Sunday, June 29, 2008

Blogroll Update: Up to 734

We shrink:

  • No shrinkage - but I found this great George Carlin story while checking links.
We change:

We grow:


Many new bloggers ask me which software I use when blogging. I actually use Windows Live Writer on my PC. I have a Mac too. The story is a little more complicated. I'll get into that later. I chose WLW after using a dozen other tools with less capability. WLW, at least when working to Blogger, is a no brainer. That's what I need, a no brainer. I have a few templates setup for my most common types of post. It's a snap to use. What else do you need?

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Blogroll Update: Secular Sunday Sermon

Secular Sunday Sermon joined the Atheist Blogroll a few days ago. The author has been kind enough to provide an introduction. Enjoy!

You know, I can't count how many people have told me that they never realized how many atheists there were out there until they started looking into it here on the Internet. As an atheist with more than a twinge of an evangelizing streak, this makes me happy to hear, but I must admit that the experience was a little different for me.

I grew up in southern Ontario, Canada - a part of the world where religion is so absent from the public arena that it's actually rather difficult to know who is an atheist and who is a believer. In all my time growing up, the number of people I met who went to church every weekend Ii could count on one hand, and the idea that there were people who took Genesis literally and really believed that the world was 6,000 years old was, frankly, laughable.

So it was truly with a shock that I explored the world of the religious on the Internet and discovered just how many completely dogmatic fundamentalists there are out there. A shock, you might say, that has spurred me into action. The Internet has shown me that there is a fight out there worth fighting: the fight for secularism, for rational thinking, for tolerance and for true freedom. If I can contribute at all to this fight, I will consider it worthwhile...

Please take a moment to visit this blog and welcome him to the team.

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Youth pastor and Voyeur

Baptist youth pastor Matthew C. Porter faces a serious problem. His house sitter allowed police to search his hour. The found evidence that made him look less that godly. 

Investigators say Porter, 31, secretly taped girls between the ages of 12 and 16 changing and showering at his rental house in Ellenton and in his apartment in Bradenton.

Porter has pleaded not guilty to nine counts of voyeurism, a misdemeanor.

Source: Judge upholds search at ex-pastor's

Cases like this give me the creeps. Here is a youth pastor working which children every day of his life. On one hand serving, but with the other hand taping young girls when they are most vulnerable. It seems positively evil.

Porter claims innocence. He's pleaded not guilty. Judge George K. Brown Jr. ruled against him. I am not sure I agree. How is it possible for a second party to grant access to a house? For the good of the case, I hope his ruling stands up on appeal. A better course of action would have been to get a search warrant after the crime was reported. They had the time.

Matthew C. Porter was the youth pastor at Bethel Baptist church in  Ellenton, Florida. He has resigned.

Sex Offenders Sue for Right to Volunteer in Churches

I would write this headline another way. Sex Offenders Sue for Second Chance to Molest.

The Atlanta-based Southern Center for Human Rights filed a lawsuit Tuesday on behalf of the 15,400 sex offenders on Georgia’s state registry. Georgia already has one of the nation's toughest sex offender statutes, and the center is hoping to stop the added measure, set to go into effect July 1.

The new provision would make it illegal for sex offenders to sing in adult choirs, prepare for events or cook meals in church kitchens. Violating the law could spell a prison term of 10 to 30 years, which sponsors said is a vital addition to help keep children safe.

Source: Sex Offenders Sue in Georgia for Right to Volunteer in Church

How outrageous! Why would we want to keep sinners out of church? Oh wait, that is not what is happening. This law prevents sex offenders from working in a church. That seems like a good idea.

But some religious leaders say the law would undermine the positive effects of religion.

"Thieves, robbers, murderers — we give them all a second chance," said Mark Hanson, senior pastor at New Beginnings Tabernacle, a small evangelical ministry in Buchanan, Ga.

"It seems like under the sex offender law you’re banned permanently from society," he said. "Without forgiveness and mercy, how do we expect anyone to start over?"

Mark Hanson - I can tell you why it's a bad idea to let child molesters hang around kids at church. Just read my Hypocrisy Watch posts. You will find ample reason to use more caution. Besides, your sinners can still attend church. The law prohibits activities that may place them in contact with children but does not preclude church services.

Here's an ideal. You can have a special sex offenders service. With fifteen thousand registered offenders and god knows how many Baptist pastors in Georgia, your service will be standing room only. Just keep the kids away.

Friday, June 27, 2008

SoCal pastor convicted of sexual molesting 2 girls

We have pedophile pastors in LA too. 

LOS ANGELES A former pastor was convicted Thursday of multiple counts of sexually molesting two adolescent girls who attended his church in the San Fernando Valley. A Superior Court jury deliberated for about 90 minutes before finding Joseph Gary Torres guilty on 11 counts, including continuous sexual abuse, oral copulation and sodomy by force, Deputy District Attorney Carolyn McNary said.

Source: SoCal pastor convicted of sexual molesting 2 girls - San Jose Mercury News

Joseph Gary Torres was a Baptist pastor. Need I say more?

Backyard Skeptics

I met Bruce Gleason of Backyard Skeptics at an Atheist Meetup a few days ago. He gave me his business card and a CD of videos called Atheistic Answers to Religious Questions V.2. I'm good at reading people. I watch and listen. Especially when I meet new people. I listened to Bruce. He did not listen to me.

