Thursday, April 30, 2009

Thought for the day

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God? -Epicurus, philosopher (c. 341-270 BCE)

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Science is cool - Smart Crows and Ravens

Damn birds are smarter than my dog.

Nazi priest in Italy

Hat tip Bligbi via Twitter

If a priest wears a swastika should we judge him as a person or as a priest? I judge his as a person and as a priest. I also think he should be tarred and feathered.

Fascist Father Angelo Idi, 51 - who once saw off a charity box thief with a truncheon at his church in Vigevano, Italy - confessed: "I am proud of my right wing beliefs. But people shouldn't care about my politics, they should care about how good a priest I am."

Let me state his argument a different way. If I sold ice cream for a living and was a raging racist to boot, people should continue to buy my ice cream because I’m a good salesman and the ice cream is tasty. Pay no attention to my nasty old racist remarks, that’s just me in my private life. It has nothing to do with enjoying ice-cream.

Oh wait a minute... he thinks we are idiots. I see that now.

I’ll hold my breath for the Catholic church to do something. With a former Hitler Youth graduate in wearing the Pope hat, I don’t think anything is likely to happen.

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I've got a blog crush

What can I say? I love birds. Grrlscientist’s outstanding blog, Living the Scientific Life gives me my fix every day.

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Science is cool - Eddy Current Tubes

It's magic.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Pastor charged with contract murder

Kevin Jerome Pushai It is unbelievable the level of depravity Christian pastors attain while serving Jesus". Like pastor Kevin Jerome Pushia of Baltimore. He ordered a contract hit on a blind man in his care in order to collect a life insurance payout.

A Baltimore pastor who worked with developmentally disabled people was charged Friday with befriending a blind and disabled man in his care, then paying a hit man $50,000 in church funds for an execution so he could collect life insurance money…

…A terse notation in Pushia's planning calendar for Feb. 5, the day after Wallace was found dead in a Leakin Park bathroom stall from multiple gunshot wounds to the head and back, reads: "L.W. project completed," police said.

Before you Christians start to tell me Pushia is a bad apple, read the story. He is a life long Christian active in the church and doing all the right things. It’s obvious that he was playing Christianity as a con game. Believers can be such saps.

Pastor Pushia is a good looking man. Prison is going to be a bitch, death row, even worse.

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Salinas Californian to fight gag order in priest molestation case

They reason the Catholic church has a long history of child molestation is they have an even longer history of secrecy.

The Salinas Californian has retained the services of a Fresno law firm to contest the motion by defense attorneys for the Rev. Antonio Cortes of St. Mary of The Nativity Catholic Church in east Salinas.

Cortes, now in Monterey County Jail on $750,000 bail, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to one felony count of sodomy of a person under the age of 18 and 12 felony misdemeanors counts including providing alcohol to a minor and child molestation. He was additionally charged today with two felony counts of possessing child pornography.

The charges in this case are horrific.

Cortes is accused of 20 counts in all, including selling liquor to a minor, one felony count of sodomy with a 16-year-old and two counts of child molestation, including a misdemeanor count for masturbating the victim…

The only reason the defense wants a gag order is so that the local populace does to break Pastor Cortes out of jail and string him up. But this is not the Old West. The best approach is to keep the trail in the public eye. The world need to see the level of depravity fostered by the Catholic church.

Minister accused of tax evasion: 'I am not guilty'

First you must lay the stage with your followers.

“I ain't been serving you all these years for nought,” he told members. “I have not walked among you 28 years as an impostor, thank God. I know who I am and you know who I am.”

Then you must apply spin.

“I am not guilty of such allegations,” the statement reads. “No evidence to support these charges has been presented to me and I therefore await my day in court.”

Do you see the spin? “No evidence to support these charges has been presented to me… ” Since when do police present the evidence at the time of arrest? As for the “I am not guilty of such charges”, ambiguous answers like this are the providence of the charlatan. What about this specific charge? Bishop Anthony Jinwright, are you a tax cheat?

Related Post: Pastor Indicted for tax evasion

Peeping Pastor Caught In Sioux Falls

Pastor Timothy Stewart did it "Just for the thrill." 

Sioux Falls police say Stewart looked into several windows in the complex over several nights this week. One resident said the 50 year old continued to stare inside even after they made eye contact with him.

I’m guessing there are deeper problems with pastor Stewart. What kind of pervert does it take to become a peeping Tom?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Blogroll Update: Introducing PollyTheism

The writer behind PollyTheism offers this introduction.

My name is Stephen Goldin. I'm a science fiction novelist, and I'm responsible for the blog PollyTheism. Polly! is my newest book, a satire of religion. PollyTheism is a mock religion dedicated to Polly, the central character in the book.

Polly may be a god, but she's way cooler than any god you've ever met before. PollyTheism is (probably) the only religion in the history of the world that isn't endorsed by the god it believes in. Being a PollyTheist gains you no advantages whatsoever in real life. No miracles granted. No blessings bestowed. No prayers or thanks accepted.

The blog takes a (I hope) humorous and/or satirical look at religion, and why being a PollyTheist is better than worshiping any other god in the universe. I hope you'll check it out.

If you would like to join the blogroll, click here.

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Pastor accused of concealing gun

I knew I should have posted on this nutter back when he was shooting arrows in church.  Now he’s wearing a gun and acting all cop-like. With the body armor and all, how can we mistake him for anything other than a nutball?

A criminal complaint says the Rev. John Putnam came to the Sheboygan Falls Police Department Feb. 28 to answer questions about a suicidal parishioner that police had contact with earlier in the day. An officer says Putnam was wearing body armor and a police-style jacket and had a handgun concealed in the jacket.

Maybe he is just stupid? Does he look stupid to you?

