Monday, May 31, 2010

Seat open in the prison choir

Thomas DeBois is may take an unexpected trip to prison. If convicted of enticement of a child, he could become its next choir director. I'm sure it will look good on his resume, Catholic, convicted pedophile, and prison choir director. Good luck finding a job. I wonder if he sings soprano?

Catholic church officials, relieved to have a target other than a priest, jumped at the change of reporting DeBois.

Archdiocese officials said they reported the allegation immediately to local law enforcement authorities, and are cooperating fully with the Middlesex district attorney's office, the Woburn Police Department, and the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families in the investigation.

At least they are moving in the right direction. I wish it were so with the Baptists.

Delayed justice for Pastor Hammonds

An unknown agitator is harassing poor old accused pedophile and Baptist pastor Carlton Farnsworth Hammonds. The abuse is so bad he can't face his June trial date for allegedly molesting two teen girls. His already delayed trial date of June 11 was moved to August 23. It's too bad really, I had June 11 marked off and was planning a trip to watch this bastard go down. I'll have to wait.

More victims have come forward, charges were filed for two girls but more alleged abuse victims have come forward. Aug 23 cannot come soon enough.

Here's the thumbnail overview on Hammonds. He's a convicted bank robber and drug abuser turned Baptist pastor. Now he's facing child molestation charges against two teens but investigators are concerned that molestations reach back over 20 years. California has the three strikes law, I hope he qualifies.

I learned through reading that Hammonds' wife runs a daycare center out of their home. What kind of nut puts their kids in the Hammond's home?

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Kinky pastor styles himself a porn star

I can only facepalm while saying WTF so many times before I need a new reaction to outlandish Christian hypocrisy. What is wrong with these people? How do you go from this supposed higher standard of a pastor leading his flock to group sex, videotape, sexual assault and kidnapping? I want to believe people are good. It is comforting. By now I've lost all hope of comfort. These people are freaks. Those who put themselves up as an example for others to follow, should not force teen girls to videotape their sexual conquests.  

Pastor Moises Cotto was arrested in Newark for forcing two teenage girls to videotape him while engaged in sex acts with another woman.

The investigation also revealed that Cotto and Pabon allegedly made at least one of the girls take her clothes off and pose in pictures with the pastor several times, and the pastor tried to sexually assault one of the victims, who resisted, during at least one of the meetings at the motel. The alleged abuse ended about two weeks ago when one of the victims told a parent what was happening.

Cotto is the pastor of the Congregation of Yahweh Templo  El Candelero. I have a feeling he will not longer be leading services.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

A sickness that eats the mind

13-years-ago a 15-year-old girl named Tina Anderson was forced to stand in front of her church and apologize for becoming pregnant. An adult member of the church named Ernest Willis allegedly raped her. She was his babysitter. After her public humiliation, she was spirited away to Colorado, where she lived with another pastor until she gave her baby up for adoption. If you need additional proof that religion is a sickness that eats the mind, look no further than this statement.

"He made me sit down and write a letter of apology to the rapist's wife for betraying her trust by seducing her husband. I basically wrote what they told me to write," she said. "I think it's completely disgusting. It's wrong."

Tina Anderson was allegedly raped by a member of her church,  then mind-raped by her church and her pastor. She was hidden from police and kept from her family and friends. And finally, she was mind-raped all over again by her Christian host family. All in the name of Jesus.

Pastor Chuck Phelps claims victimhood in this case. He claims that he reported the crime to the police, but the police did nothing. It's not his fault, no, the police screwed everything up. His one phone call washes away all responsibility. Of course, He left out the part where a conspiracy of silence hid the victim from police and protected his friend, the alleged rapist. 

"I never once got a call from the Concord police. ... They simply didn't do anything. This is unconscionable, what's happening to the Church here and to my reputation,"

I have one question for you Chuck Phelps. Why did you publically humiliate a rape victim? Where does it say to do that in your bible? Is public humiliation for rape victims core to Baptist theology? Allowing a child to suffer psychological damage in some half-assed attempt at restoring her and repairing the reputation of the rapist is sadistic. You are sick.

I'm sure this will come as no surprise to those who read my blog, Chuck Phelps is a Baptist. The original church involved was Trinity Baptist Church in Concord. Phelps now works as the Senior Pastor for Colonial Hills Baptist Church in Indianapolis.

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Friday, May 28, 2010

Twin Mormon abusers, or not

Two identical twins stand accused of child molestation. Both were Mormon missionaries at the time of the crime. One admits his guilt and is awaiting sentencing. The other claims innocence and asserts mistaken identity as his defense. He says, "I was and never have been interested in young boys." Except for the time he accidentally brushed the boys genitals. He was not interested  in young boys, no, he just happened to touch the boy's junk.

John Patrick Conway is using his brother as an excuse to escape accountability for molesting a 14-year-old boy in a LDS Church back in the early 80s.  Conway would have been about 18 at the time the abuse started.

