Christianity in General
You are still the stupidest person in the Trump administration.
26 November, 2019
If anyone needed more convincing here it is –
“God’s used imperfect people all through history. King David wasn’t perfect. Saul wasn’t perfect. Solomon wasn’t perfect,” Perry said in the clip.
“And I actually gave the president a little one-pager on those Old Testament kings about a month ago and I shared it with him,” he continued. “I said, ‘Mr. President, I know there are people that say you said you were the chosen one and I said, ‘You were.’ “
November 16, 2019
A married, churchgoing Long Island dad at least twice tried to kidnap prostitutes, driving them against their will to secluded locations only to have them leap for their lives from his moving car, federal authorities said in announcing his arrest.
Andrew Frey, 54, of Coram, Suffolk County, manages an airplane parts factory, and neighbors and relatives say he is a born-again Christian who’s very involved in his church — but the feds painted a different picture Friday.
Frey, the father of two adult kids, sobbed quietly as he pleaded not guilty to attempted kidnapping and attempted sex trafficking for allegedly picking up lone sex workers on two occasions, in October, 2018 and July, 2019, and trying to take them captive while making violent threats.
In both incidents, Frey’s alleged victims, identified as Jane Does in court papers, escaped by jumping out of his moving vehicle, injuring themselves in the process.
Frey continued to threaten the women even after the kidnapping attempts, and approached his first victim “armed with a weapon” in another failed attempt to abduct her by force, the feds alleged in papers arguing against his being released on bail.
“Jane Doe #1 managed to evade his attempt,” the papers said.
Frey has prior convictions for a felony drug sale and misdemeanor drug possession, possession of stolen property, unauthorized use of a vehicle and criminal mischief.
He faces a mandatory 15-year minimum sentence if he is convicted.
During his arrest Friday morning, authorities found rope and zip ties at his tidy ranch home, as well as a manual on how to tie knots, according to court papers.
They also found “phone records and photographs documenting the injuries sustained by his actions,” the papers said.
“People need help for problems and hopefully that will be the outcome,” his wife, Gina, told reporters before court.
After the arraignment, a still sobbing Frey turned back to look at his wife, putting his arms in the air as if he didn’t understand what was happening before he was led off to jail.
He was ordered held without bail.
“He’s been arrested? For what? This is surprising. He’s like minister material at a church he’s involved with,” his brother, Martin, told The Post, referring to Smithtown Gospel Tabernacle.
“He was a good father for many, many years and did everything families are supposed to do together.”
Neighbors, too, met the news with disbelief.
“My wife saw a lot of cops out here this morning around 6 a.m.,” Alex Goldberg, 34, who lives next door, said Friday afternoon.
Authorities hauled away Frey’s Jeep Cherokee on a flatbed truck, Goldberg said.
“He’s always been very nice, always willing to help out with baby-sitting he offered,” he added.
“He was very involved with the church. It is very shocking and concerning. He’s always working on his cars and is very neighborly.”
November 11, 2019
A Jurupa Valley pastor allegedly sexually assaulted a minor female parishioner, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department said in a release Saturday.
Sean Ortiz, the 51-year-old lead pastor at the New Beginning Community Church, was arrested on two counts of sexual battery after a minor female reported a sexual assault at her church on Friday, authorities said.
Ortiz allegedly sexually assaulted a minor female parishioner at the church on at least two separate occasions, according to the release.
Ortiz was arrested at his home and booked into the Robert Presley Detention Center, deputies said. He posted $50,000 bail and was released Saturday, Riverside County booking records show.
It was not yet clear whether the minor who reported the assault was the victim.
The Norco campus of the New Beginnings Community Church posted a message on their Facebook page Sunday, saying they were aware of a “possible situation concerning Sean Ortiz.”
“We want to be proactive and err on the side of cautionary proper practice, so we are making you aware of this today,” the post said. “The board will keep you informed as the situation would dictate. Thank you for your trust and know that we care about each person which calls Jurupa Valley Campus their family and their home.”
The investigation is ongoing and any other victims are asked to come forward, deputies said.
Those with information related to the incident are asked to contact the Jurupa Valley Sheriff’s Station at 951-955-2600.
November 10, 2019
Seventeen years ago, two teenagers approached a Southern Baptist church in Indiana with allegations that their youth pastor had used his position of authority to sexually abuse them.
