March 31, 2009

What happened in March 2009?

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March 30, 2009
The founder of a religious order that treats Roman Catholic priests who molest children concluded in the 1950s that offenders were unlikely to change and should not be returned to ministry. He actually tried to buy an island to isolate them. Our blog has two more Catholic stories.

March 29, 2009
Brian the dog from Family Guy is an atheist! Go to our blog to see a clip.

March 29, 2009

According to a Harvard professor, the pope may be right! Condoms may not decrease the spread of AIDs in Africa (see March 17 below). The catch is it only applies to Africa. Read more on our blog.

March 26, 2009
The U.N.'s top human-rights body approved a proposal by Muslims nations urging passage of laws around the world to protect religion from criticism. Read more on our blog.

March 25, 2009
Quiverfull is a conservative Christian group that opposes birth control (they equate it with abortion). As one might expect, they are multiplying. Read more on our blog.

March 22, 2009
After a $40 million upgrade The Church of Scientology opened their Clearwater, Florida hotel/spiritual center. Click here for a photo tour

March 21, 2009
A clash between secular liberals and religious nationalists for control over the army and society may be developing in Israel. Read more on our blog.

March 18, 2009
The world lost a very talented actress today. Natasha Richardson died after a skiing accident. One of her roles was in The Handmaid's Tale. The story is about a totalitarian pseudo-Christian theocracy which has overthrown the United States government. Our blog has a trailer.

March 17, 2009

Pope Benedict reaffirmed the Roman Catholic Church's opposition to the use of condoms in the fight against AIDS as he started a visit to Africa. More than 25-million Africans have died from the disease in recent decades. "It (AIDS) cannot be overcome by the distribution of condoms. On the contrary, they increase the problem," he said. Read more on our blog.

March 15, 2009

It's a modern country, but Japan still honors the old ways. Every March 15th, they celebrate, Honen Matsuri, a Shinto fertility festival involving enormous phallic symbols and way too much sake. Our blog has more photos.

March 15, 2009 (air date)
Big Love (left), an HBO show about a polygamist Mormon family, revealed secret Mormon temple rites during the March 15 show. The producers apologized to the LDS before the show aired. Read more on our blog.

March 14, 2009
A christian preacher, who has been accused of advocating "near starvation" dieting was the guest speaker at a school nutrition meeting in Tennessee. Read more on our blog.

March 14, 2009
A couple who told authorities they were trying to rid a toddler of demonic possession when she died have been indicted for her murder. The incident included the child, Amora Bain Carson, being beaten with a hammer, slammed into stationary objects and finally strangled. Read more on our blog.

March 13, 2009

The Islamic states circulated a new resolution at the current session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva that would criminalize defamation of Islam as a human rights violation and encourage the imposition of Shari'a. Read more on our blog. resized.jpg
March 11, 2009
Do they think "The Flintstones" was a documentary? Every year, students from Liberty University visit the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., in order to strengthen their belief in creationism.
Read more on our blog.

March 9, 2009

Fifteen percent of respondents said they had no religion, an increase from 14.2 percent in 2001 and 8.2 percent in 1990, according to the American Religious Identification Survey.

March 9, 2009
A Saudi Arabian court has sentenced a 75-year-old Syrian woman to 40 lashes, four months imprisonment and deportation from the kingdom for "mingling" with two men. Read more on our blog.

March 7, 2009

It's time to stock up on toilet paper, beans, bullets and Krugerrands. According to evangelist David Wilkerson, "An earth-shattering calamity is about to happen. It is going to be so frightening, we are all going to tremble - even the godliest among us. Read more on our blog.

March 5, 2009
A Brazilian archbishop says all those who helped a child rape victim secure an abortion are to be excommunicated from the Catholic Church. The girl, aged nine, became pregnant with twins. It is alleged that she had been sexually assaulted over a number of years by her stepfather. Updated with more news.

March 2, 2009 (NY Daily News)
An evangelist cop who saw a demon at 1 Police Plaza in New York City and acted "godlike" is suing the NYPD to get his gun back.

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March 30, 2009

Priest Sex Scandal

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March 30, 2009
The Rev. Gerald Fitzgerald, the founder of a religious order that treats Roman Catholic priests who molest children, concluded in the 1950s that offenders were unlikely to change and should not be returned to ministry. He was so sure of the priests' inability to control themselves that he tried to buy an island to isolate them.

