Syrian Boy Shot Dead for Mohammed Remark

Because god is just and merciful, he commands you to kill teenagers who, by some arbitrary measure, fail to show him sufficient respect. Sound like a religion you want any part of? Via the New York Times:

The teenager’s name was Muhammad al-Qatta, and he was 14 years old when witnesses said radical Islamists in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo pulled him from his coffee kiosk on Sunday and later executed him in a public square.

Muhammad had left his house to close up his kiosk, where his work supported his family, his mother said. When someone approached him looking for a free cup of coffee, the teenager uttered the phrase that cast him among the victims of the war’s growing depravity.

“He was talking to this guy and told him, ‘I don’t want to lend you anything,’ ” the teenager’s father quoted him as saying.

“If Muhammad, peace be upon him, were to come to this earth right now, I would still not lend a cup of coffee to anyone unless they pay for it,” the teenager said.

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Three men with long hair, wearing long beards and the robes favored by ultraconservatives, overheard the exchange. They accused the teenager of insulting the prophet, told him to leave the kiosk and then took him away in the car. When they returned an hour later, Muhammad bore the marks of a beating. In a square, they covered his head with his shirt, a makeshift blindfold, as if he were “some big shot,” his mother said.

She watched from her balcony, as hundreds of people gathered around. A resident of the neighborhood, Abu Abdo, heard what the men said. Addressing the “respected people of Aleppo,” they warned that cursing God or the Prophet Muhammad was a sin, saying it would be “punished this way.”

The teenager’s father heard the shots. His wife told him that the men had killed their son.

[image via Syrian Free Press]

Villagers in India Hack ‘Witch’ To Death in Attempt to Appease the Hindu Goddess Kali

Kali is not the sweetest of Hindu deities. She’s usually depicted with tongue lolling, a garland of skulls around her neck, 4 to 10 arms flaying and dicing and chopping in a frenzy of perennial creation and destruction.

And depending on how you interpret her wiles, she may demand a little earthly help when it comes to the bit about dicing and chopping.

At least 18 tribal villagers in India’s northeast have been arrested for hacking to death a man they suspected of practising witchcraft, police say. They said they were told to kill the victim by a Hindu goddess who appeared in their dreams.

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Mobs have killed at least 200 people over the past five years who they have accused of practising sorcery and witchcraft — mainly in tribal-dominated areas of western and northern Assam state, Indian police say.

The killing took place on Friday at a tea estate village in Assam’s Cachar district, 300 kilometres south of the impoverished state’s main city of Guwahati.

Cachar district police chief Diganta Bora said by telephone that the attack was “barbaric with a group of hysterical villagers sacrificing the man by piercing his neck with sharp weapons and chanting religious hymns”.

The villagers who took part in the killing of the 55-year-old man believed the victim was practising witchcraft and were seeking to “appease the goddess Kali”, the Hindu deity of destruction, Bora said. …

Police in the state have set up a program, called Project Prahari (Vigilance), that involves community policing and holding regular education campaigns among tribal chiefs and village elders.

“Simply enforcing the law and punishing the guilty are inadequate measures. There has to be an attitudinal change,” Saikia said.

That would also be a much-needed initiative in Papua New Guinea, where the fight against witches is ensconced in official law. No kidding. I refer to the

Sorcery Act of 1971, which acknowledges the existence of sorcery and criminalizes both those who practice it and those who attack people accused of sorcery. [source]

That means that boozy mobs in New Guinea’s hinterlands, when someone has a score to settle or a sickness to explain, frequently set upon lone women without male family members to protect them, and accuse them of witchcraft.

Notes Jo Chandler in the Global Mail [thanks to Nicolas Eyle for the link]:

Angela [an accused witch] was naked, staked-out, spread-eagled on a rough frame before them, a blindfold tied over her eyes, a fire burning in a nearby drum. Being unable to see can only have inflated her terror, her sense of powerlessness and the menace around her; breathing the smoke and feeling the heat of the fire where the irons being used to burn her were warmed until they glowed. Would she be cooked, on that fire? She must have known it had happened to others before — and would soon infamously happen again, the pictures finding their way around the world.

The photographs witnesses took of Angela’s torture are shocking, both for the cruelty of the attackers and the torpid body-language of the spectators. Stone-faced men and women and wide-eyed children huddle under umbrellas, sheltering from the drenched highlands air as Angela writhes against the tethers at her wrists and ankles, twisting her body away from the length of hot iron which a young man aims at her genitals.

The story, with good reason, casts a transported Swiss Catholic nun as the hero who helps fight the insanity and cares for the too-few victims who survive the ordeal.

Here at Moral Compass HQ, where we believe actual good works transcend verbal skirmishes between atheists and believers, we doff our cap to Sister Gaudentia Meier, and send her our sincere respect and best wishes for successful interventions.

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]

Maine Pastor Defrauds Healthcare System

Three and a half years ago, pastor Ron Petersen was ready to provide “recovery services.” He knew it was the right move, because he’d prayed to the Lord, and received a response. An article at the time quoted a godly shepherd/entrepreneur who said he felt blessed:

“One day, I was praying,” said Petersen, as he sat in a back office at the Faith Christian Center on Washington Street in Limerick, where he serves as associate pastor. “Lord, why did you not bless my [previous] efforts? I gave 125 percent. And the Lord said to me, ‘I did bless your efforts,’ and he laid it out in my heart to start my own recovery center.”

That center, the faith-based HOPE Recovery Center, opened at the start of this year in a home next door to the Faith Christian Center to help men facing addiction. HOPE stands for House Of Prayer Eternal.

Limerick center seeks to help men with addiction - Keep Me Current_ News

We can only guess that the Lord subsequently told Petersen to start skimmin’ and stealin’.

From the Portland Press Herald today:

A pastor of a Limerick church has been indicted on a charge of defrauding MaineCare of more than $10,000 for substance abuse treatment services at the Hope Recovery Center, located on the same property as the church.

Ronald Petersen, the associate pastor at Faith Christian Center on Washington Street in Limerick, was indicted by a York County grand jury this week on a single count of theft by deception, a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Petersen, 56, is accused of falsely creating the impression that Hope Recovery Center provided substance abuse treatment services to specific individuals between Sept. 1, 2010, and Jan. 30, 2012, according to the indictment.

[photo via keepmecurrent]

Group of ‘Youths’ Attacks German Rabbi

In Europe — in Scandinavia, Germany, Holland and France,  for sure — the media have taken to blame all kinds of street mayhem on non-descript “youths,” when what they mean is young Muslims. This appears to be another example:

A group of youths attacked a rabbi on Sunday evening in Offenbach, a city near Frankfurt.

Six to eight “Mediterranean-looking“ youths attacked the 39-year-old Rabbi Mendel Gurewitz. The youths pushed the rabbi and called him a “shitty Jew.”

The Orthodox rabbi filed a police complaint.

Is It OK To Shoot ‘Immodest’ Women Who Pray?

Via the Daily Beast:

A 17-year-old Jerusalem yeshiva student asked a rabbi in an online forum whether it’s permissible under Jewish law to shoot and kill members of the liberal prayer group Women of the Wall.

He doesn’t like the way the ladies dress, pray, and “play with the Torah scrolls.”

The rabbi, to his credit, alerted the police, and the young man was arrested.

Pastor, a Felon, Arrested for Drugs, Illegal Gun

A Texas pastor, Clyde Downs, was arrested after police said they’d found drugs in his car. Officers also said they confiscated a gun, and charged him with unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Yep, the Reverend Downs, 48, has a criminal record. In the ’90s, he served time for burglary and theft.

For the past six years, Down was the senior pastor of the New Harvest Missionary Baptist Church in Fort Worth.

Haredi Modesty Patrol Attacks Women, Cop Car

Even for the Haredim, that’s some crazy drek:

A group of ultra-Orthodox men attacked a police car in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Yisrael on Thursday, shattering its front and back windshields.

Police were called to the scene after the neighborhood’s so-called “modesty patrol” beset a car in which a group of ultra-Orthodox women were traveling, claiming that they were dressed immodestly.

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Several ultra-Orthodox men broke the car’s windows, punctured its tires and poured fish oil on it.

After the attack on the police car, another group of police arrived and quelled the disturbance.

Informal “modesty patrols” have been known to operate in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods and towns to enforce — sometimes violently — a strict reading of Jewish views on modesty and propriety.

[image via crownheights.info]

‘I Killed My Wife — She Cast Spells On Me’

From the New York Post:

A woman’s badly decomposed body was found in her Brooklyn home last night with a cryptic note found near her body that read: “I killed my wife, she was casting spells on me,” sources said.

The corpse was discovered at 10 p.m. in a predominantly Orthodox Jewish area of Midwood, after someone reported a foul smell, according to the law enforcement sources.

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The 50-year-old woman had been stabbed multiple times in the stomach.

The body was found in the basement of the two-family house, and appeared to be several weeks old, authorities said

Police took her live-in boyfriend into custody after locating him at a psychiatric facility, where he said that she cast spells on him, sources said. He has not been charged yet.

He may have been committed by a relative.

Neighbors said the couple were observant Jews.

Pastor Helps Bilk Home Seller For $150K

Who would Jesus rob?

The head of a South St. Petersburg charity and the pastor of a St. Petersburg church are accused of stealing nearly $150,000 in a real estate deal from a Palm Harbor woman who could no longer afford to live in her house, according to documents released Wednesday.

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The head of the charity, Eric Leroy Green, 55, who runs Everyone’s Youth United, was arrested Tuesday on charges of grand theft and money laundering. He was being held at the Pinellas County Jail on Wednesday on $200,000 bail.

Green told a detective with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office his accomplice is a pastor in a local St. Petersburg church. That person’s name was redacted from the affidavit because he has not yet been arrested, but he faces the same two charges as Green does, court records show.

The full news article is here.

[image via CBC]

Catholic Religious-Education Teacher Who Was Fired For Child Porn Is Allowed to Return

Would you place your child in this man‘s care? Thought not.

A religious education teacher sacked for possessing indecent images of children should be allowed to return to work in schools, a panel has ruled.

Geoffrey Bettley, 36, was suspended from a West Yorkshire school [St. Mary’s Catholic Comprehensive School] in December 2010 after police found nearly 200 child-abuse images on his computer.

He accepted a police caution and was dismissed by the school. A professional conduct panel has now ruled the teacher does not “represent a risk to children or young people”.

My Inner 12-Year-Old Tittered

I came across this news report involving an awards event in Butts County, Georgia. The charitable all-male church group bestowing the annual awards calls itself “Butts Men of Action.”

Its president is Curtis Gaye. Its latest Minister of the Year is Pastor Head. The speaker at the awards banquet is Hank Johnson.

I’m was kinda hoping there’s a town called Seymour where they get together, but that would be asking too much.