Sunday, November 29, 2009

Oh gee, not Glee

Glee_logo Time magazine has an article called The Gospel of Glee: Is it Anti-Christian? I read it out of curiosity after seeing somebody’s tweet. I thought it is odd that anyone would think this hard-for-me-to-understand musical comedy, would be anti-Christian. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve seen almost every episode. In my household it has a near cult-like hold over my wife and son. I don’t get it. In fact, I find myself saying wtf, over and over again as I watch it. But hey, I’m a middle-aged man, the show is not written for me.

Is Glee anti-religious? I don’t think so. Instead, it keeps hammering on social issues like teen pregnancy, infidelity, gay rights, and drug use in an over the top and in your face parade of musical sop. I laugh hard at most scenes right up until the pillow hits my head, if I don’t stop a book soon follow. Still, Christians are too sensitive. They expect a Christian character to act like a idealized Christian instead of a hormone controlled teen. The real issue here is the girl said she was going to keep the baby and take responsibility for her mistake, not matter what it costs her (Pay no attention to her entrapping the wrong father).

It is easy to see his point, if you look at the specifics. In his view, Glee portrays Christians as phonies and hypocrites. He observed that the only self-identified Christian is the shiny blond Quinn, cheerleading president of the celibacy club, who is pregnant by one classmate but pretending the father is another. (To make matters more complicated, in a heartbreaking scene, she begs her parents' forgiveness; in righteous fury, they throw her out of the house.)

Read more: The Gospel of Glee: Is It Anti-Christian?

As I recall it, the celibacy club was full of Christians practicing the skills it takes to avoid teen sex.  One fell. It happens all the time. Does the youth pastor who objects to Glee not understand this reality or does he want all Christians to seem Christ like? I don’t get it.

I can see the truth of Glee in my son’s eyes. These kids are geeks like me. They suffer like me. The fear like me. So what if he learns that the downside of teen sex is teen parenting or that taking drugs can make you act crazy or that children with sexual identity problems have a hard time of it at home and at school. Heh, at least he’s not a drama geek. Those kids are the worst. And… I found the AV club comforting back in the day.

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Freethought debate planned in the OC

The Orange County Freethought Alliance is hosting a debate called “Does God of the Bible Exist?” on Dec 9, 2009 at the Costa Mesa Community Center, 1845 Park Avenue, Costa Mesa.

On Dec 9th, at the same location we are holding our Orange County Freethought Alliance Conference, we will be holding a Debate: "Does God of the Bible Exist?" where three Christian apologists will square off with three devout atheists.  This debate will not discuss the traditional teleological, cosmological and ontological arguments for and against God's existence.  Instead it will focus on the existence of the god of the Bible.  The contradictions of his/her/it's existence as well as the ramifications of God's possible non-existence will be examined. 

I plan to attend and will live blog the event. For those of you who want to poke me in the nose, I’m short with curly hair and will be dressed in black. For my friends, look for the guy with the big smile.

The Christians

Hugh Ross, Ph.D Astronomy, University of Toronto, former fellow at CalTech, and founder of Reasons to Believe. Ross and the RTB staff keep tabs on the frontiers of research and how it connects with biblical theology. Ross has written numerous books and debates frequently on these issues.

Clay Jones, M.Div - Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, is a professor at Biola University. Jones was host of a weekly, national call-in radio program, served as the executive director of Simon Greenleaf University, and has been on the pastoral staff of two large churches. Jones has authored numerous scholarly articles, speaks nationally, and has a forthcoming book, Why God Allows Evil

Dan Grossenbach, M.A. Christian Apologetics- Biola University. Teaches apologetics at Mount of Olives Church in Mission Viejo, is a contributor to the blogsite, and is a federal criminal investigator by profession.

The Atheists

Mark Smith, Manatee Community College in Bradenton, FL and California State University - Long Beach, CA is a mechanical engineer by trade. A former Christian turned atheist, Smith now runs the website posting critical arguments challenging theists worldwide. Smith has formal debate training and competed in formal events on the college level and professionally in local churches

Bruce Flamm, M.D. Wake Forest University, Inland Empire Atheists & Agnostics club organizer, Freedom From Religion member, Coalition for Secular America advisory board member, and outspoken critic and writer against faith healing claims.

Alex Uzdaviness, fourth year undergrad at University of California – Irvine, CA studying  psychology and social behavior and is a leader of the AAR (Atheists, Agnostics, & Rationalists) club on the UCI campus.

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Spit on a Christian

I read an article in today called Christians in Jerusalem want Jews to stop spitting on them.

A few weeks ago, a senior Greek Orthodox clergyman in Israel attended a meeting at a government office in Jerusalem's Givat Shaul quarter. When he returned to his car, an elderly man wearing a skullcap came and knocked on the window. When the clergyman let the window down, the passerby spat in his face.

I expected to read that the clergyman jumped out of his car and beat the old man in retaliation. But no, the clergyman turned the other cheek. He was used to being spit on by Jews. It happens al the time. 

Taleinat on Reddit offered the following:

There's nothing anti-Christian thing or anti-Muslim here, this is anti-everyone-who-isn't-just-like-me. A relatively small group disdain everyone who isn't like them, and want them to get out of their life and their city. They want Jerusalem for themselves and for those who believe what they believe, not a pluralistic Jerusalem. So they make life as miserable as they can for everyone else, hoping those people will get fed up and just leave.

It’s interesting to note that the practice appears to have the tacit approval of the local religious and governmental authorities. I would think the victims would have developed defensive measures, like a can of mace or even a bear sized can of pepper spray. One spray repels all religious nutters.