The case is a conundrum. It comes down to the word of a convicted pedophile, John's brother Martyn, and an abuse youth. Since John Conway's trial is about to go to a jury, I'll predict a conviction. Mistaken identity is too convenient of an excuse. I think the jury will see this for what it is, one brother trying to take the fall for another.

Is there another party at fault here? I think the LDS church bears some responsibility. They send thousands of young adults around the world every year on Mormon missionary work. These kids are fresh out of high school and in their sexual prime. A higher standard of adult supervision is required. The buddy system does not work if both parties are corrupt. An additional system of oversight is required.

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Pastor Johnny Washington sentenced

Pastor Johnny Washington faced overwhelming evidence of his sexual crimes against young children and the possibility of life in prison if convicted. Facing this stark reality, he pleaded guilty in exchange for 25 years in prison. He's 45 now, he will be about 70 went he's released. Of course, that assumes he survives as a convicted child rapist in prison. I hope he goes to Joliette.

Since Washington pleaded guilty, I am sure to receive email from followers telling me of his innocence or that he took a plea to avoid embarrassing his young victims, they were 5 and 6 at the time of the crimes. Save  it. the facts speak for themselves. Pastor Washington is an admitted pedophile, nothing will ever change that.

Thoughts on the likelihood of heaven

More than 30 years ago, back when I was a Christian, I could not rap my mind around the mind fuck known as heaven. I asked my clergy questions, the answers made my head hurt. I was not comforted by the knowledge that I would spend eternity with my family, friends, or even with Jesus. I wanted to know how heaven worked, because the concept of heaven as white lower middle class Americans understood it, did not make sense.

I remember asking about a friend's mother who went senile near the end of her life. What happens to her when she dies? Is heaven a place where her senility is cured and she is restored to health? Does she suddenly become the best possible version of herself? In heaven, is she an 18-year-old at the top of her physical beauty? Or is she 35, 50, or that brief period at 62 where she was healthy before the senility set in? The clergy's answers ranged from a vague living sprit of brimming with health and beauty with full knowledge of her life, to an old crone, cured of her illness, but locked in the form of an aged body. It boggled my mind.

More troubling are those who are damaged by illness or accident at a young age. I knew a girl who fell from a horse and became substantially less of a person. Her mental capabilities were affected by brain trauma. She became more child-like instead of growing into adulthood. She's still alive today, but needs care. When she dies, is it the fully cognizant 15-year-old child who goes to heaven or the 50-year-old adult with muddled memories from the past 35 years? Christians tell me she will be made whole. What does that mean?

I'm thinking about this because of my stepfather. He's facing a round of radiation therapy for a brain lesion and the doctors have warned that his personality might change. The old hypothetical scenarios came roaring back. If medical treatment can change who a person is, then what the hell happens in heaven? Is it my old stepfather or the new surgically improved one? What if the new personality is better? I have an unquiet mind, it need answers. I know the answer already; I've known the answer for 30 years. Heaven is a sham. It is a fiction made up to secure the services of the faithful. I've always known this, even back when I called myself a believer. If heaven exists, it's right here on earth. It's only around for as long as we live to enjoy it. My stepfather knows this intuitively. His heaven is a wife, grandchildren, a few friends, and a nice old hotrod.  It's why he fights to stay alive each day. What we have here on earth is all we will ever have, and I think it's worth fighting for too.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Six women against one Baptist pastor

Six women testified against Baptist pastor Harley Michael Keough during his sexual battery trial. They said pastor Keough groped them at his church's food bank while they were looking for food to feed their families. Pastor Keough took the women to a secluded storage area, once alone, the victims claim the abuse commenced. When asked why the crimes went unreported, one woman said, "Didn't think anyone would believe me over a preacher, a member of the community." That's what pisses me off in this case. Keough had the perfect perverse scam going. He had role power, community credibility, and a product the women desperately needed. As long as the abuse occurred in private, he stood little chance of exposure.

What drives Baptist pastors to commit such depraved acts? Why would a man of God stoop so low? I can't answer these questions beyond saying that his religion has nothing to do with it. He's a man, and driven by the same lustful thoughts as the rest of us. It seems that Baptist pastors have a little harder time controlling their urges.

I wonder if Pastor Keough is of the generation that thinks patting a young lady on her ass is normal behavior. I know a few old codgers who act like Keough. The still operate under the misguided conception that women "want it." I offer no excuse here; Keough's alleged behavior must be confronted.

When I first posted on Pastor Keough I took a lot of heat from the pastor's local community. E-mails came telling me of Keough's innocence, of his years of dedicated service, and of his long history as a pastor. A few suggested we let this minor issue pass, that the women were from the margins of society and lacked the community standing of Keough, and were therefore not worthy of justice. I know better. Keough, if guilty, is a classic abuser. People like Keough abuse women and children in churches across America. I write about them every week. Pastor Keough must be held accountable.


