Televangelists Turn Pro-Sleaze When Spotlights Threatened

Televangelists Opposed to a la Carte Programming

from SpeakSpeak

Much of the vocal support for "a la carte" programming of cable and satellite TV has come from culture warriors on the Right.

The nanny brigade is facing dissent among its brethren, however. An LA Times article written by indecency watcher Jube Shriver notes that televangelists aren't too keen on the idea of a la carte programming.

Trying to preserve their electronic pulpits, the nation's religious broadcasters find themselves in the unusual position of fighting an effort by anti-indecency groups to thwart channels offering racy programming.

The issue involves a debate over whether cable companies should continue offering subscribers mainstream and niche channels in bundles, or let them buy what they want on an a la carte basis.

Consumer groups are pushing to let people choose their channels rather than pay for ones they don't watch. One Federal Communications Commission study showed people on average regularly watch only 17 of the more than 100 cable channels they typically receive.

But what started largely as a consumer issue has now morphed into a larger controversy involving whether cable operators should be required to continue exposing subscribers to niche channels, including religious ones, that people might not order on their own.

"We don't just want to preach to the choir; we want to reach the unchurched," said Paul Crouch Jr. of Trinity Broadcast Network in Santa Ana. "The bottom line is that we want to be everywhere on cable."

Christian broadcasters, including such big names as Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, worry that changing the current system will cut into viewership. If that puts them on the opposite side of where they usually stand in the indecency debate, Crouch said, "so be it."

Focus on the Felony

Focus on the Family Faces IRS Grievance

from The Associated Press

DENVER - A Washington-based group has asked the Internal Revenue Service to investigate whether Focus on the Family or its founder James Dobson violated IRS rules by electioneering.

James Bopp, an attorney for the Colorado Springs-based conservative Christian group, said the group has fully complied with IRS code. The complaint, filed Monday by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, also asked the IRS to investigate whether the tax-exempt status of Focus on the Family should be revoked. Tax-exempt organizations cannot participate in campaigns for or against candidates for public office.

The group alleges that news articles showed Dobson endorsed candidates for Congress before the organization officially formed its separate public policy arm, Focus on the Family Action, in July 2004.

Bopp said the organization didn't break any rules.

"Anything Dr. Dobson did to endorse candidates, he did as an individual," Bopp said.

The Exorcism of Evan Rose

What If Cujo...Was a Goat? From Hell?

Goat Attacks Couldn't Keep Her from Church

from The Town Talk

BOYCE - Ruth Barden said she might have to use a walking cane to get around, but the devil can't keep her out of church - and neither will a goat.

The 80-year-old widow was making her way down the steps in her carport Sunday on her way to play the organ for services at First United Methodist Church of Boyce when she was attacked by a goat that had escaped from her neighbor's pen.

"He is a big, old billy goat. He came up the steps and bucked up on those hind legs and nearly scared me to death," Barden said.

Barden said she fended the goat off with her cane, but he continued to attack.

"He kept trying to head-butt me until I was able to get him off balance by pushing him down the steps with my cane," she said.

She said the goat pursued her around the car until, by the grace of God, she was able to get inside and lock the doors.

"I have a hard time getting around," Barden said. "I don't know how I was able to get in the car that fast. I think God must have picked me up and put me there."

When an officer was dispatched to Barden's house to investigate, he also was attacked by the goat.

The Power of Prayer

The praying mantis captures the hummingbird with a swift swipe of its forelegs.

The mantis impales the bird's chest with its foreclaws.


'I Now Pronounce You Boy & Rock'

Boy To Wed Stone Idol of Shiva

video from Reuters

A 15-year-old boy in Balasore of India's eastern Orissa claims that Hindu god of destruction Lord Shiva has blessed him, as he is Ma Bhagabati, the Lord's consort.

Has Bush Sold His Soul? Was He Ever Really a 'Christian'? Is He - Oh, I Don't Know - EVIL?!
One Evangelical Wonders...

Is the President's Soul in Jeopardy?

excerpts from Lewis Alper at Counterpunch

Skull and Bones is a worrisome and strange Yale secret society. On August 17, 2000 there was an interview with President George W. Bush that bestirred controversy regarding his initiation into Skull and Bones. Time Magazine asked if it troubled him that he had been initiated into the Society when he was a young man. President Bush responded, "No qualms at all. I was honored." Inevitably some people, knowing the Skull and Bones reputation of blasphemy, were surprised that the President said he was "honored." Others, particularly Christians defended him saying, in effect, "Let's put this aside. He was forgiven of that when he accepted Christ." The disturbing fact, however, is that President Bush's statement came many years after he announced he had accepted Jesus as his Lord and Saviour.

In that light, the more one learns about Skull and Bones, the more distressing the President's statement becomes. It raises vexing questions for those of us who live our life in Christ and do so as evangelicals.

The fruits of my investigations revealed some details that are truly frightening...


"When I was young and irresponsible, I behaved young and irresponsible," President Bush says of this time. In this remark he clearly was not including as "irresponsible" his initiation into Skull and Bones, as witness the statement of this 54-year-old Christian man who says he was honored to be initiated.

It was in 1968 that the 22-year-old was initiated into the cult - as his father and grandfather Prescott had been before him. As had been his uncles Jonathan Bush, John Walker and George Herbert Walker II, his great-uncle George Herbert Walker, Jr. and cousin Ray Walker and numerous friends. Young George was very much following in the footsteps of his kinsmen. Such a multi generational experience, one imagines, inevitably intensifies the emotion and affects of the ritual and gives it more legitimacy and power.

The initiation takes place in an environment called The Tomb where one encounters human and animal skeletons and skulls. "The death's-head logo stamps everything from crockery to painted borders on the wall." (Robbins, p. 87). In this setting "Bonesmen" return weekly after the initiation to talk about what most matters to them. While many of the 1968 initiates spoke of Vietnam, George W. Bush is witnessed to have spent most of his presentations in the tomb speaking about his father--reportedly in "at God-like terms." One of the President's 1968 classmates has said that being in Skull and Bones made young George feel even closer to the line of ancestors who had been in the secret group before him--"it just kind of crystallized his value system." (Robbins, p.178.) Skull and Bones, in this view, became important because it was sealing in young George a sense of identity with family as mutual practitioners of the Skull and Bones rituals and as adaptors of its beliefs.


