Posts Tagged “christians”
The phenomenon of Virgin Mary sightings shows no sign of letting up. Almost since the start of Christianity, the religions followers have found her in any number of weird places. Clearly, they are determined to see her everywhere … and, unsurprisingly, they do! Her latest appearance, as USA Today reports, is in the bark of a tree in West New York, NJ (WebCite cached article):
People are flocking to a tree in New Jersey where some say they see the image of the Virgin Mary.
People have been praying, crying and leaving flowers and candles as they look at the small opening where the bark was stripped away.
Since this is close to the heart of the nation’s largest metropolis, it’s attracted more than a little attention, which had to be accomodated:
A fence and other barricades also have been set up around the tree, which is in a sidewalk along a commercial strip in West New York.
The local Catholic principality is a bit circumspect about this Marian apparition:
Newark Archdiocese spokesman Jim Goodness tells The Journal newspaper of Jersey City the image is likely “some discoloration that resembles Our Lady of Guadalupe.”
The picture above, courtesy of CBS New York, shows Our Lady of Guadalupe and the West New York Mary side-by-side, providing an excellent comparison. Frankly, I don’t see the resemblance. Yes, I concede the torpedo-shaped bark split that surrounds the presumed image of the Virgin Mary does, indeed, resemble the capsule surrounding the famous Guadalupe painting. But what’s inside the West New York image, doesn’t look anything like what’s inside the Guadalupe image. It’s not similar at all. These Virgin Mary-spotters and -worshippers are causing a ruckus over nothing.
This sort of madness really needs to stop. As I’ve blogged so many times before, this is nothing more than pareidolia at work, the well-known tendency of humans to see familiar patterns in otherwise-unremarkable formations. Get over it already and go back to your lives. OK?
Hat tip: Mark at Skeptics & Heretics Forum on Delphi Forums.
Photo credit: CBS 2 via CBS New York.
, marian apparition
, mary sighting
, our lady of guadalupe
, virgin mary
, virgin mary sighting
, virgin mary sightings
, west new york
, west new york NJ
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It was only a matter of time before some enraged religiofascist windbag blamed the Supreme Court decision upholding the healthcare reform law on those wicked, insolent atheists. This one comes to us courtesy of William J. Murray, the son of famed atheist Madelyn Murray O’Hair, who as an adult converted to fundamentalist Christianity. Since then he’s waged his own personal war against the vile forces of atheism. The religiofascist outlet World Net Daily reports on his stretch of reasoning (WebCite cached article):
In an interview with WND, Murray spoke of the Engel v. Vitale case as one of the key Supreme Court decisions that inevitably led to the federal government getting involved in health care. …
“Though it wasn’t as far-reaching and it didn’t affect the lives of everyday Americans as much as this case did today, the case (Engel v. Vitale) was a precursor to the case that removed Bible verses and prayer from school,” said Murray, whose book, “My Life Without God,” documents what his young life was like growing up with a committed communist like O’Hair as his mother.
“The 1963 case was one of the troika of cases that worked to destroy the basic family unit,” Murray explained. “One of the striking things about Obamacare is that it was pushed and promoted out of its necessity because of the breakup of the family. There is no one to take care of the family, because of this.
Did you catch that? Because prayer was taken out of public schools in the 1906s, this somehow prevents families from taking care of themselves. Yes, that’s what Murray thinks: Not only that families no longer take care of themselves, but that the government actively prevents them from doing so.
I must have missed it, because I have yet to see the jackbooted thugs of the federal government barging into people’s homes and pointing their guns at heads of families who manage their own affairs. Have you? Murray must have, because he seems fairly sure it’s happened in every single household in the country. Apparently.
As with most World Nut Daily articles, this one contains links to Murray’s putative “tell-all” memoir of how horrible it was for him to have endured growing up in one of those wicked atheist homes. The article serves as little more than a sales-pitch for the book to all those religiofascists who read it and are hooked by Murray’s irrational and fact-deprived message.
