Rabbi Creates Fake Elder to Boost His Career

On the day that the plagiarism and lies of French top rabbi Gilles Bernheim led to his resignation, a highly-placed American colleague of his had to face his own lies and fabulations. Here’s the story.

An elderly Jewish scholar and rabbinical authority by the name of Herschel Goldwasser frequently cited the work of Michael Broyde.

Michael Broyde was a student of mine many years ago

Goldwasser wrote at one point

and he was a one-in-million [sic] high school student back then. He was diligent and smart and he tried harder than anyone I have ever met.


That must have been nice for Broyde to hear. Broyde is a judge on the largest rabbinical court in the United States; he’s also a law professor at Emory University, where he is a Senior Fellow at the Center for the Study of Law and Religion. He was recently a frontrunner for the Chief Rabbi job in England.

Over the course of almost 20 years, Broyde received many public plaudits from Goldwasser. Goldwasser quoted appreciatively from Broyde’s work countless times, in Jewish journals and online forums, and no one seemed to notice (or mind) Goldwasser’s hermit-like qualities. No one knew what he looked like. No one even remembered meeting him.

Now, thanks to the sleuthing of a journalism website called the Jewish Channel, it’s clear why:

Rabbi Michael Broyde, a leading Modern Orthodox figure, confessed to using a fake persona to infiltrate a rival rabbinic organization and herald his own work in scholarly journals.

lengthy exposé on The Jewish Channel on Friday detailed how Broyde, a member of the Rabbinical Council of America who once was said to be on the short list of candidates to become the next chief rabbi of the United Kingdon, used the fake persona “Rabbi Herschel Goldwasser.” As Goldwasser, Broyde joined the International Rabbinic Fellowship, a rival to the RCA, heralded his own scholarship and corresponded with other rabbis.

Broyde at first denied the allegations, but then confessed on Friday shortly after The Jewish Channel piece was published.

Any Music You Want, As Long As It’s Organ Music

Elderly people with end-stage liver cancer have few things to look forward to. However, Heidemarie G., who is planning her own memorial service in Germany, would love it if, during the remembrance, the church played the song “Aber die Liebe bleibt” (But Love Remains) by popular balladeer Nana Mouskouri.


Pastor Stephan Thieme-Benox has denied the dying woman’s wish, because he has a rule: recorded music is not allowed in his church. He did magnanimously offer to have the song played on the church organ.

Heidemarie G. is “disappointed and angry,” reports the Bild newspaper (link in German).

[image via wikimedia]

Man With Axe Targets Indy Planned Parenthood

Christian terrorist vandal apprehended.

A man told police his religious beliefs led him to break into and damage a Planned Parenthood facility in Monroe County [Indiana] using an axe early Thursday morning, officials said. Bloomington police arrested Benjamin Curell, 27, of Ellettsville, on felony charges of burglary and criminal mischief.


Police were called to a report of a man trying to break into the building at 421 S. College Ave. just before 4 a.m. When officers arrived, they said they found Curell in the building carrying an axe and that “extensive damage had been done to the building and office equipment with the axe,” Bloomington police Capt. Joe Qualters said.

Red paint had also been splashed onto the building, police said.

Planned Parenthood is frequently the target of threats and violence.

• Last year, a Wisconsin branch was bombed.
• In 2011, a molotov cocktail ignited a fire at a Planned Parenthood in Texas.
• In 2010, a Planned Parenthood was firebombed in Madera, California.
• Also in 2010, a self-described “extremist, radical” and “Christian counterpart of Osama bin Laden” planned the bombing of an abortion clinic in North Carolina. The FBI arrested and charged him.

And that’s just a smattering of cases. Here’s a more complete list of violent Christian crimes against providers of legal reproductive services including abortion. It’s as long as my arm.

Michael Jackson to Erect 60-Foot Cross

No, sadly, not that Michael Jackson:

A Janesville [Wisconsin] church plans to erect a 60-foot lighted steel cross where it will be visible from the freeway, a decision in which the city has little input. The New Life Assembly of God Church plans to begin construction on the $60,000 cross by the end of the month, said the Rev. Michael Jackson, pastor at New Life. “We want New Life to be known as the ‘Church of the Cross,'” he told The Janesville Gazette. …

Church members considered erecting a 100-foot cross but decided that would be too ostentatious, Jackson said.

