Thursday, December 31, 2009

Pastor Anthony Garduno arrested

He calls himself a bishop, that should have been the first warning sign. Defrocked catholic priest turned pastor/bishop Anthony Garduno was arrested Thursday on suspicion of selling meth from his church and sexually abusing a teen.

AnthonyGarduno

Anthony Garduno, 51, was arrested Tuesday morning at his Home Gardens church by Riverside County sheriff's investigators after a search of Garduno's church turned up evidence that he was selling methamphetamine there, according to a sheriff's news release.

Sheriff's investigators also found evidence that Garduno, who lived at the church, may have committed sexual assaults there, according to the news release.

The police went after Garduno after a man came forward alleging he had been sexually abused by Garduno while a teen. Police found evidence that suggests there may be more victims. Will Bingham of the Contra Costa times reports that “Sheriff's investigators have urged Garduno's other alleged sexual assault victims to contact them at 951-951-2600.”

Investigators report finding evidence that Garduno engaged in sexual activity in the church, along with evidence that may suggest illicit use of GHB.

Garduno’s alleged victims were Spanish speaking young men. In other cases like this one when minority communities are involved, victims often do not go to report abuse to authorities. This case could get ugly.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Cultist Allan Keate convicted

AllanEugeneKeate Polygamy is one of those gray areas for me. I don’t really care what consenting adults do. If they want to live as a large family with one husband and a bunch of wives, that’s fine by me. It might not be legal, but I don’t think it is amoral. Where it goes awry is when cult like religious behavior warps the boundaries of propriety. From what I can tell (in my limited reading), this is the norm with polygamy,  and it is normally wrapped in religious dogma.

Mormon offshoot cult member Allan Eugene Keate of the Fundamentalist Church of the Latter-Day Saints is a good example. He raped a child given to him as a wife. Apparently, the giving of children as wives is a common practice.

The prosecution witnesses included a DNA expert who testified Keate had fathered a baby born to the teenager.

Some of the most dramatic testimony came Monday from Rebecca Musser, who was once married to Rulon Jeffs, the FLDS prophet. She told the jury she and other younger wives were ordered to marry Warren Jeffs after his father's death.

Who really cares what adults do with older consenting adults? (Except for Christians, who seem preoccupied with that question.)When a religious authority figure abuses children in the name of his religion, it is not hard to make the call on abuse. It’s like when Justice Potter Stewart commented on pornography by saying, “I know it when I see it.”

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Pastor Timothy Han sentenced

This guy lived right around the corner from me in one of those Korean only churches that populate the local landscape. Baptist Pastor Timothy Han of Miracleland Korean Baptist church was sentenced for performing an unlawful sex act on a 15-year-old girl.

Han pleaded guilty Oct. 8 to a felony count of unlawful sexual intercourse and a misdemeanor count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. A felony count of oral copulation of a victim under 18 years old was dismissed.

Han was a youth group leader at Miracle Land Korean Baptist Church when he met the 15-year-old girl, Emami said. He smoked marijuana and had sex with her in the church parking lot on June 22, 2008, she said.

He was sentenced to 45 days in jail and 45 days in a work-release program. My guess is he will be “working” at the same church.

His attorney said, “There's also no evidence in any way that he abused his position in the church.” – No evidence? I guess screwing a 15-year-old in the parking lot of the church does not qualify as abuse.

Han’s sentence is a slap on the wrist and will not deter Han at all. Why not give him some real time? There is no mention of Han registering as sex offender.

Forgive me vjack for I have sinned

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Vjack recently posted on the evils of Chick-fil-A. I swore to boycott… and fell just two days later. Twice… I ate there yesterday too. What must I do to regain my good standing?

Damn my camera!

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Pastor Ronald Burning arrested

Canadian Pastor Ronald Burning was arrested while trying to cross into the United States at the Sarnia border crossing.  Burning is a Baptist pastor. He stands accused of abusing a 14-year-old girl.

Ontario Provincial Police had issued an arrest warrant earlier in the day for Ronald Burning, pastor of the Johnsfield Baptist Church in Ohsweken, near Brantford.

Acting Sergeant Aaron McPhail said Burning faces eight charges involving three victims, some of which date from the 1970s and others more recently. They include two counts of sexual assault, anal intercourse, sexual exploitation of a child, rape, intercourse with a female under 14, indecent act on a female and forcible confinement.

Why would he run to the United States? We put pedophiles away for much longer than Canada.

Youth Pastor Christopher Puryer arrested

ChristopherPuryear Why do churches make punk and thugs youth pastors? He looks like a punk, right? Youth pastor Christopher Andrew Puryer was arrested on suspicion of committing lewd acts on a 14-year-old girl. He also stands accused of intimidating a witness.

Sheriff’s deputies launched their investigation Friday night after two church leaders from the Gateway Ministries church reported that Puryear was having inappropriate relations with at least one youth group teen, Bauman said.

The church leaders indicated Puryear had been spending a great deal of time with teen girls in the youth group, as well as sending them text messages.

Puryer was the youth pastor at a Finley, California church called Gateway Ministries (formerly Big Valley Community Church).

He entered a plea of not guilty.

Pastor Matt Baker indicted

JUSTICE FOR KARI Baptist Pastor Matt Baker has appeared on Hypocrisy Watch before. The Hewitt Texas based former pastor has been under the microscope since 2006 when it is alleged he murdered his wife Kari.

MattBakerThis case is slowly moving through the courts. I never thought he would see justice. Baker stands accused of murdering his wife and making it look like suicide. You can read more about the case at Eyes for lies. Also, Texas Monthly published an investigative piece called The Valley of the Shadow of Death which also offers a good overview of the case. The best source is a blog dedicated to the case called Don’t even get me started.

VERY interesting day at the courthouse yesterday. Not your typical pop-in-and-check-on-records trip in the district clerk's office.

There are some VERY interesting people and businesses on the 100+ witness subpoena applications. But I won't get into those here at this time. If you're wondering if you're on the list, you can email me.

Read more…

Baker latest arrest was made possible by “the other woman.”

Baker was arrested on the original charge but those charges were dropped after the district attorney failed to indict Baker within a reasonable time.

