Poor Dinesh D’Souza. Just a couple years ago he rode the crest of a Right-wing wave, when he released a paranoid Christofascist video based on own his paranoid Christofascist diatribe against
Satan Barack HUSSEIN Obama. The Religious Right worshipped the guy, and viewed his documentary and book as an indictment of the president and grounds to have him removed from office. D’Souza incessantly pumped both the video and the book on television, and had speaking engagements up the wazoo. He basked in the adoration of the Right and stood on top of the Right-wing world.
But oh, how the mighty have fallen!
Since then, as I blogged, he took up with another woman and was engaged to her, while still married to his wife (whom he later divorced). When he was caught doing so, and was mildly criticized for it, he promptly — and very publicly — threw his soon-to-be-ex-wife under the bus and denied having the slightest clue that it wasn’t a good idea to get engaged to another woman while still married to someone else.
To make matters worse, early this year he was indicted for campaign-finance fraud. As Politico reports today, D’Souza suddenly pled guilty in court (WebCite cached article):
Conservative author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza entered a guilty plea Tuesday to a charge that he used straw donors to make $20,000 in illegal contributions to Republican Senate candidate Wendy Long in 2012, officials said.
The unexpected guilty plea came on the same day the trial for the strident critic of President Barack Obama was set to open in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.
I’m surprised at this myself, because I was sure D’Souza wouldn’t plead out. To date he’s insisted he did nothing wrong, and has been unjustly persecuted by Obama because of his book and video. So, too, have his defenders, as Politico explains:
“Dinesh D’Souza, who did a very big movie criticizing the president, is now being prosecuted by this Administration,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said in a portion of a January CBS interview edited out by the network but posted online by Cruz’s office. “Can you image the reaction if the Bush administration had went, gone and prosecuted Michael Moore and Alec Baldwin and Sean Penn?”
Cruz’s statement is a sterling example of the screaming illogic of Rightist thinking: Because Cruz imagines there’d be an uproar had Bush gone after Leftist documentarians critical of him, he concludes that Obama prosecuting D’Souza is utterly unacceptable. That’s right, Cruz has made decisions about reality, based solely on things he imagines might have happened. For him, imagination and reality are blended. If that’s not a recipe for delusion, I don’t know what is.
Moreover, one ramification of this notion is that no Rightist can ever be prosecuted for anything, ever, by a Leftist administration. In other words, Rightists must automatically be viewed as totally incapable of committing any crime. I’m not so sure I buy that.
In any event, these whiny crybaby claims of innocence-&-persecution now ring hollow, given what D’Souza admitted in court:
At the court hearing Tuesday, D’Souza admitted he knew what he did was against the law.
“I knew that causing a campaign contribution to be made in the name of another was wrong and something the law forbids,” D’Souza said, according to Newsday [cached]. “I deeply regret my conduct.”
D’Souza had also objected to the charges on the basis of “selective prosecution.” This is the idea that he, and he alone, was being singled out for something that others are doing, but weren’t charged with crimes over. I’m not sure how well this looks for him, though. It’s a kind of “two wrongs make a right” thinking; it’s fallacious and it contradicts the kind of absolute morality that guys like him demand of everyone.
Despite D’Souza’s clear and unambiguous admission of wrongdoing and the fact that the old “but everyone’s doing it!” excuse is asinine and childish, my guess is, he and his defenders will continue to pronounce him totally innocent, and the victim of a president who won’t tolerate anyone saying the slightest thing bad about him. (If that were really the way Obama worked, tens of thousands of “birthers” around the country would have been jailed years ago and would still be rotting in prison.)
P.S. I note that campaign-finance fraud seems to be something Rightists have a lot of difficulty with, over the past couple of years. I know they dislike such laws because they think they think it infringes on “freedom of speech,” but that only makes sense if one accepts the premise that “money” equals “speech.” I don’t, because the last I knew, poor people could generally talk as much as the wealthy.
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore, via Flickr.
Tags: campaign finance
, campaign finance laws
, christian right
, dinesh d'souza
, election fraud
, religious right
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Note: There’s been some news in this case; see below.
