Parking for Jesus

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Pew: Religious Oppression on the Rise

Bad but not unexpected news for those of who’ve been following the events after 2011’s Arab Spring:

People who hoped the Arab Spring would lead to greater religious freedom across the Middle East have been sorely disappointed, and a new Pew study confirms that the region has grown even more repressive for various religious groups. … The Pew survey of 198 countries found that the share of countries with high or very high restrictions on religion rose from 37 percent in mid-2010 to 40 percent by the end of 2011.

Is This Cringe-Worthy Conversion Video Real?

Please, please, let it be a giant wind-up. If not, this makes me want to drink about a gallon of weed killer.

Friday Religion Roundup

• Pastor slips 14-year-old girl a mickey, rapes her while she’s unconscious.

• Dying priest accused of sexual abuse evades court, looks forward to his rightful spot in heaven.

• Anglican archbishop who chides others for not loving the poor enough lives in splendor — in an honest-to-god palace (pictured).


• Four men claim to have been groped by Rabbi Yona Metzger in cases stretching back to the ’80s.

• Pastor accused of planting video cameras inside a women’s restroom at church will face child exploitation charges.

• Church member accused of building a radiation machine to kill Muslims.

• Priest fled scene of accident he caused; two people dead.

School Sends Kids Home With Anti-Abortion Flyers; Strangely Enough, Parents Are Upset

“Mommy, what’s an abortion?”

That was the question of a five-year-old who’d been given a leaflet at school with the invitation to attend a pro-life political rally. The mother, understandably, was not amused, and neither were lots of other parents whose children had received the flyer.

The incident occurred two weeks ago in an Irish elementary school whose administrators saw nothing wrong with indiscriminately tucking the anti-abortion material into kids’ bags. Chiefly responsible for the odd initiative is the Catholic chairman of the school’s management board, Eddie Shaw (pictured, in file photo), a former spokesman for the Archbishop of Dublin.


At a raucous school gathering last Thursday — demanded by parents who wanted to find out why their kids had been subjected to age-inappropriate propaganda — Shaw did little to soothe hurt feelings.

The Irish Times quoted minutes from the meeting:

“On Friday the 7th of June, a notice for a pro-life vigil was put in the bags of three classes. The leaflets were intended for every bag in the school but some teachers either chose not to put them in and others forgot.

“The leaflet highlighted a vigil taking place last weekend for the Pro-Life Campaign against the upcoming legislation on abortion. The parent body were outraged that the children were being used as vehicle to promote a controversial campaign.”

Although Shaw apologized to the parents, he only made matters worse when he appeared to misconstrue rather spectacularly why they were upset. Said one irate father:

“Mr. Shaw told the meeting he should have put the leaflets in an envelope, which is to miss the point entirely.”

He deemed Shaw’s apology inadequate.

Another parent agreed, dismissing as “preposterous” Shaw’s assertion that the distribution of the leaflets “wasn’t political.”

Yesterday, looking to end the controversy, Eddie Shaw resigned from the school.

I can’t help but think that he could have benefited from some great PR advice. For instance, one of the most prominent corporate communications firms in Ireland is Carr Communications, whose staff are self-described experts at spinning public faux pas, and at “handling media crises.” Maybe Eddie Shaw could have retained Carr’s services as soon as the protests started, and taken professional pointers from Carr’s head of public relations, one Eddie Shaw.

Yeah. Same guy.

(photo via The Journal)

Dispatches From the Wacky World of Religion

A dozen links for your entertainment:

1. A Grand Rapids pastor who was involved in a 2010 car loan scam now faces federal charges for allegedly tricking a bank into giving him a $150,000 loan.

2. A Houston pastor asked his congregation to tithe $50,000 so that he can purchase replacement blades for the church’s helicopter. He promised the Lord’s blessings in return, including “a car of your choice.”

3. The Church of Scientology allegedly secretly recorded, with a hidden video camera and microphones, “audits” (akin to confessions) of celebrity member Tom Cruise.

