Christianity in General
July 18, 2019
Luanda — Angolan police authorities arrested a Congolese pastor of the Church of Espirito Santo (IESA) on Wednesday in Luanda, accused of sexual abuse and having impregnated a teenage girl, according to a source at the National Police.
Speaking to ANGOP, the PN source stated that the pastor, 39, belonged to an IESA congregation, located in the Salinas neighborhood, in the municipality of Belas, in Luanda.
The man confessed to the crime to the police authorities, after being detained.
According to the source, the incident occurred in December 2018 when the teenager’s mother, a church believer, took the girl to the congregation for malaria treatment.
According to the source, the pastor asked the mother of the 16-year-old girl to put her in the church, but later the man took the teenager to his home, where he sexually assaulted her several times.
Seven months later, she added, the adolescent showed symptoms of gestation, which led the mother to make clinical tests in one of the hospitals in the capital.
After the medical examinations, it was confirmed that the teenager was pregnant.
July 15, 2019
Christian belief has halved in Britain in 35 years with just one in three people now identifying as Christian – while atheism and Islam continue to rise.
Figures published by the British Social Attitudes Survey reveal the widest ever margin between staunch atheists and believers who are certain that God exists.
Of almost 4,000 people polled by the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen), 38 per cent described themselves as Christian – a fall from 50 per cent in 2008 and 66 per cent in 1983.
Those identifying as Muslim increased from 1 per cent in 1983 to 3 per cent in 2008, and 6 per cent in 2018.
No doubt due to the increasing influx of immigrants from the Middle East.
The survey shows that the biggest change is in the number of people who define themselves as “confident atheists”, which rose from 10 per cent in 1998 to 18 per cent in 2008 and its record high of 26 per cent in 2018.
In contrast, researchers found that an overall 55 per cent of the population express some sort of belief in some kind of God.
Nancy Kelley, deputy chief executive at NatCen, said that the steady decline in religion and belief among the British public is “one of the most important trends in post-war history”.
“As our society has become more secular, the role of religious institutions and religious identities in determining our moral and social norms has weakened. Other world views, such as scientific rationalism and liberal individual-ism, now play a more significant part in British society.”
The report’s authors said the survey suggests Britain is becoming more secular “not because adults are losing their religion” but because older people with an attachment to Christian denominations are “gradually being replaced in the population by unaffiliated younger people”.
They added that religious decline in Britain is “generational” as people tend to be less religious than their parents.
Dave Male, the Church of England’s director of evangelism and discipleship, said: “For many people ticking a box marked ‘Church of England’ or ‘Anglican’ is now an active choice and no longer an automatic response. In spite of this, the Church of England remains at the heart of communities.”
Andrew Copson, the chief executive of the non-religion charity Humanists UK, said: “With these trends set to continue, policymakers in every field, from education to constitutional law, to health and social care, need to wake up to such dramatic social changes.”
July 11, 2019
A pastor at a Johnston County church is accused of sex crimes against a 13-year-old girl, officials say.
The Rev. Stephen Arthur Morris, 61, is charged with five counts each of statutory rape/sex offense and indecent liberties with a child, according to the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office. He was arrested Friday.
He is accused of committing crimes against the teenager from 2013 to 2014, according to Capt. Jeff Caldwell, a Sheriff’s Office spokesman.
Morris led Oliver’s Grove Baptist Church in Four Oaks and is now “off the job,” reports ABC11, The News & Observer’s media partner.
The News & Observer reached out to Morris’ church on Tuesday morning, and calls went unanswered.
Morris’ bail was set at $2.5 million, Caldwell said. He is scheduled to appear in court July 25.
July 10, 2019
Pope Francis has declared that a late US television preacher once performed a miracle, moving him one step closer to sainthood.
Another lame attempt to try to keep the illusion going.
The Vatican announced on Saturday the formal approval of the miracle, thought to relate to claims about a baby’s extraordinary recovery in an Illinois hospital.
The Diocese of Peoria believes that Archbishop Fulton J Sheen – who died in 1979 – interceded in 2010 on behalf of a baby who began breathing 61 minutes after showing no signs of life at birth.
One miracle allows a candidate for sainthood to be beatified in the Catholic faith, but a second miracle must be approved in order for sainthood to be conferred.