When we introduced ourselves I game him my card. It has my real name on it and a link to my blog. I don't try to hide who I am in person, only in the online community. I explained that I write a blog and that it features Atheism... blank looks. I talk a little about building an online community via the Atheist Blogroll... more blank looks. I decide to shut up.

Bruce is recruiting for his backyard skeptic's meeting. He tells stories from recent debates. He talks about confronting street preachers by walking around with a sign that says "Talk to an Atheist". I goof on him a little more. It dawns on me that his life revolves around arguing with theists. How sad.

He clutches The Encyclopedia of Biblical Errancy (online) like a fundie clutches his bible. It is heavily annotated. He thrusts it vigorously in my direction. "You must get this book. It will help you win arguments with Christians". My mind becomes like water. I think of my happy place. I start counting the number of times he says "Bible" (23 in 5 minutes).

It appears I've met a Atheist fundamentalist. I start looking for a way to excuse myself. My bullshit detector is starting to go off. I realize I'm about to start eviscerating Bruce. He offers too many opportunities. I'm saved by the lecturer, Dr. Gorapaku Vijayam from the Atheist Centre in India. As his lecture starts, I realize it is going to be a long night.

I can see why some Atheists would engage in battles with theists. I am not interested in what theist believe. I'm only interested in what they try to make me believe. Sitting around with 20 other people debating some passage of the bible seems like a grand waste of time unless there is ample beer or a good cigar involved.

I came to the meetup to get involved in Atheist activism. I'll pass on Backyard Skeptics. I'll pass on the Shaman Knight. I'll pass on people with an agenda. I'd rather goof on odd people and write my blog.

Teen arrested for 'blasphemous T-shirt'

This story is from Australia.

A GOLD Coast teenager who wore a T-shirt by English extreme metal band Cradle of Filth that reads 'Jesus is a c**t' has been charged with offensive behaviour.

Above the offensive slogan a nun is depicted masturbating.

A 16-year-old was arrested on Monday for wearing the shirt and was charged with offensive behaviour under the Summary Offences Act 2005 for public nuisance.

Source: Teen arrested for 'blasphemous T-shirt' |

I did not realize Australians did not have the protection of a Bill of Rights like here in the states. Little Johnny could have worn his shirt here without fear of arrest. Of course, he would also run the risk of a good ass stomping.

Little Johnny was just supporting a band he likes and not trying to make a statement. He's not Satanic or anything (although he may be a Wiccan).

Molendinar residents Hayley and Arron, who are big Cradle of Filth fans, bought the shirts from Carrara Markets six months ago but said they had never, and would never, wear them in public.

"I'm not a fan of the T-shirt. I'm only wearing it because it's a band T-shirt and it's rare," said Arron. "I don't actually believe the stuff. I'm not satanic or anything like that. I hate that stuff. I just wear it around the house."

Right. Call me a skeptic. I've got a teenaged son. No T-shirt leaves the house without his full understanding of the message  on his shirt. It's like secret code or something.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

My life has these moments

Shaman KnightSo I went to the initial Buena Park Meetup for Atheists United. We met in a mobile home park's community center. It reminded me of visiting my grandparents back in the day.

I arrived early. The place was locked. As I waited, I kept running through the reasons why I don't like to meet people who claim to be Libertarians (they are all nuts as far as I can tell), and Atheists (I've had some bad experiences with odd people).

I few minutes after the meeting was supposed to start, I tried the doors again. They were still locked. But though the window I saw an odd site. The man pictured above. He was dressed in a bed sheet decorated to look like a holy gown of some sort with a macrame hat. Dennis Owens, Shaman Knight and Spiritual Humanist stunned me stupid. I literally exclaimed "Oh fuck" as he opened the door.

Dennis Owens is actually a nice guy. A little odd. The homemade shaman outfit was a bit over the top. His explanation for why he calls himself a shaman was a tad bizarre. He's died before, so now his is called a shaman. Right...

His words and stories were cloaked in mystical and spiritual references. A little probing on my part brought forth some interesting information. Dennis is part of something called Her Realmian Way. It's like a wicca cult, only it has no members. Dennis made it up back in 1975.

The big secret here is that his group is a dominatrix based non-religious cult. His wife is the head hominatrix. She will perform a Elysian Surrender Ritual for you. So what are you waiting for? If you would like a 70-year-old dominatrix to beat the crap out of you in the name of spiritual humanism, then drop me a note. I can hook you up with a discount.

I'll post on the meeting later.

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Pastor Jeffery Stallworth is a sex offender

And nothing he can do will ever change that. You can go to his church to soak up his wisdom. Be warned, his biography neglects to mention his conviction for sexual assault in Maryland. I wonder why?

You can read a hilarious account of his attempts to expunge his criminal record at Hicktown Press.

Stallworth has a lofty opinion of himself. He likens himself to the Kings of old.

There is no good democracy without the presence of a theocracy. This makes the position of bishop and pastor political in its origin: Kings were political positions in the Old Testament; Christ was a political office in the New Testament; bishops and pastors therefore are political agents in the present testament. In God’s times, tithes were the sacred taxes. In keeping with this rich tradition, Bishop Stallworth offered himself as a candidate for tax assessor in 2007.

