The church held a meeting with parents and their children to try to move forward from these events. "I'm certainly glad that we were able to apprehend this subject and have him placed in our jail," said Pine.
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Watch as pastor Bowser and his wife Evelyn Bowser try to weave as story about a young child making up abuse allegations against Rodger Rickman as of a scheme to get back at Rickman failed church investments. (I won’t even get into the ethical problems with Rickman managing church investments.)
"We know there are reasons why people get mad at a pastor. Are you kidding?" said Evelyn Bowser.
Her husband said Rickman supervised church investments that didn't work out, and it was possible the parents of the alleged victim are responding by making up the molest story.
"I've been a pastor for years. I've seen this before. It's not an unknown scenario. People are often coached by parents to accuse a pastor to accomplish a motive," said Greg Bowser of Pleasant Valley Baptist Church.
The Bowser’s are fabricating a story that makes no sense and has no link to the actual case. They constructed a scenario that explains away the charges against Rickman, yet they offer no proof of his innocence. It’s all speculation meant to sway the potential jury pool. I’d like to see their proof. Have they really experienced children making up stories in an attempt to get at a pastor? I’d like to see just one example. I have hundreds of cases that tell a different story.
Monday, June 27, 2011
Hello, my name's Tim Martin. I'm a 26 year old research assistant in the field of cognitive neuroscience.
Over the past few years, I've done a lot of reading on science, religion, and atheism. I've learned a lot and solidified my stance as a firm atheist and rationalist. I started my blog in order to increase my participation in the discussion of subjects that matter to me.
I kicked off my blog with a number of posts on sex and religion, but future content will include any interesting areas where religion encroaches on secular knowledge and values. I'm especially interested in evolution, free will, morality, and basic human rights.
One of my goals is to provide information and analysis that will get people to consider things they hadn't before, as so much of what I've read lately has done for me. And I encourage discussion and debate; I wouldn't be content to only communicate with people who agree with me. I hope that people who disagree will comment with (hopefully rational) rebuttals!
Glad to be a part of the Atheist Blogroll!
When news surfaced that Monsignor Robert Murphy had not disclosed that at one time, he was accused of sexual misconduct, I figured the clock was ticking on his career as the man handling the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St Joseph’s clergy sexual abuse cases. He was destined to be fired anyway. Especially after his mishandling of the Ratigan case surfaced. There is no doubt in my mind that Murphy should be removed, but I think Murphy’s boss, Bishop Robert Finn, should be replaced as well. His actions clearly show his indifference to the clergy sexual abuse problem. He did nothing to stop Ratigan. He failed to act because he failed to read the compliant. It’s managerial incompetence.
Kansas City Bishop Robert Finn admitted Friday that he did not read Hess’ letter, submitted May 19, 2010, until May 26, 2011 -- a week after Ratigan’s arrest.
Every time I call on Catholics to clean house, I am accused of hating Catholics. I want to set the record straight. Hating Catholics is irrational. How does one hate a billion people? No. If I hate anything at all, it is the institution of Catholicism. The leadership is selling their followers out. They must be held accountable. It’s the best way to fix the problem. My calls for a fix cannot be construed as hate. Instead, thing of them as a call to action. Rise up Catholics. Demand better of your leadership. Demand accountability.
Hilarious – and so close to a couple of conversations I’ve had with Christians that it I snorted during a few parts.
Submitted by Joshua Poole.
In the last six months, my life has been turned upside-down. After being a committed Evangelical Christian for my entire life, one even preparing to be a minister and professor of New Testament, I suddenly realized that I couldn't accept the basic claims of Christianity. So, I'm trying to blog about life between what it used to be and what it will become, hence the title of "Ellipsis."
In my blog, I basically talk about things that interest me, such as farming, environmentalism, social issues, etc. I also address a recurring theme (sofar) of what it means to leave the church, especially as I recount some of the conversations I'm having with family, friends, and mentors who still themselves remain committed Christians. Plus, I'm still going to be a Biblical scholar and teacher of biblical studies, but I'm utilizing the blog to help myself think about what that will look like now. Basically, the blog
is about trying to figure out my new view on life.
New York’s legalization of gay marriage is not the signal for the apocalypse, nor is will it cause god to destroy America. Pat Robertson is a nutball and hatemonger. I have a prediction. Pat Robertson will die and America will still be here. I’m willing to put money on it. Do I have any fundie takers?
Are you interested in becoming a member or know of a blog that should be listed? Visit the Atheist Blogroll resource blog for more information.
My wife did not realize it at the time, but she booked our summer vacation into a disc golf paradise. The Redwood Curtain is within walking distance of where we are staying. It looks really friggen hard. There are 5 or 6 other course nearby. It’s going to be our best vacation ever. I wonder what my family will be doing?
I’ve posted not less than 25 stories about religious hypocrisy in the last week with almost nothing from my other areas of interest. So here is a photo of a magical vampire from a mural on a store in San Jose.
Sunday, June 26, 2011
When your church is based on the prosperity doctrine, is it a surprise that acquiring the trappings of wealth drives your every action? It is accurate to call men who preach the prosperity doctrine, thieves in the pulpit. There are ample cased of excess. Just look at the lifestyle of Creflo Dollar or Eddie Long. The case of pastor Michael A. Wilkerson Sr is special. He’s facing charges that he deliberately wrote a bad check. What sets pastor Wilkerson apart from the normal fraudster is the value of the check and the product that he attempted to steal. Wilkerson wrote a check for $111,000 for a Mercedes Benz. The account he wrote the check on had been closed before he even walked in the door.
