Why Is Everyone Looking at Me?

Man Breaks Into Seminary, Urinates On Chair

from KFMY News

Bexley, OH - Something strange happened at Trinity Lutheran Seminary last weekend.

"I'm not sure what we're dealing with," said Bexley police Detective Bob Cuschleg.

Even security cameras failed to clear things up. Cuschleg said he knows what the man did, but does not know why.

The suspect somehow got keys to five offices in the seminary. Once inside those rooms, which had no cameras, he rifled through drawers and file cabinets. Police said he took nothing but petty change and a 7-Up.

The man left the can behind and something else, found by an unlucky woman.

"An employee, unfortunately, sat in the chair and realized there was something there and then the odor did come to the surface," Cuschleg said. "It was pretty apparent someone had urinated in the chair."

O Almighty Sonuvabitch

'Eenie meanie minie...'

Pastor Fatally Electrocuted While Performing Baptism

from KCEN-TV

Church members, friends, and the Baylor community filled First Baptist Church in Waco to mourn the loss of Pastor Kyle Lake. Lake died Sunday after being electrocuted during a baptism at University Baptist Church.

A church worker says Lake was electrocuted when he grabbed a microphone while partially submerged for the baptism. Officials aren't sure if a short in Lake's microphone caused the deadly accident.

Doctors attending the service rushed to help Lake, who collapsed. He was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The woman who Lake was baptizing apparently had not stepped into the water. She was taken to the hospital as a precaution but was not seriously injured.

Brits Believe in Ghosts
God? Not So Much

'BOO-YAH! Who's the Holy Ghost now, beeyatch?!'

Brits Believe in Ghosts

from Sky.com

More Britons believe in ghosts than God, according to research. A total of 2,012 people were polled on their beliefs on the supernatural.

Over two thirds (68%) said they believe in the existence of ghosts and spirits.

Just over half (55%) said they believe in the existence of a God.

Some 26% believe in UFO's, 19% in reincarnation, and 4% in the mythical Loch Ness Monster.

Pissed to high Heaven, God begins his vengeful smiting of England. First Up: Hugh Grant.

Of Course She Isn't

Vietnamese Virgin Mary Statue "Not Crying": Catholic Church

from AFP

HANOI - The Catholic church in Vietnam has been forced to deny that a statue of the Virgin Mary is crying after thousands of people had flocked to observe the "miracle" at Ho Chi Minh City cathedral.

Rumours first spread late Saturday that the statue was crying in front of the cathedral, drawing thousands of the faithful and curious and creating serious traffic jams.

Monday morning, according to a witness contacted by telephone, around a thousand people were still gathered in front of the white statue but traffic was back to normal.

Some photographers were selling pictures of it featuring a "tear" on its right cheek.

"This is superstitious and fabricated news," said a source at the cathedral today, who requested anonymity, adding the statue had been left in the open for a long time and attributing the "tears" to rain and dust.

"Don't believe it!"


Woman Seeking Paradox:
Craiglist's Closeted Queer Christian Conundrum

from Craig's List via SAMerican Revolution

"I'm a conservative, single Christian female. I attend church 3 times a week, and more for meetings...Also if you have gay friends I'd rather not meet them...You: FEMALE, friendly, a JOB and looking for an awesome Christian bud to snuggle with when it rains..."

Lost Leonard & The Chicken Planet of the Intelligently Designed!


Scientists Lament America's Self-Imposed Devolution & Embrace of Dogma over Fact

Is US becoming Hostile to Science?

from Reuters

WASHINGTON - A bitter debate about how to teach evolution in U.S. high schools is prompting a crisis of confidence among scientists, and some senior academics warn that science itself is under assault.

In the past month, the interim president of Cornell University and the dean of the Stanford University School of Medicine have both spoken on this theme, warning in dramatic terms of the long-term consequences.

"Among the most significant forces is the rising tide of anti-science sentiment that seems to have its nucleus in Washington but which extends throughout the nation," said Stanford's Philip Pizzo in a letter posted on the school Web site on October 3.

Cornell acting President Hunter Rawlings, in his "state of the university" address last week, spoke about the challenge to science represented by "intelligent design" which holds that the theory of evolution accepted by the vast majority of scientists is fatally flawed.

Rawlings said the dispute was widening
political, social, religious and philosophical rifts in U.S. society. "When ideological division replaces informed exchange, dogma is the result and education suffers," he said.

In the past five years, the scientific community has often seemed at odds with the Bush administration over issues as diverse as global warming, stem cell research and environmental protection.
Prominent scientists have also charged the administration with politicizing science by seeking to shape data to its own needs while ignoring other research.

Evangelical and fundamentalist Christians have built a powerful position within the Republican Party and no Republican, including Bush, can afford to ignore their views.

This was dramatically illustrated in the case of Terri Schiavo earlier this year, in which Republicans in Congress passed a law to keep a woman in a persistent vegetative state alive against her husband's wishes, and Bush himself spoke out in favor of "the culture of life."

