicates that the Kingdom of Israel already existed in the 10th century BCE and that at least some of the biblical texts were written hundreds of years before the dates presented in current research," said Gershon Galil, a professor of Biblical Studies at the University of Haifa in Israel, who deciphered the ancient text. More
Followers find fulfillment without possessions at Twelve Tribes
The days begin early at Morning Star Ranch, where residents rise before dawn to pick their crops before a single leaf can wilt in the rising sun.
Then there are prayers at 7 a.m., followed by more planting, plowing or packing under the Valley Center sun.
At day's end, there is no TV to watch, no games to play and not even a dog to pet. And at the end of the week, as every week, there is no pay for all the work.
For the residents who call the ranch their home, though, it's paradise on Earth.
"It's what I dreamed life could be like," said David Alexander about life in the Twelve Tribes, the Commonwealth of Israel, a Christian community where he has lived six years and is known by his Hebrew name David Derush. More
Saudi religious police bar sale of red items to enforce Valentine's Day ban
The Saudi religious police have begun cracking down on stores selling any items that are red, heart-shaped or otherwise allude to the banned celebration of Valentine's Day, the Associated Press reports.
The AP, in a dispatch from Riyadh that quotes a Saudi official, says inspectors are even ordering stores to toss out such items as red roses.
The kingdom bans celebration of Western holidays such as Valentine's Day, named after a Christian saint said to have been martyred by the Romans in the third century. More
Does Jesus save aliens?
Four hundred years after Renaissance philosopher Giordano Bruno was burnt at the stake for his belief in the "plurality of worlds" (aliens), scientists and religious leaders gathered this week at a seemingly more open-minded Vatican for a conference on astrobiology (aliens).
The meeting focussed on current science, rather than the theological quandaries thrown up by the possibilty of other life forms beyond this planet. But that hasn't stopped debate spilling over outside the conference.
Yesterday I spoke to Paul Davies, a cosmologist from Arizona State University, just after he addressed the conference. In his view, the possibility of other civilisations - potentially more intelligent than our own - puts Christians “in a real bind”. Specifically, he says that nobody's satisfactorily addressed the question of whether aliens get saved. “The Catholic church offers a very species specific brand of salvation. Noone says that Jesus came to save the dolphins and certainly not little green men,” he said. More
Respected Jehovah's Witness groomed and molested young girls over years
A RESPECTED Jehovah's Witness who served as an elder betrayed the trust placed in him by abusing young girls.
James Michael O'Brien followed one schoolgirl into a kitchen when she was alone away from adults making tea at meetings he was hosting.
He pulled her towards him, sexually assaulted her and began to kiss her.
On another occasion he conducted a further sexual assault, Richard Wright prosecuting told Leeds Crown Court yesterday. She felt very angry about what was happening because adult worshippers in the Kingdom Hall "had a significant amount of trust placed in them", he said.
A second girl said when she was aged between 10 and 11, O'Brien touched her many times over her clothing when they were together for religious activities. More
Pastor Rapes Two Sisters
A 42-year old Shepherd of Celestial Church of Christ, Pastor Toyin Kadiri, has been arrested by the police in Lagos for allegedly raping two sisters at the same time.
Toyin was alleged to have raped the victims, names withheld, who are aged three and eight, when their parents had left for work.
P.M.News gathered that the pastor, who is married and has children, committed the crime when his wife and the victims’ parents were not at home on the day of the incident.
The incident happened at 28, Giwa Street, Onipanu, Ilupeju, Lagos, where the accused and the victims’ parents reside. More
Hi-tech holy water calms flu fear
Catholic churches in Italy are installing automatic holy water dispensers to help reduce the risk of spreading swine flu. The outbreak of the H1N1 virus has led many churches to suspend the tradition of having holy water in open fonts into which people dip their hands.
The new machine works like an automatic soap dispenser, squirting water when a hand is passed under the tap. Inventor Luciano Marabese says he is being inundated with enquiries.
Father Pierre Angelo Mota, from Capriano Briosco, north of Milan, said squirtable holy water had surprised some of his parishoners at first. "It has been a bit of a novelty," he said. More
A Witness account
The boy was just five years old and desperately ill, but as he crouched in the back seat of Donna Ryder's car, he became more fugitive than cancer patient.
Police in New Brunswick were already out looking for the child when, according to Ms. Ryder, she hid him and his mother in her Dodge Omni and drove them to Fredericton, away from children's aid officials who might have forced the son of Jehovah's Witnesses to accept a blood transfusion.
Fellow officials of the Church then took over, whisking the child to their Canadian headquarters, she says. The patient and his family ended up eventually in Mexico for alternative treatments that abided by the sect's controversial -- and vigorously enforced -- ban on receiving blood. He died soon after. More
World's biggest animal sacrifice
Kathmandu - Thousands of Hindu devotees have flocked to a village in Nepal ahead of the planned sacrifice of more than 300,000 animals in a ceremony condemned by animal rights activists, including French actress Brigitte Bardot.
Priests are preparing for the slaughter of more than 15,000 buffaloes and 300,000 birds, goats and sheep during the event, which starts Tuesday and is thought to be the biggest ritual sacrifice anywhere in the world.
Every five years, the village of Bariyapur, near Nepal's southern border with India, hosts this religious festival dedicated to Gadhimai, the Hindu goddess of power. More
God is not the Creator, claims academic
Professor Ellen van Wolde, a respected Old Testament scholar and author, claims the first sentence of Genesis "in the beginning God created the Heaven and the Earth" is not a true translation of the Hebrew.
She claims she has carried out fresh textual analysis that suggests the writers of the great book never intended to suggest that God created the world -- and in fact the Earth was already there when he created humans and animals.
Prof Van Wolde, 54, who will present a thesis on the subject at Radboud University in The Netherlands where she studies, said she had re-analysed the original Hebrew text and placed it in the context of the Bible as a whole, and in the context of other creation stories from ancient Mesopotamia.
She said she eventually concluded the Hebrew verb "bara", which is used in the first sentence of the book of Genesis, does not mean "to create" but to "spatially separate". More
Egypt anger over virginity faking
A leading Egyptian scholar has demanded that people caught importing a female virginity-faking device into the country should face the death penalty.
Abdul Mouti Bayoumi said supplying the item was akin to spreading vice in society, a crime punishable by death in Islamic Sharia law.
The device is said to release liquid imitating blood, allowing a female to feign virginity on her wedding night. There is a stigma about pre-marital sex in conservative Arab societies.
The contraption is seen as a cheap and simple alternative to hymen repair surgery, which is carried out in secret by some clinics in the Middle East. More
Christian cult stole our kids, say parents
A number of parents are stuck in a desperate battle with a church in Durban's upmarket suburbs that they accuse of "stealing" and brainwashing their teens.
Calling Grace Gospel Church in Pinetown a "mind-controlling" Christian cult, the parents claim girls have been married to men they hardly know, chosen for them by the church.
The church is a branch of Church Team Ministries International (CTMI), an international Christian group with head offices in Mauritius.
The group's leader, Basil O'Connell-Jones, was sent to Durban from another CTMI branch, Selborne Park Christian Church in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, in 2003. More
Christians in Jerusalem want Jews to stop spitting on them
A few weeks ago, a senior Greek Orthodox clergyman in Israel attended a meeting at a government office in Jerusalem’s Givat Shaul quarter. When he returned to his car, an elderly man wearing a skullcap came and knocked on the window. When the clergyman let the window down, the passerby spat in his face.
The clergyman prefered not to lodge a complaint with the police and told an acquaintance that he was used to being spat at by Jews. Many Jerusalem clergy have been subjected to abuse of this kind. For the most part, they ignore it but sometimes they cannot.
On Sunday, a fracas developed when a yeshiva student spat at the cross being carried by the Armenian Archbishop during a procession near the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City. The archbishop’s 17th-century cross was broken during the brawl and he slapped the yeshiva student. More
'Twilight' series spawns religion
How far is too far in our Twilight series fandom? With newspapers gaggling over film stars Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson's choice of wardrobe and hairstyle on a near-daily basis (though I'll give some of them credit, lately - see here), a readership of Stephenie Meyer's hit series that has reached over 30 million, the film reaching the number one spot for the year (see here), and children running around biting other children in the name of Twilight (supposedly - see here), we have to step back and wonder, when is our fandom getting to be too much?
Pillow Biters, one my favorite Twilight blogs, is reporting that the so-called Cullenist religion might be going "overboard to a realm that would make Mormon mom Stephenie Meyer cringe." More
Baby P ‘dad’ turns Jehovah in prison
The monstrous stepdad of Baby P has become a Jehovah’s Witness in jail. Sadistic brute Steven Barker, 33, keeps a bible in his cell and has told prison staff that he has "found God at last".
Last night officers tasked with guarding the beast from attacks by fellow cons remained dubious about the motive for his sudden conversion.
But a senior source at Wakefield prison in West Yorkshire insisted: "Barker is deadly serious about his new faith."
Evil Barker was caged with twisted lover Tracey Connelly, 28, after she helped him torture to death her defenceless 17-month-old toddler Peter. Barker is also serving life for raping a girl of two. The source said: "A lot of officers feel his conversion is a cynical move to try to win them over because it makes him look like he's got a moral compass after all. More
2 arrested in church thefts
TEMECULA - Two people were arrested on suspicion of burglarizing vehicles in church parking lots during services, a sheriff's sergeant said today.
Alfred Gonzales, 32, and Saira Utley, 22, were arrested around 9:15 a.m. Sunday at Hope Lutheran Church at 29141 Vallejo Ave., said Sgt. Steve Kusy, of the Riverside County Sheriff's Department.
The pair were driving in a black Toyota Camry in the parking lot of the church, when a deputy checked the license plate and discovered that it was reported stolen, Kusy said. More
Many Women Targeted by Faith Leaders, Survey Says
One in every 33 women who attend worship services regularly has been the target of sexual advances by a religious leader, a survey released Wednesday says.
The study, by Baylor University researchers, found that the problem is so pervasive that it almost certainly involves a wide range of denominations, religious traditions and leaders.
"It certainly is prevalent, and clearly the problem is more than simply a few charismatic leaders preying on vulnerable followers," said Diana Garland, dean of Baylor's School of Social Work, who co-authored the study.
It found that more than two-thirds of the offenders were married to someone else at the time of the advance. More
Murrieta minister to be sentenced for murder of wife
A Murrieta man convicted of murdering his longtime wife and making the killing look like it was done by an intruder is scheduled to be sentenced Friday and faces a lifetime in prison with no chance of parole.
Kelle Lee Jarka, 41 at the time of his trial, was convicted by a jury that deliberated about two hours in September before deciding he murdered his wife, Isabelle, at the family’s home and that the killing was for financial gain.
Prosecutors successfully argued Jarka, who was having financial problems, wanted to collect $1.3 million in life insurance on a policy he had taken out on his wife of nearly 20 years.
During the trial, prosecutor Burke Strunsky described Jarka as a man so enamored with his upper-middle-class lifestyle and position within his congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, that he was willing to sacrifice the life of his loving wife to maintain it. More
Pastor charged with 'video voyeurism'
A pastor at a Lake Elsinore church has been arrested for allegedly taking pictures up women's skirts with his cell phone camera without their knowledge, law enforcement officials announced Wednesday.
John Albert Kleinpeter, 51, was arrested Friday at his Murrieta home and charged with one count of video voyeurism for sexual pleasure, which is a misdemeanor, said Riverside County district attorney's office spokesman John Hall.
Kleinpeter's arrest followed an investigation into a series of incidents at Temecula and Murrieta Target stores where witnesses say they saw him use a cell phone camera or small mirror to secretly photograph or view up the skirts of unsuspecting female adult shoppers, according to investigators.
Kleinpeter is also known as "John Andrews," whom authorities said is a pastor at Generations Community Church in Lake Elsinore. More
Scientology calls for internet, media censorship in Australia
The “Church” of Scientology has called upon the Australian Government to censor the internet and media locally in direct response to protests from Anonymous.
In a long, rambling submission made to the Australian Human Rights Commission made earlier this year, the Church dedicates two and half pages of its six page submission to attacking Anonymous, calling Anonymous among other things “a hate group” of “cyberterrorists” that is engaged in a “malicious campaign of hate” that is “an anathema to democracy.”
The submission plays the we do nothing wrong card, stating:
In Australia Anonymous have mounted a sustained campaign of misinformation against the Church. As we are a minority religion with the vast majority of the population unaware of our true beliefs and humanitarian programs, their campaign has no justifiable purpose and violates the Church of Scientology’s and parishioners rights to human dignity and religious freedom under the Constitution. More
Religious fanatic hijacked Mexican plane after 'revelation'
MEXICO CITY—A Bolivian religious fanatic briefly hijacked a jetliner from the beach resort of Cancun as it landed in Mexico City on Wednesday, police said. All passengers and the crew were released unharmed. The Bible-carrying hijacker used a juice can he said was a bomb to hold the 103 passengers and crew on the tarmac for more than an hour.
Masked police stormed the aircraft with guns drawn and escorted several handcuffed men away without firing a shot. Police later said there was only one hijacker, and the other men aboard were detained because the suspect had told a flight attendant he had three accomplices. The others were quickly released.
Jose Flores, 44, later told police his three companions were "the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost." Flores hijacked Aeromexico Flight 576 after a divine revelation, according to Public Safety Secretary Genaro Garcia Luna. Flores said Wednesday's date—9-9-09—is the satanic number 666 turned upside down. More
A Society Based On Literature Distribution
I was recently invited to visit the Australian headquarters of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. It’s a large complex in Sydney with about 270 people living on the site. The center of the complex is a huge printing press printing their magazines: Watchtower and Awake!, twice a month in more than 25 languages. The magazines are available in Australia in 82 languages and world-wide they print in over 160 languages!
I often distribute Srila Prabhupada’s books in Sydney’s Town Hall station and in recent years we share the spot with the Jehovah’s Witnesses. It appears to me the general public are far more interested in purchasing and reading Srila Prabhupada’s books about Krishna than their “Watchtower.” However, although the public seem quite disinterested in their literature they distribute an enormous quantity of it world-wide. So when Shaun invited me to visit their Australian headquarters I was interested to see how they managed to print and distribute so much literature first-hand.
