Thursday, December 27, 2012

Gun control, libertarians and a first step towards sanity

I think it is well established that I am both an atheist and a libertarian. I should clarify that I'm a little "L" libertarian rather than a big "L" party hack. We share some things in common, but for the most part we do not agree on tactics or on our approach to politics.

What do I believe? I believe that responsible citizens should have the right to keep and bear arms. I am a responsible gun owner. I cannot conceive of a reason why I would need to surrender my gun or make purchasing another gun burdensome. That does not mean I would appose regulation of guns and gun ownership, quite the contrary. I believe our laws help keep us safe and effective enforcement of just laws are necessary, but not the only way,  to reduce the incidence of gun violence. 

The Libertarian position opposes all control, even bans on assault-style semiautomatic weapons.

Foolish politicians and police now seek to ban semi-automatic "assault rifles". They ignore the fact that only honest citizens will comply; criminals will still have them. Such a ban will only increase the criminals' ability to victimize the innocent.

Of course, we know these arguments to represent an extreme negotiation point. They are stating a position that is the most conservative to begin bargaining (as if they have influence), instead of looking for a solution to gun violence via all vectors, they instead exclude any control that would limit access to, or ownership of, guns. Their position is intractable and is unpalatable to the vast majority of Americans. The Libertarians claim to be the "Party of Ideas", but what they often represent is bad ideas. Universal gun ownership appeals to a minority of the population for a reason. It does not work. People are dying and our children are being slaughtered. Voicing a position that supports the widest possible gun ownership is so out of sync with reality as to be considered laughable. There is a better way. 

The real question is how do we assure a citizen's right to own guns while maximizing efforts to reduce gun violence? 

I have a suggestion here too. Let's start by putting an executive in charge of the A.T.F. 

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, (ATF), the federal agency responsible for enforcing gun laws, has for years been choked by legislative restrictions that keep it from functioning efficiently, according to a report from The New York Times. The bureau also suffers from a six-year vacancy of its director’s seat.

Let start with leadership. We can climb the next hill when we finish the first.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Youth pastor Dennis Myers indicted

The formula is simple. Take one youth pastor and then add unfettered access to children. Something snaps. The result can be everything from texting to child molestation, plus everything in between. I read about it every day.

Take Dennis W. Myers, the former youth pastor at Christ United Methodist Church in Independence, Mo. Myers was named in a three-count indictment. Myers is 52 and had worked as a youth pastor at two or more churches. Now he's accused of possessing child pornography. Good grief…

Dennis W. Myers, 52, is named in a three-count indictment that includes charges of viewing, receiving and possessing child pornography last year.

Investigators said he knowingly received a video file of a minor engaged in sexually explicit acts on April 13, 2011. They said that on Sept. 15, 2011, he was found to be in possession of at least one item of child pornography.

Read more: Ex youth pastor indicted in child porn case

Child porn is gross. Youth pastors who partake of child porn are scum.  It's pretty simple. If guilty, the bastard needs to sit in a prison cell with bubba for a few years.  It is Missouri after all, I am surprised that they have not run the guy out of town on a rail, or at least send him off to prison. 

More counts for youth pastor Gregory Forehand

I first reported on youth pastor Gregory Forehand when he was arrested last August. At the time of his arrest he was the youth pastor at Real LIfe Christian Church in Chesapeake. Nothing had been posted about the case since his arrest, but a short news story provided some interesting new information. It seems Forehand may be a serial child molester as there are now three victims. He was indicted this week on five counts of custodial indecent liberties with three different victims. More to follow…

Senator Mike Crapo arrested for DUI

Republican Senator Mike Crapo was arrested for DUI on December 23, 2012 in Alexandria, Virginia. While driving under the influence, he ran a red light which caused the local police to pull him over. He failed a field sobriety test with a blood alcohol content of 0.11 percent. Crapo, a Mormon, was caught doing something reckless and shameful. His arrest was a surprise as he is respected in his home state of Idaho for being a man of virtue, but we know all about men of virtue here on Deep Thoughts. They tend to fall rather hard. 

Mike Crapo caught my attention because he is a Mormon bishop and should not drink at all, plus he is a Republican Senator, which normally means his done his fair share of moral lawmaking. People like Mike Crapo sit on a moral bubble. When the bubble pops, I want to know the story. I judge others by what they do. I'll judge Mike Crapo by what he does in the aftermath of his mistake. You should too. 

Prior to his arrest, Crapo was simply a political opponent. As the 39th most senior Senator, he had amassed some influential committee assignments, including the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs and the Committee on Finance. He may end up as the top Republican on tthe Senate Banking Committee next year, plus he was a member of the Gang of Six. Crapo is a player in the Republican party. He’s not a leader yet, but a solid foot soldier on his way to the top. When a foot shoulder in the war for the hearts and minds of Americans falters, it gets my attention. We should notice this type of character flaw. It tells us a lot about how he will lead in the future.

Mike Crapo published an apology:

“I am deeply sorry for the actions that resulted in this circumstance. I made a mistake for which I apologize to my family, my Idaho constituents and any others who have put their trust in me. I accept total responsibility and will deal with whatever penalty comes my way in this matter." It is a rare thing to see a real apology, but that is what this is. Crapo admits his mistake, apologizes for it, and promises to take responsibility."

Mike Crapo is being compared to Larry Craig because it is a rare thing to see the arrest of a United States Senator and people want a frame of reference. I don’t buy into the Christian notion that all sins are equal in the eyes of God. Some crimes can and often do result in the death others. A high school friend of mine in doing 12 year in prison for driving drunk… and killing a man in a traffic accident. The difference between my friend and Mike Crapo is simply that the police caught Crapo before he could kill anyone. Comparing Crapo to Craig is not possible. Sex does not kill. The Idaho Statesmen would like us to believe is it is a simple mistake and not a horrible sexual misstep like the that of Larry Craig. 