Megan Frey and Jo Anna Hendrickson claim that back then, the church’s leader tried to sweep the reports under the rug. The 18-year-olds were allegedly blamed for getting “duped,” their families were pressured to keep quiet, and the accused pastor, Wes Feltner, went on to establish a solid career in ministry.
Over the past few days, fearing that yet another Southern Baptist church is refusing to heed their warnings about the pastor, the women have started speaking up again.
But this time, they’re bringing with them the strength of the #ChurchToo movement, which seeks to raise awareness about abuse in Christian communities. And they are hoping that by going public, they’ll help create change in the Southern Baptist Convention, America’s largest Protestant denomination.
Hendrickson, who is part of a Southern Baptist church in Evansville, Indiana, told HuffPost she’s speaking out to educate the denomination about the nature of pastoral abuse and to make sure that no one else will experience what she did.
“This not just about Megan and I, or Wes Feltner,” Hendrickson said. “This is about a big problem in our churches and it has been a problem for way too long.”
The Southern Baptist Convention has made addressing sexual abuse a top priority after it was rattled by multiple scandals in recent years. In September, the SBC organized a high-profile conference meant to give churches advice on how to prevent abuse and support survivors.
Feltner, who received his master’s in divinity from a Southern Baptist seminary, is currently lead pastor of Berean Baptist Church in Minnesota, which is not an SBC church. The allegations against him resurfaced after he became a top candidate for a senior pastor position at a Southern Baptist church in Tennessee, First Baptist Church of Clarksville.
Feltner told HuffPost he believes he is facing a concerted effort from a small group of people who want to prevent him from working in ministry.
“They accuse me of ‘pastoral abuse’ based on events that occurred 17 years ago when I was a single young man working as youth leader in a church in Indiana. They have widely circulated statements of two women whom I dated with the permission of their parents when they were 18 years old,” Feltner told HuffPost.
He said he and his family have been facing a “withering barrage of online attacks and personal threats,” and that he would respond to the women’s allegations after his current church wraps up an investigation into the matter.
“I agree with some of the facts alleged in the statements and deeply regret the hurt I may have caused them. But some of the allegations are not accurate,” he said.
Frey and Hendrickson allege that the abuse occurred in 2002, when they were both 18 years old and attending First Southern Baptist Church in Evansville, Indiana, where Feltner was a youth pastor. Both say they initially approached Feltner for counseling after going through bad breakups with former boyfriends. Both also claim they were emotionally manipulated by the pastor and that he asked them to keep the encounters a secret from their church.
Frey claims the counseling sessions soon transformed into meetings with Feltner at his house, then shared bubble baths, sex and a trip to Las Vegas. Sexual contact with the pastor began while Frey was still in high school, she says.
Hendrickson alleges that Feltner initiated a physical relationship with her in the fall of 2002, while he was also pursuing Frey. She says Feltner told her “he felt God leading him to pursue me” because she was also interested in ministry.
“The physical side of our relationship progressed quickly, but did involve sexual intercourse,” Hendrickson told HuffPost. “When I expressed my concerns to Wes Feltner about how quickly things were moving physically, and not [publicly] with our relationship, he would dismiss it, and defend his actions by saying this was who he is.”
Both women said that their respective parents were aware of their relationships, but trusted Feltner with their daughters since he was a pastor.
Things came to a head at a church youth retreat in the winter of 2002, when another youth leader discovered that Feltner was pursuing relationships with the two teens. The situation was brought to church leadership, who the women said “simply dismissed it all,” blamed the teens and pressured them to keep silent.
HuffPost has reached out to First Southern Baptist Church for comment, as well as the current church of its pastor at the time.
The Minnesota church where Feltner currently works, Berean Baptist Church, announced a third-party investigation into the allegations on Wednesday. When reached by HuffPost, the church’s elder board declined to name the experts who are conducting the review or to say if Feltner is being removed from his position while the investigation is underway.
If Trump is removed from office, says famous pastor, “veterans, cowboys, mountain men” will go on a Democrat killing spree
November 4, 2019
Pastor Rick Wiles has a warning for Democrats: if Trump is removed from office, “veterans, cowboys, mountain men, guys that know how to fight” will “hunt down” those responsible. Pastor Wiles chokes up and gets a faraway look in his eye when he says “veterans, cowboys, mountain men,” almost as if these macho characters were members of a Village People tribute band and he was the president of its fan club.
