April 30, 2009

What happened in April 2009?

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April 30, 2009 (CNN)
The more often Americans go to church, the more likely they are to support the torture of suspected terrorists, according to a new survey. White evangelical Protestants were the religious group most likely to say torture is often or sometimes justified. People unaffiliated with any religious organization were least likely to back it.

April 27, 2009

Nothing is made in the United States anymore. But who would have guessed that some of America's leather sex toys would be made in an Islamic country. See our blog for the story and a kinky video.

April 26, 2009
Atheists are coming out of the woodwork in the South. Good God, what's next! See our blog for the story.

April 25, 2009
The Florida senate approved a crucifixion license plate (with either a sun or a big orange behind Jesus). This one will end up in court. Our blog has a picture of the plate paired with truck nuts!

April 24, 2009

Congregants of the Westboro Baptist are at it again. They are taking a break from disrupting military funerals, and instead are protesting against a dead poet and murder/suicide victims. See our blog for the story.

April 23, 2009
(Washington Post)
A national coalition of Latino pastors are urging illegal immigrants to boycott the 2010 census until Congress passes comprehensive immigration reform, a move other groups criticized as detrimental to ensuring a full count of the nation's fastest-growing minority group.

April 23, 2009
(Washington Post)
For the third time in less than a month, a woman came forward saying that the former Roman Catholic bishop and current president of Paraguay is the father of her child. (left, one of the mommies)


April 22, 2009

Today is the birthday of Jose Luis de Jesus of Miami Fla. He claims to be Jesus reincarnated. There is a link to the birthday festivities
on our blog plus links to a couple of other people who claim to be Jesus. (Jose is pictured on the lady's arm).

April 21, 2009
Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, is getting his knickers in a twist over the new Ron Howard movie, "Angels and Demons (left)." Read more on our blog.

April 20, 2009

A chocolate fan has taken the biscuit after biting into a Kit-Kat and finding an image of Jesus. The astonishing vision emerged on Good Friday after a website called for oddball religious discoveries. For a closer look go to our blog.

April 18, 2009
A memorial service was held for 20-year-old Asia McGowan, a college student who was killed in a murder-suicide on the campus of Henry Ford Community College in Dearborn, MI, last week. Our blog links to a video of the killer ranting about atheists.

April 15, 2009
In Afghanistan, a young mixed-sect couple (the woman was Sunni and the man was Shia) were executed by the Taliban for trying to elope.

April 15, 2009
The date links to an NPR story about two Sikh Army officers filing a complaint against the U.S. Army because they were told they couldn't keep their beards and turbans.

April 14, 2009
The world's first life-size replica of Noah's ark, built to biblical specifications is on land in Hong Kong. The 450-foot "vessel" is a luxury hotel. It joins a small armada of arks around the world. Click here for a slide show of other arcs.

April 13, 2009
(publication date)
The Catholic bishop of Augsburg, Germany has linked the crimes committed under Nazi and Communist regimes to atheist. Atheist groups have reacted with fury and accuse the cleric of rewriting history. Our blog has the story.

April 12, 2009
(Easter) A gallery in San Diego is drawing attention for a painting -- by Texas artist Glen Tarnowski that is a parody of Leonardo da Vinci's "The Last Supper."

April 11, 2009
(Telegraph)
The Vatican has blocked the appointment of Caroline Kennedy as U.S. ambassador because of her stand on abortion.







April 10, 2009
A lighted cross burns near Rome's Colosseum before Good Friday's "Way of the Cross" procession led by the pope. The ancient Romans must be turning over in their graves.


April 8, 2009
Today is Birkat HaChamah. It's a Jewish blessing service honoring the sun and it happens only once every 28 years. To honor the holiday Stephen Colbert frees his Jews. The video is on our blog.

April 7, 2009 A photo caption on the front page of the Brigham Young University newspaper accidentally described the leaders of the Mormon Church as the "Quorum of the Twelve Apostates," rather than "Apostles." All 18,500 issues were pulled.

April 7, 2009
God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything
by Christopher Hitchens (left) is being made into a movie. There is no release date yet.

