Amen. I Mean, Right On.

Via BrightRock.


Easter Joy: Beavis and Headbutt in Church Brawl

A church on Easter Sunday — what better place and time to start beating and headbutting your fellow man?

During church services on a day that celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ, two men in a Kendall Park (NJ) church clearly missed the message about forgiveness. According to South Brunswick Police, a physical altercation occurred towards the end of mass on Easter Sunday at St. Augustine’s of Canterbury Church.

Police said the incident involved two men, both in their 40’s, who knew each other prior to attending the church services.


Shortly before 1 p.m.,

…one of the individuals was standing in line for Communion when the other man came up behind him, according to police. A quick physical altercation then occurred, with one man headbutting the other.

One of the brawlers suffered a cut lip, the other got off with a bruise.

[image via worldsbestever]

Connecticut’s High Priest

People had begun telling Father Kevin Wallin to stay away from methamphetamine. So he bought a fifteen-foot straw.

Heh-heh.  But srsly:

A suspended Roman Catholic priest pleaded guilty Tuesday to a federal drug charge, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Connecticut announced. The Rev. Kevin Wallin, 61, of Waterbury, Connecticut, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute crystal methamphetamine. With the plea, he admitted that he received and distributed 1.7 kilograms of the drug, U.S. Attorney David B. Fein said in a statement.

Wallin was arrested January 3 after an investigation that involved wiretaps, confidential sources and an undercover officer, Fein’s announcement said. A search of Wallin’s apartment found meth, drug paraphernalia and drug packaging materials, said Thomas Carson, Fein’s spokesman. Wallin sold meth to the undercover officer six times between September and January, Fein said.

In addition to a great fondness for meth, the saintly Father Wallin had some seriously colorful sexual appetites and preferences. Previous Moral Compass post on the rascal here.

Uganda Priest Held in Quadruple Murder Case

An earthly representative of Christ is in custody in Uganda for allegedly taking part in a massacre of four people.

Five people including a Catholic priest in Isingiro district have been arrested and charged in court following the murder of four people [including a 9-year-old girl] in a suspected land wrangle.

Father Cleophas Ensiyaitu, a parish priest of Birunduma Parish in Rugaaga Sub-county, Mbarara Archdiocese was on Thursday charged with murder by the Isingiro Grade One magistrate, Patrick Talisuna  and remanded to Mbarara central prison. …

Martin Abilu, the Rwizi region Police commander, said police dog tracked suspects and led them to suspects’ homes.

More Education = Less Religion

Does more education lead to less religion?

Freakonomics author Stephen Dubner says yes, and he bases that on a study by Daniel Hungerman, an economist at Notre Dame who studies religious faith. Hungerman, using an exclusively Canadian data set, concluded that

…higher levels of education lead to lower levels of religious participation later in life. An additional year of education leads to a 4-percentage-point decline in the likelihood that an individual identifies with any religious tradition; the estimates suggest that increases in schooling can explain most of the large rise in non-affiliation in Canada in recent decades.

Of course, this is not at all the same as saying that the religious are less intelligent. For those who care to wade into that minefield, there’s Prof. Helmuth Nyborg’s 2008 study. Nyborg correlated religiosity and IQ, and found that

…atheists scored an average of 1.95 IQ points higher than agnostics, 3.82 points higher than liberal persuasions, and 5.89 IQ points higher than dogmatic persuasions.

In a separate research project that involved IQ levels of almost 7,000 U.S. adolescents, Nyborg and a fellow academic, Prof. Richard Lynn, concluded that atheists scored six IQ points higher than non-atheists. They also found that at the international level, the nations with the biggest populations of atheists are the ones that scored highest for overall intelligence.


Fundamentalists are very often wary of children receiving a good (higher) education, and now we know that, in their own warped way, they’re completely right.

[image via pkpolitics]

Time Discovers Faith’s Dark Side

In my lifetime, people of faith will probably always be allowed more manifestations of loopiness than non-believers.