For the record, there is nothing inherently wrong with atheism or any other form of non-belief. In a (supposedly) free country such as this one, we’re free to be non-religious if we wish to be. Religiofascists like Murray are likewise free not to like the fact that non-believers exist … but too bad for them, that’s as far as it can go. For them to lie about non-belief — and to actively campaign to use government to coerce non-believers into believing (cached) — are both wrong, and must not be tolerated.
Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.
Photo credit: Austin Cline (Original Poster: National Archives), via About.Com.
, prayer in public schools
, public school prayer
, school prayer
, william j murray
, william murray
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We’ve seen that Creationists will stop at nothing to indoctrinate school children with their irrational, non-factual, hyperreligious dogma. They’re ferociously angry at the idea that anyone might actually accept evolution (what they often call “Darwinism”). That evolution is currently the only valid scientific explanation for the diversity of life on the planet, doesn’t matter to them. They’re still outraged that science has validated evolution. (“Science,” you see, in their minds is an insidious diabolical conspiracy designed to destroy them.)
An example of just how far these people will go in their sanctimonious effort to promote Creationism and discredit evolution, can be seen in this Scotsman report about a Louisiana outfit that claims the Loch Ness Monster refutes evolution (WebCite cached article):
Thousands of American school pupils are to be taught that the Loch Ness monster is real — in an attempt by religious teachers to disprove Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.
Pupils attending privately-run Christian schools in the southern state of Louisiana will learn from textbooks next year, which claim Scotland’s most famous mythological beast is a living creature. …
One ACE [Accelerated Christian Education] textbook called Biology 1099, Accelerated Christian Education Inc reads: “Are dinosaurs alive today? Scientists are becoming more convinced of their existence.
“Have you heard of the Loch Ness Monster in Scotland? ‘Nessie’ for short has been recorded on sonar from a small submarine, described by eyewitnesses, and photographed by others. Nessie appears to be a plesiosaur.”
Another claim taught is that a Japanese whaling boat once caught a dinosaur.
These are lies, of course. The putative Loch Ness Monster has never been recorded by any imaging device, ever … not by sonar, and not even by photograph — for example, the famous “surgeon’s photo,” above, is a known hoax (cached). Over the last few decades, a number of expeditions have tried to locate and image “Nessie,” but all have failed to do so. If “Nessie” exists, then she’s done a remarkable job of hiding herself from all of these efforts. Maybe this is because she’s aware she’s being searched for and is purposely avoiding detection, specifically in order to deprive skeptics of evidence of her existence …!?
In short … one can’t possibly use “Nessie” as proof evolution isn’t true, because “Nessie” does not even exist!
It’s one thing for private Christianist schools to want to teach this nonsense to their children. They’re free to do so, even if what they’re teaching is wrong. The problem here, as The Scotsman explains, is that public funding is financing the education of some of the kids who’ll be indoctrinated this way:
Thousands of children are to receive publicly-funded vouchers enabling them to attend the [ACE] schools — which follow a strict fundamentalist curriculum.
So Louisiana taxpayers will be picking up the tab for some of this religious indoctrination. I’m sure Louisiana’s religionistic governor, Bobby Jindal, doesn’t view this a a problem, but those of us with brains know otherwise.
Hat tip: Skeptical Inquirer.
Photo credit: Wikipedia.
Tags: accelerated christian education
, creationism in schools
, creationism in science classes
, creationism vs evolution
, dinosaurs with guns
, evangelical christian
, evangelical christianity
, evangelical christians
, evolution vs creationism
, loch ness
, loch ness monster
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I blogged some time ago about the Philadelphia archdiocese being investigated by the state of Pennsylvania for its complicity in child abuse by its clergy. A long trial, followed by a long and apparently contentious deliberation, finally paid off: As CBS News reports, an official of the archdiocese was found guilty of child endangerment (WebCite cached version):
A Roman Catholic church official was convicted Friday of child endangerment but acquitted of conspiracy in a groundbreaking clergy-abuse trial, becoming the first U.S. church official convicted of a crime for how he handled abuse claims.
