Thursday, August 28, 2008

Guitar Praise: Christianized Guitar Hero


Via Boing Boing and by friend Richard.

I used to be a Christian. Born of atheist parents, I stumbled upon this on my own. But there was a day my faith disintegrated: it was when I realized that the exact same sensation of God's love that I felt at Christian gatherings was absolutely indistinguishable from the adrenaline rush and sense of cultural belonging that I felt at a rock concert.


I can only add, re-branding guitar hero into a worship tool is cheesy.

A "Who done it" moment

I attended the birthday of my grand niece over the weekend. Pony Rides, a petting zoo, and a dozen knee high children make for many good photo opportunities. I saw this and could not help myself. I looked like a scaled down version of a murder scene on a book cover.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Moral Judgements

A friend send me a link to this story with the tag line "I'm sure the guard was an overzealous Buddhist." He's close. I'm betting the guard is a redneck fundie minimum wage California transplant.

VAN NUYS - A routine trip to the Social Security office Monday turned into 30 minutes of shock, disbelief and irritation for Lapriss Gilbert, who was forced to leave the federal building by a guard who objected to her "" T-shirt.

As she headed for a line to pick up a Social Security card for her son, Gilbert was stopped by a guard who said her T-shirt, naming an educational and resource Web site for gay women, was offensive.

She said the guard, who works for a private company hired by the Department of Homeland Security, demanded that she leave the building or face arrest.

Source: T-shirt gets Van Nuys woman kicked out of federal building

Drunk with power and backed up by Homeland Security - this security guard picked on the wrong woman. She's going to own them when this gets to court.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Blogroll Update: Edger

Edger joined the Atheist Blogroll a few days ago. Edger is a group blog. One of the authors has been kind enough to provide an introduction.

Edger presents hard-hitting and reasoned news, views, and event promotion on issues pertaining to secularism, atheism, science, humanism, and the cosmos, and actively promotes and celebrates international freethought activism. Written in a youthful tone, but mature in content, Edger is sure to be a driving force in the new intellectual enlightenment.

Edger's mission is to create an outlet for prominent young freethought leaders to express their views and get them heard. Blogs are becoming very commonplace, and alone many blogs fail, but together, with the proper direction and an engaging and professional site, these blogging leaders can come together to make an impact far beyond what they could have achieved on their own.

Please drop in and say hi.

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

High school principal outs a lesbian student

Replace the word lesbian with the word atheist in this story and you capture the essence of my anger. If this can happen to an innocent young girl appealing for help from her school's principle, it can happen to a young atheist  too. I would hate to be trapped in Florida's fundie belt.

When a high school senior told her principal that students were taunting her for being a lesbian, he told her homosexuality is wrong, outed her to her parents and ordered her to stay away from children.

He suspended some of her friends who expressed their outrage by wearing gay pride T-shirts and buttons at Ponce de Leon High School, according to court records. And he asked dozens of students whether they were gay or associated with gay students.

Source: High school principal outs a lesbian student to her parents, suspends students who support her

Former Principal David Davis (demoted to teacher) crossed the line separating  secular education from his Christian beliefs. Instead of helping a young girl in need, he punished her and repressed any sign of support for her. What he did was in keeping with the Christian world view that homosexuality is evil. This shows how hard it is for Christians to separate what they think is right from our constitutionally mandated civil rights.  Davis did not get it. Nor did the school board. Nor did the community in which they all live.

"We are a small, rural district in the Bible Belt with strong Christian beliefs and feel like homosexuality is wrong," said Steve Griffin, Holmes County's school superintendent, who keeps a Bible on his desk and framed Scriptures on his office walls.

Instead of protecting his students, Davis conducted a witch hunt. Instead of firing Davis, Steve Griffin simply demoted him. Davis acted like a fundie nutball.

"Davis embarked on what can only be characterized as a 'witch hunt' to identify students who were homosexual and their supporters, further adding fuel to the fire," U.S. District Judge Richard Smoak recounted in his ruling. "He went so far as to lift the shirts of female students to insure the letters 'GP' or the words 'Gay Pride' were not written on their bodies."

I'm surprised he did not perform a strip search. Because... you know, lesbians wear special underwear. What a nutball. I am again reminded that gay rights is an atheist issue. Each attack on a gay person is driven by Christian theocratic tenancies. We must push back.

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My poor truck

I am grieving for my truck this morning. I took it in to the local Toyota dealer for what I though was a simple repair. Silly me. The estimate came back at over five thousand dollars.  A short had caused a small electrical fire which ruined a wiring harness.  The harness alone runs four thousand dollars.

After a intense afternoon I was pleased to find that my insurance will cover the repair. They will also pursue the issue with Toyota because they feel the problem falls under a manufacturing defect.

I visited a wiring harness factory in Acuna, Mexico a few years ago.  I was consulting on an Oracle problem. As part of the visit, I was given a VIP tour of the manufacturing facility. Inside, there were ten thousand people standing shoulder-to-shoulder under one roof. Automation was limited to a wire cut off machine and a circulating rack that held the wire bundles as they moved through the factory. The wires moved down the assembly line at a slow but constant pace. A worker would have a few feet to move along with the harness as it progressed to through the assembly process.  Workers have a single job, they crimped, wrapped, cut, or routed during their allotted time with the harness. The process never ended.

I was offered a chance to work the line. I manned a station for 20 minutes while the woman whose job it was to wrapped tape around a bundle of wires looked on. She smiled, but underneath I could see she was worried about my skills. I did 10 harnesses in 20 minutes. I'm sure one of them ended up in my truck.

When Toyota told me my harness had fried, I flashed back to the manufacturing process used to make it. I knew only a expert could repair it. Even then, a repair would introduce new problems. I opted for a new harness. It's make to order. I hope nobody else stands in while it is made.

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

My mom reads my blog

I had a odd moment on the phone with my mom today. She reads my blog. It bothers me for some reason. I don't like to think that I write for an audience. I started blogging simply to deal with the stress of graduate school. I still write to relive stress. I have a hard job made all the more difficult because of a highly charged political environment. So I write about whatever is in my head at the time I sit down at my computer. I just write.

