Aftermath of Brussels airport bombing / (UK) IndependentThis morning, we Americans woke to some terrible — but not entirely surprising — news. The “religion of peace” has struck again. As numerous outlets, including CNN, report just now, three blasts rocked the city of Brussels, Belgium (WebCite cached article):

Three explosions that ripped through the Belgian capital of Brussels on Tuesday killed at least 28 people, according to Belgian media, and raised the reality of terror once again in the heart of Europe.

“We were fearing terrorist attacks, and that has now happened,” Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel told reporters.

Belgian federal Prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw said it was too soon to know exactly how many people died in the bombings. Yet the Brussels Metro Authority reported that 15 died and 55 were wounded in the subway station blast. And public broadcaster VRT said at least 13 more were killed, and about 35 were injured, in the two blasts in the Brussels airport departure hall.

Of the two explosions at the airport, at least one was a suicide bombing, Van Leeuw said. A blast happened there outside the security checkpoints for ticketed passengers and near the airline check-in counters, an airline official briefed on the situation said.

It’s not yet clear which exact Islamist-terror organization was behind these attacks; there’ve been no claims of responsibility and officials are only just gathering information.[Update 1] At this point there doesn’t appear to be much to say that hasn’t already been said many times already. So I will close with what I said after the Paris attacks last November:

Clearly, the “Religion of Peace” has shown its true colors … again! … even if, by now, no sane person actually needs such an illustration. Predictably, Muslim leaders and organizations around the world have condemned the attacks on Paris, but let’s be honest: Those condemnations will accomplish nothing whatsoever. ISIS/ISIL/IS/whatever-the-fuck and all its ilk will continue their barbaric terror campaigns, and they’ll keep attracting Muslim recruits from around the world. It’s not going to stop just because some scholars of Islam mouth recriminations against Islamist terror. The Islamists already don’t give a flying fuck what anyone else thinks, and they’re not going to, ever. Mere words don’t matter, and have no discernible effect on them.

The sooner the world’s Muslims begin actively (rather than just verbally) dealing with the festering sore deep within their religion, which these violent barbarians believe grants divine sanction to their savage terror campaign, the sooner something can actually be done about it. But sadly, I just don’t see that happening. Not enough of them have the courage to do so.

Nothing will change, I’m sure … just as nothing was done in the wake of the Paris and San Bernardino attacks. It never does. I’m reminded of this classic Bible verse:

That which has been is that which will be,
And that which has been done is that which will be done.
So there is nothing new under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9)

P.S. Christianists had best not use this to get on their high horses and start bellowing out their usual sanctimonious Neocrusading crap. Right-wing (and yes, Christian!) terror exists, and is a greater danger to Americans than Islamists’.

Update 1: Reuters reports that ISIS/ISIL/IS/whatever has, in fact, claimed responsibility for the Brussels attacks (cached).

Photo credit: (UK) Independent.

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Cardinal Philippe Barbarin / Alessandro Bianchi/Reuters, via the Daily BeastThe worldwide Catholic clerical child-abuse scandal rolls on. I’ve blogged about it for a very long time. It’s been going on for around 15 years. Had such a scandal manifested within any other organization, people would have been prosecuted, changes would have been made, victims compensated, and it would have long ago stopped being an issue.

But that’s not how things work with the Catholic Church. No, the Holy Church doesn’t work the way any other institution does. It keeps on keeping on, as the saying goes. It doesn’t admit fault, it doesn’t change, it doesn’t relent, it makes no concessions, it just does what it’s always done … because the Church. Case in point: As the Daily Beast reports, the priestly-pedophilia scandal erupted again, this time in France, involving a Cardinal there (WebCite cached article):

Meet the Archbishop of Lyon, Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, who has denied he did anything wrong by hiding the well-known fact [cached] that Father Bernard Preynat was sexually abusing as many as 40 Catholic Scouts in France in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Preynat was relieved of his duties in the parish of Roanne in 2015 after admitting to the sex abuse. He was indicted on Jan. 27 on charges of “sexual abuse and rape of minors” and has admitted his crimes to the police.…

Meanwhile, Cardinal Barbarin is facing criminal charges by a French secular court for “failing to report a crime” and “endangering the life of others,” which could carry a three-year prison sentence and fines up to €45,000.

Barbarin denies having done anything wrong, and his reasoning is quite unbelievable:

[Barbarin] maintains that he shouldn’t be accused at all because he eventually removed Preynat from parish work.

Never mind that the removal came nearly 15 years after his crimes were made known. After victims and their families came forward in 1991, Preynat was removed him from parish duties for six months by the then-archbishop, who is now deceased. Yet despite having confessed to the crimes, Preynat was allowed to return to his active duties after he repented, meaning he had access to children despite admitting to being a pedophilic sex offender.