I discovered to be an “active” Jehovah’s Witness one has to distribute literature. They seem to value more the hours spent in distributing the literature and preaching then the actual quantity of magazines sold. Every member is called a “publisher” and the mission of the “publishers” is very clear. To distribute the magazines and preach to the general public. Most of this is done door-to-door. More
Man vs. God
Karen Armstrong says we need God to grasp the wonder of our existence
Richard Dawkins has been right all along, of course—at least in one important respect. Evolution has indeed dealt a blow to the idea of a benign creator, literally conceived. It tells us that there is no Intelligence controlling the cosmos, and that life itself is the result of a blind process of natural selection, in which innumerable species failed to survive.
The fossil record reveals a natural history of pain, death and racial extinction, so if there was a divine plan, it was cruel, callously prodigal and wasteful. Human beings were not the pinnacle of a purposeful creation; like everything else, they evolved by trial and error and God had no direct hand in their making. No wonder so many fundamentalist Christians find their faith shaken to the core. More
Sex offender Philip Garrido used Jehovahs Witness to get early parole
Philip Garrido and his wife Nancy are under arrest for the abduction of Jaycee Lee Dugard, then 11 years old, on June 11, 1991. Garrido was a convicted sex offender for past three decades who had been in an out of jail. Nancy was a devout Jehovah’s Witness who converted Garrido to the religious sect prior to 1978.
1991 was 18 years ago and the couple held the child and sexually abused her. Philip Garrido fathered two children by the abducted Dugard.
The Garrido’s kept Dugard and her children locked up in a backyard compound in Antioch California, east of San Francisco. They used the girl, along with being their sex slave, to handle telemarketing for printing business related to religious brochures the Garrido’s were promoting. More
Faith healing 'risks recovery'
Dr Tony Cassidy said he believes that some people who put their trust in faith healing may be less likely to adhere to medical advice.
He will be presenting his research at a British Psychological Society conference in Birmingham.
The Coleraine-based academic's research team questioned 766 people on their belief in and intention to use faith healing.
They were also surveyed about their intention to adhere to medical advice.
"We found that belief and intention to use faith healing was a significant predictor of self-reported non-adherence to a medication," Dr Cassidy said. More
Scientology defectors come forward - accounts of abuse
They are stepping forward — from Dallas and Denver, Portland, Las Vegas, Montana — talking about what happened, to them and their friends, during their years in the Church of Scientology.
Jackie Wolff wept as she recalled the chaotic night she was ordered to stand at a microphone in the mess hall and confess her "crimes" in front of 300 fellow workers, many jeering and heckling her.
Gary Morehead dredged up his recollection of Scientology leader David Miscavige punishing venerable church leaders by forcing them to live out of tents for days, wash with a garden hose and use an open latrine.
Steve Hall replayed his memory of a meeting when Miscavige grabbed the heads of two church executives and knocked them together. One came away with a bloody ear. More
Death risk high in childbirth among Jehovah’s Witnesses
LONDON: Pregnant Jehovah’s Witnesses are six times more likely to die during childbirth than other women, mainly due to an increased risk for severe bleeding, Dutch researchers said yesterday.
Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse blood transfusions for religious reasons, and knowing the risks more precisely can help health workers better prepare for dealing with people who decline lifesaving measures, said Jos Van Roosmalen of the Netherlands Society of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, who led the study. More
Irish Catholics Say Stump Looks Like Mary
DUBLIN -- Thousands of Irish Catholics have flocked this week to a County Limerick church to pray at the stump of a recently cut willow that many observers say has the silhouette of the Virgin Mary.
The phenomenon at St. Mary's parish church in Rathkeale, population 3,000 or so, harkens back to decades when Catholic devotion and pilgrimages were the dominant feature of rural life in Ireland.
Some are tying the fervor for Rathkeale's "Holy Stump" to Ireland's stunning economic decline over the past year.
"People have been crying out for something good to happen. And this is all good for the soul," said Noel White, who has been overseeing a church project to cut down trees dangerously overhanging the neighboring school playground. More
US pastor opens church to guns
A pastor in the US state of Kentucky told his flock to bring handguns to church in what he said was an effort to promote safe gun ownership.
Pastor Ken Pagano told parishioners to bring their unloaded guns to New Bethel Church in Louisville for a service celebrating the right to bear arms.
He said he acted after church members voiced fears the Obama administration could tighten gun control laws.
When the service began, some 200 people were present, AP news agency said. "We are wanting to send a message that there are legal, civil, intelligent and law-abiding citizens who also own guns," Mr Pagano told the congregation. More
Pope Urges Forming New World Economic Order to Work for the ‘Common Good’
VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI called for a radical rethinking of the global economy, criticizing a growing divide between rich and poor and urging the establishment of a “true world political authority” to oversee the economy and work for the “common good.”
He criticized the current economic system, “where the pernicious effects of sin are evident,” and urged financiers in particular to “rediscover the genuinely ethical foundation of their activity.”
He also called for “greater social responsibility” on the part of business. “Once profit becomes the exclusive goal, if it is produced by improper means and without the common good as its ultimate end, it risks destroying wealth and creating poverty,” Benedict wrote in his new encyclical, which the Vatican released on Tuesday.
More than two years in the making, “Caritas in Veritate,” or “Charity in Truth,” is Benedict’s third encyclical since he became pope in 2005. Filled with terms like “globalization,” “market economy,” “outsourcing,” “labor unions” and “alternative energy,” it is not surprising that the Italian media reported that the Vatican was having difficulty translating the 144-page document into Latin. More
Mormons and Gay Marriage: Are Mormons Misunderstood?
Last November, Jay Pimentel began hearing that people in his neighborhood were receiving letters about him. Pimentel lives in Alameda, Calif., a small, liberal-leaning community hanging off Oakland into the San Francisco Bay. Pimentel, who is a Mormon, had supported Proposition 8, the ballot initiative banning same-sex marriage. And that made him a target. "Dear Neighbor," the letter began, "Our neighbors, Colleen and Jay Pimentel" — and it gave their address — "contributed $1,500.00 to the Yes on Proposition 8 campaign. NEIGHBORS SHOULD BE AWARE OF THEIR NEIGHBORS' CHOICES." The note accused the Pimentels of "obsessing about same-sex marriage." It listed a variety of local causes that recipients should support — "unlike the Pimentels."
Pimentel, a lawyer and a lay leader in the small Mormon congregation in Alameda, is markedly even-keeled. Yet the poison-pen note still steams him, even though in May the California Supreme Court validated Prop 8 as constitutional. More
Man sees subtle victory in fight against Jehovah's Witnesses
Legal judgments can sometimes wear disguises. What appears to be a loss - as did, at first blush, the ruling on Monday dismissing Lawrence Hughes' appeal of a lawsuit against the Canadian branch of Jehovah's Witnesses - may, in fact, offer subtle victory.
That, at least, is Mr. Hughes' impression, as he continues doggedly, nearly seven years after the death of his daughter, Bethany, to hold the sect's governing Watchtower Society and its lawyers responsible for her death. "I see it as a win," he said yesterday.
For a man who has lost his daughter, been shunned by his surviving children, divorced by his wife and gone bankrupt from legal costs, reduced to defending himself in court, the instinct to imagine the smallest of triumphs must be powerful. More
Father Cutie Scandal: Sex and the Single Priest
Caught by paparazzi in the tender embrace of a woman on a Florida beach -- is this how celebrity Catholic priest Alberto Cutié's meteoric religious and multimedia career crashes down to earth?
Or does he emerge from a period of prayer and contemplation, humbled and chastened, renewing a vow of priestly celibacy he apparently violated -- and only recently publicly questioned?
It's Cutié's call.
In a brief telephone interview Wednesday, a day after he was relieved of his duties at his Miami Beach parish and the church's media arm, the internationally known priest and media personality said he was taking an indefinite leave for ``personal reflection.'' More
Survey: Faithful support terror suspect torture
The more often Americans go to church, the more likely they are to support the torture of suspected terrorists, according to a new survey.
More than half of people who attend services at least once a week -- 54 percent -- said the use of torture against suspected terrorists is "often" or "sometimes" justified. Only 42 percent of people who "seldom or never" go to services agreed, according to the analysis released Wednesday by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.
White evangelical Protestants were the religious group most likely to say torture is often or sometimes justified -- more than six in 10 supported it. People unaffiliated with any religious organization were least likely to back it. Only four in 10 of them did. More
San Diego County Trying To Stop Home Bible Studies
SAN DIEGO -- A local pastor and his wife claim they were interrogated by a San Diego County official, who then threatened them with escalating fines if they continued to hold Bible studies in their home.
Attorney Dean Broyles of The Western Center For Law & Policy was shocked with what happened to the pastor and his wife.
Broyles said, "The county asked, 'Do you have a regular meeting in your home?' She said, 'Yes.' 'Do you say amen?' 'Yes.' 'Do you pray?' 'Yes.' 'Do you say praise the Lord?' 'Yes.'" More
Jehovah's Witnesses: 'End is near'
WEST PALM BEACH, FL -- If you feel like the world has been crumbling down around you lately, the Jehovah's Witnesses say - you're right. It is. In fact, beginning this weekend, they'll be holding a series of public lectures entitled "How to survive the end of the world".
"It's imminent. It's at hand," says local Jehovah's Witnesses spokesman Travis Telfair.
Local Witnesses will be holding 14 consecutive 'conventions', as they call them, at their convention center on Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard - formerly the West Palm Beach Auditorium. They hold such gatherings each year, but this year's theme is, admittedly, far more alarming. Spritually surviving an imminent apocalypse! When? More
Afghan Taliban Kill Young Woman, Man for Eloping
A Taliban firing squad killed a young couple in southwestern Afghanistan for trying to elope, shooting them with AK-47s in front of a crowd in a lawless, militant-controlled region, officials said Tuesday.
The woman, 19-year-old Gul Pecha, and the man, 21-year-old Abdul Aziz, were accused by the militants of immoral acts, and a council of conservative clerics decided that the two should be killed, officials said.
The two had hoped to travel to Iran, which borders their home province of Nimroz, but their parents sent villagers to bring them home, said Sadiq Chakhansori, the chief of the provincial council. Once back home, the pair was either turned over to the Taliban by their parents or the militants took them by force, the officials said, providing slightly varying accounts. More
Ohio Christian school tells student to skip prom
FINDLAY, Ohio, - A senior at a Christian school in Findlay, Ohio, has been barred from graduation for attending a prom at a secular high school, his family said.
Tyler Frost, 17, disobeyed his principal at Heritage Christian to accompany his girlfriend to her prom at Findlay High School Saturday night.
Frost danced, held hands with his girlfriend and listened to rock music in violation of Heritage Christian's fundamentalist Baptist rules. More
Sheep sex arrest cited as proof of Britain's moral decline
Dr Akinola, the Primate of Nigeria and a leader of traditionalists worldwide, said the alleged offences of bestiality in south London showed how "spiritual degradation" was destroying the country's soul.
He also claimed the advent of civil partnerships for homosexual couples showed that politicians are "upturning the natural order" and doing away with God and family life.
Dr Akinola referred to the alleged farmyard sex crimes in an important speech to the General Synod of the Church of Nigeria, the 18 million-strong church's governing body, last month. More
Judge rules minister ineligible for confidentiality protections
An ordained minister with the Jehovah's Witnesses voluntarily talked to detectives investigating the bludgeoning death of a Murrieta woman making him ineligible for the confidentially protections afforded by law to clergymen and their parishioners, a judge ruled Friday.
The ruling means that Jose Cespedes must testify during Kelle Lee Jarka's trial on charges of murder for financial gain in connection with the April death of his wife, Isabelle Jarka.
Riverside County Superior Court Judge Timothy Freer ruled Cespedes waived his rights to confidentially, in part, because he freely gave statements to investigators on four separate occasions between April and June.
The ruling comes in response to Cespedes, an ordained minister with the Spanish Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses in Temecula, claim that he should not be compelled to testify because Kelle Jarka's statements were confidential communications between a clergyman and his parishioner. More
Mom Believes Son Will Come Back From Dead
A Baltimore mother charged with starving her son to death with the help of alleged fellow members of a religious group to which she said she belonged had been so brainwashed by the group that she agreed to withdraw her guilty plea if the child is resurrected in human form, according to her attorney.
"I have never seen anything like this in a plea agreement," said Steve Silverman, the attorney representing Ria Ramkissoon, 22, who was a member of the faith-based religious group One Mind Ministries at the time of her son's death in December 2006.
"It's clear [my client] is brainwashed," Silverman said today. "She is delusional, and the mere fact that she is currently insisting upon a caveat that her plea be dismissed if her son is resurrected speaks for itself."
Silverman said that Ramkissoon, who admits to withholding food and water and food from her son because he refused to say "amen" after meals, remains confident that her son, who had just celebrated his first birthday at the time of his death, will rise from the dead. More
Vatican insider calls Benedict's papacy a disaster
POPE BENEDICT'S repeated gaffes and the Vatican's inability to manage his message in the internet era are threatening to undermine his papacy, Vatican insiders have said.
The Holy See is struggling to contain international anger about the Pope's claim on his first official visit to Africa that AIDS "cannot be overcome through the distribution of condoms, which even aggravates the problems".
His remarks - and a furore over his lifting of a 20-year excommunication of a British bishop who questioned the Holocaust - has left him looking isolated and out of touch. More
Founder of Islamic TV station accused of beheading wife
NEW YORK - The founder of an upstate New York TV station aimed at countering Muslim stereotypes has been arrested on suspicion of killing his wife, who was beheaded, authorities said.
Muzzammil Hassan was charged with second-degree murder after police found the decapitated body of his wife, Aasiya Hassan, at the Bridges TV station in the Buffalo suburb of Orchard Park, said Andrew Benz, Orchard Park's police chief.
Hassan was arrested Thursday.
His wife filed for divorce February 6, and police had responded to several domestic violence calls at the couple's home, Benz said. More
`Sex-y' sermons cause stir in rural Alabama
GOOD HOPE, Ala. — It's one thing for a church in a big city like Dallas or Atlanta to tackle the ticklish topic of sex. It blends in with the urban scene.
