Poll: Most Non-Believers Decry CIA Torture, While the Religious Are O.K. With It

Earlier this week, Rachel at Friendly Atheist posted about Bryan Fischer‘s views on torture. Fischer says that when the CIA tortured terrorism suspects, that was OK, because they did so righteously, just like the murderers in the Bible did their work to please God.

For my money, Fischer is the Ann Coulter of the evangelical set: someone with a big mouth, a tiny heart, and a propensity to spout outrageousness. I’ve always considered his views to be on the outer edge of what most Christians find acceptable. But it turns out that at least when it comes to torture, Christians are, overall, broadly in agreement with the man.

Over at MSNBC, Steve Benen scrutinized the results of a recent Washington Post/ABC poll, and concludes:

While many might assume that the faithful would be morally repulsed by torture, the reality is the opposite. When poll respondents were asked, “Do you personally think the CIA treatment of suspected terrorists amounted to torture, or not?” most Americans said the abuses did not constitute torture. But it was non-religious Americans who were easily the most convinced that the “enhanced interrogation techniques” were, in fact, torture.

The results in response to this question were even more striking: “All in all, do you think the CIA treatment of suspected terrorists was justified or unjustified?” For most Americans, the answer, even after recent revelations, was yes. For most Christians, it’s also yesBut for the non-religious, as the above chart makes clear, the torture was not justified.

Atheists and agnostics are much more likely to condemn the gross, inhumane actions of the worst CIA interrogators.

[N]on-religious Americans were one of the few subsets that opposed the torture techniques — and that includes breakdowns across racial, gender, age, economic, educational, and regional lines. The non-religious are effectively alone in their opposition to torture.

[The poll results are] a pretty interesting starting point for a discussion about faith, morality, the law, and the limits of human decency.

In 2009, there was a Pew poll about torture that revealed more or less the same divide between religious people and non-believers.

(Image via Shutterstock)

Gay-Friendly Kansas Minister Hears How One Christian Opponent Wants To Cut Her Head Off and Put It On a Stick

Could it be that some Christians are a greater threat to churches than the staunchest anti-theists? For Jackie Carter of Wichita, Kansas, the answer may well be yes.

Rev. Jackie Carter, a Wichita minister at First Metropolitan Community Church, says she has received death threats because of the gay weddings she has performed. The calls have been escalating since the state’s ban on gay marriage was struck down by a federal judge last month.

What do the threats entail? Carter quotes one:

I’m going to chop your head off and put it on a stick and carry it around the town square.”

She says the threats have led to vandalism that has included broken windows. The church has even stepped up security. “I’ve asked folks who support the church to help with purchasing cameras that we can have outside the building for the protection. We have a security company now.”

Carter says she wants to ignore the threats, but she is scared. “When you’re here and the phone rings, and there’s heavy breathing and two seconds later the doorbell rings and then somebody’s throwing rocks through the windows. All those things combined create fear.”

It hasn’t affected her resolve. Carter says that despite everything, she’s going to continue to marry committed couples, straight and gay.

Egged On By Ex-Pastor Husband, Mom Attempts To Murder Daughters … to Bring Them To Jesus

Jesus is a great pal, now and forever. Wouldn’t you like to meet him?

Police say that was the basic motivation behind the crime committed the other day by Pamela Christensen, an Illinois mother with end-times delusions who confessed that she had attempted to murder her three daughters.

After 911 dispatchers received two hang-up calls from the Christensens’ Montgomery home, officers went there and found the girls upstairs. Two of them had been stabbed in the chest by their God-besotted mom.

[P]olice said Christensen told officers that she was sending the girls home to “meet Jesus Christ.” The three girls, ages 12, 16 and 19, told police that their mother held a knife to them and asked them if they accepted Jesus Christ as their savior. Two of the girls were stabbed. Police recovered a poisonous liquid in the home’s kitchen, which Christensen said she had concocted out of dishwashing detergent in an attempt to subdue her children. She told police she had hoped they would fall asleep so she could stab them. Police said the children refused to ingest the poison…

The woman told officers that her husband, Vaughn Christensen, had left messages on the phone telling his wife that the world was ending, and that she needed to prepare the family to meet Jesus. Vaughn Christensen is a former pastor at a Sugar Grove church.

