Tuesday, May 31, 2011

HDR - Panda mural with trees

HDR Panda eating bamboo

An HDR photo of a mural in downtown San Jose. In many ways, this is the perfect subject for an HDR shot. Half the image is stable, the other half has enough detail so that only large movements are noticeable I the final shot. I used a handheld three-shot exposure using my Nikon D300’s bracketing feature. Post processing was in Photomatix Pro.

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What if a pastor were a serial rapist?

I write about a lot of evil manipulative degenerate pastors. I may have found a contender for the worst of the worst. Pastor Matthew Dwayne Jarrell killed himself in a West Virginia jail cell after an arrest for sexual assault. Police think Jarrell may have traveled the country leading a double life as a Baptist pastor and serial rapist, or perhaps even worse. Police found disturbing equipment in his van from an arrest in 2007.

In his vehicle they found two knives, a stun gun, leather gloves, video equipment and a machete.

Jarrell had a murder kit.The police think there are more victims.

"You have a four-year time span," said Detective Cpl. L.S. Deitz of the Kanawha County (W.Va.) Sheriff's Office. "Most people, when they commit crimes . . . most likely, there are additional incidences that they have not been caught for. . . . We're wondering exactly what he has done, if anything."

Four years of travel, a murder kit, and two arrests for sexual assault, it’s no wonder Jarrell killed himself. The jig was up.

Monday, May 30, 2011

HDR of a dumpster

HDR Dumpster

At times I enjoy the full on HDR effect for my photos. When shooting something ugly, I like to see what it would look like amped up. It’s almost beautiful.

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Is Latoya Kenny in a better place?

I visited the Oakland area over the three-day weekend. The Monday morning news carried a story about the murder of Latoya Kenny.

Oakland police are still trying to figure out exactly how an illegal sideshow turned into a violent shooting that killed two people and critically injured a third over the weekend.

Sunday, hundreds of people were gathered for a block party, but one day later, 88th Street and International Boulevard has become a place where family members of two people killed have come to grieve.

Store surveillance video shows Sunday night's sideshow in full force -- cars spinning in circles, doing donuts in the middle of the intersection. Hundreds of people gathered to watch.

 Read more: 2 dead, 1 critically injured in Oakland shooting
More here: Union City mother, San Leandro man killed in East Oakland

LatoyaKennyIn the report I saw, two women were interviewed. One bemoaned the untimely death of Latoya Kenny, who at 28, had a lot to live for. The other woman, an older lady, talked about how Latoya was in a better place and that Jesus had a plan for her. Really? The more woman number two spoke, the more I became incredulous. Was Latoya better off in heaven or at home with her kids? What about her children? Don't they need a mother? Was god’s plan to make two children orphans? What kind of god would make two children orphans? What kind of god would rejoice in the brutal shooting death of a young mother?

The local news channel has no business putting these two blubbering idiots on the TV. One repeats useless information and other other spins a fairytale. We know that the death of a 28-year-old mother is a tragedy, and we know that some busybody will try to interject a banal religious angle. Why put them on the news? They offered only bad color commentary and no facts.

Imagine if the reporter had done his job. As woman number two starts in with the whole story about Latoya being in a better place she is interrupted with a question. “Are you saying Latoya Kenny was a Christian?”

Woman number 2 nods her head, “Yes. I saw her in Church just this morning. She was wearing the most beautify purple hat.”

The reporter stiffens. "Are you saying that a Christian who attended church this morning attended a biker bar’s drunken block party Sunday evening? How does that square with the message of Christ? If Jesus were alive today, would he attend this party?” The reporter continues. “Was she witnessing here tonight, or participating in the debauchery? It’s important that we understand the context so that our viewers can understand what it takes to get into heaven.”

We will never see this kind of coverage. It’s a dream.

Latoya sinned by attending the party. Her murderer sinned too. To god, both sins are equal. How screwed up is that?

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More thoughts on the homeless in San Jose

A noticed a homeless man while on a photowalk in downtown San Jose. It was odd because no one else did. He moved around the crowd like a ghost. He shambled from among the trashcans with his eyes downcast but alert. His hands snaked out to pick a half-eaten morsel. He did it again and again. The move was practiced and fluid. He his hand moved down, grabbed the food, and then slid it into his pocket.  While I watched he snagged enough food for a meal. Nobody noticed.

He did not eat any of this take. Instead, he walked away towards Cesar Chavez Park. I watched him for ten minutes. As I was about to leave I noticed another shambling trash-can-picker. He was every bit good as the first ghost. He even snagged a coffee that was left unattended on a table. I watched him closely. He did not make eye contact. No one noticed him. When he finished, he walked across to Cesar Chavez Park and sat on the same bench as the first ghost. I wondered if this were a coincidence.

I took a position in the park to shoot the cosplayers who were in San Jose for a convention. I keep my eye on the second ghost while shooting candid shots. Nobody paid any attention to him except that people kept their distance. It was as if he did not exist and was unclean.

Fifteen minutes passed. I saw the second ghost get up and start shambling away. I looked towards the food court and was not surprised to see another homeless man finishing his run through the food court. The second ghost had watched the new guys back. The new guy sat on the same bench and waited. He watched the food court as if his life depended on it. Nobody paid him any attention.  He did not exist.

I have a theory. I think these homeless guys were a crew building up enough food for a group meal. They watch for security or for the cops. They watch the crowds. They watch as leftover food goes into the trash. I think it is watching and the picking that keeps them alive. I'm not sure how to help.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Simple generosity

I witnessed a good thing yesterday in San Jose. A Sikh man, a cap driver, got out of his cab and walked towards me with a dollar in his hand. I had stopped to take a photo of a cosplayer. He walked past me without making eye contact. Instead, he focused on the homeless man in the shadows of the Fairmont Hotel behind me. The Sikh handed the dollar to the homeless man without exchanging words and then walked back to his cab where I overheard him talking to another Sikh. They were discussing the San Francisco Giants.
I had noticed the homeless man earlier, but I had ignored him. He was one of many homeless people I had seen in my walk around the city. St. James Park near downtown was thick with all types of people sleeping, eating, and bathing. The homeless were everywhere.  
Despite walking the entire downtown area looking for photo opportunities, my generous spirit (or the generous spirit I like to think I have), never extend to helping people without first being asked. I’ll have to work on that.
Sikh’s are an interesting religion. I spent some time reading about them this morning. They value selfless service. I don’t know any Sikhs. I’ll have to make an effort to meet one. The largest Sikh temple in Southern California is located within a mile of my home. I wonder if they would welcome an Atheist visitor.