It's another thing when a small-town congregation puts up billboards with the phrase "Great sex: God's way" on rural highways to promote a sermon series. You can't even legally buy beer in Cullman County, and a preacher is talking about S-E-X on Sunday morning?
Daystar Church, whose congregation has grown dramatically under pastor Jerry Lawson, has run up against the sensibilities of a conservative north Alabama community with a monthlong focus on sex.
Sex just isn't an appropriate topic for church, some say, and others are upset over the church's signs, which advertise the sermon series and accompanying Web site.
"It's really stirred up the people here," said Good Hope town clerk Joann Jones. More
Georgia judge jails Muslim woman for wearing headscarf
A city judge in Georgia has in the past eight days barred two Muslim women wearing Islamic headscarves from entering his courtroom, jailing one, and prompting an inquiry from the civil rights office at the US department of justice.
Judge Keith Rollins of Douglasville, Georgia, yesterday ordered Lisa Valentine, 41, to jail after she refused to remove her scarf before entering the courtroom, citing rules governing appropriate dress. Last week, Sabreen Abdulrahmaan was forced to leave Rollins's court before her son's probation hearing because she would not remove her scarf.
"It's a religious right," Valentine said. "It's our constitutional right that we can have our religious practices, no matter if it's a courtroom or not. He's supposed to be handing out justice, not taking away civil rights." Valentine said she sought to accompany her nephew to a traffic hearing yesterday but was told by a court security officer that she could not enter the courtroom with her headscarf on. She said she refused to remove it and turned to leave, saying, "This is bullshit". More
Church strips saucy sign
A Brampton church has removed a sexually suggestive message from a sign in front of its building after a complaint from the public.
The sign in front of Heart Lake United Church on Sandalwood Parkway East usually has inspirational messages on it, according to resident Nicole Cedrone.
So as she drove home from the doctor's office this week, she did a double take when she saw the most recent message: "Lying in bed shouting Oh God doesn't constitute going to church." More
Jehovah’s Witness jailed for trying to abduct girls
A FORMER teacher, businessman and senior Jehovah’s Witness who tried to abduct a five-year-old was yesterday jailed for six years. Robert Edward Bill, 54, was told by a judge that he was still in denial about his predatory interest in young children despite a series of convictions.
He has been found guilty at separate trials of the attempted abduction of the girl in Holywell two years ago, of indecently assaulting a seven-year-old 10 years ago, and of possessing 730 pornographic images of children.
Prosecuting at Caernarfon Crown Court, Simon Medland described how the girl had been returning home from a playground when Bill, “for malign purposes”, drew up in his car and asked: “Have you seen a cat?”
By chance the girl’s uncle arrived at the scene at that moment and her mother, who had been watching from a window, ran to her. More
Disney accused by cleric of corrupting children's minds
Christopher Jamison, the Abbot of Worth in West Sussex, has accused the corporation of "exploiting spirituality" to sell its products and of turning Disneyland into a modern day pilgrimage site.
He argues that it pretends to provide stories with a moral message, but has actually helped to create a more materialistic culture.
In a guide to helping people find happiness, the abbot, who starred in the hit-BBC series The Monastery, warns that society is in danger of losing its soul because of growing consumerism and the decline of religion.
He suggests that many people have become obsessed with work, sex and eating in an attempt to ignore their underlying unhappiness, and criticises corporations and industries that have benefited from promoting false notions of fulfilment. More
Jewish group sued over 'Adventist' name
What's the first thing that pops to mind upon hearing the word "Adventist"? The Seventh-day Adventist Church, probably.
Leaders of the international Christian church with 15 million followers have a trademark on the word in the United States. They say no one else can use it, not even a small Jewish society in North County.
The church filed a lawsuit Nov. 24 against The Federation of Jewish Adventist Society to force the Valley Center group to stop using the word in its name.
The Maryland-based leadership of the Seventh-day Adventist Church alleges trademark infringement and unfair competition in the suit, filed in San Diego federal court. More
Man accused of abusing girls he met through religious organization
FORT EDWARD - A Hudson Falls man was arrested Tuesday on charges he had sex with two underage girls in Argyle, an arrest that came a month after he was charged with having sexual contact with an underage girl in Rensselaer County as well.
In all, police believe Judd A. Gauthier, 22, had sexual contact with at least five underage girls, whom he knew through his involvement with a local religious organization, authorities said.
Gauthier, of Lower Feeder Street, met the teens through his involvement with a local Jehovah's Witnesses congregation, officials said. He is a member of a congregation but did not hold any position of leadership, officials said.
He has been charged in connection with three of the underage sex cases so far and was jailed Tuesday for lack of bail after arraignment. More
Indonesian Muslims banned from practicing yoga
JAKARTA, Indonesia – Indonesia's top Islamic body banned Muslims from practicing yoga that contains Hindu rituals like chanting, the chairman of the group said Monday, citing concerns it would corrupt their faith.
Cleric Ma'ruf Amin said the Ulema Council issued the ruling following weekend talks attended by hundreds of theological experts in Padang Panjang, a village in West Sumatra province. Though not legally binding, most devout Muslims will likely adhere to it because they consider ignoring a fatwa, or religious decree, sinful.
The ban, which follows a similar edict in neighboring Malaysia, was passed after investigators visited gyms and private yoga classes across the country to see what effect Hindu rituals like chanting mantras might have on Muslims. More
Disgraced pastor Haggard facing new sex allegations
Ted Haggard, one of our favorite members of the Rainbow Pastor Club, is back again.
A megachurch paid a 20-year-old man to keep silent about a sexual relationship he had with disgraced evangelical pastor Ted Haggard, a senior church pastor said. Haggard denies the new accusation.
Haggard, who was fired amid allegations that he used drugs and patronized a male prostitute in 2006, had a sexual relationship with a second man -- a 20-year-old volunteer at his megachurch, said the Rev. Brady Boyd, a senior pastor at the church. More
Vatican 2.0: Pope gets his own YouTube channel
VATICAN CITY — Puffs of smoke, speeches in Latin and multipage encyclicals have all been used by the Vatican to communicate with the faithful. Now the pope is trying to broaden his audience by joining the wannabe musicians, college pranksters and water-skiing squirrels on YouTube.
In his inaugural YouTube foray Friday, Pope Benedict XVI welcomed viewers to this "great family that knows no borders" and said he hoped they would "feel involved in this great dialogue of truth."
"Today is a day that writes a new page in history for the Holy See," Vatican Radio said in describing the launch of the site, http://www.youtube.com/vatican More
Farmer links seed patents to the Antichrist
Michael White, who farms near Scottsboro, keeps a Mason jar full of wheat grains next to his well-worn Bible. Capped with an antique zinc lid, the jar was filled by his grandfather decades before anyone dreamed of genetically altering plants or animals.
The jar reminds him of what he considers God's first earthly gift to humanity: seeds. It's a gift that is in danger of being eradicated, White says, through increased genetic manipulation of plant genes, hybridization and the patenting of living genes by large corporations. God's gift of seeds, given the day after he separated dry land from water and the day before he hung the sun, moon and stars is not something that should be taken away from a farmer. More
Pope slams human organ trade
Pope Benedict condemned the trade in human organs as an abomination on Friday and urged caution in removing organs for transplant from dying donors who might not actually yet be dead.
The pontiff told scientists and bioethicists meeting at the Pontifical Academy for Life that the worldwide illegal organ trade often made victims of innocent people, including children.
Buying and selling of human organs is a lucrative business for suppliers and countries that allow foreign "transplant tourists" to have operations they cannot get at home. Organs are often bought from poor peasants and sometimes harvested from condemned prisoners. More
Sex invariably spells trouble, says Dalai Lama
LAGOS, Nigeria -- The Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual and temporal leader, on Friday said sex spelt fleeting satisfaction and trouble later, while chastity offered a better life and "more freedom."
"Sexual pressure, sexual desire, actually I think is short period satisfaction and often, that leads to more complication," the Dalai Lama told reporters in a Lagos hotel, speaking in English without a translator.
He said conjugal life caused "too much ups and downs.
"Naturally as a human being ... some kind of desire for sex comes, but then you use human intelligence to make comprehension that those couples always full of trouble. And in some cases there is suicide, murder cases," the Dalai Lama said. More
Scientists discover brain area linked to pain resistance during intense religious experiences
Religious emotions and believes have often been linked to a capacity to deal with pain, as those images of Philippine men being willingly crucified during religious festivals so well demonstrate. But although changes in pain sensitivity during a religious experience are well documented, the exact psychological or/and neurological reasons of the phenomenon are unclear and, as such, have now become the aim of an investigation by a group of scientists, philosophers and psychologists from the University of Oxford.
The research, to be published in the next edition of the journal Pain1, reveals, for the first time, that religion-associated pain resistance is linked to the activation of the brain right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (VLPFC), an area associated with both cognitive down-regulation of pain and reassessment of the emotional meaning of an experience – for example by giving a neutral or even positive meaning to a noxious experience, and so making it much easier to cope with. More
'God said she needed to be taken off road'
A speeding pickup rear-ended a woman's sedan on the South Side on Friday morning and sheriff's officials say the driver said it was Jesus' will because the other motorist was not “driving like a Christian.”
The bizarre incident that shut down southbound U.S. 281 above the Medina River happened about 7:25 a.m.
“He just said God said she wasn't driving right, and she needed to be taken off the road,” said Lt. Kyle Coleman of the Bexar County Sheriff's Office.
The driver of the pickup was identified in a Sheriff's Office news release as Michael E. Schwab, 52, of Blooming Grove.
Schwab told first responders at the scene that “the other vehicle was not driving like a Christian and it was Jesus' will for him to punish the car,” according to the release. More
Nepal 'Buddha Boy' returns to jungle
KATHMANDU, Nepal -- A young man believed by followers to be a reincarnation of Buddha has returned to Nepal's jungles to meditate alone, police said Saturday, as scholars cast doubt on his supporters' claims.
Known as the "Buddha Boy," Ram Bahadur Bomjam, 18, became famous in 2005 after supporters said he could meditate motionless for months without water, food or sleep.
"Bomjam went back into the jungle late Friday and all the devotees have left," police officer Gobinda Kushwaha told AFP from Neejgad, a town in Bara District, 60 kilometres (37.5 miles) south of Kathmandu. The "Buddha Boy" reappeared earlier this month after supporters said in March 2007 that he was going to meditate for three years in an underground bunker, although he was spotted on two occasions.
For the last 10 days, he has been blessing thousands of devotees who came daily to the site in dense jungle close to Neejgad. More
Church Pastors Dismiss Mental Illness
In a study of Christian church members who approached their church for help with a personal or family member's diagnosed mental illness, researchers found that more than 32 percent were told by their pastor that they or their loved one did not really have a mental illness.
The problem was solely spiritual in nature, they were told.
Here's the thing: Other studies have found that clergy, and not psychologists or other mental health experts, are the most common source of help sought in times of psychological distress. More
Man killed at Hollywood Scientology center made prior threats
When he was a UCLA student 15 years ago, Mario Majorski was a committed enough Scientologist that he helped file a federal lawsuit against a professor who called the church a cult.
On Sunday, Majorski stormed the church's Celebrity Centre in Hollywood with a sword in each hand. He was shot dead by a security guard who police say had every reason to fear for his life and the lives of hundreds of others gathered on the property.
The reasons for Majorski's transformation from fervent believer to attacker remained a mystery Monday.
A church spokesman said the 48-year-old had not participated in Scientology activities for more than a decade, but in recent years he had made a series of threatening phone calls to church offices in Los Angeles and Oregon, where he had been living. More
Murder accused: 'I did it for God'
Samurai swordsman Antonie Dixon says God told him to chop off the heads of the two women he lived with, then plunge the sword through his own heart.
Dixon, 40, faces eight charges relating to the January 22, 2003 incident during which Rennee Gunbie and Simonne Butler were attacked with a samurai sword at Pipiroa, near Thames, and James Te Aute was shot dead in Auckland.
Defence lawyer Barry Hart told the jury in his opening address that calling Dixon to give evidence was a big step but it was taken so Dixon could tell the jury about himself.
Dixon told the court he hated himself and his life and had sought permission from God to kill himself. He said he was told that first he must behead Renee Gunbie and Simone Butler then plunge the sword into his own heart.
Speaking in a barely audible voice, Dixon earlier described his childhood growing up in an Auckland boarding house run by his mother, with three of his seven siblings. "I was the chosen one," Dixon said. He could communicate telephathically with his mother and got "messages" from radio music and programmes. Being the "chosen one" also meant he was regularly "raped and sodomised" by multiple church elders from an early age till he was about 15, he said.
As he got bigger and stronger "they would just bring in extra men," Dixon said. His mother was a schizophrenic who also sexually abused him, and would chain him to a clothesline. His father "had demons" that, on one occasion, "escaped from his body and raped one of the other Jehovah’s Witnesses", he said. More
Priest: No communion for Obama supporters
COLUMBIA, S.C. - A South Carolina Roman Catholic priest has told his parishioners that they should refrain from receiving Holy Communion if they voted for Barack Obama because the Democratic president-elect supports abortion, and supporting him "constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil."
The Rev. Jay Scott Newman said in a letter distributed Sunday to parishioners at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Greenville that they are putting their souls at risk if they take Holy Communion before doing penance for their vote.
"Our nation has chosen for its chief executive the most radical pro-abortion politician ever to serve in the United States Senate or to run for president," Newman wrote, referring to Obama by his full name, including his middle name of Hussein. More
Warring monks threaten destruction of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
A long-running row over the rights to a rooftop section of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre could bring the entire structure tumbling down, destroying Christendom’s holiest site.
While renovations are needed across the church, the small Deir al-Sultan monastery on its roof has reached an “emergency state”, according to engineers who completed an evaluation this month.
The Times has learnt that in 2004 the two chapels and twenty-six tiny rooms that comprise the monastery were pronounced in dire need of reinforcement. They have since deteriorated to the point where engineers now fear that they will crash through the roof and into the church, venerated by millions of Christians as the site of the Crucifixion and burial of Jesus. More
Saskatoon church failed to report sexual abuse
SASKATOON, Canada - Two women who were sexually abused in their adolescence by a trusted older relative say elders of the small-town Jehovah's Witness church in which they were raised did not report the situation to police after he admitted touching them inappropriately during the late 1980s and early 1990s.