I write fewer stories about my experiences because it's easier to pump out atheism based content. Plus, I'm not so sure people care. Oh wait - screw the whole audience thing, right? I should just write a few stories for myself. So here  is a story from my day. If you don't like it, move on to one of my 2,700 other posts.

My wife's started my day today by reminding me to drop off a load of my son's clothing at the local Salvation Army. I had carried the clothing around in my truck for nearly two weeks. My wife was annoyed at my lack of follow through. You see, it's the start of the new school year. She's  worried that poor kids might need my son's old clothing. She's a good woman at heart. I never think about this kind of thing.

After my 6:45 AM game of disc golf, I stopped at the Salvation Army to make a donation. I look like shit. I need coffee and a shower. It was 8:30 AM.

The fence was open and the place looked active so I walked towards the donation center looking for a warm body. I found a man moving boxes. I asked if they were open. His response was amazing. I'll do my best to repeat it below.

He yells, "Do we look open?" - He gestates with dirty hands around the parking lot. I look around and nod "Yes''.

He approaches while waving his hands. "That's what's wrong with you people, we're not open. We never open this early".

He puts his hands on his hips and then points at the Sun. "It ain't time yet. What does it take for you people to get that?"

He looks at me like he expects an answer. I keep my mouth shut.

"You people, you donors, you think you own the world. You come in here and drop your broken down shit off and expect me to jump around like a slave kissing your ass. Well let me tell you, we ain't open yet so I'm not kissing your ass."

I ask, "When do you open"? I'm already thinking about breaking his legs. I need to leave.

He points at the building and says "Figure it out yourself".

I look. I don't see any numbers, no time, no indication of open or closed, just a jumble of signs. I ask again. He says, "What are you, stupid? 9:00 AM".

I'm a nice guy, but I'm not a nice guy at the same time. I've heard it described as slow fuse, big boom. I think about hitting him in a soft spot, but dismiss it quickly. It's better to just drive away, so I do.

I'm back in 25 minutes. Mr. Nasty (that's what I call him now), has transformed into Mr. Nice Guy. I hold 50 pounds of clothing. He asks me to put it in the container for him. I say, "No, I expect you to jump down here and kiss my ass". He looks at me kind of funny. I see the lights come on.

He jumps down off the truck  and offers an excuse. "Look man, this job sucks. I was just blowing off steam".  I look him off. It scares him. He jumps back into the donations container and does some writing at his kiosk while muttering insincere apologies. A moment later he hands me three receipts and then winks. I just walk away.

My wife thinks I'm a hero.

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Friday, August 22, 2008

I don't know what to say

I'm speechless. What is the term when has no words to write?

Jesus Christ had a homosexual relationship?

Those words, written on a poster above the image of a topless man tenderly kissing Jesus on the neck, angered dozens of students Thursday night at Lorain County Community College.

Before I get attacked, I want to state that I understand the first amendment. Christopher Burns and his campus group Activists for Atheists has every right to express their free speech. I simply do not understand why They put up a poster that is designed to be so offensive. 

I do not care what other people believe. It's none of my business. I am moved to action when Christians try to legislate morality or when they try to take away my rights. But to attack simply to piss Christians off seems counter productive.

“The purpose of the poster is to get students to see something they haven’t seen before,” he said. “The chances are it challenges them to challenge something they thought they knew.”

I'm going to call "bullshit" on this statement. The poster stirs outrage while pushing some Christian's buttons regarding homosexuality. It does not stir debate. Instead, it pushes people away. In fact, the comments are focused on the offensive nature of the imagery, and not on the message behind the poster. I doubt many people who viewed the poster are going to follow up by requesting more information  from the Activists for Atheists gmail account. In fact, I would go so far as to say I know the type of email they will receive. It will not be a dialog.

Worse yet, the Christians are not having their faith challenged by picture of Jesus and a gay kiss (I must admit I don't understand why one would challenge the belief of another) No, Christians  will see the image and reinforce inaccurate stereotypes instead.

Note to Christians: All atheists do not think Jesus was gay. Some of us do not believe he lived at all.

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The news gives me a headache

I read a lot of news. I enjoy reading and find keeping up with the news helps me keep my life in perspective. I also read a few stories about wayward pastors and their odd sexual proclivities. I call it godnews. At times, godnews makes my stomach turn. At other times, it gives me a headache. Like in this story.

OAKLAND, Calif.—The FBI is investigating allegations that the pastor of a Ugandan megachurch molested a 13-year-old girl during a flight from Denver to Oakland.

Forty-one-year-old Jackson Senyonga initially was arrested by Oakland authorities after the flight landed Saturday. But Alameda County prosecutors say they've referred the case to the FBI because of jurisdictional issues.

Authorities say Senyonga fondled the girl, who was seated next to him during the flight.

Senyonga frequently preaches at Bay Area churches and is known internationally as a poverty-relief advocate. In Uganda, his Christian Life Ministries has 100,000 members.

Source: Ugandan pastor accused of molestation on flight - San Jose Mercury News

I've come to understand a few things about pedophile pastors. They prey on the weak, but usually from within their own flock. Sexual abuse is usually hidden behind layers of trust. They do not hunt in the open. Their crimes a hidden.

When I read about a man fondling a young girl on an airplane. I know the man is dangerous. He is a man who will attack in public. A man you dominates others. When that man is a pastor... I get a headache. I know the authorities will treat him like he is special. I know that unless public outrage reaches out to touch his case, it will be brushed under the carpet. If his crime happened, Jackson Senyounga needs to feel the full weight of the judicial system come crashing down around his shoulders. No mercy. Don't let him go home to Uganda. Take him off the streets.

Voyeur Mathew Porter sentenced

Former Baptist youth pastor Mathew Porter was sentenced to a insignificant four months in jail. Porter was the youth pastor at Bethel Baptist Church in Ellenton, Florida.  Porter secretly video taped girls aged 12 to 16 at his home while they changed in his bathroom.