Fitzgerald discussed the issue with Pope Paul VI and in correspondence with several bishops. This contradicts statements by U.S. bishops who claim before the clergy sex abuse scandal erupted in the 1980s and again in 2002, they were unaware of the risks of moving predators among parishes.

March 21, 2009
U.S. Catholic leaders processed more than 800 allegations of clergy sexual abuse last year, a 16 percent increase from 2007. The majority of the allegations involved abuse that occurred decades ago.
The relative lack of recent cases shows that the American church has "turned a corner" in the abuse scandal that erupted seven years ago, said Teresa M. Kettlekamp, director of the bishops' abuse-prevention office.
Victims' advocates raised questions about a section in the report that said "many dioceses are conducting . . . investigations themselves without also making a report to civil authorities," which would be a direct violation of the bishops' 2002 reforms.

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Here's a link to one of Matisyahu's videos. I think this song is better than the one he did on The David Letterman Show (below).

Here is his official website.

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March 29, 2009

Steven Weinberg

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Here's another Weinberg quote from a NY Times article.
Dr. Weinberg, who famously wrote toward the end of his 1977 book on cosmology, “The First Three Minutes,” that “the more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless,” went a step further: “Anything that we scientists can do to weaken the hold of religion should be done and may in the end be our greatest contribution to civilization.”
Richard Dawkins interviewing Steven Weinberg.

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Bong Hits 4 Jesus

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The students lost.

Joseph Frederick, 18, unveiled the 14-foot paper sign on a public sidewalk outside his Juneau, Alaska, high school in 2002. The principal confiscated it and suspended Frederick. He sued, taking his case all the way to the supreme court.
The justices ruled that Frederick's free speech rights were not violated by his suspension over what the majority's written opinion called a "sophomoric" banner.
Here's a link to one of the articles. A CNN report is below.

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March 29, 2009
Many young Sikh men are ditching their turbans and shaving their beards. Link to article.

Putting on a turban is apparently quite a production. It can take a half hour to tie every morning. Only 25 percent of Sikh men younger than 30 still wear one (much to the annoyance of their elders).

Going "turbanless" began after Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards in 1984 following the attack on the Golden Temple. Thousands of turbaned Sikhs were killed by Hindus, many were burned alive. To escape persecution they discarded their identity.

Today, life without a turban is simply more convenient.

April 15, 2009
Two American Sikhs want to maintain their tradition of military service and keep their religious identity. The date links to an NPR radio story about a Sikh doctor and a dentist filing a complaint against the U.S. Army because they were told they couldn't keep their beards and turbans.

Sikhism is a monotheistic religion. For a quick look at Sikh beliefs see the wikipedia entry.
The essence of Sikh teaching is summed up by Guru Nanak in these words: "Realization of Truth is higher than all else. Higher still is truthful living". Sikhism believes in equality of all humans and rejects discrimination on the basis of caste, creed, and sex. Sikhism also does not attach any importance to asceticism as a means to attain salvation, but stresses on the need of leading life as a householder.

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The Pope May Be Right

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Here is the article in the Washington Post.

Here's the skinny. Condoms really don't work in Africa because:
In significant proportions of African populations, people have two or more regular sex partners who overlap in time.

These ongoing multiple concurrent sex partnerships resemble a giant, invisible web of relationships through which HIV/AIDS spreads.
They have multiple sex partners and aren't using condoms. So what has worked in Africa?
Strategies that break up these multiple and concurrent sexual networks -- or, in plain language, faithful mutual monogamy or at least reduction in numbers of partners, especially concurrent ones. "Closed" or faithful polygamy can work as well.
The Pope may be right about condom use and AIDs in Africa. However, they do work in places like Thailand and Cambodia where most HIV is transmitted through commercial sex and where it has been possible to enforce a 100 percent condom use policy in brothels.

I suspect that if the Pope was in Thailand or Cambodia, he would have said the same thing. He is opposed to condom use for theological reasons and is not making a judgement based on unique conditions in Africa.

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Death Opens Doors on Group

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March 29, 2009

Five members of the One Mind Ministry go on trial Monday. Ria Ramkissoon, the dead child's mother, reportedly has agreed to plead guilty to a lessor charge on the condition that the charge against her must be dropped if her son, Javon Thompson, is resurrected.