If, as a secular American, I go around licking fenceposts every afternoon, and occasionally smash my forehead into one, it probably won’t be long until a kindly police officer takes me on a ride to the nearest mental hospital.

But if I claim that my behavior is my small congregation’s way of honoring Jesus’s sacrifice — a form of penitence that allows us to spiritually travel “nearer, my God, to thee” — chances are excellent that I will be left alone. I might even draw a bit of quiet admiration for my sefless devotional sacrifice.

That said, there seems to be an increasing awareness that not all forms of religiosity are healthy. “Religious Trauma Syndrome” (RTS) is a pathology that’s no longer easily dismissed; and even Time magazine, which can hardly be accused of being hostile to religion, now wishes to temper its zeal in spreading the notion that faith is necessarily a force for good.


Can Your Child Be Too Religious? Time asks — and with some equivocating, the answer the magazine gives is a clear yes.

Religion can be a source of comfort that improves well-being. But some kinds of religiosity could be a sign of deeper mental health issues. …

Your child’s devotion may be a great thing, but there are some kids whose religious observances require a deeper look. For these children, an overzealous practice of their family faith — or even another faith  — may be a sign of an underlying mental health issue or a coping mechanism for dealing with unaddressed trauma or stress. …

Some children suffer from scrupulosity, a form of OCD that involves a feeling of guilt and shame. Sufferers obsessively worry that they have committed blasphemy, been impure or otherwise sinned. They tend to focus on certain rules or rituals rather than the whole of their faith. They worry that God will never forgive them. And this can signal the onset of depression or anxiety, says John Duffy, a Chicago area clinical psychologist specializing in adolescents. “Kids who have made ‘mistakes’ with sex or drug use,” he says, “may have trouble forgiving themselves.”

Seems self-evident, but it’s nice to see the psychological downsides of faith acknowledged in a mainstream publication.

Such fastidiousness to religious practices may not seem so harmful, but extreme behavior such as delusions or hallucinations may be a sign of serious mental illness. Seeing and hearing things that are not there can be symptoms of manic-depressive, bipolar disorder, or early onset schizophrenia. But parents may be less attuned to such unhealthy behavior when it occurs under the guise of faith.

Whole story here.

[image via]

Is ‘Religious Trauma Syndrome’ (RTS) For Real?

I’m of two minds when it comes to the existence of a mental affliction that some psychiatrists and psychologists, like Marlene Winell and Valerie Tarico, have been banging the drum about. It’s called religious trauma syndrome (RTS).

Explains Winell,

RTS is a set of symptoms and characteristics that tend to go together and which are related to harmful experiences with religion. They are the result of two things: immersion in a controlling religion and the secondary impact of leaving a religious group.

On one level, it seems like just another made-up pathology. The latest version of the U.S. psychiatrists’ manual, the DSM5, is rife with questionable disorders and syndromes. A whole gaggle of shrinks (and the pharmaceutical companies who love them) are never shy about dreaming up new ones.

Then again, it doesn’t seem at all far-fetched that many children who grow up under an authoritarian belief system that threatens them with a horrible snuffing if they engage in bad behavior (“The wages of sin is death,” Romans 6:23) are eventually going to have problems, perhaps many years later. So, notwithstanding my skepticism about the ever-growing thicket of mental disorders, I’m fairly open-minded about RTS.


Winell is well aware of the naysayers’ reservations, and she’s ready with a counter-argument.

Saying that someone is trying to pathologize authoritarian religion is like saying someone pathologized eating disorders by naming them. Before that, they were healthy? No, before that we weren’t noticing. People were suffering, thought they were alone, and blamed themselves.  Professionals had no awareness or training. This is the situation of RTS today. Authoritarian religion is already pathological, and leaving a high-control group can be traumatic. People are already suffering. They need to be recognized and helped.

She understands, too, that many people are surprised by the idea of RTS,

because in our culture it is generally assumed that religion is benign or good for you. …

But in reality, religious teachings and practices sometimes cause serious mental health damage. The public is somewhat familiar with sexual and physical abuse in a religious context. … Bible-based religious groups that emphasize patriarchal authority in family structure and use harsh parenting methods can be destructive.