Monsignor William Lynn helped the archdiocese keep predators in ministry, and the public in the dark, by telling parishes their priest was being removed for health reasons and then sending the men to unsuspecting churches, prosecutors said.
Lynn, 61, had faced about 10 to 20 years in prison if convicted of all three counts he faced — conspiracy and two counts of child endangerment. He was convicted only on one of the endangerment counts, leaving him with the possibility of 3 1/2 to seven years in prison.
Lynn and his attorneys naturally insist he’d done nothing wrong and that he was not responsible for the transfer and redeployment of abusive priests, even though he was the one who had lied in order to cover up for them:
Lynn’s lawyer, Thomas Bergstrom, pledged in opening statements in late March that the monsignor would not run from the sins of the church. However, he said in closing arguments that Lynn should not be held responsible for them.
He suggested his client was a middle manager-turned-scapegoat for the clergy-abuse scandal. Lynn, he said, documented the abuse complaints and did his best to get reluctant superiors to address it.
“And now, now of all things, the commonwealth wants you to convict him for documenting the abuse that occurred in the archdiocese, …. the evil that other men did. They want to hold him responsible for their sins.”
It’s true that Lynn himself abused no one. It’s also true that Lynn himself was not responsible for the duplicitous behavior of his superiors. But that said, he is still responsible for what he did — which was to watch the abuse occur, lie in order to cover it up, and refuse to hand over any of his supposed documentation to police (which he most certainly could have done at any time, had he truly wished to). Instead, he remained where he was, doing what he was, surrounded by abuse he knew was going on, and which was being covered up by his archdiocese …
And he never so much as lifted a finger to try to stop it or see that it was prosecuted. Not once.
As I said, Lynn was no abuser, but he’s still a walking piece of garbage who willingly played along with the Roman Catholic Church’s policy of hiding the abuse rather than allow abusers to be prosecuted. He’s most certainly no hero or unwitting dupe, as his attorneys have portrayed him.
Photo credit: AP Photo/Matt Rourke, via CBS News.
Tags: archdiocese of philadelphia
, catholic abuse scandal
, catholic child abuse scandal
, catholic church
, catholic clerical abuse scandal
, clerical abuse scandal
, clerical child abuse
, monsignor william lynn
, philadelphia PA
, priestly pedophilia
, roman catholic
, roman catholic church
, william lynn
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The Jehovah’s Witnesses are something of an apocalyptic religion, whose members eagerly look forward to Jesus’ return. That their past predictions of this event never came true as they promised, doesn’t seem to matter much to them; they still look forward to “Judgement Day.”
Well, at long last, a judgement day of sorts for this religion has arrived — but it’s far from what they wanted. The AP reports via the New York Times on a court judgement that came down recently against them (WebCite cached article):
A Northern California jury has awarded $28 million in damages to a woman who said the Jehovah’s Witnesses allowed an adult member of a Fremont, Calif., church to molest her when she was a child.
Alameda County jurors awarded $7 million in compensatory damages on Wednesday and an additional $21 million in punitive damages on Thursday to the plaintiff, Candace Conti, said Rick Simons, her lawyer. …
Ms. Conti also said in her lawsuit that the Christian denomination’s national leaders formed a policy in 1989 that instructed the church’s elders to keep child sex abuse accusations secret. Congregation elders followed that policy when Mr. Kendrick [her abuser] was convicted in 1994 of misdemeanor child molestation in Alameda County, according to Mr. Simons.
The cloak of secrecy behind which the JW’s operated is reminiscent of how the Roman Catholic Church handled similar allegations.
And that leads me — once again — to restate the obvious: Child abuse within a religion does not only happen in the Catholic Church. It happens in all religions. I’ve blogged on that many, many times. So you Catholics out there who whine and bellyache that I only mention child abuse when it’s reported within Catholicism, are lying. Just stop already with the martyr complex, grow up, and deal with it.