Wilkerson, according to a criminal complaint filed by Whitemarsh police, purchased a 2009 Mercedes Benz sedan from Ft. Washington Mercedes Benz on Sept. 18, 2009, for which he wrote a check for $111,000. Wilkerson then drove off with the car.
A day later, Wilkerson called the dealership “stating that the check he wrote was going to be bad because his wife had gotten mad at him for the purchase and had taken over half of it out,” according to the arrest affidavit filed by Whitemarsh Police Sgt. James J. Cotter.
Wilkerson allegedly told a salesperson that he would return Sept. 21 with a cashier’s check for the amount to complete the sale; however, Wilkerson did not return as promised, police alleged. For the next week, dealership officials tried to contact Wilkerson regarding the purchase but were unsuccessful, court papers indicate.
Why would a humble pastor even want a high-end luxury car? Jesus was not preoccupied with wealth. How does one reconcile stealing a Mercedes with the message of Christ. It makes no sense. Yet people follow men like Wilkerson without ever asking the question. Even when their pastor attempts to build a mega mansion through fraud.
Michael A. Wilkerson Sr., 45, who previously served prison time for a fraudulent financial scheme during the construction of his planned $1.7 million luxury home in Berks County, is tentatively scheduled to stand trial on the felony bad check charge in Montgomery County Court sometime between July 18 and Aug. 22, according to a judge’s order.
What did he want? One last moment of luxury before going to prison. Of course, he calls it being persecuted for being a true Christian.
Saturday, June 25, 2011
My people come from Ireland, but we’ve been here in the states since the colonial days. We even fought in the Revolutionary War. I grew up thinking that my family had immigrated in the 1880s or 90s, but recently found out that my family has deep roots. There are no famous people in my family, and thankfully, no pastors either. I would have been the first if I had followed my calling. I took another path. We are farmers. I am a two generations off the farm. It might as well be a thousand years though. I know nothing of farming.
Ireland intrigues me. I’ve visited in 1999. My memories are a drunken haze of pubs, good beer, and whisky. I came away with a taste for Bushmills and Guinness. I felt completely out of touch with Ireland when I visited. It did not feel like home. It felt oddly friendly, yet distant at the same time. Part of my problem was it’s overt religiosity. I was living in France at the time of my visit, and could not believe how little religion mattered to the natives. Yet in Ireland it’s presence was everywhere. It was even represented in your choice of whisky. Were you a Bushmills man, or a Jameson man? Bloody hell. The fucking answer mattered. In truth, I preferred Clontaf (I’m looking at a bottle now). Religion ruins everything.
Ireland has a law that I cannot abide. The Defamation Act of 2009. It states that “a person who publishes or utters matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion”. I’ve been told a number of times by Irish friends, that if I were a Irish national, my blog would be reported and I could face prosecution. It’s a horrifying thought. Free speech is a right we should not take for granted least it be taken from us.
This work of art is called Our Lady of Guadalupe. Mexican artist Alma Lopez was speaking at a conference on Chicano culture. This work was displayed as part of an exhibit. It pissed off the local Catholics, who reported it to the authorities as offensive.
The Catholic Lawyers Blog has posted an update claiming that “a senior Garda in Cork has confirmed that a file will be sent to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions regarding the exhibition of material which is insulting and offensive to Catholics”.
The Catholics are dead serious. They claim the following on their blog.
This exhibition was closed down in Santa Fe due to public outrage. Catholics are aware of the gravity of blasphemies against Our Lady, which, as Our Lord revealed to Sister Lucy, fall into five kinds:
There are five types of offences and blasphemies committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary :
1 – Blasphemies against the Immaculate Conception;
2 – Blasphemies against Her Virginity;
3 – Blasphemies against Her Divine Maternity, in refusing at the same time to recognise Her as the Mother of men;
4 – The blasphemies of those who publicly seek to sow in the hearts of children, indifference or scorn or even hatred of this Immaculate Mother;
5 – The offences of those who outrage Her directly in Her holy images. Here, my daughter, is the reason why the Immaculate Heart of Mary inspired Me to ask for this little act of reparation . . (May 29,1930)
In Ireland, you cannot speak your mind or express ideas that may threaten a religious institution. I’m glad my ancestors left. To an American, the notion of censorship and repression demonstrated in this process border on insanity. How did a civilized European country adopt such a repressive and wrong headed law? What happened to my Ireland?
Pastor Evans Bacon was released from jail this week after serving time for molesting a 15-year-old girl. He served less than a year in prison. Is this justice? I’m sure he will be back at the helm of New Life Tabernacle Church before the week is out. Mothers, be sure to watch your daughters. A wolf is lose among the shepel.
This man actually hurt somebody. His crime is real. He deserves to spend real time in prison. A year is not a prison sentence. It’s a wait at the DMV. Bacon got a year for molesting a girl, yet Roy Brown got 15 years for stealing $100. How does that work? Is money more important than people?
Pastor Roger Rickman, 65, out of Tracy, California, stands accused of sexually assaulting a 7-year-old girl. Rickman is founding pastor of Fresh Anointing Faith International Christian Church. The church’s Facebook page is down, the Google cache is stull up.
