Thursday, March 31, 2011

Pastor Soulja gets 5 to life

Aaron WitcherPastor Aaron Witcher a.k.a. “Pastor Soulja”, was sentenced to a prison term of 5 years to life for his rape of a 15-year-old girl from his church.

Aaron Witcher — known locally as the rapping "Pastor Soulja" — had pleaded guilty in 2nd District Court to two counts of first-degree felony rape.

Judge Ernie Jones said prison was appropriate because Witcher, 38, had sexual intercourse with the girl more than 20 times as well as other instances of sexual activity.

Correction – Aaron Witcher is now known as the raping “Pastor Soulja”. It’s sure to get him lots of love while performing as Lady Gaga in prison.

Previous posts:

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HDR - Lowrider truck

HDR - Lowrider truck

Sometimes the photos I shoot are just photos of things I like – a visual shopping list if you will. I’ve always liked vintage trucks. I want it. My favorite is a 69 ford (it’s what I learned to drive on).

This is a tone mapped HDR black & white. I had not intended on shooting an HDR shot, but I had my camera set up in bracket mode. The combination of 3 photos is much better than any single shot.

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Corruption and Christian blindness

I’ve been around long enough to know the difference between genuine Christian believers, and those who are in it for the money. It seems incongruent that people see religion as a way to gain a financial (or sexual) advantage over others, but we know this to be common based on the large number of fallen pastors who have appeared on this blog. Those who game the system stand out from their peers. I honestly don’t know why Christians can’t see it for themselves. It’s a bit like finding Waldo at a emo convention. Waldo stands out. So does this class of degenerate pastors.

MItchellDavidEdwardPastor David Lee Edward Mitchell stands accused of giving legal advice without a license. While the charge seems relatively harmless, it is in fact theft by misrepresentation. Mitchell allegedly took payment for services and then did nothing.

Police say another woman came forward after seeing Mitchell on the news and told investigators that she had been defrauded of $1100. The 59-year-old woman said she met with Mitchell who claimed to have three lawyers working with him and that her son would be out of jail. The woman told police that Mitchell had done nothing to help them after being paid.

More victims are coming forward now that this case has hit the press. He is in jail pending release on a $150k bond.

Who would trust this man? He is a convicted criminal. He served time for forgery and grand Larceny and was paroled in 2007. How many red flags do people need? A fresh out of prison pastor that victims willing gave large sums of money too in exchange for legal advice - it strains credulity. Nobody is that dumb – unless it comes to religion. One should at least as the question, “Is this man trustworthy?”

hat tip Conservative Babylon.

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Good idea, bad implementation

It’s easy for the atheist community to dismiss the actions of people like Houston judge John Clinton. He was trying to think outside the box when he assigned book reports instead of jail time for petty crimes. Being a Christian, he chose an overtly Christian book, The Heart of the Problem, for his smalltime crooks to read. I’m sure he thought that he was helping. The ACLU warned him off. To his credit, he stopped the program immediately.

I liked his intent, but not his choice of reading material. Keeping people out of jail while still holding them accountable seems like a great idea to me. I like the idea of a bunch of stoners reading a good book or two, and the writing something to settle their debt to society would be a bonus. Judge Clinton – make a list of 10 good non-religious books. Let your convicted criminals choose their own poison. I’d even go so far as to say that you should collect and publish the results. It would be the judicial equivalent of the People of Walmart. And set a high standard for the book report. Make it at least 10 pages of text and have them use the APA style guild. Let’s see what they learn.

My suggestions:

  • Animal Farm by George Orwell
  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  • Neuromancer by William Gibson
  • The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell
  • Bury my heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown. (Black Elk Speaks as an alternate)
  • North of Boston by Robert Frost
  • The Stories of Anton Chekhov by Anton Chekhov
  • Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
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Mike Huckabee wants to force us to listen to a fundie message at gunpoint

Via Right Wing Watch

Hey – I can tell he’s half joking, but I can also see that it is his true desire. This clip alone should be enough to end his bid for the presidency.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

HDR Photo - I love urban ugly

HDR - flowers and a parking lot
I love shooting urban ugly. With the help of HDR, I can play with the results. This is a shot of a nasty little parking lot for a mediocre little restaurant called the Olympic Coffee Shop in Sylmar, California. Yelp led me there. I will never go back. The food was gross. The parking lot was so ugly it hurt my eyes.
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Monday, March 28, 2011

Pastor Paul Johnson arrested

PaulJohnsonJust when I think these stories cannot get any worse, they do. Pastor Paul Burk Johnson of Calvary Baptist Church in Dunn, N.C., was arrested on sexual batter charges. The alleged victim is a 64-year-old woman living in a nursing home because she has diminished mental capacity. Johnson is 74.
Benson police reported that Johnson, a minister who visits patients at a Benson nursing home, had several encounters with a 64-year-old woman who has a diminished mental capacity.
According to a statement released by Liberty Commons Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, a nurse at the facility noticed Johnson engaged in "inappropriate conduct" toward a resident in the facility.
Johnson is also a member of the board of ministers at Campbell University Divinity School.
I don’t know what to say here. This is just wrong. But I’ll ask the obvious question. If a lifelong pastor can stoop to a crime this repugnant, where is the moral advantage in Christianity?
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Photo – macro shot of dew on twig

Water droplets

This is my second shot from yesterday. I like it much more. The first shot is here.

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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Photo - drops of water on a twig

Water on a twig

It rained today here in Los Angeles. We’ve had rain for a what seems like weeks now. I had planned to get up early and play disc golf, instead I was stuck inside. When a break in the weather came, I used it to shoot a few photos in my backyard.

Shot with a Nikon D300 and Nikkor 105mm macro at 1/250 and f/18.

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Was James Dean molested by a pastor?

According to the late Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean was molested by his pastor when he was 11.