Friday, May 27, 2011

A moment of fundie oddness

A few minutes ago I topped my tank off at a gas station near my home. While standing by my truck, a woman pulls up on the other side of the pump. She motions for me and honks her horn. I could tell by her gestures that she wants me to open her door. I pull the door handle. A 60ish lady climbs out with a big smile and thanks me. Her car door is broken. I thought that was the end of it, but no.

She asks me if I read the bible. When I tell her no, she tries to hand one to me. When I decline, she acts as if  she is offended and   raises her voice so that other could hear. She tells me that it is her mission in life to hand out bibles to the unchurched. She tries to push the bible into  my chest. I decline again. She tosses it into my truck through an open door and turn to leave. I'm stunned. Why does this shit happen to me? I toss the bible into the trash and make to leave. She turns and comes storming back. What follows is embarrassing but predictable. She rants  about defacing her holy book and then she lifts a hand and starts to pray over me. Her prayer is evil. She asks god to punish me for my evil ways.

A side note - I never mentioned that I was an atheist. Plus, I'm pretty sure the car door thing was a scam.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Pope’s pedophilia advisor arrested

I was going to write that this story was unbelievable, but no, it’s believable. The Pope’s adviser on reforms related to pedophile priests, Cardinal Riccardo Seppia, has been arrested on pedophilia and drug related charges.

Father Riccardo Seppia, a 51-year-old parish priest in the village of Sastri Ponente, near Genoa, was arrested last Friday, May 13, on pedophilia and drug charges. Investigators say that in tapped mobile-phone conversations, Seppia asked a Moroccan drug dealer to arrange sexual encounters with young and vulnerable boys. "I do not want 16-year-old boys but younger. Fourteen-year-olds are O.K. Look for needy boys who have family issues," he allegedly said. Genoa Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco, who is the head of the Italian Bishops Conference, had been working with Benedict to establish a tough new worldwide policy, released this week, on how bishops should handle accusations of priestly sex abuse.

Read more: Priest Sex-Abuse Case Hits Church of Pope's Adviser

I’m speechless.

I needed a laugh this morning

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Trashcan birdie

IMG_0622I get so tired of writing about hypocrites. It’s time for a happy story. I have happy stories. They tend be boring, but at least they are happy.

Last Saturday, while playing disc golf with my best friend Al, he got his first ever trashcan birdie. He was throwing a 140 foot approach shot on the 14th hole at El Dorado when his disk landed inside the trashcan. I’ve never seen anything like it. We celebrated as if we had won the lottery. I even took a picture to celebrate as if he had hit an ace.

Now, you can see the hole in the background. Al missed by 30 feet. That did not matter though. I gave him credit for the birdie on the scorecard. And after that hole, we did not care about how well we played. We spend the rest of the game laughing.

In all the years I’ve played, I’ve never come close to the feat. I told Al that he deserves a special achievement badge for his disc golf bag. I’ll have to make one for him.

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Not a pastor, but still a monster

I am constantly reminded that there are many other people who commit crimes against children. Does my focus on pastors somehow change the public perception? I don’t think so. Still, I occasionally read a story that upsets me. Take attorney Aaron Biber. He is serving time in prison for raping a 15-year-old friend of his son. The abuse was so horrible that Biber was ordered to fund a $15 million trust to compensate the victim. Biber is a freak of the highest order.

According to court documents, Biber, a former partner at the firm Gray Plant Mooty who had served as treasurer of the Minnesota State Bar Association, "groomed" the boy for sex, starting when the boy, his neighbor, was 11.

He was accused of sending the boy explicit text messages and pornography, giving him back rubs and asking him to perform sexual acts. On the night of the teen's freshman homecoming, Biber got him drunk and had sex with him for more than two hours, court records said.

The boy threatened to kill himself and was hospitalized before telling a psychiatrist, his parents and police what happened. Biber was arrested in December 2009 after police recorded a telephone call between the boy and Biber in which they arranged to meet for oral sex.

I can’t do it. I can’t write about every case. My mind would cease to function. As it is, I must take breaks from the endless poison I read. I focus on pastors for a reason. It’s best that I don’t’ forget that.

On another note, the daughter of a pastor contacted me. She thanked me for my blog. Her father had been convicted of a sex-related crime late last year. She was happy to be able to vent on my blog without fear of it getting back to her church. I’m still not sure which comments are hers.

Hat tip to James.

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Pastor Chris Settlemoir sentenced

And so end the saga of Baptist pastor Chris Settlemoir. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison for molesting a 15-year-old boy. Although he may only serve seven years. It’s a shame too. Settlemoir deserves to spend a lot more time in prison than he is expected to serve.

There are over one thousand comments on my original post on this case. If you want to look into the screwed up inner workings of a small Baptist church, spend an hour reading the comments.

An interesting side note to this case. Many members of the Antioch Baptist Church stood behind their pastor until the very end when Chris agreed to a plea deal. They promptly hired a new pastor - one with an allegation of misconduct hanging over his past. Will Baptists ever learn.

Pastor Jeremy Caraway arrested

Jeremy CarawayPastor Jeremy Dewayne Caraway claims he was helping a young girl to pray around the alter at church. He says that he did nothing wrong, but police arrested him anyway.
…Kentucky State Police says investigators have uncovered suggestive Facebook messages that point to a sexual relationship.
Busted by Facebook – what kind of an idiot leaves a trail in Facebook?

