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]

Video Roundup: What Religion Has Done For (To?) the World This Month

The latest video compilation from Conversation With A.

Holy Family Gettogether

Via Space Avalanche.


Reverend and Psychic Ordered to Pay Million$ for ‘Mass Grave’ Allegations Against Innocent Couple

This hasn’t been a good year for psychics, and I’m glad.

First, we witnessed the high-profile flameout of Sylvia Browne, the bee-otch spiritist who inflicted unimaginable misery on the mother of missing young woman Amanda Berry, on national TV no less, by insisting that Amanda was dead. We know now that Browne couldn’t have been more wrong.

At the Psychic Hotline

Now one of Browne’s acolytes, flim-flam artist Presley “Rhonda” Gridley, has been ordered to pay 6.8 million dollars after she pulled this:

…created a national frenzy by telling authorities that a Liberty County couple, Joe Bankston and Gena Charlton, had a mass grave on their property. She has been ordered to pay the couple $6.8 million. …

Gridley goes by the name “Angel” and called the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office and falsely claimed that 25 to 30 dismembered bodies were buried in a mass grave at the plaintiffs’ residence.

The cops, unbelievably enough, then alerted the media, who dutifully descended on the Charltons’ street to report on the large-scale police search taking place at the house, complete with cadaver dogs and helicopters. All on the basis of Gridley’s “vision.” No bodies were found.

It turns out that Gridley also called a police station two hundred miles away, telling a dispatcher that she is a “reverend and a psychic” and that they would find the bones of dozens of missing children in the walls and “stuff written all over the walls in blood.”

Gridley’s false claim against the Charltons has ruined her financially; she is bound to die in poverty. Despite her psychic abilities, I guess she didn’t see that coming.

[cartoon by Dan Piraro, via source]

U.S. Immigration Officials to Candidate Citizen: ‘Your Agnosticism Is a Big Problem’

Margaret Doughty, 64, hails from the U.K., but she’s lived in the United States for more than 30 years. Doughty is a well-known consultant on literacy projects who, from Baton Rouge to Oklahoma City, has led countless people on the path to proficiency in English. Many of those people are immigrants and recent citizens. Her clients have included the city of Los Angeles and the U.S. Department of Education.


When Doughty recently decided to acquire U.S. citizenship herself, she had no reason to think it would be a hard slog.

“I have worked hard to fight for the rights of others, and change laws and systems to do a small part in building a better nation. That sounds like what a citizen should do,” she told me today. “So I decided to apply, not thinking at the time that it would turn out to be such a complicated issue.”

The reason her application stands a good chance of being denied is that Margaret Doughty is not religious.

Why would that matter?

Well, the topic of her religiosity came up when an USCIS official asked Doughty to confirm that, when asked, she would take up arms in defense of the United States. Doughty, who had just been made to swear an oath to tell the truth (as is customary with citizenship applications), felt honor-bound to answer the question…truthfully. She responded that she would be unfailingly loyal to the United States, but that her conscience doesn’t allow her to inflict violence on another person.

The immigration agent explained that the question, in Doughty’s case, was pretty much academic. The United States does not put sexagenarians on the front lines. Doughty, however, felt helpless to change her answer, and the agent told her that was going to be a problem, claiming that the USCIS recognizes only religiously-motivated objectors (Doughty isn’t religious; she identifies as an agnostic).

The official wasn’t kidding. Doughty received the following letter from the USCIS’ Houston office, telling her it must receive


It’s a useless demand, as the USCIS already knows full well Doughty doesn’t belong to a “congregation” and thus cannot produce a letter written by “two church elders.”

To add insult to injury, USCIS is demanding that Doughty responds with the requested document by June 21 — “failure to do so may result in the denial of your application.”

Doughty is appealing to her Congressman, Blake Farenthold, for help with her case, and has been heartened by a letter written by Freedom From Religion Foundation attorney Andrew Seidel, who let the USCIS know in no uncertain terms that the law is not on the agency’s side. Wrote Seidel:

Either the officers in Houston are inept, or they are deliberately discriminating against nonreligious applicants for naturalization.

Seidel, however, cannot act as Doughty’s attorney, and the applicant has a call in to a local immigration lawyer who might.

As an agnostic American myself, as well as a first-generation immigrant, I hope that Doughty’s argument will prevail. “The USCIS should recognize conscientious objection on both religious and moral grounds,” she believes.

Giving religious applicants a benefit that is withheld from non-religious ones would be hostile to bedrock American ideals. It’s a sign of Margaret Doughty’s worthiness as a future American that she not only understands this, but is willing to fight for the point.

At the same time, it is surely an embarrassment for the USCIS that a non-citizen immigrant should have to educate the agency on what our country truly stands for.

Super-Religious Pakistanis Adore Gay Porn

Pew research, illuminated by Mother Jones:

Among the least [gay-]tolerant nations surveyed was Pakistan, where only 2 percent of those surveyed said society should accept homosexuality. That statistic might be unsurprising, considering that gay sex is illegal under the Pakistani penal code. But what is surprising is how those views compare to Pakistani search traffic around gay-porn related terms.


As of this writing, Pakistan is by volume the world leader for Google searches of the terms “shemale sex,” “teen anal sex,” and “man fucking man,” according to Google Trends. Pakistan also ranks second in the world (after similarly gay-intolerant Kenya) for volume of searches for the search term “gay sex pics.”

Little Miss Sunshine: Follower of Breatharianism is Prepared to Die By Living on Sunlight Only

A Seattle woman has pledged to prove her religion is real by starving herself on camera.

Naveena Shine is a practitioner of Breatharianism, an obscure Eastern faith that holds that people can survive on nothing but sunlight and spiritual energy. Shine has started an experiment that aims to

…bring into our Universe a whole different paradigm of living. In this paradigm of living, human beings do not have to eat or ingest any kind of food into their stomachs in order to thrive in this world.

The movement’s guru, yogi Prahlad Jani (pictured), claims he hasn’t ingested any food in 70 years. Sunlight, he says, is all he needs.


Four known deaths have occurred by Breatharians following in his footsteps.

According to Freethinker News,

Shine is attempting to document her six-month sunshine-only diet by surrounding herself with video cameras also used to ensure that she does not cheat. She claims that the reason others have died is that they simply did not believe enough.

Her ‘progress’ is plain to see:


[images via Freethinker News]

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?

Scientologists vs Aliens

The church of Scientology, which claims humans are aliens who landed on earth, wasn’t amused when London newspaper the Sun published an article about flying saucers that had been sighted over Scientology’s headquarters in the English countryside. Church authorities demanded an apology for the article, and got one.


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.