Big Mouths, Tiny Little Shriveled Hearts

Given the title of this blog, Christians who say that those in favor of equal rights “have broken the moral compass” get our automatic attention. And who better to school us on the finer points of morality and decency than the fundies of Westboro Baptist Church, who show up at military funerals, and at remembrances for victims of school shootings, carrying signs like these:


This week, Westboro’s paragons of virtue were at it again.

Outside Santa Monica High School on Pico Boulevard in Santa Monica, Calif., Westboro Baptist Church members assembled with signs reading “God H8s Fags” and “You Eat Your Kids” to protest the school’s affirmation of LGBT students, according to the Los Angeles Times. According to their website, Westboro intended to target “brutish teachers & hateful parents” who “have broken the moral compass of this generation” and have doomed the nation by “embracing sodomy.”

Watch what transpired:

“God Didn’t Listen,” Complains Lye Attacker

Herbert Rodgers couldn’t stand the thought of Carmen Tarleton, his estranged wife, seeing another man. Nor could he stomach the idea of the pending divorce. He beseeched the Almighty for divine intervention.

When God didn’t stop him, he said, he set out for her home, planning to beat the man with a baseball bat and pour lye over him. But when he got there, there was no man, so Rodgers broke into the house through a window, tied her up and dumped lye all over her in an attack that left her with a broken arm, a broken eye socket [from his beating her with a baseball bat], and burns over 80 percent of her body.

He didn’t care about the presence of their 12- and 14-year-old daughters, who were living with Tarleton. When Vermont State Police Troopers responded to the 911 call, the girls were outside the house, screaming “He’s killing her!” The officers entered the home, where

…[trooper Hugh] O’Donnell and other responding officers found Tarleton crawling on the floor, her face distorted from the chemical, her skin turning brown before his eyes as she begged for an ambulance. …

“During my encounter with Rodgers he told me that he had been talking to God over the past week or so asking him to stop him from doing this,” O’Donnell said in an affidavit released Monday. “He said that he was going to wait until his birthday for God to respond.”


That was six years ago. In recent days, after a mind-boggling 55 prior surgeries, Carmen Tarleton received a new face. No word on whether God has gotten better at obeying ultimatums from the faithful.

[image via nbcnews]

God’s Very Best Descend Upon the Vatican

Cardinals from around the world are jetting to Vatican City in their customary high style, to choose a new pontiff. And what a gaggle of splendiferous human beings it is!

[D]e­spite calls from many Catholics, [Pope Benedict] nev­er re­moved prelates who, court cases and doc­u­ments re­vealed, put chil­dren at risk by fail­ing to re­port pe­dophiles or re­move them from the priest­hood.

It is not that these car­di­nals be­haved so dif­fer­ent­ly from the oth­ers, or that they do not have achieve­ments to their names. It is just that they hap­pened to come from pin­points on the Cath­o­lic world map where long-hid­den se­crets be­came pub­lic be­cause vic­tims or­ga­nized, gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials in­ves­ti­gat­ed, lawyers sued or the news me­dia paid at­ten­tion.

They in­clude car­di­nals from Bel­gium, Chile and It­aly. They in­clude the dean of the Col­lege of Car­di­nals, An­ge­lo So­dano, who is ac­cused of tak­ing large mon­e­tary gifts from a re­li­gious or­der, the Le­gion of Christ, and halt­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion in­to its founder, the Rev. Mar­cial Ma­ciel — who was later ex­posed as a patho­log­i­cal abuser and liar.


They al­so in­clude car­di­nals re­viled by many in their own coun­tries, like Car­di­nal Sean Brady, the pri­mate of All Ire­land, who sur­vived an up­roar af­ter gov­ern­ment in­ves­ti­ga­tions un­cov­ered en­demic cov­er-ups of the sex­ual and phys­i­cal abuse of mi­nors.