The issue of whether intelligent design should be taught, or at least mentioned, in high school biology classes is being played out in a
Pennsylvania court room and in numerous school districts across the country.

Brown University biologist Kenneth Miller believes the rhetoric of the anti-evolution movement has had the effect of driving a wedge between a large proportion of the population who follow fundamentalist Christianity and science.

"It is alienating young people from science. It basically tells them that the scientific community is not to be trusted and you would have to abandon your principles of faith to become a scientist, which is not at all true," he said.

On the other side, conservative scholar Michael Novak of the American Enterprise Institute, believes the only way to heal the rift between science and religion is to allow the teaching of intelligent design.

"To have antagonism between science and religion is crazy," he said at a forum on the issue last week.

Proponents of intelligent design deny they are
anti-science and say they themselves follow the scientific method.

Polls for many years have shown that a majority of Americans are at odds with key scientific theory. For example, as
CBS poll this month found that 51 percent of respondents believed humans were created in their present form by God. A further 30 percent said their creation was guided by God. Only 15 percent thought humans evolved from less advanced life forms over millions of years.

Other polls show that only around a third of American adults accept the Big Bang theory of the origin of the universe, even though the concept is virtually uncontested by scientists worldwide.

"When we ask people what they know about science, just under 20 percent turn out to be scientifically literate," said Jon Miller, director of the center for biomedical communication at Northwestern University.

He said science and especially mathematics were poorly taught in most U.S. schools, leading both to a shortage of good scientists and general scientific ignorance.

U.S. school students perform relatively poorly in international tests of mathematics and science. For example, in 2003 U.S. students placed 24th in an international test that measured the mathematical literacy of 15-year-olds, below many European and Asian countries.

Scientists bemoan the lack of qualified U.S. candidates for postgraduate and doctoral studies at American universities and currently fill around a third of available science and engineering slots with foreign students.

Northwestern's Miller said the insistence of a large proportion of Americans that humans were created by God as whole beings had policy implications for the future.

"The 21st century will be the century of biology and we are going to be confronted with hundreds of important public policy issues that require some understanding that all life is interconnected," he said.

Science Threatens Kansas Sasnak Over Mytheducation Standards

Science Groups Say Kansas Can't Use Their Materials in Education Standards

from The Associated Press

TOPEKA, Kan. - Two national groups say the state can't use their copyrighted material in proposed science standards that critics contend promote creationism.

The National Academy of Sciences and National Science Teachers Association called the proposed standards misleading and objected to language - sought by intelligent-design advocates - suggesting some evolutionary theory isn't solid.

"To say that evolution is sort of on the ropes is unfair to the students of Kansas," said Gerry Wheeler, executive director of the teachers' association.

The State Board of Education is set to vote Nov. 8 on whether to adopt the new standards, which must be updated periodically under Kansas law. Current standards treat evolution as a well-established theory that is crucial to understanding science. Six of the board's 10 members have shown support for the proposed standards, saying they want to give students a more balanced view of evolution.

The standards are used to develop student achievement tests but don't mandate how science is taught.

It was not immediately clear whether the 107-page proposed standards use direct language from any of the groups' copyrighted material. If the revised standards are adopted, state officials would have to review them for copyright violations.

Phillip Johnson, a retired law professor who sometimes is called the father of the intelligent-design movement, called the groups' decision, announced Wednesday, "panicky and hysterical."

"We're not out to damage science," he told a student group at Washburn University on Thursday. "We're out to make science more interesting. We think we're friends of science - true science."

Pope John Paul II Shoots, Scores

Lady Knights Reach State Title Game

from The News Examiner

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - The Pope John Paul II girls soccer squad earned a berth in the Division II state championship game with a 2-1 semifinal win over Girls Preparatory School on Thursday evening. The Bruisers tailled with approximately five minutes remaining but were unable to produce the equalizer. Pope John Paul II will face four-time defending champion Baylor in Saturday's title game.


'Daddy, Why Doesn't Jesus Just Die? I Don't Feel So Goo-'
'Hush, Punkin, It's Family Time - Just Lean Over Your Bucket'

Fox: Your Home For Snuff Films the Whole Family Can Enjoy

from Defamer

An operative clued us into this heart-warming Fox press release:

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment and The Dove Foundation today announced a partnership to make movie selections easier for consumers searching for family-friendly entertainment options available on DVD.

Starting in October, all movie titles marketed nationally by Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment that have been approved by The Dove Foundation will bear the foundation’s signature white-and-blue logo of a dove.

The “Dove FAMILY APPROVED Seal” makes it easy for consumers to identify movie titles that the foundation deems appropriate for family viewing. Dove’s criteria gauges the levels of sex, language, violence, drugs, nudity and occultism in a film.

Thank Goodness! Finally, a sensible way to make sure my more impressionable wards are watching some wholesome entertainment for a change. Why, the very first DVD featured on their website, pictured above, next to the entire Garfield collection, is The Passion of the Christ! Gather round, children! This is my favorite part! The Roman soldiers are flailing Jesus’ flesh until it resembles blood-drenched raw ground beef! Who’s hungry for hamburgers?! Raise your hands!

