Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The pleasure of good company


I had the pleasure of dining with fellow atheist and blogger Martin Williams. We met at Haven Gastropub in the City of Orange for a long of conversation on their heated patio. It was a warm and wonderful night full of great conversation and mediocre food.

Martin writes No 2 Religion. I consider him a comrade in arms.He reads what I write. I do the same for what he writes. We share similar political views, and I think we have the same laidback California temperament.

But I digress… the food was less than spectacular for such a high rated restaurant. I did not say the beer was bad though. What they offered on tap was refreshing. They should rename the restaurant to House of Salt & Suds.

I ordered their homemade potato chips to start. They were a greasy mess, and so salty I could barley taste the chips. I killed time while waiting for Martin by removing the salt from the chips. They were served with a garlic aioli that was neither garlic nor aioli. Frankly, it tasted like mayo. Oh well. Strike one.

Martin arrived late because of an epic car accident which actually made the local news. I killed time watching the locals and eating salty chips. Things were going well until the hipsters starting arriving. They came in pairs. There were lots of them. I’m not a fan of this inane cultural trend. Hipsters suck. Strike two – A restaurant packed full-o-hipsters will not attract foodies unless they are into watching pretentious kids.

Martin and I discussed all things atheism and almost everything else of shared interest; like photography. What struck me as odd was that the experience was not odd. I’m used to meeting very odd atheists. In almost all my past social interactions, I’ve been thwarted by nutballs. Be it the former Wicca now Goth couple hosting an OC event, the hater rantings of the backyard skeptics, or the sex cult nutball who, while dressed in white robes and walking stick, tried to convince me that he deserved worship and servitude. By contrast, Martin was normal, and a nice guy too. I genuinely enjoyed myself.

Back to the food and strike three. I ordered the lamb burger (onion jam, tzatziki, onion sprouts, rosemary brioche bun) – they forgot to mention salt in the ingredients. Oh my… the meat was a perfect medium-well, but the stuff that surrounded the burger tasted like it was rolled in sea salt. I ate the thing, but it did not satisfy. I prefer the lamb sandwich from the Lime Truck.  For those of you in Waco – we have trucks that serve gourmet food here in SoCal… I’m just saying.

What I took away from my experience with Martin is that I need to try stepping out of my protective shell more often. I must open myself to meeting more of my readers, and more of the local community of atheists. It can’t be all bad (it has been up to this point). I’ve even offered to speak at his atheist meetup group the next time I’m up on the central coast.

Where Haven Gastropub really let me down was dessert. I tried their bacon ice cream. I was ready for a foodgasm. Instead I needed water to clear my palate. No bacon. No bacon flavor, and no beer flavor in the brownie it was sitting on. There was no flavor at all really. Just salt. More salt than I’ve ever had on anything. It was horrible.

The final insult was the bill. Haven Gastropub is horribly overpriced. I’m going to call it 30% above what I would be willing to pay elseware. What can I say… I did not like the place. On the other hand, I feel like I’ve made a new friend in Martin. So, the night goes down in my book as a win. Thanks Martin.

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Sunday, November 27, 2011

The very definition of Christian hypocrisy

Found via Reddit. Source: gMerrill

What do you call a man who is a Christian, a Mormon Sunday school teacher, and a lawyer? Most people would use a phrase like, ‘pillar of society’, or a ‘good role model’. When you add that he’s opinionated, and finds the OWS movement evil, you might have second thoughts though.

Ryan D. Whitaker via Facebook

Which laws do you occupy people support breaking in support of your cause? Rape? Molestation? Theft? Assault? Vandalism? What?? Why do you think you represent the hope of the future? You represent the most filthy, uncivilized, disorderly, stupid, gullible, and ugly side of society. You are NOT the 99%! You occupy your own separate little 1% somewhere in the hinterlands outside of decent, respectable, and honorable society. We could flush the public toilet, get rid of the lot of you, and the rest of society would not miss a beat.

He’s established himself as a opinionated hater, so his pillar of society image is a little tarnished. But wait, it get better. Whitaker was arrested for the alleged molestation of a young girl in his Sunday school class. The girl, a Mormon, and her parents, went to their Bishop with complaints of abuse. The Bishop did the right thing and brought it to police.

A witness told sheriff’s investigators that he noticed Whitaker paid special attention to the girl. Whitaker declined to make a statement, according to the affidavit.

Source: Vancouver attorney accused of abusing girl in Sunday school by Laura McVicker

Whitaker quickly goes from a pillar of society to a reprobate. He can’t even pay for his own legal defense. We have in Ryan D. Whitaker the perfect example of a Christian hypocrite. He projects a an image consistent with his religious values, but allegedly lives a life a depravity (when he can get away with it). This story repeats itself every week. It’s like a broken record.

Another example of Christian love

Found via Reddit

A vocal Atheist had his car vandalized with the words Jesus, God, and a crudely painted penis. Can’t you just feel the Christian love?

Are you an angry atheist?

I don't know any angry atheists. I'm not. I'm normally a pretty mellow guy as are my atheist friends. But I do get angry with religion on occasion. I think it's best summed up for me as I'm tired of having religion and religious people stick a a big nasty finger in my eye. I respond through writing and activism. There are over 5,000 posts on this blog. Most are manifestations of my simple form of anger.

And… I love Gretta Christina. She tops the list of atheists I want to meet.

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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Youth pastor Sammy Nuckolls arrested

I waited before posting this story. It seemed off to me. It looks like I was wrong. Youth pastor and traveling evangelist Sammy Nuckolls was arrested for video voyeurism.