Porter pled guilty to his crime. Before all you theists get misty eyed, he only did so after the judge refused to throw out the video tape evidence of his crime. He plead guilt to avoid a nine year prison sentence. He is a fraud and hypocrite.

Watch close people. A few years from now Porter could turn up as a youth pastor at your local Baptist church. The Southern Baptist Convention does nothing to prevent this. They don't care about your children.

Related Posts:

Another charge for Terrence Jenkins

Former youth pastor Terrence Jenkins was charged with a second sexual assault charge. This time his victim was a 14 year old girl.

I first posted on Jenkins a few weeks ago. It was not a large post. I did not know then that Jenkins would be charged as a Baptist serial rapist.

Youth pastor Terrence Jenkins was charged with predatory criminal sexual abuse against a child. Jenkins is a Baptist. He serves at the Faith United Baptist Church in O'Fallon, Illinois.

He'll get a little more coverage now.

Another Texas Pastor goes to prison

Charles Thomas Hogland, a former pastor in Longview, Texas, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for sexually assaulting a 10-year-old relative.  Hogland is 59. My guess is that he lives three years in prison.  That's a hell of a price to pay for impulse control.

I believe that pastors should be held to a higher standard. When they violate a trust, an extra stiff penalty should be attached to the crime. OK, death at the hands of the general population is over the top, but tacking on an extra five years to a 20 year prison term sounds about right.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Pondering Clergy Sexual Abuse

The investigation into the background and possible additional crimes of former Youth pastor Joshua Ponder spread to his former church. Prior to his arrest for the sexual assault of a teenager, Ponder was a youth pastor at the First Baptist Church of Palestine from June 2001 to May 2007.

The Rev. Jay Abernathy, pastor of First Baptist Church of Palestine, was notified of Ponder’s arrest late last week and said the church would cooperate with police in the investigation, if asked.

“We are shocked and saddened by this incident, and are praying for everyone involved,” Abernathy said Monday afternoon. “We have made counselors available to our youth and families who may be hurting and will be available to anyone in our church and community who wants to talk.

“We are working to respond to everyone hurt by this.”

The police will talk to every young person Ponder came into contact with while a youth pastor in Palestine. The conversations will be intrusive and embarrassing. This is how atheists are born.  For atheist born of pastoral misconduct, it comes with a profound loss of faith when one learns that a person they trusted with their closest secrets are capable of apocryphal leadership and morally corrupt levels of sexual violence. Joshua Ponder's crime will touch dozens of young lives. Are there really people out there in Texas who think the small good Ponder accomplished as a youth pastor offset this level of violence and intrusion?

Related post: Baptist youth pastor arrested on sex charges

Old books and seminars

I attended a seminar by Edward Tufte on Presenting Data and Information yesterday. It was held in the ballroom of the Marriott hotel in Universal City, next to Universal Studios. I attended with my friend and fellow statistics geek, Richard. Besides picking up four outstanding books by Tufte, I picked up a story that I will retell for a long time to come.


I was impressed by the size of the audience. I estimate 400 people were seated for the opening remarks. What few seats remained were filled within 20 minutes. The audience was at least 70 percent male. At our first break the rush on the restroom was enough to convince me to wait for a better opportunity.

Midway through the next segment I left the conference for a brief break. I was gone for only a few minutes, no more than five in fact. Upon my return, I opened the door quietly. I did not want to  disturb the intensely focused audience. My seat was on the isle six rows from the door on the left side of the room. Tufte's assistant was standing in front of my seat holding a book. It looked old. It was an first edition of Euclid's Elements, published in 1570.

I floated to my seat. The book moved away down the isle. I felt a moment of deep regret. Why had I left my seat? How had I missed this geek's dream of an opportunity? Did I really miss seeing one of the most important geometry texts ever published because I had to pee? I smiled at Richard. He replied "You missed it". I thought, "D'oh".

I few moments later Elements moved back in my direction. Tufte's assistant paused in front of me. For a few brief moments I was in book geek heaven.

Later in the day an original copy of Galileo’s Galleleo's Istoria e dimonstrazioni intorno alle macchie solari, was shown by Tufte himself. It was turned to the page where Galileo proclaims the annual movement of the earth.  Wow.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Atheist Asked To Be Godparent

Riemann's Cut asks an interesting question. What does an Atheist do when asked to be a Godparent? I've been an Atheist all of my adult life (a long time now). The question has come up from time to time. I've always said no, or better yet, I've put out a feeler telling my family they should not ask. On the other hand, I try to be a good uncle or cousin because I'm interested in participating in the social life of my extended family. Riemann's struggling with his decision:

I have no idea what I will say or how I will react. I wonder if things will get heated and I describe my true feelings about baptism, that to inflict a religion on an infant is immoral. Maybe I'll come out a closer definition of what I am, a "Non-Theistic Agnostic" and just maybe they'll realise I've thought about this for a long time. Or maybe I'll just go ahead with it... adopt some kind of nihilistic viewpoint that nothing really matters anyway, and declaring devotion to a falsehood negates ones actions automatically. It would be the same as signing myself up as a heretic during the inquisition though. Sure, I'd save myself a load of hassle but I'd be betraying myself and the truth.

I've always just opted out. I simply say something like "It would be inappropriate for me to participate because I do not share your faith". They usually understand. My statement is not about their beliefs, it is about mine. I usually ask if I can participate in some other way. That's what I love about my wife's Filipino culture. I think they invented the word "sponsor" especially for me.

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Bad pastor and school teacher too

Jeremiah Gunner Scott was arrested for having sex with a 15-year-old girl at North Coast Christian School in Warrenton, Oregon. Besides being a  teacher, Scott is a youth pastor at Warrenton First Baptist Church. Whoops - another Baptist pastor involved in a child molestation case. What a surprise.

Scott is charged with eight counts of third-degree rape, a felony, and one count each of third-degree sodomy, a felony, contributing to the sexual delinquency of a minor and sexual misconduct.