What If...
Fox News Had Been Around Throughout Historyyyy...


Um, Thanks?

Poll: Americans of Faith More Accepting

from Christian Science Monitor

Americans are overwhelmingly people of faith, and a new survey shows they are holding onto a traditional ideal of marriage and family. Yet as fewer families meet that ideal, they are becoming more accepting of divorce, cohabitation, and nontraditional family situations - across religious groupings.

"Faith and Family in America," a survey released last week by PBS's Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, highlights the contradictions between beliefs and reality, explores views on moral values, and compares religious practices of traditional and nontraditional families. The TV show begins a four-part series on the subject this weekend.

While the survey reveals that 71 percent of Americans believe "God's plan for marriage is one man, one woman, for life," only 22 percent say they see divorce as a sin. Even among religious conservatives (Protestant or Catholic), only about one-third say divorce is sinful. Protestants are more likely than other groups to get married, but they are no more likely to stay married.

About half of Americans now see cohabitation as acceptable, but only 40 percent support "trial marriage," in which people intending to marry live together first.

Although the traditional nuclear family continues to be prized, only 19 percent of families fulfill that ideal (nondivorced parents with children). And "48 percent of Americans live in households that depart dramatically from the ideal," says John Green, senior fellow at the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life in Washington, D.C.

Yet traditional and nontraditional parents are surprisingly similar in some respects, including seeing religion as important. Traditional parents attend religious services more regularly, but 49 percent of each type say they read religious scriptures every week. And close to 45 percent of both hold daily devotions with their families. These practices are carried on at a time when only about 31 percent of Americans attend religious services weekly.

Despite the disconnect between people's aspirations and their family experience, most Americans clearly prefer to sort things out on their own; 82 percent say they oppose government programs to encourage marriage.

While 59 percent of Americans say they do not support gay marriage, 43 percent do favor adoption rights for gays and lesbians, while 47 percent are opposed.

Jesus Caught Napping in Tree!

Some See Image of Jesus on N.Y. Tree Trunk

from Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

ROCHESTER, N.Y. - Call it a cry for peace, a test of faith, or a random act of nature. A silver maple tree on North Clinton Avenue has attracted several dozen believers who say they see the image of Jesus Christ on the tree's trunk.

"I see it clearly," said Yomaira Otero of Rochester, who stood in the pouring rain Tuesday to see the tree with six members of her family. She spoke in Spanish to her relatives and pointed out the facial features, including the beard of bark she saw. "He looks like he's sleeping."

The "Jesus tree," as some are calling it, grows on the front lawn in front of the Hickey-Freeman Co. factory in the heart of Rochester's infamous "crescent," known for high crime rates.

"It's a sign from God that there should be peace," said Maria Trinidad, who lives in the neighborhood. "There is a lot of crime here. People should have faith in God. This is God giving us a sign."

Her daughter, Keila Negron, 13, said she also believed it was a divine sign but admitted she had trouble visualizing the image on the tree in the rain, which darkened the bark. She vowed to return in better weather and take pictures of the tree.

Karen Marshall, 43, of Rochester also stood on the sidewalk looking at the tree Tuesday. She held newspapers over her head to help keep dry as she pointed out the tree's features to her sister, Ann Manigoult, who had trouble seeing it.

Doug Mandelaro, a spokesman for Rochester's Roman Catholic Diocese, said he "wouldn't dare to comment on someone else's moment of inspiration or religious experience. Religious experience is and always has been a mystery and very personal."

Where's Waldo?: Umm...hmmm...yeah, I don't see it.

Europeans Boycott Halloween As Blasphemous American Commercialism

Some Europeans Aren't Fans of Halloween

from The Associated Press

VIENNA, Austria - It's almost Halloween — and all those ghosts, goblins, tricks and treats are giving Hans Kohler the creeps.

So the mayor of Rankweil, a town near the border with Switzerland, has launched a one-man campaign disparaging Halloween as a "bad American habit" and urging families to skip it this year.

"It's an American custom that's got nothing to do with our culture," Kohler wrote in letters sent out to households. By midweek, the mayors of eight neighboring villages had thrown their support behind the boycott. So had local police, annoyed with the annual Oct. 31 uptick in vandalism and mischief.

Although Halloween has become increasingly popular across Europe — complete with carved pumpkins, witches on broomsticks, makeshift houses of horror and costumed children rushing door to door for candy — it's begun to breed a backlash.

Critics see it as the epitome of crass, U.S.-style commercialism. Clerics and conservatives contend it clashes with the spirit of traditional Nov. 1 All Saints' Day remembrances.

Halloween "undermines our cultural identity," complained the Rev. Giordano Frosini, a Roman Catholic theologian who serves as vicar-general in the Diocese of Pistoia near Florence, Italy. Frosini denounced the holiday as a "manifestation of neo-paganism" and an expression of American cultural supremacy. "Pumpkins show their emptiness," he said.