In the chat 14 years ago, Taylor revealed: "When Jimmy was 11 and his mother passed away, he began to be molested by his minister. I think that haunted him the rest of his life. In fact, I know it did. We talked about it a lot. During 'Giant' we'd stay up nights and talk and talk, and that was one of the things he confessed to me."

Apparently it haunted him the rest of his short life. It would haunt me too.

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Photography - The Big Picture

APTOPIX India Holi FestivalThe Boston Globe’s The Big Picture is an outstanding photography outlet for high quality news photos. They bill it as “News stories in photographs.” What I find most appealing is that I can understand the gist of a story visually. I can fill in the details and context with the story later if I need to.

From the FAQ:

Who runs this site?
Three picture editors at The Boston Globe -- Lane Turner, Lloyd Young, and director of photography Paula Nelson. Lane Turner is a staff photographer and picture editor for the Globe, where he has worked since 1989, covering local and international news and sports while specializing in portraiture and studio work before turning his attention to picture editing in 2006. Lloyd Young has worked as a photographer or picture editor at newspapers in Ohio, Illinois, Florida, and now at the Globe for the metro and business sections. Paula Nelson has led the Globe's photojournalism team since 2004, overseeing a team that has won numerous awards. Her passionate commitment to the power of the photograph remains as strong today as when she began her career 28 years ago.

It’s not all death and destruction either. Enjoy

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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Pastor Stephen Berry arrested

stephenBerryPastor Stephen Douglas Berry is being held in jail without bail on charges he raped a 15-year-old girl on several occasions in 2010. Berry is a Baptist. It’s not the first time Berry has been investigated.

According to the church and the Union County Sheriff's Office, Berry was the subject of a prior criminal investigation involving sexual misconduct allegations from an adult female. Sheriff David Taylor said the woman decided not to pursue charges, so the investigation was closed.

Sheriff Taylor said the current investigation into Berry remains open, and while they're unsure if there could be additional victims, they're hoping anyone with additional information will come forward.

Berry was the associate pastor at New Life Baptist Church in Union, S.C.

Pastor John Naylor arrested

The good news is that pastor John Naylor was simply arrested for soliciting a prostitute.

Police said they followed a man who was suspected of picking up a prostitute, and it turned out that he is pastor in the area.

Officers arrived the pastor, John Naylor, on misdemeanor charges, and the man then told police that he had done this kind of thing before.

The cops arrested Pastor Naylor after his happy ending. There is no bad news.

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Atheists United asks for input on a survey

Atheists United has a survey asking for your opinion on the President’s Campus Challenge. I’m a supporter, so I added my vote.

Take the survey:

White House Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships has announced an initiative: The President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge. While it’s called “interfaith” two faithless organizations, the Secular Student Alliance and the Harvard Chaplaincy, have taken a part in its development, and the participation of those with no faith is prominent in President Obama’s announcement.

Both organizations are taking some praise and some criticism for participating.

What do you think? Click here to take the Survey.

Source: Atheists United website

Add your voice.

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Pastor Patrick Edouard charged with rape

PATRICKEDOUARDThere is a lot of evil in this world…

Pastor Patrick Edouard (actually a former pastor now), stands accused of raping emotionally dependent women from his congregation at Covenant Reformed Church in Pella, Iowa.

Marion County District Court documents filed Thursday allege Patrick Edouard, 41, former pastor of Covenant Reformed Church in Pella, forced three different women into sex acts in early 2006, August 2007 and April 2008.

Edouard also faces two charges that he used his position as pastor to exploit the women who sought his counseling. The charge is made under a state law that forbids counselors, therapists, teachers and clergy from having sexual relationships with their patients and clients.

A sixth charge alleges Edouard had a sexual relationship with a fourth woman between May 2008 and June 2010. The woman has also sought counseling from Edouard, court documents allege.

If these allegations are true, Edouard is the definition of a predator in the pulpit. Forcing sex on emotionally dependent women during counseling sessions is the coward’s path. It is also the ultimate betrayal of trust. I hope the authorities throw the “life sentence” book at him.  

His church is hiding the incident. A call to their office produced a “no comment” response. A check of their websites shows the Edouard is no longer listed as the pastor but there is no public comment regarding the case or charges. I have one question – what is your policy towards private counseling?

What went wrong? A pastor providing private counseling sessions in the basement of his home is a good place to start looking. Pastors should not be afforded special treatment because of their status. They are men and abuse women (and children) at the same rate as the general population. A controlled and safe environment is required for counseling sessions. Ideally, something where a third party can observe the interaction without hearing the conversations. I don’t think the pastor’s basement qualifies as safe.

There is another option to consider. Most large employers have an employee assistance program. One of the features of some programs is a hot line that employees can use if they are experiencing abuse. After the initial contact, generic information related to the nature of the abuse can be fed back to the business. If the business is a church, the elders can function like the managers they should be and investigate allegations without endangering the victim. It’s a safety net of sorts, and cheap.

Pastor Barry Cook arrested

The pastor at Christian Life Church of Montgomery, Alabama, was arrested for sexual torture and aggravated child abuse.

…Cook was a minister at the Christian Life Church of Montgomery. A spokesman with the church tells us Cook resigned Monday citing personal reasons. The spokesman wouldn't confirm the position Cook held.

Alabama Law states sexual torture is a class A felony.

Child Protect in Montgomery is an organziation that assisted law enforcement in this case. Director Jannah Bailey says she is shocked the accusations were made against a minister.

Shocked? Directory Jannah Bailey must not read the papers. A pastor is just as likely to abuse a child as anyone else. I’m guessing children in Alabama are not as safe as they could be.

Friday, March 25, 2011

This is cool


Photo - lone boy walking

Lone boy waiting

It’s hard to keep a hobby going when you leave your house at 6:00 and don’t return to 9:00 pm. Sandwiched in-between is a whole lot of work. The only shooting I can do is from the cab of my truck. I hope the police don’t mind.

I shot this off the 5 freeway near Commerce.