I can see a new tourist trade develop for Israel. Jews the world over could travel to Israel for spitting holidays. I can see it now… Come to Israel and enjoy a unique opportunity to spit on our Christian and Muslim citizens. They are preconditioned to accept the abuse and are unlikely to retaliate. Book early to get your spot for Christmas. The city will be full of Christians just asking for a phlegm facial. Bonus miles award if you hit a bishop!

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Masataka Nakano – Empty Tokyo

By Masataka Nakano Japanese photographer Masataka Nakano spent 11-years on a project to shoot Tokyo sans people. I’ve been to Tokyo and cannot imagine how he captured these images. I always felt like I was in crowd, even while in the relative privacy of my hotel. There are people everywhere. The city never sleeps. Heck, I don’t even thing it stops to catch it’s breath.

The project is called Empty Tokyo. I found a similar project called Empty LA by Matt Logue. I find the concept beautiful and conceptually intriguing. The patience required to pull this type of thing off is something I do not possess, although there are ways to cheat.

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Friday, November 27, 2009

Youth Pastor Erick Mendoza pleaded not guilty

EricMendoza Youth Pastor Erick Valasquez Mendoza pleaded not guilty to six counts of lewd acts against a child and five counts of forcible lewd acts with a child under the age of 14. Mendoza was arrested Monday after allegedly molesting an 11-year-old girl. Medoza worked at Iglesia Pentecostal Nueva Vida Church in Salinas. The victim was a member of the youth group. The police are looking for more victims.

After the Monday arrest of 20-year-old Erick Mendoza, a youth leader at the Iglesia Pentecostal Nueva Vida Church for about a year, police say they are now investigating whether others were sexually assaulted.

"The fact this guy was there for a year, we have to check if there are other victims," Salinas police Officer Lalo Villegas said.

If you have information please contact the Salinas Police Department’s Anonymous Tip Line at 831-775-4222, or the We-Tip Line at 1-800-78-CRIME, or text information to the Text Tip Line with the code "SPD831" to "847411", or contact the Salinas Police Department.

I’ll ask my usual question here. How does a 20-year-old become a youth pastor with unrestricted access to children? It boggles my mind.

Catholic sexual abuse in Ireland

I’m Irish, although any trace of the old country has long since vanished from my family. After 5 generations in the USA, the only thing I can claim as Irish is a visit to the Guinness brewery 10-years ago. Still, when hear stories of clergy sexual abuse in Ireland, I take notice.

The Roman Catholic church brutalized the children of Ireland for most of the 20th century. This paragraph from a government ordered report on Roman Catholic sanctioned child abuse. It says it all.

Thursday's 720-page report — delivered to the government in July — analyzes the cases of 46 priests against whom 320 complaints were filed. The 46 were selected from more than 150 Dublin priests implicated in molesting or raping boys and girls since 1940.

The church knew about the abuse and covered it up to avoid scandal.

The commission found that three archbishops of Dublin — John Charles McQuaid (1940-72), Dermot Ryan (1972-84) and Kevin McNamara (1985-87) — did not tell police about clerical abuse cases, instead opting to avoid public scandals by shuttling offenders from parish to parish.

Sustained child sexual abuse over most of 20th century seems like a good enough reason for the Irish to change the relationship with the Catholic Church. I know that four million Irish Catholics will not walk away from the faith, but perhaps they will start to question the moral mandates handed out a church with no moral authority. I’ll hold my breath.

Wiccans convicted in abuse case

Joseph Scott Craig and Joy Johnson were each sentenced on reduced misdemeanor charges stemming from a July 2008 arrest for  second-degree rape and kidnapping. The press reported the 60-day jail sentence as Durham Couple Sentenced in Satanism Abuse Case, which represented the Christian bias of the prosecutor, Mark McCullough. The couple are Wiccan, which has nothing to do with Satanism. There still qualify as religious nutballs though.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pot pastor heading to jail again

marijuana_leaf Now seriously, what harm could the pastor of pot caused? Did he get everybody high and study John 1:1? Did it blow all their minds? He’s just another medical marijuana dispensary trying to help the ailing masses. His focus, talking about Jesus, is no different that the other people jumping on the Mary Jane band wagon. He just sold his herb with a few bible verses.

No wait… maybe he’s just a common criminal masquerading as a pastor. I know one thing for sure, if he’s defending himself, pastor Craig Reuben will spend a lot of time in prison. I listened to the tape and read the interview. He sounds a little high to me.

"What we've always tried to do, my wife and I, is present god to people who use medical marijuana," said Rubin. "[The Bible] says 'we are healed by his stripes' in Isaiah 53, and a as a Jewish person, I believe the Old Testament, and I think Christians should believe the Old Testament is valid. I teach a course in college called 'The Jewish History of the New Testament.'

Apparently the bible says marijuana is ok.

"Marijuana is specifically mentioned in the Book of Exodus in a holy anointing oil. It's called 'cannabossum,'" said Rubin.

That’s good enough for me. Who needs a job?

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Do the Gods eat meat?

I was listening the the BBC World news yesterday when they did a cultural piece on the Gadhimai Mela in Bariyapur, Nepal. 200,000 animals, including buffaloes, goats, and chickens will be sacrificed by specially trained religious butchers over two days. All this carnage is to honor the Hindu goddess of Power, Gadhimaim.

I spoke to a few friends who listened to the story with me were horrified. I asked if the Gods ate meat. Their responded with their natural Christian cultural bias, “Their gods are false gods. This is a waste.” I don’t see it. If a million vegetarian Hindus go meat crazy every fives years, who am I to criticize? I’m sure I eat a few cows worth of steak every five years. None of the meat from the festival goes to waste. After they kill the animal and bless it, they butcher it and it eat. What is wrong with that? To be honest, if I had to wait five years between buffalo steaks, I’d kill the damn things myself… no blessing though.