When Barbarin was appointed as archbishop, he even promoted the errant priest to an administrative position in 2007 where he was in charge of six dioceses filled with children, according to court documents quoted [cached] in the French press.

Barbarin, who is well liked in France despite his harsh stance against gay marriage (which he once predicted would pave the way to legalized incest), removed Preynat from the priesthood last August when secular authorities got involved—25 years after his crimes had first emerged.

Yes, apparently Barbarin believes that, because he finally summoned the courage to stop Preynat decades after he knew Preynat was abusing kids, this means he shouldn’t have been prosecuted for not having stopped Preynat.

Yes, folks, this is exactly the sort of reasoning that floats through the pompous and self-righteous brains of Catholic hierachs. It’s at least as absurd and laughable as any of the vast litany of other excuses the hierarchs and their apologists have offered, over the past few years.

But let’s be brutally honest here: Preynat’s superiors — which included Barbarin for a very long time, but also others within the Church — knew damned well he was abusing kids but purposely chose to allow him to continue abusing kids, for decades. Yes, that’s decades. This is factual — by Preynat’s own admission. There’s no question about it. I invite any and all Catholic apologists out there to explain to me clearly how and why this was acceptable. I fucking dare you! Go ahead and tell me why this was just fine.

Photo credit: Alessandro Bianchi/Reuters, via the Daily Beast.

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Jesus weptFor years, I’ve reported on the problem of clerical predators abusing people — all too often, children — and be shielded by virtue of their sacred offices. Usually this has involved the Catholic Church, because the Catholic hierarchs have, historically, worked to prevent their clergy from being prosecuted or sued. They’ve even moved personnel around surreptitiously in order to keep them out of the hands of Johnny Law. Catholic apologists love to whine that these kinds of reports hit the media “only” when their precious Church is involved, and abuse by other clergy — or other types of folks, such as public-school teachers — is never reported. (In fact, it is! But they don’t really care to admit it.) They think this is some kind of defense of their Church.

Well, it’s not. Yes, I concede this sort of thing is not solely a Catholic problem. Over the years I’ve repeatedly said this, and have blogged about various cases. That, however, doesn’t appear to stop Catholic apologists from making this whine.

So to be clear, I present another sordid tale, reported by the Hartford Courant, that involves a Baptist church in New Haven, CT (WebCite cached article):

A pastor at a Baptist Church in New Haven was allowed to continue leading his church for five years while on the state sex offender registry after a child-molestation conviction, letters from church officials and state court records show.

It was only after his second arrest — in 2014 on child pornography charges — that Eli Echevarria stepped down from leading El Calvario Baptist Church, according to the letters and court records.

Church leaders, who operate independently of the central Baptist governing authority in Connecticut, have not responded to multiple requests for comment. Echevarria is serving a two-year prison sentence.

The Courant goes on to explain what happened here. Unlike the Catholic Church, which uses its vast size and its pervasive, homogeneous organization to help abusers avoid detection, Echevarria took advantage of Baptists’ decentralized structure and “hands off” approach:

But the case and the way it was handled have sparked criticism of the church’s governing authority.

The fact that American Baptist Churches of Connecticut, the church’s ruling body, never informed other pastors of Echevarria’s history came to the attention of William Keane, pastor at First Baptist Church of Branford, after Echevarria began attending his church.

Keane criticized the statewide church’s handling of Echevarria’s situation, including a policy put in place after Echevarria’s second conviction that requires state church officials to run the names of all pastors through the state’s sex offender registry list at least once every two years.…

ABCConn does not install local pastors. Individual churches hire, and can fire, their pastor. The statewide group only sets overarching policy.

In essence, then, this structure (or lack thereof) allows both the Baptists’ governing council in Connecticut, and the management of the El Calvario church, to endlessly pass blame to each other. It’s rather a convenient setup, isn’t it? Even if, ironically, it’s the opposite of how the Catholic Church gets around things like this.

I’m sure some Catholic apologists will jump up and down for joy at this revelation. “You see? It’s not just us!” they’ll happily announce. And in doing so, they won’t have gotten the point … which is that religions are supposedly bastions of morality, not dens of iniquity. Purposely structuring a religion in such a way as to allow predators to operate freely and without accountability, is no way to run things — unless you’re trying to arrange it so that malcontents can skate. That its clergy sometimes turn out to be criminals does nothing to reinforce the notion that a religion has any moral superiority. In fact, it leans against such a conclusion.

I’ll close by commending Pastor Keane for having worked to bring at least some accountability here. He took on his own organization, in defense of kids. Good for him! Would that there’d been more like-minded folks running El Calvario and managing ABCConn.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Monk attacked / KVAL-TVI’ve mentioned before that the Great Neocrusade has become violent. It became apparent in the wake of the Paris and San Bernardino Islamist terror attacks, but it’s continued since then.

