Amusing Church Signs

A church just down the road from where I live frequently tries its hand at patriotism and clever aphorisms — and comes up short on both accounts.


Apparently god doesn’t believe in spelling either.

The Tsarnaevs’ Islam: Boxing Bad, Bombing Good

Who knows what goes through the demented minds of religious killers? A news team at the Wall Street Journal put together a relatively thorough profile of suspected Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, and while it’s not exactly enlightening — mental pathology is difficult to enlighten — it is plenty sad and often chilling.

Some passages:

His mother encouraged him to turn to Islam. “I told Tamerlan that we are Muslim, and we are not practicing our religion, and how can we call ourselves Muslims?” Mrs. Tsarnaeva said. “And that’s how Tamerlan started reading about Islam, and he started praying, and he got more and more and more into his religion.

Tell me again how more piety = better morals.

Tamerlan quit drinking and smoking, gave up boxing because he thought it was in opposition to his religion, and began pushing the rest of his family to pursue stricter ways, his mother recalled.

“You know how Islam has changed me,” his mother, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal in Makhachkala, Dagestan, says he told her. …

Tamerlan persuaded his mother to cover herself up, which she says at one point distressed her husband, Anzor. “He said, ‘You are being crazy, covering yourselves,'” she recalled her husband saying. She said that she told him, “This is what Islamic men should want. This is what I am supposed to do.”

Allah commanded it. And soon, in her son’s mind, Allah started commanding a lot of other things too.

People who knew him say Tamerlan would express outrage when he perceived a religious slight and was critical of Muslim immigrants’ efforts to assimilate in the U.S.

In one incident last November, Tamerlan confronted a shopkeeper at a Middle Eastern grocery store in Cambridge, near a mosque where he sometimes prayed, after seeing a sign there advertising Thanksgiving turkeys. “Brother, why did you put up this sign?” the shopkeeper, Abdou Razak, recalled him asking angrily. “This is kuffar” — an Arabic reference to non-Muslims — “that’s not right!”

At Friday prayers that month, Tamerlan stood up and challenged a sermon in which the speaker said that, just like “we all celebrate the birthday of the Prophet, we can also celebrate July 4 and Thanksgiving,” according to Yusufi Vali, a mosque spokesman. Mr. Vali said Tamerlan stated that he “took offense to celebrating anything,” be it the Prophet’s birthday (which not all Muslims celebrate) or American holidays.

Tamerlan also protested at Friday prayers in January, around the Martin Luther King Day holiday, when a speaker compared the civil-rights leader with the Prophet Muhammad, Mr. Vali said. Tamerlan interrupted the sermon and called the speaker a hypocrite.

But the most neck-snappingly bizarre snippet from the whole article is the answer to why Tamerlan Tsarnaev stopped boxing, a sport for which he had a rare talent.

[His father] Anzor Tsarnaev said he was “outraged” by his son’s decision to drop boxing. He said Tamerlan told him that a Muslim must not punch another man in the face. [emphasis added]

In this version of Islam, Allah tells you not to punch another man in the face — but says it’s fine to blow up innocent people by detonating pressure cookers filled with shrapnel.

In summary:


Got that?

Nigerian Islamists Clash With Soldiers: 185 Dead

While I have no deep affection for Christianity, at least Christ was the peacenik hippie type, whereas Mohammed was a highway robber and warlord. You could say that Boko Haram and its fellow Islamist thugs only follow in their blessed prophet’s footsteps.

Fighting between Nigeria‘s military and Islamist extremists killed at least 185 people in a fishing community in the nation’s far northeast, officials said on Sunday.


The fighting in Baga began Friday and lasted for hours, sending people fleeing into the arid scrublands surrounding the community on Lake Chad. The unrest saw insurgents fire rocket-propelled grenades and soldiers spray machine-gun fire into neighbourhoods filled with civilians.

By Sunday, when government officials felt safe enough to see the destruction, homes, businesses and vehicles were burned throughout the area.

The assault marks a significant escalation in the long running insurgency Nigeria faces in its predominantly Muslim north, with extremists mounting a coordinated assault on soldiers using military-grade weaponry.

[image via Asian History]

A Regular Find: Fetuses in Church Bathrooms

When you find three fetuses in a church’s women’s bathroom, as happened yesterday in the Philippines, it might be worth wondering whether the remains were left by a regular female churchgoer who could enter and exit the place without drawing suspicion. But that’s not really how this news story is presented:

Three fetuses were found inside the toilet of a church in Novaliches, Quezon City, Saturday morning.

Flora Duran, a maintenance worker, was cleaning the women’s room at the Shrine of Our Lady of Mercy on Quirino Highway around 8 a.m. when she discovered the fetuses stuffed in a green shopping bag.

Novaliches police station investigators said the discovery raised the possibility that an abortionist was operating just within the community.