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Notes from the culture war

Two dumfounding news times from the culture war caught my attention this week. In Alaska, Gov. Sean Parnell nominated Don Haase to a panel that selects state judges. Haase holds, among other fundie beliefs, that sex outside of marriage should be a crime. And in South Dakota, a law was passed that will force women seeking an abortion to undergo a 72 hour cooling off period after submitting to pro-life counseling.

The Alaskan case is clearly a governor working under what he sees as a mandate. Despite what the propaganda machine told us during the elections, the Tea Party is all about a moral agenda. This blatant attempt to influence judicial nominations is just one of many such acts by Republicans in states across our country. The bar is lower in Alaska. We all know why.

South Dakota represents an older force in the long culture war; old guard republicans. The guys are entrenched and will never give up the reins of power. Rep. Roger Hunt has been at his anti-abortion game for over a decade. He’ll fight his holy war until he dies.

Are we losing the culture war? No, but we’ve lost a big battle. Letting the Tea Party get a foot in the door was a big mistake. Given how the Democrats operate, I don’t think we have much hope in the short term. They have no real strategy. They have no long term vision,  and more importantly, they squandered their mandate. We need a strategy that does not rely on the Democratic Party if we are to push back god’s misguided army of culture warriors.

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m down on Democrats. There are lots of reasons. their leadership is a mess. Obama has lost his way. Unions are under attack. Democrats are in survival mode. But the thing that bugs me the most is that I do not like their politics. I’m socially liberal and fiscally conservative. I’d say I’m a libertarian but that would align me much too closely to a bunch of fringe purists who waste their time arguing the finer points of whatever untenable position is the favor of the month. Libertarians will not fight the culture war. They don’t know it exists. I’m not sure I would want them to lead the fight anyway. They have trouble winning in unopposed races.

The Democrats seem lost. My outrage grows with each new act of Tea Party lunacy. I’m looking for ideas here. Can a secular coalition lead the fight?

iPhone photo - A bridge

Wet Bridge

Every photo has a story. I shot this phot with my iPhone using Hipstamatic. By the time I shot this, I was 1 hour into a 2.5 hour commute and frustrated. Morning rain had snarled traffic and my GPS was sending me on a tour of LA in a futile effort to same time. I left my good camera at home because of the ran, so I was stuck shooting with my cell phone. I like the result, but I regret not having my good camera with me as dozens of opportunities for good photos came my way. I only captured a few.

This is he 110 freeway approaching downtown Los Angeles. I sat here for 5 minutes.

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

The law ignores your religious motivation

I love these words, “…there is no right in the Bible to commit child abuse.” They make me proud to be an American. I love the fact that what a person clams is the will of god must stand up to scrutiny under the law. Take child abuse. Religious nutballs may claim a right to beat their kids, but it must pass the reasonable person test too. Should someone be able to claim god said it was ok to beat a 2-year-old child with a rod when society views this behavior as a crime? No!  Members of the Black Earth church are learning this lesson the hard way.

Six more members of a Black Earth church are expected to face child abuse charges in what experts say is a rare -- and legally indefensible -- case of claiming the Bible dictates using a rod to punish children as young as 2 months.

"I think these are deviant people, not deviant beliefs," said law professor Michael Broyde, who is academic director of the Law and Religion Program and a project director at the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University in Atlanta.

What kind of god commands beating a infant with a rod? What kind of idiot listens?

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Monday, March 21, 2011

Youth pastor Robert Stoner arrested

RobertStonerA 15-year-old girl was found walking home from the house of her youth pastor where she alleges Robert Stoner raped her while his children slept in the next room. Stoner admitted to the crime.

Stoner was brought to police headquarters, where he acknowledged having intercourse several times in his home "in the living room on the couch while his son was asleep," police said in court records.

Investigators spoke with the victim, who said she and Stoner had had sex about six times between Feb. 1 and Friday.

I don’t get it. What drives a man to rape a child? What drives a pastor to rape a child? And what kind of idiot mother allows her daughter to go to the home of a youth pastor unsupervised? By now the whole world should know that allowing a pastor unsupervised access to a child is a bad idea.

Stoner is the youth pastor at Miracle Temple Holy Church. I’m betting it’s a nondenominational church with few internal controls.

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Pastor Joe Nelms arrested

JoeNelms15 years ago then youth pastor Joe Nelms allegedly molested a girl when she was 14-years-old. The past finally caught up with Nelms. Now he will have to answer for his crime.

The victim, who is now in her 30s, went to authorities March 4 after working up the courage, Armomino said. The woman said she reached out to a former youth counselor who advised her to make a police report.

The woman says Nelms molested her in a church office, while driving around San Clemente and in his home in San Clemente, Armomino said.

Nelms was was a Baptist pastor, but was forced to resign when the allegations came to light.

The original abuse took place at Pacific Coast Church in San Clemente.

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Sunday, March 20, 2011

5 steps to address clergy sexual abuse

Via Pharyngula this morning. Wise words on how the Catholic Church can address clergy sexual abuse. I don’t think they will listen.

Excerpted from:

The Catholic Church still doesn't get it
By Adrian Liston

1) Admit that child rape is a wide-spread crime being perpetrated within the Catholic Church by a substantial proportion of Priests, reaching across continents and as far back as records exists.

2) Admit that this child rape has nothing to do with homosexuality or secularism or any such, and is instead a problem disproportionately within Catholicism.

3) Admit that the Church knew for a long time that this was a problem but chose to cover it up, and that Church doctrine is still preventing cases being reported directly to the secular authorities.

4) Admit that the Church has spent, and still spends, far more time devoted to petty concerns such as preventing contraception than it has to preventing child rape by its own members.

5) Fix the damn problem. Sell a few pieces of art and pay restitution to the victims. Make it official Church policy to report every incident to the police. Investigate Priests with the zeal shown during the Spanish Inquisition. Shut up about other people's "sins" until the Church is clean. Change those aspects of doctrine or theology that drive child rape. Show some humility.

