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Pastor of Texas church ‘knew it was wrong,’ but kept downloading child porn, feds say
The longtime pastor of a Texas baptist church was arrested on child porn charges after federal authorities said he downloaded and shared the explicit content — at times from the church.
David Lloyd Walther, the pastor at Faith Baptist Church in Round Rock, was charged with distribution, receipt, transportation and possession of child pornography, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas. The church has disabled its Facebook page and set its Instagram account to private. But in a statement to the Austin American-Statesman, deacon David Clawson said church leaders “regret anything” that happened.
“The church will continue to move forward as God has led,” said Clawson, who told the American-Statesman that Walther had been a pastor at the church for 18 years. More
Eight held for trying to burn Hindu priest family alive in Rajasthan
Rajsamand: An elderly couple, a priest and his wife were attacked with a petrol bomb to burn them alive in the Rajsamand district of Rajasthan late Sunday night.
The number of attackers is said to be around 10. The priest Navratna Lal (75) and his wife, Jamna Devi (60) suffered 80 per cent burns in the attack. Both were taken to the hospital by the police, where their condition remains critical.
The case pertains to the Devgarh police station area of Rajsamand district. According to the information, the shop of the priest's family was set on fire by throwing petrol bombs late on Sunday night. The priest and his wife were badly burnt in the attack. Those who have been admitted to Deogarh CHC. The condition of both remains critical. Police have detained eight suspects in this case and it might be a case related to property dispute. More
The invention of Joel Osteen: How a Houston boy became the world's pastor
Joel Osteen is wearing a new suit.
"I want to talk to you a little this morning—not long—about running your race with purpose in every step," Joel says. He nervously arranges several pages of notes alongside his Bible on the pulpit at Houston's Lakewood Church. He stumbles over words.
It's January 17, 1999, and Joel's father, the enigmatic John Osteen, is laid up in a hospital bed with complications from dialysis. Someone has placed a telephone receiver next to a speaker so John can hear his youngest boy preach from behind the pulpit for the very first time.
Joel's signature brown locks are swept back from his face, ending in a very-on-trend 90s mullet of curls. The brown three- piece suit swallows his narrow frame. He's 36 years old, but it feels as if Joel is playing dress-up in his father's work clothes. And, in a way, he is: The suit may be new, but the shoes on his feet were borrowed from his dad's closet. More
New Jersey Democrats ask Senators to target Hindu groups for fascism, Naziism
TEANECK, NJ – Days after the House Homeland Security came to Teaneck to host an anti-semitism hearing, Democrats in that town are asking U.S. Senators to target major Hindu organizations.
Democrats on the Teaneck Democratic Municipal Committee voted to adopt a resolution condemning Hindue organizations it deemed hate groups with “ties to Hindu nationalism” in India.
“It’s concerning that a Democratic political organization whose purpose is to elect its members to government office and to influence public policy would pass a resolution effectively condemning the entire Hindu religion,” said Republican New Jersey Senator JoePennacchio (R-26). “It’s extremely dangerous to target large segments of any ethnic group or religion for harassment using government resources. It was wrong when the entire Muslim community was profiled after 9/11 for the actions of a small number of extremists, and it’s just as wrong for all of our Hindu American neighbors to be treated this way today.”More
A pastor was part of the Jan. 6 mob — then preached about it, FBI say
Pastor Bill Dunfee stood before his congregants in late December 2020 and told them that they were victims of a great injustice, federal prosecutors say.
“The Government, the tyrants, the socialists, the Marxists, the progressives, the RINOs, they fear you. And they should,” he allegedly said Dec. 27, 2020, during his Sunday sermon, using a disparaging acronym for politicians considered “Republicans in name only.” “Our problem is we haven’t given them reason to fear us.”
But Dunfee, who started the New Beginnings Ministries church in Warsaw, Ohio, in 2001, had an idea about how they could change that: by going to the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, a recently filed FBI affidavit states. More
‘Unfair to force women to choose between religion and education,’ says Amnesty
At a time the Supreme Court is hearing petitions on the hijab ban in Karnataka schools, Amnesty International India on Monday said making women choose between the freedom of expression and religion and education was discriminatory.
“As India’s Supreme Court hears the petition on #HijabBan in Karnataka schools, we emphasise that forcing women to choose between their rights to freedom of expression and religion, and their education is a form of discrimination and miles away from the goal of women’s equality. (sic),” Amnesty India said in a tweet.
The Supreme court has been hearing petitions challenging the Karnataka High Court’s decision in March to uphold the ban on wearing of hijabs by girls and women in education institutions. More
Reaching the mystical heart of religion
We can choose to do good. We can choose to do ill. In Jewish thinking, which is followed by many if not most Christians, we find the idea of the yetzer. The word means inclination. We have a leaning toward good and toward evil.
We are called upon at all times to make the choice for the good as we understand it. Suffice it to say, however, that good deeds are not the sole province of religions. They are, furthermore, not the point of religion. You often hear the argument that one can be good without religion. Of course. So what? No argument. Yet this argument is made to dismiss religion, as if religion equated with morality. It does not. Religion is not basically about doing good, it’s about experiencing holiness. More
Son of Tyler pastor arrested, accused of stealing from same couple as father
TYLER, Texas – The son of a Tyler pastor who pleaded guilty to two theft of property charges was arrested on Monday, and is accused of stealing from the same elderly couple as his father.
Jerome Anthony Milton, 27, was arrested on two charges of credit card abuse against an elderly person, and was released on a combined $125,000 bond. During investigations into his father, investigators said they found Milton had been using the same bed-ridden elderly couple’s cards at an ATM machine to make withdrawals.
According to an arrest warrant, the pastor said “he would send Anthony in sometimes to pull money out of the ATM from the [couple’s] accounts.” More
The Age of Sacrilege: Ancient Hindu Authors Would Be Considered Blasphemous Today
Last month, an event with the International Booker winner Geetanjali Shree was cancelled in Agra after a Hathras resident registered a police complaint against her for hurting his “religious sentiments”. Sandeep Kumar Pathak found her award-winning novel Ret Samadhi “extremely obscene”.
The complainant was unaware that ancient Sanskrit texts describe the union of Shiva and Parvati in far more vivid details. Kalidasa’s Kumarasambhavam has a sensual description of Parvati, Shiva and their erotic love.
In fact, while translating his masterpiece Abhijnanashakuntalam into English, Sir William Jones deleted the passages that he thought could be unacceptable for European readers.
If someone argues that Kalidasa was a mere court poet and his works don’t rank among the scriptures, consider a sequence from the holy Shiva Purana. Lord Brahma, the creator of the universe, is the officiating priest for the wedding of Shiva and Parvati. The sacred text describes in extraordinary detail how Brahma gets attracted by her beauty. More
Christian convert to Islam gets bail in ‘adultery’ case
PESHAWAR: A local court has granted bail to a man charged with committing adultery following his conversion to Islam from Christianity and marriage to a Muslim woman here in 2020.
The additional district and sessions judge also confirmed the pre-arrest bail of his wife,who was also named in the case, directing the police not to arrest her.
The male petitioner, who is the prime accused in the case, was initially charged with kidnapping the woman but the police removed the charge and accused him of committing adultery.
Initially, the woman’s mother had alleged that the main accused, his brother and parents had kidnapped her daughter in Peshawar’s Saddar area on Oct 13, 2020, to force her into marriage. More
Mormon founder Joseph Smith’s photo discovered by descendant after nearly 180 years
Marooned in their homes, many Americans made the best of the early days of the pandemic by sorting through old boxes of family artifacts. One Saturday morning in March 2020, Dan Larsen and his wife were doing just that when they discovered the world’s only verified photographic image of Mormonism’s founder, Joseph Smith Jr.
Larsen, 79, is a great-great-grandson of Smith, who was killed by a mob near Nauvoo, Illinois, in 1844. Among the effects passed down to Larsen was a pocket watch that bore the initials of his great-grandfather Joseph Smith III, the prophet’s oldest son and founder of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, now called Community of Christ. There was also a second object, a locket that resembled a pocket watch.
When Larsen inherited the locket shortly before his mother’s death in 1992, its finial was bent and he was not able to open it, so he put it away for safekeeping. More
Naked and unashamed: Christians strip down at a South Texas nudist community
Outside the small Texas town of Elsa, a sheet metal fence too tall to see over surrounds a few acres of prime Rio Grande Valley land. In front of the compound’s drab, gray gate, bright orange letters spell out “Nature’s Resort.” The gate opens to reveal a seemingly ordinary community. RVs and small homes line the roads, péntaque and pickleball courts offer residents recreational spaces, and the front office acts as the community’s nucleus.
Nothing looks amiss, except that is, for what’s missing — namely, clothing.
Misty Katz, part owner of Nature’s Resort, finds comfort in shunning clothes. Growing up in South Africa, she was scolded by her parents for undressing in public when her clothes got dirty. She didn’t take those lessons too seriously. More than half a century later, she lives at a nudist (or naturist) resort in South Texas and doesn’t worry about dirty clothes anymore. More
Christianity becomes a minority, but religion is on the rise
Australian census data released yesterday shows that – for the first time in our nation’s history – Christians are in the minority.
