All in the Family

In West Virginia,

A local pastor is behind bars for allegedly sexually abusing a young female family member over a period of several years.

Jonnie Franklin Winnell, 59, of Gypsum Lane in Elkview, is being held at South Central Regional Jail on a $20,000 property bond, according to the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office.

Kanawha man jailed on sex abuse charges  - Cops and Courts - Charleston Daily Mail - West Virginia News and Sports -

Winnell was charged Friday with three counts of sexual abuse by a parent, guardian and/or a custodian.

Winnell is a pastor at United Gospel Mission on Charleston’s West Side.

[image via Charleston Daily Mail]

A Question For Terrorists (and Their Apologists)

When it comes to Muslims and violence, it’s not often that the New York Times goes beyond the standard narrative that radical Islamists are (a) poor, (b) poorly educated, and (c) understandably upset over a series of real or perceived injustices, from the U.S.-led  invasion of Iraq to the publication of some Motoons.

But Times columnist Thomas Friedman, to his credit, is willing to hold the perpetrators of terrorism to account without making excuses, and with — get this — logic.

If you’re unhappy about some perceived slight against you and your fellow believers, Friedman asks of extremist Muslims,

[W]hat in God’s name does that have to do with planting a bomb at the Boston Marathon and blowing up innocent people? It is amazing to me how we’ve come to accept this non sequitur and how easily we’ve allowed radical Muslim groups and their apologists to get away with it.


A simple question: If you were upset with U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, why didn’t you go out and build a school in Afghanistan to strengthen that community or get an advanced degree to strengthen yourself or become a math teacher in the Muslim world to help its people be less vulnerable to foreign powers? Dzhokhar claims the Tsarnaev brothers were so upset by something America did in a third country that they just had to go to Boylston Street and blow up people who had nothing to do with it (some of whom could have been Muslims), and too often we just nod our heads rather than asking: What kind of sick madness is this?

Of course, rationality has never been religion’s strong suit, and Islam is quite possibly the faith that’s most impervious to logic. Friedman’s question may have to be repeated a few million times before it begins to sink in. Check back in a few generations.

[image via New York Daily News]

Preacher’s Sons Spread Jesus’s Love With Their Cocks; Brothers Molest Underage Church Girls

A former Texas youth minister, 29, is accused of molesting a teenage girl; and his brother, 24, who was once a volunteer at the same church, is facing similar charges — for getting jiggy and exchanging sex pictures with two other underage victims.

They procured their prey via the church.

All three alleged victims were 16-year-old girls whom the brothers met through Arapaho Road Baptist Church in Garland, TX. In one case, a girl told police she performed oral sex on one of the brothers in a church Sunday school room. Another of the incidents is alleged to have occurred during an off-site Bible study session with the other brother.

I wonder what part of the Bible they studied. Maybe it was Genesis 19:8, in which the holy Lot offers his virgin daughters to a crowd of lecherous rapists.


Joshua Earls, 29 [photo, right], who worked his way up from intern to youth minister at Arapaho Road Baptist, was arrested more than two weeks ago on a Garland charge of indecency with a child.

Jordan Earls, 24, a student pastor at his father’s church in South Carolina and former volunteer at the Garland church, was arrested in South Carolina and transferred to the Collin County Jail. He is charged with online solicitation of a minor in Collin County and indecency with a child and two counts of sexual assault of a child in Garland.

Investigators say there could be additional charges.

The Earls’ father, Bobby Earls, did not return phone calls seeking comment. He is the pastor at Northgate Baptist Church in Florence, S.C., where Jordan Earls was recently student minister. All references to Bobby Earls’ children have been eliminated from the Northgate Baptist website.

Of course, church members are shocked, shocked; the brothers are Christians.

“Both of them, as far as I know, wouldn’t do anything like that,” said one church employee. “They’re both solid Christian guys. It’s out of character.”

Yeah, it’s a headscratcher all right; we all know that it’s incredibly rare for Christians to do anything illegal or immoral.

[images via Dallas Morning News]

One Single NYC Church Is Worth Two Billion Dollars; Rector Rakes In Monthly Salary of $40K

A church rector with an annual compensation package of 1.3 million dollars?