Caraway is charged with rape, sexual abuse, sodomy and unlawful transaction with a minor. His alleged victim is under the age of 14.

Caraway is 36 and pastor of the Loyall Church of God. There is no word from his church. Although they have a YouTube video up in an attempt to entice visitors. The music id horrible, as is the video. There is no word as to if the condone child molestation or teach it as part of their doctrine.

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Youth pastor Adam Carter arrested

Adam is a proud man. if you need proof, just look at arrest photo.
Adam Carter
Adam Dewayne Carter is a youth pastor at the Temple of Knowledge Church in Mansfield, LA. He is alleged to have sent sexually explicit text messages to several young men.
It’s still hard for me to believe that sexting is a crime. It’s even harder for me to believe that a youth pastor would engage in this level of stupidity. His brother turned him in.
Richard, who identified Carter as his brother, said he learned on May 4 that text messages were being communicated inappropriately with male teenagers and immediately reported it to police. “We had no prior knowledge of any misconduct by Mr. Carter,” Richard states.
I see a plea dealing coming soon.
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Pastor Matthew Jarrell commits suicide

MatthewJarrellPastor Matthew Jarrell was in jail facing charges that he committed a sexual assault when he killed himself. His death came as a shock to his church, as did the charges of sexual misconduct.

"I've been here for five years and I've never seen anybody -- never seen a woman in his office without his wife there," Parcel said.

Some people cannot handle the shame of being confronted with their own failures. I’m sure this Baptist pastor did not think he had any other way out of the mess he was in.

Jarrell was the pastor at Open Door Baptist Church in Mesquite, Texas. The website reads:

Thank you for visiting and we covet your prayers during this difficult time.

We will update this site as more information is available. However, during this time, we will continue to serve the Lord as we have for the past 46 years.

Hope to see you Sunday,
The Entire Church Membership

Somehow I don’t the the “Entire Church Membership” wrote that note.

Jarrell hanged himself with a bed sheet. Why do people kill them self? I’d fight for every last breath. Even if I were in prison.

How does it work for a Baptist? If he kills himself in a state of sin can he enter heaven?

Jarrell was charged with sexual assault in 2007. This time the charges were based on actions that were un-pastor like.

The woman asked for a ride home, and Jarrell offered his truck. Jarrell stopped in a secluded area off Martins Branch Road and forced the woman to perform sexual acts, police said. The woman later escaped and called police, who arrested Jarrell Thursday morning.

Here is the thing – the church should have known about his arrest. Why was it that they did not know? Ignorance like this leads to young women being raped by wayward pastors.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Pastor Hezekiah Stallworth sentenced

Sorry – this is a repost. I deleted the original by mistake.

Pastor Hezekiah Stallworth was sentenced to 20 years in prison for molesting young girls. Stallworth is 76, his victims were young girls. A 7-year-old girl made the initial report.

…a 7-year-old female made an outcry she had been “touched inappropriately in a sexual manner” following services on Feb. 21, 2010 at Oak Grove Baptist Church in Elkhart, according to Anderson County Sheriff Greg Taylor.

Two additional victims -- both now adults -- subsequently came forward with similar charges against Stallworth, with the longtime preacher being subsequently charged with the first-degree felony of aggravated sexual assault of a child and the second-degree felony charge of indecency with a child by sexual contact.

Let’s see… Baptist, pastor, retiree, pedophile, and freak. Did I cover it all?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Rapture bingo

I can see it now - May 22 rolls around and Harold Camping will have some explaining to do. I’m going to use this handy dandy rapture bingo card to keep score. My guess for his excuse: “There are people still to be saved.”

And while we are on the subject, Harold Camping is an ass. He prediction scared the crap out of my niece. I’m my book fear mongering is uncool. In is book its de rigueur. I hope to meet the man one day so I can tell him what I think to his face.

Guest Post: No plan B: Let’s hope they don’t come back

This guest post come from Napping Duck from the Atheist blog Fairly Coherent. With the absurd call for Judgment day on May 21st, it refreshing to see how the reality based community is dealing with the situation. Enjoy the read.

No plan B: Let’s hope they don’t come back
By Napping Duck.

Last weekend, I had the interesting experience of listening to podcasts of ‘The Ricky Gervais Show’ and David Cross’s audiobook ‘I Drink for a Reason,’ as I drove past billboards like these. This juxtaposition multiplied the outrageousness of Family Radio’s claim that the world will definitely end on May 21st, 2010.

Inspired to become a more active atheist, I feel obligated to speak up about Harold Camping’s ridiculous doomsday predictions.

I usually ignore this type of fire and brimstone, but I had to comment about this man who quit his job, left his family, and stubbornly claims that he has “no plan B” in the event that the May 21 hype is all for publicity.

While it would be easy to label the hubbub as a fringe Christian element not representative of the masses, I insist we take a closer look.

A 2010 study by the Pew Research Center found that 40% of Americans believe that Jesus Christ will return to Earth by the year 2050. Let that sink in. Four out of ten people who you interact with every day believe that a two-thousand-year-old historical figure will descend from the sky and walk around among us.

I’m beginning to think it’s downright dangerous to accept fervent religion at face value or apply the ‘live and let live’ mentality. I believe this for two reasons:
1) People are using ‘beliefs’ and ‘facts’ interchangeably.

Take Creationism vs. evolution. Even entertaining Creationism erodes years of scientific research by generations of our brightest minds to a handful of people who wrote an old book.

Religion as a basis for holding back medical advancement is becoming absurd. See the ongoing fight over children’s vaccines, Scientology’s battle against neurological disorders like depression, and the fight over stem cell research.

What really gets me is this mentality has now seeped into the dialogue about such important issues as climate change. People on both sides of the aisle who use the word “belief” are doing our country a great disservice. It is a PROVEN fact. There is as much evidence of global climate change as there is that the Earth circles the Sun. But people do not say, “I believe the Earth circles the Sun,” rather it is stated as a fact: “The Earth circles the Sun.”