I see. “An abortionist” who is “operating just within the community.” Very delicate language there, rich with the politics of distancing and prevaricating.

But fetuses show up in church bathrooms in the Philippines more often than you might think. So often, in fact, that Manila’s archbishop wrote a pastoral letter about it a few years ago.

Alarmed over the number of fetuses left in churches and other public places, Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales Thursday issued a pastoral letter to remind Catholics about the “evils of abortion.”

On Tuesday night, two fetuses were found in Manila’s most prominent Catholic churches — the Manila Cathedral and Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo.

The first, believed to be that of a six to seven month-old boy, was discovered by a churchgoer at Manila Cathedral in Intramuros at around 5 p.m. … At about 6:45 p.m., another fetus was found inside a box in Quiapo Church by a Black Nazarene devotee who thought it contained a bomb.

More Filipino church-fetus cases here and here and here.

[cartoon via sodahead]

No Milk Today (And For the Last 55,000 Days)

The village of Chaura in Jharkhand, India, boasts a nice herd of cows. Each family owns at least two of the bovines. Almost anywhere in the world that means a steady supply of milk, but Chaura is different. For a century and a half, maybe longer, no one has dared milk the local cows. The villagers love milk, but they trek back and forth to buy it from neighboring hamlets.

Why? It’s on the advice of a 19th-century Hindu priest, says one of the elders, Kunaram Hansda, 70.

“My father used to say a priest had warned the villagers not to milk the cows,” he said, adding, “Those who dare to defy the diktat suffer physically and mentally.”

Local lore has it that some ancestors had killed two black cats for sneaking up to their kitchens and emptying the milk pots. Days later, several villagers fell sick as “the cats’ spirits” lay a curse on the village. Thereafter, goes the story, anyone consuming the milk of their cows would fall ill.

Some say that Chaura’s cows will only produce cursed milk that turns red, but no one has apparently dared put the claim to the test for generations.

If the liquid did turn out to have a reddish tint, there would be a good explanation — and the spirits of dead cats have nothing to do with it.

Dr Manoj Tiwary, veterinary physician and junior research officer at the Institute of Animal Health and Production (IAHP), Ranchi, said, “These cows might be suffering from Mastitis disease due to which blood sometimes mixes with the milk, giving it a reddish colour. It’s a bacterial disease and prone to be contagious. But [the reason] would be clear only after a proper examination of the cows.”

For now, the 150-odd families of Chaura will just continue to buy their milk elsewhere, spending their meager resources on something they could produce themselves, and enriching their neighbors in nearby villages.

Thieving Priest Is No Saint

When spiritual riches isn’t enough:

A Roman Catholic priest in central Pennsylvania will serve 11½ to 23 months behind bars for stealing more than $380,000 from his parish.


Authorities say 52-year-old former pastor Caesar Belchez transferred more than $190,000 from various accounts at St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Bonneauville to an online stock account and more than $120,000 to a personal account.

Belchez is accused of taking the money between 2006 and 2011 while he was pastor at Saint Joseph the Worker Catholic Church in Bonneauville.

On Religion: Frik Vermeulen, Unsung Genius

Finally, someone sorts through the world’s major faiths and helps us figure out “which Religion is right.”


We applaud South Africa’s Frik Vermeulen and his fearless decision to “way in and hopefully bring some sanity to the tables.”

Good Old Facebook

Via imgur.



Boston Bombs ‘Have Nothing To Do With Islam’

The Boston bombers’ religion is wholly immaterial, Muslims insist. Of course. Nothing to see here, move along.

“Unfortunately, there’s a double standard in the public’s view when an atrocity like this hits,” said Qasim Rashid, national spokesman for the national Ahmadiyya Muslim community.

“Who asked what religion Adam Lanza was?” asked Rashid, referring to the young man who mowed down 20 schoolchildren and six adults in Newtown, Conn., last year.

“If a non-Muslim commits an act of terrorism, they are thought of as responsible only for themselves. But when [it’s] a Muslim, the entire Muslim community is brought in.”

They could've been killed by anyone

Krystle Campbell, Martin Richard, Lu Lingzi, Sean Collier: Could’ve been killed by anyone

Rashid’s was a view echoed Friday by local and national Muslim leaders.

“A terrorist is a terrorist. A killer is a killer,” said Quresh Dahodwala, a nuclear physicist who lives in Cherry Hill. “To identify them with their religion is not fair.”

Except when the murderers act under perceived orders or inspiration from their god, their religious texts, and their resulting ideology. Then, I would say, it’s more than “fair” to mention that fact — then it’s motive, then it’s essential to the story, in order to understand who and what we’re dealing with.

People like Rashid and Dahodwala, who I’m sure are nice guys, are either delusional or dishonest when they say they can’t see the difference.