But the problem isn’t just physical and sexual abuse. Emotional and mental treatment in authoritarian religious groups also can be damaging because of 1) toxic teachings like eternal damnation or original sin 2) religious practices or mindset, such as punishment, black-and-white thinking, or sexual guilt, and 3) neglect that prevents a person from having the information or opportunities to develop normally.

To be clear, much as it would please some atheists, neither Winell nor Tarico is saying that belief in God is itself evidence of a mental disorder. They are talking about specific unhealthy family and social environments that are created by strict religious edicts and the unbending, dogmatic enforcement thereof.

Religion causes trauma when it is highly controlling and prevents people from thinking for themselves and trusting their own feelings. Groups that demand obedience and conformity produce fear, not love and growth. With constant judgment of self and others, people become alienated from themselves, each other, and the world.

More here and here.

[image via wisegeek]

P.S. I edited this post a day after it was published, to correct the source of the quotes. Several quotes attributed to Tarico were in fact Winell’s. My apologies for the error. — T.F.

‘Suffer the Children’

Bible time.

But Jesus said, ‘Suffer the children, and forbid them not to come unto me, for of such is the reign of the heavens.’ (Matthew 19:14)

Bible interpretation being a notoriously confusing endeavor, it’s quite possible that scores of clergymen thought that Matthew 19:14 said “Make the children suffer, and I won’t forbid you to cum on them, for you will be in heaven.”

I don’t know how else to explain what happened to Chris Whelan and his schoolmates.

More confusion over what stuff means.

More confusion over what stuff means.

Molested as a 10-year-old at the Jesuit-run Burke Hall in Kew [Australia], Chris Whelan marched to the headmaster’s office to tell him what happened. “His first reaction was immediate and physical,” Mr Whelan recalled on Monday. “He reaches into the drawer, pulls out his strap and tries to hit me across the face.”

Mr Whelan felt relieved when he left Burke Hall for Xavier College, but there he was again to be sexually abused by Victoria’s “most famous Jesuit” who preyed on several vulnerable children in Mr Whelan’s class, he told the Victorian inquiry into how the churches handled sex abuse.

One boy at Burke Hall was “kicked up the arse” so hard he later had to have stitches in his sphincter.

[image via reddit]

Bill Maher on Catholicism’s ‘New Rules’

The best part starts at 3m24s.

AA Still Asks, ‘Your Liver or Your Brain?’

If you have a serious drinking problem, you turn to AA, right? But what if you’re an agnostic or an atheist? Can you still climb those famous Twelve Steps if you don’t believe in God?

Six of the steps have strong religious connotations, to say the least:

2) (We) came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3) Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
5) Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6) Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7) Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
8) Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

Quite the litany. Turn our will and lives over; admit the nature of our wrongs; remove our shortcomings and defects of character; pray for God’s will for us.

Sounds like a sect to me. A pretty brainwashy sect, at that.


So would you rather ruin your liver or your brain? Some choice.

[image via Roger Fields]

Did Cardinal O’Brien Have a Boyfriend?

Other than Jesus, I mean. Business Insider says ‘Yes, probably.”

Cardinal Keith O_Briend Had Boyfriend? - Business Insider

Scotland’s The Herald newspaper has more.

Staying Classy in Lincoln County, West Virginia

Dateline West Virginia:

The text of the ‘letter’:

We were really glad to hear that School Board is getting rid of them queers. The next thing is we need to get rid of all the niggers, the spics, the kikes and the wops. You know even them Catholics, they are wrong as baby eaters.

We need to clear them people out and have good, white, God-fearing Christians and everybody else needs to be put to death for their abominations. We’ll keep Lincoln County white and right. Thank you.

It’s possible that someone was trolling the newspaper. It’s more likely that there are still plenty of people, including “good, white, God-fearing Christians,” who are just being frank (as long as they can remain anonymous, of course) about their outsized hatred for anyone who’s even the slightest bit different.