PutnamsLet me see now, he has body armor, a bow and arrow, and a pistol, you better check him for a knife too. I’m sure he’s got one stuck someplace inappropriate.

Rev. John Putnam is the proud pastor of The Pentecostals of Sheboygan County. His email address is here

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One time, at band camp...

...youth pastor Jonathan James Hartman had sex with three 15-year-old girls, impregnating one young girl. But it's ok because he's in the Salvation Army and you know, they help people and all.

"His reaction was that he wanted her to get an abortion and he was pushing her for it. She even came up with ideas on how to terminate the pregnancy and cause a miscarriage," said Detective Scheuermann, Franklin Police Department.

The Salvation Army has a program to protect children. It calls for children to be managed by two adults at all times. There is little one-on-one time with children allowed (pdf). It looks like the rules were ignored because Hartman is the son of the husband and wife pastor team which operates the local Salvation Army. Allowing Hartman to be alone with children on church property would make his parents at least partially responsible the abuse. I am sure the lawsuits will come, but I want something more. The Salvation Army must fire Hartman’s parents. They can no longer be trusted to fulfill their mission. Plus, it will send the right message to other potentially lax guardians.

Hartman has confessed to his crimes. I”m sure prison will welcome the freak.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Pastor indicted for tax evasion

How much do pastors make? Bishop Anthony L. Jinwright apparently rolls around in the greenbacks just to take a bath.

anthonyjinwright The 16-page indictment says Jinwright failed to report $875,000 in taxable income for him and his wife, Harriet Porter-Jinwright. She is listed on the church Web site as a co-pastor, but is not charged.

The indictment alleges Jinwright owes from $200,000 to $400,000 in unpaid federal and state income taxes.

The indictment also details salary and reimbursements of $3.1 million for Jinwright from the church from 2001-2006. It also lists more than $400,000 in income from speaking engagements and book sales.

Source: News 14 | Charlotte | Local pastor indicted for tax evasion

The “Bishop” likes his cars. He drives a Bentley, a BMW 530i, a Mercedes-Benz S550V, five Lexus vehicles and a Maybach 57.  I’m willing to bet Jinwright preaches Prosperity theology.

You can watch Bishop Jinwright give his trademark performance here. Get that man a Bentley.

Feed the Muse: The hanging camera project

The hanging camera project. A Portland Oregon photographer left a disposable camera on a pedestrian bridge. Art resulted. I would do it near my house, but I am sure some punk ass youngster would jack the camera. Ah hell, I’m going to try it anyway.

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A Pastor’s $600K compensation package

There is something fundamentally wrong with paying a pastor $600K to lead a church. The ostentatious display of wealth for a religion that is supposedly build on service and charity is as out of place as diamonds on a skid row bum. At least some of the parishioners had the good sense to file a lawsuit.

Manhattan's Riverside Church - one of the country's most illustrious religious institutions - is paying its new senior pastor, the Rev. Brad Braxton, more than $600,000 in annual compensation.

That's twice what Braxton's predecessor, James Forbes, one of the country's best-known preachers, was getting after running Riverside for more than 18 years.

Read More…

Why do men like Pastor Braxton demand such a high salary? I do not mean to offend people with this question. I am curious. Do people think that becoming a pastor is they way to grow rich? A friend once told me that the salary of a pastor should be no more than the average of the church. This seems fair. Is the average salary of Riverside Church $600K? Something tells me no.

Pastor Braxton seems like the real deal. He was a Rhodes Scholar, earned a Masters Degree at the University of Oxford, England. And earned Ph.D. at Emory University. He preaches well, and writes even better. Plus – he stood up against proposition 8. The man is good and honestly, I like him, which makes me wonder all the more about the inconsistency in his pay. Can anyone explain it?

His compensation package is generous:

  • $250,000 in salary.
  • $11,500 monthly housing allowance.
  • Private school tuition for his child.
  • A full-time maid.
  • Entertainment, travel and "professional development" allowances.
  • Pension and life insurance benefits.
  • An equity allowance for Braxton to save up to buy a home.

If he were running a business, I would not consider it odd. But then, a church is a business, right?

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Pastor Bacon is toast

Evans-justice-baconPastor Evans Justice Bacon stands accused of molesting a 15-year-old girl at the New Life Tabernacle Church, where he is president.
Between June 1, 2005, and Jan. 21, 2006, Bacon touched the girl inappropriately repeatedly, Bross said. He is also accused of taking photographs of the girl's genitals and having the girl take pictures of her genitals for him, Bross said.
After the girl turned 17 in 2007, Bacon asked the girl if he could commit a particular sexual act, was denied, then committed the act anyway, Bross said. In time, the girl told her mother, and her mother contacted authorities, Bross said.
The police are worried that he may have molested other girls.


Google News Timeline

Google labs feeds my news fetish with the release of Google News Timeline. Check it out.

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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Freak of the week: Pastor Richard Harris

I do not make this stuff up.

The Rev. Richard Harris is charged with sexual battery, engaging in lewd or lascivious battery, child abuse, showing obscene material to a child and promotion of a sexual performance by a child…

A pastor with a video camera who liked to get his freak on with high school boys in exchange for helping them with the non-existent careers. Good Christian. Check!

Blogroll Update: A new Wiki

The big new this week is that Larro created the Atheist Blogroll Wiki. We are trying to figure out how to use it to help build an effective atheist blogging community. Your comments and participation are welcomed.

Joiners! (up to 874)

Quitters (down to 869)

Thanks as usual to Crystal for the help with dead links.

If you would like to join the blogroll, click here.