To be sure, Halloween is big business in Europe.

Germans alone spend nearly $170 million, on Halloween costumes, sweets, decorations and parties. The holiday has become increasingly popular in Romania, home to the Dracula myth, where discotheques throw parties with bat and vampire themes.

In Britain, where Halloween celebrations rival those in the United States, it's the most lucrative day of the year for costume and party retailers.

But not everyone takes such a carefree approach toward the surge in trick-or-treating — "giving something sweet or getting something sour," as it's called in German.

In Austria, where many families get a government child allowance, "parents who abuse it to buy Halloween plunder for their kids should be forced to pay back the aid," grumbled Othmar Berbig, an Austrian who backs the small but strident boycott movement.

In Sweden, even as Halloween's popularity has increased, so have views of the holiday as an "unnecessary, bad American custom," said Bodil Nildin-Wall, an expert at the Language and Folklore Institute in Uppsala.

Italy's Papaboys, a group of pope devotees who include some of the young Catholics who cheer wildly at Vatican events, have urged Christians not to take part in what they consider "a party in honor of Satan and hell," and plan to stage prayer vigils nationwide that night.

Don't take it all so seriously, counters Gerald Faschingeder, who heads a Roman Catholic youth alliance in Austria. He sees nothing particularly evil about glow-in-the-dark skeletons, plastic fangs, fake blood, rubber tarantulas, or latex scars.

"It's a chance for girls and boys to disguise themselves and have some fun away from loud and demanding adults," Faschingeder said. "For one evening, at least, kids can feel more powerful than grown-ups."

From Papal Cocaine Wine to God Decaf to eCollection Plates:
Milking the Divine Cash Cow

The Selling of Jesus: Mixing of Religion, Commerce Grows

from The New York Times

Starbucks coffee cups will soon be emblazoned with a religious quotation from Rick Warren, the best-selling author and pastor, which includes the line, "You were made by God and for God, and until you understand that, life will never make sense."

Meanwhile, hipster havens like Urban Outfitters have made a mint selling T-shirts declaring "Jesus Is My Homeboy." Alaska Airlines distributes cards quoting Bible verses, and at least 100 cities have phone directories for Christian businesses.

Clearly, business owners have sensed a market opportunity. The question is whether it's a mutually beneficial relationship.

"The way in which religion allows itself to be reshaped by the larger culture, including markets, allows it to prosper and do well, but it also clearly changes its core values," said Charles Ess, a religion professor at Drury University in Springfield, Mo. "The oldest Christians sold all their goods and shared them in common. They didn't shop and launch marketing campaigns."

Then again, Christianity seems to have done quite well by mixing worship and commerce. "Religion is like yeast in dough," said Michael Novak, a theologian at the American Enterprise Institute. "It's in every part of life, so for it to show up everywhere is only natural - in commerce, politics, sports, labor unions and so on and so forth."

Not that the intermingling of faith and commerce is anything new. Christians have always used all means and venues to spread the gospel. "Jesus taught in the temple and the marketplace," said Warren, the author of the blockbuster The Purpose Driven Life.

Western history is rich with examples of the church-commerce concoction. In the 1800s, the image of Pope Leo XIII appeared on posters for Vin Mariani, a wine with cocaine and a precursor to Coca-Cola. The pope honored the drink with a medal to show his appreciation for its effervescence.

In the England of the Industrial Revolution, Methodism and Wedgwood pottery spread from the same kiln. John Wesley and Josiah Wedgwood were friends and fellow Christians who joined forces in what might be described as cross-platform marketing.

"Wedgwood built its global pottery industry by selling little statuettes of John Wesley and the other superstar preachers of the day," said Philip Jenkins author of The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity. "British capitalism was built on religious marketing - well, maybe."

In the early days of the United States, businesses, for the most part, did not use religion to sell products. They lacked the technology for mass production, and the Puritan influence helped forge an opposition to showiness or material embellishment.

According to Robert W. Fogel, a Nobel-winning economist at the University of Chicago, the public largely assumed that prominent businessmen were devout.

Putting Faith in the Internet

from LTVNews

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie announced today that it has partnered with a new internet provider, DeoWeb Internet, to launch an internet service for Catholics that will provide long-term funding to Catholic parishes.

The new internet service provider enables subscribers to give a donation to a parish or the diocese with their monthly fee, without costing them more money. Subscribers will receive high-speed and dial-up internet service comparable to other major providers. In addition, they will also receive a tax deductible receipt for the portion of their bill donated to their parish.

"Parishes, like many charitable organizations today face major challenges in raising additional funds" said Fr. Pat Woods, pastor of St. Kevin Parish and Diocesan Coordinator of Youth Ministries. "By encouraging parishioners to subscribe to the DeoWeb Internet service, our parish will receive much needed resources without costing our members additional money."

DeoWeb will enable subscribers to donate at least $5 per month to their
parish on high-speed internet plans and $3 per month on dial-up plans. The new internet service also promises full technical support comparable to the major internet suppliers. Future plans call for expansion across North America in other dioceses, as well as a similar offering for non-Catholic churches.