Living in Connecticut, I can’t help but hear “Sandy Hook” mentioned now and again. Nearly all such references, of course, are to the Sandy Hook massacre on December 14, 2012 in Newtown, CT. I’ve blogged about the sometimes-crazy aftermath of that atrocity, and while it took place nearly a year and a half ago, it appears still to drive a wedge between certain people (aka “Sandy Hook truthers“) and reality.
The latest example of “Sandy Hook truther” insanity, as reported by the New London Day, took place last week in Mystic, CT (WebCite cached article):
The 50-pound vinyl peace sign that marked the entrance of the new playground built in memory of Grace McDonnell, one of the 20 first-graders who died in the December 2012 shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, was stolen Tuesday.
Then someone claiming to have taken the sign called McDonnell’s mother and told her the sign was gone, said William Lavin, founder of the “Where Angels Play Foundation,” which is building playgrounds to commemorate each of the 20 children and six adults killed at the school.
“There’s still a lot of ignorance and evil out there that someone could do something like that,” Lavin said Wednesday.
He said the caller was a man who claimed the shooting at Sandy Hook was a hoax.
What a mature action on the part of some NRA-deluded gun-toting wingnut! Because we all just know the Sandy Hook massacre was staged, perpetrated by Barack HUSSEIN Obama in order to take away everyone’s guns. That this isn’t what has happened since then, doesn’t appear to have sunk into their thick, sanctimoniously-enraged skulls.
Yes, folks, the country is full of children … many of them well over 21 years old. Keep it up, guys. You have no idea how impressed I am by your maturity. Really!
Photo credit: Motifake.Com/Demotivationalposters.Org.
Update: An arrest has been made in this and another Sandy Hook-related theft. The Washington Post has the improbable story of what led police to a sanctimoniously-enraged Virginia man named Andrew Truelove (cached). It includes some truly disturbing elements (cached).
Tags: andrew truelove
, grace mcdonnell
, herndon VA
, mantoloking NJ
, mystic CT
, sandy hook
, sandy hook elementary school
, sandy hook elementary school shooting
, sandy hook massacre
, sandy hook truth
, sandy hook truther
, sandy hook truthers
, where angels play
, where angels play foundation
, william lavin
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Last year, the US Supreme Court heard arguments in the case of the Town of Greece v. Galloway. Today they released their ruling, and given that it’s a majority-conservative (and, maybe more importantly, majority-Religious-Right) court, they ruled in favor of government agencies leading people in sectarian prayers. CNN reports on the case and the Court’s decision (WebCite cached article):
The Supreme Court gave limited approval on Monday to public prayers at a New York town’s board meetings, citing the country’s history of religious acknowledgment in the legislature.
The 5-4 ruling [cached] came in yet another contentious case over the intersection of faith and the civic arena. It was confined to the specific circumstances and offered few bright-line rules on how other communities should offer civic prayers without violating the Constitution.…
The conservative majority offered varying interpretations of when such “ceremonial” prayers would be permissible. Kennedy, along with Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, focused on the specifics of the Greece case and did not offer a broad expansion of legislative prayer.
This mention that the ruling is specific only to Greece, NY is belied by the fact that it is very typical of towns around the country that also open town-council sessions with prayers. I don’t see any way this ruling won’t be expanded to just about every locality and every government agency in the country. At least, I’m not stupid enough to think the nation’s Christofascists aren’t going to use this as a wedge to get prayers into just about every public venue possible, and that they won’t succeed at it.
The really bizarre part of this case is that Christians are explicitly forbidden — by Jesus, the founder of their religion — to pray in public in the first place! The gospels report that he said:
“(But) take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.… When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.” (Matthew 6:1,5-6)
I’ve blogged before about Christians’ tendency to disobey Jesus and happily engage in the practice of pubic piety, and even created a static page on the subject, which may be useful if you need more details. In any event, the result is that a lot of Christians went to court to establish a right to government prayers, and the Catholics on the Supreme Court granted them that right … all in very clear violation of what their own Jesus taught! They also love to litigate over Decalogue monuments, which is likewise exceedingly un-Christian. In fact, as I explain at length, there are a lot of Jesus’ instructions that Christians historically have refused to follow.