The million-dollar cross in Effingham, IL

The million-dollar cross in Effingham, IL

He added that he expects “a certain element in the community” to ask why the church doesn’t just use the money to feed the poor. We’re happy to step up to the plate:

“Reverend Jackson, why doesn’t the church use the money to feed the poor?”

New Life already gives “tens of thousands of dollars” to a food pantry and other charitable efforts, Jackson said.

Ah. But Reverend, let’s say that the Messiah directed you to spend a small fortune in furtherance of the values that he is said to have espoused and practiced. Which do you think is more likely: that he would want you to feed the hungry and clothe the poor, per Matthew 25:37-40; or that he would prefer a giant illuminated replica of the torture instrument upon which he was nailed to death?

We’re not god experts by any stretch, so we thought we’d ask.


Gentle reader: If you’re chagrined that Reverend Jackson and his congregation didn’t pick the “ostentatious” 100-feet-tall version of the cross, don’t despair. Just drive south a ways until you hit Effingham, Illinois; and there, towering over everything, is a 197-feet-tall cross [see photo] that cost over one million dollars to build.

197 feet still too puny for you? The Branson Cross in Missouri, currently under construction, is going to be three feet taller, but at a price: five million dollars.

To honor the man who reminded his followers about the poor his whole life, that’s literally a steal.

Lisa Biron: 3 Times the Judas That Judas Was

Can’t wait. Just ten more days, and we get to find out what the judge has in store for Lisa Biron. Hers is a case so infamous it already has its own Wikipedia entry. In a nutshell:

Lisa Biron, a New Hampshire lawyer who worked with an anti-gay Christian-right organization, has been found guilty of child pornography after she videotaped her own daughter having sex with two men on several occasions.


Biron, 43, is facing a minimum sentence of 25 years after she was convicted by a jury on Thursday. It took the jury less than an hour to deliberate.

In November, Biron was arrested by the FBI and accused of eight felony counts after she videotaped a 14-year-old girl having sex with men. Later, the girl was identified as Biron’s daughter. Biron also videotaped herself having sex with her daughter.

On Biron’s Facebook page, she claims the Bible is her favorite book, and that she worked for Alliance Defending Freedom. Alliance Defending Freedom is a “servant ministry” seeking to transform the legal system “for religious liberty, the sanctity of life, and marriage and family.”

The groups’ president and senior director claim in a book that pedophilia on college campuses is a result of homosexuality, and that homosexuality and pedophilia are linked. The organization quickly washed its hand of Biron when the scandal broke, and has been furiously scrubbing its online records to expunge her name. 

We’ll note here that Biron is that rarest of breeds: a triple traitor. She betrayed her daughter; she betrayed the justice system that, as a member of the bar, she was expected to abide by; and she betrayed the Bible-inspired family values that she claimed to stand for.

What do you do with a woman that vile? We’ll know on April 22, the day of her sentencing.

Pedos For God

It’s a sad state of affairs when you run a site like this one, and have to decide you’re just going to pretty much stop covering child abuse by clergy … because there’s too much of it. No joke: every day I see news articles about yet another child-molesting pastor or priest. Not one case per day, or two, but half a dozen or more.

And those are just the ones that

• involve a victim (or others familiar with the abuse) who went to the police; and
• involve an arrest and a charge, and
• get reported in the press, and
• somehow make it into my news stream.

No one knows how many holy-men childfuckers have never been found out. It must be a staggering number.

I feel a bit sick, and a bit guilty, just realizing that the volume of new sex-abuse offenses by clergy is such that I worry about Moral Compass getting depressing and repetitive if I try to chronicle it all. No child deserves to be willfully confused, spiritually deceived, and sexually accosted by pedos. Extra scorn and disgust is due those who do this while brandishing the title of priest of pastor or imam or rabbi, and thus claiming to be authorities on what god wants.