She will receive probation and treatment if she pleads guilty to child abuse resulting in death and cooperates with the prosecutors.

This was a particularly ghoulish case. The baby stopped saying amen at mealtime. So they deprived him of food and water until he died. The cult waited a week for Javon to to be resurrected and then they placed his body in a suitcase full of mothballs.

The psychiatric opinion was interesting. From a Washington Post article:

Psychiatrists who evaluated Ramkissoon at the request of a judge concluded that she was not criminally insane. Her attorney, Steven Silverman, said the doctors found that her beliefs were indistinguishable from religious beliefs, in part because they were shared by those around her.

"She wasn't delusional, because she was following a religion," Silverman said, describing the findings of the doctors' psychiatric evaluation.

Javon's grandmother (left) visits his grave every week.

link to Washington Post article The Washington Post article has a very good video and slide show.

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March 28, 2009


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The Cathars were definitely heretics. According to their Wikipedia entry:
Cathars saw matter as intrinsically evil, they denied that Jesus could become incarnate and still be the son of God. Cathars vehemently repudiated the significance of the Crucifixion and the Cross.
And to put icing on the cake, they criticized the Pope's high-life style.

The video ties in with the end of the world date, Dec 21, 2012. If you are interested in the Cathars pick up a good book. The video reminds me of the Da Vinci Code.

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Mass Suicide In Uganda

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Link to article. March 29, 2009

Nine years after 778 people were murdered or committed suicide, there is nothing to report. A committee set up to investigate the incident never got off the ground and police have given up looking for the cult leaders.

From the above article:
For Police it has been nine years of wild-goose chase. They have not been able to catch cult leaders; Joseph Kibwetere, Credonia Mwerinde and Dominic Kataribabo and have decided to “temporarily shelve” the file.
“Kibwetere and the others implicated went underground and took a low profile, so it is quite difficult,” said John Enanga, spokesman of the CID.
The Wikipedia entry has a good article on the case.

The cult leaders predicted that the apocalypse would occur on Jan 1, 2000. When it didn't happen, they changed the date to March 17.

From Wikipedia:
On the seventeenth, group members arrived at their church in Kanangu to pray and sing, minutes later nearby villagers heard an explosion, and the building was gutted in an intense fire that killed all 530 in attendance, including dozens of children.

Four days after the church fire police investigated Movement properties and discovered hundreds of bodies at sites across southern Uganda.

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Sarah Palin

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John McCain wasn't one of the presidential candidates who did not believe in evolution, but his VP pick, Sarah Palin, is a piece of work.

Below is a video of Palin receiving protection from witches from Thomas Muthee. Witchcraft is a real problem in Africa. People accused of being witches are often killed.

From the Wikipedia entry:
Muthee came to believe that a woman known as "Mama Jane" was a witch, and thereby caused traffic fatalities, traffic accidents, crime, and spiritual oppression.

Muthee publicly declared, “Mama Jane either gets saved and serves the Lord, or she leaves town! There is no longer room in Kiambu for both of us!"
Mama Jane left town, which was better than the alternative, being stoned to death.

Palin is OK praying with a man who believes in witchcraft, but she has problems with fellow republicans. In March 2009 speech, Palin said she couldn't find anyone in the McCain campaign she wanted to pray with her before the VP debate.

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March 27, 2009

Gambia and witchcraft

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Fear reigns in Gambian village targeted by witch hunters

March 24,2009 Agence France-Presse

MAKUMBAYA, The Gambia - In this remote village residents are still shaken by their abduction and forced treatment with potions in one of the bizarre witch hunts that are occurring throughout the west African country.

The calm of this rural community, a collection of old huts and houses some 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the capital Banjul, was shattered last week when so-called witch hunters arrived with armed men and rounded up residents.

"We were arrested on Monday March 16 in our village by armed personnel who accompanied some so-called witch hunters to our village and taken to Kololi (close to Banjul)," a 63-year-old man from the village told AFP.

The villagers were not told why they were targeted but their captors just said they were sick and would need to take medicines.

"We were forced to drink concoctions and shortly after drinking the liquid that night, most of us who were abducted fell down and went into trance and did not know what was happening," said the old man, who asked not to be identified, still distraught by his ordeal.