I note that Justice Kennedy relies upon an appeal to tradition in order to support what the town of Greece was doing. The US was historically Christian, he’s saying, therefore it’s fine to ram Christianity down all Americans’ throats. The problem with this is that appeals to tradition are fallacious. Just because something was done in the past, doesn’t make it a great idea forevermore. For instance, humanity had a long history of slavery, which was even legal for the first decades of this country; that long tradition, however, doesn’t mean we should reinstitute slavery. I’m not sure Justice Kennedy realizes he’s following this line of reasoning, but in fact, he is.
The bottom line here, is that America’s Christianists have finally won the right to force everyone … Christian and non-Christian alike … to pray to their own deity. I wish them the best of luck forcing me to pray with them. I invite them to track me down and give it their best shot! It won’t work, but they’re certainly welcome to try. Obviously they feel it’s important that every American pray to their Jesus; thus they have no rational reason not to do their utmost to make this American do so. So have at it, Christianists! Do your worst! What are you waiting for?
Photo credit: PsiCop original graphic, based on Mt 6:6, NASB.
, greece NY
, matthew 6:5-6
, matthew 6:6
, mt 6:5-6
, mt 6:6
, public prayer
, public prayers
, supreme court
, town of greece
, town of greece v galloway
, us supreme court
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It’s been coming for months now. In office only just over a year, Pope Francis … with his retired direct predecessor Benedict XVI on hand … today canonized two of the most famous popes of the twentieth century, if not of all time: John XXIII and John Paul II. The New York Times reports on this canonization rite and some of its ramifications (WebCite cached article):
Pope Francis made history on Sunday, elevating to sainthood John XXIII and John Paul II, two of his most famous papal predecessors, in a ceremony bearing themes of hope and reconciliation for the world’s one billion Roman Catholics.…
Francis, who made the decision to hold the joint canonization, portrayed the two former popes as “men of courage” who shared a place in history.…
Never before had two popes been canonized at the same time, and the pairing attracted large, joyous crowds tramping through Rome, with many people waving flags or banners. Francis declared the two men saints shortly after the Mass began, a pronouncement greeted with rising applause from the square and followed by the presentation of relics linked to the two new saints.…
Notable among the cardinals and political leaders seated near the outdoor altar was Benedict XVI, the former pope who has remained largely out of the public eye since his historic resignation last year. His decision to step down led to the papal election of Francis.
As the Times explains, the Vatican has been veering away from the (rather obvious) appearances evoked by this unprecedented event:
In the days before the ceremony, however, Vatican officials had sought to dispel the political subtext of the event — that the two former popes are icons to different constituencies within the church, and that by canonizing them together, Francis was making a political statement as well as a religious one.
John XXIII is a hero to many liberal Catholics for his Second Vatican Council of the early 1960s, which sought to open the church to the modern era. John Paul II is a hero to many conservative Catholics — not only for his anti-Communist heroism and personal charisma, but also because of his resistance to liberalizing elements of the church.
By pairing their canonizations, Francis sought to de-emphasize their differences, many analysts said, in the service of trying to reconcile divisions within the church and finding consensus as he prepared for the meetings, known as synods, centered on the theme of family.
I for one do not, for a single moment, buy into the idea that this couldn’t have been a way for Francis to appeal simultaneously to both the liberal/reformist and conservative/reactionary factions of his Church. Both factions were sure to be pleased by the elevation to sainthood of each of their most recognizable recent leaders. There’s just no way around it; the Vatican’s efforts to insist differently, are simply not credible.
A lot of ink has been spilt … and bits transmitted … concerning the unusual speed of John Paul’s canonization and the lack of two miracles to support John’s. For instance, Religion News Service asks why their canonizations were so speedy (cached):
Yet despite the vast popularity of the two popes, there is intense debate about whether these canonizations are nothing more than an elaborate public relations exercise — and whether they should be taking place at all.
John Paul II will hold the record for the fastest saint to be canonized in the history of the Catholic Church [sic]. John XXIII is even more controversial since Pope Francis approved his canonization with evidence of only one miracle — instead of the two normally required.