"We were left to endure years of guilt and shame," one of the women wrote in a victim-impact statement read aloud by Crown prosecutor Krista Zerr during the man's sentencing hearing in Saskatoon Court of Queen's Bench on Monday. "I felt like damaged goods."
Due to a publication ban on information that could identify the victims, the convicted man's name cannot be published. He pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual assault earlier this year, on what was supposed to be the first day of his trial. In exchange, the Crown dropped charges of sexual interference and sexual touching, as well as a charge related to a male complainant. More
Pakistan 'child wedding' halted
Police in southern Pakistan have arrested two people for attempting to wed a seven-year-old boy to a four-year-old girl, officials say. It is believed to be the first time they have broken up such a marriage as the wedding was taking place.
The arrested men - the father of the groom and a cleric who performed the ceremony - say the wedding was meant to end a feud between the two families.
Child marriages are more common in remote tribal areas of Pakistan. In the latest case, family members of the children involved argued that they wanted them to get married in advance of their real wedding which will be held when the pair reach the marriageable age of 18. More
Controversial church plans to picket after deadly crash
SCOTT COUNTY, Tenn. - As a community mourns the loss of the four young cheerleaders, and a grandmother and unborn baby in the second car, Westboro Baptist Church, known for protesting soldiers' funerals, claims it will show up in Scott County to picket.
With one teenager buried, and another lying in the funeral home, people here say they're disgusted to hear that a group would take advantage of this tragedy to make a political statement.
Flags fly at half-staff, and you can't drive far in Scott Co. without seeing ribbons, in memory of those who died.
As everyone here stands united in their time of suffering, news that a group may use this event to protest is very upsetting.
Resident Ronnie Brock says, "Well, I'd say they don't need any extra grief at all with the tragedy that's happened. I'm sure the families have been through a lot and they'd just like a little bit of peace."
The group that plans to protest is from Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan. Their news release says "God Hates Tennessee" and says the cheerleaders "died for Tennessee's sins." The group that's known for strong anti-homosexual views told us by phone they now plan to protest at the high school, rather than at the funerals. More
Prince's door-to-door preaching shocks fans
Prince is often chased through the streets by his fans - as he tries to convert them to the Bible.
The singer, who became a Jehovah's Witness in 2001, goes house-to-house to preach about the faith.
And fans are sometimes so stunned to find the rock legend on their doorstep that they don't want to let him go.
He recalls, "Sometimes fans freak out. It might be a shock to see me, but that's no reason for people to act crazy, and it doesn't give them licence to chase me down the street." More
The rival to the Bible
The world's oldest surviving Bible is in bits.
For 1,500 years, the Codex Sinaiticus lay undisturbed in a Sinai monastery, until it was found - or stolen, as the monks say - in 1844 and split between Egypt, Russia, Germany and Britain.
Now these different parts are to be united online and, from next July, anyone, anywhere in the world with internet access will be able to view the complete text and read a translation.
For those who believe the Bible is the inerrant, unaltered word of God, there will be some very uncomfortable questions to answer. It shows there have been thousands of alterations to today's bible.
The Codex, probably the oldest Bible we have, also has books which are missing from the Authorised Version that most Christians are familiar with today - and it does not have crucial verses relating to the Resurrection. More
Girl, 3, wanted for role of living goddess.
Nepal's astrologers are reviewing horoscopes to find the replacement for the current goddess, who is 11.
"If we don't change her now, we'll have to wait until next year which could be late," said Deepak Bahadur Pandey, a senior official at the state-run Trust Corporation that oversees cultural affairs in the politically turbulent Himalayan nation.
"If the girl starts menstruating while serving as kumari, it is considered inauspicious."
For hundreds of years, living goddesses have been held sacred in Nepal and their blessings have been sought by officials and others seeking good fortune. More
Religious dissident arrested in Beijing, escapes from captors
Hua Huiqi, a religious dissident who was detained by the authorities Sunday as he made his way to a church service where President George W. Bush was scheduled to pray, has escaped from the police, human rights advocates and family members say.
Hua slipped away from his guards Sunday night after they fell asleep at a makeshift detention center, and he then went into hiding, said relatives and an e-mail message that he sent to the organization Human Rights in China.
His older brother, Hua Huilin, 52, was also seized by the public security agents as the two rode their bicycles to the church, but he was released after a few hours. The older Hua said both men had been roughed up and warned that their legs would be broken if they persisted in their efforts to attend church services at Kuanjie Protestant Church, an officially sanctioned congregation where Bush and his family attended morning services Sunday. More
Sikh girl wins battle to wear religious bangle at school
A Sikh teenager who was barred from school for wearing a religious bangle regarded as a ‘handcuff to God’ was discriminated against and should be allowed to return to classes, a judge has ruled.
Sarika Watkins-Singh was excluded after insisting she be allowed to wear the Kara – a bracelet worn by many Sikhs as a symbol of faith – despite her school’s ban on jewellery other than wristwatches and ear studs.
The 14-year-old, who had been a prefect at her school in South Wales, said tearfully that she was ‘overwhelmed’ by her High Court victory and described herself as a ‘proud Welsh Punjabi Sikh girl’.
The ruling means no school can stop a Sikh pupil from wearing the Kara to classes. More
Visits by McCain, Obama to Orange County church underscore Pastor Rick Warren's prominence
When John McCain and Barack Obama appear on the same stage Saturday at the sprawling religious campus of Orange County's Saddleback Church, their presence will vividly underline the reach that has made Pastor Rick Warren among the most significant evangelists of his generation. But the joint appearance -- one of Warren's highest-profile endeavors -- will also underscore a tension that is central to his role.
Pastor Rick Warren Warren has been called perhaps "America's most influential pastor," an evangelical megastar who leads the nation's fourth-largest church, reaches thousands of ministers through the Internet and crusades against poverty and AIDS. More
Jews debate the ethics of kosher food supply
The friend who told Susan Cetlin earlier this summer that she loves Aaron's brand kosher chicken didn't get the nod of agreement she might have expected.
Instead, Cetlin, a psychologist whose Sharon home is kosher, listed allegations of unsafe working conditions and underpayment against Aaron's parent company, Agriprocessors, the nation's largest producer of kosher meat and the object of a large immigration raid in May. Cetlin is boycotting Agriprocessors, and soon her friend was, too.
The raid on Agriprocessors' Iowa plant has sparked debate in the Jewish community about the role of ethical considerations in the production of kosher food and sets the backdrop against which the moderate Conservative movement will issue guidelines Thursday for an ambitious new "hekhsher tzedek," Hebrew for "certificate of righteousness." The additional stamp would identify producers of kosher foods that meet its standards regarding working conditions, treatment of animals, and the environment. More
Art student depicts Obama as Jesus
He wears Jesus' robes and a neon blue halo, looks like Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and is causing a stir at a Chicago art school.
An undergraduate student's paper mache sculpture of Obama as a messianic figure - entitled "Blessing" - went on display Saturday at a West Loop gallery run by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. By Monday, word of the piece had spread on political blogs, and the school had been flooded with calls.
David Cordero, 24, made the sculpture for his senior show after noticing all the attention Obama has received since he first hinted he may run for the presidency.
"All of this is a response to what I've been witnessing and hearing, this idea that Barack is sort of a potential savior that might come and absolve the country of all its sins," Cordero said. "In a lot of ways it's about caution in assigning all these inflated expectations on one individual, and expecting them to change something that many hands have shaped." More
Court saves baby's life
Port Elizabeth - Strict religious beliefs nearly claimed the life of a 14-day-old baby at the weekend.
The Legal Aid Board and Port Elizabeth High Court had to intervene on Friday night to save the life of a baby boy.
Dave McGlew of the Legal Aid Board in Port Elizabeth said the baby was born 10 weeks premature on June 23.
He had to have an urgent blood transfusion, but the religious beliefs of his parents, who are Jehovah's Witnesses, did not allow it.
Jehovah's Witnesses keep strictly to the Bible's decree that no form of blood may be eaten. They believe this is applicable also to the storage and transfusion of blood. More
'Pro-Life' Drugstores Market Beliefs
When DMC Pharmacy opens this summer on Route 50 in Chantilly, the shelves will be stocked with allergy remedies, pain relievers, antiseptic ointments and almost everything else sold in any drugstore. But anyone who wants condoms, birth control pills or the Plan B emergency contraceptive will be turned away.
That's because the drugstore, located in a typical shopping plaza featuring a Ruby Tuesday, a Papa John's and a Kmart, will be a "pro-life pharmacy" -- meaning, among other things, that it will eschew all contraceptives.
The pharmacy is one of a small but growing number of drugstores around the country that have become the latest front in a conflict pitting patients' rights against those of health-care workers who assert a "right of conscience" to refuse to provide care or products that they find objectionable. More
The end of the world is nigh. Its name is Gordon
I'm sitting in a Chelsea café having coffee with the first horseman of the apocalypse. He's very pleasant for a harbinger of doom and is not, as the Bible predicts, holding a bow and arrow but a Granny Smith's apple.
The horseman, or as he is known to friends, Gordon Ritchie, 50, latter day prophet and head of the Jehovah's Witness splinter group The Lords' Witnesses, is quite sure that the Bible refers to him in Revelation 6 when it predicts that the end of the world will be ushered in by four horsemen representing Pestilence, War, Famine, and Death. Naturally, such a claim is bound to call forth the Paxman in any journalist and I decide to put it to the test.
“Do you ride?”
I ask. “Well, I've been pony trekking,” he replies. More
Muslim woman: Scarf kept her from seat near Obama
DETROIT - A young Muslim woman said she and another woman were refused seats directly behind Barack Obama — and in front of TV cameras — at a Detroit rally because they wear head scarfs.
Hebba Aref said Wednesday that she and Shimaa Abdelfadeel were among 20,000 supporters who gathered to see Obama on Monday at the Joe Louis Arena when the groups they were with were separately invited by Obama campaign workers to sit behind the podium. But Aref said the campaign workers told members of both parties in separate discussions that women wearing hijabs, the traditional Muslim head scarves, weren't included in the invitation and couldn't sit behind the podium.
Aref, a 25-year-old lawyer, said a member of her group was told by a campaign worker that she could not invite Aref because of "a sensitive political climate." More
Teen from faith healing family dies at Oregon home
GLADSTONE, OR — A 16-year-old boy whose parents rely on prayer instead of medical care has died following an illness marked by stomach pains and shortness of breath, authorities said.
Officers and a deputy medical examiner were called to the family's house about an hour after the boy's death late Tuesday afternoon, said Sgt. Lynne Benton of the Gladstone Police Department. Gladstone is located south of Portland.
Benton said the boy was surrounded by family when he died and a board member of the Followers of Christ church contacted the authorities.
The boy got sick about a week ago and — like all members of the religious order — did not receive medical attention. His condition worsened Sunday and members of the church gathered for prayer, Benton said. More
Witchdoctor killings condemned
Known as the "Zeru Zeru", or ghosts, Tanzania's albinos have put up with the name-calling and the stigmatisation of being "black in a white skin" for years. The unluckier ones have even been kicked out of their home by relatives who see their condition as a curse on the whole family. Now albinos in the east African nation face an altogether more deadly threat. They have become the favoured prey of traditional healers, who kill them to harvest their body parts for get-rich-quick concoctions.
In the most gruesome of a spate of albino murders in the north-west region around Lake Victoria, one corpse was exhumed with all its limbs cut off. Others have been found minus tongues, genitals or breasts.
"In the past, albinos have been killed after being accused of witchcraft but this is a new phenomenon. This time they are being targeted by the witchdoctors themselves," said Simeon Mesaki, a sociologist at the University of Dar es Salaam. More
Florida Considers 'I Believe' License Plates
Florida residents may soon have the option to purchase license plates that display and represent their faith, thanks to a new measure currently under review in the Florida legislature.
Under the new legislation, residents will be able to purchase license plates engrained with the words “I Believe” alongside the image of a cross and stained glass church window.
Democratic Rep. Ed Bullard, one of the bill’s sponsors, was among those who showered praise for the measure, noting that it would give residents more freedom to choose from a variety of the current over 100 different license plate options available in the state of Florida.
“They may not be into the manatee, they may not be into Challenger,” Bullard said, speaking of the other license plate options available to state residents. More
Where angels no longer fear to tread
BY THE standards of European scientific collaboration, €2m ($3.1m) is not a huge sum. But it might be the start of something that will challenge human perceptions of reality at least as much as the billions being spent by the European particle-physics laboratory (CERN) at Geneva. The first task of CERN's new machine, the Large Hadron Collider, which is due to open later this year, will be to search for the Higgs boson—an object that has been dubbed, with a certain amount of hyperbole, the God particle. The €2m, by contrast, will be spent on the search for God Himself—or, rather, for the biological reasons why so many people believe in God, gods and religion in general.
“Explaining Religion”, as the project is known, is the largest-ever scientific study of the subject. It began last September, will run for three years, and involves scholars from 14 universities and a range of disciplines from psychology to economics. And it is merely the latest manifestation of a growing tendency for science to poke its nose into the God business. More
Sin & Death in Mormon Country: A Latter-day Tragedy
On March 2, 1982, Kip Eliason, age 16, distraught and filled with self-hate over his inability to stop masturbating, committed suicide. Before asphyxiating himself, Kip left his father a note:
Kip Eliason's five-year struggle to overcome masturbation started at age 11 when his grandmother persuaded him to join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), whose members are better known as Mormons. Kip was an intelligent and sensitive young man, perhaps too sensitive. More
Slain Girl's Father talked of seeing God
After admitting he had killed his 12-year-old daughter, William Redman told an emergency medical technician at the bloody scene of the slaying that he had seen God, according to a police report.
Redman, 54, was at the Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center Thursday, recovering from what the report said were self-inflicted wounds to his arms, wrists and neck.
He is accused of slitting the throat of his daughter, Gloria, on Wednesday at the Road Runner RV Park on Boulder Highway near Flamingo Road, where the family lives.