With a hood placed on his head, the text of the Robbins book reports, the initiate is "marched throughout the Tomb on a pseudo-tour, during which the knights and patriarchs shriek in high-pitched voices jokes about the initiate's girlfriend or dog, akin to benign 'yo' mama' cracks." (p.119.) Although resembling Carnival rites in many cultures, in fact the ritual soon begins to teeter dangerously toward other dark ceremonies from anti-Christian secret societies of the past.

The society has a story it claims gives historical and even religious credibility and sanction to these rites. The society's adopted myth states that the Roman goddess Eulogia ascended into heaven in 322 BC. The society's lore refers to the 'First Miracle of the origin of our Goddess' (Robbins, p.84) and to her "second coming" toYale in 1832 to found the society. "Eulogia! Eulogia! Eulogia!" the "Bonesmen" shriek as the initiate is escorted into the inner temple before he is compelled to sign his name to an oath of secrecy.

After this the initiate is brought before a picture of Judas Iscariot, whose name the group screams three times, and then he is led to the heart of the rite: the initiate is pushed to his knees before a human skull filled with blood placed at the foot of a human skeleton called Madame Pompadour.

The crowd "implores him to 'Drink it! Drink it! Drink it!'" and he does. Then he is hurried to a man dressed as the Pope. "But not before the D whips him in the face with his tail. The initiate bends to kiss the Pope's slippered toe on the skull." (Robbins, p.120.) This is the core of the very un-Christian and blasphemous rite that enfolded so many members of the Bush clan into the secret society, mirroring similar rites from earlier blasphemous societies and indeed even some devil-worshipping sects.


I was shocked to discover that the Goddess Eulogia is a fabrication. And not a simple fabrication but one that leads us to something very specific. There never was a Roman goddess by that name. However, students of New Testament Greek know that eulogia is one of the names given to the sacrament as in St. Paul's first letter to the Corinthians: "The cup of blessing ('eulogia') which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?" Alarming to me and perhaps it will be to you, rather than honoring the sacrament, we see that the secret society initiation culminates in a parody of partaking of the blood of Christ. This parody is known in other contexts as the sinful Black Mass. We know Black Mass is not truly parody but blasphemy and sacrilege. Invoking Judas, dishonoring the Pope and violating the sacrament is terrible sacrilege.


It is right that we pray for Mr. Bush and pray fervently, for his soul is profoundly endangered.


Faust: If this will satisfy you, then I say let us agree and put this farce to odd use.

Mephistopheles: Blood is a quite peculiar juice.

Faust sold his soul to the devil for power in this temporal world. Let us now be witness to the issue of the desire for power at all costs, and the desire for money that makes for power outside God's world, as it played its (Faustian?) hand through the men in the Bush family line who have been initiated into this rite. I could not help but note the glaring reality that President Bush, his father George, and his grandfather Prescott span three generations of profiting from war and trading with the enemy.


The question of who profits from war must be addressed in Iraq as it had been in World War II with President Bush's grandfather. With grieved heart, when I looked to answer this, having been led to this journey by what I learned about Skull and Bones, I found that the companies that are profiting from huge contracts are those closest to and most generous with the President's political party and closest to administration officials, including the Vice President.

And, of course, the lies and exaggerations that led to the war- the non-existent weapons of mass destruction, the non-existent ties between Hussein and Al Qaeda - are now the reality of the daily news. Over 2000 American dead and 30,000 Iraqi.

In this light, let us return then to President Bush having stated he had been "honored" to become a "Bonesman" and to his hosting the secret society members in the the House. Some have asked - is he in fact a true Christian? A few have suggested he sought to succeed as a politician after years of alcoholism and many failures in his career by drawing to himself a base of us evangelical voters. For myself, for a long time I deeply trusted the President because I believed he trusted God. I continued to trust him until some months ago. I am now sadly reminded of the words of Christ : "The devil is the father of lies."


Finally, for me, there were the photos of torture in Iraqi prisons, and the news reports of unreleased videotape of children being tortured. This was soon followed by the Wall Street Journal's revelations of the administrations legal efforts to avoid prosecution for torture. And more recently the White House efforts to veto John McCain's efforts to outlaw torture. (McCain himself was tortured in Vietnam and claims that a policy of torture endangers Americans in Iraq.) More than ever I was alerted to the danger the President's soul is in. Is it for a moment possible that a Christian could justify torture? Is he a Christian or have we been lied to?

The ancestral pattern is clear: Trading with the enemy and profiting from war. The Skull and Bones initiation, to the degree it sets young men on a path of ruthless worldly seeking and flaunting of Christian values, was successful. Prescott Bush's legacy, it heart-renderingly appears, is alive and well and living in the White House - and if we are silent we are all implicated.

Prayer is the order of the day, for President Bush is before anything else a child of God.

"And the Devil, taking him up into a high mountain, showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the Devil said unto him, 'All this power I give you and the glory of them; for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will give to if thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.'"


Scientology Builds Earth Base for Future Reincarnations of Cosmic Scientologists...
Oh, You Laugh Now...

'Who laughed?! WHO FUCKING SNICKERED?!? That's what I thoug-I HEARD THAT!'

Ghost Town Now Home to Scientology

from Sploid

The New Mexico town of Trementina was founded by Presbyterian medical missionary Alice Blake around 1900. Almost immediately, diphtheria swept through the town, nearly bringing the nascent community to its knees. The Depression, drought and World War II followed, and by 1955 Trementina was a ghost town.

Vacant structures stand pitted against the elements on a lonely bluff overlooking Trementia Creek. The ruins consist of at least two dozen rock buildings; most are roofless, doorless, and windowless. Some contain the rusty remains of stoves, bedsprings, and other items that indicate people once lived there. Further evidence is the walled cemetery containing graves with headstones and other markers dating back to the 1800s.

