Archive for October, 2017
October 27, 2017
God, at 4,691 years old
VATICAN CITY—Startled by how much His appearance had deteriorated since they’d last met, Pope Francis admitted to reporters on Thursday that God was really starting to look old. “Man, I guess I hadn’t noticed it until now, but these last few years have really taken a toll,” said the pontiff, adding that perhaps the Lord had just reached that point in eternal existence where one starts to visibly age more quickly. “It made me kind of sad to see Him like that, to be honest. He used to be this almighty supreme being, full of vigor and omniscience, but now He just looks frail.” At press time, the pope had resolved to make the most of the time he had left with God before He passed on.
October 26, 2017
CASEROS, Argentina (AP) — Karen Maydana says she was 9 years old when the Rev. Carlos Jose fondled her at a church pew facing the altar. It was her first confession ahead of her first Holy Communion.
She blames the trauma of that moment in 2004 for a teenage suicide attempt. And yet she never spoke about it publicly until this year. After hearing that two women who attended her school in the Argentine town of Caseros were allegedly abused by the same priest, she joined them as complainants in a case that in July led to his arrest for investigation of aggravated sexual abuse.
“Unfortunately, there are many of us. But speaking about it now also gives you strength to carry on,” Maydana, 22, said. “I have a 9-year-old niece who’s receiving her Communion this year, and this is not going to happen to her.”
The allegations are part of a growing trend: While Pope Francis struggles to make good on his “zero tolerance” pledge to fight clerical sex abuse worldwide, victims in his native Argentina are denouncing abuses in unprecedented numbers. An analysis by The Associated Press shows that the number of clerics publicly identified as alleged sexual abusers has increased dramatically in the last two years.
Experts attribute the spike to a cultural shift as victims feel more emboldened to denounce abuse, prosecutors are more inclined to investigate complaints of even decades-old abuse, the media are increasingly aggressive about reporting them and courts are willing to hand down stiff sentences.
“It’s a domino effect,” said Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of BishopAccountability.org, a U.S.-based group that compiles a clergy abuse database.
In the U.S., confidential files on hundreds of pedophile priests have been released either through civil litigation, settlements or court order. The contents have revealed that top church officials worked behind the scenes to control the sex abuse scandal and keep it from authorities as well as parishioners.
“What is really remarkable here is that the survivors in Argentina don’t have the same powerful legal tools that we see in other countries,” Barrett Doyle said. “And yet, we’re still seeing the significant increase in cases.”
The AP compiled a list of 66 priests, nuns and brothers who have been accused since 2001 of abusing dozens of people, most of them children. The figures were gathered from testimonies by victims, judicial and church documents, and local media reports corroborated in conjunction with the BishopAccountability.org database. The number of new reports remained in the single digits each year from 2000 to 2015. But since the start of last year, victims have named 21 more, most accused of decades-old abuse.
“In Argentina, the abuse crisis is just beginning,” said San Francisco Bishop Sergio Buenanueva in Cordoba province, who leads a church council on clerical abuse. “I’m sure the Argentine church is going to face increasing numbers of these disclosures.”
To deal with the expected increased caseload, he said the church is planning to create its first comprehensive database of clerical abuse. Buenanueva also recently returned from the Vatican, where he met with members of Francis’ sex abuse advisory commission to discuss prevention policies for Argentina, including training of clergy to detect potential abusers and victims.
Abuse survivors are taking action too. Maydana, and her schoolmates Mailin Gobbo, 29, and Yasmin Detez, 25, recently visited the church and adjacent school they had attended to describe to journalists what had happened, saying they hoped it would help protect children. Four other women have joined their case since they reported the priest to law enforcement.
“I don’t care about exposing myself as long as it leads other people to talk,” said Gobbo, who decided to speak publicly after the birth of her daughter.
The priest is accused of abusing Gobbo and Detez at a pool and at their school.
“He’d make me sit on his lap and ask me if I had been naughty while he kissed my neck and fondled me,” Detez said while Gobbo shed tears next to her.
Jose has told the court he is innocent and said the statute of limitations has expired in any case. He is appealing the arrest order.
Some of the accused remain in the ministry. In several cases, no canonical or judicial investigation was carried out. Some were probed and dismissed. Others, especially in recent years, have led to arrests and convictions.