No date has been given for his beatification ceremony, but the Peoria Diocese said it was beginning preparations for the celebration in the central Illinois city.
Archbishop Sheen’s on-air evangelism made him a well-known figure in the US over several decades, having started on NBC radio in 1930 with a weekly programme called The Catholic Hour.
He expanded to television in 1950 with NBC’s Life is Worth Living, regularly amassing more than 30 million viewers.
The pope’s decision comes just weeks after a New York court ruling allowing the American archbishop’s niece to bury him in Peoria, where he was ordained, ending years of litigation and allowing the process for sainthood to resume.
July 9, 2019
At least one-fifth of the Netherlands’ 6,900 church buildings have been converted for secular use, a national Dutch newspaper reports ― and hundreds more are expected to follow suit in the coming years.
About 25% of Dutch churches built between 1800 and 1970 are now being used for nonreligious purposes, including as apartment complexes, offices and cultural centers, according to an investigation published by the Trouw in June. Around 20% of Dutch churches built before 1800 have also been redesigned, most often finding new life as community centers, museums or theaters.
Dutch church buildings are often located in central areas, Trouw reports. Old church buildings can be expensive for a dwindling congregation to maintain. Churches built before 1800 are often considered national monuments. All of this means that deciding how to repurpose these old buildings while maintaining their cultural legacy has become a key topic of concern for local communities.
Trouw’s investigation into converted church buildings comes during a time of increased secularization in Dutch society. In 2017, the number of religiously unaffiliated people in the Netherlands surpassed the number of religious folk for the first time in history (51% vs. 49%), according to government data.
Many formerly religious Dutch people say they left their religion because they no longer believe in its teachings, according to the Pew Research Center. A significant number also claimed they just “gradually drifted away.”
Secularization among Christians has been the trend in the Netherlands since the 1960s, according to Jeroen Dewulf, a professor of Dutch studies at the University of California, Berkeley’s Institute of European Studies. Dewulf said that the Catholic Church, which has a stronger presence in the Netherlands than Protestant denominations, has also been facing a serious priest shortage.
“Many churches have been standing empty for years and they are so costly to maintain that alternative destinations for these churches have been sought,” Dewulf told HuffPost.
July 3, 2019
As we have often said, rabidly anti-gay male clergy are one short step away from sucking dicks in public bathrooms.
An anti-gay preacher has been arrested after confessing to his congregation that he had a sexual relationship with two young boys.
John Martin, is being held in the Lauderdale County Detention Center on four counts of sexual abuse first-degree.
Coty Hand, the Assistant District Attorney in Lauderdale County, says Martin resigned as pastor at Lighthouse Baptist Church and was arrested Friday night. He says they want anyone who thinks they were a victim to come forward.
WAAY 31 was in Florence and spoke with people who live near the church. We learned John Martin confessed to his congregation about the crimes.
According to the Lighthouse Baptist Church website, Martin has been preaching there since 2010. WAAY 31 reached out to several congregation members to ask about these accusations, but we have not gotten a response.
A man who lives less than a block away from the church, Lewis Gist, said he had no idea something like this could have been going on down the street.
“You wouldn’t expect it at a church. That would be the last place you expect it,” Gist said.
That’s the first place you should expect it.
The Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office says they believe the victims involved were children at the church. They would not say the ages, gender or how many victims they believe there are.
The sheriff’s office did say the four charges against Martin could be all for one victim or for multiple victims, and the charges are for any child under 17 years old. His bond is set at $60,000.
The church’s Facebook page shows out of 25 reviews, it has a 4.8 out of 5 rating. In one review, a woman said, “Pastor Martin I love you and your family. Thank you for making me and my children feel loved and welcome.”
On Monday, someone commented on that review saying, “I hope your children were safe there.”
The woman who wrote the review said they always were and went on to say she felt bad for Martin’s wife and children.
WAAY 31 stopped by Martin’s home and was asked to leave immediately. We combed through state court records and could not find a past criminal history for Martin.
“My youngest grandson is 15. Something like that happened to him, I don’t know what I’d do,” Gist said.
July 2, 2019
Baptist pastor Robert Jeffress suggested that Democratic 2020 candidates aren’t talking about the “real God” when they talk about their faith.
Jeffress, a longtime supporter of President Donald Trump, warned evangelicals at a conference in Washington, D.C., this weekend not to be “fooled” when Democratic 2020 presidential candidates talk about their faith.