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Killer-turned-pastor preaches redemption

Pastor Maury Davis brings out the most cynical side of my personality. I look at Davis at the perfect con man. He is a convicted murderer who understands the road to privilege is paved by religion. As the cult leader of the Nashville based Cornerstone Mega-Church, he is a wealthy and influential man. But does he deserve it? I don’t think so.

"I did something heinous, not just awful," says Davis, who slit the throat of 54-year-old Jo Ella Liles in broad daylight in a peaceful middle-class Irving neighborhood in 1975. "Unless you go to a Charles Manson level, it's out there."

Source: Killer-turned-pastor preaches redemption

It comes down to trust. I can forgive a man for murder if he is repentant and serves his time in prison. Trusting him is another matter altogether. My religious friends will tell me I am broken. That I should trust people like Davis. I know better. Trust is hard to earn, but once lost even more difficult to recapture. Simply giving trust to a man because of a religious conversion is too convenient. It rewards the act of becoming a Christian instead of the act of becoming a good man. When becoming a Christian includes taking the helm of a large and powerful church, with the financial rewards of running a wildly successful religious business, one must ask, “Does Maury Davis disserve it?” No. Davis deserves a job cutting the bushes, not leading a church.

In 1975 Maury Davis slit the throat of a 54-year-old Irving Texas woman named Jo Ella Liles. The crime was brutal and senseless. Davis was upset about spilling paint on his boots so somebody had to die. He admitted his guilt but claimed demonic possession during his insanity defense. He did not apologize to the family of his victim.

Prison officials let him out of church on a weekly furlong to attend church services with his family. Davis recognized a scam when he saw one. He stepped up his efforts to convert his fellow inmates. When his 20-year sentence was cut short by prison overcrowding, he tasted freedom as a free man at age 27. He did not pay his debt to society, he benefited from a scam instead. Eight years in no payment for murder.

His only marketable skill was retelling a sanitized version of his prison conversion. I’ve seen it on TV. It makes me wonder aloud about the gullibility of Christians. Um… pass that collection plate please.

Davis became an evangelist. Which is to say, he started selling his testimony for personal profit under the guise of working to convert people for Jesus. He polished his apple, and Cornerstone took a bite. Now Davis is rich, powerful, influential, and still unapologetic. He claims the successful conversion of many people as proof that his slate is clean. Only, he is still a murderer, and a loving mother is still dead. And her son is still bitter. Tell me, who benefited here?

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I sat under a Bodhi tree

Bodhi leaf

I prefer my own magnolia; there is more shade. This is photo of a Bodhi leaf. I love the long tale. It is unique.

I did not find enlightenment under the Bodhi tree. I kept wondering why the arboretum would dedicate the tree to the 14th Dalai Lama. I’m pretty sure he never visited.

My wife and I visited the Fullerton Arboretum. Gardeners packed the place to attend the annual Green Scene Plant & Garden show. It was full of 40 to 6o year old women wearing big floppy hats. I managed to find one young girl who looked out of  place.

I’ll visit again when fewer people are around. It was zoo today. I took two good photo’s. This shot of a red flower, and this shot of thorns.

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

What is a hate crime?

19th century painting of Our Lady.

Image via Wikipedia

I often consider the question, “What is a hate crime?” My confusion stems from the unending stream of new stories I read while researching posts for my blog. One story caught my attention this week and rekindled an examination of the term. In the beautiful California city of Santa Monica, somebody vandalized a statue of the Virgin Mary on Easter Sunday. By vandalized I mean beheaded.

Local news followed the story. It did not make the mainstream media outlets. The Santa Monica Daily Press reported “Virgin Mary statue found without head.” The first sentence characterizes the incident as a hate crime. “Santa Monica Police are investigating an alleged hate crime after officials with St. Monica Catholic Church discovered a statue of the Virgin Mary beheaded shortly before Easter services commenced.” Is this act of vandalism a hate crime? Is it fitting for the press to label it as a hate crime without understanding the context? I have reservations.

Motivation must be a reason when deciding if a crime is a hate crime. Yet besides the obvious loss of a religious icon’s head, we know nothing about those who perpetrated the crime. It is within the range of likely possibilities that a wayward parish prankster knocked the head off the statue. Or, the head fell off because of damage or through problems with the quality of manufacture; perhaps the structure weakened and the head simply fell off? The new story does not give us enough information to draw our own conclusions, yet they report an alleged hate crime. I don’t get it.

I understand the likelihood of an accidental beheading are small. Discovering the damage on Easter represents some intent by those who perpetrated this crime, but this does not prove hate as the motive. Calling vandalism a hate crime is an unnecessary escalation. What is the societal harm? If no person or group claims responsibility, then who would Catholics retaliate against if they sought to balance the scales? Would nonCatholics bear the weight of Catholic rage? Who is the specific victim? Is it Catholics, Catholics who worship the Virgin Mary or perhaps Catholics who like art? Who knows? Spokesperson Jason Farmer said it best, “Even though it was a sad event, it didn't take away from the joy of Easter and celebrating Christ's resurrection.” I do not see a reference to hate or to Catholics feeling victimized. The police have a different interpretation.

"Anytime a church or school is targeted, we look at it as a possible hate crime," SMPD Lt. Darrell Lowe said. "In this case, since the vandalism was of a very important figure within the Catholic religion, we're classifying it and investigating it as a hate crime."

I think the police department’s orientation is the problem. By using preconditions as a basis for starting an investigation, the police close off possible avenues of investigation. They develop a bias against the crime being anything other than a hate crime. They set up an expectation with the public that an evil actor is targeting Catholics. Framing the crime inaccurately perpetuates an inaccurate characterization of the crime. Their statements are political rather than practical. The police should explore property crime without attaching significance to the crime because the target is an inanimate object representing a supernatural religious icon. How many other works of public art are vandalized in Santa Monica each year? My guess is the number is high. Have you been to Santa Monica lately? Removing graffiti alone employs a small army of city workers. Without evidence to the contrary, the police are fear mongering. Their words are irresponsible and intensify the hate.