A year later Baker was indicted and re-arrested after his then girlfriend came forward with information that led prosecutors to believe they could get an indictment.

I’m plan to follow this case right up until they put the needle in his arm.

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Hypocrisy watch on Google Maps


View Mojoey's Hypocrisy Watch in a larger map

2009 was a big year for Hypocrisy Watch. I posted on hundreds of wayward pastors. Martin William at No2Religion created a Google map based on cases from Q3 and Q4. He is working backward through the year. Needless to say, it is no small task. It’s called Mojoey’s Hypocrisy Watch, although I honestly think it should be called Mojoey & Martin’s Hypocrisy watch. He’s put just as much work into making the map as I have writing the posts.

The legend is pretty cool.

Green Marker = Charged, Indicted, Accused
Red Marker = Convicted, Plead Guilty
Blue Marker = Multiple Convictions or Guilty Plea's
Yellow Marker = Other Hypocrisy
Colored Marker w/ Black Dot = Sex related

For the record, people living in Florida should keep a close watch on their kids, Texas too.

I started writing posts about clergy sexual abuse and other crimes committed by the pious as a way of countering the Christian argument that you cannot live a moral life without the magical guidance of the bible. It’s evolved into much more. I’ve receive emails from the victims that break my heart and give me hope that they will find a way to heal. My posts also attract people involved in the church who need a place to vent. It’s been a great way for people to come to terms with the problems. My only problem is keeping up with the overwhelming volume of stories.

Thanks Martin!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Don’t push religion, or the lack it

I read an article in the Telegraph on providing ‘quiet rooms’ rather than prayer rooms so that Atheists can use them too. It left me scratching my head. What the hell is going on in the UK?

The Employers Forum on Belief says it is important that the room can be used by workers of all religions and none.

However its advice sheet is almost entirely devoted to accommodating Muslims, telling employers to provide screens for single-sex prayer; sinks for ritual washing; and racks for worshippers to take off their shoes.

Do employers in the UK really provide special rooms so that their religious employees can pray? I cannot fathom that happening here in the USA. In fact, the thought seems to fly in the face of some important American tradition. Namely, when at work, work, and keep your and personal and work lives separate.

The Employers Forum on Belief  recommends extending the privilege to atheists so that we can have some quiet time (but no napping) while at work. Do we really need quiet time?

The guide also suggests formalizing faith in the workplace through forming a “multi-faith committee".

The guide suggests setting up a “users’ group”, a “multi-faith committee”, a comments book and “some formal way of monitoring use of the room to ensure it remains inclusive and is treated with respect”.

Whoa… slowdown there employers. There is no need to give religious employee special privileges and extending those same privileges to atheist are thinly veiled attempts at work place political correctness. Don’t do it, there is a better way. Ignore it! If religious employees need space, simply allow any employee or group to schedule meeting rooms as needed on their personal time. The only provision being that business comes first. Other than that, offer the faithful no special privileges. It’s simple and it works.

As for social interactions, ignore religion there too. I recently participated in a secular holiday potluck. We all brought a dish, I brought pork (Lechon) and Chicken (adobo). Before the meal I pointed out the pork dish so that my Muslim friends could avoid it. We all talked and ate in good spirits without evoking any gods or religion. It was great fun and a healthy interaction.

As for holiday greetings, I exchange them in good cheer. Mine is simple, happy holidays. If somebody says merry Christmas, I respond with happy holidays and keep it secular. It’s all good because we don’t force the religious part of the holiday. People can celebrate what they want. Creating special groups to accommodate religious needs encourages exclusive behavior which leads to resentment over special treatment and creates the expectation that every group needs special recognition. Let me put this as simply as I can. We don’t need a quiet room so that atheists feel included. We need NO rooms.

The best holiday greeting I had this year came by way of IM from a friend at work. He is a devout Muslim and a honest and decent human being. He typed,

“Joe, thanks for all the hard work this year. I hope you and your family enjoy your holiday. I know you don’t celebrate Christmas, neither do I. But this time of year is when I like to say thanks to my friends in my own way. So thanks Joe. See you next year.”

Perfect, right?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

My Tumblr blog

I forgot I had a Tumblr blog. It’s called odd bits today. I collect stuff I find while surfing, the odd bits so to speak.

I find Tumblr blogging a fun distraction to the real chore of “serious” blogging. Plus it’s I do it for me. My mission is to capture the things I come across that are interesting or beautiful. It’s mostly pictures with almost no writing. Enjoy.

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Pastor kills son

via Proud Atheist

Pastor Kirk Caldwell shot and killed his 21-year-old son during a domestic dispute at his home on Christmas day.

Kirk Caldwell killed 21-year-old Jordan Caldwell after intervening in a violent confrontation between the son and a woman at around 2 p.m. at their home in suburban Philadelphia, Darby Borough police said Friday.

Kirk Caldwell fired a single shot, striking his son in the chest, police Chief Robert Smythe said. Jordan Caldwell died at a hospital shortly afterward, police said.

I don’t normally post stories like this unless charges are filed, but in the spirit of Christmas I just have to say, what the hell? How is it possible that a man who preaches non-violence finds it in himself to shoot his own son? The only reason I could think of is that he was saving the life of the woman involved in the dispute. Even then, was lethal force necessary?

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I may ramble

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My family holiday celebration reached a new level this year. The Vilda clan, a large Filipino family which I married into 30 years ago, has grown so large that fitting them all into one house is difficult. I counted at least 70 and possibly 75 people at the parties' peak around 8:00 pm on Christmas day. I did my best to stay out of the way; doing so in a crowded house is difficult.  I did my best to hide my social anxiety by sitting out of the way in a corner, but this year I needed a little help. Scotch is a wonder drug.

I have several other tools at my disposal, like shooting photos. I find a camera keeps me out of the thick of a crowd, a big camera helps even more. I shot this picture of Shelby while listening to her stories of teenaged angst. She is quite pretty, but far to insecure to realize it yet. Right now she is still young enough to talk freely with her uncle Joe. In another six months I will be lucky to get a smile from her. I’ll have to wait until she hits her early 2os to reengage. It’s a pattern I’ve learned to anticipate over the years. The teen years are so… difficult.