“When they talk about God, they are not talking about the real God — the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God who revealed Himself in the Bible,” Jeffress said Saturday, according to The Christian Post. “These liberal Democrats are talking about an imaginary God they have created in their own minds: a god who loves abortion and hates Israel.”
As opposed to Jeffress’ invisible sky daddy.
Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Dallas and an evangelical adviser to the president, was delivering a speech on the final day of the Faith & Freedom Coalition policy conference, an event that highlights evangelical voters’ top issues. The Faith & Freedom Coalition plans to spend at least $50 million on get-out-the-vote efforts ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
During his speech, Jeffress offered an analysis of Democrats’ attempts to reach faith-based voters. Democrats have realized that they have a “God problem,” Jeffress said, and are trying to solve it by talking more openly about God and their personal faith.
Some of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates have talked about how their religious beliefs inform their political views. During a progressive faith conference last month, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) spoke about how the biblical parable of the Good Samaritan who went out of his way to help a stranger in need has shaped her views on public policy.
June 27, 2019
GADSDEN COUNTY, Fla. (WCTV) — The Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office says a local pastor, who also works in the Gadsden County School District, has been arrested and charged with two counts of lewd and lascivious behavior on a child.
GCSO says after an investigation into the allegation of inappropriate behavior, a probable cause affidavit was submitted to the State Attorney’s Office and a warrant was issued for the arrest of 60-year-old Arthur Louis Ivey.
Officials say Ivey was booked and is being held in the Gadsden County Jail with no bond.
Founder of the Biblical Flat Earth Society is charged with 56 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor after stash of child pornography on his computer
June 25, 2019
- Phillip Stallings, 40, from North Carolina, founded a Christian flat earth society
- He is charged with 56 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor by authorities
- The arrest follows an investigation by Durham County Sheriff’s Office and Homeland Security who allegedly found illicit material on his computer
- The alleged pedophile believes in a conspiracy organized by the so-called Illuminati to ‘cover up the flat Earth’ and shared his views in bizarre online videos
- Stallings made his first appearance in court on the charges Thursday morning, and a judge set his bail at $500,000 secured
A fundamentalist Christian who founded the ‘Biblical Flat Earth Society’ has been charged with 56 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor and now faces life in prison.
Phillip Stallings, 40, was arrested Wednesday on 28 counts of second-degree sexual exploitation of a minor and 28 counts of third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor.
The arrest follows a joint investigation by the Durham County Sheriff’s Office and U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and stem from downloaded material found on his computer allegedly of minors involved in sexual activities.
Stallings’s own website promotes his belief that the Earth is flat and cites biblical justifications for his demonstrably inaccurate beliefs.
The alleged pedophile believes a conspiracy organized by the so-called Illuminati to ‘cover up the flat Earth’ that is ‘certainly connected to sun worship which goes all the way back to Nimrod and the tower of Babel.’
Elsewhere in his bizarre videos, he takes aim at ‘feminists, transvestites, sodomites and women in the military.’
Stallings’ arrest comes as part of a wider Homeland Security investigation into child pornography on the internet. He was also hit with a warrant related to financial card theft and cyberstalking.
An arrest warrants reveals Stalling allegedly duplicated and possessed images of minors performing sex acts.
June 19, 2019
A former Southern Baptist pastor in Houston was arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a teenage relative over the course of five years. Stephen Bratton, 44, also previously advocated for the passage of a bill that would criminalize abortion in Texas, which would have made the death penalty a possibility for those who undergo the medical procedure.
On Friday, Bratton, who was a pastor at Grace Family Baptist Church, was arrested and charged with the continuous sexual abuse of a child, according to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.
“The victim said they would have sexual intercourse multiple times a day or several times a week,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement provided to Refinery29.
“The complainant stated that Bratton sexually abused her starting from 2013, when she was just 13 years of age. The abuse continued until 2018.” Bratton, a father of seven, has been excommunicated from his church and is currently out on a $50,000 bond.
June 15, 2019
(CNN)Authorities in Tennessee are reviewing all pending cases involving a Knox County Sheriff’s Office detective after he gave a sermon at his church that called for the government to execute members of the LGBTQ community.
We think this guy is a short hop from sucking dicks in public toilets.