Can a convicted sex offender run for office? For that matter can sex offenders run a church?

My question for the faithful - Who in their right mind would sit in a pew on Sunday morning and listen to this man speak?

Nutball Alert: Mr. In God We Trust

Yep - some Christian asshat changed his name to In God We Trust.

A Lake County judge granted permission to the Zion man Friday to officially change his name to "In God We Trust." That's "In God" as a first name and "We Trust" as a last name.

The 57-year-old artist and bus driver was ecstatic about the name change as he exited court Friday.

Source: Zion man now officially named In God We Trust

Judge David Hall should be ashamed of himself. Are there no standards. What if the guy wanted to call himself Mr. I AM SATAN?

I always want to know why motivates this type of nutballs. His answer was as simple as it was stupid.

We Trust said the new name more closely represents his devotion to God than "Steve Kreuscher" did.

His real reason may simply be driven by economics.

"There are billions of artists out there. If you don't do something to stand out in the crowd the world won't recognize you," We Trust said

Steve Kreuscher, Mr. In God We Trust, I have a better name for you. Nutball!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

James Dobson Doesn't Speak For Me

James Dobson influence is in decline. An new website called James Dobson Doesn't Speak For Me offers Christians chance to step away from Dobson's political screed.

James Dobson doesn't speak for me.

He doesn't speak for me when he uses religion as a wedge to divide;

He doesn't speak for me when he speaks as the final arbiter on the meaning of the Bible;

James Dobson doesn't speak for me when he uses the beliefs of others as a line of attack;

He doesn't speak for me when he denigrates his neighbor's views when they don't line up with his;

Read more....

I sense an era coming to and end. Comments like this give me hope.

"My faith is not confined to one or two wedge issues. Let's talk about how to love the world, help the poor, and embrace a consistent ethic of life. Let's elevate our nation through service and true leadership. Let's have a president who respects our intelligence enough to trust us with nuances rather than soundbites. Most of all, let's bring out the best in each other." - Robyn L.

I have another proposal. Let us step away from religion in politics. How about moving America back to its secular roots?

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Catholics help boycott The Love Guru

Catholics join Hindus in a boycott of the forgettable movie The Love Guru.  I say forgettable because I saw the day it opened and I've already flushed this movie from my mind. It was just ok. I laughed my ass off at many of the jokes and gags, but the move was just ok.

The Love  Guru was full of sophomoric dick jokes and endless tasteless bit of 13-year-old humor. It was a perfect move to watch with my son. Apparently the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops agreed with my review. They took it a little too far.

USCCB officials called the film "vulgar and tasteless", saying it "wallows in endless penis jokes and fairly yucky potty humour".

Catholic Bishops think  that The Love Guru in someway denigrates Hindus. To be honest, I don't see it. Mike Myers goes after self help gurus, Hollywood celebrities, midgets, the ugly, people who seek help from cheap and meaningless self-help books (are you listening mom?), Indians,  and just about everything except religion. Except if you count gutting bollywood culture, because he went after that too.  Hindus? Did he snark on Hindus? I was to busy laughing the "Ball Gazer" gag to notice.

Face it folks - The Love Guru is no Life of Brian. My son said it best, Get Smart was better. You religious types need to get a grip. Boycotting this move is a useless gesture. People are not going to take you seriously.

Gay Rights is an Atheist Issue

I've long been gay friendly. My personal position is that who one loves is a personal matter. Gay or straight, black or white, young or old, none of it really matters. We share the basic human right to live, love, and associate as we please. My friends run the gamut of race, sexual orientation, age, gender, and religion. I like it that way. I support anyone who helps move public opinion towards tolerance and acceptance. I've always viewed it as a libertarian issue. My position has changed. I owe it to The Atheist Experience (blog).

Each week I drive from Orange County through Los Angeles County to Ventura County. The drive takes about an hour and a half each Tuesday morning. I stay a few days and then return home via the same route on Thursday. Only this time the drive can take as long as four hours. I fill the drive time by listening to podcasts. The Atheist Experience and the Non Prophets are two of my favorites.

During yesterdays drive I listened to the John Hagee episode. During the show they talked about participating in an Austin Gay Pride event. I think they had a booth up for the Atheist Community of Austin.  One of the hosts (my apologies guys - I have yet been able to put a name to a voice), stated that gay rights is an Atheist issue because gay rights is a separation of church and state issue. It was like somebody turned a light bulb on in my head. I remember thinking, "Jeez, how did I miss that?"

Of course gay rights is a separation of church and state issue!Issues like excluding gays from the legal definition of marriage are clearly based in religion. James Dobson and his hate mongers push the agenda. Our politicians make it law. I feel like a tool for not putting 2 and 2 together on this one.

I wonder if the Atheist community of LA participates in any gay pride festivals? Wait... is there an atheist community of LA? Oh crap, my local chapter meets tonight.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The sport I love

Disc Golf at the Golden State Classic

The sport I love is saving my life. Disc Golf is played in parks all over Southern California. I am now a regular player. Most people call me by the nickname Big Joe. I don't mind the new handle. Big Joe and Red have been with me my whole life.