Sammy Nuckolls was first charged in Gosnell, Arkansas. Then he was charged in his hometown of Olive Branch, Mississippi. Thursday, the police department in a second Arkansas town said charges are pending.

Nuckolls was initially charged last week while preaching at a revival at Gosnell Baptist Church. A church member told investigators she was about to take a shower when she spotted the pen camera poking out of a shaving kit Nuckolls had left in the bathroom.

I wonder how the alleged victim felt when she discovered a camera position to watch her take a shower? She trusted Nuckolls enough to bring him into her home. Was it because he was a pastor our preaching the word? I’m sure she’s rethinking the concept of unearned trust. A person is not automatically good because they are a pastor. I’d think Christians would get that by now.

Who can you trust?

Two new books I won’t read

I hate to say it, but I’m becoming more and more discriminating with my non-fiction reading choices. Two Christian new books will not make the cut.

In God I Trust by Brady Shackelford. The press release states that Shackelford came to Jesus via a mystical experience. I call bullshit.

In the memoir, Shackelford recounts God's message: "Night turned suddenly into day, and ... clouds rolled in from both sides of me at lightning speed. ... a booming voice spoke out from the clouds. It said, '...Things will turn out well for you. However, early in your life, things are going to happen to you that are going to hurt you deeply. Learn from them, and they will turn you into the man that you are going to become.

Source: New Memoir 'In God I Trust.' Relates One Man's Special Experiences with the Divine

I think I can safely write this one off as self-important pap. Shackelford also inhabits the nutball fringe of Libertarianism. That’s the people who simultaneously espouse the libertarian principles while at the same time pushing evangelical Christian themes. Kind of like Ron Paul with his stance on evolution, Roe v. Wade, and his bizarre stance on gay marriage.

The Darwinian Delusion by Michael Ebifegha. By first clue that this book is not worth my time is the title. Anyone who reads The God Delusion and counters with an attack on evolution, did not read the book. The next clue is the re-definition of the terms microevolution and macroevolution.

The author extensively researched the subject matter for this book over the course of three years. In particular, Ebifegha is critical about the use of ambiguous terms such as microevolution and macroevolution and proposes new terminologies that lead to correct interpretation of the scientific evidence…

Source: Darwinism Is a Delusion, According to New Book

Oh hell. This is a clear case of another nutball writing a book. Ebifegha is a self-published nutter paying for his own press releases and pushing an overt and crazy agenda. Read Self-Published Genius #13: Vanity Reviewed! for more hilarious information.

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Youth pastor Brent Girouex convicted

BrentGirouexYouth pastor Brent Girouex, profiled here, of Victory Fellowship Church of Council Bluffs, Iowa, was convicted to one count of third-degree sexual abuse. He also entered an Alford plea to two counts of sexual exploitation by a counselor or therapist. He faces 17 years in prison. 

Girouex abused several boys from his youth group. When he was originally arrested, the story was tried to molest that gayness out of the boys under his care. He prayed to removed gay temptation while molesting the boys. How screwed up is that?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Anointed with death

Synagogue Church of All Nations offers a 100% guaranteed cure for AIDS via prayer and the the use of special ‘anointing water’. All you have to do is have faith. You can demonstrate your faith by stopping the use of your AIDS treatment medication. Sounds like a deal, right? Well… not so much really. Bodies are hitting the floor.

Rachel Holmes, one of the pastors, told a reporter that if symptoms persist it is simply HIV leaving the body.

'We have many people that contract HIV. All are healed,' she told Sky News.

'We've had people come back before saying, "Oh I'm not healed. The diarrhoea I had when I had HIV, I've got it again".

'I have to stop them and say, "No, please, you are free".'

Read more: 'We cure HIV with anointing water': Six die after churches tell sufferers they don't need medicine

God answer all prayers. In the case of people with AIDS who show they have faith, God answers their prayers with death. It’s an answer. Right?

A found this story via Reddit (direct url)

A pastor’s daughter speaks

Pastor Phillip Joubert, profiled here, stands accused of multiple counts of child molestation and related crimes. Including molestation charges stemming from the alleged rape of his own 13 –year-old daughter. She testified against her father in court earlier this week.

Joubert’s daughter said she and her twin brother spent most of that summer away from their Norwalk, Conn., home while they stayed with their father in Bayside to attend Bible camp.

During that time, she said, her father would walk in on her as she showered and touch her inappropriately. One night some time between July 25 and Aug. 2, she testified, Joubert came into her third-floor bedroom as she laid asleep on the bottom bunk of her bed. She said her father climbed on top of her, held her wrists down and struck her several times, then pulled her clothes down and raped her.

Source: Daughter says she was raped by pastor dad

Despite the pointed and angry emails and comments I receive on this case, I am confident that Joubert is heading for prison. His daughter’s testimony was damming. This man of God is going to prison for a long time,

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

My vote for worst Libertarian website

It’s been interesting watching a once energetic California Libertarian movement give up and die these last two years. The State level organization is a mess, and local county chapters seem to have all but given up. I’ve started a small project to capture the worst of the worst when it comes to Libertarian party websites that, through bad design, actually drives people away. I think I’ve found the worst.

Region 67, East San Gabriel Valley. Ouch, it makes my eyes hurt.

My guess is that some 70-year-old retiree built this a long time ago and actually thinks it somehow helps to spread the Libertarian message. I can’t get past the Blue on something like blue background (with red highlighted letters no less). It looks like it’s made by a child.

Do you you have an example of an embarrassing Libertarian website? If so, submit it in the comments. An don’t bother submitting the Libertarian Party of California. We all know that sucks.

