Archive for April, 2016
April 22, 2016
In recent years, researchers have begun to study the moral practices of a relatively new and growing group within America’s religious landscape — the “nones.”
Nones are people who, when asked to describe their religious affiliation, respond that they are atheist, agnostic, or “nothing in particular.” As of 2014, the nones, also known as the “unaffiliated,” are the second largest religious grouping in America, coming in just under evangelical Christians. As a whole, the unaffiliated tend to be less religious by the standards that surveyors have traditionally used to measure religiosity — attendance at worship services, for example, or daily prayer.
But if they’re not religious by these standards, how exactly are the nones approaching the question of what it means to be a moral person?
There are more religiously unaffiliated adults in the U.S. than Catholics or mainline Protestants.
Thanks to the Pew Research Center, we now have some data on this. In a recent report on religion in everyday life, the organization asked unaffiliated people whether 16 pre-selected beliefs and behaviors were essential, important but not essential, or not important to what they think it means to be a “moral person.”
For the unaffiliated, honesty tops the list, with about 58 percent of the nones saying that “being honest at all times” was essential to being a moral person.
When Harvard chaplain Greg Epstein heard that honesty came out on top, it made a lot of sense to him. As author of “Good Without God: What a Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe,” Epstein has spent a considerable amount of time thinking about what nonbelievers actually hold to be true about tolerance, community, and morality.
“Of course these are people who are interested in honesty and integrity,” Epstein told The Huffington Post. “[Because if you’re coming out as non-religious], then you probably feel a very strong pull to tell the truth and to be honest with yourself and others about who you are.”
Epstein suggested that the act of coming out as a nonbeliever requires a good deal of soul searching and introspection. In a country like America, where the overwhelming majority of people belong to some sort of religion, and where statistics show most of the public has negative feelings towards people who don’t believe in God, Epstein said that there really isn’t any incentive or social pressure to come out as non-religious, or atheist, or agnostic.
Some other essentials that the unaffiliated believe make a moral person are being grateful for what you have (53 percent), committing to spend time with family (47 percent), forgiving those who have wronged you (39 percent), and working to protect the environment (35 percent).
Beliefs and practices that have been traditionally used to measure religiosity fell near the bottom of the list. About 10 percent of the unaffiliated believe praying regularly is essential to being moral. Two percent believe attending religious services is part of a moral life.
In an open-ended question, about a quarter (23 percent) of nones wrote that the “Golden Rule,” a behavior cited by Jesus in the Bible, was essential to morality.
For Epstein, the results of the Pew survey are evidence that the religiously unaffiliated community values action over belief in the supernatural.
“[Humanist and nonreligious people] respect completely the fact that our religious neighbors also feel the need to pray, but our view is that action is irreplaceable,” Epstein said. “Actions ultimately make the difference between living a good life and not living a good life.”
People need gods like fish need bicycles.
A Roman Catholic priest who served as the face of the church in New Hampshire during the sex abuse scandal was granted parole Tuesday on two of his convictions for stealing $300,000 from a hospital, a bishop and a dead priest’s estate. But he’ll still serve at least two more years in jail to complete his full sentence.
Monsignor Edward Arsenault pleaded guilty to three theft charges in 2014. He was granted parole on the first two charges but will not be eligible for parole on the third for two more years.
Prosecutors said Arsenault, who has also been ordered to repay the money, billed the church for lavish meals and travel for himself and often a male partner. He was convicted of writing checks from the dead priest’s estate to himself and his brother and billing Catholic Medical Center $250 an hour for consulting work he never did.
Arsenault held senior positions in the New Hampshire diocese from 1999 to 2009. He had been the top lieutenant for then-Bishop John McCormack, handling both a clergy sexual abuse crisis in New Hampshire and orchestrating the church’s new child protection policies.
In 2009, Arsenault became president and CEO of Saint Luke Institute in Maryland. He resigned in 2013 as allegations arose over the misuse of church funds.
The investigation did not involve Saint Luke, a prominent education and counseling center based in Silver Spring, Maryland, with sites in other parts of the United States and in Britain. The center treats priests with a range of mental illnesses and has played a key role in addressing the problem of sexually abusive clergy.
April 20. 2016
Not content to create a strategy for priestly pedophile cover-ups during two papacies, the former Vatican Secretary of State also steals from a children’s hospital
Recently news of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone’s chutzpah emerged again in Barbie Latza Nadeau’s article “Vatican Bling-Bling: Hospital Funds Diverted to Cardinal’s Villa“ when we learned that, in jaw-dropping contrast to his boss Pope Francis (who lives in a 750-square-foot apartment in a guesthouse at the Vatican), the Cardinal created a penthouse for himself by refurbishing two Vatican-owned rooftop apartments. One of the apartments belonged to a children’s hospital. He shares the elegant space with three nuns who wait on him day and night. According to the Italian newspaper Il Tempo the renovation was worth one million euros (but he got a 50% reduction). Actually, it seems the renovations were paid for twice, thus no discount occurred at all. The Vatican Tribunal opened a criminal dossier on the matter last week.