I’d be happy if they moved on any one of these items. Any movement towards fixing the mess is a good thing.

A former pastor and oral sex

I read something like this EVERY WEEK! A newly minted former pastor stands accused of sexual activity with a minor. Pastor Anthony Dale Newton was arrested for aggravated statutory rape and sexual battery – over a New Years Eve blowjob.

Newton was released from jail after paying a $20,000 bond, Decatur County Circuit Court Clerk Danny Tanner said. He is accused of having a 16-year-old girl perform oral sex on him during a church lock-in on New Years Eve, according to an affidavit.

Newton was a pastor at the H2O Church in Lexington. The church addressed the issue of his abuse on their website.

"As a church we are shocked and heart broken that this has happened. Our hearts go out to the people who have been affected by these horrible choices. We are currently working with the police and the FBI to help them with their investigation. That is all we know."

--Our deepest blessing, prayers, and help for all our church attenders.
Barry Worcester, Lead Pastor

It’s rare that at church does this. I think it’s a step in the right direction.

In looking at the actual abuse, I see a pattern that I’ve come to recognize. A pastor with inadequate supervision hosts a teen sleep over. It’s a perfect storm for sexual abuse. Yet it happens over and over. The events may be important in the development of church and its followers, but without planning, they offer opportunities that are hard to resist for men with a proclivity for abuse. This abuse could have been prevented. I’ll explore ways to do this in a future post.

Omaha priest dismissed after allegations

“We have a zero-tolerance policy,” said Deacon Tim McNeil. Somehow I doubt it. What they really mean is that they have zero tolerance policy once a new case surfaces. Father Perry Robinson was dismissed in 1988 for taking lewd pictures of boys. Once new allegations surfaced, he was removed from his post as associate pastor of St. Gerald Parish. What happened between 1988 and 2011? SNAP wants to know. So do I.

The advocacy group Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, which released the Omaha documents, delivered a letter to the Jesuits calling on them to turn over all records involving Robinson to civil authorities and publicly identify their offender priests.

Gillespie said the order takes all allegations seriously but has a policy of not naming abusive or accused Jesuits.

SNAP officials say the case illustrates the problem with offenders in religious orders, whose names - unlike diocesan priests in Milwaukee - have not been made public by their superiors.

Enough – name the priests.

Pastor kept child slaves

Across the pond in the U.K., Lucy Adeniji was sentenced to 11.5 years in prison after being convicted on 17 count related to child slavery. She imported children from Africa to act as her domestic servants. Did I mention she is a pastor?

In a case that has been likened to modern-day slavery, Adeniji smuggled the three victims into Britain on false passports, and used them as servants at her home in Ray Gardens, Barking.

An illegal immigrant herself, Adeniji, 44 - originally from Nigeria - had told the victims' parents they would have a better life in the UK, but instead viciously beat them if they failed to please her.

Where does Jesus come down on slavery anyway?

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Priest + massage oil + teen = trouble

There is no end to the hypocrisy. A Greek Catholic Priest named Phillip Ferrara is accused of forcing a boy to touch him sexual, via a massage with oil. <shudder>

The investigation says he forced a boy to massage him with oil several times since last year.

"The victim notified his mother, who in turn contacted State Police and the investigation was initiated in February," said Trooper Bill Satkowski, Pennsylvania State Police.

I don’t make this stuff up. This is a Catholic priest who should no better. when will see the end of this madness?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Photo - Eye like it

Eye like it

I got lost in LA a few days ago. Driving while listening to a conference call, it’s a bad habit. I saw this downtown near MOCA. We need more public art.

Now accepting guest posts

I’ve decided to open my blog up to guest posts from theist and non-theist alike. The decision came in part because of the overwhelmingly negative nature of my posts on religious hypocrites. I keep getting emails from people pleading with me to tell a few good stories. I’m good at finding the bad stories. I’m not so good at finding the good stories. I’m willing to accept some help.

If you are interested in contributing a guest post here at Deep Thoughts, you can read more here.

Atheism, Blogging

Veena Malik has my respect

Hypocrites exist in every religion. Here we see another example of a Mullah calling out a celebrity for immoral behavior. In the end he looks like a fool. Free speech is a gift. Veena Malik is a strong woman who speaks the truth. I’ll be surprised it Pakistan’s religious nutballs don’t kill her.

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Pastor Lonnie McCowan pleads guilty

LonnieMcCowanI've been saving this this post like dessert after a seven course meal. The various pedophile pastors I’ve posted on over the last week have nothing on this case. Pastor Lonnie McCowan did not commit some horrible sexual crime. He simply stole a house from an old man. The difference is that in most cases I write about, the church eventually rejects the pastor and distances themselves from the crimes. In this case, McCowan and his followers embrace the pastor as if he were being persecuted. His followers do not care about the evidence that he committed a crime. They don’t care that there is a real victim who was damaged by McCowan’s actions. No, they stand by their pastor in clear violation of 1st Timothy 3.

3:1 The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. 2 Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, 5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.

Why do they do this? The followers I talked to cried persecution and compared McCowan to Jesus Christ. Christians say they follow the bible, but when confronted with clear instructions on what a pastor should be, they turn a blind eye when their pet pastor commits a crime and follow him anyway. It blows my mind.

McCowan served his time in a work release program so he can continue to lead his church.

If approved by the county’s probation agency, McCowan will enter a work furlough program during his incarceration. He would be released from a locked facility near the Camarillo Airport during work hours and continue to serve his congregation in Ventura.

McCowan gets to repay his victim by working in the same job he was doing when he committed the crime. Does this seem right? I don’t think so. Do you?

McCowan and his church preach prosperity theology. He even bragged about his wealth and lifestyle.