Rickman is being held on 1,75 million dollars bail. The police are concerned that there may be more victims.
Rickman is accused of attacking the girl at least three times. The girl came forward with the allegations and police were convinced that a serious molestation type activity had occurred.
Before the habitual “he’s not a real Christian” refrains start pouring in, let’s take a look at his resume.
Chaplain Roger Rickman, PhD, ThD, BCIM, CFC, CMC-M, FAAIM, FABCHS, FAPA is the founder and senior pastor of Fresh Anointing Faith International Christian Church and a Master Chaplain of both the VFW Post 1537 and American Legion Post 172 in Tracy, California. He is a certified relationship specialist and specializes in therapeutic grade essential healing oils, and is a graduate of San Diego State University and Bryson University. Rickman speaks fluent Japanese, Thai, Bahasa Indonesian, reads some Chinese, after spending twenty-two years in Asia, (Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Brunei) as a missionary and chaplain. Ten of those years he was with the United States Air Force, and 8 as a technical advisor with Atlantic Richfield International, off-shore in the North-West Java Sea. He also spent 4 years in Singapore as a regional engineer for first International Harvester, then Caterpillar. He was an after-care officer with the Singapore Anti-Narcotics Association (SANA) and completed his first years of seminary through the International Baptist Church in Singapore.
He is the author of three non-fiction books, two on vibration analysis of high-speed rotating equipment and one on the “Do’s and Don’ts of Asia,” Rickman presently holds the following active California State licenses: General Contractor (B), Electrician (C10), Security & Telecom Specialist (C7), Private Investigator (PI24153), Life Insurance, Annuities, and Securities (OF55591), Baton Permit #152403, Guard (G1583050), and Firearm Permit (FQ 296470 - .38 .357 9mm, .45 and 40 calibers). Rickman holds CCW for 32 states and has been a life member of the California State Sheriffs’ Association since 1998. He was senior vice president for: Continental Controls Corporation, a distributor for Bendix, Symco International, and Far East Sales, and a product verification specialist. He is also certified to install master DSL systems inside telephone companies and was responsible for much of the master DSL, Intelligent Power, and Copper Max–Emergency: 911 master installations throughout California.
How much more real does one need to get to become a “real Christian?”
Do you remember former youth pastor Andrew Thomas? He was sentenced in May to 15 years in prison on five counts of sexual exploitation of a child. He faces more time now that a federal magistrate sentenced him to 30 years in prison on additional sexual exploitation charges. This pedophile pastor will not see the light of day for a long time.
Friday, June 24, 2011
Part of what drove me away from Christianity as a teen was the realization that the core message of Jesus, love your neighbor as yourself, was mired in the political realities of elections to the board of deacons. I can remember being mystified by the sudden and vigorous shift away from Christ towards the politics of control. People had agendas. There were the those who did not want to help the poor people who surrounded our church. Instead, they wanted to do outreach to the mostly rich, white, and Dutch youth from the affluent neighborhoods. Some wanted to send missionaries to Africa, while others wanted to make sure make sure our doctrine was strictly adhered too. I even remember people complaining about the wording our our pastors boring sermons. They actually wanted to review the sermon before it was delivered.
With each new year, elections would be held people would shift allegiances based on the popularity of the agendas pushed by the various players. In truth, the church was controlled by three Dutch families. The deacons were all Dutch too. People like me, poor white trash of unknown or forgotten race, we got to cut the crass, fix the printing presses, and sit in our pews. I remember thinking that there was no way Jesus would buy off on this mess. But then again, that was when I though Jesus was real. My departure from Christianity would follow later and for other reasons. I never forgot nightmare that is Church politics. When I read stories about it today, I shake my head. Was this what Jesus intended when he said, “Love they neighbor as thyself?” I don’t think so. I don’t see love at all. If they believe Jesus’ words, then why don’t the practice what he preached?
A case in Albany caught my attention. A deacon named John J. Dennehey turned himself in to local police. He’s been accused of molesting two boys. The story is typical of the cases I report on. Dennehey was a mentor to two boys and allegedly took advantage of his position to further his sexual interests.
Police say Dennehey, chairman of deacons at First Congregational Church, also downloaded and viewed pornography in the presence of the boys, and masturbated while watching pornography with them. The incidents allegedly took place at the church on Quail Street and at Dennehey's home on Grove Avenue between June and November 2008.
Dennehey is chairman of the board of deacons. It seems reasonable that he would be removed from his post until the allegations are cleared up. It’s a normal step in a responsible process aimed at protecting the institution as well as the children. There is a problem in this case. Dennehey and his parents effectively run the church. They’ve packed the board of deacons with supporters and are suppressing a vote to remove their son, and are suppressing any move to notify church members of the accusation. It’s church politics 101 and a base example of exploiting the church for personal gain at the expense of serving the greater cause of Christianity. In fact, what they are doing is opposed to the message of Christ. They are protecting themselves at the expense of the victims and other members of the congregation. Their actions are deplorable.
Rev. Tony Green discovered the abuse allegation and contacted police. He called for Dennehey to step down or be removed. Neither happened. He resigned in protest. I think he did the right thing. He should run away from the corrupt church and find a group of people who need his services.
It is rare for me to say that a youth pastor did the right thing after being accused of molesting a child. I will in this case. Russell Lewis did the right thing. He acted like a Christian should act. He accepted responsibility for his crimes and is willing to accept the court’s punishment. It is a rare thing.