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I get comments

I get lots of comments on my clergy sexual abuse posts which make me scratch my head, but a few just piss me off. Like this one from an anonymous poster on a post about pastor Matthias Anderson.

Anonymous posted at 9:17 pm on 11/22/11

First and Foremost. Many of those who have left some of the most ignorant comments that alleged civilized people can leave,assume nothing! There are people who are wrong and down right evil. The mother and child were in the womans  shelter due to drug and alcohol abuse. We've seen the track marks. We all listened to the stories. We applauded when the certificate of completion from the shelter stating a state of sobriety. We were there when the mother and child were helped so much. We were all there when a line was crossed trying to seduce a husband from a wife. WE ALL KNOW THE TRUTH. For all others know the full story before passing judgement. The mother is wrong, evil, and two faced because she was denied, and put out there.

This anonymous nutball alleges that a spurned and vengeful mother fabricated allegations that pastor Matthias Anderson molested her 12-year-old daughter because she herself was spurned by the pastor. I’ve seen this before; several times in fact. The story goes that an evil woman acting as an agent of Satan tries to subvert the morality of her pastor through the evils of sex. She’s spurned and strikes out with sexual abuse allegations. The pastor is cast out of his church and does prison time for a crime he did not commit. This narrative generates sympathy and support within the church. The problem is that it is a fictionalize narrative. It’s a concoction meant to explain away the abuse by substituting a different version of reality. it’s mean to be confuse and befuddle the idiots who suck at Anderson’s teat.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Photo - what passes for a river

What passes for a river

I shot this HDR black and white photo this morning. It was my self directed photo assignment for the day. Unfortunately, I was hassled by the police for no reason at all, so this photo took a one hour investment instead of the 10 minutes I had budget. I missed another urban ugly shot because the sun had risen too high. I’ll take it early tomorrow.

What matters here (to me anyway), is this shot was on my list. It felt good to finally cross it off. It’s still on my list for a winter sunset photo, and again for a shot standing down in the water in the channel (I’ll figure that out somehow).

Photo Notes: Shot with a Nikon D7300 with a Nikkor 18 to 200mm lens. It’s a handheld three shot bracket. ISO 200. Location: La Mirada near the 5 freeway.

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Youth pastor Daniel Ledford guilty

Youth pastor Daniel Ladford pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of sexual conduct with a minor. He had been charged with 15 counts. The judge sentenced him to a year in jail. There is no word as to if he will have to register as a sex offender.

Ladford’s victim was a 16-year-old girl. He is 28.

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The real Christian Trinity


I shot this while out driving today and did a double-take. I found the real Christian Trinity. A gun, brass knuckles, and a cross. Wow.

I apologize for the poor quality of the photo. I shot through my windshield when the truck drove past me a traffic light. the full image is shown below.


I wonder what message the driver is trying to deliver to those behind him?

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Who watches the watchers?

When it comes to clergy sexual abuse and the Catholic church, I trust nothing. True, I am jaded by my experience. I’ve tracked clergy sexual abuse for 5 years now, and just when I think it can get no worse, a man charged with safeguarding catholic churches from sexual abuse has been convicted on internet pedophile charges.

A Catholic Church child safety co-ordinator who was in charge of investigating sexual abuse allegations was jailed for 12 months today for internet peadophile offences.

Christopher Jarvis, 49, a married father-of-four, investigated historic claims of child abuse, interviewing the victims when they were adults.

Read more: Roman Catholic church's paedophile investigator jailed for possessing thousands of child porn images

When they arrested Jarvis, he had 4,000 pornographic images, some of boys aged 10-12. I had no idea there was any kind of rating scale for child porn. But there must be… yuck.

But there were 120 at Level Four, which includes scenes of child rape, and 12 at Level Five, which can include scenes of torture and sadism.

He is an idea. Perhaps the Catholic church should outsource child molestation investigations to the proper authorities? This guy did company damage control. He protected no one.

Every photo has a story


I’m on my own this morning. No wife. No kids. It’s just me and my camera out for a quick breakfast. I was walking across the parking lot when I stopped to stare at the light reflecting off of a directional arrow. I pulled out my camera and stalked around a bit trying to find the composition I wanted. I was shooting with a 50mm lens, so my options were limited. I took the shot and moved on as a man called out, I’m ready for my photo.” I looked up to see a bread delivery driver walking towards me with a smile. He joked, “I even fixed my hair.” He was bald. I told him that I like to shoot things more than people. He laughed and told me that things are easier to get along with. I agreed. We parted ways with a handshake.

20 feet later I stopped for a quick photo of a rose. An old lady asked me what I was doing… 10 minutes later I took a photo of my breakfast. It was a beautiful cheesy mess. The old man sitting in the next booth asked me what I was doing… and so it goes.

By the way -  I had to send my breakfast back. I ordered no cheese, but it was delivered floating in it. Oh to be 16 again.

Photo Notes: Shot with a Nikon D7000 with a 50mm lens. 1/60 at f16. ISO 200. Location: Paul’s Place in Buena Park.

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Those girls are liars!

TomDanielsIn an all too common defense, pastor Tommy Gene Daniels used the pedophile classic, ‘those girls are liars’ defense in this molestation case. I’m pretty sure he’s screwed.

Urquiza's testimony attacked the heart of the defense case. In his opening statement, Chastaine told jurors the prosecution of his client is largely based on the untruthful testimony of four of the five alleged victims. He suggested in his questioning of the four that they lied about the abuse and that the notion they had been sexually molested had been planted in their heads by another psychotherapist. He directly accused one of the girls of lying in his cross-examination of her.

Read more: Prosecution rests in pastor's sexual molestation trial

Fortunately, a prosecution expert witness testified that the rate of false accusations is someplace around 1%. The case is with the jury now. I’m betting on a conviction.