Welcome to Trinity Church in Manhattan, whose assets, the New York Times revealed today, are valued at more than $2 billion.

The Episcopal parish, known as Trinity Wall Street, traces its holdings to a gift of 215 acres of prime Manhattan farmland donated in 1705 by Queen Anne of England. Since then, the church has parlayed that gift into a rich portfolio of office buildings, stock investments and, soon, mixed-use residential development.


The church funnels enormous chunks of that fortune into shelters and soup kitchens.

Just kidding. In 2011, Trinity Church earmarked all of three million dollars for “philanthropic grant spending” — less than 0.15% of its total worth.

It reported $158 million in real estate revenue for 2011, the majority of which went toward maintaining and supporting its real estate operations, the financial statement indicates. Of the $38 million left for the church’s operating budget, some $4 million was spent on communications, $3 million on philanthropic grant spending and $2.5 million on the church’s music program.

Then there are the earthly rewards enjoyed by the Rev. James H. Cooper, who has been the church’s rector since 2004. He gets a salary of almost $40,000 a month,

…which rises to a total compensation of $1.3 million [annually] when his pension and the estimated cost of his residence in a $5.5 million, church-owned SoHo town house are added.

The Times article details that the church board  — the “vestry members” — fight with the Reverend Cooper all the time

…over whether the church should be spending more money to help the poor and spread the faith, in New York and around the world. Differences over the parish’s mission and direction last year led nearly half the 22-member vestry — an august collection of corporate executives and philanthropists — to resign or be pushed out, after at least seven of them asked, unsuccessfully, that the rector himself step down.

One longtime vestry member who resigned last year alleges that Cooper was part and parcel of “a glaring atmosphere of deceit.”

Sounds like a den of vipers challenging work environment. One can only hope that Cooper’s compensation package makes up for the hardship.

[image via]

Setting the Holy Land on Fire

Burning faith:

Bonfires lit throughout Israel in honor of Lag b’Omer burned out of control. … Hot, dry and windy conditions in Israel contributed to several heat-wave-related fires …

A large fire broke out at moshav Kfar Uria near Beit Shemesh, causing the evacuation of 200 people from their homes and damaging about 500 acres of forest. Several serious fires also burned out of control in the Jerusalem area after Lag b’Omer bonfires were not properly extinguished.

Fires also burned out of control in Netanya and Rosh Haayin in central Israel.


Observant Jews have long had an uneasy relation with religious flames. In 2005, in Brooklyn,

A fire official said that the Orthodox Jewish custom of leaving a flame burning during Sabbath and holidays has caused 35 kitchen fires at Bedford Gardens, the 600-unit apartment complex in Williamsburg, in the last several months.

The faithful, you see, would just leave their stoves on for religious reasons, sometimes burning themselves and their neighbors out of their homes.

Injuries and deaths occurred frequently as a result of Passover conflagrations. In 2004, also in New York, five people, including two young children, sustained horrible burns when a rabbi’s son and Darwin Award candidate tried to keep a pre-Passover flame going by pouring paint thinner on it.

The situation has since improved, thanks to city officials and NYFD staff waging a yearly campaign to remind devout Jews that flames are hot and fire burns.

[image via Wildfire Today]

Footloose, Muslim-Style

The killingest of the buzzkill faiths strikes again:

Five Indonesian teenage girls have been accused of blasphemy and may face jail after making a video in which they mixed Islamic prayer with dancing to a Maroon 5 song. The girls were expelled from their high school in Tolitoli city, on Sulawesi island, and reported to police after the video of their dance to the US band’s hit “One More Night” went viral online.

The school brought the video, which was posted online in March, to the attention of police who questioned the girls on suspicion of blasphemy. “The school and members of the community were offended by the video and felt it insulted Islam,” Tolitoli police chief Rudi Mulyanto told AFP. “We are considering the case, and if we think it is serious, we will recommend they be officially charged in court.”