He was held for five days and later released. When he spoke to AFP he was still visibly weakened.

According to Amnesty International and police sources in Gambia the witch hunters operate together with the Gambian authorities. There are reports that Gambian President Yahya Jammeh blames witchcraft for the death of his aunt earlier this year.

Amnesty said last Wednesday that up to 1,000 people had so far been kidnapped and held. After being forced to drink potions that make them hallucinate and behave erratically they are released, according to the human rights watchdog.

Reports are now surfacing that many women were also raped during their detention.

"I personally saw three women who were undressed by the witch hunters and raped them at a time when they were unconscious," the 63-year-old farmer told AFP.

A 34-year-old market vendor from the same village angrily told AFP of her horrific ordeal while being held.

"I was raped during the second day of my detention by a very young man," she said, close to tears.

"While I was in detention, this young man who was so rude came to me and asked me to take a bath and while I was taking the bath, he stood and looked at me naked. Whenever I planned to go to the toilet (...) the young man would insist that he accompany me. It was during one of those instances that (he) wrestled me to the ground and forcefully raped me", she said.

In Makumbaya many residents did not want to speak to journalists for fear of reprisals.

"I cannot talk to you (...) it is not that I don't want to explain my ordeal to you but because I don't want to be arrested," a woman in her fifties told AFP.

Gambia, the smallest country on the African mainland, has been ruled by Jammeh since he grabbed power in a bloodless coup in 1994. In recent years it has come increasingly under fire over its poor human rights record.

Jammeh's opponents, real and perceived, also find themselves subjected to daily rights violations including torture and unlawful arrests, human rights organisations say.

Many in rural Gambia are have fled to neighbouring Senegal to escape the witch hunts.

"I think the best option at the moment is to leave this country and go to neighbouring Senegal, where I believe life will be better for me because we cannot cope with this current situation really", a 24-year-old man told AFP.

Despite the international attention the witch hunts have drawn, the Gambian media, which is under heavy government scrutiny, hardly carries any reports about it.

Only the opposition weekly Foroyaa has written about the incidents. Its political editor, who is also the leader of Gambia's biggest opposition party Halifa Sallah, was arrested March 9 on charges of spying and seditious acts for reporting about events in Makumbaya. However, in an about-face last week all the charges against him were dropped.

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Hare Krishna

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The Wikipedia entry has a good explanation of the mantra (the chant) and Krishna Consciousness.

There are several Hare Krishna vidoes on You tube. I thought this one was pretty good.

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ban on criticizing religion

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March 27, 2009
It passed! But it looks like it doesn't matter. According to the news article:
The council is dominated by Muslim and African countries. Its resolutions are not binding, but are meant to act as recommendations for U.N. member states on issues of human rights.
Countries with some of the worse human rights records are running the UN's Human Rights Council. What a world.

This was previously mentioned on our blog.
March 13, 2009
The Islamic states circulated a new resolution at the current session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva that would criminalize defamation of Islam as a human rights violation and encourage the imposition of Shari'a. Read more on our blog.

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March 26, 2009

Northern Ireland

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Sept 28. 1972
Skankill Butchers founder, Lenny Murphy, kills his first known victim in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The Skankill Butchers were Protestants. They tortured and killed more than 30 Catholics and Protestants.

Here a video on the murals of Norther Ireland

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Oct 31, 1992
Pope John Paul II expressed regret for how the Galileo affair was handled, and officially conceded that the Earth was not stationary. It was 350 years after Galileo's death before the Pope apologized. They take their time at the Vatican.

Here is the quote from the wiki entry:

On 31 October 1992, Pope John Paul II expressed regret for how the Galileo affair was handled, and officially conceded that the Earth was not stationary, as the result of a study conducted by the Pontifical Council for Culture. In March 2008 the Vatican proposed to complete its rehabilitation of Galileo by erecting a statue of him inside the Vatican walls. In December of the same year, during events to mark the 400th anniversary of Galileo's earliest telescopic observations, Pope Benedict XVI praised his contributions to astronomy.
Jan 8, 1642 (Galileo dies)
“I do not feel obliged to believe that same God who endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect had intended for us to forgo their use.”
April 9, 2009 (Wall Street Journal)
Galileo's telescope will be at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia from April 4 to Sept 7, 2009.
The United Nations designated 2009 the International Year of Astronomy to honor the 400th anniversary of Galileo's discoveries and Johannes Kepler's publication of Astronomia Nova.