This year I had a Kindle to play with. Escaping into a book may be rude at a party, for me the alternative is taking a walk. I simply cannot stay in a crowded room without something to keep my mind occupied.  I’m good with small groups of people. Heck, I’m good as long as I can follow what is going on. As the group grows, my mind goes a little haywire. I need to shut it down or face a very real problem. I hit a point where my mind overloads and then I head for the door as if the house were on fire.

Sherlock_holmes I saw the new Sherlock Holmes movie yesterday. At one point Holmes is in a crowded restaurant waiting for Watson and his fiancĂ© to join him. The scene shows what is happening inside Holmes’ head as he overloads on external stimulus. Whoever put this scene together lives inside my head. It captured how my mind works and how it quickly overloads. I sat upright in my chair in recognition. I pointed at the screen. It was so damn real. My wife patted my arm to calm me down. I slouched back into my chair. Never mind the fat lady munching on bagged candy behind me to the right, or the young woman quietly making out with her boyfriend behind me to the left, or the couple to my left that kept adjusting their seats while talking about their son, or the 34 people who walked in front of me during the movie, or the 5 who walked behind me… it only took 10 minutes to focus my mind on the movie again. Crowds suck. Sherlock Holmes was just ok.

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A pastor’s Toys for Tots scam

Segun Masha A pastor in Atlanta asked for a $1 donation to receive a donated gift through the Toys for Tots program. Pastor Segun Masha took the donations. No toys were delivered.

Toys for Tots said the pastor of the church was running a scam by charging some people a $1 fee to make copies of drivers licences and social security numbers to verify their identities in order to prove how many kids they had.

Maj. Tim Teed said, "It's definitely running a scam If they are charging money for free toys, yes, that’s a scam."

Why would a pastor force a donation for toys? Why would a pastor demand a copy of a drivers license and social security number? Wait… Why would a pastor register his church under eight different names with Toys for Tots? And… What kind of idiot would give somebody their social security number for a toy?

Abusing Toys for Tots is nothing new. Each holiday season we hear the stories. In this case, a typical form of abuse was described in the first few paragraphs.

Andrew Manning and his wife Gayle are furious. They have 9 granddaughters who will get nothing from 24/7 International Church on Cobb Parkway.

The Manning's paid the church $1 in order to receive donated Christmas gifts through Toys for Tots.

“I think he should go to jail. He broke a lot of hearts and made a lot of promises that he couldn't stand up to be,” said Andrew Manning.

Abuse = grandparents who go shopping at Toys for Tots for their grandkids because they can’t afford to buy presents. Nice job mining quotes there CBSAtlanta.

This story is wrong on so many levels. Stealing from needy people is deplorable behavior for anyone, let alone a pastor. Pastor Masha’s Church 24/7 International is questionable. He’s had a talk with God, or so he claims.
7 Visions From God That Came To Pass

Church 24/7 International | MySpace Video

Would you give this nutjob your SSN? Why are people so stupid?

Blogroll Update: New meat

I’ve been remiss with my duties as keeper of the atheist blogroll. But I have an excuse, we’ve had holiday guests. My wife had me on carpet cleaning detail. I’m pretty sure I can make a living cleaning carpets.

We have 1096 blogs registered now. I plan to purge off inactive blogs before the end of the year. That should put us at around 1000 active blogs.

  1. Garden Variety Atheist
  2. Skeptical Thinking
  3. My Views
  4. Zone5
  5. Impurely Maven
  6. Rocket Propelled Peacocks
  7. General Systems Vehicle
  8. War for Science
  9. A Poet's Manifesto
  10. People I Hate
  11. A Skeptic's Guide to History
  12. USA in UK
  13. Mere Skepticism – Back after 2 years…
  14. Lone Wolfs Den
  15. Offlogic’s Weblog
  16. Goober Alles
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Friday, December 25, 2009

Best gift ever

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My extremely talented daughter-in-law Leslie gave me a great gift for Christmas this morning. She made a disc golf diorama from scratch. She even captured a dream shot scenario for the background. How cool is that?

I am an avid disc golfer. I’ve played the sport for 30 years. You can find me on a course every Saturday and Sunday morning at sunrise. I love the sport.

Leslie is a talented crafter. You can see some of her other work here.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Pastor Jeff Kilburn arrested

JeffKilburn3 Pastor Jeff Kilburn and his wife Alice Kilburn both turned themselves in on charges they molested a 17-year-old boy.  The Kilburn’s ran a food ministry called Jeff Kilburn’s Kitchen. Jeff is also the pastor at Believer’s Ministries, which meets at Caesar’s Creek Pioneer Village Meeting AliceKilburnHouse.  This case is developing. Authorities are bringing in a special prosecutor because the Kilburns are related to Warren County Commissioner Mike Kilburn who plans to run against Jean Schmidt (D – Ohio) in 2010. 

I cannot recall another Christian group sex allegation recently, so the Kilburn’s enter a whole new category of nuttiness. I wonder where the get there morals?

A grand jury charged them each with sexual imposition and child endangering in indictments released on Monday.

They are accused of having sex with the teen at Clark's Homeplace, the couple's South Lebanon ministry where Jeff Kilburn performed regularly with his Wildgrass bluegrass band.

You know that Jeff, he could sing the pants of a hungry teen.

A visit to LA

Graffiti on a bridge

I made two trips into downtown LA in the last 24 hours. To get there I must drive a section of the 101 freeway that is heavily covered in graffiti. As I sat in stop and go traffic I shot some of it from my window. This was the best shot.

A police officer saw me and waved me over to the side of road. I was expecting a problem but found the officer to be in a good mood and friendly. He asked what I was doing. When I told him I like graffiti and was just killing time by shooting some of it while I sat in traffic. He laughed and told me that his wife liked to shoot street signs posts. Go figure.

I stopped by the Chinese Consulate to renew my visa. Every time I visit I’m bum rushed by Falun Gong practitioners who try to push there story on me. It’s hard to say no to an 80-year-old pushing CDs into your hands. And with no trashcans nearby, I now have two complete sets in my truck. I should say had, I pitched them a few minutes ago.

