Priest Held in Jewelry Heist of Patron Saint

Gold fever wins from religious fever:

A Bolivian judge has ordered a 34-year-old priest jailed in the theft of the sumptuous collection of gem-encrusted gold jewelry that bedecked a statue of the country’s patron saint, the Virgin of Copacabana.


Also under arrest in the case is the female owner of a hostel where the Rev. Jesus Cortes was lodged when the jewels disappeared April 22 from the basilica in the town on Lake Titicaca’s shore.

The jewels removed from the statue, which was carved in 1580, are worth an estimated $1 million.

Cortes was arraigned Wednesday. He lives in the eastern city of Santa Cruz and was helping out while the church’s pastor was abroad.

Authorities say Cortes was the only member of the church staff who was not mysteriously tranquilized the night of the theft.

[image via My Destination]

Pastor Steals 167 Grand, Judge Lets It Go

Leniency was on a judge’s mind in Grand Rapids, Michigan, yesterday. He ordered the defendants in the case to merely pay back the money they pilfered. No jailtime necessary.

I’m sure such a slight slap on the wrist has nothing to do with the divine calling of the accused.

Arthur Pearson, the fired former pastor of the Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church, and the removed church secretary Gerolanita Bailey, were told they have 48 months to pay back a combined total of more than $220,000.

Former Grand Rapids pastor, church secretary will repay $220,000 taken from church, judge vows |

Pearson is accused of taking some $167,000 that he used to give himself raises and bonuses of as much as $20,000. He used the church credit card for personal expenses at several area retail stores and restaurants, including the Electric Cheetah, Macy’s, Victoria’s Secret and Hearthstone Bistro, according to the Kent County Prosecutor’s Office.

Bailey used more than $60,000 in church money to pay utility and cable bills for herself and family members and wrote checks intended for personal use.

Among the allegations laid out following an audit of church finances was that Bailey diverted $6,100 to Comcast, $7,300 to Sprint, $10,000 for a Capital One credit card and about $18,000 taken in written checks to “cash” or herself. This embezzlement went on between 2008 and 2012.

Such representatives of God may well be accelerating the pace at which Americans identify as “nones” — having no particular religion.

The experience divided the Franklin Street SE church, causing membership to plummet and leaving the church without a full-time pastor for the last year and a half.

Dirty Ex-Cop With Prison Record Turns Pastor. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

In 2009, when pastor Guadalupe “Lupe” Davila first ascended the pulpit of the Primera Iglesia Bautista Camino al Cielo, in El Mirage, Ariz., money and valuables started disappearing with vexing regularity.

The Phoenix New Times explains:

Tens of thousands of dollars in cash, building materials, and new appliances for the church’s kitchen were donated. Even though he was asked repeatedly, Davila refused to provide records about how the money was spent.

False Profit_ How an El Mirage Preacher Swindled Followers - Page 1 - News - Phoenix - Phoenix New Times

A group of concerned church members finally did a little investigating the other day, rifling through Davila’s church office and packing up his belongings. They wanted him out.

A DVD showing a topless woman pressing her forearm and hand against her breasts fell out of a tome interpreting the Bible’s book of Revelations.

Revelations — geddit? Nice touch, pastor!

Filthy Porn Stars,” read church member Donna Hennig, quoting the DVD’s title. “Eight hours [long]! Oh, my . . . Can you believe this? Well, we shouldn’t be surprised.”

But that’s the least of it.

Church members and volunteers learned that Davila emptied nearly $3,000 in donations from a bank account established to improve the learning center for neighborhood children. They also learned that he used an invalid tax-exempt identification number to collect free food and other donations from local retailers, including Costco.

They discovered that Davila, a former Goodyear police officer, spent about five months in a federal prison for stealing about $6,000 from an undercover operation targeting drug dealers and gang members.

Could a crooked cop also be a crooked pastor? But, but — Davila is ordained! A man of the cloth! A follower of Christ! He would never violate his promises to the Lord!

Strike that.

Davila … carried on sexual relationships with at least two church members. One of the young women was his secret lover for about two years, but she ended the relationship after realizing he had other mistresses at the same time. When she broke things off and stopped attending church, Davila barraged her with calls, text messages, and e-mails.

Even after she obtained an order of protection against him, he sent her more than a hundred erratic texts — one minute telling her he missed her and that God loves her and the next calling her a “fucking bitch” and a “fucking liar.” In some, he wrote that he was “unsettled with remorse” and that he’d pray for her.

His congregation has now changed the locks as well as the name of the church; and Davila, with any luck, is going to spend some more time in prison to contemplate the similarities between being a peddler of religion and being a con man.

Blood Flows Over ‘Un-Islamic’ Cosmetics Shops

In Afghanistan,

…an Islamic council … issued a fatwa last month ordering the immediate closure of all cosmetic shops in Deh Salah. The hard-line clerics argued that the sale of cosmetics was “un-Islamic” and the presence of the shops promoted adultery.

One of the enforcers of the decree has now been shot dead.

Eating Buddha’s Shit. Literally.