A court in Entre Rios province this year sentenced a Colombian priest, the Rev. Juan Diego Escobar Gaviria, to 25 years in prison for sexually abusing four boys, one of them 10 years old. It was one of the stiffest sentences handed down to date against a pedophile priest in Argentina.
“I feel satisfied with the sentence,” said Alexis Endrizzi, 18, who was molested by Escobar when he was 12. “It sided with the victims.”
Two other priests are awaiting trial on pedophilia charges after they were accused this year in the same small province.
In one of the most shocking cases, prosecutors say at least 20 children at the Provolo Institute for deaf and mute children in Mendoza province were abused. Some of the victims say they were molested by an Italian priest, the Rev. Nicola Corradi, who also had been accused by some of the dozens of abuse victims at the Provolo’s school in Italy but never faced justice there. Corradi, now elderly, was formally charged by Argentine prosecutors in November and is under house arrest awaiting trial in Argentina. Corradi’s attorney declined to comment on his client’s plea or any other detail of the case.
Advocates of priestly abuse victims question how Francis could have been unaware of the allegations against Corradi since he was publicly named by the Italian victims starting in 2009 and most recently in 2014.
One of the cases that has festered for years is that of the Rev. Hector Ricardo Gimenez, who had been detained after several abuse complaints in 1985 and 1996, but was freed by the courts.
In 2013, Julieta Anazco led other women in publicly confronting Gimenez as he celebrated Mass at a hospital chapel, accusing him of abusing her and many others as children decades before.
“He’d jump into the shower with the excuse of washing us,” said Anazco, who went on to become president of the Survivors’ Network of Ecclesiastical Abuse.
The Archbishopric of La Plata Archbishop said in a statement to the AP that the church had found Gimenez guilty of previous abuses and that he had been banned from ministerial duties, a common church sanction for elderly priests accused of abuse.
It also said that Archbishop Hector Aguer had met with Anazco in 2015, heard her complaints and “shared the cruelty of these crimes and the importance that no one guilty of them remains unpunished.”
Anazco’s criminal complaint initially was dismissed, but was later reopened and remains pending, according to her attorney.
The AP tried to reach Gimenez, who is in his eighties, at the nursing home where he now lives in the city of La Plata but he declined to comment.
No official numbers on clerical abuse have been published by Argentina’s church, government or its judicial system, and the issue is still something of a taboo.
But Pope Francis tried to break the stigma by phoning Rufino Varela after he revealed that he had been abused as a child by a priest at a school that Argentine President Mauricio Macri also attended. Other students at the school told the AP that they suffered abuse by the same priest, who has since died.
Francis has pledged “zero tolerance” for abuse, but he has also said he never had to confront the issue as archbishop of Buenos Aires, where he served from 1998 to 2013. Recently, he has acknowledged that the church was “late” in recognizing the scale of abuse and the damage it wreaked on victims, and said the practice of cover-up and moving pedophiles around was to blame.
Many Argentine victims of abuse say they feel abandoned by the church.
“You realize the complicity, the cover-up of the church hierarchy that goes all the way up to the Vatican,” Anazco said.
Churches merge, close: ‘We no longer live in Christendom. We really have to accept that it’s a thing of the past’
October 23, 2017
The incredible shrinking religions. Soon we’ll all be free of this nonsense.
For a decade and more, Govans Presbyterian Church and Brown Memorial Woodbrook Presbyterian Church have labored in the manner of many mainline Protestant congregations: Working ever harder to provide spiritual resources for dwindling number of congregants.
Govans, on York Road in North Baltimore, has been hosting its Sunday night dinners for the poor and helping lead GEDCO, the social service organization it co-founded in 1984.
Brown Memorial Woodbrook, about two miles from Govans on North Charles Street, has been running its busy Sunday school and community garden and working on LGBT equality and other social justice issues.
But with attendance stagnating, maintenance costs rising and the population of Christians from which to draw shrinking, the two have decided to join forces. If the Baltimore Presbytery gives its approval next month, they’ll become one congregation before the end of the year, bringing more than 280 worshippers and 230 years of history together under one roof.
The Episcopal Diocese of Maryland has closed a net eight churches since 2007 and will shutter one more — 174-year-old St. John’s Episcopal Church in Charles Village — if the congregation can’t present a feasible financial plan by January. (Amy Davis / Baltimore Sun)
The merger would be the latest example of an increasingly common phenomenon: faith leaders closing or consolidating houses of worship as a way of adjusting to a culture that has grown less hospitable to their mission.