Sacrifice of a Banker

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March 25, 2009

Christian Churches in the Persian Gulf

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As of March 2009, there are still no Christian churches in Saudi Arabia. However, other countries in the Persian Gulf do allow churches. Here's a picture of Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church in Qatar. It opened in 2008 minus a cross, bells and a steeple.

A July 19, 2008 Newsweek article discusses the booming Christian population in the Persian Gulf thanks to foreign workers.
Foreign laborers now represent 35 percent of Bahrain's inhabitants. The number is 60 percent in Kuwait and 80 percent in the United Arab Emirates, and almost half of the 35 million people on the Arabian Peninsula are now foreign-born. A large proportion of them hail from Christian areas such as the Philippines and southern India.
A Christian Church in Saudi Arabia may not be in the near future, but the three monotheistic traditions are at least talking to each other.

From the Newsweek article:
Earlier this month King Abdullah took the unprecedented step of hosting a major interfaith meeting in Madrid with senior figures from Islam, Christianity and Judaism. This followed his own meeting with the pope last year in Rome and modest improvements in domestic religious tolerance.

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stem cells

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March 9, 2009

President Obama lifts the ban on stem cell research. But according to the NY Times, he has avoided one of the thorniest questions: whether taxpayer dollars should be used to experiment on embryos. He will leave that to congress.

Federal funding is presently banned.
The ban, known as the Dickey-Wicker amendment, first became law in 1996, and has been renewed by Congress every year since. It specifically bans the use of tax dollars to create human embryos — a practice that is routine in private fertility clinics — or for research in which embryos are destroyed, discarded or knowingly subjected to risk of injury.

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Here is the link to the NPR spot about Quiverfull.

The movement was previously mentioned on our blog.

July 11, 2002 (publication of earliest story)
QuiverFull, an antifeminist conservative Christian movement that promotes enormous families (extreme motherhood), is growing in more way than one. Read more on our blog.

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March 24, 2009

Student's 20-year blasphemy sentence upheld

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Click here for the original article.

The Supreme Court in Afghanistan has upheld a 20-year prison sentence for an Afghan university student journalist accused of blasphemy. The case has alarmed news media and rights organizations in the country and abroad.

His crime.
The student, Parwiz Kambakhsh, 24, from northern Afghanistan, was arrested in 2007 and sentenced to death for blasphemy after accusations that he had written and distributed an article about the role of women in Islam. Kambakhsh has denied having written the article and said he had downloaded it from the Internet.
Human Rights Watch urged the Afghan president to pardon Kambakhsh.

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violent Muslim acts

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Here are link in January through March

Jan 3, 2000
Gun battles between Muslims and Coptic Christians at a village in southern Egypt killed at least 20 people and wounded 33.

Jan 16, 2006
As Europe's Muslims become increasingly conservative, growing numbers of women are being killed or mutilated in the name of ''family honor." These cases usually involve an attack by a close relative angered by her refusal to accept a forced marriage or her insistence on leading a Western-style life.

Feb, 14, 1989
fatwa requiring the execution of the author of the Satanic Verses, Salman Rushdie (left), was proclaimed by Ayatollah Khomeini (right), the spiritual leader of Iran.

Feb 16, 2008 (publication date)
A Saudi woman condemned to death for “witchcraft” is still clinging to hope that King Abdullah will spare her life after Human Rights Watch appealed her sentence.

March 11, 2004
Madrid train bombings by a Muslim al-Qaeda-inspired terrorists cell. One hundred and ninety one people were killed and 1,755 were wounded.

March 15, 2002
Saudi Arabia's religious police stopped schoolgirls from leaving a blazing building because they were not wearing correct Islamic dress.

March 21 2001
Destruction of Buddhas Statue of Bamiyan (right) in Afghanistan by Muslim extremist.
Video of the destruction.

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March 23, 2009

Virgin Mary tree trunk

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Aug 28, 2008

A likeness of the Virgin Mary, spotted in the trunk of a suburban tree, is being touted as a divine “blessing”.