“There’s so many of them,” said Jus­tice Anne Burke, a judge in Il­li­nois who served on the Amer­i­can bish­ops’ first ad­vi­so­ry board 10 years ago. “They all have par­tici­pated in one way or an­other in hav­ing ac­tual in­for­ma­tion about crim­i­nal con­duct, and not do­ing any­thing about it.”

The conclave is stacked with staunch conservatives of considerably advanced years. That means the possibility that the next pope will stand for contrition and conciliation is about as big as the chance that he’ll celebrate his new title by performing The Vatican Rag in the middle of St. Peter’s Square.

Not that he’d pull it off quite as well as Tom Lehrer did.

[color image via Pilgrim’s Footsteps]

Who Would Jesus Eat?

The trial against Gilberto Valle kicked off yesterday. Valle is the New York City cop who was arrested last fall on charges that he used NYPD databases to compile a list of about a hundred women he allegedly wanted to torture, cook, and eat. The would-be cannibal was turned on in by his wife, Kathleen Mangan-Valle, who had discovered through chat logs on her husband’s computer that he apparently intended to murder and eat her too.

Gilberto Valle maintains that he was only fantasizing about these things, and had no intention of committing any actual crimes.


About one target, he wrote

I was thinking of tying her body onto some kind of apparatus … cook her over a low heat, keep her alive as long as possible.

The Valles are practicing Catholics. Gilberto wed Kathleen only three summers ago in St. Aloysius Church in Spokane, Washington, where he swore he’d love and support her until death do the doting duo apart. (Presumably, his vows to the Almighty didn’t include anything about gutting his wife and eating her flesh.)

The couple has a child, whose image was presented in court during the wife’s testimony.

[J]urors were shown a photo of [Valle] in his NYPD uniform, beaming as he held to his chest his cherubic baby girl, who was wearing a fuzzy pink hooded jumper with bear ears. Asked to describe the image, Mangan-Valle responded, “It’s before church, before a Holy Name Society breakfast,” then sobbed uncontrollably.

The Holy Name Society “promotes reverence for the Sacred Names of God and Jesus Christ … and the personal sanctification and holiness of its members.”

Even if he’s found not guilty, the personal holiness of Gilberto Valle is, let’s say, still a few muffins short of a full breakfast.

Valle is sometimes mentioned in the same breath as a man with a similar penchant for fetishistic torture-and-cannibalism fantasies: Tampa-area puppeteer Robert Brown. Brown was arrested last July on charges of planning to kidnap, rape, murder, and eat a child. Like Valle, he’s a loyal churchgoer. He takes his religious holidays seriously, remarking about his intended victim, a young boy he knew from church:

…his thighs and butt cheeks would be fantastic for easter.

(Insert obligatory joke about fava beans and a nice chianti.)

Valle, too, felt that a church holiday calls for something extra-festive:

I’m planning on getting some girl meat… this November… for Thanksgiving.

It’s noteworthy that the Eucharist ritual of swallowing the body of Christ, in the words of this devout Catholic publication, means that

…the Holy Communion does involve eating human flesh and blood.

Their words, not mine. Maybe the forbidden apple doesn’t fall that far from the tree.

[image via MailOnline]

We’re All God’s Creatures. Now Die.

God’s love delivered with bombs and guns:

Muslim insurgents in Thailand’s troubled southern Muslim provinces launched a series of similarly timed reprisal attacks. The 29 assaults included bombings and arson after … about 50 fighters wearing combat uniforms assaulted a Thai marine corps base in Narathiwat’s Bacho district. … Since November 2004 the region has been roiled by a rising insurgency by militants seeking an independent Muslim state in southern Thailand. More than 5,300 Thais, both Buddhist and Muslim, have died in the violence.

Cardinal Sin

Another week, another Catholic sex scandal. This one involves Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the most senior Catholic clergyman in Britain.

O’Brien, who is due to retire next month, has been an outspoken opponent of gay rights, condemning homosexuality as immoral, opposing gay adoption, and most recently arguing that same-sex marriages would be “harmful to the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of those involved”.