The Pope Rapes Nuns?! Totally True!
Well, Not Really

Battle Pope #3

review from SilverBulletComicBooks.com

I am a Christian. I believe Jesus Christ is real and powerful. I'm not a Catholic, but I do believe that the figurehead of the church that many of Christ's followers look to for guidance is usually a decent man worthy of my respect. I also believe there’s an actual devil lurking about in the spirit realm, seeking whom he may devour.

All that said, I honestly went into Battle Pope #3 [Image Comics, Writer/Artists: Robert Kirkman & Tony Moore] (having not read the previous two issues) with an open mind, willing to see what sort of statement an anti-believer was interested in making as he turned everything sacred on its head for laughs, adventure and hoped-for profit.

Well, I didn't find much. I could review this as a comic book, I suppose. Decent art, some witty jabs, a modestly fun and suspenseful plot as far as that goes.

But of course, that's not what's on my mind as I put the book down after the last page. I am struck by the utter mean-spirited, pointlessness of this blasphemy. Now, I fully recognize that a believer such as me is not the expected audience for this title. So I'm certainly not a suitable reviewer for the book on its own merits. Nor am I particularly interested in doing something dopey like organizing a boycott or calling James Dobson’s radio show and breathlessly telling his audience what horrible things are being published in the godless comic book industry today. Heck, I'll even keep reading Marvel Team-Up, because Kirkman makes me laugh when he’s not trampling on truths I hold dear.

But having read this issue, it’s hard not to offer some commentary.

"Blasphemy" is, of course, a harsh word, and probably not entirely useful when applied to a creator who is not interested in the things I hold as truths – which Kirkman, obviously, does not.

In fact, some things that are blasphemous may have alternative value as satire, and thus be at least useful as a poignant, dark reflection on possible failings in what a believer considers orthodoxy, told from the perspective of an outsider.

Battle Pope does not rise to the level of satire. Satire would have some underlying point. Battle Pope does not.

Kirkman seems to be interested in playing with the idea that Christ and the Church (as seen in the Pope) are virtuous. Let's see what happens when we turn that upside down?

So Kirkman's Battle Pope is a cigar chomping, nun-raping hard-ass fighter.

Jesus is a surfer bum weakling with little pluck in battle, a push-over wuss who decides it's best just to get comfortable being a crucifixion victim, because he obviously is powerless to prevent it.

Michael the Archangel is basically Wolverine without the moral center.

Curiously, the devil is still just as devilish as orthodoxy has always said he is.

Kirkman isn’t playing with traditional views of the sacred for any underlying purpose: he's taking the part that is holy and making it profane, and taking the part that is profane and reveling in the creative freedom of keeping it that way.

There's no point here save making all things just various shades of wickedness. This is anti-hero comic storytelling taken to its literally ultimate extreme.

This is Robert Kirkman saying, "God, I dare you to exist. I dare you to throw me in hell. Go ahead. Make my day."

If shaking your fist at God for its own sake is your thing, this will really float your boat.

Me? I'm going to go pray for cleansing.

Free Pork & Ice Cream?! Jesus Christ, I'm So Fucking There!

Mellette Event To Feature Speaker, Pork, Ice Cream

from AberdineenNews.com

SOUTH DAKOTA - Northwestern Area Connections Central and Preschool will present Thom Flamboe on Sunday at the United Methodist Church in Mellette.

A pork supper will be served at 5:30 p.m., followed by ice cream sundaes. Flamboe will deliver his speech, "I Am Somebody," at 6:30 p.m. A free-will offering will be accepted.

But 'Most Americans' Are Idiots...Look Who They Elected

Poll: Majority Reject Evolution

from CBSNews

Most Americans do not accept the theory of evolution. Instead, 51 percent of Americans say God created humans in their present form, and another three in 10 say that while humans evolved, God guided the process. Just 15 percent say humans evolved, and that God was not involved.

These views are similar to what they were in November 2004 shortly after the presidential election.

Americans most likely to believe in only evolution are liberals (36 percent), those who rarely or never attend religious services (25 percent), and those with a college degree or higher (24 percent).

White evangelicals (77 percent), weekly churchgoers (74 percent) and conservatives (64 percent), are mostly likely to say God created humans in their present form.

Still, most Americans think it is possible to believe in both God and evolution. Sixty-seven percent say this is possible, while 29 percent disagree.

The Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse: Ashlee Simpson
(And Don't Look All Surprised!)

Ashlee Simpson No. 1: Evidence of World Ending

from Fox News

Nostradamus is guesting on TRL this week.

Ashlee Simpson, the terminally untalented and annoying sister of pop star Jessica Simpson, has the No. 1 album this week with the aptly titled, I Am Me.

Simpson, famous for lip-synching on Saturday Night Live, is outselling multiple Grammy-winner and legend Stevie Wonder two-to-one, despite positive reviews for his new album, A Time 2 Love.