I watched the Golden State Classic this past weekend at La Mirada regional park. It was amazing to watch, but boring to the uninitiated. The ability to control a disc may seem easy right up until you try to throw it 450 feet. Becoming skilled at the sport I love required a lot of practice. And this is why I say it saved me life. I play all the time.

I started playing in 1975. It was a thing Walt Pitman taught me to do. He was the Youth Pastor at my church. La Mirada park is right across the street from Biola. We played all the time in those day. It was disc golf, then church, then more disc golf. I loved it.

Things change as you age. I lost the buzz for the sport. I started playing again three years ago after a 30-year on again, off again relationship with the sport. Around last November I got serious. I realized I loved playing disc golf. Walking through a park with a disc in my hand is spiritual thing. I don't use the word spiritual lightly.

I grew fat over the years. Obese is such an unkind word. In my case it is a fact. I was considering gastric banding surgery. I was scheduled to have it last October. There was a problem with my insurance so it did not happen. I filed an appeal and waited. In the interim, I started playing disc golf every chance I could, sometimes even two or three times a day. My game improved.

Last week my surgeon called to say everything was good for the operation. We were going to do it this Thursday. I went in for my preop evaluation. When I weighed in the scale showed I was at the my lowest weight in 10 years. I nearly fell over. Over the course of a year I managed to lose 62 pounds. 25 pounds alone were shed since last February. I was stunned.

I started playing disc golf for exercise. When I started, a single game would leave me breathless and spent. I did not realize falling in love with the sport would start my weight loss engine. For the first time in 16 years, I started to lose weight without a diet.

My doctor said I would be a fool to go through with the surgery now. I agreed. At this rate I'll have lost all the weight I want within 18 months.

A postscript - I played disc golf today after work. It was my best game ever. Life is too short to live fat.

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An odd thing happened today

I was offered a chance to invest in a porno flick. Of all the things that I imagined I would do in life, funding porn was not on the list. The offer was real. The return was outstanding. Mojoey passed.

And if my wife reads this post, honey - I was not even tempted. No really! I'm serious.

More cause for joy

Merle Fulmer has resigned as pastor for Lakeridge Baptist Church in Lubbock, Texas. Who is Merle Fulmer? He was the Baptist pastor who spoke the words "Nothing in his character would make me suspicious" after hiring Blain Miller as a youth pastor. At the time, Miller faced sexual assault charges from an alleged relationship with young girl from his previous church. Hiring Fulmer did not seem prudent then. Hell, it still seems imprudent.

Fulmer's resignation took two and a half years. It tore a small church apart. This story was with me the whole time. My heart broke as I read emails and comments from church members who were in agony. The church was hateful and unhealthy. Something needed to happen.

The long road to recovery can start. I offer the words of Coldplay's A Rush of blood to the head. It somehow feels right. It was playing in the background when I read an email from a youth group member telling me of Fulmer's resignation. Like many things in my life today, this song felt right.

He said I'm going to buy this place and burn it down
I'm going to put it six feet underground
He said I'm going to buy this place and watch it fall
Stand here beside me baby in the crumbling walls
Oh I'm going to buy this place and start a fire
Stand here until I fill all your heart's desires
Because I'm going to buy this place and see it burn
Do back the things it did to you in return

Coldplay - A Rush Of Blood To The Head Lyrics

For the members and former members of Lakeridge Baptist Church. I think of many of you as friends even though we have never met. I've come to care about you as this painful process worked its way through your church. I can only tell you to burn the shell of your old church down. Put Fulmer and Miller behind you. It is time to start the healing process.

John Freshwater fired!

Today is a good day. John Frshwater, the bible thumping, cross branding, fundamentalist Christian nutball of a teacher, has been fired by his community's school board.

The school board of a small central Ohio community voted unanimously Friday to fire a teacher accused of preaching his Christian beliefs despite staff complaints and using a device to burn the image of a cross on students' arms.
School board members voted 5-0 to fire Mount Vernon Middle School science teacher John Freshwater.

Source: Ohio teacher burns cross image on students' arms

My original post on freshwater earned me some hate mail and a few comments. One stood out. A Freshwater apologist who posted Anonymously.

THe [sic] electrostatic device that you say he used to "brand crosses into students arms" was mearly [sic] a science demonstration. the cross was really an x and was to show at what point the electricity would pass into the body...

I had felt bad about naming Freshwater a nutball. If the brand was really a small "X" then my position was too harsh. It turns out the brand in question was six inches long and shaped like a cross. The Freshwater apologist lied.

If you would like more information on Freshwater's termination, Panda's Thumb has a comprehensive post on the subject. Read the comment thread (92 as I post) for additional quality information.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Blogroll Update: up to 723

We shrink:

We change:

We grow:

Some News:

I am sorry about the delay in process some of these requests. June has been a busy month. I've been on the road for work a lot. The time I usually spend on blogging and the Atheist Blogroll is much less than I normally do. It should clear up in a few weeks.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

This makes sense

I found this blog via random surfing. Her point made me laugh.

via Adult Christianity

Christian organizations, such as James Dobson's Family Research Concil [sic] lobby against birth control because they don't see reproduction as a legitimate health issue for women. All I ask is for consistency. If Christians want to outlaw birth control - letting God alone control the "opening and closing of the womb*" - then you don't get to trump God and use science to make a baby.

