My Inner 12-Year-Old Tittered

I came across this news report involving an awards event in Butts County, Georgia. The charitable all-male church group bestowing the annual awards calls itself “Butts Men of Action.”

Its president is Curtis Gaye. Its latest Minister of the Year is Pastor Head. The speaker at the awards banquet is Hank Johnson.

I’m was kinda hoping there’s a town called Seymour where they get together, but that would be asking too much.

Ex-Mormon Bishop Charged With Sexually Assaulting Two Girls From His Church

Another one bites the dust:

Murrieta (Calif.) resident Todd Mitchell Edwards, 49, is accused of sexually assaulting two teenage girls who reportedly went to the church where he was a bishop at one time. Edwards has pleaded not guilty to all charges. If convicted he faces up to nine years in prison. He remained incarcerated Tuesday on $65,000 bail.

“He’s been charged with three felony counts, one of sexual penetration with a foreign object by force,” said John Hall, a Riverside County District Attorney spokesman.

Former Mormon bishop charged with sexually assaulting teen girls |

Hall says the victim in that incident was a child, and it happened last year. He says the second victim was 18 at the time, and that incident happened in 2006.

“The defendant and both victim in this case all attended the same church,” said Hall. …

The district attorney’s office says it’s possible there could be other victims. …

The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department said they investigated a third case of alleged sexual assault, but the statute of limitations had expired.

Tenn. Pastor Accused of Plot To Poison Wife

There are so many things that thou shalt not … for some people, like pastor Ed Mallonee, it’s hard to keep track.

A pastor and another woman face charges after investigators say the two plotted to kill the pastor’s wife.

An Obion County Grand Jury indicted Edward Paul Mallonee of Union City, Tennessee and Shelly Shannon Moran of Franklin, Tennessee on conspiracy to commit 1st-degree murder and attempt to commit 1st-degree murder charges.

Pastor, woman indicted in murder plot to kill pastor_s wife

The grand jury also indicted Mallonee on facilitation to commit 1st-degree murder and reckless-endangerment charges. Moran also faces two other counts of attempt to commit 1st-degree murder.

After investigating for several months, Union City Police say Mallonee and Moran plotted to murder Mallonee’s wife, Cathy. The plot spanned 2011 and 2012. Investigators say the two conspired to poison Mrs. Mallonee in hopes that she would die.

Pro-Gay-Marriage Church Egged and Vandalized

Hate the sinner, hate the sin, hate the fellow Christians who love the (ostensible) sinner. Also, fuck with their property. That’s what Jesus taught, isn’t it?

A progressive, pro-gay marriage church in the greater Minneapolis area was vandalized over the weekend.

Vandals threw eggs at the windows of the Pilgrims United Church of Christ in Maple Grove and scribbled “church of Sodom and Gomorrah” on the building’s exterior walls.

The church had been targeted before, when pro-gay signs were stolen, and when someone wrote hateful graffiti on the walls.

Videos: Monks and Priests Frequently Erupt in Fisticuffs at Christianity’s Two Holiest Sites

Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre was built on Golgotha, the hill where Jesus is said to have been crucified, and where he was buried, and where he allegedly rose. How do clergy behave when entrusted with he holiest site in all of Christendom? Not very godly at all, Slate explained in a piece yesterday:

Under an 1852 mandate, the care of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is shared by no fewer than six Christian denominations: the Greek Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, Roman Catholic, Coptic, Ethiopian, and Syriac Orthodox churches. The Holy Sepulchre’s edifice is carefully divided into sections, with some commonly shared, while others belong strictly to a particular sect. A set of complicated rules governs the transit rights of the other groups through each section on any given day, and some of the sections of the church remain hotly disputed. Arguments and fistfights over territory and boundaries are not uncommon.


One such area is a small section of the roof which is disputed between the Copts and Ethiopians. At least one Coptic monk at any given time sits there on a chair placed on a particular spot to express this claim. On a stifling summer day in 2002, a monk moved his chair eight inches to find shade. This was interpreted as a hostile act and violation of boundaries, and 11 were hospitalized after the fight that ensued.

In fact, there are frequent fights between the warring factions of priests and monks who claim to be the caretakers of Christianity’s most venerated sites.

Here’s a 2008 battle from the Holy Sepulchre that went on for ten minutes despite police with batons trying to restore order. At the 50-second mark, watch as a brawler brings down what appears to be a fairly massive pole, perhaps a stand of some kind, with such force that it could have shattered someone’s skull.