The latest example of the violent Neocrusade is yet another case of “mistaken identity.” As KVAL-TV reports, a Buddhist monk was attacked by an enraged, sanctimonious anti-Muslim crusader (WebCite cached article):

Kozen Sampson, a Buddhist monk and co-founder of the Trout Lake Abbey retreat, said he was attacked Monday during a visit to Hood River.

He doesn’t remember much, but says a man, who seemingly thought he was Muslim based on his clothing, attacked him for no reason.

“I pulled over, someone ran up and yelled. I turned around, they kicked the door, hit me in the side of the face and knocked my head into the frame of the car,” Sampson said. “I do remember [him yelling] an F bomb [about] Muslims, and that was it.”

Sampson expressed sadness rather than anger for his attacker, which is extremely generous. I’m not impressed with people who are so furious about the existence of Islam, that they not only feel the need to attack Muslims, they can’t even be bothered to figure out if the people they’re attacking are Muslims in the first place.

As I’ve said so many times before in cases like this … I get it. Really. I do. I honestly am aware that Muslim terrorists have attacked people in the name of their religion. I don’t see how anyone with a brain could fail to be aware of that reality. But randomly targeting Muslims — or worse, people who aren’t Muslim but who look different enough that they could be mistaken for Muslims — isn’t going to help stop Islamist terror. It just won’t. No amount of sanctimonious fury can ever change that.

Isn’t it time for Americans to fucking grow the hell up already?

Photo credit: KATU/KVAL.

Hat tip: Raw Story.

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Supporters of Mumtaz Qadri during his funeral. Photograph: Anjum Naveed/AP, via The GuardianJust a little while ago I blogged about protests in Pakistan following the execution of Mumtaz Qadri, who’d assassinated Punjab’s governor Salman Taseer, an opponent of blasphemy laws. Pakistan, you see, is still full of howling barbaric Islamists who like blasphemy laws, because they grant them an excuse to take out their rage on anyone they think dissed their religion.

Even so, these hordes of infantilized Pakistanis managed to outdo themselves, when — as the (UK) Guardian reports — some 100,000 of them showed up at Qadri’s funeral (WebCite cached article):

An estimated crowd of more than 100,000 people have attended the funeral of Mumtaz Qadri, in a massive show of support for the convicted murderer of a leading politician who had criticised Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.

The vast gathering on Tuesday centred on Liaquat Park in Rawalpindi, where a succession of clerics made fiery speeches bitterly condemning the government for giving the go-ahead for Monday’s execution of Qadri, a former police bodyguard who became a hero to many of his countrymen after he shot and killed Salmaan Taseer, the governor of Punjab province, in 2011.…

Many people had travelled from around the country to attend the funeral, and crowds spilled out of the park on to the adjacent thoroughfare where throngs crushed around the flower-strewn ambulance that eventually brought Qadri’s body to the event.

Some of the all-male crowd wore “I am Qadri” signs around their necks while others held up the front page of the Ummat newspaper for bypassers to kiss, which was entirely covered with a photo of Qadri’s dead and garlanded body.…

Sajjad Akhtar Abassi, a lawyer wearing the black suit and tie of his trade, condemned the supreme court for upholding Qadri’s death sentence last year.

“It is a court of law, not a court of justice,” he said. “Islam is a religion of peace and harmony but it does not allow anybody to use wrong words against the prophet or any other holy character.”

One must see the vast turnout for this funeral — and Pakistanis’ support for this vile assassin — to believe it:People crowd around the ambulance carrying the body of Mumtaz Qadri during his funeral in Rawalpindi. Photograph: Faisal Mahmood/Reuters, via The GuardianYes, we get what you’re saying, Mr Abassi. Islam might “a religion of peace and harmony,” but only so long as everyone belongs to the same sect of that religion. For anyone who’s not, there can be no “peace” nor “harmony,” just endless harassment. Because Islam, I guess.

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

Photo credit: Top, Anjum Naveed/AP, via The Guardian; middle, Faisal Mahmood/Reuters, via The Guardian.

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Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, Altoona, PAOnce again the world is treated to yet another revelation of the Roman Catholic hierarchy’s Mafia-like morals. It turns out that a campaign to let abusive priests prey on children lasted for decades in central Pennsylvania. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports the release of a grand jury’s finding outlining the “staggering” depravity (WebCite cached version):

Hundreds of children were molested, raped and destined to lasting psychological trauma by at least 50 priests and others associated with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown across half a century, a state grand jury has found in denouncing coverups orchestrated by two bishops and enabled by the law enforcement officials they controlled.