News that just 44 per cent of Australians now identify as Christian – down from 74.6 per cent in 1996 – sent Christianophobes into a frenzy.
‘Abandoning God’ was trending on social media as atheists danced on Christianity’s grave. To be fair, the godless needed something to cheer about after Pride Week ended with the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade. More
Supreme Court Backs Coach in Praying on Field After Games
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court said Monday that a high school football coach who knelt and prayed on the field after games was protected by the Constitution, a decision that opponents said would open the door to “much more coercive prayer" in public schools.
The court ruled 6-3 for the coach with the conservative justices in the majority and the liberals in dissent.
The case was the latest in a line of rulings for religious plaintiffs. The case forced the justices to wrestle with how to balance the religious and free speech rights of teachers and coaches with the rights of students not to feel pressured into participating in religious practices. The liberal justices in the minority said there was evidence that Bremerton (Washington) High School Coach Joseph Kennedy's prayers at the 50-yard-line had a coercive effect on students and allowed him to incorporate his “personal religious beliefs into a school event.” More
Israel: Muslim leader charged for incitement of violence
A Muslim religious leader (imam) in the central Israeli city of Lod was indicted on two counts of incitement on Friday over remarks in which he praised Palestinians who “defend Al Aqsa Mosque.”
According to Israel’s police, the Cyber Department of the State Attorney’s Office charged Sheikh Yusuf Albaz, who was arrested two weeks ago, due to his public support for rioters who clashed with officers on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount during Ramadan.
“The publication of content… that is suspected of inciting against the security forces, and support for violent disturbances of order,” police stated, The Times of Israel (ToI) reported. More
How Oregon monastery Mount Angel Abbey became home to an architectural masterpiece
The Finnish architect Alvar Aalto, now recognized as one of the most important architects of the 20th century, completed some 300 buildings over a career that spanned more than 50 years. Only two are in the United States. One of them is in rural Oregon.
In 1963, Father Barnabas Reasoner, the librarian of Mount Angel Abbey, sent Aalto, then at the height of his career, an unsolicited letter asking him to design a new library for the Benedictine monastery. Improbably, Aalto said yes. He had an affinity for libraries — “libraries are my favourite projects” he wrote back to Father Barnabas — and he frequently worked with religious institutions. He may also have been intrigued by the project’s location in Oregon. Like Oregon, Finland had a robust forest industry, which Aalto had connections to. More
Cleveland rabbi arrested for soliciting an investigator who posed as an underage boy online
A Cleveland-area rabbi was arrested and suspended from his congregation after allegedly engaging in explicit online conversations and attempting to meet with an undercover investigator posing as a 15-year-old boy.
Rabbi Stephen Weiss, who has served as senior rabbi at B’nai Jeshurun Congregation in Pepper Pike, Ohio, since 2001, was arrested Monday evening by law enforcement officers with the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. The 60- year-old had traveled to a pre-arranged location to allegedly engage in sexual activity with the purported child, after communicating on a social networking app.
Weiss was charged with attempted unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, soliciting sexual services and possessing criminal tools, according to the prosecutor’s office. Weiss posted a $50,000 bond, and is required to wear a GPS standard monitoring device as a condition of his jail release. More
‘Mormon Land’: Is ‘Under the Banner’ over the top? Religion scholars weigh in.
The FX/Hulu television series “Under the Banner of Heaven” has generated a social media storm among members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as well as former members and religion observers.
It tells the story of the gruesome 1984 murders of Brenda Lafferty and her 15-month-old daughter, Erica, at the hands of her husband’s two brothers. The story is built on a bestselling book of the same name by journalist Jon Krakauer, whose thesis is that religion — all religion and especially Mormonism — leads inevitably to violence.
Viewers of the first two episodes are debating whether the depictions are true to the faith of the 1980s and whether the actions of the investigators make sense — especially those of the fictional detective, played by Oscar nominee Andrew Garfield, whose faith journey is at the center of the show. More
Evangelical Benefactor Bill Hwang Arrested For Multi-Billion-Dollar Fraud
The Department of Justice unsealed the charges for Christian philanthropist Bill Hwang and his co-conspirators last April 27.
In a release, the Founder and Head of the investment firm Archegos, Sung Kook "Bill" Hwang, and Chief Financial Officer Patrick Halligan have been indicted for racketeering conspiracy, securities fraud, and wire fraud offenses in connection with multiple schemes of unlawful manipulation of prices of publicly traded securities in Archegos' portfolio and fraud of many leading global investment bank and brokerages.
"Today's announcement demonstrates the department's unwavering commitment to hold accountable individuals who distort and defraud our financial markets, including those who occupy the C-suite," said Southern District of New York Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco. More
The Nuns Who Grow Marijuana
Over the last year, news on the California nuns who are growing marijuana have traveled around the world.
Dwindling-stigmatized marijuana charms more consumers day by day, and its medicinal properties catch the eye of millions of growers willing to work with it; this time, two women have decided to dedicate their lives to grow marijuana in a farm.
The story started with Kate, a woman arriving in California in 2008 after ten years in Holland; she arrived in rural California – Merces county, in California Central Valley, with a tiny quality in the air.
At that moment, she started growing marijuana for a co-op over five long years till it closed in 2013; there she got to know precise marijuana growing, and she got in touch with patients using marijuana to alleviate the pain provoked by their illnesses – many of them in dire condition due to strong antibiotic treatment: at that stage, she got to deeply know the beneficial effects of this plant. More
Russian Patriarch Says Orthodox Faithful Are Holding Back the Antichrist
LONDON - The head of the Russian Orthodox faith was quoted as saying on Thursday that his church and its faithful were holding back the antichrist.
Patriarch Kirill was speaking six weeks into Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which has forced over 4 million people to flee, killed or injured thousands and left cities and towns destroyed.
While he was not quoted specifically referring to Ukraine, Kirill's comments backed the Kremlin line on the war by implying that Russia's actions there were a forced response to a foreign aggressor. More
Religion Is Declining but the World is More Cult-like Than Ever
Way before TikTok, sororities, or Her Campus, there was religion. People gathered around campfires to tell stories. Medieval peasants found solace in churches. Society was screwed up, but hey, they had each other, and I can’t knock that.
Flash forward to today. More Americans are secular than they’ve ever been, myself included. I’ve been an atheist to the point of bordering on anti-theism at certain points. Part of it was me being an edgy teenager raised in a Christian school, but part of it was because I couldn’t really bring myself to believe in a higher power — not a God, not spirits, not even astrology (it’s fun but just that). While I’d love to run off to a commune and avoid my responsibilities to find myself, reality sets in. There’s no comfort in emptiness.
I find myself at peace when I’m around my friends. I love going to downtown Denver with my boyfriend. But when his parents found out that their son has been dating me, an atheist, for two years, I found myself in a spot I’ve been avoiding the most — religion. More
Assault case against Gauteng pastor Oscar Ngobeni postponed after lawyer no show
The assault case against Oscar Ngobeni was postponed to Friday in the Roodepoort Magistrate’s Court after his lawyer failed to pitch.
Ngobeni allegedly beat his 34-year-old ex-girlfriend Palesa Mothokwa to a pulp in December after following her to her workplace.
She tried to close the gate to the store where she works, but Ngobeni pushed his way in and began to beat her in the store’s entrance. The incident was caught on CCTV camera. He was charged with one count of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm and was later released on bail. According to Mothokwa, Ngobeni had been stalking her and had even broke her phone in another fit of rage. More
Samaritan's Purse sends teams to Europe to help with Ukraine crisis
BOONE, N.C. — Samaritan's Purse, the Christian relief organization based in Boone, is sending disaster response specialists to Poland and Romania to help with the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
On Thursday, Russia launched an invasion of Ukraine including air raids of cities and military bases.
The disaster response specialists determine how the organization can help as a result of the invasion. According to Samaritan's Purse, each team has a medical staff member who works to identify any health needs that may be unable to be met by the local healthcare system.
“Samaritan’s Purse has been closely monitoring the situation in Ukraine for weeks,” said Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse, in news release. “We have deployed members of our Disaster Assistance Response Team to surrounding countries and are standing ready to help meet emergency needs resulting from the crisis.” More
Church Leaders in Jerusalem Accuse Israel of Anti-Christian Bias
Church leaders in Jerusalem have accused Israel of bias against Christians and apathy about attacks on Christian holy places and clergy. The statement by the patriarchs and heads of churches in the city of Jerusalem warned of the “current threat to the Christian presence in the Holy Land.” It also denounced extremist groups that seize property in the Christian Quarter “with the aim of curbing the Christian presence.”
The statement issued last week said that since 2012 there have been “countless incidents of physical and verbal assaults against priests and other clergy, attacks on Christian churches – with holy sites regularly vandalized and desecrated, and ongoing intimidation of local Christians who simply seek to worship freely and go about their daily lives. These tactics are being used by such radical groups in a systematic attempt to drive the Christian community out of Jerusalem and other parts of the Holy Land.” More
Bench warrant issued for arrest of Pastor for allowing weeds to overgrow church
The Tema District Court has issued a bench warrant for the arrest of Pastor Kingsley Kwasi Abeyie, the Head Pastor of the Beneficial Veracious Christ Church located at Community Seven for overgrown weeds on the church premises.