The Church of Spiritual Technology, the California-based branch of the renowned Church of Scientolgy, first came to Trementina, New Mexico in January, 1984. They began purchasing tracts of land and set to work on building a massive compound.

By 1990, workmen had finished the tunnel, cleared an air strip atop a mesa and built at least three luxury homes, valued at $2.5 million. The main house is massive, with 12,000 square feet of living space and 12 bedrooms.

But what goes on inside the remote, 4,175-acre spread known as San Miguel Ranch remains a mystery to most on the outside - because church officials aren't saying.

What is known is that the compound's primary function is to house the writing of spiritual leader L. Ron Hubbard, whose works have been engraved on steel plates encapsulated in titanium. The project is funded by a $30 million bequest left by Hubbard for just such a purpose.

The plan is that in the future, when Hubbard's followers wish to return, they will be able find the source material more easily, sparing Scientologists the same embarrassments that have befallen other major religions.

Former Scientologists familiar with Hubbard's teachings on reincarnation say the symbol marks a 'return point' so loyal staff members know where they can find the founder's works when they travel here in the future from other places in the universe.

"As a lifetime staff member, you sign a billion-year contract. It's not just symbolic," said Bruce Hines of Denver, who spent 30 years in Scientology but is now critical of it. "You know you are coming back and you will defend the movement no matter what...The fact that they would etch this into the desert to be seen from space, it fits into the whole ideology."

Now television station KRQE has gone to Trementina to see what else the Scientologists may be hiding. They've found a landing pad formed by two circles carved in the brush. A satellite image of the area shows what appears to be a 6,000-foot-long landing strip with a base station at its end, with a series of switchbacks reaching over the mesas, heading towards the landing pad. The church is desperately trying to kill the story.

I Thought 'Probing Boys' Was a Catholic Tradition...

Nepal To Probe Mystery 'Buddha' Boy

from Reuters

KATHMANDU - Authorities in Nepal urged religious groups and scientists on Sunday to help solve the mystery of a meditating teenaged boy who some believe is an incarnation of Buddha.

At least 100,000 devotees from Nepal and neighbouring India have flocked in recent weeks to a dense forest in southeastern Nepal to see 15-year-old Ram Bahadur Bamjon, who, his associates say, has been meditating without food or water for six months.

Shanta Raj Subedi, district administrator of Bara, 95 miles southeast of Kathmandu and where the boy is meditating, said he had requested the Lumbini Development Trust, a Buddhist panel, and the Royal Nepal Academy of Science and Technology to get to the bottom of the mystery.

"We want to investigate claims that the boy has survived for so long without food or drink," Subedi said.

Bamjon sits cross-legged beneath a "pipal" tree, which is sacred to Hindus, with his eyes closed in meditation. He does not speak and followers are only allowed to see him from a distance of 165 feet.

The young mystic is hidden from public view at night behind a curtain drawn by his followers. Doctors observing from a distance have said the boy is breathing normally but is weak.

Local journalist Govinda Devkota, who has visited the site, said the boy sits with a shawl across his chest from armpit to shoulder, in the same posture as Buddha is shown in pictures.

"He sits motionless from dawn to dusk when visitors are allowed to see him. This demands something," said Devkota. "But whether he is an incarnation of Buddha, I have doubts because we don't know what he does at night. This must be investigated."

His mother, Maya Devi - the same name as that of Buddha's mother - said Bamjon, the third of her seven children, is a quiet boy who kept aloof from friends.

"Initially, I was worried about him. But now I am happy. He is in devotion to Buddha," Devi told Nepali daily, Rajdhani.

Buddha, who founded Buddhism, was born a prince in Lumbini, a dusty village in Nepal's rice growing plains about 218 miles west of the capital Kathmandu, over 2,600 years ago.

'After All, We Are All Made of Stars'

And on the Eighth Day...Did God Create Aliens?

from Neil Mackay of The Sunday Herald

My grandfather, a rampant atheist, liked nothing better than savaging the priests that my devout Irish Catholic grandmother invited home in the hope of saving his soul. After laying into them about the dubious credibility of immaculate conceptions and self-replicating loaves and fishes, he’d declaim, with a flourish: "And what the bloody hell is Genesis chapter six all about, eh?"

Genesis 6:4
The Nephilim were on the earth in those days - and also afterward - when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.

Numbers 13:33
We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.

For those not up to speed on the Old Testament, this part of the creation story deals with a category of creatures called "the Nephilim," a non-human race that apparently inhabited the Earth around the time Adam and Eve got kicked out of the Garden of Eden. My grandfather would holler: "What are these things? Little green men from outer space?" At which point, the deflated priest would be led from the house as my grandmother crossed herself in the face of her husband’s wickedness. Even in the 1950s, priests knew that aliens and the Church didn’t compute. If there were extraterrestrials out there, their existence could effectively herald the death of God – cutting the ground from beneath key biblical truths, not least of which is the claim that humankind was made in God’s image.

Half a century on, the Catholic Church is finally getting round to asking what it would mean for their religion if humankind were to establish the existence of intelligent aliens.
The question weighs heavily on the mind of Guy Consolmagno. Sitting among his telescopes in Castel Gandolfo, the Pope's summer palace, Consolmagno is puzzling over whether or not the Catholic Church could – or should – baptise an alien. Were such creatures discovered, ought the Pope to consider ordaining an ET? And if the human race ever masters interstellar travel, should missionaries be sent into outer space?

Consolmagno, a 53-year-old Jesuit brother from Detroit, is the Pope's astronomer, with the run of the Vatican’s observatory here at Castel Gandolfo, in the hills outside Rome. Despite the aristocratic-sounding name and the arcane, slightly eldritch subjects he immerses himself in, Guy Consolmagno appears surprisingly Earth-bound: a self-confessed “nerd” from MIT, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who's into Star Trek.