I profiled Baptist pastor Tommy Daniels back in February. At the time the story was the Daniels molested girls in his home run daycare center and girls in foster care, also at his home. Daniels is the pastor at First Baptist Church of Rio Linda.

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Youth pastor John H. Brothers Jr., arrested

JohnBrothersAnother Baptist youth pastor has been arrested for the molesting children. In this case, John H. Brothers Jr;. is charged with first-degree sexual abuse involving allegations that he sexually abused two children from his youth group. He’s being held pending a bail hearing.

His former church, Hyland Baptist, is cooperating with authorities and actually encouraged one victim to file a complaint with the police. Of course, the church website does not mention the case.

There is not much more to go on yet. I’ll refresh the case when I can.

It seems I was mistaken about the attitude of Hyland Baptist. They are focused on ‘moving on’, rather than on cooperating and getting to the root of their failure to protect their own kids.

Church members were brief in talking about the alleged abuse saying how shocking the news is but more importantly they say the church must continue to move forward.  Via Frank Chandler, Deacon Chairman at Hyland Baptist Church.

Source: Henderson Pastor Accused of Sexual Abuse

This response is typical in clergy sex abuse cases. The church is moving on to do the good work of Jesus without realizing that the alleged crimes of their youth pastor are an indictment of the management of their church. In there eyes it is much better to carry on with the public face of the church unblemished by the controversy. We call it, ‘sweeping it under the rug.’

Update 11/21/2011 – Included photo and last two paragraphs.

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iPhone photo - rain and a meal

I shot this with my iPhone 4s while sitting in my truck in the rain. I was the driver... my wife jumped in to pick up some of the best chicken in the O.C. The iPhone has this neat feature that lets you set your exposure by pressing with your finger until a blue square flashes. It takes the exposure reading from that area. You can then move the camera around to frame your shot. It makes for some interesting shots.

The National Geographic Photo Contest 2011

It’s that time of the year again. The Big Picture is hosting the winners from the annual National Geographic Photo Contest for 2011. My favorite is number #54. Yours?

I also like #31 from the photo essay on the flood in Bangkok, Thailand.

Funny the way it is

I live in my head. We all do. I know this, but it has become clear to me that I do so in ways other people do not. Take music videos. I don’t want to watch them. I prefer the song in my ear and the imagery in my head. I’ve never seen Dave Matthews Band’s video for their outstanding song, ‘funny the way it is’ before tonight. I would not have ever watched it if it had not been for my son Mike. He asked about the meaning of song this morning. He had seen the video. So it got me thinking about the song again. After a few hundred renditions of the lyrics, I was ready to answer his question. But the moment (and the hours) had passed.

Funny the way it is, if you think about it Somebody’s going hungry and someone else is eating out Funny the way it is, not right or wrong Somebody’s heart is broken and it becomes your favorite song


I have the lyrics memorized. When I sing it to myself, what I see in my mind is completely different from the silly video produced for the song. I think my disconnect is that a serious song (I think of this one a serious song) deserves better imagery, not trite pap.

I do the the song though…

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iPhone photo - industrial sunrise

What can you shoot now? It was a question posed on a photography podcast that intrigued me. I was listening to a podcast (and music at the same time), while eating a quick breakfast in my car. I was deeply into my own thoughts thinking about how many sunrises I've watched (There was one on the 4th of July in 1980 that was epic), when I realized I had rarely shot one. I tend to watch and think instead of watch and shoot. So at the prompting of the podcast, I pickted up my iPhone 4s and shot the photo above. Then, I pulled out my Nikon and shot the photo below. The photos are a minute or so apart.

I would have watched the sunrise without ever lifting a camera. It's one of those things I do that I don't understand. I did the same thing today at a party. I watched what was going on without lifting my camera. I enjoyed thinking about what was going on so much that it never occurred to me that I should shoot a few photos.  I snapped out of it before the end, but I missed a few iconic family moments.

Unhate Campaign. I can’t stop watching this

the-pope-kissing-ahmed-mohamed-el-tayebI found this via the atheist mafia on Facebook (yes, I love all of you). I can’t stop watching it. There is something about love that is infections. Unfortunately, some of the image used by the Unhate Campaign features the Pope kissing Ahmed Mohamed el Tayeb. The Vatican is pissed and wants to sue. Screw the Vatican. This needs to happen.

The Pope photo is not even my favorite. I love Obama kissing Hugo Chavez. Of course, I would have picked Obama kissing John Boehner. That would have been epic.

The Unhate Campaign is run by the UNHATE Foundation, which was founded by the Bennetton Group. They make clothing. Good for them.

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iPhone photo - abstract line pattern

I found myself wandering in Lowe's recently. I don't shop. I look at colors and shapes and things. I shoot too. I always shoot. I've had this concentration problem since I was a child. I lose myself in my head mind and time slips by like it's counted in hours instead of seconds. I looked down and saw the pattern, then looked up to find that 10 minutes had slipped by. I had even ignored a clerk who was hovering around trying to help me. The conversation was weird. I muttered something about me wife and slipped away. I think I have the opposite of ADD or some such. I'm sure there is some combination of letters that explains how I get lost in my mind. I away come out of it with a photo though. So screw treatment.

A Baptist sex abuse scandal

franklin wayne knight mug shotA Baptist pastor, a Baptist school principal, the schools athletic director and a teacher have all been arrested in a child sex abuse case. The details are disturbing. Apparently, pastor Franklin “Wayne” Knight was notified on three different occasions that one of his female teachers was having sex with a 15-year-old boy. Knight, who is also the former superintendent of Hilltop Baptist School, failed to report the crime. A grand jury indicted Knight on charges of failure to report child abuse or neglect and accessory to a crime.