The Court presided over by Mr Festu Fovi issued the bench warrant after Pastor Kwasi Abeyie failed to appear before it on December 20, 2021, to answer charges of overgrown weeds on-premises, and non-compliance with the abatement notice.
Madam Saudatu Issaka, the Assistant Health Environmental Analyst, who was prosecuting said, on August 20, this year at about midday, Environmental Health Officer inspected the accused's church premises and found that the place was overgrown with weeds, which were likely to breed reptiles, which could be injurious to the public. More
Fatal stampede at Hindu shrine in Kashmir
A stampede at a popular Hindu shrine in Indian-controlled Kashmir has killed at least 12 people and injured 12 others on New Year's Day.
An investigation has been ordered into what caused the stampede early on Saturday at the Mata Vaishnav Devi shrine, where thousands of Hindu devotees were gathered to pay their respect in the hilly town of Katra near southern Jammu city. Indian Prime Minster Narendra Modi expressed his condolences in a message on Twitter. More
Plumber who discovered money in wall of Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church gets $20,000 reward
A plumber who discovered stacks of cash and checks inside a wall at celebrity televangelist Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church last month has been awarded $20,000 by Crime Stoppers of Houston.
The envelopes were discovered behind a loose toilet by the plumber while he was doing repairs at the Houston church on Nov. 10 — seven years after the church reported $600,000 in cash and checks stolen from a safe.
"Evidence from the recovered checks suggests that the discovery of was connected to the March 2014 theft," Crime Stoppers of Houston said in a statement. The Houston Police Department is still investigating the case. More
Wealthiest Utah native resigns from the LDS Church
Utah native Jeff T. Green, believed to be the wealthiest person to hail from the Beehive State, pledged last month to give away at least 90% of his wealth to philanthropic causes during his life or at his death.
Green, who now lives in Southern California, is the CEO and chairman of The Trade Desk, an advertising technology firm he founded in 2009, and has a net worth pegged at $5 billion.
But the former Latter-day Saint missionary and Brigham Young University graduate won’t be giving any of his money to the state’s largest nonprofit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Indeed, Green is resigning his membership in the Utah-based faith — along with 11 family members and a friend. More
Religious Discrimination Bill unleashes hell in the ABC
It’s only a matter of time before journalists at the ABC claim religious freedom is a threat to koalas.
The national broadcaster’s relentless campaign against the government’s Religious Discrimination Bill 2021 has become that absurd.
Last week, the ABC ran a story warning that disabled people were worried Christians might tell them ‘God loves them’, or even offer to pray for them if the Bill was passed.
It warned that a person in a wheelchair might enter a shop and be confronted by a member of staff addressing them as being ‘brave, an inspiration, and loved by God’. More
Horse Troughs, Hot Tubs and Hashtags: Baptism Is Getting Wild
Russell Moore’s baptism in 1983 was a decorous occasion, or at least as decorous as possible when the main event consists of being plunged underwater in front of one’s entire church. The ceremony took place in a formal baptistery inside his family’s Mississippi church, with a painting of the Jordan River — where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist — behind the tank. An organ played softly in the background. Mr. Moore wore a long white robe.
But a few weeks ago, when it came time to baptize Mr. Moore’s 14-year-old son, Jonah, the scene was very different. Jonah wore a T-shirt. Mr. Moore wore sneakers. A full rock band, including drums and an electric guitar, accompanied. And Mr. Moore, who is the public theologian at Christianity Today magazine, submerged his son in a galvanized steel livestock trough hauled onstage at the church just for the occasion. More
The racists next door: Inside a California church that preaches a whites-only gospel
Stephen McNallen’s path to founding a racist, whites-only church now headquartered in the foothills north of Sacramento started with fantasy novels and, eventually, found a measure of infamy through the discovery of an ancient skeleton.
McNallen, the 73-year-old founder of the Asatru Folk Assembly, was an avid reader of sword-and-sorcery novels like “Conan the Barbarian” when he was in college in the late 1960s in Wichita Falls, Texas.
One summer in a corner of a bookstore, he found something that would put him on the path to creating a U.S.-based church that worships Norse gods such as Thor and Odin and preaches a racial ideology so extreme the Southern Poverty Law Center has deemed it a hate group. More
Virginia pastor arrested for alleged role in underage prostitution operation
A Virginia pastor has been arrested as one of 17 men who have allegedly solicited minors for prostitution, according to multiple reports.
John Blanchard, 51, of Virginia Beach, was reportedly arrested on Oct. 29 and charged with solicitation of prostitution and use of a vehicle to promote prostitution.
“During the two-day operation, detectives intercepted suspects who believed they were soliciting sex from minors through online and social media platforms,” Chesterfield County said in a released statement. “The suspects communicated with people they believed to be underage members of our community and arranged to meet them at a location to have sexual relations. When the suspects came to the location, they were met by police and arrested.” More
Mississippi mosque rejected, alderman says ‘their religion says they can lie or do anything to the Jews’
Leaders of a northern Mississippi city were motivated by anti-Muslim prejudice when they rejected a zoning request for what would be the first mosque in the area, according to a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday.
American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi sued on behalf of the two Muslim men who want to build the mosque, Abraham House of God, in the city of Horn Lake.
Earlier this year, the Horn Lake planning commission recommended that the site plan for the mosque be denied, and the Board of Aldermen voted 5-1 in April to uphold that recommendation. Aldermen said they denied the application because of concerns about insufficient water supply for fire sprinklers and the possibility of traffic and noise. More
The VERY rude Hereford church carving that's gone viral
FOR years it was hidden among the rafters, unseen by the congregation... but now a picture of a VERY naughty carving in a Hereford church has gone viral.
First appearing on social media site Reddit, the lewd carving of a man holding up his legs and exposing his genitalia became one of the sites most popular posts and has now been shared by thousands of people across platforms including Twitter and Facebook, and the picture of it (and claims as to its history) has even been 'fact checked' by misinformation-busting site, Snopes.
The carving first became visible to the public in the late 1990s, when food writer and restaurateur Bill Sewell opened his popular cafe at All Saints, with a seating gallery built over the cafe's kitchen.
Nicknamed Seamus O'Toole, the figure soon divided opinion, with the Birmingham Mail reporting in 1998 that one enterprising vicar, Father Andrew Mottram, suggested monetising the figure by selling postcards featuring its image. More
Bishop Robert Barron warns that religion should not be just a ‘hobby’ for Americans
NEW ORLEANS — With tensions rising over the proper role of religion in society, the broader culture appears to be compartmentalizing religious faith and moral thinking into something akin to “a hobby,” said Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Robert E. Barron Oct. 4.
He made the comments in his homily at St. Louis Cathedral at the Red Mass of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, which drew judges, lawyers and politicians.
“Today, it seems to me the far greater threat is coming from the side of an ideological secularism that would like to shuffle religion off the playing field altogether or, at the very least, to confine it to the realm of privacy so that it would function as a kind of hobby,” said Bishop Barron, founder of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries. More
Are There Religious Exemptions to Vaccines?
Although vaccines are required to attend most schools in the United States, with the availability of exemptions, many kids attend without being vaccinated or fully vaccinated.1 Exemption based on religion is one of several reasons parents can claim to avoid giving their children vaccines in certain states.
And of course, parents can always choose to not send their kids to school. Children who are home-schooled usually do not have to meet the same vaccine requirements as children who attend public or private schools. More
Top Southern Baptist Committee Funds Sex Abuse Probe
NASHVILLE, Tennessee — A top Southern Baptist Convention committee agreed Tuesday to fund a third-party investigation into its handling of sexual abuse allegations but held off on waiving its attorney-client privilege for the probe, delaying for the future a decision seen as a key demand of the thousands of Southern Baptists who set the review in motion.
The Executive Committee allocated $1.6 million for Guidepost Solutions, the firm conducting the investigation into allegations it mishandled abuse cases, resisted reforms and intimidated survivors and advocates. They also agreed to taking more time to negotiate the contract and other legal questions related to the investigation.
“I think it’s a good step and I think that it shows our unity on the urgency of the matter,” Executive Committee Chair Rolland Slade said. More
An animated film to chronicle life of ‘Sikh Captain America’ in aftermath of 9/11
Vishavjit Singh is publicly known for his Captain America persona — a Sikh man equipped with his turban and beard — fighting against bigotry, intolerance and perceptions of what an American should look like.
But Singh, the only member of his family born in the U.S., didn’t always feel he could embrace his identity this way.
Singh took off his beard and turban and gave up his Sikh identity while in college after experiencing bullying and stereotyping when he moved back to the U.S. from India. More
Satanic Temple says Texas abortion law violates the religious freedom of its members
The Satanic Temple is lobbying against Texas’ new abortion law, saying its members should have access to abortion pills as part of its faith-based right.