Brian Magee wants a license plate that says ISNOGOD. North Dakota said no despite approving the Christian messages ILOVEGOD and PRAISEGOD. They claim the atheist themed message is potentially offensive. I agree that some would find ISNOGOD offensive. I think some atheists would also find ILOVEGOD offensive. Somebody is always offended. I know Christians who think my use of the term atheist is offensive. Is a perceived offense the sole criteria used for issuing a license plate? If so then ILOVEGOD would not make the cut, nor would ILOVE because the Fargo Gothic community would be offended. Somebody is always offended.

I don't care what appears on a license plate. Americans are free to plaster their cars with any message they choose. It's called a bumper sticker. Trust me on this, people love a lot of things other than God. They don't care if it offends.

The issue here is fairness. If an American Christian is free to express his or her love for God via a license plate, an American Atheist should be granted the freedom to proclaim his or her disbelief. It makes you wonder what religion Linda Butts professes.

Linda Butts/ND DOT: "We are trying our best to serve the citizens of ND and try to protect what would be offensive. This is new territory and we are trying to be fair to everyone."

Did we ask her to protect us?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Youth pastor convictions

Youth Pastor Jeffrey Allen Waiser was convicted of having a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl. He was sentenced to 3 years in prison.

Youth Pastor Michael Louis Anthony was convicted of third-degree rape of child and other charges. He faces up to five years in prison for raping a 15-year-old girl.

Youth Pastor Benjamin Boysel was convicted of raping four different teen girls. He faces at least 4 to 6 years in prison.

Youth Pastor Jeffrey Arlan Mobley was convicted of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct for grabbing a teen's ass and sending her sexually explicit text messages. He was sentenced to 32 days in jail, ten years of probation plus sex offender registration.

When learning pisses me off

I learned a new term today, malignant ascites, and it's a nasty bastard. I picked it up while researching what my stepfather is experiencing while fighting fight colon cancer. What I think he's going through now, this stage called malignant ascites,  it's insidious and ugly. It took me hours to wrap my head around it.

When he needs to eat to live he cannot. When he's at his weakest, cancer throws a knockout punch. He's a fighter though, and lately it's been one hard blow after another from an opponent that does not tire. But he always rises to the bell. Punch drunk and winded, he steps up for another round, knowing that eventually he will lose the fight. It's sobering to watch. He's much braver that I ever imagined.

I'm a long way from home. It bothers me so.

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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Regret those tatoos much?

I'm safe here at the hotel in Suzhou, China. It took 24 hours to travel from my home in Buena Park to my room at the hotel. I will never get used to the trip.It takes too damn long and I can't sleep on the flight.
My flight was uneventful but not it First or Business class. I'm convinced United Airlines tells you your position on the waitlist just to make you think they love you. I flew in couch, and it a middle seat too. The flight was hell.

I met a man named Carl on the flight. He sat to my left. Carl was heavily tattooed. He had a sleeve on his left arm and a partial on his right. The ink was religious. A large cross. A picture of Jesus descending from clouds, a WWJD badge. I figured him for a hip youth pastor, he was a software engineer. Carl regretted the tattoos. At one time he was engaged to a devout Christian named Molley. The relationship cooled, as had his faith. The tats remained.

He called himself an agnostic. He was really a theist. We spoke for an hour on general religions topics. I let him tell me his story. At times we flirting with deeper religious issues. I kept my atheism out of the discussion. I almost asked the dreaded, "Why are you so hurt" question. But stopped myself. I knew the answer; her name was Molly.

Regret those tattoos much?

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Friday, May 14, 2010

Another trip to Suzhou

I’m on my way to China again, so expect light posting for the next three weeks. With the amount of work I have ahead of me, I’ll be lucky to put up one post per day. I’ll do my best though. At least I snagged First Class for the San Francisco to Shanghai segment. I’m actually looking forward to the flight.

If anyone is visiting Suzhou, drop me an email and I’ll buy you a beer.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

You want the story?

I sent this tweet today at lunch.

Said to an obnoxious person a few moments ago. It is not that you are a Christian that angers me, it is what you do as a Christian.

I’ve had a half-dozen requests for the story behind the tweet. Here it goes. As I sat listening to the New York Times Review of Books’ podcast on my iPod, I was interrupted by an odd angry woman. I was sitting  in a public park, enjoying the sunshine as the sole user of 5 picnic tables. I was reading poetry, using noise-canceling headphones for the podcast and smoking my last Partagas black label Piramide. In short, I was in my personal version of heaven. An interruption by the Swedish Bikini team would have pissed me off. A interruption by a holier-than-thou bible lady was enough to light my fuse.

She stood in front of me until I noticed her. I shook my head no while making shooing motions with my hands. I did not even want to know what she wanted. She grew impatient and then reached for my cigar. That got my attention. I was angry and annoyed. She was a total buzz kill. My response was not civil.