Can you guess why nothing happened? The alleged child molester, Terah Allyn Rawlings, in the niece of pastor Knight. Apparently, HIlltop Baptist church and its school are a family run business. Knight even fired two teachers who went to authorities with the abuse allegations. The nepotism is appalling. and so is the hypocrisy.

terah rawlings mug shotThe abuse was reported to the athletic director Raymond Knight. You guessed it. Raymond is Rawlings father and presumably pastor Knights brother.

The indictment said Knight discouraged witnesses from coming forward. It states he displayed a consistent pattern to manipulate and control the situation. He reportedly told church members who questioned him about the allegations, "If you persist with this, your relationship with the church will be damaged."

Source: Teacher, Pastors, Former Principal Arrested In Sex Assault Case

What surprises me most about this type of story is that I do not hear of more cases. I call these types of operations FBC, ‘Family Business Churches”. If you are outside the family, you cannot win. The family holds all the cards. If you are a teacher, you are fired. If you a congregant, you are expelled. It’s a scam.

The police brought the Grand Jury in to investigate because people, including the victim, were not cooperation. I’m happy to see this move. The church and school did it’s best to sweep this under the rug. It’s time for our secular government to hold these hypocrites to a higher standard because it’s obvious that they cannot hold themselves to their own biblical standard.

For the record

  • Church involved: Hilltop Baptist Church in Colorado Springs
  • School involved: Hilltop Baptist School (website down)
  • Pastor indicted: Franklin “Wayne” Knight - failure to report child abuse or neglect and accessory to a crime
  • Associate pastor indicted: Raymond Knight – failure to report child abuse or neglect
  • Principle indicted: Jan Ocvirk - failure to report child abuse or neglect and accessory to a crime
  • Teacher indicted: Terah Allyn Rawlings – eight counts of sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust and obscenity-promotion

I hope the parents of children attending HIlltop Baptist school are doing the right thing and pulling there kids from the school.

Something in my wants to rant... I’m perplexed by the thinking here. It cannot be driven by their faith. Nothing about this crime speaks to life as a Christian. It’s all about money driven self-interest and control. Where is your god in this? What glory do you bring to god by hiding the abuse of a child?

Photo tip - diy camera stabilizer

It’s funny, the things that bring back old memories. They come out of the blue. This video, sent to me by a tipster named Spritegn, reminded me of my very first days with a camera. That was way back in the the mid 70s. My teacher, Mr. Montgomery, taught me to hold a camera steady by taping a pen light to the bottom of lens. I had me keep the light in a circle on the wall about 10 feet away. It would have been easy except for the big piece of glass hanging off the front of the camera. I shook so bad that the circle looked like it was illuminated by a strobe light. To fix my shake, Mr. Montgomery hung a weight off the bottom of the camera. It was exactly like what is shown in the video.

I had not thought about this in years. Mr. Montgomery was an ass. He went on to fail me photography because I would not play football for him. I was not my proudest moment…

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Photo - we bad

We bad

I’m sure taking photos while I’m driving is a crime, but I can’t resist. People but odd stuff on the vehicles, I must shoot. I’m further compelled when I can capture some of the urban ugliness that makes up most of Los Angeles.

I shot this with my Nikon D7000 and a new AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED. I was testing the ‘active mode’ of the lens’ Vibration Reduction technology. It is supposed to reduce the blur associated with shooting while driving. I shot this at 1/60 while doing about 30mph (with one hand no less). I think the VR technology works just fine.

The lens runs about $585 and is an upgrade over the AF Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4-5.6G ($179), which I had and beat to death over the last couple of seasons.

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Youth worker Christopher Cormack convicted

Christopher Cormack was a youth ministry at a Lawrence, Kansas church where he molested a 13-year-old girl in his youth group. He was convicted for the crimes in 2008 but was granted a new trial over faulty jury instructions. He pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of indecent liberties with a child.

The down side is that Cormack is essentially a free man. Granted, he will carry the stigma of a being a register sex offender, but he raped a 13-year-old girl. I think a long stretch in prison is a better alternative.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Lens Wipe podcast

I started listening to a podcast called Lens Wipe a few days ago. If you like photography and are into your kit, trade, and techniques, these guys are for you. Check them out on iTunes. Fair warning: The use the seven dirty on occasion.

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Photo - donut ugly

Donut Ugly

I picked up AF-S Nikkor 18-200mm lens yesterday. I took this photo of urban ugliness while breaking the lens in. I’m very happy with the Nikon’s vibration reduction technology. I was able to flip it over active and shoot from a moving truck (very slowly moving) and still got some good shots.

The donuts are outstanding. They are served with love by a group of Vietnamese woman who cannot possibly be over five feet tall. They take good care of their customers.

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Saturday, November 12, 2011

April Rain by Langston Hughes

It’s raining here in Los Angeles today. I normally play disc golf at sunrise on the weekend. Not today. I stayed in bed late and then opened a book of poetry by Langston Hughes. I selected this short poem for my reading today.

Let the rain kiss you
Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops
Let the rain sing you a lullaby
The rain makes still pools on the sidewalk
The rain makes running pools in the gutter
The rain plays a little sleep song on our roof at night
And I love the rain.

It feels right.

You can read more poetry by Langston Hughes at Poets.org.

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Close encounter of the Christian type

If I wrote about every overtly Christian encounter I have, there would be no other posts on this blog. Encounters happen everyday in one form or another. It’s the overt encounters that get under my skin.