The people who run the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles should be granted the right to run California’s DMV offices. The consulate’s passport and visa office is a model of efficiency. I can only describe it as bureaucratic nirvana. From start to finish on both visits I spent no more the 10 minutes waiting for window service. The place is so well organized it almost makes me want to go back to China. I said almost, I do not want to go back, but I must. I’ll be commuting monthly for most of next year. 2010 is going to suck.

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Youth Pastor Shane Horning Convicted

ShaneGarrett Hell hath no fury like a sexual abuse victim. Especially when the victim ages and finds her younger cousin the object of the youth pastors desire. Youth Pastor Shane Horning experienced this truth when he was caught sexting a 15-year-old girl.

Shane Garrett Horning, the 29-year-old former Santa Margarita Methodist Church youth pastor, was convicted today of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old female parishioner and sending sexual text messages to her 15-year-old female relative.

The San Jose resident pleaded guilty to four felony counts of oral copulation with a minor for his crimes against the then-16-year-old and one felony count of attempted oral copulation of a minor under 16 for the messages to the then-15-year-old.

Youth pastor Shane “Horny” Horning work for Santa Margarita Methodist Church. There is no sign of him on the website. It is as if he never existed.

I found the what I think is the Islamic response posted by Syed Raza Hasan as a comment on a article at KPCC..

No punishment should be given. She her self has been going to his house time and again. Which means she was a willing partner and not forced. Men and Women are not Angles. Sex is a common urge. Teachers and people working for church are as human as anybody else, so do not expect them to act like angles. To avoid or prevent the sexual contact, you have restrict chances of them comming [sic] together and agree to the moral values for all...i.e. NO EXTRA MARITAL SEX is moral or leagel [sic]. Til[sic] then it looks idiotic joke.

In this particular case she notified only because she felt jelousy [sic].

So we make extra marital sex immoral and illegal and then the problem is solved? How does that make any sense? Do we wrap our daughters in a burka and then kill them as adulterers if raped by the likes of Sean Horning? The fifth century was a long time ago. I rather read about this practice in history books then practice it now.

Do we treat the perpetrator as just acting on his urges? Does he get a couple of lashes and a stern ‘Bad Boy” from his pastor as punishment for defiling a child in his charge? Do we ignore the predatory nature of Horning’s sexual assault simply because you think the girl wanted it? Excuse me Hasan, but I don’t like you or your religious BS.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Let the sinners in

It’s odd really, I just realized that I do not believe in the concept of sin. I’ve never really thought about it, but sin is a religious concept and arbitrary. I’ve used it to describe bad behavior. That is an improper use of the term. I’ll stick to using good and bad to describe behavior. Religion is insidious.

I had intended to ask the question, where does the sinner find redemption if they cannot enter a church? I will rephrase it as, where does a bad person learn to be good if they cannot enter a church? I’m not going to address the concept of good without God here, I’m focused on screwed up believers who seek the aid of their clergy and fellow believers. Should they be denied access because of the nature of their crimes? This is America. Who we associate with should not be dictated by the state, no matter the crime.

A North Carolina judge has ruled in favor of two registered sex offenders arrested in May for attending a Baptist church near Raleigh.

Francis Demaio and James Nichols were indicted May 11 for violating a state law requiring sex offenders to stay at least 300 feet away from places used primarily by children. The two men had been attending Moncure Baptist Church, which has a nursery on its premises, for several months.

Readers of this blog may think it odd that a side with sex offenders. I despise them, especially those who pose as clergy or other authority figures. When laws unjustly infringe on our freedoms, the issue trumps. The state should not impose arbitrary restrictions on its citizens. The police arrested two men who were simply attending church in an overzealous enforcement of a criminal statute. It’s something police tend to do. It sets a dangerous precedent. Those of us in the minority should be concerned. The state has a long history of abusing its power. We must be mindful of this, even when the rights of an unspeakable minority are abridged.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Pastor Daniel Cormier Convicted (again)

Pastor Daniel Cormier was convicted of sexual assault Friday in Canada in a case involving a 16-year-old girl. His previous conviction occurred last January for the sexual assault of a girl aged 10.

Cormier is a freak. He needs to spend a long time in prison, 15 to 20 years at least. With Canada, this is unlikely. They are a “humane” country. It’s much better to have Cormier out of prison and preying on children in 2014.

I object the the wording of the article. They describe Pastor Daniel Cormier as a self-described pastor.

The self-described pastor of a defunct Montreal church has been found guilty of sexually assaulting a teenage girl.

And the church… well it’s a “so called” church.

She told the court she was naive and had no sexual experience before meeting Cormier at his so-called church. Eventually they ended up together at a religious retreat in the Laurentians, with her sleeping in his bed.

The bias is obvious. No self respecting legitimate pastor would molest a child, right? It’s just freaks like Cormier who actually commit the crimes. I have ample examples showing that this is just not true. The clergy sexual abuse epidemic is real and happens in every major denomination.

I also have ample examples of people starting a church as a way to make a few bucks and avoid taxes. Any random Joe off the street with a Jesus loves you message can start a church. There are no standards. I could open Mojoey’s blessed church of the holy Jeebus for $100 and the patience to stand it line at city hall. With luck, I could be in business by next Saturday night. Beer is our sacrament, put $2 in the collection plate and bask in the glow of Mojoey’s love. ...you must be 21 and like reggae to attend.

There are no standards for the title pastor, prophet, minister, apostil, or evangelist. Pastor Daniel Cormier opened a legitimate church, worshiped Jesus, and had is own flock of tithing sheple. Given time he would have achieved the critical mass necessary to move into a real sanctuary, and what then? He was a pastor and those who followed him fools, but I can only say that because he married a 10-year-old girl, molested her, and then got caught.

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Friday, December 18, 2009

Pastor Stuart Zak arrested

I’ve been a little to sick and a little too busy to post much this past week. It is unfortunate because the opportunities  to rant have been epic. Take the case of 55-year-old Lutheran pastor Stuart Zak. for 10 years he stole money from the holiday offerings for his own use. Zak confessed after being caught in an internal audit. Now he’s repaid the money.

"As we have stated, Good Shepherd has been blessed by Mr. Zak's ministry, and we pray that this turn of events will reinforce the message of forgiveness as we look forward to celebrating Christ's birth. We know that Mr. Zak is forgiven and our prayers are with him on any civil actions that he may face."