Don’t get me wrong. If there is evidence the crime is part of a larger effort to target a group of people because they worship the Virgin Mary, and the crimes include threats, violence, or further acts of destruction, I would join the security patrols which protect them. I hate bullies with a passion. Bigots are bullies in bedsheets. They deserve contempt while their victims deserve protection and justice.

The problem with classifying all acts of vandalism against a church as a hate crime is that it decreases the meaning of term. If Joe Blow, the neighborhood crackhead, beheads the statue in a drug fuels orgy gone wrong. Charging him with a hate crime weakens the term to the point where it undermine the intent of the law.

We know the murder of Matthew Sheppard is a hate crime. We feel it at the core of our humanity. Mathew Sheppard died for being gay. The crime is hate. We know when we see a swastika on a synagogue the intent behind the act has roots in hate. We know this because we know the context of the crime. Context is everything. Beheading the Virgin Mary is a hate crime if for example, the intent was to drive Catholics from the predominantly protestant city of Santa Monica. Is beheading the Virgin Mary a crime if the intent was to express outrage over an unanswered prayer? Context is everything. Without a proper understanding of context, calling and act a hate crime is irresponsible.

Even when we understand the context, mislabeling it as a hate crime because of the atrocious nature of the violence involved, further weakens the term. The most notable case, and the case which started me down this intellectual road, is the notorious Wichita Massacre. Two black men, brothers Reginald and Jonathan Carr, murdered 5 people, all white. Conservative commentators tried to characterize the crime as racially motivated despite evidence to the contrary. They ignored the context of the crime by trying to broaden the definition of a hate crime to include people of one race committing crimes against people of another race. Sanity prevailed. The motivation was clearly self-enrichment by morally bankrupt thugs.

I am sure my bias as a libertarian has some influence on my thinking. Hate crime penalty enhancements for example, these seem wrongheaded. Beheading the Virgin Mary as vandalism earns you a light sentence. I might pass you picking up cans on the freeway. If you include hate crime penalty enhancements, community service turns to prison time. I do not see it. It does not make sense. Why not reserve justice for those who earn stern punishment by their evil acts? Even then, the punishment must fit the crime, not an arbitrary additional assessment based on a hard to define standard which is used as a weapon in the hands of unscrupulous district attorneys.

I know I am fighting windmills here. Asking the press to show restraint is like asking a teen to stop texting. It will not happen. The inaction of the press will not stop me from an occasional rant though. I mean, that is our role as bloggers, right?

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Top 10 Christians in Hollywood

People send me the oddest things. Like this list of the Top 10 Christians in Hollywood. I am not a celebrity watcher, but I find it interesting to find out what motivates people. Enjoy.

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Where is the love?

Do you know how I spot posers? I look for love in their words. When I find a man who speaks for Jesus but spouts words devoid of love, my mind screams “poser”, and by poser I mean hypocrite.

First Baptist Church Pastor Mac Brunson has no love for bloggers. Especially those who dare to criticize his $300K salary, the $300K church land grant, or his lavish office. After all, he’s a mega church pastor and deserves the riches that come with the title.

Brunson declined to discuss his home and salary but maintained he is one of the lowest-paid mega-church pastors in the Southern Baptist Convention. He said people are welcome to criticize his preaching style and ministry goals, including the school, but usually do so openly, not anonymously.

But the love does not stop at criticism, it extends to abuse of power. If you dare to blog about his excesses, then he will use every means available to track you down and expose you in the church. Of course, we all know this is a Machiavellian move to silence his critics, his followers think he’s trying to protect Jesus.

The story makes an interesting read. Apparently a member of Brunso’s security detail is a detective on the local police force. He used his access to get a subpoena  from the Florida State Attorney’s office compelling Google Inc. to give up the blog’s author. After learning the author was a member of the pastor’s church, the detective turned over the bloggers name despite there being any evidence of a crime. The abuse of power is epic in this case. Somebody must pay (are you listening DOJ?).

The blogger, Thomas A. Rich, runs FBC JAX Watchdog, a blog relentlessly critical of pastor Brunson. I spent an hour reading it this afternoon. Ho-hum – I thought legal standards for subpoenas were higher. This blog should have prompted no investigation at all. Rich posted anonymously.

Why anonymous blogging? I preferred to blog anonymously so as not to draw attention to myself, or make the discussion about me personally. I decided to focus on what I saw and heard, and to give a voice to those things I considered abusive. I never wanted the blog to be distracted by who I was, or make myself the issue. And of course self-preservation played a role…

I post anonymously  for the same reasons really, plus the death threats. One must not forget the death threats. Rich only need fear expulsion for his community. He knew they would come for him, and they did eventually.

In a church where the pastor can do no wrong he often does.

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New book: Walking the Black Cat

I find that books of poems are more difficult to read than works of fiction. A thin volume, like Charles Simic's Walking the Black Cat, will take months before I feel sated. Poetry is like that.

I don’t know Simic’s work. I picked up his book because of an old man’s recommended. We were browsing the photography section together. He asked me what I was hoping to find. When I told him poetry, he laughed and told me I was in the wrong section.

I explained that I always start my journeys through a bookstore in the photography section. I find the works inspiring. Plus, they help my mood. I held a Minor White book in my hand at the time. The old man said, “Well, if you like White, then I think Simic is the man for you.” I don’t get the connection.

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

What did you do this Easter?