The three girls, who have non-life-threatening injuries, were released from a local hospital and are now reportedly staying with a grandparent.

Their parents had been going through a contentious divorce, during which Pamela Christensen accused her husband of having become increasingly “violent” and “erratic” toward her and their daughters.

Sounds like she wasn’t entirely free of violent and erratic behavior herself.

Ms. Christensen, who is being held on bail of one million dollars, is due in court on Friday.

(Image via Montgomery Police Department)

Alabama Pastor Has Sex With Church Members … and Knowingly Exposes Them to AIDS

It’s not unusual for a sermon to draw boredom and stifled yawns. But pastor Juan Demetrius McFarland of Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama found a very special way to make congregants hang on his every word these past few Sundays.

Last month, he began admitting, right from the pulpit, that he’d done some bad things. And bit by bit, over several weeks, it all came out: how he’d been using drugs, and how he’d “mishandled” church money.

But those revelations were nothing compared to this bombshell confession: McFarland not only said that he’d been having sex with women in his flock — in the church building, no less — but also that he’d wittingly exposed his sexual partners to the HIV virus.

For the last six years, he said, he’d known that he has full-blown AIDS.

Church deacon Nathan Williams Jr. told Channel 12, the local NBC TV news affiliate:

“He concealed from the church that he had knowingly engaged in adultery in the church building with female members of Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church while knowingly having AIDS.”

Five days ago, the church decided to oust McFarland.

You’d think that prosecutors are by now throwing the book at him, intent on trying him for (let’s say) reckless endangerment or attempted manslaughter. But to avoid further scandal, and to safeguard the identity of of the pastor’s victims, the church may not press charges.

Also, Channel 12 learned that McFarland holds a leadership position with the Alabama Middle District Baptist Association, a group that has 34 member churches all over the state. It seems he’s still got his job there.

Calls to association leaders indicate that at this time there are no discussions to remove McFarland from his position.

It’s a timely story in a way. Just two days ago, I wrote about uber-Christian investment scammer Ephren Taylor, and about the victims who didn’t come forward because they thought it would reflect badly on their congregation if the truth was publicized. That same evening, I happened to drive past a church close to where I live, and I was struck by the message on its sign. So I took a picture:

Love is… deafness when scandal flows.

Well, there’s your problem.

Christian Radio Host Excited About Ebola Virus Killing Atheists, Sluts, Gays

Atheists and people in same-sex relationships could use a little “attitude adjustment,” believes Christian end-times evangelist Rick Wiles — and Ebola might just the ticket.

With thanks to Right Wing Watch, here’s what Wiles had to say recently:

This Ebola epidemic can become a global pandemic and that’s another name for plague. It may be the great attitude adjustment that I believe is coming.

Ebola could solve America’s problems with atheism, homosexuality, sexual promiscuity, pornography and abortion.

Can you feel the Jesusy love?

August Was a Great Month For God and His Son Appearing in Clouds … and on a Moth

A little roundup:

God’s face appeared in a cloud over a soon-to-be-demolished drive-in movie theater that was showing (this gives me chills, people!) God’s Not Dead. He’s perched over the girl’s left shoulder, looking like the product of a supernatural tryst between a drunk Dionysus and Charles Darwin.

Fiona Finn, writing for the Huffington Post in one of its finest pieces of journalism to date, believes the following picture — supposedly, that’s the Almighty and an archangel in clouds over Cape Coral, Florida — is “proof that God is speaking to all of us.”

Inexplicably, God has an amputated hand in that image, but relief set in when an English believer found the missing body part protruding from the heavens over Kent:

(Is this the hand of God? asked the Express. To which Argentinian soccer fans can confidently say, No, but this is.)