One mistake does not erase an otherwise honorable career. It’s a good guess that the embarrassment anybody might feel for him is nothing compared with the embarrassment he feels for himself. It’s bad enough that Crapo has to explain himself to his wife and family. It’s worse when he has to explain himself to 1.6 million constituents, many of whom have viewed Crapo as an example of what American politics should be about.

On the other hand, both Crapo and Craig failed as leaders within their political movement. Craig lived a lie and that lie eventually cost him his reputation and power. Crapo is caught in the same trap. His public fail is both criminal wrongdoing and a moral falling. Who will trust a man who stakes his public reputation on his religion and from abstinence from alcohol? The right answer is nobody. Who will trust a man who cannot control himself? The right answer is nobody. I don't see much of a difference between the impulse control problem of gay sex in a public bathroom and the self control problem if drinking too much and driving. Contrition, rehabilitation, and some serious soul searching are in order Mike Crapo and not the slap on the wrist that is sure to follow.

Do we cut Senator Mke Crapo a second chance? I would, but only after he pays his debt to society. 

Hypocrisy level mind blowing


I track clergy misconduct under the labels Hypocrisy Watch and Clergy Sexual Abuse. Hypocrisy Watch has over 1,445 entries. Clergy Sexual Abuse has over 530 entries. Most of these stories focus on clergy doing decidedly non-Christian acts, some of which are heinous in nature, like child molestation and murder. Every year or two a storied comes across my desk that is simply mind blowing. Like this one from tipster spritgnDeacon removed after child porn charges.

MONTREAL — A prominent West Island deacon — who used to comment on church sexual abuse scandals — is expected to appear in court on Monday after being charged on the weekend with the production and distribution of child pornography.

William Kokesch, a 65-year-old deacon of St. Edmund of Canterbury Parish in Beaconsfield, was arrested Friday after police carried out two search warrants — one at his home in Pointe Claire and the other at the church.

Deacon William Kokesch is a hypocrite. The word hypocrite barely touches the level of depravity involved in this man's alleged crimes. He was known for officially criticizing pedophiles and clergy sexual abuse, yet he was charged with making and distributing child pornography. I mean… what the fuck?

Kokesch is another example of a member of Catholic church, criticizing the clergy sexual abuse scandal while allegedly living a double life focused on abusing children. Did I mention he worked with children? Kokesch also advised the pope. It is simply mind blowing. Kokesch is a real player in the Catholic church and is often sough out for media interviews to comment on clergy sexual abuse. He's also an ordained official of the Catholic church. He is not a priest, but is something known as a "permanent deacon".

Kokesch, who was ordained as a “permanent deacon” in the diocese of Montreal in 1981, then served as the communications director for the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops in Ottawa. In 2005, he was entrusted by the conference to coordinate the Canadian delegation to World Youth Day Catholic celebrations in Cologne, Germany.

The Catholic church needs a purge and a do over. I don't see how anything they say can be trusted. They have lost their moral imperative (if they ever had one).

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

My favorite gifts

I was asked an odd question by a long-time friend the other day. He asked, 'Joe, what are your favorite gifts?" I say odd because I don't really like the gift recieving part of the holidays, and he knows it. I enjoyed getting gifts as a child, but as an adult things got a little weird when I realized how much effort went into the whole commercialized Christmas thing. Besides the negative aspics of over shopping in December, I think the reason I'm off gifts is that most gifts are just not something I'm interested in. Be it well-meaning ties or manicure sets, gifts like this all seem like a waste of time and money. My wife and kids usually mange to nail it though. Take this year for example. They kept it small and simple. I love the Innova Boss disc my son gave me, and the gaming mouse from my wife too. They were both small and practical gifts, which are perfect in my book. Plus, they did not waste hours inside a mall shopping for that perfect gift.

I would rather give a good small gift; like something I've made or something that reflects our shared connections, than the lasted tech toy or bauble. As for friend-to-friend gift giving. I'd rather share a meal and a few beers and call it done. Still, I wanted to answer my friend, so this is what I told him.

1. Books: I am a reader. Nothing pleases me more that the gift of a book. My mom gave me the collected works of Edgar Allen Poe last night. Talk about perfect. I'll read it the rest of my life. Books are a great gift. Plus, I keep them in my ever-growing library. 

2. Knives: I love a good knife. I have a good-sized collection, but the gift of a new knife is always appreciated. Take my simple Frontier U.S.A pocket knife. A friend spent $25 on it as a birthday gift 10-years ago. I've carried it, or had it close, ever since. It's practical and if cared for, will last me a lifetime. 

3. Discs: I play disc golf. Discs are inexpensive and always appreciated. They don't last forever… I hit a lot of trees, but they are practical and will see a lot of use. 

4. Scotch & Cigars - What can I say, I like scotch and a good cigar. 

Part of my disapproval of large scale holiday gift giving is the spectacle. I watch the madness associated with Black Friday and the endless mall parking lots full of frenzied shoppers and think, why am I participating in the mass crassness? My idea of a Holliday celebration is what I did last night and what I will do again in a few hours. Last night, we cooked a prime rib roast and some Hobbit inspired side dishes for our parents. We talked and ate until the old folks needed to go home for the night. Tonight, I will do the same at a family party with 70 of my closest relatives. I'll eat and talk until I'm too tied to do it any more, and then I'll call it a night. A few small gifts will change hands too. If I'm lucky I'll get a book or some booze. 

Happy holidays folks and keep it simple. 