Wikipedia has a grab bag of fun facts about Pastor Wiles:
- asserted that the effects of Hurricane Harvey upon the city of Houston, Texas resulted from Houston’s “LGBT devotion”
- described Judaism and Islam as “the Antichrist”
- called Central American immigrants a “brown invasion” being used by God to punish American whites because of abortion
- claimed that the Las Vegas massacre was conducted by government death squads
- asserted that Antonin Scalia was murdered
- predicted an imminent coup that would result in the nationally televised decapitation of the Trump family on the White House lawn.
November 4, 2019
Out of the frying pan and into the fire.
Benin City (Nigeria) (AFP) – Deep in the tropical forest in southern Nigeria, an evangelical pastor runs a sprawling camp billed as a refuge for thousands of children who fled the Boko Haram jihadist insurgency in the north.
Solomon Folorunsho, known as Pastor Solomon, says he is on a self-proclaimed mission to help humanity, creating the International Christian Centre for Missions (ICCM).
His camp in Benin City claims to provide accommodation, medical care and education for 4,000 children, “most of them orphans”, as well as 500 widows and missionaries, using funding from local institutions, NGOs and churches abroad.
But witnesses AFP interviewed across Nigeria — children, their relatives, former missionaries and social workers — paint a far darker picture of the pastor and the treatment of those in his care.
“At first he’s very subtle, quiet — like somebody who wouldn’t hurt a fly,” one former church worker said of the charismatic preacher.
“I loved him, I loved his charisma.”
But during months of interviews, witnesses detailed how those living at his 30-hectare (75-acre) facility frequently go hungry and thirsty and endure atrocious hygiene conditions.
All accused the pastor of physical abuse, while some accused him of sexual harassment.
- ‘We don’t do abuse’ –
Pastor Solomon, aged in his 50s, admits having problems with food and sanitary conditions in the camp but denies any mistreatment.
“There is no bad treatment here. We don’t do abuse,” he told AFP.
“Feeding them is a challenge… but we don’t have anything to hide. We are helping humanity.”
October 30, 2019
An Orlando pastor and radio host jailed on child sex-abuse charges has died by apparent suicide, according to an Orlando Sentinel report.
Rev. Bryan Fulwider, a 59-year-old former minister and a co-host of radio show Friends Talking Faith, had been arrested and was facing charges of repeated “sexual battery of a minor by a person in custodial authority.” The Winter Park Police Department says he was found in his Altamonte Springs home Sunday night by Altamonte Springs police.
RELATED Orlando pastor jailed on child sex-abuse charges hired attorney who had relationship with alleged victim
Fulwider had been out on bail since Oct. 17, and was facing life in prison if convicted. Police responded to his home just before midnight for a possible suicide call, where a person was pronounced dead at the scene. While the Altamonte police did not initially name Fulwider until a pending medical examiner’s evaluation was completed, the Winter Park police shared the information.
“We have been told that Mr. Fulwider has passed,” said Winter Park Police Criminal Investigations chief Pam Marcum.
In a controlled phone call recorded by police, Fulwider admitted to his accuser that she was a victim and he was a predator “in the eyes of the law.” Prosecutors had said the case against Fulwider is “extremely strong,” in part from that recorded evidence.
October 26, 2019
BELMONT — Authorities in North Carolina say a pastor accused of sex crimes involving a 14-year-old has been arrested.
News outlets report 24-year-old Nicholas Adam Martin was taken into custody Sunday. Gaston County authorities said in a news release that he’s an associate pastor at North Belmont Church of God in Belmont.
Martin has been charged with four counts of indecent liberties with a minor, four counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and one count of felonious indecent exposure to a minor. The incidents reportedly took place between October 2018 and September 2019.
Martin is being held in the Gaston County jail on a $1 million bond. It’s unclear whether he had an attorney who could comment on his behalf.
October 18, 2019
A church warden who murdered a retired lecturer by spiking his food and drinks with poison has been jailed for life.
Benjamin Field, 28, was found guilty last year of killing Peter Farquhar, 69, from Maids Moreton, Buckinghamshire in a sadistic plot to inherit his house and money.
Field was sentenced life imprisonment with a minimum term of 36 years at Oxford Crown Court on Friday by Mr Justice Sweeney.
Prosecutors described Field as a psychopath who posed an “ongoing danger to society” until he was eventually caught.
He admitted to frequently giving Mr Farquhar drugs and spiking his whisky in the hopes that his death would look like an accident.
After Field began targeting Mr Farquhar’s neighbour Ann Moore-Martin, 83, in a similar scheme by writing messages on her mirrors purporting to be from God.