Blasphemy in Indonesia carries a maximum sentence of five years, though minors usually face half the adult sentence and are locked up in juvenile detention facilities. The girls are in grade 12, where students are normally aged 17 or 18. Police did not give their ages but said they were being treated as minors. The school principal told a local news website that the school had consulted the country’s top clerical body, the Indonesian Ulema Council, as well as the FPI on the matter.

The FPI notification makes this case especially worrisome. FPI stands for Front Pembela Islam, the Islamic Defenders Front. The paramilitary group is known for “rampant violence” in the ostensible defense of Islam. Its targets have included Playboy Indonesia, shops that sell alcohol, restaurants that remain open during Ramadan’s daylight hours, and Christian churches.

FPI’s demonstrations of faith range from incitement to property destruction to manslaughter.

[image via the Herald Sun]

Little Preacher Must Gear Up For Big Lawsuit

James ‘the Giant’ Croft stands 3’10” tall. He’s a Southern Baptist evangelist preacher, and also a freshly-minted Baker County Commissioner in Florida.

It’s when Croft can’t keep those jobs separate that he appears to invite major trouble. The Florida Times-Union headlines its article about the reverend James ‘The Giant’ Croft preaches from two pulpits, and right there the scope of this little preacher’s big arrogance becomes apparent.

James _The Giant_ Croft preaches from two pulpits |

While he saves most of his preaching for the pulpit, Croft believes in applying Christian principles to government and occasionally quotes scripture during meetings.

“We need to be placed where we have influence on folks in a positive way,” Croft said. “If we don’t, everywhere we leave a vacancy, Satan will fill it.”

If Mr. Croft really wants to serve the people of Baker County, he’d do well to keep his beliefs out of the local government’s business. I’d sure hate to see his constituents — believers and nonbelievers alike — have to foot the legal bill when the ACLU or the Freedom From Religion Foundation remind the commissioners of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause.

‘Satanic-Stabbing’ Perp in South Africa ‘Drank From Neck Wound’; 10 Classmates Suspended

From the GlobalPost:

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — A South African teenager was murdered outside Lukhanyo Secondary School near Randfontein by a fellow student, prompting allegations that it was a “satanic killing.”

Seventeen-year-old Kamogetswe Sefularo was stabbed to death in her chest, throat and abdomen by a 15-year-old girl who allegedly drank her blood afterwards, South Africa’s Eye Witness News reported.  A friend of Sefularo’s told her family that “the leader and the girl who did the stabbing sucked Keamo’s blood from [a wound] on her neck,” the victim’s brother Zali Nxabi told News24.

South africa satanic killing | GlobalPost

GlobalPost senior correspondent in South Africa, Erin Conway-Smith, says that  in the last few years in South Africa, there have been several murders of young people where “satanism” was said to be involved.

For example, there is a trial continuing in the murder of 18-year-old Kirsty Theologo who was doused with gas and set on fire in what was described as a satanic ritual.

Another example is the killing of a 6-year-old girl last month in KwaZulu-Natal province; charged in her murder is Wiseman Tholelani Shandu who is said to be part of a satanist group.

[image via GlobalPost]

Recidivist Faith-Healing Child Killers Will Do It Again, Says Their Pastor Approvingly; Claims That Kids Died Due To ‘Spiritual Lack’ By Parents

The Christian pastor who ministers Catherine and Herbert Schaible gives the couple a big theological thumbs-up for letting two of their children die through medical negligence.

The Schaibles lost one child in 2009, and another this year. In both cases, they declined to call a doctor for their ill offspring, choosing to rely on prayer instead.

The Rev. Nelson Clark, of Philadelphia’s First Century Gospel Church, told the local newspaper that the Schaibles are going to have to pray harder and truer next time, as the couple suffers from a “spiritual lack” that can only be remedied with more faith.

Clark [photo] was the spiritual adviser when the Schaibles’ 2-year-old, Kent, died from bacterial pneumonia in 2009, which led to a manslaughter conviction and probation for the couple. And he ministered to them last week when 8-month-old Brandon died, a case now being investigated by police.

In an interview with The Inquirer, Clark said God did not want the Schaible children to die. Instead, he said, the children died because of some “spiritual lack” in the Schaibles’ lives — a flaw they need to correct to prevent future deaths.

