Sunday, January 29, 2012

Pastor Derrick Griffin found guilty

Pastor Derrick Griffin, profiled here, was found guilty of murder. In a cowards act, motivated by jealousy, Griffin gunned down Kristopher Miller in a drive-by-shooting. In other news, Griffin has already repented. He’s going to heaven when he dies….

Such bullshit. I think the seventh level of hell is more appropriate.

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A simple solution

Pastor Birger Draget, profiled here, cannot renew his visa because he is sitting in jail awaiting trial on 40 counts alleging inappropriate sexual contact with a teen girl. His lawyer wants Draget released on a reduced bond so that he can file for a visa extension. The court is not going for it. I have a simple solution. Let him sit jail until he is convicted and goes to prison for 40 years. Then, when he is old and gray, deport him.

The comment thread on my original post is worth a read. Draget is a 7th Day Adventist. Reports of clergy sexual abuse from within that sect are rare.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Thanks America’s Most Wanted

I watched the Otis Holland episode of America’s Most Wanted last while on a business trip to Las Vegas. One week later, Otis Holland was captured!

Charismatic and cunning, Las Vegas Pastor Otis Holland is on the run after members of his church between the ages of 13 and 16 accused him of sexual abuse. The revelation of Holland's relationship with his young parishioners has opened a Pandora's box that has left Holland's entire congregation stunned and shamed. Thankfully, an alert AMW tipster gave authorities the information they needed to track Holland down.

Holland, profiled here, was on the run. According to the Union Tribune, he was living out of a suitcase.

Alfredo Arenas, chief liaison officer for the Baja California state police, said Holland was detained outside a house in Tijuana’s Zona Norte, a neighborhood near the U.S. border. Holland had been living there by himself, and had not been there for long, Arenas said: “He had a couple of suitcases, the clothes were still inside.”

I can’t wait for this creep to go to prison.

Atheists will find this sickening

I read a post on Jonathan Turley about pastor Rick Bartlett killing a neighbor's cat by throwing it off a bridge. It fell 50 feet. Bartlett’s going down for the crime, of that there is little doubt. He was dumb enough to kill the cat after being caught with it in his possession. What I found more disturbing was the comment, “Atheists will find this sickening”. Really?

Let us assume that we do not know that Bartlett is a pastor. Would a reasonable person find his actions sickening? I think so. The fact that he is a pastor served to bring this hateful crime to my attention. His crime offends my sense of decency and my love for animals (even cats). I am sickened by this act of cruelty because it’s wrong; not because he is a pastor. I would hope other people feel the same way.

The cat’s owners posted this at the Digital Texan.

…My sweet Moody was found dying at the bottom of the bridge that runs over Fisherman’s Park, miles away from my neighborhood in Riverside Grove!Moody was taken to the Veterinarian after he was found barely alive under the bridge. He suffered for hours under that bridge, in unspeakable pain. He had collapsed lungs, was struggling to breathe. The pads of his paws were torn from his feet! When Moody saw me he couldn’t sit up but he tried to, he was crying out for me, he wanted his mommy to make it better and I couldn’t! He died a few hours later.My poor Moody suffered at the hands of this man, Rick Bartlett. Moody was such a sweet boy, and when I think about how he died and how scared he must have been to have this strange man hurting him, it breaks my heart!…

A pastor trapped a cat. Neglected in by keeping it in a cage for three days without food or water. Turned it in to animal control, then lied and took the cat back when he realized the it would be returned to its owners. The next time we see the cat, it’s near death. Are these the actions of a Christian? Are these the actions of a pastor? How can anyone listen to this man’s words if his actions are so inconsistent with his faith? Hypocrisy! Lies! Violence!

I bet he’s be preaching tomorrow..

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Friday, January 27, 2012

Pastor Matthew Clark arrested

Matthew clark

We all face choices. Our choices define us. We can choose to be good and honorable, or can follow a darker path. We can turn our back to family and friends and purse our darkest desires. Ask pastor Matthew Preston Clark. He's a married father and senior pastor at the Blessed Assurance Temple in Bartow. He was arrested for soliciting a lewd act in a public park. Decoding this, we learn that a supposed man of God is living a lie. It's a sad story, and unfortunately, one that is repeated here on Deep Thoughts month after month.