Field admitted starting sexual relationships with both pensioners in an effort to get them to change their wills and accepted he had “psychologically manipulated” them.
He initially denied any involvement in Mr Farquhar’s death in 2015 and Miss Moore-Martin’s death from natural causes in May 2017.
Field denied murdering Mr Farquhar and said he could have died from taking his usual dose of flurazepam and drinking whisky but was convicted by the jury.
The Baptist minister’s son pleaded guilty to defrauding Miss Moore-Martin of £4,000 to buy a car and £27,000 for a dialysis machine.
Field had undergone a “betrothal” ceremony with gay Mr Farquhar while also having a string of girlfriends, and was in a sexual relationship with Miss Moore-Martin, who was 57 years his senior.
Prosecutors said Field had a “profound fascination in controlling and manipulating and humiliating and killing” and alleged he had plotted his crimes with his friend, failed magician Martyn Smith, 32.
He had also drawn up a “100 clients” list, including his parents, grandparents and brother, which the prosecution said were future targets.
October 12, 2019
They’re still the majority, but the Pew Research Center report shows the U.S. is becoming a less explicitly Christian country.
Christians continue to be a swiftly dwindling demographic within America’s religious landscape, a new study from the Pew Research Center shows.
About two-thirds of U.S. adults (65%) identify as Christian, a share that has plummeted by 12 percentage points over the last decade, according to Pew’s analysis of aggregated telephone surveys. On the other hand, the religiously unaffiliated now constitute over a quarter of the adult population (26%), up from 17% in 2009.
Pew’s report on the state of American religion, published Thursday, confirms trends that researchers have been observing about the country’s shifting faith landscape and the growing number of religious “nones” ― folks who identify as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular.”
Atheists now make up 4% of American adults and agnostics make up 5%, compared to 2% and 3% respectively in 2009, Pew reports. About 17% of Americans say they are “nothing in particular,” up from 12% in 2009.
The “nones” are growing across multiple demographic groups and in all regions of the country, the researchers say. More white, Hispanic and Black Americans, more men and women, more college grads and those without college degrees are now religiously unaffiliated.
The number of “nones” is even inching up among Republicans, although the group is growing at a faster pace among Democrats. One-third of Democrats now identify as religiously unaffiliated.
Protestants no longer make up a solid majority of the U.S. About 43% of American adults currently say they are Protestant, compared to 51% in 2009. White Protestants who describe themselves as evangelical or “born again” ― a group that has considerable access to power under President Donald Trump’s administration ― are now 16% of the adult population, down from 19% a decade ago.
But among white Protestants, it doesn’t appear that the labels “evangelical” or “born again” have become less popular. The percentage of white Protestants who describe themselves in these terms is at least as high as it was a decade ago, Pew reports.
About 20% of American adults identify as Catholic, compared to 23% in 2009. Notably, Hispanic Americans are no longer a majority Catholic population. Only 47% of this group consider themselves part of the Catholic Church, compared to 57% in 2009.
Politicians in both main political parties still see a benefit in presenting themselves as a Christian, said Stephen Prothero, a religious studies professor at Boston University. But if the current trends toward disaffiliation continue, he said, “there will likely be less of a prize to be won here.”
Looking to the future, Prothero said, “You might lose as much as you gain by appearing to be a ‘Christian candidate.’”
About 17% of American adults say they “never” go to church or other religious services, compared to 11% in 2009.
About 17% of American adults say they “never” go to church or other religious services, compared to 11% in 2009.
The frequency at which American adults say they attend religious services continues to decline. They are now more likely (54%) to say they attend services only a few times a year or less. There has been a notable uptick in the percentage who say they “never” attend worship services (17% today vs. 11% in 2009). And a significant majority of white Democrats (70%) now say they attend services only a few times a year or less.
On the other hand, those who identify as Christian appear to attend worship services at about the same rate today as they did a decade ago.
“The nation’s overall rate of religious attendance is declining not because Christians are attending church less often, but rather because there are now fewer Christians as a share of the population,” Pew wrote.
Prothero thinks that people like President Ronald Reagan and Moral Majority founder Jerry Falwell helped spur this demographic decline in American Christianity by their efforts in the 1980s. Falwell’s activism back then helped cement white evangelicals’ ties to the Republican Party and expand the political influence of the religious right.