Joy105 – Spreading the Word!! – Second son of faith healing couple dies from no doctor treatment

“They realize they must get back to God, to seek wisdom from him, to find where the spiritual lack is in their heart and life . . . so this won’t happen again.”

There is no question Herbert Schaible would turn to prayer again if any of his six other children, whose ages range from about 8 to 17, fell ill, Clark said. Just as any First Century member would. “He would confess his sins and repent to God and ask for a healing touch,” Clark said.

The Schaibles would not call a doctor, even now, Clark said. “Oh, no,” he said. “That thought would never enter his mind.”

Other highlights from the Philadelphia Inquirer article:

• The church has 525 members, including many large, young families.
• First Century Gospel Church authorities counsel against college, because it is “fraught with drinking and immorality.” A “basic high school education” is OK.
• Herbert Schaible teaches in the church-run school — “all subjects except faith.” Only Pastor Clark teaches faith.
• The parents are not behind bars even now. They come to church faithfully, and the congregation has rallied around the Schaibles, Clark said. “They would do anything for Herb.”
• Pastor Clark seems less distraught by the likelihood of other congregants’ children dying for lack of medical care, than he is about the Schaibles’ remaining six children possibly getting placed in foster care with “nonbelievers.”

Because clearly, what those kids need most is more Christianity in their lives.

Previous Christian-faith-healing posts here, here, and here.

[image via Joy 105]

Not Sparing Devout Jews From Draft? That’s the Devil; Haredim Advise Suicide, Invoke Holocaust.

Orthodox-Jewish yeshiva students in Israel have been exempt from serving in the country’s military pretty much since the nation’s founding. Military service is mandatory for both the irreligious and the moderately devout; but ultra-Orthodox Jews claim that when their kids study the scriptures, they’re doing more important work for the country’s safety than those who serve as Hamas fodder.

“Let the other families sacrifice their children instead,” has been the thinking in these circles. “Ours are just too godly.”

As reported in USA Today,

The exemption, which involved only a few hundred top rabbinical students in 1949, has mushroomed into an exemption that has allowed 60,000 able-bodied men to forego military service each year.

Military service in Israel is serious business, requiring years of sacrifice.

Most Jews are drafted into the military at age 18, with men serving three years and then decades of yearly reserve duty, and women serving about two years, the Associated Press reports.

That the pious kids can just bury their noses in the Torah and call it good has long led to grumbling among the general population. Last year, the government sought to end the exemption, but the political and theological backbiting continues to this day.

According to an article in today’s Haaretz, Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar says that it’s misguided and evil to support universal military in Israel. ‘Cause guess who’s behind such a draft? This guy:


The devil has prompted people “jealous of religious study” to become “confused,” the rabbi warned.

Torah study is thriving like it did in the past,” he said. “The devil, jealous at seeing this, put it into the minds of some people to fight against the Torah.”

The notion that all citizens should be treated equally by the state also doesn’t fly with the rabbi:

“This equality is the last thing we need.” … [Amar] called the effort to draft yeshiva students “madness” and asked God “to have mercy on us.”

Equality is good — but as always, some are more equal than others.

Meanwhile, the country’s biggest Orthodox sect, the Haredi (previous Moral Compass coverage here and here), is getting positively rabid in its opposition to a draft for the devout.

A new draft resisters’ guide tailored for haredi yeshiva students reportedly compares the draft of those haredi yeshiva students to the Holocaust and reminds them that, like in the Holocaust, sometimes suicide is preferable to complying with the decrees of an evil government.

The 32-page guide was printed under the auspices of a new haredi organization called Fortress – The Center for Protection from Draft Issues. Ynet reports that the guide explains possible ways to dodge the draft. …

The guide goes on to discuss the obligation for total sacrifice [suicide], giving several historical examples to prove its point. One of those examples is the story of 93 girls at a Bais Yaakov school in Krakow, Poland  in 1942. All 93 of the girls committed suicide when they found out that Nazi soldiers were on their way to the school to rape them.

“We must learn from previous generations about the pride and intensity with which they gave their souls for the sanctification of God,” the guide says.