A person would be ridiculed if they said they “don’t believe the Earth circles the Sun” because that is a belief versus a known fact. But, the large majority of Americans don’t have a problem with the statement “I don’t believe in climate change” because global climate change has been downgraded from fact to belief status.  We can’t let the live and let live mentality extend to important issues such as these.

I call for all environmentalists who want to make a difference to begin addressing those who deny the fact of global climate change as “climate change deniers.”We must reclaim the dialogue.

2) People use religion to justify their actions.
There is real danger justifying one’s actions based on religion rather than logic, integrity, or just basic kindness.

Through the lens of good versus evil, many have become justified in their self proclaimed righteousness, forgetting simple human empathy. And this is not relegated to one particular religion; it is prevalent throughout all religions and all history.
From the Romans sending Christians to death to the Crusades to ‘witch’ burnings to suicide bombers, there are countless examples of people inflicting death and harm in the name of religion.

Millions, if not billions, of people have died because of religion and just as many have been persecuted in other ways.

Because they believe they are on the morally good side of the argument, and the other side (whatever opposing religion) are literally evil, it is much easier to perpetrate harm. The religious justification blinds them to the cruelness of their actions.

We do not need religion to tell us right from wrong or how to live our lives. Simply treat people like you want to be treated and keep your religion out of my science.
And if I’m wrong (and Stephen Hawking is too)?

Well, I’ll bring the beer for our party in hell.

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Pastor Ray Mosley charged

RayMosleyPastor Raymond “Bud” Mosley was charged with child molestation in Silver Springs, NV. Mosley allegedly molested a 4-year-old girl.

According to the complaint, Mosley allegedly “encouraged, instructed and compelled” a 4-year-old girl to touch his genitals between July and April.

Mosley is an associate pastor at Silver Springs Christian Church. His wife is the senior pastor. She turned her husband in to the authorities.

The church wants to distance itself from the crime and the alleged pedophile. They miss the point. If their pastor can molest a 4-year-old child, what does that say about Christianity? What does it say about his leadership in the church? What does it say about his ministry?

This didn't happen to a church member, you know, it was a family member who was involved in the church here," said Heiser.

Family members at the Christian Center say, since none of the charges stem from anything that happened at the center, they hope it's image isn't tarnished in the community.

Source: Silver Springs Pastor Charged with Sexually Assaulting 4-Year-Old Girl

What are they afraid of? The questions should be hard. They should cause the members to squirm. This issue should cause church members to examine the very core of their beliefs. But it will not. Why would they follow a man who can molest a child? What does it say about you or your church? Where is the discernment? Where is the good judgment? Where is Jesus?

Pay no attention to our pastor. He allegedly molested a 4-year-old girl, but she was not a member so everything is OK.

President Benigno Aquino III has my respect

President Aquino laid his political future on the line in the Philippines this week. He took a step towards freeing his people from the sexual and reproductive chains imposed by the Catholic church. Aquino is willing to risk ex-communication to stand up for the right of his people to have access to contraception and reproductive health care. Aquino is fighting the good fight.

The issue pits the powerful and conservative Catholic establishment, which says contraceptives are as sinful as abortions, against reformers who want more openness about condoms and other birth control in the impoverished Southeast Asian nation to slow population growth and help prevent disease.

I can only hope that our own leaders will someday fight the good fight too.

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Slutwalks. They are not what you think.

In many of the posts I’ve written on clergy sexual abuse, people blame the victim in the comments before holding the pastor accountable. Some blame the victim right up until the pastor goes to jail. I never understand it. The position is illogical. A 14-year-old girl does not entice a 40-year-old man to rape her. I did not realize there was a movement that addresses this injustice. I give you Slutwalks.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Pastor Bruce Sanders arrested

BruceSandersDid pastor Bruce Sanders see this post coming? He is my target pedophile pastor after all. His is a Baptist pastor who has a live-in teenager who is not his daughter, and limited adult supervision in a private residence. It is a perfect storm for sexual abuse. It is as if I wrote the screenplay for this travesty.

Police arrested Baptist pastor Bruce Sanders on charges of sexual battery and rape with an instrument. The victim claims the abuse started at age 16 and continued through high school. She is 19 now.

The specific charges (read the affidavit)

On the count of rape by instrumentation, the affidavit filed by the McIntosh County District Attorney’s office states that Sanders is accused of inserting his finger into the vagina of the girl against her will or consent.

On the count of sexual battery, the DA states that Sanders fondled the breast of the girl against her consent in a lewd and lascivious manner.

On the count of indecent exposure, the DA states that he exposed his genitals “lewdly” to her while on a trip to Robbers Cave.

The abuse started with a promise ring. How screwed up is that?

The community reacted predictably:

“It's shocking, it's shocking to anybody who's looked up to him, his congregation, the kids at school,” she said. "He sits on several different committees and works with a lot of youth."

"We all know each other and we all go to church,” Eufaula resident, Tina Hile said. “You think you know them but you don't know unless you're there every minute."

Sanders is the pastor at North Fork Baptist Church. The church took down its Facebook page (cache), which is a good indicator that they intend to hide from this scandal.

Sanders pleaded not guilty and was released on a $100k bond.

The problem I have with this case is that I believe the victim. My experience tells me that pastor Sanders will go to jail. I just learned of a case where a man’s reputation was ruined by a false accusation. Now he is a registered sex offender. He did nothing more than reject the love of a woman he was dating. There was no evidence. He accepted a plea instead of going to jail. It was a terrible deal. Now when I review a case, I ask, where is the proof? Oh wait, police have a recorded admission. Never mind. Sanders will end up in jail.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

What is an inappropriate call anyway?