“They are worthy of death,” Grayson Fritts said in a June 2 sermon at All Scripture Baptist Church, a small church in Knoxville that he leads.
The church posted the sermon online and then removed it, according to The Washington Post. The video was picked up by the Tennessee Holler, an independent liberal news outlet, and edited into a six-minute clip.
“God has instilled the power of civil government to send the police in 2019 out to the LGBT freaks and arrest them and have a trial for them, and if they are convicted, then they are to be put to death,” he said in the clip.
Fritts said it would be easy to find people to arrest at events such as gay pride parades.
“We have a bunch of them we’re going to get convicted because they have all their pride junk on, and they’re professing what they are, that they’re a filthy animal,” he said.
CNN has not been able to reach Fritts for comment. Speaking to journalists before giving a sermon last Wednesday, Fritts said his anti-LGBTQ beliefs have not interfered with his work as a law enforcement officer.
“It’s totally separate, because if I’m employed by the sheriff’s office, then if they came into the sheriff’s office, obviously they’re allowed there,” he said, according to WATE. “You understand what I’m saying? This. I am over this. I am the head of this church. I say who comes and goes. Those people are not permitted to join, those people are not permitted to attend.”
June 12, 2019
Short answer – No.
Long answer – Of course not.
Throughout each hurricane season, locals leave candles and say prayers at The Grotto at the Basilica of St. Mary Star of the Sea, hoping they can pray away a storm striking the island.
Throughout each hurricane season, locals leave candles and say prayers at The Grotto at the Basilica of St. Mary Star of the Sea, hoping they can pray away a storm striking the island.
Kay Thomas knows she can’t do much when a hurricane is approaching the Florida Keys.
She can stock up on supplies, evacuate from the island chain, or ride it out like she did during 2017’s Hurricane Irma — which spared her hometown of Key West but severely damaged Keys neighborhoods to the north.
But there is one thing she does at the start of each hurricane season: pray.
“That’s about the best I can do,” Thomas said. “I feel better even though I know that just me alone, I’m not moving mountains.”
Every June 1, locals like Thomas flock to an Old Town church in an effort to pray away storms from directly striking the island.
The candles flicker in an outdoor space at The Basilica of St. Mary Star of the Sea, 1010 Windsor Lane, called the Grotto.
Thomas, who describes herself as a spiritual seeker rather than religious, offers a prayer every month, from June 1 through the end of November.
“I light one at the beginning and then as they begin to manifest the Grotto gets extra candles,” Thomas said. “It makes me feel like I can do something.”
The Grotto is formally called Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto, which dates back to 1922 and honors Sister Louis Gabriel.
Key West lore says the candle prayer ritual works when it comes to staving off hurricanes from the tiny island. A major storm hasn’t struck the island since the Grotto was created.
Hurricane Wilma swamped the island in 2005 and Hurricane Georges came across in 1998. But the island has been spared — so far.
At the time of the Grotto’s installation, Sister Gabriel had lived on the island since 1897 and had survived three major hurricanes, including the 1919 direct hit that left destruction across Key West.
Apparently, Sister Gabriel always said that as long as the Grotto was standing, “Key West would never experience the full brunt of a hurricane.”
After one horrible season in the early 2000s, one local shop put up a sign that read, “Canes 0, Grotto 3,” locals remember.
Still, plenty of Key West residents know from experience that prayers aren’t always enough to keep hurricanes at bay.
Dina DiMartino lost her home and her entire neighborhood to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 when she lived in a New Orleans suburb, St. Bernard Parish, where the levee system failed.
“The biggest part was losing where I grew up,” DiMartino said. “I go back and visit, but St. Bernard will never be the same. It’s such a small community like Key West. All the other stuff was just stuff.”
DiMartino, 48, a Louisiana native who taught school for 12 years before Katrina and then ran a security business, learned about the Grotto when she moved to Key West in 2012.
“I go with my three candles and make a donation and pray hard to keep our community protected,” she said. “I’ve done that every June 1. But I have to say, the days before Irma I went there a little bit more.”
The numbers of praying locals grew larger as Irma approached, she remembers.
“I grew up Catholic but have explored other thing,” DiMartino said of her spirituality. “I’m open-minded, not deeply religious. I’m a very superstitious person. I don’t know if that comes with growing up in New Orleans.”
What the fuck does that mean? What’s the difference between being religious and being superstitious?