Such extremist language is matched at the highest theological levels. Last month, a hard-line Orthodox rabbi put the military draft of haredim in the category of ye’hareg v’bal ya’avor, a commandment that Jews must die rather than transgress:

Haredim being drafted into Israel’s military “means the uprooting of our religion” and Jews must be willing to be killed in order to prevent it from happening, a senior haredi leader, Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach said.

The headline on that article reads: Army Service Means Eradication of Judaism.

Groping Priest in NJ Back to Working With Kids Despite ‘Binding’ Promise; Archbishop Approves

How strongly does the Catholic Church believe in rooting out child abuse? This strongly:

Six years ago, to avoid retrial on charges that he groped a teenage boy, the Rev. Michael Fugee entered a rehabilitation program, underwent counseling for sex offenders and signed a binding agreement that would dictate the remainder of his life as a Roman Catholic priest.

Fugee would not work in any position involving children, the agreement with the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office states. He would have no affiliation with youth groups. He would not attend youth retreats. He would not hear the confessions of minors.

But Fugee has openly done all of those things for the past several years through an unofficial association with a Monmouth County church, St. Mary’s Parish in Colts Neck.

1 gaxxpope ARISTIDE

But it’s OK — you see, Newark Archbishop John J. Myers approves. And as a man who, when it gets down to it, only has to obey God, he’s above any earthly “binding agreements.”

Fugee was charged with criminal sexual contact in 2001 after he was accused of fondling the genitals of a 14-year-old boy during wrestling matches on two occasions. At the time, the priest served as assistant pastor at the Church of St. Elizabeth in Wyckoff. …

[Since the binding agreement,] he has attended weekend youth retreats in Marlboro and on the shores of Lake Hopatcong in Mount Arlington, parishioners say. Fugee also has traveled with members of the St. Mary’s youth group on an annual pilgrimage to Canada. At all three locations, he has heard confessions from minors behind closed doors. What’s more, he has done so with the approval of New Jersey’s highest-ranking Catholic official, Newark Archbishop John J. Myers [in photo, via the Star Ledger].

The agreement, allowing the groping priest to escape more serious judicial consequences, was signed by Fugee himself; and also by the archdiocese’s vicar general, on behalf of Archbishop Myers.

What Do Angels Look Like? Expect Fierce Beasts.

Heaven may take some getting used to if you’re expecting angels to look like this.


Or like this.


Because in fact, the Bible and its most learned promoters say, the divine realm of god is populated by angels that may look something like this (but, glory be, with six wings each):


I learned this today from Dr. Tom Lovorn, pastor of God’s Storehouse Baptist Church in Richmond, Virginia. The reverend doesn’t publish his Biblical insights in a photocopied church bulletin or on a dinky religious website, but instead kindly enlightens folks through an honest-to-god weekly column in the mostly fact-based Progress-Index newspaper in Petersburg, VA.

Today, Lovorn shines his light on Revelation 4:6-8, which reads:

“Round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind. And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast was like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle. And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within.”

Lovorn believes the creatures in Revelation are a special kind of angels called Cherubim. Surprise:

A cherub is not a baby angel with a bow, rather it is a fierce beast created to guard the holy things of God. …

The Cherubim seem to represent the pinnacle of all creation serving God. Maybe they were the prototypes of the individual creatures (bovine, lion, eagle, man) that God would make later since angels were created before God made the world and its inhabitants (Job 38:7). … They are a part of the mystery of God and the beings who serve him. In Biblical symbolism many eyes represent wisdom. These creatures, being full of eyes, are not dangerous to us; but they have all the wisdom they need to counter Satan’s wicked schemes.

Speaking of wisdom, the scholarly columnist is not your average professional horseshit peddler pastor. He has the highest academic degree, a doctorate (in theology). Between that and the Bible apparently being literally true, lesser-educated inferiors like myself clearly shouldn’t bet against Lovorn’s angel-related revelations.



“Unless you’re a physician or a dentist, calling yourself Dr. is generally a sign of low status and insecurity. It’s like using Comic Sans; to those in the know, it is a bad signal.” —Virginia Postrel

[topmost angel images via editingmyspace]