I took the headphones off to talk to her. She wanted me to quit smoking. I told her to fuck off. She pointed to the sign above my head on the light pole. It clearly said no smoking. I explained that I was not violating the spirit of the law as there were no people in the park and that I would put it out or move if other people arrived. This explanation did not suit her. She explained that as good Christians we should obey all of the laws and not just the laws that were convenient. She went on to blather about biblical authority or some such. I put on the headphones and cranked up the  tunes. She pounded the table to get my attention. She screamed that she was calling the police unless I stopped smoking. I told her to go ahead. The fine is only $30 bucks, I did not care.

She started to lecture me. I can’t remember what she said. But she called me a few choice names, and in general, made an ass out of herself. By now I thought she was mental, but I still had half of a good cigar to burn so continued to smoke.

A sheriff drove by. She flagged him down to nark on me. He was nice, but in a hurry. He said he was too busy looking for a burglary suspect to address such a trivial issue. He added that if I were still smoking in a hour he would write me up. He winked as he left.

She unloaded on me for a  few minutes. I smiled and smoked while pumping some Coldplay into my earbuds. She asked if I wanted to accept Jesus, which was unexpected given our conversation so far. I told her, “Hell no.” She finally asked, “Why are you so angry?” I ignored her. She asked, “Why I are you so hateful toward a good Christian woman?” That’s when I said, “It is not that you are a Christian that angers me, it is what you do as a Christian.

She left a few minutes later. I think her soaps were on.

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This sounds like hell to me

This my version of hell on earth: My escape from marriage retreat hell via Salon. A first person account of a brush with a super scary Christian marriage retreat.

The 26K message contained the lines, "We would like to stress that this is a structured, work Weekend. There is no time for TV, books, work, etc. There are also no distractions." Weekend was capitalized throughout the text, including in this personal testimonial from past participants: "By Sunday afternoon of our Weekend, we had a whole new appreciation of our relationship and didn't want the Weekend to end."

Personally, I would rather have my fingernails pulled off than attend a marriage retreat. I’ve never contemplated attending one. A bible based retreat, well that is a non-starter.

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Monday, May 10, 2010

Youth pastor Rico Escudero convicted

It leaves me numb.


Youth pastor Rico Escudero pleaded “no contest”, which means he does not admit guilt but acknowledges he would have been convicted. He raped three young girls.

"The case involved allegations of sexual assault on three separate victims, all of whom were 14 and younger," Riedel said. "All of these young women knew Mr. Escudero through Victory Outreach Church, which his father is the primary pastor of. (Escudero) was doing work with the church too. At some point, he was the youth pastor."

God had a chance to kill this rat bastard in 2003. Escudero was shot passing out fliers for his church’s “Stop the Violence” campaign. Why God, why? Did you want the girls to suffer?

btw… That line of thinking leads to insanity. I’m just saying.

The Holy Spirit removed her pants

I read a lot of stories of clergy sexual abuse out of Africa. No have a worse excuse for the crimes they are accused of than Pastor J. Odesola. He claims that the Holy Spirit removed the pants from a girl he is accused of raping. The police called his lie.

But when the police demanded to know who removed the lady’s pants, Pastor Odesola said it was the Holy Spirit. They asked him to perform same miracle on a police woman interrogating him for her pants to  be removed by the Holy Spirit,  but he kept quiet.

Christianity is a scam in Africa, a scam for sex, for money, for power. I don’t report on it much. Perhaps I should. We export Christianity to Africa. We are culpable.

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R.I.P. Frank Frazetta

Frazetta_The_son_of_Tarzan Frank Frazetta died today. I was a fan.  I had your calendars, your posters, and way too many of your book covers.  I’m holding my dusty old paperback ace paperback edition of The Son of Tarzan as I write this. I have them all. The same goes for many of your comic book illustrations. I loved your work. frank_frazetta_thebarbarianAs I read Conan, it was your Conan in my mind’s eye. Arnold was a feeble copy. That’s the power of imagination, your work fueled my imagination, and if I remember correctly, the imagination of every 197os era Sci-Fi geek I knew. We all loved your work. We all decorated our walls with it. We all tried to copy it. None of use were up to the task. So few were.

R.I.P. Frank Frazetta

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Youth pastor Robert McFadden arrested

RobertMcFadden Youth Pastor Robert L. McFadden III was arrested for “child seduction” in Lafayette, Indiana. Child seduction is when a youth pastor sleeps with one of his or her students and the student is over 16 but under 18.

McFadden pleaded not guilty. He’s accused of starting with a message and moving on to bigger things.

McFadden is accused of fondling and having sex with a 16-year-old girl last month. According to court documents, McFadden was giving the girl a massage on April 12th when he touched her inappropriately. The documents say, two days later he had sex with her.