If you only see sporadic stories on Moral Compass about these hypocrites, please know it’s not because they’re few and far between. It’s because there are too many for me to write about without it destroying the variety of the blog, as well as my belief in the goodness of others.

I sincerely hope that you, and the nameless children whose tormentors won’t be called out on this site, will forgive me.

Pakistani Taliban Targets Secularist Candidates

That’s one way to win an election: kill the opposition’s candidates, with Allah’s presumed blessing.

ISLAMABAD — Militants targeted candidates of two of Pakistan’s leading secular political parties, killing one, after the Pakistani Taliban warned that they would attack secular groups in the run-up to national elections on May 11. …

The Taliban claimed responsibility for Thursday’s killing of Fakhrul Islam, a candidate for the Sindh provincial parliament from the city of Hyderabad, representing the Muttahida Qaumi Movement. The MQM, the Pakistan Peoples Party and the Awami National Party have been identified by the Taliban in threats against secular groups. Also on Thursday, an ANP lawmaker running for re-election survived a bombing on the outskirts of the northwestern city of Peshawar.

Cutting-Edge Lawmaking: As of Today, Canadian Sikhs May Carry Religious Swords in Court

Canada bows to its religious minorities over and over, like a dipping bird. Two days ago, we learned that Muslims in Toronto successfully demanded that girls’ swim lessons, in public pools all over the city, may not be watched by men — not even by the fathers of the girls in question. Now, from British Columbia, comes word that as of today, it’s legal for Sikhs to wear small religious swords in court.

Know of any other group that is allowed to carry deadly weapons in courtrooms?

As of Friday, Amritdhara Khalsa Sikhs will be able to wear their kirpans —  small stylized swords, part of their five articles of faith — when visiting public areas of a courthouse.


“It’s a relief,” said Sukhvinder Kaur Vinning, executive director of the  World Sikh Organization of Canada. “I can focus on being a good civic citizen and I don’t have to worry about compromising my faith, so that’s a huge burden that’s been lifted.”

Having to testify in court can be a stressful situation and, for Sikhs, having to remove the kirpan made it worse, said Vinning. “To take it off, that’s a painful thing to ask,” she said. “It eats away at a person.” …

Similar kirpan accommodation policies already exist in the Parliament of Canada, as well as in Alberta and Toronto courthouses.

Just so we’re clear, I have absolutely nothing against Sikhs and don’t fear them in the slightest, though it should be fair to point out that just like other groups of believers, they’ve not always been, let’s say, unfailingly kind. Just so we’re even clearer, I’m hardly a xenophobe. In fact, I’m one of the xenoi:

• a first-generation immigrant to the U.S.
• a member of a distrusted, much-maligned minority
• the father of two adopted children from Asia
• not a native speaker of English

Yet I am also one hundred percent OK with the age-old principle that in Rome, we do as the Romans do. I expect no special accommodations for my culture of origin, nor for my race or heritage, nor for my daughters’ race and their heritage, nor for our beliefs (that goes for my wife’s  beliefs — Christian — and for mine — secular).

Were lawmakers to carve out special dispensations for my tribe, allowing us to do things that are forbidden to others, I would reject the gesture as unwanted pandering; and I would wonder what had happened to my adopted country’s professed dedication to equal treatment under the law.

[photo via vancouverdesi]

Eew, Eel! Don’t Tell the Anti-Gay-Marriage Crowd

I’ve frequently heard from rightwing Christians that if we let men marry men, and women marry women, we’ll have to let them marry chickens and dogs too, and soon they’ll all be having butt sex with hippos, or something.

Here’s a cartoon that yuks it up in that regard. Pretty sure I recognize the hand of the reliably dreadful New York Post cartoonist Sean Delonas.

Delonas artoon

In this charming worldview, gay people are on a par with molesters of livestock; and the notion of equal rights for all men and women is as preposterous as a sheep wearing a bridal veil.