It's his job to reconcile the wildest reaches of science fiction with the flint-eyed dogma of the Holy See. Right now, he’s off on a mental meander about "the Jesus Seed" – a brain-warping theory which speculates that, perhaps, every planet that harbours intelligent, self-aware life may also have had a Christ walk across its methane seas, just as Jesus supposedly did here on Earth in Galilee. The salvation of the Betelguesians may have happened simultaneously with the salvation of the Earthlings.

"Is original sin something that affected all intelligent beings?” he asks. “Is there a sort of 'cosmic' Adam predating even life on Earth? Is Jesus Christ’s redemptive sacrifice sufficient for the whole universe? Would there be a parallel history of salvation on other planets?"

Gra'Djni 23:25-31
And in the fourth watch of the sub-night Mellikri went unto them, crawling across the acidic sea. And when the disciples saw her crawling across the sea, they were troubled, thinking to each other, It is an omnimorph coming to feast on our flesh; and they gurgled and hissed in fear, their skins erupting in pheromones. But straightway Mellikri spake unto their minds, thinking, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And Neshrek-2 and Neshrek-3 answered her message and thought as one, Lady, if it be thou, bid us come unto thee on the acid. And she replied, Come. And when the Neshreks slithered down out of the ship, they crawled on the acid, their limbs undulating in unison, to go to Mellikri. But when they saw the wind boisterous, they were afraid; and beginning to sink, their carapices beginning to burn, they howled, thinking together, Lady, save us. And immediately Mellikri stretched forth her tendrils, and caught them, and her touch healed their burns, and her mind cleansed theirs of pain's memory, and she thought unto them as her eye glowed blue with love, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?

Consolmagno's job is to shore up the crumbling edifice of the Church against the acidic drip, drip, drip of rationality and science. "To me there is no clash between faith and science," he says. "My religion teaches me that God created the universe, but my science teaches me how he did it. Religion doesn't become obsolete like a science text book. In 3000 years, people will still be reading the Bible, but they will not be reading the science texts of today."

That tension between science and religion is the backdrop to his life's work, and Consolmagno has been granted a special dispensation from the Church to produce a book called Intelligent Life in the Universe? Catholic Belief and the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Life. Published by the Vatican’s Catholic Truth Society, it explores an issue which could – theoretically – reduce the spires and steeples of Rome to rubble.

The Roman Catholic Church has, in the past, been obliged to rue its mistakes: the Crusades, the Inquisition, wartime acquiescence by certain clergy with Nazism. But it was the scientific cock-ups, not the moral ones, that really threatened the institution’s authority. Having taken more than 350 years to admit its mistake in convicting Galileo of heresy for insisting that the Earth orbited the sun, the Church seems keen to demonstrate that it is no longer the natural haven for scientific dunces: hence, Consolmagno and his peculiar little book.

It's Consolmagno's job to finesse any looming doctrinal difficulties that the search for extraterrestrial intelligence may present for His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. For instance, if aliens were discovered, then why would the Bible – supposedly the word of God – contain no information about his non-Earthly creations? If they turn out to be green blobs or sentient gaseous spirals, what's all that talk in the Bible of humankind being created in God's image? What if the aliens wanted to convert us to their God? And do ETs go to heaven? Consolmagno's role is to scientifically, metaphysically and theologically take the lethal sting out of such a debate; to marry Christian faith with the possibility of discovering a talking crab in the next galaxy.

But how does the prospect affect other faiths? According to Dr. Mona Siddiqui, senior lecturer in Islamic Studies at Glasgow University, the discovery of aliens would merely signal that the human race had learned a fraction more about the universe. "The question wouldn't be: 'What does this say about our relationship to God?,' but: 'What does it say about us in the cosmos?'.

"God would remain, but the way we think about his 'creation' – the universe and everything in it – would change." Unless humankind finds a way to communicate with the creator, says Siddiqui, "then the mystery of God remains," no matter what discoveries we make about intelligent life elsewhere in the void.

Ephraim Borowski, former head of philosophy at Glasgow University and current director of the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities, also remains sanguine. "My gut tells me that the discovery of alien life would have no more impact on faith than the discovery of Australia," he says. "When that land was discovered and people of different racial characteristics were found, there was no problem in recognising them as human. If an ET was discovered, would it be that much different?

"Even if we take Genesis literally – with the story of the creation of the sun, moon and stars – we are not told what was going on on those planets." Although Judaism sees humans as the only creature gifted a soul, Borowski has a fanciful explanation for how humanity could reconcile something physically vastly different from ourselves – a giant self-aware spider with a gift for pottery, say – with evidence that the alien creature was just as capable of love, fear, jealousy, and abstract thought as us.

"If we came across an alien with whom we could enjoy a visit to the National Gallery," he muses, "then we might take the view that this creature was a different shape to a human and so not biologically like us, but it functioned like us – or even better than us – and so could be seen to have a soul; to be effectively human."

Only the Church of Scientology waxes enthusiastic about the prospect of extra-terrestrial life. The Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland refused to participate in a debate related to a Sabbath Day newspaper, and the Church of Scotland was reticent in putting forward a spokesperson on the subject.

Dr. Richard Holloway – the controversial former primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church – insists that only a faith which has embraced modernity could cope with the daisy-cutter level fire and brimstone that would rain down on organised religion in the event of a flying saucer landing on the Esplanade outside Edinburgh Castle. "Christianity has dealt with dinosaurs, Darwin, and the emancipation of women," Holloway says. "It gulped momentarily and moved on. Good religion is not hermetically sealed. A religion that is held with lightness and less intensity can adapt. It won't be stuck in time, but move with the times." Ultimately, he believes, the discovery of aliens would just underscore how big a mystery the universe and its creation – or creator – remain to us mortals who are just passing by.

The central question posed by the discovery of aliens would be: "Are they fallen like us?" If so, says Holloway, did they have their own version of Adam and Eve? Did they have a saviour? If they aren't fallen, then are they living in some pre-Edenic paradise with no need of a saviour? "The biggest fact that plays against the belief in a benign creator," says Holloway, "is meaningless pain and suffering. If we discovered intelligent life on a planet that believed in no God and was just as brutal as our own planet, then that might be seen by some as the ultimate definition of a Godless universe."