Portrait of MarkWhat did you do this Easter? I played disc golf with my friend Mark. I took along my Camera so that I could try to take a few shots of him. He felt like I was stalking him, but I did get a good shot. I did some blogging, some reading, some shopping, and then wasted an hour or two playing TF2. I also spent some quality time with the wife. It was a fun day, but it’s not over yet. I’m off to the park to walk the dog and take a few pictures of the natives. When we drove by earlier in the day, there were so many people, we did not want to stop.

So what did you do this Easter?

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The pastor Robert Black paranoia spreads

Two stories that complicate the case for Baptist pastor Robert Black have hit the news. First, parents of 20 children have come forward claiming their young daughters may have communicated with Robert Black as John Still on Facebook. And second, it appears that Robert Black also coached a young girls basketball team.

I expect more of these stories to hit the news over the next few weeks. I have no doubt that some of them will uncover additional questionable activity. What bother me is the damage caused to the young girls in Missouri. At least 20 girls from Facebook and another dozen from a youth basketball league are answering some difficult questions. I count these girls as victims too, even if they were not directly involved.

Baptist youth pastor charged with sexual assault

I swear, the Baptist are going friggen nuts. This must be the 10th case I've written about in the last 60 days. Jason Beck was the youth pastor at Pauline Baptist Church, now he's sitting in a jail cell for sleeping with a 16-year-old girl under his pastoral care.

While the age of 16 is accepted as the legal age of consent, the “position of trust” that he was in made the act a felony, such as would be the case with a teacher, coach, or other position of responsibility.

And let’s not get this Jason Beck confused with Coach Jason Beck. That’s a different case altogether. Jason Beck must be a popular name among pedophiles.

It’s so easy to blame SatanKasey Earl did.

We are all disappointed with this situation and feel somewhat betrayed, but the fact of the matter is Jason is our brother and we should have been more accountable to him. He is one of my closest friends. He is NOT a predator. If you knew the story of Jason’s past, you’d know that God has done mighty things in his life and has brought him out of darkness. But Satan never forgot the things from Jason’s past and used them to tempt him. I hate that this had to happen for everyone involved, and yes what he did was stupid, but now it’s time for the Church (and I’m not just talking about Pauline, but all of us who are his brothers and sisters in Christ) to reconcile him and lift him high. Join me in prayer for the girl and the parents involved, and the rest of Pauline and the staff there, AND Jason. The fellowship of the mat: a man who was crippled was carried to Jesus by his friends for healing. Don’t let Satan win!!

And while we are at it, why not give him hope.

I think this young man got caught up in something bigger and stronger than him. I’m sure he loves God and is a christian but a young christian. He should not have been in the position he was in at the church because of his young chistianity. He is human and a young man who is not much older than the young girl. Had he been in a different occupation, this would be only a concern with him and the young girl and her family. Remember not to throw stones until you look at your own life. This young girl is not the first 16 year old who has had sex with an older boy and she will not be the last. To the girl’s close friends, this is your chance to prove you are not shallow and will always be there for her. To the young man, this to shall pass and use this experience as a stepping stone to what God’s plan is for you.

Oh, and don’t worry about telling people about your prison hitch or the fact that you will be labeled a sex offender. Nope, being a Baptist, you will find the world is your oyster and the youth group your peals.

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Sunday school teacher arrested for murder

Sandra Cantu may have been murdered by a trusted Sunday school teacher and single mother. The police say Melissa Huckaby killed Sandra Cantu in a church and then stuffed her body into a suitcase and dumping it into a farm pond. People who know her are shocked.

"She must have had a double life, because she seemed sweet and the Bible study kids love her," said Carlos Martinez, who lives in the Orchard Estates Mobile Home Park near Huckaby. "This is a total shock."

Huckaby's relatives said they were bewildered at the concept that the churchgoing woman they've seen get down on her knees to play with children and lead them in singing religious songs such as "Deep and Wide" would do what police say she has.

MelissaHuckabyEyesBy now I know that people often mistake going through the motions at church as signs of living a moral lifestyle. I have little patience for this assumption. I think it clouds the issue, one must examine how she lived her life in full before one judges her ability to commit a murder.

I must admit a certain bias. I have trouble believing a mother could commit a crime like this. Since the news broke I’ve held back writing about the murder because I thought maybe it was an accidental death that had spiraled out of control. I had no facts to support this. In fact, it now seems unlikely given the lengths Huckaby went to hid her actions. I eventually realized that I held the same type basis as people who think being a Christian makes one less likely to kill.

The real story will be told over the weeks and months ahead. I may follow story it if continues to weave in the tale of religion. A Sunday school teacher killing an innocent young girl in a church sounds like good fodder for Hypocrisy Watch to me. Time will tell though.

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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Oakland anarchy

Oakland anarchySometimes the ugliness of our urban landscape blows me away.

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Baptist pastor convicted of Child Molestation

Former Fresno area Baptist pastor John Bonine was sentenced to 36 years in prison for child molestation.

Investigators arrested Bonine and charged him with 107 child molestation counts. He plead guilty to 16 counts. Prosecutor Marlea Dell'Anno said the former pastor misled his congregation, "A supposed man of god, your honor he has been shown all mercy that he should be shown."

JohnBonineBonine was the Pastor of Sierra Heights Baptist Chruch in Fresno California. Bill Steele is the new pastor. There is no mention of John Bonine or his crimes on the church website. There rarely is in cases like this. I think that’s a mistake. Telling the truth is a good first step towards building the transparency needed to operate in a spirit of trust. Why they decided to act as if nothing ever happened is something I will never understand. Baptist are so screwed up.

Bonine is 44. He’ll never make 80 in state prison. I predict that the next time we hear from John Bonine it will be in his obituary.

Our new robot overloads will be cute

Via Gizmodo, NYU Student Conducts Most Adorable Robot Experiment Ever. I watched the video and laughed. We need more of this, much more.