If I sere to call a teen and propositioned her with inappropriate sexual comments, her father would likely kick my ass before sending the police over for a follow-up beat down. It’s what you expect when behavior deviates from the norm to an extent that it becomes predatory, deviant, or simply sick. As a father I would solve the problem directly. I’m a law and order (to a point) kind of guy, so the authorities would be involved very early in process if it were appropriate. I applaud this approach when I see it. Especially when it comes to priests, pastors, and other members of the clergy. Don’t beat them down. Turn them over to the police. Public ridicule is a much more effective than a beating.

A Kenosha Catholic priest named Michael Nowak was accused of making an inappropriate phone call to a young girl. The girl’s parents went to the police. Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki suspended Nowak and the police are investigating the alleged crime. Life is good. Another alleged pedophile is under investigation. Hopefully, it will end his career and keep him away from the kids.

I applaud the parents, the victim, the police, and the church. This is how things are supposed to work.

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I am oblivious


How do I miss this stuff? I must be too old for popular culture.
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What is an inappropriate call anyway?

If I sere to call a teen and propositioned her with inappropriate sexual comments, her father would likely kick my ass before sending the police over for a follow-up beat down. It’s what you expect when behavior deviates from the norm to an extent that it becomes predatory, deviant, or simply sick. As a father I would solve the problem directly. I’m a law and order (to a point) kind of guy, so the authorities would be involved very early in process if it were appropriate. I applaud this approach when I see it. Especially when it comes to priests, pastors, and other members of the clergy. Don’t beat them down. Turn them over to the police. Public ridicule is a much more effective than a beating.

A Kenosha Catholic priest named Michael Nowak was accused of making an inappropriate phone call to a young girl. The girl’s parents went to the police. Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki suspended Nowak and the police are investigating the alleged crime. Life is good. Another alleged pedophile is under investigation. Hopefully, it will end his career and keep him away from the kids.

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I applaud the parents, the victim, the police, and the church. This is how things are supposed to work.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Two more books down

It’s been a slow year for reading. I’m behind my usual pace. I finished The Power of Full Engagement by Loehr and Schwartz last night on my Kindle and Start with Why by Simon Sinek on Audible. Both were good books, although I have trouble recommending the Power of Full Engagement because it is largely repackaged content from a dozen other books I’ve read from the last 10 years.

I’m starting to enjoy Audible. I drive a lot these days. Audio books are an easy way to read while navigating around the Los Angles freeway system. I’m learning to pick my readers carefully though. A bad reader makes for a boring book no matter the subject matter.

Of the two books, Start with Why was a fun read. I enjoy looking behind the scenes of large corporations. I work in a billion dollar division of a multi-billion dollar company. The stories of big company culture resonates with me and make it easy to translate the material into action. I found myself asking why I do the things I do. I thought this was helpful in guiding my team towards doing the right things. I also uncovered a few misguided projects that were not inline with my why.This was helpful and worth the price of the book.

The Power of Full Engagement explores individual performance through the management of energy. The book focuses on making small changes to behavior that result in large changes to performance. I like the concept. I’ve even used it myself for a few years already. But the book touches on the metaphysical “Sprit” a little too much for me to warm up to. I can tell you that some of what they authors’ write about works miracles (the non-god kind of miracle). Recognizing behaviors that are blocking your potential or that are damaging your health, are key factors in changing your life for the better. If you need help with that, this is your book.

Both books are available via the Amazon links.

I’m not sure what my next read will be. I’ve got ten books queued up on my Kindle and three credits with Audible. I would like a recommendation if anyone has something I might find interesting. I’m reading business books at the moment, but I am open to almost anything.

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Stephen Hawking on heaven and death

Stephen Hawking is a man of few words, but the words he uses are profound. When asked if he feared death, this was his response.

I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I'm not afraid of death, but I'm in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first. I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.

Read the rest of the story: Stephen Hawking says afterlife is a fairy story.

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Various religious hypocrites

There are so many pastors and who commit crimes. Lately, I have focused on sexual predators, but lets not forget those accused of minor crimes (except the murder). This is my list from the last month. I am sure there are more.

Good news for those of you who claim I pick on Catholics. Only one catholic was named in this list. I’m not sure what the implies though.

Pastor Derrick Trevor Griffin was charged with murder for killing Kristopher Miller. Miller had the misfortune to escorted Griffin’s estranged wife to her car after a night at the Elks club. Griffin is one of four associate pastors at True Vine Missionary Baptist Church.

Pastor Leon Edwill Piepenbrink was arrested and charged with stealing more than $60K from the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Church Synod.

Pastor Jason LaPierre pleaded guilty to second-degree grand larceny for stealing $400K from a credit union. LePierre was the pastor at River Church in Kingsbury.

Pastor Erik Johansson was arrested for growing marijuana in West Warwick. The Feds are involved. He’s looking at some serious time.

Pastor Samuel Ackley of Towanda stand accused of attempting to steal cash from three ATMs. Ackely was the pastor at Souls Harbor Church.

Pastor Charles Edward Ledford was charged with stealing over $250K from Elmwood Avenue Church of God over a ten-year-period.

Monsignor Patrick Brown will serve five months in prison for tax evasion. I’m sure it would have been five years if it had been a regular Joe. Brown was the priest at St. Vincent de Paul in Morris County.

Pastor Jerry Hanoum committed suicide rather than face prosecution on charges that he committed financial fraud. Is suicide against the rules for protestants? Does it matter when one has misappropriated funds from an elderly woman?

Pastor John Albert Jackson was charged with embezzling $10k from the Goodwill Frist Baptist Church in madison. $10K is such a small sum. Why risk a career over it?

Pastor Timonthy David Miller was charged with adding in the international parental kidnapping of a child. He did not want the child to remain in the custody of the the former lesbian partner of a now evangelical Christian nutball. I hope he does some serious time.

Pastor Enoc "Tito" Sotelo was sentenced to 18 years in prison for scamming illegal immigrants in Plainfield.

Church secretary Stephanie Bailey stands accused of using her church ATM card to steal $20K using ATM machines. I hear ATM machines were made by the devil to temp Christians.