How does a pastor, or anyone for that matter, live a lie so out of sync reality? Hypocrisy is horrible, but not being true to yourself is a greater evil. Truth is lost. The lies touch so many people. It's all so sad, and predictable.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Pastor Tommy Shelton convicted

Pastor Tommy R. Shelton Jr. submitted an Alford plea in his child molestation case. Shelton was accused of molesting two boys in the 1990s. In exchange for his plea in the first case, charges were dropped in the second case.

One man accused Shelton of fondling, kissing and performing oral sex on him when he was a 14-year-old boy around 1995. The man had gone to Shelton for counseling and piano lessons and two of the alleged assaults occurred inside the church, the man testified at a preliminary hearing in May 2010.

A second man testified that Shelton would direct him into the the woods during bicycle rides and then fondle him. The man said the assaults ocurred in 1997, when he was 11 years old.

Source: Plea deal for Fairfax pastor accused of sex abuse

Pastor Shelton will spend between 4 and 16 years in prison. At 66, he my pay for his crime with his life. Shelton was the  pastor at Community Church of God in the Dunn Loring area.

More Baptist strangeness

There are things I do not understand about organized religion and the people who participate in the shared delusion. I'm using my words carefully here. Delusion fits. Especially with regard to Baptists and their wayward pastors.

In Michigan next Sunday, Rev. Arthur Pearson will give a sermon at Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church. Pearson allegedly misappropriated about $237k in church funds. Yet he will preach and and his flock will listen. How does this work?

In the real world, reason would intervene and the decent folks who attend the church would set the pastor down until the allegations are resolved. Pastors are plentiful. Guest pastors can fill in for Pearson without causing too much disruption to the heath and wellbeing of the church. It's a reasonable response to the situation, yet this will not happen. Pearson will preach to the bitter end.

The Bible clearly states that pastors should not lead if they are compromised by controversy. It's better for the church to have the pastor step aside. It's not a recommendation. It is what bible mandates. Yet these Christians will ignore the bible and do as they please. It a delusion fed by hubris and a disregard for the very book they hold dear.

I'll never understand.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Are Catholic priests into indecent exposure?

I grow tired of reporting on the misdeeds of the clergy, but something inside me keeps pushing me to keep at it. This time it was Father Mark Stewart Bullock, a Baltimore-area Catholic priest who was arrested for indecent exposure. It seems like I've commented on a dozen or so Catholic priests in various compromising positions and indecent positions; be it running naked or hanging out in public restrooms. Bullock was caught in an adult bookstore without his pants. He was visible to customers in the store (I'm pretty sure that was the point.)

Pastor Bullock may be gay and is definatly into high risk sex. I'm thinking that his behavior may be inconstant with the moral direction of the Catholic church. Of course, since the crime involved acts that could be interpreted as gay behavior, the Catholic church will lower the hammer of God on Bullock. He'll be gone in a matter of months. If he had abused a child… it could take years.

Oh, and sitting on a couch in a adult book shop without your pants in gross beyond words. Yucky. Eww.

Oral Roberts' son arrested

Richard Roberts, Oral Roberts' son, was arrested on suspicion of DUI Tuesday.  Roberts was stopped in Oklahoma doing 93 mph in a 65-mph zone on the turnpike in his Mercedes-Benz.

Religion, alcohol, fast cars, speed… yep, that's a Christian.

Roberts milks the Christian gravy train for all it's worth. He's run Oral Roberts University and appears on a national Christian TV show. Instead of calls for his head, the spokesman for ORU, Jeremy Burton, offered this tripe. "May God's grace help them as they work toward healing."

How about some accountability?

Would Jesus charge a speaker’s fee?