Friday, December 21, 2012

Pastor Wiley Jackson indicted

Okay guys, here is my plan. We start a church. We build membership by acting the way a pastor/christian should act while promoting the prosperity doctrine because that brings in the poor folks. Then, when we've got them on their knees praying to God for wealth, we prey on the weak and infirm. Rich I tell you! We will be rich!

That's how the scam works folks.

According to DeKalb County District Attorney Robert James, the leader of Gospel Tabernacle Church recruited members to buy shares in an unregistered company called Genesis, LLC. James said neither brother was licensed by the state to sell securities.

"Some people lost a lot of money," said James.

CBS Atlanta News first reported on the alleged investment scheme in 2010, when two investors accused their former pastor of taking thousands of dollars.

According to the indictment, Abbey Shanks of Locust Grove lost $10,000 when she invested in Genesis in 2002.

Source: Megachurch pastor Wiley Jackson, brother indicted for securities fraud

Pastor Wiley runs the mega church the Gospel Tabernacle Church in Atlanta. 

Ten tips to prevent losing all your money to a pastor

Tip #1 - Never trust a pastor named "Wiley"

Tip #2 - Never trust a pastor that drives a Bently

Tip #3 - Never let your pastor invest your money

Tip #4 - All investments carries risk

Tip #5 - Judge a pastor by how he handles his own money

Tip #6 - Go read the bible about Jesus and the money changers (there was a message in the text)

Tip #7 - Fire your pastor if he starts a business that targets his flock (it's called a fleecing for a reason)

Tip #8 - Find another church if your pastor preaches the prosperity doctrine 

Tip #9  - If you are attending a mega church you are doing Christianity wrong

Tip #10 - Read this blog. 

These cases crack me up. How can anybody be so dumb as to listen to a man like this and then give him your hard-earned savings? It defies credulity. 

Atheists giving aid to Sandy Hook Elementary

American Atheists along with the Society of Open-Minded Atheists and Agnostics (SOMA) and We Are Atheism are raising funds for the children and families affected by the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Do your part if you can. Pitch in and help.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Pastor Otis Jetter arrested

Baptist pastor Otis Jetter, 70, was arrested on multiple warrants for child molestation. 

NewImageThe charges we made my a man in his 20s. The abuse allegedly took place when the victim was a boy. 

A man in his 20s came forward with allegations that Jetter molested him as a boy after seeing Jetter with another boy at church. He worried the boy might be in the same situation.

Jetter,  was the pastor of Pilgrim Chapel Missionary Baptist Church in Indianapolis. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

I give you… Baptist Nutball Sam Morris

Baptist pastor Sam Morris made the news this week because of his mouth. He let it spew hatred in public. The world too note of his idiocy. Key points follow:

  • Public schools are "mind-control centers." 
  • Public schools teach "junk about evolution." 
  • Public schools teach "how to be a homo." 
  • He thinks all this is about gun control. 
  • Called equal rights a "sham" and equated it with "equal immorality." 
  • Claimed Adam Lanza was taught that he was a God in public school. 
  • Suggested we publicly mutilate the body of Adam Lanza. 
  • Morris wants revenge against a dead man.
  • Conflated mass murder with his political position on abortion. 
  • Ranted on gun control while claiming that mass shootings never take place at gun shows which suggests that if school teachers were armed it would have prevented the shooting. 
  • Blamed the shooting on kicking God out of public schools. 
  • Called public school "government school." 
  • Said that evolution teaches us that we are animals, so we can act like animals. 
  • Suggested that public schools teach you to rebel against your parents.

All this tripe from a pastor in response to a mass murder. I listened to his words in disbelieve. Where is the love of Christ in this message of paranoia and hate? How is this Christianity? How is Pastor Morris a role model or a leader of sane people? Not only are his words political rhetoric and full of vitriol, they are universally the words of a ranting nutball… except from maybe the part about no mass murders at gun shows. He also suggested that there had never been a shooting at gun show. Ten seconds on the internet proves that wrong

Pastor Sam Morris preaches at Old Paths Baptist Church. Does Morris actually preach? You be the judge.

I always spend a little time looking at the education of blowhards like Morris. He claims to have a Doctorate of Divinity in 2011 from Historic Baptist Bible College and Theological Seminary, in Scarborough, Ontario. (Which is actually an unaccredited school located in a church.) The school website does not offer PhD programs. And get this, the school gives women a different degree then men for the same course of study. Morris sounds "highly" educated. 

Is this what being a Christian is all about? Is it simply a collection of paranoia, fear, hatred, and contempt for the truth? Where is the love? Where is the sympathy for the victims of this horrible tragedy?

Send a condolence letter to Newtown

An employee of mine suggested that we send a letter of condolence to the people of Newtown and those affected by the tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School. I thought it was a good idea. 

Those who wish to send expressions of comfort should address them to:

Messages of Condolence for Newtown
P.O. Box 3700
Newtown, CT 06470

It is an easy thing to do, and a good idea. 

On another note, my son's school called while I was making this post to tell me about their emergency response plans. I don't' think we had those when I was a kid. 

Numbers Matter. Be counted.