The police intend to forward the case for the prosecutor while the church contends, “all is forgiven.” I vote for prosecution and imprisonment. The man is a admitted thief and must pay for his crime. I doubt my employer would give me a break if I stole from them, why should it matter that he is a pastor? What do you think?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

ARCO pisses me off

You cannot take pictures here

I made an early trip to knock off a few errands this morning. Nothing big, I just dropped of the holiday cards at the post office and filled up the tank on my truck. I took my camera with me as I always do.

While pumping gas at the ARCO on Valley View and Alondra in La Mirada, I took a few pictures of the vista shown in the picture to the left. I say a few pictures because I was having trouble with my camera. Nothing was working. All the pictures were out of focus. While I worked on the problem a female employee walked toward me from the store. She yelled, “You can’t take pictures here”.

I thought that odd since there were no signs telling me I could not take pictures, which is usually the case. I replied with, “I thought I could take pictures here.” I raised the camera and took my last picture, which is the only one of the batch in focus.  She reacted by yelling something I could not hear and ran back into the store. As I pulled out, I could see her inside on the phone giving me the stink eye. I think she called the cops.

My questions are always the same. What does it matter what I shoot with my camera? Why do people care? I would understand if the gas station was manufacturing some proprietary product, but it sells gas, which is about as ubiquitous as it gets. Photography is not a crime, especially my photography. It’s not even any good.

ARCO, I feed you $50 or $60 bucks a week. If you don’t want my money, just keep sending angry store clerks out to yell at me for trivial reasons. Oh, and then call the cops on me. That works too.

Here is a Google Street View of the gas station. It’s pretty unremarkable. I was at the pumps on the right shooting the construction high lifts on the adjacent property. I’m such a criminal.


View Larger Map

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Homeless Mustard Sings Creep

I needed this. It's been a hard three days for me. For some reason I've been sick every 5 or 6 days for two months. The latest round lasted three days and had me pretty depressed. Good music always cheers me up.

I found this on reddit via a post by Raerth.

Rededitor Finderrockets provided some background.

I listen to the O&A show daily at work so I'll give a little back story here. When they brought this guy on they had no idea he could sing. It was just going to be a radio bit promoting their upcoming "homeless shopping spree" During the interview it came up that he has written some songs and could play guitar. So they went and got the man a guitar (he did not own one himself) and he proceeded to shock the hell out of everyone. No one expected him to be as good as he was. He played two other songs that he wrote that are kind of in the style of Dave Matthews or John Mayer, I would imagine that stuff will be online shortly.

I love music. It constantly surprises me.

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Wiccan refuses to sing

Burn the witch, burn her, burn her… No wait, wrong era.

Keen Wiccan Katarina Keen refuses to sing “Silent Night” or “Listen to the Stars” at her Christmas concert at Borger High School. I think it’s pissed a few Texans off.

Students began preparing in October for the concert in Borger, and Katarina said Miller had planned for the choir to sing Christian songs. She and her mother, Jean Keen, told Miller she couldn't sing those songs because she's Wiccan.

The Keens also have raised concerns this year about prayers in class and a prayer board posted in the choir room.

Miller said he gave students permission to lead prayers in class Mondays, at their request. The prayer board was a student-led activity, he said. Miller revamped the concert to include a wider variety of secular songs for the holiday season.

Common sense says don’t make the Wiccan kid sing Christian Christmas songs. Of course common sense also says have an inclusive holiday concert, prohibit prayers in the classroom, and do away with the “Prayer Board.” But common sense is missing in Texas, it has been missing for a long time.

Choir directory Johnny Miller doing his best to teach the Christian origins of choir, but those damn Wiccans keep interfering.

"Choral music has its roots in the church. In order to teach it accurately, you have to teach it from whence it came," Miller said. "I teach the foundation or the building blocks so these students can go out with a well-rounded foundation in choral music."

Really? you must teach about religion in order to teach kids to sing? Are you being honest?

Some school districts have staged concerts that mirror a church service, while others have excluded religious content entirely, Haynes said. Either scenario can result in conflict, the former creating a potential issue with the First Amendment and the latter producing a community backlash.

So if you sing secular songs the Christians protest and if you sing Christian songs, the ACLU gets involved? What happens when you include interfaith music? Oh wait… I’m pretty sure you don’t do that.

The better solution is to make a "good-faith attempt" to teach religious material in the context of discussing cultures and traditions, being careful not to promote a particular theology, Haynes said. Schools also should provide a reasonable, limited opt-out policy that is specific to certain songs or a lesson, he said.

Children get our your bibles. We are going to have a good faith discussion on the origin of Silent Night. Oh hell…  you don’t need the bible to tell that story unless you are trying to teach what the song is about? Do you do that? Do you teach what Silent Night is about? What about Jingle Bells?

Make no mistake, Johnny Miller is a Baptist fundie. I picked this jewel off his choir’s myspace page.

(Johnny Miller) is saddened again today. Get ready Borger, Christmas is soon going to be Xmas! Christians AWAKE and put on the whole armor of God cause satan is rid'n high. We must tolerate other ideologies, but when it comes to our faith, there is no toleration. Ironic since it was our faith and belief in God that allowed others to do their thing under "freedon[sic] of religion."

How can Katarina expect a level playing field in an environment where her choir director is a raving fundie? What if Katarina were an atheist?

As usual, the comments are gold.

…I hear no mention in the story of the fathers feelings on this matter, only that of the mom and daughter. That is where the photo should have casted shot of, rather than dragging those poor children into it and dismissing the thoughts of how this story might impact their lives once AGN broke this. SHAME ON YOU AGN!

Who contacted the press anyhow? If you did Mrs. Keen, well shame on you for your lack of compassion towards the remaining children. You must realize the harmful affects your actions would have on your family? Seriously, there is no way they can hide now. I just pray there are compassionate school psychologists on alert, ready to take action and help your children work through the abuse that is about to be unleashed from other children. It is not possible for them to escape this unscathed.

Oh… think of the children!

Other than being disappointed with this family, I am extremly disappointed with the Globe News giving this "story"? front page space.

Maybe this girl will be (one of the virgins) for a martyr someday...

If she won’t sing we kill her!