The Episcopal Diocese of Maryland has closed a net eight churches since 2007 and plans to shutter one more — 174-year-old St. John’s Episcopal Church in Charles Village — if the congregation can’t present a feasible financial plan by January.
The congregation and the community, are fighting the proposed closure by the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, due to finances and declining attendance. (Amy Davis / Baltimore Sun)
The Delaware-Maryland Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran church has consolidated eight of its smaller churches into three.
The Archdiocese of Baltimore has launched a long-term plan to reallocate resources over several years, including folding parishes into a smaller number of worship centers called pastorates.
Two historic Reform Jewish synagogues — Temple Oheb Shalom in Park Heights and Har Sinai Congregation in Owings Mills — have announced they will likely combine.
And Bishop James L. Davis, presiding prelate of the second district of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, which includes Maryland, has directed all 411 congregations in the jurisdiction to spend six months taking a “hard, possibly painful” look at their own operations.
Each church is to address a set of questions — How much has your congregation grown? how many visitors have you had? would you attend your church if you weren’t a member? — and weigh a range of options, from staying on course to shutting down.
It’s set to begin in February.
“Our first step will be trying to get people to converse one with another, and come to some understanding themselves about what might need to be done, before our rules and regulations have to move in and do what may be inevitable and necessary,” Davis says.
The driving force behind the trend is the well-documented decline in Americans’ commitment to organized Judeo-Christian religion.
Denominations large and small report falling membership numbers, decreased attendance and faltering financial support. The decline began accelerating in the 1990s.
Membership at churches and synagogues has fallen by nearly 20 percentage points since World War II, according to Gallup.The Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian Church USA have lost nearly half their members since 1967. More than a thousand Catholic parishes have closed since 1995.The number of Jews who call themselves culturally but not religiously Jewish is rising sharply among millennials.
A few faith traditions have fared better. The Muslim and Orthodox Jewish populations are growing, and evangelical Christianity’s numbers are holding steady. But more than 20 percent of Americans say they’re unaffiliated with any religion. That’s the highest number ever.
One influential Christian author has said such changes are nothing new. In works such as The Great Emergence: How Christianity is Changing and Why, Phyllis Tickle argued that the Christian church has undergone a clarifying shakeup every 500 years.
The Rev. Daniel Webster, canon for evangelism and media for the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, has studied and written about the current trend for nearly two decades.
While it’s hard to pinpoint a single most important factor, Webster says, it’s impossible to ignore the repeal of most of the old state blue laws, regulations that had long placed restrictions on commercial activity on Sundays, starting in the mid-20th century.
Today’s faith leaders must compete with everything from youth soccer and pro football games to shopping at the mall.
“When I was growing up in what I call the salad days of the 1950s and early 1960s, the question in the neighborhood was ‘What church do you go to?’” Webster says.
“Now it’s, ‘Why do you go to church?’”
“We no longer live in Christendom. We really have to accept that it’s a thing of the past.”
Man Stabbed And Strangled His 18-Month-Old Daughter To Death Because “God Told Him To Put Her Out Of Her Misery”
October 19, 2017
Mark Hambrick, child murderer
A married father-of-one from suburban New Orleans was arrested Tuesday after calling police to say that he had stabbed his 18-month-old daughter to death.
Mark Hambrick, 45, of Bywater, was taken into custody and booked into the local jail on one count of second-degree murder and one count of second-degree cruelty to a juvenile.
According to a police press release, officers responded to a home in the 3100 block of North Rampart Street after getting a report about a stabbing just after 7am Tuesday.
They were met outside by Hambrick, who was sitting on the porch after confessing to a 911 operator that he had stabbed and suffocated his young daughter ‘to put her out of her misery,’ because ‘God told him to,’ according to police.
The man also said on the call that he would be waiting for police to come and arrest him.
When officers entered the house, they found the 18-month-old child lying on a bed, suffering from multiple stab wounds. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
The investigators also recovered a knife from the scene, believed to be the murder weapon.
Under questioning, Hambrick allegedly said that he stabbed and strangled his daughter overnight, then waited until after 7am to call police. His wife was not home at the time of the killing.