The idea that this is not an intellectually legitimate way of looking at the issue was only slightly undermined the other day, when a tellingly unmarried 39-year-old man in southern China had relations with an eel. That is, he introduced the eel’s head to his rectum, and there was, let’s say, a love connection. So much so that the eel, perhaps hungry for a post-coital snack, ate through his BFF’s colon, and doctors had to operate. Here’s the story. And via the Huffington Post, here’s a picture of the eel, who, we’re told, didn’t survive the extraction:

FUNNY EELING - Porn stunt With Live Eel Backfires

Please nobody tell Sean Delonas or the Post, or we’ll never hear the end of it.

Thomas More: Inquisitor, Torturer, Killer, Saint

I noted with a mix of fascination and amusement that the fraud-loving priest in my previous post works at a church named for Sir Thomas More, the 16th-century lawyer, statesman, and enforcer of orthodoxy. There are hundreds upon hundreds of Catholic churches that bear More’s name.

Catholics revere Sir Thomas as a martyr because he was beheaded for refusing to say that the authority of King Henry VIII superseded that of the Pope. Even in secular and humanist circles, More is often given a measure of respect, partly for his collaboration with the Dutch humanist Desiderius Erasmus, and partly because of how More is famously portrayed in the Oscar-winning movie A Man For All Seasons.


What neither group ever seems keen to acknowledge is that Sir Thomas was also a man who so abhorred Martin Luther’s Protestant Reformation that he burned Lutherans at the stake with great relish. One of More’s motives for hating the Protestant heretics was that they dared to read the New Testament in English rather than Latin, which was against the law in England at the time.

The historian and religious scholar James Wood reminds us that Thomas More, far from being the consummate “man of conscience,” was

…the heretic hunter of the mid-1520s, who personally broke into Lutherans’ homes and sent men to the stake, … [and who] would punish religious dissent not only with “displeasant” words but with state violence.

Hyperbole? Hardly. The Life of Thomas More by Peter Ackroyd, one of the more positive More biographies, recounts that when Sir Thomas learned that John Tewkesbury, a London leather-seller, secretly possessed banned books, he had the man burned alive. After the execution, More expressed his satisfaction: “[He] burned as there was neuer wretche I wene better worthy.” More cherished the image of Tewkesbury burning not just on earth, but in hell, “an hote fyrebronde burnynge at hys bakke, that all the water in the worlde wyll neuer be able to quenche.”

Richard Marius, an American scholar of the Reformation and the author of Thomas More, A Biography, concludes that More, notwithstanding his earlier wanderings through humanism, was eager to exterminate Protestants,

and while he was in office he did everything in his power to bring that extermination to pass. That he did not succeed in becoming England’s Torquemada was a consequence of the king’s quarrel with the pope and not a result of any quality of mercy that stirred through More’s own heart.

Per James Wood, here is some of More’s handiwork:

With the help of John Stokesley, the Bishop of London, More personally broke into the houses of suspected heretics, arresting them on the spot and sometimes interrogating them in his own home. He imprisoned one man in the porter’s lodge of his house, and had him put in the stocks. He raided the home of a businessman called John Petyt, who was suspected of financing [protestant Bible translator William] Tyndale; Petyt died in the Tower. Six rebellious Oxford students were kept for months in a fish cellar; three of them died in prison. More was now a spiritual detective, a policeman in a hair shirt, engaged in “what would now be called surveillance and entrapment among the leather-sellers, tailors, fishmongers and drapers of London.” Six protesters were burned under More’s chancellorship, and perhaps forty were imprisoned.

Next time you hear the adjective catholic (small c) used in the sense of ‘shifty,’ ‘evasive,’ ‘disingenuous,’ think of Thomas More, and think of this mind-crushing passage from Wood’s essay:

More attempted to answer the charge of the reformers that it was not Christian for the church to burn heretics. The church did not burn people, replied More; the state burned them. This was strictly true, because the ecclesiastical courts tried heretics and the state courts sentenced them. But More’s language is disingenuous. The church, he writes, would never want to kill anyone. “It is not the clergy that laboreth to have them punished to death.” The “spiritual law” is “good, reasonable, piteous, and charitable, and nothing desiring the death of any therein.” The church asks the heretic to repent; if he does not, the church excommunicates him, at which point “the clergy giveth knowledge to the temporalty, not exhorting the prince, or any man else, either, to kill him or to punish him.” The church does not urge anyone to punish the heretic; it “leaveth him to the secular hand, and forsaketh him.”