“In their attempt to ‘christianize’ American culture, they ended up dechristianizing it ― by turning a whole generation of Americans (and perhaps more to come) away from Christianity,” Prothero said.
Pew reports that today only about half of millennials (49%) identify as Christian, while 4 in 10 are religious “nones.”
Many of Prothero’s students at Boston University now equate Christianity not only with conservative Republicans but also with anti-immigration and anti-LGBTQ bigotry, the professor said.
“They will not be easily won back,” he said of his students.
Pew’s analysis is based on aggregated data from 88 telephone surveys with 168,890 U.S. adults on various political issues between 2009 and 2019. The research organization also conducted two large-scale surveys of the U.S. religious landscape in 2007 and 2014, each with more than 35,000 respondents who answered detailed questions about their religious beliefs and practices.
October 9, 2019
ABILENE, Texas — Jeff Berry — best known in Abilene as the worship leader in the late 90’s at Grace Bible Study, a non-denominational bible-study for college students — was arrested on a child sex crime.
Berry — who now lives in Franklin, Tennessee — was arrested around 4:30 p.m. by the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office on a sealed indictment out of Taylor County.
He’s charged with being a fugitive from justice.
Berry’s bond was set at $10 million.
He’s also being detained in the Williamson County Jail (TN) on a hold out of Texas for indecency with a child by contact.
Berry, 55, is accused of sexually abusing a 14-year-old boy in 1996.
At the time, Berry was working at Pioneer Drive Baptist Church and leading worship for various church camps.
Pioneer Drive Baptist Church is also where fugitive ex-day care worker Jeffrey Forrest, 47, who is wanted for aggravated sexual assault of a child, used to be employed.
In a divorce affidavit obtained by KTXS, the young man, who is now 35, said the abuse by Berry started when he was in middle school.
“He turned out all of the lights and had candles instead; he had us both lie on the floor next to each other in the dark to watch a movie,” said the victim.
The allegations include touching and spooning after Berry took the young man’s shirt off.
“It was all very uncomfortable and scary to me, and the next thing I remember, I was in his car and he was taking me home,” the victim said.
The alleged sexual abuse was not reported until October 2018.
“I was ashamed and embarrassed about what had happened,” said the victim.
In the document, the victim said he did not even tell his parents what happened and at times thought it was his fault.
Years later, while counseling another kid who was molested by another suspect, the victim told his aunt what Berry had done to him.
“I blurted out that was me and then my aunt helped me address the issue,” the victim said.
A second victim said Berry abused him in the same setting — a candlelight room with music playing in the background.
At the time of the alleged crime, Berry was hired by First Baptist Church of Abilene to lead worship for a summer camp.
Berry and the second victim — who was in high school — became friends and hung out together.
One night at Berry’s home, Berry started massaging the second victim’s shoulders.
“Berry then took his shirt off and asked me to take off mine or took mine off himself, and then he put me on top of him, kissing, caressing and fondling me,” said the second victim.
The alleged sexual abuse went on for 15-20 minutes.
Berry worked for several churches throughout Texas and later moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where he managed several Christian musicians.
He’s expected to appear in court on Oct. 24 at 1 p.m.
September 4, 2019
What a shock! Oh, wait. No it’s not.
The founder of one of the nation’s largest conversion therapy programs has announced that he’s gay — and disavowed the “harmful” practice.
McKrae Game, who led the faith-based conversion therapy group Hope for Wholeness in South Carolina for nearly two decades, came out of the closet this summer at 51, The Post and Courier reported Saturday.
“Conversion therapy is not just a lie, but it’s very harmful,” Game told paper. “Because it’s false advertising.”
The revelation came two years after Game was abruptly fired from Hope for Wholeness.
In the interview, the former crusader called for the dissolution of conversion therapy groups.
The widely discredited practice, which is intended to suppress or change a person’s sexuality through counseling or religion, is currently banned in 18 states, including New York.
Game said he is trying to come to terms with the harm he inflicted through his program.
“I was a religious zealot that hurt people,” he said. “People said they attempted suicide over me and the things I said to them. People, I know, are in therapy because of me. Why would I want that to continue?”
Game is still married to a woman, Julie Game, who he says knows he is gay.
After coming out, he said he readied himself for intense backlash. He still receives angry Facebook messages from people who say they were traumatized by his program.
In a Facebook post last week, he wrote a lengthy apology, saying: “I WAS WRONG! Please forgive me!”
He told the paper he knows he will likely be apologizing for the rest of his life.