Religion is crazy.

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Glenn Beck better not visit Saudi Arabia

Hangmans_Noose Saudi Arabia convicted Lebanese national Sali Sibat of practicing witchcraft and sentenced him to death. His crime... he appears on satellite TV giving general advice and making predictions about the future.

"Saudi courts are sanctioning a literal witch hunt by the religious police," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.

"The crime of witchcraft is being used against all sorts of behavior, with the cruel threat of state sanctioned executions."

Ali Sibat's supporters say he was denied a lawyer at his trial and was tricked into making a confession.

He is not the only victim of Saudi Arabia's literal witch hunt. Human Rights Watch says two other people have been arrested on similar charges in the last month alone.

I don’t want to go off on a rant about Islam and the screwed up nation of Saudi Arabia, but every time I read stories like this I have to ask, why are these people are allies? If you take this to its logic conclusion, any of us who have criticized Islam on our blogs or who have broken some obscure Saudi religious law, could be tried and executed by these religious nutters if we ever visit the county. I’m never setting foot in the place.

Glenn Beck would not stand a chance. Perhaps…

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Pastor Robert Adams sought by police

RobertAdams2 Pastor Robert Lee Adams of Mount Calvary Tabernacle is a fugitive from justice. The police issued an arrest warrant alleging Pastor Adams raped and molested a teen girl, eventually impregnating her.

“We hope someone recognizes Mr. Adams and calls us so we can take him into custody,” Ramey said. “Obviously with these kinds of allegations and warrants outstanding, this is not someone we want to be loose in the community.”

Adams may be traveling in a 1970s-model orange pickup truck. People have reported seeing Adams locally in Forest City and out-of-state in Tennessee and Texas.

Adams is on the run. If you see him call the police.

Anyone with information on Adams’ whereabouts is asked to call the Gaston County Police Department at 704-866-3320 or Crime Stoppers at 704-861-8000.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Christian Side Hug Rap

It just gets weirder and weirder. I had to look into this to make sure nobody was pulling my leg. A Christian side hug is supposed to do what… prevent fornication? What a waste of time.

I’m still of a mind to think this fake. What do you think?

via Harmon Leon

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Pastor Larry Pineda arrested

ArcadioPineda Pastor Arcadio “Larry” Pineda was arrested and charged with three felonies. He stands accused of incurring debt in his church’s name and then spending it to support his own lifestyle.

Arcadio "Larry" Pineda, 65, was charged Friday with three felonies — grand theft and two counts of filing false documents. Investigators with the District Attorney's Office arrested him at his Oakley home Monday and booked him into Contra Costa County Jail in Martinez on $110,000 bail.

Pineda filed falsified documents with the secretary of state and the county recorder in 2008 to gain false authority to obtain the mortgage loan that used the church building as collateral, deputy district attorney Ken McCormick said.

Financial crimes are insidious. They destroy communities and leave a trail of distrust and anger which lasts for years. What comfort will the victims find by put Pineda behind bars for10 years?

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Haggard’s slow crawl continues

Ted Haggard preached to an audience of 200 at the House of Praise church in Rensselaer County, New York. Pastor Lon Dean invited Haggard to speak after feeling sinful for judging Haggard. Little does he know that he’s feeding the beast. Haggard’s slow crawl back from exile will be marked by small venues appearances for cash. He’s working the farm league to hone his performance and hoping for a shot at the big leagues. He needs another shot to get right. The only thing he knows is preaching… and engaging in illicit drug use and risky sex.

Christians will forgive him. They will eventually flock to his sermons to hear the uplifting story of his new walk with Lord. Is it only the skeptics of the world that see this for what it is? A ruse, another attempt for a moment in the sun, or at least a steady paycheck? I’m not that jaded. This should be obvious. Haggard should not be trusted.

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Pastor James Wilson faces trial

Pastor James Wilson was arrested for fondling a 16-year-old girl in a hotel room back in 2008. The molestation charge was dropped but he still faces a kidnapping charge.

James Wilson, 42, of Renick will be in a Moberly courtroom. He was acquitted in June of a child molestation charge after the judge ruled that parts of the girl's testimony were not credible.

Wilson was the principal of Moberly's Terrill Road Christian Church School.

A probable cause statement says Wilson took a female student to the motel in may of this year.

A kidnapping charge… that’s pretty serious.

Monday, November 23, 2009

No link between clergy abuse and being gay

After writing a few hundreds posts on clergy sexual abuse, I came to the conclusion that the priests and pastors molesting children under color of religions authority authority are pedophiles. They come in both flavors, gay and straight, with neither orientation gives you a predilection to abuse. People push back all the time. I think because they want to tie this behavior to being gay. What I always say is that offenders have a problem that transcends their sexual orientation because that is what the research I’ve read indicates.

American Roman Catholic bishops commissioned a study to answer the question, are homosexual priests more likely to molest children than heterosexual priests? Their initial findings are in line with other research on the subject.

"What we are suggesting is that the idea of sexual identity be separated from the problem of sexual abuse," John Jay's Margaret Smith said in a speech to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The question has been raised repeatedly within and outside the church because the overwhelming majority of known victims were boys.

The reason the overwhelming majority of victims are boys is the overwhelming number of children serving in the church are young boys. How are is that to figure out.  All you need do is look at the Baptist church understand this better. Boys and girls are abused with equal regularity. It’s a crime of opportunity. Priests have more opportunity to molest boys, so they do.

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Pastor Carlton Hammond Arrested

Baptist pastor Carlton Farnsworth Hammond of Willows Baptist church in Willows, CA. He was charged with lewd or lascivious acts with a child.