The nontheistic religious group, based in Massachusetts, said on its website that it “stands ready to assist” any of its members who want to fight the law.
The Satanic Temple’s legal counsel filed a letter with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, arguing that its members should be allowed to access abortion pills without regulatory action.
In the letter, the Satanic Temple says that abortion pills Misoprostol and Mifepristone should be available for use through the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the law that protects Native Americans’ use of the hallucinogen peyote in traditional rituals. More
Psychologists Are Learning What Religion Has Known for Years
Even though I was raised Catholic, for most of my adult life, I didn’t pay religion much heed. Like many scientists, I assumed it was built on opinion, conjecture, or even hope, and therefore irrelevant to my work. That work is running a psychology lab focused on finding ways to improve the human condition, using the tools of science to develop techniques that can help people meet the challenges life throws at them. But in the 20 years since I began this work, I’ve realized that much of what psychologists and neuroscientists are finding about how to change people’s beliefs, feelings, and behaviors—how to support them when they grieve, how to help them be more ethical, how to let them find connection and happiness—echoes ideas and techniques that religions have been using for thousands of years. More
Mom Kills 6-Year-Old Son By Slitting Throat As 'Sacrifice' To God
A woman killed her 6-year-old son by slitting his throat Sunday, allegedly as a sacrifice to God.
Police in Palakkad, a district in the southern Indian state of Kerala, arrived at 30-year-old Shahida’s home around 3 a.m. and found her waiting for them at the main gate. The officers noticed blood on her and rushed inside to find the victim lying motionless in a pool of blood in the bathroom, with his throat slit. The boy, identified as Aamil, was pronounced dead at the scene. The woman was detained for questioning and during the interrogation, she confessed to the murder.
She said that she killed her son as a "sacrifice to Allah" to please him. She was immediately placed under arrest and booked for murder. More
California mega-church offers COVID vaccine ‘religious exemption’ in public Instagram post
Destiny Christian Church in Rocklin, which openly defied Gov. Gavin Newsom’s COVID-19 shutdown orders, now plans to provide “religious exemptions” to people who want to avoid getting vaccinated.
Pastor Greg Fairrington, who has frequently thumbed his nose at Newsom from the pulpit and has endorsed the gubernatorial recall, said in a post on Instagram that the mega-church plans to hand out exemptions at services on Sunday. Newsom has been mandating vaccines for state government workers and California’s healthcare workers. More
Eight-year-old becomes youngest person charged with blasphemy in Pakistan
An eight-year-old Hindu boy is being held in protective police custody in east Pakistan after becoming the youngest person ever to be charged with blasphemy in the country.
The boy’s family is in hiding and many of the Hindu community in the conservative district of Rahim Yar Khan, in Punjab, have fled their homes after a Muslim crowd attacked a Hindu temple after the boy’s release on bail last week. Troops were deployed to the area to quell any further unrest.
On Saturday, 20 people were arrested in connection with the temple attack. The boy is accused of intentionally urinating on a carpet in the library of a madrassa, where religious books were kept, last month. Blasphemy charges can carry the death penalty. More
Baptist pastor arrested for allegedly copying video showing girl being raped by adult male
Two days after authorities arrested T. Elliott Welch, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Stanleyville, North Carolina, for allegedly possessing child pornography, the church has yet to respond publicly to the allegations against their spiritual leader.
The Forsyth County Sheriff's Office announced on Tuesday evening that they arrested Welch, 34, after receiving a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
“We recently received a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that an individual was uploading child pornography to the internet. After completing a search warrant at the residence in Tobaccoville, we arrested and charged T Elliott Welch, a 34-year- old white male with one count of Second Degree Sexual Exploitation of a Minor,” police noted in a statement. More
Pakistan police rescue Hindu woman who was forcibly converted, married to Muslim man
New Delhi: A Hindu woman in Pakistan, Reena Meghwar, who was forcibly married to Muhammad Qasim and converted to Islam to become Maryam was rescued by Pakistan police and returned to the community heads on Monday (July 26) after a journalist posted a video message of the woman that went viral on the internet.
Meghwar, who hails from the Badin district of Sindh province of Pakistan was married to Qasim, who was more than double her age, in February 2021. More
Teenager Arrested For DUI While Operating Amish Buggy
WILMINGTON, Pa. – An 18-year-old was arrested for DUI after crashing an Amish buggy in Lawrence County.
According to Pennsylvania State Police, John Byler of Wilmington, Pennsylvania was traveling along State Route 18 in an Amish buggy when a PennDOT snowplow had startled the horse carrying the buggy, causing it to crash in a ditch along the road.
When police arrived on the scene they found the buggy had significant damage and the horse had been unlatched. More
Churches are burning. This First Nations grand chief wants to provide security for others
EDMONTON — With another plot of unmarked graves found in British Columbia, and a Roman Catholic church burnt to the ground, Wednesday became one more in a series of dark days.
About 30 minutes outside Edmonton, in Morinville, Alta., residents watched in the early morning hours as a century-old Roman Catholic church’s steeple and roof collapsed, surrounded by flames in what Alberta Premier Jason Kenney labelled a potential “hate-crime.” More
Former youth pastor accused of sex crimes
BENTONVILLE -- A former youth pastor was released Saturday from the Benton County Jail on $50,000 bond after his arrest in connection with sex crimes involving two teen girls.
Kevin James Madden, 31, of Rogers was arrested in connection with two counts of sexual indecency with a child and engaging children in sexually explicit conduct for visual and print medium. Prosecutors haven't filed formal charges against him. Madden was the youth pastor at Discover Church in Rogers, according to a probable cause affidavit.
The church said in a statement Madden was placed on administrative leave when church authorities were made aware of the allegations. The church then contacted the girls and their parents, according to the statement. More
Catholic board investigating after parents say complaints about accused teacher not acted upon
Three days after a prominent St. Matthew High School teacher and coach was charged with sexually assaulting students, the Ottawa Catholic School Board says it is looking into how it handled earlier complaints made against him.
On Tuesday, Ottawa police charged 57-year-old Rick Watkins, previously known as Rick Despatie, with three counts of sexual assault, three counts of sexual interference and three counts of sexual exploitation of a young person. The alleged offences occurred between the fall of 2020 and March 2021, police said, and involved students under age 14. Police said at the time they believed there could be more victims.
On Friday, Director of Education Thomas D’Amico acknowledged that other parents and students had said they complained about Despatie/Watkins in the past, but nothing was done. More
Thousands of Bangladeshi Muslims rally against Israel
DHAKA, Bangladesh — Thousands of Muslims led by activists from an Islamic political party demonstrated in Bangladesh's capital on Friday to denounce attacks by Israel against Palestinians.
After the end of Eid a—Fitr prayers at Dhaka's main Baitul Mokarram Mosque, activists from the Islamic Andolan Bangladesh, or Islamic Movement Bangladesh, began protesting and were joined by thousands of others. Muslim-majority Bangladesh celebrated the key festival of Eid a—Fitr in a subdued manner after the government urged people to avoid large gatherings.
Authorities arranged prayers in phases at the Baitul Mokarram Mosque, where devotees maintained distancing to avoid spreading the coronavirus. More
Pastor shares bizarre conspiracy theory to support his claims that Trump is somehow still president
A self-proclaimed Christian prophet is circulating an unfounded conspiracy theory that he believes is proof that Donald Trump is still president of the U.S.
According to Newsweek, megachurch pastor Johnny Enlow recently shared a Facebook post with his followers as he explained why he has reason to believe former President Donald Trump is still president.
Enlow claims to have had a "vision" of Trump holding "a golden scepter" which he believes is proof that Trump is still in office. Enlow claims that in his vision, he could see Trump "seated on a throne holding a golden scepter... [with] a golden crown on his head." He said the vision was Trump's "PRESENT status from heaven's perspective." More
71-Year-Old Pastor Arrested for Causing ‘Alarm and Distress’ for ‘Homophobic’ Message on Marriage
John Sherwood, a UK pastor, was arrested in North West London this past Friday, April 23, and detained overnight – all for speaking about what the Bible says about marriage.
John, in his early 70s, is minister of a north London church, and was preaching with a colleague in the centre of Uxbridge on Friday, as he regularly does. After speaking on the final verses in Genesis 1, where it says that God created mankind in his own image, creating them male and female, a number of police officers appeared on the scene. Reportedly, three complaints had been received about the pastor’s teaching, and the police accused him of causing “alarm and distress” to the public. After speaking to the police, John resumed his preaching, speaking on freedom of speech. More
James Huntsman files lawsuit against LDS Church alleging tithing fraud
James Huntsman, the brother of former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., is suing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints alleging it fraudulently spent millions of dollars in tithing meant for charity on commercial purposes.
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on Tuesday. The Washington Post was the first to report it.
Huntsman said in the complaint that he wants millions of dollars of his donations back and plans to give the money to “organizations and communities whose members have been marginalized by the Church’s teachings and doctrines, including by donating to charities supporting LGBTQ, African-American, and women’s rights.” More
Pastor jailed in Laos for over 1 year released, convicted of 'disrupting unity'
A Christian pastor imprisoned in the Southeast Asian country of Laos for refusing to halt worship has been freed after over one year in detention.