Tags: candace conti
, child abuse
, fremont CA
, jehovah's witness
, jehovah's witnesses
, jonathan kendrick
, religion child abuse
, religious child abuse
, watch tower
, watch tower society
, watchtower society
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I’ve already noted the tendency of people to use religious principles to defend the indefensible. For a number of reasons, it often happens to be Christianity which is used in this way. Lawyers representing now-convicted massacrer Joshua Komisarjevsky, for example, attempted to cast their client as a saint rather than a sadistic rapist and murderer, and used quotations from the gospels to suggest that no one on the planet has any right to judge him for what he did. (Fortunately, neither the judge in that case nor the jury bought into the defense’s sickening notion; their client was convicted and sentenced to death for his crimes.)
Well, another high-profile criminal case has elicited a similar reaction. Yahoo Sports reports on the infamous — and currently on-trial — Jerry Sandusky’s supporters (WebCite cached article):
Joyce Porter sits in a booth at the old downtown Diamond Deli, across the street from the Centre County Courthouse where her friend Jerry Sandusky is being tried on 52 counts of sexually molesting children. …
“When everyone was persecuting Jesus, someone had to stand with him,” Porter said.
It’s worth noting that Porter didn’t say Jerry Sandusky was Jesus, just that in her view the situation has similarities.
I’m not quite sure how any rational person could see any significant “similarities” between Jesus and Sandusky, beyond the fact that they’ve both been tried in court. One of the chief differences between them is that Jesus … according to the gospels and Christian tradition … was supposedly innocent of the charges that had been leveled against him. On the other hand, Sandusky’s own attorney has admitted he showered with young boys, which is such a stunningly inappropriate habit that — no matter the outcome of this trial — one can hardly call Sandusky completely “innocent.”
The Yahoo Sports article explains more of the rationalizing, compartmentalizing, and excusing that Porter engages in. I’ll allow it to speak for itself. It’s sickening to read, but it does illustrate how well human beings can deceive themselves, if they’re sufficiently motivated to do so.
As with my earlier example of this phenomenon, I don’t for one moment think most Christians would agree with Ms Porter about Sandusky being a close analogue of Jesus. That said, it’s clear that the principles of Christianity can very easily be twisted in ways most people wouldn’t recognize. It’s hardly to Chrisitanity’s credit that it can be used in such a way.
Photo credit: Nick in exsilio, via Flickr.
, jerry sandusky
, jesus christ
, joyce porter
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The Christofascist and Neocrusading preacher Terry Jones, head of the Gainesville, FL church which goes by the ill-fitting name of Dove World Outreach Center, is the gift that just keeps on giving. He seems to throw crybaby tantrums almost regularly. His antics over burning Qur’ans are legendary … so legendary that they’ve triggered numerous riots and murders on the other side of the world in Afghanistan. He seethes with anger over the fact that there is such a thing as Islam and that there are Muslims who dare believe in that religion, and reject his own militant fundamentalist Christianity.
It seems, though, that — in spite of his ferocious rage over the existence of Islam — Jones has managed to find a new enemy to bluster and fume about: President Barack Obama. The Smoking Gun reports that Jones and his church have hung the president in effigy, over this support for abortion rights and gay marriage (WebCite cached article):
The Florida pastor who ignited an international furor by threatening to burn a pile of Korans has applied his subtle touch to the 2012 presidential campaign by constructing a gallows from which a likeness of President Barack Obama now hangs in effigy.
The display in the front yard of Terry Jones’s Dove World Outreach Center (DWOC) in Gainesville features a dummy wearing an Obama mask hanging from a yellow noose. Along with an American flag and a rainbow-striped gay pride flag, the scene includes an Uncle Sam dummy and a child’s doll hanging from the right hand of the Obama figure.
Nearby, the words “Obama is Killing America” are printed on a trailer. So, it appears, the creepy Jones is returning the favor.