Pastor Charles Edward Ledford took over $250,000 from the Elmwood Avenue Church of God according to Columbia police.

Pastor Elijah Mealancon of Elijah Christian Ministries now stands officially accused of stealing the $98,000 Margaret Banks gave him to rebuild her home on Bruxelles Street back in 2009.

Pastor James W. Webb was arrested for an outstanding warrant for theft in Alabama. He failed to make restitution payments of $21K.

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Andy the Atheist is easy

Dare2Share paints Andy the Atheist as a shallow person who is easy to convert if you know which buttons to push.

Don't talk about sin with an atheist. In their worldview, morality is generally dependent on the situation and neutral, so there is no reference point in their minds for a concept of breaking God's universal laws.

Don't get dragged into arguments about what God did or didn't do. Focus on the evidence that Christ existed, died on the cross, and came back from the dead. As well, your personal testimony can be a powerful tool, because it's very difficult to 'disprove' the real and lasting change that Christ has brought to your life.

Alisha the Agnostic is attractive but likewise open to conversion if you talk her up, but mindful of your lustful thoughts...

Don't argue over whether or not God can be 'proven', because that usually puts you on the defensive, and the bottom line is you can't really 'prove' God in the scientific method sense.

Gee – I did not know we were so transparent. What they fail to address is my blanket rejection of any person carrying a bible who wants my time. How do you deal with Joe Atheist who looks at you and laughs, or better, tells you to get out of his face?

Btw – Mo the Muslim is a total copout. What’s wrong with saying Mohammad?

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Inside the LAUSD teacher evaluation hearings

I have quite a few librarian friends and relatives so I tend to follow library related news. A librarian friend sent me a link Settle in. It’s a long one. It a post about the teacher evaluation hearings used by the LAUSD to determine if a teacher will be laid off or allowed to continue teaching, and one teaching librarian caught in the process.

A bit of a disclaimer, before I dig in. I am not a reporter. I am a teacher, a librarian, and a writer. This account is crafted from my personal perspective, biased as it may be, and combines events from two days observing the hearings. As there were no reporters present, my point of view may be the only one available to the general public at this moment. I do not contend that the events detailed here are exact or verbatim. I do contend that this is the gist of it.

Librarians were the people who helped my odd brain cope with the boredom of school. I cannot believe they are considering closing libraries as a means to save money. What are they thinking?

The hearing process sounds tedious and bureaucratic. Why do we treat people like this?

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Sunday, May 15, 2011

A story of deconversion

It never occurred to me to deconvert. I was a Christian as a youth, and then not. I never looked back. I can understand why it could be important to others though. We Burned Our Bible in the Front Yard on ex-christian.net is a good deconversion read. Enjoy.

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Pastor Nathan Scott Kesler arrested

NathanKeslerPastor Nathan Scott Kesler is a music director at a Livingston, TX, and a former manger of the Dollar King. Police arrested pastor Kesler for improper photography. He allegedly positioned a cellphone camera in the women’s restroom to capture photos of women using the toilet.

On Oct. 9, a female employee of the store brought a complaint of the activity to Lufkin Police, saying she discovered the cell phone in the restroom and brought the phone to police.

The woman said she had used the restroom and noticed the phone on a shelf positioned in such a way that it would record her with the built-in camera. The woman said she left the restroom and was approached by another female employee who said she saw the phone in the restroom.

Source: Man arrested for recording women in store restroom

I’ve known about this case since it broke. I want to link Kesler to his church. I have not been able to find the church. I could use some help. If anybody knows the name of the church, please post it in the comments.

Update: It looks like Kelser is linked to the Family Life Church in Livingston.

Pastor Felipe Arroyo convicted

FelipeArroyoPastor Felipe Arroyo faced charges in two cases. In the first case, the molestation victim is a 13-year-old girl. The next victim is a 20-year-old woman molested as a teen. Arroyo took a plea agreement during jury selection. The judge sentenced him to three years in prison.

Arroyo pleaded no contest to a total of six counts of lewd or lascivious molestation, prosecutor Adriana Alcalde said. Each count carried a maximum prison term of 15 years.

Circuit Judge Michael Usan also ordered that Arroyo's prison term by followed by 10 years of sexual-offender probation, Alcalde said.

Source: Former Davie pastor sentenced to three years prison for molesting two girls

Arroyo was the pastor at Iglesia Cristo Ministerio Getsemani in Davie. Florida.

For those of you unfamiliar with Inglesia ni Cristo, Wikipedia has a good overview.

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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Watercolors at the San Francisco Public Library

My cousin the librarian sent me a link to post about a watercolor series at the San Francisco Public Library. It tells stories about the main branch in watercolors. I found the watercolor paintings fascinating and beautiful. I thought my readers might  find the post intriguing.

Meanwhile, The San Francisco Public Library

I’ll be up in Alameda in two weeks. I plan to visit the library.

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One fundie down

Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee will not run for President in 2012. I cannot show how happy this statement makes me. Huckabee is a Christian fundie and a dangerous man. HIs political views are opposed to my own and will damage our country. I’m glad his god whispered the appropriate instructions in his ear. Huckabee claims it was a spiritual decision. Whatever that means.

"I don't expect everyone to understand this, but I am a believer and a follower of Jesus Christ," he said. "And that relationship is far more important to me than any political office. For me, the discussion and decision is not a political one, not a financial one. It's not even a practical one. It's a spiritual one."

Next up – Rick Santorum.

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Photo – an old latch

Dirty Latch

I keep shooting; even if it's an old latch on a gate in the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant.

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Sometimes pastors do the right thing

I beat the hell out of pastors here on my blog. But I am also reminded, by a constant flow of emails I might add, that pastors sometimes do the right thing. Take pastor Pete Baker of the Fairfax Assembly of God Church. When he found out about allegations of sexual abuse on the part of Fairfax Middle School vice principal and congregant Donald Ricketts, Baker dispensed good advice and then called the police.