To Wood, More was

cruel in punishment, evasive in argument, lusty for power, and repressive in politics. He betrayed Christianity when he led it so violently into court politics, and he betrayed politics when he surrendered it so meekly to the defense of Catholicism.

The British historical biographer Jasper Ridley was even less charitable in his final assessment of Sir Thomas, calling him “a particularly nasty sadomasochistic pervert.”

The Catholic world had four or five centuries to come to its senses about More, but never did. In 1929, the Catholic writer G.K. Chesterton fawned over him in The Fame of Blessed Thomas Moore:

Blessed Thomas More is more important at this moment than at any moment since his death, even perhaps the great moment of his dying; but he is not quite so important as he will be in about a hundred years’ time.

The Vatican agreed that More was a man worthy of our highest adulation. In May of 1935, Pope Pius XI officially declared Sir Thomas a saint.

In October of 2000, Pope John Paul II did his part in trying to make Chesterton’s prediction come true. The pontiff wrote in an apostolic letter that More had “served not power but the supreme ideal of justice,” and lauded him for “unfailing moral integrity.”

Pope John Paul then officially declared  Sir Thomas the patron saint of Catholic statesmen and politicians; and as it concerns one thoroughly disreputable group, that is one honor on which His Holiness and I can agree.

[top image via wikimedia; bottom image by Simon_K via flickr]

Priest Created Fake Employee to Pocket Salary

The FBI has taken over a police investigation into the shady financial dealings of the Rev. Edward Belczak, of Thomas More Catholic Church in Troy, Michigan. The 67-year-old priest stands accused of having “mishandled” more than $400,000 in church money. If the current allegations are any guide, “mishandled” is a euphemism for “stolen.”

Edward Belczak

Father Belczak’s many alleged frauds range from taking excess compensation he wasn’t entitled to, to inventing an employee so that he (Belczak) could pocket the ghost worker’s salary.

Full story here.

[photo via the Oakland Press]

Coming Together For Jesus: Semen-Spraying Pastor Knocks Up Six of His Flock

Pastor Derek Ngulube from Zimbabwe — we’ll just call him pastor Lube from now on — has been spreading the love. The Rev. Lube, you see, wasn’t too concerned about following the commandment against coveting thy neighbor’s wife. He decided to concentrate instead on Genesis 1:28, God’s instruction to “be fruitful and multiply.”

And multiply he did. In one year, pastor Lube got six married women in his congregation pregnant, according to this story from Spy Ghana. The shocked church elders decided to expel him.

“What he did is just disgraceful and a person like him could not be allowed to be part of a religious institution because what he did goes against all that Christianity stands for,” said a source.

Contacted for comment, Pastor Ngulube said he was sorry. “I feel bad and I want to say I am very sorry for what I did. If I could be given another chance I wouldn’t repeat the mistake.”

Ministry and Revolting Cocks: a match made in Heaven?

Ministry and Revolting Cocks: a match made in Heaven?

The account of the Rev. Lube’s enthusiastic fornication is my favorite clergyman-related sex story so far this year. It’s almost good enough to dethrone the record holder from last year, the Rev. Robert C. Christian from Spokane, WA.

Remember him? A pastor and sheriff’s chaplain, Christian, wearing a pastel pink and orange skirt, showed up unannounced at the home of a female parishioner. His attire struck the woman as odd, but he explained it by saying he’d lost a bet. I’ll let the local newspaper take it from here.

The woman invited Christian in and he asked to use the bathroom. He emerged from the room after an extended period and sat down at the dining room table for coffee. It was then the woman saw Christian’s erect penis sticking out the front of the button-up skirt, police allege. The victim said her cultural beliefs prevent her from making allegations against people in positions of authority, so she said nothing to Christian.

He was later apprehended anyway after she spilled the beans to a fellow pastor, who then reported Christian to the police. Best line from the story:

Christian’s wife told detectives that she and her husband are “out-of-the-box thinkers” who like to do fun things to get attention for the church.

Mission accomplished.