Another round of violence occurred at the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem in late 2011. This video, despite the absence of the Benny Hill soundtrack, is actually somewhat more comical, as the weapons of choice are brooms, a fact that holds somewhat less potential for blood and broken bones.  The reporter reminds us that “there have been similar scuffles in the past.” Watch the holy men bristle as they sweep through the birthplace of their Savior:

Remember folks, per Mark 12:31: “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”

[image via]

Ohio May Offer Young Students Credit For Religious Lessons Taught Away From School

My thoughts on the matter are here, in a post at the Friendly Atheist.


[image via]

Monday Religious News Roundup

• Peter Sprigg and Chris Hill of Charisma News are upset that the Boy Scouts are probably going from bad to worse: once you let in the gays, can the wretched atheists be far behind?

• Prayerful mother kills four: “Hours before she killed her two sons, her ex-husband, and her stepmother, and tried to frame one of the slain children for the other three murders, Susan Hendricks gathered her family together to pray.”

• In Scotland, a Muslim father was spared a prison sentence even though he had produced a knife and threatened to kill his daughter after he deemed that her sexual conduct had brought shame on him. Magistrate Valerie Johnston said her “instinct” had been to send the perp to prison, but added her hands were tied in how long she could jail him. The nutcase father told the court that he keeps the knife handy to ward off “demons,” and is awaiting someone from Egypt to cast them out. This should end well.

• In an ongoing dispute over who may pray, and how, at Jerusalem’s Western Wall, the rabbi in charge of the site has received threatening letters from fellow Jews. One letter included a picture of a gun. Police are investigating.

• A pastor in Thane, India, spiked a girl’s drink to knock her unconscious so he could have sex with her. He then promised to marry her, but went back on his word after she became pregnant. After forcing her to have an abortion, he threatened to release obscene photos of her on social-media sites if she told anyone. The man has been charged with rape.

• In 2005, priest Marek Maczynski was booted from the Orlando diocese after he stole $10,000 from church coffers. Now Maczynski is back in the news because he runs a passport company in Boca that has inspired almost two hundred customers to file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. Some of them are calling the firm, U.S. Passport Services, “a scam.”

• A Muslim suicide bomber in Sulawesi, Indonesia, intended to murder local cops, but managed to blow up only himself.

• Call of Taburteka is a new Facebook game based on the May 17 attack by a mob of priests and their followers on about 50 pro-gay-rights demonstrators in Georgia (the country). In the game you play a Georgian Orthodox priest who has to defend himself against an army of homos waving rainbow flags.

• We’ll end with a bit of good news: A federal jury decided today that the Archdiocese of Cincinnati must pay Christa Dias $171,000 because it improperly fired the unmarried teacher after she became pregnant through artificial insemination.

Jewish Fundamentalism on the Rise: ‘More Like the Sopranos Than Like Fiddler on the Roof.’

Ultra-orthodox adherents of the Torah already account for 49 percent of religious New York Jews. Given demographic trends, that slice of the population is poised to grow. In the words of the Jewish daily the Forward,  New York Jewry will soon be predominantly “fundamentalist, poor, uneducated and reactionary.”

Non-Orthodox Jews will look like the secular Persians of Iran: once the complacent majority, now a minority oppressed by fundamentalists.

The Forward’s Jay Michaelson, a contributing editor, explains:

Call them what you will — ultra-Orthodox Jews, “fervently Orthodox” Jews, Haredim, black hats. They will soon become the majority of affiliated Jews in the metropolitan New York area, and the religious majority in Israel. The results will be catastrophic.


We’ve read stories recently of Haredim in Israel comparing Israeli politicians to Hitler and throwing stones at women praying at the Kotel; of Haredim in New York fighting to restrict the prosecution of sex abuse claims; of Haredim in Germany threatening the fragile truce on circumcision by defending the practice of adult men sucking blood directly from the penises of infants.

And that is just the tip of the fundamentalist iceberg. In recent months, the Forward has depicted the coercion and ignorance prevalent in American ultra-Orthodox communities: in brilliant essays by Judy Brown and Shulem Deen, in exposés of Hasidic money laundering… And of course, “fervently Orthodox” leaders have defended, justified, covered up and explained away sexual predators in a way that would make a Vatican official blush.

What has emerged from all this is a picture of a subculture that looks more like “The Sopranos” than like “Fiddler on the Roof” — a world in which a small elite maintains power at the expense of thousands of serfs. …

Meanwhile, “modesty brigades” and families willing to disown anyone who dares to leave patrol the walls of this contemporary shtetl. Imagine you’re an 18-year-old woman in a Hasidic enclave. You’re married, with two or three kids already, and you’ve been told that “outside” everyone is evil, depraved and miserable. You barely read English. And you know that when your cousin left, she was destitute, disowned and disgraced. There is no one to help you if you leave. You’re on your own. So of course you stay.