Participate in the Atheist Census. I did. Atheist Census - Numbers matter. Be counted.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The problem with Victoria Jackson

The problem with Victoria Jackson and the problem with celebrity opinions in general is that we confuse working in entertainment with intelligence and wisdom. We should listen to the wise among us, but seriously now, who thinks Victoria Jackson is wise? After the Sandy Hook massacre, we hear this from the "sage" actress Victory Jackson
"My friend Jim Riley posted: "Wasn't the Connecticut killer just doing what abortionists do every day? It's a wonder we don't have more 20 year old "dads" doing what women and doctors have been an accomplice to for years in America. When you forget the TEN COMMANDMENTS, people, THIS is what you get."'
Source: A FORMER Saturday Night Live star has sparked controversy for saying the Sandy Hook Massacre is "what you get when you forget the Ten Commandments."
We see her for what she is, another evangelical nutball using a horrible massacre to further a political agenda.  Normal people hear of the massacre and take a moment to reflect before offering condolences. Abnormal people, evangelical nutballs if you will, take the issue and use it to push an agenda. The hate bleeds through every word they use. Children died unthinkably violent deaths just a few hours ago, and the best she can do is blame it on the victims. Is this wisdom? No. It is hate, and we all see that.
Jackson goes on to belittle President Obama, who like many Americans, was overcome by the scale of the tragedy and in an all-too-human moment, shed a tear with us. What does Jackson say about this important moment?
"Obama dramatically wiped a tear as he said, "The majority of those who died today were children - beautiful little kids ... They had their entire lives ahead of them - birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own..."
Instead of seeing the Presidents acts for what they are, an honest reaction to horrible traction, she must bring up her pet issue. Everything is about her issue. Fuck the victims of Sandy Hook… I want to beat my drum. Look at me. Look at me. We know you like it Victoria Jackson. It's all about attention.
What can you do?
  • Tell Victory Jackson to fuck off via Twitter
  • Keep the story alive. Post about her idiocy. 
  • Remember this event and protest each and every future Victory Jackson endeavor. 

Pastor Isrom Perry-Johnson arrested

Baptist Pastor Isrom Perry-Johnson, 33, of Prince of Peace Missionary Baptist Church in Albany, was arrested on three counts of second-degree sodomy. His church is shocked.
One member of Johnson’s congregation at Prince of Peace Missionary Baptist Church, in the 700 block of Linden Avenue in New Albany, said he was shocked by the charges.
“He’s a very loving and caring person,” said Timothy Vinson, 28, of Jeffersonville. “He’s the definition of a pastor. It comes as a shock. I couldn’t see him doing the crime.”
Source: Pastor of New Albany church faces sodomy charges
A small Baptist church with a home-grown pastor. Where have I heard this story before?

Pastor Clarence Taylor arrested

Associate pastor Clarence Tyrone Taylor, 26, was arrested for using Facebook and text messages to solicit sex from a 15-year-old boy.
…Taylor allegedly made suggestive comments to several young people in his congregation, prompting parents to approach the pastor of the church. In response to those complaints, the pastor contacted Lancaster County Detectives and the Lancaster City Police Department, who forwarded the case to the Attorney General’s Office because of the specialized investigations performed by the Child Predator Unit.
Source: Lancaster County associate pastor arrested of Attorney General's Child Predator Unit by Amanda Smith. 
The article suggests parents should "Discuss internet safety with their children," which seems odd to me since most parents are not qualified to discuss the topic. Heck, few people are qualified. It's one of those gray areas that others assume people know about, but few actually do. A case in point… I talked to a parent last week about her son's use of an iPad for web surfing. She was sure that what her son was doing was safe because she reviewed the sites he had visited. When I showed her private browsing, she lost all confidence. Private browsing is just one way a smart kid can get around a parent's good intentions. There are so many more ways to get around safety features. It boggles my mind. Most people know nothing about this stuff. I work in this area professionally and I struggle to keep up. What does a layman know?

One of the problems that keeps me up at night is that parents let kids have Facebook accounts. A few months on Facebook is all it takes for a kids to figure out how to get around all of the safeguards. Recent studies show that young girls who use Facebook can stunt their emotional devleopment. You do the math. Youth, immaturity, emotional issues… It all ends with someone like pastor Taylor sexting your child, or worse.

I've been asked to start speaking on this issue at local churches and civic groups. I think its time I put together another PowerPoint deck and start getting the word out. It is the least I can do.

Update 1/27/2014
Clarence Taylor was convicted today on all three charges. Ball was revoked and reset to $100k.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Put a sock in it Bryan Fischer

The is no link between God, prayer and reduced violence. If there were a link, there would fewer wars, no clergy sexual abuse, and much less violence in the world. It is wishful thinking. It is blaming the insane acts of a single person on something that is not linked to prayer in any way. It is politicizing murder for ratings and for agenda driven political gain. Put prayer back in school and there will be no school shooting. Put bible study in school and there will be no drug use. Blah, blah, blah… All that stuff happened back in the good old days too. What the hell are they thinking? 

The libertarians are saying that if the school had not been a gun-free zone an armed teacher would have saved the day. That is the same kind of flawed thinking that the Religious Right uses. A gun-toting teacher may have saved the day. A million gun-toting teachers could have prevented the shooting, but then, I am sure there would be a significant body count  related to the misuse of those guns. A million teachers and students praying each day would have done nothing other than gather victims in one place for easy execution. God does not protect us. He does not intervene to save the lives of innocent children. He does not take action in any way because he is a fictional entity that exists only in the minds of those who believe in him. Belief may cause a Christian teacher to shied a child with his or her body, but then, so might common decency, or our innate ability to see that children need protection from violence. 

Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association and the nutball in the video above  said…

“You know the question’s gonna come up, where was God? I thought God cared about the little children, God protected the little children. Where was God when all this went down? And here’s the bottom line: God is not gonna go where he’s not wanted.”

Oh my… Fischer is such an ass. Was God wanted at a church is Westlake Village where a cold-blooded murder took place recently? Did God step in to stop the senseless death a good Christian father? Did Andres Ordonez pray in the wrong way? Was his church not holy enough? Do they follow the wrong doctrine? Did members face the wrong direction when praying or did they improperly position their hands? Did God decide not to intervene because there are not enough churches in Los Angeles, or because we allow gay marriage? I'm sure Andres Ordonez's young widow would like to know what she can do to get God's protection. Can you tell her Bryan Fischer? Can you tell her son?