For the Vatican and Consolmagno, the theological puzzle is more tricky. As a scientist, Consolmagno can't reject the possibility of alien life. But as a theologian he has to perform an intellectual somersault in order to make sure that the chance of an ET cropping up somewhere in the universe doesn't shunt the Christian God to the outer fringes.

Consolmagno says he believes in ETs – and that they too are God's creatures and no challenge to Rome's authority. His belief is a bit like his faith: he can't prove it, but he's certain nonetheless. "I can't be sure I'm right," he says, "indeed I could well be wrong, but still, I have a hunch that sooner or later, the human race will discover that there are other intelligent creatures out there in the universe."

At the core of Consolmagno's reconciliation between science and religion is an almost hippy way of thinking about spirituality and the universe. He cites the opening lines of John, Chapter One: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him and without him was not anything." He interprets this as meaning that the word of God – the spirit of the essence, the meaning of God – existed before anything else, and is part of everything in the natural universe: even a giant mindworm on a planet orbiting Alpha Centauri.

"After all, we are all made of stars," Consolmagno says, quoting the US singer, Moby. His thinking is this: just as the word of God echoes from "the beginning" until now, in all of us, so the stuff that formed the first stars remains present within the minerals from which we are all made. In Consolmagno's worldview, God and science are one. Apart from certainty in God the creator and Christ the saviour, he believes almost everything else is unknowable. It means Consolmagno can maintain his faith in God, but still believe in the Big Bang. The Lord is an infinite physicist – an all-knowing Stephen Hawking – who started the whole process of life, the universe and everything else by flicking a switch, triggering an almighty explosion some 10 billion-plus years ago and allowing his creation to unfold in accordance with his omniscient, and highly mathematical, plan.

Consolmagno considers himself a free thinker, who wears both a dog collar and his MIT graduation ring as evidence that he can be a "fanatic and a nerd at the same time." He's happy to point out Biblical disparities – including the bit of Genesis about the Nephilim that vexed my grandfather – and say it's just silly fiction. Nor does the Bible's failure to mention dinosaurs mean that Christians have to question the existence of T-Rex. "The Bible doesn't tell you how to program your VCR either, but you know it's there," he adds.

Consolmagno’s natural audience, he says, is the devout. "They are the people who fear even thinking about science, as it might make them question their faith. But a faith that is afraid of the truth has no faith." Part of his mission is to show the blinkered that even the most fantastical of scientific discoveries would, at least in his opinion, not trash the teachings of Christ and the prophets. "The discovery of extraterrestrial life will not destroy the Church," insists Consolmagno. "What it might do is help us discard the bad ideas in religion – the narrow views, the hubris, the divisiveness."

But what about the deep-rooted paranoia evident in so many science fiction works, that alien life, if it's out there, might one day attempt to destroy humankind? "We've seen when human cultures interact that nobody comes out superior," Consolmagno says. What about the genocide of Native Americans when white Europeans "interacted" with their culture? "Hmmm," he says, "it could happen, I suppose, but the important thing is that the Native American culture did survive."

Consolmagno, it seems, remains the eternal optimist. God is great. And for him, the Church, in the face of everything that we know, is safe, secure and a source of succour for the souls of us all – no matter what planet we're on.


Top 10 List: Reasons Mary Can't Stop Blubbering

Boo Fuckin' Hoo!

10. One little lie to your father after prom night, and you're a "virgin" for eternity.

9. Son can die for the sins of perfect strangers but can't lift a phone to call his own mother on her birthday.

8. Something in her eye.
8. Trapped inside statues and grilled cheese sandwiches; screams "Someone, please kill me!" but no one can hear.

7. No one makes movies about her; Mel Gibson stopped returning her calls.

6. That whore of a daughter-in-law never lets her see her grandchildren.
6. Can't get laid to save her life.

5. Back-alimony lawsuit dismissed; difficult to sue deadbeat dads when they're deities. "Damn you, Odin!"

4. No one knows she's actually Wiccan.
4. Joseph too damn cheap for hotel; baby clothes still smell like pig shit.

3. Thanks to the Vatican, her "controversial" Books of Mary - about Jesus' rebellious, booze-stained, sexual-experimental teenage years - never made it into the Bible; she coined the term "Jesus Fucking Christ!" after walking in on Jesus and Judas, but thanks to "that prick of a pope," the world will never know.

2. She could have saved a fortune on her car insurance!
2. Someone brought myrrh to the baby shower and she was a two-day mule ride from the nearest bong!

1. No one told her that you are technically are still a "virgin" even after having oral, anal, and girl-on-girl sex - centuries of guilt and lies for nothing! "Mouthful Mary" back in business!

You mean, I could have been sucking cock this whole time?!

Atheists & Baptists Agree: Speaking-in-Tongues = Superstitious Nonsense

New Policy: Southern Baptist Missionary Candidates Can't Speak in Tongues

from Religion News Service

The Southern Baptist Convention's International Mission Board has adopted a new policy that forbids missionary candidates from speaking in tongues. The policy, adopted Nov. 15 during the board's trustee meeting in Huntsville, Ala., reflects ongoing Southern Baptist opposition to charismatic or Pentecostal practices.

"In terms of general practice, the majority of Southern Baptists do not accept what is referred to as 'private prayer language,'" states the policy, according to a denomination announcement. "Therefore, if 'private prayer language' is an ongoing part of his or her conviction and practice, the candidate has eliminated himself or herself from being a representative of the IMB (International Mission Board) of the SBC (Southern Baptist Convention)."

This kind of "speaking in tongues" also a no-no.


University of Kansas Tells IDers To Go Fuc-
Wait a Minute...Kansas Has Universities!?!

Univ. of Kansas Takes Up Creation Debate

from The Associated Press

LAWRENCE, Kan. - Creationism and intelligent design are going to be studied at the University of Kansas, but not in the way advocated by opponents of the theory of evolution.

A course being offered next semester by the university religious studies department is titled "Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design, Creationism and Other Religious Mythologies."