The Orleans Parish Coroner’s Office will perform an autopsy on the victim to determine the exact cause of death.
As of Wednesday afternoon, police have not officially named the girl, but on social media she was identified as Amina.
Neighbors described Hambrick, his wife Monika Gerhart and their only child as ‘sweet people.’ A woman who knows the family said the 18-month-old girl had just started talking.
New Orleans Police Superintendent Michael Harrison said that when asked about his mental health, Hambrick said he did not suffer from mental illness, reported Nola.com.
Isn’t religion wonderful?
October 17, 2017
Oh, no. This food is terrible. I’m gonna hurl!
“I warned you but you didn’t listen.”
Jim Bakker has had it with his critics.
The disgraced televangelist is demanding that “mean people in America” who make fun of him stop watching his show, which is essentially an infomercial for his doomsday food mixed with predictions about an impending apocalypse.
He’s warning that there will be dire consequences for those who continue to watch and mock.
“If you don’t want to hear it, just shut me off,” he said in a clip from Friday’s show posted online by Right Wing Watch. “Especially you folks that monitor me every day to try to destroy me. Just go away. You don’t have to be there. You don’t have to hear it.”
Then he fired off his warning:
“One day, you’re going to shake your fist in God’s face. And you’re going to say, ‘God, why didn’t you warn me?’ He’s gonna say, ‘You sat there and you made fun of Jim Bakker all those years. I warned you, but you didn’t listen.’”
We are trembling with fear. Really, Jim, just fucking trembling.
Bakker was a staple of the 1980s televangelist circuit, building a Christian TV empire worth $180 million. But it all came crumbling down when he resigned in shame after a sex scandal and eventually served four years in prison for fraud.
Today, he hawks survivalist food and other prepper supplies to help Christians survive an upcoming “tribulation” period that will supposedly last for several years.
Go fuck yourself, Jim Bakker. We’re going to continue watching you and laughing at your idiocy, your awful food and your imaginary friend in the sky.
A Third Toledo Pastor Arrested For Sex Crimes Against Chrildren And Charged With Sex Trafficking, Faces Life Sentence
October 16. 2017
Kenneth Butler, child sex predator
TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) –
Another Toledo pastor is now in jail and facing federal sex trafficking charge.
Kenneth Butler, 37, is being held in the Lucas County Jail on one county of sex trafficking of a minor. Butler is the pastor of Kingdom Encounter Family Worship Center on Secor Road. Butler calls himself a prophet, according to his Facebook page.
Officials say this case is related to the cases of Cordell Jenkins and Anthony Haynes, two other Toledo pastors who were charged with similar crimes.
According to court documents, Butler allegedly met the teen at Anthony Haynes’s church and paid to have sex with a minor several times.
The victim told the FBI she would have sex with Butler inside his car and that once it happened in an ally off the Anthony Wayne Trail.
According to court documents Butler paid the teen for sex on most occasions.
The teenage victim told the FBI she used the money to buy food for her siblings.
Court documents also say the victim told the FBI she had to take the Plan B pill after being concerned that she was pregnant with Butler’s child.
“In my eyes he was learning her vulnerabilities, her love of God, and her faith, and he used that, twisted that perhaps, to lure her into what he wanted. It had nothing to do with God, Jesus or anything good,” said Celia Williamson, Director of the Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute.
Court documents show Butler met the victim at another church in town and also offered the girl rides to a church in Detroit.
During those rides, the FBI claims Butler would ask the victim to perform sex acts on him.
Eventually, court documents reveal a taped phone led to the charge. In the phone call, Butler allegedly confesses to having sex with a teen in his car and then paying her.
Before Butler’s arrest, he posted a 14-minute long video to Facebook entitled “Let me apologize.” In it, he apologized to his friends and warned them to be careful of who they connect with; however he never mentioned the pending charge against him.
“It was never my intention to hurt God or displease Him or you out there,” Butler said in the video.
Butler will appear in court next week and possibly receive a bond.
Butler has been appointed a public defender after telling the judge he could not pay his own legal fees.
If found guilty, Butler faces a life sentence.
October 10, 2017
Samuel and Madelaine Emerson (not shown – traumatized, crying children with their pants down)
Samuel and Madelaine Emerson are facing more than two dozen sex charges. Samuel is a pastor at Cloverdale Christian Fellowship Church in Surrey, B.C.
