Federal authorities say MacKenzie worked with others to obtain a $200,000-a-year job at the church and then used the church’s money to give cash awards to his family members, cover a $50,000 loan for his legal expenses and buy cars for himself, a relative and another church member, according to the 44-page indictment.
He is also charged with taking bribes and kickbacks from vendors to do work at the Beacon Hill church, according to the indictment. One of those vendors allegedly installed a high-end aquarium at MacKenzie’s home and was paid with the church’s money.
Must be nice to transition so seamlessly from criminal to pastor and back again. But why would the faithful take your godly mission seriously when you have rap sheet as serious as the reverend Tommy Baxter?
A Pottawatomie County pastor was awaiting extradition to Florida after being arrested on several outstanding warrants, the sheriff’s department said Thursday.
Thomas Hughie Baxter Jr., 35, spent 10 years in a Florida prison and was released in May 2010, according to the Florida Department of Corrections website. He was incarcerated on charges including kidnapping, weapon and assault violations, and impersonating a law enforcement officer, records show.
Published reports say Baxter is the pastor of the Cornerstone of Jesus Christ Church in Shawnee.
[Pastor] Terence Priester, 48, of Claymont, DE, faces felony charges of aggravated assault and possession of an unlicensed firearm, in addition to multiple misdemeanors stemming from the incident.
At 12:45 p.m. Sunday, police responded to Saint John’s Episcopal Church, located at 404 E. Levering Mill Road in Bala Cynwyd [Pennsylvania], for a report of a man with a gun.
Once officers were on the scene, police said, they were met by the victim, a repo man. The man told police that he was at the church to repossess a Lexus that belonged to Priester and, in accordance with company policy, had called the owner to tell him the car was being taken.
Police said that as the repo man was positioning the tow truck, Priester walked out of the church with a handgun and pointed it at the victim. The repo man told police that the pastor “challenged him” with the handgun, then got into his Lexus and drove away.
After they arrived, police called Priester, and he returned to the scene. Police said he was unarmed at this time and was driven by a third party in a separate vehicle. He was arrested and charged.
Sometimes I’m dumbstruck when I see how people practice their religion. These folks, below, are anything but. They can’t shut up — and the mystery is, no one has a clue what they’re saying. Not even they do.
I’d wager that glossolalia (speaking in tongues, as this preacher does at 5m34s and at various other points in the video) is, for the most part, learned behavior. And the learning, evidently, starts young.
When adults perform this insanity, and they claim it brings them closer to their chosen deity, I reckon there’s no harm in it (other than that it helps destroy rational people’s faith in humankind, of course).
I’m not so sure about their offspring. Should kids be encouraged to carry on this way? Or is this a form of indoctrination bordering on child abuse?
It does remind me an awful lot of this pro-teeth-brushing scene from a Barney show, but less funny.
A gurdwara priest has been awarded life imprisonment for murdering his wife. The court of additional district and sessions judge Priya Sood pronounced the judgment on Monday.
The convict, identified as Ashok Singh of Dehlon, had a troubled relationship with his wife Swaranjeet Kaur. On several occasions, villagers, including panchayat members, had intervened and made them reach a compromise. But the situation went out of control in March 2010. Ashok gagged his wife by putting a rubber ball in her mouth and then strangulated her.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz shines a spotlight on a disturbing trend, and describes a religious-Zionist kids’ TV show called Asi & Tuvia to illustrate the point:
The show is actually pretty relatable, even for a secular audience. The language is contemporary; each episode is pleasant and entertaining. It’s only when watching a whole batch of episodes in a row that one notices something startling: None of them feature a single girl or a woman.
Arutz Meir caters specifically to families from the religious Zionist sector, a population which has moved more and more in recent years toward gender-segregation and the exclusion of women (both of which are already common among the stricter, ultra-Orthodox communities).
But it’s not just TV.
The absence of women has become especially prominent in illustrated Jewish texts, such as the Passover Hagaddah and the Megillat Esther for Purim. “It’s absurd that there are now Hagaddah books in which it looks as if only men left Egypt,” says Rachel Azaria, a Jerusalem councilwoman who represents the Yerushalmim Party and is one of the leading figures in the struggle against gender-segregation and the exclusion of women.
“Our religious Zionist kindergarten had a Passover Hagaddah in which Pharaoh’s daughter is pulling Moses out of the water. Only her hand could be seen; her face was hidden behind bushes,” says Azaria. “And this is the lenient version of such books. They only show women with their heads lowered or facing away.”
Religious texts, partly on account of how old they are, excel in misogyny and in marginalizing women. It’s tempting to think that equality marches ever onward, and it’s good to see that sexism becoming less draconian in most major faiths. Too bad that some fundamentalists, on the other hand, are succeeding in squeezing the toothpaste back into the tube.
I thought one of the Ten Commandments was to not bear false witness. ‘Do not steal” is also in there somewhere, if I remember correctly. It’s outstanding advice (I mean that sincerely) that ought to be heeded by the good people over at Catholic Online. Read here how they lied. As a bonus, they even issued some thinly-veiled encouragement to steal atheist literature. I wonder what God thinks about all that.
Hemant Mehta, who runs The Friendly Atheist and achieved some well-deserved fame for his delightful book I Sold My Soul on eBay, recently asked me if I would contribute frequent posts to his site. I like TFA (and Hemant) a lot, so it was easy to say yes.
There are some religion-related topics I’d like to tackle that fall outside the Moral Compass scope, so I welcome the chance to go beyond compiling the terrible things that clergy members and other believers are capable of.
It’s not an exclusive arrangement — I’ll still be taking care of Moral Compass as before, with unreduced gusto.
My first three pieces are up at The Friendly Atheist:
Nigerian clergyman David Sunday told a teenage girl that her family was in grave danger, and offered to pray for their wellbeing. Not for free, however.
He convinced the lady to first give him whatever money she had, “So she went to the bank and withdrew GH¢130 [about $65] for them,” said Deputy Superintendent of Police Stephen Kofi Ahiataku.
After the prayers, the pastor ordered her to go home and bring some more money and all the jewelleries in the house since they had been contaminated by bad spirits “and that she was not to mention it to anybody or risk losing her life instantly”.
According to [Ahiataku], the lady obliged and returned with an amount of GH¢2,600 [$1,300] which belonged to her parents, and all the family jewellery including gold ornaments which she handed over to the pastor in a hotel.
The pastor asked the teenager to wait for him in the room whilst he went to a different room to pray over the items and the money.
He never returned, but police now have the man in custody.
Of note: The African news site that published this story is not an atheist operation. It publishes general news with a focus on Ghana and neighboring states. Nonetheless, the list of headlines of “related stories” at the bottom of the piece is worth taking in: