Sexual assault scandal hits religion TV – again

June 28, 2012

The Trinity Broadcasting Network is under fire at the moment on account of a lawsuit going on. It involves a granddaughter of the network’s founders. Carra Crouch, age 19, is claiming she was raped by a 30 year male employee when she was thirteen and that TBN executives hushed it up rather than report it to the authorities.

“Jan (Crouch) became furious and began screaming at Ms. Crouch, a thirteen year old girl, and began telling her ‘it is your fault,’” according to the suit.

Carra Crouch then told John Casoria, TBN’s in-house counsel and her second cousin; he became agitated and told her that he didn’t believe her, it says. “He elaborated by stating he further believed she was already sexually active ‘so it did not really matter’ and he ‘believed she may have propositioned him,’ ” the suit alleges.

Unfortunately, that’s often the way rape reports are received. A fine upstanding man.. he must have been coerced by that Lolita!

“Ms. Crouch, a thirteen year old girl, had not been sexually active and was absolutely devastated about what happened and about how John and Jan responded to her.”

Both Jan Crouch and John Casoria are ordained ministers, and as such, are legally required to report suspected child abuse to authorities under the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act, the suit says. No report was made, and TBN “deliberately covered up the incident to protect Trinity Broadcasting from negative publicity,” it alleges.

I knew about this station, I think, but being Canadian and without cable or satellite (by choice), no surprise it never occurred to me to look into news about them. Apparently I missed a money scandal back in February. Brittany Koper, Carra’s sister, accused the TBN board of diverting millions of dollars away from their charity work. TBN, on the other hand, filed suit against Koper and her husband the month before, accusing them of siphoning the money while they were on TBN’s board. That suit was dismissed in January, unsettled.

Redemption Strategies Inc. — a corporation formed by Loe on Oct. 17 — sued the Koperts on Oct. 18, charging embezzlement, fraud, intentional misrepresentation and other misdeeds. At the time, Davert & Loe were still representing Koper, MacLeod said.

“It’s kind of a sordid affair,” said MacLeod, Koper’s attorney. “Many layers. But at the heart is the wrongful termination. She was terminated for insider whistleblowing.”

MacLeod is getting to be something of an old hand at suing TBN: He represented Brian Dugger, a gay broadcast engineer who sued Trinity in 2009, claiming he was harassed and discriminated against by employees of the world’s largest Christian broadcasting empire. Paul Crouch Jr. allegedly taunted Dugger with pornography, said TBN was no place for fairies and declared that ‘Brian has a man-gina!’ ”

Nice.

A bit more hunting got me a story from 2004 involving President and founder, Paul Crouch, and an accusation that he had a brief affair with a man by the name of Lonnie Ford back in 1996. That article reminds readers of other televangelist scandals, namely Jim Bakker (affair with and attempted pay off of a former Playboy playmate employed by him) and Jimmy Swaggart (admitted porn and prostitute addict).

The Crouches also have a singular line in defensiveness when it comes to criticism of the station – criticism that has spanned many lawsuits and included accusations from rival Christian organisations that TBN is spreading blasphemy.

“God, we proclaim death to anything or anyone that will lift a hand against this network and this ministry that belongs to you, God,” Crouch said in 1997.

A few years earlier, he reacted even more vehemently to critics he characterised as “heresy hunters.” “To hell with you!” he ranted during a praise-a-thon in 1991. “Quit blocking God’s bridges or God’s going to shoot you – if I don’t.”

The Crouches are positively tame compared with Benny Hinn, the network’s star performer, who has preached that Adam was a superman who flew to the moon and expressed his belief that one day the dead will be raised by watching TBN from inside their coffins.

I admit to a bit of a cackle over that one. I’ve heard of Benny Hinn somehow..or am I thinking of Benny Hill? Who’s funnier?

Anyway, this whole group seems like one I should do more research on. I’m really wondering what else I might have missed.


Linkskrieg (Final pass)

June 14, 2012

(She says that now, but who knows…)

1. Is this the face of God in a mixing bowl?

Ruth Davis walked into her kitchen and noticed the image on the side of the bowl after her son Paul had used it for cleaning the windows.

It appears that after mixing in the bowl for the last 40 years the image of a face has developed in the scratches and she believes it is not a half-baked tale.

I think it looks far more like the Joker.

2. Church softball team can’t play in its league because it’s run by a bisexual minister.

The minster of St. John United Church of Christ says he doesn’t even play for the church softball team, but his team felt pressured to drop out of the league, because other churches didn’t want to associate with them.

The sign outside St. John United Church of Christ says “All are welcome. No exceptions,” and it’s making a statement.

This is the first year of ministry for Rev. James Semmelroth Darnell. In October he became the pastor of St. John U.C.C.

“It’s been a bit of a difficult transition,” said Rev. Darnell.

Christian acceptance only extended if you’re the “right” kind of Christian, I guess. No surprise there.

3. School bans Dirty Cowboy book

“This is right on the edge of what our law in Pennsylvania considers obscenity, absolute obscenity,” said Carl Jarboe, who was at the meeting with his wife Abigail.

Thomas Tshudy, president of the Annville-Cleona School Board, said “reasonable minds can differ” regarding the controversy over the banning of the book.

No vote to reconsider the ban was taken. Tshudy was the only board member to speak on the matter.

The school board voted 8-0 in April to remove the book after parents of a kindergarten student lodged a complaint about it.

Saskatoon Public Library is the only public library in the province with a copy of this book. No idea if any schools have bought it but if you want your own copy, go get one. It’s been up for awards:

2004 Nominated Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance Book Awards
2003 Won Golden Kite Awards
2004 Nominated Spur Awards
2007 Nominated Georgia Children’s Picture StoryBook Award

Boo to the Annville-Cleona School Board.

4. Iheartchaos links a livejournal link to Wayback Machine’s archived copy of When Same-Sex Marriage was a Christian Rite.

Contrary to myth, Christianity’s concept of marriage has not been set in stone since the days of Christ, but has constantly evolved as a concept and ritual.

Prof. John Boswell, the late Chairman of Yale University’s history department, discovered that in addition to heterosexual marriage ceremonies in ancient Christian church liturgical documents, there were also ceremonies called the “Office of Same-Sex Union” (10th and 11th century), and the “Order for Uniting Two Men” (11th and 12th century).

These church rites had all the symbols of a heterosexual marriage: the whole community gathered in a church, a blessing of the couple before the altar was conducted w ith their right hands joined, holy vows were exchanged, a priest officiatied in the taking of the Eucharist and a wedding feast for the guests was celebrated afterwards. These elements all appear in contemporary illustrations of the holy union of the Byzantine Warrior-Emperor, Basil the First (867-886 CE) and his companion John.

Worth a read. Reminder also: Tonight Nate Phelps will be at Frances Morrison library talking about the abuse he went through growing up in the Westboro Baptist Church and other challenges he faced on account of being gay. It starts at 7pm, costs only $10 and is worth coming early for. I’m sure it’ll be quite the talk.

5. Phoenix high school baseball team balks over having to face team with a girl in title game

Sultzbach is a freshman at Mesa Preparatory Academy, which had been scheduled to play Our Lady of Sorrows Academy in tonight’s Arizona Charter Athletic Association state championship at Phoenix College.

But Our Lady of Sorrows, a fundamentalist Catholic school in Phoenix that lost twice to Mesa Prep during the regular season, chose to forfeit the championship game rather than play a team fielding a female player.

During Mesa Prep’s two previous games with Our Lady of Sorrows, Paige didn’t play out of respect for the opposing team’s beliefs, but that wasn’t going to be an option this time, Pamela said.

“We respected their school rule … but she took it hard,” Pamela said. “She didn’t like it and neither did her teammates. They went out and played the best they could because they wanted to prove a point.”

It would have been a much better point if her team had said “Fuck you guys. She plays and you learn to deal with the 21st century and equality for women.” OLS had done similar shit with a football team that had girl players, too.

6. Controversial nude statue in Tempe vandalized

On Friday morning, Tonnesen discovered someone had vandalized the statue with green paint.

This was the second incident involving the statue this week. Tonnesen said two days ago someone put a crude burlap apron on the statue to cover it up.

Tonnesen said he received permission from the city to display the statue, but the work of art has rubbed some people the wrong way because it is across the street from a preschool and Our Lady of Mount Carmel Roman Catholic Church.

In order to please critics, Tonnesen put $1 bills on the “private parts” in somewhat of a bikini shape. On Friday, those areas had been painted green.

Tonnesen said he is glad the statue wasn’t damaged further.

Sigh.

7. Orthodox Jewish spiritual adviser on trial for sex abuse

The rallying around Weberman, who goes on trial this month, and ostracizing of his accuser and her family reflects long-held beliefs in this insular community that problems should be dealt with from within and that elders have far more authority than the young. It also brought to light allegations that the district attorney was too cozy with powerful rabbis, a charge he vehemently denies.

“There are other people that claim misconduct and they can’t come out because they’re going to be re-victimized and ostracized by the community,” said Judy Genut, a friend of the accuser’s family who counsels troubled girls.

But, within the community, Weberman is seen as a good man doing good things and has a lot more support than this girl and her family are getting. I don’t care if they want to have their own secretive organized communities but when it comes to accusations of abuse, secular institutions should get involved and deal with it justly. It’s invasive but still better than covering things up, I’d say.


Linkskrieg! (Second pass)

June 11, 2012

More things I never made time to write about.

1. “Unnecessary conflict” between science and evangelicalism:

This is not to say that I want to reject reason or science – quite the contrary! My point here is that understanding distinction between these truths of mythos and logos points the way towards realizing the compatibility of scientific and religious thought. We need them both. They don’t have to be enemies, as they represent different aspects of the human search for truth.

2. Live Science’s article on the extremes between the religious and the atheist:

Psychologists, sociologists and neurologists continue to study why some gobble up religion as profound truth while others reject it as superstition.

“This whole area [of research] teaches us something about the human mind and brain,” said Andrew Newberg, director of research at the Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University and author of “How God Changes Your Brain” (Ballantine Books, 2009).

“There are a lot of philosophical and theological implications of this work and about how we understand the world,” Newberg added.

3. More about earthquakes and the Dead Sea’s “proof” that Jesus died on Friday April 3rd, 33AD:

In terms of the earthquake data alone, Williams and his team acknowledge that the seismic activity associated with the crucifixion could refer to “an earthquake that occurred sometime before or after the crucifixion and was in effect ‘borrowed’ by the author of the Gospel of Matthew, and a local earthquake between 26 and 36 A.D. that was sufficiently energetic to deform the sediments of Ein Gedi but not energetic enough to produce a still extant and extra-biblical historical record.”

“If the last possibility is true, this would mean that the report of an earthquake in the Gospel of Matthew is a type of allegory,” they write.

(I’m always amused by people who turn to science in the hopes of proving their religious texts aren’t just a bunch of made up hooey.)

4. Japanese Jesus tomb a big tourist draw:

Some 500 tourists attended a festival Sunday in the village of Shingo, Aomori Prefecture, where women in kimono danced in a circle around a cross erected on a spot that locals believe is the tomb of Jesus Christ.

Village legend has it Jesus survived his crucifixion and secretly came to Japan and lived out his natural life and died in the village, which used to be called Herai, a word that apparently came from the word Hebrew.

5. Pastor accused of beating kids:

Officials say the boy told deputies that the day before, his mother took him and his brother to see the pastor after church to talk with him about their misbehavior during services at the church on Ames Blvd.

“They were misbehaving in church, and usually, according to the mom’s statements, she would let the pastor discipline the kids following church,” said sheriff’s office spokesman Glen Boyd.

Investigators say the 10-year-old told them it was during that session when Smith, a Gretna resident, beat them with a belt.

6. Do secular TV shows offer enough morality lessons for Christian kids?

here’s where I tend to differ from many Christian parents I know: I’m not protective because I fear the moral damage television might do to my children. I’m protective because I want my children to stay children and not have to watch people being killed or hurt or harassed. I don’t want them to see how awful people can be to each other—not yet. I’m protecting their outlook on humanity.

7. Pastor accused of swindling an elderly woman out of property worth a fortune:

Abakporo, who owns a home in the wealthy part of Jamaica Estates in Queens, N.Y., is also a pastor at Deeper Life Bible Church, investigators said.

Instead of turning the checks over to McCarther, who prosecutors say was in declining physical and mental health, they deposited the rental checks into their own bank accounts.

Federal prosecutors say Abakporo and Pierce further tangled McCarther in a “web of lies” and ultimately persuaded her to sell them her property for $3.1 million. But instead of giving her real money, they paid her in phony checks, prosecutors said.

8. A bill in California has been offered banning conversion therapy:

The bill would ban anyone under age 18 from receiving sexual-orientation change efforts (SOCE). It would also require adults seeking SOCE to first sign a statement warning that that SOCE is “unlikely to be effective,” could be harmful, and is not recommended by mental health professional groups.

Efforts to change sexual orientation are “junk science, and it must stop,” said Democratic state Sen. Ted W. Lieu, the bill’s author.


Black Jesus cartoon too discriminatory

June 8, 2012

Poke fun at Christian beliefs all you want, but cut the racism. That’s what I say.

Times Live reports on a short cartoon that featured a black Jesus:

The two-minute animation, created by Johannesburg company Mdu Comics, depicts a “black Jesus” attempting to commit suicide after his doctor “diagnoses” him as a Shangaan.

In the clip, which has had 49000 hits on YouTube, “Jesus”, who speaks Zulu, consults a doctor after breaking his toe. After a DNA test, the doctor says: “Jesus, there is no easy way of telling you this … You are Shangaan.”

The character then scrubs himself with bags of oranges to rid himself of his “shangaan-ness” before leaving a suicide note.

Shangaan part of an ethnic group in South Africa, the Tsonga people.

According to the Tsonga, there exists a strong relationship between the creation (ntumbuloko) and a supernatural power called Tilo. Tilo refers to a vaguely described superior being, who created mankind, but it also refers to the heavens, being the home of this creature.

The Tsonga believed that man had a physical (mmiri) and a spiritual body with two added attributes, the moya and the ndzuti. The moya is associated with the spirit, enters the body at birth, and leaves at death to join the ancestors.

The ndzuti was associated with the person’s shadow and reflected human characteristics. At death, in the spirit world, it left the body. This meant that the spirit was attached with the individual and human characteristics of that person. Inherent in this concept is not only the belief in life after death but also that the dead retain very strong links with the living. Passing over into the spirit world is an important stage in the life of a Tsonga.

The country is rife with racist notions of certain tribes being better than others and the woman who initially lodged the complaint has heard many a slur against her Shangaan roots. Caroline Sithole thought this particular cartoon was worth taking to the Human Rights Commission after an acquaintance sent her to look at it.

“The [animation] came from a colleague and friend who said: ‘I am happy you will be Zulu soon’, referring to the fact that I will be getting married to a Zulu man.

“Well, it is sad that in this democratic South Africa you still have people who really believe Zulus or other tribes are more superior than Shangaans and that Shangaans are non-human or sub-human,” Sithole wrote in her complaint.

She said the animation carried many upsetting stereotypes.

“No wonder my son refuses to be Shangaan. I grew up being ridiculed by schoolmates for being Shangaan and I was not sure where this hatred was coming from.

Nowhere logical or scientifically factual, I’m sure.

Mdu Comics founder Mdu Ntuli denied the cartoon was offensive.

“It is purely fictional . Every nationality has a joke on each other and that’s just how it is. For me, it is just ridiculous for any Tsonga person to take this personally,” Ntuli said.

“Just how it is” is just what the problem is. So long as people refuse to see the problem with that kind of attitude, the longer the attitude will persist.


A Question of Atheist Scruples – round 5

June 7, 2012

Taking the leisurely route back into blogging here with another post demonstrating that at least one atheist has a decent grasp of morality and ethics. This minion doesn’t run ripshod through the world as if rules and laws didn’t exist. God might not exist, but decency does.

Preoccupied, you leave a large restaurant without paying your $3.50 bill for breakfast. You discover this three blocks later. You aren’t pressed for time. Do you return and pay?

Of course. Last time around it was 50 cents extra change that I didn’t see a point in returning. This is different to me. I’ve likely interacted more with the waitress, said yes or no to cream and sugar, or more coffee, agreed the meal was excellent (even if it wasn’t, the price makes up for it) and would feel particularly bad ditching on the bill since it’d likely mean some of her pay would have to go towards making up for it. I know most waitresses rely heavily on their tips to get anywhere, too.

You are applying for a job that requires experience you don’t have. Do you claim that you do?

I think the ruse would soon be discovered, so probably not. Instead, I’d try to convince the potential employer that I have a transferable skill set and learn quickly. I don’t tend to apply for positions I’m not qualified for.

I’m reminded of a story out of my alma mater back in 2001, now. The University of Regina wound up with egg on its face after it was discovered that they’d hired an engineering professor who’d falsified all her documentation yet wound up teaching classes there.

The University of Regina is passing its file on “Dr.” Lana Nguyen to the Regina police service, but continues to refuse to answer questions surrounding her employment and dismissal.

The police and crown prosecutors will decide if charges will be laid against the woman who defrauded the university of hundreds of thousands of dollars. University President Dr. David Barnard confirmed early this week that Nguyen resigned Feb. 13 after an annual peer review process revealed that she does not have the credentials with which she was hired.

Since her resignation, the University of Ottawa, the University of Waterloo, and the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Saskatchewan (APEGS) have respectively confirmed that she does not hold the bachelor’s degree, doctorate, or professional status she claimed. Her ex-husband Hien Nguyen studied and received diplomas from the two universities, and Lana Nguyen claimed his transcripts and research as her own, allegedly explaining that “Lana” was an anglicized version of “Hien.”

That takes more balls than I have, let me tell you.

A friend has sunk into a depression and behaves in an unattractive manner. Do you distance yourself until your friend gets it together?

There’s a phrase that describes that kind of behaviour: fair-weather friend. I have a pretty poor track record when it comes to friendships as it is; I don’t need to start doing that kind of thing, too. I don’t go out of my way to maintain connections with people. Even with all the ways there are to stay in contact and updated on the lives of those I know, I still don’t bother doing the clicks required to inform me of their progress through life. And I assume they’re ignoring me to equal levels as well. It’s a character flaw, I suppose. I’ll also point out that I draw a fine line between genuine care and annoying nosiness and it often feels like too many people cross it. Me, I don’t like to pry. I prefer to assume that if it’s something I need to know, that person will tell me. Back when I was in the dating realm, though, I learned there are people who assume everyone wants to play 20 Questions every time there’s an encounter. I had a fun analogy built at the time to describe both types of people but I only recall my way of interacting: a pinball approach. I like when conversations bounce from topic to topic and don’t have a set goal at the end of it…like this blog post…

Back to the question. I guess it depends on just how “together” this friend needs to get. This is all assuming I’ve even put two and two together in terms of life issues and behaviour patterns. I don’t always pick up on that kind of thing. I’ve already said I don’t pry, so if this friend hasn’t come forward to explain why he or she is having a difficult time, I don’t know if I’d think of asking for explanations.

Last one to the readers.

You discover an excellent wine imported from South Africa. You know it was likely produced by workers who are exploited and discriminated against. Do you buy the wine?


Old news: it’s hard to be atheist in Indonesia

May 22, 2012

Via the Jakarta Globe, January 19, 2012:

An Indonesian civil servant who posted “God does not exist” on his Facebook page has been taken into police custody for his own protection after he was badly beaten.

The man, identified as Alexander, 31, now faces the prospect of losing his job, or even being jailed, if he fails to repent and accept one of six official state religions.

Blasphemy carries a maximum sentence of five years in jail.

Atheist Ireland felt like taking a stand over this. Their own country passed a blasphemy law in July of 2009. While briefing local politicians about the Indonesia case, they implied that Ireland is partially to blame for it. Two Senators agreed and in February of this year, they asked their government leaders to support Alexander Aan. Said Jillian van Turnhout:

While I fully support the repeal of this law, I do not believe the intention of the blasphemy legislation introduced by Mr. Dermot Ahern in 2009 was to infringe upon the rights to freedom of expression, religion, belief and conscience in Ireland. Nor do I think it is a desirable consequence that our law is being used to support such infringements, including against Christian religions in Islamic countries anywhere else in the world.

The Guardian picked the story up again in May. The article states that the country runs with a state philosophy of pancasila, which requires all citizens to pick one god (or set of gods) and believe in that completely. Aan’s initial refusal to choose to be Muslim, Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, Confucian or Hindi might encourage more people to reject every religion and thus become uncontrollable individualists without ethics or morals, so he has to be beaten by mobs and imprisoned as a warning for everyone.

While his lawyers estimate there may be up to 2,000 atheists in Indonesia, “there’s no real way of knowing”, Fajrin says. The repercussions are too dangerous.

According to Andreas Harsono, a local human rights activist, Aan’s case is just one of a growing number of examples of religious intolerance across Indonesia, ranging from harassment to mob and arson attacks against groups such as the Baha’i, Shia and Ahmadiyah Muslims – sometimes ending in death.

Last year, the local Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace recorded 244 acts of violence against religious minorities – nearly double the 2007 figure.

Official state religions there might be, but some are preferred over others. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has closed 80 Christian churches a year since he took power in 2004. Aan has “converted” to Islam – he’d been going to mosques as a kid with his family even though he didn’t believe – and issued a public apology for his Facebook post, too. Unfortunately, the Islamic Society Forum still calls for the death penalty in this case; too little, too late.

He looks out the window to where a group of inmates are celebrating their Sunday by performing karoake to drum’n’bass in the dusty prison yard, most of them smoking, all of them barefoot. “I only want to see a better world and help create a better world,” he says. “If I cannot … then I would prefer to die.”

While he has Atheist Alliance International and Britain’s Council of ex-Muslims in his corner, it probably won’t affect the predicted grim outcome. His country will make an example out of him, and then atheists the world over will have to double efforts to try to stop this from happening again. But it will probably happen again. None of those guys will wake up the next morning and think they made a mistake. No, they’ll think they did Allah’s will and will pat themselves on the back for it, then go after some other person who dares to think or dress a bit differently.

I feel for him.


Old news: faith healing event ends in tragedy, death

May 11, 2012

It wasn’t directly the fault of Pastor Chris Oyakhilome of Nigeria, but he was the person 150,000 people had traveled to see in Cape Town back in March. He has a reputation as a miraculous faith healer so people who should be going to doctors – or have but don’t like their diagnoses or prognoses – are putting their faith in his ability to heal. One man in the audience during the three day Pentecostal show died, another pastor by the name of Simon Williams. The fifty-six year old

was taken from hospital intensive care to the event by his family. He collapsed and died from renal failure inside the stadium.

Dr Wayne Smith, head of disaster medicine for Cape Town, said he treated about 30 patients in the stadium’s medical centre and sent 16 to hospital.

“Some of them had travelled long distances to get there, they had ongoing medical issues and were in a lot of pain,” he said.

Pastor Chris has a few black marks on him already. In 2008, he was accused of protecting another pastor from his church who might have murdered a girl. He’s been suspected of money laundering to the tune of 35 million dollars and charges exorbitant attendance fees for special events at his Christ Embassy church. He, along with a lot of other evangelicals in the country, preach the prosperity gospel, and the poor are giving him upwards of 30% of their available money in the hopes that God will turn things around for them. Of course, the truth is that only Christ Embassy and the pastors in it get to prosper and enjoy a windfall.

So, back to this faith healing business. It’s understandable why people with little hope of improvement (in health or finances) would try something like this but this shit doesn’t work. James Randi helped expose Peter Popoff as a fraud back in 1987 but he’s still kicking around and still fleecing otherwise intelligent people on a weekly basis. “Desperation changes the balance.”

If you would tell them not to give their money to Peter Popoff, what would you tell them to do instead? Would they be better off giving that $100 to the bank that’s about to foreclose on their house anyway, or to the landlord about to evict them? If we have no alternative solution to offer, then our best arguments may boil down to this: false hope is expensive, and hopelessness is free. That’s not a strong selling point.

People need hope. We have a powerful need to feel like we have some control over our fate, even if it is an illusion. That’s why those with the most serious illnesses spend the most money on quack therapies. And it’s why we can’t save desperate people from the likes of Peter Popoff through debunking alone—we need to offer a positive alternative that meets their needs.

When people really don’t know which way to turn, any wrong direction can feel like the right one. Maybe it seems like there isn’t time to look into alternatives, or it doesn’t occur to them to look for different kind of aid or support, or they think there won’t be anything even remotely close to what they need, save a miracle. I don’t know. I just hope that if I’m ever in dire straits I’ll look for real help rather than put faith in something ultimately useless.


Dad says Hell NO! to Jesus T-shirt

May 7, 2012

An update to the Nova Scotia story I hit on earlier this week:

A Nova Scotia student suspended from classes for five days for wearing a T-shirt with the slogan “Life Is Wasted Without Jesus” returned to school today wearing the same garment, but he was quickly taken home by his father.

William Swinimer, who’s in Grade 12, was scheduled to attend a session for all students on how to express their beliefs in a way that is respectful to all.

But John Swinimer said he wants Forest Heights Community School in Chester Basin, Lunenburg County, to only teach the basic courses, leaving religion out of it.

John Swinimer said his son will not return to school until it gets back to teaching the basics. (CBC)”He will not attend this school unless they are having reading, writing and arithmetic — good old-fashioned academics,” he said, waving a New Testament bible. “When they’re having forums, when they’re having other extra-curricular activity, he will not attend that school.”

Hilarious. I assumed a kid like that had active church parents. Wouldn’t you?

Students said William Swinimer has been preaching and making them feel uncomfortable, and the shirt was the last straw so they complained.

“He’s told kids they’ll burn in hell if they don’t confess themselves to Jesus,” student Riley Gibb-Smith said.

Katelyn Hiltz, student council vice-president, agreed the controversy didn’t begin with the T-shirt.

“It started with him preaching his religion to kids and then telling them to go to hell. A lot of kids don’t want to deal with this anymore,” she said.

That’s not what school is for. Dad’s got it right. Stick to the stuff that really matters from an educational perspective and leave the religious nuttery for the hours outside school.


Pride week is not far away

May 7, 2012

But I found this now and don’t want to forget to post it. I found out about it via recordnet.com and their article about North Carolina’s gay marriage issue.

One hopes that plea is heeded. Vines’ speech is long – a little over an hour – but well worth the time, particularly for those seeking to reconcile first-century faith with 21st-century social concerns.

Many in North Carolina – many around the country – are swimming against the tide of human freedom and blaming God for it. Again, this is not a new thing. We saw it back when God was for segregation and against women’s suffrage.

How convenient it must be to lay your own narrowness and smallness off on God, to accept no responsibility for the niggardly nature of your own soul. Vines’ video is a welcome, overdue and eloquent rebuke of the moral and intellectual laziness of throwing rocks, then hiding inside Scripture. It is a reminder, too.


Texas theatre won’t run atheist ad

May 5, 2012

I don’t go to movies much anymore. When I do, I can’t say I pay much attention to the advertising ahead of the film. Others do, though, and might be lured into buying whatever is offered because humankind is often more sheeple than people. If rationalism, atheism and reason are what’s being offered, heaven forbid! The people who run Angelika Film Center in Plano decided to cancel an ad prepared by Dallas-Fort Worth Coalition of Reason the day before it was set to air. Zachary Moore, who runs DFWCR, ran into the same issue with a different theatre in Arlington around Easter.

“The Movie Tavern has claimed that they have a policy against religious advertising, but such a policy has not been provided to us,” said Moore.

“Following the cancellation of our contract with the Movie Tavern, we sought out a similar contract with the Angelika and was successful.”

Angelika Film Center of Plano, Texas did not return a request for comments by press time.

Angelika Theater representatives reportedly told the atheist group that it won’t run the ad due to the theater’s position that no religious ads be allowed at the business. Moore, however, disputes Angelika’s reasoning.

“Angelika has not made any such policy available to us, nor was this mentioned during our contract negotiation,” said Moore.

“The Angelika has even refused to provide us with a written notice of our contract cancellation. As with the Movie Tavern, we have received reports of regular religious advertising at the Angelika.”

I think it is suspicious that these theatres claim to have a “no religion” policy yet refuse to produce written proof of it, especially if they’re ignoring its existence in every other situation. What kind of pro-religion ads are they running, I wonder?

Some groups, including the American Humanist Association, are apparently considering a lawsuit over this but I don’t know if they’d have success with it. Theatres are allowed to reject advertising. A church in Orange county ran into a similar issue last year when they wanted to advertise their Easter program at the local film house but were turned down. In that case, the Jesus message as presented was deemed too religious for a mainstream movie theatre. The theatre offered to run a watered down version if they produced one but they didn’t bother.


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