Woohoo! It is not everyday I get to use the "[sic]" thing. I just know it means somebody else made a mistake and not me! Today is looking up.

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So what is the difference?

A scary man named Johnathan Pinney bit a police office while in mental hospital. He was convicted of aggravated battery and sentenced to time served (890 days). Pinney practices Wicca.

In the past, Pinney has stated he is a practitioner of magic and the Wicca religion who casts spells and embraces evil. He often wore dark eye makeup to court. On Friday, his face was bare and he was wearing orange and white jail clothes.

Source: COURT WATCH: Pinney released after 890 days

It is the dark eye makeup that scares me.

Pinney was in a mental hospital. I wonder if it was because he is some dark Wicca priest who uses his imaginary powers to frighten children, the police and healthcare workers? Would it have made a difference if he had proclaimed that he worshiped Jesus Christ and prayed for Armageddon (while keeping the dark eye makeup)? Or what if he had proclaimed himself an atheist and declared there were no Gods? My bet is that Court Watch would have passed on the whole Christian angle, while emphasizing the amoral nature of dark eye makeup wearing atheists.

And one other thing. Don't they have a diminished capacity defense in Canada? Pinney bit a police office while in a mental hospital. Down here in the states Pinney would never have seen a charge. Any defense attorney worth his salt would have the case thrown out before it even made its way to the preliminary hearing. Canada is a strange place, eh?

So what is the difference? Would Pinney have been treated differently if he had ben a Christian, an Atheist, or just a normal emo nutjob?

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Pastor arrested for raping child

This one made my stomach turn. Pastor Fulgham is alleged to have raped a girl as young as 12-years-old.

Timothy Fulgham, 40, is charged with second-degree rape, second-degree sodomy, second-degree sexual abuse and enticing a child for immoral purposes.

Investigators say Fulgham used his power as a minister at River Life Church of God to win the young girl’s trust, and take advantage of her.

Source: Bibb Co. Minister Arrested in Child Rape case - WVUA 7 Tuscaloosa

I'll have to put Pastor Fulgham on my watch list.

Pastor McGill just can't stop beating his child

Pastor McGill was arrested last April. I reported on it here.

Rodney McGill, 41, of Sewall's Point, was arrested today on aggravated child abuse charges and released on $5,000 bail.

The arrest marks the second this year for McGill, who was also arrested in April after police said he beat his 16-year-old daughter with an extension cord at a home the family owned in Port. St. Lucie. Records show those charges were dropped.

On Wednesday, Martin County Sheriff's deputies arrested Shalonda McGill, the girl's mother, on a Sewall's Point Police warrant for child neglect charges. She was released after posting $750 bail.

According to police records, the beatings that the 16-year-old girl told St. Lucie Police she received "all her life" from Rodney McGill continued even after his April arrest.

Soruce: Jensen pastor, wife, accused of abusing daughter

McGill in the "pastor" of the New Hope Outreach Center in Jensen Beach Florida. He is also the founder of the comical Young Millionaires Cub and Jett Entertainment. Seriously... I would not pay this guy to be a clown at a kids party let alone give him my hard earned cash for investment advice. Both of his enterprises smell like scams.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Common sense in Nashville

Elizabeth Ulrich of the Nashville scene writes of the Southern Baptist Convention's outrageous decision to back away from sexual predators in Save Yourselves. It's a good read.

It was roughly one year ago that 8,600 church representatives, men and women from around the country who bear the name “messengers,” asked the executive committee to look into creating a denomination-wide database of “Southern Baptist ministers who have been credibly accused of, personally confessed to, or legally been convicted of sexual harassment or abuse.”

Read more....

I still don't understand what happened. This seem like such a slam dunk. I guess it was too much to expect a religious organization to do the right thing.

Of course they support the pastor

James "Jay" Virtue Robinson IV, pastor of Southwood Baptist Church, stands accused of having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old girl. He surrendered to police on June 18. The key characteristics of this case are consistent with abuse cases from other Baptist churches. Robinson is a charismatic leader. He runs the church like a business. His followers show unequivocal support for the pastor. And, his followers assume the girl is "stirring up trouble".

"Everybody is supporting the pastor," said a man who answered the phone at the church Wednesday night, where services went on as usual although led by an associate pastor. "The church does not believe the allegations."

The man, who declined to give his name but described himself as a longtime member of the church, said that despite the arrest, he believes Robinson will remain pastor of the church.

"He will be unless he’s somehow convicted," the man said. "He is our pastor."

"I think that active members of the church will support the pastor. "There are people out there making allegations every day against people who are innocent."

Source: Fort Worth pastor arrested on child sex charge | Religion |

The father of the abused girl tried to handle the situation within the church. His efforts failed.

"The co-chair said in this case, we’re going to err on the side of the pastor, so we cannot ask for his removal," Linde said.

Instead, the council voted to give Robinson a written reprimand and one year of probation, and order him to have counseling. Linde, however, voted against that.

"If they felt there was enough evidence to reprimand him according to the scripture, there’s enough evidence to remove him — to ask for his resignation," Linde said. "I was not willing to settle for a written reprimand. It did no good. It was going to sit in his file folder where nobody would see it, nobody would hold him accountable."