Sources told Radio Free Asia that 35-year-old Pastor Sithon Thippavong in Savannaket’s Xonnaboury district was released last Friday, three days after the Provincial People’s Court convicted him on charges of “disrupting unity” and “creating disorder.”
“He was sentenced to one year in jail and fined a total of 4 million kip [about $426], with 2 million kip paid for each charge,” an official from the provincial prosecutor’s office was quoted as saying under the condition of anonymity. More
Many Southern California churches to ease back into normalcy despite court ruling
Several Southern California churches and faith leaders said Wednesday, April 14, they will take their time to ease back into normalcy even after the state lifted its limits on indoor worship services on Monday following U.S. Supreme Court rulings that struck down COVID-19 public health mandates.
The California Department of Public Health’s guidelines still “strongly discourage” indoor gatherings and recommend limiting building occupancy to 50% in counties in the orange tier, which applies to all of Southern California. The new guidance from the state says that “location and capacity limits on places of worship are not mandatory, but strongly recommended” and that these changes were prompted by recent Supreme Court rulings. More
Ravi Zacharias Hid Hundreds of Pictures of Women, Abuse During Massages, and a Rape Allegation
A four-month investigation found the late Ravi Zacharias leveraged his reputation as a world-famous Christian apologist to abuse massage therapists in the United States and abroad over more than a decade while the ministry led by his family members and loyal allies failed to hold him accountable.
He used his need for massage and frequent overseas travel to hide his abusive behavior, luring victims by building trust through spiritual conversations and offering funds straight from his ministry.
A 12-page report released Thursday by Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) confirms abuse by Zacharias at day spas he owned in Atlanta and uncovers five additional victims in the US, as well as evidence of sexual abuse in Thailand, India, and Malaysia. More
The problem with India’s ‘love jihad’ laws
Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership, the Bharatiya Janata Party government has put forward several anti-Muslim policies. The latest is a clampdown on what it sees as “love jihad,” the belief that Muslims are seeking to deceive Hindu women through marriage and convert them to Islam.
Over the course of the past year or so several BJP politicians have suggested that this is part of an Islamic conspiracy to increase India’s Muslim population.
More recently, one of India’s most populous states has assumed the right to intervene in matters of marriage – particularly between a Hindu woman and a Muslim man. Other states are planning to follow suit. More
Celebrating Ash Wednesday in a pandemic? There’s an app for that
There are filters that blur “imperfections” in photos and filters that turn lawyers into cats on Zoom.
Now there are filters to help Christians safely display the very visible Ash Wednesday mark on social media.
Many Catholic and other liturgical churches observe Ash Wednesday by smudging ashes on congregants’ foreheads as a sign of repentance and a reminder of one’s mortality. That practice presents a problem during a season when health experts fighting COVID-19 have advised people to avoid touching their faces or coming in close proximity to others, and churches have embraced a number of creative solutions, including take-home or drive-thru options for receiving ashes. More
How the Christian right helped foment insurrection
The Jan. 6 Save America March, where then-President Donald Trump incited a crowd to attack the U.S. Capitol, opened with a prayer. Trump’s longtime spiritual adviser and White House adviser, the Florida televangelist Paula White, called on God to “give us a holy boldness in this hour.” Standing at the same podium where, an hour later, Trump would exhort the crowd to “fight like hell,” White called the election results into question, asking God to let the people “have the assurance of a fair and a just election.” Flanked by a row of American flags, White implored God to “let every adversary against democracy, against freedom, against life, against liberty, against justice, against peace, against righteousness be overturned right now in the name of Jesus.” More
Carlo Acutis rushed to sainthood while others wait centuries for the honor
Last month, 41,000 Catholics flocked to the ancient Italian city of Assisi to view the body of a curly-haired teenager dressed in a tracksuit and Nike sneakers.
Carlo Acutis was just 15 when he died of leukemia in 2006. His fervent faith inspired him to create websites cataloging Catholic miracles and to minister to the homeless and hungry in his native Milan.
After his beatification this year, Acutis, dubbed “the Millennial Saint” and “the patron of the Internet,” is a single step away from canonization — one of the youngest Catholics ever, and the first member of his generation, to reach this sacred stage. More
Tens of thousands of Sadr supporters rally in Iraq
Four people were shot dead and dozens wounded in Iraq’s south, medics said, in clashes between anti-government protesters and supporters of Shia Muslim leader Muqtada al-Sadr.
The violence erupted as tens of thousands of Sadr supporters hit the streets of Baghdad and the southern city of Nasiriya on Friday in a show of force rivalling the waning youth-dominated protest movement that erupted in October 2019, as preparations ramp up for June parliamentary elections. More
Some Churches Are Returning Land to Native American Groups as a Part of the #LandBack Movement
KITCHENER, Ontario — All day, the sweetwater had dripped steadily from the trunks of the maple trees into blue, plastic buckets.
By midafternoon, a cold wind had started to threaten the small fire where the sap was boiling over two propane burners.
A brief blast of snow pelted the small group that came and went from the sugarbush in Kitchener, Ontario. Occasionally, someone would plunge a pocketknife into the bubbling syrup to test how thick and sticky it had gotten.
“Why was I out here all day freezing?” joked Dave Skene, who is a citizen of the Métis Nation and co-executive director of the White Owl Native Ancestry Association, which offers counseling and land-based teachings and programming for Indigenous people in the area. More
Proposal to ban circumcision of boys scrapped from Finland bill
Lawmakers in Finland have removed language against nonmedical circumcision of boys from a bill on female genital mutilation following a push by Jews in the country and Europe.
The measure calling to “clarify” Finland’s ban on the genital mutilation of women passed Friday in the Parliament.
Amendments would have potentially limited or outlawed the nonmedical circumcision of boys, Yaron Nadbornik, president of the Central Council of Finnish Jewish Communities, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. His organization reached out to Milah UK, a London-based advocacy group, which involved representatives at the Foreign Ministry, Nadbornik said. More
Controversy Continues Over Hate Crime Bill in Scotland
GLASGOW — Amid a contentious debate in Scotland over a proposed hate crimes law, which the Catholic bishops of the country oppose, a cabinet minister this week suggested that the law could apply to speech uttered within a private dwelling if the speaker intends to stir up hatred.
The Scottish government introduced the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill April 23 in response to an independent review of hate crime laws led by Alastair Campbell, Lord Bracadale, a retired judge. The government argues the bill modernizes, consolidates, and extends existing hate crime legislation. It also abolishes the offense of blasphemy. More
Horror! Rastafarian school children sent home
The Malawi Nyabinghi Council says Rastafarian children are being denied access to education as they are being sent home from public schools because of their religion.
Speaking to Malawi24, Nyabinghi council of Malawi publicity secretary Ras Patrick Galawanda said this week alone three children, including two from the same family, have been sent home from school because of negative perceptions against wearing the dreadlocks.
He said the students include Faith Chikopa who is a form 3 student at Mloza Secondary School as well as Ganizani Maxwell and Chipiliro Maxwell who were denied access to education at Kuchisiyo primary school. More
Former Conroe priest Manuel La Rosa-Lopez heading to prison for child indecency
CONROE, Texas -- A Catholic priest is heading to Texas state prison after his formal sentencing on Wednesday for committing indecency with two underage parishioners 20 years ago.
Father Manuel La Rosa-Lopez will serve 10 years in prison on two charges of second-degree felony indecency with a child. The maximum penalty for the charge is 20 years in prison.
Last month, La Rosa-Lopez took a plea deal for the charges connected to two victims, though, the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office said he committed crimes against a total of four identified victims. More
Jesus portrait at SPD targeted by anti-religion advocates
SHREVEPORT, La. -- A nationally known anti-religion organization has found Jesus. And they want Him out of the Shreveport Police Department.
The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter to Police Chief Ben Raymond, calling for the removal of a framed portrait of Jesus, as well as poetry about Jesus that's visible in common work spaces at police headquarters.
The group says a concerned community member contacted them about it. A source at SPD tells us that the portrait hangs in a secure area of the Property Crimes Detective Division. The public would have to be escorted there to see it. More
Pope’s comments, in Spanish, misinterpreted by media
When it comes to religion and politics, journalists now have a reputation for abusing both. Far, far too often, they push misleading stories they know are false to sell papers and to purposefully distort the truth. The Catholic Church, as an old and widespread organization, is a favorite target, and the vast majority of attacks on the Church are based on lies or fueled in response to the lies.
Earlier this week, the Associated Press and other publications ran with the shocking headline “Pope Endorses Same-Sex Civil Unions” that is derived from this supposed quote: “What we have to have is a civil union law; that way they are legally covered.” If this was a real quote from Pope Francis, then there would probably be a lot of problems. However, it was not, and it just shows that the Catholic Church will constantly be misrepresented in the press. More
Americans Who Say Their Religion Is “None”
Someday, the coronavirus tragedy will be gone, wiped out by scientific vaccines. And Donald Trump will be just an unpleasant memory, an absurd reminder of what can happen when bigotry contaminates democracy.