4. Christian columnist: “Blessed are you when you get persecuted and stoned to death, because you know Jesus (and the truth).” She’s also not too worried about people who are starving: “Even if they starve to death … they’re blessed because they’ll be with Jesus and never hunger again in the next life.”


5. Nanny alert: Owners of a Princeton, NJ wine and liquor store say they are being forced out of business after 16 years because their landlord, a local church, doesn’t want a liquor business in its building.

6. Thanks for nothing: Catholic bishop says a lesbian woman may get married to a gay man.

7. Jake Alexander Garcia, a church youth leader who solicited sexually explicit photos from a 12-year-old in his group, was sentenced to just six months in jail.

8. An anti-discrimination bill protecting transgendered people makes pastor Mike Fox mad. He thinks it’s a sex-perversion scheme concocted by transsexuals to gain access to all locker rooms.

9. By getting on their knees, one million Christian women seek to help a million men shed their porn addiction.

10. Pastor Brian Williams admitted to sexually assaulting a 15-year-old victim during counseling sessions at his church. He’s behind bars for nine years, and the church has to pay $3.6 million for not adequately supervising him.

11. Over a four-year span, a pastor and semi-famous gospel singer, who’s also a father of four, sexually assaulted three schoolgirls when he stayed overnight at their homes. The reverend Paul Gardner raped the girls when they were 7, 9, and 14.

12. The imams of Sacramento’s two biggest mosques have declared that music is not permissible in Islam. “It’s a chain reaction – when people listen to music, they ask for alcohol, which will lead to adultery,” explained imam Mahmoud Abdel.

[image via freethoughtpedia]

Holy Family Gettogether

Via Space Avalanche.


Pastor Buggers Deacon…in Church

For the love of God?

A community in Manchester [Jamaica] has been left in a state of shock when a male pastor and a deacon were caught having sex inside the church.

A church member who spoke to The Weekend Star said that the men were discovered having sex when a young church brother, who had been suspicious of the pastor’s ‘undercover activities,’ one night came across his vehicle at the church.

His suspicions were further fuelled by the realisation that there were no scheduled meetings that night, and that the grill to the front of the church was also closed.

It was said that the church brother decided to ‘screechie’ into the church from a window at the side of the building.

On entering the church, the young man was hit with the sight of the men in a sexual act.

Friday Religion Roundup

• Writer in Egypt sentenced to five years in prison for insulting religion. Prosecutions of alleged blasphemists on the rise.

• On Saturdays, Ohio church youth leader Jeremy Pettry would invite 11- and 12-year-old boys to his home to play video games and watch movies. He’d rape them, and then he would take them to church on Sunday as if nothing had happened. Pettry just got 10 years in jail.

• A transportion company fired two Muslim truck drivers for refusing to deliver alcohol. The U.S. Equal Opportunity Commisson is now suing the company.

• Church organizes “Smash Camp,” where kids are invited to beat cars with baseball bats, pry bars, hammers, and other objects. ‘Cause nothing says “I love Jesus” like destroying shit with hammers and pry bars.

• Church youth counsellor Roderick Kyle Janssen gets 14 years for raping six young boys and using them to manufacture child porn.

• Kenya: Islamic militants bomb and maim 16 Christians at their church.

• Samuel Ciccolini, an Ohio Catholic priest who embezzled a million dollars from an alcohol-and-drugs rehabilitation center he founded, has retired after serving a prison sentence in a tax fraud case. Good riddance to the good padre, but it’s worth noting that he didn’t even go to jail for the theft — just for for the tax fraud. I wonder if, let’s say, atheists would be so lucky if they stole a million bucks.

• And here’s the Muslim equivalent of Jesus’s face on burned toast: Believers in Kazakhstan see the name of prophet Mohammed in a lamb’s fur. Agnus Dei?

When the Drug of Religion Isn’t Enough

Opium for the masses!