In court records from the pending criminal case, McCowan told a district attorney investigator that he earned about $40,000 a month, $35,200 from investments and speaking events and less than $5,000 from Solid Rock. By comparison, the median annual salary for clergy members working in Oxnard, Thousand Oaks and Ventura was $61,860 last year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The McCowans own three homes in Ventura County. They live in a Camarillo home valued at $1,020,000, plus they have title to Gilmond’s house in Ventura, valued at $277,000, and another house on Santa Cruz Way in Camarillo, valued at $674,811, according to the Ventura County Clerk and Recorder.

Read more: Some revere the Rev. Lonnie McCowan as a man of God; others criticize him for amassing wealth

According to the same article, the median income for a pastor in Ventura was $61,860. Mixing money and Christianity is a scam. Letting this huckster out of prison to work at his church is insane. Allowing him 13 years to pay back the value of the property he stole is unwise. Where do they think he will get the money from anyway? It will come from the brainwashed pockets of his followers.

I sat through a service at his church in 2009. It was no picnic. These people are crazy. McCowan is a convicted felon. Attend at your own risk. Check out the Solid Rock Christian Center for more info.

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Friday, March 18, 2011

A youth pastors fixation on sexual purity

Brent Girouex was a youth pastor at Victory Fellowship Church in Council Bluffs, Iowa. He’s accused of molesting several young boys over yhe span of a couple of years. He’s been charged with 60 counts of suspicion of sexual exploitation by a counselor or therapist. Girouex was fixated on his boy’s “sexual purity.”
Girouex allegedly said as a youth pastor he felt it was his duty “to help (the teen) with homosexual urges by praying while he had sexual contact with him.”
It gets better.
“When they would ejaculate, they would be getting rid of the evil thoughts in their mind,” he allegedly told detectives.
Nobody at Victory Fellowship Church had a clue what was going on. At least they did a background check. The church gets a pass. But they step up with a statement:
Statement Concerning Abuse Case
Most of you are probably aware of the sad news concerning Brent Girouex who had been a trusted volunteer, Youth Pastor, and Elder at Victory Fellowship Church for over six years. This is a very difficult situation, and we are doing our best to do the right thing for each person involved.
Once the allegations were made known to us, it was with a heavy heart for the victims that we immediately demanded that Brent turn himself into the proper authorities.
To our knowledge, none of the crimes that were committed occurred at Victory Fellowship or during any church-related events. Regardless, our hearts still go out to the victims and to Brent’s family. We have secured and are providing a licensed counselor for these victims and have encouraged them all to undergo any necessary counseling.
Thank you to everyone who has expressed their kindness and prayers for the victims as well as your generosity toward the family. We will continue to pray for the healing and restoration of each victim.
We are cooperating fully with the police in this case and recommend that any person having any information about this case should contact the Council Bluffs Police Department.
Thank you for your sensitivity and prayer for the victims.
They are not talking about me in paragraph one. I assume they mean this article. It’s hard not to sensationalize 60 counts against 8 boys. That puts Girouex among the worst of the worst pedopastors if convicted. I think some sensationalism is justified.

I have a problem with the statement. The church says:
Once the allegations were made known to us, it was with a heavy heart for the victims that we immediately demanded that Brent turn himself into the proper authorities.
Although the result was an arrest, the correct way to handle this would have been to call the police and turn him in. The church gave Girouex a chance to flee, or worse, hurt a witness. They should not have taken the risk.

Update 11/26/11 - Girouex was convicted of one count of third degree sexual abuse. He entered a Alford plea on two counts of sexual exploitation by a counselor or therapist. 

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Introducing Divided Under God

Please join me in welcoming one of the newest members of the Atheist Blogroll, Divided Under God.

In early January 2011, I was inspired by a conversation I had with someone on a Facebook page and decided to start this site.  The conversation began when an acquaintance posted something about the Pledge of Allegiance, and her view that it should be recited in schools with the words 'under God' included.  Being a secular humanist, with strong feelings about the separation of church and state, I decided to reply.  After my reply, another person got involved and moved the conversation toward another topic that is near and dear to me: evolution.  She claimed that evolution is not real, and that everything was 'created'.  Well, I didn't get too much into that rebuttal, since I realized now that I was dealing with someone either grossly misinformed, or just drowning in her own lunacy.

But it made me think.  If she feels this way so strongly, there must be a reason, and I want to understand it.  So again, here we are.  This site was created for everyone... To share their views on current affairs, politics, the world in it's present state, and the opinions we form as a result.  This is a place where we can learn from each other, about each other, and along side each other.

I don't claim to be an expert in anything, just a fairly intelligent American who values my freedom and wants to exercise it.  I'm open to your ideas and expect you to be open to mine.  This is not a place to bash each other, spout hate speech, or present closed-minded views.  This is a space for all of us to ask questions, comment on our lives, and most of all, become better people in the process.

Feel free to send thoughtful topics or questions to: and I'll publish your ideas for discussion.

Also, follow me on Twitter at @DividedUnderGod.

Are you interested in becoming a member? Visit the Atheist Blogroll resource blog for more information.

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Another pastor, another 14-year-old girl

It’s an epidemic of creepiness. Youth pastor Sean Feltman pleaded not guilty to charges he attempted to lure a teen into a sexual relationship. Technically, Feltman was the director of youth at Willamette Community Church. It’s not clear if his duties included pastoring, we know he was allegedly pestering at least one young girl

Police say they began to investigate Feltman on Jan. 9, when the parents of a 14-year-old girl who attends the church youth group reported their daughter received sexually explicit text messages and online messages from the man.

I’ve asked this questions a few times now. What is it about pastors and 14-year-old girls. I’ll have to check the statistics to see if 14-year-old girls are more likely to be victims of this type of sexual abuse than say a 17-year-old. What do you think?