This part of the 21st century will be remembered chiefly, I predict, as the era when supernatural religion died among intelligent western people. I think it will survive mostly as an emotional fringe for lower-brow folks such as those who “speak in tongues.”
American adults who say their religion is “none” began to explode in the 1990s and climbed to one-fourth of the population. Among those under 30, the churchless ratio now is 40 percent. More
Now loving on Jesus IN YOUR OWN HOME could be a 'hate crime'
A vague new hate-crime law under consideration in Scotland could criminalize something people do unwittingly in their homes.
The U.K.'s Christian Institute warns it could restrict Christians' freedom to proclaim Jesus Christ as the only way of salvation or to call people to repent of sin, "even in church."
That's because it could offend irreligious or anti-religious people.
"Conduct need not be threatening or even intended to stir up hatred for an offense to be committed. Instead, the bill captures any abusive behavior deemed likely to stir up hatred. An offense could even be unwittingly committed in the privacy of your own home," the Christian Institute said. More
“Please take a moment to thank Jehovah”: Churches distributing USDA food boxes are blurring the boundaries between church and state
In mid-June, Heather received a 20-pound box of produce from a local branch of the Jehovah’s Witnesses on behalf of her grandmother, an active member of the church. It held potatoes, onions, apples, and a cauliflower—and came with an unexpected letter: “Dear Brothers and Sisters: We are certain that you agree that all praise and honor goes to our great God Jehovah for his abundant provisions to us!” it read. The letter went on to ask that recipients “keep this gift confidential,” and encouraged them to accept the boxes, even if they did not need the food.
The box was one of 100 million distributed so far as part of the Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farmers to Families Food Box program, the Trump administration’s flagship Covid-19 hunger relief initiative intended to provide emergency food aid to families in need. More
Bank Bans UK Christian Ministry Accounts After 'Mob Rule' Campaign: 'It Will Be Churches Next'
Leaders for a Christian ministry in the United Kingdom have said they’ve received death threats and the bank accounts associated with the organization have been shut down following a “mob rule” campaign from LGBTQ activists.
The ministry in question, Core Issues Trust, is a Christian nonprofit that supports men and women seeking voluntarily to change their sexual preferences and gender expressions, according to Fox News. Pro-LGBTQ activists began targeting the faith-based group at the end of June.
“A coordinated campaign has resulted in our ministry coming under immense pressure and key service providers canceling their services, action which we consider to be discriminatory,” CIT executive Mike Davidson said in a statement. More
Bishops fear owning a Bible could be hate crime offence under new Scots law
The Catholic Church has become the latest organisation to raise its concerns about controversial reforms in the Scottish Government’s new Hate Crime Bill.
It has made a submission to MSPs on Holyrood’s justice committee, who have been tasked with scrutinising the reforms.
The Bishops’ Conference of Scotland said: “Any new law must be carefully weighed against fundamental freedoms, such as the right to free speech, freedom of expression and freedom of thought, conscience and religion.” With section five of the legislation creating an offence of possessing inflammatory material, they fear the “low threshold” in the proposed new laws “could render material such as the Bible ... as being inflammatory under the new provision”. More
Entire Islamic Relief WorldWide Board Resigns
In a dramatic move, the entire board of Islamic Relief WorldWide (IRW) stepped down after a board member of the UK charity was discovered to have posted pro-terror and antisemitic social media posts.
These posts followed the discovery of deeply antisemitic posts by another IRW official last month.
The organization already had a long history of ties to terror funding and the Muslim Brotherhood, an oftentimes violent group. More
Thousands Flock to Sundial Bridge to Worship During a Pandemic
Approaching the Sundial Bridge in Redding last night, the first indication that something big was happening was the sight of vehicles; hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of them. Parked cars, trucks, vans, bikes and Segways covered all available asphalt, parking lots and dirt areas around the Redding Civic Auditorium, the Sundial Bridge/Turtle Bay, the Sheraton Hotel, and even the Redding Rodeo grounds.
Those who couldn’t find parking along Auditorium Drive parked along Park Marina Drive and walked across the freeway overpass, carrying folding chairs and children, as if heading for Redding’s annual Freedom Festival fireworks show. More
Jerry Falwell Jr. will leave behind a very different legacy from his influential father
Jerry Falwell Jr., son and namesake of the founder of the evangelical Moral Majority movement, has resigned as president of Liberty University.
The resignation followed the Liberty board’s decision to put him on an “indefinite leave of absence” after he posted a picture on social media with his arm around a woman who wasn’t his wife, his underwear partially revealed.
Falwell Jr. also announced that his wife Becki had an affair with a former pool attendant, Giancarlo Granda, who was close to the family. Falwell Jr. said that the affair was short-lived and that the married couple had reconciled quickly. More
Florida Teen Dies From Virus After Mom Takes Her To Church ‘Covid Party’
A Florida mother took her high-risk teenage daughter to a “COVID party” at their church, tried treating the girl at home with unproven drugs when she got sick — and then hailed her as a patriot after she died.
Carsyn Leigh Davis died on June 23 at 1:06 p.m. from complications of COVID-19, two days after her 17th birthday. While her death late last month was reported by multiple media outlets, the circumstances of her death were not explained fully until Florida data scientist Rebekah Jones revealed shocking claims in a medical examiner’s report about the teen’s death. More
NYC pastor was sexting with teenage boy, FBI says
WHITE PLAINS, New York -- A Queens pastor is under arrest and facing a charge of receiving and distributing child pornography.
Francis Hughes, 65, was arrested Wednesday and is accused of receiving images from a 15-year-old boy in Westchester and engaging in sexually explicit text communications.
During the inappropriate text exchanges, prosecutors say Hughes told the minor that he was a part-time college professor and a counselor. Hughes is facing a charge of receipt and distribution of child pornography. More
Jehovah's Witnesses hold global conventions virtually
Worship continues to look different for people of all faiths across metro Detroit.
For the first time since 1897, Jehovah's Witnesses are holding their annual conventions online.
Last year, the conventions attracted more than 14 million people around the world. The same conventions attracted 45,000 people to Ford Field in 2014.
This year, to ensure public health and safety, the conventions are virtual. The 2020 theme is "Always Rejoice". More
Religious leaders urge Mandalay Bay to remove statues of Hindu, Jain deities and apologize
LAS VEGAS — Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish and Jain religious leaders are coming together to urge the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino to remove statues of various Hindu and Jain deities from its Foundation Room night club. The leaders are calling it “highly inappropriate.”
In a joint statement today, five local religious leaders said that “placing highly revered Hindu and Jain deities to adorn a casino night-club was very disrespectful, out-of-line, and could be disturbing to the adherents of these faiths.”
These five leaders include Nevada’s Greek Orthodox Christian Priest Stephen R. Karcher, Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, prominent Buddhist Priest Matthew T. Fisher, well-known Jewish Rabbi ElizaBeth Webb Beyer and renowned Jain leader Sulekh C. Jain. More
‘Lion of Judah’ donated by evangelical leaders finds a home in Jerusalem
Located in the heart of Jerusalem and with a unique view of the Old City walls, Bloomfield Garden is one of the largest green areas in the city, offering vast lawns, secluded paths and play areas, as well as several monuments and art installations, including the Fountain of the Lions donated by German Chancellor Helmut Kohl in 1989. On Tuesday, another piece of artwork found its home on its laws: the bronze statue “The Lion of Judah” by American artist Max Greiner.
The statue was donated to Israel by a group of evangelical leaders, but it took some years to find an appropriate location. The stalemate was resolved after Jerusalem deputy mayor Fleur Hassan-Nahoum ran into former US congresswoman Michele Bachmann at an event about a year ago, as Hassan-Nahoum told The Jerusalem Post during the installation of the monument. More
Trump says he’s ‘best president in history of the Church’ in call with Catholic leaders
NEW YORK — President Donald Trump identified himself as the “best [president] in the history of the Catholic Church” in a conference call for Catholic leaders and educators Saturday, where he warned that issues at stake in the upcoming presidential election, particularly on abortion and religious liberty, “have never been more important for the Church.”
Trump also pledged support for Catholic schools in light of the global coronavirus pandemic.
In an audio recording of the meeting obtained by Crux, the president repeatedly emphasized his support for the pro-life movement and school choice, attempting to paint a stark contrast between his administration and what a Democratic presidency could mean for Catholics. More
Church that defied stay-at-home orders burned to the ground in suspected arson
A church in Mississippi burned down this week and the incident is now being investigated as arson, the Marshall County Sheriff's Office confirmed to CBS News First Pentecostal Church in Holly Springs had previously defied stay-at-home orders to open for services, and the church even sued the city of Holly Springs for trying to shut down a Bible study gathering.
Investigators said they found graffiti on the church property reading: "Bet you stay home now you hypokrites."