The same is true for Twitter users such as Nervana Mahmoud, who wrote: “Fact: Terrorism has no religion, race, or nationality.”

We can agree on the “race” and “nationality” part, my friend. As for religion, with Bill Maher, I’m going to have to beg to differ.


P.S. Wouldn’t it be lovely to be able to separate the crazy-violent ones from the kind and peaceable ones on their own say-so?

In the Wall Street Journal, an acquaintance of Tamerlan Tsarnaev recalls how he discussed Islamic violence with the would-be bomber earlier this year, saying “bombing civilians and justifying it under the Quran was wrong.” The future butcher agreed with him, responding, “Not all Muslims are like that.”

[photos via NBC News and]

Pastor In Workman’s Comp Fraud Gets Off Easy

In Troy, NY, a part-time child-care worker for the Troy Housing Authority, Willie Bacote, said he hurt his back on the job two years ago. Bacote began drawing worker’s comp insurance.

But the State Insurance Fund thought there might be something fishy about Bacote’s claim, and had investigators keep an eye on him.

They monitored Bacote at his other job; he is also a pastor of Missing Link AME Zion Church, and runs a flea market at the church to support its operations. There, the insurance team repeatedly observed and video-recorded Bacote lifting and schlepping objects like couches, chairs, and heavy boxes.


The state reviewed his case and ruled that the pilfering pastor has to pay back the workman’s comp money.

While lesser men would have been given additional fines (most thieves don’t claim the mantle of godly goodness), the state of New York decided to let Bacote off lightly.

It appears from the video evidence that he is making valuable efforts on behalf of his community,

the ruling noted.

Two Down, Six to Go

Herbert and Catherine Schaible of Philadelphia had eight children. Four years ago, they refused to take their then-two-year-old son to the doctor when he contracted bacterial pneumonia. Instead, they decided to prove their faith in God by praying for their son to get better.

And prove it they did. The boy died.

The Schaibles only got probation, and the court ordered the parents to immediately consult with a doctor if any of their other children became sick, and to follow the doctor’s recommendations.


So they went home and multiplied some more, and somehow the fruit of their loins got unwell again — this time, it was an eight-month-old baby boy — and lo and behold, the other day, Jesus called him home too. For some odd reason, the Schaibles’ prayer had failed again.

A couple that was sentenced to probation after their 2-year-old died in 2009 from pneumonia have had another child die.

Herbert and Catherine Schaible, fundamentalist Christians who believe in the power of prayer ahead of modern medicine, recently had their 8-month-old son die, according to Philadelphia Police spokeswoman Jillian Russell.

It wasn’t clear when the child died, or the cause of death, but the death hasn’t been ruled suspicious, Russell said. The child was taken to a funeral home by an as yet unknown individual and the undertaker alerted police, Russell said. An official cause of death is pending an autopsy, according to police.

In 2010, a jury convicted the Schaibles, who [then had] seven other children, of involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment in the death of their 2-year-old son Kent. The Schaibles were each sentenced to 10 years of probation — they could have faced prison time.

Whatever medical afflictions may yet befall the Schaibles or their remaining kids, I’m sure it’s nothing that more and better praying won’t take care of.

[image via eurweb]

Are Muslims Being Treated With Suspicion? Probably. Unfairly So? Probably Not.

Conor Friedersdorf asked yesterday morning, in the Atlantic:

What is it like to be a Muslim, or a person frequently mistaken for a Muslim, in the aftermath of an apparent terrorist attack? Americans who don’t fit that description can’t really know for sure, but three news items from the last few days show that knee-jerk prejudice is inexcusably common. If your ethnic group were treated this way, you’d be walking around paranoid and anxious.

I like Friedersdorf, and share his concern for America’s civil liberties. And he has a point here, as usual. It must be annoying as hell to be a peaceful Muslim, forever struggling under the oppressive miasma of low-level public distrust. But here’s the thing:

If I were a Muslim, and in possession of a modicum of intellectual honesty, I’d understand why I and my brethren fall under swift suspicion almost every time a bomb goes off.

I’d understand that violent fundies, claiming to do Allah’s work, had spoiled it for the majority of peaceful believers.


As a hypothetical Muslim, I’d probably be upset by what I might well perceive as prejudicial wariness from non-Muslims; and I’d think, no doubt rather often, “Screw this, I didn’t do anything.” But I’d be more upset with the coldhearted sons of bitches who hijacked my religion by bombing innocents while shouting that God is Great.