Here's a closeup of the sandwich.

More religion/drug news

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March 25, 2009
Mexican officials in Nuevo Laredo have destroyed more than 35 statues dedicated to a "Death Saint" popular with drug traffickers.
The statues, most depicting a robe-covered skeleton resembling the Grim Reaper, lined highways and roads in and around the Mexican city on the border with Texas.
The Catholic Church doesn't recognize this "saint". However, it's an interesting example of local traditions and Catholicism blending together.

This link has a very good video on the subject. The embedded video (below) is a trailer from a documentary.

March 20, 2009
A judge ruled that an Oregon church can use a hallucinogenic tea for its religious services.
The church, which blends Christian and indigenous religious beliefs in Brazil, uses tea brewed from the ayahuasca plant in their services. The tea contains trace amounts of the chemical dimethyltryptamine or DMT.
The ayahuasca's Wikipedia entry has instructions on how to extract DMT from the plant.

A church in Arizona wasn't as lucky.
July 9, 2006
Members of the Church of Cognizance in Pima, Arizona, deified the use marijuana until federal authorities charged them with possessing 172 pounds of their leafy green sacrament. Church founders Dan and Mary Quaintance say they smoked, ate or drank marijuana daily as a way of becoming more spiritually enlightened.

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Afgan girls return to school.

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Jan 13, 2009
In a blow against intolerance and stupidity, two months after 14 girls were attacked with acid in Afghanistan, nearly all of the 14 girls are in school and nearly every female student in Kandahar has returned as well -- about 1,300 of them.
“My parents told me to keep coming to school even if I am killed,” said Shamsia, 17, in a moment after class. Shamsia’s mother, like nearly all of the adult women in the area, is unable to read or write. “The people who did this to me don’t want women to be educated. They want us to be stupid things.”

Here is a link to the original NY Times story. It has a slide show.

In other news from Afghanistan:

April 16, 2009
The date links to an ABC News broadcast report about a new law restricting the rights of Shi'ite Afghan woman. The law defines a wife's duties as "obedience, readiness for sex, and not leaving the house without the husband's permission."

April 15, 2009
A young mixed-sect Afghan couple (the woman was Sunni and the man was Shi'ite) were executed by the taliban for trying to elope.

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Orthodox Jewish intolerance

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Links to ultra-Orthodox Jewish intolerance on the blog.

Feb 24, 2005
Dozens of ultra-Orthodox Jewish worshipers confronted Natalie Portman and her co-star, objecting to the couple kissing during the filming of a scene beside Jerusalem's Western Wall.

March 22, 2005 (publication date)
Ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel denounce an ultra-Orthodox Israeli scholar and science writer because he doesn't believe the earth is 6,000 years old.

Oct 4, 2008
Jewish 'modesty patrols' sow fear in Israel. They hurl stones at women for such "sins" as wearing a red blouse, and attack stores selling devices that can access the Internet.

Oct 6, 2008 (publish)
Kosher cell phones are available for ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel. The phones can't send or receive text messages, browse the Internet or take photos - all activities that could potentially involve behavior considered "immodest.

Nov 4, 1995
Israel Prime Minister Ytzhak Rabin is assassinated by Yigal Amir, an Israel religious zealotry that deemed the peace accords with the Palestinians against divine law.

Incident in New York City (not intolerant but dangerous)
Aug 26, 2005
NYC officials question Orthodox Jews after an infant contracts herpes and dies due to oral suction practiced during circumcision.

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A Religious War in Israel's Army

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Click here for the original article.

It looks likely clashes between secular liberal Jews and religious Jewish nationalist in Israel may increase along with the hostility between Arabs and Jews.

Here's a quote from the above mentioned article.
A soldier, identified by the pseudonym Ram, is quoted as saying that in Gaza, “the rabbinate brought in a lot of booklets and articles and their message was very clear: We are the Jewish people, we came to this land by a miracle, God brought us back to this land and now we need to fight to expel the non-Jews who are interfering with our conquest of this holy land. This was the main message, and the whole sense many soldiers had in this operation was of a religious war.”
If you look at the demographics, Israel's Arabs and Orthodox Jews are having the most children. The more secular (moderate) Israel Jews have fewer children. This doesn't seem like a road to peace.