"The KU faculty has had enough," said Paul Mirecki, department chairman.

"Creationism is mythology," Mirecki said. "Intelligent design is mythology. It's not science. They try to make it sound like science. It clearly is not."

Earlier this month, the state Board of Education adopted new science teaching standards that treat evolution as a flawed theory, defying the view of science groups.

Although local school boards still decide how science is taught in the classrooms, the vote was seen as a major victory for proponents of intelligent design.

John Calvert, an attorney and managing director of the Intelligent Design Network in Johnson County, said Mirecki will go down in history as a laughingstock.

"To equate intelligent design to mythology is really an absurdity, and it's just another example of labeling anybody who proposes (intelligent design) to be simply a religious nut," Calvert said. "That's the reason for this little charade."

Mirecki said his course, limited to 120 students, would explore intelligent design as a modern American mythology. Several faculty members have volunteered to be guest lecturers, he said.

University Chancellor Robert Hemenway said Monday said he didn't know all the details about the new course.

"If it's a course that's being offered in a serious and intellectually honest way, those are the kind of courses a university frequently offers," he said.

Mighty Christian of Them

NYCLU Files Complaint Against Catholic School For Firing Unmarried Pregnant Teacher

from NY1

The New York Civil Liberties Union has filed an official complaint to the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of a Queens teacher who says she was fired because she got pregnant out of wedlock.

St. Rose of Lima School terminated Michelle McCusker's contract last month, after she told school officials she was pregnant.

The NYCLU says McCusker was fired from the Rockaway Beach school, despite praise from the principal for her teaching abilities and "high degree of professionalism."

The NYCLU is asking the school to adopt a non-discrimination policy.

"I also don't understand how a religion that prides itself on being forgiving and on valuing life could terminate me because I'm pregnant and choosing to have this baby," McCusker said at a press conference Monday.

“Here we have a case of blatant pregnancy discrimination, which is both wrong and illegal," said the NYCLU’s Donna Lieberman.

The Brooklyn Diocese released a statement that reads, "This is a difficult situation for every person involved, but the school had no choice but to follow the principles contained in the teachers' personnel handbook."

The handbook requires teachers to follow the teachings of Catholic faith by their words and actions.

'And Stay Out!'

'Bye bye!'

Vatican Closes Door on Gay Seminarians

from The Associated Press

VATICAN CITY - The Vatican is toughening its stand against gay candidates for the priesthood, specifying in a new document that even men with "transitory" homosexual tendencies must overcome their urges for at least three years before entering the clergy.

A long-awaited "Instruction," due to be released next week, was posted Tuesday on the Internet by the Italian Catholic news agency Adista. A church official who has read the document confirmed its authenticity.

Critics of the policy warned that, if enforced, it will likely result in seminarians lying about their orientation and will decrease the already dwindling number of priests in the United States. Estimates of the percentage of gays in U.S. seminaries and the priesthood range from 25 percent to 50 percent, according to a research review by the Rev. Donald Cozzens, an author of The Changing Face of the Priesthood.

The document from the Vatican's Congregation for Catholic Education says the church deeply respects homosexuals. But it also says it "cannot admit to the seminary and the sacred orders those who practice homosexuality, present deeply rooted homosexual tendencies, or support so-called gay culture."

"Those people find themselves, in fact, in a situation that presents a grave obstacle to a correct relationship with men and women. One cannot ignore the negative consequences that can stem from the ordination of people with deeply rooted homosexual tendencies," it said.

"If instead it is a case of homosexual tendencies that are merely the expression of a transitory problem, for example as in the case of an unfinished adolescence, they must however have been clearly overcome for at least three years before ordination as a deacon."

For many gay-rights activists, the Vatican's distinction between deep-rooted and "transitory" homosexuality is without basis.

"For decades now, the scientific and medical community have said that sexual orientation is an immutable trait," said Harry Knox, director of the religion and faith program at the Washington-based Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

The new document underlines that long-standing traditions and church teaching consider homosexual acts "grave sins" and also intrinsically immoral and contrary to natural law.

The document, called an "Instruction," is only five pages long, including footnotes. It was approved by Pope Benedict XVI on Aug. 31.

The text makes no reference to current priests, directed instead to people entering seminaries and preparing for ordination.

In September, Vatican-directed inspectors started visiting all 229 American seminaries. Part of their mission has been to seek any "evidence of homosexuality."

The Vatican has often visited the issue of homosexuality, reflecting an unbending theological opposition but also an acknowledgment that discrimination based on sexual preference is not justified.

In 2003, homosexuality was described as a "troubling moral and social phenomenon" in a document by the powerful Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, then headed by German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who became Pope Benedict this year.


Hearing This News, Jesus & Lazarus Suddenly Eye at Each Other with Suspicion:
'Exactly How Dead Were You, Anyway?'

Girl 'Resurrects' after 11 Years

from Nation Online

AFRICA - Sixteen-year-old Josephine Chilamba, who died at the age of five in 1994, is believed to have resurrected last month after spending 11 years in the world of darkness.

Josephine surprised people who spotted her walking around a graveyard as mourners were returning home after burial ceremony of one village member in Mkungula Village on October 2, 2005.

Josephine told people who questioned her that she was looking for her mother, Luduwina Chilamba.

Luduwina said her daughter died in April, 1994 after a short illness as they were transporting her to Nkhoma Mission Hospital.

She said people were puzzled to note that Josephine's body felt like any normal living body in terms of temperature, an indication of something fishy surrounding the girl’s mysterious death.

She said women, who were washing the body, noticed that the girl's hands were grabbing the funeral caretakers, adding that the girl could urinate and sneeze as her body was being washed.

Josephine said after disappearing from this world she was taken to a certain house where she met other 15 stranded people who were made to work on the owner's garden, grocery shop, and do other house chores like drawing water and cleaning utensils. The landlord renamed her Dolpha.

"I used to go to the village well to draw water, where I sometimes recognised my relatives, but I could not talk to them," said Josephine.