"He did ask for his dad recently, just yesterday," said Mendez. "I just tried to explain to him that his dad is in heaven. I just point up there. The only thing he does is look up and say to his daddy, 'Bye bye.'"

Bryan Fisher, you are a jackass and professional liar. God does not protect us. School prayer does not stop school shootings. Reading the bible does not stop bullets. God does not intervene in our lives. You are an ass and your message is one of hate. Stop talking. 

Rob Boston on the Religious Right's insanity

The religious right has an agenda. Every time we suffer a tragedy, we see it dusted off and rolled out, often by way of Fox News. It is a morally corrupt line of reasoning that appeals to the self-self-righious. This time the message was simple; by excluding God from our public schools we invited violence and death. I read this as, "Those kids deserved it."

Rob Boston of American United posted Strange Gods: The religious Right's Offensive Response to the Tragedy in Connecticut. His article captures some of my angst. 

As soon as I heard about Friday’s horrific school shootings in Newtown, Conn., I knew it would only be a matter of time before some Religious Right extremist blamed it on the lack of mandatory prayer in public schools.

It didn’t take long. First out of the crazy box was former Arkansas governor and erstwhile presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.

Are we so simple as to believe that God allowed this murderous rampage to happen as payback for ensuring that our children can learn without being indoctrinated into a state sponsored religion? What kind of God is that? 

My heart aches this morning

I was stunned by the news of another school shooting yesterday. I did an immediate panic scan of schools I know to determine if Sandy Hook Elementary School was near me here in Southern California. I felt an immediate wave of guilty relief when I realized the tragedy took place on the other side of our country.

When I read of the death toll at lunch I felt ill. I could not write last night. I could not even think clearly. This type of news makes me feel helpless and weak. The more I follow a story like this in the news, the worse these feelings get. So I did not listen to the news or read my twitter feed yesterday. I concentrated on my work during the day and read a book while at home.

To those touched by this tragedy, please accept my most sincere condolences. To those nutballs who seized upon this tragedy to push a political or religious agenda, fuck off. My creative energy will go towards exposing your idiocy. More to follow on this later…

On a personal note, a man I respect at work stopped me in our restroom. He was crying. He looked into my eyes and said the words, "Those poor children."  There was real anguish there. We hugged for a moment while he said a short prayer, and then we went our separate ways. I stopped to wash my face before walking back to my office. Our tears were real, and so was our shared pain. These senseless murders are a tragedy beyond comprehension. We each process our pain differently. I write. I cry. I hug. I struggle to understand and put the tragedy in context. I simply cannot ignore it. It would be nice if I could, but I think that would make me less human. 

As my coworker prayed, I did not object. I did not push an agenda or mention that I was an atheist. I did not comment on the efficacy of his prayer. Instead, I stood for a few moments with my arm around an old-man's shoulders while he asked God to help those affected by this tragedy find peace. I don't see anything wrong with that. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A little bleach to the face

A fellow blogger was attacked in Williamsburgh earlier this week. Rabbi Nachum Rosenberg writes a blog about sex abuse within the Orthodox Jewish community. One day after the Nechemya Weberman was convicted of serial child molestation, Rosenberg had a cup of bleach thrown in his face, burning his face and blinding him in one eye.
Rabbi Nachum Rosenberg told PIX11 he was walking down Roebling Street, when a man with a beard and black coat ran across from a fish store and confronted him.
“He takes a full cup of bleach and he spilled it onto me. Half of my face is burned, and my left eye, I can’t see right out of it. I see everything very faded.” 
The attack happened one day after a jury convicted a prominent Satmar Hasidic man, Nechemya Weberman, of repeatedly molesting a student in the community, starting when she was just 12 years old. Weberman, an unlicensed counselor, faces up to 117 years in prison, when he’s sentenced next month. Many Hasidic men in the community raised money for his defense.
Source: Bleach thrown in face of rabbi who writes about sex abuse in Williamsburg’s Orthodox Jewish community
Rabbi Rosenberg is a brave man.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Orthodox Jewish Counselor Nechemya Weberman guilty

Well that’s a mouthful. I started off writing the headline as Rabbi Nechemya Weberman, but later changed it to Jewish Counselor during a fact check session. It appears that Weberman is a self-taught counselor too. Now we can simply refer to him by his new title. Pedophile Weberman.

The Brooklyn courtroom was silent as the foreman said jurors had found Nechemya Weberman guilty of 59 counts, including sustained sex abuse of a child, endangering the welfare of a child and sexual abuse. He faces 25 years in prison on the top charge and may get more time when he is sentenced on Jan. 9.

The 54-year-old defendant looked down as the verdict was announced and glanced briefly back at his family, who held hands, as he was handcuffed and led from the courtroom. Some of the accusers' supporters smiled quietly. The girl's mother, who was not in the courtroom at the time, said later she was weeping tears of joy, according to her friend.

Source: Nechemya Weberman, Orthodox Counselor In Brooklyn, Guilty Of Sexual Abuse by Colleen Long.

The article goes on to describe Weberman’s repeated sexual assault of a girl starting when she was 12 and ending when she was 15.

The girl, who is now married, testified for four days, chronicling abuse that she said lasted for three years. Weberman would take off her clothes and touch her, force her to perform oral sex and re-enact scenes from porn films, she said. She didn't know what to do; he was a well-respected member of the community, and she was "a piece of dirt," she said.

We call men like Weberman scumbags. In prison they are known as bitches. I hope the victim can take some comfort in that.

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A good Christian would never steal

A good Christian would never steal. It’s in the Ten Commandments and everything. Stealing is a serious offence for true believers. It is right up there with not making craven images and keeping the Sabbath. God, and by extension Jesus, would be super pissed at the sinner and might not let the thief into prison. If that is the case, the why do Christians steal? Take Scott Domeier, the former accountant for the Archdiocese of St. Paul. He stands accused of stealing from the Catholic Church. I think that is a double sin.