Israel is facing other pressing problems as well. It is the second most-densely crowded country in the developed world. There are water shortages and other environmental concerns. And then, there is the confiscation of Arabs lands and the building of a wall in the West Bank.

There are several blog entries in the history section describing the intolerant behavior of Orthodox Jews, the violent behavior of Muslims along with the bloody history of the region. There will certainly be more blog entries in the future.

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March 22, 2009

Porny conservatives

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Very kinky article in Psychology Today about conservatives and porn. Utah with 5.47 subscribers per 1,000 leads the nation in consumption of pornography. I guess all that porn isn't helping them with their depression problem.

March 21, 2009

Polygamist in Texas

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March 29, 2009
A year ago today, a local women's shelter received calls for help - now believed a hoax - that drew law enforcement to a polygamous sect's ranch in Eldorado, Texas and triggered the largest abuse investigation in U.S. history. Within days 439 children had been taken from their parents.

Today, only one child remains in state custody and 12 men have been charged with underage marriages. The first trial begins in October. Other than that, things are pretty much back to the way they were.
Families awake at 5 a.m., gather for prayers, breakfast and chores before the children head to the sect's private school. Days end much the same way: chores, a meal, prayer.
April 10, 2008
Polygamist sects live on welfare. When a man marries one wife, she's his legal wife. All of his other wives are, by law, single women, so they get welfare for their children.

Aerial shot of compound near Eldorado, Texas.

Warren Jeffer, polygamist leader

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March 20, 2009

Destruction of Bamiyan

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update on the skins

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March 26 to April 14
Burial of the skins of the captives flayed by the Aztec from March 6 to March 25.

Pictured is an Aztec human sacrifice.

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Saint William of Norwich

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March 22, 1144
Saint William of Norwich an English boy died. His violent death was attributed to the entire Jewish community of Norwich. This is the first known medieval allegation of ritual murder or blood libel against Jews. On Feb 6, 1190, all Norwich Jews who didn't escape to the support of the local castle were slaughtered in their village.

July 18, 1290
King Edward I issued an edict expelling all Jews from England. The expulsion was overturned 350 years later in 1656. The edict was the culmination of more than 200 years of conflict about usury (charging interest on loans).

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Italian nun killed

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Sept 17, 2006
A 65 year-old Italian nun working at the Austrian-run children's hospital in the city of Mogadishu, was shot along with her Somali bodyguard. The killings were probably in response to remarks made by the Pope about Islam

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Thomas Jefferson

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Oct 31, 1819
I do not believe in "The immaculate conception of Jesus, his deification, the creation of the world by him, his miraculous powers, his resurrection and visible ascension, his corporeal presence in the Eucharist, the Trinity; original sin, atonement, regeneration, election, orders of the Hierarchy, etc." Thomas Jefferson letter to William Short

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Damour massacre

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Jan 20, 1976
The Damour massacre was a reprisal for the Christian sacking of Quarantina on Jan 18. Damour was attacked by PLO units. Part of its population was killed in the battle or massacred afterwards, and the remainder forced to flee. Between 300 and 600 civilians died.

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The Wikipedia entry has a brief run down on Scientology. If you want to learn more you will have to fork over thousands of dollars to the church (which I do not recommend).

This video with Tom Cruise reveals nothing about Scientology but a whole lot about Tom. He uses a number of acronyms. Click here for a Scientology glossary.

Here are four other Scientology entries. The bottom three are already on the blog.

March 7, 2009
Scientology may be transitioning into a bona fide religion, at least in Great Britain. The Crown Prosecution Service has decided that anyone who attacks Scientology can be prosecuted under faith hate laws.

The move will for the first time provide the controversial Church of Scientology – described by some as a cult – the same protection as other mainstream religions.

March 22, 2009
After a $40 million upgrade The Church of Scientology opened their Clearwater, Florida hotel/spiritual center. Click here for a photo tour

Sept 4, 2007
A Belgian prosecutor recommended that the Church of Scientology stand trial for fraud and extortion, following a 10-year investigation that concluded the group should be labeled a criminal organization.

June 9, 2004
A popular anti-drug program provided free to schools in San Francisco and elsewhere teaches concepts straight out of the Church of Scientology, including medical theories that some addiction experts described as "irresponsible" and "pseudoscience."

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