Asked how she found herself back to this life, Josephine said there was a man who took her into a confined room with a small glass window. He went to the garden, leaving the door unlocked.

"Something just came into my mind to try to open the door," said Josephine. "Then I started running until I found myself near the graveyard."

"Magic is real just like witchcraft. Both the Old and New Testaments have stories about magic powers. For example, in the book of Exodus Moses used magic power," said Chikhwaza.

Chikhwaza said he has heard a lot about people who have done many things through magic such as keeping human beings under confinement for many months or years.

"I have some friends who claim to have used such powers when they were Satanists. But now they have made U-turns in their spiritual lives and are no longer doing so," said Chikhwaza.

Faith of God church Pastor Shadreck Bonyonga said it is possible to pray for the dead to resurrect, but he doubted this was applicable in Josephine’s case because he never heard of the girl being prayed for before her resurrection.

Lazarus the Lazy: The Untold Story of a Deep-Sleeping Binge-Drinker: 'Finally, some fresh air! Now, for the hundredth time, I'm not dead! Not! Never was! I thought I made this crystal clear by shrieking "I'm not dead!" as you idiots dragged me in here! FYI: Corpses don't snore! They don't have to be subdued! You fools! And stop chanting that! The only "miracle" here is that I don't kick your asses! Now someone untie me before my bladder explo-Hey, who's the carpenter?'


I Knew It! 'Evangelical Christian' My Ass!

'Hi, Dad!': Raise your hand if you're evil incarnate...no, just one hand, Mr. Robertson...

Pat Robertson Displays Satanic 'El Diablo' Sign During 700 Club Show

from Prison Planet

Pat Robertson, the so-called voice of Christian America, has again been caught 'El Diablo red-handed,' flashing occult and satanic hand signals during his show.

During Thursday morning's 700 Club program, Robertson could clearly be seen displaying the El Diablo hand gesture towards the end of the broadcast.

The gesture represents the horned devil, also known as the sign of Il Cornuto and Diabolicus, and was fully embraced by modern day Satanic cults. It is now seen as a trendy thing to do amongst heavy metal and goth fans. They see it as a sign of rebellion against the establishment, which couldn't be further from the truth.

Headlines were made last year during Bush's inauguration when the President and his family repeatedly flashed the sign. US media brushed aside the matter, saying it was in the context of supporting the University of Texas Longhorns. However, Europeans were shocked and interpreted the gesture as a salute to Satan.

'Oh, look, George, there's Pat! George, wake up! No, over there. George, look at where I'm pointing. Why are you turning around? George! See? Over there. No - Robertson, not Morita. No, that sign means 'Fuck You'...it's like this. Jesus Christ, don't poke yourself in the eye! There, you go! Now smile! "Hi, Pat! Hail Satan!"'

Wah! Wah! Wah!

Faithful Flock To See Weeping Statue of Virgin Mary

from News10.net

A Sacramento-area church is drawing the faithful and the curious for an unusual sight that some are calling a miracle.

In front of the Vietnamese Catholic Martyrs Church on Jackson Road stands a statute of the Virgin Mary. The figure appears to be crying tears of blood. The tears streak down the left side of her face and onto the bodice of her garment.

Church parishioners first reported seeing the red teardrops last Wednesday.

Observers are interpreting the phenomenon in various ways. Some say Mary is crying for all of the tragic events in the world. Others see it as a premonition of what the future holds. The more skeptical wonder if it is all a hoax.

This Man Is:
A] Crossdressing, Poorly
B] A Reincarnated Goddess
C] Nuttier Than a Tom Cruise Cashew Factory
D] 'Dad?'
E] A & C

Strange But True: Goddess in the Dock

from Sunday Mail

INDIA - A senior cop is in a holy mess with bosses after dressing up as a woman and insisting he is a goddess.

Inspector general Devendra Kumar Panda, 51, turned up in court last week in a yellow dress and dark red lipstick.

He says he is the reincarnation of the goddess Radha, Krishna's beloved.

His wife of 33 years isn't convinced - she sued for separation because he is not behaving like a husband.

The court in Lucknow, India, ordered him to pay £75 a month maintenance.

The jury is still out on whether he will keep his job in Uttar Pradesh state.

Shiftless, Skinny, Feces-Puddling Teen = Wise, Fat, Maggot-Puddling Corpse

15-Year-Old New Buddha Continues Fasting

from United Press International

A 15-year-old boy in the Hindu kingdom of Nepal, who reportedly has been fasting for six months while meditating beneath a tree, is seen as the new Buddha.

Thousands of pilgrims have been flocking to the dense forests of Bara district in the southern part of the Himalayan kingdom to get a glimpse of Ram Bomjon, who began meditating silently six months ago, Britain's Daily Telegraph reports.

It was in Nepal, not far from where Ram is meditating, that the original Buddha was born more than 2,500 years ago, later gaining enlightenment while meditating beneath a similar pipal tree.

Recently a snake bit Ram. After five days, Ram told those around him: "Tell the people not to call me a Buddha. I don't have the Buddha's energy...A snake bit me but I do not need treatment. I need six years of deep meditation."

A local journalist said there has been no report so far of Ram breaking his fast or moving, even to relieve himself.

'What?! They think he's me?! Niggapleeze! That's hilari-Are..are you going to finish those onion rings?'

Jesus Christ, Pothead
(P.S. When I See a Cloud That Looks Like an Elephant, I Don't Feed It Peanuts!)

Islanders Pray to Jesus Image on Plant Pot

from Reuters

COZUMEL, Mexico - Mexicans have set up a shrine at a plant pot on the grounds of a beach resort on the Caribbean island of Cozumel after an image said to depict Jesus appeared on it following Hurricane Wilma a month ago,

A receptionist at the Occidental Grand resort noticed the image likened to Jesus' face as shaken guests emerged from a storm shelter after huddling for three days while the hurricane hurled rain and debris.

Local media are calling it a miracle and draw a link between the apparition and the fact that none of the 200 guests had suffered so much as a bruise during the storm, which tore up other beach resorts on Cozumel, bit holes in concrete buildings, ripped up sections of highway, and flattened trees.