The father took the case to the police. The pastor was arrested, and then the church closed ranks.

The father was also unhappy with the vote, so he met with a group of men at the church to tell them about his accusation and give them copies of the phone records.

When the council found out, the father said, the council decided not to issue any disciplinary action against Robinson at all.

"They called it an illegal meeting of church members," the father said. "They were threatening people after that — anyone who is caught talking to us or communicating and talking about the issue at church will be removed."

Armed guards now remove people from church, or prevent them from entering if they are thought to have spoken out against Pastor Robinson. People are actually prevent from entering the church by a man with a gun. What country is this? Or, should I ask, what state is this? Texas of course.

Robinson thinks it is all a move to wrest power from the leadership of the church. This is a common tactic. When a leader is accused of raping a child, what better way to move people away from the crime than to say they are in fact attacking gods work?

Robinson said the accusing family was being used by others "who desire to wrest the leadership of this church from the pastor and the council" and would stop at nothing.

"Those who choose to follow the lead of these by gossiping, slandering, causing division and discord, or by holding or participating in sectional meetings, will face church discipline," Robinson wrote in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by the Star-Telegram.

"Anyone who attempts to disrupt any service will be removed and be subject to church discipline. It is our desire and prayer that all would repent and be restored, but until that time, those who cause discord in the Church are to be shunned according to Scripture. Anyone else who causes discord and division or gossip should be avoided."

I'll get hate mail from this post. Members of the church will claim I am attacking a man of God. they will tell me that I will burn in hell or worse. I know it is a farce perpetrated on the ignorant by the nefarious whose only goal is to protect their way of life. In the end, it will all come crashing down.

Do you know why I know it will end in ruin? Because a brave father sought to protect his abused daughter. He is a hero. He stood up and said "hell no" to an entrenched leadership. I bet he knew taking it to the police would get him kicked out of his church too. He is a brave man. Pastor Robinson is a coward.

The thing about church fires

is that they are almost never set by Atheists.

Dallas fire officials have determined that a church fire in Oak Cliff on Monday was intentionally set and are investigating the suspected arson.

No suspects have been identified, according to Joel Lavender, a Dallas Fire-Rescue spokesman.

The fire broke out about 6 p.m. at God’s New Community Church in the 300 block of Sparks Street, causing the building’s roof and walls to collapse. It was extinguished within 30 minutes.  No one was injured.

J. Wayne Johnson, the church’s pastor, said Monday the building was undergoing renovations and there was no electricity or gas hooked up to the building at the time of the fire.

He said the 10-member congregation would probably be forced to buy another church.

Source: Dallas church fire was intentionally set | Dallas Morning News

So the first thing the cops do is look at who benefits... The follow up story will be interesting.

I read reports of about 3 to 5 church fires per week. In the year I have been watching I've noticed a trend. The fires are causes by teenaged punks or the fires are caused by disgruntled church members. To a lessor degree, fires are caused by hate groups. There are no atheists making the headlines. Yet I get email every month saying we burn churches. It must be a left wing liberal conspiracy (I get email claiming this too).

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Pastor Lawrence Smith Denies Sex Charges

Pastor Smith stands accused of Criminal Sexual Conduct With a Minor in the Second Degree, Lewd Act Upon a Child, and Assault and Battery of a High and Aggravated Nature. Yikes! that sounds serious. I wonder what Pastor Smith has to say about the charges?

Pastor Smith: "Oh, I feel betrayed, Jesus was betrayed. He's still being betrayed, so it ain't nothing new...ain't a thing. Now, and it's going to get worse and worse.

Pastor Smith: "He says your trouble starts at home. He says they're going to cast your name out for evil. You're going to be persecuted from city to city. He says they're going to do all amounts of evil against you."

Source: North Augusta Pastor Denies Sex Charges - News - Augusta, GA

So... What the hell does all that mean? Is THE MAN out to get you? What a nutball.

Pastor Smith runs a small storefront church. Make no mistake here, this man exists on the margins and feeds on his own flock.

Southern Baptists hubris

The Southern Baptist convention moved away from tracking sex offenders by killing a proposal to track offenders in a central database. Their new strategy appears to be focused on increasing sales baptisms.

The nation's largest Protestant body also essentially killed a proposed database that would track Baptist clergy who have been convicted or accused of sexual abuse, in part because of the autonomy of local churches

Morris Chapman, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee, told delegates that the denomination's role ''is to encourage, empower and educate local churches as to how to best do their local work to protect our precious children.''

After spending the last year investigating whether to create a database, the Executive Committee instead offered new resources to local churches - including an online link to the Department of Justice's national database - and urged them to contact authorities about any sex abuse accusations.

Source: Southern Baptists elect president, dismiss abuse database - Salt Lake Tribune

Their logic is insidious. They claim that because of local autonomy, building a central database would be difficult. When the reason they need a central database is because of local autonomy. The reason Baptist churches have such a large population of sex offenders living in their midst is because sex offenders can maintain their anonymity. Without a registry, sex offenders are free to move from church to church. Only those who have been arrested and convicted will find it difficult to re-establish themselves.