Source: Not guilty plea in child seduction case

At least he resigned after claiming that youth ministry was, “no longer his calling.” He worked for Evangelical Covenant Church of Lafayette from August 2007 to November 2009. I read the church website, there is no mention of McFadden or the rape allegations. He was removed from the institutional memory of the church. Why does a church hide from scandal? It is the perfect opportunity to learn and grow. Though in my experience, it is often squandered.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Two new badges for the Atheist Blogroll

Blogger J.C. Samuelson, of the outstand Atheist themed blog Everyday Brightness, was kind enough to drop two of new badges on us. I like the design aesthetic. I’ve added them to the Atheist Blogroll Resource blog where you will find links to the source files. Please feel free to use them.

atheist_negRoll atheist_redRoll

Everyday Brightness is a surprise. I like the writing, I like the design, and J.C. Samuelson is a nice guy too. Please visit and welcome him to the team.

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Where do they learn morals?

RobertYerton Former youth pastor Robert Yerton was a youth minister at the Garnett Church of Christ from 2002 until 2004. He was fired, but remained active in youth ministry. He was also a teacher and school administrator. As was serving as assistant principal at Skelly Elementary School when allegations of sex misconduct were first reported. He’s been arrested and charged with sex crimes against two children. The victims were young boys.

Yerton is a Christian. He’s a youth pastor, and presumably a church going man. Why did the magical Christian moral compass fail? I ask this question every time I read about a pastor abusing children.

Yerton’s been a teacher for 20 years, a Boy Scout leader and a youth pastor too. He’s enjoyed ample access to children. Sgt. Gary Stansill captured the mood of public best by saying, “Everybody is going back and saying, ’Oh, my gosh. My kid was on a scouting trip or a church group trip with him.’”

More troubling is the inept handling of internal investigations conducted by TPS.  Despite several credible allegations, the school district delayed marking a report to police. It was a pattern repeated at other schools in Yerton’s past. And what about his firing as a Youth Pastor. The church claims it was because of leadership issues. Now that the lid is off this case, his involvement at the church will be scrutinized. Let’ hope they were not coloring the truth to protect their precious church.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Why do we call it sexual misconduct?

It’s rape.

A south Georgia priest belonging to the Glenmary religious order is awaiting trial involving allegations of sexual misconduct with a 10-year-old boy in West Virginia.

RopertPoandi A priest raped a child. The headline sounds gruesome, right? Perhaps the press prefers a headline that is less graphic? Or perhaps they want to construct and image that does not bring to mind the base violation of a child? I don’t know the answer, but I want to know.

Rev. Bob Poandl is the priest in this case. There a few details on his alleged crime besides the words “sexual misconduct.”

The Rev. Bob Poandl was indicted by a West Virginia grand jury in January on charges that he engaged in sexual misconduct with a child in the early 1990s in Roane County, W.Va.

Looking a little deeper I found that Rev. Poandl was charged with first-degree sexual abuse, first-degree sexual assault, and sexual abuse by a custodian.

The offender engages in sexual intercourse or sexual intrusion without the consent of the victim and during the attack inflicts serious bodily injury or uses a deadly weapon. The offender is 14 years old or more and engages in sexual intercourse or sexual intrusion with another person who is 11 years old or less.

Rape. A Catholic priest allegedly raped a child. The headline should read Rev. Bob Poandl arrested for child rape.

I’m tired of pulling punches.

Shame on you Reverend Larry Reuter

Reverend Larry Reuter was president of Loyola Academy, an elite Chicago area Catholic high school. He’s admitted abusing one 18-year-old male student and is accused of abusing another.

Late Tuesday, a second man reportedly came forward and alleged that he'd also been abused by Reuter.  The Chicago Jesuit Province said it is investigating the claim and has contacted the Cook County State's Attorney. 

Source: Priest Stunned by former colleagues' sex abuse admission

Catholic leadership knew of Reuter abuse  for 20 years yet allowed him to continue leading Loyola Academy. It’s this internal hypocrisy and protectionist tendencies that motivate the public to demand reform.

Pastor James Blaine arrested

JamesBlaine Pastor James Blaine of San Antonio was arrested for stealing over $100k. The crime allegedly occured while he lead Good Shepherd Church in Greenfield, Ohio. The investigation  took seven months. He was arrested while attending a bankruptcy hearing.

The counts involve 13 counts of Forgery, one count of Unauthorized Use of Property, one count of Forgery, and two counts of Aggravated Theft.

What about oversight? Treat the church like a business. Require two signatures for all expenditures and conduct periodic audits. Better yet, separate the pastor from the business of the church. Treat him like an employee instead of a man who would not steal.

The Jinwrights were convicted

Pastor Anthony Jinwright and his wife were convicted of tax evasion yesterday in Charlotte.

Fifty-three-year-old Anthony Jinwright was convicted of 13 of the 18 charges against him, including conspiracy, tax evasion and filing false tax returns. He faces up to 53 years in prison.

Fifty-year-old Harriet Jinwright was convicted of four of the 13 charges against her, including conspiracy and tax evasion. She could be sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Their defense was based on ignorance. As in… they were too dumb to understand that earning millions required one to pay taxes.