April 6, 2009
The date links to a video about the last Jew in Afghanistan. But before there was one, there were two. And they hated each other! Our blog has the story.
April 3, 2009

A teenage girl was flogged in Pakistan by the Taliban. She was punished on suspicion of having had an illicit relationship with a married man. The whole case is based on the suspicions of one neighbor. The flogging is on our blog.

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April 28, 2009

Taking license in Florida

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April 25, 2009 (Tampa Bay Times)

The Florida senate approved a crucifixion license plate (with either a sun or a big orange behind Jesus). Many senators approved the plate sight unseen and didn't bother to debate its pros and cons.

This one is going to court. A similar plate was smacked down by an enlightened judge in South Carolina (link). And if the court doesn't kill it, how long will it be before someone pairs the plate with truck nuts?



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April 27, 2009

Cracking the Whip in Pakistan

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April 27. 2009
A New York Times article tells of the fetish and bondage business in Pakistan.

Nothing is made in the United States anymore. But who would have guessed that Pakistan, of all places, is making some of America's leather sex toys?

The NY Times article (above) is good, the video (below) is better. I have only one gripe with the video. One of the brothers said that "our main customers are from New York and seventy percent are Democrats." I can understand how he might know that the majority of his customers are from New York, but how would he know that 70 percent are Democrats? Did he poll the customers as to the political preferences? Methinks not.


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Lowcountry Atheist

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April 26. 2009

Some atheists put up “Don’t Believe in God? You Are Not Alone” billboard in Charleston, S.C., and nobody got lynched, according to the The New York Times.

Good grief!

My notions about the South might be outdated (see illustration at left).

The Lowcountry Humanists had an overflowing crowd at their next meeting. Parents even came forward looking for family-oriented programs for nonbelievers.

If atheists can make it in the state that's home to Bob Jones University, they can make it anywhere.

However, they still have a long way to go.
Polls continue to show that atheists are ranked lower than any other minority or religious group when Americans are asked whether they would vote for or approve of their child marrying a member of that group.























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April 25, 2009

Fred Phelps

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April 24, 2009 (Washington Post - has a link to a video).
Pastor Phelps also has problems with dead poets. Seven congregants of the Westboro Baptist Church showed up at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda to protest a school being named after a person who was probably gay or bisexual. They were met by hundreds of students. The above date has the story and a video.
Rebekah Phelps-Davis, daughter of Fred Phelps, said it was "the duty of the servants of God to go where the message needs to be heard."
Before going to Whitman High, they stopped off at the funeral of a Middletown, Md., family killed in a murder-suicide last week, claiming that those deaths, like U.S. military casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan, were God's wrath toward a godless people. Police asked them to leave.

Here is a link to Phelp's wikipedia entry.

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April 24, 2009

Jesus in a Kit-Kat bar

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April 20, 2009

A chocolate fan has taken the biscuit after biting into a Kit-Kat and finding an image of Jesus.

The astonishing vision emerged on Good Friday after a website called for oddball religious discoveries.

"I was amazed. I just took a bite and then I saw the face of Christ in it," the finder told the NU.nl Dutch website.

(Warning to readers: I am concerned about the veracity of this images. It could have been photoshopped).


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April 23, 2009

What global warming?

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Here is a link to the original NY Times article. It was published in March 2007.

The Pew Research Center looked again at the issue in April 2009. Evangelicals were less likely than people belonging to other religions to believe global warming was caused by man.


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April 22, 2009

Jesus reincarnated

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April 22, 2009
Today is the birthday of Jose Luis de Jesus
Miranda (right). He claims to be Jesus Christ reincarnated. For some reason they celebrated his birthday on April 18. The above date links to the story and a video of the event.

Here is his Wikipedia entry.

Here is a CNN report on de Jesus. He makes a cameo appearance on Bill Maher's movie, Religulous.



Jose has competition in the "I am Jesus" department. Here are a couple of blog entries from our history section.

Jan 14, 1961
Sergey Torop is born. Torop is a Russian mystic who claims to be the reincarnation of Jesus. He has about 10,000 followers worldwide, 4000 in Siberia. Russia has become a hotbed of new religions since the fall of the Soviet Union. Read more on our blog.