Where did the money come from to furnish so lavish a penthouse for the “prince of the church” who takes his title so literally? From a fund intended for the Bambino Gesu children’s hospital.
What did the prince of the church get for his money? Each bedroom has its own private bathroom, the kitchen facilities are fit for a banquet hall, and there are eight independent sound systems, including one for a rooftop chapel. Expensive herringbone oak parquet floors and luxury white Carrara marble and double-glaze energy efficient windows, silent heat pumps and climate control grace the edifice as well.
Needless to say, Cardinal Bertone’s lifestyle conflicts with the poor church that Pope Francis is preaching and hoping for. But that does not dismay the cardinal, who says in his defense, “scores of other prelates live in even nicer apartments” and calls the place “dutifully restored (at my expense).” When embarrassed that the news got out, he offered a $170,000 donation to the children’s hospital in December, claiming that his donation “reflects my sentimental attachment to the hospital and its little patients.” The hospital president, Mariella Enoc, saw it differently however, saying that “acknowledging that what has happened has been detrimental to the Bambino Gesu, Cardinal Bertone wanted to meet us half way, donating a sum of 150,000 euros.”i In other words, he got caught with his hands in the cookie jar and suddenly became a philanthropist out of his love of children (“little patients”).
One can wonder: Where did he come up with 150,000 euros so readily? And for the gross sums to remake his palatial apartment?
Why is this story bigger than a story about another greedy establishment figure? The reason is this: Cardinal Bertone was not just another Cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church. Under Pope John Paul II he was plucked out of obscurity as a priest canon lawyer by then-Cardinal Ratzinger, head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (formerly the Sacred Inquisition). His assignment? To deflect investigations of pedophile clergy, including and especially the nefarious Father Maciel of Mexico who started a series of seminaries and abused over 20 seminarians. News of this abuse was beginning to leak out and Ratzinger wanted a lid put on the leaks. Maciel also had time to launch his own very well-funded order, The Legion of Christ, which was committed to obedience-based religious ideologies (including a vow never to speak badly about the founder, a unique vow indeed).
Maciel raised untold sums for the Catholic Church and, on the side, was secretly married to two wives and fathered four children, three of whom he sexually abused. Maciel was a favorite of Pope John Paul II, who took him on his airplane when he traveled and personally ordained 50-some of his priests at a gala affair in St Peter’s Square attended by many fawning aristocrats who admired both men.
April 12, 2016
A Christian author is warning women that “masturbation is a direct path to Satan.”
“Dildos and all of those other sex toys have been used for thousands of years in demonic sex rituals,” he wrote. “It’s one of the main ways ancient pagan societies worshiped their demonic gods.”
Major added: “There is nothing normal about it. And shame on any Christian that says so.”
But we’ll bet Mr. Major’s private porn collection has lots of pictures of women masturbating their way to hell. It’s okay for men to whack off, though. That’s natural and feels soooo good. Right, Mack?
Pope Francis offers hope to divorced Catholics, says no to gay marriage
The Popester called for divorced and remarried Catholics to participate more fully in church life. But he closed the door on gay marriage. His Popeishness said that maybe divorce isn’t so bad after all and maybe they can bend the rules to allow it, but as for gay people, ewwwwww, no way should they be able to do something like get married.
All this was laid out in a 256-page document known as an apostolic exhortation and titled Amoris Laetitia, or “the Joy of Love,” amounted to his most sweeping pronouncement to date on the social issues that have deeply divided his senior clergy.
In other words, modern stuff that the ignorant goat herders who wrote the bible didn’t think of 2,000 years ago when they were making shit up.
Though observers had hoped for clarity, the pontiff’s ambiguity on access to the sacrament could sow tensions as a divided church hierarchy parses his words like so many tea leaves.
“At times we have also proposed a far too abstract and almost artificial theological ideal of marriage, far removed from the concrete situations and practical possibilities of real families. This excessive idealization, especially when we have failed to inspire trust in God’s grace, has not helped to make marriage more desirable and attractive, but quite the opposite,” Francis wrote.
On the topic of gay equality, Francis repeated words he has written and said before: same-sex unions are in no way “similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family.”
Right, as long as the church can try and claim a monopoly on marriage and insist that gays not be allowed to participate. Because who knows what might happen then? It might interfere with the priest’s daily schedule of molesting little boys and girls.
Which brings us to the glaring fact that nowhere in the 256-page document was any mention made of the epidemic of child abuse, rape, and molestation that is the on-going hallmark of the Catholic church. Not one word.
Francis mentioned child abuse in passing, as he enumerated what he sees as the pressures on modern families. Among them: a lack of quality sex education, the way electronic devices feed the need for instant gratification, migration, lack of housing, pornography, child abuse, lack of respect for the elderly and violence against women.
It’s almost as if he’s saying that, oh sure, child abuse happens, but it’s nothing that the church needs to concern itself with.
In summary: “gays are icky, no marriage for them, divorce might be okay since everyone is doing it anyway, child abuse is bad but we’re not doing it, listen to what I say, and keep sending us money so we can keep this show on the road.”