The Jinwrights' lawyers contend that prosecutors must prove the couple acted with criminal intent. Anthony Jinwright on Tuesday said he'd made innocent mistakes, not willful evasions.

Hinson and Harriet Jinwright's lawyer, Kevin Tate, tried to hammer that point home throughout the day.

Jinwright testified that he is trying to sell his home and cars in hopes of paying off his taxes, and emphasized that he has learned his lesson.

Would that include selling your Bentley? What a joke. I’m pleased to see the jury saw through their lies. I’m also please to see that Anthony Jinwright was remanded to custody after the verdict. No more joy rides in expensive cars or lavish dinner at the finest restaurants. No, It’s a bologna sandwich now.

I read in one account that his church took out a line of credit so that the Jinwrights could have a$50k per year raise, and this was on top of a already generous salary. Plus the church was bouncing checks while paying  for over the top leases on luxury cars. These people deserve prison.

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Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Do good works balance evil?

Nicholas D. Kristof writes in an OP-ED for the New York Times titled Who Can Mock This Church? that…

if the top of the church has strayed from its roots, much of its base is still deeply inspiring.

He uses the example of dedicated nuns and clergy working in Sudan as examples of the Catholic church we do not see represented in the press. Instead he asserts that the press takes perverse pleasure at the Vatican's child sexual abuse scandal, while ignoring the rest of the picture.

He uses Father Michael Barton as an example.

But what about Father Michael Barton, a Catholic priest from Indianapolis? I met Father Michael in the remote village of Nyamlell, 150 miles from any paved road here in southern Sudan. He runs four schools for children who would otherwise go without an education, and his graduates score at the top of statewide examinations.

I’m sure there are thousands of dedicated Catholics serving around the world just like Father Barton. They are true believers dedicated to a life of service. I’ve met a few and they are not all slaving away in Sudan. But there is another issue left unspoken, what evil does Father Barton cultivate? Where is he on condom use to prevent the spread of aids. I’m sure he has a position. I’m also sure it somehow touches the lives of the children he works so hard to educate, and not in a good way. What about the ethical dilemma of trading food and education for ones soul? Does that count? Does the fact that Father Barton has an agenda matter? He’s not selfless. He’s working to convert the masses. He has an agenda, and the Vatican pulls the strings.

Instead, I have to ask the obvious. Does the author think that the good works outweigh the evil inflected on countless lives because of an uncaring power structure? Or, that in some way the good works should be seen as a reason to reduce the pressure? I think he does. In fact, I think that because a few priests are making what he sees as “real sacrifices” for the “true church”, that he thinks the catholic church should be given a pass. Should we look the other way and let the Catholic church take care of the sexual abuse problem in its own way? I don’t think so.

He closes with this…

And unless we’re willing to endure beatings alongside Father Michael, unless we’re willing to stand up to warlords with Sister Cathy, we have no right to disparage them or their true church.

The problems with his argument is that the Catholics are not the only organization making the sacrifice. They are not the only ones making the effort. What they do does not make them special or exempt for scrutiny. Catholics are one of many when it comes to charitable work and must be held accountable to ethical standards just like everyone else. Just look at UNICEF for example. If they were to rape a few hundred kids in pursuit of their higher calling to feed the hungry of Sudan, the world would rise up in outrage.

Who can mock this Church? I can, and without remorse. They need to be held accountable.

All hail the king of the hypocrites

GeorgeAlanRekers You might know Pastor George Alan Rekers as a rightwing conservative Baptist pastor who is perhaps the most active anti-gay activist in America today.  He’s a pal of James Dobson, and if that were not enough, he fights against gay couples adopting children and other lifestyle related issues that are none of his business. He is the enemy, plan and simple.

Would it surprise you to find out he’s been outed? Because he has…

On April 13, the "rent boy" (whom we'll call Lucien) arrived at Miami International Airport on Iberian Airlines Flight 6123, after a ten-day, fully subsidized trip to Europe. He was soon followed out of customs by an old man with an atavistic mustache and a desperate blond comb-over, pushing an overburdened baggage cart.

That man was George Alan Rekers, of North Miami — the callboy's client and, as it happens, one of America's most prominent anti-gay activists.

That’s right. Mr. Anti-gay bigot rented a gay escort to accompany him on a vacation to Bermuda. His poorly thought-out excuse when confronted by the allegation was epic… He paid a gay escort to accompany him so that he would have somebody to carry his luggage.

"I had surgery," Rekers said, "and I can't lift luggage. That's why I hired him."

This should end his career, right?