Former youth pastor Russell Lewis pleaded no contest to charges that he molested a teenage girl from his youth group. By pleading no contest and throwing himself on the mercy of the court, he could get 105 years in prison for his crimes.
Defense lawyer Shlomi Presser said he will argue for the judge to take mitigating factors into account and imprison Lewis for less than the minimum time outlined by law.
"He is a first-time offender, this is an isolated incident, and clearly there was remorse," Presser said. He said Lewis had mental health issues that should be taken into consideration.
Let’s hope the Lewis does not receive the full weight of the law but instead is sentenced fairly and justly.
Youth pastor Stephen Wakefield was arrested and charged with sending lewd photo to a 14-year-old girl. Wakefield, a 25-year-old youth pastor Truth Missionary Baptist Church, was arrested a few months ago on a similar charge.
According to warrants released by the Greenville County Sheriff's Office, Wakefield sent a series of inappropriate messages over Facebook to a 14-year-old girl between December 2010 and June of 2011.
He described various sexual positions and acts he wanted to perform on the 14-year-old girl, according to the warrants, and then in January of this year, Wakefield sent a picture of his penis to the girl, the warrant states.
What is it with youth pastor wanting to teach children about sex? How does one go from serving Christ to molesting children. It is a disconnect I do not understand. Then again, how does anyone serve Christ?
I caught this odd story a few days back thanks to one of my Atheist Facebook friends. An Amish man named Willard Yoder was arrested for trying to arrange for sex with a 12-year-old girl via text messages. The idiot drove his buggy to the liaison thinking the girl would climb in for a little romp in his horse drawn buggy.
Yoder’s contact with the girl began with a random text sent to her phone. When the child’s parents learned of their daughter’s contact with Yoder, they took control of her phone and continued communicating with Yoder, who sent about 600 texts, as well as nude photos and explicit videos to the girl.
The parents then contacted the police, and officers took over the sting operation. After arranging the Wednesday night meeting, cops staking out the Takehome restaurant reported seeing “the outline of a carriage type buggy pulled by one horse and what appeared to be one occupant.”
Read More: Amish Sexter Sought Buggy Sex with Girl, 12.
Every group has its nutballs. Even nutball communities of religious folk.
How is a cell phone permitted among the Amish while a car is not?
- Amish Man Arrested For Alleged Sending Lewd Photos To Minor And Showing Up At Her House in Horse and Buggy (jonathanturley.org)
- Amish man 'sexted' teenage girl (news.ninemsn.com.au)
- K&M Mugshot Of The Day: Underage Sex in the Backseat... Of A Horse & Buggy?! (wzlx.radio.com)
- What Has the World Come to When an Amish Man Engages in Sexting with a Minor? (zwingliusredivivus.wordpress.com)
Many of my posts have theme music (at least for me). When I read about pastor Jeffrey Reaves’s. arrest on a charge of misdemeanor assault and battery, I heard Smack My Bitch Up by Prodigy. The bitch in this case was his daughter.
What music do you hear when reading about these miscreants?
I am troubled by one aspect of this story; a comment by a parishioner.
One longtime church member said Pastor Reaves is an honorable man and this should be a private family matter.
The initial reaction to news that their pastor may have abused his daughter is to forget about it? How does that reconcile with the message of Jesus? I’m thinking not very well at all.
Reaves is a Baptist. He leads Good Shepherd Baptist Church were the motto is, “A strong hand to guide the flock.”
Pastor Otis Holland is wanted by the Henderson police. Holland is believed to be in California after failing to report to police in Las Vegas. If you have information about his whereabouts, contact (702) 267-4750 or, to remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers at (702) 385-5555 or visit www.crimestoppersofnv.com.
Pastor Otis Holland was arrested in December of 2010 on three counts of sexual assault of a victim younger than 16. The charges were amended to include 12 more counts after a second victim came forward.
Authorities last week issued a warrant for Otis Holland, 54, on 11 counts of sexual assault of a victim younger than 16, one count of child abuse and conspiracy to commit a crime, police said.
A possible third victim was identified via a post on my blog.
Monday, June 20, 2011
Atheist Revolution is running a story about a new movie called The Ledge. It’s tag line is One Christian. One Atheist. One survivor. Apparently the protagonist is an atheist. I’m going to have to watch it.
Help he cause. Spread the word.
Rev. John Corapi made the difficult decision to leave the Roman Catholic priesthood after becoming dissatisfied by how the church is handling his sexual misconduct allegation. He accused the church of mishandling the case.
In his eight-minute audio statement, Corapi stressed that he is innocent, but indicated frustration with a church judicial process that he saw leading to "[leaving] me suspended indefinitely and just [letting] me fade away.
It’s interesting to watch the trend in the Catholic church toward obfuscation and delay. Failing to take decisive action must be a strategy. What is the harm in giving Corapi his day in court? Why must he wait? Does he even have the right to face his accuser?
Perhaps if the alleged sexual misconduct were tried in the public courts we would see a quicker resolution to the problem. There are no criminal charges pending. There is just the internal investigation and delay It all sounds so familiar.
Dwight said he, Damian and three other brothers grew up in South Minneapolis and had a close relationship until the family approached Damian about their suspicions. Damian, who had worked at the church for two years prior to the 2007 meeting, told family members the church knew about his past, Dwight said. The family then asked him to step away from the church, but Damian instead broke ties with the family.Settergren is pastor Paul Settergren. He did not act on the allegations.