"I am heartbroken and furious," Governor Tate Reeves tweeted on Thursday, sharing a photo of the now-destroyed First Pentecostal Church. "In Mississippi, a church was just burned to the ground. They had been trying to open services." More
DC Episcopal Bishop: 'I Am Outraged' by Trump Church Visit
The bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington sharply criticized President Donald Trump for staging a visit to the historic St. John's Church across from the White House, where he held up a Bible after authorities had cleared the area of peaceful protesters.
The Rev. Mariann Budde, whose diocese St. John's belongs to, said she was “outraged” by Trump's visit and noted that he didn’t pray while stopping by the church, a landmark known for its regular visits from sitting presidents since the early 19th century.
"He took the symbols sacred to our tradition and stood in front of a house of prayer in full expectation that would be a celebratory moment," Budde said in an interview Monday after her statement on Trump's visit was posted to the diocese's Twitter account. More
Drunk Hindu priest beheads man in Indian temple as a human sacrifice to goddess who came to him in a dream and said it would end coronavirus
A drunk 70-year-old priest decapitated a man as a sacrifice to end the coronavirus pandemic after smoking marijuana in India.
Sansari Ojha from the Brahmani Devi Temple under Narasinghpur police station in Cuttack cut off 52-year-old Saroj Kumar Pradhan's head.
The Hindu priest from the Bandhahuda area in Odisha killed the man to appease a goddess, he claimed. He beheaded Pradhan with an axe at 1am in the morning in the temple's shrine after an argument. More
Youth Pastor Claims He Was Kidnapped By Black Men To Avoid Admitting He Hired Male Prostitute
What initially began as an investigation into a social media rumor about two black men kidnapping a white man has resulted in the arrest of a Macon teacher on a solicitation of sodomy charge.
In a news release posted on Facebook on Thursday, the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office said they began looking into a reported kidnapping/carjacking that was rumored to have occurred Wednesday at a CVS Pharmacy. Sheriff’s office investigators said no such incident occurred, but they were working an incident with Christopher Keys, 56, who said he was robbed of his wallet, cellphone and keys by two masked men Tuesday at Regency Inn & Suites in Macon. More
Ministry with Bible allegedly producing oil shuts down, but continues to defend its work
In the days since the Times Free Press published its investigation into the His Name is Flowing Oil ministry in Dalton, Georgia, the team behind the Bible allegedly producing oil continues to defend its ministry, despite admitting its leader bought mineral oil and canceling all future prayer services.
At the same time, the church that allowed the ministry to use its space is distancing itself.
Last week, the ministry held the final gathering of its weekly event that would attract hundreds of people to Dalton's Wink Theatre. The ministry team members, including Jerry Pearce and Johnny Taylor, estimated they handed out 350,000 free vials of the oil. People reported being cured of long-term ailments and having profound religious experiences using the oil. More
Former Pope Benedict attacks gay marriage and accuses his opponents of trying to 'silence' him in new biography
Traditionalist former Pope Benedict XVI accuses opponents of wanting to 'silence' him while attacking gay marriage in vehement terms in a new authorised biography published Monday in Germany.
Despite leaving office in 2013, the 93-year-old, whose original name is Joseph Ratzinger, has not given up intervening in social debates, and he offers a fresh attack against gay marriage in the new biography.
'A century ago, anyone would have thought it absurd to talk about homosexual marriage. Today those who oppose it are excommunicated from society,' Benedict XVI says. More
Are Church Services Considered ‘Essential’? Depends Where You Live
As multiple governors issue orders to curb large gatherings and implore residents to stay home in a bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus, at least a half-dozen states have exempted some level of religious activity.
The divergent treatment of faith in some states’ pandemic-fighting orders comes as a few houses of worship across the nation continue to greet people in person, despite federal public health guidance to avoid gatherings larger than 10 people and decisions by most religious leaders to shift services online. While the pandemic has heightened political tensions, the states including religious exceptions in their orders designed to combat the pandemic are led by governors in both parties. More
Child molester’s wife sues Mormon church for $9.5 million, says husband is in prison because clergy reported his confession
The wife of an Oregon man serving a 15-year prison sentence for sexually abusing the couple’s daughter has filed a $9.5 million lawsuit against The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, saying a clergy member violated a promise of confidentiality by reporting her husband to authorities.
The husband told a local church panel about the molestation in 2016 to “repent for his sins” under the eyes of God and to seek spiritual healing “to bring peace within his life and family,” the lawsuit says. Instead, he was arrested and charged in 2017 and convicted in 2018 of four counts of second-degree sexual abuse.
The couple were part of a ward in the Marion County town of Stayton, home to about 8,100 residents 15 miles southeast of Salem. More
Scientology Chief David Miscavige Is a Coronavirus Denier, Says Top Critic
As the novel coronavirus continues to spread around the planet—with the global toll on Tuesday surpassing 400,000 cases and 18,000 deaths—the Church of Scientology is officially scoffing at the pandemic and encouraging followers to continue normal religious activities while treating traditional science and governmental authority with skepticism.
In a March 13 eyes-only memo to his estimated 25,000 to 55,000 members in the United States, Scientology leader David Miscavige called the international public-health crisis “the current hysteria, whether you believe in it or not (and the only thing you can be certain of is that it is hysteria)” More
Inauguration of Lahun pyramid and Khond Aslabay Mosque after years of restorations in Fayoum
Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany, members of parliament, Egyptian and international media have embarked on a trip on Friday to Fayoum Governorate to inaugurate Al-Lahun pyramid of King Senusert II for visitors after the completion of its conservation. The ceremony also comes with the announcement of a new discovery at the northern corner of the pyramid and the inauguration of Khond Aslabay mosque.
The events were attended by Major-General Essam Saad Governor of Fayoum, General Secretary of the Supreme Council of Antiquities Mostafa Waziri, along with members of parliament and top officials More
VA Pastor, Musician Dies From Coronavirus He Had Questioned
AVIRGINIA — A 66-year-old Virginia resident who fell ill with the new coronavirus, or COVID-19, on a trip to New Orleans died Wednesday morning at a hospital in Concord, North Carolina. The death of Landon Spradlin, an accomplished musician and a pastor, has drawn viral attention online, in part because earlier this month Spradlin questioned whether media coverage of the disease was overblown.
Spradlin lived in Gretna, a small town in Pittsylvania County, about halfway between Lynchburg and Danville.
While driving home from New Orleans, Spradlin, who had pastored at several different churches over the years, started feeling much worse. He and his wife, Jean Spradlin, stopped in Concord, where he was admitted to a hospital and diagnosed with pneumonia. He was eventually put on a ventilator as his condition worsened before he died.. More
Oklahoma Pastor Busted Running White Supremacist Prostitution Ring
“Aryan Pride” for Jesus: An Oklahoma pastor is under arrest after being caught running a prostitution ring with a white supremacist.
Pastor Walter Eugene Brazington Jr. is “being charged with procuring for prostitution and possession of a firearm while in the commission of a felony,” according to a report from Tulsa World.
The Oklahoma pastor was caught running a massage parlor that was being used as a front for a prostitution ring. His partner in crime was white supremacist Tiffany Roach, an HIV positive prostitute who calls herself “Aryan Woman” and professes to have “Whitegirl Pride.” More
Houston pastor pleads guilty in investment scheme
HOUSTON, Texas -- Houston megachurch pastor Kirbyjon Caldwell pleaded guilty Wednesday after being accused of defrauding people of millions using phony bonds. Caldwell was indicted two years ago in federal court on wire fraud and money laundering charges.
Court papers state the pastor and investment advisor Gregory Smith sold nearly $3.5 million in worthless pre-revolutionary Chinese bonds to the elderly and vulnerable investors.
Both men face years in federal prison if convicted, and could be forced to pay back millions and forfeit a home the pastor owns in Houston.. More
Calling Out Sexual Abuse in the Jehovah's Witnesses Is a Horrific Struggle
In 2013, after Debbie McDaniel left her Jehovah's Witness congregation in McAlester, Oklahoma, she went to police and told them members had been sitting outside her apartment, monitoring her every move. The Witnesses, she said, were trying to make the case that she was unfit to parent her son, on account of being in a relationship with a woman. But it was something else she told a detective that most alarmed the cops, she said: "You would think an organization that would allow me to be molested for years could now just let me go in peace."
Within weeks, cops had arrested Ronald Lawrence, whom McDaniel, 50, accused of molesting her when she was underage, as Reveal News reported. At least two other people came forward with similar allegations. According to the Tulsa-World, Lawrence told prosecutors he had been "disfellowshipped" (basically excommunicated) from the church over sexual abuse allegations, that he had admitted misconduct in the past in order to be reinstated, and that law enforcement had never previously been informed. He has also denied abusing any Jehovah's Witness children, including McDaniel. When brought before a judge in 2014, 19 charges of sexual abuse against him were deemed to have passed the statute of limitations, and he walked free. More
Uyghur Muslims fear impact of coronavirus on populations in camps in China
CALGARY -- Some members of Alberta's Uyghur community joined medical and political leaders in Calgary on Sunday to voice concerns the coronavirus outbreak could devastate the ethnic minority in China.