We are abandoning thousands of our fellow Jews to this hierarchy of power and abuse. We are doing nothing to help them.

And pretty soon, the hierarchy will overwhelm us.

Contrast this castigating of Jewish fundamentalism, published in an important Jewish news medium, to the crickets we get from Islamic media on the topic of Muslim fundamentalism.

Michaelson is right to raise concerns, and brave to risk the fury of his fellow Jews. I wish he had (more) company among followers of Allah.

[Image via Thanks to FailedMessiah for the link.]

Sunday Reading

Need some Sunday divertissement? Check out my recent articles on the Friendly Atheist website:

Megan Doesn’t Want Your Public Prayers. Thanks Anyway.
Disabled young woman frequently gets approached in public by self-styled faith healers hellbent on touching her — and praying over her.

Father Gabriele Amorth Says He Has 160,000 Exorcisms to His Name
Catholic demonslayer with awesome name is clamoring for more priests to do exorcisms, lamenting that “one of the main causes of today’s atheism is that people don’t believe in the devil anymore.

Her Eye Doctor Wanted Her to See Jesus
Examples of medical professionals proselytizing to their vulnerable patients.


A Little Perspective

Via Holy Shit.


Did This Priest Get Away With Murder?

A cold case heats up.

All evidence pointed police to one conclusion: A priest had killed a beautiful 25-year-old schoolteacher.

[In 1960,] searchers had found the lifeless body of former Miss South Texas, Irene Garza, face down in a canal in her hometown of McAllen. She’d disappeared on the day before Easter after going to Sacred Heart Catholic Church for confession.


An autopsy determined Garza had been raped while in a coma, and then had died from suffocation. Near Garza’s body investigators found items that belonged to the church, including a candelabra.

One item, a metallic Kodak slide photo viewer, belonged to a 27-year-old priest who was assigned to the church: the Rev. John Feit.

When John Feit was a 27-year-old Roman Catholic priest, he was questioned in Garza\'s killing.

Feit failed lie detector tests. Adding to the suspicion was that just 24 days before Garza’s murder, Feit had been arrested for attacking a young woman at a church in a town about 10 miles from McAllen.

[In that case,] Feit pleaded no contest to misdemeanor aggravated assault. A judge found him guilty and fined him $500 with no prison time.

To this day, police officers and law enforcement agencies that have dealt with the case say they believe Feit killed her.

So why was he never put on trial?

It was unthinkable that a Catholic priest would commit such a crime. That’s the way Garza’s cousins remember it.

“We were accusing a priest — in those days, priests were infallible, ” said Lynda De La Vina, who was 9 years old at the time.

Another cousin, Noemi Sigler, was only 10 when Garza was killed. “It was impossible for a priest to do such a deed. I mean, if you thought of it, that would be sacrilegious.”

Some 42 years after the murder of Irene Garza,

Two surprise witnesses independently came forward — each separately claiming that they heard Feit confess.

One of them was Dale Tacheny, who was Feit’s spiritual counselor at the Missouri monastery where Feit had been sent a few years after the murder. Guilt compelled Tacheny to finally come forward.

But the county district attorney, not believing the case for the prosecution strong enough, declined to plow ahead.

To this day, John Feit, now in his eighties, says he didn’t kill Irene Garza. He remains a free man.

[photos via CNN]

Muslim Council Pooh-Poohs DNA Rape Evidence

The Council of Islamic Ideology (pictured), Pakistan’s top Islamic body, takes a dim view of DNA evidence in the case of rape. The Council, in a rare nod to modernity, is prepared to consider DNA as supporting evidence in a rape investigation, but decreed this week that DNA can never be primary evidence.

The reason: the Qur’an already provides an established procedure for dealing with rape allegations.


According to Pakistan Today,

Most members of the council were of the opinion that Islam gave detailed guidelines in connection with the nature, accusation, justification, punishment and compensation in case of rape of any member of the society.

Hafiz Tahir Ashrafi, Maulana Sherani, Mufti Ghulam Mustafa Rizvi and some other members of the council termed DNA test in connection with forced rape as insufficient evidence

Members of the council said rape was a crime that required much care in account of evidences and DNA did not stand with accurate parameters as evidence for the crime.

How does an Islamic justice system prefer to determine whether a woman was raped? Rapists rarely perform their evil in front of witnesses, but by Allah, the victim must produce four of them to have her day in court. That’s correct: The Muslim standard of justice is that four men in good standing must give testimony affirming the rape took place. Women may not testify.

Oh, and spousal rape is not an offense under Islam at all.

Neither is the rape of a non-Muslim woman if she was ‘captured in battle’ or bought as a slave.

Sorry, ladies.

[image via Democratic Underground]