He said the family of the girl first reported the allegations to him, in mid-April. Baker said he then explained what he'd been told to Ricketts and recommended he call his wife, tell his boss and go home -- which Ricketts did. Baker said he also immediately contacted the Sheriff's Department.

The victim in this case is a 14-year-old girl who claims she was molested over three years on multiple occasions, mostly at church. It will be interesting to see the evidence.

Photo - not a smoker

smokerI quit smoking last November. I had been a cigar smoker for most of my adult life. It’s been a struggle these last few months; especially when the pressure builds. But I’ve stayed with it, or I guess I should say, without it.

I did not consider myself a non-smoker until I pulled up behind a smoker at a traffic light. His hand was hanging out of his window with a lit cigarette hanging loosely between his fingers. The smoke drifted back to my truck. It smelled foul. It was the first time I can remember not liking the smell of tobacco smoke. It’s actually the first time I can remember getting angry at the violation of my personal space.  I shot this picture to help me remember how I felt at the time.

It happened again today with cigar smoke at the park. I started to cough as the smell of a good cigar drifted over from the golf course. I was indignant. It dawned on me that I had passed a milestone. I don’t like the smell of tobacco smoke. I must be a non-smoker, but hopefully not the annoying kind.

On the other hand, I dream about smoking cigars. How screwed up is that?

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Pastor Ruth Shrader arrested

Former pastor Ruth Shrader was arrested and charged with statutory rape of a 15-year-old boy. The victim attended A.B. Hill Elementary School where Shrader was a teacher. Shrader allegedly began raping the boy when he was 15. The abuse continued for 2 years. There is convincing evidence in the case. She apparently left a trail of text messages. 

I was not able to determine the church where Shrader worked. It is not mentioned in the press reports or the comments. I assume it is in the same area as the school. My best guess is South Greenburg United Methodist Church (based on family history).

RuthShraderIt is interesting that the comments in the case are different than when a male pastor is accused of molesting a child. People comment on the ugliness of Shrader and the discomfort the victim must have felt being abused by one so foul. There is little of the outrage one usually sees. For example:

  • The incident(s) took place at the School for the Blind obviously.
  • Ewwwwwwwww.
  • wood chipper skank. my skin has crawled off me and is shivering in the corner....beyond disgusting.
  • Strangely, I don't hear the young man complaining. Two years = de facto marriage, with benefits.
  • Damn! That's the octopus lady from The Little Mermaid...she would have to pay for it...gross.
  • WOOF! Grrrrrr... I'll bet they had to take her down with a tranquilizing gun

I sense a double standard. Speaking of which, why is the name of the church where she was a pastor missing from the press reports?

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Youth pastor Joel Huddleston arrested

JoelHuddlestonYouth pastor Joel Huddleston was caught in bed with a 12-year-old girl. She was a student at Yearling Middle School. His soon to be ex-wife caught him and snapped a picture.
"His wife came home and could not find him and got in through a locked door into a bedroom area and discovered the young lady and he in the room. She (the girl) was in a state of undress and he was clothed. They were both on the bed, our understanding is both were asleep. His hands were upon the young lady," said Okeechobee County Sheriff Paul May.
Read more: Wife finds teacher husband in bed with 12-year-old
Shoot – this youth pastor is going to do some hard time.

Huddleston was the youth pastor at Buckhead Ridge Christian Church. A quick check of the website show that there is no statement addressing Huddleston’s arrest, and the pastoral team has been removed from the website. It is your typical “head in the sand” approach to the crisis.

It’s interesting to note how the press handled this case. They either emphasized that he was a youth pastor or they bury it in the story in favor of emphasizing that he was a teacher. Is it more important that he was a teacher caught molesting one of his students or a pastor with screwed up morals?
There is also a story at Editorials from Hell that says Huddleston was a Promise Keeper. I’m pretty sure they have a chapter of that organization in the Florida State Prison system. A police officer once told me that he always knew he had a DUI arrest coming if he pulled a car over that sported a AA bumper sticker. I think the same holds true for Promise Keepers. Arrest a child molesting pastor who claims to be in the Promise Keepers and you’ve got the real thing.

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

What is an inappropriate call anyway?

If I sere to call a teen and propositioned her with inappropriate sexual comments, her father would likely kick my ass before sending the police over for a follow-up beat down. It’s what you expect when behavior deviates from the norm to an extent that it becomes predatory, deviant, or simply sick. As a father I would solve the problem directly. I’m a law and order (to a point) kind of guy, so the authorities would be involved very early in process if it were appropriate. I applaud this approach when I see it. Especially when it comes to priests, pastors, and other members of the clergy. Don’t beat them down. Turn them over to the police. Public ridicule is a much more effective than a beating.

A Kenosha Catholic priest named Michael Nowak was accused of making an inappropriate phone call to a young girl. The girl’s parents went to the police. Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki suspended Nowak and the police are investigating the alleged crime. Life is good. Another alleged pedophile is under investigation. Hopefully, it will end his career and keep him away from the kids.

I applaud the parents, the victim, the police, and the church. This is how things are supposed to work.
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A new personal best!

Some of you know I’m an avid disc golfer. I’ve played on and off since I was 15 – that’s a long time. I hit a personal best this afternoon at La Mirada’s lakeside course. I shot a two over 56 which is two better than I’ve ever played the game. I shot two birdies on the front nine. Hole three was a drop-in for a birdie. Hole nine was a 20 foot putt that I drained.

I screwed up a few holes, which is normal. If I had known the game would play out like it did, I would have been much more upset at myself for blowing my tee shot on the first hole. It was embarrassing, So was the overshot on my recovery. I turned an easy par into a hard bogey. But then, maybe it was my poor play on the first hole that loosened me up for what was to come. I don’t know – but I am happy tonight. It feels good to break a barrier and hit a personal best; real good.