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The Annenberg Space for Photography

I had a chance to visit the new Annenberg Space for Photography today. My wife and I made the 40 mile trip across LA, well... it's 40 miles if you count getting lost in Beverly Hills and North Hollywood. The gallery is located  at 2000 Avenue of the Stars in Century City. It is on the former site of the Shubert theater (I saw Cats there way back in the day). The gallery is a little difficult to find as there is no signage, so look for the two towers, it is located at their base.

The Gallery is free, they even discount parking. My trip cost $1. The gallery space is not large. Our visit was all of a lingering hour, which included viewing several multi-media presentations. I enjoyed the visit. The place is an unpretentious exhibit space for lovingly displayed photography. I’m proud to have it in my city.

The inaugural exhibit celebrates contemporary photography through the works of eight local photographers of considerable talent. Photographers Douglas Kirkland, Greg Gorman, Lauren Greenfield, Carolyn Cole, Lawrence Ho, Kirk McKoy, Genaro Molina, Catherine Opie, and artist John Baldessari all contribute works to the exhibit. 

Opie I know the work of Catherine Opie. I’ve followed her for years. I’ve had her on my list of people to meet for years. I love what she does with her images. But photography can be a source of repulsion too. Today I saw a photo that moved Opie to my list of people to keep at a distance. It’s her self portrait called cutting. the photo and the words that accompanied it in the Annenberg’s IRIS digital Gallery, gave me the shivers. I said to myself, “Well, that’s a little to real for me.”

The Annenberg Space for Photography is on my list for a visit each time the exhibits changes. As a free art venue in Los Angeles, It is worth an hour of my day and should be worth an hour of your day too. Plus, North Hollywood, with all its great food, is just down the road.

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A tale of Baptist hypocrisy

Robert King of the wrote the story, Hope Baptist pastor Rev. Jerry Hillenburg accused of sexual harassment. It is a compelling account of Jim Huneycutt publically accusing his pastor of sexual harassment, and his families subsequent exile for speaking out. The story highlights the problem of accountability within independent churches. I think it captures the heart of the problem; Baptists create an environment where predators and the power hungry can thrive.  By most accounts, Pastor Hillenburg is a disgusting stain with a long history of problems. Yet his church united to stand behind him. He disserves public scrutiny, a lot of it too.

Hillenburg admits to sending this message,“"Text me something dirty." He claims…

…the woman had been changing the dirty diapers of babies that day. "He was trying to cheer her up," he said. "She was having a horrible day."

Seriously? Does pastor Hillenburg take us for idiots?

Baptist Pastor pleaded not guilty to murder

Former Waco area Baptist Pastor Matt Baker entered a plea of not guilty to the charge that he murdered his wife in 2006.

Matt Baker was indicted on murder charges last month by a McLennan County grand jury and held under $500,000 bond. In court today bond was reduced to $250,000, and not to the $200,000 Baker had requested.

I’ve been watching this case for two years. It’s good to see Baker face justice.

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Thursday, April 09, 2009

Another Baptist Busted

RobertMichaelBlackRobert Michael Black, a.k.a Jon Still, a.k.a Pastor Rob Black of historic New Home Baptist church in Kansas, was busted for soliciting sex from an undercover cop posing as a 13-year-old girl.

It seems that his Facebook account, where he is alleged to have solicited sex from the cop, was linked to over 100 young teen girls.

Still spent time messaging and chatting with the detective and, thinking he was arranging an encounter with a minor, eventually started talking explicitly and suggested they meet for sex, the detective said.

The two arranged to meet on April 2 at a car wash across from a bowling alley on Liberty Drive. Investigators met him there and brought him in for questioning, they said.

It is hard from me to remain objective when people like Black arrange to meet somebody they think is 13 for for the express purpose of having sex. When you add in the fact that he is a pastor, it just makes my skin crawl.

But the real creepy thing is know what his family is about to go through. Pastor Black has a wife and three young children. I found a family photo at their church.

blackfamilyBlur I have no interest to drag his wife and children through the mud, but it is important to note that each time one of these pastors go after a child, there are more victims. Black can smile all he wants, the next year will be a living hell for those who care about him.

A little help please

Larro, a longtime friend and supporter of the Atheist blogroll, is asking for other bloggers to help keep the blogroll up-to-date. He posted this last night on a comment thread, I think it deserves attention on the front page.

I am interested in collaborating with other bloggers in maintaining a monitoring system of Mojoey's Atheist Blogroll.

The sheer number of blogs is overwhelming as every few months I have to remaster the list of blogs one by one in my feed reader and the search engine (just to keep things accurate). It was fine and dandy (lol) when there were only a couple hundred to contend with but as the list is growing and set to break one thousand I'm thinking that a group effort would be splendid in monitoring these blogs.

I am completely open to suggestions...completely. As it stands I've created a "toolkit" a while back whereby I keep my notes regarding the Atheist Blogroll blogs. Don't mind the mess; It's become quite cluttered.

Larro helps keep the blogroll up to date. He reports problems and I fix them. His toolkit is a valuable resource which I use in my Google reader to keep track of other blogs. Plus his Google search engine is pretty useful too.

Can you help? Do you have ideas? Post them in the comments please.

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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Religious statistics

I stumbled upon an interesting statistical graphic. It shows Believers as a percentage of the global population. The United States is all red (Christians from Various churches) and Yellow (Catholics) with some orange (protestants). While China and Russia are black (nonreligious).

Much of the world is Yellow (catholic) or blue (Islam).

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Waco area Baptist pastor arrested

FrankBrown I've got a good friend who lives in Waco, Tx. I sure hope he keeps his children away from the Baptist fundies who seem hell-bent on abusing every child in site, or killing their wives.