AspenEmerald. . . . . This is a Free Country. Live wherever you chose BUT don't push your beliefs on me. I am a God Fearing Christian and I believe in the Power,Grace,Mercy and Love of God and I would be more than willing to share my thoughts/experiences on the matter and though I would hope that you would want to join me in my beliefs but if you can't find your way to join me I would do as God tells me to do . . .Stomp the dust from my feet and Move On. On the other hand I would be willing to listen to what you have to say in what you believe but DON'T push your beliefs on me. . . . .Stomp the dust from your feet and Move On,which is something I find rarely happens from those trying to convince me to convert to their way of thinking. These people tend to be like a Pit Bull and won't let me Move On!

How dare she not sing! How dare she push her faith on me! I’m Christian damn you! Now get out of my town!

Those poor girls... they think they are not satan worshipers.. Just another way that satan deceives people! I hope they find the true God before they die or they are going to be very very surprised!

Yep, if you look closely, that dad of hers looks awful Satan like.

I can go on and on. The Texas pan handle appears to be overrun with intolerant nutball fundies. If she were my child I would push to make sure the Christian choir director did not foist his religious beliefs off on her. So, hurray for the underdog and good luck. Of course, you can just opt so close your mouth while everyone else sings. That will work too.

Pastor Howard Barr arrested

HowardBarr Pastor Howard Barr of St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church was arrested for domestic violence a few days ago. Everyone knows domestic violence is a gateway offence for more serious crimes, so into Hypocrisy Watch he goes. Every abuse case has a theme song in my head. This time it is the thoroughly annoying Smack My Bitch Up, by Prodigy.

Change my pitch up, smack my bitch up
Change my pitch up, smack my bitch up
Change my pitch up, smack my bitch up

HowardBarr1a Pastor Barr’s crime was simple. He pushed his wife around. That may be ok for a Muslim, but a Christian pastor should know better.

The report said Barr and his wife were arguing when she came home that evening, and as she tried to get out of her Lincoln Navigator, he blocked her exit. Joyce Barr said that as she tried to walk past her husband, he pushed her against the vehicle. She said she ran past him into the street, shouting, "get away from me and don't touch me."

Of course, his church stands behind their pastor, but apparently not their “first lady”.

Howard Barr3 "We love our pastor and we're going to support him as much as we can," church member Pearl Burke said.

"I'm a sole believer that everybody deserves a second chance," member Norman Giddings of Boynton Beach said. "That's my pastor and I'm standing behind him."

Yes sir! No harm, no foul, and no penalties either. And… no mention of the battered wife. It’s almost like they chose sides.

Let’s check the comments.

I don't condone anyone being abused in any many...but isn't it quite obvious that there is a problem that extends itself to the missing wife? My personal opinion of her is that she is prentious[sic] and acts fatuously. This matter and the arrest was an act of obfuscating the masses...well done Mrs! But, just remember GOD has the last word and not public opinion! (3 sides) but I tend to lean towards the TRUTH!

Um… my head just exploded. Can anyone translate this gibberish? Let’s try another.

Shame on you Howard Barr. For not only ruining your family, but the other families as well. This planned scheme (prayer vigil) to dumbfound your congregation is really sad. I pray that instead of trying to clear your name that you take time to talk to God, ask for forgiveness, and stand still. There's more to this story than people realize. Just remember, you have daughters both old and young. What do you think they are thinking about their Daddy now?

Hey, I like where this is going. It sounds like accountability. Except that his church leadership is going to give him a pass. You know, because he is a man of god and all.

I’d like to know what triggered the event. My sources tell me it is allegedly a Tiger Woods type thing. To cheer things up, I’m thinking about starting a fund to buy Joyce Barr a new hat. She seems to really like them.

Pastor J.P. Hale arrested

Pastor J.P. Hale is the pastor of Newbern Church of Jesus. He' stands accused of a sex-crime against a child.

Pulaski County Sheriff Jim Davis says Hale is charged with taking indecent liberties with a child. He's also facing a misdemeanor charge of sexually battery.

Hale is pastor of the Newbern Church of Jesus.

There was a sign posted on Hale's church Friday saying it was closed until futher[sic] notice.

A comment suggest there is more to the story, and more victims.

One detail that has not been brought up is that supposedly the pastor admitted everything to his congregation which led to the charges and other "victims" coming forward. I too, would like to give him the benefit of the doubt, and would hope someone in his position would not commit such heinous acts. Given what is known so far, I think it is looking more like he is guilty that innocent. Time will tell and the truth will come out!

I love the quotations around the word victim. it implies that the victims are not so innocent and that perhaps the pastor is not so guilty. I don’t know how people can think like this.

J.P. Hale is 73 years old and has been a pastor for 41 years.

John Freshwater’s truthiness

John Freshwater has appeared here on my blog several times. He came to my attention after branding a student with a cross in 2008. Now he’s fighting for his job and spinning his story in the process.

JohnFreshwaterThe handouts, describing how species such as the woodpecker and giraffe could not have evolved, were used to demonstrate faulty analysis, bias and the wrongful application of the scientific method, Freshwater said.

Right – these handouts were creationist pseudoscience and a blatant attempt at undermining evolution on religious grounds.

Freshwater testified that he was not trying to hide the material.

"I try to conserve paper. I would use them over and recycle them. If a kid's absent, I'd say 'What you need is right over there on the shelf.' "

Right… not sending the handouts home had nothing to do with keeping parents ignorant of your efforts. You were all about green teaching. I see that now.

The problem here is credibility. Freshwater pushed his Christian educational agenda openly. Now that he is exposed, he is not man enough to stand up and take responsibility. I’m sure the martyrs would be proud.

I just don’t care about Christmas

vjack got me thinking this morning. This week’s idiot of the week is Those Who Insist That Christmas is Under Attack. I think he’s right on target. I’m sure not attacking Christmas. My wife and I go through  the motions because it is part of my duty to my family. I hate the whole obligatory gift giving ritual. Especially in hard economic times. I would much rather share a meal with my friends and talk about old times. Handing over some new bauble just makes the day a little more stressful. I’d rather not participate.

Religion plays no role in our holiday. We don’t go to church. We don’t pray. We don’t even talk religion. The is no Christ in Christmas because the vast majority of my Christian relatives don’t bring it up. We just share a meal and do a lot of talking.