He faces from 90 days to four years in prison for the third-degree rape charges, according to Ron Brown, Clatsop County's chief deputy district attorney. Brown said results of Scott's psychosexual evaluation - should he agree to take one - or whether more victims come forward would be circumstances that sway the length of Scott's sentence, should he be found guilty.

Source: Christian school teacher accused of having sex with student, 15

I found this story via Dan Savage and his Youth Pastor Watch. I love his comment:

And, again, parents that let their kids hang out in churches are fucking crazy. Might as well dip ‘em in fish guts and toss them into shark-infested waters.

Yep - It's like he's reading my mind.

Brainwashed or stupidity?

I have little sympathy for Ria Ramkissoon. She allowed her child to starve to death on the advice of the leaders of her church/cult. the she prayed over his rotting body for a week waiting for his resurrection.  Her lawyer is trying to spin the story so that Ramkisson is a victim. In this case he's using the word brainwashing to make his case. I'm calling bullshit on Ramkissoon and her lawyer Steven D. Silverman. I'd go with a stupidity defense instead.

"The members of this cult, who were more than twice her age, were calling the shots," Ramkissoon's attorney, Steven D. Silverman, said Tuesday after a court hearing. "She bought the program hook, line and sinker."

Court documents describe a group that operated secretly, dressed all in white and eschewed medical care. Antoinette, also known as Toni Sloan or Toni Ellsberry, called her followers "princes" and "princesses." And she and her followers were possessive of the children under their care...

..."It fits the profile of a classic cult in the sense that it's a personality-driven group and that Queen Antoinette is that animating personality and central defining element of the group," Ross said.

Source: The Associated Press: Family: Cult 'brainwashed' mom charged with murder

Ramkissoon is culpable. she let her child die at the hands of other people. She violated her duty of care as a mother. She may not be responsible for murder, manslaughter looks a lot better.

In a case like this, I am curious. What does the rest of the blogging world think? Should Ramkissoon be held responsible for the death of her child, and to what degree?

Related post: Religion kills

Aiding the Atheist Blogroll

Db0 of the outstanding blog A Division by Zero posted an article dedicated to helping members of the Atheist Blogroll. I thought I would mention it here so everyone could benefit. 

Like any good atheist, I've been trying to keep myself in the loop by monitoring the Atheosphere. Unfortunately, due to the sheer quantity of such content (At the moment, the Atheist Blogroll is at more than 700 individual active blogs) it has always been a bit overwhelming.


A Division by Zero is an outstanding blog to monitor for tech tips and advice on blogging, not to mention his posts on Atheism. I've added it to my favorites as of this morning.

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

There is an asshole born every minute

Pastor Scott Allen Snyder is accused of kissing a teenage girl from his congregation and texting naked photos to another girl. He's sent hundreds of text messages and admitted to kissing one teen on the lips. He at least need to explain himself. Right?

But no. Instead he launches this screed. The world is out to prevent him from spreading the word of Jebuss to the masses. The police are not attacking Pastor Snyder, they are attacking Jebuss himself.

It is a sad day once again as we see the corruption of this world and the media. I have spent the last 7 days with our military soldiers and hear from them also of the lack of truth presented by the media. So much false information has been broadcasted and televised concerning charges and accusations against me. Things have been said that I have never said and accusations made that are simply not true. While this has been a direct attack on myself I believe it has really been a direct attack against the truth that I preach and stand for. This world hates Jesus Christ and any servant of His and is seeking to destroy the truth of God's Word. Once again we have seen the corruption of our media and its worldly sources. This country did have a motto that a person was innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Unfortunately you are now guilty before the evidence is even presented. You are destroyed before the truth is known. This is a case that shows the horrible condition of our country and the open hatred toward our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and those men of God who still stand preaching the salvation of Jesus Christ. I cannot change how you feel about all the false information presented and reported about me, but I can say once again it is false, and that this will not stop me from continuing to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Let's take it down a notch bucko. Nobody cares who you are or what you preach. You are a second rate pastor of a second rate church who allegedly has a taste for young girls. Step away from the podium for a minute. Take a deep breath or two. Humility is not a bad thing. Especially when nobody give a fuck about your mission.

Death by prayer and justice

A 15-year-old girl died a horrible death because her mother treated her cancer with prayer instead of seeking medical treatment. The girls pastor directed the whole stupid affair. Now he going to be held accountable. That is, if he does not die of old age first.

The court's ruling reinstated the 2003 indictment against Ariel Ben Sherman, the 79-year-old leader of the Universal Life Church, and gave prosecutors the green light to move ahead with the case against him.

Source: Church leader can be tried for contributing to girl's death : Local News : Knoxville News Sentinel

Everybody dies. Ariel Ben Sherman should do so in prison.

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Two Baptists down

In Georgia

Pastor Earnest Stokes pleaded guilty to manslaughter in Bibb County, Georga. He put a .22 caliber gun to his wife's head and executed her. In return for his guilty plea, Stokes will serve 20 years. Stokes was a retired Baptist pastor.

In Pennsylvania

Raymond Clayton Sr. A Baptist pastor in central Pennsylvania, has been sentenced to one year in jail for stealing the identities of his church members.

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Pastor charged with sexual abuse

TimEdmonds Timothy C. Edmonds, pastor of Chesapeake Apostolic Church in West Virginia was indicted by the Kanawha County Grand Jury with two counts of sexual abuse by a parent, guardian, or custodian. Edmonds is alleged to have picked up a his victim while she walked home from school.

During these times alone, Edmonds would ask her to wear pantyhose, and would take pictures with her "dress pulled up and wearing the pantyhose in a sexually explicit position." On at least one occasion, Green alleged she and Edmonds were lying on the floor and he rubbed his penis against her while she was wearing pantyhose.

Apparently Edmonds liked to get his freak on. It at times like this that I forget Edmonds is a pastor. Reading up on Edmonds, I found that this is not his first dance. I keep asking myself how this happens. I know the answer. The believing public give way to much credence to a man who raps himself in the bible.