“It’s controversial among the saint makers at the Vatican, who consider themselves sticklers when it comes to the miracle requirement,” said longtime Vatican watcher John Thavis, author of “The Vatican Diaries.”
The article is incorrect when it says John Paul was canonized sooner after his death than any other saint (which is why I put a “sic” after that sentence above). Both St Anthony of Padua and St Peter of Verona, for example, were canonized much more quickly … each less than a year after their deaths, around 20 years apart during the 13th century. Despite this error, it’s true John Paul’s canonization is the quickest to have occurred in modern times. Moreover, consider as a comparison the protracted elevation of the Martyrs of Otranto: Killed in 1480, they were beatified just under 3 centuries later in 1771, and finally canonized almost 250 years after that, in 2013. Overall, their canonization took over 5 centuries to happen. The just-over-9-year span between John Paul’s death and canonization is a drop in the bucket, when viewed alongside that.
The Vatican and Church officials have, so far, defended these actions (i.e. John Paul’s quick elevation and John’s elevation without a second miracle) as proper within the boundaries of canon law and Church rules. For all I know, they may be correct about that. However, these moves are definitely unusual for a Church that’s known for not moving very fast on anything and for being fiercely legalistic about everything it does. To say otherwise is fucking laughable.
Photo credit: Andreas Solaro/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images, via the NY Times.
, catholic church
, holy see
, pope francis
, pope john paul ii
, pope john xxiii
, roman catholic
, roman catholic church
, vatican city
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For nearly all of their religion’s history, the vast majority of Christians have taken for granted that the single most important of their beliefs, is that Jesus was resurrected from the dead. Everything about their religion, they assume, revolves around that. This assumption goes back to the first century; the apostle Paul, for example, wrote:
But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. (1 Cor 15:13-14)
Yesterday, though, the Religion News Service asked what, for many Christians, is (WebCite cached article) an unthinkable question: “Can you question the Resurrection and still be a Christian?” RNS’s response to that question is a collection of nuanced views held by modern Christians. But having studied early Christianity, I can offer a different answer, one that goes back to the religion’s first decades and is based on scriptural scholarship.
Since the 19th century, scholars understand that the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke have a good deal in common. That commonality gave these three the moniker “synoptic,” meaning they’re similar. The most common explanation for what they have in common, is that the evangelists who wrote Matthew and Luke used Mark as a source, as well as another document which no longer exists. This other document is known as Q, which stands for German Quelle, meaning “source” (German being the native language of most Biblical scholars at the time). Q is sometimes referred to as “the Sayings Gospel” or “the Lost Gospel.”
Comparing and contrasting the content of the synoptic gospels provided a fairly good view of what Q must have been like. And based on what they found, it must have been a collection of Jesus’ sayings, with minimal — or possibly no — narrative content.
There was, of course, a rather glaring problem with this: Early Christian documents of this type were unknown. Nothing of that kind had been preserved by Christian communities. This hypothesis, then, appeared highly improbable.
That changed in 1945 when a cache of heretofore-unknown Christian documents was found in Nag Hammadi, Egypt. Among these was something called the Gospel of Thomas, and rather remarkably, it was precisely such a document: A collection of Jesus’ sayings. Thomas didn’t have the same content as Q, although up to half of Thomas’ content may have been the same as, or very similar to, Q. Finding a document of the same style, written in classical times, suggested that the hypothesized Q very well might have existed.
Now, because Q contained virtually no narrative, this meant it didn’t describe Jesus’ passion, death, or resurrection. Yet it probably existed by the late 40s CE (which is right around the time the earliest of Paul’s genuine epistles might have been written). It likely was based on an oral tradition, meaning it was even older than that.
So we know there were Christians collecting and recording Jesus’ sayings, but not, apparently, his resurrection. This is significant: They thought well enough of Jesus’ teachings to record them for posterity, but not enough of his resurrection to preserve that story. Assuming they believed in the latter, it’s difficult to account for such a choice. If Jesus’ resurrection were as central — and mandatory — to their religion as Paul said it was in 1 Corinthians, it seems truly odd that the authors of Q would have left it out, when they’d made the effort to preserve his teachings.