After William Redman slit his daughter's throat with a knife, he told a 911 operator who asked him how his daughter died: "It was the way Jehovah does things." He told a police sergeant, "I saw the light. What a trip," the report stated. More
Young girls' rapist jailed
A Jehovah's Witness, who raped two young girls and sexually assaulted another, has been jailed for ten years.
Patrick Nolan, 61, was told by a judge at Bradford Crown Court: "This was an appalling act of self-gratification."
Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC added: "I have to deal with you for the most serious offence a man can commit, short of homicide. Society would be outraged if I didn't pass upon you a sentence measured in years."
Nolan pleaded guilty to four charges of rape and one of indecent assault, committed on three different girls between 1983 and 1991. More
The ATM in the Church Lobby
Is that an ATM in the church lobby? Credit and debit card swipe machines in churches may startle some of the pious, but such kiosks, already present in some houses of worship, might become even more commonplace now that a new IRS regulation is in effect.
Beginning with gifts given in 2007, the IRS will demand documentation for charitable contributions under $250. Once, all one needed was a diary entry to vouch for such donations. Specially designed ATMs at church will help document such spur-of-the-moment cash gifts, as well as planned giving. Also as a result of the new IRS rule, credit card donations and tithing are likely to increase too because such electronic fund transfers leave a paper trail.
Large urban churches have been accepting credit cards for several years, tapping into the Generation P (for Plastic) aversion to carrying cash. Pastors like to tell jokes about parishioners collecting Frequent Flier points on the way to heaven. More
Banned From Church: Shunning of the Flock
On a quiet Sunday morning in June, as worshippers settled into the pews at Allen Baptist Church in southwestern Michigan, Pastor Jason Burrick grabbed his cellphone and dialed 911. When a dispatcher answered, the preacher said a former congregant was in the sanctuary. "And we need to, um, have her out A.S.A.P."
Half an hour later, 71-year-old Karolyn Caskey, a church member for nearly 50 years who had taught Sunday school and regularly donated 10% of her pension, was led out by a state trooper and a county sheriff's officer. One held her purse and Bible. The other put her in handcuffs.
The charge was trespassing, but Mrs. Caskey's real offense, in her pastor's view, was spiritual. Several months earlier, when she had questioned his authority, he'd charged her with spreading "a spirit of cancer and discord" and expelled her from the congregation. "I've been shunned," she says. More
Beat up infidel tourists, says radical cleric
ISLAMIC cleric Abu Bakar Bashir has returned to his hardline rhetoric with a call for followers to beat up Western tourists and for young Muslims to die as martyrs.
In the sermon, organised by an Islamic youth organisation and delivered a few kilometres from the home village of convicted Bali bombers Amrozi and Mukhlas, Bashir likened tourists in Bali to "worms, snakes, maggots", and specifically referred to the immorality of Australian infidels.
The address was caught on video by an Australian university student.
"The youth movement here must aspire to a martyrdom death," said the cleric, who was convicted of conspiracy over the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people, including 88 Australians, but was later cleared and released from prison.
"The young must be first at the front line - don't hide at the back. You must be at the front, die as martyrs and all your sins will be forgiven. This is how to achieve forgiveness."
During the sermon, Bashir talked of a previous visit to Australia, claiming that he had wanted to see the "beauty of the ocean" but was told by a friend there was "one condition" of a visit to the beach. "He said if you enter that area you must be completely naked," Bashir told the crowd of about 300 hearing his sermon. More
Jehovah's Witnesses elders refusing to testify in molestation case
A legal battle is looming over Riverside County's need to protect children, and people's right to practice religion without government intrusion.
A prosecutor wants leaders of a Jehovah's Witnesses congregation to testify about what a Murrieta man accused of molesting two girls told them. So far, two of the elders who oversee the Windsong Valley Congregation in Wildomar say that defendant Gilbert Simental's statements are confidential and they do not want to testify.
Simental, 49, of Murrieta, is charged with molesting two of his daughter's friends when they came to his home for sleepovers between July 2005 and July 2006, according to court papers. The girls are sisters who were 9 and 10 at the time, according to the court records. More
Was Moses high on Mount Sinai?
JERUSALEM - When Moses brought the Ten Commandments down from Mount Sinai, he may have been high on a hallucinogenic plant, according to a new study by an Israeli psychology professor.
Writing in the British philosophy journal Time and Mind, Benny Shanon of Jerusalem’s Hebrew University said two plants in the Sinai desert contain the same psychoactive molecules as those found in plants from which the powerful Amazonian hallucinogenic brew ayahuasca is prepared.
The thunder, lightning and blaring of a trumpet which the Book of Exodus says emanated from Mount Sinai could just have been the imaginings of a people in an “altered state of awareness,” Shanon hypothesized. More
Pastor Wants 30 Days Of Sex For Couples
The pastor for Relevant Church in Ybor City is challenging the couples in his congregation to get busy in bed every night for a month.
Wirth said the supposed 50 percent divorce rate is the reason behind the 30-Day Sex Challenge.
He said too many couples let the stress of jobs and daily life get in the way of intimacy. But there's a catch to the pastor's every day sex challenge -- it's for married couples only.
Unmarried people -- even if they are in a long-term relationship or living with someone -- are asked to abstain from sex for 30 days. More
Saudi Arabia's plans to behead woman, an accused witch
Saudi Arabia's religious police plan to behead a woman accused of being a witch, a human rights group said yesterday.
Human Rights Watch has asked the country's king to intervene over "absurd charges that have no basis in law".
Fawza Falih was arrested and interrogated in the northern town of Quraiyat two years ago and was sentenced to death.
The judges who convicted her relied on her forced confession and the statements of witnesses who said she had "bewitched" them.
One man claimed that he became impotent after Falih cast a spell on him. More
Jehovah's Witness husband allegedly wages holy war on Catholic wife
RACINE, WI - A man allegedly threatened to injure and kill his wife after an all-day argument over religion. The man, 30, is charged with substantial battery, first-degree recklessly endangering safety, false imprisonment and intimidating a witness. If convicted, he could face up to $40,000 in fines and 35 years imprisonment.
According to court records: Officers were sent to a 21st Street home at 8:23 p.m. Jan. 13, where they found the victim visibly upset and shaken. She said she and her husband had been arguing all day, since she refused to go to a Jehovah’s Witness meeting that morning. The woman said her husband is a Jehovah’s Witness while she is Catholic. She said he felt she should practice the same religion he does, and that she was lying to their daughter by allowing her to celebrate holidays like Christmas and Easter.
Starting that evening, the woman said their fight escalated. She said her husband has martial arts experience and has told her that he could “punch through steel if he wanted to.” She said her husband strangled her until she blacked out, held a knife to her throat and threatened to cut her hand off and to kill her. More
Outrage as Church backs calls for severely disabled babies to be killed at birth
The Church of England has broken with tradition dogma by calling for doctors to be allowed to let sick newborn babies die.
Christians have long argued that life should preserved at all costs - but a bishop representing the national church has now sparked controversy by arguing that there are occasions when it is compassionate to leave a severely disabled child to die.
And the Bishop of Southwark, Tom Butler, who is the vice chair of the Church of England's Mission and Public Affairs Council, has also argued that the high financial cost of keeping desperately ill babies alive should be a factor in life or death decisions. More
A Catholic Church Turns Into A Mosque
Believe it or not! A parish Church turns into a mosque every Friday, for the Muslims brothers and to offer their customary prayers.
This isn't a sequence from any Bollywood film, but a reality in the parish of Our Lady of Assumption of Ponzano near Venice, the romantic city of Italy.
The pastor of the parish, Don Aldo Danieli, 69, affirms, "It's useless to speak of religious dialogue and then bang the door on their face. Pope John Paul II addressed them as, 'dear Muslim brothers'. How can we close our church doors to them?" More
Would Jesus Date?
Christian endtimers leave their “mark” on the RFID industry
Christian endtimers opposed to RFID have formed numerous, interconnected groups whose leaders testify before legislators in the U.S. and Europe.
They’ve written books for major U.S. publishers. They’ve done thousands of TV and radio interviews, and protested at major retailers in the U.S., U.K. and Germany. Now, the RFID industry seems ready to admit, the Christians are costing them money.
The production levels and profits predicted by the RFID industry and computer trade rags five years ago have not materialized.
But rather than discussing production costs, or bad forecasting, RFID industry leaders are blaming the “bad information” being spread about the technology’s capabilities by Christian endtimers–even when they do not mention the Christians explicitly. More
"Anonymous" threatens to "dismantle" Church of Scientology via internet
A hacking group calling itself "Anonymous" has posted a chilling video on the internet, announcing that it plans to "dismantle" the Church of Scientology.
Wired.com reports that Anonymous has flooded Scientology servers with a distributed denial of service attack, is choking the Church's phone lines with prank calls and sending looped faxes of solid black pages.
"Over the years, we have been watching you -- your campaigns, your suppression of dissent, your litigious nature. All of these things have caught our eye," a synthesized voice on the video tells "leaders of Scientology".
"Anonymous has therefore decided your organisation should be destroyed, for the good of your followers, for the good of mankind and for our own enjoyment." More
Spank your wife for Christ
Practitioners of Christian Domestic Discipline (CDD) are Christian right wingers who believe the Bible gives them permission to dominate their wives and enforce their domination through ritualistic spankings. Most of the people who practice this lifestyle maintain that the spankings are designed to enforce the husband’s leadership in the household, and not as a form of sexual stimulation.
The CDD website (which is the largest domestic discipline site on the web) does admit that “Though we recognize by its very nature this subject can be erotic, we will keep this website as clean and wholesome as possible. However, we will not seek to deny the erotic nature of some CDD marriages, as we believe it is a natural consequence of following God's plan. After all, He created eroticism to be enjoyed inside a Christian marriage.”
Several Christian family sites have published articles attacking the practice, with one noting flatly that “Domestic discipline is BDSM [Bondage & Discipline/Sadism & Masochism].” The author goes on to state that “Domestic discipline is based on misinterpretations of the bible” and “If you are in a domestic discipline marriage please seek counseling so that you can make an informed, rational decision about your marriage relationship.” More
Slain sisters mourned at Christian, Muslim services
Lewisville, TX - Sarah and Amina Yaser Said looked luminescent in their pink dresses, a pink flower in each girl's hair. One might have thought the sisters were sleeping were it not for the matching pink-lined coffins that held them.
Their Christian funeral service Saturday – followed by a Muslim service later in the day – served as a reminder of the promise their short lives held and the needless tragedy of their deaths. Police believe they were killed by their father, a 50-year-old cabdriver.
And the police presence was a reminder that the girls' Egyptian-born father, Yaser Abdel Said, is still on the run.
Amina, 18, and Sarah, 17, who both attended Lewisville High School, were found shot to death in a taxi at an Irving motel Tuesday night. More
Pope condemns climate change prophets of doom
Pope Benedict XVI has launched a surprise attack on climate change prophets of doom, warning them that any solutions to global warming must be based on firm evidence and not on dubious ideology.
The leader of more than a billion Roman Catholics suggested that fears over man-made emissions melting the ice caps and causing a wave of unprecedented disasters were nothing more than scare-mongering.
The German-born Pontiff said that while some concerns may be valid it was vital that the international community based its policies on science rather than the dogma of the environmentalist movement.
The 80-year-old Pope said the world needed to care for the environment but not to the point where the welfare of animals and plants was given a greater priority than that of mankind. More
Crucifixes made in sweatshops
First it was toys, then clothing and sneakers, sporting goods, furniture, and now crucifixes. Crucifixes are being made at the Junxingye Factory in Dongguan, China, by mostly young women—several just 15 and 16 years old—forced to work routine 14 to 15 ½-hour shifts, from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 or 11:30 p.m., seven days a week.
There are also frequent 17 to 18 hour shifts ending at 1:00 or 2:00 a.m. and even monthly all-night 22 ½ to 25-hour shifts before shipments must leave for the U.S. All overtime is mandatory, and anyone missing even a single overtime shift will be docked a full day’s wages. It is common for the workers to be at the factory at least 100 hours a week. Workers are paid just 26 ½ cents an hour, which is half of China’s legal minimum wage (already set at a below-subsistence level) of 55 cents an hour. After fees deducted for room and board, the workers take-home wage can drop to just nine cents an hour. More
Church group find marijuana in their pizza
FLORENCE, AL -- An Alabama church group got the shock of their lives when they found marijuana in their pizza. It happened at a youth outing in Florence the day before Thanksgiving, and police still aren't sure where the pot came from.
The pizza came from a Papa John's restaurant in Florence.
The district office for Papa John's sent this press release:
"We have been notified by the Florence police of a possible incident of product tampering with a pizza order on November 21st, where a customer claims to have discovered marijuana on his pizza. We have investigated internally and have no reason to believe that the product tampering occurred at our restaurant or by any of our employees. We take great pride in serving a high-quality product to our customers and in our 12 years of serving the Florence community have never had an incident like this. We are cooperating with the police in their processes to get to the bottom of this claim."
Authorities did say an off duty Florence Police Officer ordered the pizza. More
Jehovah's Witness who refused blood transfusion dies
SEATTLE, WA - A few hours after a Mount Vernon judge ruled that a 14-year-old Jehovah's Witness sick with leukemia had the right to refuse a blood transfusion, even though that refusal might kill him, the boy died in a Seattle hospital.
Dennis Lindberg of Mount Vernon died shortly before 9 p.m. Wednesday in his bed at Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center, the boy's biological father, Dennis Lindberg Sr., told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Hospital spokeswoman Teri Thomas said she could not confirm or deny anything about the case at the request of the boy's legal guardian, who is an aunt.
Earlier Wednesday, Skagit County Superior Court Judge John Meyer denied a motion by the state to force the boy to have a blood transfusion. The judge said the eighth-grader knows "he's basically giving himself a death sentence."
Doctors diagnosed the boy with leukemia in early November and began treating him with chemotherapy at Children's Hospital, but stopped a week ago because his blood count was too low, the Skagit Valley Herald reported. The boy refused the transfusion on religious grounds. More
For young Sikhs, the turban is old hat
AMRITSAR, India: The day 14-year-old Jugraj Singh abandoned his turban and had a lifetime's growth of hair cut off, he collected the tresses from the barber shop's floor and packed them into a plastic bag. Then he threw the bag into a river flowing out of Amritsar, the spiritual home of the Sikhs.