It was pocket change to Domeier. He just needed to pay off a few credit cards and other personal expenses. The church did not notice the missing funds until an independent audit found $670k missing. Oops. I guess the Archdiocese did not buy into the whole ‘trust but verify” concept. They must have thought that a Christian would never steal.

Domeier was accounting services director for the archdiocese between February 1995 and January 2012. He was placed on administrative leave in January after the archdiocese hired an accounting firm and uncovered financial discrepancies.

Source: Former archdiocese accountant faces new tax charges

Wow… 12 years without an audit. That sounds like mismanagement to me. But who am I to judge?

Hat tip to James.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Youth pastor John Astorga convicted

Former youth pastor John Astorga was convicted of sex abuse. The victim was under the age of 12. Astorga faces 10 years in prison and must register as a sex offender. Astorga has already been convicted of sex crimes in another county and faces additional charges in a third.

John Astorga is a human stain. Prison is too good for him.

Another good day

I started blogging back in 2004 for a lot of good reasons, but one reason that is important to me is that I’ve kept a journal on and off, for my whole life. I like recording the little things that happen, and the big things too, now that I think about it. I stopped blogging about my life when I got caught up writing about clergy sexual abuse over the last two years. I almost stopped writing altogether. Let me be clear. There is a lot in my life that I am thankful for and most of it has nothing to do with religion, atheism, or clergy sexual abuse. My life.. well, it’s great. I am a happy man.

Today, although it is only 1:00 pm, is another good day. I woke up early to play a sunrise round of disc golf with my good friend pastor Brad. After the game, I took my wife out for breakfast and had the good fortune of running into my cousins, Brian and Charmaine, along with their two-year old son Elliot. I took a great photo. I ate a great meal at my favorite breakfast spot, and I managed to laugh a bunch and kissed a cute baby. All before noon. That’s another good day in my book.

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Pastor James M. Burton arrested

Baptist pastor James M. Burton was arrested on charges of repeatedly molesting a female foster child in his care.

The Journal Gazette reports, 50 year old James M. Burton was booked into the Allen County Jail on four counts of felony child molesting on Wednesday. Burton has been serving as pastor of Greater Faith Baptist Church, according to the church's Facebook page.

Source: Fort Wayne Pastor Arrested on 4 Charges of Child Molesting

Burton allegedly starting abusing the girl when she was as young as 6-year old.

Documents said the child told an employee at her elementary school that her foster father had been molesting her.

The girl told investigators the molestations began when she was 6 or 7 years old.

Source: Pastor jailed on molesting counts by Julie Crothers of the Journal Gazette

I have this sinking feeling that I will forever link the words Baptist, pastor and pedophile.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

A new personal best

While playing disc golf today, I threw past the tree that sits on the point on hole 18 to land 15 feet from the pin. An Instagram photo of my accomplishment is shown below.


Photo by mojoey • Instagram

Week in and week out over the last 10 years I have tried to make this throw. I have never even come close. This throw is my best ever on this hole. when I disc landed I was jumping around like I had made a hole an one. I made the putt for a birdie. It’s not my first birdie on this hole. I’ve putted from much longer distances for birdie many times pver the years. For me, 15 feet is a drop in. I make 95% of these putts. It felt good to slam it home.

This personal best came at the end of a long game where I had thrown farther than normal on almost all of my tee shots. I’ve changed a few of my throwing mechanics, practiced and bought some new discs. I’m getter better instead of declining as I age. It is a very encouraging feeling.

I wish I could say that this morning’s game was good though. I putted poorly and missed shots that I can normally hit. I counted up my birdie attempts, I was two of six on birdie and played a +1 for a a score of 55. It’s a good score for me, but I should have played a 52 or 53. There is always tomorrow.

Disc golf is amazing fun. Playing the game pushes me to do better. I like that. I think it help me feel young too. There is nothing quite like being out on the course at sunrise on a cold crisp day.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Tea Tree Chewing Sticks and Keto breath


I am a Paleo convert. As such, my breath smells like road kill mixed with rotten apples. I need help, so I ordered Thursday Plantation's Tea Tree Chewing Sticks, which are supposed to help with keto breath. Chewing sticks are “Renewable Birchwood with Tea Tree Oil”. Be warned, they are actually high quality flavored toothpicks.

I tested using one chewing stick, my horrible breath and my poor son’s nose. After an hour with a toothpick hanging from my lips, my son tells me that I do not have bad breath. I call that a win.

The flavor is strong, pleasant and lasts a long time. I’ve been at it an hour and still feel the buzz of Tea Tree Oil. For anyone growing up in the 70s, think Harmon's - Hot Cinnamon Fire, but with flavor that lasts a long time. I miss Harmon’s toothpicks. I used to live on the things during summer as a kid.


This post is also posted at my new Paleo blog, Joe Eats Paleo. I’m trying to use the Paleo diet to get healthy and lose a bunch of weight in the process. Join me if you are interested.

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Tuesday, December 04, 2012

A tormented mother’s words

The mother of a pedophile posted a comment to a 2007 post called Death for pedophiles. It is a heartfelt appeal for sanity and understanding. I thought it deserved some from page love.

To the mother of the pedophile. I am also the mother of a pedophile. My journey is just beginning as my son has not went to trial yet. But the evidence is overwhelming. I have spent the last few months in a chronic state of depression over this. He will probably spend the majority of the rest of his life in prison. And as much as it breaks my heart to say so it is where he belongs. He needs to stay locked up so he cannot hurt anyone else.

He is 38 years old and I have known since he was a child that he was different than other children.I just didn't know what it was.He has always been a tortured soul.