So you know what comes next, right? Sure you do. Cardinal O’Brien turns out to be a closet queen who has been secretly trying to sample the forbidden fruits under the frocks of his fellow clergymen — over whom he has near-total ecclesiastical authority.

Cardinal Keith O'Brien -1730693

So far, four priests have filed written complaints with the Vatican, alleging that they were sexually accosted by their spiritual leader. They did so before Pope Benedict announced his resignation, so this doesn’t appear to be an attempt to weaken the cardinal’s position in the notoriously intrigue-riddled 117-member conclave that is set to elect a new pope. The UK Observer has more.

UPDATE: Apologizing for “failures” during his ministry, the cardinal has resigned.

[image via Daily Record]

Fever Pitch: Soccer-Field Feud Leads to Murder

Around the world, riots and sectarian violence frequently break out over whose God is truer. If that fails, you could also hack and shoot at each other over something even more vital — like which religious tribe has first dibs on the local soccer field.


Christians in central Nigeria could mourn their dead Sunday, February 24, after  the massacre of a Christian family while sectarian clashes killed one person and left churches, homes and mosques burnt, officials said. … Suspected Muslim attackers used machetes and guns to murder 10 members of the same Christian family in Plateau state, with half the victims under the age of six, the military and government confirmed. “A family of 10 were … murdered” by Muslim Fulani herdsmen, said Pam Ayuba, the governor’s spokesman, in published remarks. “Five little children including a two-month-old child were slaughtered.”

The violence in the central town of Wukari began when Muslim and religious Christian football teams argued over who had the right to a football pitch.

[image via Zazzle]

Witchy Woman

Irrationality and superstition just claimed another life:

A woman has been tortured and burned alive in Papua New Guinea after being accused of using sorcery to kill a young boy, local media report. The woman, a mother aged 20 named as Kepari Leniata, was stripped, tied up and doused in petrol by the boy’s relatives in Mount Hagen in the Western Highlands, said the National newspaper. She was then thrown onto a fire in front of hundreds of people. … In parts of the Pacific nation deaths and mysterious illnesses are sometimes blamed on suspected sorcerers. Several reports have emerged in recent years of accused people, usually women, being killed.


When Ministers Worship (Teens and Preteens)

Alas: A lifetime of Bible readin’ wasn’t enough to dissuade these Reverends from attempting to bless various children with their saintly cocks. The stories are from just the last couple of days.

Everett, WA:

A Baptist minister from Everett was charged Thursday with commercial sexual abuse of a minor for allegedly arranging to meet a 16-year-old girl he was going to have sex with for a fee. John K. Lawlor, 54, one of the pastors at Everett’s First Baptist Church was charged in King County Superior Court with the crime after police said he made arrangements to meet with what he thought was a teenage girl and then drove to Seattle with $200 as payment along with condoms.


Seattle, WA:

A minister and former foster parent who sexually abused at least 10 young boys was sentenced Friday to 22 years in prison. Timothy L. Dampier, 39, pleaded guilty to a total of 22 counts involving ten victims between the ages of nine and 17 years old, according to prosecutors. Dampier had been involved in a number of Seattle-area youth programs at the Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church, New Hope Baptist Church, Ruth Dykeman Children’s Center, Ruther Child Center, Samuel House, Union Gospel Mission and Seattle Parks and Recreation. He also works as a minister at several Seattle churches, detectives said. … He also pleaded guilty to first, second, and third degree child molestation, sexual exploitation of a minor, possession of child pornography, and communication with a minor for immoral purposes.