"It was my parents' idea to float it down the river; they thought it would be a display of respect to the hair I had cut off," said Singh, now an 18-year-old business student. "For me it wasn't an emotional moment."
Like many young Sikhs, he found the turban a bother. It got in the way during judo classes. Washing his long hair was time-consuming, as was the morning ritual of winding seven meters, or more than 20 feet, of cloth around his head. It was hot and uncomfortable. More
What would Jesus Buy?
"What Would Jesus Buy?," a documentary produced by Morgan Spurlock ("Super Size Me"), follows Reverend Billy and members of his Church of Stop Shopping on their Christmastime journey across America. Traveling the country in their bio-diesel buses, they preach the gospel of putting away one's wallet to throngs of confused, bargain-hunting shoppers at mega-malls and Wal-Marts. In the last 50 years, the U.S. has gone from global producer to global consumer. And we've got the overflowing landfills and crippling credit card debt to prove it.
What could have been a bone-dry exercise in dogmatism is instead a witty, abrasive and hugely entertaining romp, thanks to director Rob VanAlkemade. Credit is also due to Reverend Billy, the alter ego of Billy Talen, who, after watching in horror as Disney took over his neighborhood (New York's Times Square), decided to mimic the local street preachers, the only people being heard over the commercial din. Since launching his crusade in 1997, Reverend Billy has been banned from 130,000 Starbucks worldwide, as well as from every Disney property. He has also added the 35-member Church of Stop Shopping Gospel Choir to his routine, a Baptist-style event delivered with all the evangelical, red-faced zeal you'd expect from a man who earnestly believes the world is plunging headlong toward what he calls "The Shopocalypse." More
New evidence in Jehovah's Witness molestings
Frederick McLean is one of the most-wanted fugitives in the United States, charged with 17 counts of child sexual abuse in California. Law enforcement sources say that when a victim’s family confronted McLean in 2004, he allegedly confessed. But before he could be arrested, McLean fled.
Authorities identified at least eight victims that McLean allegedly abused over the course of nearly a decade. One victim estimated McLean molested her “over 100 times,” according to the U.S. Marshals Service. Deputy Marshal Thomas Maranda, who is leading the hunt for the 56-year-old fugitive, says McLean gained the trust of many of his victims through his leadership position, as a so-called ministerial servant, in his local congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses near San Diego.
“His role in the church was significant,” Maranda explains, “because we believe that his participation in the church gave him access to his victims.” More
Nun, 79, declines to fight sex case
A nun who taught in Chicago-area Roman Catholic schools for more than three decades pleaded no contest Monday to molesting two teenage boys at a Milwaukee elementary school in the 1960s.
Sister Norma Giannini, 79, was scheduled to go on trial Monday at the Milwaukee County Courthouse. But instead she entered the no-contest plea and now stands convicted of two felony counts of indecent behavior with the underage victims.
According to a criminal complaint filed last December, Giannini engaged in dozens of sexual encounters with the two boys while she was 8th-grade teacher and principal at St. Patrick's School in Milwaukee. The complaint said that many of the incidents took place in the church convent, the school office and one student's home.
The complaint said the boys were 12 and 13 years old at the time of the abuse. Both of the students—James St. Patrick, 53, and Gerald Kobs, 55—attended Monday's hearing. St. Patrick said that he began abusing alcohol and drugs after the incidents and continued to do so for 35 years. He and Kobs "built up the courage over the years" to come forward, he said.
St. Patrick said he had sexual contact with the nun more than 100 times, beginning when he was in 7th grade, often after she removed him from class and took him to a bathroom in her office, the complaint alleged. St. Patrick told authorities that "her actions caused him to be confused because he had been taught that nuns were married to Jesus," the complaint said.. More
Too much time on teachings of Islam?
The parents of children at Houston Elementary School plan to complain to the school board about concerns they have with a seventh-grade history textbook, which they feel pays an undue amount of attention to the teachings of Islam.
When Jim Self asked his son last week what he was learning in school, he was surprised to hear his 12-year-old boy say that he was learning about the Prophet Muhammad.
That night Jim Self and his wife, Korina, flipped through their son's textbook, "History Alive!: The Medieval World and Beyond," and found at least three chapters dedicated to the Islamic faith, including an entire chapter dedicated to the Prophet Muhammad. More
Church nixes native dancing at Habitat for Humanity event
A Winnipeg church prevented aboriginal dancers from performing at a Habitat for Humanity event this week, saying the performance was not an expression of Christian faith.
Habitat for Humanity invited Kim Houle and her children to perform at its annual volunteer appreciation night, which was held Tuesday in an auditorium Habitat had rented for the event inside the Church of The Rock.
But the afternoon before the performance, the church told Habitat it could not allow the dancing.
"Native spiritual dancing has its roots in a different spiritual belief system that is incongruent with traditional Christian worship," Pastor Mark Hughes said in an e-mail. More
Teachers ordered to dress as Muslims
A SCHOOL was yesterday accused of MAKING teachers dress up as Asians for a day – to celebrate a Muslim festival.
Kids at the 257-pupil primary have also been told to don ethnic garb even though most are Christians.
The morning assembly will be open to all parents – but dads are BARRED from a women-only party in the afternoon because Muslim husbands object to wives mixing with other men.
Just two members of staff – a part-time teacher and a teaching assistant – are Muslim. More
Actor's Risque Past Halts 'Adam' Film
The man who plays Adam in a video aired at a Bible-based creationist museum has led a different life outside the Garden of Eden, flaunting his sexual exploits online and modeling for a clothing line that promotes free love.
After learning about his activities Thursday, the Creation Museum in Kentucky pulled the 40-second video in which he appears.
"We are currently investigating the veracity of these serious claims of his participation in projects that don't align with the biblical standards and moral code upon which the ministry was founded," Answers for Genesis spokesman Mark Looy said in a written statement.
The actor, Eric Linden, owns a graphic Web site called Bedroom Acrobat, where he has been pictured, smiling alongside a drag queen, in a T-shirt brandishing the site's sexually suggestive logo. The Web site, which has a network of members, allows users to post explicit stories and photos. More
Devotees serve spiritual food to detained blasphemer
IMPHAL, India - A 60-year old man who is in police custody for allegedly chanting "Hare Krishna, Hare Rama, Shan-na-mahoure" (beef is the best) repeatedly in front of devotees of Krishna was served prasadi (spiritualised food) Saturday by a devotee in police custody even as he was accused of blaspheming Lord Krishna.
Recently) devotees from the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) who were running a mobile shop selling books and other items faced an old man blaspheming Lord Krishna by announcing in front of them "Hare Krishna, Hare Rama, Shan-na-mahoure" five times. This drew the devotees` ire and a heated arguement resulted between the old man and the devotees.
Following the argument two persons who came with the old man assaulted one of the devotees named Braja Bhakta Das, 28 years, spiritual son of Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami of ISKCON, Manipur. The incident occurred at around 3.50 pm at Rup Mahal Tank in the heart of Imphal city. Though the devotee was not physically injured his clothing was torn in the assault. More
Would you seek sex advice from this man?
Ayatollah Khomeini had global fame as a religious leader of Iran, but a lesser known role he sought after was to advice the public on sex and relationships.
Doctor Ruth and Doctor Phil are blithering idiots compared to the manifest wisdom of Ayatollah Khomeini, who penned this nugget of wisdom:
"A man can marry a girl younger than nine years of age, even if the girl is still a baby being breastfed. A man, however is prohibited from having intercourse with a girl younger than nine, other sexual act such as forplay, rubbing, kissing and sodomy is allowed. A man having intercourse with a girl younger than nine years of age has not comitted a crime, but only an infraction, if the girl is not permanently damaged. If the girl, however, is permanently damaged, the man must provide for her all her life. But this girl will not count as one of the man's four permanent wives. He also is not permitted to marry the girl's sister."
Ayatollah Khomeini also noted:
"A Moslem woman may not marry a non-Moslem man; nor may a Moslem man marry a non-Moslem woman in continuing marriage, but he may take a Jewish or Christian woman in temporary marriage."
Khomeini was also an ardent advocate of animal welfare, as indicated when he penned this:
"The meat of horses, mules, or donkeys is not recommended. It is strictly forbidden if the animal was sodomized while alive by a man. In that case, the animal must be taken outside the city and sold."
Further advice may be found here: More
Let's call God Allah
Bishop Martinus Muskens of Breda in The Netherlands has called upon Christians to begin calling God “Allah”. Bishop Muskens is confident this will promote better relations with Muslims and, after all, “God doesn’t really care how we address Him.”
Speaking on the Dutch TV programme Network, Bishop Muskens says it could take another 100 years but eventually the name Allah will be used by Dutch churches. And that will promote rapprochement between the two religions.
More than 30 years ago Bishop Muskens worked in Indonesia and, there, God was called Allah, even in Catholic churches.
In the Arab world God is called Allah. The long history of Christianity in the Arab world led to the development of a rich Christian-Islamic theological vocabulary, which makes God a normal equivalent to Allah. Both Muslims and Christians use the word in the Middle East. More
Jehovah's Witness spared jail for sex attacks
A Jehovah's Witness has been spared a jail term after admitting a series of sexual assaults on children and adults in Clevedon.
Michael Porter, of Okehampton Close, north London, admitted 24 counts of indecent assault and gross indecency on 13 victims aged 18 months and older.
Among the individuals were others involved in the faith.
Judge Tom Crowther at Bristol Crown Court sentenced Porter to three years of community rehabilitation.
But Porter's sister, Tina Hughes, said: "I am absolutely disgusted. He should not have walked free.
"He has lost nothing. We have to tell the victims we have got no closure. He is an evil person. He is not human." More
China to Buddhas: Get permission to reincarnate
Tibet’s living Buddhas have been banned from reincarnation without permission from China’s atheist leaders. The ban is included in new rules intended to assert Beijing’s authority over Tibet’s restive and deeply Buddhist people.
“The so-called reincarnated living Buddha without government approval is illegal and invalid,” according to the order.
The 14-part regulation issued by the State Administration for Religious Affairs is aimed at limiting the influence of Tibet’s exiled god-king, the Dalai Lama, and at preventing the re-incarnation of the 72-year-old monk without approval from Beijing. More
Minister Charged With DUI And Indecent Exposure
Tommy Tester, a 58-year-old minister, joined the Rainbow Pastor Club when he was taken into custody on charges of indecent exposure, DUI and violating the open container law.
Tester was arrested after he urinated in plain view in front of a car wash where children were standing, according to the Johnson officer.
Tester was wearing a skirt at the time and offered to perform oral sex on the police officers that arrived on the scene.
The pastor of the Gospel Baptist Church in Bristol, VA is also an employee of a Christian radio station WZAP-AM. The stations owner, Al Morris, was reported as saying, "We do not know all the details and facts concerning the arrest; but for the time being Tommy has been relieved of his responsibilities at the station until such facts surrounding the case are determined. We pray that this matter can be quickly resolved. In the meantime, we ask you to pray for Tommy and for WZAP." More
Vatican trades Carbon Credit Indulgences
Leave it to the Vatican to place itself on the wrong side of yet another great moral divide.
In 1517 Pope Leo X offered indulgences in exchange for donations to rebuild St. Peter's Basilica.
This July, the Holy See announced it would become the first fully green sovereign state by accepting a donation of "carbon credits" from a subsidiary of Planktos, a Foster City firm hoping to profit from the global market in CO2 offsets — the scheme whereby companies, individuals, and now nations can buy forgiveness for their global warming sins.
So just like Leo X's absolution peddling scheme a half-millennium ago, the pontiff has set his church up to look morally ridiculous. More
Wal-Mart Gets Religious - Toys, That Is
Wal-Mart is about to bring religion to the toy aisle.
Early next month, 425 Wal-Mart stores nationwide will begin carrying faith-based toys from One2believe that target parents who would rather that their kids play with a Samson action figure than a Spider-Man action figure.
It's the first time the world's largest retailer has carried a full line of religious toys. "We're seeing interest from parents in faith-enriching toys," says Melissa O'Brien, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman.
Wal-Mart is known for it's low wages and limited healthcare coverage for their employees. Maybe the Jesus Doll can do "major medical mojo" on the workers, or the famous "loaves -n- fishes trick", to help stretch that strained household food budget. More
Reverend Billy Locked Up
Reverend Billy was arrested and detained while reciting the First Amendment in Union Square. The police claimed his preaching it at this month's Critical Mass constituted "Harassment of a Public Official". The NYPD has a history of some controversial arrests at the Critical Mass events, and at last night's the number of police practically outnumbered the riders. According to one account,
"...even unaffiliated riders were ticketed as they approached the park. Reverend Billy and his partner Savitri D were reciting the First Amendment to the United States Constitution to the gathered police force when Lieutenant Daniel Albano, head of the NYPD's Legal Division, ordered the Reverend's arrest and detention at the 13th Precinct station. It is believed Albano is the public official Reverend Billy has been charged with harassing." More
In U.S. Mormons are in the spotlight
Salt Lake City, Utah - After more than a century on the fringe of America's consciousness, Mormons are riding a wave of media attention and public scrutiny -- and say they welcome the chance to set a few things straight.
From Mitt Romney's bid to become the first Mormon in the White House to Public Broadcasting Service's four-hour documentary on Mormonism in May and a Hollywood movie opening this month focusing on one of Mormon history's darkest episodes, the once-isolated religion is moving into the open.
But areas the church would rather forget are sharing the limelight, including its awkward ties to nearly 40,000 fundamentalist Mormons who practice polygamy, which the church introduced before the Civil War and then banned in 1890.
"Big Love," HBO's series about a fictional polygamous family headed by a Viagra-popping husband in Utah, begins its second season this month, while Mormon fundamentalist leader Warren Jeffs will keep Americans tuned in to a real-life polygamous drama at his trial in September. More
Jehovah's Witnesses settle abuse cases
Nashville, Tenn. — A victims' rights group released documents that showed the Jehovah's Witnesses recently settled civil suits with 16 people who claimed they were sexually abused by church elders or that church officials failed to act on abuse allegations.