People want to blame the mothers of these children, and the families of these children that turn into pedophiles. Don't you people know that we would give anything, even our lives if we could somehow fix our children. I know I would. But pedophilia is a disease. A mental illness. I could not have stopped it anymore than I could stop a child from having Autism or schitzophrenia (sic).

I hate what my son did, he molested his own nephew, among others. My own grandson. Don't you think I would have stopped him if I could.

I raised my 4 sons by myself, sometimes working three jobs to make ends meet. But there was no help out there for me or for him. MHMR refused to help me, every agency I contacted I somehow didn't meet the criteria for help!

His father was non existent, as was the child support. There were times I could barely put food on the table, but my boys knew I loved them above everything else. If this is my fault what about my other three sons. Why aren't they pedophiles too!

They are not, they are all successful well adjusted young men with careers and beautiful families.

When I found out what my son was accused of I helped put him behind bars even though it broke my heart. He is my son and he is sick with a disease that there is no cure for. I have to face that fact. But I still love him, and I will still be there for him.

I understand the hatred against what he has done. But he is still a human being. Does he deserve to die for what he has done? I cannot be the judge of that. Only God can.

But all you hate mongers out there, maybe you should take a good long look at yourselves. To the man who would firebomb the church congregation, you would be hurting innocents just like my son did. So what kind of monster does that make you.

To the person that would ostracize the phedophile's (sic) family and throw tomatoes at their houses, you are just an idiot! No one asks for one of their family members to be a pedophile, or a serial killer, a burglar, or a rapist. The families are already living in their own kind of hell. They did nothing to make that pereson (sic) a pedophile. What kind of monster do you see when you look in the mirror. Maybe you should look a little harder. Try looking between all that self righteous, uniformed bullshit that you are spouting.

Do you all think that hurting innocencent (sic) decent people for something they have no control over will solve this problem. If you do then you are as much of a monster as a pedophile. More so because phedophilia (sic) is a documented disease. A horrible disease that most pedophiles have no control over.

But you have control and your willfullness (sic) to harm innocents, to prove whatever it is you are trying to prove, makes you the worst kind of monster of all. I will pray for you, that you may never fall victim to someone like yourselves.

And for the victims and all the families, both of the victims and the perpertrators (sic), I will pray that you find peace.

May God Bless you all!

We all face our own demons. Some are imaginary. Some are very real.

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Sunday, December 02, 2012

Remembering Deputy Jerry Ortiz

I don’t live in Hawaiian Gardens. It’s is an ugly, corrupt and gang ridden cesspool of a city that borders the city of my youth, Lakewood, Ca. Hawaiian Gardens is no garden. There is nothing of beauty there, except for some of the good people I know who call it home. I don’t drive through the city unless I must. I don’t shop there. I don’t eat there. I do my best to avoid it as it holds many bad memories for me. One of the worst in recent memory was the 2005 murder of Los Angeles Sherriff’s Deputy Jerry Ortiz.

Deputy Jerry Ortiz was shot and killed after knocking on a door during an investigation.

Deputy Ortiz had gone to an apartment complex in the city of Hawaiian Gardens to question a woman about a shooting that had taken place the previous day. As he spoke to the woman at the door of the apartment, the suspect in the previous day's shooting appeared and shot him in the head. The man then fled into an apartment three doors away. Deputies found him hiding in a bathtub three hours later.

Read more: ODMP Remembers...

I remember that horrible day. The murder was senseless. Ortiz died trying to protect the city from a parasite. He gave his life so that Hawaiian Garden residents could have some small measure of peace and safety. A '”grateful” city remembers him each year. I say grateful because of the animus of Christian pastor and Hawaiian Gardens City Councilman Barry Bruce.

“I have a real problem that every year we memorialize Jerry Ortiz death, again and again and again and again with many Sheriff’s from all over coming (to Hawaiian Gardens), and even helicopters coming and doing a dip over the top of the house where he was killed years ago,” Bruce said.

“As far as I know, and maybe you guys can correct me, I think that is unprecedented in cities as a whole. I don’t understand why this city, any why you Mr. Mayor (Gomez) continue to, but I understand your heartfelt loss for a mother and the family for their loss, but we are a city and the purpose of a city council is to make sure that we move forward and goes on, and that the community heals, and not that we recognize our city every year as being a cop killer city.”

Read more: Memorial Plaque Honoring Murdered Deputy Jerry Ortiz Given Back To Family After Hawaiian Gardens Council Vote

Barry Bruce is the founder and pastor of Way Out Ministries. A Christian mission and School located in a strip mall in Hawaiian Gardens. Listing to its promotional video leads one to think that Bruce is trying to help. Listening to his words and witnessing his actions leads one to think otherwise.

bruceWhat Barry Bruce does not understand is that the City of Hawaiian Gardens is at least partially responsibly for the senseless death of Ortiz. Years of inaction and indifference led to the climate of fear that grips the city to this day, plus, the gang problem has been a real problem issue since the 70s with virtually no real action by the city. Memorializing Ortiz each year is one way for the city to redeem itself. Another path for the city is to clean its act up. Just ask the 150+ gang members arrested and imprisoned since the murder of Ortiz. The city is safer. African American residents have less to fear from Hispanic gang members, but there is still fear.

Pastor Bruce is controversial. He has an agenda and pushes it hard. He’s been censured for his tactics, and called out for his political fundraising.

Los Cerritos Community News is asking the IRS and the California Franchise Tax Board to launch a formal investigation into the activities of The Way Out Ministries of Hawaiian Gardens for possible violations of its 501(c) (3) non-profit status after the controversial church staged a profanity laced political fundraiser/comedy night on behalf of two city council candidates on church property.