La Grange, IL:

A La Grange minister has been charged with sexually assaulting a minor under the age of 13 earlier this month. Judge Edward Harmening ordered Donald Jung, 59, held in lieu of $750,000 bond; he was charged with predatory criminal sexual assault of a child. … Jung drove to Milwaukee to pick up three females and drove them back to his home in La Grange, prosecutors alleged. On the first night of their stay, a nine-year-old awoke when the defendant sexually assaulted her, said Assistant State’s Attorney Amari Dawson. The girl attempted to reach her mother by phone after the incident but was unsuccessful, said Dawson. The next night Jung repeated his actions, said Dawson. Jung dropped the females at their home. Afterwards the victim told her mother what happened. Dawson said Jung did not admit to the sexual assault but did tell police he raped the girl’s mother 22 years ago when she was 10 years old.

Rabbis Bless Children’s Orifices

It’s been a busy few weeks for the holy representatives of Yahweh. Aren’t you glad we have such upstanding men taking care of children’s spiritual needs?

Brooklyn, USA:

A rabbi from a prominent ultra-Orthodox Jewish family in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, was charged on Thursday with sexually abusing three teenage boys from a school he ran, in a case that is likely to shine yet another spotlight on a secretive community grappling with abuse allegations. The rabbi and leader of the school, Yoel Malik, 33, is accused of taking two of the boys to a local hotel for sexual encounters and rubbing another boy’s penis through his pants while masturbating in a parked car.

The Awareness Center, Inc._ Case of Rabbi Yoel Malik

Sydney, Australia:

A man under investigation for allegedly sexually abusing boys at a Sydney Jewish day school told police that senior rabbis knew of his actions but failed to report them to authorities, a newspaper reported. The Sydney Morning Herald reported Wednesday that the man told New South Wales police, who are investigating allegations that two men associated with the Yeshiva Centre in Bondi sexually abused children during the 1970s and 1980s, that he confessed to Rabbi PInchus Feldman 25 years ago, and was told to “take steps to avoid it.”

A Jewish rabbi in Manchester who is facing child sex abuse charges has gone on the run, sparking a police alert. Rabbi Todros Gryhaus is wanted by police investigating claims of sexual abuse in the Jewish community in Manchester. He was charged with indecent assault and sexual assault against children in December.

Queens, USA:

A Brooklyn rabbi and travel guide exchanged sexually explicit online messages with an undercover cop he thought was a 14-year-old girl, then set up a date with her in Queens, prosecutors charged Thursday Nathan David Rabinowich, 59, was arrested Wednesday night when he showed up for the pervy rendezvous, police said. He faces up to four years in prison if convicted of attempted rape and other counts.

An Explosive Trio

“Revenge for everything.” That was what motivated three wannabe martyrs to plot another Islamist massacre against innocents in England. The three, once hell-bent on ascending to heaven by splattering walls and ceilings with the blood of infidels, will have to wait some fifty or sixty years before claiming their rewards in the afterlife; for now, a one-way ticket to a maximum-security jail will have to do.


Irfan Naseer, 31, Irfan Khalid, 27, and Ashik Ali, 27, all from Birmingham, were convicted at Woolwich Crown Court of planning the attack. They were “central figures” in an Islamic extremist plot to set off up to eight rucksack bombs and possibly other devices on timers in crowded areas. Police believe it was the most significant terror plot to be uncovered since the 2006 conspiracy to blow up transatlantic airliners using bombs disguised as soft drinks. Khalid even boasted that the attack was “another 9/11” as “revenge for everything”.

Naseer was found guilty of five counts of engaging in conduct in preparation of terrorist acts, Khalid four, and Ali three, all between Christmas Day 2010 and September 19 2011. For Naseer, from Sparkhill, Khalid, from Sparkbrook, and Ali, from Balsall Heath, this included planning a bombing campaign, collecting money for terrorism and recruiting others for terrorism. Naseer and Khalid also travelled to Pakistan for training, and Naseer helped others travel to the country for the same purpose.

Another report says that

In surveillance recordings, Naseer was heard talking about the possibility of mixing poison into creams such as Vaseline or Nivea and smearing them on car handles to cause mass deaths. The trio even pondered welding blades to a truck and driving it into people.