Most eye-popping passage from a recent Rolling Stone article about American Buddhist teacher Michael Roach:

To underscore the importance of one’s teacher, Roach’s acolytes consumed dutsi, pills that supposedly contain bits of symbolic scatological material going back to Buddha (a secretive practice among Tibetan Buddhist initiates). “People worked for free in order to catapult their karma out of the prosaic shitter,” says Morris [a source]. “So you had a lot of people eating shit, literally and figuratively.”

Wow. That’s some silly shit. Because I can’t resist a good poop joke, I have more about this at the Friendly Atheist.

‘Stop Mocking Our Faith,’ Says Reader Who Believes in the Man in the Moon

I received an irate request today from a man who believes that the geography of the moon is proof that Gohar Shahi is Islam’s messiah. “Stop making a mockery out of people’s faith,” he demanded.


Good point. I’ll make that gentleman — and all people of faith — a deal: I’ll stop mocking you if you stop beclowning yourselves by spouting such deliciously mockable poppycock.

How to Deal With an Uppity Spouse (Special Islam Version)

Mr. Islam, a migrant worker in the United Arab Emirates, didn’t approve of his wife’s attempts to get an education:

A jealous husband is facing life in prison after chopping off his wife’s fingers because she began studying for a degree without his permission.

Rafiqul Islam, 30, blindfolded his wife Hawa Akhter, 21, and taped her mouth, telling her he was going to give her a surprise present.

Instead he made her hold out her hand and cut off all five fingers. One of his relatives then threw Ms Akhter’s fingers in the dustbin to ensure doctors could not reattach them.


The attack is the latest in a series of acts targeting educated women in the Muslim-majority country.

In June, an unemployed man gouged out the eyes of his wife, an assistant professor at Dhaka University, apparently because he could not stand her pursuing higher studies at a Canadian university.

[Thanks to Daniel G. for the link. Photo via the Daily Mail.]


God is Great and Merciful: Nigerian Islamists Slaughter 29 Schoolchildren

Allah’s African stormtroopers excel at coldblooded, indiscriminate murder. But even for them, this may be a new low.

Armed Islamic militants have killed 29 students and an English teacher in an attack on a boarding school in northeastern Nigeria.

Survivors being treated for burns and gunshot wounds said some students were burned alive in the attack on Saturday which has been blamed on a radical terror group.


Gunmen, believed to be from Islamist sect Boko Haram, stormed the premises of Government Secondary School in the town of Mamudo in Yobe state at around 3am, setting fire to parts of the complex.

Dozens of children from the 1,200-student school escaped into the bush and have not been seen since.

Parents rushed to the school and screamed in anguish as they tried to identify the charred and dead bodies of the victims.

The Power of Christ Compelled Him: Bible Beater Beat Daughter to Death in Exorcism

Via Yahoo News:

A Virginia man was convicted earlier this week in the death of a 2-year-old who died during a 2011 exorcism. Eder Guzman-Rodriguez beat his daughter Jocelyn to death in an attempt to rid her of the demon he believed was inside her.


Police summoned to the scene encountered several people holding Bibles outside the home, where Guzman-Rodriguez stated that he had also become possessed by a “bad spirit” when he punched and choked Jocelyn to death. The girl was found on a bed, wrapped in a blanket surrounded by Bibles.

Priest Fapping in Church? (Video)

This guy may just be getting a little bit too much comfort from his rod and staff. In the middle of Mass, no less.


Church Won’t Pay Back Taxes, Promotes Blight

Dateline Easton, Pennsylvania:

Easton plans to seize numerous properties owned by the Rock Church on Fifth Street in order to collect on $30,000 to $40,000 in back taxes and water bills.

That’s according to the Morning Call, which interviewed city officials who say they are tired of battling the church over its bills and zoning violations at its properties.


Churches get big tax breaks that no other entity automatically qualifies for. Apparently even those greatly reduced financial obligations are too much for the church to pay without claiming it is being unfairly targeted.

The church — through a subsidiary — owns numerous properties in the neighborhood, including the Hooper House at 501 Northampton St.

That building is believed to be the oldest residence in Easton, but has been vacant since 1979, when the church bought it. In the summer of 2011, the city put it on its list of blighted properties.

[image via Easton Patch]

Meet Gohar Shahi, the Holy Man in the Moon

Wikipedia says that in Islam, the Mahdi (Guided One) is the Messiah,

…the prophesied redeemer of Islam who will rule for seven, nine or nineteen years … before the Day of Judgment … and will rid the world of evil.

Well, he was here, and you missed him. (I guess it’s true that, in the words of Joni Mitchell, “You don’t know what you got till it’s gone.”) Meet Riaz Ahmed Gohar Shahi, a Pakistani mystic also known as Sultan ul Salateen ul Fuqra Imam Mehdi. He met Jesus in 1997, then disappeared in 2001 (some say he’s serving a life sentence in a British jail).

How do we know Shahi is the Messiah?

Because he is literally the man in the moon, his followers say. See for yourself:


Almost as much fun as detecting Jesus in a smear of bird shit!