The group, called silentlambs, held a news conference in Nashville to demand that the denomination change its policy for responding to sex abuse reports.
Settlements were reached in late February and early March, according to court records obtained by silentlambs and posted to the group's Web site. Fourteen of the cases were filed in California; the other two were in Oregon and Texas.
Details about the settlement terms could not be disclosed under confidentiality agreements negotiated between the parties, said Stephen Owens, a plaintiffs' attorney involved in the California cases. Other cases are still pending, according to silentlambs, which couldn't say how many. More
Man scalds baby, Wife blames Satan
GALVESTON -- “That was not my husband; my husband is a wonderful father. Satan was working through his weaknesses,” said Eva Marie Mauldin, the 20-year-old mother of the 2-month old who was severely burned after her father placed her in a hotel room microwave in Galveston two weeks ago.
She blames the devil and some form of a demonic possession of her husband for what happened.
“I believe Satan works through our weaknesses. Satan attacked (Joshua) through his weaknesses,” said Eva Marie. More
Is Bishop Brown a boy diddler?
Orange County Catholicism hasn’t quite been the same ever since Bishop Tod D. Brown made like Martin Luther and hammered a document to the doors of Holy Family Cathedral in early 2004. That document, titled “The Covenant With the Faithful,” featured seven theses that Brown claimed represented a new era of transparency for a diocese long plagued by priestly pedophilia and its cover-up by Church and even county leaders.
He especially pointed the faithful to the fourth thesis: “We will work collaboratively with all members of the diocese to promote an atmosphere of openness and trust, and empower them as partners in parochial affairs and thereby create a new era for our Church in Orange County.”
But the promises quickly proved a PR sham, as His Excellency reverted to secrecy and stonewalling in dealing with the victims of priests and lay workers who once roamed the county’s parishes with little fear of punishment. When Brown did as he promised and finally released the names of accused priests serving in the Orange diocese just a month after his public nailing, it came in the form of a one-page press release. The names were bunched together in one paragraph, one after another, without explanation—no corresponding years of service or number of accusers. And while the Orange diocese settled with more than 90 victims for $100 million at the end of 2004, it still fought with lawyers to block the release of personnel files that revealed church complicity in molestations.. More
No Church for Church
A CATHOLIC publishing giant is refusing to sell Charlotte Church’s music after she called the Pope a NAZI.
The Welsh beauty made the slur about German-born Pope Benedict XVI in a jape for her new TV show.
She also dressed as a nun and smashed a Virgin Mary statue in a pilot episode of Channel 4’s All New Charlotte Church Show.
Now incensed directors of US-based Ignatius Press have pulled her CDs and DVDs from its catalogue and website.
The firm said: “We can’t stand by a woman who uses her stature in the media to mock the Eucharist, slander the Holy Father and denigrate the vows of religious women. Please join us in praying for this troubled young woman.”
Catholic-raised Charlotte, 20, sang for Pope John Paul II at the Vatican at the age of 12.. More
"All in the name of God" says abusive Mom
An evil foster mother was convicted of horrifically abusing three children — to raise them “in accordance with her faith”.
Fanatical Jehovah’s Witness Eunice Spry, 62, believed the two girls and a boy were possessed by the Devil and wanted to “purify” them.
She beat them with sticks and metal bars, forced them to drink bleach and eat their own vomit and faeces, and starved them naked in a locked room for a month.
She also kicked them, pushed sticks down their throats, strangled them, forced their hands on a hot cooker and rubbed their faces with sandpaper, a court was told.
Spry, described as chilling and cold, denied abusing the three and said she was only trying to bring them up according to her faith.
She told a jury at Bristol Crown Court: “I sweated blood for those children. I went to great lengths to protect them from immorality. “From a Christian point of view we expect our children to be obedient. As it says in the Bible, ‘Children, be obedient to your parents and make the Lord proud’.” More
Utah Republican says illegal immigration is plot by Satan
Provo, UT - A Utah County Republican delegate may not be catching hell for calling illegal immigration a satanic plot, but he isn't gaining any converts, either.
District 65 Chairman Don Larsen is urging the closing of national borders to illegal immigrants to "prevent the destruction of the U.S. by stealth invasion."
"In order for Satan to establish his 'New World Order' and destroy the freedom of all people as predicted in the Scriptures, he must first destroy the U.S.," his resolution states. "The mostly quiet and unspectacular invasion of illegal immigrants does not focus the attention of the nations the way open warfare does, but is all the more insidious for its stealth and innocuousness."
"In order for Satan to establish his 'New World Order' and destroy the freedom of all people as predicted in the Scriptures, he must first destroy the U.S. The mostly quiet and unspectacular invasion of illegal immigrants does not focus the attention of the nations the way open warfare does, but is all the more insidious for its stealth and innocuousness. " More
German court to decide on Sun Myung Moon visa
Koblenz, Germany - Lawyers for South Korean religious figure Sun Myung Moon told a German court Thursday he should be permitted to enter European Union nations and demanded Germany drop a visa ban against him.
Judges of the Rhineland Palatinate administrative tribunal said they would rule in mid-May on the case.
Germany's constitutional court had referred the case to the tribunal after deciding a 1995 ban on Moon and his wife was invalid because it was a restriction on religious freedom.
Because of the EU's open borders, the German ban effectively keeps the 87-year-old founder of the Unification Church out of many EU countries.
Youth-welfare officials regard Moon's organization as a sect that exploits the psychological instability of many young people. More
Those neatly dressed men and women who come to your door with a Bible in one hand and briefcase in the other are not from a church. Known as Jehovah's Witnesses, they are actually working for a large multinational corporation known as the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, Inc. This corporation has a president and board of directors, just as any Fortune 500 company would. Watchtower, Inc. currently owns billions of dollars worth of real estate in Brooklyn, New York, a farm and several publishing facilities.
Jehovah's Witnesses volunteer their time and donate money to the corporation, which has six million members worldwide. In exchange for their volunteer work, the corporation promises them that they may have a chance to survive a future worldwide destruction known as Armageddon, and afterward live forever on a deindustrialized paradise Earth.
One vital component to Watchtower theology is their main god known as Jehovah. This god resides in the Pleiades star cluster in the constellation of Taurus. This is explained in their literature by one of their prominent leaders known as Joseph F. Rutherford. In the 1928 book Reconciliation, on page 14 Rutherford explains:
"The constellation of the seven stars forming the Pleiades appears to be the crowning center around which the known systems of the planets revolve.... It has been suggested, and with much weight, that one of the stars of that group is the dwelling place of Jehovah and the place of the highest heavens;...."
" The constellation of the Pleiades is a small one compared with others which scientific instruments disclose to the wondering eyes of man. But the greatness in size of other stars or planets is small when compared to the Pleiades in importance, because the Pleiades is the place of the eternal throne of God."
Who Would Jesus Sue?
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards says Jesus would be "appalled" at how the United States has ignored the plight of those suffering around the world, and that he believes children should have private time to pray while at school.
Edwards, in an interview with the Web site Beliefnet.com, said Jesus would be most upset with the selfishness of Americans and the country's willingness to go to war "when it's not necessary."
"I think that Jesus would be disappointed in our ignoring the plight of those around us who are suffering and our focus on our own selfish short-term needs," Edwards told the site. "I think he would be appalled, actually."
Biblical accounts describe Jesus as a teacher and as a healer of multitudes of people who came to him for that purpose. Edwards, in contrast, obtained most of his massive wealth in lawsuits againt those attempting to bring healing to his clients.
Edwards also contrasts with Jesus in that he has a new $6 million, 28,000 square-foot mansion in North Carolina and a luxurious beach house, while Jesus had "nowhere to lay his head.” More
Priest jailed for exorcism death
The Devil is apparently alive and well in Romania. A Romanian priest has been jailed for 14 years for conducting an exorcism that led to the death of a nun who he believed was possessed by devils.
Irina Cornici, 23, died after being starved and chained to a cross at a secluded convent in the north-east.
The ritual in 2005 was led by Daniel Petru Corogeanu, 31, the priest at the Holy Trinity convent in Tanacu village. He and four nuns were convicted of manslaughter. The nuns got jail terms ranging from five to eight years. More
Muslim Woman Police Officer in Controversy
London , UK - A Muslim woman police officer has sparked a new debate by refusing to shake hands with Britain's most senior police chief for religious reasons.
The incident happened at a passing-out parade where Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair was inspecting a line-up of 200 recruits.
In addition to refusing a traditional congratulatory handshake from Sir Ian, the WPC - who wore a traditional Muslim hijab headscarf - also declined to be photographed with him as she did not want the picture used for 'propaganda purposes'. More
Priest Faces 6th Lawsuit Alleging Abuse
Miami, FL — A man who says a former Roman Catholic priest sexually abused him as a teenager sued the Archdiocese of Miami for at least $25 million Wednesday, raising the number of lawsuits involving the ex-cleric to at least six.
The 21-year-old man, identified in the complaint as John Doe No. 28, alleges that Father Neil Doherty sexually abused him while Doherty served as pastor at St. Vincent Catholic Church in Broward County, which falls under the archdiocese's jurisdiction.
Doherty — who was charged last year with several counts of child molestation — befriended the boy when he was 14 in 1999, according to the lawsuit. After a "quick grooming process" The pastor began sexually abusing Doe in various locations, including Doherty's car and in the bedroom of the St. Vincent rectory, said Jeffrey Herman, Doe's attorney. More
Pat Robertson Predicts "Massive Terror" for US
Virginia Beach , VA - When Pat Robertson is not too busy calling for the assasination of select world leaders, he takes time to forsee coming massive terror attacks.
On Robertson's television show "The 700 Club" he predicted that there would be a terrorist attack that would result in "mass killing" in the United States in late 2007. He further clarified this position with "the Lord didn't say nuclear. But, I do believe it will be something like that." Robertson says that he develops his predictions during prayer retreats when God speaks to him.
Pat Robertson has a long history of making controversial statements on a wide variety of subjects. Among some of his more memorable claims: in 1985, he said that he used his powers of prayer to steer Hurricane Gloria away from Virginia Beach, Virginia and his company's headquarters. In 1998, he stated that allowing "Gay Days" to occur at Disney World could result in variety of natural disasters to strike Orlando, Florida, including the possibility of a meteor strike. In 2005, He told Dover, Pennsylvania residents "if there is a disaster in your area, don’t turn to god." This was due to the fact that the school board in the town had rejected the idea of teaching the intelligent design theory in its public schools. Also in 2005, he called for the United States to assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. A statement he later denied making.. More
Clinton Hires Faith Guru
Washington, DC - Burns Strider, one of the Democratic Party’s leading strategists on winning over evangelicals and other values-driven voters, will join Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) as she prepares to launch her 2008 presidential campaign.
Strider now heads religious outreach for the House Democratic Caucus, and is the lead staffer for the Democrats’ Faith Working Group, headed by incoming Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.).
Incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) created the working group in 2005 when Democratic strategists recognized that the party lost ground in the previous election because of trouble appealing to centrist and conservative voters in rural areas, who tend to be church-goers driven by moral issues. Strider was an aide to Pelosi when the group formed and joined Clyburn’s staff as policy director of the Democratic Caucus in 2006.
Observers of Clinton’s expressions of faith say religion has always been important to her, that she attended prayer group meetings while first lady, and that she joined a Senate prayer group shortly after winning election in 2000. More
Rabbi Sentenced In Internet Sex Sting
Not wanting to let Catholic priests have all the fun, a Maryland rabbi was caught in a television sting operation trying to solicit sex from a 13-year-old boy over the internet.and was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison.
David A. Kaye, 56, told the judge that he traveled to Herndon for what he thought would be sex with a boy "as a cry out for help to fight my personal demons." Sobbing as he acknowledged his father, who sat in the courtroom in a wheelchair, Kaye said his conviction had made him face "the reality of who I am. . . . I know I need help. I pray that God allows me to get that help."
Kaye's attorney, Peter D. Greenspun, said the rabbi, who was featured last year on the "To Catch a Predator" series on "Dateline NBC," kept his sexuality secret and spent thousands of hours chatting online in search of liaisons. More
Gay Marriage Opponent Ted Haggard in Gay Tryst
Colorado Springs, CO - With a Clintonesque explanation about visiting a male prostitute and not having sex, then buying methamphetamine and not partaking of it, Ted Haggarty has joined the Rainbow Pastor Club.
"I am guilty of sexual immorality, I am a deceiver and a liar. There is a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark and I've been warring against it my entire adult life", Haggard said in a letter that was read to his New Life Church in Colorado Springs by a church overseer.
Haggard resigned as president of the National Association of Evangelicals after being accused by a male escort of having had a sexual relationship with him. He also agreed to step down as senior pastor of the New Life Church. More
Jesus the Jehovah's Witness Lured Boys for Sex
Goshen, NY - A 50-year-old Jehovah's Witness has been found guilty of trying to lure underage boys in Middletown to have anal sex with him and pose for nude photographs.
Jesus Cano was detained by Middletown police on June 24. Cano had been handing out a small packet of papers that included a written note, several pictures of his naked buttocks and a name, phone number and e-mail address.
Cano is a Mexican national with a valid visa to reside in the U.S. That visa will be revoked now that he's been convicted of a felony, and he will be deported after he serves his sentence. More
Muslim Cleric Justifies Rape of Unveiled Women
Sydney, Australia - Australia's top Muslim cleric was roundly condemned for saying women who didn't wear a veil were asking to be raped.
Sex Discrimination Commissioner Pru Goward accused Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali of inciting sexual assault by excusing the perpetrators while blaming the victims.
She said the Egyptian-born Mufti of Australia should be deported. 'It's time we stopped just saying he should apologise,' Goward said of the leader of Australia's 350,000 Muslims. 'I think it's time he left.'
Al-Hilali likened unveiled women to 'uncovered meat' in a fasting month sermon in Arabic to 500 worshippers at Sydney's biggest mosque.