I read that the New Hope Gospel Church is trying to raise $50k so that they can buy Tim Tebow to speak at an event called The Restoration. Raising money to entice a famous Christian to speak seem wrong on so many levels.

Youth Pastor Adam King with New Hope Gospel Church tells the Zanesville Times Recorder that an announcement was made at Sunday services and that thousands of dollars was already donated by Sunday night. A flyer says the goal is to raise $50,000 to have Tebow appear at the event called The Restoration on March 2.

Read more: Ohio Church Works To Lure Tebow

Would Jesus charge a speaking fee? The answer is no of course. The mere thought of Jesus charging a speaking fee is wrong. We know this (even those of us who do not believe). So why pay $50k to a millionaire for an hour of his time? The money should go to feeding and clothing the poor. As for Tebow, if he were a real Christian, he would speak at the event for free. Of course, this assumes that the event is not some self masturbatory prosperity doctrine sermon.You can be a rich Christian just like Tebow… just sent $29.95 for your holy tea towel.

What really grates… youth pastor Adam King is so proud of his effort.

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Dinner with atheists

Times have changed. I can remember when it was uncommon to meet another atheist. It was not long ago; a few years ago at most. I would run into one or two people a year who were comfortable enough to say they were atheists if the topic came up. It was almost never in a business environment. The stakes were too high.

Flash forward to last Wednesday night. I’m in Las Vegas on a business trip. I met four other people at Hugo’s Cellar, my favorite restaurant, for an informal dinner. During the conversation the subject of religion and believe come up. The man to my right, who had been dating an over-the-top fundamentalist Christian for months, declares that he is an atheist. The husband and wife to my left, both cultural Catholics, declare that they too are atheists. The man across the table from me, a Coptic Christian from Egypt who is branded with a cross on his wrist, declares that he too is an atheist.  I add that I am an atheist. It’s almost an afterthought.

When we talked about it, I find that most of my guests have been atheists for a long time. We all feel that the ice is melting on this subject. It’s no longer a determent to your career. You can be an atheist at work, as long as you are not that obnoxious atheist who complains about every slight. That makes you no better than the obnoxious Christian who complains that Halloween is satanic and therefore must be called a harvest festival. In fact, as long as you are business oriented you will rarely have a problem. Of course, it helps that we all work for an international giant of a company.

Later in the week the subject comes up again in a different setting, and more atheists step forward. A few Christians comment on the discussion, but the comments are all supportive. It’s weird – I’ll call it healthy progress. Since I’m not the only atheist anymore, it is easy for me to feel comfortable and safe. It is a good feeling.

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Saturday, January 07, 2012

Atheist Blogroll - New year, new blogs

We are a week into 2012 and a few new bloggers have joined the Atheist Blogroll.
Are you interested in becoming a member? Visit the Atheist Blogroll for more information. or visit the the full Atheist Blogroll membership list.
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Monday, January 02, 2012

Photograph 100 bird species

I started in on my quest to photograph 100 bird species. I took advantage of an 80 degree January day to walk through my local park with my camera and a 300 mm lens. I managed to shoot 12 different bird species. I was able to identify 11.

  1. Western Kingbird
  2. American Coot (at leas 200)
  3. California Gull
  4. Ring Billed Gull
  5. Band-Tailed Pigeon
  6. Rock Pigeon
  7. Cackling Goose
  8. Mallard
  9. Double-Crested Cormorant
  10. American Wigeon
  11. Bufflehead

My favorite bird was the first. The Western Kingbird caught my eye as I was walking into the park. I managed to get a half dozen shots of it perched on a sign.

So I’ve shot 11 birds – none of the photos are good, which is typical for me. I have almost no practice shooting wildlife, and from the looks of things, I have a lot to learn.

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Sunday, January 01, 2012

Photography projects for 2012

Photography is how I fill my down time. I usually select two or three things to work on every year. This year is no different.

Curate a collection of photographs (see odd bits).

My goal here is to find interesting photos from around the world and display them on my Tumblr blog. I’ll post stories about the photos here throughout the year. I’m off to a good start already.

