Egypt’s Prosecutor-General, the highest law-enforcement official in the land, wants to allow citizens to arrest anyone — tourists included — for religious “crimes” like blasphemy.
Moderates warn that this will do incalculable damage to Egypt’s tourism industry.
Foreign visitors, whether or not they did anything wrong, should reckon with the possibility that they’ll be mistreated or blackmailed by any Egyptian citizen with a bone to pick over anything at all.
Some warn of even more dire consequences: that an open season on people deemed insufficiently pious could lead to civil war.
Egypt has fallen to the lowest rank out of 140 nations in terms of safety and security — behind Pakistan, Chad and Yemen — in the World Economic Forum (WEF)’s most recent Travel and Tourism (T&T) competitiveness index.
Assemblyman Dr. Steve Katz of New York is a Tea Partier who campaigned on a platform of law and order, gun rights, religious freedom, and sanctity of life. He presents himself as a ramrod-straight model citizen; as such, he naturally has an aversion to the use of illicit drugs — and this brave man isn’t afraid to come right out and say so.
Friends and family members noticed subtle changes in Assemblyman Steve Katz (R-NY) after the devil weed began taking over his life.
Katz is a member of the Assembly’s Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Committee. Last year, he voted against a bill to legalize medical marijuana. In a recent mailer to constituents, he decried “an increase in drug use and drunk driving” by New York’s godless yoot.
You can probably guess what’s next.
The other day, Katz was pulled over for breaking the speed limit (80 miles in an 65-mph zone). The trooper who asked for his license and registration detected a strong odor of marijuana and asked Katz about it; the politician then produced a small bag of marijuana. He was charged with speeding and unlawful possession.
Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) has a long history of opposing gay rights. He was a co-sponsor of DOMA, the bill that prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage. In 1999, he voted to prevent gays from adopting in Washington DC.
In 2011 his son came out. A year went by. Another year went by. And finally, Senator Portman decided that it was time to stop treating gays as sub-human, and announced that he now supports same-sex marriage.
His conversion has received praise from many quarters. Personally, I’m not impressed. While it’s always good to see politicians change their positions in light of new information, Portman only changed his mind when the results of his anti-gay stance affected him personally. Even then it took him two years wake up. His decision was purely emotional, instead of being based on logic or reason. Still, it’s a step in the right direction.
The reactions to his change of heart have been predictable and entertaining. Most of his hard-right Republican colleagues are doing a jittery side-stepping dance, trying to support him while avoiding any appearance of favoring human rights for those icky gays.
The fundamentalist world is, of course, in an uproar.
One of the most appalling and amusing responses to date has been from Andrea Lafferty of the Traditional Values Coalition. Her ham-fisted parody of Sen. Portman’s announcement changes “gay” to “drunk driving.”
He is a drunk driver and has been driving drunk regularly since college. I have taken several days to reflect on this and I have decided to reverse my earlier opposition to drunk driving.
My child is a drunk driver and I love him. It is a part of his identity, who he is.
You can read the senator’s article here, and Lafferty’s failed attempt at humor here.
We should be delighted with the responses from the fundamentalists. The more they speak, the more they reveal how ridiculous, silly, and hateful their positions are.
A fundamentalist Russian Orthodox group has filed a lawsuit claiming President Barack Obama’s support of gay marriage invalidates the 1867 sale of Alaska. The Pchyolki are a group best known for advising its members to use violence if necessary to protect churches from “blasphemers” like the rock group Pussy Riot. …
In court papers, the Pchyolki said the U.S. purchase of Alaska was not legal because the contract specified payment in gold coins and the United States wrote a check for $7.2 million, which would be a far larger sum in today’s dollars. The Pchyolki or Bees, organized in 2008, have a stated goal of protecting orphans’ rights. They campaign against sex education in schools and advised, after the Pussy Riot arrests, that the faithful could protect churches by damaging equipment used by “blasphemers” with holy water, although they said “bloodshed” was only acceptable away from church property.
You could call it a divine sign: a Saugus man said he couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw Jesus Christ on a drop cloth at his home. “My heart went a million miles an hour. I was hyperventilating,” said Brian Krantz.
Facepalm-worthy stuff, but at least we get a new exclamation out of it; here at Moral Compass HQ, our future expression of frustration or astonishment will be “Sweet Jesus Christ on a drop cloth!” Thank you, Mr. Krantz.
For fun findings on the human brain’s face-detection proclivities, see here. Cliff Notes version: the more gullible people are, the more they’ll “recognize” random patterns as meaningful images.
Abdullah Abdel Hamid, a professor at Al-Azhar University and Salafist preacher, described Egyptian government officials as “enemies of God,” following their statements about eradicating millions of locusts who infested several of Egypt’s governates in the last few weeks, Al-Watan newspaper reported on Friday
“Locusts embody a gift from God to humans living on Earth; how dare they say such things?” Abdel Hamid said at a Friday sermon in the Egyptian canal city of Suez. Abdel Hamid argued that no “police or military troops” could stop the locusts, as “God’s will” cannot be challenged.
Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God premiered last fall on HBO. It shouldn’t be too long now before the film, about the sexual abuse of young deaf boys at a Catholic institution, is available for streaming via Amazon, iTunes, Netflix, and/or Hulu. The reviews at Rotten Tomatoes and iMDB have been stellar, so here at Moral Compass HQ, we’ve added it to our watch list with a good deal of anticipation.
• Rabbi Yehuda Rosilio stole $130,000 worth of Torah scrolls from his own synagogue, and replaced them with cardboard-and-paper replicas.
• The former pastor of an Arkansas church, 42-year-old Hank D. Guilliams, is in jail, accused of multiple counts of sexual assault. Some of the crimes allegedly occurred in the church.
• A pastor in Jamaica invited the police into his church in an effort to quell rumors that his wife had been sleeping around. The service then erupted in “pandemonium,” according to the Jamaica Star.
• Pakistani-born Lord Ahmed, Britain’s first Muslim peer, caused an accident while he was thought to have been driving-and-texting. Although his sentence was postponed so that he could keep “building interfaith bridges,” that didn’t prevent him from going on a radio show and complaining the verdict was the result of a Jewish conspiracy.
• According to Human Rights Watch, there are at least 15 people on death row for blasphemy in Pakistan, and more than 50 people have been killed while facing trial for the charge.
• Indiana pastor Jack Schaap (55, photo) had sex with a 17-year-old girl who had been sent to him for counseling. He told her that Jesus approved of his advances: “Christ wants to marry us + become eternal lovers,” he wrote her in a text message.
• Muslim Mali, a new video game for would-be jihadists, features a button in the corner of the screen that reads: “There is no God but God, and Mohammad is his messenger.” Click on it and it sends a pulverizing black laser beam of death at the French enemy, courtesy of Allah.
• The FBI has apprehended a former Missouri pastor wanted on suspicion of child sexual abuse in New Orleans. George Spencer, 48, was arrested Friday on several charges of forcible sodomy of a child and child molestation.
• Jason Lee Ray, treasurer and youth pastor at a church in Tennessee, admitted to stealing money from the church from more than a year. He is thought to have taken more than $60,000.
• A retired Roman Catholic priest was given an 11-year sentence in a Newfoundland (Canada) court on Thursday for sexually abusing children. George Ansel Smith, 75, was sentenced for offenses involving 13 children he assaulted between 1969 and 1989.
• The deadliest mass killing in Orange County, Calif. history (Seal Beach, 2011, 10 dead) might have been God’s way of protesting the community’s treatment of homeless people, believes pastor Shirley Broussard. City Councilman Michael Levitt offered, however, that God wouldn’t kill a group of people just “because we didn’t pay for housing.”
• More details emerged in the Fairfield, Calif. sex-abuse case involving the Rev. Robert Ruark. Known by parishioners as “Father Silas,” Ruark was charged with more than 30 counts of committing lewd acts on children as young as 13 and, in some instances, photographing them while naked. The victims told detectives that most of the molestations took place either at the church or at his home.
• To prove that he wasn’t hungry for companionship or sex, a 59-year-old priest in Britain who is accused of sexually assaulting a teenage girl announced he had in fact been secretly married for more than a decade. William Finnegan claims he couldn’t have attacked the 17-year-old because, despite his vows of celibacy, he was enjoying a healthy sex life with his wife.
• Robert Lyzenga, a former pastor at Sunrise Christian Reformed Church in Lafayette, Ind., has been charged with five counts of child exploitation and five counts of voyeurism. He had installed small video cameras inside air fresheners in the women’s bathrooms at the church.
Always good to know who the real enemy is: killer “schvartze” (blacks), but most of all, mendacious, sex-starved kids. I’m not entirely certain that that’s in the Torah, but New York Rabbi Hershel Schachter is making it an article of faith anyway.
A top rabbinic dean of Yeshiva University has warned rabbis about the dangers of reporting child sex abuse allegations to the police because it could result in a Jew being jailed with a black inmate, or as he put it, “a schvartze,” who might want to kill him.
Rabbi Hershel Schachter, one of the most respected faculty members of the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, also said that children can lie and ruin an innocent man’s life.
Schachter’s warnings appear to be a response to reports about sex abuse at Yeshiva University — some of it involving another rabbi, George Finkelstein, who loved to wrestle. With his penis, apparently.
Yeshiva University has been embroiled in a mounting scandal following a series of reports in the Forward [a Jewish newspaper] since December about abuse allegations against two former staff members at Yeshiva University’s high school for boys in Manhattan.
Several former students have told the Forward that they were sodomized by Rabbi Macy Gordon, a Talmud teacher employed at the school until the mid 1980s. More than a dozen students have complained of inappropriate behavior by Finkelstein who rose to school principal before he resigned in 1995. Finkelstein was notorious for forcing students to wrestle with him in a school office and at his home. Several students told the Forward they could feel his erect penis grinding up against them during the wrestling sessions.