Carlton Farnsworth Hammond, 56, a pastor at Willows Baptist Church, has been arrested on a warrant alleging lewd or lascivious acts with a child 14 or 15 years of age.

He was taken into custody Friday at the church on North Tehama Street.

News is sketchy at this point. I will fill in the details as they become available.

Palin’s ignorant masses

I hate to say it, but these people remind me of a few people I know. With Thanksgiving coming up, I’m bound to get my ear bent by a few family teabaggers and Palin supporters. The only good defense I have is to drink heavily.

These people scare me. When will Palin go away? The whole Christians against Obama thing is the most disturbing aspect of Palin mania. Where does that come from?

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Youth Pastor Russell Lewis arrested

RussellLewisThe clergy sexual abuse epidemic continues with the arrest of youth pastor Russell Dion Lewis of Church by the Glades in Coral Springs. Lewis stands accused of engaging in a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl.

Lewis is charged with one count of custodial sexual battery and ten counts of lewd and lascivious molestation. Lewis was taken to Broward County Jail.

Meanwhile, church officials are in disbelief.

"This is the hardest time in our ministry. It's a tragedy in the life of our church," said Pastor David Hughes of Church by the Glades. "I am broken by this. I am devastated by this. I can't wrap my brain around something this

My theory is that ugly youth pastors are more inclined to commit these crimes. I’m just saying…

Blenny posted:

I'm 17 years old as well. Pastor Russell was a great man that loved his Lord and praised him with all of his heart. I agree that for all those that knew him should pray for him and his wife as well as the victim and her family, but for the ones that were not fortunate enough to meet this man please do not judge or criticize. This is a very tragic incident in our eyes and the Lord's, but Satan is out there and he just happened to grab the attention of a righteous God believer. I'm sorry for the act that he committed and empathetic towards the family and their daughter. I will have both of them in my prayers. God Bless the victim, the victim's family, Russell Lewis and his wife, and all those who follow and do not follow Christ alike.

My problem with this line of reasoning is that it is not reasoning. Instead it inserts an excuse for poor impulse control. The devil made him do it. It’s just nonsense, but I hear it all the time.

Church by the Glades seems like a nice place and they have their head in the right place. Church should be a safe place. Pastor David Hughes address his congregation in a special service Sunday. It was the right thing to do.

Hughes told parishioners he decided to abandon the scheduled topic of his sermon to directly address the news that has rocked the church, which ministers to about 5,000 people each weekend through seven services.

"We are having a little family talk," said Hughes, 47. "It has been a weird 72 hours. As your pastor, I'm sorry. This should be a safe place."

The church formally apologies to its members and is offering counseling services to those in need. I rarely see this in the aftermath of a child molestation case, it gives me some hope.

Blogroll Updates

I've made it through 75 blogs so far. These are the latest updates. The following blogs were removed from the Atheist Blogroll.
  1. After Atheism *inactive
  2. Al-Kafir Akbar! *invite only
  3. An Enlightened Observer *inactive
  4. Andrew Clapper on... *inactive
  5. Ateistbloggen *inactive
  6. Atheism Sucks – sucks *inactive
  7. atheism | *inactive
  8. Atheist A Go-Go! moved to Skin Hunger
  9. Atheist Armaments *inactive
  10. Atheist Bitch moved to Bitching Commentary

The following blogs are our newest members.

  1. Atheist Climber
  2. Krissthesexyatheist
  3. Clinging To A Rock
  4. The Bee's Knees
  5. This is me and what I think
  6. Bitching Commentary

The Atheist Blogroll has 1065 members.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A pull on the old hijab

I fully expect to be told I’m crazy on this one, but I just don’t see a hate crime in this story. In Chicago, Amal Abusumayah claimed she felt a sharp tug on her hijab. This coupled with a derogatory comment constitutes the basis for charging Valerie Kenney with a hate crime.

"I was shaken up," Abusumayah told the SouthtownStar about the Nov. 7 assault. "This is my dignity and this is my religion."

Ahmed Rehab of the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said his organization has reached out to the FBI to pursue federal charges.

Kenney faces up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000 for a crime that should be no more than misdemeanor assault, if that. The fact that CAIR wants the FBI to pursue federal charges is simply insane.

I can’t count the number of time I’ve been grabbed on the shoulder, had my shirt pulled, or been taunted with unkind remarks. All met with an appropriate retort meant to defuse rather than escalate. How did this become a hate crime? Why CAIR of course.

I must ask, where is the harm? Abusumayah suffered no injury. Her dignity may be bruised, but a conviction for misdemeanor assault and civil action should serve as sufficient redress. It does not matter if her religion was abused. Her religion has no standing.

The derogatory remark was not so derogatory, "The guy that did the Texas shooting, he wasn't American and he was from the Middle East.” – Am I missing something? This sounds like part of a conversation. We are not hearing the whole story. It makes me wonder.

Many of the time that I’ve was tapped on the shoulder from behind it was followed by, “Hey, I’m talking to you buddy.”  Abusumayah’s hijab covers her head and shoulders, a tug on her headscarf follow by a ,“Hey, I’m talking to you,” seems like a reasonable explanation here.

Sun-Times Columnist Richard Roeper got it right.

"Look, if Kenney did what she's accused of doing, it was a nasty thing to do, and it's certainly a Stupid Crime," writes Sun-Times columnist Richard Roeper. "But jail time? How about an apology, forgiveness, some kind of community service and everybody moves on?"

This is about religion, Islam, CAIR, and their desperate need to be victims in light of the Ft. Hood murders.

Let’s save hate crime statutes for real hate crime and stop caving into the demands of powerful religions institutions.