This project is more for my own education more than anything else. There is much to learn from other photographers.

Do a public 365 (photo a day) project (see Flickr).

I’ve done this already as a private project for three years. I’m a prolific shooter. I’ve started this series off with a shot of my niece (shown below). I’m not aiming for high art here. I want to tell the story of my life in pictures. Trust me. It’s pretty dull.

Revisit the Carson Ugly project with a series of 12 photos and a visit to the run down Carson city library.

I work in the City of Carson. I don’t understand how a city with so much going for it can be so ugly and screwed up. I plan to prowl the city with my camera at lunch to document the conditions. My goal is a modest one photo per month, plus a focused article on the deplorable conditions at the local city Library.

Shoot 100 different bird species

I’ve always been fascinated with lists and naming things. I’ll put some effort into it this year and try to catch and name 100 different bird species. This one will be a challenge. 

365.1 - Liana

This litter charmer is my niece Lianna with her dad Don in the background. She’s a favorite for my camera. We get together on January 1st every year for a good meal together. Today was no exception.

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I wonder if Cee Lo thinks ‘all religion’s is true’

By now we all know that Cee Lo Green butchered John Lennon’s classic song Imagine with the following change to the lyrics.

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And all religion’s true

I wonder if Cee Lo thinks these examples of religion are true?

In India, a seven year old girl was ritually murdered and her liver was sacrificed to the gods for a better harvest.

"A seven-year-old girl was sacrificed by two persons superstitiously believing that the act would give a better harvest," Narayan Das, the police chief of Bijapur district, told AFP by telephone.

In Boliva, a Christian Pentecostal pastor murdered his sister during an exorcism. He claimed the devil entered his body and pushed his sister’s head under water.

"An evil spirit entered me, took control of my hand and began to submerge my little sister," Marca purportedly told police. "Satan was inside the tub."

In Worcester, Massachusetts, a catholic priest, Rev. Lowe Dongor, stands accused of possession of child pornography. He faces defrocking for his misdeeds… and prison.  

Following Vatican officials’ “clarification” that child pornography possession is included in the grounds for removal from the priesthood, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Worcester has asked the pope to defrock Dongor.

Islamic religious terrorists bombed a Nigerian Christian church, Killing as many as 43 people. 73 people were wounded.

“I was able to identify 20 parishioners that died in the explosions,” Achi said in an e-mailed statement today. “Yesterday, they brought in a list of 23 others confirmed to have died in the blast.”

In Israel, fundamentalist Jews spit on little girls.

It seems that a sub-group of the ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Jews (known in Israel as Haredi) of that village have been stoning, taunting, cursing and spitting at an 8-year-old girl as she walks to school each day.  The girl herself is an Orthodox child who, along with her mother, dresses in the "modest" style common among Modern Orthodox and Hasidic women.

And in Ohio, watch out for your beards. A break away Amish sect faces hate crime charges for cutting the beards off of other Amish men, and the hair off of Amish women.

The five attacks between September and November involved cutting women’s hair and men’s beards and hair. That’s considered deeply offensive in Amish culture.

I see nothing ‘true’ here Cee Lo Green. It is just more examples of hate and ignorance, plus a propensity towards violence that I find shocking. But then I…

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too

And I find hope.

Jen Davis self-portraits

I’ve started the new year with a list of projects. One project deals with my Tumblr blog odd bits, where I will attempt to post a photo that I find interesting each day in 2012. The post may be of my own work, or the work of others. I’ve started off with a photo by fine art photographer Jen Davis. She has a self-portrait series I find beautiful, honest, and intriguing.

Jen Davis is a Brooklyn based photographer. For the past 9 years she has been working on a series of Self-Portrait’s dealing with issues regarding beauty, identity, and body image. She has also been exploring men, as a subject and is interested in investigating the idea of relationships, both physical and psychological, with the camera. She received her MFA from Yale University in 2008, and her BA from Columbia College Chicago in 2002.

My plan is too curate a collection of images and artists that I find interesting. Please point me in the direction of work you think might qualify.