The asshats who claim Christmas is under attack need to look at their own flock. My team could care less.

Jump over to vjacks blog and add your comments. I think he is right on this week.

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Unintended consequences in Iraq

Ever since God told President Bush to invade Iraq, Christians in Iraq have been under pressure. Now it seems they are contemplating their own extension.

"Do Christians have a Future in Iraq?" Over 100 Iraqi Christian leaders convened yesterday in Baghdad to address the possible extinction of their ancient community at Iraq's 1st Christian Leadership Conference on Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).

Since the downfall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, nearly half of Iraq's one million Christians have fled for refuge abroad, while many of the remnants live as destitute IDPs. 518 Christians have been killed as a result of politically-inspired violence during the past six years, while 48 churches have been destroyed, according to a report submitted by the Hammurabi Human Rights Organization (HHRO) - a co-sponsor of the Conference.

I wonder if Bush considered the impact on the faithful when he decided to send us to war? Somehow I doubt it.

I find it odd that the Christians think that without them, Iraq will cease to exist.

William Warda, President of the HHRO, stressed that Iraq's ancient Christian community, together with the indigenous Yezidi and Mandean minorities, constitute the deepest roots of the Iraqi nation. If Iraq's Christian roots are severed, he continued, the Iraqi nation and state will shrivel and die.

The loss of a minority will cause the whole nation to die? The loss of a minority would be a tragedy, but somehow I doubt it will bring about the end of Iraq. The problem is real though, what does one do when their country becomes an intolerant religious nightmare? It’s a little like being an Atheist in America, but without all the suicide bombs.

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Pastor Shane Montgomery arrested

And the fever… getting higher
Desire, desire… burning, burning

ShaneMontgomery Police say teen boy was allegedly violated by his pastor. It makes my heart sick to write about it. Apparently Montgomery’s magical Christian moral advantage failed him. Perhaps it was the devil who made him do it? No strike that, the notion of the devil is just as absurd as the notion of God. It was desire.

The former pastor of The River Church is facing felony assault charges. A 16-year-old boy told investigators the former pastor sexually assaulted him when he was 15 years-old. Some of the details are too graphic to repeat.
According to police,

Montgomery admits to oral sex and fondling the teenager, but denies any other allegations.

"The touching and oral, that's just as bad as going the whole way in my opinion," said Cynthia Bonds. "A 15 year old is still a child."

The pastor’s former church, The River,  issued this statement on their website:

The River Church and her leadership is shocked and saddened by the news of this event involving our former church planting pastor who has resigned effective today

We want to express our deep concern to the teenager and his family and are prepared to provide outside, professional counseling to this family as they cope.

We intend to fully cooperate with the investigation by the police as it proceeds.

Again, we express our deep sense of remorse for the situation and our commitment to assist in the help and healing process that is needed.

We have nothing more to add to this statement at this time.

They hit all the right notes. Hurray for them. Fire the pastor, protect the victim, and most importantly, acknowledge the event so that healing can begin.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Pastor Darrell Gilyard fathered child with teen

Darrell.Gilyard I’ve posted about Pastor Darrell Gilyard before. He’s a convicted pedophile serving 3-years in prison for inappropriately touching a young girl. Now we find he fathered a child with a teen.

Court documents show local pastor Darrell Gilyard has confessed to fathering a child with a teenage girl who accused him of rape in 2004.

Gilyard admitted impregnating the girl after completing a court-ordered paternity test.

However, police never charged him with her rape.

Gilyard is no stranger to having legal troubles. In May, a judge sentenced the former pastor to three years in prison after pleading guilty to crimes involving two other female members of his church.

I wonder why they did not charge him with the rape? Fathering a child with a teen should be good for at least another 10-years in prison.

Nutter botches son’s circumcision

Via Fetid Fruit

A B.C. man who botched the circumcision of his four-year-old son — a few years after managing to infect his own penis while circumcising himself — should be jailed for 12 to 24 months, a prosecutor says.

Source: Prosecutors seek jail for B.C. dad who botched son’s circumcision.

This screams Christian nutball. Let’s see if it gets any better.

Wielding a razor blade, the father tried to cut away the foreskin on the boy's penis.

After making several cuts over a cutting board, the father sprinkled an ash-like powder called Wonder Dust on his son. The substance is normally used to treat wounds for race horses and other animals and is not deemed fit for use on humans.

OK, that's getting worse. I think we have a nutball. But just to be sure…

In late 2004 or early 2005, DJW circumcised himself, using Band-Aids, peroxide and a roll of gauze and a clear plastic ring, which he believed would act as an anesthetic. He cut himself with a razor blade. The procedure infected his penis.

Ding ding ding.... we have a nutball. I say send him to prison for a few years and then the mental hospital.

The not so great debate

the audiance

I attended the Orange County Freethought Alliance debate on “Does the God of the Bible Exist” at the Costa Mesa Community Center last Wednesday. The event was well attended, but it was a surreal experience and a huge disappointment. Let me explain why.

The venue was large. My guess is that it could seat 500 and was about three quarters full, which surprised me. I had expected a small audience. An ad hoc poll showed the audience was evenly split between Christians and Atheists. I arrived 10 minutes before the start and found myself sitting near the back in a group of well mannered Christian children.

The panel

My first impression was that the event was professionally planned. There were three screens. Two showed PowerPoint presentations and one showed a live video feed. There were at least four high-end video cameras setup to capture the debate. The stage was setup in a classic debate style with the Christians at stage right and atheists at stage left. The moderator occupied a small desk in the middle.

My first impression quickly changed to dismay as the debate started and things started to go wrong. The PowerPoint displays had a mind of their own. The screens changed from showing  written versions of the debate questions to showing atheist propaganda. It was random and rude. I found it disturbing that while Christians were trying to make their points, atheist counter arguments were shown to the audience. It was unprofessional and unfair.

Don’t get me started on the camera’s. I cannot recall an event where a 10-foot-tall camera rig sat in the middle of the seating area blocking the view for a third of those present. When you add a cameraman balancing on a flimsy chair to the mix, it soon become an annoying circus. The cameras should have been positioned to the left or right of the seating area with one covering the whole stage from the back or some other unobtrusive place. It lead me to wonder why the camera’s were there in the first place. Was the intent to have a debate, or was the intent to create a product that could be resold? I’m betting on the latter since the advertised price for a recording of the event was $20.