Finally, the Carpenter’s Son Himself showed up on the wings of a moth, at least according to Yvonne Esquilin, a Jesus fan in Texas.

To the untrained eye, the pattern might look like a youthful Gandalf or Merlin (with a yarmulke, no less), but Esquilin believes that the appearance of the “Jesus moth” is too uncanny to be coincidental, as

… she had recently been asking God to help her find a way to continue assisting her daughter with her schooling.

So God sent a moth rather than, say, a tutor. Or a few thousand bucks.

Mysterious ways indeed.

South Carolina Bible College President Nabbed for Slavery and Exploitation

The Good Book condones slavery and exploitation in multiple chapters and verses, so Reginald Wayne Miller, the president and founder of South Carolina’s Cathedral Bible College, can still be considered a true man of the Bible. But if the charges against him are true, there’s something else he deserves to be called: a felon.

Miller’s police mugshot

A judge put Miller on home detention and had him fitted with an electronic ankle monitor just days into an ongoing federal investigation. The probe allegedly revealed that the former pastor habitually forced foreign students to perform non-academic work on the campus and at his home for a pittance or for nothing; pay ranged from $0 to $50 a week. Prosecutors say that Miller retaliated against those who complained or refused, by blustering that he would cancel their student visas, in effect sending them packing to their country of origin.

“I don’t think we’ve identified all of the potential victims yet,” said Carrie Fisher, the assistant U.S. attorney prosecuting the case. Fisher said some victims may have already left the country and some may be former students who have yet to come forward. “Our investigation just started this week.”

Agents with Homeland Security Investigations filed a criminal complaint against Miller this week saying they have probable cause to charge him with forced labor, a felony that carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years for each count. Investigators say Miller forced foreign students to work at the campus and his personal residence for as little as $25 per week. Miller threatened to cancel the students’ visas if they complained or didn’t comply with his demands, according to an affidavit filed this week.

Banner from the Cathedral Bible College website

Some of the students say that the school has no meaningful curriculum and that it primarily exists to trap vulnerable young people into years of forced servitude.

An affidavit filed this week with a criminal complaint against Miller outlines interviews Homeland Security investigators conducted with eight Cathedral Bible College students. Those students told investigators that the classes offered at the college “were not real” and the main focus of the school is having students work full-time hours at the school and at Miller’s home.

Federal law limits those on student visas to a maximum of 20 hours of work per week and that work must be an integral part of the student’s educational program. …

One student told investigators… that he was paid $50 per week for about 32 hours of work. Dr. Miller told [the student] if he did not like this work, he could go home or he [Miller] would call the Immigration and Naturalization Service,” the affidavit states.

Also,

Investigators said Miller misrepresented the school’s education, working and housing situations to foreign students who applied to attend Cathedral Bible College.

Pupils have complained about expired food and “long periods of time without any hot water, heat or air conditioning.”

It isn’t the first time that the man of God finds himself in trouble with the law.

In 2006, the Horry County Police Department charged Miller with lewdness and prostitution after Miller exposed himself to an undercover police officer in a bath house at Myrtle Beach State Park, according to a police report. Miller entered into a pre-trial intervention program and the charge ultimately was expunged.

(Thanks to Buckley for the link)

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).

bishophome

• 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.

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.”

Crazy_billboard

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]

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.”

Jesusexample

• 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.

Married Pastor Molests Men Referred to Him for Counseling, Calls the Encounters ‘Blessings’

The Lord’s blessings poured forth from pastor Muehlhauser’s closeted gay cock.

Pastor Ryan Jay Muehlhauser, 55, of Cambridge [Minnesota], had been an Isanti County pastor serving the community for more than 20 years when he was charged in November 2012 with eight counts of felony, fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct with two [young] adult males seeking spiritual counsel.

NW-Muehlhauser

Muehlhauser pleaded guilty to two of those counts Feb. 28. Under the plea agreement, Muehlhauser will serve 160 days in Isanti County Jail, remain on supervised probation for 10 years and register as a predatory offender. The other six counts were dismissed. …

He admitted to feeling the victim’s genital area and calling the sexual encounters “blessings.”