It’s not unreasonable, then, to conclude the earliest Christians, who’d contributed to Q and thence to the synoptic gospels, didn’t believe Jesus had been resurrected. We see, then, that at least one of the earliest Christian communities didn’t believe in Jesus’ resurrection. (Aside, of course, from the Corinth church, which Paul’s letter tells us also didn’t believe in Jesus’ resurrection.) Even so, the resurrection-less “Q community” managed just fine, without it.
Now, a lot of Christian apologists would condemn this reasoning because it’s based on speculation. And it is. The Q source no longer exists, and it hasn’t since around the turn of the 2nd century (and possibly before then). It’s true this is a lot of speculation, but it happens to be well-founded. The existence of a collection of Jesus’ sayings (i.e. Q) is currently the best explanation for how the synoptic gospels came into existence as they are; and given that it must have existed, it’s not hard to distill from the synoptics what its content must originally have included. We can, and should, feel free to reach conclusions based on this information … at least, until we discover flaws in this model. (To date, while this “two-source hypothesis” has some critics, especially among fundamentalist Christians, it remains the majority view of scholars.)
The final question that ought to be crossing your mind right now, is: How could one group of 40s CE Christians have been writing their own sayings gospel — which didn’t even mention Jesus’ resurrection, so that evidently they didn’t think it occurred — at nearly the same time the apostle Paul insisted the resurrection was a mandatory component of Christianity and its single most important facet? Here we stumble upon a rather profound problem, which is that, even in the earliest years of their religion, Christians did not all agree as to what Jesus’ teachings were or the meaning of his ministry. Different Christian groups, even in the religion’s initial decades, had very different approaches to the new faith. That much is incontrovertible. As for what that means … well, for the moment I’ll leave that up to you, Dear Reader.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.
Tags: 1 cor 15:13-14
, 1 corinthians 15:13-14
, early Christianity
, gospel of thomas
, jesus is arisen
, lost gospel
, q source
, sayings gospel
, synoptic gospels
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Easter is coming. I know that, not because I see it on the calendar. Oh no. I know it because of the bullshit and lies that people are passing around about it. An example of this is the picture here, one I’ve seen posted by several folks on Facebook, which has the following text:
This is Ishtar: pronounced “Easter”.
Easter was originally the celebration of Ishtar, the Assyrian and Babylonian goddess of fertility and sex. Her symbols (like the egg and the bunny) were and still are fertility and sex symbols (or did you actually think eggs and bunnies had anything to do with the resurrection?). After Constantine decided to Christianize the Empire, Easter was changed to represent Jesus. But at its roots, Easter (which is how you pronounce Ishtar) is all about celebrating fertility and sex. (Origin uncertain.)
There is a mixture of truth and lies here. The true part is that eggs and bunnies are fertility symbols. Also, there’s a chance the name “Ishtar” may have been pronounced, by some ancient people, “Ee-star” or “Ee-ster.” But the odds are much greater that it was pronounced “Eesh-tar” or “Eesh-ter.” (Sadly, it’s hard to be sure how any given ancient name was pronounced when its language hasn’t survived into modern times.) And Ishtar was a fertility goddess.
As for the rest, which comprises the majority of what this picture claims … it’s lies, all lies! I’ve already covered a lot of this in a post a few years ago that covered the same false ground, and it was covered by the Daily Beast a year ago (WebCite cached article).
Simply put, the similarity between our word “Easter” and the ancient name “Ishtar” is merely coincidental. They don’t have a common origin, and aren’t related at all. The former comes from an Indo-European root which originally referred to the dawn; the latter derives from an Afro-Asiatic root referring to a leader or chief.
What’s more, any similarity between the name “Easter” and that of the Babylonian goddess fails in non-Germanic languages, which have very different names for the holiday. Since the Romans didn’t speak a Germanic language (they spoke Latin, in which the holiday’s name is Pascha) there is literally no way Constantine I could have made a holiday named “Easter” “represent Jesus” in the manner described!
As for Emperor Constantine, he never “Christianized” the Roman Empire. He didn’t even come close to doing so! All he did for Christianity was to declare tolerance for it. He also attempted (ultimately disastrously, for his part) to meddle in its affairs, by convoking the Council of Nicaea. The Christianization of the Roman Empire happened only over a period of time, and it mostly happened after he died.