The pastor of a Surrey, B.C., church and his wife are facing more than two dozen charges of sexual assault.
The couple were arrested in May but charges have only just been filed, which cover a period from 2015 to 2017.
They were released after their arrest by Surrey RCMP but under strict conditions.
According to a media release from the police, Samuel Emerson, 34, is a pastor at Cloverdale Christian Fellowship Church and has been charged with 13 counts of sexual assault, 11 counts of being in a position of authority and touching a person for a sexual purpose and one count of sexual touching of a person under the age of 16.
His wife, Madelaine Emerson, 37, has been charged with one count of sexual assault, one count of being in a position of authority and touching a person for a sexual purpose, and one count of threats to cause death or bodily harm.
The couple has five children of their own and were involved in the church’s youth ministry. Neither was previously known to police.
As of Thursday afternoon Randy and Christine Emerson are listed as senior pastors on the church’s website and there is no mention of Samuel, but his social media accounts still list him as a pastor at the church. Samuel is Randy and Christine’s son.
On May 18th, the day Samuel and Madelaine were arrested, Randy posted to Facebook.
“If you know us and our church please pray. We are under attack like never before and we need the accuser of the saints to be silenced and Truth prevail,” he wrote.
Two days later, he wrote again.
“Thank you to everyone who is praying for us and expressing love at this time. You are making a difference. This is a time when we must not believe with our eyes and ears but with our spirits. Let God be true and every man a liar. Can’t be specific at this time but your prayers are making a difference. Thanks and much love, Randy.”
Both posts each drew more than 100 “likes” and a large number of comments of support.
In a media release, investigators from Surrey RCMP said they “believe there is potential that other victims exist that have not come forward to police” and they are hoping they will come forward.
“Calling the police to report a sexual assault is a very difficult thing to do especially when the suspect is someone you knew and trusted, and can leave lifelong emotional scars,” Cpl. Scotty Schumann said in the release. “Our highly skilled investigators take sexual assaults very seriously, and, supported by our Surrey RCMP Victim Services workers, are here to listen and provide emotional support.”
October 5. 2017
He was once a humble traffic cop but now he’s Jesus Christ.
Sergei Torop’s followers in a remote corner of Siberia believe he is the literal reincarnation of the son of God.
Sporting wispy hair, a white cloak and sandals over his socks, the bearded 56-year-old calls himself Vissarion and says he’s the founder of the Church of the Last Testament.
The former Red Army soldier, who claims he was ‘reborn’ in 1991, is now the spiritual leader of at least 5,000 devoted followers small isolated village of Petropavlovka – more than 2,000 miles from Moscow.
His believers, who have given up their lives to follow him, are strict vegans and are banned from smoking and drinking or handling money.
It’s always a seller’s market for religion.
We have received a flood of emails asking us to post more words of wisdom from Past Robertson. So here is a short collection that will let you enter what is left of his mind. We don’t think any of these require commentary. They stand on their own.
- Men with “rebellious” wives should live where wife-beating is legal.
- You should cast demons out of secondhand clothes you buy, lest their previous owner’s evil infect you.
- God punishes people for having too much education.
- Beware “scamsters in religious garb.”
- Abortion is a lesbian conspiracy.
- Atheists are trying to steal Christmas to make you miserable.
October 3, 2017
TV preacher Pat Robertson says the massacre in Las Vegas was caused by lack of respect for President Donald Trump, protests during the national anthem and the country having no “vision of God.”
“There is profound disrespect for our president, all across this nation they say terrible things about him,” the televangelist and former presidential candidate said on “The 700 Club” on Monday. “It’s in the news, it’s in other places.”
This is the man whom god told that Mitt Romney would be that next president and would serve two terms. He has said so many crazy things that if you read them all it would give you cancer.
Robertson went on:
“There is disrespect now for our national anthem, disrespect for our veterans, disrespect for the institutions of our government, disrespect for the court system. All the way up and down the line, disrespect.”
He also blamed the lack of “biblical authority” and “some controlling authority in our society.”
“When there is no vision of God, the people run amok,” he said in the clip, posted online by Right Wing Watch. “And we have taken from the American people the vision of God, the whole idea of reward and punishment, an ultimate judge of all our actions, we’ve taken that away.
When there is no vision of God, the people run amok.”
Oooga Booga, baby,