Kind of a Shitty Thing To Do

Good thing the toilet-paper company didn’t use Koranic texts, or we’d see a million Muslims go through spasms of righteous rage right now.


A Finnish toilet paper maker has removed quotes from the Bible, including the words of Jesus, that it inadvertently placed on its rolls, after protests from some Norwegian church leaders. Metsa Tissue was trying to convey messages about love but accidentally included lines from the Gospel of Matthew and First Corinthians on toilet paper sold in Norway, Denmark and Sweden. The firm selected the quotes from Facebook submissions, including one from Jesus: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” It only realized its mistake when it received feedback.

“People like to read small, happy messages while sitting on the toilet,” Christina von Trampe, a spokeswoman for Metsa Tissue told Reuters. “The vast majority of the feedback has been positive. Our intention was to spread love and joy, not religious messages.”

I actually really love that last line. It probably wasn’t meant as a slap, but regardless — well put, Christina.

[image via bradleycorp]

Message From Jesus: Wash Your Car

Evidently, Jesus is bored with appearing on toast and taco shells. Now he’s appearing in bird poop on windshields of believers.


Jim Lawry insists this is a picture of Christ. I think it looks more someone wearing a novelty dog snout, but who am I to argue with the faithful?

“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, and I shall poop on your windshield.”  – first draft of 2 Peter 3:10

Snake-Oil Charmers

Who better to advise the flock on investment opportunities than the same church-authorities-cum-businessmen who say you won’t go to heaven if you disobey them?

Two leaders of a Bay Area church with a controversial past are under investigation for an alleged real estate scheme, KPIX 5 has learned. Some members of the General Assembly Church, with congregations in Vallejo, Union City, Moreno Valley in Southern California and two other states said the promise of eternal life cost them dearly. “It was a nightmare,” said Horace Gill. He was the pastor of a former branch of the church in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Gill said in 2002, pastor Lacy Hawkins started preaching about a real-estate investment opportunity.

Members of the congregation, prodded by their then-pastor, put a fortune into real-estate deals run by Hawkins’ second-in-command under the business name ‘Daystar.’ Questions were not allowed. Recalls former church member Julio Ramirez,

“Anytime we used to ask questions we were told that you are in a bad spirit, what is wrong with you?”

God did, however, quietly perform a miracle, and made all the Daystar investors multi-millionaires.

Nah, just kidding.

Daystar suddenly closed its doors in 2006. Stunned church members asked for their money back, only to find out it was gone.

But that’s nothing compared to what a business-minded leader of a church with one million gospel lovers can do. Just think of the riches that so many faithful people can produce! David Yonggi-Cho sure did.


The founding pastor of the world’s largest Pentecostal congregation is being indicted on charges of breach of trust for costing the church more than $9 million in a stock scheme gone awry. South Korean news sources report that prosecutors have indicted David Yonggi Cho, founder of Yoido Full Gospel Church which has more than 1 million congregants, for a stock scheme in which he arranged for the church to buy his son Cho Hee-jun’s stock “at a rate three to four times [the] market value.”

Other church leaders, too, are having a spot of trouble with that whole Biblical values thing.


A former West Michigan church deacon accused of taking cash from the weekly offertory basket has pleaded guilty to larceny. Joseph Finnigan made the plea Friday in Ottawa County Circuit Court. The 73-year-old pleaded to two counts of larceny over $20,000.

Our favorite story in this roundup happened just yesterday, when

A meeting of church members at the New Covenant Baptist Church on East Beard Avenue on Syracuse’s South Side ended with police swarming the sanctuary. Church-goers on the street told CNY Central’s Ken Chapman that they were there to vote on whether or not to oust Pastor Colette Matthews, saying she has been having an affair with a married member of the church. …

Syracuse Police say things got out of hand when some members tried to stop others from entering the church. Officials say police responded to the church three times on Sunday. Two calls were for yelling and shouting. A third call was for a man with a gun, which was an unfounded claim. Eventually, Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler came to the church and ordered the assembly to clear out.

[David Yonggi-Cho photo via; Joseph Finnigan photo via WGVU]

Peekin’ Deacon Loves Kids

He’ll take children exactly as God created them — in their birthday suits.


A deacon at St. Joseph’s Church in Fullerton, Maryland, a suburb of Baltimore, was arrested last week for possession of child pornography after Verizon detected images and videos of children performing sexual acts.

William Steven Albaugh, a 67-year old retiree ordained as a Catholic deacon in 1996, was taken into custody by Baltimore County Police officers on March 1. He admitted to collecting child pornography since the 1970s.

[image via Arstechnica]

Weekend Bonus

So that‘s how that works.


The Ten Commandments, with Hitchens, Colbert

À propos of yesterday’s post referencing the Ten Commandments, I thought I’d share this video of the late Christopher Hitchens proposing a rewrite of Christianity’s best-known moral code. The best bit starts at six minutes sixteen seconds.

Also, this: In 2008, Stephen Colbert met Georgia Congressman Lynn Westmoreland. Four minutes eighteen seconds into the video, Colbert asks the congressman about his ostensible love for the Ten Commandments. What follows is as staggering an act of political self-immolation as has ever been committed to tape — funny and mortifying at once.