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Introducing My Thoughts

Alessa, the writer behind My Thoughts, provides members of the Atheist blogroll an introduction to her blog. Enjoy. 

I'm an aspiring writer with a secular worldview; an advocate of rational thought. I have created this blog with the determination to promote critical thinking to the public. Although I feel that everyone is entitled to believe what they want - as long as nobody suffers from it - I also think that there is an intellectual and moral emergency where religion is concerned; one that needs to be addressed by those who can offer a sensible solution without calling upon the words of Scripture.The Atheist community needs to come together in unity and purpose. Please join me in embracing this wonderful natural world of ours with the reverence it deserves; accrediting its success to you and me, and not to a deity.

Please drop in and say hi.

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Youth pastor William Lohn guilty

WilliamLohn2 Youth pastor William Charles Lohn pleaded guilty to charges he stole over $60K from Shelbyville Mills Baptist Church. He will serve 9 months in prison plus ten years probation and must make restitution to his former church.

Randles told Crigler that Lohn had begun writing himself additional paychecks from the church about three years ago.

At one point, Lohn had repaid some $2,700 and Randles said that the minister "always had the intent to repay the money" but over a period of time, it became "no longer feasible" for Lohn to pay back the rest "and cover up what had been done."

Lohn is a Baptist so I’m sure he has another youth pastor gig lined up just down the road in Springfield. On a youth pastors salary it will take 20 years to pay back the load. I’m sure he will land at some church as a senior pastor, now that he has experience and all.

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Introducing Moral Bytes

Asha, the writer behind Moral Bytes, provides members of the Atheist Blogroll an introduction to his blog. Enjoy.

We are biological creatures. If you believe this, then you also believe that our behaviors have evolutionary roots. This includes moral behavior. I am interested in finding the evolutionary roots of moral behavior. I want to know if it possible to take a moral value and ground it in biological reasoning.

Let’s take “Thou Shalt not commit adultery” for example. If we looked at this moral dictate from an evolutionary perspective, what would we find?

This will be first question I’ll tackle in my weekly Wednesday posts. Read the first three posts in the series, Birth of a Movement, Gods Unvanquished, and Prophets and Philosophers.

I look forward your thoughts and comments.

Drop in and say hi.

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Introducing Escape From Dogma

Shamar, the writer behind Escape From Dogma, provides members of the Atheist Blogroll an introduction to his blog. Enjoy.

Hello, my name is Shamar, and I publish a blog looking at Science, logic, skepticism, atheism, freethinking, and other ways of looking at the world outside the blinding veil of dogma, all from a rational thinker in the heart of south Texas. Anyone interested in critical thinking, freethought, and a healthy dose of rationality, especially if you are in Texas or nearby, please stop by and share in the conversation. I welcome all opinions, whether they be atheist, agnostic, religious, or whatever, as long as you keep it civil. All opinions are important.

Drop in and say hi.

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Mormon official accused of molestation

It’s rare for a Mormon to face charges of child molestation. Yet Mormon official Eugene Bill Knox, the Mormon Church, and the Boy Scouts of America stand accused of abusing two boys three decades ago.

The suit claims the three brothers were children when they told the Mormon church that they had been abused hundreds of times by church official, Eugene Bill Knox, who was also their Boy Scout leader. Kelly Clark is their attorney.

I have a special spot in my heart for the Mormon church. I’ll watch this case, and the two other cases reported this week, very closely.

Seattle case: Dustin Hall

In the Seattle case, a man now in his early 40s claims he and other boys were abused in the late 1970s by Dustin Hall, an assistant scoutmaster chosen by the church's Shelton Ward near Olympia.

The plaintiff said in a statement released through his lawyer that the abuse — and his failure to protect the others — haunts him.

Portland Case: Michael Simms

The lawsuit filed in Portland on behalf of a man who is now 46 claims a Mormon youth leader abused him between 1974 and 1977. The suit claims the abuse was reported to a church bishop but never communicated to law enforcement.

The Gap overrun by witches

The goodness for the American Family Association (AFA). Without their helpful advice I would not know who or what to hate. Now that I know The Gap is overrun by witches, I’ll be sure to take my money to other stores.

This year the AFA, as in years past, called for a Christmas boycott of all Gap, Old Navy, and Banana Republic stores, because the company’s ads have not used the word Christmas. But Gap did in fact, use the word Christmas in its holiday ad this year, but also mentioned, Hanukkah, Kwanza and Solstice. Oops! Now the AFA is accusing Gap stores, of being overrun with witches.

I don’t make this stuff up. America is full of dump people. They are everywhere and they say the dumbest things.  Next thing you know they will be telling us The Gap is full of Atheists. Idiots.

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Pastor Steven Parrot guilty

Pentecostal bishop Steven Barrot pleaded guilty to stealing nearly $160K from parishioners and religious associates.

Steven Parrott of Newark pleaded guilty Friday to misconduct by a corporate official.

The state Division of Criminal Justice will recommend that he receive a three-year prison term when he's sentenced in January. He also must make restitution to his five victims.

He faces three years in prison. I can’t find much on this hypocrite, does anyone know the story?

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Pastor William Blasingame gets probation

william-blasingame If I were to steal $84,527 from my employer, they would break my kneecaps and then send me to prison. Not so for Pastor William Blasingame aka Friar Tuck, he was sentenced to just five years probation. Plus he must pay back the money he stole, but he gets to keep his face.

Prosecutors said he paid for personal luxuries, including tens of thousands of dollars worth of plastic surgery and Botox treatments, with money earmarked for the needy and the upkeep of church grounds.

I wonder if he will keep his job?