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Monday, May 03, 2010

Introducing Many hats one mask

Please join me in welcoming the newest member of the Atheist Blogroll, Many hats one mask

I'm a husband, a father, a small business owner, a homeowner, a pet owner, a neighbor, a voter, a volunteer, etc. In short, I wear many hats. However, given the current state of our society, I have to wear one mask. I cannot afford to publicly avow my lack of belief in one of the many supernatural worldviews that plague our planet. Throughout history majorities have marginalized minorities in part by making them appear one-dimensional in order to dehumanize them. Many of our Irrational opponents attempt to do that to us, by claiming that atheists have no morals, or that they shouldn't be considered citizens or patriots, and the like. Through my blog I'm trying to make this more difficult for them by writing on the many disparate topics I'm interested in, of course always with a non-theistic perspective. I believe in respect for all people, but not respect for all ideas. Foolish ideas need to be pointed out before they have a chance to negatively impact our society through the enactment of foolish laws.

Are you interested in becoming a member? Visit the Atheist Blogroll resource blog for more information.

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Sunday, May 02, 2010

Growing as a photographer


I set a goal at the start of the year.d to work on my macro skills. I’ve had a high quality macro lens for two years. So far the results have been disappointing. I simply do not have the skill to use the lens. I resolved to fix the problem in 2010, so far results are mixed, but I am learning a great deal. The number one lesson so far is to be patient. I must resist my desire to take the picture in favor of looking at composition, depth of field, lighting, the stability of my camera, and the stability of my subject.

I took 50 photo’s today. I kept 2. The rest were marginal, or downright bad. I liked this shot, but I took a full page of notes on my setup. I should have used a tripod. I should have been much more precise on the focal point. I should have paid more attention to the depth of field. I like the color saturation but I could have used some help from a reflector. And next time… I will shoot a bigger subject, these flowers are the size of a pencil eraser. They were difficult to work with. 

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The Jewish solution to Catholic sexual abuse

From CNN: Rabbi's pitch to pope: Use family dinners to defuse abuse crisis

A rabbi walks into St. Peter's Square, meets the pope, and tells the Holy Father that one way to defuse the sex abuse scandal plaguing the church is for the Vatican to begin promoting a secular version of Shabbat dinner, the traditional Jewish Friday meal.

Call me a skeptic, but I don’t think rabbi Shmuley Boteach idea will work. I suggest doing something that address the behavior of the offending priests and those who are responsible for managing them, not misdirecting attention by focusing on the behavior of potential victims. Although… if Rabbi Boteach had suggested Catholic parents keep their kids out of church until they were old enough to make up their own minds, well… that would have been a good idea.

Why tell a big lie?

Because eventually you will get caught out. And when you do, eating a bullet will seem like a real option. Except that liars are often cowards too. Military Chaplin Kurt Alan Bishop is allegedly a liar, it remains to be seen if he is a coward too.

Prosecutors say 42-year-old Kurt Alan Bishop, of Queen Creek, falsely claimed to have received advanced combat training, achieving the elite status of an Army Ranger.

The 34-count indictment alleges that Bishop began making false claims about his military decorations and training in 1991, shortly after he ended his first tour of active duty. Authorities say the claims helped him become an officer in the Arizona National Guard and to enter the Chaplain Corps in 2006, both resulting in increases in his military salary and benefits.

A liar and a military Chaplin… it boggles the mind. Can you imagine going to prison and telling your fellow inmates you are in for impersonating a Chaplin Army Ranger? Duck and cover baby, duck and cover...

Introducing For I Have Tasted the Fruit

Please join me in welcoming the newest member of the Atheist Blogroll, For I Have Tasted the Fruit.


For I Have Tasted the Fruit is a blog about atheism and religion, but also describes settlement period Iceland as a medieval Western, translate poems wherein Thor cross-dresses, or elucidate the links between climate change and the history of the middle ages? For I Have Tasted the Fruit is a blog about medieval history, science, religion, literature, and language. I have eclectic interests.

I am studying early medieval history in Australia, working on an honors thesis focused on events in 7thC northern Britain. It is fascinating, and if you ask me about it I will talk endlessly. Please do so- and feel free to disagree with my thoughts on religion, atheism, and the activist movement. We are trying to create a conversation here, and it is pointless to march in lockstep.

You may call me B.

Are you interested in becoming a member? Visit the Atheist Blogroll resource blog for more information.

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The questionable past of Ray McBerry

A longtime friend of Deep Thoughts named Volly sent me a link to a disturbing story about a gubernatorial candidate in Georgia named Ray McBerry. He stands accused of clergy sexual abuse from his days as a youth pastor.

Rachel Gandee alleges that McBerry, while a youth pastor at a small storefront church, used his position and authority to pursue an inappropriate sexual relationship with her.  She was a teen at the time. He was married.

Over the past few weeks, Rachel Gandee has eased herself onto the public stage, starting with a detailed account of her relationship with McBerry on, a southwest Georgia political blog run by Jeff Sexton. “The truth getting told,” she wrote, “might help me get over all this.”

McBerry calls himself the only states’ rights candidate in the 2010 race for governor. He has little chance of winning, but drew nearly 12 percent of the vote in the ’06 primary.