In other news – I’ve dropped 30 pounds since March 9th. I played the course today in better form than I have ever managed before. I was winded at the end, but I walked off feeling pretty damn good. Heck, I even managed a workout when I got home. 50 is not so bad…

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Pastor Michael Sward arrested

I don’t have much on this story yet. Apparently 27-year-old music minister Michael Sward was arrested for having sex with a 17-year-old congregant down in Vero Beach, Florida. He’s charged with unlawful sex with a minor.

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Ziggy Marley says it all


Ziggy Marley – In the name of God. Hell yes.
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Pastor Michael Sward arrested

MichaelSwardI don’t have much on this story yet. Apparently 27-year-old music minister Michael Sward was arrested for having sex with a 17-year-old congregant down in Vero Beach, Florida. He’s charged with unlawful sex with a minor.

According to reports, the parents of the victim and the church officials tried to warn Sward not to have a relationship with the teenager. What bothers me is that the church knew about the problem but kept him on in an official capacity without limiting his duties or contact with other minors. Also, they apparently did not report the matter to the police. If this is true, it makes me ask, why would a church act this way? It does not seem consistent with Christian values or worse, nor does it seem like the right thing to do. How can a parent trust an institution where they warn off a potential offender but take no other action?

Update: 5/11/11 added photo and second paragraph.
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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A new personal best!

Some of you know I’m an avid disc golfer. I’ve played on and off since I was 15 – that’s a long time. I hit a personal best this afternoon at La Mirada’s lakeside course. I shot a two over 56 which is two better than I’ve ever played the game. I shot two birdies on the front nine. Hole three was a drop-in for a birdie. Hole nine was a 20 foot putt that I drained.

I screwed up a few holes, which is normal. If I had known the game would play out like it did, I would have been much more upset at myself for blowing my tee shot on the first hole. It was embarrassing, So was the overshot on my recovery. I turned an easy par into a hard bogey. But then, maybe it was my poor play on the first hole that loosened me up for what was to come. I don’t know – but I am happy tonight. It feels good to break a barrier and hit a personal best; real good.

In other news – I’ve dropped 30 pounds since March 9th. I played the course today in better form than I have ever managed before. I was winded at the end, but I walked off feeling pretty damn good. Heck, I even managed a workout when I got home. 50 is not so bad…
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Bob Marley dies 30 year ago today

My 1st son was born just a few days after Bob Marley died. He still does not understand why I love reggae so much. Perhaps if I told him I was listening to Bob Marley the day he was born he might understand?

I’ll always remember that time as both the happiest and saddest of my life. It was also the poorest time of my life, but that is a different story.. John Lennon has died a few months before in December. Then Bob Marley. It seemed like a generation was passing while I was just starting my life. I still can’t believe it was 30 years ago.

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Pastor Alex Williams shoots child

How is it right for a pastor to shoot a child? A 13-year-old boy has a bullet in his hit thanks to a supposed man of god who was angry because the boy broke his window with a rock. Pastor Alex Williams apparently pulled a gun and shot the boy over a broken window. What the hell?

Police say the 13 year old allegedly threw rocks at Williams' van on Saturday night in front of the Mechanicsville Church of God in Christ on McDaniel Street. They say one of the rocks broke Williams’ rear windshield, and that’s when the pastor pulled a gun and fired at the teen.

The teen, who has not been identified, was shot in the hip. He is being treated at an area hospital, where he is listed in stable condition.

Why does a pastor carry a gun anyway? Whatever happened to turning the other cheek?

Member of his church and his family are claiming pastor Williams is the victim. Yet they do not explain why he drew a gun and shot a boy. Perhaps the boy just needed killing?

 

That pastor is a liar

Being branded a liar used to be the end of ones credibility in civil society. But it is not so these days. You can lie for years and then ask god for forgiveness and go right back to leading a church as if nothing happened. That’s what pastor Jim Moats did. He lied for years by claiming he was a Navy SEAL. His big mouth (or ego) finally caught up to him when a reporter interviewed him after Osama Bin Laden’s death and readers quickly discovered the fraud.

The follow-up post in the paper was pathetic.

After Osama bin Laden was killed, The Patriot-News reached out to find former Navy SEALs living in the midstate to tell our readers about life in that elite fighting force. Reporter Dan Miller, an Army veteran himself, was told the Rev. Jim Moats was a former SEAL, interviewed him and wrote the story for Saturday’s paper. It didn’t take long for some readers to label Moats a fraud.

Moats was no SEAL, he just claimed to be one so that his congregation would look up to him.

I love stories like this. Nobody gets hurt here. There are no victims and no trials. I don’t even have to follow the case. Pastor Moats is a liar. He’s admitted it. It is what happens next that will determine if Pastor Jim Moats is a man of honor or, as I suspect, not. If Pastor Moats is a “True Christian” he will do the right thing and resign from the Christian Bible Fellowship Church in Newville, Pa (Cache).

JimMoatsWhy am I asking for his resignation? It’s simple really. I believe in holding pastors to the biblical standard for leadership as specified in 1 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.

Pastors and bible believing Christians throw the bible around as if it were the literal word of god, yet when they fall, they tend to forget the parts of the bible that hold church leadership accountable. Jim Moats has brought shame to himself, his church, and his god. The Bible says he is no longer qualified to lead. What’s taking so long?

This is no simple lie. The article that started off the whole escapade goes into detail about how becoming a SEAL shaped his life.

“I had almost no discipline. I was as wild as they came. That was my nemesis,” Moats said. “They weren’t looking for a guy who brags to everyone he is a SEAL. They wanted somebody who was ready but had an inner confidence and didn’t have a braggadocio attitude.”

It was lies built on lies. He claimed all this happened during the Vietnam War, only he never saw action in the war, not one little bit. And his whole decision to become a pastor instead of staying in to serve his country as a SEAL, that was a lie too. It’s all lies. How is that what a pastor should be? How is a man like this leading a church? He has no honor.

Pastor Jim Moats – I hereby call on you to resign as a pastor. What say you?

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