Youth pastor Dwight Bullock gets mistrial

Mistrial = a trial that is invalid or inconclusive. Yet almost every time I post on mistrials, a friend of the accused will tout it as a victory. It’s neither a victor or a defeat. It’s a do over. Youth Pastor Dwight Bullock gets a do over on charges he molested two boys.
After deliberating about seven hours the jury came to a conclusion that they would not be able to make a decision and Judge Gary Gatlin declared the four-day long trial a mistrial.
Dwight Bullock is accused of having forced inappropriate relations with two brothers, 11 and 13 at the time of the allegations in 2010. The boys testified about the acts Bullock forced them to partake in, including those with one another.
I’m bone tired. I’ve worked a 12 hour day, plus 3.5 hours of driving. Yet I made a promise to myself to not let a story like this go. Why? On the off chance that it may shed some light on the evil that these evil pastor do in the name of god or some imagined religious moral code. Somebody needs to do it. It might as well be me.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I get comments

Today is 3:16. For some reason a few Christians think today is special because of John 3:16. If you type John 3:16 day into Google, Deep Thoughts ranks on the main page with this post - Photo a day - John 3:16. It’s a photo of John 3:16 scratched into the dust on the back of a truck. I don’t know what John 3:16 day is, nor do I care. But the protest emails rolled in anyway, and so did this comment (I left the misspelling intact).

Just a thought of my own…

My question to you is why does it bother you so much? Why must you attack someone you don't even know? You claim to be open minded but only as long as those around you feel exactly the way you do. It's not enough that most people you know are Christians because the verse says God so loved the world (not most of the world) and until everyone has been told about the gift God has given us in Jesus then Christians work can never be done. God loves you even if you don't belive in Him. God doesn't need you to belive to exist. He has always extisted and will always exist. God has the power to make all of us belive in Him but He gave us a choice. If you truly belive that God and Jesus don't exist why would those words in that dust on the back of a truck bother you so much? Why even give it a second thought? Let all the "crazy" Christians belive what they want and go on with your life. But you can't do that can you? There's something about it that bothers you. You should ask yourself why? Could it be God's way of trying to speak to you?

I feel compelled to answer.

My question to you is why does it bother you so much?

For all of my adult life I have been an atheist. This works out to a little over 31 years. For fully 20 of those years admitting publically any link to atheist resulted in social and economic consequences. I lost every Christian friend I had when I lost my faith. None survived even a year into my life as an atheist. Every single day of my life as an atheist I’ve had to run the Christian propaganda gauntlet. It bothers me because the messages are overwhelming. It bothers me because I am alone with my atheism and the constant pressure to believe something else wears me out. It bothers me because you assume I need the message. It bothers me because it ruins by daily buzz.  I’m high on life and this incessant drive to spread the Christian message is all around me. It’s almost like Christians think that nobody has heard the good news. We’ve heard it. I reject it. Stop bothering me.

But it gets worse when you look deeper. I’m one of a small minority in this country. My voice is small. If I dare raise it in the form of a message supporting my beliefs, like a bus ad, billboard or bumper sticker, the community rises up to oppose every word. If I put a Darwin sticker on my car Christians will pester me with pamphlets, and on occasion break a window. My words are lost in the overwhelming noise of Christianity. Why does it bother me so much? Because I have no outlet that is not opposed by Christians. Not only must I run your gauntlet. I cannot complain about it without getting 107 emails (just today), all of which tell me that Jesus loves me but that I’m going to burn it hell. Why does it bother me? I’m tired of this oppressive message. I don’t want to see it anymore.

Scratching John 3:16 on a dirty truck does not make you edgy or relevant. This is not a viral campaign to get the message out. This is simply more of the same crap. I see it everywhere I go. I drove 45 miles across LA this evening. I passed 11 religious billboards and noticed 9 cars with religious stickers. There were no atheist messages. Why does it bother me? I don’t have a choice but to see your message. You might as well be selling doughnuts. Our John 3:16’s are tastier than the catholic variety, we use lard. Pass the doughnuts please.

Your other questions are bullshit.

Why must you attack someone you don't even know? Hello – I attacked a straw man. Who is this someone I allegedly attacked? They don’t exist. My rant what hypothetical.

You claim to be open minded but only as long as those around you feel exactly the way you do. What? Come again? I am open minded. I can care less what “those around me feel”. My blog has an open comment police. I suffer idiots, which is why you were able to post. And I read all comments. I simply do not agreed with a single word you wrote. Not agreeing in not being close minded. It’s not agreeing.

I skipped the middle preachy part. I don’t need to see another John 3:16 message.

If you truly belive that God and Jesus don't exist why would those words in that dust on the back of a truck bother you so much? Why even give it a second thought? – I’m pretty sure I addressed this above. If you are still unclear, read it again and this time pay attention.

Let all the "crazy" Christians belive what they want and go on with your life. But you can't do that can you? – Here are facts, Christians go about their life while inflicting their beliefs on others, and they don’t’ know I exist. I have influence over what Christians do with their lives. I can only control my own life. That’s it. Nothing more. Believe whatever you like, but stop preaching it at me. I don’t try to convert you. Stop trying to convert me. It’s rude.

There's something about it that bothers you. You should ask yourself why? Could it be God's way of trying to speak to you? – No. There is no god, no Jesus, or any other deity. It’s all bullshit. You are speaking to me. So are the millions of other Christians in this country. And you won’t shut up.

Let me tell you a story from just last week. I sat alone in a Denny’s eating breakfast while on a business trip. While I waited for my for my order, a woman took an interest in me. She tried hard to make eye contact. I avoided her. I was already working and was busy preparing for a meeting. My steak and eggs came, and with it came an un-invited guest. She reach across the table as I picked up my fork and put her hand on mine. She said, “Let’s pray.” things went down hill quickly. The only reason I did not call the cops is that the manager threw her out of the restaurant. I’m guessing the $400 dollars I’d paid on previous days for team meals had something to do with his disposition.