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Cleaning the Atheist Blogroll

I’ve been putting this off for a long time now, but I think it is necessary. I’m moving through the Atheist blogroll 25 blogs at a time in an attempt to remove inactive blogs and to create a useful list of all of our members. The full list is maintained at The Atheist Blogroll.

These blogs were removed for inactivity.

  1. 2000 Years of Deception *inactive
  2. A Geocentric View  *inactive
  3. A Hint of Neurosis *Inactive
  4. A Human Blog *inactive

We have 1069 active members.

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Atheist Blogroll scrub

Larro of Ungoldy Cynic volunteered his time in the service of the Atheist Blogroll. I am grateful for his help. He found the following problems.

  1. A different part of the cow – removed because blog is private
  2. The Angry Philistine – removed because blog is private
  3. Random Words WP – moved to
  4. UberKuh – gone.
  5. A Recovering Catholic – gone
  6. Reality Heroes – gone
  7. Gay Rights and Atheism – gone
  8. Coming out Godless – new url
  9. Situation normal – inactive
  10. Resurrecting Reason – gone
  11. Atheist Momma – gone
  12. Desperately Seeking Ethics and Reason – Gone
  13. Ben's Place – removed because blog is private
  14. The Atheocracy – gone
  15. Alexander the Atheist – Removed because blog is private

We have 1073 members on the Atheist Blogroll.

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Atheist Blogroll updated with new meat

It's been a busy week for me so I’m a little behind on my Atheist Blogroll duties. We have 15 fine new blogs to peruse. Enjoy! 
  1. God Damn Atheist
  2. Not My God
  3. CarbonBlog
  4. Escape From Dogma
  5. The Armchair Antichrist
  6. Truelogic's Weblog
  7. Second Skeleton
  8. This Field Can Be Edited Later
  9. Removing All Doubt
  10. Windy Sydney
  11. Confessions of Someone Almost 18
  12. How Can People Be So Stupid?
  13. Moral Bytes
  14. She Who Chatters
  15. the mind of nicole
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Monday, November 16, 2009

Hostility shown towards local Atheist group

The Seal Beach Atheist Meetup Group held its last meeting at Hennessy’s Tavern in Seal Beach on Sunday. They meet monthly to discuss issues important to the local Atheist community. They’ve never experienced trouble before, but Sunday was different. Tavern patrons asked management to have the Atheist Meetup Group remove a sign the patrons thought offensive. The sign, and A4 sized document with one inch black type, showed this message, “Seal Beach Atheists Meeting” along with a picture from the last meeting. I would not call this offensive and in my experience with meetup groups, it is common to have a sign advertising your event. I think asking for its removal is unfair treatment.

Claire, one of the meetup organizers, had this to say.

The manager came over and told us to take the
sign down. Flabbergasted, we asked why; she said she'd received several complaints (from who, she wouldn't say - though the gray-haired man at the bar who kept giving us evil stares definitely aroused our suspicions), and the signs had to go.

We asked the manager if she'd tell a Christian group to take their signs down, and, although she said she would, we doubt very much that she would ever be faced with that situation.

We did find humor in it, though - the thought that the
easily-offended, anti-free-speech, close-minded intolerants were spending their Sunday morning not in church, but propping up a bar.

Hennessey’s tavern bills itself as “Your Neighborhood Meeting Place”. I don’t think they lived up to their slogan. Please join the Seal Beach Atheist Meetup Group in protesting their treatment. They suggest writing a letter to the local store or sending an email to corporate headquarters at

  • Hennessy's Bar & Grill, 143 Main Street, Seal Beach, CA 90740.

The Seal Beach Atheist Meetup Group plans to find another venue to hold its future meetings. I’d suggest the Irisher a few doors down on the north side of street, but it’s not family friendly.


This story was picked up by the Orange County Register. See Atheist group says it was bullied at Seal Beach tavern by Jaimee Lynn Fletcher.

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

What hangs from your mirror?

What hangs from your mirror?

I started a new photography protect the other day. I shooting through the back widows of cars as I sit in traffic to capture what they have hanging from their mirrors…. Not really, I was just bored.

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Youth Pastor Jeff Frodermann guilty

frodermann2 Jeffrey(Jeff) Frodermann, the youth Pastor at Sebeka United Methodist Church in Minnesota, agreed to a plea deal to settle a charge of sexual contact with a 13-year-old girl. Um… sexual contact in this case was having sex with a 13-year-old girl. What’s troubling in this case is the relatively light sentence.

The plea was finalized Thursday evening, and according to the Menahga Chief of Police Scott Koennicke, Frodermann will likely spend six months behind bars and another six on house arrest.

Frodermann will also have a nine year probation period and have to register as a sex offender, but Quentin Ness, who lives across the street from the church and has three daughters of his own, does not believe the punishment was harsh enough.

Six months? That’s a slap on the wrist. What are they thinking?

I’d like to know the real story in this case. There is no press coverage and Frodermann has cleaned his online footprints pretty well. All I really have on the douche  is his booking photo and two articles. Of course, Sebeka has a population of 710, so what was I expecting?

Pastor Scott Shaull indicted

Scott_douglas_schaull Scott Douglas Shaull is the former pastor Bayside Covenant Church in Roseville. He’s one of 12 people accused of political corruption in San Jacinto.

Riverside County prosecutors today announced a 155-count indictment in a large public corruption investigation that includes charges against several elected officials.

The indictments target nine people, including four of the five members of the San Jacinto City Council,

The charges, which include 56 felony counts, allege that the participants, including the mayor of San Jacinto, conspired to launder campaign funds into campaign committees.

"These elected officials were entrusted with power and misused that power to advance their own political ambition and to satisfy their greed," said Riverside County Dist. Atty. Rod Pacheco.