The debate started with a short introduction by Bruce Gleason. As usual, I was confused by his choice of words. He seems to become confused when speaking in front of large groups. He certainly demonstrated this again later when he started the second part of the debate with the question, how many agnostics are there are in the audience. A few hands went up. I wanted to ask, agnostic atheist or agnostic Christian? It’s not an either/or question. I am an Atheist and an agnostic. Why is that so hard to understand?

The debate moved quickly to opening statements. The atheist team bored me with its excessive detail and trite superficial theology. The Christians did no better. Their opening statement was incomprehensible pseudoscience. Opening statements took 20 minutes, by the end of which I was already thinking about leaving.

The debate format was six questions followed by a 10 minute break, and then six more questions, followed by user submitted questions. I threw in the towel before the user submitted questions. Listening to Christians talk about pseudoscience and atheists talk about theology almost made my head explode. Neither side did well.

I found myself asking why we (atheists) bother to debate the existence of God in the first place. It is pointless to do so. There is no way to win the hearts and minds of the Christians, their proof is faith. Using a logical argument wins us nothing, they simply retreat farther into faith. On the other hand, Christians arguing science yields little more than a patronizing snort from Atheists.

Atheists arguing that the God of the bible does not exist feels too much like trying to convert believers into atheists. In case you are wondering where I stand on this, I think it is wrong. I don’t understand why we care about what they believe. My concerns have always been focused on protecting my right to live and believe as I please, and not on trying to convince others what they believe is wrong.

Hugh Ross The Christian panelists were an odd mix. Dr. Hugh Ross was an incomprehensible speaker who uses pseudoscience and his own theories as a bludgeon. His arguments simply take up time. I grew tired of listening to his rhetoric.  Anyone with a modicum of scientific knowledge knows that he speaks gibberish. He never answered a question without invoking his cosmology arguments. Frankly, I found him a bore. By the end I wanted to know why he was included on the panel if his sole purpose was to espouse his personal scientific theories. From what I can tell, they are not even peer reviewed.

DanGrossenbach I liked Dan Grossesnbach. He was reasonable, polite and articulate, yet overpowered by his co-panelists. I cannot recall him making a significant point during the debate, but his attempts at steering the discussion back towards the actual questions were appreciated. Plus, he seemed genuinely interested in trying to help us (atheists) understand his position without unnecessary rhetoric.

clay_jonesClay Jones on the other hand, he simply pissed me off. His rants often evoked applause from the Christian members of the audience while as the same time evoking dismay from the Atheists. If Ross was the intellectual, Jones was the unapologetic firebrand. Jones is the kind of Christian who scares me. At one point, Jones admitted that if God told him to kill every man woman and child in America, he would do it. I have poor quality video from the event to prove it (starts at 2:00).

Please excuse the quality, I was 100 feet from the stage with a flip video camera. The message comes through loud and clear. If Jones thinks God gave him the order, he would strap the vest on and walk into a crowd of sinners, a large explosion would soon follow. And yes, that’s me on the video saying, “That is why I own a gun.” in the background.

The atheist panelists were an odd bunch. Mark Smith is a former Christian turned atheist who runs JCnot4me.com and would qualify as the “angry atheist’ on the godless team. I found his rhetoric disturbing in the same way I found Clay Jones scary. Smith tried to paint Christians with the same brush as the angry and vengeful God of the old testament.  In it’s simplest form, it is much like sticking ones finger in the eye of your opponent in an attempt to get a pain response. In the Christian crowd sitting around me, I heard scoffs of disapproval and comments about Smith being mean spirited and anti-Christian. For my part, I found his focus on the logical fallacies and inconsistencies surrounding the existence of God on target, but poorly executed given the structure of the debate.

Bruce Flamm was the star of the show, at least in my eyes. His masterful defense of science was impressive. Yet, almost every word he spoke was off topic. I kept wondering why the debate kept moving from theology to science. Or why anyone would give the inane theories postulated by Dr. Ross a moment in the spotlight. My guess is that Flamm was the counterbalance to Ross. He was needed.

Alex Uzdavines was an interesting selection to round out the debate squad for the Atheists. He has no academic credentials and little claim to fame besides his involvement in atheist organizations. However, I would go to see him debate again. He speaks well for atheists and has a good stage presence.

Roshambo

As to who won, well… I have proof the Atheists won a round of roshambo with paper covering rock. As for the debate? There was no way to judge. I certainly don’t think the Atheist carried the day, and with the Christians steadfastly refusing to discuss the debate topic, they did no better. I felt like I was watching a political debate. It was essentially pointless.

I sat in the crowd alone. I did not know any atheists who attended nor do I know any Christians. I watched both groups from the anonymity of my position near the back. To be honest, I did not connect with either group. I have no desire to debate the existence of God or challenge the beliefs of those who do. I just want to be left alone to do as I please without the morality police looking over my shoulder. What I took away from the event is that we must fight people like Dr. Hugh Ross who desires to push his screed on our children under the guise of science. And, we must fight against the likes of Clay Jones who would push his moral agenda via any means possible. But I’d be happy to have a beer and good conversation with with likes of Dan Grossesnbach.

I tweeted a few comments during the event. One stands out:

If you hate you are a murderer. If you lust you are an adulterer. (link)

dotlizard responds with

@mojoey so ... if i think about helping people, i'm a philanthropist? and if i think about work, i'll get paid? heck, that'd be cool :) (link)

I live in the real world where what I think should not be used to judge me. I am a murderer if I murder someone. I am an adulterer if I cheat on my wife. Actions are what we measure ourselves by, not words. Reality is what counts, not some future where Christians think I will burn in hell for the simple act of not worshiping their God. Reality is what counts. Everything else is a hypothetical discussion, and pointless.

I’d like to see a debate on the essence of morality, or on the concept of moral beauty. I’d like to see a debate on theocracy and religion in politics. I like to see a debate on abortion rights, gay rights, or the ability of religious sects to live and worship freely in America. But please… no more does God exist. It’s pointless.

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