This is proof, I feel, that the Earth is about to experience some terrible event worse than the Indonesian tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, or the Kashmir earthquake.

Simpson sold about 150,000 copies of her wretched excuse of a recording in its debut week, despite countless government warnings and threats from alien spaceships.

Is there a God? This is a question we now must ask ourselves. Hopefully, he/she is on the Grammy committee, and all the artists below Ashlee on the chart will be avenged come February.

Let Them Secede

Christian Group Wants To 'Redeem' US States

from Reuters

CHARLESTON, South Carolina - Cory Burnell wants to set up a Christian nation within the United States where abortion is illegal, gay marriage is banned, schools cannot teach evolution, children can pray to Jesus in public schools, and the Ten Commandments are posted publicly.

To that end, Burnell, 29, left the Republican Party, moved from California and founded Christian Exodus two years ago with the goal of redirecting the United States by "redeeming" one state at a time.

First up for redemption is South Carolina.

Burnell hopes to move 2,500 Christians into the northern part of the state by next year and to persuade tens of thousands to relocate by 2016. His goal is to fill the state legislature with "Christian constitutionalists."

The push comes at a time when Christian fundamentalism is a growing force in U.S. politics, displays of the Ten Commandments in government buildings are spurring litigation, and President George W. Bush is touting the evangelical Christian credentials of Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers.

The organization, which claims about 1,000 members, held its first conference October 15-16 to promote its agenda. About 50 people from as far away as Ohio and Oregon attended.

Burnell picked South Carolina partly for its Christian majority and conservative politics.

"Historically, Southerners do have a states' rights mentality," he said. "Christians in the North are experiencing the most liberalism, or you could say persecution."

The organization's Web site says if it does not meet its goal of change, it will work to secede from the United States.

South Carolina was the first state to secede from the union in 1860, and the first shots of the U.S. Civil War were fired from Charleston's Battery onto Fort Sumter.

The group's reception in South Carolina has been mixed.

Joel Sawyer, spokesman for Republican Gov. Mark Sanford, would not comment except to say, "We have a great state with a great quality of life that's certainly open to anyone."

Columbia attorney Herbert E. Buhl III, who does legal work for the American Civil Liberties Union, said he received "a nasty little letter ... calling me a liar" from a Christian Exodus representative.

Buhl said the letter came after he had represented Wiccan Darla Wynne, who successfully sued the town of Great Falls to remove the name of Jesus Christ from pre-meeting prayers. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed in 2004 with a federal judge that the town's prayers were an unconstitutional endorsement of religion by government.

"This should be a nonissue," Buhl said. "It's separation of church and state. This is black-letter law."

Since When Is Greed a Surprise?
Exhibit A: The Vatican

Church-Going Boosts Economic Well-Being: Study

from Reuters

WASHINGTON - Attending religious services may enrich the soul, but it also fattens the wallet, according to research released on Tuesday.

"Doubling the frequency of attendance leads to a 9.1 percent increase in household income, or a rise of 5.5 percent as a fraction of the poverty scale," Jonathan Gruber of the economics department at Massachusetts Institute of Technology wrote in his study.

"Those with more faith may be less 'stressed out' about daily problems that impede success in the labor market and the marriage market, and therefore are more successful," Gruber wrote in the study, which was released by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Such visits correlate to higher levels of education and income, lower levels of welfare receipt and disability, higher levels of marriage, and lower levels of divorce, the study said.

Memo to the Intelligently Designed:
Science Always Evolves; Magic Doesn't

You can't argue with fudge...

NASA Discovers Intersteller 'Chocolate'

from Christian Science Monitor

To solve the mystery of life's origin, scientists can no longer focus solely on Earth. They must take the entire universe into account. Reason: the discovery of nitrogen-carrying aromatic hydrocarbons throughout the universe.

Prior to their recent discovery in space, scientists had thought these biologically important molecules were unique to Earth. One type is the main ingredient in chocolate. Others carry genetic information in DNA.

The existence of these molecules in interstellar space "was considered impossible" 20 years ago, explains Louis Allamandola, who carried out this research with colleagues at the NASA Ames Research Center. "Now, we know better...As a class, they are more abundant than all other known interstellar polyatomic molecules combined."

The finding, published in the Astrophysical Journal earlier this month, has profound significance for the occurrence of organic life. These kinds of molecules are key ingredients in the primordial chemical soup from which scientists think organic life may have arisen.

"This new work shows that the early chemical steps believed to be important for the origin of life do not require a previously formed planet to occur," the Ames announcement explains. "Instead, some of the chemicals are already present throughout space long before planet formation occurs and, if they land in a hospitable environment, can help jump-start the origin of life."

The notion that earthly life got a helping hand from space harks back to the Greek philosopher Anaxagoras 2,500 years ago. Modern scientists have kicked the idea around for over a century and in recent decades, it has become clear that comets and meteorites bring biologically important chemicals to Earth.

The report exemplifies the kind of 180-degree change in scientific perspective that happens when new research tools uncover new facts.