Good thing they were caught. Then again, it seems unlikely that these bunglers could have pulled off a major attack.

Surveillance operations helped uncover how the men worked as street fundraisers for Muslim Aid to raise money for their plot, which six other men have already pleaded guilty in relation to. But the plotters lost thousands through playing foreign currency markets and had to apply for loans. The competency of Naseer, an overweight unemployed pharmacy graduate nicknamed Chubbs; Khalid, whose father said he had a medical condition that would have prevented him from carrying out any attacks; and partially-sighted Ali as would-be suicide bombers was doubted, as they also failed to destroy a ‘recipe’ for homemade ingredients when a paper note did not burn.

They sound like they walked straight out of Four Lions, the very enjoyable 2010 British comedy about some extremely cloddish homegrown jihadists.

I’ll bet the judge isn’t laughing in this case, though. The trio faces life imprisonment.

The Legend of Horny Master

Nice to see such vitality in our senior citizens:

A 105-year-old Zen Buddhist master has been accused of sexually assaulting his female students during private teaching sessions. Joshu Sasaki, best known for being the teacher of artist Leonard Cohen, has allegedly groped and sexually harassed women across the U.S. for over 50 years. An independent council of Buddhist leaders recently admitted to ignoring years of accusations against the famously charismatic ‘roshi’. …

Nikki Stubbs, who spent three years studying under Mr Sasaki in the early 00s, said that when she spoke up about Mr Sasaki touching her breasts during private lessons and asking her to massage his penis, a monk told her ‘sexualizing was teaching for particular women’. His theory, she told the newspaper. was that ‘such physicality could check a woman’s overly strong ego’. Another victim, who has been kept anonymous, studied under Mr Sasaki at Mount Baldy Zen Centre in the 90s. She said Mr Sasaki would justify groping her during ‘sanzen’, private meetings, by saying ‘True love is giving yourself to everything.’


Mr. Sasaki is in good bad company, it was revealed:

Such charges have become more frequent in Zen Buddhism. Several other teachers have been accused of misconduct recently, notably Eido Shimano, who in 2010 was asked to resign from the Zen Studies Society in Manhattan over allegations that he had sex with students. Critics and victims have pointed to a Zen culture of secrecy, patriarchy and sexism, and to the quasi-religious worship of the Zen master, who can easily abuse his status.

All of this is disturbing enough, but it pales compared to the cases of Buddhist monks right here in America who molest children, sometimes for months or years on end. What do their temples do when such abuse comes to light? Why, they take a page from the Catholic playbook.

The meeting took place at Wat Dhammaram, a cavernous Theravada Buddhist temple on the southwest edge of Chicago. A tearful 12-year-old told three monks how another monk had turned off the lights during a tutoring session, lifted her shirt and kissed and fondled her breasts while pressing against her, according to a lawsuit. Shortly after that meeting, one of the monks sent a letter to the girl’s family, saying the temple’s monastic community had resolved the matter, the lawsuit says. The “wrongdoer had accepted what he had done,” wrote P. Boonshoo Sriburin, and within days would “leave the temple permanently” by flying back to Thailand. “We have done our best to restore the order,” the letter said. But 11 years later, the monk, Camnong Boa-Ubol, serves at a temple in California, where he says he interacts with children even as he faces a second claim, supported by DNA, that he impregnated a girl in the Chicago area. …

A monk charged with sexual assault of a child in Harris County, Texas, also is missing. The charges came in January after a 16-year-old girl confided in her high school counselor that the monk had been having sex with her for months, according to the complaint. Sgt. William Lilly, of the Harris County sheriff’s office, said he visited the temple in search of the monk after the teen’s outcry and “just got the sense they weren’t going to help.” Days later, the monk’s attorney announced his client had fled and was believed to be in Cambodia. Where is the monk now? The temple’s president could not say.

The Chicago Tribune has more.

[image from Dim Sum Funeral]