I had breakfast with my boss yesterday. He ran out at the end of the meal to catch a meeting. I stayed behind to enjoy a last cup of coffee. While sitting alone with my thoughts, two men sat down at a table on my right. They both greeted me and then started talking to me like I was a long lost friend. The conversation turned towards work. One of the men was an out of work quality inspector and could use help finding a job. I agree to give him my business card and help him get in touch with my company’s HR department. It’s a small good deed and something I am willing to do for anybody.

He agrees to follow me to my truck so I can give him my business card. While I’m fishing it out of my briefcase he starts in with his Christian rant.

“I never would have survived this period of unemployment without my church.”

I smile and make non-committal noises.

“They prayed over me. I’m sure it lead me to you.”

I get this bad feeling in the pit of my stomach.

“Would you mind if we prayed here now?”

My response was typical for these types of situations. “I would rather not.”

He responds as if I hurt him, “Why? I just want to thank Jesus for bringing us together and presenting this opportunity.”

I tell him it would be best if he prayed on his own. He gets tears in his eyes, “But I just want to share my joy.”

Oh boy… I’m in a Denny’s parking lot with a 6’4” man tearing up over his faith. Why does this happen to me?

Another man walks by. He asks, “Is something wrong here?”

The man seeking a job explains what is going on. The new guy offers to pray with him. I take the opportunity to jump in my truck and leave as quietly as possible. Two grown men are standing in a parking lot with their right hands on each other’s shoulders. Both are deep in a public prayer. I don’t get it. I’m in no mood for a debate and my atheism is none of their business. Why is it assumed that we are all Christians?

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

A poem a day keeps Joe from going insane

I love poetry. I consume it like all works of beauty. Slowly. I’ll take a day to savor it. To mull over it. To read it aloud and hear it echo off wall of my office. I’ll consume it one delicious word at a time and smile.

Today’s poem: Darkness by Lord Byron

I had a dream, which was not all a dream.
The bright sun was extinguish'd, and the stars
Did wander darkling in the eternal space,
Rayless, and pathless, and the icy earth
Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air;
Morn came and went—and came, and brought no day,
And men forgot their passions in the dread
Of this their desolation; and all hearts
Were chill'd into a selfish prayer for light

Read the rest.

I did not come to poetry until 5 years ago. I don’t know why I excluded it from my reading. Now I cannot go a day without reading one. How odd is that? The people I grew up with would not believe it.

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The monster worshiping among you

LouisReVilleI say “you” because… well, the truth is I’m an Atheist. I don’t worship anyone or anything. That being said, I still detest liars and those who prey on our children. I think Christian poser Louis “Skip” ReVille qualifies as somebody deserving of my scorn and your attention. So, here it goes.

ReVille allegedly used his position as a the leader of a bible study, teacher, and coach to gain access to young boys and allegedly molest them. ReVille’s abuse spanned years. and included many boys. He rapped himself in the morality of Christianity. He used it as a disguise to hide his true intentions. He prey on his fellow Christian’s children. The parents set the table for him. 

But just how did he keep his sexual advances secret in a region well-versed in the threat of molestation? The area has seen a string of coaches, teachers, ministers and priests charged with similar crimes, including infamous predator Eddie Fischer, who molested more than 40 students during his teaching career. Charleston also is home to Darkness to Light, a national group that has trained some 300,000 people in ways to prevent child sexual abuse.

Source: Child molester: A community comes to grips with the monster who lurked in its midst

It is behaviors that are the primary indicators of a man’s proclivity for abusing children. Let’s look at ReVille’s behaviors. Are they those of normal adult?

  • He position himself to be close to children in every aspect of his life.
  • He chose to spend as much of his time as possible with boys.
  • He created situations where he can be alone with boys.
  • He brought boys on overnight trips.
  • He sponsored lock down sleep overs.
  • He gave kids rides to and from events.
  • He acted as a baby sitter.
  • He acted as a foster parent.
  • He hosted small group bible studies

Where is the warning sign? If you take his behaviors as a group and add his lack of normal adult interactions, you start to see the problem. When you add in how often he was passed from job to job, the problem comes into focus. Employers were playing pass he trash. They let his oddness slide. What they were actually doing was allowing him to continued access to children.

His arrest was a beautiful thing…

ReVille admitted to the allegations when confronted by police on Oct. 28, affidavits stated. He was arrested the same day, shortly after attending special training to help teachers and administrators prevent child sexual abuse.

Justice is a bitch. Public shaming is part of the process.

Hat Tip: Maximus Aurelius

Clergy Sexual Abuse, Child Molesters, Christians

Serendipity is dark and wonderful

I found this by accident. It’s titled Blow by Yuki Nakano and It’s housed at the Library of Congress.

I don’t which I like better, poetry or visual arts I guess it depends on my mood. My mood is dark and gloomy today. I spend 5 hours driving the freeways of Los Angeles today. Plus, a disappointing experience at work prompted me to consider finding a new job. So, dark and gloomy means I’m leaning towards the visual arts today. I feel better.

(Does anyone need a kickass technical project manager?)

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Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Odd bits from my week and a dive into the past

I saw police arresting two men holding 10 foot tall wooden cross on a bridge spanning the 91 freeway near my home. The crosses were emblazoned with words REPENT is red letters. The police had these traffic stopping nutballs up against a chain-link fence. I cheered silently.

I was stopped in traffic today. There was a small accident blocking traffic. The car in front of me was honking vigorously. I noticed a large cross hanging from her mirror. A Christian fish on her bumper, and a sticker advertising a Christian festival. She flipped me off when I drove past.