The Verging Mary

If the characters in the Bible looked this cool, I might just be Christian.

Latest Comic Book Movie: Magdalena

from andPOP

Comingsoon.net reports that Platinum Studios and Valhalla Motion Pictures are teaming up to turn Top Cow's comic Magdalena into a feature film. Kevin Taft, who is writing the upcoming New Line Cinema scarefest Alone, will pen the script.

Magdalena, a fan favourite in the Top Cow library, will be the first religious-themed comic book character to be adapted for film. It's the story of a girl named Patience who discovers that she's descended from a line of women warriors that traces its ancestry to Mary Magdalene. Because this is a comic book, Patience must then a) accept her destiny, and b) save the world. The comic has been translated into 26 languages in 55 countries.

"Magdalena is exactly the kind of project we love: a strong female lead character, a story with rich mythology, and compelling characters," says producer Gale Anne Hurd, whose projects include The Terminator and Aeon Flux. "The religious overtone adds a new dimension to the adventure story."

Comic creator and Top Cow Productions CEO Marc Silvestri will executive produce. "The need for faith in any form is what Magdalena is about," said Silvestri. "Patience's journey is, ultimately, about having faith in something - God, a loved one, or the human condition and the need to believe in something that is greater than ourselves."


I Don't Buy This Story for a Second! Like Posh Spice Can Read! Yeah, Riiight! Next Week's Headline: 'Posh Spice Splits Atom?'

Posh Turning to Scientology?

from Ananova

Victoria Beckham has been spotted studying a book on Scientology. Assists For Illnesses and Injuries is based on the works of Scientology's founder L. Ron Hubbard.

Tom Cruise and fiance Katie Holmes are followers of the cult, reports The Sun. Katie met up with Posh while she was in L.A. promoting her new range of jeans.

Katie is believed to have recommended the healing book after learning of the mystery illness that recently hit Posh's son Romeo, three. Romeo was admitted to hospital twice in three days after being taken ill at their home in Madrid.

Scientologists believe they can help people to cure themselves by using a touching technique known as Assists.

Kirstie Alley and John Travolta are among other famous converts to Scientology.

After Years of Praying to 'Main God' Didn't Work, Man Hits Miracle Lotto Jackpot with 'Newman'!

Catholic Tribunal Probes Claim of Miraculous Healing

from The Associated Press

BOSTON - Boston's Roman Catholic archdiocese has convened a secret tribunal to look into the case of a disabled church deacon who claims he miraculously regained his ability to walk.

The unidentified 60-year-old man was reportedly cured after praying to John Henry Newman, a 19th-century British cardinal who is being considered for sainthood.

Evidence of miracles is ordinarily required for Roman Catholic sainthood.

Newman was a prominent Anglican preacher who shocked Victorian England when he converted to Roman Catholicism. He was nominated for sainthood in 1958.

A priest who is advocating for Newman's canonization told The Boston Globe that the deacon had undergone an unsuccessful operation, but recovered his health and mobility after praying to Newman.


"Inspired by the world's obsession and devotion to the iPod, iBelieve is a replacement lanyard for the iPod Shuffle. It is a social commentary on the fastest growing religion in the world...

"Just toss your old cap habit, pop on the divine iBelieve and rejoice!"

Early review of the new iBelieve: "Sure, it's a bit larger than your standard iPod Shuffle and quite cumbersome to drag around, and it sure doesn't make Christian Rock sound any less bland, but you don't hear Jesus bitching about it." [Note: Spikes and bloody messiah sold separately.]

I Thought America Seemed a Little 'Smarter' This Week...Thank You, LemmingCon!

Scientists Supporting Intelligent Design Gather

from The Associated Press

Prague, Czech Republic - Hundreds of supporters of "intelligent design" theory gathered in Prague in the first such conference in eastern Europe, but Czech scholars boycotted the event insisting it had no scientific credence.

About 700 scientists from Africa, Europe, and the United States attended Saturday's "Darwin and Design" conference to press their contention that evolution cannot fully explain the origins of life or the emergence of highly complex species.

"It is a step beyond Darwin," said Carole Thaxton of Atlanta, a biologist who lived with her husband, Charles, in Prague in the 1990s and was one of the organizers of the event. "The point is to show that there in fact is intelligence in the universe."

The participants, who included experts in mathematics, molecular biology, and biochemistry, "are all people who independently came to the same conclusion," she said.

Among the panelists was Stephen C. Meyer, a fellow at the Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based think tank that represents many scholars who support intelligent design.

He said intelligent design was "based upon scientific evidence and discoveries in fields such as biochemistry, molecular biology, paleontology, and astrophysics."

Many leading Czech thinkers, however, boycotted the conference, insisting the theory - which is being debated in the United States - is scientifically groundless.

Vaclav Paces, chairman of the Czech Academy of Sciences, called the conference "useless...the fact that we cannot yet explain the origin of life on Earth does not mean that there is [a] God who created it."