Thanks for visiting — see you on Monday!

It’s Getting Chilly in Church

Ah, church. The warm bath of social acceptance… the quiet presence of divinity… the lovely prospect of lawsuits and restraining orders…

Wait, what?

A central Toledo church is seeking protection from 13 members of its congregation who allegedly have become disruptive to the church. Southern Missionary Baptist Church, 1224 Indiana Ave., has filed a motion for a temporary restraining order in Lucas County Common Pleas Court. The church and its pastor, the Rev. Lemuel A. Quinn, have asked the court to block Elmore Sturdivant and 12 others from engaging in disruptive conduct that has included physically assaulting the pastor, holding a meeting in which they allegedly acted to remove the pastor and others from their church offices, making false reports to police, threatening church members and leaders, and circulating rumors of the pastor’s death “in order to diminish the attendance at the church’s weekly services.”

‘Do Not Steal’ Is Just So Ambiguous

Thou shalt not steal sounds pretty straightforward, doesn’t it? No loopholes there, right?

But wait. Per Wikipedia:

Significant voices of academic theologians … suggest that the commandment “you shall not steal” was originally intended against stealing people — against abductions and slavery.

There! A loophole big enough to drive a church van through! So maybe that explains what one of God’s earthly stand-ins, Pastor Arthur Pearson, decided to do with his congregants’ money.

Pastor Arthur Pearson pleaded no contest to embezzling between $50,000 and $100,000 from the Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church. The allegations first surfaced in early January 2012. He turned himself in, and claimed his contract did not specifically prevent him from using certain funds on personal items, such as car repairs and mall shopping trips.

His contract did not specifically prevent him from taking other people’s money for his personal shit. Another awesome loophole! Thank you Lord!


In March, [Pearson] was ordered to stand trial. He was eventually fired from the church in June.

That the flock ousted the shepherd may have had something to do with the findings of forensic accountant Michelle McHale-Adams.

McHale-Adams examined checks and credit card statements from the church. For instance, $5,000 and $4,500 checks that Pearson wrote to himself for bonuses. She also referenced Pearson’s $22,000 credit card bill that was paid by checks from the church’s account. The accountant’s testimony showed that checks from the organization’s accounts even paid the Pearson’s mortgage and license plate renewals. “That check was flagged for $607 because on the back of the check it referenced Reverend Pearson’s four personal vehicles,” said McHale-Adams.

Come on, you can see why owning four cars costs a little extra cash, can’t you?

Now get this: Pearson wasn’t the only one who had his hand in the collection box — he had a church-lady accomplice.

A second person involved in an embezzlement scheme that may have lost Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church more than $230,000 over three years has entered into a plea deal. Gerolanita Bailey, the former bookkeeper at Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church in Grand Rapids, pleaded no contest to a charge of embezzlement of between $50,000 and $100,000. Bailey, 50, is accused of taking nearly $60,000 from the church and using it for her own benefit — mostly to pay bills.

For the sake of their precious thieving souls, I’d recommend reading and reciting Psalm 62.10:

Put no trust in extortion;
set no vain hopes on robbery;
if riches increase, set not your heart on them.

Seems clear enough. But what do I know?

[image via Zazzle]

Big Mouths, Tiny Little Shriveled Hearts

Given the title of this blog, Christians who say that those in favor of equal rights “have broken the moral compass” get our automatic attention. And who better to school us on the finer points of morality and decency than the fundies of Westboro Baptist Church, who show up at military funerals, and at remembrances for victims of school shootings, carrying signs like these:


This week, Westboro’s paragons of virtue were at it again.

Outside Santa Monica High School on Pico Boulevard in Santa Monica, Calif., Westboro Baptist Church members assembled with signs reading “God H8s Fags” and “You Eat Your Kids” to protest the school’s affirmation of LGBT students, according to the Los Angeles Times. According to their website, Westboro intended to target “brutish teachers & hateful parents” who “have broken the moral compass of this generation” and have doomed the nation by “embracing sodomy.”

Watch what transpired:

“God Didn’t Listen,” Complains Lye Attacker

Herbert Rodgers couldn’t stand the thought of Carmen Tarleton, his estranged wife, seeing another man. Nor could he stomach the idea of the pending divorce. He beseeched the Almighty for divine intervention.

When God didn’t stop him, he said, he set out for her home, planning to beat the man with a baseball bat and pour lye over him. But when he got there, there was no man, so Rodgers broke into the house through a window, tied her up and dumped lye all over her in an attack that left her with a broken arm, a broken eye socket [from his beating her with a baseball bat], and burns over 80 percent of her body.

He didn’t care about the presence of their 12- and 14-year-old daughters, who were living with Tarleton. When Vermont State Police Troopers responded to the 911 call, the girls were outside the house, screaming “He’s killing her!” The officers entered the home, where

…[trooper Hugh] O’Donnell and other responding officers found Tarleton crawling on the floor, her face distorted from the chemical, her skin turning brown before his eyes as she begged for an ambulance. …

“During my encounter with Rodgers he told me that he had been talking to God over the past week or so asking him to stop him from doing this,” O’Donnell said in an affidavit released Monday. “He said that he was going to wait until his birthday for God to respond.”