Baptist youth pastor arrested on sex charges

JoshuaPonder What do you get when you mix Texas, Baptists, youth pastors, and young boys? Do I really need to answer?

Youth Pastor Joshua Ponder has confessed to his crime although it is unclear if he as come out of the closet. It is Texas after tall.


Mabank Police Chief Kyle McAfee said Ponder confessed to charges related to a 16-year-old male victim. The assault is alleged to have happened April 8, but it was not reported until Aug. 8, according to reports. The teen is not a member of the church.

There must be something in the water down in Texas.

Ma and Pa Salazar

MichaelSalazar Michael Salazar and his wife, Laura Salazar stand accused of sexual battery by an authority figure and statutory rape by an authority figure. Two new girls came forward as victims, bringing the total to 5. The Salazar's were youth pastors for The Lord's Disciples Church in Maryville, Tennessee. The church is also known as the Bikers' Church.

LauraSalazar The church is distraught over the allegations of abuse. The closed their doors after the incident first happened. At least they are not circling the wagons to protect the Salazars. The case against the Salazars was bound over to the grand Jury on Friday. They  will face justice using a public defender. Something tells me they are in for a rough ride.

btw - Michael Salazar looks a lot like Richard Ramirez.

Spiritual deliverance and rape

Religion kills again. 11-year-old Covenant Elijah was brought to pastor Henry Evbotokkai of the Miracle Deliverance Ministry in Lagos, Nigeria for Spiritual deliverance. Over a three day period, she was brutally raped and murdered. In case you're wondering, spiritual deliverance is a code word for demon possession.

Last July, one prophetess met Mrs. Arik Bassey, the mother of Covenant and told her that she has seen, from her spiritual eyes, that her only child, Covenant, was possessed by witchcraft’s spirit and needed spiritual work to exorcise the demons.

Palpable fear had taken over Covenant’s mother. She had told one of her friends, Mr. Elsie Gabriel, of her predicament. When she was ready to take Covenant to the prophetess for the spiritual deliverance, the woman was said to have travelled outside the state. Elsie told Arik that there was no need to wait for the prophetess to return, as she knew a pastor who could cast out the evil spirit from her child. To buttress her claims of the pastor’s spiritual power, she told Arik that there was a time the pastor made predictions for her and they came to pass. Beleaguered Arik was then convinced that a solution was on the way for her daughter’s perceived problem.

Source: The Sun News Online | Living

Christian missionaries exported Jesus to Africa. Unfortunately, the messy aftermath often involves the rape and murder of children. In her grief, Covenant's mother, Arik Bassey, spoke these wise words.

She said she now sees every pastor as the devil. According to her, whatever respect “I have for anyone that claims to be a pastor has vanished with my daughter’s murder. They are all merchants of death.”

Religion kills. I can hear it now. I will get emails and comments from Christians saying that the crime was committed  in Africa; Christianity in America is not at all like this. I'll send a link to this story as a rebuttal.

Fellow wiccans please help, how do I tell if it's curse?

People ask why I make fun of Wiccans. Thanks to the good people at Reddit, I now have a great example. This was posted on Yahoo Answers.

Fellow wiccans please help, how do I tell if it's cursed? A self proclaimed wiccan gave me a necklace, we do not get along so I was taken by surprise when she handed it to me, I am wondering how to tell if she did place a curse on it or a charm or spell, I am wiccan but my expertise lays more in the energy fields and spiritual world, thank you for any answers, Blessed Be!

Additional Details

it's beaded, metal beads, i feel uneasy with the energy but I wish to know what her motives were, it's black magick so she'll already get it back but I'm curious to what it's cursed with

As I read the answers, my first thought was, "Wow, it's like tech support for Wiccans". Then I laughed my ass off.

You'll have to cast "Detect Magic" or "Read Magic" on it. Both are 1st level spells, so it should be fairly simple.


It was cursed, with charm of public humiliation, it worked. Post the wiccans myspace and she will get it back three fold.


It is indeed cursed. When the goblins show up (and they will!), draw your vorpal sword and roll a 20 to slay.


Take it to a Catholic priest to have to "Cleansed" they are like level 70 elites!!!

The best response came from the reality based community.

What's the difference between a "cursed" necklace, and one that isn't? Does it weigh more or less? Does it look different? Does its chemical composition change; or can we detect any radiation emanating from it?

The answer to all these things is, of course, no. There is no way to tell if something is cursed, because there is no such thing. The necklace is just a physical object. The idea of "cursing" is simply a belief you hold: that some person may, because of malicious intent, speak magical words, and then somehow, your life will be detrimentally affected by wearing it.

We are everywhere!

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I like beards

I like beards. I Always have and I always will. My beard is thick, bushy, bright red (well... fading red anyhow), and in need of trim. I like it that way. Plus, I don't have to shave as much. It's all good.

But I can honestly say, I really don't like any of these beards.  Well ok, maybe I like the one on the left here, but I'm heavily influenced by his sign.


I can't pass up a headline like this one from Ghana. Why would anybody murder Hunchbacks?  The blood and hump of a hunchback are supposedly packed full of power. Of course, to obtain the hump, the hunchback must be killed and butchered like an animal. My guess is that religion and superstition are again at the heart of the matter.

Busanga was said to have been abducted from his home at Bibiani on July 22, and his body was found three days later concealed in a sack at a refuse dump in the town, with a rope tied to his neck and the hump removed...

...Within a spate of seven months, he said nine people had been murdered in the Bibiani area. They involved missing people who were later found dead with parts of their organs missing.


What drives people to murder and maim in the service of their religion? What drives people to think that a hump from a hunchback will in some what heal your aliments or make you more potent? It comes down to stinking thinking and one's willingness to believe in the supernatural. Right?

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Blogroll Update: Maintenance

It's been a busy two weeks. Between an all consuming tech project at work and the Olympics at night, I've had little time for blogging. My life has consisted of eat, sleep, work, and a little disc golf. I have a list of 26 things to write for my blog. Most are stories about bad pastors. Keep tuned, there are some doozies ahead.