An estimated one million people of the Ughyr Muslim community have been forced into work camps in China's eastern province of Xinjiang since 2017.
Doctors and organizers of the Calgary news conference on Sunday say that population is more vulnerable to the outbreak as there is a lack of access to medical care in the camps.
"Possibly if the virus gets to the camp, they are going to contract it and they are going to die," said Dr. Fozia Alvi, president of the Humanity Auxilium. More
Missouri church leader tried to pay for sex on Grindr with Arby’s card
He tried to lure beefcakes with “the meats.”
A Missouri church leader allegedly tried to pay for sex on the gay hookup app Grindr — with an Arby’s card, according to a report. Using the handle “DILF,”
Barry Cole Poyner, 57, allegedly tried to bed hot college-age guys by offering to pay for gas, clothes and roast beef sandwiches, police told the Kirksville Daily Express.
The Church of Christ elder — who is also a professor at nearby Truman State University — was busted after a student reported him and a cop went undercover on the app, according to the paper. More
White: I Saw Trump Riding Golden Horse Alongside Jesus During Armageddon
The world seems to have breathed a sigh of relief as America and Iran have pulled back from the brink of war. On Wednesday morning, President Donald Trump gave another rambling, slurred speech where he talked about making peace with the country who he recently threatened to attack.
However, fundamentalist Christians, who are among Trump’s staunchest supporters, seem to be encouraging Trump’s warmongering. Many of them, such as Sec. of State Mike Pompeo, believe these are the End of Days and Trump will lead us into an apocalyptic war with Islam.
According to spiritual shyster and Trump advisor Paula White, Trump will have a role in the final battle. “God came to me last night and showed me a vision of Trump riding alongside Jesus on a horse made of gold and jewels,” said White in Charisma, a fundie publication. “This means he will play a critical role in Armageddon as the United States stands alongside Israel in the battle against Islam.” More
Georgia church to pay off $62K in school lunch debt
LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. — A Georgia church says its donating $62,000 to pay off the school lunch debt of students in three counties.
12Stone church in Lawrenceville announced that its giving $45,000 to Gwinnett County, where it's based, WSB-TV reports. It said it's also giving $11,000 and $6,000 respectively to Hall and Barrow counties, where it has two other churches.
The funds are part of a new church program called Knock Out Hunger. It's meant to help wipe out the debt racked up since the school year started as it can take a while for families to be approved for free or reduced lunch, the station says. More
Priest accused of stealing $98K from church to pay Grindr hookups
A Pennsylvania priest stole nearly $100,000 in church donations to pay men he met on Grindr for sex acts — and to pay off his personal credit cards, prosecutors said.
The Rev. Joseph McLoone, 56, was arrested on felony theft and related charges Wednesday after investigators revealed that he opened a secret checking account in 2011 to deposit donations from parishioners at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Downingtown, the Chester County District Attorney’s Office announced.
McLoone, of Downingtown, then funneled the donation checks into an unauthorized “St. Joseph Activity Account” at TD Bank for the next six years and stole $98,405 in all, according to Chester County district attorney chief of staff Charles Gaza. More
Singer Ed Sheeran seeking to build multifaith sanctuary on $4.5 million estate
Four-time Grammy award-winning singer Ed Sheeran is seeking to build a place of multifaith worship on his estate in Framlingham, England, according to plans released by an architectural firm.
The space would to be a retreat for "contemplation and prayer" within the grounds of his $4.5 million estate. The two-story building would feature stained glass windows and a tower, according to The Sun. The plans have been submitted to the local council for approval.
"It would address an important need for a private place of retreat,” a design and access statement prepared by Donald Insall Associates, said. Along with a refuge for prayer, the “Thinking Out Loud” singer wants the sanctuary to be used for “celebration of key life and family milestones, family and social gatherings, marriages, christenings and so forth." More
Religion in US ‘worth more than Google and Apple combined’
Religion in the United States is worth $1.2tn a year, making it equivalent to the 15th largest national economy in the world, according to a study.
The faith economy has a higher value than the combined revenues of the top 10 technology companies in the US, including Apple, Amazon and Google, says the analysis from Georgetown University in Washington DC.
The Socioeconomic Contributions of Religion to American Society: An Empirical Analysis calculated the $1.2tn figure by estimating the value of religious institutions, including healthcare facilities, schools, daycare and charities; media; businesses with faith backgrounds; the kosher and halal food markets; social and philanthropic programmes; and staff and overheads for congregations. More
Jehovah's Witnesses Announce Plans to Build Giant Media Center Despite Recent Spotlight on Child Abuse
The Jehovah's Witnesses announced plans to build a 1.5 million-square-foot audio-visual production center in Upstate New York, two miles away from the Witnesses' headquarters in Warwick. The organization plans to create more videos with parenting device, despite a recent bombshell investigation alleging wide-scale child abuse and coverups.
Robert Zick, a Jehovah's Witnesses spokesman, told The Times Herald-Record that the media center is a response to the general public's growing increase of interest in the Jehovah's Witnesses' videos, specifically ones offering parenting advice and how to live a principled life. New content is planned to be available in multiple languages. More
Robot priests more acceptable to Protestants than Catholics, says professor
Our faith in almost everything is being tested these days.
Everything is instant, yet nothing seems real.
The news is apparently as fake as people on the take.
Yet we're desperate to believe in someone -- or even something -- that'll help give our lives meaning. For many -- though, perhaps, a dwindling number -- religion provides answers. Or merely some comfort. More
15 Religious Swindles That Shame the Holy Name
What crime combines billions in annual earnings, sneaky accounting, a lack of media coverage, and the good Lord himself? Religious fraud. Conning the faithful, it turns out, is a lucrative art.
Christian leaders alone stole more than $27 billion in 2009, according to one estimate. Such leaders steal more money than is spent annually on global religious missions. Narrowing it down even more, Utah, arguably the fraud capital of the United States, has a fraud industry “double the size” of its ski industry.
If you’re a slippery type, these figures represent a heck of an opportunity. Indeed, the priests, ministers and thetans below have grabbed this chrysobull by the horns, perpetrating religious swindles that put the finer tenets of their theology to shame. More
Pastor wants pole fitness business shuttered
DODGE COUNTY, Wis. — A Beaver Dam Pastor says a pole fitness studio is "insensitive to women who are held captive by force or drugs in the for-profit sex industry."
Father Mike Erwin, a pastor at Saint Katharine Drexel Parish, wrote a letter to the new business owner, the mayor, and the city's attorney. More
Zakir Naik, preacher charged with inciting hate, now accused of misappropriating funds intended for Muslims’ welfare
One of Malaysia’s most controversial Permanent Residents, Zakir Naik, a world-famous Islamic televangelist accused by some of stirring hate with his lectures and messages, is now being accused of misappropriating funds meant to better the welfare of his fellow Muslims.
India’s Enforcement Directorate (ED) is lodging accusations at the preacher, claiming that assets worth RM113 million (US$28 million) have been laundered from a fund of donations intended for the social betterment of the Muslim community, into a series of assets that include, and are not limited to, 20 flats in cities across India. The units are registered under both Zakir’s wife and son’s names according to a report from The Times of India. More
Allegations against priest cause emotional week in Liberty Township
CINCINNATI — Alleged inappropriate touching, texting and sexual comments by a former Butler County pastor prompted action by the Archdiocese of Cincinnati that will impact more than 450,000 parishioners.
Late last month, the archdiocese confirmed the Rev. Geoff Drew, former pastor of St. Maximilian Kolbe Catholic Church in Liberty Twp., was suspended for actions involving teenage boys. Drew previously served as pastor of St. Rita of Cascia Parish in Dayton and parochial vicar at St. Luke the Evangelist Church in Beavercreek.
Church officials also said they would change how they handle investigation accusations of inappropriate behavior against priests because of the Drew case. More
Calvary Chapel ends support of Potter’s Field Ministries
The Calvary Chapel has broken its affiliation with Potter’s Field Ministries in Whitefish and the ministry’s other associated businesses and nonprofits following allegations from former ministry members who allege the founders of Potter’s Field have long incited a cult-like environment through intimidation, fear tactics and other means.
Officials with Calvary Chapel recently announced on the website, phoenixpreacher.com, that “after prayer, much consideration, and a unanimous decision, Mike Rozell and Potter’s Field Ministries has been removed from the official list of affiliated Calvary Chapel pastors and churches. We find that the Potter’s Field form of discipleship training and methods of ministry are not compatible with the Calvary Chapel form of ministry taught to us by Pastor Chuck,” the online post stated. More
Saudi ministry offers Hajj hotline and ‘Fatwa Robot’ service
JEDDAH: The Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs is offering a free hotline to answer all questions related to pilgrimage rituals on the contact number 8002451000.
The service covers eight languages, including Arabic, English, French, Urdu, Turkish and Indonesian.
Pilgrims can choose to listen to electronic messages about the rites of Hajj and Umrah, general messages from the ministry and rulings from the permanent committee of religious researchers. Moreover, they can speak directly to one of the ministry’s Islamic guidance representatives, who are available 24 hours a day. More