I stopped for gas in an odd spot near Newbury Park. A man tried to talk to me about god. Not the Christian god mind you, but the Muslim version. I happen to walk in on him while he was reading the Koran. He shared a few verses with me. He was old and friendly. We shared a cup of coffee together before I moved on.

I drove by a man walking on the guardrail of a bridge over the same 91 freeway I mentioned above. Once slip and he would die a horrible death on the pavement below. I drove slowly passed while calling 911. The operator asked if I thought the man was going to kill himself and a bunch of other questions. While I was talking another car pulled up and said, ‘Maybe we should pray for him.”

I spoke to he executive pastor of a church going through a sexual abuse scandal. He told me that this crisis was causing him to question his faith. Not in god though, that will never waiver he assured me, but in people. When I told him that trust is something that should be earned and never given freely, he told my attitude was unchristian. I reminded him that people do things and sometimes they do very bad things. God has nothing to do with it. He claimed God guides everything for a purpose, but he could not see the purpose in the rape of young girl. I waited… he has my number.

I spoke to a victim of clergy sexual abuse.She wanted to know my story. What I told her is that as a youth, my church choir toured California and Arizona. On the tour 4 of my friends were molested by the choir director. I was not touched. My theory is that even as a boy of 16, at 6’2”, I was to man-sized to fit the profile for abuse. One of my friends, one of the abused kids, killed himself a few years later. I did not find why until 8 years ago when contacted by lawyers looking into the abuse. It was like light clicked on in my head. I remembered why I quit singing. The victim had been thinking about killing herself, she decided to get counseling instead. She also made the calls necessary to report the crime.

Life is interesting. Religion is pervasive. I’m an out Atheist, so it feels like I’m an island in a sea of believers. I talk to pastors every week. The same goes for victims of sexual abuse. I can’t escape this role I’ve created for myself. It is not what I intended, and it brings me in close contact with religion every week. I’m not sure I like that.

Youth pastor Michael Lenzini arrested

Youth pastor Michael Brandon Lenzini, 34, was arrested for allegedly molesting a young girl from his youth group at Crossroads Church in Alma.
Investigators say they received a report from the state’s child abuse hotline that Lenzini engaged in sexual acts with a young girl from the youth group.
Source: Crawford County Youth Pastor Arrested for Sexual Assault
The police do not know if there are other victims.

It’s an epidemic. Youth groups are a smorgasbord for unscrupulous pastors.

Update 6/19/2012 - Lenzini convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Pastor Matthias Anderson arrested

MathiasAnderson41-year-old Matthias Anderson of New Wine Ministries Church in Oceanside, CA., stands accused of molesting a girl under the age of 14 (the victim was 12). There may be other victims.

"The sexual relationship ... occurred multiple times in both Riverside and San Diego counties," Gomez alleged.

Anderson, who lives in Hemet, allegedly would pick the girl up at her home and take her to another location to have sex with her, the sergeant said.

Source: Pastor arrested for alleged sex acts with preteen girl

A comment caught my eye.

by hello!!

I give my sympathies to the family but I must admit, I feel it is partially the parents' fault this (may have) happened. If it were my daughter, I would not let her go off with a pastor alone for any reason. There just aren't any good reasons for it. The only reason I could think of a pastor coming to my home to pick up my child would be for a large church group outing or christian summer camp. In which, parents are most often required to drop the child off at the church where everyone is required to meet to be able to go, not the paster or a church authority member to pick them up from home. I hope for the girl's sake that they are wrong accusations and it is not something she will have to live with for the rest of her life.

Hello!! is correct. Parents beware. There is never a reason to turn you daughters over to a pastor.

The prosperity gospel corrupts another church

Pastor Michael Wilkerson was arrested for allegedly bilking his modest church (and its members) out millions of dollars. Wilkerson kept a Escalade and a Lexus in the garage of his 1.7 million dollar home while his parishioners allegedly wrote checks to him as part of a get-rich-quick real estate investment scheme. Apparently Wilkerson mixed the prosperity gospel with calls for collective investment from the pulpit. The only people to make money were Wilkerson, his wife and two cronies.

God wants you to be rich. Just give me your money and I will return it to you 20 fold…. Are people idiots?

I learned a new term from this article: Affinity Fraud.

A 2006 study by the North American Securities Administrators Association estimated that losses from religion-based affinity fraud had reached $2 billion. Those rip-offs have only become more common since, said Ole Anthony, who helms the Dallas-based Trinity Foundation, a watchdog group that investigates the financial misdeeds of religious figures.

Youth pastor Chad Foster arrested

ChadFosterYouth pastor Chad Foster was arrested for the sexual assault of a 16-year-old girl in his youth group. Foster allegedly had sex with the girl a dozen times.
The girl met Chad Foster, 32, last summer while he was serving as a youth pastor at the Community of Faith Church on Becker Road in Cypress. The relationship turned sexual in July when the girl visited Foster at his home, the girl told a Harris County Sheriff's deputy. Court documents show that the two communicated frequently through texts.
Source: Cypress youth pastor accused of sexual assault of a minor
On the upside, when adults leaned of the abuse, they reported it to the police. On of the people the victim talked to was a pastor. Good for him.
Foster was the youth pastor at Community of Faith Church in Cypress, TX. There is no news of the arrest on the church website.

Photo - a sad trashcan


I took my camera on a brief foray into Culver City yesterday and came up dry. I shot this sad trashcan while passing through Cerritos on my way home.

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Friday, November 04, 2011

Youth pastor Barry Caudle arrested

BarryCaudleAoG youth pastor Barry Caudle was arrested for trying to hook up with an underage girl for sex via the internet. Of course, it was a sting. What a dumbass.