This vicious and condescending woman was practicing what you preach. She was spreading the Good News. News I did not want to hear. 93 percent of Americans claim to belong to a religious denomination. How much good news can you possibly spread? The other 7% of us have already heard the damn message. Move on.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Pastor Angel Morales sentenced

Pastor Angel Morales raped a 14-year-old girl. He’s been sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Judge Richard T. Tucker sentenced Mr. Morales today to 10 to 12 years in prison with 5 years of probation to begin upon his release. As conditions of probation, Mr. Morales, who was also once a police officer in Puerto Rico, was ordered to register as a sex offender, to undergo sex offender counseling, to have no contact with the victim or her family and to submit to GPS monitoring.

The victim was a parishioner. Morales raped the girl three times. He admitted to two rapes. What is it about 14-year-old girls and pastors?

Morales was the pastor at Casa de Restauracion in Leominster, Ma. It is a Pentecostal church.

Pastor Ricardo Maffey convicted

The jury’s in and Pastor Ricardo Avalos Maffey finds himself the newest member of the pedophile pastor club. Maffey molested a 14-year-girl.

RicardoMaffeyMaffey met the 14-year-old through the church and began "grooming the victim by spending time alone with her while the victim was volunteering in the church office," the release states.

From May to August, 2008, the defendant violated his position of trust by engaging in illegal sexual contact with the girl, the release states.

"On multiple occasions, Maffey kissed Jane Doe on the mouth while the two were alone after prayer service or in the church office," the release states. "The defendant also inappropriately touched the victim’s leg and buttocks."

It sounds like this pastor acted more like a creepy uncle than a man of god. How does a pastor speak for god and then go on to molest a young girl? The act does not reconcile.

The crime occurred in Santa Clemente, California at the Apostolic Christian Church. Maffey was the pastor.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Lutheran sex coach to plead guilty

WilliamBendertWhat kind of an idiot thinks he can use the internet to find a mother of an adolescent girl who needs a fat old man as a sex coach. Did Lutheran pastor William Bendert really think an 11-year-old girl needed his sexual training? This pastor is sick, but at least he has the good sense to plead guilty. A jury would deliberate just long enough to fill in the forms “guilty”, pastor or not.

Bendert actually showed up at the sting with condoms and his tools.

Federal agents seized two condoms and sex toys from the trunk of his car, including handcuffs and a rope, and sex-related books, including the Kama Sutra, from his church, court records show. After his arrest, records show, Bendert admitted to being Billthebear; to paying for the hotel room and that “what he was doing was wrong.”

He knew what he was doing was wrong, but he did it anyway. This man was a pastor. Of course he knew the difference between right and wrong. Being a pastor offered him no moral protection. He did what any other pedophile who do. He attempt to molested a child.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

For Catholics, 35 years is too long to wait

Msgr. Michael Flood was accused of molesting a boy in 1976. Nothing happened at the time. The victim was ignored and a alleged pedophile was freed to feed from his young flock of faithful children. The Catholic church finally took some action in the case. Of course, it was too little too late and they were forced to do so.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia took its first definitive action to address those allegations Tuesday.

Flood, 71, was among 21 priests suspended this week amid allegations of sexual abuse or other improper behavior with minors. He had been serving as pastor of St. Luke the Evangelist Church in Glenside.

They knew he was a pedophile and they let him work with children for over 30 years. Who does that?

The only way out of this mess is full disclosure. Every priest accused of a sexual transgression should be listed on a national (or global) register. All Catholics should be able to determine if their children are safe at church. Anything less is unacceptable. Transparency and dialog can start the healing process. People have been hurt for too long. Do something Pope. Lead your church out of this mess.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Pastor Jimmy Ates reconvicted

A jury found Pastor Jimmy Ates guilty of the murder of his wife for a second time after his case was overturned. Yay for justice! There is not much of a story here. Ates killed his wife in 1991. He shot her and then burned his house down to cover up his crime. I’m sure they factored his his character when the sentenced him to life in prison.

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I think I found a thief

The non-believer blog In God We Lust is stealing my content. He’s taking entire articles and reposting them on his blog without credit. If he’s doing it to me, I’m sure he’s doing it to others. Thief! Liar! Scumbag.

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Life is a gamble. Right pastor Jason Phillips?

We all know this. You can die in a horrible bus accident, or your can die in prison after serving a long sentence for a crime you did not commit. We sometimes get a chance to choose our fate, some choose wisely, while others do not. You roll the dice, you takes your chances.
JasonPhillipsA Canton youth pastor will go to trial rather than accept a plea agreement on a charge alleging he sexually assaulted an underage girl last spring, his attorney said Friday. 
That means Jason Phillips faces a prison term of as long as 15 years if he is found guilty of criminal sexual assault in the trial set for April 18.
Phillips, 36, had been expected to enter a guilty plea Friday in an agreement that his attorney, Kevin Sullivan of Peoria, had negotiated with Fulton County prosecutors. He was prepared to do so in December, but the agreement that included a sentence was rejected by a judge, who then was required by law to recuse himself.
Here we have a pastor who tried to reach a plea agreement but fell short, most likely do to inadequate sentence. Apparently the judge wanted him to serve some real time. What I don’t understand is why he tried a plea agreement at all. Back in June of 2010 he was cock sure that the allegations were false, .
"I'm very saddened by the false accusations," said Phillips, 36, who faces one felony count of criminal sexual assault in Fulton County Court. "These are false charges."
His pastor was sure too.
The Rev. Kevin Van Tine, the church's founder and senior pastor, also spoke Thursday about the incident.
"We're saddened by the recent development," Van Tine said. "We believe these to be false accusations."
His church, the Community Fellowship Church in Canton still believes in Pastor Jason Phillips. He’s still listed on their website.
Pastor Jason Phillips was born and raised in Canton and is a 1993 Canton High School graduate. After a radical transformation by the power of Jesus Christ, Pastor Jason felt the call into the ministry and continued his education at Christian Life School of Theology. In 1996, he began working part-time at CCFC. After witnessing his dedication, commitment and ability to minister effectively, the Board of Elders, along with Senior Pastor Kevin Van Tine, asked him to join the staff in full-time ministry in 1997. Ordained in 1998, Pastor Jason serves as associate pastor.
Pastor Jason and his wife Ashley have been married 10 years and have two children: Camri, 4; and Micah, 2. Ashley presently is attending Methodist School of Nursing, working toward earning her bachelor of nursing degree.
And pastor Jason is blogging his sad story too. He’s cast himself as the victim, as a Christian who is being persecuted by the forces of Hell (that would be the DA btw).
As most of you know, I'm in a battle for my life.  Jesus didn't promise us a "rose garden" tour of life, but said that we would be persecuted from every side as we follow Him. As we face trials and tribulations or even a challenge, we tend to ask ourselves, "What am I going to do?"
But what of the victim? What of her family? Somebody lost the political battle. I’m betting it was a 15-year-old girl

Good luck when you roll the dice Pastor Jason – you will need it.Ask for the top bunk in prison.