The message is clear. Convert! Convert! Convert! Our children are collateral damage. The greater good is a baptism.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

R.I.P Perla Pono

I attended the funeral of my Auntie Perla yesterday. I drove the 850-mile round trip over two days. We left Thursday. I managed  to return home by 2:00 am Saturday morning.  We listen to Ender's Game during the drive.

The funeral is the first in our parents generation. It made me realize how fragile our elders have become. It was a disquieting thought.

Aunt Perla had been sick for years. They referred to her as the woman with nine lives. She survived seven years of dialysis while in constant pain. Death, when if finally came for her, offered relief from many years of suffering.

Aunt Perla was born in the Philippines in 1938. She came to America with her family as part of a wave of immigration in the 60s. Her husband, Uncle Tito (or Fred), brought his family over via military service. Like my wife's father, Fred served a full career in the Navy before retiring with his family to California.

Since teh Pono's lived in Vallejo, we seldom saw each other. Yet the family bond held true. I've known them for nearly 30 years. My wife has known them for even longer. The funeral  brought us together from all over the world. We spent a day at the memorial service and funeral, and a few hours together at her home. If felt right. It felt like family.

Her funeral mass was attended by over 300 people. It lasted nearly two hours. I sat in the back like I normally do. I do not like to participate in the ritual of belief for obvious reasons, so I try to stay out of the way. I was moved by the beautiful delivery of Amazing Grace by Aunt Perla's 14-year-old granddaughter Jazmin. Her voice was sweet and pure, it nearly brought me to tears.

I spoke with her husband Fred for a few minutes on the drive from the reception to his home. He told me he was most proud of the work his wife had performed for the local Filipino community. Her tireless efforts were event in the 15,000 people who had attended an annual Filipino cultural event the week before. Her funeral had actually been delayed a week so as not to disrupt the event. It said a great deal about her - and her family.

R.I.P Perla Pono

Sunday, June 08, 2008

A Bird

A Bird I enjoyed a noon walk on the nature trails of El Dorado Nature Center in Long Beach today. Noon is a tragically bad time to shoot pictures. There is something about direct overhead light that makes everything look flat and washed out. I have 55 other shots that don't look so good. This one is different.

El Dorado Nature Park is a nice place to visit to re-connect with nature. The park if full of wildlife. I saw three birds that were new to me today. I also missed a nice shot of a hawk. The trails are full of flowers, green meadows, butterflies and birds. You can almost believe you are not in the middle of a large city. Almost...

A short plug: Holly Gray has an open reception planned for her show "Portraits of Local Birds" at the El Dorado Nature Center. From the sample I saw, I have no way of telling if her show is based in photography or painting. I found one reference to Gray's photography work here. It appears she is not promoting herself via the web.

Holly Gray's  reception is June 14, 1-3. The Exhibition is June 14 to July 22. Admission is free, parking is not.

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Andrew Clapper on the International Society of Atheists

I came across this post from Andrew Clapper during my morning reading. It looks like Clapper is proposing another organization dedicated to Atheism. He has an interesting premise.

The organization (tentatively called the International Society of Atheists) will focus on a set of clear goals: to establish social and support networks for atheists on a local level, to serve both local atheist communities and local communities at large, to reach out to individuals and groups such as public officials, the religious community, and other atheist and service oriented organizations, and to eliminate negative stereotypes about atheism and atheists. The organization will also pursue some not so unique goals that are nevertheless important to atheists, such as the promotion of separation of church and state, reason, and civil rights of atheists.

Source: One Possible International Growth Strategy « Andrew Clapper on Atheism

I like the emphasis on service. I do not see that as a mission in most of the other Atheist oriented organizations.

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Blogroll Update: up to 708

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I have no time for tips this week. I am too busy earning a living.

Please be sure to pass along dead links.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

A fear of finches

I met a woman who has a fear of finches. I thought it odd since I was engaged in the study of an emerald green humming bird when she interrupted me. I thought to myself "but this is a humming bird". My inner voice told me to keep that fact to myself.

I'll talk to anyone. Even a women who fears little harmless birds. I can also be dense at times, But no so dense that I miss the signals from somebody who needs to talk. I figured the finch lady needed to talk. So I bit - "How can you be afraid of such beautiful little birds?"

"It's because of my dreams. A thousand finches chase me. When they catch me, they dive for my eyes. I don't want to go blind."

I could sympathize. My dreams are haunted by trains. Always trains. Trains don't dive for my eyes of course. They just run me down when I least expect it... over and over again.

She went on. " When I see finches I can't breath. They scare me so much I have trouble even focusing on simple tasks. I can't even walk." She gave me a look that made me feel like I should understand. That her irrational fear off finches should in some way resonate with my secret and rational fear of trains.

I made my first mistake.

"Um... I don't think finches can tear your eyes out. They are harmless." I looked down at her with my best know-it-all smile. She seemed pissed.

"You don't know jack buddy. Finches are evil."

I looked at the humming bird for a moment before I spoke. I made my second mistake with my next words. In retrospect, I should have just kept my mouth shut.

"I'm into birds. I even sometimes watch a group of house finches in the morning before I go to work. They nest right outside my bedroom window."

Her hands went to her hips. Her nostrils flared. She gave me that look that can only mean one thing. She thinks I'm a dumb ass.

"Are you crazy? They're fucking finches man!"