Nov 1, 2006
A former patient of the UK's best-known expert on transsexualism wanted a sex change in order to fulfill her delusion that she was Jesus. She was detained in a psychiatric hospital just before an operation to remove her breast.

Jan 6, 2008
A man who thought he was the Messiah drowned after trying to walk on water. Howard Bloomstein's naked body was found floating in the sea off Brighton England on Jan 6.


And let's not forget Jesus' little brother.


Jan 1, 1814
Hóng Xiùquán
is born in China. Hong studied with an American Southern Baptist missionary and came to believe he was the younger brother of Jesus. He led the Taiping Rebellion, which lead to the death of 36 million people.










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April 21, 2009

Angels and Demons

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Bill, people love the spooky stuff.

Exorcisms, secret societies, albino monks etc. So what if the movie isn't true. It's fiction. And if there are boneheads out there who think it's a documentary, is that really so terrible? The Catholic Church needs a little weirdness to separate itself from the Protestants.

Below are links to the pissing match between the Catholic League and Ron Howard. The Catholic League started it!

April 13, 2009
"Angels and Demons" doublespeak
April 21, 2009
Ron Howard's article in the Huffington Report
The Catholic Leagues response.

Here is the Wikipedia entry on the Illuminati.

Here is an interesting commentary in the New York Times about Dan Brown.

Here is a trailer:



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The Feds Seize Eagle Feathers

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link to story Native Times (April 21, 2009)

American Indian prisoners in Wyoming can now use eagle feathers in their religious ceremonies. But in Arizona, Fish and Wildlife agents are seizing eagle feathers from the homes of Navajo Indians. It looks like they will have to be thrown in the slammer if they want to want to keep the feathers. (photo by JoKay Dowell, Oklahoma powwow)







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April 19, 2009

Killer ranting about atheists

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Here's a link to an article about the memorial service for Asia McGowan. Her killer, Anthony Powell, (below) committed suicide. His youtube post is a rambling rant about atheist and evolution. It's also an interesting look at a really twisted individual.



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April 15, 2009

Atheists are evil!

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German Bishop Links Nazi Crimes to Atheism (Spiegel online)

Why does the Bishop of Augsburg think he can get away with saying "a society without God is hell on earth?"

Augsburg (68.3 % Catholic) is a short drive to the Dachau Concentration Camp. Bishop Mixa is also under the bishop of Munich (53.2 % Catholic) which was where a Catholic named Hitler kicked off the Nazi movement in a beer hall.

Here's another quote from the above linked article.
"In the last century, the godless regimes of Nazism and Communism, with their penal camps, their secret police and their mass murder, proved in a terrible way the inhumanity of atheism in practice."
The history section of the blog has numerous examples of religious people massacreing other religious people.

And what does a society that marginalizes religion look like? A blog entry for Feb 27,2009 is about Denmark and Sweden. They are among the least religious nations in the world, and are also "moral, stable, humane and deeply good." (See a youtube interview Phil Zuckerman, author Society without God: What the Least Religious Nations Can Tell Us About Contentment.)

And let's not forget those "crazy killers" in the National Academy of Sciences. They are some of the world's leading scientists. 72.2% expressed disbelief and 93% expressed disbelief or doubt in the existence of a personal god in 1998.


The Gott Mit Uns (God With Us) belt buckle was worn by Germany enlisted soldiers during World War II. The saying has been used by armies for hundreds of years.

















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April 12, 2009

Good Friday in Mexico

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April 12, 2009 Washington Post

The Latin American tradition is to stage a Passion play on Good Friday. This is especially true in Mexico where hundreds of communities have their own. Iztapalapa, a poor neighborhood in Mexico City, has the most elaborate in the country.

From the Washington Post article:

The Passion play as performed in Iztapalapa is intense and emotional. Jesus is kicked, beaten, whipped and covered in blood, with a cinematic reality. And Mary's cries stir the people in the crowds, who perhaps cannot help but think not only of the suffering of Jesus but also of their own.