Pastor Frank Brown of Bellmead First Baptist Church is in custody for the alleged crime of continuous sexual abuse of a child.

…the incidents began about four years ago in another state. There, Brown is accused of molesting girls aged 9 or 10. When he moved to Texas, Police say Brown assaulted a victim as well.

Police say the alleged sexual assaults took place hundreds of time, some of which were in Robinson, Harris Creek and in Waco.

The alleged sexual assaults took place hundreds of times…. geez. I’m never letting my kids near a Baptist church, not ever!

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Baptist youth pastor accused of rape

An Oklahoma youth pastor was charged with second-degree rape, rape by instrumentation, and making lewd proposals to a minor under the age of 16. Pastor Doug Davis has much to explain. Like why he was texting a 15-year-old and why drove him to have sex with her. He is a youth pastor after all. He should explain himself.

Davis is accused of exchanging sexually explicit text messages with the girl and, in two instances, having sexual contact with her.

Authorities learned of the accusations over the weekend when the girl’s parents took her to police to file a report.

Since Davis was a youth pastor, the children in his care at the Village Baptist Church will each need to be question to determine if they have been violated. It’s a disturbing thought that you girls who may not have been abused will still face awkward questions which will influence who they feel about men for a long time to come.  I hope there are not more victims.

A deep-sea fish with a transparent head and tubular eyes

I never cease to be amazed at the variety of life on our planet. Each time I see something like the barreleye fish (Macrophinna microstoma) I think of Darwin as he first encountered the animals of the Galapagos Islands. God never comes to mind.

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Bligbi catches Rick Warren in a lie

Oh that silly Rick Warren. Doesn't he know that electronic media has a memory, and so do a bunch of bloggers. You can’t  support Prop 8 and then turn around and say you didn’t, that’s lying.

Well, bligbi has this post…  Warren lies about Prop 8 support. It sure seems like Rick Warren is lying to me.

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One Million for Jesus Christ T-shirts

I find these Christian identy websites and immediately think scam. I mean, how can it be anything else when the tagline is 30% of profits go to Christian Missions. "Profits" in a new company may not exist at all. If you send $19.95 + $5.95 for S&H for one shirt, that $26 bucks may end up as only a few cents making it to the profit column on the P&L.

star 1M4JC = 1 Million 4 Jesus Christ. So wearing a cross, putting a bumper sticker on your car, or carrying a bible around are not enough ways to proclaim your faith. Now you must wear a number t-shirt. I’ll never understand why people do this. You make two guys wealthy, they might kick down some cash to a needy Christian charity, and you get a t-shirt that you should have paid $3 for at the swap meet.

I was disappointed in the testimonials. Instead of describing how the t-shirt changed their lives, its just the same old crap about being drug addicts right up until they read the magic words from the bible that completely turned their lives around.

I had been a drug addict for 37 years and, at 50, was pretty sure I would die that way. On that day, God reached into Hell, pulled me out and told the devil, "This one belongs to me." I will be forever grateful. I had been using pot for 37 years, cocaine for 20 and meth for 10. I had tried to quit meth several times and couldn't. On that day, God kicked over the rock I was hiding under and hit me with the Light of Christ. It was so bright, there were no more shadows or darkness to run to.

I’ve read this in so many ways on so many sites and in so many emails that I consider it the true test of conversion. Where you a drug addict and now a tee-shirt wearing Christian? You betcha!

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Monday, April 06, 2009

Focus on the Family employee arrested

He translated the bible into Spanish by day, and cruised the net for teen sex by night.

A Colorado Springs man who narrates the Bible in Spanish on CDs and works in the Spanish broadcasting department of Focus on the Family appeared in court Monday in Golden on two felony counts of using the Internet to lure a 15-year-old girl for sex, The Denver Post reports.

Juan Alberto Ovalle, 42, was arrested Friday when he drove to Lakewood to meet the girl — who turned out to be an undercover officer — after discussing various sexual acts he wanted to perform with her, the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office said.

It will be interesting to see what James Dobson has to say about this. My guess is nothing.

A Youth pastor does it again

I took a small break from blogging on this topic. It is so damn depressing. Sometimes I think that Youth Pastors should undergo chemical castration while they serve. Otherwise, there seems to be no hope of protecting our children from this type of religious predator.

According to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, Scott Dewayne Wright, 35, met the alleged victim while he was serving as a youth pastor at Calvary Chapel in New Port Richey.

Authorities say the sexual activity took place between September 2007 and November 2007 at a home in Palm Harbor. The girl was 16 years old at the time.

Source: Youth pastor accused of sexual activity with teen

I have about 15 of these stories to report. I hope to get through them in the next few days.

Obama - We Do Not Consider Ourselves A Christian Nation

“We do not consider ourselves to be a Christian nation…”

...chest swells with pride.

...could it be that I am proud to be an American again?

...I never thought or imagined that I would ever hear that from the mouth of an American President.

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Blogroll Update: Using the ping form

Since the launch of blogrolling 2.0, several key features have been slow to come online. One of the features that is still missing is the monitoring of the update status on your blogs. The way it used to work was that when you updated your blog, your feed provider would send an update to who would then mark your blog as recently updated. This puts the ***New tag next to your blog and in the case of the 25 blog rolling blogroll, moves it to the top of the list.