A Christian minister successfully smuggled more than 6kg (13 lbs) of heroin through five countries before being busted in Darwin because Jetstar lost her luggage, a court has heard.


New Zealander Bernadine Terry Prince, who is the head of international ministry Oasis of Grace, faces a maximum penalty of life in jail.

She was refused bail yesterday after being charged with smuggling 2.87kg of methamphetamines and 6.15kg of heroin into Darwin on May 24.

Christianity News Roundup

• Catholic Church leaders are sparing no expense to try to stop legislation that would make it easier for victims of sexual abuse to seek damages in court.

• Faith-healing couple that let second kid die is ordered to stand trial: “They did nothing to help that child,” prosecutor Joanne Pescatore said at the court hearing. “That’s why it’s murder.”


• Superstition in action: Wilmington church holds blessing of motorcycles. Next up: blessing of skateboards, blessing of Segways, blessing of kids’ tricycles?

• Kansas pastor admits to ripping off several landlords with worthless checks.

• Well-regarded community and education leader of First Presbyterian Church in Lake Wales, FL, solicits sex from cop posing as a 14-year-old girl.

• Church gives child-raping, serial-adulterer pastor a generous severance package.

I Love the 80s: Pat Robertson Edition — In Which the Wrong Kind of Gameplay Leads to Satan

Having lived through the 80s the first time, I can tell you that the nostalgia for that decade started circa ’91. Still in high school, we were fondly recalling our near-past via Duran Duran’s Decade and the Miami Vice soundtrack. That these were played primarily on cassette in various K-cars probably goes without saying.

Since then 80s nostalgia has been recycled ad nauseam, and most of us are past it. But not Pat Robertson, no sir.

Harking back to the imagined perils of his own heyday — and sounding very much like he’s in a permanent fugue state — the good reverend has recently decided to restart one of that benighted time’s silliest crusades: combating the satanic roots of teen malfeasance, particularly suicide. Bonus: Dungeons & Dragons gets a mention (boy that takes me back).

chick tract - d+d

Here’s Robertson having at it during a recent 700 Club (yup, still on the air) segment on mental health and suicide in young people:

“Ladies and gentlemen, our children are at risk. […] There’s all kinds of demonic games they play. It used to be ‘Dungeons & Dragons.’ They’ve got some new ones now. The pressure on them is just incredible.”

The spirit of the PMRC lives!

This issue has been studied more than most questions in sociology. And the evidence favors the view that games, regardless of their violent or fantastical elements, do not make young people into self-murdering sociopaths. I won’t pretend the issue isn’t divisive amongst thoughtful and well-intentioned researchers, though I will offer that if one wants to think clearly about it, Pat Robertson in high dudgeon might not be the most fruitful source of data.

Pictured: Two teens taking a break from their video gaming.

Pictured: Two teens taking a break from their video gaming.

And it’s too easy to forget what can happen when this kind of unfounded hysteria breaks through the fences of Crazytown and infects the general population. Backed by our most primitive fears of the devil and his minions, families like the Amiraults in Massachusetts had their lives ripped apart by some who ignored data and still others who abused it. The road to that particular hell is paved not with good intentions but with the stolen liberties of railroaded innocents.

But surely we’re wiser now as a culture, right? Let’s hope. At any rate, with all the ills in the world to lament it’s good to know that people can still get worked up about the classics. If only Zappa were still around to spar with them (and with our feeble congress).

Today, Robertson is a relatively minor figure in his own movement. CBN long ago started taking the brand past him with initiatives like 700 Club Interactive and international editions.

That said — and even with the likes of Westboro Baptist Church around hogging all the bad press — ol’ Pat’s still a reliable source of pitch-black lulz: check out his recent rants on the Boy Scouts, Tim Tebow, how tornado victims don’t pray enough, and why it’s your fault your husband cheated on you.


P.S.: This high school kid from the mid-90s had the data — and sensible conclusion — that eludes Robertson et al even today.