The blogroll grew smaller with this update. We stand at 761 (or 762). Most people do not know there are two blogrolls. One rolls, and one does not. Sometimes they get out of sync. I'll dig into it today and make the corrections. For now the Atheist blogroll stands at 761.

As always, if I deleted your blog in error or you moved to a new URL, just drop me an email.

We Shrink

We Change

We Grow


Larro puts in a lot of time helping me keep the Atheist Blogroll fresh and alive. I want to say thanks here publicially. This maintenance update would not have been possible without him. And the tedious job of maintining the blogroll would be all the more difficualt without him.

Larro contributes on the blog Atheist Haven and runs the outstanding blog Unglodly Cynic. He also helps the blogroll through The Atheist Blogroll Toolkit where he maintains a current OPML list of all the active blogs on the blogroll. You can use the OPML list to update your news reader. I do it. Each day over a thousand posts pour into my news reader. It's pretty damn cool. And if that were not enough, Larro (who I owe a few beers) maintains the Atheist blogroll Search Engine. I use it every time I post.

Speaking of tools, the blog A Division by ZerO has an outstanding post on Resources for Bloggers. If your just starting out with a new blog, or if you are an old hand looking for a few new tricks, this article is for you.

Technorati is a blogging tool we've all come to know and love. When they stopped using the links provided by the Atheist Blogroll, it hurt most of our standings. My blog fell out of the top 10K and now sits near the upper end of the top 20K. Blogspot recently added a new widget which allows you to post a blogroll on your blog's sidebar. I keep my Recommended Blogs listed using this tool. I recently realized that these links show up in Technorati. So my favorite blog, Atheist Revolution benefits from its listing in my sidebar. Once a day (I think) Technorati indexes my blog. Each time a new entry shows in my sidebar blogroll, Atheist Revolution gets another authority link from Deep Thoughts. It's a good thing. I suggest Atheist bloggers using blogger add the widget and a list of their favorite blogs. Be sure to include Deep Thoughts!

I plan on increasing the number of blogs I list from 10 to 25. I still plan on keeping my list focused on the blogs I read. But I might add a guest blog or two for a few weeks at a time. Let me know if you are interested in a guest blog appearance.

Friday, August 15, 2008

A case of hemorrhoids

I got a few emails from people asking why I was not posting on the Victoria Osteen trial. She was being sued in civil court for elbowing a fly attendant. My bullshit meter kicked in when I heard that flight attendant Sharon Brown felt the incident caused her develop hemorrhoids. I knew the case was a fleecing of a rich and high profile person. When I looked deeper and that no criminal charges were filed, I lost interest in the case. The Osteens did not assault Sharon Brown on their First Class flight to an exclusive vacation getaway. Why should I care if the Olsteen's represent the very worst in pop culture Christianity while at the same time act like class elitists? Unless they slap kids around I tend to leave them alone. Slapping a flight attendant is close, but with an arrest and trial on criminal charges, I really don't care. They deserve the full protection of the law just like the next filthy rich televangelist. They have an image to uphold and a family business to run. Praise Jeebus.

The trial is over - the jury thought Brown's case was a shake down. so did I. Apparently, so did everyone else.

"If we could have figured out a way to return court costs to the Osteens we would have done it," said jury foreman Gilles Labbe shortly after the jury announced its verdict.

Source: Victoria Osteen wife of Pastor of Megachurch in Houston Not Guilty

And a word on hemorrhoids: Sharon Brown - try not to push so hard. It helps.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Picking up pennies

I listen to Marketplace on KPCC every weekday. It's a great show. They talk about money. I like money. It's all good. Today they profiled people who pick up change in New York. The story is called Picking up loose change makes sense. It was a fascinating little story and it managed to appeal to my inner geek.

Kai Ryssdal: "Pinching your pennies" is a common enough phrase in tough economic times. Lots of people are probably doing that -- metaphorically, anyway. But what about actually pinching those pennies as you find them lying on the ground? From the mean streets of New York City, Sally Herships reports.

The story mentions two blogs. The New York City Changepot, and Thoughts from the Change Race. The family that blogs at Changepot has already found over one thousand dollars on the streets of New York this year. I think the whole concept teaches good financial habits, which is always a good thing.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Religion kills

I little boy found dead and stuffed inside a suitcase was killed by members of his own religion. They starved him to death because they thought he was a demon.

Ria Ramkissoon, the mother of Javon Thompson, was charged Sunday with first-degree murder in the boy's death. A Baltimore judge denied bail for the 21-year-old woman, who is accused accused of starving her toddler to death while a member of a cult.

Her lawyer, Steven Silverman, said she "was not in control of the situation" when her son died.

Ramkissoon and four others identified by police as members of a cult called 1 Mind Ministries are charged with first-degree murder in the death of Javon Thompson.

Members did not seek medical care for Javon when he stopped breathing, and the boy died in his mother's arms, according to court documents that described police interviews with a confidential informant and two children. He would have been about 19 months old when police say adults stopped feeding him in December 2006.

Source: Boy in suitcase was cult victim, police say -

I don't even know what to say. These guys killed a child in the name of god. The press calls 1 Mind Ministries a cult. But I don't know. They believe in the same god as the Baptist don't they? What's the difference?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Catholic's in Ohio can breath safer now

Catholics, never fear. The Archdiocese of Cincinnati is taking steps to protect your children for priests. I guess its safe to back to church now.
The Archdiocese of Cincinnati has issued a detailed list of inappropriate behaviors for priests, saying they should not kiss, tickle or wrestle children.

The newest version of the archdiocese's Decree on Child Protection also prohibits bear hugs, lap-sitting and piggyback rides.

The Associated Press: Ohio church: No kissing, tickling allowed
I do not see any mention of child molestation. Hmm. I'd better look deeper. Here is a link to the actual document. It is a well written example of a program meant to protect children from harm at that hands of those who run a local parish. I need to turn my sarcastic inner voice off at times. What the Archdiocese of Cincinnati did in creating this document and the program that supports it is a step in the right direction. A good step.