Update 4/25/2011: Jason Phillips was convicted.

Awake! damn you


At times, religion intrudes on my life in ways that are downright annoying. I’ve been on the road most of the week working on a project. My typical day was 8:00 am until midnight. I was so busy I did not even know about the earthquake in Japan. Yet religion found a way to intrude on my life each and every day.

I don’t mix religion and work, it’s unprofessional. Yet Wednesday was Ash Wednesday and I had to stay silent and tolerant around a bunch of enthusiastic Catholics. It was no big deal. These people were authentic believers for whom Ash Wednesday was an important social and cultural event. I’m completely ok with that and felt no need to discuss religion with people who were celebrating their faith publically. Unfortunately, my week got much much worse.

I stayed at a hotel in Burbank. They were hosting a religious convention. Pastors from all over the country were in every nook and cranny in the hotel’s common spaces. A drink at the bar on my first night attract 4 different people who wanted to share Jesus with me. But wait, it gets worse. My room was in a horrible location. My door was directly across from the elevators. You could step out of elevator three and step into my room. On my first night, a groups of pastors discussed how to bring the love of Jesus to Atheists outside of my door. They talked loud enough to wake me up at 1:00 am.. It was like some horrible nightmare. The next morning I stepped from my room into the elevators and found myself surrounded by bible toting believers. A young one asked me if I knew Jesus. My replay was at least partly driven by my lack of sleep, “I heard your drunken strategy for bringing Jebus to heathen atheists last night through by room door. I don’t need to hear the sober version this morning.”

The older pastors tried to “engage” me in a “dialog” so they could “reconcile” our “conflict”. I use quotes because they over emphasized each friggen word as they tried to get me to stay and “talk it out.”

The best part came last night. I was drinking a few beers with my coworkers in the bar when I overheard four young hipster pastors discussing hypocrisy. They mentioned how they felt it was their duty to help other pastors stay right with god. One of them said something like, “We don’t want our friends ending up as a spectacle on Deep Thoughts.” another mentioned how much the atheist author (that would be me) hates god, and a third said he wishes that the site could be shut down as it hurts their ministry and reflects poorly on the church. I could not help myself, I got up and stepped over to their table and said, “If you don’t want to appear on my blog, I suggest you don’t molest children.” They next five minutes of conversation were priceless. They were all drunk and full of love, but not for me. It was hilarious. I am apparently a monster for highlighting Christian hypocrisy.  So, whatever.

My week ended when I returned home this morning. I went to breakfast with my wife at a local eatery. Outside I was handed a Watch Tower by an old lady, which I accepted gracefully. Inside I was subjected to the wisdom of an idiot who thought the earthquake in Japan was part of god’s plan to redeem the earth and that atheists had better get with it or they well be left behind to die in the nuclear wasteland. It’s like I’m being followed by sheeple.

More stories to come…

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Monday, March 07, 2011

Flushing a long religious career down the toilet

I can almost here the sound of a toilet flushing when reading this sad story of Christian debauchery. A life long pastor, Donald Hoornstra, who retired after long years of service at Messiah Lutheran Church, was convicted of possession of child pornography a few months ago. They had to tell his old church, right?

Local church officials on Thursday acknowledged knowing at least a couple of months ago the 68-year-old former pastor was convicted for possession of child pornography in Bemidji, Minn., where he retired, but told the congregation this past weekend.

Telling the church would have been hard to do, especially given the time he served there. The church did the right thing, but slowly.

"The leadership of Messiah Lutheran Church, after much deliberation, has chosen to inform members of the congregation of these facts, rather than allow the congregation to be subjected to misinformation or gossip about this matter," a collective statement from the local church stated.

Smith said Thursday she consulted church leadership about how to tell the many generations Hoornstra pastored.

"It's unfortunate and sad," Smith said. She did not comment further.

Possession of child porn is a serious crime, it involves real victims. Young children are horribly exploited. To think that an old retired pastor was getting off to kiddy porn is unthinkable and ample proof that being a Christian does not give one a moral advantage. If a life long pastor cannot control himself, the whole concept of Christian morality is off the table. But that’s not the real issue here. Christians morality is about telling other people how to live. They point at us and shout immoral. They work to enact laws that infringe on our liberties because they think they know how we should live. Yet they rape, consume child porn, cheat and steal as if they never heard the words of their gods. It’s the ultimate in hypocrisy and it makes me sick. How dare you tell me how to live my life.

And – you should have put the old bastard in jail.

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Come out of he closet so we can fix you

Two Filipino Catholic Bishops are calling on lesbians, gays, and bisexuals to come out of the closet. On the surface, this sound nice.

“Honesty is very important,” said Aniceto, executive secretary of the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.

Aniceto said there are many reasons people are afraid to come out as lesbian, gay or bisexual, depending on the culture they were brought up in and the points of view of their family and friends.

That is, it sounds nice until you realize that they want gays to come out of the closet so they can be fixed.

Paciano Aniceto and Oscar Cruz said the church does not care about a person’s sexuality, only on same sex unions and sexual acts.

Please come out of the closet. Counselors are standing by… jeez.

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