At that point, Dwight said he brought his concerns to Settergren.
Settergren told WCCO-TV on Saturday that he recalls meeting with Burkhalter's family but that he couldn't fire Damian Burkhalter for allegations he couldn't substantiate.Is firing the only way to handle this kind of allegation? I can think of several other ways. Launching an investigation is one path. A more effective approach may have been to simply ramp up internal controls. These include: Audits of behavior, education, guidelines for appropriate behavior, third party reviews, I can go on-and-on with this. Something is better than nothing. Why do nothing? It is as if Settergren gave Burkhalter a green light for abuse.
Update 6/15/2012 - All charges were dropped. Burkhalter is innocent.
I did not realize that in the pathetic pantheon of Christian excuses for bad behavior there were demons specifically focused on sexual crimes. What do I know?
Youth pastor Michael Tuano Hermogenes to the court in Australia that “sexual demons” caused him to suffocate, rape, molest, burn, and photograph a 14-year-old girl. He missed being charged with murder only because people stepped in to save the girl.
Crown prosecutor Andrew Grant said that after Hermogenes made the girl unconscious, he raped her and took her body to the bathroom.
He piled her clothes nearby and went to buy petrol, which he then poured over the girl and around the house.
Hermogenes set the girl and the house on fire after taking photos of her while she was naked and unconscious.
WTF? It gets worse too. His attorney pleaded for leniency because the youth pastor was now remorseful. How can he be remorseful if demons possessed him? That does not make any sense at all. If demons possessed Hermogenes, then he was not responsible for his actions because other entities were in control of his mind and body. He had no free will, therefore no culpability. The court should let him go and tell him to be mindful of demon possession in the future. Or not - I think a deep dark cell in the worst prison in Australia sounds about right.
Saturday, June 18, 2011
Pastor Joseph R. Fultz formerly of Grace Evangelical Free Church in Longmont, was arrested for failing to report alleged sexual abuse. From my read of he story, it sounds like he’s the victim of a witch hunt.
Fultz allegedly failed to report sexual activity between boys attending his church and a private Christian school. The boys were members of I”wiener club”. Club members, boys from 5 to 12 years of age, would fondle each other while in the bathroom. Fultz allegedly told the boys to keep the incident quiet. He did not participate in the alleged sexual activity, nor from what I can tell, did he encourage it. Yet he was reported to police for failing to report “the abuse”.
Prosecutors allege that Fultz had reasonable cause to suspect the children had been abused, and he was bound “in the course of professional duties” to report the incidents to Walworth County authorities.
Since when is childhood sexual curiosity considered abuse? I don’t think these charges will hold up in court. The case is further undermined by a statement released by Faith Christian School (pdf), where some of the abuse is alleged to have happened. They deny the abuse happened.
School officials knew of only one incident in which two 5-year-olds touched each other inappropriately in the bathroom during a break, the letter states.
Fultz's connection to the school was that his son was a student, but the minister was never assigned to conduct any investigation, the letter states.
Is this incident something that you arrest a man over? Where is the crime? The story could have gone down something like this: Fultz is made aware of the Weiner club. He investigates and then tells the boys to, “knock that shit off and tell no one.” He gets arrested because a mother wants to shift blame from her son to another.
I could be wrong. Let us see how this one plays out.
Way back in 2005 I wrote a small post about Jerry Branton Hobbs III. He was not a pastor, nor was he connected to a church. I was simply outraged by his crime and his confession. It turns out that the crime was committed by somebody else and his confession was coerced. Jerry Hobbs is a free man thanks to DNA evidence which points to another man.
Hi, my name is Eli, a teenaged carbon-based lifeform (to borrow a line from Pat Condell).
I write and manage the blog 'Atheistic Worm Food', which is dedicated to commentary on relevant news and other essays on atheism and antitheism. I occasionally also write an open letter, generally concerning separation of church and state issues, which I file under 'activism'.
I became an agnostic at the age of twelve after debating a fellow tech-ie in an online forum. I realized I didn't have any evidence for my beliefs- that in fact, my beliefs were contradictory. While I slowly began to lose my belief in god, I turned to agnosticism, as I was afraid to declare myself an 'atheist'. After reading "The God Delusion", however, I was compelled to become such, and I've been embracing reality ever since.
Friday, June 17, 2011
I was doing research for a story when I came across the mandatory reporter law (PDF) for the state of Florida. Mandatory reporter laws are in place to protect children and at risk adults from abuse. They required that people in certain positions of authority notify authorities when abuse is discovered. I was surprised to learn that clergy are excluded in the list of professional mandatory reporters. Excluding Christians from the list speaks volumes about their special status in Florida.
- Assisted Living Facility Staff
- Adult Day Care Center Staff
- Adult Family Care Home Staff
- Bank, Savings and Loan, or Credit Union Officer, Trustee, or Employee
- Chiropractor/Chiropractic Physician
- Day Care Center Worker
- Department of Business and Professional Regulation employees conducting inspections of public lodging establishments.
- Emergency Medical Technician
- Florida Advocacy Council Member
- Foster Care Worker
- Hospital personnel engaged in the admission, examination, care, or treatment of children and vulnerable adults.