An alternative is for bloggers to use the ping form provided by The ping form will set your blog’s status to recently updated and move it to the top of on the 25 blog rolling blogroll. For now, I recommend using the ping form as I do not know when will resume using feeds.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

The 114th Carnival of the Godless

Welcome to the April 5, 2009 “Palm Sunday” edition of the Carnival of the Godless. This is the 114th edition of the Carnival of the Godless and my second time hosting. I had forgotten how much work it is. I mean, you actually have to read the articles and then think about them. That’s way harder than writing a post. I totally understand why Brent farmed this out.
We have a bunch of good posts. I enjoyed reading posts from the bloggers I follow, and meeting new bloggers. Its always nice to encounter new ideas and different thinkers. My favorites start the list…

Andrew Bernardin presents RP) Sunday Sermon: The Muddled Message of "God". I don’t often find something and say, how did he do that? But seriously, how did he do that?

exapologist presents ex-apologist: Icelanders and their Belief in Elves.  I had trouble understanding if this article was serious or not. Elves? There are people who believe in elves? I’m staying away from Iceland.

Ron Britton presents They’re Pro-Life, Except When They’re Not. This is one of my favorite arguments. Christians who protect fetuses as if they were full grown humans while at the same time think  nothing of a few hundred thousand Iraqis dying in to fuel our cars.
Rose Schwartz presents Beauty & Purpose. What can I say… I have a blog crush on Rose and her love of Evolution.
That is until Bush. I can’t recall the specific moment, but sometime around the address stating creationism should be taught alongside evolution, I began a lengthy cringe. Being somewhat aware of creationism, I had not actually known anyone who claimed to believe in it. I grew up in a reform Jewish community and attended secular public schools
My favorite section of each Carnival of the Godless are the morality posts. This edition has several good morality themed posts.
exapologist presents Theism, Non-Theism, and Moral Motivation.
A crude apologetic argues that an adequate moral theory is impossible apart from theism. But as many theists have pointed out – and as anyone who has taken an introductory course in ethics knows
(((Billy))) The Atheist presents Yet Another Post About Atheism and Morality.
How can atheists be moral without the word of god(s) telling them what to do?  In 1724, Christian theologian Richard Bentley, wrote: “no atheists as such can be a true friend, an affectionate relation, or a loyal subject”.  Or, as a chap pseudonymously named Gideon recently commented over at You Made Me Say It:  “After all, in your Godless universe, anything goes, right?”
If only it were so. Anything goes…. Can you imagine?

Matt Oxley presents Psalm 14: Godless Bunch of Fools.
The Psalmist David asserts here that the godless individual is immoral…that without God the only possible product of our selves is corruption and greed.
I’ve heard this so often that I cringe each time it comes up. I like how Matt handles the article.
Before somebody jumps in to tell me all religious delusions are equally absurd, let me just state clearly that I do not agree. There are mainstream religions, and then there are those on the fringe. It’s a social thing.  The religions on the fringe, the Cults, they fascinate me because of their level of self delusion. A few bloggers posted on the subject. Enjoy.
Rick presents a hilarious conversation with members of the Cult called… OFUCK. Rick Foreman presents Conversation with a member of the Organization of Fundamentalist Universal Christian Knights -
MO: Good Day Sir! I’m Jeremiah with the Organization of Fundamentalist Universal Christian Knights, Have you accepted Jesus as your savior?
And it just gets better and better… Of course, if he’s pulling me leg…

I love stories of people who left the Mormon Church. And this is a good one. Rod presents Leaving Mormonism: No Marriage nor Children Left Behind -
Let’s begin by saying that leaving the LDS Church can mean a number of things to many different people.
Whether you are a convert or born and brainwashed in the Church from childhood will dictate how you view your loss of commitment to the fold and how you will handle the issues that WILL arise from the many relationships in your life.
The way some religions treat those who leave the flock are prime examples of cult like behavior. Check out  Time Does Not Equal Sanity.
People get to say they have the ‘truth’ while other people are lying.
People get to deflect criticism of religion in general, or specific criticism of their religion, onto other religions.
People who twist the Bible to fit their own personal definitions accuse other people of twisting the Bible in the same way.
It’s a damn good article. Thanks Crystal.
Those inscrutable Christians
There are several good posts on the proclivities of our sometimes Christian adversaries and antagonists.
PhillyChief  writes "I find that hard to believe", while yunshui posts on But our religion is special!
Adrian Hayter knocks it out of the part with Religious Child Abuse.
If you still don’t think that religious parents who inflict their religion on their children isn’t tantamount to child abuse, watch this BBC documentary and have a rethink. Deborah Drapper is a 13 year old fundamentalist Christian, who lives in a reclusive environment with her family….
Watch the video. It’s chilling.
Chris Hallquist comes in with a late entry, but a good one.  Wait, no, Ross Douthat is deluded slime.  Kawlinz follows up with a post I totally agree with.  Saving Time and Frustration - Assessing the Worthiness of Debating. And what would a blog carnival be with a review of the evil old God of the old Testament. Luke Muehlhauser give us God’s Atrocities in the Old Testament.
My favorite old curmudgeon can write his own posts. Who knew…DromedaryHump presents NH Theist Speaks for God... and makes about as much sense.
Recently there was a news report of an American Muslim businessman in upstate New York who cut off his wife’s head. What prompted this gruesome act is still unclear, although his wife had recently filed for divorce.
Hump had nothing to do with it. I swear…

I am an atheist blogger, yet I write about atheism infrequently. Thankfully, we many many other atheist voices to listen to.
Book Reviews
Tom Stelene presents Old, Obscure, Great Books: Review No. 2.
Road to Revolution: A Century of Russian Radicalism, by Avrahm Yarmolinsky
Angus Stocking presents Scripture Is What We Make Of It.
Wilkie Collins’ 1868 novel, The Moonstone.

OK, I’m done. The next host is geekgrrl at Anonymously Blogging My Heart Out. Submit your blog article to the 115th edition of Carnival of the Godless using  this handy submission form.
A special thanks to the contributors:
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