Shaull’s involvement is unclear to me at this point. His profile does not explain his involvement in the scandal.

You can praise him when you…

OhDavey.ashx Oh man. I’m so glad my early Christian years were limited to influence by the intolerable Davy and Goliath. If I had watched Psalty the Singing Songbook like Godless Girl did, I would have ended up going postal.

When I was a teen, one of my first jobs was working in a Christian business that distributed Davy and Goliath movies to churches around Southern California. My job involved shipping and receiving plus the general care of film stock. When a movie was returned, I would rewind it while running it through a monitor to check for damage. I fixed the damaged frames by removal or splicing in replacement footage from film stock. By the time I quit (or was fired), I had watched every Christian film in stock backwards at least a dozen times. It was an odd form of torture. I still dream about it.

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My latest music crush: Pomplamoose

I don’t know what they hell has happened to me, but damn I like this band, Pomplamoose. They are adorable.

They do covers. So far I like them all.

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Pastor Harley Keogh arrested

72 year old pastor Harley Michael Keough, pastor of King James Baptist Church, was arrested for sexual battery. He felt up two women a his church’s food bank. While it is noble to feed the poor it is anything but noble to feel up the poor.

Keough tried to place his hand down a 23-year-old woman’s pants and touched her breast on Oct. 19, according to an arrest warrant. He also placed his hand down a 25-year-old woman’s pants the same day, another warrant states.

On Nov. 18, 2008, the pastor allegedly grabbed a woman’s hand, placed it against his genitals and rubbed it against his hip and buttocks. He put his hand down a 35-year-old woman’s pants on Nov. 13, 2006, according to a warrant affidavit.

I wonder what his excuse will be. The tried and true, I’m old and was off my meds, or the I’m a oversexed Baptist pastor looking for love?

In case you have any doubts, he’s been at it for at least three years without an arrest.

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I’m tired of bad pastor stories

I write so many stories about pastors neglecting their duties that I think it’s time for a good pastor story. Pastor Joel Miller is trying to feed the homeless. He’s fasting for up to 30 days in an attempt to gather 30,000 cans of food for a local food bank. His goal is to fill up the local food banks before Thanksgiving so needy family can eat.

Miller, a 43-year-old pastor of an independent church, has been doing a water-only fast for almost two weeks to raise awareness of hunger and generate donations for food pantries.

He wants to receive 30,000 cans of non-perishable goods. So far, he has about 8,000.

I stopped by and met him today and asked him a few questions about his effort.

Too bad Miller is in Texas. I would drive over a drop a case of can if I could. I think I’ll donate some cash instead. Miller has a website up called They accept paypal.

He’s faced down temptation better than I could.

He was at Discount Tire having a tire changed when a tray full of free Jimmy John’s sandwiches walked through the door. Miller said there’s never a time when he’d turn down a free sandwich. His hand reached out automatically, and he had to will it back to his side.

Fasting for 30 days is hard work. Feeding the homeless is good work. Hard work, good work, and a good cause make for a decent human being. I think Joel Miller qualifies as a good pastor. 

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Catholics use the nuclear option

Washington D.C. is a few weeks away from potentially legalizing gay marriage. In response, the Washington-area Catholic Archdiocese threatened to stop all social services

The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington said Wednesday that it will be unable to continue the social service programs it runs for the District if the city doesn't change a proposed same-sex marriage law, a threat that could affect tens of thousands of people the church helps with adoption, homelessness and health care.

Is there any doubt who the bad guys are in this situations?

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Tony Alamo sentenced to 125 years

Pastor and cult leader Tony Alamo was sentenced to 125 years in prison for taking underage girls across state lines for sex. At 75, Alamo will never see freedom again.

A woman Alamo took as a child "bride" at age 8 challenged the evangelist from the witness stand Friday to submit himself to God's judgment. Reading from lined notebook paper, she said Alamo tore her family apart by taking her as a child bride and described how she shook uncontrollably when he first molested her.

"You preyed on innocent children," she said staring down Alamo, who wore yellow prison scrubs and a windbreaker for the hearing.

"You have the audacity to ask for mercy. What mercy did you show us?" she said.

A moment later she asked, "What kind of man of God does what you have done?"

Another religions monster bits the dust. Hooray for small victories.

Youth leader Brendon McConnell arrested

BrendanMcConnell Brendon McConnell is a catholic youth leader working in the Life Teen Program at Our Lady of Light Parish in Fort Myers.  He stands charged with a sex offense with a child between the 12 and 16 years old.

The victim's mother came across a large number of messages between Brendan McConnell and the victim. The mother said they knew McConnell through church and that he is a core leader in the youth ministries, reports said.

The mother told deputies the messages started out as friendly, but then turned sexual in nature, reports said.

According to reports, the victim told her mother she and McConnell had oral sex twice.

It looks like the church did everything right prior to letting McConnell work with kids. I wonder if they provided adequate monitoring?

As a volunteer around children and vulnerable adults, Mr. McConnell underwent a mandatory criminal background check, which includes fingerprinting, and he was cleared by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Another Catholic. I really should keep track of these people in a separate category.

Father Edward Maloney suspended

An 80-year-old retired priest has been removed from ministry after the Catholic church found evidence he sexually abused two boys.

The archdiocese learned of the allegation several months ago, according to a letter sent Nov. 7 by the Rev. John R. Manz, the auxiliary bishop of Chicago.

The archdiocese’s Independent Review Board reviewed the allegation and found credible evidence of abuse, and Francis Cardinal George accepted the recommendation that Maloney not engage in any form of ministry, Manz said in the letter.