If I were a Muslim — not one who works for CAIR or the UN as a professional accuser of Islam’s critics, but one with a capacity for balanced reflection — I’d face the fact, despite my anger and pain, that people of my religious tribe did this:

• Flew airliners into Manhattan office towers.
• Blew up subway cars (and the innocent passengers in them) in London.
• Bombed a night club in Bali, killing hundreds.
• Created a huge bloodbath by setting off ten bombs aboard trains in Madrid.
• Kidnapped and beheaded the journalist Daniel Pearl in Pakistan.
• Laid siege to the heart of Mumbai with bombs and guns for three days, piling up the corpses.
• Murdered hundreds of children and teachers in a school in Beslan, Russia.
• Bombed the Paris metro.
• Took and executed foreign hostages at an oil refinery in Algeria.
• Attempted to detonate a car full of explosives in Times Square, New York.
• Stabbed and shot several of Salman Rushdie’s translators and publishers in Italy, Norway, and Japan.
• Set fire to a hotel in Turkey to protest Rushdie’s Satanic Verses, killing dozens.
• Firebombed a British publishing house for publishing a historical novel about Mohammad.
• Firebombed the Paris offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo for putting Mohammad on its cover.
• Tried to blow up cargo planes and their crews in England and Dubai, with explosives packed in printer cartridges.
• Shot and killed people on the Fort Hood military base.
• Slaughtered the filmmaker and writer Theo van Gogh in Amsterdam.
• Made multiple attempts on the lives of Scandinavian cartoonists who’d drawn pictures of Mohammad.


Not quite done yet:

• Shot and killed innocent people in the Washington DC area with a sniper rifle.
• Tried to bring down a passenger plane with explosives hidden in the heel of a shoe.
• Tried to bring down another passenger plane with an incendiary device hidden in the bomber’s underwear.
• Shot little Jewish kids through the head in a schoolyard in Toulouse, France.

Oh — and, we learned yesterday, hours after Friedersdorf posted his piece, that Islam-loving youths

• indiscriminately killed and maimed with bombs and guns in Boston this week.

Boston Marathon Explosions

That’s all off the top of my head. The litany above covers just the last decade or two, and isn’t nearly a complete list.

People who don’t like hearing this have a tendency to go on the counter-offensive by pointing to terrorists like Tim McVeigh and Anders Breivik. But those mass-murdering swine notwithstanding, rightwing extremists of their ilk don’t represent a worldwide violent movement.

Wish I could say the same for Muslims.

In the United States alone, since 9/11, there have been more than 50 Muslim terrorist plots and attempts and attacks. What other religion comes close? What other faith has even one-tenth of this horrible record, gained in the span of just the last 20 or 25 years?

As Moral Compass readers know, I have a fair amount of contempt for the Catholic Church (in fact, I like to think I’m an equal-opportunity offender of all religions). But I’m not the slightest bit worried that cells of scheming Catholics are going to want to blow marathon spectators to smithereens, or butcher atheists and gay people, or fly Boeings into office buildings.

No other religion on earth boasts such a massive contingent of aspiring terrorists, and I can back up the assertion. In 2008, the Gallup polling firm released the result of a survey among the world’s Muslims. Over six years and across three continents, Gallup had asked 50,000 adherents of Islam whether they supported violent jihad. The vast majority of respondents — 93 percent — said no.

May we assume that percentage to be correct? It’s likely to be considerably lower, of course, as not all backers of jihad will readily reveal their true sympathies when pressed on the subject by a U.S.-dispatched stranger with a clipboard. Not many radicals who support murder if it advances their cause will say so openly. Well, maybe these guys (Londoners, no less):


Anyway, Gallup and the mainstream media played the poll results as a victory for reason and international peace. Dalia Mogahed, director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, intoned at the time that there was no “widespread support for terrorism” among Muslims. Her poll showed that only seven percent are politically radical, she enthused.

Only seven percent of 1.3 billion Muslims is 91 million.

Only 91 million Bin Laden aficionados who cackle at the murders of Jews, Christians, atheists, apostates, artists, and authors.

Only 91 million devotees of stoning adulterers and lynching gay people.

Only 91 million Allah worshippers ready to either kill satirists and apostates, or condone such slayings.

Only 91 million would-be warriors so steeped in spirituality that they cheer when bombs built and placed by their co-religionists literally rip the limbs off of clubgoers in Indonesia and train commuters in Spain.

I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings, but as long as the number of Muslim terrorism supporters is that high, and extreme violence by Muslims is as common as rain showers, fans of Allah are going to be met with more than their fair share of suspicion.


P.S. Friedersdorf refers to Muslims as “an ethnic group.” He suggests that we’re racists for letting our thoughts wander in their direction whenever an act of terrorism is reported in the media.

As has been pointed out countless times, including by YouTubers with robot voices, Muslims form neither a race nor an ethnically homogenous tribe. Just as there are black Christians, white Christians, Asian Christians, etc., so are there black Muslims, white Muslims, Asian Muslims, and so on. The point should be unmissable, but continues to whoosh right over Friedersdorf’s and others’ heads.