The conspiracy amounted to “soul murder,” said the report by the 37th Statewide Investigating Grand Jury, released today nearly two years after the grand jury was impaneled.…

The two previous bishops leading the diocese — James Hogan, who served from 1966 to 1986 and died in 2005, and Joseph Adamec, who served from 1987 to 2011 and is now retired — “took actions that further endangered children as they placed their desire to avoid public scandal over the wellbeing of innocent children,” the report said. “Priests were returned to ministry with full knowledge they were child predators.”

Making this case much worse than a lot of others, was the active involvement of secular officials, who apparently were more concerned with pleasing the R.C. Church than in doing their jobs and prosecuting crimes against children:

The report includes extensive testimony from a key aide to Bishop Hogan, Monsignor Philip Saylor, who said a Blair County president judge, sheriff and other law-enforcement officers deferred to the diocese to let it handle investigations of abusive priests, rather than prosecuting them. And Monsignor Saylor said a mayor of Johnstown sent candidates for police and fire chief to him for interviews, and he would tell the mayor whom to pick. “That happened in Johnstown and Altoona,” he said.

The grand jury report quoted former Altoona Police Chief Peter Starr as crediting his own appointment to such arrangements and saying that the “politicians of Blair County were afraid of Monsignor Saylor” given his role as editor of the diocesan newspaper.

With such influence, “Hogan saw no obligation of faith or law to the children of his parishioners,” the grand jury report said.

The report added that even a diocesan review board, impaneled amid growing public outrage over sexual abuse by priests, often turned into a travesty, with investigations focusing not on the accused but on those reporting abuse by priests. In one case, the review board sought gynecological records of a survivor, the report said.

You can read the entire report for yourself, if you wish (cached).

This is one of the few investigative reports in which secular officials’ complicity and obeisance to the Church were revealed in plain language. The unfortunate problem is that, despite this pervasive child abuse and extensive efforts to obstruct justice, no one is going to be prosecuted, due to the deaths of many perpetrators, statutes of limitations, and an unwillingness to force victims to testify. If not for those, a lot of people might be going to jail. More’s the pity.

Now, I’m sure the fact that this report was released by Pennsylvania’s embattled Attorney General Kathleen Kane will make Catholic apologists leap for joy. “How can anyone believe this report?” they’ll protest. “Ms Kane is up to her eyeballs in a scandal!” Yes, it’s true, Ms Kane is in deep trouble (cached). So yes, this grand jury report was offered up by tainted hands. But that’s not actually relevant here, and it doesn’t affect the report’s credibility. She wasn’t on the grand jury. What’s more, that she presented the report doesn’t mean its conclusions aren’t valid. After all, even a broken clock is right, twice a day.

So, too bad so sad, Catholic apologists. You still lose. And you always will, because your loser Church is run by a cadre of amoral and cowardly old men.

Photo credit: Joseph, via Flickr.

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Protests such as this one in Lahore took place in several major cities / AFP/Getty photo, via BBC NewsSome five years ago I blogged about something that, I suppose, could only have happened in Pakistan, which is home to millions of howling barbaric Islamist fundamentalists. One Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri had killed Punjab’s provincial governor, Salman Taseer, because the latter had supported repealing Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.

To give you an idea of what sort of lowlife Qadri is, he’d been Taseer’s bodyguard! And to give you an idea of what sorts of primitive religionist savages Pakistanis are, a bunch of their lawyers showered Qadri with flowers when he arrived to a court appearance, back then.

I bring this up because the machinery of Pakistani justice eventually held Qadri accountable for his crime, and he was executed. But as Religion News Service reports, Pakistanis showed their true colors, by protesting (WebCite cached article):

Pakistan on Monday executed a man who killed the governor of Punjab province over his call to reform strict blasphemy laws that carry a death sentence for insulting Islam.

Street protests broke out within hours by supporters of the killer, who consider him a hero for defending the faith. The head of the Islamabad Bar Council called for a day-long strike of lawyers in protest against the hanging.…

Protesters briefly blocked the main road between Rawalpindi and Islamabad on Monday after news of the hanging broke. Police later dispersed them and closed off the road to prevent more demonstrations.

Chaudhry predicted larger demonstrations coinciding with Qadri’s funeral, which his legal group said would be held on Tuesday.

“From what we are seeing, this protest movement is only going to increase,” he said.

As is usually the case when such things happen, I will simply point out that blasphemy laws are ridiculous and childish. Blasphemy harms nothing and no one, ever. If a religion has any veracity, no amount of “blasphemy” can change that. If a deity has power, no amount of “insults” can take it away. Blasphemy laws only serve to infantilize people and prevent them from hearing something they might not like. Boo fucking hoo.

Photo credit: AFP/Getty photo, via BBC News.

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