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Follow the Money

25 students had their degrees invalidated because a satellite program of North Carolina Central University at Bishop Eddie Longs Lithonia megachurch New Birth Baptist Church was not accredited. Nobody involved will take responsibility, The kids are screwed.

Eddie Long is known by another name, Bling Bling. He preaches prosperity theology. Let's look at that in the context of 25 students getting screwed. I don't know what it costs to put a kid through state school in North Carolina, but I can tell you here in California is was ~$23K a year. I'm going to the $23K and assume 5 years of school per student. That's $2.8M of tuition paid to the university by the graduating class. Factor in the 39 other students in the educational pipeline for an additional $897K of income per year. In turn the University pays the church rental/lease income for the use of church facilities, administrative costs, and I would assume other fees as well. Somebody made money here. The students paid the bill.

In other news, Eddie Long announced a 1 million dollar gift to North Carolina Central University last week. Nothing suspicious here, move along folks, move along.

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Fake Bishop alert

They don't know how to identify him. Apparently, all Bishops look alike.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Dallas is warning worshippers to beware of a fake bishop who charges for holy services that priests do for free.

Bishop Kevin Farrell, in a statement Monday, said he's been contacted by the Archbishop of Acapulco, Mexico, about a man named Martin Davila Gandara operating in the Dallas area.

Farrell says the man is not a bishop or associated with the Roman Catholic church.

Some of the services, such as baptisms, allegedly were offered in places like motels for fees of $100 to $200.

Now if I"m not mistaken, I've stuffed $100 into an envelope to pass on the the priest who baptized one of my many nieces or nephews. It's a common proactive. If fake bishop Martin Davilla Gandara is cutting in on the local priest's fun money, I can understand the concern. Religion does not like competition. I don't get the harm. It's all fake. I guess a fake priest is a little less ethical than an authentic priest, but both are still equally fake. One is just better trained than the other.

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Criminal Domestic Violence

Criminal Domestic Violence, is what you get arrested for when you beat the crap our of your wife?
Dr. William R. Crews, 73 and founder of "The Awakening Hour" television ministry, was arrested for criminal domestic violence on July 29, according to reports from the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office. He was released on July 30
In this case I do not think it was actual violence that landed Paster Crew in jail. It was the threat of violence, that and the fact that he was drunk and had a gun in his car.

hat tip

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Jesus sighting

Jesus in Cerritos

I went on a combination photowalk/dog walk/bird watching outing with my wife and dog this morning. I noticed the local Korean Christian jogging & walking club finishing their morning walk & worship event. A few walkers were pointing at a man sitting on a park bench at the east end of Stinky Lake. I did not realize it was Jesus until I walked closer. I snapped a few photo's to capture the miracle. I cropped the picture to remove his wine bottle just in case any of you Atheist cracker fanatics get any ideas.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

What the hell is a Christian biker?

This story has been in the press a few days. I was going to let the story pass, but the press keeps emphasizing that they are a Christian biker gang. So what the heck. The Set Free Soldiers (video) are locals. I sometime see members on the streets in Anaheim.

Five members of a Christian motorcycle gang were charged Friday with a variety of felony weapons and gang crimes after high-profile raids this week targeting the Anaheim-based group.

The charges marked a retreat from Wednesday, when authorities arrested seven members of the Set Free Soldiers, including founder and pastor Phillip Aguilar, on charges of conspiracy to commit murder. An eighth member was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder.

The charges were in connection with a double stabbing during a bar brawl with the Hells Angels late last month.

On Friday, the Orange County district attorney's filed just one attempted murder charge, against Jose Quinones, 42, and charged Glenn Schoeman, 56, with being an accessory after the fact. They were being held on $1-million and $100,000 bail, respectively.

I am not sure why they emphasize these guys as being a Christian biker gang. It must have something to do with Phillip Aguilar calling himself a pastor, or that fact they the attend church services. It think its closer to a Christian Identity thing though.

"They cannot believe that we're Christians because we have tattoos and ride motorcycles," she said. "It's sheep in wolf's clothing." - Sandra Aguilar

I'm not sure I understand this quote either. Putting a tattoo of a cross on your chest does not make you a good person. Attending church does not make you a good person. Calling yourself a Christian does not make you a good person. It comes down to what you do with your time on earth. If you choose to murder, steal, and sell illegal drugs, then you are not a good person. It really is that simple.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Border guards told to stop U.S. church fanatics

This is hilarious. Canada will ban nutball Fred Phelps and his hate filled Westboro Baptist Church from crossing the border. They've serious about it too. They've already stopped Shirley Phelps-Roper and a small group of protesters.
Shirley Phelps-Roper, daughter of church’s founder, Fred Phelps, said a small group of protesters was stopped at the Canada-U.S. border Thursday afternoon.

“They won’t let us in, but we have a group that will cross in another spot,” she said. “They’ll have to strip search everyone who crosses that border or they won’t know who we are. They’ll have to see the WBC (Westboro Baptist Church) tattoo on our butts.”
Go get them Canada. And don't be afraid to use your billy clubs.

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Clubbing for the Lord

It's a party. I don't understand why. But it's a party.

Praying for Rain

Some of the things James Dobson and his mindless minions do in the name of God are downright nuts. Writing Athena comments on the madness in the post, James Dobson Minion Urges Followers to Pray for Rainout of Obama Speech.
The snarling, sinister, cynical Christian right is showing its true colors. May they be finally and fully rejected by all people of conscience.

Stuart Shepherd, of the "Focus on the Family Action Group," has released an internet video urging James Dobson followers and anti-Obama sympathizers to pray for a torrential downpour during the Democratic National Convention, precisely at the time that Obama is set to give his speech at Invesco Field at Mile High Stadium later this month.
Make sure to watch the Youtube video

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Youth pastors in trouble

Andrew Belant was a youth pastor at Eureka First Presbyterian Church in Eureka, California. He is on trail for molesting four boys ages of 9 to 13.
tn each case, the alleged abuse began with numerous instances of inappropriate touching -- in some cases the abuse reportedly took place on school, church and camp grounds.