As the Jesus character makes his way up the hill, he frequently stumbles, and the throngs moan along with him. When Judas reaches the top of the hill, he skulks away and then is seen hanging from a tree, a re-creation of his suicide out of guilt.

Then comes the sound, over the loudspeakers, of nails being driven into hard wood, and though there are hundreds of thousands of people on the hill, it grows very quiet. Jesus is hoisted aloft, and he looks out over the gathering, over Mexico City, and shouts: "Forgive them, Lord, for they know not what they do!" and many in the audience are weeping.


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April 11, 2009

Pentecostals

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April 12, 2009 (NY Times article)
photo - Pastor Daniel Ajayi-Adeniran

Pentecostals are best know for speaking in tongues and their "lively" church services.

Ministers and parishioners will often
collapse to the floor, burying their faces in the carpet, and writhe in the throes of divine communion.
They also believe that when the Holy Spirit inhabits them, they can perform miracles and see the future. Here is the wikipedia link.

The Azusa Street Revival may have rebooted the Pentecostal movement in the United States but it is now being driven by Nigerian immigrants.
Today there are around 600 million Pentecostals worldwide, the vast majority of them in developing nations, and Africa is a hotbed. Pentecostalism is not so much an organized religion — it has no central authority — as a set of beliefs and practices that can be adapted by local entrepreneurs. It is perfectly suited to harness the modern forces of global cross pollination.
“I often say,” says Bishop Bart Pierce, a white Pentecostal minister from Baltimore, “that the African is the midwife for next great move of God in America.”
The above link will take you to the NY Times story. This link will take you to the accompanying slide show. The audience looks primarily African and the minister is very hard to understand. I have to wonder if this religion can really spread beyond the African community.



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April 8, 2009

The Crucible

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Wikipedia Salem Witch entry has a good summary of the events.

Arthur Miller's play The Crucible was the only good thing that came out of this unfortunate moment in American History.
The play was written in the early 1950s as a response to McCarthyism, when the US government blacklisted accused communists. Miller himself was to be questioned by the House of Representatives' Committee on Un-American Activities in 1956 and convicted of "contempt of Congress" for failing to identify others present at meetings he had attended.
The Crucible was later made into two movie. The one made in 1996 stared Daniel Day-Lewis as John Proctor, one of the victims.

Below is a clip from the movie.



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Srebrenica Massacre

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Self Flagillation in the Philippines

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April 7, 2009

The last Jew in Afghanistan

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Here is the link to the video about the last Jew in Afghanistan. The video doesn't really explain why he is staying in Afghanistan when his wife and two daughters are in Israel.

A Reuter's journalist caught up Zebulon in 2001 when he was one of the last two Jews in Afghanistan. Apparently these two guys hated each other. Here is the link.

They shared the same synagogue
but held separate services. They denounced each other to the Taliban as Mossad spies, each earning the other a beating from the largely apathetic authorities. When Yitzhak was found dead in the synagogue in January 2005, there was no posthumous reconciliation. At the time, Zebulon remarked that he was glad because his old rival and sole companion was a "very bad man".
There was even a play written about them. It's called My Brother's Keeper.

The last Jew in Afghanistan is clearly a head case. Mystery solved.

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Knight's Templar

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The Knights Templar were officially endorsed by the Catholic Church in 1129. They fought in the Crusades and controlled a large economic infrastructure for two centuries before they were destroyed by King Philip IV of France. (The above link has more on their history. Pictured on the left is their headquarters in Jerusalem).


For years, the secretive Templars have been a favorite of the conspiracy-theory crowd. The Da Vinci Code and National Treasure are based on a far-fetched version of Templar history.

It appears that the Templars are connected to one of the Catholic Churches greatest (and most controversial) relics, the Shroud of Turin. The Shroud, which believers say is the burial cloth of Jesus, disappeared in the sack of Constantinople in 1204 during the Fourth Crusade, and did not surface again until the middle of the fourteenth century. According to recently uncovered Vatican records, the Templars hid and venerated the shroud for the entire time (see April 6, 2009).

The shroud is rarely seen by the public, but it will be on display in Turin during the Spring of 2010.