- Health Professional
- Institutional Worker
- Law Enforcement Officer
- Long-Term Care Ombudsman Council Member
- Medical Examiner
- Mental Health Professional
- Nursing Home Staff
- Osteopath/Osteopathic Physician
- Practitioner who relies solely on spiritual means for healing.
- Professional Adult Care, Residential, or Institutional Staff
- Professional Child Care Worker
- Residential Care Worker
- School Teacher
- School Official or Other School Personnel
- Social Worker
- State, County, or Municipal Criminal Justice Employee or Law Enforcement Officer
Burkhalter was employed as youth director at Glen Cary Lutheran Church in Ham Lake when he allegedly tried to have sex with the victim from June to November, 2010. The victim described oral sex incidents, most of which happened at the church, in Burkhalter's office or in the youth room in the church's basement. Other sexual incidents happened at Burkhalter's Blaine home.
The girl was hired as Burkhalter's temporary secretary over the summer, working about two shifts a week. She said there was sexual contact with Burkhalter on each shift. Burkhalter allegedly tried to adopt the victim, a detail supported by testimony of the victim's aunt, who the girl now lives with in Willmar.I’ll have to add a few things to my list of potential abuse vectors. In this case, I question if it is advisable for a child to work for an adult in a job that affords routine privacy. Another question I have is how a relationship that included talk of adoption could escape the scrutiny of the leadership of his church. Whenever a youth pastor becomes a child's surrogate daddy, more oversight is required. It should be seen as a potential grooming activity.
As usual, there is no mention of the arrest on the churches website.
Update 6/15/2012 - All charges were dropped. Burkhalter is innocent.
Seth Werling, 22, was interning at Apopka Calvary Nazarene Church when he was arrested for sexting and sending lewd photos with a 14-year-old girl.
In March , Werling drew henna tattoos on the girl and her 14-year-old friend during the girls' spring break from an Orlando high school.
After drawing the tattoos, Werling sent phone text messages to the girl and asked her to take pictures of the tattoos and send them to him.
The girl complied, and Werling's messages soon became more suggestive and demanding. The girl sent him photographs of herself in a bathing suit, underwear and partially nude as well as videos of herself. He in turn forwarded photos of himself that included snapshots of his genitals, according to the affidavit.
The story goes on to talk about how the church’s youth pastor did an internal investigation, even confronting Werling, before he went to the police. I’m sure he thought he was doing the right thing, but his first call should have been to the police. Youth pastor Jason Roberts made a grave mistake. He may have even endangered he life of he victim. How could he be so stupid? My guess is lack of training. I’ll drop a note to the church and find out.
Of course, I’ll want to know if the church had a cell phone/texting policy. I’m betting no.
Update: Member of the the church claims the church has a texting policy. I’ve requested the post a copy or send it to me along with proof Werling was trained.
I’m going to use the term “self-proclaimed) here. I have no proof pastor Grover Cleveland Thomas, Jr., is anything other that an alleged rapist who claims to be a man of god. Details are thin. Thomas allegedly raped a 53-year-old woman who was recovering from surgery. He sounds like a peach.
I could use some help on this story. If anyone has information, please send it my way.
Thursday, June 16, 2011
Pastor Steven Joseph Perez was arrested and charged with molesting a 12-year-old girl. Perez made a classic mistake. See if you can catch it below.
But according to the criminal complaint, the young girl, 12, told police she went to "Pastor Steve's room" one night to watch a movie. She said Perez fondled her. The girl told police she pretended to be asleep because she was scared and uncomfortable.
But Perez told police he's innocent. In his arrest warrant, Perez told police, "we were just wrestling, me and (victim), there was nothing sexual, (victim) is known for lying."
If Perez is a trained pastor (there is not guarantee here), he would not that it is job to resist placing himself in situations were abuse can occur. There is no excuse for the man “wrestling” with a young girl. He should have known better. Every pastor should know better. It should be part of a pastor basic training manual under the chapter title of Protecting the virtue of you and your flock.
Perez was a pastor at God’s Church on the Move in New Mexico.
The Catholic Diocese of Phoenix has published its list of priests accused of sexual abuse. It’s a short list. I’m betting it’s not complete.
- Former priest Louis Ladenburger
- The Rev. Jorge Cordova
- Former priest Donald McGuire
- The Rev. Loren Riebe
- Deacon Maxwell Rollin (Ron) Pelton
- Former priest Dale Fushek
We all have differing amounts of common sense. As a children we have less than we do as adults. That is to say, we will develop more common sense if our mistakes do not kill us along he way. 16-year-old Brianna Benbo made a mistake and it cost her her life. She trusted a pastor where an adult might have said hell no. Her pastor, Glories Powell, allegedly gave her a “poison pill” during a church service. The church called it a relaxer. Brianna had an allergic reaction and died. Her parents are suing.
The suit accuses both the church and its leaders of wrongful death and negligence. The family of 16 year old Brianna Benbo, says the young girl's death is the direct result of a "zealous religious fasting ritual" spear-headed by senior pastor Glories Powell. A YouTube video shows Powell preaching to her congregation.
According to court documents, Brianna was a parishioner at Powell's church, the Moment of Truth Ministries, also known as the Church of Divine Appointment.
And they say it was during a religious service in July of 2010, that Brianna was told to take a poisonous capsule.