That was six years ago. In recent days, after a mind-boggling 55 prior surgeries, Carmen Tarleton received a new face. No word on whether God has gotten better at obeying ultimatums from the faithful.

[image via nbcnews]

God’s Very Best Descend Upon the Vatican

Cardinals from around the world are jetting to Vatican City in their customary high style, to choose a new pontiff. And what a gaggle of splendiferous human beings it is!

[D]e­spite calls from many Catholics, [Pope Benedict] nev­er re­moved prelates who, court cases and doc­u­ments re­vealed, put chil­dren at risk by fail­ing to re­port pe­dophiles or re­move them from the priest­hood.

It is not that these car­di­nals be­haved so dif­fer­ent­ly from the oth­ers, or that they do not have achieve­ments to their names. It is just that they hap­pened to come from pin­points on the Cath­o­lic world map where long-hid­den se­crets be­came pub­lic be­cause vic­tims or­ga­nized, gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials in­ves­ti­gat­ed, lawyers sued or the news me­dia paid at­ten­tion.

They in­clude car­di­nals from Bel­gium, Chile and It­aly. They in­clude the dean of the Col­lege of Car­di­nals, An­ge­lo So­dano, who is ac­cused of tak­ing large mon­e­tary gifts from a re­li­gious or­der, the Le­gion of Christ, and halt­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion in­to its founder, the Rev. Mar­cial Ma­ciel — who was later ex­posed as a patho­log­i­cal abuser and liar.


They al­so in­clude car­di­nals re­viled by many in their own coun­tries, like Car­di­nal Sean Brady, the pri­mate of All Ire­land, who sur­vived an up­roar af­ter gov­ern­ment in­ves­ti­ga­tions un­cov­ered en­demic cov­er-ups of the sex­ual and phys­i­cal abuse of mi­nors.

“There’s so many of them,” said Jus­tice Anne Burke, a judge in Il­li­nois who served on the Amer­i­can bish­ops’ first ad­vi­so­ry board 10 years ago. “They all have par­tici­pated in one way or an­other in hav­ing ac­tual in­for­ma­tion about crim­i­nal con­duct, and not do­ing any­thing about it.”

The conclave is stacked with staunch conservatives of considerably advanced years. That means the possibility that the next pope will stand for contrition and conciliation is about as big as the chance that he’ll celebrate his new title by performing The Vatican Rag in the middle of St. Peter’s Square.

Not that he’d pull it off quite as well as Tom Lehrer did.

[color image via Pilgrim’s Footsteps]

Who Would Jesus Eat?

The trial against Gilberto Valle kicked off yesterday. Valle is the New York City cop who was arrested last fall on charges that he used NYPD databases to compile a list of about a hundred women he allegedly wanted to torture, cook, and eat. The would-be cannibal was turned on in by his wife, Kathleen Mangan-Valle, who had discovered through chat logs on her husband’s computer that he apparently intended to murder and eat her too.

Gilberto Valle maintains that he was only fantasizing about these things, and had no intention of committing any actual crimes.


About one target, he wrote

I was thinking of tying her body onto some kind of apparatus … cook her over a low heat, keep her alive as long as possible.

The Valles are practicing Catholics. Gilberto wed Kathleen only three summers ago in St. Aloysius Church in Spokane, Washington, where he swore he’d love and support her until death do the doting duo apart. (Presumably, his vows to the Almighty didn’t include anything about gutting his wife and eating her flesh.)

The couple has a child, whose image was presented in court during the wife’s testimony.

[J]urors were shown a photo of [Valle] in his NYPD uniform, beaming as he held to his chest his cherubic baby girl, who was wearing a fuzzy pink hooded jumper with bear ears. Asked to describe the image, Mangan-Valle responded, “It’s before church, before a Holy Name Society breakfast,” then sobbed uncontrollably.

The Holy Name Society “promotes reverence for the Sacred Names of God and Jesus Christ … and the personal sanctification and holiness of its members.”

Even if he’s found not guilty, the personal holiness of Gilberto Valle is, let’s say, still a few muffins short of a full breakfast.

Valle is sometimes mentioned in the same breath as a man with a similar penchant for fetishistic torture-and-cannibalism fantasies: Tampa-area puppeteer Robert Brown. Brown was arrested last July on charges of planning to kidnap, rape, murder, and eat a child. Like Valle, he’s a loyal churchgoer. He takes his religious holidays seriously, remarking about his intended victim, a young boy he knew from church:

…his thighs and butt cheeks would be fantastic for easter.

(Insert obligatory joke about fava beans and a nice chianti.)

Valle, too, felt that a church holiday calls for something extra-festive:

I’m planning on getting some girl meat… this November… for Thanksgiving.

It’s noteworthy that the Eucharist ritual of swallowing the body of Christ, in the words of this devout Catholic publication, means that

…the Holy Communion does involve eating human flesh and blood.

Their words, not mine. Maybe the forbidden apple doesn’t fall that far from the tree.

[image via MailOnline]