There are several Knights Templar videos on You Tube. I can't vouch for the accuracy of any of them, but I think this one is the best.












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Bahai in Egypt

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April 4, 2009
Along with Coptic Christians, Egyptian Bahai have been attacked. Bahai were attacked this week in the Egyptian province of Sohag.

From the above LA Times article (see link):
Muslim residents gathered outside the homes of some Bahais and chanted, “There is no god but God" and "Bahais are the enemies of God.”

Shortly afterward, they threw rocks at the homes, breaking windows. Violence escalated when Muslim residents threw firebombs and Molotov cocktails at the house of five Bahai families, according to a statement released by human rights groups.

There are about 2,000 Bahai in Egypt. They came to the country in the 1860s. Here is the Wikipedia entry on the Bahai.

April 15, 2009 (Human Rights Watch)
The Egyptian government has recognized the right of adherents of "non-recognized" religions to obtain identification documents. The decree ends an official policy of coercing Egyptian Baha'is into misidentifying themselves as Muslims or Christians.
Identification documents, especially identity cards and birth certificates, are mandatory for all Egyptians and necessary to obtain access to education, employment, family life, registration and immunization of children, as well as most basic daily activities such as opening a bank account, obtaining a driver's license, receiving pension or inheritance, or engaging in business transactions.


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April 6, 2009

Brian the Dog

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Update! Update! Update! (LA Times)
Family Guy on July 16, 2009 became the first animated show in nearly 50 years to score an Emmy nomination for best comedy series. "Family Guy" received not one but two Emmy nominations. The second is for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance, which series creator Seth MacFarlane hopes to take home for his portrayal of Peter Griffin in the episode "I Dream of Jesus."

Brian has a wikipedia entry. Here is the section on religion.
Brian is an atheist who often gets irritated when the topic of religion comes up in conversation. For example in the episode The Father, the Son, and the Holy Fonz when Brian makes a remark to Peter's father, Francis Griffin, asking when Stewie will be baptized, Francis threatens him. Brian sarcastically responds: "That's very Christian; believe what I say or I'll hurt you." It has been noted that Brian prefers women who are also atheists such as in the episode Love Blactually, where Brian meets and falls in love with Carolyn. Brian's atheism is made into an issue in Not All Dogs Go to Heaven, when he is treated as an outcast all over town; he later lies about "seeing the light," admitting some time later that it was to be served booze at the bar.




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April 4, 2009

Michelangelo

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Religious art, along with religious music and architecture, is some of mankind's greatest achievements. Here are three masterpieces by Michelangelo. The top one is the Creation of Adam from the Sistine Chapel. Bottom left is the Pieta and bottom right is David.
































































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Religious Music

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I suspect every culture has their own flavor of religious music. Here is a quick look at a very tiny slice. At the bottom is a video by Darrell Ray about the psychological effects of religious music.

Baroque



Southern Gospel Music



Throat Singing



Gregorian Chants



Gospel



Umm Kalthoum is an Egyptian singer who sang verses from the Koran.



Hindu devotional music



Sufi




Music in Religious Services



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Elvis Presley sings Amazing Grace

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April 3, 2009

Girl being flogged in Pakistan

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April 3, 2009 (publication date)
A 17-year old girl was flogged in the Swat Valley in Pakistan by the Taliban. The girl was punished on suspicion of having had an illicit relationship with a married man. She did not receive a trial. The whole case is based on the suspicions of one neighbor.

From the above article:
The woman's brother is among the men pinning her down, she added. "It's symbolic that he does it with his own hands. It gives him honour in local society, that he has done it for the sake of religion."
Here is the video:




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Cartoons of Mohammed

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April 3, 2009
Kurt Westergaard, one of the Danish cartoonist who drew the pictures of Mohammed that enraged Muslims, claims the BBCs decision not to air an interview with him came because they are petrified of upsetting Muslims extremists.

A BBC spokesman said:
'No decision has been made yet. As and when one is, it will be based, as always, on editorial merit.'
Here is a video of the 12 cartoons. The one that really tweaked the Muslims was the cartoon of Mohammed with a bomb on his head.



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Qana and editorial cartoons

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