I’ve got to get a list going. We all know the lead off item, “Do not drink the kool-aid.” Then there is, “Don’t accept a ride home from the pastor.” And, “Counseling requires the pastor wear pants.” Now we can add, “Don’t take poison from a pastor.” But then, that one seems obvious.
Pastor Glories Powell runs the Moment of Truth Ministries AKA Church of Divine Appointment.
In case you missed it, pastor David Love allegedly murdered Randy Stone. His partner in crime was allegedly Randy’s wife, Teresa L. Stone. She was indicted for her husband’s murder a few days ago.
As the investigation continued, Stone’s family revealed that Love and Teresa Stone were having an affair that had been going on for about a decade, according to family.
According to the county prosecutor’s office, Teresa L. Stone, “agreed with David Love that one or more of them would murder Randy Stone, and ... one or more of them communicated that they wanted Randy Stone murdered.”
David Love carried on a ten year affair with the wife of his friend and ultimately murdered the man. How is this Christ like? How is this in any way related to a Christian walk? How did Love carry on a affair without members of his Church or family finding out and holding him accountable? What is the duty of the sheep here?
Another thing I will never understand about murder cases like this one is why they murder in the first place. It’s so much easier to just walk away and file for a divorce.
Apparently Eddie Long and his wife Vanessa Long, is still intact. Art Franklin issued this statement on behalf of the Longs.
Despite a very public attack against New Birth Church and its leadership, New Birth has chosen not to respond to rumors but remain focused on fulfilling the mission that God has for the ministry.
However, in this new digital world, along with a steep decline in quality reporting, many people can't discern the difference between legitimate journalists and irresponsible bloggers. Recently, some blog entries have surfaced claiming to have anonymous sources stating that New Birth First Lady Elder Vanessa Long has left her husband. That claim is completely and absolutely false. Mrs. Long is very much a loving, dedicated and committed wife and mother.
It is unfortunate that anyone would make such hateful and damaging false claims of this nature. These cruel and insensitive rumors have the potential to cause immeasurable pain and suffering. Those involved should feel obligated to retract their earlier statements.
I’m not one of those irresponsible bloggers mentioned above. I did not speculated about the strength their marriage. I did not even know the name of the holy “first lady”. My speculation was all centered around Long’s lack of character. It still is. At this stage in the scandal, anything can happen. So I watch for the cracks to form. Eddie Long is on his way down. I fear it will be a long painful slide.
I’m surprised Long is married to a woman. I’m surprised a Christian did not fully disclose the nature of his lawsuit and the nature of the settlement. I’m surprised his church did not hold him accountable. I’m surprised anyone gives this church and its amoral materialistic pastor a dime of their hard earned money or a minute of their time. It literally boggles my mind that people follow this man.
I love this bit, “…New Birth has chosen not to respond to rumors…”. And then they go ahead and respond to rumors.
- Bishop Eddie Long: My Wife Didn't Leave Me (theroot.com)
- Rumors On Eddie Long's Wife Moving Out (scotteriology.wordpress.com)
- New Birth Issues A Statement: Bishop Eddie Long Strokey Poke's Wife Is Still Down For The Okey Doke (bossip.com)
- Na wa oh! Disgraced Bishop Eddie Long's service! (prgoretti.wordpress.com)
The first article in my inbox this morning was a story about the Atheist response to the vandalism of two churches with FSM graffiti and tags. Hemant spearheaded a chip in fund raising effort that the effort raised over $2,500. I participated with a post supporting the effort and a small donation.
Word of Sunday night's tagging spread to Pastafarian members with the Church of The Flying Spaghetti Monster and atheists across the country.
One of them decided to do something about it - from halfway across the country.
"You know, when I saw this church get vandalized and someone did it, I guess through atheism or Pastafarianism, I just figured the church, even though they are wrong and even though I disagree with their beliefs, they didn't deserve this," atheist Hemant Mehta said Wednesday. "So I think a lot of readers on my site would agree with this, so I asked them if they would consider chipping in."
Hemant Mehta is a good voice for Atheism. I’m very happy to see this effort worked out so well. I think it was the right thing to do and I think the effort had the right motivation. Good job to Hemant Mehta and good job to those of who supported his effort.
Pastor Josmar Flores Pereira hijacked an Aeromexico flight in 2009 while claiming he was on a mission to warn people that god was planned a big earthquake. He sounds nuts, right? But he claims that becoming a Christian got him off drinking and drugs. I’m confused. How can god cure a drinking problem and skip the whole mental illness shtick?
Bolivia sentenced Pereira to 7 years in prison. He’s been in prison since his arrest.
Flores Pereira hijacked Aeromexico Flight 576 flight from Cancun to Mexico City while threatening to detonate a device he claimed to be a bomb. The alleged explosive device was a couple of juice cans with wires.
The Bolivian pastor was in Mexico organizing and holding a series of meetings to predicate his Christian beliefs. He later alleged that he never intended to detonate any explosives.
I’m going with nutball pastor on this one. What else can it be?
I must have been asleep at the switch on this story. I apologize. I honestly cannot keep up with these miscreants. Especially miscreants of the Catholic persuasion.
Father Shawn Ratigan liked to take pictures of children. He took them at every opportunity. Apparently, many of these photos were lewd or pornographic. Several of the photos were of the “up skirt” variety involving 12-year-old girls. Creepy, right? It gets worse though, his parish knew about the problems and did nothing for over a year.