Va. Church Member on Married Father of Five and Alleged Child Rapist Pastor G.: ‘My Mother, My Aunt and I Have All Had Sex With Him.’

For sexual gratification and variety, pastor Geronimo Aguilar, a.k.a. Pastor G., found no better hunting ground than the megachurch he founded in Richmond, Virginia, a decade ago.

And that’s saying something: the good reverend apparently got plenty of extramarital nookie in his previous state, Texas, too. It emerged last month that his “conquests” in Texas included prepubescent girls.

Since he was extradited from Virginia to the Lone Star State in May — felony charges against him include the aggravated sexual assault of two sisters under age 14 — other bedmates have come forward. Voluntary sex partners of the man of god and father of five include Richmond-area church member Amber Baker, whose extended family appears especially adept at, let’s say, snake handling.

Pastor G and his beloved wife

Pastor G and his beloved wife

Baker told 8News that she had sex with the founding pastor when she was a teenager. Baker, who started attending the church when she was five, claims that one night when Pastor G’s wife was out of town, he took her, two other young women and her 16-year-old sister to a timeshare.

“He brought us alcohol, we got drunk and the rest is history,” said Baker. “I had just turned 18. We had sex.” Although there was no earthly crime involved here, Baker insists that, “It was wrong. Just because it is not illegal doesn’t mean it is not wrong and he was my pastor … I moved to Richmond to serve God.”

She claims Pastor G also had sex with other members of her family. “My mother, my aunt and myself have all been involved with him sexually.”

Because Pastor G., if he’s found guilty in Texas, might spend the rest of his life behind bars, the church will have several positions to fill, especially as three of the four remaining spiritual shepherds at Aguilar’s Richmond Outreach Center (ROC) were forced out this week.

In addition to Aguilar,

Executive pastor Jason Helmlinger, a former police officer, was also arrested and charged with a misdemeanor last month for allegedly threatening former ROC church pastor, Allen Caldwell, who was assisting with their investigation of the ROC church’s founding pastor.

Helmlinger reportedly made a “threatening and obscene” phone call to Caldwell after he told 8News that he witnessed allegedly “inappropriate behavior between Pastor G and some church wives.”

“Helmlinger called him and yelled profanities and threatened to do bodily harm to Caldwell, who called police to report the incident,” notes 8News.

4 Pastors at Virginia_s ROC Megachurch Resign Amid Swirling Sexual Assault Allegations - Crossmap Christian News | U.S.

It’s unclear why the other pastors had to resign, but keep an eye on this space, as more heart-tugging examples of godliness and exemplary behavior are sure to follow.

Meanwhile, swaths of the pastor’s loving Virginia flock continue to support the self-confessed serial adulterer and alleged child rapist, on the assumption that whatever their beloved Pastor G did wrong, the devil made him do it.

Wrote one fan on the church’s Facebook page:

“Thanks Pastor G for all the love u shared to all of us on Saturday evenings & always keeping it real. The devil can fight all he wants but he can’t take away all the good u brought to The ROC for the past 12 years!!!”

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It’s beginning to look as if American megachurches attract a certain kind of pastor — megalomaniac risktakers looking for thrills. Maybe, after a while, these people consider themselves “too big to fail.”

Geronimo Aguilar might be an example, and so is Moral Compass’ patron saint Ted Haggard.

And let’s not forget Jack Schaap, who was recently put away for 12 years for a series of sexual improprieties with a teenager, which didn’t even include his astonishing act of habitually polishing the shaft in front of thousand of churchgoers, kids included.

Schaap’s superchurch, First Baptist, was a magnet for scandal even before he began climbing the pulpit. His predecessor father-in-law, Jack Hyles, was just as bad. Read this exposé in Chicago Magazine. It’s an amazing story of sexual nastiness and violence associated with First Baptist: from adultery and physical abuse to child rape, from stalking and alleged torture to child murder (yes, really).

God has some strange reps.

[images via Christian Post]