It’s a little late to stop further abuse. At 80 the best they can hope for is that he will make it to trial.

Rev. Maloney served in many churches.

From 1955 to 1959, St. Simeon in Bellwood; from 1959 through 1966, St. Columbkille, on Chicago's West Side; for about six months in 1966, through November, St. Ambrose, 1012 E. 47th St.; 1966 to 1974, Precious Blood, 2411 W. Congress Parkway; 1974 to 1975, St. David in Bridgeport; 1975 to 1996, St. Mark in Chicago; 1996 to 1997, Santa Maria del Popolo in Mundelein; 1997 to 1999, Mission San Juan Diego in Arlington Heights.

I’ve lost count of the priests accused this year. So many children hurt…

Youth Pastor Byron Alston Arrested

ByronAlston3 47 year old former convict turned youth pastor Byron Alston was arrested on felony sex charges. Two women claim abuse.

In one of the alleged encounters, a woman told police that Alston, who rose to prominence in Indianapolis in recent years because of his "Save the Youth" organization, indicated to her that she would get a job if she would have sex with him.

Hey… people can change. Pay no attention to his criminal past. He’s a Christian now and helping the children. Go ahead and give he a $90 grant. It’s only our hard earned tax dollars.

According to the Save the Youth Web site, Alston was an acknowledged gang member in his teens and was "sentenced to 40 years at the Michigan State Prison" at age 16.

Court records indicated that Alston was convicted of robbery with a deadly weapon in 1982 and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. He was then released in 1988.


What I find interesting about this man is how he tells his own story. He paints himself as a success and a leader even as a young gang member.

Byron’s responsibilities included the control of the drug trafficking into the inner city, the operation of the prostitution business and the discipline of gang members. All of these events occurred at the age of 15. At the age of 16 Byron was sentenced to 40 years at Michigan State Prison for robbery, kidnapping and confinement. While in prison his role did not change. As a general in the prison Byron was responsible for running the gangs.

My guess is that the truth is something entirely different, a common criminal.

Remember that $90K of tax payers money?

On the most recent tax return available, 2007, Mr. Alston reported that his group took in $95,871 in revenue. Salaries and benefits, which almost exclusively went to Alston, amounted to $54,135. $14,435 went to "occupancy, rent, utilities and maintenance." The address though for the organization is 9664 Gulf Lake Drive, which is a residence. One has to ask the obvious question about whether taxpayer money was being used to pay Mr. Alston's living expenses.

Where is Christ in all this? It’s a fiction.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Pastor Joseph Ragland indicted

JosephRagland I’ve been waiting for this one since last May. Joseph Kennedy Ragland was indicted for allegedly raping a 16-year-old member of his church.

The Johnston County magistrates' office told ABC11 Eyewitness News Joseph Kennedy Ragland, former pastor of the Church of God in Christ Jesus in Angier, is charged with two counts of second-degree forcible sex offense, two counts of sex offense by a custodian, two counts of crimes against nature, second-degree rape, and rape by a custodian.

Go ahead, defend this creep. I dare you.

Ragland was pastor at Church of God in Christ Jesus in Angier, NC. I often wonder about pastor like Ragland. Did he wake up one day and decide to be a pastor? As far as I can tell he has no formal education or training, yet he is a pastor. Who would follow him, and why?

Brendagsmith07 says this about Ragland…

It does not always mean that you have to have education to preach the word of God. If you are truly called and have the annointed [sic] on your life God will take of you. Sometime people feel that education makes a difference but in these days you need to fast and pray because education is not going to fight the devil that we have now. God never went to sschool [sic] but he got the job done. God is just sick of fake preachers and pulling the cover off.

I don’t even know how to respond to this, except to laugh.

How to punish a fraud

Navycross I’ll admit right up front that I was a failure in the military. For various reasons (mainly colorblindness), I ended up working in a field where I had little aptitude. As my mistakes mounted and my confidence plummeted, I started cutting a lot of grass and doing endless stints in the honor guard. I willingly did whatever was asked of me in an attempt to make up for my inability to do my job. When I mustered out, I was grateful my ordeal ended honorably.

I met a lot of people who I came to respect while in the military. I admired them for their dedication and service… and for their aptitude. These people were fearless examples of the best our country had to offer. Occasionally, I would meet a highly decorated person. It was an honor.

My most memorable day in the military was participating in a memorial service for a highly decorated pilot. Over the course of Memorial service and subsequent reception, I came to understand why people are awarded medals and the relative rarity of awards like the Air Force Cross or the Navy Cross. Dishonoring recipients by fraudulently claiming a to have won a medal is despicable. A real hero like Chesty Puller would roll over in his grave.

burton-steven Steve Burton was arrested for unauthorized wearing of military medals or decorations.

The Marine dress blue uniform with lieutenant colonel insignia on the epaulets and a chest full of colorful ribbons may have impressed some old classmates, but one person at the reunion was suspicious, according to an FBI agent's affidavit.

Lt. Cmdr. Colleen Salonga, a U.S. Navy supply officer, recognized the Navy Cross and knew how rarely that honor is awarded, the sworn statement said. She posed with Burton for a photo, which she sent to the FBI in June…

I know this in not my normal material. When I heard the story this morning it pissed me off. I decided then to post on this nutball. He deserves the extra attention.

Burton pleaded not guilty. It’s hard to believe since they have pictures of him wearing the medals, but hey, innocent until proven guilty, right?

When they convict him, he faces a year in jail. I don’t think the punishment fits the crime. I have another idea. Have Steve Burton stand in public each weekend for the next year wearing a sandwich board which reads, “I dishonored America by wearing medal and ribbons I did not earn.”  Seems fair to me.

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