Barry Caudle, a 39-year-old youth minister at the Marengo First Assembly of God, 22817 W. Grant Highway, was arrested Tuesday morning and is being held in lieu of $150,000 bail.

Prosecutors said Caudle solicited a Rock Island police officer who was posing undercover online as a 14-year-old girl.

Source: Marengo youth minister charged with soliciting a child by Paul Biasco

I hope they caught Caudle before he hurt anyone. Harvest Chapel, his former church, is waiting for the police to start the investigation. Meanwhile, Marengo First Assembly of God, is cooperating with the investigation.

Youth pastor Michael Lee arrested

Baptist youth pastor Michael Lee responded to an advertisement that was looking for men who wanted to have private fun with children. He was arrested on the spot. Kind of creepy, right?

When the suspects arrived at the operation site, a home in west Orange County, they were greeted by an undercover officer posing as a mother. Once inside, they were taken down immediately by several deputies staged inside. Cameras caught each arrest on video.

Source: Disney worker, youth pastor and 48 others charged Operation SpiderWeb sex sting by Bianca Prieto

Michael Lee is the youth pastor at Eastland Baptist Church, which is also infamous for the conviction of a child molesting Sunday school teacher name Ed Wilcox back in 2009. Eastland Baptist Church also runs a Christian school. I’d be re-thinking my commitment to the church about now…

Pastor Royden Wood found guilty

Pastor Royden Wood, profiled here, was found guilty on charges that he sexually assaulted women from his congregation. Wood was nicknamed the “Dirty Deacon” because of his previous convictions and his odd sexual behavior.

The complainants described a host of sexual activities with their pastor, often under the guise of chiropractic treatments and creative marriage counselling to make them better wives.

Wood testified that he didn't have sex with any of the five complainants and they all had motives to hurt him.

Source: Dirty deacon found guilty by Jane Sims

I hope this means that this means his church will go under for good. The man was a cult leader and his church a cult.  I also hope this means Woods spends some serious time in prison. The man is freak.

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Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Judge William Adams beats daughter for using the internet

Wow. This brings back some bad childhood memories… Few things are capable of getting a deep emotional response from me. This did it. My wife warned me not to watch it yesterday. Why didn't I listen?

Judge William Adams. You are a bully and a coward.

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Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Faith healing couple sent to prison

The Friendly Atheist reports today that Faith-Healing, Child-Killing Christian Couple Sentenced to Six Years in Prison. I’m happy to see these child murderers will do some serious prison time. I don’t think it will change their mind though. Dale & Shannon Hickman, enjoy your stay in prison.

Pastor Lawrence Brown convicted

LawrenceBrownPastor Lawrence Morris Brown, profiled here, was convicted of soliciting for prostitutes. Um… he offered a 15-year-old girl $100 in exchange for a sex act.

In July 2010, Brown was at the teenager's home in Slidell. He asked her if she wanted to make some money, then propositioned her for a sexual act, according to the St. Tammany Parish District Attorney's Office. Assistant District Attorney Mike Montalbano prosecuted the case.

Source: Slidell minister convicted of offering 15-year-old $100 for sex

The prosecutor dropped a charge of indecent behavior with a juvenile. He is not required to register as a sex offender. Brown was a pastor at Starlight Missionary Baptist Church.

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Review: Bamboozled by Timothy Aldred

I write this with a heavy heart. I hated the pseudointellectual musing of self-published author Timothy Aldred. Is hate too strong a word? I don’t think so, especially not in this case.

Bamboozled. Besieged by Lies, Man Never a Sinner.
How world leaders use religion to control the populace.
By Timothy Aldred.
Self Published in 2011
ISBN-13 987-1461063599
ISBN-12: 1461063590

Let’s start with the author. He’s stalking me. He sent me his book back in May. I read it and found that  I could get not behind it. It took me awhile too. Each chapter was a different trip down the rabbit hole. I had trouble following his reasoning, I often could not even understand the points he attempted to make as he offered no evidence besides his rambling text.

Did I mention stalking? He’s sending me emails and tweets demanding that I “do the right” thing and send his precious book back to him. I normally return books if the author includes a SASE. Otherwise, I read and chuck, or read and post a review. I post reviews  for books by Atheist authors that I feel that I can support, or I post reviews for books by Christians that I want to discuss. In this case, it was read and chuck. I did not want this book cluttering my bookshelf. In the back of my mind I thought, “What if an FBI profiler saw this sitting on my shelf?”

Why would an author demand his book back? I’ve had 44 books and videos sent to me this year. I try hard to read them all. Most are unsolicited. Publishers send them along with collateral advertising material. I’m on a list or something. Most books are bad or worse, uninteresting. I either promote the book (usually at the request of the author or publisher), or I review it if the book is worthy. What sets the bulk of these books apart is editing. Most have a good editor, Bamboozled does not. It’s self-published and from what I can tell, self-edited. This is a problem, especially when the book is a bundle of conspiracy theories rapped in religious misdirection.

I looked hard for other reviews. I found two at Amazon. I could not find any other bloggers willing to spend time on this book. I know why too. The book is not worth the time. Don’t buy it. Don’t read it. It’s a waste of time.

And finally, because the author insists that I return his book. I’ve concluded that he does not know how the process works. If he does not know the process, I’m guessing he’s leans toward the nutball crowd or is un-publishable because he occupies a niche on the fringe. So, I’ve added him to my nutball list. I’m sure he will be in good company.

Is this review mean spirited? Look. I try to help. I really do. If I don’t like a book I don’t review it. I’d prefer not to do the negative reviews. If you push me for one. Screw it. I’ll post a negative review.

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