Here’s the picture itself:
Setting aside the question of whether or not this constitutes a threat to the president’s life — something the Secret Service will no doubt look into, and probably decide it’s not — it’s true that the First Amendment means Jones can do this. But it’s also true that this is clearly a political message, and that runs counter to the DWOC’s tax-exempt status (since all tax-exempt institutions, religious or not, are precluded from engaging in politicking, as the price they must pay for that tax exemption). Folks around the Web have commented that the IRS will surely look into it, and take away their exemption. I doubt it will come to that, however; the IRS has only rarely done this to religious groups, so the odds are very much in Jones’s favor.
Rightists have also noted that Leftist outrage over this is misplaced and hypocritical, since just a few years ago, Leftist demonstrators hung G.W. Bush and Dick Cheney in effigy. While I’m sure Rightists find this kind of “two wrongs make a right” thinking emotionally satisfying, the real question here is whether or not Jones and his church did something they knew they shouldn’t have (i.e. engage in politicking). It’s pretty clear it wasn’t (and I’m saying that, even assuming the IRS will choose to do nothing about it). Rightists ought to exhibit more integrity than that.
Photo credits: Top, bbaunach, via Flickr; center, The Smoking Gun.
Hat tip: Mark at Skeptics & Heretics Forum on Delphi Forums.
Tags: barack obama
, christian right
, dove world outreach center
, gainesville FL
, hang in effigy
, pastor terry jones
, president barack obama
, religious right
, tax exemption
, terry jones
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I’ve blogged numerous times about the Catholic Church’s hypocrisy and disingenuousness. For instance, it has condemned civil authorities that dare investigate child abuse at the hands of its clergy yet it simultaneously embraces those same authorities when it has been victimized. Another example is the Church’s open celebration of Galileo Galilei and his scientific achievements, in spite of the fact that the Church did everything in its power to destroy him because of those same achievements.
One would think examples of this phenomenon are so common that additional ones would no longer be necessary, but one would be wrong. With the R.C. Church’s huge pushback campaign now well underway, and with the bishops becoming increasingly vocal and intransigent, we can no longer afford merely to take for granted that the Church and its hierarchs are dissembling liars. Every example of their disingenuousness and hypocrisy must be exposed so that no one is fooled by their pious facade.
Exactly one such example is exemplified in Canada. On its Web site, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops hosts this manifesto on what they call “religious freedom,” in PDF format (WebCite cached version). In point 6 (page 4), it says:
We are never to impose our religious beliefs on others, but always to respect individuals and cultures, honouring the sanctuary of conscience. …
It is a violation of freedom of conscience for anyone to attempt to impose his or her own understanding of the truth on others. The right to profess the truth must always be upheld, but never in a way which involves contempt for those who think differently.
Now, this sure sounds all nice and reasonable and tolerant and accomodating. One would think the Canadian bishops want to hold hands in a ring around the planet and sing “Kum Ba Ya” together. But in practice, this is most assuredly not how the Canadian bishops have behaved! Quite the contrary. Back in 2005 when gay marriage became permitted in the Great White North, Bishop Frederick Henry of Calgary penned a pastoral letter condemning gay marriage (cached); included in it was a call to outlaw homosexuality, adultery, and pornography as well:
Since homosexuality, adultery, prostitution and pornography undermine the foundations of the family, the basis of society, then the State must use its coercive power to proscribe or curtail them in the interests of the common good.
Maybe it’s just me, but this reads like the bishop’s attempt to “impose” his views and beliefs on others, and it certainly displays more than a little “contempt” for those he dislikes.
Way to go, Canadian bishops! What a marvelous way to live up to your own stated ideals. Maybe you should crack your Bibles open and read what Jesus himself reportedly said about people who engaged in hypocrisy of this sort. I’m not sure he’d be as impressed with you as you might want to think.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.
Tags: bishop frederick henry
, calgary AB
, canadian conference of catholic bishops
, catholic church
, diocese of calgary
, frederick henry
, hypocrisy in christianity
, religious freedom
, religious liberty
, roman catholic
, roman catholic church
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