You can read her story here

Soon after the white water rafting trip, Him and his wife got a divorce, that’s when it got serious so to say. He got me a cell phone so that my parents wouldn’t see me calling him or him calling me. At this time I was into Instant Messenger, and when my parents and the new youth pastor started to realize that something was going on. He got me two programs of spyware so that my parents couldn’t see what I was doing. I started to go to his house after his wife moved out, after school or on the days when I had band practice at 6 instead of right after school, between the time school let out and time to be there I would go to his house.

OK Georgia… What the hell?

Introducing Al Stefanelli

Please join me in welcoming our newest Atheist Blogroll member, Ali Stefanelli.

I would like to introduce myself to the Atheist Blogroll.  My name is Al Stefanelli.  I am a 47-year-old former Southern Baptist Pastor who has been an Atheist Activist and avid Anti-Theist for almost a decade.  I am a former weekly newspaper columnist and have hosted a small, syndicated radio broadcast in my past.  I am currently writing in the blogsphere at Al Stefanelli, where I write about all things concerning the absence of a belief in a god and how it effects our society and affects us individually.  My blog gets a fair amount of attention and I welcome comments from everyone.  I am also the founder of the United Atheist Front, which can be found currently on Facebook at United Atheist Front.

Are you interested in becoming a member? Visit the Atheist Blogroll resource blog for more information.

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Boobquake and Renaissance weirdness

Not Mojoey

I attended the Renaissance Pleasure Faire in Los Angeles yesterday. Once every 10-years or so we forget how hot, dusty, and annoying the faire is and make the trip again. For me it’s the crowds that make the event intolerable. Even with the faire being outdoors, milling around with an oppressively large mix of oddly dressed people is not what I call fun. At least they sell beer and turkey legs.

I normally walk around while smoking a good cigar. Not so this year. Smoking was limited to designated smoking areas only. So I was exiled to geek hell for a few hours with only beer and good food to take my mind off the crowds. It’s a good thing I brought my camera, otherwise I might have gone postal.

Happy priest I had just read Greta Christina’s A feminist Defense of Boobquake the morning of my visit, so I was acutely aware of my pending cleavage dilemma. Would the profusion of cleavage shown by not-so-feminist Renaissance garbed women cause a violent earthquake? I figured it was worth the risk. The Santa Fe Dam location for this year’s faire actually sits atop the Sierra Madre fault and near the San Andreas fault.  The real question; shoot cleavage or not to shoot cleavage. I opted to shoot just in case I needed proof of cleavage in the event the Sierra Madre fault slipped.

Even larger cleavage This morning I reviewed USGS data for May 1, 2010 and found no significant earthquakes in the region. Since we get a couple of dozen earthquakes a day here, I defined significant as something that would make the news. May 1, was quiet. No earthquakes to speak of despite a profusion of cleavage. In some cases profusion does not do the situation justice. With so much cleavage on display, you would think God would just smite the whole region with an epic 8.0 quake. But no, the only odd thing to happen (besides my sore neck) was the data functions on my Blackberry mysteriously stopping the moment I entered the fair. The Verizon gods were angry.

Me Mongo As for weirdness… well it’s the Renaissance faire, normal everyday folk put on chainmail or dress as Mongo the Mexican pirate and parade around like it’s normal. Except this guy. I think he was a real pirate, or the equivalent in today’s time. When I asked to take his picture he struck a pose and said his name was Mongo. I believed him. I think the guns were real. I know the foot long buck knife hanging off his ass was real.

Happy priest I saw several people dressed as Mary and Joseph. I was temped to tell them the Renaissance period stretched from the 14th to 16th centuries, so their costumes were inappropriate, but I opted for a beer instead. There was also a profusion of clergy wearing wooden crosses. Most were simply drunken party goers, but a few were serious. This guy was not serious, plus his wife was nice. I managed to avoid the overt bible tract bearing Christians. It was easy, they were distracted.

My favorite picture of the day is Awkward teens being awkward. Why? because it takes guts to walk around in weird outfits while holding a pickle.

One brave voice can make a difference

In the fight against Catholic clergy sexual abuse, the victims are often heroes in a battle of good versus institutional evil. I would like to think that the Catholic church would step up, but we know they need prompting in form of public shaming before they do the right thing. That’s why one brave voice is important. Somebody must take the risk of becoming a social pariah. Somebody must speak up to protect others from abuse. Somebody must speak up for justice. Mark McAllister was the one brave voice to come forward in the child molestation case of Rev. Gerald Howard (a.ka. Carmen Sita). Now Rev. Howard is in jail facing numerous charges.. all thanks to Mark McAllister.

Cooper County Prosecutor Doug Abele said Howard has been indicted on eight different counts:

  • three counts of forcible sodomy
  • three counts of attempted forcible sodomy
  • two counts of kidnapping

Howard was believed to have committed these offenses between 1983 and 1988.

Rev. Howard has a prior conviction for sexual contact with a minor from 1983. The Catholic church protected him.

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