The image stands out clearly as a Jesus-like face on the side of the enameled terra cotta planter - whose plants also survived the storm despite being outside for its duration.

"The first person who saw it was a receptionist. Then the guests started coming to see it and before long people were praying and lighting candles," said a security guard near the pot, which is roped off with a crimson cord strung between brass poles and has a simple candle burning in front of it,

"A lot of people wept when they saw it. There was a lot of emotion because it appeared after everyone spent three days together in the storm shelter," said the guard, declining to give his name.

The Occidental Grand, now closed to the public for minor repairs, was the only hotel on Cozumel not to evacuate its guests to the mainland before the hurricane, as it has a sturdy shelter which the security guard said was stocked with three months worth of food and water for 300 people.

'I'm Beyond Atheism'
Penn Jillette on God, Life, Rainbows & Jell-O

There Is No God

from NPR

I believe that there is no God. I'm beyond Atheism. Atheism is not believing in God. Not believing in God is easy - you can't prove a negative, so there's no work to do. You can't prove that there isn't an elephant inside the trunk of my car. You sure? How about now? Maybe he was just hiding before. Check again. Did I mention that my personal heartfelt definition of the word "elephant" includes mystery, order, goodness, love, and a spare tire?

So, anyone with a love for truth outside of herself has to start with no belief in God and then look for evidence of God. She needs to search for some objective evidence of a supernatural power. All the people I write e-mails to often are still stuck at this searching stage. The Atheism part is easy.

But, this "This I Believe" thing seems to demand something more personal, some leap of faith that helps one see life's big picture, some rules to live by. So, I'm saying, "This I believe: I believe there is no God."

Having taken that step, it informs every moment of my life. I'm not greedy. I have love, blue skies, rainbows, and Hallmark cards, and that has to be enough. It has to be enough, but it's everything in the world and everything in the world is plenty for me. It seems just rude to beg the invisible for more. Just the love of my family that raised me and the family I'm raising now is enough that I don't need heaven. I won the huge genetic lottery and I get joy every day.

Believing there's no God means I can't really be forgiven except by kindness and faulty memories. That's good; it makes me want to be more thoughtful. I have to try to treat people right the first time around.

Believing there's no God stops me from being solipsistic. I can read ideas from all different people from all different cultures. Without God, we can agree on reality, and I can keep learning where I'm wrong. We can all keep adjusting, so we can really communicate. I don't travel in circles where people say, "I have faith, I believe this in my heart and nothing you can say or do can shake my faith." That's just a long-winded religious way to say, "shut up," or another two words that the FCC likes less. But all obscenity is less insulting than, "How I was brought up and my imaginary friend means more to me than anything you can ever say or do." So, believing there is no God lets me be proven wrong and that's always fun. It means I'm learning something.

Believing there is no God means the suffering I've seen in my family, and indeed all the suffering in the world, isn't caused by an omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent force that isn't bothered to help or is just testing us, but rather something we all may be able to help others with in the future. No God means the possibility of less suffering in the future.

Believing there is no God gives me more room for belief in family, people, love, truth, beauty, sex, Jell-o, and all the other things I can prove and that make this life the best life I will ever have.

Penn Jillette is the taller, louder half of the magic and comedy act Penn and Teller. He is a research fellow at the Cato Institute and has lectured at Oxford and MIT. Penn has co-authored three best-selling books and is executive producer of the documentary film The Aristocrats.

When Demons Attack!

'Demons' Wreak Havoc in North

from The Nambian

NAMIBIA, Africa - Many people in the North are fearful about a spate of incidents where what they call demons are terrorising people with mysterious phenomena.

More than 10 pastors and school authorities are struggling to deal with cases of bewitchment at schools and in villages.

A 17-year-old schoolgirl from Oshidhiya village says she cannot wear clothing because it catches fire spontaneously.

Johannes Nghidipo (21) from Elyalyatika village is in the Oshakati Hospital with feet so burnt that they may have to be amputated.

And 41 schoolchildren - 39 girls and two boys - at Mumbwenge Combined School near Oshigambo are falling to the ground in school, screaming for Satan to leave them alone.

"We really do not know what to do," Helena Makili, the Principal of Mumbwenge Combined School, told The Namibian yesterday.

She said that the whole school - 514 pupils from Grade 1 to 10, 16 teachers, two cleaners and a secretary - is stunned by the phenomenon.

"This has never happened at our school and we are praying to our Lord to stop these demons as soon as possible," Makali said.

The school has called in parents and had meetings, and then decided to take the concerned children to Onandjokwe Hospital, where no illness was found. The principal decided to contact pastors from different churches and seven have come to pray over the children.

Pastors all tried praying, laying hands on the children who are falling and screaming, but nothing has stopped the "demons."

Children continue to fall, and to scream.

"All those pastors who came couldn't stop the demons and the children continue to be molested by these demons," Makili told The Namibian.

She said that the children are seeing a black thing with a long stick.

"Go away Satan, leave us and our teachers, Satan, we were sent to school by our parents to learn and not to be molested by you," the children apparently call and scream when this starts, said Makili.

"We are still calling to all Namibians and the whole world to come and help us in this big problem," Makili said.

The Principal of Ozizi Combined School told The Namibian that one of the schoolgirls is being molested by some mysterious phenomenon. Her clothing always catches fire when she is at her parents' home. A source from this girl's village told The Namibian, that when this starts, she has to be naked to avoid getting burnt.

Klaudia Silas (45) from Epangu village told The Namibian that her son, Johannes Nghidipo, mysteriously burnt both his feet at a witchdoctor's house last Thursday night.

"I was told by his doctors that both feet will be amputated. I really do not know what that witchdoctor has done to my son," Silas said.

Nghidipo told The Namibian that he did not know what happened to him during that night.

Speaking from his hospital bed, Nghidipo said when he woke up the next morning he noticed that both his feet were seriously burnt.

"I didn't feel pain, although I was seriously burnt, only later I started to feel pain. Nobody could explain how was I burnt and why."