I don’t know Pastor Bruce. I’ll reach out to him via an invitation to coffee or a round of disc golf. I’d love to hear his take on the city of Hawaiian Gardens. I’m not sure if he’s a bad actor or a good one. I’m not sure if he is corrupt or if he is fighting corruption. I can tell you this much, his tactics are questionable and decidedly not what one would expect from a pastor or a sophisticated politician. Mixing politics and religion is seldom done well. Pastor Bruce is a good example of political failure. Remember, we are judged by what we accomplish, not by the noise we make.

I’m not sure if Pastor Bruce is blind to the collective need to remember our fallen heroes or simply not in tune with his city’s citizens, fireman and law enforcement. My sense is that he is actually doing some good for the community, but does he not realize that “being controversial” over issues like this does not engender love nor heal wounds.

Fun times. For the record… I know the child of a man senselessly murdered in Hawaiian Gardens in the 90s. I know the brother of another man murdered around the same time. I know of seven other gang-related murders (by my count, it may be more). My brother-in-law was shot at in the city. I’ve been shot at in the city (a very long time ago). Three of my high-school friends died doing drugs there (again, a long time ago). I have no good memories of the city, except for my time at El Dorado Park Church as a youth, but I’m pretty sure church property bordered the city, so it does not count. And… don’t get me started about the casino.

Penn Jillette: Don't Leave Atheists Out on Christmas

Christmas is a secular holiday just as much as it is a religious holiday. Let’s call it an inclusive American holiday and be done with it.

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Saturday, December 01, 2012

Don’t buy your Christmas Tree from the Boy Scouts

It shames me to be linked to the Boy Scouts of America in any way, but I am linked (or was). My dad was an Eagle Scout and a member of the Order of the Arrow. I was a Cub Scout and Boy Scout as a youth. As an adult, I was a Cub Scout den and pack leader. Scouting was in my blood. I stopped my association with the BSA as a young parent because of the overt religiosity. I could not reconcile the outdoor-oriented male bonding and development component of the scouting experience with the need to indoctrinate children into whatever religious order ran the pack (or troop). In my case, it was a local Baptist church. It’s pastor and deacons were all pack leaders and insisted on emphasizing religious development in our children, even though many of the children were secular or held another faith. It was too much for me, so I walked away.

Flash forward 25 years and the BSA is still focused on promoting religion and faith, but it has also morphed into something else, an organization the holds a public position excluding atheists and gays. The BSA reemphasized their antigay position in July.

…group’s national spokesman Deron Smith said an 11-member special committee unanimously “came to the conclusion that this policy is absolutely the best policy for the Boy Scouts.” The organization said that members of the confidential committee represented a “diversity of perspectives and opinions” from professional scout executives to volunteers.

ScoutSignThe BSA’s anti-gay position is mind blowing and a huge missed opportunity, but both positions are untenable and both demand action. We can do something tangible. We can boycott the BSA’s annual Christmas Tree sale. It’s an easy step to take, and one that sends a clear message. Buy your Christmas tree (or holiday tee) at a tree lot that is not affiliated with with the BSA. There are thousands of other choices. Take one.

For more information, the BSA watchdog organization, documents the BSA’s exclusionary practices.

I am annoyed at the BSA’s emphasis on demanding a “Duty to God” which by extension excludes atheists, but I am horrified at their outright exclusion of gays. In this age of changing attitudes and acceptance, both positions are archaic and untenable.

I still have the Boy Scout Oath memorized.

On my honor
I will do my best
To do my duty to God
and my country
And to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake,
and morally straight.

These words meant a lot to me as a child. I practiced this oath and eventually stood before my friends and family to proudly recite it as I became a Boy Scout. I did not know any better as a child. As an adult I cannot say these words aloud without a shudder. God and morality = exclusion.

I walked away from the Scouts as a young teen. I had had enough of group think, macho games and bullying. I was not a joiner. I never have been. As an adult I wanted my child to share the same wonderful outdoor experiences I had experienced. It was not to be. Even back in the 80s the emphasis on religion was too much too take.

My position today is much stronger. I believe the BSA should change its exclusionary practices and emphasis on faith, or go out of business. Further, I believe the BSA’s Federal charter and Title 36 status should be revoked. Perpetuating hatred and intolerance in not in the best interest of our country and the bad mojo far outweighs the good.

There are tree lots open all across America. Show your support for change by supporting a different charity. The Boys and Girls Club of America needs love too, and they support everyone.

Here is a list of atheist bloggers who are also supporting this boycott. Please pay them a visit for a different perspective.

A Voice of Reason: Al Stefanelli Arizona Atheist Atheist, Intermarried
Atheist Pig Atheist Revolution Avante-Garde
Barrels of Oranges Bitchspot Camels with Hammers
Dangerous Talk Daylight Atheism De-Avanzada
Debunking Christianity Deity Shmeity Dispatches from the Culture Wars
Emily Has Books Friendly Atheist Hausdorff’s Bible Blog
Incongruent Elements Incredulous Kriss the Sexy Atheist
Laughing in Purgatory Left Hemispheres Martin Pribble
My Humorous Agenda Ramblings of Sheldon Reason Being
Rippere, Always Evolving

Skeptically Left


A note on Christmas and Christmas trees: I am an atheist. My wife is not. My children are what they are. We do and don’t celebrate a Christian Christmas. Our celebration focuses on family instead. We don’t celebrate Christmas as a religious event unless we do. It might be a religious celebration for some members of my family, and I’m ok with that. I may go to mass, or listen to a holiday choir, or I may not. I may buy a Christmas tree, or a holiday tree, or I may simply put holiday cards on a tree-shaped card holder and call it done. My point is… well, I just don’t care about what Christmas is to other people or America. Instead, I want to love and enjoy my family in peace. I manage to do so every year. I hope you do too.