The principal of a Catholic school warned a top official of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph more than a year ago that parents and teachers found the Rev. Shawn Ratigan’s behavior toward children troubling, including the hundreds of pictures the priest took.
When you add that to the fact that parish authorities knew about the images for six months before alerting authorities, well – it looks bad for everyone involved.
The parish authorities hid behind their legal counsel. Which is odd given the public push to out pedophile priests. Why would they delay reporting Ratigan? Why did they wait until others made the complaint?
“The very next day, we contacted a Kansas City, Missouri Police officer and described one of the more disturbing images,” Bishop Finn continued. “At the same time the diocese showed the images to legal counsel. In both instances we were told that, while very troubling, the photographs did not constitute child pornography as they did not depict sexual conduct or contact.”
It’s clear the process has no integrity. I have no idea how to fix this mess short of suing the Catholic church out of business and having the believers start over.
- Child Rape, Inc., Is Back in Business, Baby! (slog.thestranger.com)
- KC bishop admits failure in abuse case, says he'll address alleged 'concealment' (onecatholicorg.wordpress.com)
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
I was sent a review copy of this book. It’s next in line for read with a review to follow. At 144 pages, I don’t expect it will take too long to read. The forward is by Richard Dawkins.
why we believe in god(s). A concise guide to the science of faith. (Pitchstone Publishing, June 2011) By J. Anderson Thomson, Jr., MD with Clare Aukofer. 144 pages.
From the press kit – Thomson and Aukofer draws on the most up-to-date research, along with studies stretching back to Darwin, and revels how religion took shape in the mind, and has kept a hold on it.
“We now know how and why human minds generate religious belief,” Thomson explains. “We’ve put together the pieces of the puzzle and expose the mind’s mechanisms that produce supernatural beliefs, the idea of souls, the notion of gods, and all else that built religions large and small.”
From Sam Harris:
“Andy Thomson, with Clare Aukofer, has written a wonderfully concise introduction to our growing scientific understanding of religion. If you would like to learn, in the span of an hour, why we have every reason to believe that God is man-made – this is the book to read.”
About the authors:
J. Anderson Thomson, Jr., M.D. (Andy) is a psychiatrist in private practice in Charlottesville, Virginia. He is also a staff psychiatrist at Counseling and Psychological Services at the University of Virginia Student Health Services and the Institute of Law, Psychiatry and Public Policy at the University of Virginia. Dr. Thomson’s current research interest is in the area of evolutionary psychology and using its principles to understand depression, suicide terrorism, and religious belief.
Clare Aukofer first collaborated with Andy Thompson when both were at the University of Virginia’s Center for the Study of Mind and Human Interaction. For more than a dozen years she was editor of Helix, the quarterly magazine of the University of Virginia medical center, and director of communications for the medical center. She has won numerous awards for writing and editing and her biography has been included in several variations of Marquis “Who’s Who.” A native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, she is the youngest of seven children and the product of twelve years of Catholic education. She lives in Charlottesville, VA.
A California school dealt with a stealth Christian fundie attack by canceling its fund raising effort and returning $40 in donations. Two fundies, Lou Ann Hart and Sheryl Caronna, tried to sneak bible versus into a memorial brick fundraising effort. The bricks were to be placed in walkways throughout the school. Bible verses included:
- Tell everyone about God’s power – Psalm 68:34
- The old life is gone. A new one has begun 2Co 5:17
- No one can serve two masters. Luke 17:13
- Be kind to each other…forgive on another. Eph 5:31
I love the way the school dealt with the potential legal issues. They simple cancelled the effort. There will be no long battle in court and no large legal bills. The Christians will not get to make their point, nor will they get to drop their bible turds throughout the high school campus. Instead, the poor children of Palm Desert High School in Palm Desert, Calif., will do without their music program or some such. It’s such a shame.
At least the cancellation of the program miffed the fundies.
"It is cowardly to shut down everyone's participation in this program simply out of animosity toward Christian speech," Cortman said. "There is absolutely nothing unconstitutional about a Bible verse on a brick when a school opens up a program for anyone to express a personal message. The school could simply have allowed the Bible verses, but instead, it chose to punish everyone."
I’d prefer that our public schools not be plastered with Christian dogma. I’d prefer we do not waste precious tax payer funds on frivolous lawsuits when California schools are rated near the bottom in the country. I’d prefer Christians plaster their own walkways with bible verses, or whatever else they need to indoctrinate their own children. Leave my kids alone. They are in school for an education free from the stink of religion. They are there to learn to think and not learn to fear your make-believe god.
- Brick Bats for school fundraiser; California school district cancels fundraiser over Bible verses in bricks (signposts02.wordpress.com)
- Palm Desert High School Misinterprets The Establisment Clause - Gives Christians Ammo (hooglyboogly.wordpress.com)
“Praise the FSM” was painted on two churches on Sunday night in Bend, Oregon.
The graffiti apparently refers to The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, an online group of people who claim they do not believe in religion but rather in what they call Pastafarianism.
Local church groups say it's one thing to not pick a religion, but it's another for these vandals to pick a fight.
Don’t worry though, the people who did this were not true atheists. We all know that tagging a church is against our secret atheist code book. It was probably just some wayward Christian youth looking for attention. Or not – if it’s one of us then we own it and should do something about it.
The Friendly Atheist has a chip in fund working to help pay for the cleanup. Pay a visit to his blog and make a donation. I’m in for $10.