At least one child knew Belant very well. Honsal said Belant met the child through a school program, and eventually formed a close relationship with his family.
Repeat after me. Never trust a youth pastor with your children.

Carl Thomas was a youth pastor at the First Baptist Church of Ardmore, Ardmore, Alabama. He stands accused of two counts of solicitation of a minor for sending sexually suggestive text messages. His church acted promptly after the Pastor of the church learned of the situation.

Massey said that Lincoln County authorities were alerted to a possible problem by Ardmore First Baptist pastor, the Rev. Chris Barnett.

First Baptist Church of Ardmore posted this
statement on its Web site:

“The circumstances surrounding a past youth director of First Baptist is being dealt with in a timely manner. The youth director has resigned effective August 1, 2008. First Baptist Church of Ardmore, Alabama, would like to report that we are in full cooperation with the authorities that are investigating the behavior of the past youth director.” The posting went on to advise readers to call Massey at the Fayetteville Police for more information.
I do not often see a church respond in a way that protects its children and promotes transparency. It is refreshing. But still - repeat after me. Never trust a youth pastor with your children.

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My family and I saw a big police and paramedic call out for an accident on our route to dinner last night. The victim was laying on the sidewalk near the street next to a Park and Ride's parking lot. He was on his back in a neck brace. A bike was nearby, laying on its side in the parking lot. We all thought a child had been hit by a car. We we so wrong.

On the way home we saw a large section of the parking lot cordoned off by crime tape.  Little yellow tent cards use to mark evidence were covering spots on the ground. The distance from the first tent card to last was about forty feet along a gentle arc. Detectives were bending over one area, looking at something on the ground. This time we thought it was a shooting. My son did not agree. He did not see any blood on the victim. We were wrong again.

A 15-year-old boy was stabbed by a 13-year of boy. According to the press it was gang related. My son is 13. He rides a skateboard, plays xbox, and worries about his clothing. Gangs seem so far away, but they are really just down the street.

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Thursday, August 07, 2008

The 10 Haiku Project

I was challenged by a friend to deal with some anger and stress issues through poetry. I am not a poetry inclined person, but I agreed to the challenge anyway. It is simple. Write 10 Haiku's, but do so only when I am angry, tired, or stressed out. I am supposed to clear my mind, think about my day, and then write a poem. It is actually harder then it sounds. I had start by leaning about Haiku. I've adopted the english short sentence, long sentence, short sentence approach over the traditional 17 syllable method. It's just too hard to do it the traditional way.

A headache

Heat envelops my mind
as a warm breeze licks the skin
fire arcs in me again

Did it work? Well It took two hour to write. I feel better for trying. Please let me know what you think. Any help is appreciated.

There is no need for me to suffer alone, I hereby challenge the atheist blogroll to put their best Haiku forward.

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Well this is deep: BlackGreyWhite

Atheist Revolution: Morality Police Go After Indiana Adult Store

Atheist Revolution has a post near and dear to my hear. When the morality police attack, we all lose. Even if the place they attack is an adult bookstore in rural Indiana. 

The newspaper in which I found this story, The Indianapolis Star, described this as reflecting "the latest clash of small-town values, including a heaping serving of religious fervor, against what some here view as an increasingly hedonistic and dangerous world." Yes, but it is also a story about Christians attempting to force their morality on others.

Source: Atheist Revolution: Morality Police Go After Indiana Adult Store

Amen brother vjack! It used to be that Beach Blvd here in Orange county was home to a dozen adult bookstores, a couple of pussycat theaters, and countless strip clubs. The Christians worked hard for years to shut them down. They succeeded for the most part. Or more exactly, redevelopment succeeded where Christian activism failed.  The adult venues moved down the road from Anaheim and Buena Park to Stanton and Garden Grove.  It is like stamping in a in a mud puddle.

What people do in their sex lives, how they like their porn, or how they like to hookup, it's none of our business. The morality police need to police themselves, not us.

More charges for Randall Russell

Randall Russell is a fringe nutball pastor.  He already faces host of charges related to sexual misconduct with minors. He recently been charged with more crimes.

Randall Danny Russell, 49, pastor of the Acts II Church in rural Neosho, was charged Tuesday with six counts of possession of child pornography and two counts of sexual exploitation of a minor.

Russell already faced one count of statutory rape in the second degree, two counts of statutory sodomy in the first degree, six counts of statutory sodomy in the second degree, one count of felony child abuse and two counts of child molestation in the first degree.

Child porn makes me angry. I hope the prosecutor goes for Russell's testicles.

Lower Standards

I don't know. Maybe Christian standards of conduct are lower in third world countries? Uganda is a third world country, right?

POLICE in Kamuli have arrested a pastor over alleged defilement of a mentally challenged 13-year-old girl, a member of his church.

Yona Malinzi, 30, of the Full Gospel Church in Miseru, Kidera sub-county in Kamuli, was arrested recently and is being detained at Kamuli Central Police Station.

The district Police commander, Frank Abalawuwe, said Malinzi was arrested while leading a church service and transferred to Kamuli for interrogation.

He said the arrest was prompted by the mother of the victim who alleged that Malinzi had made the girl pregnant.

“We are yet to establish the truth if the pastor did this to a young girl who is mentally disturbed and can hardly speak,” Abalawuwe said. Investigations were still going on and Malinzi would be brought to court when they are completed,” he said.

Source: Kamuli Pastor arrested over defilement

I'm guessing a paternity test will solve the problem. But Pastor Malinzi still has some explaining to do. How is it that a mentally disturbed girl in his care became pregnant?

I don't report stories from Africa very often. They all seem to involve rape, murder, or molestation. It is so depressing. Then again, most of the stories I publish from America cover the same subject. Perhaps we are not so different?