All in all, this 256-page apostolic exhortation is another case of “do as I say, not as I do. Above all, obey me and my Bronze-Age ideas.”
For a document titled “the Joy of Love,” there’s not a lot to like, much less love.
April 7, 2016
Attackers in Bangladesh wielding machetes killed a liberal blogger, police said on Thursday, the latest in series of murders of secular activists by suspected Islamist militants.
Postgraduate law student Nazimuddin Samad, 28, was attacked as he was returning from a class at his university in the capital, Dhaka, late on Wednesday, police said.
Last year, suspected militants killed five secular writers and a publisher, including a Bangladeshi-American activist. A banned Islamist militant group, Ansarullah Bangla Team, claimed responsibility for some of the attacks.
Police officer Tapan Chandra Shaha said three or four men attacked Samad with machetes and then shot him after he fell to the ground.
People heard the attackers shouting “Allahu akbar” (God is Greatest) as they fled, he said.
Imran H Sarker, convener of the BOAN online activist group said Samad was an outspoken critic of injustice and militancy.
“We found him always a loud voice against all injustice and also a great supporter of secularism,” Sarker told Reuters.
Bangladesh has seen a wave of militant violence over the past year or so, including a series of bomb attacks on mosques and Hindu temples.
Some recent attacks have been claimed by Islamic State, including the killing of Hindu priest, a Japanese citizen, an Italian aid worker and a policeman.
The government denies that Islamic State has a presence in the Muslim-majority country of 160 million people.
Hundreds of students from the Jagannath University where Samad studied protested against his murder and demanded the prompt arrest of the killers.
They blocked roads in and around the university and told reporters that if those behind the earlier murders of bloggers had been punished then Samad would not have been attacked.
Arpil 7, 2016
Warren Jeffs, bishop and child rapist
FLDS (Fucking Lowlife Disgusting Scumbags)
Salt Lake City, Utah (CNN)A decade after the arrest of polygamous prophet Warren Jeffs, insiders say his church has literally become a place of feast or famine, of haves and have-nots.
His son has done little to loosen Jeffs’ hold on many of his followers, even if he is now a convicted child-sex offender serving a life sentence. They still await his revelations and follow his directives, both difficult and bizarre.
But some members are leaving the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints — and disobeying their prophet’s longstanding orders to avoid law enforcement and “answer them nothing.”
“There was so much class distinction and shunning of people,” said a former cook for the family of Bishop Lyle Jeffs, the prophet’s brother and right-hand man. She spoke of seeing shopping carts full of meat and turkeys earmarked for the bishop’s family while others made do with rice and beans.
The new social structure came about, as so many things do in the FLDS, when prophet Warren Jeffs had a revelation. This one came on December 12, 2011, about four months after he started serving the life sentence in Texas.
He told followers that God ordered him to create a United Order of members most worthy of heaven. And, before the month was up, his brother Lyle was lining up members at the old elementary school and quizzing them about their lives and faith to determine who was, indeed, worthy. They were instructed to hand over everything they owned and told the church would provide for their earthly needs.
The prophet — and there is little doubt Warren Jeffs is still the FLDS prophet — chooses who will be included in the United Order. His brothers, Lyle and Seth, serve as “bishops” and carry out the prophet’s wishes at FLDS compounds along the Utah-Arizona border and in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
The cook, Allene Jeffs Steed, told the FBI last year that while she prepared feasts of lobster and shrimp for the bishop, her own children “lived off toast.” She used duct tape to hold her kids’ shoes together. And hers wasn’t the only FLDS family to go without.
“We were literally starving,” Sheryl Barlow told the FBI in February. She lived in a house with 40 people and said they subsisted on noodles, brown rice, tomato juice and, when they were lucky, bread or a few containers of yogurt.
An audiotape of Warren Jeffs having sex with this 12-year-old “bride” was played at his Texas trial.
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Seventh-day Adventist School Principal Accused Of Repeatedly Raping Two Female Students. One Only 10 Years Old
March 31, 2016
Douglas Allison, child rapist
31 March 2016
The principal of a small Christian school in Washington is currently behind bars on accusations that he raped and molested two young female students.
Police began investigating Douglas Allison, 55, of Mountain View Christian School – which is operated by the Seventh-Day Adventist Church – after a 10-year-old girl told her parents he had repeatedly sexually assaulted at the school over the course of the school year.
During the investigation, police say they uncovered another victim, who is 11. There are only about 13 students at the school, where Allison’s wife acts as the sole teacher.
Police do not believe there are any other victims.
‘The second victim disclosed to detectives she had been sexually assaulted in similar fashion by Allison,’ a police press release said.
Allison’s wife is not under investigation.
According to the Mountain View Christian School website, he teaches grades 5 through 8.
He was booked into the Clallam County Corrections Facility on four counts of first-degree child rape and 12 counts of first-degree child molestation.
‘We are taking care of our students by putting in respected and trusted teachers to take over the teaching responsibilities’: Church spokeswoman Becky Meharry said the school is working with police