'If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside on the street, or in the garden, or in the park, or in the backyard without a cover, and the cats come and eat it ... whose fault is it, the cats' or the uncovered meat? The uncovered meat is the problem,' he said. More
Pope changes what happens in the afterlife
Pope Benedict XVI of the Roman Catholic Church has many powers. His spoken and written word is infallible. His edicts are followed by hundreds of millions of people worldwide as a divine directive. He directs the actions of church clergy. Now it appears he has the power to alter what happens to souls in the afterlife.
The Pope has cast aside centuries of Catholic belief by abolishing formally the concept of limbo, in a gesture calculated to help to win the souls of millions of babies in the developing world for Christ.
All the evidence suggests that Benedict XVI never believed in the idea anyway. But in the fertile evangelisation zones of Africa and Asia, the Pope — an acknowledged authority on all things Islamic — is only too aware that Muslims believe the souls of stillborn babies go straight to Heaven. For the Church, looking to spread the faith in countries with a high infant mortality rate, now is a good time to make it absolutely clear that stillborn babies of Christian mothers go direct to Heaven, too. More
Moslems don't flog this Bishop
Some Moslems may want to flog the Pope right now, but according to an Islamic cleric they are not permitted to "flog the bishop" during Ramadan.
With regard to whether masturbating while fasting breaks the fast or not, Sheikh Hamed Al-Ali, instructor of Islamic Heritage at the Faculty of Education, Kuwait and Imam of Dahiat As-Sabahiyya Mosque, says:
"Masturbation during the daytime of Ramdan breaks the fast, based on the Hadith that a fasting Muslim gives up eating, drinking, and sexual desire for the sake of Allah. Since masturbation is a kind of sexual desire, a fasting Muslim must avoid it. The Prophet’s (peace and blessing be upon him) mention of “sexual desire” after “eating and drinking” is evidence that it breaks the fast if one does fulfill his or her sexual desire during the daytime of Ramadan. Therefore, masturbation does invalidate the fast, as it is one of the sins that if someone does it he or she would be violating the sanctity of this month.". More
Our Friends, the Hezbollah
Hezbollah, meaning “party of God”, is a Shia Islamist organization in Lebanon.
It follows a distinct version of Islamic Shia ideology developed by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, leader of the Islamic Revolution in Iran.
Tthe group's manifesto includes three goals: the eradication of Western imperialism in Lebanon, the transformation of Lebanon's multi-confessional state into an Islamic state, and the complete destruction of the state of Israel.
Not as widely known, Hezbollah has its origins in Muslim Brotherhood ideology, which is a direct import from the Nazis. This is clearly seen in their salute, which has no connection with any Muslim or Arab culture, but is a direct inheritance from the Nazi salute of the Third Reich. They are supported by Iran, which has the Farsi meaning of "Land of the Aryans."
Frag an Infidel for Christ
The Left Behind series of books focuses on a group of people who missed the Rapture. The Rapture is an event purported by certain Christian cultists in which Jesus teleports his followers out of this world to heaven. Those remaining on Earth will endure a terrible time of death and misery known as the great Tribulation.
These books have been very popular, selling over 50 million copies. They portray an evil character known as the Antichrist, who is a tax and spend liberal doing Satan's bidding, while the protaganists, known as the "Tribulation Force", thwart the antichrist and his Keystone Cops minions at every opportunity.
Now the game world can join in the excitement with the release of the official game of the series, Left Behind: Eternal Forces. The game environment is set in New York City. For the really daring gamers, they can switch sides and fight for the Antichrist. More
Presbyterian Church publishes 9-11 plot book
Louisville, Ky. - A controversial book about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks printed by the official publishing house of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has upset some of the congregation's members.
The book, "Christian Faith and the Truth Behind 9/11," alleges that the Bush administration was behind the attacks on the World Trade Center.
The author, David Ray Griffin, a professor emeritus at Claremont School of Theology in California, argues that the towers collapsed because of explosives and not because airliners crashed into the buildings. More
Jesus 'healed using cannabis'
Jesus was almost certainly a cannabis user and an early proponent of the medicinal properties of the drug, according to a study of scriptural texts published this month. The study suggests that Jesus and his disciples used the drug to carry out miraculous healings.
The anointing oil used by Jesus and his disciples contained an ingredient called kaneh-bosem which has since been identified as cannabis extract, according to an article by Chris Bennett in the drugs magazine, High Times, entitled Was Jesus a Stoner? The incense used by Jesus in ceremonies also contained a cannabis extract, suggests Mr Bennett, who quotes scholars to back his claims. More
Church leader jailed over 'slave wages'
A church leader who brought illegal immigrant workers into the UK to renovate his house was sentenced to three months in prison today.
Pieter Van Rooyen, 46, paid South African labourers "slave wages" for construction work on the luxury home on the Isle of Man, the High Bailiff's Court in Douglas heard.
Van Rooyen, who resigned as a Barclays bank manager before admitting the charge, made the men work up to 72 hours a week.
They were paid as little as £1.36 an hour and were not allowed to leave Van Rooyen's home without someone watching them. More
Islamic cell phones has Koran and points way to Mecca
SINGAPORE - The world’s first cell phone for Muslims is now on the market. It was introduced in Asia by the Singapore based company Ilkone Asia.
According to the company’s web site, the Ilkone I-800 phone provides Islamic prayer times for users wherever they are in the world and even points them toward Mecca when they select the city and country where they may be.
The phone also contains the full text of the Koran with English translations.
“The objective of the i-800 is to satisfy the needs of specific Muslims around the world, and the Middle East in particular, through a range of phones providing advanced Islamic solutions, applications, and functionality,” Tellawi said. “Ilkone will be a relevant and integral part of the personal lives and practices of modern Muslims everywhere, and the advanced mobile technology of Ilkone phones will meet their practical, technological, and emotional needs.”
The name ‘Ilkone’ comes from the Arabic word meaning “universe. More
In Bob we trust: the Subgenius world view
Quincy, MA - In many ways, Eric Walker is just a regular guy, a shy tech-support worker and self-admitted geek who lives with his wife in Quincy.
But in other circles, Walker, 37, is known as the Rev. Modemac, an ordained minister for the Church of the Subgenius, a world of geeks and weirdos, mavericks and misfits who meet to counter the Conspiracy, and, of course, to spread the Slack.
The First Church of Bob operates out of Walker's Copeland Street home, an online parish community, if you will, that is part of the larger Subgenius world, an almost too-weird-to-describe network tending to draw sci-fi nerds, skeptics and social outcasts who can let loose, commiserate and just be weird - mostly in online chatting.
Subgenius was founded in 1980 when Bob supposedly spoke to Ivan Stang of Cleveland and told him to start the church.
If nothing else, the religion is forthright about making money. Asked about the $30 fee to become a minister, Stang said, ‘‘Of course it's a rip-off, but you're getting ripped off every day.'' More
Student Arrested, Threatened To Blow Up Christian School
Some parents send their children to church affiliated schools to avoid the worldly distractions in the public schools, but in this case something went terribly wrong.
Authorities say an 18-year-old high school senior was arrested after he threatened to blow up his private school on the popular MySpace.com Web site.
Deputies say they searched Brian Hall at Sonrise Christian School yesterday and found a set of brass knuckles and a knife.
Polk County deputies say they searched Hall's vehicle, they found two more knives and a pipe with marijuana residue inside. More
'Jesus' arrested for sexual assault on man
Lochbuie, CO - A self proclaimed pastor and illegal alien was arrested in Colorado for sexual assault on a 20 year old man.
For 10 days, Jesus Alonso Ochoa-Gomez sexually assaulted a 20-year-old man, holding him hostage until the victim escaped to Aurora, Lochbuie police said Friday.
In early May, Ochoa-Gomez, now in custody in Weld County, moved into a house at 209 Wenatchee St. in Lochbuie. While his wife was away in Mexico, police said he assaulted the victim, who was much smaller than Ochoa-Gomez, an illegal immigrant.
"It started with pornography and fondling, and progressed to penetration," Sgt. Dan Boyle said.
Ochoa-Gomez is being held on charges of kidnapping and sexual assault. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have have put a hold on his release. More
Godless: The Church of Liberalism is the fifth major work by conservative pundit Ann Coulter. It was published on June 6, 2006 (06/06/06) to coincide with the number of the beast from The Book of Revelation.
The cover of the book shows Miss Coulter in a slinky black dress, with the word "GODLESS" imposed across the bottom of the image. The red letters flow onto her black dress in such a way that the first impression of the word is "GODDESS", with her image rising up above that word.
This is predictive programming in its purest form.
An important fact to realize is that book covers are very carefully designed. Nothing is left to chance in the words and images put on the cover, and how they are juxtaposed. On the day associated with the Beast of Revelation, also known as the Antichrist, the publishers of that book have offered up as a GODDESS our own "Crazy Annie" Coulter.
So, do you prefer her name on your forehead, or right hand?
Church Kicking: fad or here to stay?
A growing number of people around the world have started to go to church, but not for traditional worship.
They attend church in order to kick the building.
In a departure from the usual singing, sermon and of course, potluck, these individuals approach church buildings and other church property, and then kick it. Several of them have documented their endeavors for the web.
The movement appears to have an ecumenical flavor with the inclusion of Mosque beaters and Synagogue ignorers. One intrepid woman removes her clothing and engages in church whipping.
God Tells Man To Sacrifice Wife, Children
A man sentenced to 90 years in prison for attempting to set his Orlando home on fire with his family sleeping inside said God commanded him to sacrifice his wife and children, according to a Local 6 News report.
Hans Missal, 51, admitted to dousing his Orlando home with gasoline last March. Missal also duct-taped the doors shut and ran a hose from the house to a car tailpipe while his wife, son and daughter slept before he attempted to set the structure on fire.
Missal said he was following God's orders. More
Islamic extremists' love of hardcore porn
So how does a pious Islamic extremist and potential terrorist pass the time? He watches hardcore porn. Investigators found that at least one of two Islamic extremist planning an attack on the US from Canada was in possession of hardcore pornography.
n Muslim societies the calls for all women to be covered completely and constant diatribes that sexual immorality is a threat to Islamic nations have become commonplace. Yet there is mounting evidence that terrorist extremists commonly view hardcore pornography. More
Mothers expect Damien on 6/6/06
FOR one group of expectant mothers, their due date holds an extra dimension of dread. The prospect of giving birth on June 6, 6/6/06, has prompted talk of spawning devil children on Armageddon day.
For Hollywood and the worldwide entertainment industry it is by contrast a once-in-a- century opportunity to turn evil into gold. Leading the charge is 20th Century Fox, whose remake of The Omen, the classic 1970s horror film, will appear on June 6.
While some Armageddon believers fear that 6/6/06 will be “a day of satanic power” that may be marked by a comet hitting the Earth, others believe that the world is coming closer to what is widely known as “the rapture” — the moment the Lord calls the Christian faithful home and millions of born-again evangelicals will suddenly disappear from the Earth, leaving non-believers behind. More
Wives help man rape daughters
He has multiple wives who gave him scores of children, including five teenage girls whom he raped repeatedly over a period of 18 months before one of them blew the whistle on him.
The 45-year-old, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the children, had subverted parts of the Quran to justify incest.
While conducting a religious lesson, he convinced his wives that he had ownership over his children, which included having sex with them.
To add to these worries, he learnt that the girls were behaving inappropriately with boys.
He concluded that having sex with his daughters to “satisfy” them,
so they would be less likely to go with others, was the lesser of two
evils, said the lawyer. More
St. George, Utah. - A pastor was jailed after St. George police said he molested an 11-year-old student at a Christian school where he was a teacher.
Gabriel E. Carlin, 32, St. George, was booked into the Purgatory Correctional Facility Tuesday night for investigation of four counts of sexual abuse of a minor, a first-degree felony.
Carlin taught at the East Harbor Christian Academy in Washington, Washington County, where the victim attended school, St. George Police Sgt. Craig Harding said. The reported abuse began nearly a month ago, investigators said.
Attempts to reach officials with the East Harbor Christian Academy were unsuccessful Wednesday. Telephone numbers listed for the school were disconnected. On his Web site, Carlin refers to himself as "Pastor Gabe" and said he is the senior pastor of Living Faith Community Church in St. George. He said he and his wife operate a "classical Christian school." More
Israeli women decorate sacred places with their panties
Many woman would do anything to have a smart, handsome and well-to-do husband. Israel’s sacred places' guards often see a strange ritual.
Israeli women who go on pilgrimage to the grave of the Jewish Rabbi Yenothan ben Uziel tie their panties and bras to the grates of the burial-vault and to the nearby trees. They believe this will help them find good husbands in the future. More
OKLAHOMA CITY -- A pastor who has spoken out against homosexuality was arrested after propositioning a male undercover police officer outside a hotel, authorities said.
Claiming he was in the area "pastoring to police", the Rev. Lonnie Latham, 59, was booked into Oklahoma County Jail.
This event raises the issue about those individuals, mostly men, who are very concerned about the fact that men are having sex with each other. They are sometimes a bit too concerned about this, almost an obsession.
Are you listening, Lou Sheldon? Know what I am saying, Fred Phelps? What secrets do you hide, Jerry Falwell? As Shakespeare said it, "The lady doth protest too much, methinks." More
Christmas abandoned by Christians
The usual suspects in the "War on Christmas" include the ACLU, the schools, the malls, and Wal-Mart with their policy of a generic "Happy Holidays" type of greeting.
Now it has come to our attention that the latest place to find Christmas abandoned is at the local Christian church.
This is not a few isolated churches, but a nationwide trend. Expect it to come to a megachurch near you. More
Design outed: religion, not science
Advocates of Intelligent Design (ID) have claimed that it's a scientific theory, a legitimate rival of the Darwinian theory, that warrants being taught in the science classes of America's public schools.
Critics of ID have declared that ID isn't science at all. They say it is a way of sneaking religion into the public schools.
Now, none other than Pat Robertson has blown the cover of ID. The citizens of the town of Dover, Pennsylvania voted to reject a school board that promoted ID, and Robertson let loose with a warning. If something bad happens to you, Robertson said to the people of Dover, don't bother turning to God. He might not be there for you, he warned them, because "you just voted God out of your city."
Oops! Thanks, Pat, for connecting those dots. More