She walked away with a look of absolute disgust on her face. I turned back to watching the hummingbird. I was a little confused.

Another women walked by a few moments later. She had overheard the whole thing. With a bemused smile on her face she said quite clearly.

"It's a good thing you're married".

II scratch my scraggly red beard for a moment. "Yep" I said a aloud. I had to agree with her.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Pastor Sergio Alvarizares Sentenced

Pastor Alvarizares admitted to his crime and apologized to the women he abused.

Sergio Alvarizares pleaded guilty in April to five charges that included the attempted sexual abuse of five parishioners and attempted rape. He was sentenced to 42 months in prison for first-degree attempted sexual abuse plus four other counts of third-degree attempted sexual abuse.

Source: Pastor Sentenced To 3 Years In Sex Abuse Case - News Story - KPTV Portland

The fall is hardest when one lives like a king. Alvarizars lives like a king. All paid for by his hard working congregation. He will find out about the fall right about... now.

Pastor Joe Barron Arrested Again

More charges eh? I wonder how many times Barron actually made contact with a 13-year-old girl and then went home to council adults at his big Texas mega church?

52-year-old Joe Barron was arrested again today by Bryan police officers for an additional six counts of online solicitation. Two of those charges are out of Louisiana.

Source: MyFox Dallas | Former Church Pastor Arrested Again

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Pastor Timothy Price Pleads Guilty To Rape

Another pastor bites the dust.

"I can say that he's definitely remorseful for what happened," Price's attorney said.

Price was a music pastor at Bethel A.M.E. Zion Church. He admitted in court to having sexual intercourse with the 12-year-old victim at different locations between December 2007 and January 2008, according to the state's attorney's office.

Source: City Music Pastor Pleads Guilty To Rape - Local News Archive Story - WBAL Baltimore

Timothy Price III was the music pastor at "prominent Baltimore church". The article leaves out the name of the church. I found this odd until the last few lines. "The church has a congregation of more than 17,000, including Mayor Sheila Dixon."

Oh duh! Of course the paper would not want to embarrass the Mayor and her Bethel AME church!

Jesus comes to the Protesters

Via my son's friend Cianar.

Hey mojoey, this is Cianar--been reading your blog for a while thanks to John. Just wanted to share this video of a Christian (not sure which denomination or group) apparently protesting costumes at an anime convention in San Jose, and infiltrated by a Buddy Jesus cosplayer and some heckling. To everyone's credit, they didn't start a rumble.

This is too funny.

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R.I.P Bo Diddley

Oh man... Bo Diddley has passed.


Bo Diddley, a founding father of rock 'n' roll whose distinctive "shave and a haircut, two bits" rhythm and innovative guitar effects inspired legions of other musicians, died Monday after months of ill health. He was 79.

Source: Rock Legend Bo Diddley Dies

I saw him at the Carpenter Center late in his career. He was impressive even then. Although, some of his experimental music sounded like static to my unsophisticated years.

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Monday, June 02, 2008

Troy Deal gets 4 to 20

This is one of my favorite cases. Troy Deal is a pastor who like to hunt for young girls via the internet. Now he's going to prison.

Deal, 35, was found guilty April 18 of 11 counts of using a computer to solicit a child for sexually abusive material, distributing sexually abusive material and communicating with a child for immoral purposes.

Source: Deal gets 4 to 20 years for online solicitation

I have no sympathy for this man. He is the worst sort of scum. A pastor who hunted children for sexual pleasure. May at least 2 of his four years be in the general population.

You can read more here.

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Texarkana youth pastor arrested

Another youth pastor bits the dust.... this time charged with possessing child porn.
Jerry Darian Sawrie, 39, pleaded not guilty Thursday before Miller County Circuit Judge Joe Griffin. Sawrie is represented by Jeff Harrelson of Texarkana and is being prosecuted by Deputy Prosecutor Katie Carter
Source: 39-year-old allegedly confessed to congregation
I could not read the whole story. The Gazette actually wanted me to subscribe to their little newspaper. Get with it Texarkana Gazette. Very few people get away with subscription based news news these days. I mean - who really give a hoot what goes on in your little community. Heck, I'm not ever sure I know where your city is located.

On another note - I fixed my posting problems (kind of "fixed" anyway). At least I've been able to post off a Mac using Ecto.

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Sunday, June 01, 2008

Blogroll Update: Up to 702

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Tip: is a social bookmarks manager which allows people to share bookmarks. When you bookmark an atheist's blog you are helping to move that blog up in the social network. More importantly, when you accurately bookmark a blog, it helps drive traffic to the blog, increases the the overall Atheist presence on the web, and helps to build our community.

Take a look at the site for The Atheist Experience. Some entries are linked by as many as 44 other users. A fine blog like the The Atheist Experience should have thousands of links. Even with it's outstanding podcast, one would think it would garner at least a few hundred links for this alone. If just half the our members bookmarked The Atheist Experience, it would be a top ten search result under atheist blogs and podcasts.

I find an outstanding research tool. If I'm looking for the latest news on Jesus Sightings, I'm sure to find somebody else has already found the story I'm looking for. I'll bookmark it myself, and then eventually make a post.

Here is a good tutorial.

Keep sending in those dead links!