Nonprofits Get Federal Anti-Terror Funding
Church-State Issues Divide Jewish Leaders

from The Washington Post

Thirty-one nonprofit organizations in the Washington area, including 14 synagogues and eight hospitals, have received federal grants ranging from $26,000 to $100,000 to fortify their facilities under an anti-terrorism program that has divided Jewish leaders and drawn criticism from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The grants are part of a $25 million nationwide program that Congress approved last year and recently renewed for fiscal 2006 to protect nonprofit groups deemed highly vulnerable to a terrorist attack.

The Jewish community has long been security conscious because of terrorist attacks abroad on synagogues and Jewish centers, and that explains why a large number of Jewish organizations applied for the grants and received them, said Ronald Halber, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington.

United Jewish Communities, which represents more than 550 Jewish organizations in North America, took credit in a news release last week for lobbying Congress to set up and renew the program.

But the executive board of the Union for Reform Judaism advised Reform temples not to apply for the funds. In a memo to member congregations, Reform leaders called the security grants "a serious violation of church-state separation" and said the $25 million "could have been better used beefing up first responders and police protection in high-risk areas."

A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security said that the program is unnecessary and that the department tried unsuccessfully to have the money taken out of its 2006 budget. State and city officials already had the authority to award their federal homeland security money to nonprofit groups, including religious ones, and creation of the fund forced officials to set up a new disbursement system, said department spokesman Marc Short. "We have always said we have felt this was redundant and unnecessary."

Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), who with Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) sponsored the legislation creating the program, said the federal funds protect "hospitals, schools, community centers, synagogues, and churches from terrorist violence."

The $25 million for 2005 was disbursed to 18 metropolitan areas considered most at risk of terrorist attack. The Washington area was given $4.5 million and has distributed $2.7 million. All 31 applicants succeeded in obtaining grants. In addition to the 14 synagogues, the recipients included two Jewish schools and five other Jewish organizations, among them the Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington and Hillel, a student group.

The Baltimore region received about $130,000, but Maryland officials also made some of their other federal homeland security money available. About $1.26 million has been given to 47 organizations, of which 43 are Jewish, including 26 congregations. The only non-Jewish congregation to receive money was the Islamic Society of Baltimore.

Under regulations issued by the Homeland Security Department, the money must be used for "target hardening," such as installing concrete barriers, surveillance cameras, and blastproof doors.

Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Reform branch of Judaism's Religious Action Center, said he feared that Jewish congregations' acceptance of government funding "in the long run would be bad for religious freedom."

It also weakens arguments long made by Jewish leaders against government funding for religion-based charities and church-run schools, he said.

'Religion Unites People'

An Egyptian Coptic nun lies on the ground Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2005, after a Muslim student stabbed and slightly wounded her at the St. Gergis church in the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria, Egypt, amid tensions over a theater performance considered offensive by Muslims, a police official said. (AP Photo)


Die Another Day

Indian Astrologer Lives After Predicting Own End

from Sify News

Bhopal - Hundreds of people flocked to a village in central India on Thursday to see if an astrologer who forecast his own death would indeed die as predicted.

But the 75-year-old man survived the day.

Kunjilal Malviya, who lives south of the Madhya Pradesh capital of Bhopal, had been meditating in his house after announcing he would die on Thursday between 3pm and 5pm IST.

A police official confirmed the astrologer was fine and quoted his family members as saying the prediction failed because many of those gathered had prayed for him to live.

"We are afraid of his prediction coming true because all his predictions till date have been correct," his son Anirudh said by phone earlier on Thursday. "My father had predicted the death of my grandfather 15 years ago and it came true exactly like he calculated."

Police have been posted near the house to prevent the astrologer from killing himself, authorities said.

Millions of Indians consult astrologers about their futures as well as marriage and job prospects.

Malviya's prediction is not the first of its type by an Indian astrologer. But in the past, crowds have beaten up astrologers when their predicted demise failed to occur.

Church Intimidates Family for Celebrating Evil Halloween

Church's Anti-Halloween Flier Upsets Family

from WFMY News 2

Ellettsville, IN - A family whose home is decorated for Halloween contacted police after someone placed on its porch a flier that suggests Halloween praises the devil.

Dalene Gully told Indianapolis television station WRTV that she took offense to the flier, which was placed outside her home by the House of Prayer Church of Bloomington.

"I started reading it, and I was very, very upset by it. I found it very accusatory and very threatening," Gully said.

The church's pastor, Larry Mitchell, said the people who left the flier would have preferred to talk with Gully, but she wasn't there. Mitchell said the church didn't intend to upset the Gully family, but rather tell people that Halloween isn't harmless fun.

"Halloween is not fantasy," Mitchell said. "We're training up our children, and obviously this lady was trained up in this. Halloween seems like it is taking just as much prominence as Christmas."

The Gully family filed a complaint with the Ellettsville Police Department. The incident also prompted the family to install an alarm system at the home, the station reported.

"This is my home, and I like Halloween. If I want to decorate my home, I have every right to decorate my home," Gully said.