One last thing: Neither the egg nor the bunny were symbols of Ishtar. The most common symbol associated with her, that we know of from archaeological and historical evidence, is the lion. Now, it’s true that, occasionally, lions also have been linked with Jesus, but this linkage hasn’t been very common, historically.
The bottom line is, if you see this picture posted on somewhere on the Internet, especially on Facebook or Twitter or some other place that allows interaction with the poster, please take the time to correct him/her on this. Only a very little research is required to debunk the lies in this picture. Let’s put an end to this foolishness already!
Photo credit: Origin unknown; frequently transmitted on the Internet.
, constantine the great
, easter bunny
, easter egg
, easter eggs
, easter ishtar picture
, easter mythology
, emperor constantine
, ishtar easter picture
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By now most of my readers will have heard about the shootings in Overland Park, KS yesterday. Given this happened on the eve of Passover, that Jewish locations had been targeted, and even though KCTV in Kansas City reported the suspect had yelled “Heil Hitler!” while in a police cruiser, officials were at first reluctant to admit this was a hate crime. As of this morning, and as the Kansas City Star reports, they finally made that concession (WebCite cached article):
A 73-year-old southwest Missouri man with a long history of anti-Semitism is suspected of killing two people outside Overland Park’s Jewish Community Center and then a third at a nearby Jewish assisted living facility.
After officers arrested Frazier Glenn Cross — an Aurora, Mo., man better known as F. Glenn Miller — Sunday afternoon, authorities said he went on a rant inside the patrol car. Though Overland Park Police Chief John Douglass wouldn’t say what Cross hollered, a television crew captured him on video while he was handcuffed in the back of the car.
“Heil Hitler,” Miller yelled out, and then he bobbed his head up and down.
The hateful creature who’s accused of these shootings is fairly infamous for his ardent white supremacy. He even has his own Wikipedia page, which mentions, among other things, his brief war against the United States government in the late ’80s. He also goes by a number of names … F. Glenn Miller, Fraiser Glenn Cross, and just Glenn Miller. The Southern Poverty Law Center has been keeping tabs on him, too, and not just because he’s just the sort of nasty hateful prick they keep track of … he’d actually conspired to assassinate Morris Dees, head of the SPLC.
If you want to see what Miller really thinks, you can check out his World Wide Web page. He bares all his freakish, irrational, conspiratorial rage there. (Note, that link is to a WebCite cached version of his page; I will not dignify this monster by linking his site directly in my own.)
As I noted in another post a couple weeks ago, it’s impossible to separate white supremacy as it exists in the U.S. from Christianity. It’s a direct product of the Southern Baptist sect in the post-Civil War south. At its core are a lot of legends derived from Christian tradition. Anti-Semitism has its origins in the history of Christianity, the result of Christians being offended that Jews insolently refused to accept Jesus as their Messiah.
I note that Miller obviously wasn’t too smart about his anti-Semitic shooting spree; none of the people he killed were actually Jewish. So he’s not only a monstrous, hateful creature, he’s a pathetic, moronic loser too.
P.S. CNN’s Belief blog attempts to absolve Christianity of any blame for Miller’s supposed murders by announcing he’s not a Christian, but rather, an Odinist (cached). The article then suggests he’d become an atheist. Either or both of those may be true, but whether they are or not is beside the point. The cold fact is, there would be no anti-Semitism in the occidental world … among Odinists, atheists, or anyone else … if not for Christianity’s centuries-long history of persecution of Jews. Moreover, Miller’s Odinism (whether he still espouses it or not) is a direct product of Nazi party propaganda, with the Nazis themselves having been inspired largely by their Christianity, not by whatever neo-pagan trappings they attempted to wrap themselves in.
So, nice try, CNN, but no dice. I’m not stupid enough to fall for it.
Photo credit: John Sleezer / Kansas City Star.
, f glenn miller
, frazier glenn cross
, frazier glenn miller
, frazier glenn miller jr
, jewish community center
, jewish community center shootings
, johnson county
, johnson cty ks
, overland park KS
, overland park shootings
, village shalom
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